In the land of Winkannod there lived a woman named Mirandah who was very sad. She was sad because she had been enduring physical ailments and emotional obstacles and worried that she would never get well. "Why has fate cursed me with such difficulties?" she often cried. "Even the doctors tell me that I may never walk again, or bear a child." Dismayed and without inspiration, Mirandah took up smoking.
As God observed the parade of time, Satan came to visit Him. "Where have you come from," asked the Lord.
"Oh, walking through the world," Lucifer answered. "And have you seen my servant Ted Bundy? He's up to three victims now, with more to come."
"Yes," He replied. "But those three, and those to follow, will be with Me while you will be stuck with Ted Bundy."
"Oh, yeah," sighed the prince of darkness. "Why are You so mean to me? And what in Your name are You watching?"
"The parade of time," the Almighty responded. "My children only see their present moments, and can remember their past. But only I can see the whole show at once."
"Well," the devil said slyly. "Have You seen Your servant Mirandah? She is righteous and good and all, but she is beginning to stray. I just convinced her to take up smoking. You know how her story ends, right?"
"Yes," He answered the devil. "And it will be very sad for her friends and family."
"Well," goaded Beelzebub, "Why don't You let her choose her fate?"
"Why not -- and I mean just this once -- pick a parade route? Let's see if she can be as wise as she once was, before I darkened her spirit with my doctors' pessimism."
"Hmmmm," hmm'd God. "All righty, then. But I will offer only a small change. The rest of the parade must remain in order."
Mirandah had just finished off a bag of Oreos when an angel of the Lord appeared. "Fear not," spoke the angel, "for I come with tidings of a great opportunity. God is offering you a choice for your future."
"What?" gasped Mirandah. "What choice is this?"
"The Lord will send you a friend and mentor. She will inspire you to transcend this sadness. She will teach you that with faith, hope and perseverence, you can overcome the obstacles that you find in your way right now. She will be a dear friend whose companionship you will treasure. You will be truly amazed at how much the kindness and encouragement of this friend and mentor will change the path to your future.
"My, oh, my!" exclaimed Mirandah.
"However," continued the angel, "after 20 years of her friendship, her work will be completed and the Lord will take her away from you. This will make you very sad."
"And what is my other choice," Mirandah inquired.
"The path that you are on now," replied the angel.
"And where does this go?"
"That cannot be revealed to you."
"Does the new path that the Lord has offered last longer than this one?"
"That cannot be revealed to you."
"Does my new friend die in 20 years regardless of whether or not I choose the new path?"
Mirandah slumped down into her chair and looked at the crutches that leant against the end table. She imagined the future of the path that she was on and realized that it held little promise, less livliness and even less joy. "Yes," she said definitively. "I want my friend."
"You will be very sad when she is taken from you," the angel reminded her.
"Yes, but she will have been able to do good work and she then will live on through me," Mirandah insisted. "What she learned, she'll pass onto me and the things that she will pass onto me I can, in turn, pass onto others. And those things cannot be taken from us."
"You are a wise woman," the angel said departing.
"Drat," sighed satan. "Are You really gonna change the parade of time for her?"
"No," said God.
"Mirandah chose the path that she was already on the whole time."
"But You said that her fate ended very sadly for her friends and family!"
"That's true of all who are loved."
"But, but.... that means that my whole challenge was..."
"Yep," giggled the Lord, "You're no mystery to Me, either."
"I already did..."
Okay, here's a challenge for all you 'puter savvy guys n' gals out there. My IP address is 18.104.22.168 . Tell me where I am! And if you can do that you must must must tell me how you did it.
I've been updating a post from yesterday and I am hitting a wall trying to locate the source of the "PayPal" scammers. I wanna know what frickin' wall socket their line is plugged into.
You have been tasked! Have at it!
I've had fun fisking Barbra Streisand's posts before and so I thought I'd check in to see if there was anything new and found this. She's made some outrageous statements in the past but, oh man, this takes the cake! Read this if you dare:
Posted on December 22, 2005
I will be taking a break from posting any new statements until after the New Year. Have a happy holiday!
New Statements Posted -
A Letter To The L.A. Times
The Plan To Invade Iraq Before 9/11
If Not Now... When?
Does This Smell Familiar?
Clinton Global Initiative
Another Massive Failure of Leadership
Oh but she gets me steamed sometimes.
Hello. I'm Theresa Farrisi, a substitute teacher in Lickdale, Pennsylvania. I would just like to say that I don't believe in Santa Claus, and I don't think anyone else should, either. I made my feelings clear to a classroom full of 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds.
While some of them went home crying, I cannot stress enough that if I had simply sat back and allowed a lie to be perpetuated in my presence, I would have had a hard time sleeping that night. I had considered approaching the school’s administration with my concerns about how to handle Santa Claus in class. Instead, I decided to add a disclaimer to my lesson.
One of the 5-year-olds in the music class that I was substitute teaching in was reading A Visit From Saint Nicholas. Just as she had gotten to the part about the arrival of the little sleigh and 8 tiny reindeer, I interupted the reading to point out to the little children that this was all bullshit. I mean, how could I not?! Those same children are going to know someday that what their parents taught them is false; there is no Santa Claus.
While the poem has great literary value, it goes against my conscience to teach something which I know to be false to children, who are impressionable. It’s a story. I taught it as a story. There’s no real person called Santa Claus living at the North Pole and it is my duty as a teacher to teach only the truth no matter how much it stings, torments and confuses the kiddies.
Now, some of the children -- through their beautiful tears of newfound enlightenment -- asked their parents why they weren't told that Santa Claus was dead. I did not tell the students Santa Claus was dead. I said there was a man named Nickolas of Myrna who died in 343 A.D., upon whom the Santa Claus myth is based, and that the children's parents buy the presents, not Santa.
Was I wrong? Humbug! Their parents are lying to them! Why wait for them to figure out the truth as they mature when I can tell them the truth now? How could I live with myself if I didn't spoil their innocent illusions?
If the children are heartbroken they have only their parents to blame. I told them the truth and, yes, I am very proud of myself.
Theresa, you ignorant Ho, Ho, Ho! Allow me to counter your point by paraphrasing something that was written many, many years ago to a young child; a child much like the children whose faith you have cynically attempted to shatter.
Theresa, you are wrong!
You have been infected by the skepticism of a sceptical age. You do not believe in anything except for what you can see, touch, smell, taste, hear or otherwise measure. You believe that nothing can be which is not comprehensible to your own mind. But all minds, Theresa, whether they be men's or children's, are little. And, when we limit our faith to accept only what we can meaaure, sadly we fail to notice what is immeasurable, what is magical, what is beautiful.
Yes, Theresa, there is a Santa Claus, just as there is music in the silent vibrations of the air when a piano is played. Play a recorded symphony in a room without listeners and there is no music -- only a disturbance of the air. But walk into that room and there is music. But only for those who have the ears to listen!
Santa Claus exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound. They give your life its highest beauty and joy. How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as a world without children.
There would be no childlike faith then. No poetry, faith, romance, beauty or wonder to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except in mere sense and sight. The magic and wonder of the external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Nobody sees Santa Claus. But that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Have you ever seen the wind? Have you ever heard a headache, tasted a sorrow, touched a suspicion or smelled a word of encouragement? Of course not. But that's no proof that they are not there. We know that they are are there from what follows from them. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are, unseen and unseeable, in the world that is our experience of it.
You can tear apart a baby's rattle to see what makes the noise inside. But there is a veil covering the unseen world that is the confluence of the toy and the baby which neither the strongest man nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and allow a view of the supernal beauty within.
Is it all real? Ah, Theresa, in all this life there is nothing else more real and abiding.
No Santa Claus? He lives and lives forever! A thousand years from now, Theresa, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make joyful the very heart of childhood.
Merry Christmas! :)
I got into downtown Bridgeport at 6:00 -- ten minutes before my connection was scheduled to arrive. We had a pretty warm November, but it's starting to reeeeeally get cold now. I set down my small bag of groceries and lit up a smoke.
After about a minute I turned to my right and noticed a woman who was smoking a cigarette. The reason I noticed her was that she would take a drag, put her hand down in front of her, exhale the smoke, lift her arm, take a drag, lower her arm, exhale, lift her arm, drag, etc etc. She stared blankly at the ground about ten feet in front of her.
She looked to be about 60-65 years old and (just my impression, mind you) seemed to be mildly retarded. She had the same expression I'd seen on a hundred homeless woman -- vacant, defeated, too lost for too long to worry about where she's going.
In the icy breeze that smelled like snow she stood there smoking that cigarette with her hood down and her coat wide open. Why was her coat wide open in this weather? Um... She was pregnant. And not just a little bit; she was very very pregnant.
I was near the curb and she was about twenty feet away and nearer to the building, so I moved to reposition myself so that I didn't have to look to the side and back. I just had to study her some more.
While there were plenty of people there milling around she may have noticed my movements because when I leaned on the trashcan and looked at her again she was looking directly at me. I looked away, into the bus station, as if I was looking for someone. I slowly turned toward her again and, while I didn't make eye contact, could tell that she was still looking at me. I looked away again.
After about 30 seconds I looked at the people standing nearest to her. The closest was a woman about my age who was about five feet from her. The pregnant smoker was back to looking at the ground, but this younger gal was looking straight at me. I wondered how many people on the platform thought that this odd sight was as interesting as I did. I looked at the younger woman to see if I could tell why she was looking at me. Did she want to non-verbally communicate something like "Isn't she wierd"? Did she want to communicate "Don't stare at her, she's just waiting for a bus"? I got nothing so I looked at the elderly pregnant smoker some more in all her boxy, frumpy glory.
I mean, she's got to be 15 years past menopause. Is she a surrogate? Can a post-menopausal woman carry another's baby? Would an infertile woman sellect a surrogate who is a sextogenarian who smokes? Assuming that she's still pre-menopausal, did she intend for this to happen -- to care for a newborn baby at her age and her (seemingly to me) lower than average faculties? What the @#$% am I looking at here?!
After a few more minutes her bus arrived and she boarded it. She pulled herself up and into the bus, waddled a little ways down the aisle and plopped herself into a seat. While others opened newspapers, pulled out a crossword puzzle or talked on cellphones, she simply looked forward and low; expressionless, alone and just going to whereever she was going. I got the feeling that it's a lot further than the bus could take her.
My bus arrived and I got on board. I've ridden that same route nearly a thousand times. Same old street names, same old businesses and houses. It's usually pretty boring scenery. But, tonight, I got a lot of comfort out of the familiarity of it all.
What the @#$% was I looking at?!
No, not that Intelligent Design "theory". Well, this isn't really technically a theory either, except in the loosest Aristotlesque sense of the word -- learning by thinking. This is a hypothesis based on observed phenomena.
For the purpose of this thesis I will use the following broad definition:
intelligence [in 'tel i jents] n. The ability of a living organism to sense and adapt to it's environment and/or to better it's experience of it's environment.
So, here's my hypothesis: Evolution is driven, at least in part, by the intelligence of organisms themselves, rather than exclusively by random mutations. This has nothing to do with consciousness, but with unconscious awareness of what would improve the species' quality of life. (And this goes for plants as well as animals.)
Exhibit A: Haircuts
Humans like to play with their hair; to cut it, braid it, shave it, grow it, tie things into it, etc. If someone cuts their hair, or shaves a symbolic pattern in it, and then decides that they want to change it, it's okay; it's grow back. Not only that, it'll keep growing and growing until they have to either cut it or, maybe, trip over it.
My hypothesis, then, is that we don't play with our hair because -- unlike the hair of other animals -- it grows and grows, but that our hair grows and grows because we like to play with it.
A dog's coat will grow back if it is shaved down for the summer months, but it will grow only to certain utilitarian length. Our hair will grow to well beyond any useful length not by accident, but because we, throughout our cultures' histories, have always needed it to.
Exhibit B: Claws on squirrels
There's no reason for a ground dwelling herbivore like, say, a deer, to have claws that are capable of getting it up a tree. A squirrel didn't grow sharp claws and then realize that it could climb a tree with them. That would mean waiting around for a random mutation that isn't likely to happen.
I mean, horeshoe crabs have remained unchanged for millions and millions of years not because their genes are somehow not given to mutation, but because they never had a reason to change. Squirrels, therefore, developed claws because they wanted to climb trees. The evolution was done on purpose, not by accident.
Exhibit C: Blubber
Whales don't swim in cold waters because they've accidentally been given a thick layer of blubber; they have a thick layer of blubber because they swim in cold waters. Just as a guitar player will develop callouses on his or her fingertips to keep them from getting raw and painful from playing, our species' adapt to their surroundings with remarkable ease and speed.
Exhiit D: Sunflowers
When a sunflower turns to face the sun it isn't, of course, thinking about what it's doing. But, in a way, the plant as a whole does "know" what's good for it. While a botanist could explain exactly what is happening at the cellular level to produce this phenomenon, the fact of the matter is that this ability to follow the sun is not the product of an incredibly beneficial accident or a biological failure a long time ago when it's DNA was copying itself. It's the result of the intelligence of the organism, as a whole, to recognize a way to make the most of it's given circumstance.
Exhibit E: Flight
Flight has been developed only four times in the 500 million year history of animal life on land; insects, pterosaurs, birds and bats. First, an animal might learn to parachute; to stretch it's own surface area in order to create drag and slow down it's fall. Why? Because it wants to.
Then the parachuting animal might develop the ability to glide; to fall at a shallow angle over a longer distance. Then one of those gliding creatures decided to get more distance by flapping it's "wings" and voila, a flying animal is
born self-made! Waiting for nature to accidentally provide a gliding animal with proper wings would be nerve wracking. So, instead, the nerves wrack their nature and soon it's one animal, two wings, no waiting!
In tel i jent de zine; not random, accidental, curiously coincidental mutation. Our bodies, as a unit and given all of the information supplied through our five senses, can willfully adapt to new conditions and, yes, at the cellular/genomal level, new ideas.
Well, it makes sense to me, anyway.
For the purpose of this post I'm going to presume that the hypothesis presented in my previous post is correct. So, to sum up:
All moments in time that are, have been, or will be experienced as "now" are all equally now.
Thomas Jefferson is sitting in room in Philidelphia in 1776 writing the Declaration of Independence; bombs are dropping on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941; and I am sitting here now writing this post. You will be reading this some time later, for me, which will also happen to be now.
If we take it as true that, in order for time to be a dimension, the past exists just as much as the present, then we also must hold that the future exists. Notice that I didn't say "the future already exists", just that it exists. The word "already" would make it an observation from a certain time, a specific now. That would just be wrong.
Obviously, this brings to the fore the age old debate about whether or not we have a free will to make decisions and take actions. If the future exists, doesn't that preclude us from having any say in how it turns out?
(I'm gonna leave aside the entire debate about our physical, bio-chemical and evironmental histories controlling our actions and just look at the subject at hand.)
Let's take an example of free will in action:
We're watching Game 6 of the 1986 World Series being broadcast on TV. It's the bottom of the 10th inning. After being two runs down with two out and nobody on, and three base hits later, Gary Carter and Kevin Mitchell have already scored to tie the game, Ray Knight is on 2nd base and Mookie Wilson is batting. The Red Sox pitcher is Mike Stanley (as I recall), the cather is Rich Gedman, and Bill Buckner is playing 1st base.
Gedman is deciding which pitches to call. Stanley is either shaking them off or accepting them, and then doing his best to strike out Wilson. Mookie is deciding, in split second intervals, whether to take a pitch or swing at it. He is fouling off tough pitch after tough pitch from Stanley. The Red Sox fielders have already decided what they're going to do if the ball is hit to them.
Gedman, Stanley and Wilson are locked in a battle, and there is no doubt that they are making decisions about what actions to take, and then taking those actions freely and deliberately.
Oh! Mookie hits a slow bouncer down the first base line and Bill Buckner positions himself to snag it. But wait! Buckner took his eye off the ball, either to look at Wilson's progress or to see if Stanley was running over to cover 1st base. The ball scoots under Buckner's glove and between his legs! Bill turns around and begins to chase it but realizes that he'll never catch up to it -- he decides to stop running. He looks at Ray Knight rounding third and heading home and knows that Darrell Evans in right field will never get that ball to Gedman in time.
Buckner's face says it all. Standing still as a sea of white uniforms pours out of the Mets dugout behind him, he is thinking "I blew it. I took my eye off the ball for a moment and lost it. Bad decision."
The celebration at home plate is for what was just accomplished by Carter, Mitchell, Knight and Wilson. Against staggering odds they won in a triumph of the will. We just saw it happen!
No, we didn't. That was a videotape of a game that happened over 18 years ago. [Holy crap, that was 18 years ago?!] But, even though we were watching the past and knew the outcome, we still witnessed Rich Gedman, Mike Stanley, Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner making decisions of their own free will. It was the past for us, but it was now for them. The outcome being certain (from the perspective of the future) doesn't change the fact that they were making their decisions and taking their actions freely from their perspective of the present.
In a world where the future doesn't exist yet it's easy to conclude that our actions control the future. But, if we accept that the future exists then we'd naturally tend to think that the future controls our actions. I submit that that's a fallacy.
The future didn't cause Bill Buckner to make that error. It's just that, in the future, he had already done it. All nows exist equally, and it's only our experience of nowness that hides that fact.
So, what of Causality? If all "nows" are equally now then how in the world can there be cause and effect? A chain of events?
A chain of events is certain from a perspective of the future, but uncertain from a perspective of the past. Any difference in whether or not a chain of events has occurred, is occurring or will occur, is only due to an observer's perspective. Causality exists -- and it exists over time -- but it doesn't exist outside of the passage of time. In other words, it is in the experience of the passing of time that causality plays out, but, in the larger wholeness of spacetime, it's a complete event. (Which is not to say: a completed event.)
Why on earth would I take this silly idea seriously? Is there any evidence in the universe of time and causality acting in weird, nearly contradictory, ways? Yes.
Let's take the Big Bang. For years and years I've been suspicious about whether or not the Big Bang ever happened. Why? Because it's backward!
If you've ever read, or seen a scholarly TV program, about the beginning moments of the universe then you may have noticed something: They always tell the story backward. They tell us that the heat and density of the energy could not allow various types of matter to exist yet. "At eighty-five seconds these particles are not formed yet; at twenty-two seconds these baryons were did not exist; at three-tenths of a second there was none of that going on..." They tell it like that for one reason: Telling the story forward makes no sense.
"At three seconds electrons were formed" Huh? The causality is not there. Running the opening seconds of the universe after the Big Bang would be like showing a film of shards of ceramic suddenly leaping up from the floor to assemble on a tabletop as a coffee mug. Rediculous.
So, if the beginning looks like an ending, why not surmise that, perspective aside, they are the same thing? Why not explore the idea that causality (seeing the cause before the effect) is as half-understood as time itself is half-seen (seeing the past but not the future)?
Think outside the clocks!
Okay, okay, it's a hard concept to accept, and even harder to explain. But I'm going to keep exploring it because (as I just wrote in a comment to the previous post) it just might lead to some breakthrough in expanding my theory of space-time/matter-energy's playground: gravity. It may just get curiouser and curiouser, or it may eventually make perfect sense. Time will tell! ;)
You are beginning to read this sentence two seconds ago, and you will not be finishing it until now.
I knew that missing that bus by thirty seconds would cost me an hour and a half getting into work this morning. (I sure wish they'd let me write the schedule.) As I stood at the corner waiting for the next bus, and about to light a cigarette, a funeral procession passed by. I'd never done it before, but, I took off my hat.
After the line of cars had passed I started to think about something. I realize now that, normally, I probably would have started pondering life and death, or death by cigarettes. But, this time, something else piqued my whimsy: the procession itself. First it began to pass by; then it was passing by; then it had finished passing by. But, it all happened at the same time: now.
I've thought about it from time to time before -- the nowness of our experiences. But not like I did today. (I jotted down a few notes at work and I'll try to make this as coherent as possible -- though I may just end up talking to myself.)
Is Thomas Jefferson sitting in a room in Philidelphia in 1776 writing the Declaration of Independence just as much as I'm sitting in a room right now writing this post? And I don't mean in some parallel universe, I mean in this one.
But, Thomas Jefferson is dead. Yeah, now he is. But when 1776 was "now" he wasn't dead. Well, that was then, and this is now. But, then it was now, and this is only "now" now. Can one now be anymore "now" than any other now?
Okay, lemme try again.
Hypothesis: Our experience of time is like watching a parade. We see one bit of it at a time. The majorettes are in front of us now, but the elephants have already passed and we can't see what's still to come yet.
But the parade itself, as a whole, is intact already. The paraders will pass in one particular order. Even though we don't know yet what the future of this parade will hold, it is already there. Not here now, but there just as much as the here and now are here now.
Question: Does the past exist?
That's a weird question. Of course the past exists. We were there. We took pictures.
But, wait. Does the past exist, or, did it used to exist, only formerly, as the present?
And what in blazes is the difference?
If I ask myself if Maine exists then I have no problem answering "yes". (And, just in case my memory might be playing tricks on me, I have the photos to prove it.)
If I'm certain that places I've been to still exist even though I'm not there anymore, why am I not so certain that moments still exist even when I'm not then anymore? What can possibly be so special about our now now that isn't also special about all of our previous nows?
Spacetime. Space and time are like male and female. They're two distinct things only until you realize that without each other there's neither. Space can change over time, but it doesn't disappear. By the same token, I submit, time doesn't disappear; moments in time don't cease to exist.
Spacial dimensions are infinite. Time is also a dimension. Question: Would time being a dimension require that there be a past, not that there was a past?
Maybe it's a subtle distinction, or none at all. Could this just be rhetorical nonsense?
Maybe. But, if the past is not as real as the present, would time still be a dimension?
But, how can Thomas Jefferson be writing the Declaration of Independence in 1776 when, clearly, it's now 2004?
He wont be writing it in the future, and he isn't writing it "now". He'll always be writing it in 1776.
But it'll never be 1776 again.
No, but it's always 1776 in 1776.
But 1776 is gone. Outta here. Kaput. The money's on the dresser, we're done with it.
No, it's just in the past, for us.
It's in the past...
Okay, fine. In 1776 it was 1776...
No, in 1776 it IS 1776. It's the past for us now, but, for the people of 1775, it hasn't happened yet.
Do you know that you're speaking of the people of 1775 in the present tense?
Do you know that you're not supposed to eat mushrooms that you find outside?
So, even though my grandfather died several years ago, somewhere he's chopping wood in 1972?
Well, we know where... and we obviously know when. Yes.
It didn't just happen then, it is happening then. Now and then are like here and there: There is not just one "now" any more than there is only one "here".
So, from where we stand, bombs fell on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th, 1941. But, in the complete picture, bombs also are falling on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th, 1941.
Is our now more real than their now?
If so: how and why? Please be specific.
Past, present and future -- and here and there -- are how we experience time and space. But spacetime itself is whole and complete, and "nowness" is experienced only by the matter-energy in it.
Next time (maybe): Does the future already exist just as much (and unchangably) as the past?.
Her name was Mary, but I always called her Mare. I never told her why, though.
I'm sure she just assumed it was a shortening of Mary, but, really, it was because I always thought she resembled a horse.
I never told her that because I was afraid that she'd take it as an insult even though she was beautiful.
It wasn't just her facial features or the nearly expressionless way she looked at what was all around her. It was her entire form that seemed to be full with an inner peace. It was the way she moved. And the way she stood still. With a grace and quiet that comes from a nearly equine-like strength and majesty.
And she needed every ounce of that strength.
She'd been in and out of hospitals and mental health clinics since she was a teenager. Medications helped to stave off the panic, alleviate that crippling worry, and to quiet the voices that scream at her telling her that she'll never be anything - including loved.
We met at college and have been friends ever since. Sometimes we'd go for several years without so much as a phone call between us. But, inevitably, one of us would call the other and we'd get together with some measure of frequency for a couple of years only to fall away from each other again.
We never actually "dated". But, back in college, we'd often wind up in bed together just to lie there in each others arms and relax. Maybe even, often, doze off.
One time she was laying on top of me. I thought she was asleep. She lifted her head, kissed me on the chin, and put her head back down on my chest. Neither one of us ever made a move on the other toward a sexual relationship. We were just very close friends.
Recently, my friend Sid and I went over to help her and her father move some plywood that her father had piled in their backyard. It had been sitting there for decades and he wanted to finally take it to the Asylum Street dump. Sid and I were in his pickup truck heading over to Mary and her dad's house when he asked me a question:
"What's sex?" he blurted as he turned onto I-95's exit 42 off-ramp.
"Well..." I began, shaking my warm Dunkin' Donuts coffee. "It's how we procreate." That was the easiest answer, though I knew that that's not what he was asking.
"No, besides that. I mean, is it for love? For fun? How do we know the difference?" he implored me to answer.
"Is it just whatever it seems to be at the time? If it's just for making babies then why do we fuck with condoms? But it can't be just for FUCKING, can it? It's gotta have a profound meaning other than making babies -- a spiritual meaning that isn't completely subjective -- that we're missing here. So, I mean... What's sex?"
"Well..." I muttered as I stared out the window at nothing. "Some people treat it as a cheap thrill, and others treat it as a sacrament. I don't know that there's a certain meaning to it beyond that which we believe it has."
Sid shook his head in disamy.
"No deeper meaning? I dunno," he exhaled as he turned to back into Mary's father's driveway. "Yeah, maybe it's all just an accident. But, there's gotta be an answer, I think."
Unfortunately, it was a very windy Saturday and moving large sheets of plywood through that windy yard was proving to be somewhat hazardous.
We talked about rescheduling the dump-run 'til the following weekend, but no one really wanted to. We'll just get this overwith while we're all here. It'll be fine, we all thought.
Sid grabbed one end, and I the other, of a sheet that probably measured 4' x 6'. Fighting to get it as level to the wind as possible to minimize it's effect on our maneuvering the sheet of wood, we turned toward Sid's pickup truck.
Then it happened. The wind had caught a sheet that was not laying flat in the truck's bed, and it send the sheet of wood flying directly toward Mary as she and her father were walking back toward the wood pile. It clocked her, edgewise, in the back of the head. She went down.
"Mare!" I shouted as Sid and I ran over to her with the plywood still in our hands.
Mary was on her hands and knees, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular and gasping for breath. Sid and I put the wood sheet on the truck and went back to Mary.
"Mare, talk to me," I said as I knealt down beside her and put my hand on her shoulder. "Are you all right?!"
She didn't answer me. She just looked straight ahead with her eyes wide and her mouth agape -- gasping for air with shallow, rapid breaths. She was shivering uncontrollably. She looked confused and frightened.
"Can you get her to the hospital, guys?" her father asked calmly.
Sid secured the wood in the truck with bungie chords as I helped Mary into the front seat. With her hands out in front of her (as if still hanging onto the grass in the yard) she climbed in. I sat beside her and put my arm around her. She turned to me and put her arms around me and leaned her chin into my shoulder. As if holding onto me for dear life, she sounded her staccato breaths in my ear as she shivered.
"It's okay, Mare. You're going to be fine," I said as I rubbed her back as if trying to keep her warm. Sid got in and drove us to the hospital.
"She's calmed down considerably," the doctor told us. "I gave her an elephant's dose of Motrin. We need to run some tests for concussion, but I'd like to ask her some questions first, and find out anything about what medications she might be currently taking. The thing is; she hasn't said a word yet."
"I'd like to try talking to her again," I said, and the doctor led me to the small room where Mary was being attended to.
She was lying on her back on an examination table when I walked in -- staring at the ceiling. I stood beside the table and looked down at her and she turned to face me and gave just the hint of a smile. I smiled right back at her, took her hand and asked, "How are you feeling?" She didn't answer.
I asked a few more inane questions. "How's your noggin?" "Are you worried?" "You don't have amnesia, do you?" She just looked up at me, smiling calmly, but giving no verbal response.
Then I said, "Well, is there anything you'd like to say?"
She moved her lips. I could hear her whispering something. I leaned in closer asking "What's that again...?"
Then I heard her. Into my ear she whispered, "I love you."
I snapped back up, held her hand tighter and said "I love you, too, Mare. I love you, too. The doctor wants to talk to you now. Will you talk to him?"
She smiled as she started to speak again, and I leaned in to hear.
"I love you" she repeated.
Okay. This was starting to feel like an Edgar Allen Poe poem. Only, instead of a raven who can say nothing but "nevermore", we've got a woman who can only repeat the words "I love you". I began to wonder about amnesia. Frankly, I was never sure if amnesia was real, or just something professional writers invented as a plot device. I tried to get an answer out of her that was something, anything, other than "I love you"
"Your first name is Mary. What is your last name?" I quizzed. She got a puzzled look on her face as she seemed to search for an answer.
"Ch--" she began, looking directly at me as for a sign that she was on the right track. "Ch--... Chain...".
Interesting response. Nope, Mary's last name is not Chain. She must have connected it to Mary because of the band Jesus And Mary Chain. I knew she was a fan of theirs. I asked her to try again.
She pronounced it like "Tchrismas", not "Krismas". I said simply, "No, not TCHRISmas..."
I meant that it was neither Tchrismas nor Krismas (nor even Christmas), but apparantly she thought I was refering to her pronunciation as she focused on an alternate C sound:
"Srwiss Miss..." she said carefully. Yep, she went for the long S sound of the letter C and wound up remembering a popular brand of hot cocoa mix. I decided to ask a different question.
"What's MY name, Mare? Do you know who I am?"
She let out a chuckle as she took her hand from mine and pointed up at me.
"You're me!" she giggled.
Trying to wrap my head around that one, I wondered if she thought that I'd asked her for my name as a clue to hers, and that we had the same name.
"We don't have the same name," I said, but she just smiled and shrugged as if saying "So what?"
"Well, now," I said, taking her hand again. "How can I be you when, clearly, YOU'RE you and I'm ME?"
She looked at me with a seriousness to her smile as she squeezed my hand a little tighter.
"I love you," she replied.
I was almost certain by then that she wasn't talking about a platonic love. But, still, after 22 years of friendship I still wasn't ready to presume that she felt a romantic kind of love for me. Maybe I was just being stubborn, but I really resisted the conclusions I was coming to.
She began to speak in a whisper again, so I leaned in to hear. Into my ear she slowly and deliberately recited a poem:
"They race on and wrangle their way to the gate
but she'll allow only one, ever, to penetrate.
He, bursting, inside her, they tangle, unite
for only together can either survive."
She put her arms around me. After a moment I put mine around her and we stayed that way, in silence, for what must have been 3 or 4 minutes while I thought about what she'd just said.
"Of course," I thought. Sex is the desire to become One with the other. Not neccessarily just in the form of a different person, a child, but in the act itself. It's the macrocosm of the microcosm. It's the same event at both levels. It always felt that way, but I'd never thought of it that way. Even if it's done purely out of lust, that's still the motivation. A physical melding of two bodies for a desired melding of two spirits. It's so fucking simple!
I let go of Mary, smacked myself in the forehead, hard, and walked to the door of the examination room. I looked out at the doctor, Sid and a nurse. The three of them looked at me questioningly.
"Sid," I said. "I know the answer to your question."
I winked at them and closed the door.
Mare and I came together then. And at the time of our melding I held onto her for dear life; stared wide-eyed at nothing; gasped with shallow, rapid breaths, and; for a moment, I swear I could not remember my own name.
[This was a fictional representation of an actual relationship. Call it, erm... an allegory. Yeah, that'll do...! ;]
It was midnight. The street below my office window was deserted. Darla unfolded the white sequined nightgown and held it against herself as I finished reading the DNA report that I'd gotten back from the police lab.
"I don't know, Country," she muttered.
"Your plan seems a bit odd." She lifted the gown and stared at her left hand through the whispy garment. "And isn't this thing a bit... sheer?"
"It's the only one I could find," I lied as she folded it and returned it to the box. "Does the name 'Justin Case' mean anything to you?"
"Sure, it does." She swung her head up. "That's a guy Sadie dated."
"And Dennis Chan?"
"That's a guy Sadie dated."
"And Doug Deiper? Does the name 'Doug Deiper' ring a bell?" She twitched her face as she thought for a moment.
The door opened and Capt. Walmart poked his head in.
"We're ready, Country," he announced withdrawing his head and closing the door.
This was it. I'd put the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle together the best I could and now it was time to see if it was a picture or a Pollock. Darla picked up the box and we headed for Chan's house.
Chan was asleep, and the lock on the side door had been picked by Walmart's boys. The police van was parked at the curb and Walmart and his team were sitting inside it, each wearing a pair of headphones.
I stood outside of Chan's bedroom window as Darla stood at the side door wearing only the nightgown and a wire. For some reason I'd noticed that the slightest breeze was enough to set the calf-lengthed textile aflutter; alternately hugging and escaping her form. It was an unseasonably warm night, but I could see that she was a tad chilly.
She gazed at me worriedly. I nodded that it was time to move. She reached for the doorknob and entered the house.
I watched her enter the room and stand at the foot of Chan's bed. Through the large open undraped window the moonlight howled in the contours of her visage.
"Dennis," she said softly. Chan obviously hadn't heard her.
"Dennis..." she spoke with a slight trill. Chan popped up, startled. He stared at Darla.
"Wha... Who..." he gasped.
"Dennis, why did you kill me?" she asked sadly, staring at him as the nightgown waved like surf on a calm morning.
"Sadie?" he whimpered, "Sadie? How..? How can this be?"
"Why did you kill me, Dennis?"
"I..." he stammered, searching for words and trying to understand this. "I'm sorry. I was... I was angry."
I looked over at the van and saw Walmart and his boys heading for the side door.
"Why did you have to be with Justin?" Chan pleaded, "I wanted to give you everything you needed."
She stood there looking at him, not saying a word.
"Why did you have to go?" he cried as he crawled toward Darla. "And after we'd become so close..."
"You weren't as close to Sadie as you thought you were, Chan," Capt. Walmart snickered as he flicked on the light and his boys moved in for the grab. "You didn't even know she had a twin sister."
Chan stared at Darla in disbelief. She never flinched. "Aww, CRAP!!," he shouted, "Crap! Crap! Crap!" he repeated as he was dragged all the way to the awaiting squad car. Walmart and the others followed out as I entered the bedroom. Darla was frozen, still staring at Chan's bed.
"You were right, Country. It was Dennis who killed my sister. How did you know?"
"I didn't know until tonight," I said, "when we were in my office." I stood directly behind her. "And now the killing will stop?"
"Yes," she sighed. "The killing will stop."
I grabbed her hands together and snapped cuffs on her wrists. She swung around to face me. Frightened, she searched my eyes for something familiar, but all she found was justice. "How did you know?"
"I didn't," I said. "I tricked you. Nyah nyah!"
"Listen, Country," she pleaded, "I tried to tell you the first night I walked into your office. You don't know what it's like to lose your twin. The way we communicated was special. I could begin a sentence and she could finish it without missing a beat. Our heuristics, our trains of thought, our voices, even our menstrual cycles, dammit, all in perfect sync. Our rapport was not only empathic, it was virtually telepathic. But now I'm empty. Losing my sister was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
I've tried to cope, Country, I really have, by learning to communicate with myself. But everytime I've tried talking to myself all I do is answer back 'I know... I know... '. It's not the same.
Country," she said as she inched closer to me, "try to understand. When you hurt, don't you ever have the urge to make everyone feel your pain? Wouldn't having everyone suffer the way you do make you feel just a little bit better? Do you have any idea what I mean?"
I knew exactly what she meant, but I refused to let on.
"I've learned alot about your sister in the past few days," I began, ignoring her question, "and a lot about you, too.
Chan and Case weren't the only ones Sadie played with recently. There was Bill the telephone repairman, Scotty the bartender, Rick the auto mechanic, Jason at the brokerage firm."
She turned her face away and looked out the window.
"Sadie also had a guy in Yonkers: Vinnie, the pawn broker. There was also Fred the sidewalk vendor, and Joey the grocery delivery boy."
"Busy little beaver, wasn't she..." she said as she darted her eyes at nothing.
"Sadie had a lot o' guys mad at her, but Dennis Chan acted on that anger. He went to your apartment in a jealous rage. If he couldn't have Sadie, no one would. And he was determined to be the last to have her.
Humiliated and distraught, he went to kill Sadie. But he didn't." She snapped to attention, her face to mine. "He killed Darla, apparantly raped her afterward, and never knew it wasn't you. Isn't that right, Sadie?"
"You're letting your imagination run away with you, Country."
"Oh, really?" I said. "In all the names that I just listed, of the men in Sadie's emotionally empty and destructive romantic pursuits, there's one I left out. Doug Deiper." She looked at me quizzically. "You don't know who that is, do you?"
"No," she said softly, shaking her head slightly. "Who...?"
"Doug Deiper was Darla's boyfriend. It was his DNA, along with Chan's, that was in her when she died; and I've got the lab test results to prove it.
Yeah, I've learned alot about you and your sister the past few days. You kept your boyfriends away from each other. She never knew who you were dating, and you never knew who she was dating. When it was confirmed that Deiper was the second DNA presence, and you had no idea who he was, I knew that the dead sister was Darla. Chan being the other presence, I knew he was her killer.
So, you took the opportunity of her death to switch identities. Sadie had a lot of people mad at her, and who knew who'd be showing up next with a gun or a knife to take revenge. So, Sadie had to die, and you had to become Darla.
But changing your ways, becoming the sister you weren't wasn't easy, was it? All that energy and need for excitment and adventure coupled with the lonliness and anger had to be channeled somewhere. If you couldn't have a twin, you felt, then no one else could. You gave up tennis and took up murder."
"Country, listen to me," she pleaded. "We can run away. I don't want to be the emotional Dirt Devil that I was, just sucking the love out of every Tom, Dick and Rod I could squeeze into my To Do list. I want to be free of all that, I really do. You've got to protect me, Country, you've got to."
"Sorry, Doll Face, the shows over, the balcony's closed and the audience is on the subway and heading back to the land of swimming pools and milkmen."
She closed her eyes and inhaled the evening's perfume, "Do they still have Mister Softy Ice Cream trucks?"
"I don't know, Babe. I don't know."
With her eyes still closed, her lips slightly parted and her breath shivering, she slowly stepped forward and leaned her ghostly nightgown-draped essence against me, the sum of all her needful energy slithering upon my emptiness.
My God. She was rolling thunder; and my soul was the sky.
Capt. Walmart was at a loss to understand why the Karbon Kopy Killer had ceased to strike after Dennis Chan had been jailed the second time, unlike the first. But the fact that the killings had stopped was good enough for the City. Chan was convicted of the murder of Sadie Minx, and, for bringing him in, the City awarded Walmart a plaque, a payraise and a parking garage. He stopped wondering about the Karbon Kopy Killer years ago.
The sun's coming up and I can hear the milk bottles rattling on the porch. It's gonna be a good day for a dip in the pool, topped off with a fresh cone of Mister Softy Ice Cream.
Oh, and the Karbon Kopy Killer? She's asleep... in my bed. Me being the only one who knows her secret has been good for both of us.
To me she's Sadie Minx: a chorus of demons and angels forever shouting each other down. To the rest of the world she's Darla Rhodes... for now. She knows that the day she strays is the day she trades her bay window for prison bars.
Chan once said that Sadie could never be tamed. He just never figured out how to get her to swallow what's good for her.
KARBON KOPY KILLER STRIKES AGAIN Astoria Woman 19th Victim Last NightMy stack o' hotcakes and yet another cup of coffee had gone cold as I sat at the counter of the Mayflower Diner reading up on the latest news. One more victim; same M.O.. One 9mm shot to the aorta at point blank range. One more twin dead as a Dodo. I'd been interviewing friends and aquainetces of Sadie Minx for five days, following leads. I was learnin' more and more.
The media dubbed the perp "the Karbon Kopy Killer" months ago (carbon being the base element of life, twins being essentially copies of each other, killin' being how they died).
Nineteen victims in four months. Some male, some female. Some black, some white. Some young, some old. But, they did have one thing in common. Each victim and his or her twin were roommates.
I slammed my cold coffee and headed over to see Capt. Walmart.
"We got nothin', Country." he sighed, dropping the case file on his desk. "All our leads were dead ends."
"What about the bullets?" I asked. "All from the same weapon?"
"Four different guns. Whoever this is, he's got quite a collection."
"What's the break-down on the weapons?"
"Eight victims with one, seven victims with another, three with a third and one with a fourth. All 9mm."
Capt. Walmart stepped to the window and stared out at the city.
"What makes a man want to kill one half of a pair of twins?" he wondered with his back to me. "Is this someone who's afraid of twins? Or hates twins, maybe? Why? Maybe he's afraid of all this talk of cloning to the point that he sees twins as clones living among us that need to be gotten rid of. Or is this someone who is a twin himself? Maybe someone who lost his twin? Has the world gone so topsy-turvy that you can't get a decent parking space outside of your own office?"
"Look at them," he continued, "all those cars, sitting there along the curb... mocking me...while my car sits five blocks away in a parking garage that's bleeding me dry with their monsterous monthly rates. It's probably owned by some guy who got so fed up with the rates himself that he decided to just buy the damn garage. Someday I'd just like to..."
"Captain Walmart," I said as I began violating the smoking ban, "about the break-down of the guns. You said there was one victim who was shot with a unique weapon."
"Oh, right," he said as he spun around and fished through the file papers. "Four different guns; eight, seven, three and one."
"Who was the one?"
"The first victim." He'd found the page he was looking for. "Sadie Minx, killed in her Brooklyn apartment on July 4th."
"Can you tell me everything you have on the Minx case?"
"Well," he shrugged, "we got nothin'. All we ever had was DNA. At the time, before all these other killings, we considered that her killer was someone she knew. We found the DNA of two other people, uh, tryin' t'be delicate.., within her. We identified one, but not the other."
"Who was the one you identified?"
"It was a fella named, uh," he stammered as he thumbed through the papers. "Chan. Dennis Chan. Yes, I remember him; Dennis Chan the tennis man. He was the victim's tennis instructor. We brought him in for questioning. He and Minx had apparently had a thing going but then had a falling out. We saw fit to keep him overnight."
"And there were two more killings that night; identical to the Minx murder. We let him go."
I thanked Capt. Walmart and went to see this Chan fella. Something wasn't sitting right. Well, other than the hotcakes. I mean, can they make 'em any doughier? Maybe the griddle temperature needed to be raised...or they just needed to cook a little longer. I don't know.
I also didn't know where this investigation would end, but I had the sneaking suspicion that it began with Dennis Chan.
A waiter pointed him out to me. He was in the lounge of the Ragin' Racquet Tennis Club sitting at the bar nursing a Coors Lite.
"The name's Rhodes. Country Rhodes," I began,. "Don't laugh. It's just a nickname. My given name's Gravel."
"What can I do for ya, Mr. Rhodes?" he asked, never looking up from his beer.
I sized him up pretty quickly. He had an athlete's build and a poet's countenance. This was a man who'd been to Hell and Hoboken and back again. He cared about nothing, he cared about everything; all at the same time. The kind o' guy who flowed through the day like a river through the Rockies: taking the lumps and then adjusting his path accordingly, but always downhill. And it's no wonder. The hounds had been released and he was the one holding the sack o' Snausages.
"I want to talk to you about Sadie," I blurted. "When did you see her last?"
"You a cop?" he asked, running his index finger around the rim of the bottle.
"Nope," I replied, "just a friend of the family. Well, one member of the family anyway. And she's really more of a client than a friend. Maybe it'll grow to be more than that. Perhaps, if I play my cards right, ..."
"Sadie was everything to me," he began. "I met her last summer when she signed up for tennis lessons. I instantly fell for her. Hard. The way she held her racquet. The way she swayed while waiting for a serve. The way her little peach-colored tennis outfit seemed to be shrink-wrapped onto her. We hit it off immediately.
The way she talked to me at first I thought she was a bit coy. Not very playful, but still sweet. Always had an air of dignity and propriety. The kind of girl your mother would love you to bring home. You know the type: all sugar and no spice. Boy, was I wrong."
"How so?" I asked as I wiped my glasses.
"Thunder." he said as he looked me in the eye for the first time. "She was like rolling thunder and my soul was the sky. She was one of a kind. I called her my Zagatka.
"It's a Russian word. A puzzle, an enigma." Chan stared at the mirror behind the bar. "She was a tangle of poise and passion; a bridled wildfire. I had her then, but I knew she was too free to be tamed."
"Can I borrow your comb?" I asked. "I just noticed in the mirror that my part isn't quite straight."
"In June I found out that she was seeing another man," he frowned as he handed me his comb. "Justin. Justin Case."
"Was he an insurance salesman?"
"No, why?" he said confusedly.
"Do you own a gun?"
"Yeah, a 9mm." He turned to me sharply. "Lots of people own a 9mm pistol. Listen, Rhodes, I've been through this with the cops. I didn't kill Sadie, okay?"
"Sure." I said, thanking him for his time.
I felt I was close to earning my pay, but I thought I'd try to contact this Case fella, anyway. Turns out he'd left town in mid-July for Biloxi, Mississippi. He couldn't be the Karbon Kopy Killer, but I wasn't hired to find the Karbon Kopy Killer. And, at this point, I wasn't so sure that Sadie's murder even was related to the others.
I looked up Dennis Chan's home address, picked up the results of a DNA sample examination I'd dropped off the evening prior and talked again with Capt. Walmart. Then I headed back to my office and phoned Darla. She agreed to meet me that evening at my office, after which we'd head on over to Chan's.
It was a cold and stormy night. I was going to turn on the TV, but if the TV guide was any clue, my night would only have gotten lonelier if I had.
The street below my office window was dim and deserted.
Rhodes is the name. Country Rhodes.
Don't laugh; it's a nickname. My given name is Gravel.
I'd been whiling away the hours in my office that evening by closing my eyes and seeing if I could count the seconds to sixty while matching the clock. One time I peeked at thirty seconds and was pretty close, but by 45 seconds I'd strayed by three. If I'd only slowed down around 38-41 like I knew I should've... Damn!
Maybe I should have just stared out the window some more.
Then there was a knock on the door. "Come in!" I called.
Just when it seemed that the world was fated to be awash evermore in the hopeless drizzle of shame, neglect and abject remorse, she walked into my office; heaving breathlessly, slowly panting, but still quite conscious.
"Are you Rhodes? Country Rhodes?" she asked as she shut the door behind her and felled her backside upon it. "'Cause if y'are, I've got a job for you."
She wore a pillbox hat with a veil that half-obscured her face, but I could still see a face beneath that veil that begged for sublime closure.
Dressed in neutral greys she slowly approached my desk on a pair o' gams that would have stretched onto forever were they not stopped by the floor.
"What can I do for ya, Madam?" I asked, tipping up my cap whilst attempting to conceal any evidence of the fleeting thoughts of violating any and every new P.C. city ordinance that I may or may not have contemplated violating.
"It's about my twin sister."
"Okay," I said, leaning back on my stool and falling to the floor on my shoulders.
There were two of these dames? That was the first moment I can remember that I'd wished I'd had a friend.
"I didn't catch your name."
"I never tossed it. My name's Darla. Darla Minx."
"Okay, Doll Face," I said as I grabbed a thirty year-old bottle of whiskey and two shot glasses from the bottom drawer of my desk. I poured two shots and handed one to Darla. "Have a drink and tell me your story."
She slammed the shot and poured herself another.
"Sadie was my twin sister," she began, "and she was killed on the 4th of July."
There'd been a string of "twin killings" going around. Only one of a pair of twins: off'd. Darla slammed the second shot.
"Do you suspect the 'Karbon Kopy Killer'?" I asked.
"Of course I do," she exhaled, reaching for the bottle again. "Maybe you don't know what it's like to be a twin; just as I don't know what it's like not to be one. The special connection, the unspoken understanding. The fantasy that you singulars all seem to have of talking to yourselves in a way that is both familiar and surprising is what we had, Sadie and me. Maybe if you could just imagine..."
She kept on talking but I'd stopped listening.
Maybe it was the way her lips caressed every word as if each one tasted like a different flavor of ice cream. Or maybe it was the way her eyes were tearing up as if swollen by a long-forgotten yearning that she'd only just forgotten to forget...or maybe it was the way her hips swayed in unintentional.... 42, 43, 44...
"Wont you help me, Country? Will you help to find who killed my twin sister?"
"The cops have been on the case for months," I told her. "Captain Walmart might be upset if I edge my way into a case that the Force is working on."
"The police haven't made any progress," she said worriedly. "and until whoever killed Sadie is found, one of another pair of twins will die again. And then another after that."
She slammed the third shot and poured another. "Don't you see, Country? Every day that goes by that my sister's killer is on the loose is another day that someone else may meet the same fate. You've got to join the hunt."
"Still," I told her as I leaned forward on my elbows, "I like to get involved only after the cops have come up empty."
She slithed atop my desk until her face was within inches of mine. Like a late autumn twilight she looked like dormance and smelled like passion. Her strawberry-blonde locks flowing out of her hat like Niagra after a spring thaw. Her indigo eyes gazing so deeply into mine that I was sure she could read the combination to my wall safe.
"I pay," she whispered more softly as she leaned even more closely, "cash!"
"The price is $12. Plus expenses." (I never again will forget to add expenses to the fee.)
Yeah, I took the case.
Sure, Darla played me like a harmonica, but it's been slow around here lately. She slammed a fourth shot and left my office warmer yet stormier than she found it.
Call me a sucker, but, damn, I knew I just had to try to come up a scenario in which I'd be assured of seeing this broad again.