Dead on the Fourth of July (David Dean Mysteries) (Chapter V, page 2 of 10)

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"I like a place with an 'oops' bartender," Dean said as their margueritas were served.

"A what?" asked Cynthia.

"Oops. You know, a bartender who fills the glass so high it spills over on the napkin and he has to say 'oops'? Not some guy who sells you a six dollar wine in a half-full glass."

Much as Dean attempted to pick things up, the group failed to exhibit its usual liveliness. The silence became ear-splitting. Finally Fred O'Connor withdrew a crumpled dollar bill from his antiquated change purse and a fountain pen from his jacket pocket. He handed both to Martha and glanced up at the ceiling.

"Sign the buck," he said. "We'll donate it for good luck so's you're sure to come back."

While Dean failed to read the correlation, he applauded the act and kept quiet as all four looked up at the high ceiling, nearly covered in thumb-tacked bills. Dean didn't even offer a quip about Fred's tightness with a buck and his moth-eaten purse as the old man called over a waitress to do the duties. Martha signed the dollar bill with a hint of a smile.

"Let's all sign it," Cynthia said when she'd finished, and each added a signature.

The young college-aged waitress inserted the tack, placed a quarter beneath it for weight and sounded a horn to call attention. With a swift motion, she sent the combination skyward where tack and bill joined the hundreds of others while she deftly caught the falling quarter to the cheers of the dinners. At year's end, the bills, totaling a substantial amount, would be culled and donated to charity. But the brief exercise failed to dispel the glumness for more than a few moments.

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