Deal 347: Sagad part 2

We become of beginnings and births
to hazard of hereafter of him or her
like wide open windows to wonder.

With the cool clarion’s call
this boy’s birth beguiles and
we fates falter at foretelling.
‘Tis but a temporary tabling, this,
while the boy babe’s bent for bawling
defers fate’s fortune telling.
Cleared minds may make amends
give short shrift to shrill shouts
for fates to fathom fatherhood.
With wide windows to wonders and woes
We sense his subsurface circuits
and melodic masterworks to come.
Meanwhile mother’s mammaries do
squelch the squeals and squalor,
while cutting carrot coins for
the steaming stew pot on stovetop.
Having hewed to harbingers, we hags
delay and defer to decide and dedicate
the male-child’s musical metier.
We become of beginnings and births
to hazard of hereafter of him or her
like wide open windows to wonder.


Deal 346: Sagad

Newly named norns, we are
unknown utterly, undying fates
though fewer, and far between as
population paroxysm proceeds apace.
Vanishing views of valiant Valkyries
belittled belief bypasses plight so
disaster is deferred and disguised.
We become of beginnings and births
to hazard of hereafter of him or her
like wide open windows to wonder.

So begins our Saga, if the bards ever see fit to include us. As the youngest Norns, we are rarely mentioned by name, and never get the plum assignments. The births we attend are almost universally of people with meagre destinies. Mistakes, however, do get made.

Not that we ever get a great leader, a great criminal, or a great victim. But on occasion, we get someone destined to shake the hand of a great leader, a great criminal, or a great victim.

On any visit, our job is to see through the window of fate, to glimpse the great tapestry, and to note the significant events in the pattern as woven. For those inflicted with greatness, the window is clear and broad, and usually standing wide open to our second sight were we lucky enough to see it from that perspective. For our typical case, the window is clouded, stuck in its jamb, probably not clean, and certainly not large.

But as surrogate fates, it is our job to perform the augury, place the client in their proper place in the tapestry, and pass the word if anything too unusual will occur. This job started out like all the rest. The pager goes off right after the barrista finally produced our coffee. You can’t rush good coffee, and drinking while on the run is never good. We usually just set our cups down and trust that we can bend the present just enough to return to them before they cool. Not so lucky this time, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The birth was difficult, unattended, in a cabin on a wind-swept point of land jutting out into the North Sea. While waiting, I began to set up my things, and was startled to find that the window was already open and waiting for us. “Sisters,” I called, “look here!”

“The window is clearer than any we’ve seen! ”

“I can see right into the well! The swans look happy tomorrow.”

As I had come to expect, neither the mother nor the father noticed us. We had only to await the actual birth, then pronounce our vision over the baby, which seemed likely to be easier than usual this time. I should know better than to tempt fate. After all, I work for her, or I am her, depending on how you look at it.

Finally, the birth was accomplished and we could complete our work. As I sought our client in the tapestry, I felt that something was off. “Sisters,” I said, “look at this. I can’t find him in the cloth.”

“I can’t find his thread at all.”

“I can’t see where it was cut, or where it ties in and out.”

“Does he… or she… did anyone check?”


“Does he have a thread at all?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course he has a thread….”


Deal 344: Newtonian

The curtain raises to reveal a still scene on a black stage with dark drapes to the sides and rear. Quiet jazz music is playing in the background.

Sitting on the easel is a large, framed oil painting of a pastoral scene with green hills, blue sky, and scattered puffy clouds. There are a few indistinct animals in the distance. And in the foreground, a sapling, with a picnic spread out in its shadow.

The easel stands in a single pin spot. Beside it is a large framework, and a stand nearby holds a collection of large shiny balls, perhaps a foot in diameter. A figure is leaning on one of the posts of the framework, apparently napping.

A pin spot illuminates the figure, who startles awake, stands and stretches for a moment.

He silently admires the painting for a minute, then picks up one of the balls.

It is obviously light as he handles it. The longer he handles it, the lighter it gets. Finally, it is floating just out of reach of his finger tips. At this point, he stops and lectures the ball, which sheepishly returns to his hands. He walks it over to the framework, and leaves it swinging as if attached to the frame overhead but of course there are no visible strings.

He pauses to admire the painting. Something seems different about it, but the audience can’t see it.

The next ball he picks up is immensely heavy. He can barely lift it. The more he handles it, the heavier it gets, so he takes it over to the framework and leaves it gently swinging along with the first. Again, no strings are visible.

Again, he pauses to admire the painting. The audience may notice that the sky is different, and the tree is distinctly larger. They probably can’t tell that it is an apple tree.

The third ball is just right, and somewhat eager to please. It clearly is loving the attention, and does tricks to get more attention. It rolls up and down his arms. It rolls from hand to hand down one arm, across his back, and down the other arm. Placed on the stage, it rolls to him, then up a leg and into his arms. He sets it in midair along with the first two.

Turning back to the painting, it is now distinctly different from earlier. The tree now dominates the scene, and a storm is brewing.

Remaining on the rack is an amber glass reagent bottle with an aged label with a faint skull and crossbones just barely visible, and a large tag tied to the neck that reads “Drink Me”. He takes a sip from the bottle.

He draws back the third ball, and lets it swing at the other two. The expected desk toy action happens, with the first ball swinging out and back. The balls make a lot of noise with each impact, and with each impact, he takes another sip, pulling up his hood as he watches the balls continue their inevitable dance, sipping from the bottle with each impact.

And then he vanishes as the hood and bottle falls to the floor.

In the painting, the storm has passed, and the magician is seen leaning on the tree, and enjoying an apple that has fallen into his lap.


Deal 343: The White Bomb

I am the other kind of clown.

I am the clown that honks.

I am the white face of your nightmares.

They call me Traitor, and I can live with that.

I was killing time in my usual watering hole, The Dropped Banana, enjoying the ambiance and the whiskey. Then she walked in, and my day took a turn for the even stranger.

She was short, but statuesque, if you like your statues short. Perhaps four feet tall, or a touch more. Dressed well, tailored, classy. Hair in a braid, and at that it hung past her knees. She paused in the door to let everyone notice her, then strolled over to the bar and glared at the barkeeper until he poured her a mug with a head on it as large as hers.

She surveyed the room, then singled me out.

I didn’t know where this was leading, but I was beginning to anticipate trouble.

“I need a bomb. I’m told you can provide and deliver,” she said, and not particularly quietly at that.

This was actually the right approach in the Banana where pretty much everyone knew my story, and simply turned back to their conversations where they had left them rather than waste time trying to listen in. I was beginning to wonder who had sent her this way and briefed her so well.

“No small talk, I see. I like that,” I said. She glared at small talk, then realized I wasn’t intending anything other than poking her back for the bomb line. Bombs are a bit of a sore subject with me. Especially when concealed in a cream pie. Don’t ask, you’ll live longer.

“Why would you need a bomb, and why would you think that I could provide an illegal entertainment like that?”

“You will find that I don’t answer questions that begin with why,” she said.

“Bombs are not art objects,” I said. “They explode. And if you are skilled, they only explode when and where you intend. If not skilled, or are unlucky, then the bomb picks its own time and place.”

“I have my reasons. They are not entirely mine to share, so I will to guard them closely. At least, if I do spill it won’t be in a public place like this.”

“You will have to reveal who, where, and when.”

“Of course, and in due course.”

“Well. There would also be the matter of payment. The first sample might have been free, but a clown has to buy new floppy shoes from time to time, and clown shoes aren’t cheap.”

“Payment in full, in advance. Go see Joe. Tell him the short stack sent you for the spatula special. He will provide the rest of the details.” She winced at the hokey pass phrase.

“And your name?”

“Is not important.”

“Ok. I can live with that.”

And with that, she turned on a heel and sashayed back out of the bar. Her exit would have been perfect if it weren’t for the bar’s namesake in her path.