The Terribly Late, But No Less Delightfully Wacky, Story of Mostly Purple Patty And The Fat Frog

…co-starring her pet numbat, Willy


Amnesia & Magic: Final Chapter

I’m chanting and the world starts going all blurry, sort of fuzzy on the edges. A shock wave emanates from my body, but I barely feel it and just keep going. A couple more shock waves go off and I can hear Hoover screaming “NO!”, but it sounds like we’re underwater


Now the world is pure chaos, but only for a couple of seconds before returning to a non-blurry state. I have a moment to notice that we’re all back in San Francisco and there’s a dragon flying towards Oakland, then I pass out.


So that was all six months ago, and friends, all hell broke loose thanks to little old me and that Elven book. Governments rose and fell, big business took it on the chin because now they had to pay more for magic, new intelligent and non-intelligent species appeared and, best of all, the Elves were strong & healthy again.


After I had passed out, Bill carried me into a cafe where I came to a few minutes later. Hoover followed us at the point of Dak’s knives, bitching and yelling all the way.


Once I was awake, Bill used the phone to make a long distance call, then we all went to my office to await some friends of his. Turns out those friends were Secret Service agents who informed J. Edger that he was under arrest for a wide variety of offenses before they put a black hood over his head and took him away. I’m very short on details after that, but last I heard he’d been turned into a jackrabbit and turned loose in the wilds of Texas. I guess he’s finding out how it feels to be one of the hunted.


A couple of days and several phone calls after things changed, Bill, Dak and I got on a plane for Washington, DC where we had a private meeting with FDR himself. Turns out that my crafty ex-husband had been working undercover as part of a Hoover investigation team that reported directly to Mr. Roosevelt himself. The President knew that Eddie was getting power hungry and wanted to nip it in the bud. He was both amused and concerned by how things turned out, which is pretty much the way most folks feel.


And now the world is a strange new place mixed with the strange old place, but people adapt. A sea serpent and a giant share Alcatraz Island, which is bigger, heavily forested and looks like no human ever set foot there. So far, no human has. Down south, I hear that Los Angeles is half fairy tale town, half dirty crime ridden sprawl. So, really, not that much difference.


Here in my fair city, there’s a Gnometown right by Little Italy and Chinatown. Golden Gate Park has expanded to about three times it’s original size (without displacing the buildings and roads around it) and has huge groves of giant redwoods that hold entire Elven villages. One of them is about four blocks from my house, so we see Dak and his folks fairly often.

Yeah, I said “we”. Bill took an offer to run the Western Sector of the newly reorganized FBI, with main offices right here in the City, so we figured maybe we’d give the whole marriage deal another try. Holmes and Watson and pretty much everybody else we know approve. I did have to tell my mother there would not be any grandchildren. Hell, she has nine already.


I’m going to close this up now, because Bill and I are taking a little vacation up the Oregon coast in my brand new custom built Hudson Hornet. We’re taking along a bottle of wine. With any luck, it will rain.


But Mick Allen will be back in…

The Chinatown Demon Case


It’s All Fun & Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye, An Ear, Two Fingers And A Nipple

…which is why you don’t roughhouse with lepers



Amnesia & Magic

 Part Seventeen

I’m reading the first page, which is in English and all about asking Mother Earth to bless this ritual and confer Her wisdom and a bunch of other stuff. It takes me about a minute and as the last word leaves my lips everything goes crazy.

The cave starts to melt away, replaced by a clearing in the middle of a forest made up of really big trees.

Animals start coming out of the forest. Many of them look like they’ve stepped out of a book of fairy tales.

There are people coming into the clearing. They aren’t Humans or Elves. Not sure if all of them are actually “people”.

I’m glowing like a spotlight.

Dak is laughing out loud.

Then he’s got two knives in his hands (note to self: chide Bill on his frisking skills) and he’s moving faster than any Elf I’ve ever seen and he’s stabbing all of the FBI agents, including Bill. They fall, but there’s no blood and they look paralyzed. Dak is yelling something in Elvish.

He’s about to stab Hoover when the fed hits him with a spell that turns him to stone. I move to attack him, but then stop, because he’s got a gun pointed at Dak.

He’s made of soft limestone, so bullets will knock off big chunks of him. He’ll be in very bad shape when the spell wears off.” He’s smiling this “I’ve got all the cards” smile at me and I swear I’m going to knock it off his face when all of this is over.

Then he loses the smile and tells me to get on with things as he moves in close enough to read the book.

The book is open to the pages the Oldest One mentioned. There are my three choices, but I can also see the faintest image of what Hoover can see. It’s a ritual that will bring all of the Power from the Elven world into our human world. Hoover actually giggles as he reads it. My fist aches to punch him until I’m ready to drop. Instead, I read my three choices, which boil down to…

1: The elves return to their world and that’s it for Magic on Earth forever. The effects of all spells ever cast are negated.

2: Things stay as they are, but the elves channel even more magic to us, this time without the debilitating physical effects.

3: The two worlds merge into one, which they had been about a million years ago.

I can see good and bad in all of these, which makes me hesitate. Then the Oldest One clears his throat and Hoover pulls a second pistol on Dak. All of the people and animals are looking at me.

I take a few more seconds, then make my choice. I swear that I can hear my grandmother laughing.

This Is Not My Beautiful Mouse

…this is not my beautiful knife


Sorry this was so late coming, Gentle Readers.


Amnesia & Magic

Part Sixteen

The Oldest One smiles and nods his head.

Yes, we’ll be chatting. I’m going to tell you a few things about what is coming up. We don’t have much time, despite how things look.”

I glance around and notice that everyone is not exactly frozen, just really slowed down. I also notice that Dak is grinning ever so slightly. What’s he thinking about? Then my train of thought gets back on the right track. Time to have more secrets revealed.

When you get inside the cave, I’ll be there. I’ll make you do a little ritual and then you’ll open the book and some things will happen fast. Don’t worry about them. When things calm down, you’ll see that the book is open to a page that shows three chants and what they do. They’ll be in English, because you’d mess them up if you tried Elvish. You’ll have to choose which one of them you want to do, then do it. After that, really big stuff will happen and I can finally die. The rest of you will have a new world to live in.”

A world of my choosing?” I’m feeling a little pressure here, to say nothing of some self doubt.

Yes. You’ll choose what you think is best for the world.”

I can’t catch a break. Then something pops into my head.

Wait! If my choices are in English, Hoover will be able to read them, and you can bet he will. If I start reading the wrong choice, he’ll shoot Dak.”

The old Elf smiles again.

Don’t worry, Hoover and the others will only see what the book wants them to see. Besides, the boy will be fine. I must go now. I’ll see you again in a minute. Stop worrying, because your choice will be the right one.”

And then he’s gone and I’m walking along and I’m thinking how much I missed just chasing down criminals & cheating spouses and stuff. Dak gives me a quick glance and I’m not sure, but Bill might have flicked me a quick look.

We walk into the cave about twenty yards and sure enough, there’s the Oldest One looking just as he did a minute ago. The cave is lit by torches and seems to go back a long way. Without saying a word, the Oldest One motions for us to follow him and then heads deeper into the mountain.

Eyes open, men!,” Hoover says. Then he turns to an agent and says, “Osgood, take the book and the ring.”

Some little voice in my head tells me to go along with this, so I hand over the book and the ring. As soon as he has them in his hands, Agent Osgood keels over dead.

No, not just dead, but dead and turned into some sort of powder. The book and the ring are undamaged, which is more than I can say for everybodys nerves.

I pick up the ring and book and say, “So, Eddie, who should I give it to next?”

He is not amused and I notice that all of the remaining agents except Bill have taken a step back. Dak is trying very hard not to laugh.

After another blood vessel popping moment, Hoover turns away from me and starts walking. We all follow.

When we reach the rear of the cave, it’s really beautiful. There are crystals and those things that point up and down like spikes and even some bats. The Oldest one is standing on a rock formation that looks kind of like an altar. In front of it is a flat space covered with runes carved into the stone. He points to a spot opposite him on our side of the runes, so I go stand there. Hoover is right next to me, Bill is behind him and Callahan is standing behind Dak. Other agents are surrounding us. I notice that Dak is still grinning, then the Oldest One speaks.

With the ring on your finger and your mind clear, open the book and read the first page, Bringer Forth.”

Okay, it’s showtime.

The 63 Things You Don’t Want To Stick Up Your Nose

… we could have made the list longer, but we got too grossed out

Amnesia & Magic

Part Fifteen

Try as I might, I can’t get myself moving faster than a very slow and jerky sort of speed. This must be what having a super slow motion palsy must be like. Dak looks scared and dazed, which I figure is how I probably look.

When the green son of a bitch is about fifteen feet in front of the car, he starts ranting about how he’s going to kill us and take the book & ring and rule the world. What the hell is is with Wizards and monologues about what they intend to do to you? Gangsters don’t do it, spies don’t do it, hell, even crooked politicians don’t do it. Only Wizards will stand there for a couple of minutes telling you all about their big plans. It’s a big fat pain in the ass to listen to, but under normal circumstances, it can give you a bit of time to shoot them or escape.

Not today. Today, I’m not going anywhere or shooting anyone. About all I can hope for is that the ring & book protect me.

As it turns out, that’s part of what happens. The Green Man stops talking and throws some of that black lightning at us, a burst of golden energy shoot out of me and from someplace I can’t see, a blast of blue energy comes into the mix. Everything goes mad for a few seconds and then I can think straight and move slowly, despite every muscle in my body feeling like I’ve been worked over by a gang of thugs. Dak is groaning, but seems to be ok.

Honey, on the other hand, looks like she was in a fire. The interior is completely burned

out and smells terrible. As I stagger out of her, I see that the exterior looks even worse. Shit! She was my first brand new car and I really loved her. She cost me three thousand dollars! Ok, now I’m really pissed off. I swear I’ll shoot the next bastard that looks at me wrong.

Unless it’s a dozen FBI bastards with guns pointed right at me.

Despite being pissed off and hurting, I’m not stupid enough to throw down on them, so I hand over Gladys. They don’t ask for the book & ring and I don’t offer them. Dak gets out of the car and an agent frisks him before escorting him over next to me. That agent is Bill. He gives me a stern look and I give him an even sterner one back.

The Feds walk us a couple of hundred yards to three cars that weren’t there when we drove up. I’m thinking some sort of cloaking spell was used. It must have been a doozy to not get detected by the Green Man.

Then J. Edgar Hoover himself steps out of the largest car and I’m wishing I hadn’t given up Gladys. As it is, the only thing keeping me from attacking him with my bare fists is the fact that he isn’t smiling. Well, that and all of the guns.

When he starts speaking, the power hungry little bastard gets right to the point.

Miss Allen, you are under arrest for acts of treason, premeditated murder, failure to report major magical relics and several more charges. You will now lead us to wherever you were headed where you will then hand over the relics you now possess. Be advised that most of these men are highly trained Wizards, as am I, and we will not hesitate in turning our full Power on you…or the boy. Do you understand me?”

I stare him right in the eye and say, “I understand you. How’s the wife?”

That hits a nerve and he puts his red face right up in mine.

When this is all over and I have things under my control, you’ll pay for what you’ve done, bitch.”

I can’t help smiling. “Bitch? Is that the best you can do? Eddie, you really disappoint me.”

For a second, I’m thinking he’s either going to kill me or his head will pop from all that blood rushing into it. As it is, he turns away and tells the agents to put me in a car.

A minute later, we’re back on the road heading for Mount Shasta. A minute after that, I see a white porcupine waving us on. Ten minutes later, a white badger points towards a deer trail and I tell the driver to stop.

We’re damned near at the foot of the mountain and the trail leads up to a cave. We all get out and start walking in silence. Dak is walking between Hoover and some big agent I seem to remember as being named Callahan.

It takes about five minutes to reach the cave mouth, which is about ten feet across and eight feet high. It doesn’t look entirely natural. Parts of it look carved out of the rock, but if it was, it was done a very long time ago.

Just over 5.000 years ago”, says a voice at my side.

After I swallow my heart back into it’s normal position, I turn to face the oldest Elf I’ve ever seen. He’s tall, too, taller than everyone else in the group, which, by the way, has frozen in mid-stride.

Let me guess, “ I say to him, “We’ve got to have a little chat.”

The Girl With Green Nipples Goes To Rome

…Rome, Georgia


Amnesia & Magic

Part Fourteen

About a hundred yards behind us and coming up fast is a thirty foot tall humanoid creature that looks like it’s made out of the very forest around us. It’s got soil and pine needles and rocks and even little trees in it. The eyes look like hollow pits, there isn’t a nose and the mouth is about 4 feet wide. Did I mention that it’s gaining on the car?

A forest elemental,” Dak yells, his eyes the size of silver dollars. “They hardly ever come into this world. Somebody must have summoned it.”

I swerve to avoid hitting a tree after nearly losing control of Honey. I need to keep my eyes on the road. It would be good to outrun this thing, but the road has gotten twisty. A glance in the rear view mirror lets me see that the elemental is maybe fifty yards back.

Dak, what do you know about these things? How can we kill it or outrun it or just get it off our ass?”

He pauses to think for a few seconds, which in our current situation feels like three weeks. I’m of out of Magic, at least as far as Honey is concerned, and I don’t know if I can use the ring or book to do anything. Damn it, I’m a private eye, not a Wizard.

The one thing I do know is that bringing Magical creatures into our world is really big Magic and they don’t stick around long. Of course, that Dragon that flattened half of Mexico City was only around for about half an hour and the Trolls that robbed the Louvre popped out of our world in under fifteen minutes. Unless the elemental vanished in the next couple of minutes, we are in a very bad way.

After taking about half of forever, Dak finally answers me.

Killing it would be almost impossible, Mick. Elementals are real strong and this one can draw more strength from the forest. We won’t be able to outrun it, either. I don’t know why it’s chasing us. Most elementals don’t care about people unless they are summoned or the person has something it wants.”

Ok, so somebody had summoned this thing and sicced it on us. Could have been any powerful Wizard, but my money was on the Green Man. On the plus side, that didn’t necessarily mean that green bastard knew where we were. On the minus side, the elemental was now very close behind us. What the hell could a Wizard have offered it to make us a target? What would an elemental really want?

Then it hits me and I stop the car.

Dak looks at me like I’m nuts, which I mat well be. The elemental skids to a stop behind us and almost falls on it’s ass. I get out of the car and stand facing it in what I hope looks like a friendly stance. Part of my mind is yelling “RUN!” and another part is hoping I don’t wet myself. If I’m wrong about what the elemental wants, both parts might win.

The big guy looks at me, kind of warily. I don’t think he was expecting this.

Hello there, noble elemental of the forest. I greet you with respect. Before you do as you have been ordered, may I ask you a question?”

After a moment, the elemental nods and I start breathing again. Undies still dry at this point.

Am I right in assuming that whoever summoned you told you that your reward would be getting to return to your world?”

He nods again. Son of a bitch, I guessed right!

Well then, if I can send you home right now, would you let me?”

I had no idea an elemental could look surprised. Then, he nods and smiles. Well, I’m pretty sure it’s a smile.

Ok then, let me give it a try.”

I take the book out of my pocket and hold it close. I can feel Magical Power coursing through me. I have no idea how to cast a spell, but I think I might be able to break one with good old raw power. I open my mind to only one thought: breaking the spell on this elemental. Then, I give a good hard push.

I’m not sure how much power I used, but it must have been enough, because first I saw a green aura around the elemental, then it was gone. After that, the elemental faded away and I got dizzy and the next thing I know, Dak is splashing water on my face.

Holy crap, Mick, you did it!”

Yeah, I sure did, didn’t I?”

Dak helps me up and we get back into Honey, then start off down the road. We’re getting close to Klamath Falls, maybe another two hours to go. After that, Mount Shasta is only couple of hours away. I have no idea where I’m supposed to meet this “Oldest One” that Granny mentioned, but I figure he’s somewhere near our final destination.

I start thinking of everything that might happen between here and there. I also think of what could happen before I get a chance to read the book. In fact, I spend about an hour thinking before I start bouncing ideas of Dak. Yeah, sure, he’s a kid, but he’s smart and he can at least ask me questions I haven’t thought of, which he does.

By the time we stop for lunch, gas and a road map or two in Klamath Falls, I’ve got maybe half a dozen plans for dealing with various scenarios. Most of them are scarily full of holes, but once we’re on the road, Dak and I manage to fill in a couple of those holes. The drive to Mount Shasta is pretty much filled with non-stop “but what if” and “if this happens, then we” talk.

We’ve just turned off the highway onto the road to the mountain when a big black car does the same thing. I’ve been wondering when this would happen. Fortunately, Dak and I are prepared for this.

The car is coming up fast when Dak slides over to take the wheel and I throw open my door, swing my upper body out and give the mugs in that car both barrels of a shotgun. Their grill takes half the blast and the rest shatters the windshield. Quick as a wink, I’m back inside, Dak takes the shotgun and slides over and I hit the gas.

Despite a punctured radiator and no front glass, the goons are still behind us and now they’re pissed off and shooting. Bullets are whizzing by us and a couple hit the back of Honey. That pisses me off, so while Dak steers, I lean out the window and cut loose with Gladys. I his the goon riding shotgun in the throat and he goes down. I pop off two more shots when I hear Dak yelling, “Mick, look at the sky!”

I look up and see clouds forming in an otherwise clear sky, Then those Magical vines appear and I realize the goons were a distraction to keep us from noticing the Green Man’s arrival. All I can do is punch the gas and try to outrun him.

Except that those vines shoot over us and when they touch down, they form a wall across the road just as we enter a flat treeless area. A moment later, the Green Man steps out of those vines, his hands crackling with energy. Before we can do anything, a bolt of black lightning hits Honey and we stop dead.

Not only has he stopped the car, but Dak and I are moving far too slowly to do anything. I can’t even speak clearly. Even thinking is hard.

The Green man is 50 feet away now, walking towards us, laughing. My clearest thought is that he is one ugly son of a bitch.

Terror Of The Crocodile Women

…it was double billed with The Walking Slime

Amnesia & Magic

Part Thirteen

Ham, eggs, home fries & toast, I’m looking at you with love in my heart. It’s a big breakfast, but I’m up to it. Dak is plowing through a plate of sausages and eggs, so we aren’t talking too much. The only time we stop eating is to gulp down hot coffee or milk.

After a couple of minutes, I check out the other patrons of this diner. For the most part, they’re just ordinary working folk with a few travelers mixed in. Nobody gives us a second look and that makes me feel good.

Just as I’m paying the check, two mugs walk in that set off all of my alarms. They’re dressed like loggers, but what logger sports a $5.00 haircut and manicured nails? Nope, these boys are hired muscle and from their overall demeanor, I’m thinking they know their job damned well. They look at Dak & I, but the more intelligent looking of the two gets a puzzled look on his face. That means we don’t look like we should. I can’t quite figure that out. I mean, I drank the potion and I’m wearing the ring, not Dak. How can we both look different?

See, that’s me all over, trying to look a gift horse in the mouth.

As we leave the place, I see Honey reflected in the window of a store, only the car I see is not a Hudson and sure isn’t black & yellow. Whatever Magic is at work, it’s covering Honey, too.

As we get in the car, I take a second to look at our reflections in that window. I’m a middle aged white woman about four inches shorter and fifty pounds heavier than reality. My hair is red with gray and I’m wearing a homemade dress. Dak looks like a cute 12 year old girl. I decide not to mention that to him. I have three brothers and I know how 12 year old boys would react to looking like 12 year old girls. Actually, that probably applies to most guys of any age, come to think of it.

We get about five miles out of town when my spirit guide, looking like a white jackrabbit, lets me know that I need to turn off of the highway. I do it and now we’re heading down a narrow two lane road running through the forest. I have no idea where we are or where this road comes out.

Dak starts telling me an old Elvish legend about the first time Elves appeared in our world. It seems that there is another world, just like ours, but without humans. One day, a crazy Elf Wizard tells everybody in his village that there is another world without Magic or Elves or magical creatures. Nobody believes him, so he goes off to learn more. Then he comes back many months later that says the two worlds are sisters who have not seen each other since before Elves walked the earth. Again, nobody believes him, so he goes off again and learns even more. When he returns the third time, he doesn’t say anything, but casts a very powerful spell that causes the Two Sister Worlds to blend together just a bit. This happens every so often, usually when Elves and Humans forget about each other.

I tell him that’s a good story and I’m about to tell him one of the many Native People’s versions of it, when my spirit guide, looking like a white moose, blocks the road and nods towards the road behind us. I turn to look.

Oh shit!

The Stupidly Funny, Yet Also Quite Uplifting, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Completely Crazy Cats

…featuring her wacky pal, Vividly Blue Benny

Amnesia & Magic

Part Twelve

Ok, Ok, I’m waking up here. Stupid damned alarm clock!

I’m not even fully awake yet and I slip the ring on my finger. I feel a momentary tingle all over, but other than that, nothing happens. The dream, or whatever it was, of my Granny is very vivid still. Actually, so is the dream about Bill, which is not so welcome after six months of celibacy.

It’s five in the morning and I stumble into the bathroom, noticing as I go that Dak is still snoring. It kind of reminds me of my younger brothers, Al and Andy, both of whom could have slept through a house fire at that age.

When I’m done in the john, I get dressed and then wake Dak up.

Time to wake up and hit the road, Dak. We’ll get breakfast along the way.”

While Dak tends to his morning needs, I take another look at the book and see that the title, formerly runes I couldn’t read, now says “The Book of Changes” in good old English. Ok, so I know one thing the ring does.

I try to open the book to see what the hell it’s all about, but I can’t. Might as well be trying to pry apart to welded pieces of steel. I curse with gusto.

It is not yet time, Daughter of Taeena”, says a voice in my head, causing me to drop the book like a hot potato. After a moment, I pick it back up and slip it into my pocket. I’ll never get used to this Magical stuff.

Once Dak is ready, we pack up our stuff and go check out. Honey is exactly where I parked her and there are two teenage boys lying flat as mackerels on the ground next to the driver’s side door. One of them is holding a lock pick, which I notice Dak pocket, but I don’t say anything about it. I had a lock pick when I was a kid, too.

We drag them a few feet away. Although they are limp and unmoving, both of them are wide awake, courtesy of yet another spell placed on Honey.

Don’t worry, guys,” I tell them. “You’ll be ok once we’re a few hundred yards away. When you can move again, I suggest that you go think about giving up your life of crime. If you don’t, I’ll come back here and turn you both into skunks.” I smile sweetly, but menacingly. One of the boys wets himself.

As we start to drive away, I notice that there is a white dog in the middle of the road. No, not a dog, a wolf. Right there in the middle of the road in the middle of town and nobody, including Dak, seems to notice him. Ok, more ring Magic, just for good old Mick.

The wolf gets up and saunters south, which is the way I was going to turn anyway. After a few seconds, he just fades away. I know what this is all about, what with being half Cherokee and all. This is a spirit guide, sent to tell me how to get to where I need to go. After hearing about such things all my life, I’ve got to admit this is pretty great.

I tell Dak about the spirit guide and he takes it in stride. He tells me that his people sometimes have spirit guides appear to them in times of danger. As we chat, I’m beginning to remember that Elves and Native People have a whole lot in common. I’m wondering what North and South America would be like if Columbus and his crew had all died in a big storm or something.

After a couple of hours pass, I’m sure of two things: I have more than one type of spirit guide, because I’ve seen white deer, white birds, white rodents and even a white swarm of bees. I’m also sure that I’m hungry enough to eat a pine cone.

A few minutes later, we enter a small town that has two diners on opposite sides of the road. In the middle of the road sits a fat white raccoon, rubbing his belly, then pointing to the right.

Who knew that spirit guides gave diner reviews?

The Rare And Beautiful Yellow Winged Eggdropper Stork Of Potawango Island

…the drop eggs on other creatures just for the hell of it.


Amnesia & Magic

Part Eleven

After a few seconds, I recognize who it is: my grandmother, Fawn. Well, actually, I only recognize her because I’ve seen old paintings and a couple of old photographs of her as a young woman, which is how she looks now.

She’s not beautiful like my mom, but she’s very pretty and much taller than I expected. She’s slender, not very busty and her hair hangs in braids nearly to her waist. She looks a whole lot like my Aunt Mari.

Hello, Little Fox. Bet you weren’t expecting this.”

She’s grinning that crooked little grin I remember so well. She sits down on a stump in front of me, a stump that wasn’t there a second ago. Dreams are cool like that.

Hello, Granny. You look good.”

Yeah, I do, don’t I? Everybody on this side looks their best. You ought to see your grandfather. Boy, what a fine looking man he is! Always ready for a lay down in the grass, too, just like when we were young on the other side.”

Other side? So, I’m dreaming about Heaven? Granny looks at me and then laughs.

This is only partly a dream, sweetie. It’s mostly a meeting so you can be prepared for what’s coming.” She pats my hands and I feel six years old again.

Wait a damned minute! I never said that stuff about dreaming out loud!

You read my mind? You can do that over here. Or in dreams. Or wherever the hell we are?”

She laughs some more. Now she’s holding my hands.

Oh, yeah, thoughts and words are pretty interchangeable here. Of course, I could always read you like a book. You’re too much like your papa for me not to.”

Yeah, she was right on that count. Of all us kids, I was the most like Dad, stubborn, curious, reckless, cunning and fast on my feet. I got my smarts and my ability to read people from Mama.

Granny gently squeezes my hands now.

Time to tell you what I can, Little Fox. You’ve got a dream about you and Bill coming up soon. Hubba hubba!”

I’m blushing. Granny always was a risque old gal.

So you know you’re carrying some big magic and you know the names of the book and the ring. That’s good, but there’s more you need to know.” She’s looking much more serious now.

You know about how the Elves came back to our world a hundred years ago. You know how the white people found out that Magic lived in the Elves, and how some humans could channel the Magic to cast spells. You know history after that. Most elves lived in the North, so when the South would not free slaves, the government used Magic to make them. Black folks were freed and nobody cared much about hating them anymore, because every eye was on the Elves and how to use their power. Same for Chinese, Mexicans, Irish and the rest of us. No time to worry about skin color unless it was green.

Sounds good, and it was, but not for the Elves.”

Granny’ right, the world changed almost overnight, and not always gently. There were wars, spying, magical battles and we won’t even get into how things were between those embracing Magic and those who controlled the various religions.

But what the humans, and I mean damned near all humans, didn’t know is that some Native Peoples…us here in North America…some folks in Ireland & Scotland…certain groups across Europe…had known the Elves would come back. Hell, girl, we’d known it for five thousand years. We remembered them from the last time they were here back when we lived among them. It was back then that we made a pact with them. Now, it’s time for you and a few others to fulfill that pact.”

You know, when this is all over, I’m going to take Holmes and Watson and we’re going to jump into Honey and I’m going to drive to the middle of nowhere and rent a cabin and live in No Responsibility Land for a few weeks.

Granny unbuttons her blouse then, and without a trace of embarrassment lifts up her right breast (which I have to admit looks way perkier than you’d ever imagine a granny breast looking) to show me a “Y” shaped scar. At that point, you could have walked up and strangled me, no trouble, because I was dumbstruck. I have the exact same scar under my right breast. It’s always been there, all my life. My parents told me it happened when I was a toddler and I fell on a sharp stick.

It’s not a big scar, maybe half an inch long, but it’s way lighter than the rest of my skin and it has never gone away. It also dawns on me now that nobody, not even Bill, who knew that territory well, has ever commented on it since I was little and my parents told me about it. Nobody. Not even me.

Again, Granny chuckles as she read my mind.

Nobody mentioned it because nobody ever saw it. You could see it, but you didn’t mention it to anyone because it’s a secret mark, made with Old Magic. It marks you as one of our line. Your cousins ‘Netta and Susie have it, too. We always mark three, in case the first choice gets killed. Gotta say, you came close more than once, Little Fox. Good thing you survived, because ‘Netta is as good as white these days and Susie is way to fat for all this running around.”

When I take that vacation, I’m bringing a case of tequila with me. Maybe two.

Granny buttons up her shirt and continues.

Way back, when the Elves were about to leave our world for awhile, they had this big meeting and read some signs and stuff. They saw the future and knew that the humans would steal their Magic and cause their people to weaken and die. They decided to create the ring and the book and put a whole bunch of Magic into them. It cost them dearly.”

I have to ask her. “How dearly, Granny?”

She looks very sad as she says, “When the Elves came back in 1835, the total world population was three hundred thousand. Before they created the ring and book, it was over six million. Most gave up their lives to put Power into those two relics.”

Over five and a half million lives, freely given up. Why?

To save their people and maybe ours. See, the book has been picking up Power over the last century. Every time an Elf, Mage or Wizard dies, their Power goes into it. That’s a bunch of Magic, right there.”

But what do we have to do with it? Were we just keeping the book & ring safe?”

Oh yeah, we did that, although it was really easy for the first four thousand nine hundred years. Nobody could detect it. Once the Elves came back, we had to move it around pretty often. We were selected, we Daughters of Teena, to guard the book and produce the Bringer Forth, which is you. Some of the original daughters traveled to far off lands and married into other tribes of Native People. They did that because, well, because they had to to make the Prophecy work. And now you have the relics and by dawn on the day after tomorrow, you’ll have used them and then things will be ok, one way or another.”

I love Granny, but she does take forever to get to a point.

“Yeah, ok, so I’ve got a day and a half to get to Mount Shasta and, I assume, read this book while wearing the ring? Is that right?”

I may have said that in a less than calm voice.

Granny nods. “Yep, that’s pretty much it. Well, you’ll also have to speak to the Oldest One and maybe shoot a few people. Oh, and you’ll need to trust your gut a couple of times when your head says the wrong thing. And that Elf boy, don’t let him get out of your sight.”

She pats me on the head then.

Well, sweetie, it’s time for me to go. You’ve got a naughty dream to get to and I’m supposed to go “berry picking” with your grandpa. Heh heh…“berry picking”. Good luck, Little Fox. I love you.”

She starts walking away and I want to run after her, but the forest is slowly changing into a room at the Hotel Coronado in San Diego. All I can do is watch, but then she turns back for a moment.

Oh yeah, honey, make sure you put on the ring as soon as you wake up.”

And then she and the forest are gone and I’m in a fancy hotel room with my ex husband, a bottle of champagne and silk sheets.

I’m thinking Granny is right about this dream.

Mister Porkwaffle Experiments With Love

…he actually distills it down to a beverage with a minty fresh taste

Amnesia & Magic

Part Ten

No sooner has my finger hit the button than I realize that without even thinking about it, my other hand is in my pocket touching the ring and the book

Everything around us fades just as the Green Man sends a black lightning bolt towards us. There’s a moment of dizziness and then we’re sitting on top of a mountain on what looks like a gravel logging road. I have no idea where are, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the “mile or two” that the Mage who set the spell up told me.

Dak gets out of the car and starts sniffing the air and listening to the forest sounds. He tells me we aren’t anywhere near the part of California we just left, but he doesn’t know where we are either. Well, at least the air is clear and the view is nice.

We sit there thinking for a bit and then a big old logging truck crests the hill doing maybe 10 miles an hour. The driver sees us sitting in the middle of the road and stops. Dak & I try hard not to laugh at the goggle eyed expression on his face. Big cars driven by women hauling elf kids around probably don’t make it up here much.

I get out and so does he and we meet about halfway.

Hi there”, I say, trying to act friendly and nonchalant. “Could you tell us where we are?”

His eyes get even gogglier and I can hear Dak collapse into a giggling fit inside Honey.

Sweet Jesus, lady, you’re on top of a goddamn mountain!” I’m having a real hard time keeping a straight face.

Well, yes, we noticed that. We were wondering where this mountain is located and what’s the fastest way to a town and main road.”

The trucker is beginning to look at me like he thinks I’m either crazy or pulling his leg. I think he eventually went with crazy.

You’re in Oregon, lady. Head back down the way I came and after about twelve miles you’ll come to a paved road. Turn right and you’ll hit Medford in about half an hour.”

I thank him and get back in Honey. He stares at us the whole while we drive around him and his truck. I’m thinking that by this time tomorrow, everybody for fifty miles around will hear his story of the crazy lady on the mountain.

The road must be pretty new because the gravel is smooth and there are no bad ruts yet. Sure enough, after a steep drive and a couple of hairpin turns, we reach a two lane road and a sign that says “Medford: 30 miles”.

As we zip along, Dak and I discuss the fact that we teleported so far thanks to the Power of the book & ring.

“Yeah”, he says, “With that much Power, we’re kind of lucky we didn’t pop up in China or somewhere.”

I never thought of that. Of course, I’d never intended to channel that much Power in the first place. I mentioned that to Dak. He nodded and said it was probably the ring and book protecting the Bringer Forth, which is me.

My Grandparents used to talk about the Great Relics and how they could protect their chosen bearers. But that was a long time ago, because nobody has seen a relic of any kind since the Awakening, and that was over a hundred years ago. Well, until now, that is.”

So, Dak, what do you know about this Ring of Taeena and Book of Changes? Is it really end of the world stuff?” I’m really really hoping he was overstating things earlier.

He nods. Shit!

I don’t know all of the legend, but I know that the ring and book come from the Other Time, when Elves could use magic just like humans can, but we didn’t get sick or weak from it. I know that part of the legend says that when the book comes back, it means the end of the world. Or maybe it means the world changes. I’m not sure which.”

Well, I’ll sure as hell take a changed world over an ended one, thank you. I’m about to ask him a few more things he probably doesn’t know when we see Medford coming up ahead. I tell Dak that we’ll get dinner and a room for the night, then head for Mount Shasta in the morning.

Medford isn’t a very big place and it’s mostly a logging town, but it is on a major stretch of road, so there are a couple of hotels. I park the car behind the “Medford Arms” and then we check in as “Mabel Beach” and her ward of the court, “Javin Birchtree”. The old man behind the desk barely gives us a look as he hands over the key to our room.

It’s a nice enough room with two beds and windows that look out on the street. After washing up, we head to the restaurant across the street and have a couple of steaks with all the trimmings. Nobody seems to notice us, which is both a blessing and awfully curious. You’d think that this little podunk town got black women traveling with Elf kids all the time. Something was not right, but I’m thinking I won’t bitch about it. I could use a little anonymity.

Full of food, Dak and go get some things out of Honey, then head to the room for a good night’s sleep. It takes Dak maybe half a minute to fall asleep after his head hits the pillow. Me, I mull over the day as I drift off. Hell of a lot going on and me right in the middle. There are several folks, my family included, who would not find that surprising.

I have no idea at what point I fell asleep, but the next thing I know, I’m sitting on a tree stump in the middle of the woods and I see somebody coming out of the shadows.

The World According To Carp

…it’s a rather fishy tale


Amnesia & Magic

Part Nine

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.

How To Make Big Money Without Doing Hardly Any Work!

…just send for our informative booklet, only $15.00 each.


Part Eight

The energy ball sends sparks and miniature lightning bolts off all around the Hornet and she slows down by about 20 miles an hour. The other car is coming up fast when one of the counterspells I had put on her kicks in and fire engulfs us right before blasting backward and hitting hard. Our power increases and I’m trying not to skid off the road. A glance in the rear view mirror shows me the big car has stopped and four guys are jumping out. Just as we head around a turn, I notice that one is a tall thin Wizard.

Leems!” I growl it with such hate that Dak, who was turned looking over the seat at the flaming car, jumps.

Sorry, Dak, but that Wizard back there is a very powerful and very bad man.”

Dak nods. “I know he is. Every Elf around knows who Tanner Leems is. In San Francisco, he’s just as powerful as Mr. Hong. Maybe more powerful.”

I wasn’t sure Leems was as powerful as the “God Wizard of Chinatown”, but I knew he was just as dangerous and almost certainly crazier. Worse yet, he was the son of a Wizard, a rare and deadly thing. The children of Wizards who had the “talent” learned Magic a hell of a lot faster than other Wizards and it almost always drove them mad. If they were twisted little monsters like young Tanner Leems had been, they were just about the most dangerous thing around.

We hit a straight stretch and I floor it. Leems would have that car back on the road in a minute or two and I need some room to think.

So, I’ve got a Wizard on my ass and he knows my car has protection. If he has some way of contacting people ahead of me, this is going to be a short drive. We’re maybe three miles from a small town set around a big intersection. I need to keep heading north, but even if he doesn’t catch up to me, there will be plenty of folks who see us go screaming through town. Hell, it’s probable that he’ll get there while they’re still goggling in our direction.

I can turn west, but that’s an old farm road and it’s twisty and dangerous and one slow tractor will pretty much stop us. Going east won’t get us and closer to Mendocino and will take us back to the new highway, which I’m sure is thick with cops now. Shit!

Dak is back to watching our rear and he tells me he can see the other car and it’s coming up crazy fast. I get a look just before we have to take a turn in the road and yeah, that car is flying low. Looks like we’ve got a race on and I’ll be zooming though the town ahead with a Wizard right behind me. I slide around the turn and punch the gas. All the while, I’m thinking of what options Honey has for dealing with this situation.

I can see the town up ahead and Dak says they black car is maybe 100 yards behind us and coming up fast. I flip up a hidden panel and there are three switches. Just before we shoot through the stop sign and across that intersection, I flip the blue switch.

I’m lucky that nobody is anywhere near the intersection as we fly through it, all the while leaving three dozen shiny little items for Leems and his buddies to drive over. A few seconds later, the car hits the field of caltrops and all four tires blow out. Dak and I both watch because we’ve never seen what happens when four tires blow out at 90 miles an hour. We both find it impressive.

First, the car begins fishtailing, then it goes into a short slide sideways down the road, then it rolls over maybe fifteen times before sliding another hundred feet on it’s roof. Amazingly, it doesn’t hit any buildings or people. As we crest a hill, the last thing we see is a crowd gathering, but nobody getting out of the car.

“That was nuts!”, Dak yells. “The tires blew out and it was all over!”

I have to grin at his assessment. Leems may have had the Magical end of things covered, but he hadn’t thought of a little good old fashioned booby trapping. With any luck, the evil son of a bitch was dead now.

We put plenty of distance between us and the town. After another hour with no sign of a tail, I relax and start talking to Dak about Magic and Elves and things like that. He doesn’t know much more than I do about Magic, but it helps pass the time. Before we know it, another hour has passed and we’re getting pretty near the turnoff that will take us to my family’s old cabin just south of Mendocino.

As I drive along, I’m noticing that things outside don’t quite look right. Everything looks slightly out of focus. I go to mention this to Dak, but he’s slack jawed and staring off into space. Then I notice Honey is slowing down to a crawl. Then she stops.

There’s Magic at work, but I don’t seem too affected by it. Maybe moving a bit slower than normal, but my thoughts are clear.

I’m sitting in my stopped car, wondering what will happen next when I see the man step out from behind a redwood.

The Twelve Things You Should Know About Dinosaurs

…#3: Never poke one with a stick!

Amnesia & Magic

Part Seven

As my vision clears and I start to stand up, Hoagie gets his arm around my waist to help me up and Lillian hands me a glass of water. My head clears pretty fast and I know that Dak and I need to get on the road ASAP.

How long was I out?”, I ask Hoagie. He doesn’t look too worried about my little fainting episode.

Maybe three minutes. Feeling better now that you’ve got it all back?”

I nod. “I told you what I was doing before the mindwipe, didn’t I?”

He grins and nods his head before getting back to those sandwiches, which by now are smelling really great.

I’m still a little unsteady, so Dak and Lilian help me back to the counter. I drink the water, then down the lemonade. At that point, I notice the tea and figure I’ll be needing a long bathroom break soon.

Despite the previous liquids, I take the cup of tea and down it in a couple of swallows, which is the best way to drink most Elven herbal teas, because they taste terrible. I’m getting no immediate effect, so I’m thinking the fun will start later. I was not told what this tea would do.

Hoagie bags up the sandwiches and some napkins and a couple of cupcakes. Lillian fills up a bottle with lemonade. Dak and I both get hugs from Lilian and handshakes from Hoagie, who gives me some advice.

Two things, Mick. First off, avoid the new highway up to Mendocino. Take the back road that your dad used to use. The highway is going to be full of cops and that Hornet of yours sticks out like a whore in church. Next thing is, check the trunk of the car. You didn’t ask, but I figured I’d stock it up while it was parked down at Tiburon. You never know what you might need.”

I thank him and we start heading for the door. Before we step outside, I take a look at the street. Nothing hinky going on, so we go out. The car is untouched and I go around to open the trunk.

Holy cow! Hoagie has the entire trunk packed full of guns, knives, camping equipment, food, blankets, a first aid kit and a quart of tequila. I love that guy!

“Dak, do you know how to use a gun?”

No, I don’t. Not much use for one in the city. But I know how to use one of these.”

He picks up a big Bowie knife and hefts it in his hand, then he takes another. He looks at me and grins.

Good enough. Climb in and let’s get out of here.”

In less than a minute, we’re heading down the road. No tails that I can see, but where magic is concerned, that doesn’t mean much.

Once we’re on the highway, I speed up until I’m passing everything else. We get about twenty miles when I see the turnoff for the old Coast Road. It’s not very wide and it’s beginning to show the lack of maintenance, but it also has almost no traffic, so I punch it and we’re zipping along at 70 miles an hour. Dak breaks out the sandwiches and we start chowing down.

If you don’t mind me asking, Miss Mick, where are we going and what’s going on?”

He’s a polite kid. I like that.

First of all, just call me Mick. The Miss part makes me sound like an old maid teacher. As to what’s going on, we’re delivering the book and ring to somebody. An Elf, I’m sure, but I don’t know his or her name. Don’t know where he or she is, either. The setup was that I’d find clues that would lead to a meeting place. Once I’m there, I hand over the book and ring and that’s it. Well, at least it was until your dad started telling me I was the Bringer Forth and there was a damned prophecy. Now I’m confused as all hell. Whatever the book and ring are about, they were so important that the Wizard who hired me strongly suggested that I have my mind wiped or I’d never get out of the city alive. I left myself some notes to help me along and now you know the whole deal.”

Can I see the book and ring?”

I figure it’s not gonna hurt anything, so I hand them over. Dak sees them and his face

gets a look like I suppose would be on Grandma Silvia’s if she suddenly met Jesus and the Virgin Mary in person. It was a bit unnerving to me, the decades lapsed Baptist choir girl.

That’s the Ring of Taeena and the Book of Changes! This is really powerful stuff! No, this is THE powerful stuff! Holy shit, Mick, we can’t EVER let a human get hold of this!”

Oh, great, I wasn’t nearly nervous enough.

How powerful are we talking, Dak?”

He looks at me with eyes that could not get any wider.

End of the world powerful”

That has about two seconds to soak in when a big black car shows up in the rear view mirror and starts gaining on us. It’s way too big and expensive to be Feds, so I’m thinking it’s gotta be a Wizard.

I have just enough time to tell Dak to hang on when I see a ball of purple light shoot out of the window of the black car and come streaking towards us. Both sides of the road are lined with pines and there’s nowhere to dodge and then the ball of energy hits.

Oyster Milkshake



Amnesia & Magic

 Part Six

My name is Michelline Lenore Allen, but everyone calls me Mick, except family, who call me “Snoopy” and my Cherokee grandmother who always called me “Little Fox”. I was born in San Francisco on March 8th, 1895, which means I’m 40 years old. I have an older brother and sister and two younger twin brothers. My parents live up near Lake Tahoe now. I was married once, for ten years, to Bill Allen, who is still an FBI agent and the most handsome man I know. We divorced because I just couldn’t keep doing what old man Hoover wanted us to do.

I have a dog named Watson and a cat named Holmes. Neither of them is exceptionally smart, but both of them are lovable. I need to get my house painted. My mother used to be a singer. My dad was a fireman and part time fishing guide.

I have big feet for a woman. My sister is a teacher, my older brother is a lawyer and both of my younger brothers are truck drivers. I don’t like applesauce. I don’t get seasick.

I’ve been to South America, Europe and India. I like reading mysteries and horror stories. I would have sex with Gary Cooper in a hot second. My best pal from high school, Martha Hendricks, is a spy in Germany right now.

I have 12 nieces and nephews, but no kids of my own. I like sitting on the beach watching the sun set. My favorite booze is tequila, straight up. I still own my first big girl party dress. I prefer showers to baths.

When I was 10 years old, I convinced my little brothers that they were invisible. They got in trouble trying to steal cookies right in front of Mama, Auntie Gayle, Auntie Bonnie and Grandma Sylvia.

I’m a very good shot with almost any type of gun. I have been forced to kill people who were trying to kill me. It didn’t bother me a whole hell of a lot.

I love solving mysteries. I haven’t gotten laid in six months. I love ducks. I hate snow. I can change a flat tire in record time. My best friend, Jane, named her first daughter after me. I’m a registered Democrat. I’m a hell of a tree climber.

I’m allergic to roses. Cats can be used by Wizards to spy on people. I like Elves. I don’t like humans who use Magic now that I know it’s killing off the Elves. I’m on J. Edgar Hoover’s enemies list, but he can’t do anything to me because I have photos of him engaged in homosexual activity. He was in drag at the time.

I’m Mick Allen, Private Investigator, and I’m on a case that could change the world.

Time to wake up and get at it!

Junior Muskrat Goes On A Drinking Binge

…mind you, he’s mostly drinking cream soda

Behold, Gentle Readers, Part Five is up for your perusal and enjoyment. There will be no poll after this one, because Part Six is all about Mick getting her memory back.

Amnesia & Magic

Part Five

Dad Elf grabs one of the Feds from behind and tosses him into the water like he weighs nothing. The big lug hits the water in a belly flop and Dak starts laughing. A second later, the second Fed is in the drink, put there by Mom Elf, who got him with a flying kick.

I’m chuckling now, too. Those Feds have been trained to believe that they were the toughest mugs around, but now they’re bobbing around in the cold water. One of them tries to pull his gun, but now there are a dozen sea lions swimming around them, pushing them and generally moving the two men away from the docks.

That was my doing,” Dak says, “I asked the sea for help.”

That stops my chuckling. I thought Elves couldn’t cast spells, so I ask Dak what gives.

“”Oh, we can’t cast spells now, but we can speak to Nature when we’re healthy enough. I just asked for the Sea to help us out. I don’t think it’s done yet.”

Sure enough, it’s not over for those government boys, because now about a dozen pelicans are joining the sea lions to keep things busy. One of the pelicans grabs a Fed’s ear and you can year the yelling over all the other noises. I’m laughing again.

That was a while ago and now we’re about three quarters of the way to Tiburon. I’m pretty sure that there will be Feds waiting for us when we get there and I ask Dak if he can help. He says he doubts it, because by now the Feds will have protective spells up. On the other hand, he tells me that he might have another way of getting us past them.

A few minutes of Speaking with Nature and we are now at the rear of the ferry on the port side. The ferry terminal is maybe ten minutes away when everyone starts heading to the starboard side of the boat. I get a quick glimpse of thousands of fish leaping out of the water in a sort of ballet scene, then Dak is telling me to get over the side and into the water.

It occurs to me that I have no idea if I can swim. Well, only one way to find out.

Nobody sees us get off the boat because the passengers are watching the Oceanic Bolshoi and the crew is worried about capsizing. I realize I can at least tread water when four dolphins pop up and Dak tells me to take a deep breath and grab a dorsal fin in each hand. Next thing I know, we’re underwater and moving fast.

This is one of the most amazing things I can remember doing. Admittedly, that only covers a few things, but I’m pretty sure that even when my memory is fully returned, this will rank high.

We come up for a gulp of air only once, because it only takes the dolphins about 4 minutes to get to shallow water. We thank them before we start up under a pier that looks to be a couple hundred feet from the ferry pier. Through the pilings, I can see a Federal boat heading out to the ship. That’s good, because it means nobody saw the Dolphin Express.

Once we’re on dry land, Dak runs ahead and takes a look around. He gives me the all clear and we start walking towards the parking lot. I check my pockets and find that, despite my clothing being soaked, Glady’s, the book and everything else is as dry as a bone. More magic. I’m wishing it had been cast on my underwear.

The parking lot is full of cars, but empty of people. At the far end, I see the yellow and black Hudson Hornet and about a million half-memories explode into my head. That’s MY car. I bought her new, had some improvements made and named her “Honey”. She’s roomy and fast and beautiful.

Dak sees her, too. I know this because he lets go with a “Wow!”

We get to Honey and there’s a note under the driver’s side windshield wiper. All it says is…

Get in and get going, Mick. If your memory isn’t back by now, it will be soon”

We climb in after tossing everything but Gladys into the trunk. I start her up and the engine growls in a deep low voice. Three minutes later, we’re, out of Tiburon and on the highway heading north. I’ve got Dak checking behind us, but so far, no tail. I don’t really relax, but I’m less nervous when, after twenty minutes of driving, I see the fading sign that says “World Famous Hoagie’s, next right”. More almost memories hit me and I’m pretty sure the memory dam is about to bust wide open.

When we get to Hoagie’s, it’s a pretty small joint on a side street full of shops selling everything from used books to furniture, with a couple of auto shops thrown in for good measure. It’s nearly one o’clock and there’s very little traffic, auto or human. I park in the alley next to Hoagie’s and Dak and I go in.

I remember this place! Garson “Hoagie” Hoaglin is a veteran of the Great War and an ace pilot. He’s originally from Newark, New Jersey and he’s married to Lillian, who bakes all the rolls used for the hoagie sandwiches. They have three grown kids.

And both of them were once private detectives. I know that, because they’re the ones who trained me.

Lillian is waiting near the door and gives me a big hug and kiss before shaking Dak’s hand and flipping the sign from Open to Closed.

It’s so good to see you, Mick honey. Hoagie is fixing you up a nice pastrami. What can we get for you, young man?”

Dak introduces himself and says a pastrami is fine by him, too. Then Lillian asks for the keys to the car, so she can go get our changes of clothes. As she leaves by a side door, Dak and I take seats at the counter. Hoagie turns away from the grill to great us.

He’s a big guy, Hoagie. Reminds me of my dad, especially since they both have a limp and noses that have been broken more than once, although my dad got his limp after being knocked down a mountain by a bear and Hoagie got his courtesy of a German artillery round.

Yeah, I’m remembering lots of stuff.

How ya doin’, Mick?” Hoagie takes my hand in one of his big mitts and gives it a gentle shake. He’s got just the barest touch of worry in his voice, which in anybody else would mean a hysterical crying jag was imminent.

Well, aside from not remembering most things, I guess I’ll live. Anything new with you?” Aside from the amnesia reference, this is pretty much the beginning of every conversation I’ve had with Hoagie over the last 15 years.

Same old same old. Who we got here?” He extends his hand to Dak, who shakes it and introduces himself. Hoagie smiles and pours us both a lemonade.

Got a soft spot for Elves. One of ’em pulled my wounded ass the better part of a mile in France until we were safe, then he rubbed some mashed plant goo on my leg and other wounds. Saved my life so the doctors on our side could fix me up.”

Dak is about to ask him something when Lillian comes in with our clothes. We head off to the Ladies & Gents to change after I give Hoagie the bag of herbs and ask him to brew it up for me.

I’m in the bathroom changing into a shirt, trousers and a nice pair of walking shoes when I get dizzy. Not just a little dizzy, but full on room spinning dizzy. I make it out the door when things go from bad to worse and I fall across a table.

Then the lights go out.

The Totally Sappy, Yet Still Quite Thrilling, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty and The Magical Party Dress

…co-starring her pet kitty, Ozymandias


Hey, folks, remember to go over to my Facebook page and vote in the poll after you read this!


Amnesia & Magic

Part Four

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the man and woman with him are his parents. He’s looking even better than the last time I saw him, but his folks look about three steps from death’s door. I know what’s coming even before he speaks.

I’m really sorry to bother you, ma’am, but could you help my parents out, like you did me? Please? They’re really bad off and…”

His dad steps forward and looks me in the eye. His skin is ashen and hangs loosely on him. His hair is yellowing and he’s probably blind in one eye.

I have told Dak that this is not our way, so my wife and I will not ask or expect anything from you. We came along only to see if the rumors are true. We wished to see if you are the Bringer Forth. We can now see that is true and that you are busy with the Quest. We will bother you no more.”

My head is spinning like a top hearing all this. Bringer Forth? Quest? Rumors? I thought I was in deep before, but this makes me think that I’m in way deeper than I imagined. Jeez, woman, what the hell did you get yourself into this time?

He starts to turn away and without thinking I reach for his shoulder to stop him. When my hand makes contact, I get a hell of a jolt and everything around me just vanishes.

I’m standing in a garden behind a big Victorian house. I can look over our back fence and see the ocean a couple of miles away. My mom is hanging laundry on the clothesline and my twin baby brothers are playing with toy cars nearby. My mom is a tall woman, a negro. She’s beautiful and she’s singing a song about sunshine. Just then, a man steps out of the house. It’s my dad, who is this big…Cherokee Indian? He’s asking if we all want to go to the zoo later.

Now I’m going up the back steps of an apartment in New York City. I’m maybe 25 years old and I’m carrying a sawed off shotgun. We’re going to arrest a group of bank robbers. My partner is with me and he’s the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to keep my mind on business, because I’m thinking how we made love that morning.

Now I’m sitting in an office reading a newspaper. The office isn’t big, but it’s nicely furnished and clean. The door opens and my secretary, Telan, an Elf, tells me my noon appointment is here. She looks pretty healthy for an elf. She shows the appointment in and he’s a…

And then I’m back in the Ferry Building and the Elf is looking at me with a mix of shock, fear and joy. He’s looking healthier already. Me, I feel like I’m going to pass out, but I haven’t dropped me coffee.

He and the boy help me sit down. There aren’t any more shocks from them, so I guess it’s a one time thing per person. I’m gulping down coffee and I see that his wife is smiling and weeping. Oddly, nobody in the area seems to have noticed any of this. Magic, or just big city folks oblivious to everything but themselves? I don’t know, but I’ll take whichever it is.

After I’ve nearly emptied the coffee cup, I decide Dad Elf owes me some answers.

Ok, what the hell just happened there?”

He looks around, then sits beside me. The kid sits next to him and his wife sits across from us.

You have accepted a very important mission. A mission that means much to my people, but also means much to the ones who use the Power. You carry two things hold great Power, and very small amounts of this Power pass through you and into us when we touch for the first time. It heals and regenerates us. It also seals the Power within us, so that it cannot be tapped by human users.”

Wow! Not only did I make them healthy again, but I made them untouchable to Wizards and Mages. I’m surprised every Elf in the city isn’t looking for me. Dad Elf keeps talking.

I do not know or want to know what your mission is, but I will tell you that it is very dangerous. You will need help on it. To give you that help, I will send my son with you. Dak, go and buy a ticket for the ferry.”

The kid runs off and I’m getting ready to protest this until I give it another thought. I’m alone in this, my memory isn’t back yet and this is sure to have me mixing with Elves. Maybe the kid coming along, at least partway, isn’t such a bad idea. I nod to his dad to show that I approve.

The boy is very smart,” he tells me, smiling, “and he knows much of both the Elvish way and the ways of humans. He will give everything for you, if need be.”

Well, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, I’m thinking. I figure I’ll send the kid home when things get really rough, which could be sooner than later now that my memory is coming back. I give the area around us another quick look, but nobody sets off my trouble sense. Still, just because you can’t see trouble, that doesn’t mean it can’t see you.

Well I’ll be damned. That little quote about trouble was something my Dad used to say. The fact that I remembered that is not comforting.

At that moment, Dak returns with his ticket and the announcement is made that the ferry has started boarding. Dak’s mother hands him a bundle of clothes and they hug. When he goes to hug his father, I walk over to his mom and give her a big hug.

My gun is named Gladys. I love Mexican food. I will never drink gin again so long as I live. My mother’s favorite color is red. My ex husband was a tough guy, but scared of clowns. I’m a reasonably good cook. My older sister broke that window and blamed it on the dog.

I lost my virginity in high school to a sweet little white boy named David. It was not a bad experience.

My nickname is Mick, short for Michelline. I’m not a big fan of flying. My best friend, Jane, is the funniest person I’ve ever known. Billy “Two Guns” O’Donelly swore that he would break out of prison and kill me. He broke out of prison, but an hour later got run over by a truck.

I live in the same house I grew up in. I take the bus to work every day.

I’m a private detective. I used to be an FBI agent.

I remember all of that and when we break the hug, both of us are crying.

I’ll take good care of your son.”

She nods to me. She’s so much more healthy that she doesn’t look the same as she did before. She’s very pretty.

Go now, Bringer. Help my people and yours with whichever of the Three Ways you think best. Only your choice will be the right one.”

I want to ask her more, but next thing I know Dak is leading me onto the ferry. A minute later, the boat casts off and we wave goodbye to his parents. As we do, I see some big bruisers in suits enter the dock area.

Feds! Oh shit! They’ll get the ferry master to radio our ferry to turn back. Or maybe they’ll just come after us with a fast boat. Either way, things don’t look good.

Dak sees them and begins saying something in Elvish. When he finishes, all hell breaks loose back at the Ferry Building.

My Three Clones

…a wacky sci-fi family sitcom



Amnesia & Magic

Part Three

I’m about to start heading up the steps when a voice behind me says, “Excuse me, miss, but I think you’ve dropped something”.

I don’t jump out of my skin, despite every urge to. Instead, I turn around and there’s this sweet looking older lady holding out a small coin purse. I’m about to tell her that I didn’t drop it when I see her wink at me. I decide to go with it and take the purse.

As I’m thanking her, I’m giving her a good look to see if I might know her. She’s maybe in her mid-sixties, about 5’2” and chubby. Grey hair, blue eyes and a face that looks like the model for every picture of a grandmother that was ever painted. She’s wearing a simple blue dress that is lightly dusted with flour. She smells like cinnamon buns and cookies. My brain is screaming out that we know her, but I’m not getting a name.

I smile back at her and thank her. She pats my hand.

Glad to help, sweetie. I’m sure you’ll need that purse.” Her voice is calming, like all good grandmother voices are.

Yes,“ I reply, still not coming up with a name, “I’m sure I will, Miss…?” I’m fishing here, but what the hell, right?

Her smile gets bigger. “Oh my, look at the time! I need to get back and get started on my cupcakes. You have a good day and stay safe, Snoopy.” With that she starts walking away, but I hardly notice because my head is reeling and I’m remembering that Snoopy was my nickname as a kid. I’m also remembering that my older sister, who is nameless at this point, gave me the nickname one summer at a cabin my family stayed at up on the Mendocino coast. I can see that cabin as clear as day and remember every twist in the road to get there, but I still can’t tell you my own name.

Ok, I tell myself, a little at a time will do. Better than nothing.

A breeze is kicking up and for no good reason I start walking west away from the Big X. It’s a nice sunny day in San Francisco and in the moments when I’m not wondering what in the hell is going on, I enjoy the breeze and the sun on my face.

Opening up the coin purse reveals a hundred bucks in twenties, a set of car keys, a tiny pouch of what looks like leaves & roots and another note from myself. It reads…

Her name is Mrs. Olaffson. Figured I should tell you that or it would bother you all day. If it’s past noon, you have less than three hours to get out of town before your memory starts returning and you become very detectable. If you’ve already regained some memories, you can cut that time in half.

The keys fit a ’33 Hudson Hornet parked at the ferry dock in Tiburon. Once, you’re in it, head towards the cabin, but stop in San Rafael at Hoagy’s so you can change your clothes and get a big cup of hot water to make the tea in the little pouch. After that, go to the cabin, then find old fort you used to play in. You’ll get more answers there. Watch your back, kid, because things are going to get damned dangerous soon.

Again, sorry to be so vague.

Love, You From 18 Hours Ago

PS: Unless they call you “Snoopy” or “Mick”, don’t trust anybody human. And avoid the peppersteak hoagy. Delicious, but you don’t need the heartburn.”

OK, this is more like it. I like specific goals. Time to hail a cab and get my ass to the ferry. I look up and down the street and see a cab parked in front of a hotel. I pick up my pace and I’m almost there when I start to sneeze. Not just one sneeze, but a whole chain of them. My eyes are starting to water, too. That’s when I see the roses in front of the hotel. The roses that are downwind from me.

So, I’m allergic to roses. Well, that’s one mystery solved. I was wondering if it had something to do with magic.

Wiping my nose, I jump into the cab and tell the driver there’s a big tip in it if he can get me to the Ferry Building in record time. He hits the gas, does a U turn that gets him cussed out by a dozen other drivers and we’re off to the races.

After a few minutes, I stop sneezing and my eyes feel ok. Allergies are not fun and I’m not looking forward to any feline encounters. Of course, it’s also a distinct possibility that cats are magical trouble. I guess we’ll just have to see which side the coin lands on.

As we fly down the street dodging pedestrians and other cars, I start thinking about what the Elf kid told me. I’ve got Power, which means I’m connected to some source of it. Since I’m not a Wizard or Mage, It’s got to be the book, the ring or both. But if that’s the case, whoever is after me should have grabbed me up while I was still knocked out on the garbage pile. Both the Feds and the Wizards have some really effective ways of finding things that had Power, and yet, here I was, free as a bird.

Well, ok, a bird being hunted, but I hadn’t been tracked down yet.

I’m searching my brain for what I know about magic and it turns out I know a fair amount. I know that magic returned to the certain parts of the world, mostly the northerly areas of North America & Europe, in 1851. I know that Elves can’t cast spells, but they use magic to do things like hide really well in forests and travel quickly in any wilderness area. I know that humans can cast spells, but they need to channel the raw Power through elves, which is not good for the Elves. I know that’s why Elves are dying out and I know that’s why I hate Wizards.

Lost in thought, the cabbie has to tell me twice that we’re at the Ferry Building. I toss him a twenty and he thanks me profusely and hands me a card. It has the cab company phone number and his name, “Luis”, on it. If I ever need a cab, he tells me, ask for him.

The schedule posting says it’ll be 15 minutes until the next ferry to Tiburon, so I buy my ticket and grab a cup of Joe from the snack bar. I’m just pouring in some cream when I see the Elf kid coming towards me and he’s not alone.

The California Kid Makes A Quick Escape

…by sliding down a hill on a car hood

Amnesia & Magic

 Part Two

He reaches out to take the nickel and our hands touch for just a second. A jolt runs through me and for just a second my vision blurs and the sounds of the street sound like they’re being filtered through cotton balls. It passes fast and when it’s over, I know that my Uncle Ted and Aunt Beth live in Astoria, Oregon and my childhood dog was a mutt named Koko. I’m also pretty sure my landlord is an alcoholic.

Mind you, I can’t tell you my aunt & uncle’s last name, where we lived when we had Koko or where the hell I live, but I distinctly remember those other things, which I didn’t ten seconds ago.

I go to ask the Elf kid what’s up and I see him looking at me with wide eyes and a gaping mouth. He’s also looking substantially greener and less sick than he was before we touched. What the hell is going on here?

Lady,” he says in a hushed voice, “you’ve got Power. A bunch of Power!”

Oh yeah, this is just getting better and better. Somehow, I’m suddenly packing magical juice and I’ve got no idea where I got it. Even worse, this kid knows I’ve got it and if I had my own memory wiped to keep from getting detected, this is only going to make finding me that much easier. I need to get out of here and fast.

Sorry, kid, but I’ve got to get going.” I toss him a couple of quarters and start walking down the street. A glance over my shoulder tells me the kid is staying put, which slows my heart down to just a near heart attack pace. Up ahead, I turn down an alley and then turn down another as soon as I can. After about five minutes of fast walking, I come out on a residential street and slow down to a normal walking speed, just another citizen going about her business.

A couple more turns and a few more minutes walking and I’m back on Columbus and heading towards Fisherman’s Wharf. Up ahead I see an old codger who looks like he might know his way around, so I ask him if he knows a place called the Big X.

Sure do, missy,” he says with breath that reeks of early morning boilermakers. “Ain’t never been in it, but I’ve seen it plenty of times. It’s right up there.”

I look where he’s pointing and sure enough, up on a hill to the west of us is a big white building built to look like a big letter X. In the back of my head, something tries to awaken, some memory or other, but it’s no go. This amnesia crap is getting old fast.

I thank the old guy and walk down the street to catch the cable car that’s heading right up the hill to the Big X. As they often are, the car is full of a mix of tourists and working stiffs. I stand near the back and keep my eyes open for…well, I’m not really sure what. I mean, trouble, yeah, but I don’t know what kind of trouble. A carload of thugs? Some palooka with a gun? A spell attack? Beats the hell out of me, so I’ll just look out for anything seems hinky.

We get to the top of the hill and I see I’ve got maybe two blocks to go. I start walking and I’m wondering what I should do when I get to the Big X. Go inside and look around? Wait for somebody to approach me? God damn it, I should have left myself a better note!

I reach the building and see the sign over the door that says “Oliver Sutton Magical Research Institute”. There’s a guard at the door, but he looks and acts more like a glorified doorman that real security. The people going in and out seem to be doctors or something, not mages or wizards. The building itself is about ten stories high and I can see that the white marble it’s made of is covered with runes and symbols that have been carved into it. I’m not an expert on magic, but this looks like some powerful stuff.

I’m about to start heading up the steps when a voice behind me says…

To vote on what the voice says, go over to my Facebook page!

Harry Potter And The Pub Of Wonder

…as in “I wonder how we’ll pay our tab?”

Dear Readers,

Today, we start a twice weekly fiction piece that is guided by voting over on my Facebook page. Yes, the title sucks. I hope you enjoy it and please do go vote on the next part of the story.

Amnesia & Magic

Part One

I woke up fast. I mean, really fast. One moment, I’m deep in a dreamless sleep, a moment later, I’m fully awake and aware that I’m in an alley and stretched out on several bags of garbage. Some instinct tells me not to move around just yet, so I take in as much as I can see, hear and smell.

Smell is what clues me in on the garbage, which I’m thinking is mostly vegetable scraps and other soft things. It stinks, but not in a way that would make you gag. It’s more like a warm wet starting on the road to compost smell.

Sight tells me this is a big pile of garbage, because burlap trash bags are piled up two or three feet on either side of me. The brick buildings on each side of the alley are seven or eight stories high and maybe twenty feet apart. By the look of them and the clotheslines stretched over the alley, I’m not in an upper class neighborhood.

I can hear traffic not far away and lots of voices speaking some Asian language. Chinese, I decide after a few seconds. Off in the distance, I hear ships sounding their horns. Near a waterfront, I’m thinking, but which waterfront?

At that moment, I realize that I have no idea where I am. Not the city, not the state, not the country. I do know I’m on the planet Earth and I’m pretty sure I’m in North America, but after that, I’m blanking out.

Then it dawns on me that I don’t know who I am, either.

If you’ve never had amnesia, I’m here to tell you that it’s strange and terrifying to have no identity or past. I try for several minutes to conjure up any sort of memory, but all I can remember is how to do things and what things were called and all sorts of things you might learn in school and a bunch of things one would learn from life experience (I know how to throw a punch that would knock out most people, but I was damned if I can tell you who taught me), but I have not one memory of a personal nature.

By now I’m having a mild panic attack, so I sit up and started breathing deeply, trying to relax. Calm down, honey, it could be a whole lot worse. You’re not hurt and it’s not raining and as far as you know you’re the goddamn Queen of England.

Well, you know, if the Queen was taller and had darker skin.

After a couple of minutes of deeply breathing in rotting vegetable air, I’m about as calm as can be expected, which is when I notice the great big book. It’s right there on my left, measuring at least 18 inches by 3 feet and bound in deep reddish brown leather. The title is stamped in silver and I’ve got no idea what those symbols mean. My memory tells me that I’m fluent in English, Spanish, French and Latin, with a pretty good conversational grasp of maybe five other languages. Whatever the hell this language is, it’s new to me. Instinct tells me this is probably somehow connected to magic, which doesn’t make me feel any better. Magic always complicates things.

I start going through the pockets of the hip length jacket I’m wearing and the first thing I find is a 9mm automatic and a spare clip. For reasons I’m not sure of, I find this very reassuring. In the same pocket is a ring that is twice as large as any of my fingers, which are long and slender and just then I remember that I can play the piano, but not who taught me. Yeah, this memory thing is strange.

The ring is solid silver, a complex arrangement of twining vines that hold a hefty sized emerald. Just touching it screams MAGIC!, so I put it in a breast pocket away from the gun. Two magical items in my possession? Not good at all.

I search a bit more and all I find is a five dollar bill, fifty five cents in coins, a sweet roll & a slice of cheddar cheese wrapped in waxed paper and a note that reads…

You’ve had your memory wiped. Some very bad people are after you and they’ll kill you if they can, so you need to get your ass up and go NOW! Eat the roll and cheese as you walk, then go find the Big X. You’ll learn something there. Sorry I can’t tell you more. Love, You From 12 Hours Ago.

PS: Take the ring and book with you! Stay away from cats and roses!”

I know it’s my handwriting, so I’m up and off the garbage pile fast. A couple of Chinese guys are sitting in the alley smoking. They give me a look, then act like I’m not there. I’m alright with that. Carrying the book, which isn’t very thick but is still a bulky pain in the ass, I say to myself, “How the hell am I going to conceal this big thing?” and about two seconds later, the book is the size of your average paperback.

Sometimes magic is ok. Sometimes.

The alley is about 100 feet long from where I’m standing to a busy street. I eat the cheese first and realize I’m crazy hungry. The sweet roll is delicious and is gone by the time I hit the street. Now I’m not only not hungry anymore, I’m feeling very energetic, like I could run five miles without breaking a sweat. More magic, I’m thinking.

Who the hell am I that I can afford this much magic and think it’s a good idea? Am I some rich wizard? A black market spell dealer? A Fed on the FBI Magic Control Task Force? Or maybe I’m just some poor dummy who got mixed up in deep shit.

That last one tends to stick in my mind, so I’ll go with it until I know otherwise.

So I’m obviously in some deep shit concerning magic and it’s real good odds that I had my memory wiped to keep from getting found by a detection spell. And if somebody has the money and the pull to get a detection spell cast, then I’m up against either a big organization or an individual that is just as powerful. Either way, I’m screwed if they catch me.

Well, at least it’s a nice sunny day.

The street is deep into Chinatown and I walk about 4 blocks until I’m at the intersection of Columbus and Broadway, where it hits me that I’m in San Francisco. I spend a minute just standing there being kind of giddy at this sudden knowledge. Really, getting a memory back is great when you’ve lost so many.

I see a news stand across Broadway, so I cross over and check out a newspaper to get the date. June 25th, 1935. Headline says the Golden Gate Bridge will open on schedule in September. Most of the other front page news is about local stuff, with the exception of a story about a coup in some African country I’ve never heard of.

I go to hand the newsboy a nickel and I see he’s an Elf, maybe twelve years old. Like most Elves, he looks kind of sick and his mottled green skin is tinged with yellow. His green hair is thin and dirty and I can’t help but feel guilty because we humans are slowly killing this kid and his whole species. Shit!

He reaches out to take the nickel and our hands touch for just a second. A jolt runs through me and…

Ok, folks, time to go over to Facebook and vote on what comes next!