Greetings in a New Year,
I wish I could say that this January came in a rush of fresh snow and growing light but the weather has been warm and rather unwintery; windy and gloomy and raining with days just warm enough for a light jacket and nights just cold enough for a sweater and shoes. Thunder storms have been sensational with rumbling and lightening and driving rain but, quite frankly, with a migraine it is all part of a numb background. My Christmas with Family, celebrated in January, was actually lovely and I got to see some of our closer friends. My Sister is a complex person with a husband who is beyond perfect for her and between the two of them I think they cary the weight of half the world on their shoulders. Working for the State Department is a job I would never want and am simply relieved that truly good people are out there in the really real world. She was relaxed and cheery for the Holiday and once again all her gifts were spot on; this is a strange ability she has even though we are not spot on together for more than three days in a row.
The chronic illness thing is raining on my parade, and not in that amazing water-from-the-sky changing everything into glorious-grey sort of way. I will without a doubt sing the praises of medical cannabis over the long term effects of rizatriptans, narcotics, and opioids when dealing with my migraines and fibromyalgia. The down side to medications are the side effects and left over effects while it tries to help you from your illness. I try very hard to remember how much better my health is now that side effects are at a minimum but the truth is I am rather tired of a fluffy head tempered with vague pain for days at a time or nasty pain that leads to holding a bucket over the side of the bed. My time seems to be lost between trying to do something useful between the days of pain. I have a real fear of my husband getting caretaker syndrome again and in a place that is between the Hometown Bread Basket of the Mid West and the Welcoming Warmth of the South I am also stuck with a fear of finding A Tribe. I understand that other people have problems but right now this is my blog and my rant. And I tell myself that perhaps someone else with a chronic pain can not be alone: So I got ya’ huny. No need to feel alone. Other folks are just as muddled and unhappy as you are and to quote a deliciously trite saying “So far your record for getting through bad days is 100% and that’s a good score to have.”
My allergies have me imitating lumberjacks with a train wreck, and the mildew traps we slept in during our holiday visit didn’t help; plus some where at some time a person in Arkansas decided that air intake systems for houses could draw over packed earth crawl spaces: Literally the air is pulled through the air filter, across the crawl space and back into the house: Brilliant. So Ian checked the air vent in the bedroom and the air ducts were cleaned relatively recently but the closure was last adjusted about fifty years ago. We got it closed and covered the ceiling vent with layers of clear packing tape. We then moved the infrared heater in the living room into the bedroom so we have heat; this nifty little box gives out that nice glowing dry warmth and I can pretend that we have a fire place. The outcome so far is less snoring and improvement on the wombat breath: a win-win both ways.
We watch Hoarders, kinda like viewing a garage sale and train wreck all at once. the biggest up side to perversely watching the agony and dirt from other people is I feel so much tidier and I do get the urge to throw things away and donate stuff. Believe it or not I have donated lots of books and furniture, and even pitched out a few rocks. I actually love to give away fossils and rocks to Earth Sciences Teachers because teachers get bubkiss for classrooms and it was a teacher’s private collection that got me interested in rocks and minerals in the first place. I sometimes wonder what would we watch on tv if not for reality shows like Hoarders and House Wives (which I do not watch): “Ooooo. Jenny has dust bunnies under that couch! And the toilet paper roll is on backwards!! We have a big job here ahead of us.” “Ted’s sock drawer is unorganized right now AND his tool chest is dirty on the outside. Will we be able to get him to sort the black from the white socks?!!” or “Robyn is shopping in Wallmart for underwear. She is styling that grannie panty with a Steinmart necklace.” “Gracie is just killing it with those deviled eggs. She is THE highlight of the Church pot luck!!” And of course comes the love folks have for Dr Pimple Popper: “This is the close-up of Sue’s gingivitis: Tarter, tarter, tarter! Now starts the deep gum cleaning!!” “Burt’s toe fungus is intense. We are presenting him with an anti fungal and tee tree oil!” With these for choices I’m kinda glad that there is some dystopia out there.
And so we are going to look for another rental home. It took two weeks to get the gutters cleaned of the plants growing in them, a month to get the leak in the wall to the washing machine fixed, and now the linen closet that abuts the crawl space is WET with the cream colored carpet turning brown. The only upside to this is that we have five months to pack ourselves and we have a realtor that gets us, and the “getting us” is the hardest part. Asking a realtor straight up if they have any de-sanctified churches, houses next to cemeteries, or houses with strange configurations is a practice in dark humor. BUT our realtor here understood us and calls it “quirky”, which is better than stuttering and saying “We don’t have those.” One of the most outrageous, spectacular, artistic, beautiful, and loving Ladies I know used to help her husband with his Realestate practice and they specialized in haunted houses so I can feel justified in my requests. While I have dreams of finding a miniature Adams Family home the reality is hoping for a ranch style with wood floors.
Yours truly and husband broke down and got Disney Plus channel. At this point I can definitely say that The Mandalorian is the perfect send-up to Star Wars and American westerns. Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it for a younger audience? Yes. They do a lovely job of adding a little bit of extra background and personality to the Star Wars universe while giving a smart little “popcorn” story to enjoy. Is this the masterpiece everyone is talking about? Not really but I can guarantee that in years to come heroes will have flame throwers and be armored monks. And yes, the “yodaling” is adorable as all get out.
Righty-o Gentle Readers! It is slipping into March and I am finally able to think clearly without wanting to cry or throw up so let me get this blog post to its end. So here comes the next part of Red Angels Rise: There is a bit of her home with a feel for the city then we get an invitation to peek at a police station of Cinerarium and a fellow Inspector. I promise the mystery of the train stations will continue even as a new adventure is brought in….
“These sorts of things can happen on occasion.” Elsbeth said, her face a placid mask. “I’m sure his lordship has a most astute reason for the decision.”
“Indeed I do.” Lord Arstair said with more than a trace of irritation in his voice.
Her expression hadn’t changed, but Mariesha could see the glint in Elsbeth’s as she spoke again. “Are you sure you understand the meaning of astute then, sir?”
For a long second Arstair said nothing, his glare switching between the two women before him. “Are you sure you understand the meaning of a command?”
“Oh ay, I do know that one.” Mariesha growled. “If you have a reason, I’d like to know it. I’d like to know why we’ve been yanked off my case to go chase down some noble sod who’s probably off recoverin’ from a bender?”
The sounds of the Tanbury Patrol Station filled the silence in the room for a moment, a hundred voices trying to shout over one another and only succeeding in making them all indecipherable. When Mariesha and Elsbeth had arrived that morning, there had been a pile of dead sheep in a cart sitting out front, a trio of ghouls yelling across the duty officer’s desk at an apprentice necromancer, and a tinkerer gesturing madly at a small pile of gears and springs as they tried to reassemble themselves.
All in all a quiet Tuesday morning.
“Sit down.” Arstair finally said, sighing a little. When Mariesha simply stared, crossing her arms, the older man scowled. “Fine… stand there. Listen to me, child, I know what you’re thinking, you may be demon blooded but you have emotions like every other body slogging through this life. This is not what the two of you are assuming.”
It took all the willpower Mariesha could muster not to comment, not to interrupt. Instead she just stared, fuming.
“I need the boy found, and I need him found now.” Arstair said, pointedly sliding a sheaf of papers across his desk at the young inspector. “No bribes getting in the way, no politics, no damned foolery. Just find him.”
“And Inspector Greywaves is thought of as above such things,” Elsbeth announced proudly, smiling.
Arstair smirked. “No, everyone thinks she’s too crazy to bribe, so they’re less likely to try… and I think she’s above such things.”
Mariesha could feel Elsbeth trying to work up a good head of steam, an indignant rant to remember no doubt, but all the tiefling could do was stifle a laugh.
“Well, I guess every cutter’s gotta’ have some kind of reputation, and there’s worse than that,” She finally conceded with a shrug, plucking the case file from the oak desk, trying to hide how pleased she was to have Arstair’s approval. “So who’s takin’ my case til this one’s done? I am getting it back once we get this boy home, right?”
Her last words were less of a question and more of a warning, something Arstair didn’t seem to miss given his expression. “Lest we get it solved before then… yes you’ll get the case back. As for who will take it in the mean, I’m putting Deulane on.”
Mariesha glanced up over the top of the papers, then shrugged. “Fair enough.” Was all she said, though inwardly she was grinning. If she could have picked someone to fill in for her it was Edmund Deulane.
“One more thing,” Arstair said, turning his gaze fully onto Elsbeth. “You, Ms. Bailey, are a recorder. You are not some kind of crazed warrior diving into dangerous situations. When in the field you should avoid danger as much as possible while recording Inspector Greywaves. Is that understood?”
Straightening herself, Elsbeth flashed a disconcerted little frown. “But Lord Arstair I can assure you I’ve never done anything that was not absolutely necessary in my support of the Inspector,” she replied in her perfect little docile lady voice, which almost made Mariesha laugh out loud.
“That’s quite contrary to what I’ve heard from the Wardens. Apparently they feel you are all too eager to dive into the less lady-like aspects of the job.”
Despite her efforts, Elsbeth blushed. “Well I…”
Arstair shook his head. “No, don’t even try. Do your job, and nothing more. I have enough problems with people talking about a woman Inspector.”
Mariesha dropped the papers she’d been skimming over back onto Arstair’s desk and raised an eyebrow. “And exactly which brain box is tossin’ that about? I can go show them just how ladylike I can be. Just pray they don’t want to spawn any more…”
“Enough! Just get the boy!” Arstair bellowed, punctuating his shouts with a slam on the desk hard enough to send a dozen other folders flying. “By every God left I’d toss you both out onto the street if you weren’t, by some madness, as good as you are!”
Papers were still settling as Elsbeth stepped out the door into Tanbury’s great entry hall, closely followed by Mariesha. “I think we made Magister Arstair angry for the rest of the day,” the recorder said as she started through the maze of desks.
Mariesha glanced quickly back over her shoulder, winced once, then shrugged casually, “Well, it’s not like we were doin’ it to the cutter on purpose.”
Deulane sat in the furthest alcove of the great hall, pressed as far back between a pair of towering pillars as his desk would allow in a vain attempt to escape the cacophony of Tanbury. Every time Mariesha had laid eyes on the man in the station, he had this strained little smile on his face, like just breathing the chaotic air of the place made him uncomfortable.
Actually that was probably pretty much the truth.
“Inspector Greywaves, a pleasure to see you again.” Deulane said as he climbed to his feet and extended a hand.
“It’s been a few ticks since we talked.” Mariesha replied with a smile. “How’s it going for ya’?”
There was a slight shrug before Deulane turned toward Elsbeth. “Fair enough, I should suppose, though often more busy than I’d prefer.” As the Recorder approached he once again offered his hand. “Ms. Bailey, it is a pleasure as always.” He finished just before kissing the back of Elsbeth’s gloved hand.
If Mariesha didn’t know better she’d swear a little blush came into Elsbeth’s cheeks. “Indeed, it is always the utmost pleasure to see you, Inspector Deulane.”
To one side, Mariesha sat on a corner of Deulane’s desk, perhaps the cleanest and most organized surface in the station. Hells, if given the choice she’d have preferred a surgeon worked her over here than in most of the hospitals. “So Arstair told ya’ yet?”
“Magister Arstair? Yes, he mentioned I am to continue a case for you, correct?”
Mariesha nodded. “The train station massacres. Els and I should have this other case done up pretty and be back on the massacre right fast, but I’m glad Arstair picked you. Means the trail won’t go cold while some berk sits on his backside.”
Deulane bowed slightly. “My thanks for the compliment.” He said returning Mariesha’s smile. “It’s a fascinating string of events; truth be told I’ve already been reading what I could find on the case. What more can you tell me?”
Like magic, Elsbeth pulled a small tome from somewhere within the folds of her dress. “I’ve transcribed all of Inspector Greywaves’ notes for filing with the king’s clerk while here. If you should like, Inspector, you can have these and I can…”
Holding up a hand, Deulane cut Elsbeth off in mid-sentence. “No need, Ms. Bailey. I’ll transcribe my own copy and file yours with the clerk by this evening. What kind of a gentleman would I be to ask so much palaver from a lady?”
“A pretty damned rare one.” Mariesha chuckled. “You’re the most gentlemanly gentleman I think I’ve ever met.”
Edmund Deulane was one of the last burks she would have ever thought to be a scarlet cloaked inspector. He was average height and had a nondescript build, always neatly ensconced in a matching grey suit and vest with a contrasting tie. No matter how lithe he was in body, he still had vestiges of baby fat on his face that adulthood had not done away with. And although he had plenty of it, his hair was always parted on one side and then held in place with a men’s pomade. Mariesha often held back the desire to shake him and see if anything would come loose.
As stuffy as he seemed to Mariesha, he wasn’t the blue blooded prig that assumed he was better than a near homeless tiefling because of his birth, forgetting the equality of the scarlet cloaks. Mariesha had inwardly restrained herself on the first meeting, mostly because of having received her first lecture on insulting her fellow inspectors, and had been pleasantly surprised to find him dull.
His born status also made being an Inspector a step down, yet once in a while there was a fire showing in the back of his eyes and Mariesha had surmised to Elsbeth that something was driving him; and there was, for he certainly didn’t need the money. The Deulanes were a solid, well-entrenched middle class family. In a hive like Cinerarium there was never a lack of need for morticians, it was the good ones that were harder to find; and the Deulanes were one of the best. They had been a fifth generation family of morticians quietly serving the wealthy poor and the middle class when Edmund’s father had invented at a young age the ghoul proof coffin. Nothing can beat a determined being with a sledgehammer but they were proof enough against the jagged claws of a hungry ghoul and now the family was vaulted to the top of the Boxers.
There are two different ranks of mortician available to the common man; those that make pine boxes and those that can only tie their family in sheets and rope. Winders aren’t bad people but often the bodies are shallowly buried and become food for ghouls and parts for robbers. Most every poor sod in the city aspires to be buried by Boxers and those that can’t even afford a Winder are sad indeed.
It had been a long night over a year ago belonging to an even longer day, while going over the collected remains of case together, when Edmund had opened up ever so slightly. Edmund’s recorder had been asleep in an oversized cot made just for him while Elsbeth yawned, having just woken up from her short nap, and was pouring them all more precious coffee. The exam room had still smelled vaguely of ash and blood while the chemical orb lights had floated over-head.
“I remember as a child,” he had started without urging, “Watching over the bodies as they came in to be cleaned and prepared. I was very proud of my task, of course, sorting and folding their belongings, because Father had told me I was growing up into a clever lad. I would carefully put everything in a basket; sometimes not more than rags other times even a ring or a bowler hat. And so I got a very good look at them and their final belongings. And at times I knew with a great clarity, seldom bestowed on a child of those years, that their deaths were not just accidents or old age. As my father cleaned under broken and bloody finger nails, he too knew; but once I had seen the scars under his white shirt, received for having tried to press a mysterious death further with constables, and so we said nothing.”
Mariesha had been afraid to breath heavily and break the spell put over them.
“I had always wanted to be a Boxer like my father. Damned proud of him I am. But the first time a scarlet cloaked Inspector came into the laying-out room and actually asked my father about a recent death, and we knew that something had changed within the justice of our city; Well, then I suddenly knew what I wanted to become. The realization burned like a new ember from that day forward: I was going to see to the mystery of justice for all the people of Cinerarium.”
Edmund had then methodically stirred some sugar into his cup and taken a long swallow of coffee. “Well, Inspector Greywaves, let us go over the evidence again, shall we.”
The thick file of the missing railway passengers was now in Edmond Deulanes hands and the thin folder of the missing boy was waiting to be read. Mariesha shook hands with Edmond solemnly and waited patiently while he gently kissed the back of Elsbeth’s gloved hands in farewell.
“Well, Els, lets go and scan about this poor burk,” said Mariesha as she walked past her own desk. “There’s great tucker to be had at Blythe’s Pub right now.”
All my Love and Adoration to my friends and rock hound family: I miss you all dearly so please keep up with your adventures. Dig Crazy and Create Wildly.