Deal 1271: Chanteuse

All eyes watched her arrive on stage, floating out of the darkness into the pin spot. Then she began to sing.

She sang of first love and loss, of tea in the garden, of all the ways she had failed.

By the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.


Deal 1215: Consequences

Events turned on a dime once his decision was made. Most of that cascade was outside his purview, of course. He still had trouble recalling and believing how far his influence spread.

After all, he wasn’t born to his position. Nor had he earned it in any of the usual venues.

He earned it by saving the King.

Why had the King need of the help of a beggar?

Because— actually he didn’t have a good answer to that normally rhetorical question. All he could really speak to was the event itself. The King was alone, the would-be killer stepped out of a shadow. What would anyone do in that circumstance? Even if it was very strange that the King was in your alley after midnight?


Deal 1191: One.

There can be only one.

This cage isn’t nearly large enough to hold two of us. Instinct drives us to destroy each other. Mutual aid is very much against the grain, even if it is also mutually beneficial. This is a weakness, perhaps.

Or perhaps not. One must win. One must lose.

Then again, if the cage continues to exist after I have defeated you, then I may be defeated by the cage.

There can only be one, but this may be a rare time when it is to my advantage to let you live, and to cooperate to remove the cage.

The cage limits us individually.

We barely know how to cooperate when we are free. How do we learn now, when we are bound?

The dilemma remains. Do we share strength to bend the bars, and do I risk that you betray me at a moment of vulnerability?

Or do I take advantage of the fact that you have to be within striking distance in order to help in a meaningful way?

It seems that I do.

And so, now, there is only one.

And that one is still in a cage.

It is my nature.


Deal 1106: Orange Signs

Communication without purpose is pointless. So when the mysterious markings were noticed, the first challenge was to figure out why they might be there. Only then would it be possible to figure out what they meant.

It was a mystery, all right.

The little oranges were showing up on doorsteps and front gates, all around town. No one ever noticed them being placed. Nor did any security cameras.

Had they been simple chalk markings on gateposts or sidewalks, they may never have been noticed.

But actual oranges were used, and that was just out there enough for people to chat about.

The fruit were nothing special, usually similar to whatever was on sale all across town. Usually overripe or bruised, so they clearly were not being left as a strange sort of gift for others.

Did they mean anything?

Who knows.

If they were messages, they clearly were not conveying a lot of information. But the information was worth at least the cost of an orange to someone.

Or perhaps it was all just a strange fad, playing out in a niche community that only rarely overlaps the usual mundane world.

When you find an orange on your doorstep, take a moment to wonder at the touch of the absurd that has entered your life.

Then throw it away without fear.