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.

THE END

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.”

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 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.