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Friday, November 27, 2020

F³ The Hat


“Twas the day after Thanksgiving, the house held no peace

I regretted Black Friday spending, to the delight of my niece;

Cassie danced around the tree, decorating without a care;

While I rummaged through ornament boxes, trying not to swear;

“One of these years,” I promised her there, “I will write it all down.”

Finding my prize, I passed to her, where she set the star on the tree’s crown.

The tree all decorated, and the lights outside glowing;

We settled in to watch Charlie Brown as it started snowing.

When from down the hall there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.

Cautiously down the hall, I wasn’t going to do anything rash,

I peered in my bedroom closet, where I hid my Christmas stash.

High on the shelf a box shuddered and rocked

My wondering eyes did stare, for I was quite shocked.

Down it jumped, losing its lid, a cap inside, a letter tucked in the band.

I sighed and remembered I had agreed to the elf’s demands.

“Happy Thanksgiving!” the letter began, “Your dinner was good?”

“Keep the turkey, but send me a slice of pie, if you would?”

I knew from the humor, it must be St. Nick.

I skimmed down a bit, hoping to cut to the quick.

“The season is upon us now; your parole is quite over.

You have a job to do, no time for eating leftovers.

With the cap on your head, Santa’s Helper you’ll be.”

I paused in my reading, sighing loudly, “Why me?”

“Because, Matt, for many years, you’ve been quite nice.

Now you can help the naughty avoid choosing vice.

You can start with someone, who has been very naughty,

Your vampire friend, is she always so haughty?”

“Oh, is that all?” I said with great sass.

I’d forgotten that Nick could be such an —

“Uncle Matt, are you okay?” said Cassie from the door.

“I’m fine, just something I can no longer ignore.

I’ll be out in a minute would you get us some cocoa?”

I went back to the letter, wishing I could veto.

“Unlike the Grinch, whose heart was too small;

He needed only to hear the song’s call.

Not so with the lady, for her heart went dark;

Centuries of anger and strife left their mark.

But in recent years, thanks to you, now a glow

Of the warm girl I remember begins to show.”

Caution! Warning! This is not a game to be played!”

The force of these words made me quite afraid.

“Beware the temptation to tally the score.

For deeds from the heart are never a chore.

For Nice to surpass Naughty is never the goal;

Only that the holiday spirit adds light to the soul.”

There’d be no weighing of souls, no trial;

She would just have to make someone smile

With the holiday joy that all delighted to feel.

The purpose of Christmas was simply to heal.

“Now put on the hat! ’Tis the season to be of good cheer!

For your bonus, I’ll see you before the New Year.”

Out on the porch, Cassie sipped cocoa as the snow fell.

I smiled and hugged her, saying, “All is well.

I’ve a new case, to make this Christmas season merry and bright!”

“Keep it down!” yelled my neighbor, “It’s the middle of the night!”

Friday, November 20, 2020

F³ Cavalry


“Fear not, the cavalry has arrived,” Jack Dailey announced as he and three dozen others touched down on the cloud.

I gave a tiny golf clap, followed by a middle finger.

“Good to see you, too, Reilly. Anyone got anything approaching a plan?”

“Stop it before it reaches land?” Kate suggested.

“I said plan, not goal.”

“Fuck you, too, Jack.”

“We can negotiate a threesome later. Time to focus on the matter at hand. Anyone got a way to divert or break this bad boy up?”

Blank faces looked back.

“Can we confirm that there is a storm inside the eye?” One of the other European contingent said with a German accent.

Esteban nodded. “I have flown over it and confirmed it. The storm in the center is not as intense, perhaps a category 3, but it does complicate things.”

“How?” Said a woman I couldn’t identify, but I thought it was an Italian accent.

“They share mass and momentum,” Jack and I said.

Jack looked at me appraisingly, then nodded.

“Well, it’s too big to divert,” Nat said. “I think the best we can hope for is to break it into pieces, hope that they don’t form their own storms. It’s still hundreds of miles away. If we can get enough air moving from this far out, we can hit it with a hammer and see what breaks off.”

Several nodded in agreement. Anna-Maria began making assignments about how to do it. The great thing about storm riders was that our ginormous egos didn’t give a shit when it came to getting things done in the face of Armageddon.

Before I got an assignment, Jack hauled me away. Nat followed.

“What’s up?”

Jack pitched his voice low. “We’ve got a snowball’s chance in a Miami summer of this working. We need another idea.”

“Jack, you’re not suggesting—” Nat began.

“I am. You got a better idea?”

Nat shook her head sullenly. “I don’t have to fucking like it.”


My eyes darted between them. “What’s the idea?”

Jack pointed at me. “You. Frost.”

“You two said never to do that ever again, now you want me to do it in front of half the storm riders on the Goddamn planet?”

Jack nodded.

“I think Jack’s right,” Nat said, looking pained to admit it. If this works then we can abort, but I think we need a different approach on all of this.”

“Well, fuck. Guess I better get going, then. Could’ve saved some time by telling me before I got down to Florida.”

“Quit your bitching and move,” Jack said.

Friday, November 13, 2020

F³ Worse Than We Thought


We didn’t bother to land in Florida. Generally, we didn’t think much of Florida except as a place to be on a beach, and there were much better beaches in the world. Thunderstorms high above the peninsula gave us a decent view and served as the meeting place for all of the other storm riders called in. Two dozen were already there. I saw a lot of familiar faces, most of those from the states, but also a few from Central and South America as Jack and Anna-Maria were still bringing Europe with them.

“The CDAF is worse than we thought,” I said to Esteban, from Panama.

“The CDAF?”

“Our official name for this thing ‘Cactus Dick Anal Fucker.’ Nat’s name was just too long and didn’t make a decent acronym.”

Esteban looked away, then nodded. “Si. So, why is it worse?”

“It may have had a kid.”

“It is spawning off storms?” He began scrolling through radar imagery on his phone.

“One, and not where you think. Look here,” I held up my phone with its animated radar. “See this spot here inside the eye? The cloud cover looks denser, there. Then there’s an area around it that looks thinner. Then here at the eyewall, it’s dense again.”

“Yes. So what?”

“So I think that we have a smaller hurricane inside a bigger hurricane.”

“Madre de Dios.”

Friday, November 6, 2020

F³ Adjective Storm


“Am I seeing this right?” I asked Nat, pointing at my phone screen.

On it was a radar and satellite map of a hurricane, one that would encompass the entire Gulf of Mexico.

“Yeah. It’s all hands on deck with this one. Jack and Anna-Maria are bringing basically every European storm rider with them. Everyone needs to meet in the Florida Keys in the next two hours. That doesn’t give us much time.”

“How the hell did this even happen?”

“A few times it’s happened when separate storms have collided, but this motherfucker spun up like any other storm, it just took its Viagra early on.”

“Shit. Do we have a plan beyond having a pow wow?”

“Do you have one?”


“Then no.”

“What the hell do we even call this thing. I mean it blows away any type of scale previously thought of and super storm or hyper storm just sounds stupid.”

“Because it is. I think we should just call it ‘Motherfucking-bend-over-and-take-a-cactus-up-your-ass-my-God-we-are-so-fucking-fucked-storm.’ What do you think?”

“It’s got my vote.”

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