Chapter 32…

In the annals of romantic imagery, I’m sure many a poet has made reference to that most seldom- seen and  yet most highly coveted of all; the classically sculpted feminine hand cast against a field of azure blue, flipping the bird out of a car window as it drives off into the sunset… was it Sandburg, or Robert Frost? Not exactly Venus on the clamshell, but pretty damned romantic for North Smithfield.

Actually, I have always aligned myself with the lunatic fringe that claims it to have been a scallop shell, and not a clamshell at all. What Greco- Roman female would be seen arising from a clam, or given the local fauna, a quahog, for God’s sake. Any respectable chowder chef would attest to the inherent difficulties, and to several pertinent related facts; clam chowder is made from quahogs, not clams; Venus insisted on a scallop shell, being much lighter, easier to work with, and much more iridescent. Many lesser-known Greco- Roman models conceded to working with quahogs, mainly because Venus’ lawyer quickly filed a patent on the use of the scallop shell image.

He is also part owner of George’s and a few day boats out of Galilee. This is widely known as synchronicity.

I had the place to myself. My client and the investigating detective both drove off in different directions, swept up in what appeared to be truly spectacular hissy fits. He almost forgot that he had a couple of uniform guys with him, and they barely made it back to the cruiser before Fucking Bobby pulled away. Too bad. I might have shared a cab with them, maybe found out some about Bobby’s recent activities. But for now… I stood in the middle of Jenn’s house, wondering if this were actually a crime scene or not.

I decided to take another look for cameras, and hopefully find what I really needed…a computer that would have the IP address that I needed to access the playback software.

I found a desktop in her daughter’s bedroom, and spent a nervous half-hour trying commonly used passwords. Jenn12345 did the trick. I got the IP address, and called a cab. I locked the front door behind me, hoping that whoever came along next had a key. There had already been more people in and out of here today than Port Authority. I had found a total of six cameras, strategically placed so that most of the house traffic would be accounted for. I considered wiping some prints on the way out, but thought it would be better to have to explain why I was there rather than lose all the other prints that would be found along with mine.

And finally, back to the office, after paying for the cabbie’s kids’ first year of Brown University. We don’t need no stinking scholarships. Roland had apparently taken no messages, opting instead to sleep the morning away with his head stuck under his forepaw. I wished again that I could do that myself, but anatomy simply does not allow for it.

I had time in the cab to ponder some extremely odd phenomena, like why my client had bolted, where she may have gone, and why the local cop was acting so very strangely. And where the hell had he gone, leaving someone unattended in Jenn’s house?

He had really shown little interest in the missing sister, and I realized after the fact… he had not shown any interest in the physical setting whatsoever, as if he already knew the layout of the premises. Second nature. I had obviously wandered into the middle of some ugly, messy road- kill personal stuff… but I was invited. Actually, hired is the correct term. But again…who hires a PD and then takes off like that? I often quip that I’ve seen everything, but this was just weird. And she did have Jenn’s phone… I would really liked to have seen the call records. Why didn’t she show me that first?

Maybe I’ll ask her about that, once I ever find her again.

From my perspective, I suddenly realized that maybe I had two missing sisters on my hands?

The software loaded slowly, as it always does. Several error messages about bad addresses per usual, and then…voila. Not just six… ten cameras. Jenn had this place covered like it really was Port Authority.

Three weeks of back footage, and the only area that didn’t have any coverage was the bathroom. Thank God for small favors.

Time to put on the tea kettle and make a call to see if Caserta’s delivers. I hoped that this would turn out to be a very boring movie. For the most part.

Roland the Professional Lap Cat assumed the position, Caserta’s was twenty minutes out, and I pitched in to it.




Chapter 9…

Smug satisfaction, beamed straight from the office window.
Slyly, I reached up to adjust my seat belt, and brushed the sugar off with my sleeve. Smooth. It takes a few years on the planet to be able to effortlessly extract oneself from a potentially embarrassing spot, and we consultants are uncannily resourceful.
” Hey, there’s a box of Kleenex in the glove compartment if you want to get that off your jacket.”
A wry smile, and a not particularly small measure of smug satisfaction from the driver’s seat. Maybe Roland had more of a foothold here than I thought.
I considered possibly switching to plain crullers, but only for a moment. Besides, I thought the sugar might go nicely with the Thai hot sauce stain that was already there. I got a tissue and dabbed a little, not being sure which one she was referring to.
” Thanks…I wouldn’t want to get powdered sugar on the carpeting. Or hot sauce…or barbecue…or weiner sauce from Haven Brothers…and look, on this arm I’ve got marinara from Marchetti’s.”
I got what I wanted. The wry smile turned into a laugh. A deep, comfortable, confident laugh that surprised me by sounding so much like her sister’s.
” What, nothing from Outback?”
” Girl, please. That’s a franchise. We consultants hold to a higher calling. ”
Actually not true at all. Outback serves an excellent broiled T-Bone with bleu cheese that I was quite fond of. But one should never reveal all to a potential client.
Another of those intoxicating laughs, and I couldn’t help but joining in.
And then, uncomfortable silence.
” We shouldn’t be having this much fun, I suppose.”
” No, that’s OK. No harm done. Feels good to relax a little. But I’m getting scared now. I’ve got to find her.”
“We will. Can I ask you a few things while we drive?”
” Yes, of course. I just don’t know where to begin.”
It was time to start piecing this thing together.
We took a right onto Dorrance and headed for 95 North.

Chapter 8…

Consultant, really. Amateur part-time consultant. Private detectives need a lot of licensing, mainly so that their actions will stand up in court if necessary. I’m just a citizen that happens to be pretty good at a few things, and manage to get paid for a couple of them. Although most of that goes towards 9- Lives and powdered crullers.
Janice was parked on Westminster by the Roundtop Church, and of course had a ticket on the car. There are only six or seven guys in Providence who don’t get tickets on their cars. Apparently the meter maid was unaffected by the pleated skirt and red high heels. Or maybe it was all the yellow curbing.
I glanced back towards my office window as I opened the car door. Roland was beaming his typically poignant metaphysic mix of love, hatred, territorial domination, and lunch in our general direction. And through a surprisingly clean window. We consultants maintain a high standard.
I beamed back a metaphysic message of love, hatred, territorial domination, and the smug satisfaction that comes from being in the passenger seat of a red Fiat two-seater with the ex- bosses’ sister. Hell, in Rhode Island, we were practically related.
” Ok, first can we start with the house itself? Has anyone else been there? And did you touch anything?”
” Well…yes, I did. Of course. She’s my sister. I was looking for…anything, really. I still have the car keys, and I locked it when I left.”
So…where the investigating would likely start from, there would already be several sets of prints. The trick would be to find the ones that didn’t belong. I would have to be careful not to add my own to the mix.
And having left Roland to guard the home front, I saw myself in the door mirror as she backed into traffic.
And there it was. Still there.
Powdered sugar.

Chapter 3…

Noting the growing volume coming out of the only other occupied space on my floor, I got up and closed the outer office door, “..whaddya mean? this is a genuine 58 Les Paul!!!” this last screeched at a pitch that made volume seem unnecessary, issuing from Sil’s Loan and Pawn shop just across the hall.

” So with whom does my shameless cat have the pleasure of extricating completely undeserved attention from? Being an advocate of full and total disclosure, I feel compelled to inform that given the absence of classic beauty to prey on, Gil the janitor has often served in your stead. Would you like a cruller and some coffee?
Honeydew, not Dunkin, and handground Colombian, not…Dunkin…so much weaker now than they were at one time, don’t you think? Two espresso shots just to get back to where they used to be. And don’t even mention Starbucks…I hate those guys…most days, anyway…oh, sorry. I’ll stop talking now. Always a bit nervous in the presence of unsuspecting royalty. At least I can remember my name right now, which is more than I can say for Roland, I can assure you.”

She responded with a smile that fairly illuminated the far corners of my humble workspace, dark and dreary.” But then Roland doesn’t have his name on the desk blotter, does he?”
” Damn it all. Caught. Bagged. Found out…”
” Jenn once said that you were good with a story. I’m her sister, Janice… DiFranco.”
A fragment of a shadow crossed her countenance as she spoke…
and I suddenly suspected just what this was going to be about.
She reached across the corner of the desk without disturbing Roland.

Deftly humbled, and not even 9 am yet…
I knew I should have gotten the plain crullers.

Roland sighed contentedly.

All Things Must Balance…

Too much heavy stuff can make you crazy. The boneyard fight is over; a few degrees of separation were established by a last-minute intercession from Warren Zevon and Roland. Warren pointed out that the UFO/Scorpions/ MSG camp is actually quite far removed from the Maiden camp, and there’s no need to fight about it at all. Different thing altogether. So just when things were calming down, somebody brought up Ritchie Blackmore and the whole Sabbath/ Dio/Rainbow coalition, and off we went again. But that issue will have to wait for another time.

In the spirit of fair play, it seems that I should shed a bit of light on a few guitar guys from the other end of the spectrum. Sort of a George Harrison- universal equality kind of sentiment.

First up; Willie Nelson. I heard a ” Fresh Air” interview the other day where Willie did ” Crazy“, and accompanied himself with his 5000-year old Martin nylon-string with the holes in it and all.

He’s a much better guitarist than I would have thought. He used some really sophisticated 40’s style chord changes that were smoother than my right cheek at 0550 hrs, Mon-Sat. ( shaving time). Gorgeous. Check it out on the NPR site.

Second up; Andy McKee.

Some people think so far out of the box, it’s like they never even knew there was a box. He plays fingerstyle on steel-string Lowden guitars, handmade in Ireland. You could play an open chord on a Lowden, put it down on the ground, walk around the block, and it’ll still be ringing when you get back.Course, at those prices, it should bring you your robe and slippers when you get home, too. And make you a cheeseburger.

He also plays a  harp guitar. Very popular around the 1890’s to 1920’s. Greatly extended bass range. They’re making a bit of a comeback lately, too.

Andy plays unlike anyone I’ve ever seen.

This clip was pulled by Andy’s label ( Candyrat) after it had received over 9 million hits. Here’s one on the harp guitar;

See what I’m saying?

So things are a bit more balanced out now. I feel better. But Ronnie James Dio just showed up at the Opera House, and he wants to be the next featured dinosaur. Warren says I’d better get over there. Dickinson says ” over his dead body”. Dio says that can be arranged.

Published in: on September 4, 2010 at 8:32 pm  Comments (1)  
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It’s Tingling!…

Strange. I get more hits on this thing when I don’t put up anything new. What does that mean? People would rather listen to Schenker noodle around than read my posts, that’s what. Well here’s more Michael, then.

Both Michael and L .West showed up at the same time. Now that proves that there is a God. JS Bach says he likes the guy with the V. Doesn’t care much for West ( too pentatonic bluesy ), but sees Schenker as a total Bach convert. Says it’s not neo-classic to him, because he invented the stuff.

The collective English queens would like to know how Michael came by his British accent. They like it. They say that Michael can come hang out at the Opera House any old time.

On the writing front, I’ve got an idea that I just wish I was good enough to not mess up. I would like to be able to write a semi-fictitious account of my great-great-grandfather’s military career. Here are some of the facts on which I could frame the fiction.

James Coyne enlisted with the 2nd RI Volunteer Infantry in East Providence in August of 1862. On the morning of December 5th, the 2nd was encamped at White Oak Swamp in Stafford, VA; and the regiment received their first pay ( probably including the app. $100 sign-on bonus for new recruits- an obscene amount of money by 1860’s standards ). The regiment then set out down what is now Rt. 218 in Stafford towards Fredericksburg.

James ( and two other gentlemen from Warwick) never arrived. Officially, James does not appear again in the world until he gets married, back in East Providence in 1864. So there is a two-year gap that I can’t account for; and that would serve as the time setting for the fiction. I would dearly like to fill in that gap.

Off the record, I suspect that he might have been a bounty jumper; because his name shows up later on the rosters of both New York and New Jersey. These guys would collect a sign-on bounty, and then desert; and do it again, if possible. The record stands at 32. It was punishable by death, imprisonment, and public humiliation.

Makes me feel just so warm and fuzzy inside; not exactly the spit-shined glorious Civil War history that we Americans are so fond of. But then again…if he had made it to Fredericksburg, I might not be here to tell you this heart-warming story.

And if that had happened, who would feed you guys Michael Schenker clips?

“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”…

That’s a line from Roland’s benefactor and creator, Warren Zevon. He thought it most appropriate.

Here’s one from Woody Allen;

” I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

That got a decent laugh.

A very brisk morning at the Opera House, with three unexpected visitors; Catherine Howard, the Countess of Salisbury, and our own Chelsea.

Catherine and the Countess are just happy to have a new place to hang out. Anything to get out of the damned Tower for a change; and they thought a visit with Anne and Mary a capital idea.  They say that Henry has become quite the bore with his constant clamoring for attention, as if  he were the only ghost in the place; they say that he’s actually miffed at having to haunt the Tower, rather than Whitehall. Not nearly as comfortable. Frontier justice, says Doc.

Their main topic of conversation? Street cred, or rather…platform cred.

Anne was a quick one-stroke. Clean, no complaining.

Mary was a three-stroke; and she tipped the axeman nicely, too.

Catherine was absolutely terrified, but racked up huge points by asking for the block in her chamber the night before, so she could practice being graceful. Style was all with Catherine. And they finished by holding her head up so she could see her own decapitated body.

The showstopper was definitely Lady Salisbury. Even the Gladiators were scared of this one;

At age 68, she kicked and clawed and bit. They had to hold her down, and the stroke got her in the shoulder. At which point she broke free; and they had to chase her about the platform and down the stairs. Even then, it took eleven strokes to complete.

Massive credibility. A hushed silence, and then wild applause.

In closing, all the ladies agreed; never underestimate the English capacity for genius in cruelty.

And Paul Pierce thought that Dwight Howard was bad. Phht.

And Chelsea just wants to hang out and watch the developments next door. A bit resentful at having been discarded so early on. Says she’ll still take the gun over a trip to the Tower any day…

A Paper Box?…

Doc thinks she’s got a pepperbox.

Says they were all the rage in Leadville, and you could walk down Main or Harrison on Sunday morning and find a half-dozen of ’em. Either those, or Derringers.  Some had up to nine barrels, but the pocket models were usually three or four. Also says that he never carried a backup, because he was so damned good with his Colts that it just never became an issue…

Roland is betting on a Colt Cobra or a Walther PPK.  Bach says not to pre-judge, she’s got a shoulder bag, and she could have God knows what in there.

Queens Anne and Mary are expecting a matchlock ” handgonne.”

A bit nasty and dangerous to use.  If it misfired… hence the name. Over the centuries, the term eventually became ” handgun.”

Of course, nothing says that she has to take the gun out. Maybe she’ll take something else out. Maybe a phone, or some gum. Makeup. Or a Blackberry. Anticipation…

What, they all ask, is a Blackberry?

Well… this conversation should take up the rest of the afternoon. Plenty of time to get to the Golden Burro for dinner at 7; they want to see if they’ll show up on the webcam. ( )

P.S. – Doc admonishes me to remember my manners, and thank DS1 and Clark for their recent entries. Or he’ll pepperbox me.

This Old House…

Well, it’s official. The Rag’s digital residents have  relocated to the Tabor Opera House in Leadville, CO. Everyone thought it a good idea to stay nearby the scene of the action in the novel next door.

Apparently a very busy weekend in Leadville; there was a rodeo, a tour of the Opera House, and even a concert later in the evening; some local-hero folksinger guy. The Rag collective found him quite entertaining, and Bach of course kept insisting that his rules of harmony are being strictly adhered to. And just a few nights before their arrival, a troupe of Denver Ghost Hunters were about the place. Queens Anne and Mary say not to worry about all that; they’ve been chased by ghost hunters for years, and all you need do is drain the power from their camera batteries. That pretty well keeps them under control. Tap on the wall a few times, and they’ll be out of there in no time.

Roland suggests that they hold out for a visit from TAPS, who’ve done very well for themselves with a local cable show that was picked up by the Sci-Fi channel. Local boys ( Warwick RI) making good. Well done indeed!. They’ve got really cool new equipment, and Doc says he might get Jesse and Wyatt to show up for that. The Queens say that Henry would be available too, being open to any sort of promotional event. But they will not have him; they are not on speaking terms, even after all this time. They say that he is forever and always knocking things around in the Tower, just trying to get anyone’s attention. Once a ham…

Dark Days…

A very overcast morning at Rag Central.

The Celtics were all at the front gate.

Roland, listless and depressed, won’t even reload the Thompson.

The Queens are most displeased. We have never seen anything so pitifully sad on American TV.

The entire organization…starters, bench, coaches, front office, even Danny Ainge, are here. All headless, and assless. Completely disassembled, actually. Beside themselves. Literally. The Queens will offer words of solace and encouragement, of course. Remember the Spanish Armada, and the French at Agincourt. Rise up and smite your oppressors, etc. Use the longbow, for God’s sake. Just get yourselves together, and die with honor if you must. Talk to the Gladiators, they know all about that sort of thing. Just get on with it.

On the other hand, this fills out the roster for Bach’s headless choir very nicely.

An utterly miserable day.