"Not more dishes!" groaned Laser as Lacewing plopped yet another tray of dirty dishes
on the counter next to the stainless steel sink
where his forelegs were submerged in hot, sudsy water.
"Don't complain," Lacewing snapped. "My hooves are coated in sticky, slimy, leftover
ice cream." She thrust her hooves into the
sink to wash them off.
Laser lowered the latest batch of dishes into the steamy water. "I thought working at
the ice cream shop would be fun," he confided,
"but after cleaning up all these spoons and bowls, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to enjoy ice cream
"Yeah," sighed his sister. "I know what you mean."
Meanwhile, out front where the action was, Hood and Drumstick were busily attending
to the customers. Word had gotten out that a
brand new flavor-- Berry Medley-- had arrived in the day's delivery, and every pony who loved
ice cream wanted to get a taste. A usually quiet
afternoon at the shop had turned into a frenzy.
"Good thing you brought the kids in," commented Drumstick. "We'd have never been
able to keep up to demand without them."
The yellow stallion took a second to brush a lock of his green mane off his forehead before
preparing a Berry Medley ice cream cone for a toddler
crying out of sight on the other side of the counter. Hood was whipping up a calorie-laden
sundae for the foal's mother.
"Don't tell Whistler that I was in today," the smiling mare said to Hood as he sprinkled
nuts across the sundae. "He says I'm
putting on weight."
"You look as lovely as ever, Chit-Chat," Hood judiciously replied as he handed the
sundae to her.
Drumstick had gone around the counter to present the finished ice cream cone to the
little pony, who accepted it while sad tears still
trickled down her cheeks. "Tank you."
As Chit-Chat and Giggles moved off to a recently vacated table, Lacewing busily
cleared the dirty dishes and wiped off the sticky
spots. As she stepped away from the table with her laden tray, she accidentally became entangled
in the little legs of Giggles. With a crash, she and
her tray fell to the tile floor. Spoons and dishes slid hither-scither in all directions. Lacewing
looked up sorrowfully at her uncle, who had rushed to
her aid. "I'm sorry, Uncle Hood." She looked as if on the verge of tears, but stoically fought
"Are you okay?" Hood demanded worriedly. "Does anything hurt?" He felt along her
legs and searched for scrapes and
"I feel stupid."
Hood grinned. He brushed the tangled seafoam green mane out of Lacewing's eyes
gently. "You've just been initiated," he assured
her. "Everyone drops a tray sooner or later."
"But I dropped my body, too." Lacewing grimaced at the thought.
Hood helped his little niece to her feet while Drumstick picked up the scattered utensils
and bowls. He lifted her onto a stool at the
counter and used a wet napkin to clean off the drops of ice cream and caramel that spotted her
"How about an ice cream cone?" Drumstick asked Lacewing in an effort to make her
Lacewing turned down the offer; she couldn't face ice cream right now. "Maybe a glass
of milk?" she questioned.
"Coming right up!" beamed Drumstick. In no time at all, he served the young filly a
fresh, cold glass of milk. "Feeling
"Yes, I think so," Lacewing responded with a shy smile.
Drumstick patted her on the head. "Good girl!" Then he moved on to help the next
Lacewing sighed. She was just a kid in Drumstick's eyes. She sipped thoughtfully on
"What's up?" asked Hood as he cleaned off the counter in front of Lacewing. "You
look a million miles away."
"Uncle Hood, am I pretty?"
Hood was taken back by this question. He looked searchingly at the filly before him.
"No," he finally answered.
Lacewing's face fell drastically.
"You are beautiful, little one," he continued as he cradled her chin in his hoof.
She blushed. "You really think so?"
"Would I lie?" teased Hood. "Of course you're beautiful; you're my niece, aren't
This made Lacewing laugh out loud. She had always thought Hood was the most
handsome stallion she'd ever seen, next to her
dad, of course. "It runs in the family, right?" she quipped.
"You got that right, Sugar." He tousled her mane. Then with a glance at the busy shop,
he added, "If you're up to it, there's a table
that needs cleaning."
"Sure thing, Uncle Hood," she saluted as she slid off the stool.
As always, the conversation at the shop eventually turned to the problems that had
besieged the community of Woodlawn.
"Have you heard the latest?" asked a grandfatherly stallion as he seated himself in his
usual spot. "There's been more mischief
Hood cautiously raised an eyebrow. William always had some gossip to share, and it
wasn't always accurate.
After ordering an ice cream cone, William was determined to spread his news even if
Hood wasn't cooperative. "That big house at
the north edge of town... you know, the one painted up all in pink and purple? They got hit last
Hood frowned. "That would be Bellflower and Bugle's place. What happened?" He
continued to scoop up ice cream into a crispy
waffle cone, but his attention was riveted to what William had to say. Bellflower and Bugle were
a newly married couple who had taken over her
parents' large dwelling earlier in the summer; Hood hoped that nothing serious had befallen the
Leaning forward over the counter, William confided, "Every strawberry out of their
patch was picked sometime last night." He
tapped his hoof in front of Hood for emphasis.
"It would be difficult picking strawberries during the night, don't you think?" cautioned
Hood as he handed the completed cone to
"You know what I mean. Daybreak comes awfully early, before most ponies are up and
"That garden of Bellflower's is a big one, too," pondered Hood, "and it sits a fair
distance away from the house, doesn't it?"
"Yup! And they didn't hear a thing. Just got up like normal, and Bellflower went out to
get some berries for her breakfast, and
finds ‘em gone."
"Anything else taken or disturbed?"
"Nope. Not that I've heard." Both ponies lapsed into a thoughtful silence.
Lacewing approached the counter from the kitchen area. "Uncle Hood, Laser says his
hooves are so wrinkly that they'll never be
able to hold a football every again." She stood before Hood with her hooves on her hips, a
posture that her mom often employed when she'd reached
the end of her patience.
Hood grinned. "Wrinkly, is he? Well, you go back and tell him that Patchwork Petal
should be reporting in any minute."
Lacewing had no sooner left on her errand when a vivacious teenager trotted through
the door, donning a red-and-white striped
apron as she approached the counter. "Hi, Grandpa William," she smiled. "Hi, Hood. Looks like
the new flavor is going over okay."
Every table in the shop was filled, although the flow of new customers had slowed
William looked appreciatively at Hood's pretty helper. "Finally, someone shows up that
adds some sparkle to this dump." He
winked at Hood.
"If you weren't such a permanent fixture in here, the shop would have a better
atmosphere all the time," retorted Hood.
Patchwork Petal giggled. "You two always bicker like a couple of kids."
William snorted. "At my age, I'll take that as a compliment!"
Hood moved off to release Laser and Lacewing from their afternoon bondage. He was
surprised when they turned down his offer of
their choice of any dessert on the menu.
"No, thanks, Uncle Hood," they chorused. "We better get home."
Hood shook his head after them. "I thought they liked the ice cream," he puzzled as he
watched the two run from the shop. "Well,
hopefully Moonglow had a peaceful afternoon."
The after-work crowd was beginning to trickle in, so Hood returned to the counter and
put his thoughts of family aside.