Hoofston’s police station was like most others, with the exception of the plate of cookies at the counter. Constable Brownie was at her desk, filling out some forms. She never expected that filing reports would be part of her job, but if that’s what she was supposed to do, she’d do it.
“When can I go home?” asked a voice. It was a sulking filly in a cell.
“When your parents come pick you up.” She said, spitting out the pen.
The filly looked scared. “My parents? But-”
“Not buts.” She said. “They already know. Hopefully they’ll teach you that you shouldn’t be throwing rocks at windows.” She picked her pen back up, indicating she was going to get back to work.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t about to happen, as there was another pony walking through the front door. She looked over, hoping that it was the filly’s parents. It wasn’t.
“Hello,” said Ritardando. He seemed nervous, which was understandable, given that she’d given him a warning for trespassing in the abandoned theatre. “I wanted to ask you something?”
She unenthusiastically spat out the pen. “Yes?” she asked.
“Umm… can you bake?” he seemed embarrassed to be asking. “I mean… you, well…”
“Yes I can,” she said, cutting him off – it’s spare the poor guy from trying to finish that sentence. “Guessed by the cutie mark, I take it?”
“Kinda.” He said, nodding sheepishly.
“Here, have a cookie,” she said, nodding towards the platter. “Most ponies assume I just make baked goods. They don’t know I’m a constable.”
“I know you’re a constable,” he said. She didn’t answer that sentence, partly because it was obvious and partly because the filly in the cell complained.
“I want a cookie…” she said.
“You don’t get one," Brownie said, “,ot after breaking windows.” She turned back to Ritardando. “Baking is more of an enthusiastic hobby for me,” she continued, “I didn’t want it to be my, well, job.”
“Ahh,” Ritardando said.
“So, what was it you wanted, exactly?” she asked.
“Well…” Ritardando pawed at the floor. “Gold Standard’s a bit stressed out. There’s this ‘apple’ thing coming up and she really wants to take part in it”
“The Autumn Apple Fair?” Brownie asked. She was aware of it. Happened every year: Autumn Apple Fair comes, and Gold Standard just needs to find some way to make the sale against the Delicious Brothers, despite having none of the resources necessary to compete.
“Yeah, I think so,” Ritardando said, continuing. “Problem is, she doesn’t think she’s very good at cooking, so I was wondering if you had any recipes for stuff. Like apple pie, apple, umm…” he couldn’t think of any other foods with apples in them, despite having eaten several of them.
“I’ve offered her them before,” she said, shaking her head, “but she isn’t very keen on accepting help.”
“She accepts my help,” Ritardando said. Then, he got an idea. “I know!” he said.
“What?” Brownie asked, curious.
“Maybe, maybe…” Ritardando said, trying to string the words together, as the idea was very far ahead of his mouth, “maybe if you could give me the recipes, and I make the stuff, and I say that I did it, she’d be fine with it!”
Brownie thought about it. “Well,” she said, relenting. “If you want to try, go ahead. Doesn’t concern me, but I’ll give you the recipes,” she said, walking over to another door. “I’ve got it somewhere in here. Give me a minute or two...” and with that, she vanished into another room.
Ritardando looked at the filly. “Hi!” he said enthusiastically.
“Are you that retard pony that works at the shop?”
“Ritardando, that’s my name,” He said. “What kind of music do you like?” he asked.
“Uhh…” the filly said. “I dunno…”
“What do you mean?” Ritardando asked. “I mean, ya gotta like music. So what music do you listen to?”
The filly, who had until now been worrying about the trouble she’d be in when her parents picked her up, was now more concerned about the dumb pony in the room.
“I mean…” Ritardando said when she didn’t respond. “Rock and roll?”
The filly shrugged.
“Jazz? Hip-hop? Techno?” He continued listing.
“Uhh…” the filly said, a little more nervously, as she had just become aware of what she had been subjected to.
“Punk? R&B? Heavy metal?” he asked, “Lots of heavy metal. Death metal, power metal, metalcore, deathcore, grindcore, tons of ‘cores,’ speed metal, black metal… not sure whether nu metal counts, umm… Classical?” he continued.
“I don’t think I know any of that stuff.”
“Showtunes?” he asked. “Psychedelic rock? Trance? Electronica? A cappella choral arrangments? Funk? Soul?”
The filly was beginning to wish that her parents would just get over here and ground her already.
“Post-industrial? Blues? Neo-classical? Baroque pop? Madrigals? Percussion ensembles? Folk songs?”
“You’re really into this stuff, aren’t you?”
“Percussion ensembles are actually pretty cool…” Ritardando said, trying to make another guess. “Twelve-tone? Noise music? Operetta?”
“Probably not,” The filly said.
“There’s lots more,” He said. “Reggae, ska, mambo, program music…”
“Probably not,” she repeated.
Ritardando was left very confused. “Do you ever… do music?” he asked.
“No,” the filly said, shrugging.
Ritardando didn’t say anything. He ears were down and his head sank a little. The filly found this odd.
“Why’s it that important to you?” The filly asked.
“It just is,” he said. “I mean, it’s there on my cutie mark.”
“That’s what it is?”
Ritardando’s voice went quiet. “Music is very special to me. Music is… it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world. It’s like painting.”
“Yeah. But for ears.”
“Ahh, here we are…” Brownie said, emerging from the room with a saddlebag, “apple pies, apple crumble, apple fritters… caramel apples with apple caramel on them…” she took the bag off of her back and gave it to Ritardando, who uttered a muffled “thank you” before merrily trotting out of the station.
“He’s weird,” said the filly.
Constable Brownie ignored her and went back to work, hoping to actually finish with the report. Unfortunately, this was again interrupted by Ritardando, who gave another muffled statement: “Mm rinta lft,” which most likely translated to “I’m kinda lost.”
Brownie looked at the colt, and then back to her workload. This was annoying. She’d either have to rudely ask him to go away, or she’d have to help him get back to the shop and leave her paperwork delayed again.
She sighed. I can’t win, she thought, first going to put the saddlebags on his back, rather than have them stupidly hang out of his mouth.
Ritardando looked at the filly. “Dubstep! Do you like dubstep?”
“Come on,” Brownie said, leading him out the door. “I’ll getcha back to the shop. Let’s just do it quickly so I can get back to work.”
“Thanks,” Ritardando said, following her. “Y’know,” he said, “foals around here seem to get into trouble a lot.”
“I mean, the shoplifters, that filly… there were some bullies stealing candy just the other day.”
“Oh, them?” Brownie asked. “I’ve been trying to do something about them for over a year.”
“I scared ‘em, I think.” Ritardando said, seeming pleased with himself. “One of them hit me in the nose, though…”
“We have a slight problem with juvenile delinquents.” Brownie said. “It’s distressing. They’re the youth of this town – what happens when they become the adults running the place?”
A smile came on Ritardando’s face. “Hey, I got an idea!” he said. “A choir!”
Constable Brownie stopped. “A choir,” she repeated flatly. “How does that help?”
“Well, they say music can soothe the savage beast,” Ritardando said. “Or something like that. Maybe it works on foals, too?”
“I somewhat doubt that.” Brownie said. “Getting them to work on something constructive, though… could work.”
“Uh-huh.” Ritardando said, nodding, pleased at Brownie’s (almost) approval. “It’ll be great. I’m also planning on doing a concert sometime soon. It’ll also be great. I got a guitar and I’m gonna play it and I’m also gonna sing while I play it. It’ll be great. It’ll be really great. I told Raincloud about it, but I’m not sure she believes me.”
“I’m sure it will be,” Brownie said, only half-listening, “you got the paperwork filled out?”
Ritardando stopped walking. Brownie turned her head to look at him, and stopped as well.
“Ritardando?” she asked
“Well, yeah.” Brownie said. “You need to fill out the forms and get them approved if you want to do a public performance. Otherwise ponies might complain about ‘disturbance of the peace’ or whatnot, and it just helps for planning stuff out.”
“Ohh…” Ritardando said, nodding, resuming the walk. “Where do I get that stuff?”
“City hall. Just go to the front desk and ask about ‘public performance.’”
“Okie-dokie,” said Ritardando.
“Turn this way, Ritardando,” Brownie said, steering him in the right direction. “That way leads to the dump.”
“Oops.” Ritardando said, turning and catching back up with Brownie. “Thank you,” he said.
“No problem,” Brownie said, nodding, “it’s my job.”
“Well, you’re very good at it.”
Brownie smiled. “Well, the shop’s right over there,” she said, pointing her head in the direction down the street. “If you ever need help with baking or law, just call on Constable Brownie.” She said, turning and taking a brisk trot back to the police station.
The filly was still there, thankfully.
“What’s a madrigal, anyway?”