Posts Tagged ‘Admin’

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July 9th, 2010 Posted 7:32 am

Why not? I’ve actually got one or two things on my mind. Maybe just one. But everyone’s in a big hurry around here. Where, for example, is that shirt of Admin’s, the one with the red checks? I sort of know the answer to that one, if we mean what’s left of the shirt with the red checks. But what’s wrong with the one with the wide blue stripes?

“What’s wrong with the one with the wide blue stripes?” Spence says.

“Can’t find the stupid thing.”

“Are you planning on telling the pre-school story?”


“The one-review thing?”

More silence.

“You could always do the sharks. Or what about the Mounties?”

A crashing sound, maybe from something getting thrown. I head for a nice quiet spot under the kitchen table.

Cape Cod Writers Center, Breakfast With the Authors, Today at 9:30 AM, Cape Codder Hotel (Hyannis Mass.)


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Focused Like A Laser (Whatever That Might Be)


March 18th, 2010 Posted 8:58 am

“Son?” said Bernie. “I thought you had twin daughters.”

“I do,” said Colonel Bob. We were in the bar at the Dry Gulch Saloon and Steak House, the patio part, one of my favorite places. We’re partners in the Little Detective Agency, me and Bernie, maybe something I should mention from time to time, and this is a time, so how about now? Colonel Bob is an old pal of Bernie’s from the war, but I only got to know him later – that’s all in Thereby Hangs A Tail. Before Thereby Hangs A Tail was Dog On It. After Thereby Hangs A Tail comes To Fetch A Thief. There’s also the other guy. Some talk went on that he started a new book yesterday, a new kids series. About what? Not sure. I just know the first sentence, because Spence and Admin were batting it around yesterday. Not really batting like baseball, although there is a bat in To Fetch A Thief. Bernie’s hoping to get it after the trials because it’s a Willie McCovey model. Not sure who Willie McCovey is. A perp? Possibly. There’s Willie Mungrew, for example, now at Northern State Correctional, but also Willie McTell, who we listen to sometimes in the Porsche. Have I mentioned the Porsche recently? Maybe tomorrow.

Weekend Reading, Conclusion: Phase 2 (Part 3)


March 7th, 2010 Posted 8:27 am

Mrs. Foxe left. Mom turned from the door, wrapped me and Neddy in her arms, held us for a long, long time. No one said anything. We were all wiped out from emotion.  After a while, Mom said, “Let’s get some sleep.” She went into her bedroom. Neddy and I went into ours. I sank down on my bed. Neddy walked over to his and punched his pillow, real hard.

“Huh?” I said.

He turned, came closer, spoke in a low, angry voice, his face all red. “She’s a fake.”

“Mrs. Foxe?” I said. “What the hell are you – “

Neddy reached into his pocket and took out the razor.  He held it on the palm of his hand. I actually had to touch it to make sure it was real.

“You took it off the table?” I said. “I don’t understand.”

“She took it off the table,” Neddy said. “Remember when she got Mom to sit back down?”


“She scooped up the razor at the same time, without even looking, real smooth, and dropped it in the pocket of that coat of hers.”

“Oh my God. Are you sure?”

“’Course I’m sure,” said Neddy. “I took it out the next second, while her back was turned. And you know what else?”


“The way it moved on the table, spinning around and all that?”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yeah. She had a magnet or something between her knees, under the table. I peeked. She didn’t see me – her eyes were on Mom the whole time.”

I felt sick. “What about the flame?”

“She has this real sneaky way of blowing out through her nose,” Neddy said.

“So none of it was real?”

Neddy shook his head. He looked like he was about to start crying, and Neddy wasn’t a crier.

“But I felt him there,” I said. I wasn’t a crier either, but I was crying now. Then I got angry, real angry, and the crying stopped. I wiped my face on my sleeve, pulled myself together. “This is bad,” I said.

“What are we going to do?” said Neddy. “Tell Mom?”

I thought about that, picturing how Mom had hugged empty space and told Dad how she’d always loved him.  Dropping the truth on her? No way. But Mrs. Foxe would be back, again and again, getting her hooks deeper and deeper into Mom, taking every cent we had.

“What happens when she discovers she doesn’t have the razor?” I said.

“She’ll just figure it fell out, getting into her car or something like that,” Neddy said. “A little thing like that won’t stop her.”

He was right. But how could we let this go on? Over on the desk, the green button on the computer we shared was blinking slowly in sleep mode. That reminded me of the four objects, one in particular. I went over to the computer and woke it up. I wasn’t a great computer person, but Neddy was.

“Got an idea,” I said.

Neddy came closer. “Using our Wi-Fi?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said. We were turning out to be a team.  Neddy sat in front of the computer, started tapping away. He figured everything out real fast, was almost done when we heard a sound from the kitchen, maybe a chair scraping on the floor. I opened the bedroom door, went to look.


Mom was at the table, standing behind Dad’s empty chair. She wore a nightgown now, and her hair was kind of wild. The candles were burning again, the only light in the room. Mom was facing in my direction but she didn’t seem to see me.


She jumped, startled. “Lara? What are you doing up?”

“I couldn’t sleep.”

“Me either,” Mom said. She put a hand on Dad’s chair.  “I’ve been kicking myself.”

“Why?” Had she figured out that Mrs. Foxe was a fraud, problem solved?

Far from it. “There was so much more I wanted to say to Dad,” Mom said. “And he never really got a chance to say anything.”

“What do you mean?”

“They speak sometimes, these … these souls. Mrs. Foxe has seen it happen. I’m going to call her first thing in the morning, get her to come back tomorrow night.” Mom bit her lip. “What if she’s booked?”

I heard our bedroom door open, glanced over, saw Neddy in the doorway. Things were moving faster than we’d anticipated, but why not? I raised my eyebrows. He gave a little nod.

“Mom?” I said. “Why don’t we try right now?”

“Oh, I don’t think Mrs. Foxe would come over now.”

“Without her, Mom.”

“Without Mrs. Foxe? That won’t work.”

“Why not?” I said. “We know how it goes.”

“It’s worth a try,” Neddy said, coming toward the table.

“Well … “  said Mom. “I guess it can’t hurt. Can it?”

“No, Mom.”

I sat in my chair. Slowly Mom sat down in hers; there was still something trance-like about her movements.

“What object should we use?” I said.

“How about the laptop?” said Neddy, and before anyone could answer he took Dad’s laptop off the side table, opened it and laid it between the candles.

“Start us off, Mom,” I said.

“I’m not sure … “

“You know,” said Neddy. “Breathe together, hold hands and project a strong mental image.”

“Oh, right,” said Mom.

We breathed together, held hands, closed our eyes. Crazily enough, even though the fix was in and this time Neddy and I were the fixers, a hyper-clear image of Dad arose in my mind at once. He was out in the desert where the winds blew strong, back in the Tucson days, flying a box kite. Dad loved flying kites, built his own. I remembered this one very well, a strange-looking thing in the shape of a flying horse, but it had soared way way up there. Dad had this enchanted expression on his face, like a little kid.

“I have an image,” Mom said, so quietly I almost couldn’t hear. “What comes next?”

“Travelers,” Neddy said. “Three faithful travelers.”

“Three faithful travelers are trying to reach you,”  Mom said. “Your wife and your beautiful children. If …”

“You can hear us, or see us,” Neddy said.

“Or sense us,” I said. “Please give a sign.”

We sat in silence, eyes closed. Time passed. I started to wonder whether Neddy had messed up somehow, snuck a glance at him. His eyes were closed. He looked calm, and more than that, a lot like Dad in the box-kite memory.

“Please, Rich,” Mom said. “There’s so much I want to say. I beg you.” She sounded desperate, unbearably so. And at that moment, Dad’s laptop made one of those beeps that signal a computer coming to life.

We all opened our eyes, gazed at the screen. It remained blank for a moment, and then a message popped up.

Dear Family,

I just want to tell you that I am fine. There is no pain and I love you very much and will always be with you. But the best thing you can do for me now is to go on with your lives and be happy. That can only happen if you dont contact me anymore. We will be together soon enough.



Neddy had left out the apostrophe in don’t. Dad would never make a mistake like that. But Mom didn’t seem to notice. She gazed at the screen, tears streaming down her face, not making a sound. I felt bad.

After a while, her tears dried up. She turned to us.  “Dad’s right,” she said.

“Yes,” we said.

“Can you print that for me, Neddy?”

Neddy rose, brought back the portable printer, printed the message. A few seconds later, the screen went blank.  Mom kissed her fingers, touched the screen. Then she gave herself a little shake, almost like a dog, and blew out the candles. She didn’t seem so trancelike now.

Faint milky light came through the window. The first number 7 bus of the day rumbled by. The air in the kitchen wasn’t tingling anymore; we were back to a kind of normal.

Mom yawned, checked the time. “Oh my goodness,” she said. “I don’t want to see either of you till noon, at the earliest.”

“’Night Mom.”

“’Night.” She kissed us both and went to bed, taking the printout. We heard her sigh softly as she lay down, not an unhappy sigh, more like the kind of sigh when something is over. Almost at once, her breathing grew slow and rhythmic, the breathing of sleep. We closed her door.

Neddy and I went into our bedroom, closed our own door. I’d never been so tired in my life.

“Good job,” I said.

“You, too,” said Neddy. “Do you – “

Our computer beeped, all on its own. We went over to the desk. Words appeared on the screen, but not in the usual way, more like they were materializing.

Thanks, kids. Good advice – not just for your mom, but for you, too.

I turned to Neddy. “Did you do this?” But all those commas in the right places – no way.

Neddy shook his head, eyes wide. Very slowly, almost a pixel at a time, the message dematerialized from the screen, leaving it blank. The air tingled.


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Weekend Reading, Continued: Phase 2 (Part 2)


March 6th, 2010 Posted 8:10 am

Mrs. Foxe smelled like flowers, lots of them. She had huge liquid eyes and a high forehead, very smooth although the part of her neck showing above the ruffled collar of her silk blouse looked wrinkled.

“What lovely children!” she said. She glanced around the kitchen, lit only by three big candles burning on the table – red, white and blue – took a deep breath of the air, full of the smell of burning incense, raised her hands slightly and went still. “Yes,” she said, holding the pose for a moment or two, “this will do. You’ve done well, Julie.”

“Oh,” said Mom. “Thanks.”

“So if we’ll just get the donation out of the way, we can start.”

Mom went into the bedroom. Mrs. Foxe looked at Neddy, then at me. “I understand you’ll be accompanying us on our journey,” she said.

“Where to?” said Neddy.

Mrs. Foxe just smiled. Mom came back with her purse, took out her checkbook.

“Cash works so much better,” said Mrs. Foxe.

Mom handed her some bills. I didn’t see how much but there were at least two twenties. Mrs. Foxe stuffed the money down the front of her blouse with a smooth quick movement, like one of those close-up magicians. Her hands were soft and plump, with crimson nails.

“The longest journey begins with a single step,” she said.

None of us knew what to make of that.

“So let us take that step,” said Mrs. Foxe. “Time and tide et cetera. Places everybody.”

We all moved toward our regular chairs.

“Whoa!” said Mrs. Foxe.

We froze. The candlelight gleamed in her eyes. “Where does he sit?”

Mom rocked back a little. “Where he used to – ?“

“His chair, dear,” said Mrs. Foxe.

Mom pointed to Dad’s chair.

“That chair stays empty,” said Mrs. Foxe. “I will sit here, the children there and there, and Julie like so. And in front of his place, we require something personal.”

“Something personal?” Mom said.

“Something he used when he walked on this side,” said Mrs. Foxe. “It needn’t be important – in fact, a little everyday object is often best, especially if a deport is in the offing.”

“A deport?” said Mom.

“I’ll explain later,” said Mrs. Foxe, glancing at her watch.

Mom hadn’t got around to packing up Dad’s things. although she’d started once or twice. She left the room, returned with a baseball trophy, a framed letter from the secretary of defense, Dad’s laptop, and a safety razor.

“Ah, perfect,” said Mrs. Foxe, selecting the razor and setting it on the table in front of the empty chair. “Now we may sit.”

Mom put the trophy, letter and laptop on the sideboard and we sat, Mrs. Foxe removing her embroidered coat and hanging it on the back of her chair. She gazed at the white candle. It made a low sizzling noise.

“The travelers will hold hands,” she said.

That had to mean us. I held hands with Mrs. Foxe and with Mom, just able to reach her across Dad’s empty place; and Neddy did the same. Mrs. Foxe’s hand was warm, Mom’s icy cold. Mrs. Foxe’s eyes closed. For some reason, so did mine. It got very quiet.

“Breathe,” said Mrs. Foxe. She took in a deep breath, slowly let it out. “Breathe as one.” We took in deep breaths, let them out slow, breathing as one. “Now,” said Mrs. Foxe, “let each of us picture in our minds the strongest, clearest image of … of … “

“Richard,” said Mom.

“Right,”  said Mrs. Foxe. “The strongest, clearest image of Richard-slash-Dad that we can.”

I tried to see Dad in my mind and drew a complete blank. Mom, Neddy, my teachers and friends – I could picture them all without effort, but not Dad. I opened my eyes. Everyone else’s eyes were closed. Mrs. Foxe spoke, her voice now soft but very deep. “We haven’t lost you, Richard. We know where you are.”

I could feel the pulse strengthen in Mom’s hand. And her skin seemed to be growing warmer.

“Are we all now projecting a strong mental image?”  said Mrs. Foxe. “A mental image powerful enough to reach the beloved?”

“Yes,” said Mom, eyes closed tight, voice trance-like.

“Kind of,” said Neddy.

I gazed at that razor and suddenly a vision of Dad shaving swam into my mind, a clear vision of him tilting up his chin to get at the stubble underneath. Was it powerful? I don’t know, but I felt chills. “Yes,” I said, and closed my eyes.

“Richard,” said Mrs. Foxe. “Four faithful travelers are trying with all their power to reach you. If you can hear us, or see us, or sense us, please give a sign.”

In my mind, the image of Dad shaving under his chin began to fade, replaced by nothing. One of the candles sizzled again. Could that be a sign? I took a peek. The flame of the white candle wavered; the others were still, burning straight up.

“Look,” I said.

Everyone opened their eyes. Mrs. Foxe saw what was happening. She turned to me and smiled a little smile. “Hush, child – haste is the enemy,” she said. Now her hand felt positively hot.

“But is it a sign?” I said. “The candle flickering like that?”

Mrs. Foxe didn’t answer. We watched the flame. All at once it stopped wavering, stood straight like the others.

Mrs. Foxe sucked in her breath. “I can feel your presence, Richard,” she said. “Very near.” She leaned forward slightly. “Give us a sign, we beg you.”

I felt prickles on the back of my neck. Mom’s eyes were huge and dark, her face tilted up, like a figure in an old religious painting. Neddy’s eyes, on the other hand, were narrow, almost as though –

The razor wobbled.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt. No way to miss that movement – the razor lay all by itself on the table, gleaming in a circle of candlelight. It had wobbled. But even though there was no doubt, I began to doubt almost right away. At that precise moment, the moment of reawakening doubt, the razor wobbled again, and then, as though to crush any doubt for all time, it shifted, sliding a good two inches across the table and then rotating in a full circle.

“Oh my God,” Mom said. “Richard.” A tear spilled out of each dark eye, slid slowly down her cheeks, leaving golden tracks.

“Welcome to the circle, Richard,” said Mrs. Foxe. She paused, almost as if to allow time for Dad to say something polite in return. Then she said, “Have you anything to tell us?”

Silence. The razor lay on the table, motionless now.  The flame of the white candle burned straight, unwavering.

“Do you have a message for your family?” Mrs. Foxe said. “Are you happy? Are there any wishes you’d like to –“

Suddenly Mrs. Foxe’s right shoulder sagged, as though someone behind her had leaned on it, someone with a heavy hand. Mrs. Foxe glanced behind her, looked a bit pained. “Oh, dear,” she said. “I’m afraid you don’t know your own strength.”

Mom rose, slowly, as though pulled by some force, her eyes on the shadows behind Mrs. Foxe. “Oh, Rich,” she said, tears flowing freely now, “I miss you so much.”

“Julie?” said Mrs. Foxe, straightening up and maybe a bit alarmed, “really much better form to remain seated. We can’t always predict – “

But Mom didn’t hear. She was moving around the table, toward whatever stood behind Mrs. Foxe. “Did it hurt, Rich?” she said. “I hope it didn’t hurt. You’re not hurting now, are you?” Mom reached the space behind Mrs. Foxe, raised her arms, encircled them around what appeared to be nothing, hugged my invisible dad. “I love you, Rich,” Mom said. Her voice sounded calm, as calm as I’d ever heard it, serene. “I loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you and I always will.” She wasn’t crying anymore, just stood there, gently rubbing a back no one could see.

But I was crying. “Can you feel him, Mom?” I said.

Mom nodded to me, the way you’d nod over someone’s shoulder. I rose. Was that Neddy getting up, too? I wanted to touch Dad, so much. But Mrs. Foxe grabbed my arm – she turned out to be very strong – and sat me back down. Then she got up, took Mom’s arm more gently and said, “Best not to pressure visitors from the spirit world too much, at least not at first.  Wouldn’t want to scare them off, would we?”

“Oh, no,” said Mom. She let Mrs. Foxe lead her back to her seat.

We sat around the table. The air tingled now. I felt Dad’s presence, no question.

“Thank you, Richard,” said Mrs. Foxe. “We thank you for appearing among us. I sense you are fading now, and hope you will see fit to come again.”

“He’s not fading,” Mom said. “I don’t sense him fading.”

“Perhaps not,” said Mrs. Foxe. “But we don’t want to demand too much the very first – “

The flame of the white candle wavered and then rose straight again.

“Richard?” said Mrs. Foxe. “Richard?”

The room was silent. The silence went on and on. Mom watched the white candle, burning in an ordinary way now, like the other two. I stopped sensing Dad’s presence.

Mrs. Foxe pushed back her chair. “Well,” she said. “For a first attempt, quite successful, n’est-ce pas?”

“Maybe it’s not over,” Mom said. “Let’s give him a chance to – “

“It’s over,” said Mrs. Foxe. She pointed to the table.  The razor was gone.

Mom gasped. So did I. Neddy? Maybe not.

“A deport, my dear,” said Mrs. Foxe. “An object borne away into the spirit world.” She got up, flicked a switch, turning on the overhead light.

Mom rose too, blinking in light that now seemed much too harsh. “When can we do it again?”

“Soon, if you like,” said Mrs. Foxe, donning her embroidered coat. “You’ve got my cell?”

To be continued.


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