33 Wild Is the Wind

Joel dances with a clown who has long Raggedy Anne’s type hair; it’s a slow dance to a slow song, Wild is the Wind, recorded by David Bowie in 1976, and written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington in 1957. The two are holding each other close. Their face paint smears to a colorful Rorschach test as they kiss, deeper and deeper. Joel moves his hands down the middle of her back and cups her buttocks. She blows into his ear.

Ethan looks up at them and back at Bridget. Cochran is still studying her phone, trying to place where she has seen the person in the photo. She’ll have a better image soon. She looks up and Ethan looks away. Suddenly he is dodging her glances, but she is too caught in a search of her own memory to notice.

“Would you like to dance?” Bridget asks Ethan. Before Ethan can answer the music stops.

“The Argonauts are going to take a break, and will return shortly. Please welcome to the stage, Mr. Magisto.” Bixxter announces.

A middle-age man in black tux from the 70’s, ruffled shirt and cuffs, bright pink cumber bun, and pink sequin shoes walks into the stage area. He wears a pink top hat and bows for he audience. Mr. Magisto is carrying a vintage, leather bound suitcase. He throws the case forward, parallel to the ground and four legs pop out of it. The case opens lands softly, like a street salesman’s sample case.

Phoebe returns to the table with a larger glass of wine and a pitcher of beer. She sits next to Bridget. Emily is tapping on her phone and doesn’t notice. Seven grabs the pitcher and fills his glass. He offers to pour for everyone else.

“To start, I’ve an old trick that everyone has seen before. I will pull the definitive rabbit out of my chapeaux.” Mr. Magisto bows and his top hat falls forward into his hand. He twirls it across the brim and displays the empty hat to the audience. He turns it and stops it on all sides to show it is free of hidden compartments. Mr. Magisto sets it on the suitcase with one hand and raises the other hand to the sky. A wand appears in his raised hand, and he waves in several circles, first above his head and then above the hat.

“Shim shim, abracadabra, sis boom, beer mug.” The magician pulls a full mug of beer out of the hat. “Oops,” he raises it to the audience, “a toast to our most gracious host.”

Everyone that is watching stands and follows his suggestion, tipping a glass in Phoebe’s direction. She stands and waves.

“Really guys, I love having all of you over. It’s a marvelous thrill.” She curtsies and bows her head.”

Everyone is clapping, cheering, clicking, snapping or toasting.

Mr. Magisto waves his wand over the chapeaux again and says, “hipity, hopity and mopsy, flopsy and fuzzy tail.” He reaches in and pulls out a white rabbit with long pointy teeth. It’s a hand puppet and the magician struggles with it as the puppet tries to bite him. “That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rabbit that I’ve ever seen!” He yells in a deep booming voice. “It’s got a vicious streak a mile wide! It’s a killer!” He yells.

The partygoers laugh and clap. They recognize the vicious rodent from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Mr. Magisto continues to struggle with the puppet to get it back into the hat, but the rabbit has him bent over backwards, just at his throat. Tail fuzzy, floppsy, mopsy, and hippity hopity,” a flash of light appears and wall of smoke obscures Mr. Magisto.

The magician reappears with a small hand fan blowing the smoke away. “Phew, folks, that was a close one.” He looks down and realizes that his pants are missing, showing his pink sequin boxer shorts. “But not without its due.” He bows.

The audience roars with laughter as a string of toilet paper hangs out from one of the legs of the shorts.

“Thanks Seven” Bridget stops shuffling her cards and hands Seven her glass. “Would you like me to tell your fortune?”

Seven thinks she is talking to him, and as he is filling it, he says, “Yes. Def…”

“I think our wonderful hostess is first.” Bridget replies.

“I don’t think I’m going to be able to sit for that long.” She shakes her head. “I may need to organize another beer run?”

“I can do that?” Seven offers.

She sighs, “Give me a moment. I just want to sit for a few breaths.”

“I’m going to find a bathroom.” Ethan interrupts and stands.

“It’s inside,” Phoebe directs, “through the kitchen, to the work room and turn right.”

“Okay.” He turns and walks toward the house.

“I can do a single card reading, if you like?” Bridget says.

“Do I have to think or say anything?” Phoebe asks.

“Not really, you just need to think about your question, touch the card cut, and then draw one.” Bridget instructs.

“Sure.” She answers. “I’d like a full reading, maybe some other time though.”

 

Steve McSwain’s phone rings, “damn it,” he yells to his windshield.

“Are you going…?” Selena, distribution manager with Vanilla Shed, asks but is cut off.

Before Steve can respond, his phone’s speaker setting stops working. He stops in front of a driveway and picks it up. “Sorry,” he is still connected, “my phone is acting up now.” He shakes his head, “What did you need?”

“Are you going to make it?” Selena repeats.

“It’s going to be close,” he says.

“I just wanted to let you know that my boss has authorized double time, if you need to work tomorrow.” She explains.

McSwain sighs, “I didn’t say I would?”

“I know, but it will be worth it to us, if you do. Otherwise, we’ll have to find someone else to pick the order up off of your truck.” She says. “I mean, either way is fine with me, but you’ll have to be there for the exchange.”

“Damn, I hadn’t thought of that.” Steve chuckles. “I had plans, but I guess you’ve got me either way.”

“That’s right.” She replies. “Vanilla Shed appreciates your professionalism and work ethic.”

“So, I get the same as today, but twice as much plus mileage tomorrow?” He affirms.

“Yes.”

“Okay, okay, but I’m still going to try and make the train tonight.” He pulls back out into traffic and guns through a stop sign in a less then California Stop.

“Thank you. Thank you Steve. You’re a life saver.” She says. “I owe you.”

McSwain sighs, “I may still make it tonight.”

“Go Steve. Go.” She cheers.

He smiles to himself and pushes harder on the accelerator. I’m going to make it, he thinks to himself. He turns a little to fast onto 5th Street in Berkeley. His tires squeal and he breaks quickly to slow enough to make the turn without stopping fully and without pitching the truck over. “SHIT.”

 

Lieutenant Emily Cochran’s phone beeps; it is a text message. “GOT HIM. Img nxt.”

Cochran smiles, clinches her fist, and pumps the air in a down stroke; “yes,” she says out loud.

Everyone’s at the table turns to look at her. Seven turns and says, “Well, hell yes. I think?”

“Sorry. I just got a break on the case.”

“The one you not working on any more?” He replies.

“Hey, it’s not you on the video from BART.” She answers.

“Phew,” Phoebe exhales, “I thought it might be me.”

“Is it the person that pushed someone onto the BART tracks?” Bridget asks. “I read about that this morning; it sounds horrible.”

“Ye…” Seven starts to say.

Cochran punches Seven in the arm.

“Ouch,” he looks at her sternly. “I was going to say, yeah. I don’t think chief dick-n-boots is going to appreciate it.”

Cochran shakes her head.

“Here, pick a cut.” Bridget says to Phoebe. “Think about your question.”

Ethan returns to the table. His face is covered in clown make up. Everyone looks up.

Bridget laughs out loud, “you’re so cute; like Picasso on meth.” She riffles the two cut stacks together and pushes them into a one. She separates them into unequal stacks and farrows them again, and repeats.

Everyone laughs at the joke and Ethan turns read, highlighting his clown face. “I ran into my friend, Joel and could not escape him or his new girlfriend.” He sits back down at the table and Cochran’s phone beeps again. She focuses solely on its screen.

“Are you thinking of your question?” Bridget asks Phoebe, and cuts the deck again. “Choose.”

Phoebe chooses the stack on the left and Bridget farrows them. She fans them out on the edge furthest from here, face down, and instructs, “Think about your question and choose one.”

Phoebe pauses for a moment and touches several of the cards as she watches Bridget’s eyes. She pulls one out of the deck and lays it down on the table in front of her.

Bridget flips over the Death card. It is facing Phoebe.  RWS_Tarot_13_Death

The picture from the BART station camera comes in full onto Lieutenant Inspector Cochran’s phone and she looks up at Ethan. He is watching her closely and as soon as their eyes meet, her pupils constrict. The clown makeup is not enough; she recognizes the person in the photo.

The blood drains out of Ethan’s face as Emily reaches for her belt. Ethan jumps up out of his chair, knocking the spool table forward. It topples onto its side, knocking Lieutenant Cochran and everyone else out of their chairs. It rolls over Seven and he laughs out loud. The near full beer pitcher hits Cochran on the chin. She sees stars.

“ETHAN,” Bridget screams as she joins Phoebe on the ground; both are covered in wine.

Phoebe’s knife is lying in front of him and he quickly bends down to retrieve it. Phoebe is the first to stand and looks over the mess. Seven can’t stop laughing as his torso is under the empty wind area of the spool. He grabs hold of its inside edges to stop it from rolling further.

Ethan turns to run with knife in his hand in front of him; and bumps hard into Phoebe, knocking her down, and landing on top of her.

“OH MY GOD,” Bridget yells.

Ethan rolls off her, stands up, and looks down at Phoebe. The knife handle is upright, titled towards her feet with the sharp end embedded just below her ribs. Her mouth and eyes are wide open as she looks down. Her body shutters. Blood is flowing out of her wound and soaking the front of her top.

“NO.” Ethan shouts and runs for the door. The party goes silent as he enters the house.

Lieutenant Inspector Cochran is up fast and after him. She pulls the black 9mm semi-automatic out of her belt, and pulls its slide back to chamber a round as she runs.

Chili hears looks to the ruckus and lunges at Ethan as he sprint by him. Ethan is too fast and a glancing blow leaves him on his back.

“911, someone call an ambulance.” Bridget screams and rests Phoebe’s head on her lap. Her face is pale and paler. Bridget motions toward the knife, but doesn’t know to remove it or not.

“My Love, NO.” Comma screams as he comes upon the scene. He grabs her hand and reaches for the knife, but stops. “NO, NO.” He cries out. “Stay with me. Don’t leave me.”

The party is silent and the guests gather around the scene. Smiles and cheers, jokes and magic, music and revelry are replaced with reverent whispers and an eerie quiet. The face paint and smell of beer, the buzzing of an amplifier and pressure sigh of the calliaphone turns the once happy affair into a nightmarish shadow. A breeze picks up off of the bay.

Phoebe takes a beleaguered breath, she tries to talk, but can’t get enough air.

“Quiet, quiet, dear love. Save you strength.” Comma says as tears begin dropping onto her torso.

Phoebe tries to focus, but her eyes are more and more blurry. She tries to breath again. “I, I love, I love you, Comma.” She manages in a whisper.

“No, no, save your breath; don’t leave.” He repeats.

She tries to draw one more breath and looks up. Her eyes are wide open and focuses on his. She tries to speak, and her eyes go quiet.

“No, no, how could this happen?” Comma’s voice quivers. His face is covered in tears. He takes her head out of Bridget’s hands. He kisses her on the cheeks and mouth, and hugs her head close to his heart. Comma sobs.

 

Steve McSwain’s phone rings again. It’s Selena. “I think I am going to make it.” He shouts and laughs into the receiver. He doesn’t give her a chance to respond and hangs up. McSwain rushes through a stops sign, a little short of a California stop, and pushes hard on the accelerator again.

 

“Oh my God,” is all Ethan can repeat as he makes his way out of the house’s front door and towards the street. Where do I go? What do I do now? He thinks to himself as his legs open up to a full sprint.

“STOP, STOP.” Cochran yells as she clears the kitchen and sees his back in the entryway. The bent-wire outer security door slams shut. “There’s nowhere to go.” She shouts and aims her 9mm. pistol. Can I hit him through the door? She questions herself. It’s too risky. “STOP, POLICE, STOP.”

Ethan turns to look at her as she steps through the front door with her gun raised.

“WHAT THE…” McSwain slams on his brakes pushing his chest hard against the seatbelt.

The screech of rubber raises a cloud and then a loud thud. Ethan Tremblay lets out a gasp as his rib cage compacts, his neck snaps, and he flies through the air. He lands on the asphalt and tumbles several feet in an unnatural flail of arms and legs in opposite directions along bad angles. He lays crumpled on the ground. His eyes are full open and the makeup on his face is pitted and smeared on one side. His heart was stopped in a single moment.

Lieutenant Cochran down paces her dash and drops her gun to her side. She shakes her head and holsters it. Seven, Bridget, and Joel are the first through the front door.

“This is Cochran,” she says into her phone. “Chief Cummings, I have some unsettling news about the Fitzgerald case. She walks over to Ethan’s body and leans down to check his pulse, but it seems pretty obvious that he is dead.

An ambulance arrives and the techs stop at Ethan’s body. Cochran motions them to the backyard of the house. “This one is gone.” She says. They hand her a white sheet from the gurney, and she covers Ethan’s body.

Sweat replaces the blood pumping out of Steve McSwain’s face. He is breathing fast and gripping his steering wheel tight. He doesn’t move.

More of the party streams out of Comma’s house as the emergency technicians dodge them in the opposite direction. One holds the door open for them.

Lieutenant Inspector Emily Cochran stands, “Yes. It is he. I am sure Chief Cummings.”

“I’ll contact the Berkeley Police and be there in half an hour. Don’t let anyone leave.” The Chief instructs.

“I’ve an ambulance and a victim on scene. I know her and will send her on.” She answers.

“Good work, Cochran, but Internal Affairs is going to have questions.” Chief Cummings adds.

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll bring them with me, but do not say anything until we talk, understand?” He commands her.

“Yes sir, yes.” The consequence of actions settles on Emily Cochran; she weeps.

Posted in Shuffle the Cards | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

glister

rush
pile and ruffle,
[crash in slow around the edges]
dunes of a turquoise sky and cloud
rise up along the empty curve.
orange and yellow ochre wisps
remember when we first met lips
and knelt along the barbwire moon?

sticky pecan blooms and salty skin
cicada tymbals snap and pop [repeat]
fingertips soothe the heat and muscle;
an anti-lullaby out wails the wind.
high beam headlights illuminate
dirt reflections on asphalt paint,
along the midnight tango and pass,
Creole embrace and sunflower rasp.
Morpheus’ breath is on the burgeon hoof
[as shadow billows grumble of electricity]
a smile and casual exhale, no pretense,
ruby eyes, cheeks, and tongue,
a flick of the wrist,
glister.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Leave a comment

32 The Seven of Coins (reversed)

       Bridget pulls the reading into a tighter formation. “We should finish during the break,” she picks up the deck of ignored Tarot cards and and offers them to Ethan.

       “I don’t see how you can concentrate on that at this party,” Seven adds.

       “I didn’t think this would take so long.” She answers. “This party is too fun.

       Emily looks up from her plate. “Seven, don’t be rude.” She smiles at Bridget.

       “I didn’t realize this party would be so intense.” Bridget answers.

       “I don’t mind.” Ethan says. He takes the top card off of the deck and after Bridget places the deck on the table, he hands it to her face side down. She flips it over and places in the ninth position, to the right of the crossed cards and directly above the 8th card. It is the Tower.

The Tower

The Tower

       “That doesn’t look happy,” Seven comments. Everyone at the table looks at him. Oh shit, did I just say that, he thinks to himself. “Sorry. I’ll shut up.”

       “That’s the best thing you’ve said all evening,” Emily says and takes a drink from her soda.

       “People always assume the worst with cards like this one, but it rarely means what the image implies.” Bridget explains. She smiles at Ethan. “First, this position of the reading is your inner thoughts and emotions…”

       “Upon the ground.” Seven says and laughs. He bunches his brow and his smile goes flat. “I’m still thinking out loud.” No one laughs, “sorry, sorry, it is a bad, a very bad habit.”

       “I will poke you again,” Emily adds and points her fork in his direction. “Shut the fuck up.” Everyone at the table laughs.

       “As I was saying, the ninth position represents your inner thoughts, emotions, hidden desires, and anxieties of the future. But importantly, as you can see, you are not alone.” Bridget points at the card.

       “Yes. Two of us are falling to the rocks.” Ethan says.

       “Not you too.” She looks sternly at Ethan. Emily offers her the fork, but she shakes her head, no. “Those rocks are around and associated with the tower itself.” She explains. “The Tower represents the status quo, and it’s destruction just means that something new is in your future.”

       “Oh.” Ethan acknowledges.

       “The lightening bolt from the right is the path you’ve been on, and it destroys your perception of your progress, the crown or the status quo.” Bridget continues. “The two people, a man and a woman are falling into unknown space. They are not falling on the rocks. We don’t actually know what they are falling into, but whatever their path was, it is no longer valid.”

       “Why lightening?” Seven asks.

       Everyone looks at him again. “Good question.” She answers. “You’ve been in a rut in a sense and the only way out is a naturally violent or sudden change of the future.”

       “So, dramatic change is a now?” Cochran asks.

       “Exactly. It is neither right or wrong, bad or good; it’s just going to happen very fast and obliterate everything from before.” She finishes. Perhaps they will be together, perhaps not. They are on opposite sides of the tower, but are falling out of the fire. See starlight around him?” Bridget points at the card.

       “Yes.” Ethan says.

       “She’s falling out of hers, so safety and the hearth are not the right direction. The man, the prince, the king, whatever is his role; he is surrounded by positive change. Change can be abrupt or violent, but doesn’t mean the future is dark.” Bridget explains.

       “I’m a little foggy on this card,” Ethan inquires. “Obviously violent change is not always the safe thing, and not necessarily a bad thing.”

       “Yes, yes,” Bridget bends over and kisses Ethan on the cheek. “You’ve got it perfect. This card is about change and you should not be afraid.” She adds. “Change, even violent change, is usually positive.”

       “I see.” Ethan leans backs, stiffens his neck, blushes, and smiles.

       Lieutenant Inspector Cochran’s phone beeps. It’s another text from Officer Sergeant Rice with BART. “65% not long now.” And, a photo is attached to the text. Emily downloads it to her phone and opens it. Seven notices what she is doing and leans over to see. The picture is a man in a letterman’s coat with a couple of pins on its breast, his neck, and the bottom half of a face just to the tip of the nose.

       Emily studies the photo for a moment and looks up. “Hum,” she says to herself. Something is familiar? I can’t quite place it? Then, her eyes scrunch up and she frowns. I thought I was off of the Fitzgerald case. Seven is watching her intently.

Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross

        Bridget sips from her beer and offers the deck again to Ethan. “One card to go,” she says. Everyone at the table watches as Ethan draws another card. He hands it to her face down. She flips it and sits in the 10th and final position, directly above the ninth. It is the Seven of Coins, reversed or upside down.

       Another text comes in from Senior Lieutenant Inspector Randal Cummings, Cochran’s boss. “See it? 20?”

       

       Steve McSwain creeps slowly to University Street off of I-80 and exits. I’ve got to make some time he says to his self. He lifts the GPS off the floor of the cab, reboots it, and places it on the dash. It is slow. “Work, damnit, work.” He says out loud to the device and swats on the far side. The GPS rocks back an forth on the dash a and reports, “acquiring satellite,” and a progress bar shows on the display “YES!” He shouts. He creeps up to the intersection at University, and the light is red. McSwain clicks on the GPS screen and taps to his saved locations. He picks the Amtrak station on Horton Street in Emeryville.

       “Acquiring satellite,” it reports again with a progress bar.

       “Shit, finally,” he says to it.

       “Turn right on University to 6th street, then left.” The GPS’ voice is soothing and reassuring.

       I might just make it he says to himself as he rolls though a yellow light and turns. Traffic is moving steadily, as he turns left on to Addison. “FUCK ME!” McSwain yells out and bangs his fist on the steering wheel. He backs up to a queue that is two blocks long. He can see two CHP patrol cars on opposites sides of the street with an Emeryville local and an Albany local as back up. Each car has two officers. What the hell is this, he thinks to himself.

       The California Highway Patrol (CHP) directs cars to pull up to the officers. After rolling down their windows, drivers are politely asked how they are doing and where they are going. A sniff and quick observation, blood shot eyes or nonrestrictive pupils are a sign of DWI or DUI. Seatbelts? All in eyesight of the officers is fair game for estimation of sobriety or other indiscretions. If the driver or passengers hesitate, sweat, or are suspicious in any way, CHP will ask for identification. No real sign or indication of intoxication from the driver, but any deviation or disgruntlement insures an ID check. It they ask someone to pull over out of the queue, CHP will run their ID, issue citations, or search with further scrutiny; but they say it’s not out of spite. The other officers back up the CHP; they watch and overlook you and your vehicle for any other obvious violations. It’s the law in California that if a trooper asks, you have to show your driver’s license.

       The queue moves steadily, and perhaps, I was over anxious. Steve thinks, relax. However it is inevitable that someone will be an ass. A belligerent, petulant child will want to know who the hell these cops think they are? Why don’t they catch the real criminals? They don’t have to show my papers to anyone. Two cars ahead, an older gentleman in a suit begins tussling with the officer at the window. The outcome is always the same.

       The hydra of blue arms pulls him out of his seat (no seatbelt). He’s a dumbass. He takes a swing at an officer, is immediately tased to the ground, and handcuffed. I don’t know where they came from, Steve wonders, but 4 more officers take him to a waiting white van. The trooper signals the next car to come around as another drives the car onto a side road.

       It is almost impossible to subdue a hydra. Cut one head off and two more take its place and so forth and so on and on. This asshole is taken into custody or just subdued with a very expensive ticket. It’s the CHP’s discretion, but some self-righteous ass always slows the line down. I wonder what the statistics are on it? The costs? Steve thinks. He taps his fingers on the wheel.

       Steve McSwain rolls down his window as Officer Williams steps up onto the Harvester’s sidestep. “How are you doing today, sir? Where are you headed?” He looks around the cab as Steve McSwain answers.

       “Hello,” McSwain smiles, “I’m trying to get to the Emeryville Amtrak station to make a delivery connection for Vanilla Shed.”

       “Do you have a BoL?” Officer Williams ask for a bill of lading, which describes the contents of the truck and its destination.

       “Sure.” McSwain reaches over the seat to a Manila folder and sits it on his lap. He ruffles through it, and then offers the sheet through the window.

       Balancing on the step while holding the rearview mirror, the trooper takes a quick look and recognizes the Vanilla Shed logo. “That won’t be necessary,” he says. “You’re a little too soon off the freeway?” The officer inquires.

       “I’m tying to catch the train at this point, sir.” Steve says, “It’s going to be tight.”

       “I see,” Officer Williams takes one last look at the cab, takes a deep breath, and looks long into McSwain’s eyes.

       “Are you searching for someone?” McSwain asks and smiles.

       “No; nothing like that. We’ve had reports of several intoxicated drivers from large parties in the area. We’re just trying to keep everyone safe, sir.” He says. “Thanks for your help.”

       “Always, sir.” Steve answers and nods his head in agreement. Shit. Don’t sweat, he thinks and stiffens up. If he smelled my lunch dessert, I would already be out. Relax, relax, and breathe.

       Officer Williams steps down as McSwain’s phone rings. “You’re not going to answer that are you?” The officer shouts in a friendly manner up to the cab.

       “No sir. I always use hands free or pull over to the side of the road.” Steve shouts back.

       “Good work. Drive safely.” Officer Williams signals McSwain to continue on his way.

       Steve McSwain looks in his rearview mirror to see if the officer is watching. He pulls over to the side of the road for a moment to check his phone. It was Selena from Vanilla Shed. Shit, he thinks to himself. Did I say yes? I can’t remember. McSwain sighs and dials The Shed.

       “Hello, Mr McSwain, this is Selena.”

       “Yes.”

       “I have some bad news. The train has made up time, so where are you?” She asks.

       “Damn, you’re not going to believe me, when I tell you. I just got stopped at a sobriety check point.” He answers.

       “Already? Seems kind of early?”

       “I’m never going to make it.” Steve says then wonders if the Samoan brothers followed him off the interstate. Shit, I hope not, he thinks to himself and looks again in his rearview. There is no sign of them.

       Selena sighs and is quiet on the other end. She holds the silence, waiting.

       

       Emily shifts in her seat and types out a reply to Cummings’ return to the office. ”10-4.” It’s standard, old school, cop-book talk for yes, but it has same number of characters.

       “The Seven of Coins, reversed,” Bridget says, “ is the summation of all influences of this reading.The cards together cast a possible future.”

Seven of Coins

Seven of Coins

       “Okay.” Ethan replies. He looks at Seven, waiting.

       “I’m not saying shit here,” Seven blurts out. “I see coins and my name.”

       “The image on Seven of Coins reversed, means that all though positive change with a little upheaval is in the air, be sure and check yourself, so not fall through it complete without any self-awareness.”

       “So, fight the change?” Ethan asks

       “No. Change is inevitable, and potentially catastrophic.”

       “Catastrophic?” The pitch in Ethan’s voice rises.

       “No, sorry, I guess I mean tumultuous. You know, quick and extreme, but not necessarily bad.” Bridget repeats.

       Inevitably, “catastrophic, how can Seven,” Seven points at himself, “and coins be a bad thing?”

       Emily nudges him and raises her fork. Her phone beeps again.

       ”See the questioner is resting his chin on his staff contemplating, staring at the bush and its fruit. The coins can be physical gains or experience. His legs are open, so be open to what you have gained in the past. The green bush is upside down on the right; your riches or experiences of the past should not be totally ignored. One coin has fallen to the ground to the left, to the future where we all must go; so contemplate the changes coming, but don’t forget what you have gained or learned in the past.” Bridget interprets.

       Ethan smiles and nods his head. He listens as he maintains eye contact.

       “Overall, your outlook is change.” She gestures at various cards as she continues. “We’ve seen that something traumatic has awaken introspection in your life. She points at the Chariot, the Fool, and the Knight, all reversed. You’ve had an encounter and it has reawakened passed desires and signposts to your progress. Bridget motions toward the Lovers, and the Queen of Wands, and the Ace of Swords. You’ve stalled a little, and your friends, new and old, will help you complete the changes in your path or re-energize old plans. There are new people in your life,” Bridget smiles, touches the Lovers, and bats her eyes, “and they may be the spark of new energy and a new way.”

       “@75%, +speed. Full n hour.” Lieutenant Inspector Emily Cochran reads the text from Sargent Rice with BART. A photo is attached and she opens it. Her phone beeps.

       “Busy tonight,”Seven says. “I thought you were off except for paper work?”

       “Embrace the change, even if it is dynamic and intense.” Bridget continues. “But, don’t forget everything that has gotten you to this moment.” She points at the Seven of Coins, reversed. Don’t forget your plans, your relationships, or your gains. Keep them in mind as you work through it. And know, that you are not alone.”

       Lieutenant Inspector Cochran’s phone beeps again. “20?!?” The message is from her boss, soon to be chief, Senior Lieutenant Inspector Randal Cummings. Emily ignores Seven.

       “Is everything okay?” Bridget asks Emily.

       Emily opens the photo attachment. The nose is complete and all it lacks is hair and eyes. She is quiet in thought. Where have I seen this?

       “It’s this horrible case, we got kicked off of, the Fitzgerald case. Her boss is hot to blame me for a murder.” Seven says.

       “MURDER, whoa?” Bridget replies.

       “Yes, some girl got thrown on the trac…” Seven’s breath is knocked as Cochran punches him hard in the diaphragm.

       “How horrible.” Bridget shutters. “Would you like a reading?” She collects her cards and begins shuffling them loosely.

       “No. I am going to have to go in a minute. Maybe some other time” Cochran smiles, looks across the table at Ethan, then back to her phone.

       Blood drains out Ethan’s face. He pants and sways in his seat as a bead of sweat forms on his forehead. It can’t be he thinks to himself and looks directly at Cochran studying her phone. He turns his head to the left and up then to the right and up.

       “Are you okay?” Bridget turns to him and grabs hold of his arm.

       Joel, Ethan’s friend who brought and introduced him to Bridget, returns to the table. “I’m going to become a clown.” He announces. His face is fully painted and every one looks up at him.

       “Welcome back, the Argonauts.” Bixxter bellows, claps, and points at the band. “Could I get a few clowns up here for some clowning around, and non-clowns, feel free to dance. They play another Tom Waits song. Bixxter sways, skips, silly walks in place to the syncopated rhythm of Big in Japan.

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31 The Circus Is Coming

       “Honk, honk,” Steve McSwain taps his horn, but like the other vehicles around him, it doesn’t help. The traffic is not letting up and the GPS can’t find the satellite. He looks ahead, and although he is sitting taller than most of the vehicles around him, he cannot see what is causing the hold up. If he takes the next exist, he should be able to find a neighborhood route to get to the train depot. His phone rings.

       “How are we doing? Where are you?” the Vanilla Shed dispatcher, Selene asks.

       McSwain hits the speaker button on his phone. “I’m stuck in traffic. It must be a wreck. I’ve not moved in 10 minutes.” He answers.

       “I’ve checked with Amtrak and their ETA is still the same.” She says.

       “I don’t know if I am going to make it. If this traffic doesn’t break up?”

       “Hum?”She sighs.

       Here it comes, Steve thinks to himself. I am so not fucking driving to Sacramento.

       “If you don’t make the train, do you think you could…” Selena starts, but is cut off.

       “I can’t. I’ve got plans. This rush delivery wasn’t supposed to take this long.” He answers her.

       “I know, I know, I’ve already been here for 12-hours and will have to wait with you.” She empathizes. “Mr. Boss is not going to like the overtime, but he said what ever it takes.”

       Steve blows air loudly through his lips. He doesn’t respond.

       “I wonder why it is so important?” Selena says in a low voice.

       “I don’t know.” Steve answers.

       “Sorry, I was thinking out loud. I missed a dinner with my boyfriend and I can’t imagine why the remaining shipment has to be in Sacramento tonight.”

       “I don’t know.” Steve repeats.

       “I’ll make it worth your while.” She adds. “My manager really needs it there tonight, and although this wasn’t suppose to be this difficult, shit happens.”

       “You’ve got that right.” McSwain still doesn’t’ agree to go any further. He knows he’ll probably have to or move down the list of appreciative contractors. Vanilla Shed is a good customer. I can’t just give away my time. My life, such as it is, is important too.

       “I’ll be really, really appreciative. You’ll be my personal hero.” She adds in a desperate and submissive tone.

       He sighs again, loudly, “I don’t know,” Damn, he thinks to himself. He knows he will have to have to capitulate, but he just doesn’t want to. Vanilla Shed is a good customer. The truck inches forward and he signs again.

        “Please?” Selene is watching the train time tables on her smart phone, and “hey, some good news.”

       “What is it?” McSwain asks.

       “Fifteen more minutes,” she laughs into the phone. “The departure time changed.”

        “I didn’t now if it was that accurate?” He puzzles. “If I can exit soon, I may just make it, but remember, I’ve still got to unload.”

        “You can do it.” She cheers.

        “It shouldn’t take long to unload; it’s not but a few large crates.” The jam begins to move slowly, but consistently. “ Were moving again,” he shouts at the phone. “Maybe we can.” He looks in his side view mirror and can just make out the Ford with the Samoan brothers in it.

       

       Phoebe returns to the table carrying a pitcher of beer and a large insulated plastic mug with a lid, something you would buy at a truck stop. Sinclair 77 is printed under the illustration of a green brontosaur. It’s at least half the size of the pitcher. She sits next to Ethan her back is almost to the stage.

       ”That’s a serious beer mug,” Seven says.

        “It’s wine.” She replies and smiles. Phoebe picks up her kitchen knife and jabs the last chunk of cold steak on her plate.

        “A meat-sickle,” Seven says and laughs at the joke. No one else does. He takes a deep breath and sighs; relax, he thinks to himself. You just got here. He chomps another bite of the hot dog. Cochran keeps her head down in her plate. She’s feeling out of place, and wants to be in the office when the final photo of the subway killer comes in focus.

        “Let’s welcome back to the stage on the circus piano, Veronica of the Argonauts.” Bixxter announces. “She’ll be playing a little backup music for the acrobat team of Phineas and the Fogettes.” Bixxter claps his hands and points and claps as he steps off sideways.

       The audience joins in, and two women enter from opposite sides of the stage area with standing aerial somersaults into full split landings. Their arms are full outstretched to their sides, parallel to the ground. A man enters just off of the right of center to between the two with a standing aerial somersault to a stand position with both arms raised in a “V.” It is the three people who where putting on makeup as Seven and Emily came through Comma and Phoebe’s house.

       “I should have told Com to rig some lights,” Phoebe says to Seven.

       “I wouldn’t worry; I don’t think anyone will even notice.” Seven replies.

       The audience claps a little louder.

        “I’m Phineas,” the middle acrobat bellows and bows, “and these two beautiful woman, the Fogettes, are Diana,” she lowers her arms and bows, “and Camilla.” She follows suit.

       Veronica plays an old circus song on the calliaphone; it’s Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite, The Circus is Coming.

       Phineas drops down into a standing sitting position as Diana and Camilla stand and climb onto his thighs as counter balances into a forward flag. Their torsos are facing outwards, one leg on Phineas’ thigh and the other foot behind his neck both arms in the air as a “V” on its side.

       The crowd claps and Veronica punctuates the stance with an additional whistle fanfare, “TA-DA” on the organ. She inserts it perfectly into the song she is already playing.

       The women turn towards each other, grab the other’s forearm, and facing each other, lower the other foot on to his thighs. In perfect synchronization, releasing their grip, the two place their hands on Phineas’ respective shoulders and side of neck, lean in, lift up themselves into a handstand, as Phineas slowly stands upright. The women split their legs to combine a “W.”

       Veronica punctuates the move with another flourish, “TA-DA,” in a higher key.

       Phineas takes a deep breath, exhales slowly, repeats, and calls out, “the flying W.” He then proceeds to slowly, slightly step through a full 360-degree circle, and on conclusion, he shouts out. “The Flying W from any angle.”

       Veronica ends her current song with a foghorn-key “TA-DA,” on the calliaphone and the audience stands to clap with catcalls and whistles.

       The applause settles, and Veronica plays a second circus song. She plays, The Sidewalks of New York.

       The women reverse their ascension and lower themselves onto Phineas’ thighs, in synchronization. He reprieves the sitting-standing counter balance. The women reverse somersault to a dismount, and as soon as they off his legs, he jumps up quickly into a standing backflip. Phineas lands just as the two women somersault back at his side; all raise their hands and bow. The crowd claps politely, and Veronica doesn’t vary the song.

       Phineas turns his back to the crowd and lays down on the ground, flat. Diana runs forward and cartwheels into a handstand on his raised hand, elbows still resting on the ground. She splits her legs and Camilla somersaults through them. The partygoers clap.

       Phineas lowers his hands then thrusts them up at the same time Diana tumbles straight up and lands on her feet in his hands. The crowd gasps as Phineas bobbles his left arm, but Diana counter balances and the trick is saved. Camilla discretely circles them as a spotter, and steps forward at the bobble then back at his recovery.

       Phineas raises his legs straight up at his waist and Diana does a slow rising handstand onto the soles of his feet. The crowd claps. Diana spreads her legs and Camilla flies through forward through them and lands with a rolling tumble.

       Diana tightens her legs together and drops down out of the handstand back onto Phineas’ hands. Before anyone can breathe, he throws her forward and she lands sitting on his feet. The crowd gasps, but Diana smiles and raises her arms in a flourish like a letter turner on a television game show. She pantomimes nonchalantly like she is calmly smoking a cigarette or drinking a beer.

       She lays back into a back angel, stiffening her body as a board. Veronica punctuates the move with a whistle flourish from the calliaphone, and starts a more frenetic, classic circus song. It is Be A Clown. The partygoers clap more loudly, in unison with the song.

       Phineas spins her to her stomach, to her back, faster and faster, till she is a blur. Her arms outstretched become a solid disk. The audience gasps, as he stops abruptly, Diana on her back and then spins her laterally, like a helicopter wing. He stops and rolls her on to her stomach and spins her laterally again. He stops abruptly and shifts her to his right foot, as Camilla lands, stomach first on his left foot. The shift in motion is so subtle that it appears Camilla has landed from out of nowhere. The audience claps and cheers wildly. The two women lock their inner arms and Phineas spins them together latterly. He stops and Camilla rolls over the top of Diana on to her back, as Diana rolls under her in the opposite direction on to her back. The two lock arms and he spins the double reverse angel.

       Veronica wipes her brow as she plays the calliaphone as fast as she can. The tumult stops as quickly as it begin followed with a moment of silence. The acrobats dismount and again stand together in front of the crowd. Cheers, whistles, and all manner of calls accompany their bows.

       “We’ve one more for tonight, but we’re still learning it.” Phineas bellows. “It’s called the Inverted Totem.” The audience quiets down. He sits into a standing squat and both Camilla and Diana step up onto his thighs.

       Veronica starts a new song, The Man on the Flying Trapeze.

       Diana climbs onto his shoulders and Camilla steps out onto the front both his thighs and leans out as a counter balance. Diana bends down and slowly inverts to a full handstand on his shoulders. He exchanges his shoulders with each of his hands, and lifts her up.

       Camilla climbs up onto his shoulders, facing Diana’s backside. Phineas rights himself slowly, stepping backward and forward to offset the dynamic weight shift. Camilla climbs Diana’s inverted torso. She has inverted pockets sewn into her jumpsuit, and they are just loose enough as toe holds.

       Diana’s arms begin to tremble as Camilla climbs onto her feet. She sits for a moment to steady the wobble and then stands. Phineas continues to step to counterbalance, but Diana is just not strong enough. She is only able to hold Camilla in a full stand for a few seconds, just long enough for her to get her arms out straight to her side. Diana’s biceps give way, first the left, and she releases the right. The audience gasps and goes silent.

       Camilla jumps gingerly from her right foot and tumbles as she hits the ground. As if by magic, Phineas moves his head out of the way of hers as it drops to between his shoulder blades, and releases both arms. Diana has the presence of mind to push off of Phineas neck with hers and tumbles down his back into a perfect landing.

       The crowd roars to life with cheers, whoops, and whistles. Chairs fly back as everyone jumps to their feet. No one can believe what he or she has just seen. Even Veronica tips her stool back. The Inverted Totem was not a total success, but the acrobats were able to dismount in such mythical style as to question the foundations of physics.

       Veronica regains her seat and plays song from Star Wars, John Williams, the Throne Room and Final, Episode IV: A New Hope. Phineas, Diana, and Camilla stand next to each other with arms up in “V’s,” with one foot forward, and then all three bow as the cheering continues. Once, twice, three bows, and Bixxter returns to the stage.

        “Phineas and the Flying Fogettes.” He shouts into the microphone and gestures toward the trio as they bow again and again and again.

       The tumult quiets down, “Thank you, what a show.” Bixxter says and continues to clap lightly. “We’re going to take a short break, so fill your glasses and stomachs,” he raises his glass and rubs his belly respectively. “Then, will be back with The Argonauts, and later, don’t miss the magical styling’s of Mr. Magisto.” He claps lightly, “finally, see the terrifying accuracy of axe juggling on fire, The Crucible: Spark and Flame.” He laughs across the microphone. “The axes, not the jugglers will be on fire folks, I think.” He looks for guidance from back of the crowd.

       

       Steve McSwain approaches the last exit for Albany, but the exit ramp is queued onto 80. He should be able to take some back roads. As he approaches and looks down it from the Freeway, McSwain sees several Albany police cruisers in the intersection. They are blocking all right turns and forcing vehicles to stay on the access road or turn left at the light.

        “Shit,” he says out loud. I wonder what is going on down there? He thinks to himself. I’ll have to wait till University Street. Slowly, he waits and pulls the International into the middle lane. Traffic begins to flow a little, but stops abruptly after a tenth of a mile. “I’ll never make it.” McSwain says to himself.

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Electric Sloth

Black eyes see all in flutters feint
on a forgone pitch of wind create
filters, valleys, myth, and solitude;
render to fragments (folly) disjunct,
disrupt beyond a wretch and weep.

Tread dry crackles and brown sod as
orange, red, and yellow-green leaves
puddle where the sidewalk (whispers)
with alloy plastic bags and paper whit.

Porcelain dragons (tigers) stand guard,
discards in the season of last chances
before sleep endures the dreams of all
as all in the all a zephyr whirls round
the near hollow with gawks and caws,
raw instincts null and shallow entropy.

Escalate the downward stroke of lift
and howl at all the other’s collections
of recollections in and out of context.
harvest maps and epitome anomalies
tarry intact between spines of books,
pens, stitches, script, and electric sloth,
mumble parables bombast, and scoff.

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30 Not What You Think

       “Damn it. Fuck.” Steve McSwain curses and bangs his hands, now fists, on the steering wheel of the International Harvester. Traffic is at a crawl on I-80. He turns on his portable sat-nav. It can route him around the traffic. It is slow booting up as well and can’t find the satellite. He cycles the power button, and pulls it down onto the trucks floor. “Shit,” I’ve got to calm down, he thinks. McSwain reaches down to pick up the device and the car behind him lays on the horn. Fuck you, he thinks to himself. He grabs hold of the GPS and holds it up to the top of the windshield. It still cannot find a satellite. The car behind him is still laying on the horn. A large gap opens in front of his truck. He crawls forward, and the person who was honking zooms around on the shoulder and into the opening. They are driving a small Fiat and the one finger salute appears out of the sunroof. McSwain taps his horn and shakes his head.

       “I don’t have any fucks to give, pal.” He says to the inside of the front windshield. The GPS still cannot find a satellite, so he carefully turns it off and back on again. Of all the days for it fail on me, I am totally out of sync with the world or something. He sighs.

       

       Bixxter steps up to the PA. Tap, tap, he taps on the microphone. “Quick update folks, the kegs,” he pauses, “yes that is what I said, kegs are parking out front and will be available in few.”

       A loud hoorah penetrates the general rumble followed with loud clapping and somersaults.

       “Thank you, thank you, but I can’t take credit.” Bixxter bows while blushing. “Could I get a yes,” he shouts into the microphone. “I just want to add my thanks,” he claps, and then points to the grill, “to our hosts, Phoebe and Comma.”

       Everyone turns to look and Comma ducks behind the grill. Phoebe waves. “Stop it guys,” she says and blushes. The adulation continues for a few more seconds.

       Chili recruits several of the acrobats and clowns to help wheel in the kegs, and their setups. He borrowed a two-wheeler from inside and maneuvers the first keg next to the dead one. A queue begins forming as several of the clowns load ice into its plastic garbage can.

       “I’ll set this one up, go back and get the other one,” Chili tells Jaeble.

       She smiles back, grabs the two-wheeler and an arm of one of the acrobats, Alex.

       Seven and Emily make their way through the front room. A couple of troupers are putting on makeup at one of the desks. They apply colors liberally, but with the precision of a sculptor. They have a makeup kit and mirror in an old leather salesman’s case. The open side has a mirror attached to it and three clowns are using it at once. They don’t notice the two behind them watching.

       “The party is out back,” says one of the troupers.

       “I don’t know how you do that,” Seven replies and Emily looks toward the kitchen.

       The clown looks up at Seven as Emily pulls his arm.

       “I can tell you later, sweetheart.” The deep voce looks up and down and back to his butt. He goes back to his work. “I wonder if they are a couple?” All three laugh together.

       Seven opens the back door and sees Comma leaning over the grill. “There he is.”

       “Who?” They step through and Emily follows him. No one notices his or her entrance. It’s been at least 24 hours, but Emily’s outfit is more formal than anyone at the party.

       Comma flips another round of patties and twirls the hot dogs. He has a few chicken quarters left and adds them to the fire. He looks up, “Hey, Seven, you made it.”

       “Finally, long day.” He says and they shake hands and then bump fists.

        “Hello, Lieutenant Cochran,” he offers his hand.

       She looks him up and down and shakes his hand, “I believe we’ve met before.” She smiles.

       “I know. I’m flattered you remember.” He turns the burgers. “That was an unfortunate case as I recall. What ever happened?”

       Seven interrupts, “we solved it and got reamed.”

       Comma laughs, uncomfortably, “that’s an ab-end.”

       Cochran remains silent.

       “In fact, Com, we’re working another with similar results.” Seven says. “I’m a suspect for the mad M.”

       “Nix it,” Emily nudges him hard with her elbow, “ we’re not talking about that to civilians.”

       “OWWIE,” Seven reports. “I didn’t use any facts.”

       “Just keep cool about it.” She repeats.

       Comma snickers uncomfortably to him self, “okay, okay, old-married-couple we don’t want any fights, no one is going to the moon.”

       “We’re not a couple.” Emily shakes her head, no.

       “Quite a party, you’ve out done yourself,” Seven changes the subject.

       “It’s mostly Phoebe’s friends. I am glad you two could join me. I’m almost out of food though. I’ll need someone to back me up when this tangerine mob realizes it.”

       “I can’t stay long,” Emily begins.

       “She still on duty, and it is not a pretty duty.” Seven interrupts her again. “I drug her along to eat. I’m staying, buddy.”

       “Great,” Comma says. “I’ve got some burgers, meat and not, and some dogs in the same condition. I don’t know how anyone eats that. What are they made of, do they grow on trees?”

       The three of them laugh and a milk bottle goes flying over their heads. It crashes onto the deck with a thud.

       “Sorry, sorry guys, it got away from us,” a scraggly juggler with dirty harlequin tights comes running after it. “It’s only foam with a little weight.” He accidentally bumps into Emily. “Sorry.”

       She exhales, “it’s okay.” She can’t help not stare at his crouch. The orange, green, and dirty white pattern creates a perfect codpiece, but is worn and almost opaque.

       “I’m Carl,” he says and holds out his hand.

       She blushes and takes his hand to shake it.

       Carl turns it over, bows and kisses the back of her hand. His other arm swishes the air.

       Emily swoons, her eyes open wide with her mouth. “Uh, how sweet.” She says. “A gentleman… I think?”

       “My lady,” as he rises and walks off, he begins twirling the prop on one finger.

       Emily stares at his butt as he walks away. Carl’s tights are even more threadbare in the rear, and she can make out tiny holes with a firm white cheek slightly poking through. Does he have underwear on? She thinks to herself. He turns again catching her and winks; his smile is as wide as his costume is bright.

       Seven watches the spectacle, “HEY,” he punches Comma in the arm. “What the hell does that guy think he is doing flirting with my lady friend?”

       “Augh.” Comma drops the spatula onto the grill, “damn it, Seven.”

       Emily punches Seven in the arm, “idiot,” she says.

       “I’m hungry.” Seven says.

        “Grab a plate on the picnic table, some cheese, lettuce or whatever, and I’ll have a few meat burgers ready in a moment.” He says. “I’ll have some chicken in about 30 or so minutes. Chili. You’ve probably not met Chili, but he’s working the keg. We’ve already made a beer run.”

        “How many kegs is this party?” Seven asks. “What are you guys doing, beer pong?”

        “It’s crazy. I never realized how many people Phoebe knows?” He answers.

       Tap; tap, Bixxter looks out at the party. “Clowns, jugglers, acrobats, musicians, and folk of the creative busker, BEER, the illicit hop and malt, the gateway of enlightenment and foundation of civilization, BEER is available.” He begins clapping and the crowd joins in. “A queue of quenching is forming, so be early, be late, be sure and say thank you, again, to our wonder hosts and producers of such a fine tangerine experience this night.” He begins clapping again, and a second round of cheers, louder than the first, interspersed with “thank youse” and “huzzah.”

       Long queues form at both kegs, and Phoebe is filling all the pitchers she could find to redistribute the mead. Chili pumps the 2nd keg up and begins filling glasses. Jaeble is on the first keg, and after Phoebe fills several pitchers, she starts down the line filling glasses as quickly as thirst can be quenched.

       Bridget drinks from her beer and pulls another card off of the deck. Ethan drinks all but the reaming foam; he burps.

        “Sorry,” he says. He burps again and purses his lips and eyebrows, “oops.”

       Bridget laughs at him and shakes her head. She lays the card down to the right of the crossed cards and above the previous card. It is Death.

Death

Death

       “Whoa, that burp was serious,” Ethan, says. His eyes and mouth form an “O” of disbelief and stares blankly at the card. He holds his stare as long as he can as Bridget stares at him, until he bursts out laughing, and tips over his foam beer cup onto the reading.

       “Watch out,” she grabs it and dumps the foam on the grass.

       “Sorry.” Ethan adds. “I was being droll.”

       “Is that what they call it now? How droll, troll,” shakes her head and then repeats. “It doesn’t mean what you think it means.”

       “Good,” he replies. “I thought the curse of the foam was the end.” He giggles, and she continues to shake her head.

       “Well, that beer is dead,” she makes the sign of the cross over the plastic glass.

       “Good riddance.” He burps, “to bad rub…”

       “Like another beer?” Phoebe interrupts him. She is carrying two pitchers.

       “Saint Pauli Girl?” Ethan asks.

       “Ha, ha.” She replies, “I may be a little light on the top for that spokes-logo.” She curtseys.

       “Too much foam upstairs,” Bridget says and the two of them laugh.

       “I’ve got more than foam where it counts,” he retorts, and offers his glass.

       Bridget looks straight into Ethan’s eyes and places her fist on her hip, “Have you and Joel changed skins?”

       Phoebe rolls her eyes as she fills his glass. She fills Bridget’s, pulls an empty cup out of her apron, and fills it for herself. “I’ll be back in few for a break.”

       Ethan sighs and smiles, “the long black rider.” He taps his finger on the card.

       “It doesn’t mean what you think it means.” She repeats. “The Death card is in the eighth position. It is the impact, influence you have on the reading as whole and on other people.”

       “What, death on other people?” Ethan goes quiet. His thoughts return to the BART station and that blonde, what was her name?

       “Not literally, silly. Your not a killer,” she giggles.

       Ethan does not respond.

       “Ethan?” She reaches across the table and grabs his arm.

       “Huh,” he says, “ha ha, gotcha.” He blurts out. Ethan smiles,

       Bridget exhales, slowly and audibly forced.

       “Sorry, sorry. I don’t know what has come over me. I hunted birds with my grandfather once, but I never shot anything.” He explains. “I did have to help clean the kill, and if the bird was just wounded, Grandy had to break their necks and pull off their heads. Their blood would spurt out in time with their heart.”

       “Gross Ethan,” she recoils. “What a horrible memory. That’s too much information.”

       “Circle of life,” he defends it. “They were very tasty pan fired with eggs and hash browns.”

       “I’ve had game birds before, but I just don’t want to know how.” She shudders and takes a long drought of her beer.

       “I’m sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with me tonight.” He closes his eyes and shakes his head; the blonde’s brown eyes flash in his memory, she doesn’t understand what is happening; and then she is replaced with the bulk of the light rail car.

       “The Death card simply means change.” Bridget begins. “It can be painful change with resistance from all facets of your personality.”

       “Like changing into worm food?” Ethan takes a long drink off of his beer.

       “Are you a mean drunk, Ethan?” Bridget asks.

       He drinks again, “no, no, sorry. I’ll be nice. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.” He replies.

       “The Death card simply means a difficult change”

       “Into bones,” he smiles at here.

       “Look, if you’re not really interested, I can stop.” Bridget rebuffs him. She begins picking the cards up.

       “No, I am sorry. It was the last time. I promise.” He grabs her hand and looks into her eyes. “I’m not normally a jerk. I was just thinking about a bad incident at work. Please, don’t stop.”

       She sighs and lays a card back down. “Are you going to listen with an open mind?” She asks in a serious tone.

       “Yes. I promise I will focus,” he answers. “I promise,” he shakes his head up and down. Ethan takes another sip.

       She exhales deeply, again, “okay. The rose on the night’s flag represents the love of God. He is own a white steed determined to get through it. His skeleton is death in a since, the death of your own will to not change. You ego must die, so you can cross the river to the other side where there is a sun and light.” She explains, “the four people in your path are aspects of your personality. The king is you ego and he suffers the most. The bishop is reason and it begrudgingly knows he must change; the maiden is you regret. You regret having to go through this, and you morn the change. The child is you innocent future. He is the part of you that looks forward to it.”

       “This card has a lot on it?” Ethan says.

       “Difficult change can be an extremely hard thing. You just have to accept it and gallop full forward. Embrace it.” She says. “In this position, the change you are going through has an impact on everyone around you.” She says.

       “So,” he sips and swallows, “I’m going through a change and it has an impact on everyone I know or everyone in this moment?”

       “Both, but everyone in the short term.” She answers. “This moment and in the near future.”

       Phoebe rejoins them. She is carrying a single pitcher. “Can I sit this on top of your cards?”

       “I’ll move them out of the center.” Bridget says and scoots the reading closer to the edge between her and Ethan. She straightens them.

       “Finally, a break,” Phoebe sighs. She takes a long drink out of her cup. “Not much flavor” she says, “it must be a cheap American beer. I wonder what Chili bought?” She takes another long drink and refills her glass from the pitcher. She offers it to the others.

       Ethan offers his glass, and Phoebe fills it.

       “That was quick,” Bridget says.

       “Got to go when offered otherwise I would be uncivilized.” He says.

       Phoebe offers some to Bridget.

       “No. I am good.” She replies.

       “Is that for everyone?” Joel walks over with two cups. His cheeks are painted green, his eyes blue, his nose and lips are painted red.

       “You look like a tarot card, two cups,” Ethan says.

       “Two of Cups,” Bridget corrects him.

       Phoebe smiles and refills her glass first, “shortcut,” she says to Joel and empties the pitcher into his two glasses. “That was quicker than I thought,” she announces.

       “Thanks, Phoebe. You are the hostess with the mostest.” Joel encourages. “He lifts one of the glasses, “to our favorite hostess, may your spigot always run free.”

       The others at the table raise their glasses and toast to Phoebe.

       “I need larger pitchers,” Phoebe says.

       “TO PHOEBE,” Joel calls out and looks around him. Everyone in earshot lifts his or her cup, and toast spreads all over the yard with everyone joining in and drinking in toast.

       “To my love,” Comma bends down and kisses her on the neck and whispers in her ear. “What a wonderful party.

       Blushing, Phoebe closes her eyes, stands with her glass above her head; toasts back at everyone then bows. She repeats the gesture in all four directions and sits. Her cheeks are warm and flushed, “okay, okay, that’s enough guys,” she says to the table.

       Comma taps her on the shoulder, “Phoebe I want you to meet some friends of mine from The City.” Seven and Emily are standing next to him.

       “Hello.” She shakes her pinky with Lieutenant Inspector Emily Cochran’s pinky. Cochran is holding a can of coke and plate of food, and her pinky motion is all she can juggle.

       “It’s nice to meet you, and thanks for letting us join your party,” Emily says.

       “Likewise.”

       She turns to Seven and hugs him. “I already know you, Seven.”

       “Great party.” He says in her ear.

       “I’ve gotta go back to the fire.” Comma announces. “You two got here just in time; we’ll be out of food before you know it. Out of meat anyway, but plenty of snacks.” He adds.

       “We’ll make room for you at this spool,” Phoebe suggests. She lifts her plate and the two empty pitchers. “I’ll be back in a few. Go ahead and take my seat.

       Ethan and Bridget move closer together, keeping the reading between them. Seven moves around the table next to Ethan and sits his plate and cup down. Emily follows suit and sits.

       “I think we’ve room for one more.” Seven says. “We’ll need another chair. I’ll see if I can find one.”

       “I’m not staying that long,” Lieutenant Cochran reminds him, and tugs at his shirt.

       “I know, but if we need it, I want to be sure our hostess has a seat.”

       Cochran is sitting opposite of Ethan. She stares at him for a moment and Ethan squirms a little. Something about her is familiar, but he can’t quiet remember. Ethan takes another drink.

       “I’m Bridget,” she reaches her hand across to Emily. “Phoebe is really busy, I’m sure she would have introduced us.”

       “A party this large, she must have a lot on her mind,” Cochran responds and smiles. “It’s nice to meet you.”

       “This is Ethan,” Bridget says. “I’m reading the cards for him.”

       “Oh,” Seven interrupts, “I wondered what they were for. I’m Seven.” He reaches across the table and shakes their hand as well.

       Ethan smiles at them both, but doesn’t say anything. Something, something, he knows her from somewhere, TV, perhaps? He see’s Suzy on the platform again, and tenses up.

       “Seven? That’s an unusual name?” Bridget asks.

       Seven similes wide, but holds the blush, “My parents were mathematicians, and…”

       “Don’t ask,” Emily interrupts and cordially laughs.

       “I’m really interested?” Bridget counters.

       “I’ll explain it later.” Seven says.

       Bridget senses the increase in tension at the table, “are you two okay? You both seem jittery?”

       Emily eats her meal, a grilled chicken breast and a salad. She drinks from her coke and Seven takes a long draught form his beer.

       “In short,” he begins, “Em is still on the clock and has to go back to headquarters. Her case is going poorly, again.”

       “Shhh.” She looks at him sternly and points her fork at his face.

       “Oh.”

        “Case?” Ethan asks.

       “I can’t talk about it.” Seven says as Cochran lifts her fork again.

       Ethan frowns and looks Lieutenant Inspector Cochran up and down more closely. She doesn’t notice. She is dressed a little too professionally, he thinks to himself. She could be a city employee? Ethan takes a drink.

       “Work in the city?” Ethan asks.

       Emily nods her head yes, but doesn’t look up.

       “The Death Card?” Seven changes the subject.

       “IT DOESN’T MEAN,” Bridget and Ethan say in unison, then look at each other,” what you think it means.” They finish the same statement then laugh. Ethan groans and relaxes.

       “Everyone makes that mistake,” Bridget instructs. Cochran looks up. Seven grasps the meaning of the outburst with his open mouth and then grins at them. “It just means drastic change.” Emily says. “If ever, it rarely means death.”

       She points at the card, “See the King laying under the horses front hooves? He is not dead. He’s exhausted fighting against the change.”

       Cochran continues to eat and doesn’t look up. Seven eats slowly and shakes his head as Bridget explains the reading.

       “The holy man next to the King is submitting to the change as there is no other choice.” Bridget trades eye contact with both. Ethan glances back at Cochran. He knows her from somewhere, He thinks of that moment, in that blonde’s eyes as she realizes what is happening. Her surprise at the touch passes to shock and absolute terror. He maintains eye contact with Bridget, but his thoughts are not in the present.

       “Did she see the train,” Ethan whispers.

       “What?” Bridget asks, “What Ethan? I couldn’t hear you.”

       He looks at Seven, then Bridget, and doesn’t answer. He looks at Cochran; she must work for the city. He thinks as he stars at the Death Card.

       “Ethan? Do you have a question?” Bridget is stern. “Ethan?”

       “No. No, I just can’t seem to focus. I was thinking of my grandfather again.” He explains.

       Seven rolls his eyes, takes a bite of a hot dog, then a drink of his beer.

       “I am so sorry Bridget, please, please go ahead.” Ethan refocuses.

       “Okay. The knight, a skeleton or the bones of an old idea or way, is facing across the river to a castle in light.” She adds. “He carries a banner and its staff is like a graduated ruler. Change comes gradually sometimes inches at a time, but the white rose on the flag signals a positive outcome.”

       Seven and Ethan shake their heads up and down. The reading is not for Seven, but the interpretation of the images on the cards is fascinating. He’s always been curious about how the tarot works. He thinks if he could create an app associated with a random number generator, perhaps he could interpret his feeling about a case, a mystery that doesn’t quiet come directly to mind. If the generator were accurate, would he need life tables in the BART case? How could he apply context to other events like a person’s death? Seven thinks, I don’t know if an app could replace the context that the reader provides in real time for all circumstances? The diviner is extremely important to the reading to provide all contexts for every current circumstance. Hum?

       Bridget drinks from her beer, “okay. The child next to the holy man accepts the change with full resolve, hope, and excited expectation. It’s just like when we have to change a habit or something in our life, but don’t want to. We fight, but we know we have to and eventually after exhaustive resistance, we ware down our conception and rationalize with the future in mind, like the holy man; and then we are as excited as a child for something new.”

        “That makes sense,” Seven says, “like our case, we got kicked off of and no matter what we wanted we had to move on. The murder at the BART station last night, we were on the right track but extraneous circumstance, politics that are totally out of our control, forced us off, and…”

        “DAMNIT, SEVEN.” Cochran pops straight up. “Shut the FUCK up.” She pokes his arm with her fork.

       

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29 Saved Our Drinks

       Tap, tap, the band is in position on the stage and Bixxter leans down over the microphone. Tap, tap, “is this thing on?” He asks.

       The crowd at the party has grown to about 60. It is an amazing turnout. Some are decked out in full classic and alternate circus regalia. There are clowns and jugglers wire acts and tumblers, stilt walkers and animal lovers, and the rest make up an interactive audience, a cacophony of anti-matter. Some are full juiced in full laughter, and others have their heads down plowing through a plate of food. Comma is manning the grill, Chili mans the keg, and Phoebe flitters about as a butterfly happy on milkweed. She moves from table to table, clique-to-clique, dirty plate to empty glass; she is the penultimate Martha Stewart of the churrascos world. She is polite and curses on queue to guest expectations, remembering all of their names while carrying a pitcher of beer and a carafe for wine.

        “Hello.” Tap, tap, “can you hear me.” Bixxter calls out and Jaeble ducks down around the power cables and jiggles a few connections. The PA squeaks and squawks, and everyone at the party squirms. They turn and look towards the improvised stage. A quiet comes over the audience.

        “Sorry folks,” Bixxter says. He looks back to Jaeble who rattles more cables and looks up with a thumb in the air. “Hello,” the PA comes to life. “Welcome to The Fillmore,” he laughs. “Just kidding, welcome to our wonderful hosts, Phoebe and Comma’s Cirque du Fete.”

       The crowd revels with claps and cheers, finger snaps, whistles, and cowboy whoops.

        “If you need a bite, Comma’s on the grill; if you need a beverage, draftee Chili’s on the suds, thank you Chili; and our hostess with the most legs and smiles roams at your leisure. Don’t forget your manners, say thank you.” Bixxter instructs.

       The crowd cheers again and roars to life with a loud salute “thank you.” New arrivals are entering every few minutes through the house into the backyard; neighbors and late carneys join the cacophony.

        “Fresh off their tour of the subcontinent, inter-verse, and outer Oakland, where they’ve sung for Medusa herself and ruffled the wings of harpies; the mysterious and ever fascinating sounds of memory and marshmallow circus peanuts, we present to you this evening; give it up for, THE ARGONAUTS.” Bister turns and points with both hands at the band.

       The party rises to its feet. They clap and cheer as the band bows, and then, Veronica pumps the pedals and fingers the keys of the calliaphone. She plays a medley of circus songs.

       The machine hisses steam and pops, Veronica smiles. The rest of the band hold their instruments and bob or bounce in rhythm to the up, up and down notes; the brass squeaks and low tin rumbles. In the left front of the stage or ring, several of the amateur jugglers face each other’s and trick toss plates, glasses, silverware, hats, anything heavy enough to float. Tennis balls and sand-filled plastic bowling pins appear from nowhere and are added to the air traffic. Beer bottles, wine bottles, and soda cans are integrated into the up and over, under and around. Acrobats join in flip and tumble between and in time to the magic balance.

       Chili hands the keg spout over to Joel, the in next line, “I’ll be right back.” He walks over to the grill. Comma is flips burgers and hot dogs as fast as he can. “I don’t think the beer is going to last?”

       The Argonauts trip back in time with a short song by Django Reinhardt, Three Little Words.

        “Shit.” Comma flips all the hamburger patties on the grill. “The food too,” he shakes his head, puts his spatula down, wipes his brow, and looks at Chill. “Go tell Phoebe. The current round of burgers, beef and soy, sizzle their final gasp. “I don’t think she realized how many people were going to show?”

        “It’s a great party, man.” He says and walks off.

       Everyone else watches the performers and as the traditional Paris Swing ends, Veronica stands and inhales deep to catch her breath. She bows. Nathan fingers a high C. The band follows with a song by Tom Waits A Good Man is Hard to Find. Veronica sings. Partygoers release the moment with claps and hurrahs. The juggling, tumbling ballet continues and the clowns form a dysfunctional conga train.

       Just as Phoebe returns to her table, Ethan sits down across from Bridget and knocks the industrial spool with his legs. Bridget grabs their drinks and leans down on the spool to stabilize it. Phoebe’s knife falls over the edge of the spool and sticks in the ground at her feet.

        “Whoa,” she looks up at Ethan. His eyes are as big as tambourines.

        “Sorry, Phoebe,” Bridget says as she sits in her chair. “At least, I saved our drinks.”

       Phoebe and Bridget laugh out loud at each other. Ethan giggles and sits, uncomfortable.

       Phoebe sits down and sets the empty pitchers on the table. She bends down and pulls her knife out of the ground. She wipes it in on her apron. She cuts another piece off of her steak and eats it.

       

        “I hate this fucking traffic,” Lieutenant Inspector Emily Cochran exhales. Interstate 80 is a slow crawl, but steady.

       “I only leave the city out of absolute necessity.” Seven replies. “Exit here and take neighborhood roads.

       “You know your way around Emeryville?”

       “Well enough,” he replies.

       Her phone loudly rings once. She reaches in her pocket to retrieve it and scans the screen.

       “HEY.” Seven yells.

       She looks up taps the brakes hard. The cruiser lurches forward and Seven puts out his hands to stop his forward motion. The car in front of them has suddenly stopped. Seven puts out his hands to keep from banging his head on the dashboard.

        “What the hell are you doing?” He grabs the phone out of her hands. “I can answer it for you.”

        “It’s a text. It’s from Sergeant Ed Rice [ Special Operations with BART].” She answers and turns to grab it back.

       “Drive,” he says and points at the two empty car links in front. The Mercedes behind them honks as a Civic cuts into the open space.

       “Fuck you,” she looks in the rearview mirror.

       “Use your lights and go around them all.” Seven suggests.

       “I can’t do that. I am not in the city.” She looks to her left to move over to the exit lane.

       “Who’s gonna care?”

       “I care.” She turns on her blinker and a car lets her in.

       “What does the text say?” Emily asks.

       “Recog works. Face fills. Txt photo ASAP.” Seven reads. “I thought you were off the case?”

       “Sergeant Rice is not stupid. C Y A. He has my number, remember?”

       “Oh, yeah, but what can you do?” Seven is puzzled.

       “Time stamp.” She answers.

       “What?”

       “Rice is using me as a back up, so Chief Fire N Pants can’t deny it was sent in a timely fashion.” Emily explains.

       “But, doesn’t that keep you on the hook?” Seven inquires.

       “No. Not really. It’s just a precaution. I’m one name in a distribution, a simi- independent name.”

       “Ah. Unless, the Chief blows it, he’ll try to blame you?” Seven suggests.

       “He can’t. Too many witnesses.” She replies, “Right, witness?”

       “Shit.” Seven realizes he is in the chain of responsibility too.

       Thirty cars from a queue at the exit ramp, “fuck it.” Emily switches on the cherry toper.

       

       Chile steps up to Phoebe and bends down to speak in her ear, “Comma said to tell you, we’re at the end of the keg.”

       “Already. Wow. Well, tell you what, grab my car keys next to the front door above Comma’s monitors and go to the BevMore in Emeryville for another.” She tells Chili. “Ask Bixxter or someone else to go with you.”

       “Uh, okay, what kind? Do you want me to pay?” He asks.

       “Get a card from Com.”

       “Okay. One? What kind of beer?” Chili inquires.

       “Maybe two? Ask Com. I don’t think it matters, Chili; cheap and your choice.” She replies. “Oh, and thank you.” She turns and kisses him on the cheek. “I owe you, so come by the Church Key in North Beach.”

       Chili smiles and walks off.

       “Excuse me,” Phoebe stands and returns to the kitchen to check her wine supply. It’s good, and so she hauls two more boxes to the food table.

       

       “This is it.” Seven says.

       Lt. Inspector Cochran stops in the street in front of the warehouse. “Where should we park?” She looks to her rearview then side mirrors.

       “You’re in a police cruiser; anywhere you want.” He shrugs.

       “I don’t want to block anyone.” Cochran says.

       “How about over there?” He points to the apex of a corner, next to a stop sign.”

       “That’s, illegal?” She replies.

       “Who’s gonna care? You’re The Man, you can park anywhere you want.”

       “Seriously?” Cochran shakes her head.

       “Yes. Leave the flashers on. You’re just stopping for a bite to eat, and it shouldn’t take longer, than half an hour or hour at the most?” Seven reassures her.

       Cochran awkwardly parks the SFPD black and white in the corner space. She turns the hazard lights on and exits. Seven is already standing outside her door.

       

       “Remember where we’re at?” Bridget asks Ethan.

        “Sure, but you’re going to sum at the end, right, when you cast my future?”

       “Of course, that’s the most important.” Bridget slyly winks. She straightens the reading and the deck; both spread a little on the bump.

       She pulls the top card off of the deck and lays it in the 5th position, to the left of the crossed cards. It is The Lovers. The tip of her tongue touches the corner of her mouth; she giggles and blushes.

The Lovers

The Lovers

       “The Lovers in the position of future influences,” Bridget explains. “Future influences are emotions, events, personalities that will influence you in the near future. They may be subtle or not.”

       “The Lovers? Really? Are you hitting on me?” Ethan asks. He smiles and laughs at the joke.

       “No, silly. You saw me shuffle, and I didn’t stack the deck. Besides, it wouldn’t be professional.” Bridget replies. She snickers with him.

       Ethan looks serious for a moment. He flashes his eyes left and right as if looking around for a shill. “Professional?” He laughs out loud and Bridget shakes her head.

       He finishes his beer. “Do you want another?” He tips his glass towards her.

       “I think they’re out,” she answers. “But, they’re going after another keg. I heard Phoebe and Chili talking.”

       “It’s out already?” Ethan looks around and realizes the party has swollen to around 75 people.

       Joel comes stumbling over. He’s carrying three glasses. “I think I got the last.” He sits them down on the table. “You might want to let them sit a moment. Foamy.”

       “Thanks, Joel,” Ethan says. He places the fresh cup inside the old one. “That’s an ugly head.”

       Bixxter walks across the front of the stage as the band continues to play. He flashes a handmade sign, revolving it from side to the next. It says, “Sorry, Out of Beer,” on one side; and on the the other, “Goin’ 4 More Beer.” It generates a mournful sigh, and then an upbeat gasp in his immediate vicinity as he flips it between the two sides. After crossing the band, he head off into the audience on a random path.

       “They’re going after more.” Bridget admonishes. “Be patient.”

       “That’s good.” Joel responds. “After hanging with these amazing clowns and acrobats, I wouldn’t want to them to fall off the wire.”

       “The Lovers are not exactly what they appear to be.” Bridget says and points at the card.

       “The Lovers? My boy works fast,” Joel adds and laughs.

       Ethan frowns, “really man?” He picks it up and turns it over in his hands. “Hum?” He suspiciously, but not seriously shakes his head. “Was this your plan all along, Bro?”

       She takes the card from him and places it left of the two-stacked cards. “It’s more about you and your choices.” She explains and looks sternly at Joel.

       “I am going back to the clowns. There’s a cute acrobat who’s flirting with me.” Joel responds.

       Are you sure she’s flirting with you, Joel? Ethan asks. “What about your date?”

       “She not coming.” He says haughtily and walks off. “I’m going to learn to tumble,” he drunkenly shouts over his shoulder.

       Veronica and the Argonauts strike up a calliaphone version of A Tap Dancer’s Dilemma, Diablo Swing Orchestra. Jaeble joins in on the vocals through an auto tune microphone. She sings the male part through a tin echo chamber.

       “You’re going to have to make a decision between two parts of you life.” Bridget stares in his eyes to evaluate his reaction, and get him to focus. “It could be between a new lover and old lover, a new lifestyle and new one.”

       “So, this isn’t me and you?” He squirms in his seat.

       “No, no. Well, it could be?” She smirks. “It’s more about the choice between two people, places, emotions, whatever is troubling you in the immediate future. It could actually be now to 30 minutes from now.”

       “Half an hour, why half an hour?” Ethan stiffens and sits up right.

       “No. It’s not that exact.” Bridget reiterates. “It’s just a point of reference.”

       His mood slackens, but his back is still rigid. He sees Suzy’s eyes for a moment, her confusion. He thinks about yesterday and the BART station? Did it really happen? It couldn’t have. I’m not killer, he thinks to himself. No one’s talking about it?

       “This is not science Ethan; it’s really about you helping you answer your own question.”

       “Sorry. My mind went elsewhere for a moment.” He answers.

       “Is there something you want to tell me?” Bridget asks.

       “No. No. I just spaced out. I think I just need more beer.” He swigs through the foam.

       Bridget sips too, and then sits her glass down. She points to the card, “the nude man and woman face each other, behind the man is a tree of flowers; he attracts her with blooms of manhood. She stands in front of the fruit-bearing tree with a snake. The snake represents the hard truths of the natural world. The fruit is her potential. Behind them both is an angel; it represents all things, actions, and emotions. It is smiling and will do so no matter what the consequence. The mountain apex under the angel indicates a pivotal moment in life.”

       “So, this is about us?” Ethan repeats with a quiver on the last word.

       “It could be, but it’s more likely a metaphor for the commitment humanity makes to itself and to life. Making decisions may change things, but all life is change; and in deciding, one commits to it. You decide and fate follows. The act of deciding is the root of all human experience.”

       “I’m not sure that I understand what you are talking about?” He points at the card “it’s a naked man and woman with a giant angel behind them. It seems obvious and terrifying.”

       “Yes. I suppose, but the angel is smiling. What ever you commit to in life usually works out exactly as it is suppose to.” She explains

       “Okay?” He is still unsure.

       “What ever you are worried about, you will figure it out, and decide what’s best for yourself.” She reassures.

       Ethan shrugs, half in agreement. So far his desperate decisions have had no consequence. Will there be a consequence or can he avoid them?

       “You’re still uncertain? It’s only one card in one position of the entire reading. It should all become clear at the end.” Bridget smiles.

       

       Steve McSwain inches the International Harvester forward as he merges onto I-80. He looks into his side mirror and can see a red Ford pick up about 10 cars behind him. “Shit,” he exclaims to himself and pounds a fist on the steering wheel. How will I ever make Amtrak? This delivery is going to turn into a two-day or all-nighter. “Fuck,” I don’t want to drive to Sacto; I don’t give a shit how much they’ll pay me.

       

       Seven and Emily walk up to Comma and Phoebe’s front door. They read the sign on the door in silence. Cochran looks up at the surveillance cameras.

       “It seems a little informal,” Cochran says.

       “It must be busy back there.” Seven answers. He looks inside then at her as she adjusts her holster further behind her back. “Do you have to carry that now?”

       She sighs, “you know the answer to that.”

       

       Phoebe returns to the table, and while still standing, eats the last bite of her steak.

       “Busy,” Bridget asks, “do you need any help?”

       “No, I am fine. I love this. I’ll be back.” She picks up her glass and heads for the stage.

       Bridget pulls another card off the deck and lays it to the right of and aligned with the bottom of four-card cross. It is the Knight of Wands, upside down. She looks up at Ethan, but his reaction is still stiff. I wonder what he is thinking? She says in her mind.

Cards 1 - 6

Cards 1 – 6

        “I’m upside down,” Ethan says and smiles; he takes a long draft off the beer. Foam covers the tip of his nose.

       “Let me,” Bridget says. She reaches up with a napkin and wipes the end of his nose.

       Ethan sighs, “gee, thanks, smooth move?”

       Bridget blushes.“Are you projecting, Ethan?”

       “Uh, no,” he thinks for a moment, “yes, I mean no; I mean, I enjoy hanging out with you.”

       “The Knight of Wands implies travel, determination, unpredictability, and challenges.” She begins. “The 6th position means attitude and circumstance in your current time, right now.”

Knight of Wands

Knight of Wands

       “Tally ho! I’m galloping on my head.” Ethan gallops in his seat with his hands about his head holding invisible reigns.

       “Foam is going to your head.” She answers. “The Knight is holding a staff with sprouting leaves while riding a horse. Both are expressions of energy and movement. The Knight is galloping through a dessert, if he stops, his horses hooves will burn. His armor is covered in a yellow coat of arms and red feathers, the color of flames. Flames are change. The horse is galloping left of the path which is sometimes associated with left thinking or alternative choices.”

       “And galloping on my head?” Ethan asks. He gallops in his seat again.

       The Argonauts cover Tangled up in Plaid, Queens of the Stone Age.

        “Reversed, you are feeling overwhelmed with restrictions of your forward movement, indecisive and even apathetic about your progress. You are confused about your self and this is creating disruption in your life.”

       “Bummer. Galloping is getting me nowhere. I should stop.” Ethan replies.

       “No, no, no, don’t let the confusion hold you up. Embrace it and let it happen, as it should. If you continue to block it or reverse it, or stop, it will be much worse.” Bridget encourages him.

       “I hope the keg comes soon.”

       Phoebe laughs, “Yes, it’ll cool your hooves.”

       The Argonauts finish their first set with another Tom Waits song, Dead and Lovely.

       After the song, Bixxter returns to the microphone, “let’s give a big HELL YES and hallelujah for the band, THE ARGONAUTS.” He puts his fingers together and in his mouth and whistles through the p.a. Everyone, who isn’t already, stands, claps, cheers, summersaults; whatever is handy to the imagination.

       As the remittance dies down, Bixxter returns to the microphone “the band will take a short break for meat snacks and suds, then another set with the juggling team of Mike, Mike, Mike, and Harold.” He claps and exits.

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