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the beat

Word-doodle of the day

Her car rumbles to life and she leaves the manor. I check the Mickey Mouse alarm clock on my bedside table. 4:44am.

“And so she goes,” I mutter. Then it dawns on me. Four minutes. She stayed four minutes longer.

I roll to my feet and pull the shirt from my back and drop my trousers in a pile. I am off to shower.

Dressed a half-hour later, I descend to the kitchen. Four eggs-over-easy, a small rib-eye steak, four strips of bacon and three croissants with raspberry preserves. It takes some time, but I have a jump on the day. I stow down the food energy and three cups of coffee to stimulate the day. Gramma enters the kitchen with an appreciative eye.

“Obviously, young man, you are up-to-something,” she says. “I’ll tidy-up. You get to it.”

I smile and kiss her gently on her cheek. “Thanks, Gramma.”

She shoos me out of the kitchen.

I walk over to the guest house. Lucretia always chooses the same room when she stays. I collect a few hairs from her pillow. I step into the hallway.

“Pilfering a young women’s wastes? How ignoble…” purrs Morris. I fix my gaze on him. “Good morning. She left at 4:44. You know what that means?”

“Not in the slightest. An auspicious time, I would propose?”

“No. It just means she hasn’t tilted right off the mat.”

“Look, John,” Morris begins. “Let’s join forces, you and I.”

“”Second offer in as many days,” I mutter. “What do you propose?”

“Our house simply wishes to come out one step ahead this time.”

“Your house chose to side with the wintry-murder in the end….”

“We had to, John. It was a matter of survival.”

“You chose to, Morris. It was a matter of light and dark and you chose the dark. What guarantee do I have that you will not murder me should the table flip and we end in your territory, Morris? Don’t play games; honesty…”

“I’d play with you first and then snap your neck. Figuratively, of course.”

“War affects everybody, Morris. You want to rule, which means that the rulers would have to go. This battle is about ideals.”

“Ideals that our house has strode forth for centuries.”

“True. But you hold them as ideals and not as practice. You dress your deeds in the coat of independence, but truthfully, you slum with the loyal opposition and not the true opposition.”

“John… you are too harsh. Too idealistic. We’ve fanned the embers ever since the last war ended. It was we who got her out from under the long knife. It was we who fed her, clothed her, educated her…”

“And now, unhappy with that result, you want to take control of her. She must choose. You never understand Morris, but it is up to her to decide.”

“Hah! You say that like you are leaving anything to chance,” Morris growls gesturing toward the strands of hair.

“You misunderstand making my case in the court of her opinion for control of that opinion. I do not violate the Accord. Morris, I’ve done you a kindness removing you from the line of fire for a time. Kindly, do not interfere.”

“Fuck that, John,” Morris growls and throws fire.

John raises a hand and the gout of flame stops. Everything stops. The pendulum on the Grandmother clock stops at the apex of its swing right. “Morris… Morris… Morris…” tuts John. “You are as impetuous the hundredth time as you are the first time.”

John checks the clock. “The hour is different, though, Morris. Predictable, but different.”

John steps to the right of the gout of flame and grabs the pitcher of water from inside Lucretia’s door. The char will affect a small portion of wall. I step-in and prepare. “Alright…. Let’s begin.”

The gout of flame cascades against the wall. John times the aim of the pitcher perfectly and there is a great sizzle. Morris deftly pivots, looking for him. John smashes the pitcher against Morris’ skull with a heavy clang. “Never accost me in my manse, Morris. Never. Accord or no accord.”

John reaches into his pocket and pulls-out the ten-of-swords card. “A guest offers his host violence. The rite of hospitality broken. Bound by time. Bound by folly. I bind you now to the form you have chosen. A cat without claws; a magician without magic. Forthwith until your release, you are bound.”

Dazed, Morris looks at John and says, “Damn…”

He shrinks into a cat and wanders off to do cat things. John shrugs and put the heavy pitcher down on the threshold of Lucretia’s room. John checks the char on the wall. Not a problem, he thinks.

Back at the main house, John climbs the grand stairwell out of the library to the main arcanum. The silver inlaid runic sonnenrad circle of power will do nicely for the mornings work. John removes his jacket and sets it on the chair and adjusts his tie. He looks over to the chair again and sees his messenger bag tucked beneath it.

“Perfect,” he says, retrieving his Tarot deck, Futhark stones, a black velvet cloth, and his ceremonial knife. He crosses into the Sonnenrad and faces North, looking for the mark in the ceiling that indicates True North. Tucking the bag of stones into one pocket and the cards into another with the velvet cloth, he is ready. He holds the knife in his left hand. He rolls-up the sleeve off his right wrist. He is breathing deeply and evenly. He closes his eyes and then he sees. He is alone in the room. The wards on the doors and windows are active. The circle in the floor is dull, resonant with past magic.

“Time,” he says. He glances at his watch. “Eight-oh-three.”

He watches the second-hand sweep. On the minute, the knife slashes down, slicing thickly into his wrist. He lets the blood cascade on the circle.

The words pour forth in incantation and the circle flares brilliantly to life. He takes the tuft of Lucretia’s hair and sends it into the blood at his feet, but within the circle. He carefully pulls the velvet cloth out of his pocket and ties the gout on his wrist tightly with it.

He pulls out the Tarot deck and kisses the deck gently. Out comes a card. He looks at it and folds it away.


He casts then, ominously sonorous, his voice thick with the words that meld reality and show him the way forth. Nineteen-eighty-two falls away and the shadows roar to life as murder follows the Accord. Breathing calmly, John wills himself forward. From the dumpster to the halls of academe or more correctly, the fourth estate. In that vision, he slows and seeks the possibilities.

The hours bend. He has been here before. Around him the shadows change as motionless he stands droning through the years to the moment.

“Pivot,” he mutters as he sees. “Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.”

His voice becomes harsher as he intones the incantation. It goes forth, blood seeping from the velvet cloth. The Grandfather clock bangs the hours and the hours bang back at John.


John folds the spell away and pushes the card back into the deck.

He staggers to his knees.

“You are reckless boy,” says Gramma. She stands at the edge of the room. “You draw too often on your own blood.”

He nods, too tired to argue. “How long?”

“You’ve a watch,” she says sharply.

He nods, too tired to look.

She walks forward with the lemonade. “The ice melted some time back.”

He looks at her and smiles. “Thank you.”

“I knew when you force-fed yourself this morning that you were in a mood.”

“Thank you.”

“John… I did not teach you this for you to lose yourself in it. Nor did I teach you this to lose your friends to it. Be careful where you are going.”

“Yes, Gramma.”

John forces a smile. “I will remember.”

She tussles his hair and leaves the chamber.

“You always do that,” he mutters.

It is sometime later that he rises and slinks off to his bed. The letter will wait, he thinks.

At dawn, John enters the library and walks to the main catalogue. Sitting on a bench is a ledger, the size of a grand cookbook. He opens the pages and checks the correspondence list carefully. Taking out the fountain pen, he notes a short missive statement. He walks over to his correspondence desk and rolls-the-top-up. He pens the missives in broad calligraphic strokes and signs each carefully. He checks his chronograph. Early enough, he thinks. Time to wake-up the solicitor.

It is morning now, full and beautiful. He stops to admire the trees surrounding the property. He walks over to the 1982 Buick Estate Wagon, purchased this past winter. He turns the radio on. The chorus sings,

I am the eye in the sky Looking at you I can read your mind I am the maker of rules Dealing with fools I can cheat you blind And I don’t need to see any more To know that I can read your mind, I can read your mind.

He turns off the radio. “A bit on the sad-side,” John mutters. He whistles instead. “Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go.”

He pulls-up to the ranch-house on the beach. It is somewhat rundown. He checks his watch and then gets out of the car. He looks over the interior of the navy 1982 Cadillac Fleetwood. Definitely a car worthy of a Solicitor.

“John!” says Brian Scoble. “You were just here. What brings you back so quickly? Did you forget something?”

“More business,” says John with a smile.

“You spend a lot of time looking at my car. You wanna buy the thing?”

Brian is not tall, yet not short. His blonde hair is quaffed in a McGuyver mullet that he pulls off fashionably. He is mid-to-late twenties and has eyes like the Great Lakes.

“No. Damned fine car, though.”

“Yes, sir. Your money at play!”

“Indeed. You should try not to say that to clients.”

“Clients, John? You are my only client.”

“Look… John, I meant to mention it last time, but… I don’t know how to broach this… this is my home. I have an office, y’know.”

“I know, but it is not open on Saturday.”

“Right… that’s right, John.”

“You miss the point, Solicitor,” says John pointedly. “I am your only client. On a very hefty retainer that you bill hourly and triply so on Saturdays. So, if I should ring your doorbell every fifteen minutes on a Saturday, you shall answer. It is financially in your best interest.”

Brian stutters, “Well… John….”

“Seriously, Brian,” smiles John. “Just bill me. And don’t worry. I won’t be by on Sundays. Every man should have one day off.”

“Well, that’s a kindness.”

“No kindness, Brian. It is a value of a man’s ambitions. I am going to pay for your new house, your cottage, your boat, your wife, your children’s educations and their children’s educations. Humbly, treat me as the benefactor I am. Your business will live-on long after you have passed from cancer, the treatments for which, I will finance, also.”

“Jesus, John!”

“Do not invoke beings you do not believe in.”

“Christ! You do not know me, John.”

“Obviously, I know something of you, Brian. However, I expect that, as my solicitor, you will brandish forth on my behalf like a brazen knight. That is why I picked you. You have stamina, work ethic, and, surprisingly, you are very trustworthy and difficult to compromise. And you have vision.”

“Well, thanks, John,” says Brian, relaxing. “Alright enough of the small talk, then. What do you want that you couldn’t remember earlier?”

“These need to be delivered.”

“Okay. Canada Post not good enough?”

“No. Too many gremlins.”

“Right. They lose more than they send!”

“The timing is specific on these; like the last, the instructions are not for some time hence. You do not foresee a problem?”

“You made me buy a bank vault for a reason!”

“Good. Good.”

“Lucretia Pulver? Did you not hand me something for her earlier?”

“Brian,” John says, “You do not need to read the addressees until the date.”

“Of course, John,” says Brian.

“You got rid of the cat?”

“Yes,” Brian says. “I got rid of the cat. Don’t understand why I had to, but I got rid of the cat. I was wondering if I could get a dog?”

“Only if you get a mastiff or mastiff-cross.”

“A what?” Brian asks.

“Get the mastiff.”

“Nothing else a little smaller?”

“No. You will thank me later.”

“Man, you are strange.”

“But rich.”

“The best kind of strange.”

John smiles and checks his chronograph. “I have to leave.”

“Oh. Okay, John. Thanks for stopping by.”

John gives a nod and turns to the Cadillac. “A good choice for a car.”

“Thanks, John.”

John leaves with a wave and continues on the way he was heading. “Two minutes to spare,” he smiles. He turns the radio back on.

AND now the Go-Go’s with We’ve Got the Beat

See the people walking down the street Fall in line just watching all their feet They don’t know where they wanna go But they’re walking in time

They got the beat, They got the beat, They got the beat, yeah They got the beat

“Yes,” says John to the rear-view mirror. “I’ve got the beat.”

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