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Friday, April 29, 2022

F³ It's About Who You Know

             “I think you were right,” Kate said.

            “Most people would be pleased at that kind of acknowledgement, but I’ve often found that being right is pretty painful,” I said, already looking back at Wilson’s schedule.

            “Well, that might be the case here, too. So I found something, carved, er painted, or I don’t know, but the rock here is marked.”

            I looked back at my screen, and she focused her camera on the bedrock. “Can you see it?”

            I squinted at it. “Looks a little like a pinwheel, or a vortex, or something.”

            “That’s what I thought. I can kind of feel something from it.”

            “Feel what?”

            “Pressure, and then not. It’s not constant. Makes me think of the wind.”

            “Well, that’s it, then.”

            “What’s it?”

            “The dingus, the whatsit, the thing.”

            “This?”

            I looked back down at Wilson’s schedule. “Yup.”

            “So you know what this is?” Her voice got louder from pointing the camera back at herself. “You can fix Reilly and Jack.”

            Peripheral vision caught her smile of relief.

            Really hate to kill that. She’s going to be mad at me.

            “Nope.”

            “Nope? What the fuck do you mean nope? If you can identify it, you should know what it is!”

            “Not a clue. I’m not an encyclopedia of everything supernatural.”

            “I’m going to fucking kill you.”

            “Nope. I don’t know what it is, but I know who it belongs to. It’s Sioux.”

            “Sue? Who is Sue?”

            “Not Sue as in short for Susan. Sioux as in the Native American nations. You’re in South Dakota. That’s their land you’re in.”

            “The Sioux Nation?”

            “Yup. Well, reasonable guess. There are other tribes in the area, but they’re the biggest.  So what you want to do is go talk to some members of the tribe. Chances are that symbol belongs to a weather spirit or something. Probably sacred ground, and knowing Storm Riders, Reilly probably offended something. There’s probably a ritual, maybe an apology. But that’s the move. Talk to the Sioux. There. I’ve earned my fee.”

            I disconnected the call and went back to the Wilson schedule.

            There it is, racquetball, Wednesday night.

Friday, April 22, 2022

F3 New Business Model

             Kyle Wilson was having an affair, but I still didn’t have the pictures that his wife likely would need to believe that he wasn’t under a gypsy curse. I had, in fact, talked to the “gypsy” who wasn’t even Romani, just a licensed psychic who used the trappings to bring people in. She crumbled pretty quickly when I pointed out all the things in her shop that had nothing to do with Romani and everything to do with being a practical businesswoman trying to lure customers in with the latest crystals, aromatherapy, and calligraphied gibberish on fancy postcards purporting to be spells.

            But Sarah’s not going to believe just that. She’ll need to see proof that Kyle is having an affair.

            I looked back over his schedule when the video call app on my laptop sounded. I clicked the button.

            “I’m here,” I said, but was still looking over the papers.

            “Okay, so, I think I might have found something. Took fucking forever. For reference, thunder to crack the ice works better than lightning to melt it.”

            I looked up to see that all the snow and ice in the immediate region was gone, completely swept clean.

            “Wow, you know, if you ever wanted to go into business, you’d make a fortune clearing walks or even whole streets of the snow and ice. That stuff isn’t light, how’d you do it?”

            “Like I said, some thunder to crack the ice, and a small 200 mph whirlwind. It formed really easily, actually.”

            “Seriously, I think this is an untapped business model for storm riders. The snow in Boston sucked.”

            “Somehow I don’t think they would want thunder loud enough to shatter windows or pocket whirlwinds that could move cars just to get rid of snow and ice.”

            “Maybe. Depends on how bad the storm was.”

Friday, April 15, 2022

F³ Snow Blower

             I was on my third spoonful of the leftover chowder when the video call came in. Ira and Jen had set me up with the tech, so I took it on my laptop. Kate’s face appeared, though it kept bouncing because she was walking around.

            “I see you,” I said.

            “Yeah, I can see—are you eating the leftover clam chowder?”

            “Yep. Good stuff. Thanks.”

            “This is so unfair. You’re eating the food I hauled all the way from Boston, and I’m . . . here!” She turned the phone around to show me the icy rocks of South Dakota’s badlands in winter.

            “You definitely didn’t pay me enough to endure that.”

            “Whatever. So what am I looking for?”

            “Why do you people think that I just have all the answers? I have no idea what you’re looking for. The thing that’s odd or different. You’re at the exact place he was when he got whammied?”

            She swung the camera back to her face. “More or less, I think?”

            I sighed. “The answer would be no, then. Get to the exact spot. Look around. Especially look under that snow and ice.” I ate another spoonful of chowder.

            “Does it look like I packed a snow shovel?”

            I didn’t look. I just blew on another spoonful of chowder. “No, but I bet with those fancy wind powers you could make like a good snow blower.”

            “All right, yes, I could do that. Fine. I’ll call back, soon.”

            “Take your time, I don’t want the chowder to get cold.”

Friday, April 8, 2022

F³ Storm Rider Class

            I licked cannoli cream from my finger. “So you left them in Switzerland with the mad scientist?”

            “Basically, but I’m not buying that she can help them. Just doesn’t fit, you know?”

            I shrugged. “What else is there?”

            “You. You were asking about different supernatural things, but that was only what Reilly knew. What if there was something he didn’t know about?”

            “Very possibly.”

            “Okay, so what is it?”

            I shrugged. “No idea. I’m not a divining rod, here. But I’ll give you your money’s worth, here,” I waved at the empty takeout containers. “First, someone did this to him deliberately through some means, he just didn’t see anyone. Second, he interacted with something that did this to him, and he didn’t recognize that it was a thing. Mystical artifacts can look like anything. Third, well, there really is no third that I can think of, right now. But your options are basically the same when it comes to figuring this out: Go back to the source. You’ll need to go back to where he got whammied and see what’s what.”

            I stuffed the last of the cannoli into my mouth, chomping away at it as she thought about what I said.

            “Okay. That makes sense. Knew coming back to talk to you was the right move. So I can have us in the Dakotas in less than an hour. Let’s go.”

            “Whoa there, slow your lobster roll. This fee, as good as it has been, is not enough to drag me behind lightning bolts at terrifying altitudes for the likes of Reilly Hawkins and Jack Dailey. You go and check it all out. Take pictures, we’ll do the video phone thing, and I’ll consult from here, okay?”

            “Coward?”

            “Smart and fiscally-minded,” I corrected.

            “Next time I’ll bring a bigger fee.”

            “Much bigger,” I said. “But I still may not take the case. I really do not like flying Storm Rider Class.”

 

Friday, April 1, 2022

F³ A Different Fee

             My brain was skeptical, but my nose was sure.

            “You carried this in an insulated bag from Boston?” I asked, inhaling the aroma of the still warm clam chowder.

            “Yup,” Kate threw out as if it was an ordinary thing. “I remember you saying you were from there, and I came back that way from Switzerland, so I thought I’d grab us something.”

            She popped the lid on a plastic to-go box, and the aroma of lobster and butter filled the car.

            “Lobster roll,” I almost drooled. “I haven’t had one of those in years.”

            “Full confession,” she said, “I had a dozen of these before I left. I think the buttered ones are better than the mayo.”

            I nodded. “Me, too,” and my hand reached out of its own accord to pluck up a roll, and I took a bite, feeling the pop of the lobster meat under my teeth as it exploded with juice and flavor.

            We ate more or less in silence, just talking about the food, especially my memories of it growing up. I still couldn’t get over just how much food Storm Riders inhaled on a regular basis. Kate downed half a dozen more lobster rolls and a quart of chowder and its bread bowl while I had barely finished off a pint of chowder and three rolls.

            She graciously offered me the last lobster roll, but as I reached for it, I paused. “You’re not going to do something to me if I eat it while you’re still hungry, are you?”

            “No promises,” she said. “Getting between a storm rider and food is a hazardous venture.”

            I went for it, anyway. “I think you’ll let it slide since this is supposed to be my fee. Not sure for what, yet, but you went a long way to butter me up. This still have to do with Reilly’s and Jack’s problem?”

            She frowned at me, then sighed, rolling her eyes. “Okay, yes, I guess I am that transparent for the detective. So, will you take the case?”

            “What’d you bring for dessert?”

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