Blue Menagerie Pt I

(Note- this is actually a story idea I had probably a year or more ago- but I was reminded of it during our trip to the zoo today.)

"Auntie... Struh- um, Stre-ga's... Traveling... Men... Men-a..." the little voice grew frustrated.


"Is that even English?" demanded Sallie. At seven (and-a-quarter) years old she was quite proud of her reading skills, and the idea that someone might be sneaking in foreign words to thwart her progress was rankling.

"Yes, sweetie," her mom smiled. "It means a collection of animals."

"Like a zoo?"

"Yes, like a zoo."

"Can we go?"

"Zoo! Zoo!" crowed Zeb from the car seat. He was two, and inordinately fond of words that began with Z. As far as Sallie could tell, Zeb seemed to think that his name somehow gave him exclusive rights to all things Z-related. Furthermore, he had once heard someone refer to pizza as “za”, and ever since had refused to call it by its proper name. It drove Sallie crazy. But then, so did a lot of things about Zeb.

“Very good, honey! Zoo!” Sallie’s mom caught Zeb’s eye in the rearview mirror. He flashed his tiny, fierce teeth at her and laughed. Sallie scowled and poked at one of her front teeth with her tongue. It stayed firmly put. In the front seat her mom shook her head. “Probably not today, Sallie-girl. But maybe this weekend? Daddy might like to come too, you know,”

Sallie perked up at this. Daddy was always more fun to go do stuff with than Mommy- he tended to ‘let things slide’ (as he put it) more often than Mommy ever did- plus he could always be counted on to appreciate what a difficult thing it was to be an older sibling. Mommy (herself the youngest of two) seemed to think it was a great deal more wonderful to be the oldest than it actually was.

“That sounds like a very good idea,” Sallie said.


That weekend turned out to be a very fine one, indeed. The sun was so hot that Sallie could see the air shimmering, but there was enough of a breeze to keep things feeling pleasant. Sallie wore her favorite sun dress (the white-and-purple one that Daddy had brought her from Hawaii) and had allowed Mommy to gather her white-blonde hair up into two high pig-tail. Zeb was stomping along in short brown overalls and an orange t-shirt, an outfit that Sallie herself had picked out for him. Mommy was wearing a dark blue swirly skirt with a white tank-top, and Daddy had on a pair of khaki shorts and a light blue t-shirt with the letters U-S-A-F-A on it in white. All in all, Sallie felt her family was looking quite presentable.

Men-a-ger-ie, she sounded out silently to herself. The banner was strung up on the fence that surrounded the expansive fair grounds. It was normally empty at this time of year (county fair time was still at least a month away) but right now it was filled with an assortment of wagons and brightly-colored shelters. It smelled of straw and animal dung, and every once in a while Sallie could hear a bray or a bark from further in.

She wondered what sorts of animals might be in a menagerie. Would they be exotic, like giraffes and tigers? Or farm animals, like cows and pigs? Not that she would be disappointed with farm animals! Truth be told, Sallie had seen more hyenas in her life than horses, and she knew from television that livestock (unlike their wild kin) were animals you were actually allowed to pet. So either way, she knew she’d have a good time.

Of course, there was always the chance that a menagerie might consists of animals she had never even heard of, but thinking too much about that made her breathless with excitement, so she tried not to get her hopes up.

Daddy paid a bored-looking teenager for their tickets, and the family moved into the fair-grounds.

“Where to first?” asked Mommy, nabbing Zeb by the back of his overalls before he could take off after a pigeon. She was pretty quick that way.

“Well, they didn’t provide us with a map,” Daddy said, “So I guess we’ll have to do this systematically. We’ll start to the left, and keep on ‘til morning!” Sallie felt her eyes get wide.

“Are we going to be here overnight?” she asked.

“No, sweetie,” Mommy made a face at Daddy. “He means we’ll just keep on in that direction until we come back to the beginning. We’ll make a circle around the perimeter,”

“And then tackle the interior!” Daddy concluded. “Now let’s hop to, little soldiers!”


It turned out that a menagerie (or this one, at any rate) had a nice mix of animals- there were clever little monkeys and giant, brilliantly colored birds (Daddy said they were called ‘macaws’, and spent several minutes trying to get one to sing a naughty song with him while Mommy was in the bathroom with Zeb), and even a breath-taking pair of rhinoceroses in one sturdy enclosure. There were also goats and sheep that the children were allowed to pet, in addition to chickens and a few snow-white geese. The geese, in particular, caught Sallie’s attention, although it took her a while to figure out why.

Finally, it struck her- they had blue eyes! She had never thought of birds as having blue eyes before. But sure enough, every one of those geese had baby blue eyes- and once she noticed that, she couldn’t help but notice that all of the other animals had blue eyes, too. From the family of rust-colored foxes to the dark, slippery otters- all of them had eyes of varying shades of blue.

So that’s what makes it a menagerie, she thought to herself.

As they walked back to their car, Zeb started to sing “Zeebie, zeebie, zeeb-rah!” as he swung from their parents’ hands. He had somehow managed to pick up the tune to the naughty song Daddy had been singing earlier, and Daddy was trying to avoid Mommy’s narrow-eyed gaze.

“So, kiddo,” he asked Sallie with a grimace, “What did you think of the menagerie? Good times?” Sallie thought for a moment before answering.

“I… I’m not sure, Daddy,” she said. “They just… most of those animals seemed kind of… sad. Way more sad than animals we’ve seen at the zoo.” Mommy nodded in agreement.

“I noticed that, too, sweetie. Even the monkeys weren’t really playing the way you’d expect them to. I wonder if the proprietors are taking proper care of those animals.”

“Maybe they just don’t like being in a cages,” Daddy offered. “I know it would be more than enough to depress me.”

“Still,” said Mommy. “Maybe I’ll contact someone in the morning, just to make sure.”

But the next morning they forgot all about the traveling menagerie- because the next morning, Zeb had vanished.

(Too Sad to Rhyme[noceros])


Domesticity in the City

As I type this, Nathan is hanging up artwork in a manner most manly (power drills, and all that).

I must say, I'm pretty freakin' delighted.

See, here's the thing- I am the sort of person who is super excited about setting up a new household... for about four weeks. And if it doesn't get done within that time-frame, honey, chances are it's not gonna' get done. All my grand plans for sheer curtains that bring out detail-colors in the bedspread? Uh, no. A coffee-table that actually utilizes some sort of storage-solution? Mmm, not this time around. Art on every single one of my walls? Hah!

Except not 'hah', this time.

Oh, I'd managed to get up two triptych picture frames and three pieces of original art when we first moved in, but then the month was over, and my motivation was gone. And Nathan, wouldn't you know it, has never felt much of a desire to decorate- he is more than happy to leave that sort of thing to me. Which of course means that the majority of our walls have languished, bare, for almost a full year. Until now.

For Christmas I got several pieces of artwork framed for Nate. Although he expressed pleasure at his grown-up wall decorations, they have leaned up against a wall (behind a table, no less) for the past two months. That's kind of the way these things go. But then the other day a friend of ours clued Nate in to a sale that Mpix was having on their 8x10 prints, so he ordered a few (ie, twelve).

And suddenly, envisioning all his lovely prints in larger-than-life color, I felt motivated again.

So up goes the already-framed artwork, and as soon as the new prints come in they will go up, too (I've sussed out a good spot already). Also, I finally placed an order for my long-coveted 11x14 Family Portrait (of our combined nuclear clans) so once we pick that up I can start my Rogue's Gallery of family shots on the wall that I specifically left blank for such purposes (yes, it was specifically left blank. Definitely not a victim of laziness, no sir...). Not to mention I am now on a mission to find a place where I can get our kick ass hand-illustrated (by Nathan) wedding invitation blown up to movie-poser size. So far nobody seems to want to go bigger than 20x30, and that is not cutting it for me.

It makes me happy to see our place taking on more and more of our own artistic flavor. It's good. And I firmly believe that by surrounding ourselves with the fruit of our labor (and the labor of the occasional gifted other) we will continue to nurture our Creative Power Couple selves... Now I just need to start filling bookshelves with my own efforts...



your eyes
my silky
(they sting)
you should know
there is definitely
hot fire
beneath my


Manic... Thursday?

So today was one of those days on the more manic end of my emotional cycle. I was (to say the least) Restless with a capital R, infused with a sort of borderline panic/desperation, with no identifiable source. It's an unpleasant sensation (as much as I'm familiar with it at this point in my life), but it signifies that I need to do something- generally create something- or I'll implode. As such, I started scripting out a comic that's been percolating in my brain for close to three years. I'm not certain how well, exactly, that sort of thing will translate to this sort of thing (this sort of thing being blogging), but it's what I wrote so here it is. I'm a little loathe to post this, because even though obviously everything I post on here is in rough-draft form, this is like super-ultra rough, without even the benefit of my thumbnail sketches to help show you what's going on (I don't do a particularly detailed script when I'm the artist, 'cos the descriptions are already in my head). It may be that in the future I will decide to make this blog either/or regarding writing/art, but for now we're sticking with the written part. It may or may not make any sense to you, especially my shorthand.

(Also, I must warn you- this "short snippet" takes up almost seven word processor pages, so if you're brave enough to bother reading any further than this, there will be a lot of scrolling involved...)


Panel One: The exterior of a large book/music store (NOBLE EDGES) at night.
NAR: Like many good love stories, this one begins in a book store. Also like many love stories (both good and bad) the narration concludes in an airport...

Panel Two: tighten field to front window, hazy view of info desk
NAR: ..but we'll worry about that when we get there. For now, let us focus on the bookstore, and the players who are even now about to meet in a manner most cute.

Panel Three: info desk, a girl at a computer, a man (Co-Worker) walking up to her
CW: Hey EDIE, I need you to check on something for me.

Panel Four: EDIE has turned to look at CW, questioning look on her face. CW is gesturing over his shoulder with a thumb
CW: I need you to go talk to that guy in music.

Panel Five: EDIE leans over to look

Panel Six: music is deserted, save for a nice-looking young man listening to music, wearing an over-sized coat

Panel Seven: EDIE looks back at CW, confused.

EDIE: Um, sure.


Panel One: CU on the young man, who is taking off the headphones.

Panel Two: Same angle (further back), but EDIE pops up in the background. She is considerably shorter than the boy.

Panel Three: Boy gets suspicious look on his face, eyes shift to left. EDIE grinning like a damn fool.

Panel Four: Boy startled, EDIE grinning
PIRE: Ack!

Panel Five: EDIE looking contrite, PIRE still vaguely heart-attack-y
EDIE: Oh I’m sorry! I was just wondering if I could help you with anything.

Panel Six: PIRE is straightening up
PIRE: Oh, well, yes, actually.


Panel One: PIRE is holding out a few cds, EDIE is looking at them
PIRE: I was trying to decide which of these I want to blow my meager horde of cash on. Any recommendations?

Panel Two: EDIE making a “Hmm” sort of face, considering the selection
EDIE: Hmmm…

Panel Three: EDIE pointing to them.
EDIE: To be honest, I’ve never heard of these guys. THIS album is pretty decent, but THIS one…

Panel Four: CU of CD (The Eraser), w/EDIE’S finger
EDIE: …THIS one is amazing

Panel Five: CU on EDIE’S face as she grows glowy-eyed, looking particularly attractive
EDIE: This one sounds like what falling in love FEELS like- sort of terrible and wonderful and frightening all at once, like you have no control- you just have to be taken by it.


Panel One: CU of PIRE, looking stunned

Panel Two: PIRE shakes himself

Panel Three: the two of them looking at one another
PIRE: Well…

Panel Four: still looking at one another, but PIRE with a goofy grin
PIRE: …that sounds pretty good.

Panel Five: EDIE grinning back at him
EDIE: Oh it is.


Panel One: EDIE ringing PIRE up
PIRE: Thanks for the input.
EDIE: You’re very welcome!

Panel Two: EDIE watches him leave.

Panel Three: EDIE still staring after him
EDIE: Huh.

Panel Four: EDIE leaves the register.

Panel Five: Back at the info desk, EDIE leans casually against the counter. CW, focuses on the computer
EDIE: So, uh, why did you want me to talk to him?
CW: I thought he might be a shop-lifter.

Panel Six: EDIE looks shocked, CW withering
EDIE: What?! Holy crap, I didn’t even think of that. I just thought you were being nice by pointing out a cute guy.
CW: Um, no. Great as my middle-managerial power is, it does not extend to match-making.

Panel Seven: EDIE looks rueful, CW disgusted
EDIE: Well… definitely not a shop-lifter. But definitely cute.
CW: Snort.


Panel One: NOBLE EDGES again, with a car screeching to a halt in front
NAR: some weeks later…

Panel Two: EDIE clambering out of the passenger-side door
EDIE: thankyouthankyouthankyoucrapcrapcrap!

Panel Three: Birds-eye of the store, EDIE leaving a trail as she zips through to the back
EDIE: latelatelatesorrysorrysorryheythere!crapcrapcraphow’sitgoing?CRAP…

Panel Four: PIRE, looking at a book

Panel Five: PIRE, startled, wind-blown, as EDIE streaks by


Panel One: PIRE looks after the streak
PIRE TB: …was that…?

Panel Two: CU on EDIE clocking in at :05 past

Panel Three: EDIE, triumphant

Panel Four: CW handing EDIE her lanyard, but she is looking distracted
CW: I will pretend I did not witness that
EDIE TB: Wait, did I just see…

Panel Five: EDIE looking around the corner- but no PIRE

Panel Six: EDIE makes determined face.

Panel Seven: EDIE looks around another corner- she cannot see that PIRE is behind her

Panel Eight: Repeat


Panel One: EDIE walking up to the info desk, looking disgruntled. CW is already there, working.

Panel Two: EDIE looks thoughtful. CW continues to work.

Panel Three: EDIE looks at CW from the corner of her eyes.

Panel Four: EDIE bursts out, CW looks freaked
EDIE: I think that Shoplifter guy is here!

Panel Five: CW looks angry enough to kill someone, EDIE taken aback
CW: What?! Where! I swear if that punk takes any more manga…
EDIE: What? No, no, not an ACTUAL shoplifter- that cute guy you THOUGHT was a shoplifter.

Panel Six: now CW is confused, EDIE sheepish
CW: …huh?
EDIE: A few weeks ago? The music department? You told me to go talk to him?

Panel Seven: EDIE still all sheepish grin, CW annoyed.
EDIE: I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy.
CW: Ooookay.


Panel One: They continue to exchange Looks

Panel Two: EDIE whirling away, grabbing a lone book. CW rolling eyes
EDIE: I’m going to go shelve!

Panel Three: EDIE walking down an aisle, looking hopefully to the left…

Panel Four: ..and to the right

Panel Five: EDIE looking down at the book in her hand, scowling, but in the background PIRE’S head has popped up.
EDIE: Grumble.

Panel Six: EDIE is shelving a book, PIRE trying to look nonchalant as he approaches.
EDIE (UNDERTONE): Make room, you!


Panel One: EDIE turns to her right and sees PIRE, they face one another, looking startled.

Panel Two: EDIE stands and they face one another
EDIE: I’m sorry, I know maybe this sounds crazy, but are you the one…
PIRE: (overlapping her) YES!

Panel Three: They break into embarrassed laughter.


Panel One: Both blushing, EDIE trying to appear alluring as she looks up at PIRE
EDIE: Well alright then.

Panel Two: EDIE tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, PIRE is grinning like a maniac.
EDIE: Um, did you like-

Panel Three: EDIE looks a little taken aback, PIRE mortified.
PIRE: I mean, you were right. It was very good. Definitely worth my time.

Panel Four: EDIE smiles at him tentatively
EDIE: I’m glad you thought so.

Panel Five: They continue to smile like idiots at one another

Panel Six: EDIE starts to look a little uncomfortable, PIRE looks blurt-y
EDIE: Sooo…
PIRE: …I need a book!


Full Page: EDIE is grinning up at PIRE, who is looking inordinately pleased
EDIE: Well you’re in luck. You just so happen to be in Noble Edges, home to both music AND books, and I just so happen to be phenomenally good at my job. Which is telling you what’s worth your time.
PIRE: A skill you have already proven in the music half of the store.
EDIE: That I have. What kind of book do you need?
PIRE: It’s a gift, for my sister’s birthday.
EDIE: What’s your sister into?
PIRE: I’m not sure, exactly- but I know her sense of humor is like mine.
EDIE: Oh? And what kind of a sense of humor are you in possession of?
PIRE: Undoubtedly twisted.


Panel One: CU of EDIE, making a Thinking Face
EDIE: Hmmm

Panel Two: CU of EDIE’S A-Ha face
EDIE: I know!

Panel Three: EDIE reaches for PIRE’S arm, looking determined. He looks surprised but happy
EDIE: Come with me!

Panel Four (long): She drags him through the bookstore
EDIE: Nope, nope, nope

Panel Five: They are standing beneath a sign that says “Humor”, EDIE making a thoughtful face, PIRE still looking pleased
EDIE: Gorey, Gorey Gorey…

Panel Six: EDIE finds the book
EDIE: HERE it is!

Panel Seven: EDIE presents PIRE with a book, he looks down

Panel Eight (inset): CU on the book
PIRE: “The Gashlycrumb Tinies”?



The sun slid slowly towards the horizon, turning the walls of the old building a shade disturbingly akin to dried blood. In an upper-story classroom, It lay coiled and waiting.

One by one, the surrounding lamps flared to life, casting eerie plays of light and shadow among the precise pathways, lending them a bit of mystery entirely absent during the day. The students had long ago scurried back to their homes, only a few of the most dedicated lingering in the hushed chambers of the library- but the library was across campus, and this particular area was deserted.

By humans, anyway.

As the last rays of sunlight were extinguished by the falling night, the Creature spread Its (for lack of a better word) wings, and heaved a sigh that was an equal blend of relief and irritation. How It loathed being trapped all day- and in the undergraduate department, of all things! Bad enough that It had been summoned (and summarily abandoned) in a school of filthy divinity, but to have to endure, year after year, the arrogant, ignorant prattle of wide-eyed freshmen- it was enough to make It want to gouge Its own immaterial eyeballs out.

Little maggots have no business calling down Beings of any stripe until they're working on their doctoral thesis, at least, It grumbled to Itself. Small wonder the three in question had failed so spectacularly in summoning It.

Well, to be fair they'd summoned It just fine- the problem was that they hadn't really believed it would work, and when it did they'd panicked and fled before finishing the ritual, leaving It in the bizarre position of being only semi-manifested, and restricted to the confines of one particular classroom, to boot. Highly irritating, to say the least.

Fortunately night-time brought just the barest easing of Its restrictions, and the Creature had full range of the building. But only the building. It stared longingly out the window to the library across campus and sighed. Not that there was much in there It hadn't already learned in Its millenia of existence, but it might have been nice to have something to read other than Calvinism: How Many Points Do YOU Have?

That old coot, the Creature thought grumpily. It ran Its ephemeral claws absently across a chalk-board, noting with satisfaction that all the chalk on its frame turned to dust as It did so.

For the first few decades, the Creature had made a concentrated effort to wreck as much psychic destruction as possible on the building in which It was ensnared. It hoped that perhaps if it could somehow damage the physical shell enough, the half-formed esoteric shell would crumble, as well.

Such, apparently, was not the case.

Then It thought that perhaps if It could just attract the attention of a few appropriate students...

But no. It turned out that the vast majority of the student body, for all that they were there to study the Word of their God, did not actually believe in Beings such as the Creature and Its ilk. Difficult to get the attention of people that didn't believe you existed (always a problem with these Johnny-come-lately reformers). It had abandoned such tactics after It had driven half a dozen into institutions. It might have enjoyed such pursuits in an earlier age, but in the past half-century sanatoriums had become too depressingly civilized by far, and there wasn't nearly enough anguish produced to be worth the effort.

Finally It had resigned Itself (more or less) to a miserable couple of centuries until someone else (somewhere else, for that matter) got it into his or her head to summon It. If It had been the praying sort, It would have prayed for such a thing to happen as quickly as possible.

But It was not particularly optimistic. Seemed like hardly anyone had use for purposefully summoned demons these days, especially a middle-ranking one such as Itself. No, if people were going to summon a demon at all, they either wanted something really impressive, or else small and easy to control. The Creature fell somewhere in between the two extremes, and had never before had such cause to rue it.

It sighed again, feeling supremely sorry for Itself.



Guys- YOU Called ME

I finally got around to starting The Lost Symbol today (hey, I'm pretty with it, this time- it took me listening to like four years of hype before I broke down and read The DaVinci Code...) and I'm finding it to be an enjoyable read. The one thing that keeps making me grin, however, is Tom Hanks- er, I mean, Robert Langdon.

I read both The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons before either of the movies came out, so of course I had my own idea of what the protagonist looked and (more to the point of this entry) sounded like. Generally when I see a movie based on a book I've already read, the two versions of the characters take up separate spaces in my brain. For instance, although I find Daniel Radcliffe to be an almost inappropriately fetching young man, I am quite clear on him representing Movie Harry Potter, not Book Harry Potter. Book Harry Potter looks and sounds quite different in my mind... not because I don't appreciate or approve of Mr. Radcliff's portrayal, but because I have no problems holding multiple versions of a character in my head (this may be due to my long-standing love-affair with comic books...) without giving it a second thought.

Not so with Robert Langdon, apparently.

I wasn't very far into the book when I had the sudden realization that I kept hearing Tom Hanks speaking all of Langdon's dialog. His accent, his cadence- straight up Tom Hanks in the role of Robert Langdon. It made me laugh out loud when I realized it. From that point onward my mental image took on a sort of shifting quality- most of the time Langdon looked as I had originally envisioned him, but any time he said something, he became "-as-played-by-Hanks".

I must say, it's making the book that much more enjoyable for me. (But more on my affection for Tom Hanks some other time...)


Brothers, Pt XII

Now this is more like it, he thought with a grim sort of satisfaction.

Beautiful Killer had been walking for the better part of a month, and he was currently soaked to the skin (and possibly even further than that) by rains that had been beating against him for the past seventy-two hours. Finally he felt as though he might actually be earning something for himself. Every day brought the muses’ mountain that much closer to him, and every night he went to sleep feeling more and more deserving of any epic poetry that might spring up about his current exploits.

He had no further dreams of the goddess, for which he was profoundly grateful. What he did have, however, were increasingly unbelievable stories from the local mortals; specifically, stories about a certain Winged Horse. It seemed that the closer he got to his destination, the more people had to say about the creature’s unearthly beauty, its divine grace- and its sheer mean-spirited devilry. It made him exceptionally grateful for the purported powers of the golden bridle neatly coiled in his pack- even if he didn’t entirely trust the source of said powers.

According to the locals, the monster hadn’t been seen for a while- years, probably- which as far as they were concerned only meant that it was about due to make some mischief. They warned him about its strange animosity towards heroes, and recommended he try to look less heroic. Since Beautiful Killer wasn’t entirely certain what made him look “heroic” in the first place (although he suspected it was the golden cast of his features), he didn’t even try. Besides, he had a feeling that he wouldn’t encounter the winged horse until and unless he got himself up the side of that mountain- otherwise surely the goddess would have just had him sit in a field, yelling about his own so-called heroics until the creature showed up of its own volition.

And so he continued, making the occasional stop to rescue imperiled people or rout bands of thieves (sometimes at the same time, which was particularly satisfying), and doing his best to cover as much ground as possible every day. Even when said ground had turned to mud up to his ankles, as was the current condition. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he might have wandered into a small stream- there seemed to be an unusual amount of them flowing from the muses’ mountain- and he was just starting to wonder if he might have better footing about a meter to the left, when he heard a terrible screech.

Beautiful Killer didn’t even think- he had his short sword drawn and had dropped into a defensive crouch before he’d even identified the source of the noise. It came again- a trifle less loud, this time- and he whirled to face it.

There, caught in some sort of hunter’s snare- a creature. It was winged, whatever it was, and beating those wings for all it was worth, making outraged shrieks, snarls, and a serpent-like hissing noise. Beautiful Killer let his sword drop a fraction, and moved closer to get a better view.

The beast had a body something like that of a cat- but with a sort of goofy gangly-ness that indicated juvenile status. The rain had spike its fur up in every direction by rain, with the effect of making it appear more ridiculous than fierce, but the razor-sharp beak suggested to Beautiful Killer that he’d best not take it lightly.

“There now,” he said to it in the same sort of voice he used on excited horses. “Calm down and let’s see if we can’t get you out.”

The animal puffed itself up and growled at him, long tail lashing. Beautiful Killer figured it would probably have taken a swipe at him, as well, if it hadn’t managed to twist its limbs up so thoroughly.

“Oh come now. I know you’re angry- I would be, too- but you, sir, are obviously in need of some assistance. And from what I can tell, the locals don’t take that kindly to monsters around here, so I’m probably your best bet for escape.”

“Monster!” spat the creature. “I’ll give you monster! Just you come a step closer!”

“Oh! You can speak. Excellent.” Beautiful Killer sheathed his sword. “I will come a step closer, but I’d appreciate you not savaging me. I can’t get you loose if you take off my hand.”

“Why should you set me loose?” it asked. “Your kind is always trying to capture my kind. Or worse. My dad told me all about you.” It growled a bit for emphasis.

“Your dad may have told you about mortals in general, but I doubt he told you anything about me. As for why I should set you loose- well why shouldn’t I? I think it’s rude to eat things that you’ve carried on a conversation with, and I don’t, as a general rule, go around killing for killing’s sake. That’s wasteful. In fact, now that people are calling me “hero” I’m pretty certain it’s my duty to rescue others whenever possible. No one ever said those others need to have the same sort of limbs that I do.” Beautiful Killer had been slowly moving towards the creature as he spoke, and now he was close enough to touch the rope that had snared it. The creature trembled but did not lash out at him.

“You are an odd mortal,” it said at last. “I will allow you to free me.” Beautiful Killer smiled and slipped a small knife from his belt.

“Thank you,” he said, and began sawing.


Brothers, Pt XI

(Author's note- I am beginning to feel vaguely crap-like again, so this is not as tightly edited as it might be- or will be, later. In the meantime, I beg your indulgence...)

Beautiful Killer, once out of the oracle’s cave, underwent an unconscious sort of transformation. His movements became a great deal more graceful, for starters: the sort of movements you would expect such fluid limbs to be capable of, rather than the awkward shuffling he’d displayed in the cave. Too, his shoulders came up and back, giving him an extra inch or two to his moderate height. The further he got from the female oracle, the more he began to look like he might actually be capable of killing, and not just of being decorative.

See, the thing was, women made him feel uneasy and self-conscious, and when he felt that way, well… it showed. Beautiful Killer was very bad at being anything but what he was in any given moment, and while that was a wonderful trait to have while swept up in the heat of battle, it was a something of a hindrance when it came to social interactions with the fairer sex. Not that they ever seemed to mind. Some of them even seemed to find it endearing, which of course only made things more horrible for him.

He repressed a shudder.

The oracle hadn’t been so bad, though. She’d been almost- almost- sexless, so he hadn’t felt the urge to flee as strongly as he often did around women. Women and their grasping little hands... And with the veil over her face, he couldn’t even see if she was ogling him, which was a relief in and of itself. He did get so very tired of being ogled.

He wondered briefly if he could somehow get more women wearing veils.


It took him less than two days’ march to find the place the oracle had foretold. It was at the top of a lonely sort of hill, in the middle of a roughly circular grove of olive trees. Standing there, Beautiful Killer had a perfectly lovely view of the surrounding plains plains (complete with misty peaks in the far-off distance), and he took a moment to enjoy it before turning his attention to his immediate surroundings. Someone had thoughtfully arranged a pile of stones, boughs, and twine that might be used to erect an altar just large enough for a young man to sleep under.

It made him very, very uneasy.

Oh he was grateful, to be certain- he hadn’t been entirely certain how he would make an altar without cutting down someone’s sacred something-or-other and getting himself in an even deeper mess- but the truth of the matter was this entire thing was just a little too ridiculously easy. Which meant that someone- and in this instance most likely a divine someone- wanted something from him.


Beautiful Killer sighed and began stacking rocks.

He was used to people wanting to help him, because of his looks. It was embarrassing, and also frustrating. It had made it exceptionally difficult for him to learn the art of fighting, because so many people kept letting him win- which of course taught him nothing. And then, too, he felt like there really wasn’t anyone in the world he could trust- because people inevitably had ulterior motives, when it came to him. Even if that motive was something seemingly benign, like trying to make him happy. Their idea of what would make him happy.

Not that he was adverse to happiness, of course. He just felt as though he ought to have more of a hand in earning it for himself. Take this whole “Beautiful Killer” thing. Oh, he was certain that the minstrel had thought he was doing a fine thing by exaggerating his minor exploits into a few epic poems, but the truth of the matter was that Beautiful Killer would much rather have actually done those deeds and not gotten credit for them, rather than the reverse. Especially once it started leading to the difficulties…

He shook his head to clear it, and refocused on the task at hand. The altar was taking shape, and he took a moment to fill in its underside with some conveniently located moss (he tried not to think about how convenient) so that he wouldn’t be sleeping directly on the dirt. Then, because there really wasn’t that much else to do when you’re waiting on a goddess, he went to sleep.


She showed up in his dream, almost as soon as he’d closed his eyes. Tall and terrible, the goddess stared at him until he began to feel his flesh creep, and he became uncomfortably aware of the fact that he could not move. Her gaze was different from the way most people looked at him- her eyes held no adoration, no covetousness- only a sort of cold calculation that made him long for a shadow to hide in. Finally she bared her teeth at him in what might have been considered a smile.

“How… ironic,” she said.

Beautiful Killer might have liked to say something in response, but the truth was that his brain seemed to have gone into the same sort of frozen panic as his body. Apparently the goddess did not require his opinion, however, because she continued with barely a pause.

“Unexpected, but not unwelcome. Here, take this- it will bring the beast to heel.” She shoved what appeared to be a golden bridle into his hands. He looked down at it, confused. Sure enough, it was a bridle, perfectly ordinary save for the fact that it looked as though it might have been woven from Beautiful Killer’s own hair. It did not look like the sort of thing to help him best a monster. His eyes must have betrayed his puzzlement, because she snapped her fingers imperiously and he found he could speak again.

“You… am I supposed to ride Kymera?”

“What? No, don’t be ridiculous- she would char you before you got close enough to try. That bridle is for the winged horse which resides there, on the muses’ mountain,” she pointed far into the distance. “It is only with astride him that you can ride to meet Kymera, and have any hope of survival.”

“Oh. Well. That’s very-“


And he did.


The Point of No (Movie) Return

Have you ever noticed that there's kind of a statute of limitations on certain movies? Like, you really need to see them a) when they first come out, or b) (and this may be preferable) before you hit puberty- otherwise you're just pretty much going to not effing get it when people get all rapturous about how awesome "that movie" is.

I have run into this phenomenon with several of my friends and relations in conjunction with a handful of my favorite childhood movies- you know, 80's fantasy classics such as Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, etc. (This is also a recurring problem with the original Star Wars. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. How many times have you had to argue with someone that it doesn't matter what the acting is or is not like in those movies- Han Solo is a bad-ass and what more could you possibly need??)

So anyway, I have another movie to add to that list, and that movie, ladies and gentlemen, is that staple of musicals, Grease.

I have spent my entire life hearing people sing those songs. Hell, I have even performed a few, myself, in choir. I have had both men and women tell me how great that movie is, how much they love it, etc, etc. And even tho, through the magic of cultural osmosis, I had a pretty good idea what the movie was about (girl gets a makeover to get the guy, in spite of the fact that he supposedly fell in love with her the way she was in the first place), I had never actually seen it for myself. And I'll admit- I was a little curious.

Oh gentle readers, I should have known better. I really should have known better.

I should have, and yet...

At the ripe old age of just-shy-of-twenty-nine, I went along gamely enough when Nathan suggested it this afternoon. (In his defense, I'm pretty sure he wanted me to know just what, exactly, I was missing. In a cultural sense. Because he's giving that way.) So we popped it in, and I must say-

That movie sucked.

It was so bad! On so many levels that I can't even begin to approach it! But what surprised me the most, I think, was the fact that Danny does his own little makeover that no one had ever, ever mentioned to me! Not once! How is it possible that everyone had made such a big deal out of Sandy getting all slutty (which she doesn't even do until the last scene, by the way) and not mention Danny's ridiculous letter-man jacket? I don't know, I just don't... At one point I said to Nathan "Rizzo's the most interesting character in this movie," to which he replied, "That's because she's the only one that actually has any character development." Which of course set my brain down the "What if..."s of that little story. But we'll save that for another day...

I am glad that I saw it, so that I have a better understanding of what people are talking about, but man-

It really was ridiculous.

(PS Nathan was reading this over my shoulder and he muttered, "It was even worse than I remembered...")


Dear Fellow Patron of the Restaurant:

First, let me say that you are not wrong in your assessment that a baby crying in dining place is annoying. Now, I might posit that you should really give a family longer than 30 seconds to attempt to soothe said child and/or remove it from the premises, but yes, you are correct that a screaming child is obnoxious.

Not half so obnoxious, however, as a woman in her fifties(-trying-to-look-forty) who takes it upon herself to mock said child by making squalling noises of her own. Not only is that obnoxious, it is incredibly rude, awkward, and highly embarrassing for everyone witnessing it.

Did you think that perhaps the parents had not noticed their child's unhappiness? Or perhaps you felt that we, at the table next to yours, had not taken sufficient notice of it. (Well, as far as that goes you weren't entirely mistaken- it was a large family birthday gathering at the other table and I will admit I was more or less tuning them out, intent as I was on a pleasant meal with my husband, whom I had not seen in a week.) Well by golly, fellow patron, you made sure that all attention was on you when you started up with your imitation/nasty comments combo. Did you notice how the rest of the restaurant went quiet at that moment? I assure you it is not because we were joining you in giving evil looks to the family- it is because we were all staring at you, being mortified by your infantile behavior.

You see, a baby can't help but scream- they have no other way to express themselves. And parents really ought to be given a chance to do something about it before you decide to step in with your bizarre behavior. Furthermore, I must add that you really did not make a stronger case for your "martyred" status by proceeding to carry on at top volume about the many other problems in your life. I really cannot blame your beet-red dinner companion for ordering glass after glass of wine. If I had been him I probably would have just gotten the bottle, knocked you over the head with it, and made good my escape...

But then again, that might not have been dramatic enough for you.


Brothers, Pt X

The oracle stared at the young man known as the Beautiful Killer in something akin to consternation. He was not at all what she would have imagined, based on the stories about him. Oh, he was beautiful, that much was certainly no exaggeration. He was just entering the first full bloom of manhood, with waves of shining gold hair and eyes that glimmered just a slightly darker shade- so unusual in a mortal. His youthful skin shone like smooth, flawless bronze over graceful limbs and lithe muscles. Everything about him seemed to shine, even his strangely shy smile.

And that little smile was at the heart of her discomfort.

Heroes, in the oracle’s experience, especially heroes that had earned the epithet “killer”, did not as a general rule look quite so… well, bashful. Look at that! The boy was practically rubbing his toe in the dirt! Where was the arrogance? The brashness? The ‘Here I am now aren’t you impressed!”-ness? And, for that matter, where were the scars?

The oracle, as a general rule, did not take instruction from the gods. She acted as an interpreter, no more, no less. But in this particular instance a goddess had given her a specific task, and although it had not bothered her in the beginning (who was she to question divine caprice?) now that she was faced with one of the major players she was beginning to have her doubts.

Beautiful Killer, indeed,
she thought sourly to herself. Why has she chosen this one for her games? Something is amiss here…

None of these thoughts were revealed by her expression, however- and would not have been even had she not been wearing a veil to conceal the entirety of her face. One did not last long as mouthpiece of the gods without learning a thing or two about subtlety.

“Why have you come, oh Beautiful Killer?” Her voice rang out through the cave, echoing back to them like melodious thunder. Such lovely acoustics in this place.

“Um,” the boy said, looking pained. “Maybe- maybe you could not call me that? I mean, if you don’t mind? It’s not really my name.”

“But it is what you are, is it not?” She asked. He flushed a fetching shade of crimson and the oracle let her lip twitch in what would have been a laugh in a less controlled being.

“Well, I suppose that depends… I mean, certainly people seem to think I’m… not unattractive. A lot of… um, people… um. And yes, there was an incident or two wherein I may have killed someone… or more… than one… but it wasn’t like it was on purpose… and… fine,” he ended with a sigh. “Beautiful Killer works as well as anything else, I suppose.”

“I repeat- why have you come?”

“Oh! Right. Um, well, see, the thing is, there was this rather unfortunate… misunderstanding… which led to another one… and now, to keep my head attached to my neck- and I really do like it there, I do- I’m supposed to kill this monster, this Kymera, only it’s not so easy, right? And I don’t really want to die just yet, so I thought I might get some advice… from you…” he trailed off lamely, making helpless gestures with his beautiful hands. “Maybe?”

The oracle let her voice drop into what she privately called her Voice of Revelations; “You cannot hope to defeat this monster on your own. You have need of divine assistance.”

The boy all but wilted in relief. “Yes, yes I do! Can you tell me… how do I go about getting that? It seemed like it might require something a bit above and beyond the usual sacrifice, and I didn’t want to offend anyone by doing it wrong, or invoking the wrong one, or… you know. They’re so touchy, the greater gods.”

More than he knew. “You must go to a place I will tell you, and there you must create an altar to the grey-eyed goddess. Sleep beneath this altar, and she will come to you.”

“That’s… that’s it?” His beautiful brow furrowed. “You’d think it would take more…”

“Would you rather I gave you an arduous task?”

“No! No thank you! Plenty of those already, thank you.”

“You could always bathe in the blood of a white bull, if it would make you feel more deserving.”

“I- um, no. That’s alright. Build an altar, sleep under it, and wait for the goddess. I can do those things.”

The oracle gave him instructions on how to reach the place the warrior goddess had chosen, and as he left (somehow managing to trip over his own graceful-looking feet) (really, how had that young man managed to kill anything?) she couldn’t help but feel a small, painful squeeze in her heart. It was almost enough for her to consult the fumes to see what advice she should have given him- but she knew it would only make it harder on herself, knowing how it might have been had she the will to defy a goddess. Instead she sent up a quick prayer to her own patron god- he of warm sunlight and healing- that the Beautiful Killer might manage to stay out of as much trouble as possible. After all, he’d been so young and sweet- and, she must admit, so very, very lovely.


I Could Use a Story

Chatting with a friend of mine online tonight, and he asked me to tell him "a good story from about ten years ago". I dug around in my brain, and this is the cleaned-up/lightly edited version of what I came up with (although to be fair it's less of a story and more of a stream-of-consciousness regarding a particular subject):

"Ten years ago i was a freshman in college, and there was a girl on my floor who was convinced that I was a devil-worshiper. I have no idea why- maybe 'cos I was pagan at that time.

"She also thought that the girl who would become my best college friend was a scary uber-Christian- which was about as far from the truth as you could get. She is actually more what some might call new-age, but she's not particularly in your face about it. So she and I kind of have a demon/angel gag running about the two of us...

"The other girl was the kind of kid whose parents had never let her do ANYTHING when she was younger, so she went a little ape-shit when she got to college. Didn't do very well with the who freedom/lack-of-authority thing. Did stupid ass things like going to "watch" the riots in Seattle and ended up getting tear-gassed. She was kind of dumb, but I really think it was her parents' fault for sheltering her so hard core. I went to a few raves with her, and I swear she had no common sense(I am assuming that by that point she'd figured out I wasn't a devil-worshipper).

"But raves- man, raves were something else.

"I miss them, to tell the truth. Not so much the dressing up like an idiot (although a little) and definitely not having to deal with people rolling on XTC, but the dancing.

It was my first experience with people who danced not to look cool but because they LOVED to dance. And I loved to dance- and they accepted me and I accepted them and it was nothing but the pulse and the rhythm and the flowing of bodies and hearts and minds and life and energy and sex (because sex is life) and being fully in my skin, but also outside of it, part of something greater. Dancing is conjuring, it's universe-constructing. It's sacred and and earthy and holy and filthy and everything and nothing.

"There was no negative judgment at those things, and I loved it.

"Unfortunately it couldn't last. They started to get more main-stream/commercial, and therefor more expensive, and more likely for some asshole to do things like put drugs in the water supply, or sneak in a gun. I stopped going to big raves- but I'd still go to house-party raves, whenever I could.

"Man, I used to dance for literally hours, stopping only for a quick swallow of water.

"I miss that."

(This conversation eventually led into a longer, deeper one about Passions, but I think I will save that and tool it into something actually polished and good, for later. Lots of food for thought, in that one.)

(In unrelated news, I was back at the doctor again today. More drugs, still no definite diagnosis. Sometimes I swear I just want to go to medical school myself to I can skip over paying people a couple hundred dollars to tell me they don't know what's wrong...)


Chasing Home

I’m getting on a plane today, but I am not going home.

That’s not to say that I’m not heading back to Birmingham, to my nice little two-bedroom apartment, to my two cats and two rats, where I live and work and play. Because I am. That is where I’m going. But Nathan’s flight leaves a few hours before mine lands, and thus I am not really going home. I am going to the place where home usually is, but in his absence will become a strange sort of in-between place, like a waiting room, or a boarding gate. Neither of those places is the destination- they’re just places you hang out while waiting to get to the destination. Or, in my case, while waiting for the destination to come back to me.

Years ago, while I was agonizing over whether to give up my life in the PNW to live in Birmingham and give a romantic relationship with Nathan a shot, Katie said to me something along the lines of, “Aren’t you tired of living in hotels? Don’t you just want to go home? Why would you keep living this way, going from temporary room to temporary room, when you could just take a chance and go home?” She wasn’t talking about my physical living situation: she was talking about my relationships. And she was right- I did want to go home. So I packed up my life and I went.

Today, however, I’m just going to Birmingham. And it’s not the same at all.


Brothers, Pt IX

His disconnected mind made it difficult for him to tell if he spent the next few hours awake or asleep, but he was aware that the girl monster, at least, had given in to an exhausted slumber. Pegs stared vacantly at the hero’s crumpled body. Flies had begun to gather, and he noted with disinterest the contrast between their intricate flight patterns and mundane crawling.

Finally something inside him shifted in response to the sinking sun, and he nudged the girl awake, shoving his neck under her arms. She clung to him and managed, painfully, to drape herself across his back, crying softly the whole time.

“Thank you,” she whispered, over and over. “Thank you so much. Thank you…”

Pegs did not try to fly. He did not think she was strong enough to stay on. Instead he began to trudge slowly back towards the sea. It did not take a genius to realize that’s where this tentacled she-creature belonged. Before long he could smell it, and soon enough they crested a hill that brought them high enough to see it. The girl on his back drew in a sharp breath and dug her fingers more tightly into Pegs’s mane. He was pretty sure he felt claws, but they did not bother him. He continued trudging.

At last he stood at the edge of the sea, foam swirling about his fetlocks. He walked further out, until the waves were breaking against his chest, until the girl could slip from him into the salty embrace of her home without jarring her abused body. This she did, letting out a sigh of relief, but she kept one small hand twined in his mane. He walked out further still, until his hooves no longer touched, until he was swimming next to her. He watched the blood stains slowly spiral off her skin, and did not realize that he was leaving a trail of his own.

At some unspoken signal they both ceased their movements and surrendered to the water’s whims. It was a relief to let a force outside themselves take responsibility for a while, even if that force decided to drown them. Back and forth with the tide they rocked, touching lightly, saying nothing. Finally the girl unwound her fingers from his mane, kissed him tenderly on the neck, and dove away from him. She did not resurface, and eventually Pegs found himself washed back ashore.

It did not bother him until much later that he had not learned her name.


When Pegs returned to the mountain, his foster-mothers found him a much subdued creature. No longer did his heart burn with an unquenchable rage- or if it did, he could no longer feel it. Part of him- a large part- had gone numb with the crushing of the hero’s skull, and he took to spending long hours sitting by the tantrum spring, staring at his distorted reflection and wondering who and what he was meant to be.

He knew he was a winged horse- the only one of his kind, and likely to remain so. He knew that he was, for all intents and purposes, an orphan- cut off from his blood family, and likely to remain so. He was also mute- another thing not likely to change. But now he knew he was something else, too- he was a killer. He had killed. He, Pegs, had used his hooves to end a man’s life. He didn’t feel ashamed, exactly, but he didn’t feel particularly pleased about it, either. He doubted anyone would say it was wrong to have killed a man who was torturing an innocent creature, but did that make it right? He didn’t know, just as he didn’t know what it meant to his future, now that he was a killer. He assumed that was the sort of label that didn’t go away, regardless of whether or not he ever killed again. Regardless of whether or not anyone ever knew it but him and the girl with the tentacles. And, of course, the dead hero.

His foster mothers worried about his newfound listlessness, but he didn’t know how to reassure them- or even if he should. They took turns sitting next to him as he contemplated, trying to stir him with their songs, poetry, and dance. Ourie lay down next to him at night and told him stories about the stars scattered throughout the heavens, about how some of them had once been great men, women, or creatures the gods had rewarded by turning them into constellations. Pegs thought vaguely that it didn’t seem like much of a reward to him, but then he never did understand the motivations of the gods.

The gods.

Although he did not know it, one of those gods in particular- specifically one goddess- was very put out with Pegs, very put out indeed. And so, while Pegs was coming to grips with what who he was, what he’d done, and what his lonely place in the universe might be, she was coming up with a plan to rid him of any and all of those things.



Huckleberries and the Women Who Love Them

Today did not go as planned.

See, the plan was that Katie and I would drive to the coast, take some photographs, have a picnic on the beach and maybe even a bonfire. It was to be a totally awesome Valentine's day girl date.

Here is what actually happened:

I woke up feeling like death warmed over and then dropped back in ice-water. I was in pain, head-achey, cold, and generally miserable. This being a continuation of the prior day's scenario, I decided it might be best to go to a doc-in-the-box.

Couldn't get in until 2:30, but that was okay- Katie and I went out to the Spaghetti Factory, where I picked at some broccoli (she insisted I needed to get more in my system than just toast, which is what I'd been eating the day before) and felt like the worst friend in the world. Afterward we drove down to Portland (the site of the closest clinic that a) would take my insurance and b) was open on a Sunday) and browsed some vintage shops until it was time for my appointment (Katie got a super-cute full-length coat. I might have been jealous if I hadn't been so wretched).

The doctor diagnosed me with "We don't know what the hell it is", which was not exactly comforting. He figures I actually do have something (as opposed to it being allergies) because I'm running a low-grade fever. The quick-strep test came back negative, so he did a full culture but of course we won't get those results for a few more days. In the mean time, he told me I could take some penicillin if I wanted to, just in case. I did (I would have preferred a shot, but they didn't do those there). And so they sent me on my merrily-undiagnosed way.

We came back to Vancouver and curled up to watch Tombstone, which had some wonderful dialog and a fairly stupid "romantic" element. I enjoyed it nonetheless, and I now understand what Nathan is referencing when he says "I'm your huckleberry," which is nice. And he is my huckleberry, so that's even nicer (he spent his day in a similar fashion to mine, only he got shots, the lucky so-and-so).

Anyway, now Katie is re-dying her hair, and I'm whipping this out and sipping on hot chicken noodle soup. The pain in my throat has progressed to the point where swallowing is a chore and speaking is just about unthinkable. Here's hoping tomorrow will dawn a pain-free day.


Phone Haiku

write every day
a command made difficult
by circumstances

this one is phoned in
composed via my cell phone
sitting in a bar

time with my best friends
this trip has been wonderful
(wish I wasn't ill)


Roaming Hearts on the Range

Man, this is taking me back.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean Katie and I) stayed the night on our friend Anna’s couches, and I can’t help but smile remembering all the couch-surfing I’ve done down through the years. Being transient is a very different feeling from having a home of your own, but by no means is it a bad thing. There’s something nice about knowing you know people who love you enough to put you up, and that you have enough of those people stretched out across a continent to keep you going for a while, no matter what life might fling at you. Also, there’s something freeing about having nothing more than what you can fit in a suit-case: fewer things to worry about. Of course, this is me just playing pretend, since I have a whole apartment full of stuff back in Birmingham, but it reminds me of the days when I had less, and I don’t mind that at all…

Right now it’s a little past eight in the morning, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table staring out the corner-window at the wet, gray day. Cars roll past, children stroll by (one assumes they’re going to school, which gives me a bit of an “In my day we had to be there before eight!” moment) and a soft shimmer of rain falls on the impossibly green glass. I am so in love with this part of the country, and with the way my spirit opens up when I’m here.

The house that Anna lives in with her friends Zach and Rebecca is absolutely perfect and wonderful, exactly the sort of place I’d like to live in with Nathan one of these days. And it’s more than just the physical traits of the house (although of course I am a sucker for high ceilings and hardwood floors): it’s the feel of the place. This is a house with a lot of love, a lot of creativity, and a lot of kindness; it feels like a place that would be home to just about anyone who walked into it. There is art all over the walls (much of it done by my hosts), home-baked bread sitting on the table in front of me (okay, okay, also in my mouth being chewed), a sweet dog laying at my feet, and chickens clucking contentedly outside. It is a place that feels calm and happy and right to me. So yes, it is the kind of place I’d like to create with Nathan one of these days.

Maybe even this rain-swept neighborhood.


Nathan I Am Totally Using My Tether for This

(Okay, before we get started, let’s have a moment to have a happy little freak out over the fact that I’m typing this up while sitting in the airport. Yes, I am aware that this is not, for the vast majority of people in my class, a major innovation. It is, however, special and awesome to me. I love my tiny, tiny netbook.)

I find that the older I get the more anxiety I have getting on planes. I’m not sure why, and it doesn’t keep me from sucking it the hell up and getting on, anyway, but there it is. Dread, dread, and occasionally further dread. Especially when the flight in question involves not being with Nathan. (Somehow his presence manages to soothe 99.7% of my strange neuroses/paranoia, regardless of the occasion.) So here I am, completely and thoroughly excited to be flying back up to Portland for the first time in over two years, to see a bunch of people I care desperately about, and yet my stomach is a pit of roiling (say it with me now) dread.

I will be fine once we get in the air, of course. It’s just all this sitting around ahead of time that brings me face-to-face with my own mortality, and whether or not I have anything that will hang, chain-like, from my ethereal neck should the plane go down. This often leads to a lot of gate-side, occasionally tearful phone-calls for me to tell people I love them. Yes, I am That Girl. Don’t judge- we all have our moments of Completely Irrational, and I can think of far worse than a compulsion to tell people how I feel about them. Today, however, in spite of my roiling stomach, I find another layer of myself almost serene- no last-minute phone calls, because I feel fairly confident that those people that I need to know I love them do know I love them.

So at least I have that going for me.


Early Valentine's Day

I will be out of town this Valentine's Day, which was to have been our first as a married couple. Never ones to be slaves to dates on a calendar (I think most military brats are that way) we decided to split the occasion in two and observe it at our leisure. The first half we celebrated tonight with a meal as the sublime Bottega in Southside, the second half will be celebrated once I get back by going to see The Wolfman (I'm sure there's a love story in there somewhere...).

One of the nicest thing about going out to a fancy restaurant is having the chance to get all dolled up, which I most certainly took advantage of. I wore this salsa-inspired red dress which is entirely too short for the current weather, but that's okay because it gave me an excuse to wear my uroma's ocelot-and-mink coat. Now, I do not generally condone the making of new fur coats- but by golly, if you happen to have a vintage one laying around it seems to me a damn shame not to wear it at least once in a while. Especially when it's so freaking cold outside and the fur keeps you oh-so-warm... heavenly...

Speaking of heavenly, the food at Bottega's really was divine. It is such a privilege to be present when food transcends sustenance and achieves art, and that is definitely what happened on our plates and tongues tonight. Not to mention the lovely bartender who, when he could not meet my request for hot cocoa or a hot buttered rum, brewed up a lovely concoction of bourbon, lemon, and honey that warmed me right up.

All in all a highly pleasant evening.

But back to me being out of town.

I leave for Portland tomorrow, and I'm not sure what my internet access will be. I'll still be writing every day, but the updates may come in chunks as I find wifi... so hang in there, loyal readers... ;)



It wasn't as much of a last resort as she'd have them believe, but that did not mean it did not take effort.

She banished the rest of them from the house that evening- partially because she did not wish to share her secrets with the uninitiated, and partially because the creature she sought to summon was notoriously fickle- she could not risk the thing possessing someone else. (Come to think of it, that, too, probably counted as not wishing to share her secrets...)

Once they were gone, she purified herself. No creature of light would care to take up residence in a filthy host, so it was holy water and a good strong salt scrub for her- with a few drops of rose oil because hey- why not smell pleasant while invoking Beings from a higher plane? Still tingling from her bath, she began laying out the candles in the appropriate patterns. Long trial and error had taught her the prudence of moderation- too few flames and the creatures might not even notice you- or, worse, they might be insulted by your stinginess (and heaven save her from the petty grudges of spirits!) Too many candles and you might attract the attentions of something more powerful than you were willing to bargain with. Always awkward.

Her hair was beginning to dry by the time she changed into her ceremonial robe. It was soft and black, in no way competing with the vivid white lights cast by the candle flames (again- best to avoid any hint of insult). Not to mention it hid stains beautifully... She was already wearing her summoning amulet, strung on a chain as silver as the moon itself. She was ready.

She was not ready! She had almost forgotten the Offering. Shaking her head at familiarity's contempt, she padded into the kitchen on bare feet and filled a goblet with the appropriate liquid. She, personally, could not stand the stuff, but she need take no more than a small sip to align her awareness.

She settled herself down amidst the candles and began chanting, eyes half-focused on the shimmer of reflected candlelight in the goblet. Suddenly, the shimmer stopped wavering, grew brighter, and began to pulse in time to her words. Carefully, knowing that the small sip was more than enough to knock her on her ass, she raised the vessel to her lips, and drank.

Immediately she fell backwards (part of the reason for the oh-so-painstaking arrangement of the candles), surrendering control of her body to the Being she had called. If it was pleased with what it found (both in the cup and in her) it would stay. If not... well, never mind that.

As if in a dream she watched the Being raise up from the dark liquid and dance through the candles (counting them, probably, thought the small fraction of her brain still able to function). There it was, born of fire and poison, creation and destruction:

Her Muse.

(Summoning the Muse)


Brothers, Pt VIII

Pegs did stop harassing the heroes for a couple of years- and hellish years they were. He was profoundly bored, for starters. Although he appreciated his foster mothers’ varying arts, he had neither the drive nor desire to follow any of the disciplines they specialized in. And as much as he loved flying, he felt his life needed some purpose beyond it.

Worse than the boredom, however, was the rage.

Without the regular outlet of hero-bating, the fury inside Pegs’ heart steadily accumulated, burning hotter and hotter, until there was nothing that did not set his temper off. He hissed and bit savagely at anything and anyone that got too close to him, sometimes following it up with a fierce kick for good measure. He knew he shouldn’t behave in such a way- it made him miserable to be so horrid to everyone- but he didn’t know how to turn it off… and soon the misery would fester and become more rage. The hurt in his foster mothers’ eyes made him ashamed, and he took to hiding in far-flung locations, spending all his days in bitter solitude. While this kept him from physically hurting anyone, it did nothing to cool the anger that pumped through his body like super-heated blood.

Finally, a little more than two years after he’d given his promise, Pegs snapped.


There was probably no avoiding it in the long run (not with the way his internal pressure had been mounting) but it’s quite possible that it might have been delayed a little longer had it not been for the specific scenario he witnessed.

Pegs was out for a flight, soaring low across the edge of a sea, when his sensitive ears picked up the sound of crying- feminine crying.

Now it must be said that Pegs had something of a soft-spot for women. How could he not, after being raised by so many? That, combined with the story of Meddie, his blood-mother, made him particularly responsive to females in distress. He banked his wings and headed inland towards the crying.

He soon found its source- a young woman with a tangle of tentacles in place of legs, trapped in a shallow pit. It would have been easy enough for a normal human to scramble out of, but the girl’s lower limbs were obviously not meant for climbing. Pegs eyed the pit, but decided there was not enough room for him to land in it without crushing the girl. Instead he landed next to the upper edge and peered over.

“Oh!” gasped the girl, momentarily forgetting her distress. “Oh, how lovely!” Pegs, who had spent his life surrounded by deities who both embodied and inspired beauty, returned the sentiment: the monster was absolutely stunning. Her tentacles were a gorgeous bronze-green, with just the faintest iridescence, mottled with a rust-colored pattern that continued up past her trim waist into the smooth olive of her skin; her hair was deep red and done in dozens of thick, elaborate braids that hung to her elbows; her eyes, dark brown with neither pupils nor whites, were luminous with tears. Just then, her finely formed features crumpled.

“Oh, oh! Flee! You must flee, before he returns!”

Pegs cocked his head to one side to indicate curiosity, but the girl failed to understand. Instead she groped along the floor of her prison until she found a small clump of dirt, which she flung half-heartedly at him. He dodged it easily, and lowered his head closer to her, attempting to lip at her fingers to give her some comfort.

“Flee!” She sobbed, and he noticed her teeth were ever-so-slightly pointed. “Flee quickly, or he’ll hurt you, too!”

Hurt him too? Pegs narrowed his eyes and re-evaluated the girl. He realized that what he had assumed was a natural pattern on her skin was, in fact, dried blood.

His heart exploded with fiery rage and he reared up, screaming silent fury. As he came back to all fours, he heard a sharp intake of breath behind him. He whipped his head around and saw what could only be a hero.

The man was tall and well-built, just shy of his prime. He wore a much-dented breast-plate and matching arm-guards, all decorated with an olive-branch motif. In one hand he held a piece of dried meat that he was obviously making a quick meal of. The other held a long spear- a spear with dried blood on its head.

Pegs didn’t even think- couldn’t have, even if he’d wanted to. The anger had control of his limbs, and he surrendered himself to it utterly. Quick as a snake, Pegs wheeled towards the man and lashed out with his hooves, striking him squarely in the temple. He felt the hero’s skull crush beneath the force of the blow, and the man dropped like a stone. Pegs stood over him, trembling and blowing hard, waiting to strike again should he see the slightest movement.

There was none.

Finally, feeling strangely disconnected from his own body, Pegs leaned down and grabbed the spear with his teeth. He dragged it over to the edge of the pit and let one end extend down. At first the girl let out a small shriek and cowered as far from him as she could, but when she realized nothing was attacking her she slowly uncovered her face and turned it upwards toward Pegs. He tossed his head, once, to emphasis the spear, made a motion as though he was pulling it out.

The girl understood, and although her hands trembled she wrapped them around the spear’s shaft, and held on with all her might. Slowly, painstakingly, Pegs managed to pull her out, and once free she collapsed into a shaking, crying heap at his hooves. Still numb, he knelt down beside her, stretched out a wing, and folded it over her battered form.

He did not notice her blood slowly staining his feathers.


Two White Queens, pt V

Whatever independent experiments Rohlan may or may not have done over the next few years to re-create the mystery of the Tart Incident have been lost to the mists of time. Suffice to say, he was never successful, although to his credit he never again stole from his mother.


It was his mother he was thinking of one fine autumn morning when the peddler passed through. Rohlan loved the peddler (whose name was Jarrod), and not just because he always had wonderful toys with him. No, Rohlan loved Jarrod for himself; bright-eyed, quick-witted, and highly observant, always with a tale to tell a young lad. Jarrod had weathered skin the color of walnut-stain, and although Rohlan’s mother thought he had sad eyes, his smile was wide and infectious. He did not have a fixed schedule, but would appear at random and stay for as short as a day or as long as a fortnight; he was always welcomed at the farmhouse. He had even, over the years, taught Rohlan to recognize his letters, although reading did not come easily to the boy.

Jarrod was whistling a disjointed tune as he appeared over a rise in the road, and when Rohlan realized who it was he ran to meet him. They walked along companionably as Rohlan related his current woe: he was beginning to suspect that his parents were not, in fact, his parents.

Now, this is a common thought amongst thirteen-year-old children everywhere, in all times- but for Rohlan it was based on more than just wishful thinking. He was starting to come into his adult height, and it was becoming painfully evident that he would soon tower above both parents (who were, it must be admitted, on the short side). His skin never held a beautiful golden tan like theirs did- it remained stubbornly pale- almost translucent- no matter how long he labored in the fields. Finally, it had recently occurred to him that both of his parents had sleepy looking eyes the color of birch beer: but his eyes slanted up, and were the disconcertingly bright green of new grass. When he had asked his mother which side of the family he’d received his awkward features from, she’d looked upset and changed the subject. All in all, signs indicated Something Suspicious.

Jarrod listened patiently to all of this, and in the end asked Rohlan if he was sure he wanted to know the truth- after all, the explanation might be something painful, like a long-dead relation or a violent rape. Rohlan was taken aback: such thoughts had never occurred to him. It gave him something to mull over, and he decided to keep quiet for the time being. Jarrod only smiled his mysterious smile.

It is quite possible that Rohlan might have decided that he really didn’t need to know the truth- that his parents were his parents regardless of blood ties- had it not been for something that occurred two evenings later.

Jarrod and Rohlan, for the amusement of his parents, were acting out an elaborate sword fight from one of their favorite stories. Jarrod, although wizened in appearance, was surprisingly spry, and was giving the boy a bit of a run-around, in spite of the fact that, as the villain, he really ought to have been losing. At one point, after poking Rohlan in the posterior with his stick-sword, Jarrod mocked the other’s choice in weapons, calling it the crookedest twig he’d even seen. Rohlan (in proper Virtuous Hero form) replied with vehemence that it was not a twig; it was the finest sword ever to emerge from the dwarfish smithies of old.

No one quite saw how it happened, but when Rohlan swung his stick down to crash against Jarrod’s it did not crash: it sliced straight through, and only a timely stumble on the part of Jarrod saved his arm from a similar fate. The laughter abruptly stopped, and Rohlan dropped his sword (for that is what he now held) in horror.

Jarrod, from his position in the dirt, looked over to Rohlan’s father and remarked that perhaps the time had come to tell the truth, after all.


Ties That Bind

As you may or may not know, I have recently become a Fitness Professional. I teach two classes- one called H2O Bootcamp, which I became certified to do back in December, and one called BodyFlow, which I am still actually in the process of being certified to instruct. Part of the certification process is to submit a video of myself teaching a class- a video which will be assessed and either passed or failed by people higher up the Les Mills foodchain than myself. It I pass, then I'm certified for life, and can teach people anywhere in the country- techincally anywhere in the world- to do BodyFlow. If I fail... well, I'm not going to fail, so it doesn't matter. I do my first taping on the twentieth.

One of the most interesting things about this little Life Development of mine is that it rather unexpectedly has given my brother and I a little more Common Ground. You see, he, too, is an instructor(almost-fully-certified). Of course, he is working towards being a SERE instructor, which is just a tiddly bit more of a big deal than being a BodyFlow instructor, but still. He, too, is being watched like a hawk at the moment, to make certain he is saying all the proper "key words" and showing more-than-perfect form in everthing. So we get to talk about what a pain in the ass that is.

But we also get to talk about how much we love teaching. Tonight we were talking about the particular thrill we get when someone finally gets what we have been trying to teach them- that magic moment when showing actually does become teaching, and they learn. We are both very enthusiastic about what we teach, and to see another person become infected with that enthusiasm, to take it and reflect it back to us, twofold... well. That's just good stuff, that is. So much the better that we are teaching them things that will make a positive impact on their quality of life (or, in his case, actually save it).

The other very amusing point my brother made is that we are both teaching people who are, at the very least, physically uncomfortable- and often flat-out miserable (his moreso than mine, of course, although I doubt mine would find that fact to be much solace when I'm demanding that they drop their hips, damn it!). So we're dealing with a bunch of people who probably resent us as much as they respect us... But who have signed up to do what we say, anyway!

(I wonder if sadism is a genetic thing?)


Mind Full of You

I wrote a small snippet on Brothers today, but I don't know that I feel it's enough to throw up here. I know that technically it should be quality over quantity, but there is part of me that feels like I really need to offer up more than two paragraphs at a time... When I post story-snippets, I try to make them at least a (word) page long.

Anyway I'll probably write more on it tomorrow, and post it then. In the meantime, I need to find something else to write about, and my mind is pretty much drawing a blank.

Well, now, that's not strictly true. Mostly my brain is doing a happy little humming sort of noise that roughly translates to "My husband is home and the Warmth has come back to my existence!" It makes it very difficult to think of anything else.

Twice this week I've encountered older men (in their sixties and seventies) who have bragged to me about the longevity and goodness of their relationships with their wives. It warms my heart every time. How wonderful to have that! Not just the long marriage, but a husband who is still so excited about being married to you that he will brag about it to young women he's just met! I hope to always be that enthusiastic about my relationship with Nathan.

And now it's off to bed, as we've got some Driving to do in the morning.


Brothers, Pt VII

(Author's note: I wrote most of this in my car, waiting to clock in at my second job. Please forgive any glaring errors that may have resulted...)

Pegs, who had once spent most of his time observing others from afar, now made it a point to be seen. Specifically he made it a point to be seen by heroes, or at the very least by the people he knew would be in contact with them. As the years passed, he refined his system. First he would scout out a likely-looking location, usually on a well-traveled road. He would spend about a week making dramatic appearances, to get the locals stirred up and talking, and then he would disappear for a day or two, to give any nearby heroes a chance to show up. And then? Then he would go hero-baiting.

It never got old. Each hero was different, and the best part was that as Pegs began to gain notoriety, more and more of the actually impressive heroes began to show up looking for him. These were men who had great cunning, or strength, or magical artifacts- all of which made the game that much more challenging for Pegs- and that much more satisfying when he ultimately shamed them.

He had been at it for about a decade or so before it began to make trouble for him.


Pegs was sunning himself on a cliff overlooking what his foster mothers referred to as ‘the tantrum spring’ when he got that peculiar prickling feeling between his withers that meant a god was in the immediate vicinity. Out of habit he moved himself into the dense foliage of a nearby tree, and turned his gaze downward to see what was afoot.

In the branches below him, an unusually large gray owl alighted. Pegs narrowed his eyes. It was full daylight out. That combined with the prickles told him exactly what- or rather who- that owl was. He bared his teeth at it, but held perfectly still.

The owl, oblivious to his presence, hopped down from the branch and melted into a proud-featured woman wearing a shining breast-plate. Only she wasn’t a woman.

She was the war-goddess.

The little glade was suddenly over-flowing with Pegs’ foster mothers. It never ceased to amaze him, how many they were- each one lovely- and somehow both alike in that loveliness and yet completely different- like a swirl of vari-colored snow-flakes. Nemie, who seemed always to be their default spokes-person, bowed graciously to the goddess.

“My Lady,” she said. “What brings you to our mountain-side?”

Cold gray eyes flashed, and the goddess gestured to the tantrum spring.

“This. Years ago I heard tell it was caused by the hoof of a horse. A winged horse. Isn’t that interesting? Have you ever heard of such a unique creature? I had not, nor did I again. Not until recently, that is. Because, you see, it appears that just such a creature has been bedeviling some of those who call me patron. Now, what are the chances that two such winged beasts are running- pardon me- flying about the countryside?”

Nemie did not reply, nor did her face give any indication that she knew exactly what the chances were, having mothered said winged beast for most of his life.

“And I thought to myself,” the goddess continued in icy tones, apparently not really caring what the chances were. “I thought, one of these monsters or two, I cannot have it or them making mockery of those heroes sworn to me. And then I thought to myself, I am in need of a creative solution- and who better to provide one than the demigoddesses of inspiration, who are surely used to dealing with- unique- creations.”

“My Lady,” Nemie demurred. “Creative and clever we may be, but we could never hope to be so wise as yourself.”

“Be that as it may,” Each word was precisely pronounced, and Pegs could feel the atmosphere literally thickening with the deity’s ire. “Be that as it may, if you and your sisters do not find a solution to my- unique irritation- then I will find one.” With that she swirled her skirts and was an owl once more, launching herself into the ether on silent wings.

Pegs blew disrespectfully at her retreating tail feathers.

The next thing he knew, his ear was being pinched- rather painfully- between the deceptively dainty thumb and forefinger of his foster mother Klio. He let out a hiss in protest.

“None of that, you naughty stallion!” She smacked him smartly on the nose, causing his eyes to water. “Just what, pray tell, does our recent guest mean by bedeviling her heroes?”

Pegs gave an equine shrug, and she twisted his ear a little harder. “Why don’t we take this down to the ground, and we’ll see if we can’t jog your memory,” This last bit was emphasized with increasing pressure on his abused ear, and he immediately leapt down. In his haste he forgot to check his landing, and a little spring rose up about his fetlocks, but none of his foster mothers seemed to care. They glared at him as one.

“Pegs,” said Nemie, “Have you been harassing heroes?”

He nodded sulkily.

All heroes, or just hers?” This from Thalia, with a wicked glint in her eye.

He stretched out his wings and gathered as many of the muses to him as he could.

“Well at least she can’t complain that it was specifically against her,” she muttered, hiding a smile.

“That doesn’t make the slightest difference and you know it!” snapped Klio, who had finally released his ear. He twitched it in relief. “It’s no less of an offense to her divine ego!”

“There’s a larger problem,” said Mellie, most somber of his foster-mothers, in a low tone. “If she heard about the spring, she might hear about other things. Like who he really is.” Her sisters turned pale.

“If she figures out his parentage, it won’t matter what he does or does not do to annoy her- she will punish him for his blood. She would consider his very existence an insult!”

“Pegs, listen to me!” Nemie said, forcing him to look her in the eyes. “You must stop harassing the heroes! I can imagine your motivations, but you have to stop. You have to fade from her mind! Because if she puts too much thought into your existence, and realizes who you are, none of us can keep you safe!”

Pegs bared his teeth. He didn’t need to be “kept safe”!

“Pegs, please, you’ve got to promise! Please!” Dozens of luminous eyes pleaded with him. At first he stared defiantly back at them, but then he saw how genuinely frightened they seemed, and he relented. He sighed, nodded his head, and let his wings droop.

“Oh thank you, Pegs!” They chorused, rushing forward to kiss him.

But he did not keep his promise.


Brothers, Pt VI

Pegs was four years old and, as far as his foster mothers could tell, physically mature. He was beautiful, fast, and strong, and he didn’t need anyone. This is what was running through his head as he soared through the flame-colored sky. He had started flying early that morning, but now evening was falling and he had no desire to return to the mountain. Instead he decided he would find a nice lake to land in, spend the night there (he found water to be almost more comfortable to him than air), and fly back the next day.


He gave no thought to how his foster-mothers might react to his prolonged absence: the only thing that mattered to him was the anger burning in his heart, and the desire to fly and fly and fly until the rushing winds dampened it or the icy heights froze it. So far, neither had worked.

He folded his legs and wrapped his great wings tightly against his body, then let himself free-fall a few hundred meters, baring his teeth against the speed in a silent scream. His wings snapped out and his body jerked up, and he glided close to the tree-tops, scanning the neighboring plains for a suitable body of water. A brief glint on the horizon looked promising, but in an instant he changed his mind about landing there. Instead, he let himself drift to the ground, and gave in to the luxury of a run. He was never allowed to run on the mountain- but here there was no one to scold about any watery trail he might leave, and so he pushed himself as hard as he could, tearing across the earth towards the setting sun. Behind him, his hoof-print-springs made an eerie, bubbling wake before settling into a kind of exceptionally energetic rivulet.

By the time he reached the lake he was feeling a little better. Enough so that he stopped stomping quite so forcefully, and went back to his habitual hopping-flutter to keep from further tearing up the turf (his foster-mother Terpsie said it was more graceful than most people’s dancing). He slid into the water, grateful for it’s cool embrace, and began to duck his head in search of a few succulent plants to make his dinner.

He had just raised his head back up, mouth full of a particularly nice batch of weeds, when something landed around his neck. Pegs immediately surged up and out of the water into the air, and as he did so he felt his left wing glance off something heavy. He did not pause to look, but pumped with all his might until he was higher than the trees. Only then did he hover, shake whatever-it-was off his neck, and turn his gaze back towards the earth.

There by the edge of the lake was a young man- a very pale and sweating young man who was holding his arm at an awkward angle. Pegs narrowed his eyes, and descended ever-so-slightly. The young man seemed to be having a bit of difficulty. He was saying some words that Pegs knew for a fact were expressions of extreme displeasure, and kicking at what appeared to be- was it a snake? A rope! Pegs hissed in disdain, dropping even further. The stupid human had tried to use a rope on him?!

“Oh majestic steed!” the young man cried, gazing upward. His voice sounded tight with pain. Pegs was glad. “Won’t you let me mount the heavens astride you? Of course you are too glorious by far for any ordinary mortal, but surely I, the hero who slew the monstrous serpent that plagued Kenos, surely I would be a worthy rider of one such as yourself?”

A hero! Not just a mortal but a filthy monster-killing hero had tried to bridle him?! Pegs seriously considered voiding his bowels on the man’s head.

But then he had a better idea.

Arching his neck grandly (one couldn’t spend so much time around springs and not be aware of one’s best angles) Pegs began a slow, spiraling glide back to the ground. He noted with satisfaction that the hero’s eyes never left his wings. He landed close- but not too close- to the man, and fixed him with what he knew to be his most come-hither stare (Erie’s lessons had not been entirely lost on him). The man took a step forward and reached out a trembling hand. Pegs let him get within two meters, and then danced back ever-so-slightly, tossing his head like an ordinary, nervous horse might. The man made soft, soothing noises, and moved forward again.

Oh, this was going to be fun.


In the end he got the hero to chase him a good five twisting kilometers into the forest, until they were up to their knees in thorns. The barbs didn’t bother Pegs, of course (one of the perks of being a semi-divine half-breed) but they tore the man’s legs up pretty well, and caught on his tunic, causing him to wrench his bad arm (inevitably followed by muffled curses). Finally, when Pegs decided he had gotten enough entertainment for the evening (and anyway his stomach was beginning to growl) he stopped inching away and fell very still, then took an apparently timid step towards the hero, blowing air in an inquiring manner.

The man stood a little straighter, his eyes feverish with excitement. Pegs let him come within a half-meter of him, let him reach out his hand to touch Peg’s shining white coat-

Then sprang straight up, giving a powerful down-stroke of the wings that grazed the man (and probably broke the other arm) and carried him high into the tree-tops.

For the first time in his life, Pegs wished he could laugh aloud. As it was he contented himself with emptying his bowels (although more from contempt than malice at this point) and began the long flight home.

He no longer felt quite so angry.