Archive for April, 2010

Hunch

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April 25th, 2010 Posted 10:25 am

“Astrid Jason was her given name,” Bernie said. “But I’m having a – let’s call it a hunch – that she changed it to Ethel somewhere along the way.”

“Why would anyone do that?” said Albie Rose. By that time we had Albie and Foster sitting side by side on the pool deck, me and Bernie standing over them. “Ethel, for God’s sake.”

“No accounting for taste,” said Bernie. I mulled that over, came pretty close to getting it. “Or Ethel might have been the name on some fake ID she picked up in a hurry. But that’s not the point. Let’s start with one sure fact – Astrid Jason came from Tennessee.”

Foster gave Albie a quick glance. I was always on the lookout for that. We were starting to roll – I could feel it. Was this a great job or what?

Ingrid news: No 4th Echo Falls book planned at the moment, but something else is cooking in the middle-grade oven, a bit different.

And: Happy Birthday, Ben! And many many more.

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Relaxing By The Pool

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April 24th, 2010 Posted 7:24 am

“Answer my question,”  said Albie Rose, turning red – not a pretty sight, and he hadn’t been a pretty sight at his normal color, not in that tiny bathing suit. In my opinion, clothes are a very good invention, when it comes to humans. “How come you know so much about Tiffany three?” he asked Foster.

Foster and I climbed out of the pool. “Knowing her real name was Ethel?” said Foster. “It wasn’t a secret.” I went closer to Albie Rose – he smelled like cheese that had been left in the sun – and shook myself off. Water sprayed all over the place, glinting in the sun. There was a lot of beauty in life and it could pop up at any moment.

“Damn dog!” Albie Rose yelled, and raised his hand, like he was going to … hit me? The next thing I knew, before I could even growl, Bernie had grabbed his wrist. “Ow,” cried Albie. Bernie could move real fast when he wanted; also he could squeeze real hard, like now. There were a few more “ows.” Bernie didn’t let go until the look on Albie’s face said he knew what was what. We were partners, me and Bernie.

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The End Of Baseball (From Bullet Point)

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April 23rd, 2010 Posted 9:35 am

Coach Bouchard met all the baseball players after school that day in the gym. The coach was a little white-haired guy with big hands and cold blue eyes that never seemed to blink. He’d coached baseball at East Canton High for forty years, won many district championships and six state championships, but before that he’d had a long career in the minor leagues, finally making it to the majors for the last week of his last season, and going one for seven at the plate, that one being a triple, as Wyatt and the whole team knew from looking him up on-line.

The players sat in the stands, Coach Bouchard on his feet before them. “Any of you guys not heard the news by now?” he said. No one spoke. “Pretty straightforward – we got the ax. Not just us, all sports, all what they call extracurriculars.” The coach had a way of dragging out certain big words, like extracurriculars, resulting in a tone Wyatt thought was sarcastic. “Excepting for the marching band – that got saved at the last minute. What’re they gonna march for, that’s my goddamn question.” Coach Bouchard glared at the team, like they’d done something wrong. “How about you guys? Any questions of your own?”

The boys were silent.

“This ever happen to you before?” the coach said. “Don’t think so. Then there gotta be some questions.”

A kid said, “Why? Why is this happening?”

“Town’s broke,” said the coach.

“How can the whole town be broke?” said another.

“State’s broke, too,” the coach said. “School budget comes part from the state, part from property tax here in East Canton. But when folks is in foreclosure – you all know what that means? Foreclosure?” Nods here and there. “When the bank’s taking your house away – that’s foreclosure.” Wyatt knew already: he’d seen it happening on his own street. “And when folks are in foreclosure, do they keep on paying their property tax?”

“Why should we?”

Wyatt glanced back up in the stands, saw that question had come from Willie Garcia, a senior, the back-up middle infielder. He didn’t remember ever hearing Willie speak before, never seen much expression on his face, either. Plenty of expression now: he looked angry.

“I hear you,” said Coach Bouchard. “And it’s not just folks’s houses. When a business goes under, say a business like Baker Brothers, then they stop paying taxes, too. Not many businesses that size in East Canton. Town can go broke in a hurry.” He gazed at the boys. “Any other questions? If there ain’t, those of you what got equipment belonging to the team, go on and keep it, far as I’m concerned. Other’n that – “

“I’ve got a question,” Wyatt said.

“Shoot,” said the coach.

“Where are we going to play baseball?”

Coach Bouchard closed his eyes and shook his head slowly from side to side.

Tuesday April 27, 3:30 PM ET: PA on Cover to Cover, Sirius/XM channel 163.

Tomorrow: back to Albie Rose, Foster and Tiffany 3.

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Marvin Winkleman (From To Fetch A Thief)

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April 22nd, 2010 Posted 8:32 am

Our client was a sad-eyed little guy named Marvin Winkleman who owned a ticket agency downtown. Don’t ask me what a ticket agency is. What’s important is that he thought his wife was cheating, and coughed up the $500 retainer. Don’t ask me about the cheating part, either. It’s a human thing; we operate differently in my world. “Just find out, one way or another,” Winkleman said. “I’ve got to know.”

Later, driving away, Bernie said, “Why do they always have to know? What’s wrong with ignorance is bliss?” I had no idea.

Set in stone To Fetch A Thief pub date: Tuesday, September 28, 2010. Paperback of Thereby Hangs A Tail comes out 3 weeks before that. Some talk of a nice little display package of the Dog On It and Thereby Hangs A Tail paperbacks.
Tomorrow: Justice Alito for animal rights, one against 8; Virginia Woolf and Flush; Bullet Point excerpt, and … whoa, how’s all that going to happen?
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