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Friday, October 29, 2021

F³ Tradition Denied

             I did the Spock eyebrow and squinted at Cassie.


            “There’s definitely more to this. And you know I’ll figure it out.”

            “Of course,” she admitted, “but will you figure it out in time?”

            “Cassandra,” Nikki grinned, “you have already made my night. I shall delight at keeping your uncle deliciously off-balance so he doesn’t deduce your secret.”

            “Well played,” I said. “But I’m not licked yet.”

            “Emphasis on yet,” Nikki said.

            My head whipped towards her.

            “Distraction achieved,” Cassie said, triumphantly.

            Dang, need to work on that.

            “As much as I want to continue the distractions, I believe your date has arrived.” Nikki stepped to the side to show Rick Hale walking up the sidewalk.

He was dressed as a more generic buccaneer, while Cassie sported the captain’s tricorn hat. Rick’s mom waved from the car.

I gave a tentative wave back as Cassie brushed past me. She immediately got in close, putting their faces side-by-side as she took a selfie of the two of them.

“Rick,” Cassie began a rapid-fire delivery, “this is my uncle’s friend Nikki, and this is my Uncle Matt.”

Nikki inclined her head, politely.

I reached out a hand.

Before Rick could take my hand, Cassie continued. “Uncle Matt is a private investigator. He really wants to intimidate you by telling you, that he owns a gun and he can track you down, but that’s not necessary because I will keelhaul you myself. We’re all good, right?”

Rick and I shook, both of our hands kind of limp. Him no doubt because of the intimidation, mine because Cassie had stolen the winds from my sails.

“Okay, we’ll see you there!” She turned Rick around, took his arm, and walked out to Rick’s mom for their ride to the dance.

“Oh, Matthew, you look so deflated. You were truly looking forward to dragging out the intimidation of that young man, weren’t you?”

“No, not really. I mean, it’s a tradition, right? And how often do I get to intimidate someone?”

“Never, dumpling. You’re too adorable.”

Friday, October 22, 2021

F³ Dealing with Devils

             “Cassie, you almost ready? Your date’s going to be here any time,” I yelled down the hall.

            “Almost, Uncle Matt,” came her answering yell.

            I was about to retort when the doorbell rang.

            “He’s here! Come on, shake a leg. You don’t want to give me too much time to torment him, do y---” the word died on my lips as opened the door to see Nikki in a dress made of strips of cloth cut to look like individual flames. An appropriately infernal dress given the two horns on top of her head and the plastic pitchfork she wielded.

            “Tormenting is my job, Matthew.”

            “What are you doing here?”

            “It’s Halloween, Dumpling, where else would I be? We must go dancing.”

            “I can’t. I’m a chaperone for Cassie’s school dance.”

            “Oh, I know. I am your co-chaperone.”

            “Wait, what?”

            “I invited her, Uncle Matt,” Cassie said from behind me

            I turned to see her dressed as a pirate, a far more conservative version than what Nikki had worn a couple of years ago.

            “I didn’t want you to be bored talking to teachers and other parents,” Cassie smiled

            “Somehow I think it’s not that simple,” I rubbed my chin.

            “Deals with the devil seldom are,” Nikki grinned.

Friday, October 15, 2021

F³ Breaking and Entering

            I took measured steps towards the student dorm building at DeGradi University. I modified my pace to reach the building door at the same time one of the residents opened the door. I tried to look semi-officious with a short-sleeve button shirt and plain tie.

I also carried the most magical prop in all bureaucracy, a clipboard. I even slapped a DeGradi U sticker on the back to make it look more official. Better than that, the ID badge around my neck screamed official. It was really easy to pull images off the internet and photoshop them into something believable, and thanks to social media like Instagram, everyone posted pictures of everything. It just took some creative web searching and some time. Though the badge looked official, it wasn’t. It didn’t possess the NFC or RFID chips to get me in. Even if it did, have the chips, it had no encoding, and I didn’t have the expertise to do any of that stuff.

“Hold the door!” I shouted ahead, quickening my pace up the short steps.

The young man glanced back, then held out a hand to keep the door open as I approached.

“Thanks,” I smiled, stepping past the badge reader.

Friday, October 8, 2021

F³ After Effects

             Two hours later, we were all miserable. Not because of a hangover, but because the bartender had had enough of us and kicked us out, and our metabolisms had taken care of what buzz we had. Storm riders burned through calories like two year-olds burned through candy.

            And after all of that drinking, we still had nothing.

“Bored!” Jack said.

We were all sitting on the low, stone wall of a nearby fountain. Kate stared at the water while Jack occasionally belted out curses like he had Tourette’s Syndrome. For that matter, Kate did, too when she yelled for Jack to “Keep your labia closed!”

I created a tiny spark between two fingers. The centimeter long white arc was as long as I could manage, and even it gave off little white pops.

Nat turned from looking at the fountain to stare at my miniscule lightning with glazed eyes.

“You’re a mean drunk, aren’t you?” Jack said.

Kate slapped Jack upside the head. “Yes.”

I started touching each finger to my thumb, transferring the lightning to each new finger in sequence. Each time it switched, there were initially more pops, but they quickly dissipated.

“Hey! No hitting without prior consent and a firm commitment to honor safewords and wear high heels.”

“Stop switching fingers,” Nat said.

I immediately stopped, holding the arc between thumb and ring finger.

“I promise to honor safewords and make you wear high heels,” Kate said.

“Switch again,” Nat said.

“Har har,” Jack said. “So, are we negotiating?”

I moved the lightning to my pinky. Big pops, followed by a steady stream and tiny pops as I held the arc.

“Think you better talk to Anna Maria, first. I don’t like poaching,” Kate said.

“Switch again,” Nat repeated.

I moved the arc to my index finger.

“We’re not exclusive,” Jack said. “She’s currently hooked up with this couple from Sweden.”

“Isn’t that a little out of her area? Thought she was covering Spain.”

“We swapped. I got tired of beer and brats. Wanted something more Mediterranean.”

“Is it hot?” Nat asked.

“The arc?” I asked.


I thought about it, concentrating on the sensation near my fingers. The Reilly Tingle—Shit! now I’m calling it that—was there, but I didn’t notice any real heat.


“Why is it white?”


Friday, October 1, 2021

F³ Mebatolism

             The girls left us. Not so quickly that we couldn’t follow, but it was very much two groups as they surfed down to the nearest town underneath the thunderstorm. We didn’t even know the name of the place, or even what state. We just wanted to go to the bar and get hammered. And for that, we had Jack to thank. He bought.

            “I love you guys,” he slurred.

            “I hate you, too,” I said, and laughed.

            Kate belched her reply, “Fuck you both.” That was a thoroughly impressive feat.

            Nat held her head like she was nursing a hangover, but she was a lightweight, mostly tapping out after her first bottle of Jack Daniels. “Maybe you three should slow down.”

            “Nonsense!” Jack yelled at the top of his lungs, “I have the mebatolism of a thing with a high mebatolism.

            “You’re wasted,” I laughed. “It’s not mebatolism, it’s mebatolism.”

            “What I said!”

            “No, not mebatolism, metalobism. No, wait. That’s not right.”

            “Melobotomism,” Kate said.

            “Yeah!” I pointed, spilling half my bourbon. “No!”

            “I’m telling you it’s mebatolism,” Jack insisted.

            “No, it’s meta. It’s very meta,” I said.

            “You’re meta!” Jack punched me in the arm. “Anyway, my mebatolism won’t let me get drunk. ‘Cept, I might have to go puke.”

            “Rum, please.” Nat said.

            “We’re out of rum,” the bartender said.

            “Why is the rum gone!” we all yelled.



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