Duncan & Paulette: Fish Tea

Duncan and Ralph have evaded legal problems from their fight in the park. Duncan and Paulette are on speaking/texting terms again, as she tries to balance being a friend/co-worker with Duncan, while engaged to the man he loathes. Apparently, there was some communication between Mrs. Simmons, Ralph’s mother, and Mrs.Barrow, Paulette’s mom. Whatever it was, it annoyed Paulette.

To: Paulette Barrow

Sent: August 23, 2008, 3:40 p.m., EST

From: Duncan Hastings

Subject: Please ma’am?

May I have some more of that terrific soup? When you told me you were bringing over FISH tea, I thought it was an odd choice for an ailing cripple like myself. Who knows? Maybe you were trying to finish me off out of loyalty to your lower-level demon of a boyfriend! But that was rather good! It was worth incurring Penelope’s wrath.

To: Duncan Hastings

Sent: August 23, 2008, 4:00 p.m., EST

From: Paulette Barrow

Subject: Re: Please ma’am?

I can imagine that a bruised rib is painful, so I’ll ignore the swipe at Ralph. I’m glad you liked the fish tea. It’s my mother’s recipe. Why would your girlfriend get annoyed about some soup?

To: Paulette Barrow

Sent: August 23, 2008, 4:15 p.m., EST

From: Duncan Hastings

Subject: Re: Please ma’am?

Penelope is a great girl, but she is a little kitchen clueless. I ate up your soup almost right away, while leaving her attempt at chicken soup almost untouched for a couple of days. She didn’t speak to me all day the next Wednesday. But listen, you need to fix me up with your mom. Is she single? What’s she doing next Saturday night?

To: Duncan Hastings

Sent: August 23, 2008, 8:30 p.m., EST

From: Paulette Barrow

Subject: Re: Please, ma’am?

My mother and my father are in Jamaica this week and next, visiting family. You see I said ‘my mother and my father’. She’s quite taken. Plan B: We’ll send someone over to teach Penelope how to cook. Then your world will be perfect.

To: Paulette Barrow

Sent: August 23, 2008, 8:45 p.m., EST

From: Duncan Hastings

Subject: Re: Please ma’am?

Maybe. Might as well, seeing as how I get nothing from these Barrow women. What’s with the long pause?

To: Duncan Hastings

Sent: August 22, 2008, 8:50 p.m., EST

From: Paulette Barrow

Subject: Re: Please, ma’am?

Nothing. Not important.

To: Paulette Barrow

Sent: August 22, 2008, 8:55 p.m., EST

From: Duncan Hastings

Subject: Re: Please ma’am?

Well, was it a building collapse? Was there a nu-cular attack?

To: Duncan Hastings

Sent: August 22, 2008, 9:00 p.m., EST

From: Paulette Barrow

Subject: Re: Please, ma’am?

I am at Ralph’s apartment. I had just made dinner and then I was helping him get settled a little early …

To: Paulette Barrow

Sent: August 22, 2008, 9:10 p.m., EST

From: Duncan Hastings

Subject: Re: Please ma’am?

Oh. I got the picture. G*d, I’m thick! Listen, you take care, have a good weekend, and I’ll see you in the office on Monday. Cheers.

To: HyacinthPaul Barrow

Sent: August 23, 2008, 3:30 p.m., EST

From: Duncan Hastings

Subject: Re: How is everything?

Mommy, I got your email. Glad you and Daddy are having a good time. Please don’t worry about Ralph. Now I see where Ralph gets his melodramatic streak. From his mom. She should know better than to say I’m neglecting him

‘at this time’. My job is demanding, but I’m taking every spare moment to help that boy of hers do EVERYTHING. We’re not even married yet, but he already thinks I should keep house for him. He only has a twisted knee and some bruised fingers from all of this, but he’s taking every opportunity to wring a boatload of sympathy out of it. Maybe his parents could talk him into giving up that firearm? That would help us—by keeping him out of trouble!  I love you.

To: Paulette Barrow

Sent: August 23, 2008, 10:00 p.m., EST

From: Duncan Hastings

Subject: Re: Where are you?

Ralph, please. Of course I care if you’re in pain. I was talking to my mom, who is enjoying her visit—thanks for asking. Listen, I know it’s hard but … can’t you manage this time on your own? I’m already back at my apartment, with its sour milk in the fridge and the unopened mail. I have to get some things done here. I left you all set with food, water by your bed, you were all tucked in when I left. You should be sleeping! I promise I’ll be back again tomorrow.

To: Emma Billingsley

Sent: August 23, 2008, 11:15 p.m., EST

From: Paulette Barrow

Subject: Retail Therapy

Mi girl. Wha’ g’wan?  If you want to, we should connect tomorrow for shopping and wedding planning. My workload is starting to get really intense, as you probably know. His Grace has been a little bit of a clingy, demanding patient. But we still love him. I miss my parents. One silver lining to all of this is that Ralph won’t face any legal problems for his crazy stunt. Long and short is that the scuffle died down before anyone thought to call the police at all. Duncan didn’t want to file any complaints, and neither did Ralph. We dodged a bullet, in other words.

To: Paulette Barrow

Sent: August 23, 2008, 11:30 p.m., EST

From: Emma Billingsley

Subject: Re: Retail Therapy

What a relief. I was hoping things wouldn’t get too hairy for either of them. Duncan is too nice, and Ralph is too, umm, connected to you to let either of them get nailed for something like a scrap in the park. Then again you have to wonder, Paulette, what if Ralph had gone completely nuts? They were in an open park. Families and kids were starting to really come in and mill around. It’s a wonder that NO ONE else complained … And what in the world were they fighting over?

To: Emma Billingsley

Sent: August 23, 2008, 11:40 p.m., EST

From: Paulette Barrow

Subject: Re: Retail Therapy

I do wonder about it. How it all seemed to go away. Weird. But the other thing is neither will give me any kind of account that makes sense. I tried to ask the other guys who were there about what made them blow up, and you know what they said? Ask the guys. I’m not going to get a headache over these dunderheads. So do you want to go tomorrow?

To: Paulette Barrow

Sent: August 23, 2008, 11:45 p.m., EST

From: Emma Billingsley

Subject: Re: Retail Therapy

Yep. You do need to relax. And since you’re up so LATE without your fiancé, we’ll meet for a late brunch and then head over, OK?

To: Emma Billingsley

Sent: August 23, 2008, 11:50 p.m., EST

From: Paulette Barrow

Subject: Re: Retail Therapy

I’m not without my fiancé. That’s the thing. Poor Ralph, I do feel bad for him, but he’s monopolized all of my free time in the last couple of weeks. And it isn’t just from his injury. I’m still at his place now, so in the morning I’ll need to leave here, go to my apartment, do a couple of things and come meet you. I NEED a break!

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