Saturday, February 29, 2020

More from Meow Wolf



Where the heck am I ?

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, February 28, 2020

Rock of Ages

This is Chapter 10 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK



Friday evening, July 10, 2020, Seattle

“Are you two alright?” said Mary when Sean and Jo walked in to the hotel suite, “It looked pretty bad out there.”

“What was that big boom?” said Mareka, “It shook the window!”

“I don’t know, Kiddo, it might have been the television truck,” said Sean, “We left after that.”

“I’ve got video of it on my phone,” said Jo, “Even though some of the protestors were wearing masks I’ll upload it to our dropbox, it might be too important too risk losing.”

“Well, it is pretty obvious that there was someone behind that demonstration, someone that wanted some publicity,” said Sean, “We’ll see what develops over the next couple of days.”



Back at the scene of the riot, after the crowd had finally dispersed, the television director of KWAH was on his phone describing the damage to his truck to his supervisor:

“Someone injected some kind of fluid or gel into the generator housing and, judging from the looks of it, it was pretty volatile; gasoline maybe, maybe napalm. It wasn’t a malfunction, there had to have been an intense source of heat to melt those cables and blow the gas line. Whoever it was knew what they were doing.”

“O.K. Bob, let the fire department see it, they might want to impound the truck. Is the rest of the equipment all right?”

As far as I know, the camera operators were out in the crowd with the operators, they got jostled a little, but suffered no damage. Outside of a loss of power the control room wasn’t affected, we’ve got the memory cards out of them, they’re on the way to the station as we speak. You’ll be able to see for yourself what we’ve got.”

“What about the explosions we heard? Was anybody shot?”

“As far as we can tell, someone put some cherry bombs in the trash bins before they set the fires. The big boom was the generator exploding. The police will want the video so make safety copies right away—before they get a warrant. This story is going to keep on giving for a long time.”



”Is there any more news on the house, Jo?”

“I scheduled a showing for tomorrow; you might want to cancel it,” said Jo, “In light of what just happened.”

“No, I think we could use a new place to hang our hats,” said Mary, “The sooner we get out of this neighborhood the better.”

“Is anyone else hungry? It’s been a long day,” said Sean, “I’ll call room service.”

“Do they have tater tots?” asked Mareka.



Saturday morning, July 11, 2020

In a residential neighborhood in North Seattle, an elegantly dressed middle-aged woman stepped out of her Escalade SUV when the taxi with Sean, Mary, Mareka and Jo pulled up to the house they wanted to see.

“Hi! I’m Ellie Langley, you must be the Carrolls,” said the real estate agent, “Welcome to North Seattle!”

“Hello,” said Sean, “This is Mary Robinson, my wife, our daughter Mareka, and this is her nanny, Jo Sanford.”

Jo ‘Sanford’ was far more than a nanny; she was the de facto business manager of CarRob LLC, the tax entity that dealt with Mary’s Spellapp business and Sean’s management of his grandmother’s artwork and estate. By mutual agreement she was usually introduced as Mareka’s nanny in social situations, it made things simpler and Jo had her own reasons for anonymity. Her last name was also a fiction, she had ‘gone underground’ after she had left an abusive relationship and an attempt was made on her life by a Russian agent during the ‘Billygate’ affair several years earlier. As Mareka grew older, Jo became more integrated into the Carroll-Robinson household and business affairs although she maintained a separate apartment in the same building as Sean and Mary. Now that Sean’s aunt Tina was dead, Jo was also the only person besides Sean and Mary (and Edwin Duddle) who knew the story of Sean’s grandmother Emily’s ‘resurrection.’

“Pleased to meet you all!” said Ellie, “I think that you’ll find this is an exceptional opportunity. Shall we begin?”



In a conference room in the Seattle Police Department Headquarters, a group of police officials were sitting around Arnold Marchal, the head of the Seattle Office of the FBI. Laurence Griswold, Chief of Police, stood up and addressed the group:

“The riot in downtown Seattle last night caught us off-guard. We’ve asked Mr. Marchal from the FBI to come in on our investigation for it appears that this was a coordinated effort orchestrated by some person or persons outside of the state, probably directed at two people that have been previously investigated by the FBI: Sean Carroll and Mary Robinson. Agent Marchal was the head of the Seattle branch during that investigation, I hope that he may be able to offer some insight into last nights incident. Agent Marchal?”
“Thank you, Chief Griswold. Sean Carroll had become involved in a plot involving Senator Clarkson who used Sean to connect with his estranged son, William Clarkson, Junior, who had acquired evidence linking his father to a covert plan involving arms sales and money laundering. Sean was forced into a cover-up that later became exposed thanks to efforts by the FBI and aided by Mary Robinson who, at the time, was operating a ‘data mining’ company. The plan had been setup by a group of men with called themselves ‘The Brotherhood’ who, along with suspected Russian agents, attempted to silence Sean. The ‘Brotherhood’ met its end in an explosion, set off by lightning, and all activities involving Sean and Mary ended at that time. What relationship all this has to yesterday’s event is yet to be determined. It apparently is unrelated to the BLM protests. Let it be noted that both Carroll and Robinson were fully cooperative with the FBI at that time. Chief Griswold?”

“From what we have been able to determine so far, the television crew was there to intercept and interview Sean and Mary, who were scheduled to return to their apartment last evening. They had been tipped off by a source in Decorah, Iowa, where Sean’s aunt has recently died, leaving a considerable estate to Sean and Mary’s seven-year-old daughter, Mareka. Let it be noted that television station, KWAH, and its news director, William Preston, have a history of aggressively promoting sensational stories. Mr. Preston has assured me that this was simply a “public interest” story, but his Twitter feeds and television promotions throughout the day seems to belie that assertion. The other part of this riot centers on the inflammatory comments by a self-styled preacher, one Andrew Stevenson, who had been using his television broadcasts and Twitter feeds to incite his followers to assemble at the same time and place to express their disapproval of Mary Robinson, whom they referred to as a ‘witch.’ It is unknown if there are any links to the two. It isn’t a regular protest, most the people involved are not ordinary citizens. We are going to try and get the footage shot by the KWAH camera crews and will be analyzing it to identify any perpetrators.”



“So, if you’ll walk this way, we can explore the grounds.”

Ellie Langley led the group through siding doors that opened to a brick patio. The yard beyond it sloped down to a wooded ravine where the sound of flowing water could be heard. The yard was bordered on one side by an enormous boulder.”

“You probably have already noticed the glacial erratic. It was left here during the last ice age and it is too big to be moved. It could have been dynamited or jack-hammered but now that the area around it has been built up that kind of disruption is out of the question.”

Mareka had run directly to the rock and was gingerly touching it.

“Let’s move here!” she said.



Next chapter: Doubling Down

By Professor Batty




Thursday, February 27, 2020

Meow Wolf



Where am I?

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, February 26, 2020

On the Old Santa Fe Trail…



I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico, staying in a real adobe casita situated an actual stone’s throw away from the Old Santa Fe Trail! My posting may be somewhat irregular for the next week but the new chapter of The Inheritance will appear, as usual, on Friday.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 4 




Monday, February 24, 2020

The Absolution

By Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

A Freyja and Huldar Thriller
Minotaur Books, New York, 2016

Another Yrsa novel!

She has been cranking them out for fifteen years now and I’ve reviewed most of them, including five of her Þóra Guðmundsdóttir series, three of her stand-alone efforts, and two other Freyja and Huldar entries.

Freya is a child psychologist and Huldar is a low-ranking detective who have previously had brief fling and are (again!) unwillingly thrown into the murder investigation of a teen-age girl. The deceased girl’s friends are interviewed and it soon becomes apparent that there is much more to this case than meets the eye. When a teen-age boy is violently abducted the focus shifts to his friends and soon a pattern of cyber-bullying emerges in both groups of teens, although they are not connected with each other.

This is definitely one of her better efforts, although I think the stand-alones are better novels. All of her series books have their moments but are oddly hampered by the lack of personality in the main characters. This novel is no exception to that rule, but it is elevated by its unpredictable plot and a good use of its setting in Reykjavík and the surrounding areas. There is also a definite sub-theme on the shallowness of the modern Icelandic social scene and it even throws in a few chuckles at the expense of Freyja’s inept attempts at dating.

Recommended.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, February 21, 2020

Home, Suite, Home

This is Chapter 9 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK



Friday evening, July 10, 2020, Seattle

In the back seat of the taxi Sean and Mary (with Mareka sitting between them) were talking.

“Could you get a room at the hotel?” asked Mary.

“Yes, Motif had plenty of rooms; a suite was available,” said Sean, “I reserved it for three nights, just in case.”

“Why are we going to a hotel?” said Mareka, “I thought we were going home.”

“There seems to be a disturbance… some kind of demonstration in front of our apartment building,” said Sean, “We thought it would be better to stay out of the way, at least until tomorrow. The hotel is nice, and there is a rooftop garden with games and things to do.”

“It’s only a couple of blocks from our building, we should be able to see it from the hotel,” said Mary, “I’m sure the demonstration will blow over soon and then we can go home.”

Mareka sat quietly for a few minutes, thinking over this change of plans, and then spoke up:

“This has something to do with the powers, doesn’t it?”

Mary put her index finger to her lips and pointed to the cab driver. Mareka knew from past experience that the powers were not to be spoken of in public. She gave a short nod of understanding and nestled into her mother’s side.



Outside of Mary and Sean’s apartment building the crowd had grown, and a half-dozen police officers were attempting to clear the sidewalk in front of the entrance. The police captain was talking to the KWAH television crew director in the mobile.

“Tell me why you shouldn’t be charged with inciting a riot,” said the captain, “There is no news here.”

“Honestly officer, we didn’t intend for this to be this big,” said the director, “We were just intending to do a human interest story, but most of these people came here in response to a sermon and tweets by some crackpot preacher in Arizona.”

The deadpan demeanor displayed by the director disguised his delight due to the developing demonstration. He had already gotten some great footage of the rabid crowd and, while the original story about the seven-year old heiress was cute, the wanna-be ‘witch burners’ were media dynamite.

“If you’ll excuse us, officer, we are about to go live, after that we’ll wrap this up as quickly as possible,” said the director, Robert Miller, as he turned to his console, “Camera one: stay wide, camera two: zero in on protesters, we’re on the air.”

Burn the witch! Burn the witch! Burn the witch!” came the chant from the crowd.



In the master bedroom of the penthouse suite, Sean and Mary were unpacking as Mareka peered out of the window at the streets below. In front of their apartment building, she could see the people, police cars and television equipment that were in front of its entrance.

“Mother, what’s going on down there,” said Mareka, “Why can’t we go home?”

“It looks like some kind of protest, it it’s bigger than I thought,” said her mother, “I don’t think it is safe, sometimes a crowd like that attracts bad people—people who want to fight, or to steal things. That is why we are here, to be safe. It will be over by tomorrow.”

“Is Jo OK?” asked the girl, “Can she get to her apartment?”

“I think so,” said Sean, “If not, she can stay with us. She was across the street from our building when I talked to her from the airport. I’ll call her and see what is happening now.”

Sean called Jo, but she didn’t pick up. He texted her and waited but didn’t receive a reply. “I’m going down there to see if she is all right,” he said.

“There’s something happening down there!” said Mareka, pointing down at the flashing lights in the street below.



Back in front of the apartment building the television crew had just shut down the feed and was preparing to break down their gear and leave when a cry of ‘Fire!’ was heard and the director began yelling into his headset: “Everyone power up! Lenny! Turn on the live feed again. All cameras live… ”

Flames had begun shooting up from the trash receptacles along the sidewalk. As the television lights flared up a loud bang was heard and the lights went dark. The television remote truck began emitting smoke from the cowling that covered its generator.  The crowd, still shouting ‘Burn the witch’, had surged toward the entrance of the building, overwhelming the police officers who had been guarding it. The crush of people against the outward-opening doors prevented them from opening.

“Attention! Leave the area at once or be subject to arrest,” said the police captain to the surging crowd, “Clear the area, this is your final warning!”

What the captain couldn’t accomplish with his bull horn, a series of rapid-fire explosions that followed his announcement cleared the crowd, with some people knocked to the ground in their flight from the entrance. Almost simultaneously the sounds of sirens and the honks of police and fire vehicles began echoing in the canyon between the surrounding high-rises. A cloud of pepper spray drifted from the policeA building fire alarm began to ring, then another joined in, followed by a third and fourth. The flashing lights of the police cars made the scene look as if it were a light show for a rock concert.

Across the street, standing on a bus stop bench, Jo was filming the scene with her phone.
Sean had just arrived on the scene and when he spotted her he began making his way towards her. He was blocked by a phalanx of policemen in riot gear so Sean allowed himself to be swept up by the fleeing crowd as the cops began swinging their batons. Circling around behind the bus top, he managed to work his way up to where Jo was standing.

“Jo, Jo, let’s get out of here,” Sean shouted as he grabbed her, “This way… ”

“Ah… ” gasped Jo, rocked by the biggest explosion yet, causing her to fall into Sean’s arms, “Welcome home,” she said, with a smile.

Sean and Jo managed to get back to the hotel by making a backtrack a block away from the riot scene. There were security guards at the hotel door checking the people who entered. Sean told him his name, room number and showed them his key card.

“Sorry sir, we’re doing this in light of the disturbance outside, for your protection,” said the guard as he consulted a printout, “There are four in your party, two nights, is that correct?”

“Of course, thank you, It is appreciated,” said Sean, “My wife and daughter are already in the room; this is Jo, our daughter’s nanny. Please keep the list private, thank you.”

“The security of our guests is paramount,” said the guard, “Your privacy is assured. Just a heads up—we’re posting guards at the door at least through tomorrow night, you will have to check in with us again if you do go out.”

“We’re in for the night, thank you.”

As Jo and Sean waited for the elevator there was a woman next to them looking at her iPhone.



Next chapter: Rock of Ages

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Nose Job

My everyday routine of press conferences, award ceremonies and thrift store openings was interrupted last week by a trip to the doctor.

A sub-basal carcinoma had been  playing hide-and-seek under the tip of my proboscis for a couple of years, occasionally expelling a tiny drop of blood for a few days then slumbering for several months.

I had a biopsy done in 2018 and it was negative, but my nose started to worsen; a follow-up biopsy last December confirmed my earlier suspicions.

The out-patient procedure was pretty much painless (although the novocaine shots hurt!) and was evidently a success. My nose was quite tender for several days and my eyelids and face looked as if I had O.D.’d on make-up.

I am on the mend.



Nose, an eerily prophetic sculpture, by Shoshannah Lee Marohn, 2019

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, February 17, 2020

My First Date Redux

I was in seventh grade.

Deborah had beautiful skin and bad eyes. For some strange reason (unknown to me then), I thought that if I would walk home with her and carry her books (corny, but true!) she would be my girlfriend, and someday, perhaps, she would even kiss me. I was a skinny little greaser (this was pre-Beatles- when a little dab of Brylcreem would do ya) and growing out of my clothes about every three weeks. She was kind enough to indulge me, and we’d sit on her back porch and talk—until her mother would arrive home from work, and then I had to go. After a couple of months of this (and it was getting too cold to sit outside) I suggested that we could go to a movie together. She had to ask her mother.

Her mother said yes. She lived about a half a mile from the cinema, so transportation was not a problem. The Great Escape, a Steve McQueen action thriller, was playing. War movies were evidently OK, but Doris Day-Rock Hudson sex farces were not. We settled into our seats with popcorn, candy and a “Bubble-Up” soft drink between us (two straws, natch), and began to watch. There was one little problem. The movie was too good! We were both mesmerized; she was an only child from a very conservative family and I don’t think she had ever seen anything quite like it. We held hands, and she gripped mine tightly when Steve McQueen jumped the barbed wire fences on his stolen motorcycle. I don’t remember what happened after the date but I would have remembered it if we had kissed.

Soon after that, Deborah told me her mother didn’t think we should see each other so much. I got the hint. Years later, in high school, when she asked me to the Sadie Hawkins (girl-asks-boy) dance I said no, and she cried. There were a lot of things that I didn’t understand then.

I did see her at one of our class reunions, 20 years later. Still the same beautiful skin, although she now had contacts for her eyes. We were with our families (another mind blower) but we did get a chance to talk: nothing big, no hard feelings either way. Later, when we were all leaving the park, I saw her verbally chastising her husband, it looked like a routine. There but for the grace of God go I, etc.,

No kiss then, either.

UPDATE: I had seen her a couple of years ago at our fiftieth reunion, at first I didn’t recognize her, she had been ill. Last Friday I received an email saying that she had passed away.

Young love, unrequited love, as pure as it gets.

And I made her cry.




Originally posted June 15th, 2007 in a slightly different form.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Friday, February 14, 2020

Change of Plans

This is Chapter 8 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK



Friday Morning, July 10, 2020, Chicago, Illinois

Sitting in the G9 gate area in O’Hare, Mary and Mareka were talking as they waited to board. Sean had gone to get a newspaper.

“This has been quite a trip!” said Mary to her daughter, “And there will be some big changes for us when we get home.”

“What changes? Will it be something I like?” said Mareka, “I already know that I will be starting school.”

“Yesterday, while you were talking with Edwin and Sean and I were in the coffee shop we got in touch with Jo. Jo has been looking for a house for us and she found one that looks very promising.”

“We will be moving from the apartment then?” said Mareka, nervously.

If we get the house. We’ll look at it this weekend and if we like it we’ll make an offer to the people who own it. No one lives there now, so we could move in right away. Let me show you what it is like,” said Mary, opening her laptop. When the listing came up Mary clicked on the slideshow. “You can look for your self, just click on the triangle to go to the next picture.”

“I see that you two are house-hunting,” said Sean, who had just returned, “Tell us what you think, Mareka. You are a part of this decision too.”

Mareka slowly clicked through the images. She stopped at one of the images of the backyard. One side of the yard was abutted by a huge boulder.

“It has a big stone in the back yard!” she said, “Let’s get it!”

“We’ve got an appointment for Saturday morning, if it is as good as it looks, and we’re lucky, we might be moving soon!”



“… and you’re sure they are going to be at their apartment at six p.m.? We’ll have a crew there, thanks for the scoop Ted.”

William Preston, the news director of Seattle’s TV station KWAH hung up the phone. KWAH had built its reputation on sensational news stories; stories that never let facts get in the way. He wanted to intercept the family in the airport but there were still restrictions in place due to Covid-19 about ‘non-essential” personnel—which included camera crews. Since the rioting after George Floyd murder the police’s relationship with the media was decidedly more hostile. were The station had been slow on the uptake during the scandal concerning Sean and Mary and the coverup in the “Billygate” affair. Even more humiliating, the station was scooped by Techcreeper, an internet tabloid. Preston had had Sean and Mary on his radar ever since. His old college buddy, Ted Benson, was the chairman of the board of the assisted living facility where Sean’s aunt Tina had lived until her demise. Over the years, Benson had kept Preston updated on her activities, especially as far as Sean was concerned, but there wasn’t much news that the life of a 90-year-old could generate. Her death, however, and the astonishing bequeathing of over 200 million dollars worth of stock to the seven-year-old daughter of Sean Carroll and Mary Robinson was something Preston knew would create a sensation, not just in Seattle where it would be a welcome change from recent events, but also around the world. He would do everything he could to break the story and keep it fresh.



Friday Afternoon, July 10, 2020, SeaTac Airport, Washington State

After their flight touched down, Mary checked her phone for messages. A text from Jo said: Call me ASAP. Mary punched Jo’s contact number on her phone.

“What’s up?” said Mary after Jo picked up.

“There are reporters and cameramen and a crowd of people downstairs in front of the lobby and at the entrance to the apartment building garage. I asked one of the cameramen what was going on, and he said they were there to cover the arrival of a seven-year-old heiress—it was a big story—and it had been promoted on Twitter all afternoon. I talked to some of the other people who were there and they said they were there to confront the ‘Icelandic Witch.’ Some pastor from cable TV had also used Twitter and his YouTube channel to tell them to stone her. The witch they are looking for is you.”

“Thanks for the heads up,” said Mary, “Where are you now, are you O.K.?”

“I’m across the street at Anchorhead Coffee, I’m fine, nobody knows me,” said Jo, “The crowd is chanting ‘Burn the witch, burn the witch.’ I don’t think you should come down here, at least not until this circus dissipates.”

“Good idea, I’ll tell Sean and call you back when we decide with to do.”

The airplane had arrived at the gate and the first class passengers were starting to collect their bags from the overhead bins. Mareka was looking out the window, staring at the luggage handlers doing their thing.

“Sean, I just talked to Jo, there’s trouble at the apartment,” said Mary, “There are camera crews and demonstrators at the entrance. I’m afraid that we’re in the limelight again–my work with the Hilmar and the spells app has been attacked by some preacher, and someone must have told the media about Mareka’s inheritance. She said it is an ugly scene, and both stories have gone viral on Twitter.”

“Ted Benson, no doubt, for the story about Mareka,” said Sean, “I didn’t like the looks of that guy. The preacher I know nothing about but I’ll get our lawyers on it,” Sean paused a moment to think things over and then said, “Let’s spend the night at a hotel, with any luck this should blow over by morning, hopefully the police will break it up if it goes on for any length of time.”

“O.K.,” said Mary, “I hope it doesn’t turn into a riot. I’m wondering how will Mareka take this.”

“I’ll see if there is a suite available at the Motif, that’s only a couple of blocks away from our building and we can walk home when the coast is clear. It has a rooftop lounge with games and things that will give Mareka a space to unwind before we go to bed. I’ve already reserved a cab and with any luck we should be able to get out of the airport without being seen. I’ll get the bags while you and Mareka hide out in the Sky Club until I call.”

The queue of passengers waiting to deplane had begun to move.

“Com’on honey,” said Mary to her daughter, “It’s time to go.”

“I can’t wait to get home!” said Mareka.

“Soon, girl, soon.”



Next chapter: Home Suite Home

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Flashback


First Avenue, circa 1984

A friend asked for some pictures of The Wallets, the legendary Minneapolis punk-funk-polka-dance band from the 1980s. I had a bunch of slides in the archives and, after scanning them, when I viewed the enlarged images it triggered a flashback to the nightmare that was my young adulthood..

There comes a point when imagery outstrips prose, Jungian archetypes become reality:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, February 10, 2020

And the Oscar goes to…

Hildur Guðnadóttir!


The Independent UK

Best original score for Joker.


By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Friday, February 07, 2020

Tea Time

This is Chapter 7 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK



Thursday Noon, July 9, 2020, Decorah Iowa

After the reading of the will each of the people who had been mentioned in it had been given a packet of papers that related to their individual endowments. The group began to disperse but one man that Sean had recognized from the assisted living facility came up to him.

“Ted Benson,” he said, extending his hand, “I’m from Tina’s facility. I can’t express how much gratitude I have for your aunt’s action here today, her generous gift will really help us.”

“It was her way—always thinking of others,” said Sean, ignoring the proferred handshake, “Your people have been very good to her… and Edwin.”

“And this is her grand-niece!” Ted exclaimed, stooping down and extending his hand to the girl, “Your great aunt always spoke highly of you. You are a very lucky girl!”

Mareka eyed the man, stepped back, and said, “Hi.”

Sean was also put off by the man’s over-intense interest in his daughter. He was still wary of groups. In addition, he and Mary had always tried to shield Mareka from publicity; the press had had a field day with his involvement in the death of his half-brother Billy Clarkson as well as his relationship with Mary. There were even more crackpots and hate groups now than there were back then, especially since the last presidential election.  The couple had made concerted efforts to reduce their public profile.

“If you’ll excuse us… ” said Sean, as he led Mareka away from the man and over to where Mary and Edwin were talking.

“Sean, I need to check in with Jo, to tell her when we’ll be back at the apartment tomorrow.” Jo was Sean and Mary’s personal assistant and Mareka’s nanny, Mary and Sean thought of her as a family member.

“Assuming our flight goes as planned—the flight schedules are nearly back to normal—we should arrive at SeaTac around 4:40 and get to the apartment about six,” said Sean.

“Jo’s got a lead on a place near Northgate: not a McMansion, a nice yard, a creek in back, and a guest house. She thinks it is the place we’ve been looking for,” Mary continued, “Let’s go to The Magpie, the wi-fi is better there and I could use some coffee.”

“I’ll go with you,“ said Sean, “Mareka, do you want to go to The Magpie?”

“Yuck, coffee,” said Mareka, “Edwin, can we go to your store, and have a tea party?”

Edwin had a small antique/curiosity shop just around the corner that Mareka liked to visit.

“If it is alright with your parents,” said Edwin.

“Sure, we’ll come over when we’re done,” said Mary.

As they turned to leave, Sean noticed that Ted Benson had been standing behind them.



Edwin’s shop was a bit of a disaster. He had started it in 1955 as a toy store and had done quite well servicing the needs of the baby boom generation. Over the years, however, it had morphed into a junk shop. Mareka had been in it a couple of times, when she and her parents had come to visit Tina. Edwin would sit with her at a small table—the only uncluttered space in the store—and they would ‘have a chat’ while he made tea for himself and cocoa for her.

“So, Mareka, this reading of the will, what do you think about it?” asked Edwin.

“I liked Mr. Goldman. He has the best eyebrows!” said Mareka, wiggling her own, “But I didn’t like that other man that talked to me. I didn’t like it when everybody stared at me. Why did they do that?”

“I think they were surprised that you were mentioned in Tina’s will,” he said, “They didn’t know you, they we very surprised when you got those shares.”

“What are shares? Are they like money?”

“They can be sold, but your shares will be held for you until you are grown-up, you will get them on your twenty-first birthday,” said Edwin, “The nice thing is that you don’t have to think about them until then. The shares mean that you have a share in many businesses, if they make money your shares are worth more. If the businesses don’t make money, then they will be worth less. ”

“Oh. Okay.” Mareka seemed troubled.

“Tell me about the stones, then,” said Edwin, changing the subject, “Your mother said you had a bit of a fright in The Ice Cave.

Mareka brightened considerably. “That was great! The stones are my friends, I liked the stones in the wall too, I’m learning about my powers from them.“

“Of course,” he said, “I remember Emily talking about them. You can look into those further, when you get home. There are a lot of stones in Washington. You’ll have plenty of time to study them, your mother will help you.”

As they sat talking, Edwin would peek at the child—for only a fraction of a second at a time—as he sipped his tea. He knew that she was getting to the self-conscious age and he didn’t want to break the mood. When he looked he could find traces of Emily in Mareka’s demeanor: her bird-like eyes with an awareness of her surroundings; the way the corner of her mouth would turn up in a half-smile; the music of her laughter.

As if she had been reading his thoughts, Mareka said, “What was Emily like? Am I like her?”

“Oh yes, a little I guess. You are both special, in having your powers. You smile like her, you laugh like her.“

Mareka smiled, then her expression turned serious.

“How did Tina die? Did she have the virus?”

“No, for the most part we’ve been spared that here. Her heart just gave out. She was very old.”

“Edwin, are you going to die soon?”

“Oh, someday. Probably not this afternoon.”

Mareka then spoke in a lower-pitched voice, the voice of a woman:

“Edwin, I love you.”

It’s Emily’s voice,” thought Edwin, “I love you too, Mareka,” he said.

By the time Mary and Sean came in they had both stopped crying.



Thursday Afternoon, July 9, 2020, Phoenix, Arizona

“Reverend Andrew Stevenson, Church of the Righteous Word, sermon 237, and… we’re on the air…”
Andrew Stevenson still got a thrill every time the director mentioned his name at the start of his weekly sermons. He had made it the hard way, on his own (with the help of The Lord, of course), and all those who doubted him, who scorned and reviled him, where are they now? Not preaching to a world-wide ministry and not with one hundred thousand Twitter followers, to be sure. And it was a righteous ministry, not like those immoral, Satan-worshipping pagans, harlots and blasphemers—the world was filled with them and their false gods.

“Friends, I am going to speak today of one of the modern perils to the true faith, the resurgence of witchcraft and demonology in a most unexpected place—Iceland! This Godforsaken rock in the North Atlantic is the current hotbed of evilness in the world today. They’ve given up on their Christian heritage and embraced the Devil, even establishing a ‘church’ devoted to the pagan gods. And who is leading this church? A witch from Seattle—the west coast center for Satan’s minions. She calls herself Mary Robinson, and has made a fortune deluding innocents by selling spells, spells that enslave the users to sin and condemns then to eternal hellfire. In the old days, the days of God-fearing people, we knew what to do with witches. The Bible says, “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live! Who among you has the nerve to cast the first stone?”


Next chapter: Change of Plans

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Max Ray


Circa 1984, 1100 North Sixth Street

Max Ray, saxophonist for the Wallets and numerous other groups, oozing
cool in this rare candid shot shot at his house in North Minneapolis.

Max is so cool that he even has his own action figure!

By Professor Batty


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Monday, February 03, 2020

Take Five


1100 North Sixth Street, Minneapolis, 1982

Erik takes a breather from band practice to contemplate the meaning of existence.

By Professor Batty


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