It was mostly for that reason that Rowan stopped suddenly on the threshold. Gareth bumped into her as he turned from shutting the front door and looked up to see her face slowly swivel in his direction. As their eyes met he suddenly felt like a naughty child caught with his fingers in the hidden candy stash.
“Don’t tell me you actually listen to this stuff?”
“Umm, no?” Gareth replied meekly. “It’s the beaver?” he ventured. “He likes a lot of weird stuff. Made me turn off Green Day very first thing and hasn’t let me turn back on since.” He grinned and half bowed in the small space Rowan had left him. “Welcome to my castle.”
Rowan met his eyes as he straightened up and said sternly, “Y’all be turning that off now, right? Wouldn’t want to irritate the guest too much, would ya?”
She stepped back and grinned lopsidedly. “Seriously, y’all can’t know how that there cack-o-phony gits on mah nerves. Reminds me of the not-so-stellar times of ma youth.” She let loose a long shudder and and rolled her eyes before turning to the archway that led to the living room. “So where’s this here critter y’all’ve been braggin’ about? Been a while since I seen me some beaver close up…”
As Rowan and Gareth stepped into the living room, the score rolled thunderously into the climax, and they unconsciously stiffed as if the big moment was upon them. Rowan looked slowly around the room, finishing her sweep with Gareth.
“Umm…” she mumbled, “I don’t know ’bout you, but I ain’t seeing no beaver.”
Gareth, however, was staring into the corner.
““Where’s the …,” he mumbled. ”What the hell happened to …” He turned quickly to the kitchen and then headed to the back hallway, still mumbling to himself.
Rowan caught up as he was coming out of what appeared to be a bedroom.
“It’s not here,” Gareth said plaintively.
“I just said that.”
“No, “ he replied. ”Not the beaver. The lemon tree. The little bugger’s stolen my lemon tree. That rotten, thieving rodent has made off with my tree!”
Rowan took a step back in confusion and then bonelessly fell back agains the hallway’s dingy beige wall with huge grin. “Well, now. That’s a different kettle of fish, ain’t it? Can’t have no imaginary beaver abscondin’ with yur foliage, can we? That’s just not sportin’.”
She opened her mouth to continue but found that her breath was being stolen by the laughter that suddenly began erupting from somewhere inside of her. She leaned against the wall for a few seconds more, snorting and trying to hold it in, until she gave up and slid down the wall to sprawl in a heap on the floor.
“I gotta say,” she gasped out brokenly, “this has been a helluva day so far. A hell-uv-a day!”
Gareth just stared at her with a hurt expression and then whined pathetically. “But he took my…”