…it’s a rather fishy tale
Amnesia & Magic
I haven’t seen Bill in five years, since the FBI consulted with me on the Dotsy Dugan case. He’s gotten some gray hair at his temples and it makes him look even sexier than he did before. Parts of me react involuntarily to that.
He’s smiling, but it’s a grim smile, his “I’m glad to see you, but this is serious smile”. He stops just in front of the car and beckons me out with a wave of his hand. I figure if he wanted to arrest me, there would be other agents with him, so I get out and ask him what’s up.
“You look good, Mick. The new hairstyle suits you.” His deep voice sounds like it’s coming through a static filled radio. That means this is a waking dream and I’m really still in the car. Pretty hefty Magic and he must be within a mile or two of our current position. I’m thinking the Mage he has casting this spell is really earning their pay.
I look him up and down. As always, he’s well dressed and carrying three guns, judging from the way his suit moves. That’s a .45 in his shoulder holster and I figure it’s still a .38 in his left pocket and strapped to his left ankle. Bill is a southpaw.
“You’re looking good yourself, big boy. Now what’s this all about?” I’m not feeling as cocky as I try to sound. I doubt that I fool him.
“ I’ll give it too you short and fast”
That would be a first.
“You’ve got three Wizards after you. Well, maybe two if you managed to kill Leems back there, which, by the way, was a damned clever bit of thinking. The other two are Olivia Saint James and The Green Man. Saint James has sent out at least fifty thugs and a dozen Mages. She’s put a high bounty on whatever it is you have. The Green Man is coming after you all by himself. The good news is that for some reason, all of them insist that you be taken alive and in good condition. The government wants to gives you a chance to surrender to them before they call out their big guns. This is your chance. I told them not to hold their breath.”
Ok, this is a big bunch of information to process. Olivia Saint James almost never leaves her castle in Wales, but she can channel a lot of Power through her pet Mages. She’s dangerous, but not unstoppable. The Green Man is almost unstoppable. Early on, he goofed up some spell that turned him green, ugly and not quite human. He doesn’t need to sleep or eat much and like Tanner Leems, he’s not on a first name basis with sanity. Very dangerous, even if he is coming alone.
Of course, both of them are small change compared to the power of the United States Government and it’s army of Wizards & Mages and Federal Agents. I am, as my Uncle Max used to say, “screwed, blewed and tattooed”.
Except that Bill used “them” and “their” when referring to the government, not the “we” or “our” that he would usually use. That was big and it was meant to tell me that maybe he was not totally on board with the government’s plan. Could it be that the big lug is going soft? I like that idea.
I give him a smile. “I’ll deal with Olivia’s thugs and The Green Man. You can tell your bosses that they can kiss my beautiful bronze ass. Anything else you want to say to me? I’m kind of on a tight schedule here.”
Bill chuckles and runs his right hand through his blonde hair. That has always been our signal to listen carefully to what was next said. He is having second thoughts about the Feds!
“Only that I hope you know how deep you’re in and I’m hoping you get out alive so we can go back up to Astoria some day. I’d like to have a glass of wine with you again. And I do still love you, Mick.”
Well, mixed messages there. I know he still loves me and I do still love him. On the other hand, out trip up the coast from San Francisco to Astoria, Oregon was a comedy of errors. Everything that could go wrong did and it soured us on vacations for a couple of years. But his message means that something that happened on that trip was germane to my present situation. I’ll have to do some thinking on that.
I nod and he smiles. Then things get blurry and in a heartbeat I’m sitting in Honey and Dak is shaking his head and asking what just happened. I give him a quick rundown and he expresses a good deal of amazement over how powerful the Feds are in the Magic department.
We start off down the road at a slightly less than suicidal speed and I’ve got Dak helping me watch for anything that looks like trouble. I’m pretty relieved when twenty minutes pass without an attempt on our lives. I hope whatever is waiting at the cabin is worth the damage my nerves are taking.
I slow down to take the turnoff that will run another five miles to the cabin. We get about a mile when it hits me…the wine! Holy shit!
See, on that disaster of a vacation, our old Ford broke down and we had to stay overnight in a barn belonging to a farmer while his son repaired the car. The farmer brought us a bottle of homemade blackberry wine to help keep us warm, although I’m sure the half dozen quilts his wife brought out, along with enough food for six hungry lumberjacks, would have kept us warm enough.
Anyway, we were most of the way through that bottle when we got into one of our discussions about the FBI and all the Magical Power it was accumulating. Bill was telling me I was paranoid and I told him that it was J. Edgar who was paranoid and that much power should not be controlled by one man. He said if he ever believed that Hoover was going to abuse his office and the resources of the FBI, he’d do whatever he could to stop him. I told him that he’d better damned well let me know so I could help him.
And then today he had shown me that he wasn’t on board like he used to be and he had given me clues. At this point in my thinking, I’m sweating bullets because This adds up to one big answer.
Hoover wants the ring and book so he can do a power play. And the only real power play a guy in his position can make is to take over the government.
I think I might pass out.
I take a few deep breaths and speed up as much as the overgrown country lane will allow. Dak is giving me worried looks, but remaining quiet. After a couple of minutes, we arrive at what is left of the cabin.
There’s a tug at my heart to see the old place so rundown and overgrown, but I don’t have time for reminiscing. About a hundred yards downhill from the cabin is the spot where our fort used to be, the spot where all of us kids and sometimes my dad and uncles used to hang out. Nothing left of it, but I see a postcard on the pine tree just left of it. No writing on it, just a postcard saying “Greetings From Mount Shasta!” and showing a picture of that old volcano. Not the most subtle of clues, but it would work. I wonder who put it there? Obviously, I have a mysterious ally.
I let Dak know that we’re going to hit the road again, so he runs behind a tree to take a leak. I do likewise behind a bush and then we head back to Honey.
We’re almost inside the car when three things happen. We see the Green Man descending from the clouds on what looks like vines made of Magical energy, we see about thirty of Olivia’s Ugly minions pour over a nearby hill and an FBI airship comes over the nearby redwoods announcing via loudspeakers that we should drop all weapons and lie down on the ground.
Three ways screwed, oh yeah. No, make that four ways, because it was sure as hell that these guys were all going to fight over my head. Nope, no good would come of this.
“Get in the car, Dak, and hang on. This is going to get dangerous.”
No sooner do we shut the doors that an Olivia minion casts a spell at the Green Man while he’s popping one off at the airship. Naturally, the airship unleashes a volley of hexes.
I have one trick that might buy us a few minutes of travel time, but it’s a long shot. What the hell, I’m thinking. I go for it and activate a spell by pushing a small silver button on the dashboard.