Sarcasmo's Scribblings

Sunday, November 06, 2005

2005 - Hamlyn

“May I smoke?” she asked, already pulling a long-thin lady’s cigarette and tapping it on a silver case. It seemed out of place with her casually modern attire – a white sundress decorated with small green flowers, and a matching green sweater and mules. I pegged her as the conservative sort as soon as she walked through the door. I never would have made her for someone to waver something so obviously valuable about. Maybe I was slipping.

No chance. Her case was… different. I knew that. Now was not the time to start second guessing myself, times being what they were.

“Of course,” I smiled, gesturing to the crystal ashtray at the end of the couch. She moved it onto the coffee table in front of her, placing her case besides. I couldn’t read it the initials from where I sat, but I could see that it was elegant, monogrammed, and bearing the slight tarnish of true silver.

She lit up with a cheap, drugstore lighter (her practiced hands quickly bypassing the parental safeties that my own hands often stumbled over) and inhaled gratefully, then let the smoke out slowly, reluctantly, from pursed lips. “Thank you,” she said. “I can’t tell you how long its been since I’ve the luxury of smoking indoors. I can never get one of these lit in the wind.”

“I like people to be comfortable,” I smiled and nodded towards her case. “Family heirloom? I haven’t seen one in ages. Looks quite old.”

She laughed – it was a deep, throaty laugh that exploded from her tiny frame, and broke down into the hacking cough all smokers share. I offered her some water from the decanter by my elbow – but she shook her head and held up her hand as the cough subsided. “Old,” she said, still coughing. “You have no idea.”

“So tell me,” I said, leaning back in my chair and threading my fingers behind my head; unsure which had creaked – my back or the old office furniture.

She pushed her hair back behind her ear and took another drag from her cigarette, her body crouched over the ashtray as though it might escape her any moment.. “Well, it’s like this, Doc,” she said “I’m about 700 years old – give or take a few decades.”

“I’m a Detective, Ms. Farmer, not a Doctor. And if you don’t mind my saying so, you don’t look a day over 30.” I almost never took the loonies anymore – but I’d had her vetted – and she had seemed sane enough. And more importantly, her back account was full to bursting – and things being what they were, I couldn’t be too picky.

A grim smile pursed her lips, “Sorry, Detective. Force of habit. Almost everytime I tell this story, it’s to some damn doctor or another. Oh – don’t worry – they’ve always found me to be “harmless,” but of course you know that. Now, now, don’t be embarrassed, I wouldn’t want to work with a detective who hadn’t been thorough enough ohave me checked out.” I gave a non-committal nod, as I mentally began firing my street guys. Outsourcing never did pay in my business. She leaned back onto the soft, stretching her arms out along the top; the smoke crawling up her cigarette towards the chipped plaster ceiling. “In fact, do you mind if I just call you ‘Doc,’ Detective? It’d make things go faster.”

“As you like, Ms. Farmer.”

“Please, call me Edna,”

“Please, Ms. Farmer, you’ve given me a PhD; the least I can do is maintain the manners my mother gave me.”

“It’s your office, after all, I suppose you’d better do as you will.”

“Please continue, Ms. Farmer.”

“Well, Doc, as I said, I’m just over 700 years old – nearing 750, actually, but I am a woman, so you must allow me my small vanities. I was born in a small village in Germany which hasn’t existed for so long even I can’t remember what it was called. My parents were famers – hence the name – and I was the perrineal farmer’s daughter.”

“German?” I interrupted. I don’t hear any trace of accent.

“Really? People often tell me they hear some Boston in my vowels. Still, I’ve been a long time in this country. I haven’t sounded like a haus frau for..well..ages.” She stubbed out her cigarette butt and lit another. She offered her case to me, wordlessly, and I fought the impulse to take one. I’d given it up long ago…and the smell of her own, girlie cigarettes were almost enough to drive me to distraction. I feared an entire cigarette would push me right into a lung-eroding bliss and oblivion. She pulled her legs up under her.

“This part of the story isn’t terribly original, I’m afraid. Young, naïve farm girl meets worldly, musician who fills her head with stories of the big city. It wasn’t that he was especially good-looking, you understand.” She leaned back and closed her eyes, the faint trace of a smile making it’s way over her face. “Oh, I suppose he was handsome in a common sort of way; strong jaw, bright eyes – and a slim build—making him decidedly different from the farm boys I was accustomed to. It was his stories; he’d seen the world – or more of it than I had, you understand. And, of course, the music. Young girls have gone giddy for musicians since the dawn of time itself. Just ask Eurdyce.”

”You know her?” I asked.

“I’m speaking metaphorically, Doc. I’m old, but not that old. And certainly not that crazy.”

”I never said..”

“They never do. My point is that he was a big city musician and I was a small town girl…”

“And one thing led to another,” I said, fiddling with my pen. “You’re right. It is an old story.”

”That’s just it – one thing didn’t lead to anything. At least not right away. Look at me, Detective. I’m not hideous, but I’m nothing special.” She pressed on, surprising me but not allowing me to suggest she was wrong. “Even without 700 years of gathered wisdom I knew better than to let some fast talker turn my head. Or at least I thought I did. After all, there were many other girls far prettier than I who’d bed him for a smile and a song; and I was smart enough to know a song wouldn’t feed a child any children he might leave behind.”

She leaned her back against the faded velvet armrest; and folded her stocking feet beneath her. “You know, in all this time, I never really figured out what drew him to me in the first place.” She held her cigarette to her lips for a moment, and just held it there, not breathing. Without inhaling, she laid it gently down in the ashtray. “In the end, I guess it was because I resisted him so strongly at first. I think he’d become so accustomed to pretty young girls falling at his feet that he was challenged by the plain, resistant one.

“In any case, woo me he did, and in no small manner. After I rejected his advances, he put down his pipe and fast-talked my father into giving him some odd jobs at the farm. Father wasn’t hard to convince – I had no brothers and he was getting on in years. He never trusted him… but he wasn’t so foolish as to let his worries stop him from having a willing, strong back around. Father didn’t allow him into the house except for at mealtimes, so he wooed me in the fields and when we met up on the road to and from market. He told me stories that made me laugh until my side split; he revealed the secrets of his youth. He engaged me in arguments about what was going on in the world, and listened to everything I said as though I were his equal. One night, when the moon was dark, we sat in the fields and he wept on my neck over a long lost love who broke his heart.

“Don’t laugh at me Detective. I know now these are the way to remove an earnest woman from her smallclothes – but at the time, I believed he believed in me. And when he asked me to marry him, I was sure.”

“My parents could see right away it was a bad match – and made no bones about telling me so. That’s where they failed, I suppose. The quickest way to get a stubborn young girl to do anything is to tell her not to. But I can hardly blame them – this was the 13th century; reverse psychology hadn’t been invented yet.”

“The worse part is, even then I knew it was a bad idea. He was a young man, accustomed to independence, and the very things that made him attractive to me were going to make him attractive to many other young women. And I was just a farm girl, with little education and barely a bosom to speak of. On the night we became engaged, he kissed me with such force and clasped me so tightly I thought he would squeeze all the air from me and leave me a husk on the ground; and even then I knew I’d never be able to hold him tightly enough to keep him from straying. Three days after our engagement, I offered him a chance to walk away without reproach. And he swore to me with tears in his eyes that I was the only woman he wanted, and the only one he’d ever need for the rest of our lives.” She rearranged herself again, lifting her eyes up to meet mine. “And you know what, Doc, I knew at that moment he was lying – but he seemed to want to believe it so badly – and I wanted it to be true more than I had ever wanted anything – so believe I did. And so we were married. I’ll take that water, now, if you don’t mind.”
I sloshed some water in a glass, inwardly sorry that I hadn’t at least dusted them clean before her appointment. They hadn’t been used in ages. Still, she took it from me gratefully, and if she noticed the dust and cracks, she was too classy to acknowledge them.

“Take your time, Ms. Farmer,” I said gently, crossing my legs and tapping my pen on my notepad. I’d taken very few notes during her story. “Traveling musician” I had written. And “Infidelity?” She was right; aside from her incredible claims about her age – there was nothing extraordinary about her story. “Marry in haste,” my mother had often warned me, “and repent at your leisure.” It’s one of the many things that had kept me safely a bachelor. That and the slug imbedded in my body that all but insured I’d never father any brats of my own. Made marriage seem a bit needless in my estimation. And the one woman I’d thought I’d try it with anyway was too eager to be a mother to try it without the whelping. “Would you like to take a break, stretch your legs on the balcony a bit? You’ve been talking quite a while.”

She shook her head again. “No, I’m fine. Funny though, isn’t it – time passes and you think all those feelings are gone. You’d think 7 centuries would be enough to forget. I can’t recall where I was born, or my best friend’s name or my mother’s face; but then I catch a scent in the air like the sun on his skin in the morning and well…well, I’m getting ahead of myself here, Doc. Let me back up some.”

“By all means.”

“So, it went well enough in the beginning, as most marriages do. Have you ever been married, Doc? No? You should try it sometime. When it’s good, it’s very, very good – and when it’s bad, well,” she shrugged playfully, “it makes you see the good in being single. In any case, I traveled with him for a few weeks following the wedding – and he doted on me every day. This was it, I thought, my life on the road – a man who loved me and adventure every day.”

“After about 2 months of travel, however, I was exhausted and our conversation was becoming strained. I wasn’t used to traveling; and when I had in the past it had been only to the nearest town and back – either by foot or wagon; all this horseback riding and sleeping on roadsides and haylofts was more adventure than I bargained for. At first I bit my tongue, afraid to complain; but soon enough he made noises about how he was usually much more successful around that time of year, but he moved faster on his own and could visit more villages in a short amount of time. I confessed I was road-weary and homesick – so he promised to take me to his cottage where I could set-up house while he earned our living. He said it so kindly that I wept with relief and ignored the eyes he made at the serving wench at the inn where were spent that night. And I said nothing when I awoke to an empty pallet in the morning. He said he was making some extra money by assisting with the morning collection of eggs, and I believed him; I knew it wasn’t true in my heart of hearts – but a marriage is based on trust, afterall – and one must start somewhere.

“So he set me up in a small cottage at the base of the mountains.” She laughed bitterly. “Cottage. Even now I’m protecting his image. It was barely a shack – one room with a chimney, a dirt floor and a handful of thatch that was less ceiling than sky. Worst of all, it was several days walk to the nearest village. He deposited me with a kiss and an ear full of promises of gifts and riches, and soon I was spending days, weeks, even months at a time alone - far away from everyone and everything.

“I was fifteen.

“I busied myself for a time making the ‘cottage’ a habitable place to live. And every so often my husband would come home to me. If his pockets jingled then he would cover me with kisses and sing me songs and kept me up nights until I thought the world itself would become tousled and breathless. And if he came home without a song in his step, I was treated to sullen silences, overturned stewpots – and anxious waiting when he stormed out the door if my nerves were stretched far enough to ask about the love bites yellowing on his neck and chest.

“Still (although he often threatened) he never raised a hand to me in anger; worse marriages had been made, and even if I did not have the life of song and adventure he wooed me with, I was not altogether unhappy.

“But I was terribly lonely. Sometimes, when he was in his silences, I tried to pick a fights with him so he would strike me – so long as he’d at least acknowledge me. Funny, isn’t it, Doc? You’d think being lonely when someone else was around would be easier – but it wasn’t. It was much, much worse.” She lit another cigarette. This time it took her several tries to maneuver the child protection lid.

“I see nothing humorous about spousal abuse, Ms. Farmer.”

“No, of course, not, Doc,” she said, scratching her knee, and causing a small hole to form in her hose.

“Ms. Farmer, if your husband was in someone abusive, you would be better served by going to the appropriate authorities. I don’t know what you’ve heard about my services – but I find people – perhaps spy on them a bit. I’m not in the …how shall I put it… revenge business.”

“No, no, Doc. Don’t you worry. I just want you to find him for me. No funny business, honestly.”
“You understand stand, I’m not a lawyer, there’s no confidentiality agreement between us; if you tell me you mean to do him harm.”

“Doc, relax. Honestly. Have a smoke. I’m a tiny woman. I could hardly do him any harm. I just…want to talk to him.”

“Why?”

She made a noise that was somewhere between a laugh and a snort of derision. “Million dollar question, that is, Doc. I suppose I want to know why?”

“Why what?”

“Why he left me like that. Why I had to be punished.”

At last, I thought. Familiar territory, the woman scorned. This one wouldn’t be the first to let the disappointment make her a little batty. “Left you, Ms. Farmer?” She looked down and bit her lip, giving only the smallest of nods. “I don’t mean to be … indelicate… but I assume there was another woman?”

“No,” she said, a bit too firmly for my comfort. Why had I agreed to see her alone? “I mean, yes, of course there was another woman. It was the one who gave him that stupid red hat – he thought it such a prize – I could never get him to take it off, and red was a terrible color on him. But – it wasn’t her, the woman. There were so many women – how could I have left him for her and not the others? No, Doc. It was them. The children.”

“Children?” Her background check had not turned up any known relations.

“I told you, Doc. He was gone so often, and I was so lonely. I thought perhaps that if I had a babe to bounce on my knee I wouldn’t have to be alone. And so I told him I wanted children.” She tapped her fingers against her case, her nails clicking staccato.

“And he didn’t?”

“Honestly? I don’t think he cared either way. The longer we were together the more evident it became to me that the cottage wasn’t any kind of home for him. The road was his home, and our little cottage was just another inn and I was someone to tend to his knees. One child there more or less wouldn’t have troubled him either way.

“And, besides, he liked to have something to brag about now and then. And a new father is entitled to the odd free drink here and there.

“I think it was my timing that was bad. The Plague was starting..you know, the Plague, Doc?”

“’Ring Around the Rosies’ and all that?”

“Got it in one. Well, The Plague was becoming a real problem…and it made travel difficult – and out-of-towners – even those that might bring news and songs. So the money dried up – and he was finding himself forced to be at home more and more. And all the while he was home, I was troubling him for babies.”

“Some men would be happy for such a willing wife.”

“Yes, well, all he could seem to hear was that I wanted another mouth to feed. I was young, then. Foolish.”

“Folly is meant for the youth, Ms. Farmer.”

Again, she graced me with an unexpectedly large and open smile. Right that moment, I could see how a young man might fall in love with a smile like that. Perhaps even an older one. I felt the sudden need for something stronger than water, and went and fixed myself a whiskey, neat, from the sideboard. I made one for Ms. Farmer as well, and she held it carefully in both hands.

“Someday, Doc, when you have a few weeks of free time, I’ll tell you my whole life’s story. I think you’ll find I’m a woman who is forever doomed for folly when it comes to love. But that’s for another time. Let’s just say, for now, that had I been wiser, then, I would have simply stroked his ego and seduced him into bed, rather than trying to woo him there with requests for squalling babies. I didn’t understand about egos then. Mine or his.

“The more time he was forced to spend at home, the more difficult and withdrawn he became; and the more withdrawn he became, the more lonely I was..and the more I begged for a child. He called me ungrateful, and demanding, and a host of other names – and told me that if he wasn’t company enough for me, than maybe I’d be happier alone. And he grabbed his pipe and his coat, and stormed out of the cottage.

“I did not see him for a month or more.

“I was besides myself with grief and anxiety for the first few days. I wept until I hadn’t the energy to weep any more, then I’d sleep, only to wake and weep some more.

“Then one day I woke up, cleaned myself and the cottage, had some food, and went back to my routine. And to be honest – when I thought he might not come back, I was a little bit happier than I had been, for a time.

“Or so I had thought. One day as I was sweeping the floor he walked in the door, bold as if he’d never left, and gave me a great kiss and squeeze. He was dressed in the strangest clothes I’d ever seen him in; a patchwork coat of many colors..and..of course, that damned hat. I’ll admit, my heart was full to see him, and every harsh word and recrimination I had practiced, every refusal and rejection I planned to say was quickly forgotten when he smiled at me.

“I told you, Doc, folly in love. It’s my fate.

“He was so excited when he came in, I couldn’t have asked him to explain where he’d been all this time even if I had been in the state of mind to try. He sat me down on the rocking chair by the hearth, and told me that all of our financial woes are over. He had, he explained, discovered the most wonderful talent – one he must have had all his life, and had never known before. And each time I opened my mouth to speak and ask him what he meant, he would interrupt me and tell me to ‘Listen, just listen.’ And then he played.

“Now, I had heard my husband play many a time before. He was a proficient piper, if not impassioned; he could well carry a tune a tarvern full of drunkards could happily sing along to for a few pennies and a tankard of ale. But the noise that came out of the pipe…it was…discordant. Painful. I was so afraid I’d anger him into leaving again if I so much as flinched, so I smiled a painful smile, and grabbed a fistful of my apron and skirt to stop myself from raising my hands to my ears.

“It was when I felt something soft brush against my foot that I looked down and saw them. They were everywhere. Beady eyed and long of tooth, coming from all dark corners, and coming like a river in from under the doors.

“Rats?” I asked, suppressing a laugh.

“Rats,” she said with uncommon seriousness. “Never before or since had I seen so many. I would have fainted dead away if I hadn’t been so engaged with screaming.

“My paused his playing just long enough to laugh – a sort of maniacal glee in his eye I hadn’t seen since I agreed to be his bride, then he picked up his pipe and played again, marching out the door. I was rooted to my chair, convinced he had somehow summoned the rats to get rid of me or eat me…but I saw soon enough that they followed after him…every one.

“I was still sitting there, shocked and shaking, when he returned, ruddy and triumphant a half-an-hour later.

“Once he was able to calm me, and convince me that his army of rats had been safely drowned in the river, he explained his plan. Rumour had it that Hamlyn had been run over by rats. The problem was so bad the mayor was looking to someone, anyone, to rid them of them for good. The reward was more than a king’s ransom. He’d march those rats right out of town, and we’d never have to worry about money again. And then, he promised, we could have all the children I could stand. In fact, he was so sure of his success, that we started trying that very night.

“I guess you know the next bit? He did go to Hamlyn and take care of their rats – but then they put off payment. For month’s he waited – and as you can imagine – the longer he waited the more sullen he became; and it wasn’t long before we were fighting about expanding our family – only this time he was crueler – bitterer. And when he vanished again – this time I was convinced it was for good.

“It was only a week that time. But this time when he came in there was no kiss and no laughter. He just took me by the wrist, and drug me kicking and screaming to the side of the mountain. ‘Never let it be said,’ he spat at me, ‘that I don’t keep my promises. All the children you can manage, dear wife.’ Then he tossed me in a cave before I got my bearings the opening closed behind me and I was alone in the darkness.

“I despaired myself for dead – and beat my hands against the walls until they were near bloody. I don’t know if hours passed or minutes – but at some point I realized that not all the crying and screaming I heard was my own. I turned and looked, trying to get my eyes to adjust in the darkness. And there they were, all around me.

“More rats?”

“No, Doc. The children. The children of Hamlyn.”

“I see. I’m sorry. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a children’s story.”

“Children’s nightmare – you mean. Imagine being a child and following someone you think is your friend and saviour – only to have them lock you up to die in a mountain somewhere; and no way of knowing if you’ll ever be saved – or even missed.

“There were fifty-three of them Doc. And their screaming was terrible.”

“What did you do, Ms. Farmer?”

“What any woman would do. I put aside my own fears and tried to calm them. And sang them the songs I knew; some I had learned on when I traveled with my husband - and perhaps they weren’t the most appropriate songs for children – but they were what I knew – and it quieted them soon enough. I hugged them all – every one – and started taking stock of our situation. There was condensation for water – and I soon learned to get over my fear of rats, since whatever I (and, soon, some of the older boys) were able to catch we learned to eat for food. I did my best to keep their spirits up = and we made looking for a way out a game. I learned all their names and kissed all their scrapes and bruises and told them every story I’d ever heard or could make up. I can’t tell you that we were happy, Doc, or even comfortable; we were frightened and cold and lost – but I loved those children. Every one.”
“The day the wall rolled open was one of the most surreal of my life. It was mid-day – and the light that flooded in was horrific. The smaller children ran behind my skirts, screaming – while the bigger children clutched whatever rock or stick they had been using for hunting tighter in the their tiny hands.

“What a sight we must have been – emaciated, filthy, trembling. I can’t even begin to imagine the smell. It wasn’t until the mothers – their real mothers – started shrieking and weeping that I understood we had been saved.

“Saved. That was the word that came from my cracked lips. Someone official grabbed me, and I all but fell into his arms. ‘Saved,’ I mumbled again. But instead of wrapping me in blankets and feeding me as was happening to the children, I was hauled roughly into the sunlight, to blink and stammer as demands were made as to the whereabouts of my ‘demon husband.’”

“Demon?”

“Well – the laws of Nature were different then. And whose to say he wasn’t? He had stolen their children and locked them away – the fact I had been locked away as well didn’t seem to make a difference to them. The boy – the hobbled one who was so famously left behind? – he had seen my husband taking me to the cave – and since I was there and he was not – they were quite happy to punish me for his sins. Since I could not give them his whereabouts – they assumed I was protecting him.

“And who am I to laugh that they called him demon, anyway? After what they did next.”

“What was that, Ms. Farmer. What happened next.”

“They cursed me. Oh – I know it sounds ridiculous – but they called me ‘Witch’ and ‘Demoness’ and all sorts of horrible names. I believe they would have committed me to flames if the children of the town hadn’t threatened to thrown themselves in with me. This too, the people of Hamlyn blamed on my witchcraft - but having just got their children back, they weren’t willing to take the risk. So instead, they cursed me.”

“Cursed you?”

“Yes – they found a man who claimed to be a wizard, paid him what they were meant to pay my husband. Since I was the only one found, I was forced to stand trial – but the curse was on us both. The punishment was manifold. First, for bringing witchcraft to Germany, I was exiled from my homeland on pain of death. Secondly – for stealing their children, the wizard cursed my womb and my husbands seed so neither of us could bring forth issue; and third, and most cruelly – I would be forced to live an additional 15 years per child forced to live in the cave to repay the world for all those years of innocence lost.

I did some quick figures in my head. “That is quite a fantastic tale, Ms. Farmer. But every assuming it were to be true, which as a man of reason I don’t see how I can, it seems to me that if this curse were true, you’re time would almost be up. Why look for your husband now?”

“If not now, when? I’m an old woman, Doc, and as you say, I’ll likely begin aging sooner rather than later. He could have spared me all this, you know, all he had to do was show up and tell them I was a victim too – I had nothing to do with it. I could have stayed in Hamlyn and helped care for those children - and my weary soul could have been put to rest generations ago. Instead he left me there; perhaps he intended me to die in the cave. But surely he must have heard about the trial. If he hadn’t wanted to father my children, surely that didn’t give him the right to let them take away my ability to have my own? What man has the right to take that away from anyone?”

I grimaced, and tasted sour copper in the back of my throat, but said nothing.

“And it’s not that I still carry a grudge; even a woman scorned only has so much energy – but I find I still have so much I don’t know. How could I have failed him so much that he could walk away from me so entirely? Our relationship was far from perfect…but for centuries now I have not been able to stop myself from wanting know that he loved me, at least a little bit – and at least for a short amount of time.

“And, of course, I need to apologize to him.”

”Apologize to a man who was emotionally abusive and left you first for dead and then to face the tribunal for his crimes? Ms. Farmer, really.”

”Don’t you see, Doc. The thing with the children…I think..well, it’s my fault, don’t you think? Going on about children like that when he was clearly so…unbalanced about Hamlyn. Those poor children, and their parents. I’d apologize to them if I could – but I can’t. But I can apologize to him, at least. It would help clear my conscience for when the time does come. “

“Ms. Farmer –are you looking for reconciliation?”

“No, Doc. Whatever tenderness I had for him is long gone, along with my ire. I just…it would just be nice to talk to someone from time to time who I know will be around as long as I am.”

“I still don’t understand what I have to do with this? Assuming – for argument’s sake – that the curse is real, and your husband is still alive – I don’t see what I can do to help you. He could be anywhere in the world.”

”He’s in New York, Doc, I guarantee it. This is exactly the sort of place that would appeal to him. I would track him myself – I certainly have the time – if I thought it was a simple matter of simply calling all the “Piper’s” in the phonebook. And I hear you’re good at finding people who don’t want to be found.

“To tell you the truth, Doc. I’m a bit afraid to find him. Terrified that he’s forgotten me entirely – even with the curse. I’ll bet he doesn’t even think it’s a curse. He’s probably delighted – extended youth and relations with abandon. But even he has to know the loneliness.

I raised an eyebrow. “To hear you speak of him, he doesn’t seem the type to be lonely for long.”

“No – fair enough, Doc. But it’s different, this loneliness; it’s not just being alone – it’s knowing that everything you’ve ever known and loved, and everyone you’ll know and love for a long time to come will eventually disappear from your life. He, at least, could understand that. And maybe if we could face that together, it wouldn’t be so bad, that last century or so wouldn’t be quite so bad.”

“And if I should find him, Ms. Farmer – would you want me to make contact – or just tell you where he can be located?”

She smiled her strange little half smile. “Find him first, Doc. You do that, then we’ll figure out the next step. In fact – I was wondering if you might be able to recommend the services of a good lawyer.”

“Lawyer?” I asked downing the last of my drink. “I could recommend a few. What do you need one for.”

“Well, the way I see it, that bastard owes me a few centuries back child support.”

And then it was my turn to laugh.



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