The food kept coming, the laughter became more and more frequent, and DJ and Jillian popped in and out of the conversation as Bankshot’s evening business picked up. A couple of the other band members dropped in, livening up the conversation. By the time the place closed, even DJ looked relieved that he wasn’t keeping track of their tab, the tables covered from end to end with empty plates and trays.
“Well,” the proprietor laughed as they made their way over to a gate leading out of the outdoor dining area, “I hope you now know our gratitude for showing us how to escape from that terrible place!”
“We do,” Max assured him, Bandit grinning in total agreement with him.
“I’ll say!” Shades added. “I don’t think I could possibly eat another bite!”
“That was great!” Justin remarked.
“But, um…” Jillian tapped DJ’s shoulder hesitantly, “What about him?”
For Rude Bones was still splayed out at his seat, face down and snoring surrounded by more than half a dozen bottles.
“Oh, don’t worry about that booze-hound,” said DJ. “Bruno and I’ll move him outside.”
“Yeah,” Ma’Quiver concurred, “he just needs to sleep it off.”
“Looks like he forgot about the fuel, in spite of what he said,” Shades mused, “but I bet he’ll be back to collect after he’s sobered up.”
“See ya around!” Rod called out as they passed the gate.
“Be sure to drop by again!” Twyla invited.
“Count on it,” Max replied as they made their way back down the broad path to the docks.
Justin burping loudly. “Good stuff!”
“I’ll second that opinion!” Shades laughed, loosening his belt, quite certain he had never eaten so much in his life. “Wouldn’t it suck if we woke up tomorrow, and this all turned out to be just a dream?”
“Not one more word,” Justin muttered. “If we wake up out there again, I’ll kill you.”
“Ah,” Shades sighed as they approached the Maximum, “so I get to be the first guest of honor at this Donner Party…”
“Please don’t bring that up again…” Max groaned.
“So,” Ma’Quiver asked, wanting to change the subject, “what do you think of the Isle of Castaways?”
“Too soon to tell for sure,” Shades replied as they boarded the ship, “but I like what I see so far.”
The fact that the ship remained untouched, unlike their worrisome experience in Bodeen, also did much to raise of all their appraisals of this place.
“And how long do you think we’ll be staying this time?” Justin wondered aloud.
“Hmm… Given that there’s no docking fee here, we should take our time,” Shades contemplated, “rest up for at least a few days, and find out if there’s anything interesting to do while we’re here. I plan to go out and make my usual inquiries, but based on what Rod and Deej told me, I’m not really holding out for anything.”
“And definitely stock up on more food,” Max added. “We’ll clearly need more than we left Sarna with.”
“And fuel,” Justin threw in, “and I suppose we’ll still have to pay that old pirate…”
“Well, he did save our lives,” Shades reminded him.
“And as long as the prices are more forgiving than Bodeen, we should definitely eat at Bankshot again,” Ma’Quiver remarked. “That Jillian can really cook! Someday, some lucky guy is gonna get to eat like that every day!”
“Until he’s so fat he can hardly waddle, if he ain’t careful!” Shades laughed, then lamented, “Pity next time won’t be on the house.”
“Of course, Rod was saying that if we needed more money, they’d play a benefit show for us,” Max told them, “but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. It sounds like they really need the money for themselves right now.”
“I don’t know about you guys,” Ma’Quiver told them, “but I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.”
“Same here,” Max and Bandit, yawning and stretching almost in unison. “I’m turning in for the night.”
“Good idea.” Shades plunked down on the lounge couch and stretched out while Ma’Quiver lowered the table to convert it into a bed. “I think we’re safe enough here that we shouldn’t have to keep watch shifts.”
“You’re probably right,” Justin agreed, “but I don’t think any of us can stay awake long enough anyway.”
“Yeah, and I’m sure DJ would have warned us if there was anything to watch out for,” said Max as he went below. “Good night, guys!”
And so they went to sleep, wondering what the rest of the island was like, and, after their last couple destinations, silently hoping for a little peace and quiet.