Archive for June, 2010

Packin’ Iron

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June 30th, 2010 Posted 9:17 am

Admin’s upset about something, not sure what. “No surprise that the New York Times is against the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decision this week. But how can they say it ‘disregarded the plain words of the Second Amendment’?”

“Do we really have to do this?” says Spence.

“Let’s take a look at that amendment.”

“Good grief.”

“Which says: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ What’s the first thing any copyeditor would do?”

“Start getting rid of commas.”

“Exactly. But evidently the founders didn’t have a good copyeditor. If they had, it would look like this:

‘A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.’ The meaning is plain, all right, but exactly the opposite of what the Times wants. ‘A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State’ is a subordinate clause expressing cause. In other words, because a well regulated Militia is necessary yada yada. The main clause says ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.’ It doesn’t say the militias have the right to keep and bear. It’s the people. You can’t have the tail of a subordinate clause wagging the dog of the main clause.”

I opened my eyes. Tails wagging dogs? Admin hasn’t been himself lately. Poor guy. Maybe working too hard. I gave myelf a nice big stretch, the kind where my paws quiver at the end. Ah! Does it get any better than this?

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Getaway

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June 29th, 2010 Posted 9:08 am

We walked away from the pool, me first, Ray in the middle, and then Bernie. That was a good way of doing things, especially with perps. Was Ray a perp? I didn’t know, but I was ready for anything. Meanwhile those sirens were louder.

“Where’s your car?” Bernie said.

“Don’t have one,” Ray said.

“Yeah, you do,” Bernie said. “Your father – “

Ray’s voice rose. “I don’t have a damn father.”

Bernie paused. “Bob said he saw you driving an econobox in Bakersfield.”

“It broke down when I got to Vegas,” Ray said. “I took a taxi here.”

“You haven’t done a very good job of covering your tracks,” Bernie said.

“Why should I?”

“That’s the operative question right now.”

“What does that mean?”

Bernie didn’t answer. We hurried through Albie’s house, out the gate and onto the road.

“Hop in,” Bernie said. “Uh, Chet? You’ll have to get in the back.”

The back? It was just a shelf. I hated being in the back. Did that mean Ray was getting the shotgun seat?

“Chet? We’re running out of time, big guy.”

The thing with Bernie: he always asks me so nicely. I saw flashing blue lights through the trees on the next block.

Spence and Admin say thanks for all the birthday wishes – and that great card!

Still time to try your luck at the pop quiz (see June 23 post).

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Poolside (6)

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June 28th, 2010 Posted 9:36 am

Sirens.

“Those are the cops,” Bernie said. “Any reason we shouldn’t just leave you here, let them do what they’re going to do?”

Ray rubbed his head. He looked confused. That’s a human look I always watch for. “Maybe they’ve got some information,” he said.

“Information?” said Bernie.

“Yeah,” said Ray. “About where to find my mother.”

“You’re talking about Astrid?”

Ray’s face got hostile, also a look I watch for. I sidled over  a little closer to him. Dudes with hostile faces sometimes did crazy things. “How come you know so much? Have you done something to her?”

Bernie nodded, but not a nod that means yes. He has a lot of nods. This one is a nod that’s kind of to himself. “On your feet, Ray,” he said.

“Why?”

“We’re out of here.”

“But what if the cops have some information?”

“They won’t,” Bernie said.

The sirens got louder.

Still time to get your answers in for the pop quiz (due to distractions at HQ). For questions, see post from June 23. Prize: one advance reader copy (complete with uncorrected errors) of To Fetch A Thief.


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Sundays With Ingrid: Soccer

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June 27th, 2010 Posted 9:04 am

Coach Ringer, the last of the original founders of the Mid-State League—going back to when bears roamed free in Echo Falls—was a short round guy with a droopy mustache and a drippy nose on cold windy days, like this one. He always wore a black-and-gold hooded sweatshirt that said TOWNE HARDWARE on the back, SCREWS FOR YOUSE SINCE 1937, the dumbest slogan Ingrid had ever seen. Assistant Coach Trimble was tall and lean, wore running tights and a UConn soccer jacket, looked like she could do something amazing, like outrun a deer or kick the ball right through you.

Coach Ringer liked to gather the team around him in a tight circle for a pregame pep talk, of which there were two kinds, a long rambling one if they’d been losing and a short confusing one if they were on a roll, like they were now, winners of three in a row.

“Hey,” said Coach Ringer. “Listen up.”

They all stopped talking, or at least talking loudly.

“Today,” said Coach Ringer, “I want you to remember one”—he searched for the right word; when Coach Ringer searched for the right word, his jaw came jutting out like he was going take a swing at somebody—“thing,” he went on, finding the word. “Remember one thing and one thing only, and this is it, so listen up. That means everybody. The thing to remember is this. Listen up. We’re gonna make them play the way we want them to play.” That was it? Oh, no—was he going to say it twice? For a moment, Ingrid thought maybe not. But then, raising his voice this time and spacing out the words: “We’re gonna make them play the way we want them to play. Got it?”

The girls all nodded, ponytails sticking out sideways in the wind. Ingrid said, “I vote they play with their shoelaces tied together.”

A pause, followed by muffled laughter. Coach Ringer turned red. “Twenty-two,” he said, calling her by her number, “on the bench.”

Ingrid sat on the bench, steaming. She felt Dad’s eyes on her from the stands across the field.

Coach Ringer concluded his pep talk the way he always did. “Anything you wanna add, Coach Trimble?” In the kind of tone that invited a no.

Coach Trimble had been assisting with the As for two years now, and many parents couldn’t wait for Coach Ringer to retire to Florida. She said what she always said: “Play hard and play to win.”

It sounded like one of those meaningless sports clichés. But at that moment, sitting angrily on the bench at soccer field number one up the road from the hospital, the wind blowing and the temperature falling, winter just around the corner, Ingrid realized she’d never actually heard it except from Coach Trimble, so it couldn’t be a cliché. She glanced up, met Coach Trimble’s gaze. Coach Trimble didn’t have friendly eyes. Not that they were unfriendly, either, just impossible to see behind, at least for Ingrid. And all of a sudden, Ingrid got what Coach Trimble was trying to tell her: playing hard wasn’t the same as playing to win. Playing to win was something else entirely, a whole new way of seeing the game. A revelation: Ingrid’s mind started buzzing.

From Down the Rabbit Hole.
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