Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

And a bit more...

Written out, so just posting a bit more of A65...

---------

The Punk Couple, who turned out to be named Julie and Manny Marshe-Croton (the brat's name was Dumpling something-or-other), were very apologetic and embarrassed ... especially once they learned Adam had brought no extra clothing beyond a pair of y-fronts and socks, and those he only brought at his mother's insistence.

"I'm not staying," he had told her, "so why would I need an overnight bag?"

"Just a change and some toiletries," was her reply. "Just in case. You never know what might happen. Flight might be canceled or delayed. Earthquake. You decide you love LA and want to live there the rest of your life, on a whim."

"I don't do whims."

"Adam," she sighed, "there's always a first time." And she had stuffed the briefs and socks into his rucksack.

Fortunately, the Marshe-Crotons had done carry-on so lent him jeans and a shirt and, since he was two sizes narrower than Manny, a set of suspenders to hold the jeans up. He was careful to note their home address so he could return them, once they'd returned from their death tour.

The moment the flight was at cruising altitude, the attendants allowed him to use the Business Class lavatory to clean up. He shoved all the dirty clothes into the same bag as his jacket and made certain it was tied good and tight.

When he got back to his seat, Julie had moved next to him and Dumpling was in Manny's lap, still smiling at Adam with his wicked eyes. Adam had a nice chat with Julie about the history of henna tattoos, or Mehndi, which extended over lunch, and somehow managed to convince him letting her paint a design on his left hand would be fun. Which it was, actually. She had some in her makeup case in her purse, and used a tiny brush to work up a lovely mandala, murmuring as she worked, "Lovely skin. Tight. Unblemished. On the pale side but that enhances the design."

"It's lovely," Adam said, then asked, "Does it have a meaning?"

"Enlightenment," was all she said. Then she got some lemon juice from the attendants and packets of sugar, mixed them together, applied them over the design once the clay had dried and cracked, and wrapped his hand with a bit of cellophane. "Not normally part of the ritual but does enhance it. Take it off at the end of the flight."

"Brilliant. And so quickly done."

"Do it for a living," said Julie. "Fairs. Streets. Run down to boardwalks wherever we feel like. Here's me card." She handed him a neat business card with her Facebook address on it. "I post our schedule on there."

"You do well with this?"

"Well enough. Swing by some time; I'll do one on the other hand. Balance. No charge."

Adam grinned and said, "Thanks."

Then she lay back to get a nap and he settled in to watch the movie.

(This bit is the description of the book's story, as posted earlier, so we jump to later in the flight)

The girl playing Mar-Lee as an adolescent was just right, as was the boy playing Creggan, the last surviving member of his family. They sparred as they learned combat techniques, played games, argued, just like children, and just like in the first book. Adam was hopeful.

Then they cut to Mar-Lee as a grown woman, played by Casey Blanchard, with a spectacular entrance -- walking out of fire in a protective suit, throwing back the hood to reveal a face that would have made Helen of Troy weep with envy. Sharp black eyes atop elegant cheekbones framed by hair cropped short but still female, and with a gaze that told one and all she would be a force no one could control. She then tore off the suit and went into battle mode, killing mercenaries sent by the invaders.

The fights were beautiful in their choreography and grace, Mar-Lee the epitome of an Amazon Warrior Queen as she slaughtered everything and everyone around her, with help not arriving -- in the form of Greggan -- until after she was done.

She looked around at him and asked, "What took you so long?"

To which he replied, "Traffic was a bitch."

Adam stopped the DVD. None of that was in the book.

He would have left the movie, there, except for one small problem -- Dumpling Marshe-Croton. He crawled over his sleeping mother to watch the video and then fell asleep on Adam's lap. Not a wonderful thing, but it reminded Adam of his Jack Russell terrier, Albacore, who loved to do the same thing when Adam was reading. Since Adam had a nice thick copy of Sigrid Undset's Kristen Lavransdatter to read, he figured it would be much the same ... only Dumpling woke up when he stopped the film and looked at Adam with those black, dangerous eyes. So Adam started the movie up, again.

Dumpling watched about five minutes of it then fell asleep, again. Adam waited a few minutes, forcing himself to watch Mar-lee and Creggan reluctantly agree to join forces ... then he turned it off.

And Dumpling woke up, again. Adam wound up running the film all the way through, twice, before learning that Dumpling was in trainer pants and still wet his bed. A lot. And since Adam was his bed ... well, this time they let him use the Premier lavatory, with its lovely scented soaps and heated towels. Then made him sit on a garbage bag the second half of the flight ... with Dumpling still sleeping in his lap.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A bit more of A65

Chapter One turned into 2 chapters, after reworking some things. This continues from the point where Adam and Vincent head up in the elevator.

---------

Adam had planned to wear a suit on the flight, but his mother talked him into a nice shirt, neat trousers, loafers instead of Oxfords, and a light jacket. She had been to Los Angeles so convinced him by pointing out, "This is considered upscale form, there."

"Well ... if I put a tie with it ... " he said.

"Adam, you're not meeting with anyone in their office or at a bank. You're not even leaving the terminal, right?"

Adam nodded. "They're bringing the book to me, there."

"Then casual is best, and will look better on arrival. When do you arrive?"

"One-thirty, and the flight back is at eight-fifty-five."

"That's a long time at the airport."

"I've got my laptop and an adaptor. Some articles I want to read. I hear they even have food and drink. And plenty of security. Let someone try and take this book."

"Too bad you won't see any of the town. Los Angeles is lovely. Haven't been there since the Olympics, but I'm sure it hasn't changed that much."

"I'll post you a card."

She dropped him off to Heathrow, the next morning, and he was soon ensconced in a slightly more space seat on the aisle of his flight, next to a pleasant punk couple and their punk toddler ... who smiled like an angel under his blue-spiked hair but had dark eyes filled with danger. The couple were tattooed, pierced, semi-spiked of neon-green hair, had bubbling personalities and, to his surprise, were husband and wife. Not at all what he expected ... but then, he'd never met anyone punk before. David, his oldest brother, was the closest and his version of punk was more a middle class way to "bed the birds who love a bad lad," as he put it. Now that he was married and with children, his head was shaved, his shirts had collars, and his pants had belts instead of braces, albeit in a casual truck-driver mode.

So Adam expected the flight to at least be pleasant. His laptop computer rested in his lap, Vincent's DVD of Ilithium 4, in hand -- an action Sci-fi movie whose cover conveyed more the world of Star Wars than the thought-provoking journey of a boy and girl seeking a new future after the conquest of their home by corporate raiders, only to be caught up in war and adventure.

Needless to say, Adam was not at all sure about this, but hoped they would at least be attempting to emulate the reworking of Battlestar Galactica in place of another space opera. Well, as he said to himself, consistently since being shanghaied into taking the trip, "It's for the Alice ..."

Then a flight attendant touched him on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, sir, you'll need to put those things under the seat in front of you. Doors are closed and we're about to taxi out."

He nodded to her and smiled to the punk child, next to him, who smiled even more sweetly. Then Adam bent down to slip his laptop bag under the seat --

And the child vomited on his back!

He yelped and bolted from his seat and was about to remove his jacket when another flight attendant who was next to him held his head down. "Don't straighten up," she cried. "You'll get it everywhere and we're on an eleven hour flight and it already smells something awful! Remove your jacket."

"How?" he choked out. She had his head held practically between his knees. He could barely breathe. Needless to say, it was not the most comfortable positions to be in.

"Hold out your arms," she said. "Straight out."

He did as she asked, taking a sort of diving position. The first flight attendant scurried over to awkwardly roll the jacket up his back and over his head so they could pull it off by using the sleeves. Then she shoved it in a garbage bag.

That is when a male attendant stormed up to snap, "Why are you out of your seat? We're taxiing."

The second attendant patted Adam's arm and said, "We'll clean it best we can and return it to you once we're airborne. Now please be seated. Buckle up."

He nodded and sat, casting the Punk Child a wary look ... who looked back at him, still smiling.

His mother leaned over, also smiling. "Sorry, luv. It's his first plane ride and his stomach's already weak." Then she tickled the little beast and said, in a sing-song, "But we're going on the Hollywood Death Tour, going on the Hollywood Death Tour, going on the Hollywood Death Tour, right, sweets? Get your tummy toughened up."

The child laughed.

Adam forced himself to smile then buckled up and settled in, using one of his Mother's karmic mantras to try and calm himself.

I prefer to live with ease.
Stress is no one's friend.
If I smile it brings me joy.
Breathe and breathe, again.


Which did nothing for him. So he just closed his eyes as the pilot came over the intercom to say, "Attendants, please be seated. We're cleared for takeoff."

A moment later the jet turned, they started down the runway ... and the brat let loose into his lap!

So much for the idea this would be an enjoyable flight.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

"Ilithium 4"

That's the title of Casey's big action sci-fi movie and Adam refused to watch it because it's based on a classic work of science fiction...except Vincent, his boss, all but forces him to. It's what I worked on, today, and is pretty much a pastiche of a dozen different SF films, but works for now.

The book is based on Simplicius Simplicissimus by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1668), which starts with the 30 years war that cut Germany's population by two-thirds. Simplicicus is the hero who is orphaned by the war, lives with a hermit as he grows up, travels to France, Russia, and a world inhabited by mermen, and has mercenary adventures and heartbreak and sadness and joy on the way. Supposedly inspired Voltaire's Candide, a century later.

The "SF book" splits Simplicius into male and female, which Adam thinks actually worked quite nicely. Mar-Lee, the female, is not only the heart and mind of the story, but its conscience. She can also fight. Creggan is the adventurous fool who knows military strategy and thinks of Mar-Lee as beneath him, even after she proves herself more capable than he.

Ilithium 4 is a mineral found on Skipf, a living planet of forested mountains and valleys and golden plains whispering up to green oceans, in the Torellian System. It provides an indestructible protective coating for spacecraft entering and exiting the atmosphere of planets, absorbs energy from void of the universe to provide additional power for the ship, thus enhancing interplanetary travel, and protects against battle ship weaponry better than matter-shields.

Skipf is run by a powerful family with the assistance of their own private bureaucracy and protected by their private army. Mar-Lee's father is one of their top officials, so grows up with Creggan, the oldest son of the family's patriarch. He is being groomed to take over the family's business as well as command the security forces.

Corporate raiders invade the planet and destroy the family and all who resist them. Mar-Lee saves Creggan's life by forcing him to leave with her. They are 11 years old. They find others who escaped and form a small secret community deep in the forest, and begin to learn how to fight.

Cut to Mar-Lee, now played by Casey, a woman of knowledge and vision who can hunt and fight with the best, but has heart. She will not kill a female creature, nor allow one to be killed. "Might have young." She is building a ship to get to another planet, using bits and pieces she steals from the mining sites. She wants to raise money for better weaponry...for counterattack.

Creggan tries to be a leader but is prone to anger and foolishness. "His father would have worked that out of him," says the oldest of the survivors. He's angriest when not taken seriously, but his condescending attitude keeps that from happening. His saving grace is, he is fearless in battle, and there have been more and more skirmishes between the forest group and the invaders as the mining gets closer and closer to the forest.

The invaders have taken over the production of Ilithium 4 but in rough and brutal ways, wreaking havoc on the land and harming the planet, maybe beyond repair. They have begun tearing into the forests, now...which are sacred areas. Not because of religion but because they are the lungs of the planet.

The seeress finds them and tells them Skipf is angry and will fight back with rains and earthquakes to stop the plunder. The people in the forest must get to higher ground, places more stable. Then she tells Mar-Lee, "You are alone -- and with not be alone -- and then will be alone."

The invaders attack the people in the forest, but are beaten back to the open spaces, Creggan at the head. It's a slaughter on both sides as the land quakes and rain pours. Then the invaders sling massive bombs into forest, wreaking havoc. Creggan is knocked out and Mar-Lee puts him in her space ship, for protection. She convinces the survivors to get up into the mountains and promises she will come back with help.

Mar-Lee sets off for another planet, Creggan with her. As they leave, waves roll over their land, changing the entire look of it...but the invaders also survive and stay.

Creggan wakes and is horrified at what he sees and hears. He wants to go down and destroy them, but Mar-Lee calms him by saying, "We will come back, Creggan, and our revenge will sends waves of horror throughout the universe."

Friday, January 13, 2017

Perfect timing...

I left London just as the rains came. In fact, it was pouring at Gatwick Airport so I began to wonder if my flight would be delayed...but no; off we went. I rode back in coach, and while there's more legroom in business class, the meal was a lot better with the masses, and the seat was just as comfortable.

The only real problem with the return was making my connection to Jet Blue. I got through Customs in 5 minutes, thanks to Nexus...and then waited 45 minutes for my bag to show up. I swear, they were putting one bag on the luggage carousel every 10 seconds...and mine was, quite literally, the last one to show up. I barely made it.

Of course, it didn't help that I was exhausted, by this point. I spent from 6am to 10pm out and about in the city. Walking. Climbing up and down stairs thanks to only half the underground stations having escalators or lifts. Hills. Steps up and down to places. Roadways where barriers make you cross at the corner. Whooh...I crashed and slept till 10am, Thursday.

Got in just before midnight, last night. Worked today. Tomorrow's the final repairs on my car...then Sunday I start inputting the changed. Got 'em all worked out...and Adam's added more details to his world, as well. What makes it great is, Casey's also beginning to.

So in tribute to my time in London, here's another shot of Tower Bridge, from between 7am and 7:30.
In the distance, between the towers, you can see Canary Wharf. It's a 9 minute ride on The Thames, and 6GBP, which you can pay for with your Oyster Card. In fact, I could have used my Oyster Card for Thameslink and not bothered with online booking. Ugh. I guess it's like the Octopus Card in Hong Kong, now -- you can even use it for meals. Put a hundred pounds on it and that'll last you for days...

Live and lear.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Job's done so did some research...

I dropped my package off to The British Library, who were very pleased, and got to my hotel and slept, then spent from 6am today running around London to check on details for The Alice '65 and Underground Guy. Glad I did.

In A65, I have Adam living in Epping with his mother, which is the last stop on the Central Line. Takes nearly an hour to get there from St. Pancras but it is a very quiet, village-like place...and traffic is a bitch; cars lined up for blocks to get through the center of the town. Houses run from 600,000 to 900,000 GBP. However, I could see it being a place to raise kids, so...that worked.

My trip through the British Library suggested I need more people working in the archival department and should define the university's collection a bit more. I'm thinking it should be a smaller, more boutique-style collection. There's no way they could compete with a well-funded organization.

The rest of A65 is LA locations and situations, and those I know, already.

I then checked into locations for UG, and those were more problematic. The book starts off with Dev attacking Reg in East Hounslow, which is filthy and not much like how it comes across on Google Maps. I need to either change that location or adjust its description. These are tiny homes and it's very busy, so for Dev to attack Reg there needs a lot of thought...and  I nearly talked myself into taking this back to West Hounslow...but reviewing those photos (from 2 years ago) it's even less workable.

Knightsbridge works well for Tawfi's embassy and his secret apartment, but there is damned little around as regards restaurants or cafes or anything like that, so it's not easy for him and Dev to have a meal, together. And them connecting in Hatton Cross is going to take some reworking...but can still happen.

I had dinner at the pub Dev goes to in the book, not far from his hotel. It is right under one of Heathrow's busiest runways, with jets roaring past at barely 400 feet above. In the night sky you can see a long line of airplane lights floating closer and closer in their approach to land.

The best part was trekking down to Tower Bridge and catching it at sunrise, as I rode a water taxi from there to Canary Wharf. That works in the book...and feeds my touristy needs, as well. The only serious problem all day was...my feet and legs are killing me, I walked so damn much...and climbed stairs to get around the tube...and hills in Epping. I'm out of practice in my walking.

I could live London...except the rents are beyond ludicrous. 450GBP a WEEK for a one-bedroom flat in Canary Wharf. Granted it's a more upscale area, but that's almost as much as a month's rent on my studio apartment in Buffalo.

It's getting to where if you want to live in a city you have to make a million a year.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Waitin' on a plane, again...

I'm at JFK waiting on a flight that's been delayed by 1.5 hours, going to London. And my chosen train has decided to let its engineers go on strike, after all, so I had to change routes from Gatwick. Wrecks my plans for tomorrow, that's fer dang sure. I can see this spilling over into Wednesday and that is not right.

I am also seriously disliking Terminal 1. It does not offer anywhere near enough outlets for people to plug their phones and laptops into, and you only get 1/2 hour wifi use for free. Period. Terminal 5 gives you free WiFi all the time.

Anyway, some of today went slow but some went very fast, and since I'm flying Business class I got to use the lounge, soooo...I'll live.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

And here's that damned brick wall...

I was doing so well. Working right along. I've probably got 50% of the book rewritten. Adding in fun little bits and BAM! Dead stop, today. Nothing. Not one word. Aside from Facebook-and-Twitter-following, I can't think of what the hell else I did to make the day vanish, aside from just sit at my laptop.

Of course, it started early. My car was driving weird, yesterday, so I took it into the shop and found out the parking brake's return spring had broken so it was rubbing against my wheel and my clutch was leaking so it was almost out of fluid -- costing me nearly $700. I was at the mechanic's 4.5 hours...and have to go back when I return from London to get the clutch finished since they had to order some parts.

BUT...the car runs a lot better, and I can cover the repairs with a credit card...it's just, I want to pay the damn things down. I'm up to my nose in debt. Well, no such luck. Once again, the minute I start getting ahead, something comes along to screw me over. I should stop trying; maybe that way they'd pay themselves off.

On top of that, I worked out an itinerary on the Underground for what I want to check out for my stories, and won't be able to cover everything even if there is no more strike. Going from Swiss Cottage, where I'm staying, to Epping to Canary Wharf to Gallion Place to Kensington to Hounslow East to Hatton Cross to Tower Bridge...the journeys, alone, would take me till after dark. And I really wanted to take a river taxi along The Thames under the bridge.

I dunno...maybe I just didn't get enough sleep and have been pushing too hard, lately, to make the book readable and interesting and literate...this last bit being my main failing. My prose reads like it's straight out of High School, to me. At least I did get my copy of Simplicius Simplicissimus, today, and can dig into that once I've got my brain out of Weirdnessville.

And remind myself that this crap usually happens when something is wrong withing the story. So I need to go back through it and try to figure out what. Is it adding in the billionaire? That does take focus away from Adam, and I'm not sure how to keep the man in throughout; he doesn't actually need to reappear till the end. Maybe he should stay a shadowy figure.

Hmm...that felt right...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Long day but gonna be fun...

Monday I'm off to London, arriving Tuesday morning...just in time for some transit strikes. What joy this will be. But I'm not going to worry about it. Just walking around the city is fine with me; I love London. I only get to stay till Thursday, but it's on the company dime so I ain't complaining.

I'm going to try and check out some of the sites I'm referencing in A65 and MFD and UG -- Canary Wharf, Knightsbridge, Epping, Hounslow East, City Airport and marina. Not much. I'm also going to cross Tower Bridge, this time. I haven't since I was a child. I think it's time.

As I work through A65, ideas come up to make the story interesting as I go along...at least, for me. I'm settling into the third person voice and am using it to bring in the billionaire who's after the book, too, as well as the chaotic world surrounding Casey. Chaos she knows how to live with. The telling still seems a bit on the lightweight side, but I hope to work that out as I go through the next draft.

I was in Toronto on Wednesday. It was nice going up but then a front blew in and DAMN, it got cold. One of those cutting winds. But I got everything done ahead of schedule and got back to Buffalo before the traffic hit and it got dark. Which would have been great except I'd left my car under a spot where there was a drip and it took me a while to get the door open; it was frozen over.

Toronto's a fairly straight drive up the Queen's Expressway through an area that reminds me of northwest Houston, and it has been a while since I was in the downtown area. Wow, that city gives Manhattan a run for its money when it comes to skyscrapers. I thought about stopping to take a photo but for some reason they don't like you to do that on the freeway. Dammit.

So now I've had a nice hot cup of cocoa and feeling sleepy, so tomorrow will bring new info...maybe...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Madness begins and wins...

I've added henna body painting and a new way for Adam to keep busy during Casey's movie that fits neatly with the Mad Hatter's tea party and still nearly gets him killed.

Here's the last of Chapter one, BTW --
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The path they took back to the lift was along a side hall that was really quite narrow, with ceiling pipes so low, one had to walk almost like a duck to avoid them.

Vincent did not look at Adam as he asked, "Is your passport in order?"

"I suppose," Adam said.

"When did you last use it?"

Adam had to think, for a moment. "Three years ago." When Vincent made him travel to New York's Public Library to review a collection they had received as a gift and the two local dealers they had engaged to evaluate it were undecided over its merit. Adam had found a copy of Mark Twain's The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County mixed in with the other books, the advertisements still intact and the boards and spine in excellent condition, making the book worth the entire collection. The library had been very pleased. Adam continued with, "I had to get an emergency renewal because I'd let mine lapse and -- "

Vincent cut him off. "Then it's valid and you've been to the states. Care to go, again?"

Adam huffed. "I'd rather not. New York is madness. I was almost struck by two cabs, a lorry and four bike messengers ... just as I was crossing Fifth Avenue. With the light."

"You'd be going to Los Angeles, this time."

Adam was aware enough to know Los Angeles was big and wide and open, but still had to ask, "Is it saner than Manhattan?"

"Doubtful. But we've acquired a book and -- "

Adam jolted up and slammed his head against a pipe and yelped. Stars flashed around in his eyes, for a moment.

"Careful, there," said Vincent, more perturbed than concerned.

Adam nodded. Before he could even think to silence himself, he blurted out, "Sir, is -- is it The Alice Sixty-five?"

Near color exploded across Vincent's face, he grew so angry. He stormed back to Adam. "Who told you about that!?"

Adam had to take a step back, regain his breath, and rub his head a bit. Of course, he had heard the rumors, but he'd dared not believe them. Now he knew it was true.

"I ... I just heard ... you know, heard," he said. "Around ... " From Jeremy whispering the possibility to Elizabeth, a fortnight back. Just after he'd taken a photo of Adam working on Blake's Albion. He'd taken one of Bill, as well, holding a cup of soup ... which was not surprising; Bill loved his soups.

Vincent carefully calmed himself and said, "I wanted it kept quiet till the book was here. There's a bloody Australian after it, too, and he's been more than adamant."

"Christian Meillon," Adam murmured.

Vincent gave him a tight glare, saying, "Gossip has been pervasive."

Adam blinked and gave him a slight shrug. "Not really. I read a few years ago that he was seeking one for collection. Not because it's a book but because it's rare. I thought, at the time, it would be a travesty if he got one."

"On that, we agree. Did you know he contacted Sir Robert and offered to pay us not to accept it?"

"No sir, but I'm not surprised."

"Fortunately, Sir Robert is completely on our side, so the paperwork's been signed and it's ours, now. Done and dusted."

"Oh." It took Adam a moment to continue. "Sir, are we certain about this?"

"Adam ... " And Vincent's voice carried a warning.

"It's just that I'm always leery when some person discovers a book worth a million pounds in their attic -- "

"Casey Blanchard is not some person," Vincent shot back. Adam's confusion about her was obvious in his expression, prompting Vincent to ask, "Haven't you seen Ilithium Four?"

Adam bolted upright and banged his head, again. Tears filled his eyes.

Vincent rolled his eyes and said, "Adam, please, we're still trying to get funding to have the pipes replaced."

Which had not been replaced since 1910, if not earlier. As for the film, Adam knew of it and had studiously avoided the foul thing. The four-volume book was a lovely reworking of von Grimmelshausen's Simplicius Simplicissimus into a world of the future, keeping surprisingly close to the Lower Baroque style of German, so he bore no interest in witnessing the desecration of a classic work of Science-Fiction.

His dislike of the film colored his expression, so Vincent smiled in his very arch manner and said, "Purist, are we? Of course. I'll lend you my DVD to watch on the plane."

"Must I?"

"Some of us would consider it good manners," Vincent said, "and as you're en route to meet a young lady who was heavily involved with it, I think it only polite to be able to discuss a creative work with one who helped in its creation." He turned to continue walking. "Will your laptop play it?"

"Yes, sir," Adam muttered. His head still smarted, and he could already feel the beginnings of a knot at the very top, but he'd been done far worse to in one of his Saturday football games so just followed.

"Very well. Miss Blanchard's the lead, and the book you are to collect was bequeathed to her by her grandfather, not found in an attic. I've seen the photos of it, inside and out, so I am certain it's a true 1865 edition. Is that acceptable?"

No, but after the back and forth about the Schedel, Adam knew it did no good to argue with Vincent when he is as prickly as this. Instead, he said, "Sir, wouldn't it be better to send Elizabeth to collect the book? It's her area, and I'm sure she's already seen the film."

Vincent stopped just before they reached the lift but did not look back at Adam. "She's not really a book person, so I don't believe she would treat this with the gravity it deserves."

"Hakim, then."

That made Vincent look at Adam with incredulity. "Are you mad? It would take him a month to plot out his journey, and that's with the itinerary already settled. And do NOT suggest Jeremy; he would trumpet his journey from the rooftops and we prefer this be done with as little fuss as possible, and at once."

"But, sir ... you know what happened with my father ... "

Vincent's shoulders tightened and he nodded, his tone finally becoming gentle. "Yes. And I'm sorry to force it on you. But you ... Adam, you are the only person who can do this and ... I ... I trust you to handle it appropriately. Just ... go. Get the book. Bring her straight back. Your itinerary's on your desk."

"Vincent, please ... "

"It's already set. Ticket's in your name and we can't change it. That would be ... the cost would be prohibitive." He put on a smile he did not feel. "But once you've turned her over, you're free till Monday."

He opened the lift's doors and they stepped inside. Adam closed the door and the gate, then Vincent shifted the lever to the second floor, saying in a voice that was too cheerful, "Supposed to be a lovely weekend. I hear you're involved with that girl in I-T -- Cora, isn't it?"

Adam had to smile. Vincent was behind the times -- by two years and a month. And three days. "Not anymore sir."

The man's face did not change except to allow himself to blink in surprise. "Oh. Well. Why not invite her to Sheerness? Go bathing on the beach. See if you can rekindle things."

"Oh, not ... not a good idea, sir," Adam replied, head still smarting and mind still caught in the idea of his upcoming journey. "She's married and with child, and I ... um, besides, I can't swim."

That finally removed Vincent's too-cheerful smile. "Oh. Well. Lowers your chances of being drowned, doesn't it?"

"One would think so," was all Adam could say, in response.

Vincent cast him a glance, showing his comment made no sense to him. Of course, he wouldn't know that Adam's brother, Connor, a year older than he and of the decided belief that he was far superior to his entire family, had determined the best way for Adam to get over his panic when in deep water was to push him into a lake. Force him to swim. Adam had nearly drowned before his father got him out. Now his fears were strapped to his DNA. But when you have a sociopathic narcissist for a brother, moments like this are to be expected.

Adam's only comforting thought, at that moment, was that having dealt with Connor and his peculiarities, all his life, he would be prepared for what he might encounter in Los Angeles.

At least ... one would think so.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Continuing with A65

I had a wild idea of something to add to the story at a later point, so got lost doing that, today. However, this part is close enough, for now. It continues from the earlier posted bits:
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Adam exited the lift into The Dungeon and provided Henry with his ritual scratch and stroke -- something he was sure the cat saw as a toll for entry into his domain -- then turned on his phone's light and hunted down an Oxford Auction bibliography from a packed shelf of pre-1960 information. Naturally, it was not where it should have been, and since Jeremy was supposed to re-shelve items he was digitizing, it was not unexpected. Gossip between Elizabeth and Bill, an older archivist, was ... the lad had attended a special school in Tumbridge Wells. Not that Adam listened in, but it is difficult not to hear when the voices are coming in normal tones from a cubicle next to yours. And Adam had to admit, the lad was certainly not the brightest when it came to mundane tasks ... such as re-shelving.

After much searching, Adam found the book he wanted two units down from where it should be. By happenstance, he had seen a reference to an auction when gathering provenance during their discussion of the Shedel. He was certain the year nineteen fifty-eight was significant ... and there it was. Auction in Rome. Cavalieri House. Aisle sixteen for their catalogues.

Of course, the one he needed was on the very top shelf, necessitating the location of a ladder and the use of some keen eyesight, even on his part. He wound up using his mobile phone's light to sort through catalogs as if he were digging for gold.

He vaguely heard the drifting sound of his name, right about then, but he was too lost in the search to pay attention. And too upset at how poorly the catalogues had been handled. Shoved into their magazine holders upside down and backwards and sideways ... and just how difficult was it to count? Sixty-two did not come before sixty-one but was after, while sixty came after fifty-nine, which came after fifty-seven, which came after ... and he stopped. There was no fifty-eight. The very catalogue he needed. Where was fifty-eight?

He shone his phone behind the upright boxes holding the catalogues and could just make out that a catalog was jammed behind the rest. He shifted the boxes to free it, careful and easy. It was badly bent. He did what he could to twist it back closer to its proper shape before he looked inside.

This time he heard someone calling, soft and unsure, "Adam? Adam?"

He paid little attention, because now he had his proof. Not only would he save the university a great deal of money for a fraudulent item, he would save Elizabeth a great deal of time. So he jumped down from the ladder and --

Vincent appeared before him, snapping in his veddy British tone, "There."

Adam yelped and nearly jumped back up on the ladder, but caught his breath, instead, and said, "Oh -- Vincent, we should revisit that Shedel and find out what the seller's trying to -- "

The man cut Adam off with, "Hakim told me everything about that. Have you been down here all this time?"

"Just -- just a bit," Adam said. "Our meeting's not till half-three."

Vincent's expression grew exasperated. "It's now four."

"Don't be absurd. I set my phone's alarm to remind me." Then Adam looked at it ... and it was flashing -- YOU'RE LATE. He had inadvertently flicked it to mute when he turned on its light. "Oh, sorry, sir. I was just locating information on that Romanian Liber Chronicarum and -- "

Vincent shot him a perfect expression of pure irritation. "Elizabeth's doing provenance on that. What about the Orlando?"

"It's all set, and I've done the Erasmus, as well. Jeremy's about to photograph them and -- "

"Then you're free."

Adam frowned. "Free? Sir, we've dozens more -- "

Vincent raised his hand, for silence. "Come on upstairs," he said, his voice as tight as a violin string. "And please leave the catalogue, there's a good lad. Elizabeth can do her own provenance."

Adam hesitated ... but Vincent was ramrod straight, again, so better to climb up and set the catalogue into its correct box. He still couldn't help but put more in order, they were in such disarray.

"Vincent, if Jeremy is going to do re-shelve his items, he should learn the alphabet and numeric sequence."

"Adam! Come!" His tone was more than Oxfordian, now; it was ready to unleash a slew of carefully refined words meant to slice one down to one's knees with gentle contempt, so Adam quickly switched two more catalogs around then jumped down and let Vincent lead him back to the lift, like a well-trained dog.