Stephen was not gonna try to keep up with the Staal brothers, but he did put back his first Mr. Canoehead in under five minutes. “That’s a fine red ale,” he told the boys, and I do like a healthy head on my beer, so the extra hops are good by me.”

The brothers nodded, and Eric asked, “So, coach… where’s Mrs. Coach?”

“Madge is sleeping. She was up reading all night. She did tell me to say hello, and assure you that she will see you again.”

The brothers were visibly disappointed, but their disappointment disappeared instantly, when Kitty and Lance bounced into the lobby. No, the brothers did not even notice Lance.

“Hi, guys, I’m Kitty. Kitty Kaboodle!”

“Yes you are!” said Marc.

“Hello Kitty!” Jordan enthused

“Nice to meet you, Miss Kitty!” Eric chuckled.

“I have to tell you, I love what you’re doing. I read about it in the Star Trib, when we were rolling through Duluth.”

Eric the elder responded on behalf of the troika. Forgetting that it was actually Stephen’s idea, he said, “Thank you, Miss Kitty. It’s Madonna’s idea, so it’s a no brainer.” Kitty laughed at the mangled compliment, but didn’t bother to point it out. “I mean, we have so much money.”

Stephen weighed in, “Yeah. Between the three of you, you’ve made a couple hundred million, rigt?”

“Yes, give or take,” Marc confirmed. “By the time we are all retired, we will have made a quarter billion dollars, or more. It’s just ridiculous. To not contribute, when so many are hurting so bad, would just be…”

“Unthinkable,” Eric said.

“Evil,” said Jordan.

Kitty clapped her hands, and asked, “Have you decided where the money will go?”

“We have,” Eric replied. “Half of the fifteen mill will go directly the people who need it most in New York, Raleigh, the Twin Cities, and rigt here in Thunder. Buying supplies for frontline workers, and food and medicine for those who can afford neither.”

“Good allocation of funds,” Stephen said. “What about the other half?”

Eric looked at his brothers. All three grinned. Eric answered, “It’s just wild! But we’ll let Margot explain that. It’s her idea. You’re gonna love it!”

“Margot would be Thunder Babe, I take it?” Kitty asked.

“Oh, yeah!” Marc laughed, “Margot is Thunder Babe, alrigt.”

Holding up a Beaver Duck, Jordan toasted, “To Thunder Babe!.”

“Wait,” Eric interrupted, “Miss Kitty doesn’t have a beer.” That correction was quickly made, with one being handed to the silent Lance, as well. “Now,” said Eric the elder, “To Thunder Babe!”

All the boys took healthy swigs, but Kitty guzzled hers. Kitty knows how to make an impression, and the brothers were in awe, doubly so when she pretended she was gonna heave ho a mighty foghorn belch, then puckered up and blew a sweet little Kitty kiss at the brothers.  Eric swooned, but cautioned, “You best be careful, little Kitty, that aIn’t no sex in a canoe beer.”

The guys laughed, but they all shut up when Kitty grinned and said, “I’ve never had sex in a canoe. Have you? Is it a Thunder thing?”

“It sure is,” Marc answered. “It’s best when there’s a storm blowing, ‘cause the black flies don’t eat you alive.”

“Yeah, and because no one can hear you scream!” Eric added.

The guys all laughed, but they all shut up when Kitty smiled, and asked, “And what’s the forecast for the rest of the day?”




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