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Deal 895: Killed seance

“Now is the time for silence, as we join hands and complete the circle.”

Thirteen of us sat close-packed at the table properly sized for ten. The room was large enough, but the usual furniture had all been pushed aside to make room for the table. At the north point sat the medium for the evening. The remaining twelve of us were guests, and our host who sat defiantly at the southern point glaring at the medium.

The medium’s helpers sat around the perimeter of the room. At least, those that admitted to being involved. Earlier they had been busy, shifting furniture, moving in the heavy round table, and other similar arcane tasks.

He arrived to find the room prepared and ready, which was expected since one doesn’t expect an elderly gentleman to move furniture on his own.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is that the room remain silent. No spirit would deign to appear over a disruption.”

There was some murmuring, but by and large we all wanted some answers and had agreed to this measure to get them. So most everyone cooperated willingly. Our host had, naturally, been outvoted and was the only one I expected to cause trouble. But then, we suspected he was behind it all, and had the most to lose.

Regardless, silence fell like a blanket over the room. Some of the helpers took this as their cue to dim the gas lights, leaving only a single candle burning on the table. In its flickering light, the world no longer seemed quite as orderly a place.

It became so quiet that we could hear each other breathing, and the occasional faint pop from the somewhat irregular wax of the candle.

The medium began to whisper an incantation. We all heard the words, but they seemed to slip in our ears and vanish from our ken before they could be understood. We all kept a death grip on the hands to either side. I may come to regret that choice of words, but will let it stand as it reflected how everyone at the table felt.

The murder had surprised all of high society. It was so outré, with the victim clearly the subject of some sort of dark ritual. I had not seen the body or scene aside from the tame pictures that made the papers, but the descriptions from those who had left little to the imagination. They also left a very strong urge to turn back time and not hear those descriptions at all. I don’t think I was considered a suspect, but one never quite knows how the minds of the detective class works.

Our host, on the other hand most certainly was a suspect. I had not been the least surprised to find that the other three suspects named by the papers were also at the table, as were a number of people of similar standing and proximity to the case who had not been named publicly at all, as well as a few I did not recognize at all. I naturally assumed that those were like me, clearly here as a check on the outcome.

The candle flame began to gutter, and then rather unexpectedly given the still air, leaned over and burned like a blow torch aimed across the table.

Directly at me.

I had done nothing.

And yet, here I was, suddenly the object of scrutiny of all of those involved in this case, witnesses, suspects, and detective.

And present in a translucent shade hovering over the table, the victim as well.

All staring at me.

The shade and the candle flame pointing at me.

There was nothing I could do.

They ripped me limb from limb that night, left my still barely living body spread out on that table. My final thought was to wonder who would investigate this murder?

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Deal 894: Watching

As the roar of the pub brawl rose, it seemed as if a bubble of calm formed around me. It was as if the noise of the melee just slipped past me without noticing.

Only a short while earlier, it all started as a typical night in the pub.

The knights were at their usual table, comparing the lengths of their swords.

The cutpurses were trying to be inconspicuous as long as the knights were still sober.

The bard was only on his second beer, so his songs were not up to his peak abilities.

The barmaids were delivering steins of luke-warm beer as fast as they could draw them.

And then it happened.

Someone said something unforgivable. I never heard what, who said it, or to whom.

The first punch might have gone unremarked, if it weren’t made with a fist full of darts. The second punch included a barstool. The current occupant of the stool objected to being used as a blunt instrument, and started to speak their mind, somewhat bluntly. And without any concern for how many factions were in the room.

Me, I did the only thing I could do. I sat here and watched. You might say, it is what I do. I’m a watcher. But not much of a listener, since me head is entirely filled with cotton wool. I didn’t see it begin, but I had a front row seat as it flashed from a simple spat over honor to a full-scale brawl.

I am what I am, and it is my fate to simply watch.

And watch, as that lantern comes right at me.

And watch, as the lamp oil splashes and sets my stuffing on fire.

I guess it was my fate to be involved after all.

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Deal 893: The game of axes and seats

I admit I cut an odd figure as I stroll the streets looking for the best spot, dressed in morning coat, topper, and all the usual trimmings of the gentleman off to the opera. But the garb isn’t the most striking part; that would be the very large axe strapped to my back.

Finally, I find the right spot. Room to work, and yet also cozy enough to draw people’s attention. And a steady flow of foot traffic that seems willing to look around and notice the sights rather than just plow ahead as if on a deadline.

I slowly unstrap my axe, while turning in a circle and catching the eyes of a few passerby. I’m doing my best to radiate charisma, to draw attention without speaking a word. What I’m here to do today will work best if I never say a word. I unsling my axe, complete my turn, and plant its head on the ground, keeping a good grip on the end if the handle.

Without saying a word, I draw my feet up, and pose with legs crossed at a comfortable height.

I then nod to the passerby who noticed, sweep my hat off, and set it on the ground in front of me, before freezing in place.

And so the game of wills begins. The longer I can hold people’s attention, the larger the coin they are likely to drop in the hat. Of course, this pose is not held without any effort at all. So the third player in the game is my own endurance. The passerby think they are contributing out of their own free will, but the secret is that when they acknowledge the performance, they’ve already lost that battle. They are obligated to contribute something to my well-being.

After an hour or two, it is time to change my locale, seek different marks. So with some care I reverse the sequence of movements that left me seated in midair. and am free to shoulder my axe and walk away.

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Deal 892: Bruce’s new gig

Sometime last year he quit alcohol.
It was a crutch he no longer
Needed. High society
did not understand but
then he didn’t care.
Black tuxedo,
black cars, black
cave, black
BATS
became
his fate. Fate
he thought at first
would be short-lived. Now
he stands athwart his fate.
Welcomes it to his hidden life.
Does his duty to all Gotham
City. For he has become Batman!

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Deal 891: Rapunzel’s lament

Sunk in despair
princess au pair
let down her hair
suitors beware

prince called in vain
doves cried in pain
the purplest train
washed out by rain

sit by her sill
wish at her well
walk o’er yon hill
say “Hi, I’m Gill”

“Hi Gill, I’m Nell”
Climb to my bell
mount with a yell
“Oh, no!” he fell.

long time to wait
yearning to sate
getting so late
stuck here by fate.

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Deal 890: Cornfield double nonnet

Golden fields cover rolling acres
Corn ripens in afternoon sun
The flock surveys today’s feast
And settles in to eat.
Lookouts set, watching
Each takes a turn
Expecting
To hear
CAW!
As one
They rise, but
Calm, not in fear
Expected defense
As farmer’s agent turns
With the wind. It reminds them
Good food always comes at a price:
Sharing the harvest with its planters.