Conference Calling

As the crows flew, it wasn’t far from Dyersburg to the edge of the Ozarks and the Pear Tree Inn and Resort. As roads went, it reminded Morgana why some people measured distance in hours instead of miles. “Madame, will the road construction ever cease?” Smiley pleaded. “I’m out of books.”

Morgana drummed her fingers on the arm-rest and wondered. “If you mean will they finish the road, I suspect they will. If you mean will they stop tearing up highways and slowing traffic, I believe the infernal planes will join the realms of light before that happens.” A witch from Albuquerque had once claimed that souls too bad for Heaven and too good for Hell were assigned to work on the Interstate construction crew in Trinidad, Colorado. Morgana thought that was a pretty good guess. At last, the sign ahead of them switched to “slow” and the conga line of cars and trucks began crawling forward, over the bridge and westward. Continue reading

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Homework and House Hunting

Morgana Lorraine and Smiley gave Lelia some homework. And she and Tay are looking for a new place to live. Alan Cypher is the accountant-to-mages and other magic workers.

That night, after feeding Tay and dutifully chomping through a salad with grilled chicken breast strips, Lelia checked her messages. One from Alan Cypher, who said he’d be happy to meet with her, but not this week because of the quarterly rush. Another she did not recognize. “Is this one of your friends?” she asked Tay. He stopped grooming his nethers long enough to look, and shook his head. She deleted it, un-read. The third was a forward from Genevive Altman, her drug counselor and primary magic instructress. “If you are still looking for an apartment, try Mrs. Angela Weber. She has rental properties, and is mage-friendly.” The message from Mrs. Weber said that she had a few rentals open if Mrs. Altman had any tenants she could recommend.

Tay sat up. “You know a Mrs. Weber?” Lelia asked.

He scratched.

“You spat out your oil pill, didn’t you?”

He pointed to himself, eyes wide, as innocent-looking as a ring-tailed lemur could be. She scowled at him. He squirmed. “Um, yeah. I did. And I know the name. She’s a mage, not as active as most.”

Two days later, on Monday, Lelia called the number. “Weber and Drake Property Management. How can I help you?” a woman’s voice answered.

“Good morning, my name is Lelia Chan and I am looking for an apartment to rent. I have a pet, a small indoor animal. No fish.” She would never, ever get a fish-tank, ever. Arthur had bought them salads with smoked fish in them on Saturday night, just out of spite. Lelia imagined it was whatever had been in Bradly’s hundred-gallon saltwater tank and ate heartily. Tay had scolded her for her ill-will, but it had sounded pro forma at best. Continue reading

Thursday Tid-bit

Just when Tay and Lelia thought it was safe to come out from behind the counter at Belle, Book, and Blacklight…

Would that all her problems could be solved so easily. Lelia returned the quartz necklace to its baggie, taped a piece of paper to it with a note about the crack, and added the item number from the invoice. Task done for the moment, and no customers in sight, she sat on the stool behind the counter and wiggled her toes. She really needed to get these boots re-soled and probably buy a pair of insoles, the cushy kind. And to find an apartment that tolerated Familiars. She only had another month in the transitional apartments. She’d finally paid off all her back taxes and fines, so the governments were no longer garnishing her wages, but no one wanted a Familiar and mage as tenants.

“Do you think the manager could have been a little more obvious this morning?” she asked at last.

Tay stuck his tongue out. “Only if she’d used one of those giant flashing highway signs, outlined in neon, with a chorus line standing along the bottom.” Continue reading

Vaguely Familiar

Tay and Lelia ambushed me Sunday night, drat them.

At least Tay waited until the customers left before bursting into laughter so wild that he rolled off the counter. The ring-tailed lemur landed on the anti-fatigue mat with a soft thump, releasing a puff of fur, and giggled a little longer. Lelia rested her head on her arm, carefully, lest she get makeup on her black sleeve. “I cannot—No, I do not want to believe that I heard that,” she managed at last, straightening up and shaking her head.

“You did, I did, the security camera did, heck,” Tay gasped for breath and twirled the end of his long tail. “The entire Internet will probably know before he gets to the end of the block!” Continue reading

A Lemur-bit of Excitement

It’s not Tay’s fault that he looks like a stuffed animal. Really.

Tay sniffed his new soft-sided carrier. “I didn’t think this was what you meant.”

Lelia folded her arms. Didn’t he like it? She’d put hours of work into it. “What do you mean? You wanted grey, red, and cobalt.”

He sniffed some more, then peered inside. “What?” He disappeared, the cylindrical bag wobbled back and forth, and the top opened just beside the upper handle. Tay stuck his head out. “Oh!”

“And the front opens from inside as well.” Lelia heard the sound of hook-and-loop tape pulling apart, and Tay’s tail emerged from the back of the carrier. “The flap is to keep your fur out of the hook part.” Continue reading

Friday Fragment

Officer Macbeth’s future father-in-law is nothing compared to his future mother-in-law…And yes, I’ve changed the name of Jamie’s fiancée. Too many “A” names.

Gustav Jenkins poked his head into the group office before Jamie had finished his first cup of coffee. “You want the bad news or worse news?”

Jamie considered the coffee, the fact that it was Tax Day, and the waxing moon, squared his shoulders and said, “Worse.”

“O’Brian’s on a tear, even worse than usual. You might want to skip the briefing this morning, Angus.”

Angus scratched with one hind leg and nodded, mouth full of carrot tops that the ladies from Dispatch just happened to have found and put in his bowl.

“And the bad?”

“Chief Albert is out sick, Deputy Chief Podjaoski got cornered by someone from the paper yesterday about the flipped and flattened Ford, and the reporter won’t take ‘invisible giant hog’ as an answer. Oh,” the big policeman added, “yeah. Something new turned up at the rave last week. The lab’s going to be telling  us about it. See you in the briefing.”

Jamie chugged the rest of the coffee, got a refill, and went over the current outstanding things demanding his attention. Shift-alteration requests were due by the end of the week. A slot had opened up for a school liaison officer at the vo-tech high school, with a note that Kelly from Motorpool was not permitted to apply. Jamie snorted a little. I can imagine the results if he and the hoodlums in the Auto Shop classes got together. And that’s before he decides to help the students as well as the teachers. And a reminder that Familiars were not service animals, and so needed to be on a leash or in a carrier when in the county courthouse and municipal court rooms, unless the municipal judges decided otherwise.

Jamie considered the high school slot for ten seconds. Angus’s contented burp and mumbled, “Scuze me” ended that. Jamie finished his coffee, collected his clipboard and notepad, and waved to Angus. “Stay here. I’d just as soon you didn’t try to take a chunk out of the corporal’s ankle.” Continue reading