Friday, September 28, 2012

Sharon Prayer Flag

Sharon has become sixth of five in the pure light spectrum. She being the most sublime...or the mostest if you will.







Elementary, my dear Sharon, FITK Fridays

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hangover Shack



   It was still dark when Sean made his way back down to the harbor. A faint glow had already appeared in the eastern sky and the city was beginning to come alive. He hadn’t slept for nearly twenty hours and the Ambassador’s spiked coffee made him feel as if he could stay awake for another twenty.  Billy’s ‘crash pad’ was located in a long warehouse building which had been divided into separate spaces. Sean quickly found #11.  It was evidently a storeroom, Sean guessed that its owner probably of one of Billy’s Icelandic contacts. About the size of a double garage, it contained a variety of gear: a boat trailer, oars, outboard motors, boxes of various sorts and a pile of tarps that appeared to have been used as a crude bed. In the back of the room on a wide board straddling two plastic bins was a MacBook as well as an iPhone sitting in its charging station. Sean assumed these were Billy’s. The laptop was dark. In college, Billy had used a simple password to lock his computer. Sean when he touched the space bar the screen lit on the login page. Sean entered Billy’s old password and he was in.

   The screen saver was a picture of a child. Sean recognized her as the girl who sang at Perlan. She was covered with icons: some were familiar, others obscure, there were even some with Cyrillic script. The one which caught Sean’s eye was a simple folder labeled ‘Evidence’.  When he opened it a subfolder titled Senator Clarkson came up, Sean clicked again and a list of contents filled the screen. There were numerous topics: Iranian Nuclear Materials, Kickbacks on Mideast Oil Supplies, Russian Weapon Sales, Mistresses Past and Present, ‘Accidental’ Deaths, Sean Carroll...

   “So, this is it,” thought Sean. He had found the big project which Billy had been working on. A quick glance at some of the entries confirmed that it contained political dynamite. And it was high grade, professional intelligence—Billy still had his knack for digging up dirt, but it was obvious he was playing in a different league. Seeing his own name on the list, it gradually dawned on Sean that obtaining this ‘evidence’ was the real reason he had been sent here—not to persuade Billy to campaign for his father. Getting these reports and seeing what was in them would help the Senator’s people ‘neutralize’ Billy. Just knowing the existence of these files was a death warrant for Sean—if he didn’t go along with the Ambassador’s plan. It might be one even if he did. One ‘Sean Carroll’ had already ‘died’, and Sean figured that a second death wasn’t out of the question.

   Sean wondered why Billy had taken his laptop when he already had this setup? Sean had a thought of sending all this information back to Mrs. Robinson in Seattle but he didn’t want to risk doing it on Billy’s laptop. The same reason Billy didn’t want his computer to be tracked uploading this dangerous information. Billy had been in the habit of roaming the city with his phone—hopping from one WiFi hotspot to another in an effort to make it impossible for anyone to track him.  Sean thought it likely that Billy might have wanted to use Sean’s laptop to upload his ‘evidence’, keeping his computer from being tracked.

   The chime from Billy’s phone jolted Sean back to reality. It was a text from Þora, the sister of Silu. The woman the bartender at Karamba had warned Sean about.

    billy uok?

    If Sean was going to be Billy from now on, this was the time to start.  He texted back:

    strung out, but OK.

   Her answer arrived in a couple of seconds:

    hvar ert þu?

   Now I was really fucked. Icelandic? From the context of the situation, Sean figured she must have been asking where he was. He replied:

       #11

   She had her own name for it:

       ja hangovershack cu soon

   “Great,” thought Sean, “Just great.”

     Sean looked around to assess the state of Billy’s ‘bachelor pad.’ The piles of gear and tangled fishnets were a hopeless mess. There was a wool blanket on top of the tarps. “Billy's duvet”, Sean thought, “At least it’s clean.” The boxes contained motor oil, engine parts, nets and other fishing gear—all of it covered in grime. Sean saw nothing else that might have belonged to Billy excepting the phone and computer. After looking the room over again, Sean came to the conclusion that either Billy had been taking an extremely minimalist approach to life or he must have stored the rest of his belongings elsewhere.  Since there was no point in cleaning up, he took another look at the contents of Billy’s computer. With the exception of the ‘Evidence’ file, every other icon on its desktop led to a locked log-in screen. A tapping at the door interrupted Sean’s searches.

   Any questions he may have held about the nature of Billy’s relationship with Þora were eliminated when he opened the warehouse door. Þora rushed into his arms and kissed him passionately, shutting the door behind her with her foot. Sean knew exactly what Billy would have done in that situation; he’d seen him in action many times:

Hold the kiss,” thought Sean, “Left hand cradling her right shoulder, a gentle touch of the right hand on her lower back, move it lower, then land with a gentle pat just behind her hip.

    “Billy, you’re safe! I heard there was an accident last night and an American who looked like you was killed. When you didn’t pick up before I thought it was you,” said Þora, “God, you look terrible. Where have you been?"  She was tall, almost Sean’s height, with dark brown hair styled in a Louise Brooks-style bob. Her body language was making an unmistakable demand. ‘No’ was an unacceptable response. Sean began lying:

    “I was out. Walking. Thinking. Hiding from the rain,” said Sean.

   Þora looked concerned: “What were you thinking about?”

   “Þora, I’ve been thinking it over. I think that it’s time that I went back to the States.”

    “Oh,” she said, “What about me, Billy? What about your daughter? What could be more important than that?” Þora was still holding Sean tightly, seductively moving her hips and breasts. When Sean felt his body responding in kind, he could see that the situation was rapidly becoming out of control. What was worse was the fact that Sean liked it.

    “You could live with me, then Silu would let you see her daughter,” continued Þora,  “You could be close to her, you’d be like a favorite uncle.”

    “Silu will never allow me to be close,” said Sean, That’s one reason why I have to go back, I can’t live like this anymore.”

    “The lies are coming faster now,” he thought, but Þora was smiling now. When she relaxed her embrace Sean thought she would move away. Instead of stepping back, however, she pushed him down onto the blanket and the pile of tarps.

    “You can live like this, Billy,” she said, pulling down the tights she was wearing under her skirt,  “And I will make you like it.”





Fiction





By Professor Batty

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Prairie Home Cemetery









They've all got proper headstones now.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Sharon's Autumn

Sharon has likewise been known to turn and fall.







Leave it to Sharon, Fridays at FITK

Used by permission

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

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Monday, September 17, 2012

'Tis the Season



Duell County, South Dakota, 1994

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Sharon Not







Sharon's appearances can be deceiving at Flippism is the Key


Used by permission

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Coffee and Aspirin



  “The coffee is rather strong, I’d recommend taking it with cream.”

   The guard had returned with a carafe of coffee on a tray with a cup, saucer and a small pitcher of cream. The saucer also held some lumps of raw sugar and two aspirin. The guard set the tray down on the bench beside Sean and left the room—locking the door behind him. Sean downed the aspirin with a sip of the coffee. The guard had been right—it was quite bitter. After loading the coffee with cream and sugar, it was drinkable but remained dodgy.  “Probably been cooking on a warmer all night,” Sean thought.  The rain outside had stopped and it suddenly become very quiet. He was now able to hear sounds emanating from within the embassy: doors being opened and closed, footsteps in the hall, a telephone ringing, muted voices in the distance. By the time he finished his second cup the headache was nearly gone and Sean was wide awake. He made an effort to still his right foot—it was trembling—but soon both of his legs were bouncing. Sean began to pace. After what seemed like an hour, he heard the lock click and the door opened. Sally entered, followed by the guard with Sean’s clothes. As the guard placed the clothes on the bench, another man entered the room.

   “Sean, this is Ambassador Halston. Ambassador Halston, this is Sean Carroll, the young man who has become involved in this unfortunate situation.”

   “I wish our meeting was being held under less tragic circumstances, Mr. Carroll. It is most unfortunate that Senator’s son has died.”

   “You’ve been contacted by the police?”

   “Yes, of course. This is where the situation becomes extremely… complex. You see, Sean, on the basis of the identity papers found on the body, they have identified the body as being yours.”

   “You told them it was Billy, didn’t you?”

   “Sean, I’m going to tell you what’s been done already, and what remains to be done. It has been decided that, in the best interests of the United States, it would be best if the Icelandic police continued to believe that the person who died in the accident was a certain Sean Carroll, data analyst employed by Applied Diffusion Research of Seattle Washington, a tourist who had been vacationing in Iceland. William Clarkson, Junior, is currently at the United States Embassy, Reykjavík.”

   “I become Billy? I don’t care for this at all. What about my life? What if I refuse?”

   “Put your clothes on Billy,” said Sally.

   “What's going to happen?”

   “You are going to realize that you have no other options,” said the Ambassador.

   Sean changed into his clothes under the watchful eyes of Sally (who seemed to relish the experience), the Ambassador (who tried to maintain an air of dignity), and the guard (who seemed bored.)  They had brought him a pair of shoes—wingtips—in a size too large.

   “They were the best we could do on such short notice,” Sally said, “You’ll grow into them.”

   Sean ignored her, thankful that he had three pairs of socks to fill the space. After he was dressed, the Ambassador spoke:

   “Once again, we regret the events which have led to this awkward situation.  I hope you realize that we are aware of the sacrifice we are asking you to make. There are several extenuating circumstances which we cannot reveal to you at this time. This for your own protection.”

   The Ambassador remained aloof, but there was a glint in his eyes, Sean sensed resolve and ruthlessness in the tenor of the Ambassador’s speech. “Don’t underestimate us,” he continued, “For we are powerful and many and you are but a single man. Work with us and reap the rewards, defy us and suffer grievous consequences.”

   “Such as?” Sean still couldn’t quite wrap his head around what they were asking him to do.

   “Come with us, please, for a small demonstration.”

    They went out into the hallway, through a security door, and then into a meeting room that was sparsely furnished with a table, chairs, and a large screen monitor on one wall.  A green duffel bag was on the table. There was another man, who Sean took to be a technician, visible through a window in a control room.

    “Mr. Johnson, please, put the downlink on the big screen, without sound, thank you. Billy, and I will call you Billy from now on, have a seat. What you are about to see is a live stream from the FBI headquarters in Seattle.  There is someone there who you know.”

    The room lights dimmed and images on the screen flickered, then became steady. It showed a room with  a mirror, a clock on the wall, and a desk with papers and photographs on it. A man was on one side of the desk and Molly was on the other.  She had evidently been crying; the man was haranguing her. He was pointing to the photos, he picked up a paper and began to read it to Molly. Molly’s head was down and  she was shaking.

   The Ambassador spoke to Sean in a calm voice—as if he were reading from a grocery list.

   “It seems that your choice of a partner was unfortunate. Before she met you, ‘Molly Berenson’ as you know her, had been involved with an underground terror cell. Actions of this cell included operating a bomb factory, plotting to destroy government offices, aiding and abetting fugitives, and consorting with known terrorist operatives. The list goes on.  Your ‘friend’ is facing years in prison. You wouldn’t like that would you, Billy?  Would you like to be linked with her as a ‘fellow-traveler?’  Be aware, this is only the beginning.”

   “What can I do to help Molly?”

   “It really is quite simple. You will become Billy, Senator Clarkson’s prodigal son returned, make some campaign appearances with dear old dad, and when he takes office there will be a nice job for you in the NSA—your line of work—and, if you keep your nose clean and out of trouble for a few years, you’ll be free to resume your previous life.  Molly will be allowed to live her life in relative freedom… as long as you perform your role faithfully. Do you understand me? It is really a very good deal for everyone.”

   “I understand.  I take it that Molly will think that I have died and that I am to have no contact with her?”

   “Yes. That is, of course, a necessary condition.”

   “And what happens now?”

   “There are still some things that Billy must do here in Reykjavík.  This is the trickiest part, for we have to get you out of the country without raising suspicion of the police or Billy’s friends in Reykjavík. He had the use of storeroom down by the harbor which he used as a ‘crash pad.’ We obviously couldn’t break in and get his things without creating a stir, but you are the key—or should I say, it appears that you have the key. It is important that you are seen by some of Billy’s friends so that it will appear that you, that is to say, Billy, are alive and well and have back to The United States.”

   “Now what?”

   “Go to the storeroom, it is on Grandagarður, in the harbor district. See if Billy has left anything. It will be dawn soon and you need to be seen in Grandakaffi, the restaurant across the street from number 11.  It was Billy’s usual morning hangout—he would meet with his friends from nine until ten. I’m giving you ten thousand krónur—roughly equivalent to about eighty US dollars. If someone who knew Billy talks to you, tell them you are ‘strung-out’, that you’ve been ‘speeding’ for a couple of days.  You won’t need to act the part—the coffee you drank contained more than caffeine.  After breakfast, walk around the center of town—be seen—but try to avoid any interactions which might give you away. A lot of people knew Billy, but be careful, he had some enemies. Go back to the storeroom, gather Billy’s effects and put them in this duffel. Sleep if you can. We need at least a day to arrange your transport out of the country. Here is a phone you can use.  We’ll call you when it is time to leave.”

   “And Molly?”

   “Do you accept our offer?”

   “I accept your offer.”

   The Ambassador picked up a phone and pressed a button.

   On the screen, the man at the desk picked up his phone. The Ambassador was terse:

   “We’ve landed the big fish. Let her go.”

   The man at the desk hung up, picked up his papers and spoke to Molly. She looked surprised, and quickly got up and left the room.

    “It's time to go, Billy,” said Sally, as she placed Sean’s hand on the duffle bag.





Fiction

By Professor Batty

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Vacation in Paradise

Weather in Iceland yesterday:



Via Kristiv- thanks for the warning, but I'm still coming!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 4 

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Alice in Wonderland

Once upon a time, when my name was Alice, I used to hang with a group of young women. We'd go out to the country where one of them lived on a farm with her cows:



It was a mellow experience; we drank tea:




And there was time to just be:



A time to sit and stare without purpose in the eternal now.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Sharon's Toggery

Moose Dressing, Cow Tipping, Sheep Coifing, and Snout Plucking are among the many classic arts known upon the Shire.








Dress for success with Sharon, Fridays at FITK

Used by permission

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Triage



a party… flashing lights can’t remember where i am… alone… looking down into a deep hole… i know if i get too close i’ll be pulled in by some perverse/reverse will power… something important is happening… i can sense it, but what… where did everyone go… and now i am a child again… throwing stones i hit a boy on the forehead… the blood flows right out and i feel sick so i run away and then my mother tells me not to do it… i have to go to the apartment house and tell the boy’s mother i’m sorry even though he started it… then there is the wail of a siren i think it is the police coming for me...

   Sean woke up, alone in his apartment in Reykjavík, the television was on.

   Something is happening.

   What is going on?

   Empty wine bottles on the table.

   Billy.

   The room started to come into focus.  He became aware that he was sick, really sick. He hadn’t felt like this since that night in the dorm in college—when Billy thought it would be amusing to drug his wine.

“That asshole did it again!” Sean thought, as he staggered to the bathroom and stuck his toothbrush down his throat—a trick he learned in the dorm. After a few minutes of purging, Sean was awake but fuzzy-headed. He went back into the living room. It looked as if it had been hit by a tornado.

   Billy had gone through all of Sean’s things: the laptop was gone, as was his jacket, wallet, passport, phone and his shoes.  

   “The dirtbag had even stolen my shoes!” thought Sean, “To keep me from following him.”

   Billy had even emptied out Sean’s suitcase, dumping out his underwear, socks, and papers, leaving nothing of obvious value. But in that pile was Sean’s most valuable possession: the note that Mrs. Robinson had given him in Seattle, a way out of this mess.

   Outside the window, reflections of flashing blue and red lights were bouncing off the buildings, coming in the direction of the harbor.

   “The siren in my dream! Something is happening.”

   Billy’s jacket was lying on the bed. When Sean picked it up he felt something hard in its lining. Looking through the pockets, he found, through a hole in one of them, a single key, embossed  with the number 11. In lieu of shoes, Sean put on the three pair of socks that Billy hadn’t taken. He went out and walked down the street, passing the now-dark Russian Embassy and headed to where the lights were brightest.

   When he got to the road that serviced the harbor he saw several emergency vehicles. Medical and police personnel had cordoned off an area around a man who was lying in the roadway. Next to the man was a smashed laptop computer.

   The computer was Sean’s—he could see the ADR inventory sticker on its bottom. The man was wearing Sean’s jacket. He was obviously dead. Sean knew that it was Billy.

   The police were talking to a taxi driver, it was Ole—Sean’s taxi driver. The front end of his cab was damaged. A small crowd had gathered on the sidewalk across the street from where Sean stood. Standing in it were the two goons that Sean had seen the night before at the nightclub. When one of them looked up and made eye contact, Sean turned and walked quickly away without looking back. After he was around the corner he started to run. Away from the horrible scene, away from Billy, away from the goons. Sean kept running. Going through the square by Hotel Borg, running past the pond, and then, with his lungs on fire, Sean ran up the hill behind the big corrugated metal church. The US Embassy was on the next block.

   As Sean turned the corner at the top of the hill, it began to rain. He made his way down the street, his clothes were completely soaked by the time he pressed the Embassy’s doorbell. He waited. After a minute, he pressed it again. A groggy voice emerged from the intercom.

   “How may we be of assistance?” The voice coming from the speaker spoke in a flat, almost weary tone. It had the inflection someone who had dealt with the major and minor traumas of tourists on a regular basis.

   “Gluggaveður. Gluggaveður,” Sean hoped that he wasn’t mangling the pronunciation of the strange word.

   “Please wait.”

   Sean waited. The narrow overhang above the door did little to stop the downpour. He had been wet when he arrived at the Embassy, but now he was now positively soggy. Sean began to shiver. After a few minutes, a smaller door next to the main entrance opened, and a uniformed guard motioned him inside.

   “Proceed down the hall,” said the guard, “At the end of the hall, turn to the right. There is a room with a shower and towels and a bathrobe. Change out of your wet things. Wait there.”

   Sean walked down the passageway and when he got to the end he turned and entered a large bathroom fitted with toilets, sinks, lockers and a shower. As the door closed behind him he heard the click of its lock. He tried the door but it wouldn’t open again. On one wall of the room were high windows. They were barred. Sean got the impression that this room was also used as a holding cell. He stripped and entered the shower. Even the warm water couldn’t stop his shaking. He dried off and put the bathrobe on. Gradually, he began to calm down. He was still a little foggy from the wine and whatever it was that Billy had put into it. He was starting to develop a massive headache. Sean tried to make sense of the events of the last two days: Who were those goons? Russians?  Icelandic boyfriends of Silu and Þora? Were they chasing Billy, was that the reason he ran in front of the taxi?

   “Tell me what’s going on, Sean.”

   It was Sally O’Donnell, who had entered the room with the guard.

   “You’re with the embassy?”

   “Let’s just say that it was no accident that I was on that flight, nor was it a coincidence that I rescued you yesterday. Think of me as your guardian angel, Sean. I know why you’re here; I know about Billy. Where is he?”

   “I think Billy is dead. He was hit by a taxi down by the harbor. I think he may have been running from some thugs, those same guys who were after me last night. They saw me at the accident scene. I didn’t want to end up like Billy. I think that Billy may have been running from them. I came here from there.”

   Sally’s look changed. It was the first time Sean had seen her frown.

   “You’re sure it was Billy?” she said, “You’re sure he’s dead?”

   “He’s dead. It was gruesome. He had taken my ID—my wallet, passport, laptop, everything.”

   “Did anyone else see you, anyone besides the thugs?”

   “I don’t think so.”

   Sean began to tell Sally of the day’s events: his meeting with Billy at Perlan, their walk to the graveyard, drinking in the apartment. Sean didn’t mention Billy’s belief that he and Sean were brothers. He also didn’t bring up Billy’s daughter, nor did he mention Billy’s theory about the deaths of their mothers. Sean now had no doubts that Sally was on the Senator’s payroll.

   “He left a key in his jacket pocket,” said Sean, as the guard began to gather up the wet clothes.

   “You’ll have to stay here for a while, I’ve got to make some calls. We’ll get those clothes dried for you. Hang on to that key, you might have need of it. Is there anything we can get you in the meantime?”

   “Could I get internet access?”

   “No.”

   “A cup of coffee would be nice.”

   “I’ll see what I can do,” said Sally.

   “How about an aspirin?”

   Sally smiled.

   “Sure, Sean, you can have two.”




Fiction

By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Last Days of Summer - III


Anoka, Minnesota, 2012

And now it is over.

First day of school.

Hugs and pictures at the bus stop.

Let the fun begin!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Last Days of Summer - II


Anoka, Minnesota, 2012

School starts tomorrow. All summer long the gang has been using the corner across the street as their hangout. Learning to smoke. Practicing their cursing. The boys trying to show who is the toughest. The girls are trying as well, in different ways.

Will they remember this summer, a summer spent in idleness on an anonymous street corner in a nondescript small town?

Will they return next year?

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

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Monday, September 03, 2012

Last Days of Summer - I


Minneapolis, 1984

The last summer spent at the old house. In a few weeks we'd move away, and the gatherings of kids like this would become fewer and farther apart. And then these occasions would become impossible- they no longer were kids; kids who ran around barefoot and free, wearing only a t-shirt, suddenly grown up. Some were living in far away places, others still around and trying to make it on their own.

The sky is still blue, the grass remains green, but these days of tow headed toddlers cavorting in the sun are, for me at least, gone forever.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 

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