Michel jumped over the side of the gazebo (again) and, standing under the master bedroom window, stretched his legs until his face approached the window. Then he started elongating his neck, as well. As it happened Cy had his back to the house. Only George saw it, and of course Colin, who heard a tap on the window and walked over from the desk where he worked in his grandmother’s room.
He was frightened and jumped back, fortunately not into anything, and then as he recovered from what was obviously a prank, sighed heavily when Michel yelled “Bring more blankets!” through the glass.
His grandmother was in one of her increasingly rare emotionally lucid moments.
“What’s happening?” she asked in a creaky whisper.
“I’m being pranked by aliens,” Colin said, openly irritated.
“Have you invited them in yet?”
“They don’t like it indoors.”
“Bring him in,” she said, in something so like her normal cheerful voice that he immediately went to obey her, and then stopped.
“This is a lovely dream – or I’m being boring and dying. Is there really an alien?”
“There are two,” Colin said painfully. True to form, she had zoned out again. For a moment he stood and argued with himself about it, and then gave the matter over to his grandfather with the extra blankets. “She wants to meet an alien.”
George tried to respond. “I can’t actually climb the –“ and the next word was smothered against Michel’s roomy shoulder, “stairs.”
“No problem. Chunk-style to the rescue,” Michel said. Cy called out.
“You’re never going back in my house, Michel. George is welcome and you are not. We can meet elsewhere, but not here.”
Michel said, “I won’t prank a dying woman.”
George murmured, “Put me down you enormous hatchling. You are the stupidest person. Do you want me to punch you in your hairs? Your little squeaky hairs? Until they stop sticking out and start sticking in?”
Michel, annoyed but aware that the violence George so richly deserved would be hard to hide if only one of them was invisible, did the next best thing. He dropped George on the ground, and was rewarded with no human grunt or moan, but two almighty ‘bloops’ as cauldron-sized bubbles of lava might make.
“What was that?”
“I’d say that was George’s two main diaphragms letting go, but I didn’t have my hands on him – quite the reverse now I think of it – so I couldn’t say for sure.”
“Is he in pain?” Colin asked.
“Nah, he can grow another one in minutes, but I bet he sleeps well tonight.”
“I’m supposed to drive him home,” Colin said. George had lost his human appearance again, but anything they threw on top of him to hide him from any neighbours who might be outdoors in early October slid off like satin on marble.
“Fine. If he stays like this you know you can’t get him into the car,” Michel said, trying to be matter-of-fact.
“It was like trying to move mercury,” Colin said.
“If you don’t have the stickum you can’t move Sixers,” Michel said. “Take me to your grand-mère, I promise I’ll play nice.”
“You don’t get to scare the crap out of me and Cy and then visit Muriel like it ain’t no thing. Learn manners or get lost.” Colin went back inside.
“Is he always this way?” Michel asked.
“He’s a snotty son-of-a-bitch, but he’s also useful and kind in a practical way,” his grandfather said.
“He wasn’t making any concessions to me being a Sixer,” Michel said.
“Why the hell should he, when George has made no secret of you being part of the network that dropped 50 bodies in Montreal in two years, back in the day, events which I read about with horror and dismay as they occurred,” Cy said. Waving one hand airily, “We also know you’ve abandoned violence against humans for politics or sport. George explained that you’ve done it to reduce your footprint.”
“I s’pose that’s one way of looking at it. George said if I kept messing with humans there’d be lots hard to explain and even more difficult to deny, and that the earlier I gave it up – my killing and wounding and all that – like a good sport, while I kept doing what I like best anyway, which is thumping assholes and banging Kima, the better off I’d be.”
“You make it sound quite reasonable,” Cy said.
“Well, that’s the thing, George can make you think that something ludicrous can be tapped with a wand and made plausible. And he never by definition lies, and he changes languages to communicate depending on the not-definitely-lies he wants to tell, because every language we mutually speak offers tactical advantage in some way. He never learned French, no matter how much I bugged him, and I’ll think him a moron and a very poor friend until he dies for dodging it. My brain gives me a weird combination of French, Greek and Italian, when I’m thinking in English space, and I know I speak fluently but I don’t want to, mostly to protest how disgusting English is.”
I recall the day of my creation Breathed into being by my Father's plan I have been so many people But I have never been a man Will you teach me, as you have from the beginning How to be friends, how to be family For when you put down roots in somebody You will grow into a sheltering tree And by that tree you honour all Creation Though in the storm-tossed dark you may not see The nest you hold within your arms Within which dreams the bird Whose wings will some day set you free. My Father's gone away but all His lessons are written in my sinews and my heart I've risen and I've fallen I've heard the darkness calling And in the chaos I have played my part
Will you teach me, as you have from the beginning How to be friends, how to be family For when you put down roots in somebody You will grow into a sheltering tree And by that tree you honour all Creation Though in the storm-tossed dark you may not see The nest you hold within your arms Within which dreams the bird Whose wings will some day set you free.
About ten years ago I loaned three pieces of children’s furniture to friends. Now that my grandson is two – and how in the everloving **** did that happen – I asked for it back. The 6 decade old Vilas Maple Kindergarten set has landed! Thank you Rob and Char for looking after it for us! This ten year experiment in non-attachment is now a qualified success. This will be the third generation of Granny Rivett’s descendants to use it.
I’m feeling super lucky this morning to be a grandma. Alex came over yesterday with Katie and now I’ve got my temporary fill of very serious gibberish and sloppy kisses. Rob and Char also returned a wooden xylophone and I don’t know what was more charming, Alex beating on it with a wooden spoon or trying to pronounce xylophone.
He once again insisted on standing on the cat food box and reaching up to the wall phone and calling Zizima, which is his word for his great-grandmother. (I am Zizi, so by toddler logic my mother is Zizima!) Meanwhile back in Victoria, mOm got back from their usual drive in the Camaro out to Dan’s Farm and Country Market to him saying HIYA ZIZIMA! into the answering machine. Her response when I called her. “Still melted in a puddle.”
She sounded happy rather than very inconvenienced by this turn of events, which sounds like what happens to George when he’s upset, so I’ll take that as a win.
“Shh,” Michel said, continuing to speak in soft, clear tones. “It’s a secret,” he added. “I thought humans are always propping up misfits and crazy people and telling them to follow their dreams, especially when it’s really inconvenient or dramatic or will look good on the TV.”
George sat up and reassumed his human shape, much to Cy’s relief.
“Ten minutes,” he said. He sucker-punched Michel, who had expected it and vaulted over the gazebo railing backward, bouncing to his feet in a boxer’s stance.
They were still linked. In the language of light, George said, “My mother wanted this for me. Our species belongs in space.”
“I’m fine right here,” Michel said.
“I’m not. I’ll tell my human companions what I want to tell them, and when. You stay out of it. It isn’t what you said about my mother that goes against my interests, it’s that you said it in front of him.”
“That’s me told,” Michel said aloud in English. He dropped the link.
“What happened?” Cy asked pointedly.
“Michel hurt my feelings, and I locked up.” Michel thought about snickering, and got a savage pinch for his telegraphing his amusement. Normally it would have started a full-on wrestling match, but Michel kept his peace.
“Oh,” said Cy. “Is that what you call it.”
“Yes. It lasts a minute or two. After very bad news, I can lock up for the best part of an hour.”
Cy tried to express his doubts with as much sensitivity as he could. “During critical operations, or an interview, this – er – neurological condition – could put an end to your career in space before it even starts.”
“I have every hope that a treatment for my condition will be found, or that it will be ameliorated through natural processes.”
Disbelief, in every key, rang through the silence that followed.
Michel said, forestalling Cy, “What he’s trying to say is that he’s not in the correct format, currently, and that once he is in zero gravity all will be revealed.”
Cy blinked a few times. He had a face that issued each blink with the force of a thunderclap, without disturbing the neighbours.
Michel, who’d seen a lot of hard guys in his life, was impressed. Cy had a keen stare. Keen stares, Michel thought, as his simulacrum gazed into Cy’s red and blue eyes, can be creepy or compassionate, toddler heya or curvy perkiness, but this stare belongs to an adult who longs to understand the world beyond appearances.
Somehow this man, like a specially subsidized grade of moron, was running it while – how the hell would Jesse say it? – factually disadvantaged? It never occurs to me to push myself to the front if I’m not competent. Human stupidity has more layers than labels. It’s a marvel of the universe. Somehow having all these grades of stupidity co-existing is how the human race evolves.
It makes me glad that somebody planned me.
Cause I’m fucking strong and I fear practically nothing and nobody, and my fears are rooted in death, not humiliation or regret.
Aloud, he said, “How do I translate those blinks?”
Cy said, “My eyes are very dry.”
Michel said. “Hold still. I mean it, hold still. This is going to feel cold, weird and brief.”
Cy said, “You touched me without consent.”
Michel said, “Prove it.”
“I don’t have to prove it in a court of law,” Cy said, chuckling with disbelief and reaching his hands up to his eyes with the air of someone who knows he should know better. “I needed to know you’re the kind of person who’d do that, going forward.” He started rubbing.
Michel waited for George to jump in, but he was still pretty loopy and was keeping all of his many pie holes shut to cover it. ‘Let silence serve where speech will not.’ Eh George?
“You want a reputation as being capricious. You want to be a hell-raiser. But the prank you pulled on me – don’t worry, George more than amply warned me – is to pull crap out of my eyeballs? My vision’s all blurry now.”
“You rubbed too hard,” George said. It sounded very funny, if you didn’t know it was all he could manage.
In the firm and cutting voice which had ended the hopes of many a litigator, Cy said, “You have a neurological condition which manifests symptoms that prevent you from hiding it for long, and you want to be an astronaut. You want to achieve this goal by secretly controlling all the important aspects of governance in Vancouver and environs for two to five years prior to announcing your presence, setting up a network of graft and counterbalancing interests which will prevent the world powers from turning it into a smoking hole.”
Since George was able to hold himself together or speak, but not both, he stayed quiet.
“You’re still woozy from your little wax-job there, I suspect,” Cy said. His voice became fretful. “Goddamn, I’m cold.”
“I’ll be dead before this meeting’s over if we don’t move along. As I was saying,” and here he paused to issue a hate-stare to Michel, who shrugged, “Citizenship remains an issue. I have performed a review of citizenship requirements by country. Colin did the original research and set up the tables for me.”
“I was hoping we could assume that as long as Canada was getting the economic benefits citizenship would be guaranteed,” George said.
“What?” said Michel. “You could assume that but you need to start thinking about your plan as if you had to bug out to a different city, or country, even.”
“I can’t. I mean, I could, but it would mean moving Kima.”
“Don’t care where you two end up as long as I get to go,” Michel said.
“Interesting as this discussion is, why don’t you use your simply splendid memory to mark it for further followup, and entitle it ‘rat-hole number one’,” Cy said. “And while you’re doing that, let me remind you that it might seem like Canadian citizenship would be a sure thing, but I think it more likely you’ll be invited to buy a rapidly disappearing Pacific Island as the perfect location for all of your kind, the water morphs and the land morphs and all other forms, seeing as how none of you can drown.”
Michel was dismissive. “Right, and when the water gets high enough the air morphs will have no place to nest. Doesn’t help really. George, isn’t there a morph for living on gas giants? Don’t think they’d do well here, it’s way too hot.”
Grimly continuing, Cy said, “More likely yet is that the Canadian government decides to stall, to see how upset its allies would be if it granted you citizenship, since the US, China and pretty much any country with any say will make its opinion known, and I don’t imagine any of them will approve.”
Michel said, “Maybe we should just go for whoever will take us and not worry about Canadian citizenship.”
George sounded reasonable. “I want to have the same problems and protections, such as they are, as the people who would be my fellow citizens. I don’t know what else I can do except show I’m serious about being a law abiding citizen.”
Michel said, “I’ve officially lived long enough to be glad your mother’s dead.”
George stayed quiet. He felt a great discontinuity begin somewhere in his body, and with it an intense and unreasonable fear. Before he knew what was happening, Michel had slung him over a shoulder and carried him outside.
“What’s happening?” Cy called after Michel.
He paused at the door. “He’s passing out. I’m taking him out to the gazebo. You can join us if you can get your elderly meat suspenders down the stairs.”
“Will he be alright? He did it once before.”
“I think I ‘overtaxed’ him, or maybe it was a mistake mentioning his mother. You never know with this one.”
The link was dead. George was out cold. Since Michel had seen this happen scores of times, neither the fainting spell nor the uncertainty about when George might be expected to awaken, if at all, concerned him.
After a few minutes, Cy and his grandson came out. There was a great setting and re-setting of pillows on the chaise longue,, and Cy was now wearing a hat and gloves against the chill. Colin fired up a gas brazier and the damp was successfully driven away. Even so, Cy was far from comfortable, but the opportunity to quiz Michel with George out of the picture, even for a few minutes, was worth the aching in every joint and the pain it took to sit.
“Shall I stay?” Colin said. He didn’t have a problem leaving his grandfather alone with two aliens, if he was fine with it. A family history of extreme personal autonomy accompanied the question.
“Stay upstairs with your grandmother, but keep your eyes on the backyard if you can,” Cy said. “Michel and I will have a chat.”
After the back door had closed behind Colin, Michel said, “I don’t mind telling you that I’m very happy to be outdoors. I don’t mind being indoors for a little while but really I’d rather be where the breezes blow.”
“Tell me what’s wrong with George,” Cy said.
“He’s way past sleepy and he can’t hear us.”
“That seems a quite functional description,” Cy said slowly. “But I’d like you to be more specific.”
“More specific how? I can’t raise him on the link, so he’s at least one level unconscious. When I kick him in the centre-line, he does not react, so that’s strike two. His hair is lying completely limp, which means that someone could train a fifty cal on him at point blank range and he’d sleep like a puppy in the afternoon sun.”
Cy said, “He’s deeply unconscious, in other words, but you have hope for his recovery.”
“I’ve learned to consider his fits to be very convenient, so I don’t cut him any slack, and you shouldn’t either,” Michel said.
“Do you consider him trustworthy?” Cy asked.
“From what well-spring of arrogance could you find the motivation for such a question,” Michel said in a wondering tone.
“You’re the one that said his fits are convenient,” Cy said.
“Do you consider your grandson trustworthy?” Michel asked.
“Ah,” said Cy.
“He’s sneaking off to go drinking with my coworker, so maybe he and Jesse are cooking up something we don’t know about. People whether they are Sixers or humans do one of two things, exactly what you expect or nothing you could predict. This one,” and here he gently kicked George, who did not respond, “is very unpredictable.”
“Did he lure you here by moving Kima out here?”
“Kima moved out here herself and George followed her. So did I.”
“I’m trying to get some sense of your relationship with George.”
“I tried to kill him once. Well, more than once, but it was several times over a short period, so I think that counts as once.”
“What? Why?” Cy asked, horrified.
“His grandmother talked me into it,” Michel said.
“He said she was unpleasant,” Cy said, after a pause.
“She really hated his hair, and she had another grandchild, so she told three of us to kill him.”
“How did he survive?”
“We never all ganged up on him at once,” Michel said. “But I don’t think it would have helped, since his hair woke up and poked me in a lot of tender places. I went back to Zosime and told her to get stuffed.”
George’s tentacles started flailing, and sank, twitching slightly, back down onto the gazebo floor, where they started to firm up. There was a shimmer, and George vanished.
“Link works,” Michel said placidly. “He’ll be back soon.”
“What if he does this in the middle of a public function?” Cy said. “Or in space?”
“Those someones include your grandson, my coworker Jesse, and a whole bunch of other people I can’t talk to you about.”
“Of course, please add to the total of all the humans I’m s’posed to keep alive – after the collapse of civilization and you fuckers all starting to eat each other – all of our previous clients, which is flattering, but there’s only one of me and I take time off to bang Kima, plus I do like to see my ma once in a while, so if people are going to be assholes someone else is going to pick up the slack, and that means we’re gonna have to be extra squishy cozy with the cops. I fucking hate cops. So George here –“ and he slapped him to produce that strangely metallic, echoic ringing sound Sixers get when they strike each other ‘just so’ – “when he’s first telling me his plan and he described that one of the first things he was gonna do was suborn the cops, I think to myself – where’s he gonna get that kind of money? To be honest I think judges are mostly scumbags, too, but I’m willing, since George speaks so highly of you, to cut you some slack. Oh, I nearly forgot I’m also supposed to help plan out how to secure the city from possible air attacks without actually advising the Canadian Forces to fatten up their local presence, not that an angry gnat couldn’t fart them out of the sky.”
Cy found that he had no response to this he could trust, and said nothing.
Michel unlooped his arm.
He said, “If you want to meet other Sixers, don’t bother. Me, Kima, George and Hermes are the only ones who’ve either lived human or committed to the plan.”
George broke in. “Seriously, Cy, you don’t want to meet my grandmother.”
“Or that little shit Theo. I hope you’re keeping tabs on that asshole, I don’t want him in Vancouver,” Michel said.
“Another of Kima’s suitors?” Cy said, raising his eyebrows delicately.
George gave a small cough. “He would like to think so. It is Kima’s decision of course, and Michel and I have no say in her choices.”
Cy raised his eyebrows even higher. “I doubt that, somehow. Well, Michel, now that George is getting what he wants from you except your agreement not to whinge, will you join us for our information update?”
“I don’t like meetings,” Michel said. “But I wouldn’t mind finding out why George thinks you’re so special.”
Cy laughed. “I’m not special. I’m available. And I know a lot of important people.”
“First up,” George said, shifting his tone and asserting control.
“Citizenship,” said Cy, obediently.
Michel continued his freestyle kibitzing. “What? Why even bother with that?” Michel said. “From a cultural standpoint it would be regressive to ask Canada for citizenship. We are citizens of the world.”
“Nope,” Cy said.
“Sure we are,” Michel said.
“What you are, my glabrous new friend, is an animal. You have no legal protection whatsoever. You are not a person, and therefore you have no rights.”
“Most people don’t think that way,” Michel said, frowning. “Like, anybody who meets me. And I got three hairs,” he added, since he hadn’t enjoyed being called hairless.
“If I shot you in the doorway of my house, to give an unlikely but instructive example, and you died, which I understand is very unlikely indeed, I’d face no legal consequences except under sections 86 and 87 of the Criminal Code of Canada.”
“Horseshit,” Michel said comfortably. “The secret police would jail you for years for shooting an alien, on slapped-together charges. There are no civil rights left in this country anyway.”
“Firearms stuff,” George said. He’d memorized the CCC, since the app worked too slowly for his agile mind, and there was no proper search function.
“Wish I’d had your memory when I was in school,” Cy said, “And ever since, as well,” he added with mild envy. He tried to resume his lecture, and as he took a breath, Michel broke in again.
“Can’t you just make Sixers a protected species?” Michel asked. “I thought that could happen with an Order-in-Council.”
“It’s not good enough,” George said. “However cute a beluga is it can’t own property, intellectual or otherwise, or transfer it, or bank, or get a drivers licence, or any of that.”
“Can’t get sued, either,” Michel said, trying to find the bright spot.
“Is he like this all the time?” Cy asked George.
“Sometimes I’m horny, rather than talkative. It’s better than violent and inconvenient,” Michel said. He reverted to his human appearance, and with relief, George joined him.
“You’re trying to rattle me,” Cy said.
“No, I’m done trying that,” Michel said. “I still don’t understand why George thinks you’re a Rosetta Stone with an Antikythera device on top.”
“He likes me.”
“Oh, pshaw,” Michel said. “George likes everybody.”
“I said I’d help him before he asked.”
“Humans help each other to the point of death every damned day.”
“Why don’t you try asking George?” Cy said, the anger resurfacing.
“Where’s the fun in that when I can get you going? Okay, I’ll bite. George, why him?”
“Because Conspirator Zero told me to.”
“What?” Michel and Cy said simultaneously.
There was a long pause.
“I was under the strong impression that you researched me for a long time before you approached me,” Cy said, keeping his voice cold and quiet.
“I was given your number by a man who met you twice, once in civvies and once for court,” George said.
“Christ, that could be about a hundred thousand people,” Cy said, baffled.
“Well then – I imagine his identity will stay secure. I can’t even tell you why I can’t tell you who he is. Or was. He’s dead now.”
Cy and Colin were waiting for them in the living room off the main entrance. “Cy, may I formally present to you my friend Mikhael, who goes by Michel Calabria. Michel, Cy.” Cy stood, with some effort.
“I met you at the crime scene,” Cy said. “I won’t shake your hand.”
“I changed my appearance to avoid the attention of the authorities,” Michel said.
“Michel, may I present Cy’s grandson Colin, who’s assisting his grandparents, and us.”
“A pleasure,” Colin said. He was tall and pale and looked snarky.
“Sure wish I could change my appearance,” Cy said. “It’d be great if it was a transferrable skill.” He frowned a little.
“I don’t know how I do it, so I doubt I could teach you,” Michel said.
Colin spoke. “Why do you have that outrageous French accent when George speaks perfect English?” Cy looked down for a moment, and then raised his gaze to Michel.
“To get up the noses of stupid Anglos,” Michel replied.
“It’s deliberate?” Colin considered this, and then smirked as George said, “Very.”
“George says you’re difficult but fun,” Cy said after a pause.
“That was very honest and kind of him,” Michel said. “But you could pretty much say that about any Sixer.”
George pulled a face. “My mother?” he asked with some heat. “My grandmother?”
“I said pretty much. Isn’t that a qualifier? Besides, I only ever met 44 other Sixers, and got a whiff of mebbe half a dozen more, which leaves about 250 unaccounted for.”
“If that’s indeed the final count,” George said gloomily. “Another sticking point with humans. Once they find out we’re here, they’re going to want a head count, and that will be impossible.”
“Always more questions than answers with you folks,” Cy said.
“Say Sixers, ‘you people’ and ‘you folks’ have othering connotations which we wish to avoid,” George said.
“Why don’t you just take over the planet and cut the politically correct crap?” Cy asked. He put his hand on his knee as he sat down. His grandson Colin came forward and arranged cushions, and then left the room after nodding to both George and Michel. Michel decided to like him. Jesse had been impressed; they’d gone out drinking at least once and Jesse had come back somehow looking both thoughtful and smug.
“S’what I keep telling him, but he doesn’t want to, and I don’t want to either,” Michel said, “Since it seems like a lot of work.” He once again tried to link with George. Perhaps thinking Michel would leave in a snit if he shook him off again, George allowed the link. Their conversation thereafter had a dimension Cy could not perceive.
“What do you want out of this?”
“Me? I want George to go into space and leave me alone with Kima! Then I’m hoping we go back to the Margin, or maybe Alaska, open a poutine shack….”
“If Kima will go,” George said through the link.
“Your assistance is to ensure that George leaves Earth,” Cy said.
“At this rate he’ll never go. Strap your ass to a Chinese rocket and beat it!”
“You understand ballistics at least as well as I do,” George said pointedly. The sub-rosa battering he was getting in the language of light didn’t help. With rising annoyance, he said, “Killing a group of taikonauts and – not to put too fine a point on it, but myself as well! – would not get me into space and it would be a great loss of the limited treasure humans devote to science as well as cutting short my life, much against my wishes. I can’t pull a “Space Bat”, clinging to some part of a rocket like an asylum-seeker sneaking a lift in a the wheel well of a jet.”
“You’re the only Sixer I ever met apart from George and Hermes,” Cy said. “As far as I know, you’re the only three Sixers on Earth. Without human help George’s rocket trip will never happen.”
“You met Hermes,” Michel said slowly. George looked bland. In the language of light he told Michel to quit struggling and try to look like a good minion. Michel’s response was as rude as he could make it in the language of light, which is a language structured around ideas, objects and testable reality, not personalities and feelings. Michel slumped, very slightly, but it was enough to show, for the moment at least, they were going to do it George’s way.
Michel, accompanying the statement with an invisible flick to George’s centre-line, much the same in intent and pain as snapping an elastic, “I’m going to help George with his project. I’ll go where he sends me and do what he tells me, and if either of us make babies with Kima, we’ve promised to protect any of Kima’s babies, whoever made them, against humans and Sixers.”
“That was the deal. I don’t want to attend any fucking meetings. I’m here because I was curious to see what shenanigans you were getting up to, but it all seems to be happening here is careful planning and I got no time for that shit.”
“Michel being a reactive sort of person,” George said.
“I am right here! I got legs, and just because you got hair you can’t control doesn’t mean I couldn’t kill you, just that it would be harder.”
“This is your closest Sixer ally,” Cy said heavily.
“What good are you to George, old man? I can keep my head in an emergency, can you?” Michel dropped his appearance.
George sighed. In solidarity with Michel, and in part to prevent him from leaving, he dropped his appearance as well.
Seen side by side, the differences between the two aliens were stark. Michel was taller, broader and a few shades darker, his centre-line spangled with silver dots. George was a paler beige, with pink blotches around his hairline and less defined markings on his centre-line, and rotund, as if someone had superimposed the outline of the Michelin Tire Man on his form. His hair formed a gently moving, shining black nimbus around his head.
Staring at where Michel’s now absent eyes had been, and showing no sign of anything but tightly controlled anger, Cy said, “I’m at the end of my life. I’ve dragged my wife, who’s dying upstairs, and my grandson, who’s immolated his own career on the bonfire of George’s promises, by their lapels, into what will be one of the defining events of the twenty-first century, even as I ready to depart from life.”
Cy was just getting warmed up.
Fucking humans, thought Michel. Bags of blood, bone and air, with air being their defining weakness. Get to the fucking point.
“The concept of public service is laughable to you, pointless to you, but I have served my city, and my province, and my country since I was old enough to understand what it means. I’ve had to re-cast and re-conceive that service many times, as my understanding of the world has grown. Now I’ve been presented with the opportunity to prevent possibly thousands upon thousands of human beings from dying. I have a chance to prevent my city from burning down. I may be dying myself, but if I can prevent this horror from unfolding I’m prepared to sacrifice everything I love to make that happen; my wife and my grandson have agreed to help because they don’t want Vancouver to burn down either.”
“Today I learned that George is essentially in this alone; that your assistance is conditional upon no more substantial a foundation than that provided by your concupiscence and the vanity you feel for your species as a whole. The sacrifice I have been called upon to make, and am still willing to make, is meaningless to you, and you seem to have no understanding of either our reasoning or our goals.”
“Ever seen a city sacked?” Michel asked after a tense pause.
“I have. Don’t tell me I don’t know what can happen.”
“In Turkey?” George said suddenly.
“During the Great War, yes. Of course they only sacked the Armenian quarter, so I s’pose I should have been more specific. They killed a lot of people, burned a lot of houses, raped a lot of boys and women, and marched a lot of old people down the road until they died. I have lived on this earth almost twice as long as you, and I don’t need a fucking lecture about how upstanding you are. If you think that you and I are different from each other you’re wrong. We’re both sentient beings with something resembling free will – perhaps free range of motion is a better way of putting it – and we’re both getting used by this asshole.” Here he flung out a tentacle and looped it rapidly around George’s non-existent neck several times and pulled him closer. He tried to give George noogies, but his hair fended him off. “Ow! That you can drape your fine sentiments in lacier language than me don’t make you smarter or prettier or morally superior to me. You’re supposed to find the legal language to take care of some parts of this shit pile of a plan, and I’m here to prevent our closest human friends from getting killed or dying in a blacksite jail when it’s learned they’ve been contributing to an international criminal conspiracy for years.”
Spent time with young Master Alex in Oakalla (Deer Lake) Park and his Mama and Pawpa (Paul) and while we were walking along the same stretch where we saw the coyote with Keith, he ran between the three of us giving us our titles. He’d run up behind us and tap us on the ass and say ZIZI or PAWPA or MUMMY like a little buzzing bee. He walked the whole 2.5 k himself, he ran up to joggers to give them greetings (causing one guy to dodge around and almost wipe out) but he gave bunches of grandmotherly types big smiles and ran up to them with his arms out.
Dogs he’s not so sure about, but with assistance he can interact appropriately.
He fell madly in love with a puddle and some heart shaped leaves.
He’s such a dear little person. I feel amply rewarded for my patience during his earlier difficulties bonding with anyone but his mom. Paul and I are having a panic with him.
I wish Katie was not experiencing personal difficulties right now, but they aren’t impacting Alex at all that I can see and everything will be fine in the outcome.
He’d had a nice break on the Seabus, after playing ambulance, and felt all of his good humour and good sense marshalled around him. He’d arrive a little late, but that would be fine; George would find calmly sociable and useful things to say, maybe explain that he, Michel was his chief sexual rival, except that since he’d come to town, the two of them had been going at Kima like ants on fallen fruit with no sign of babies.
Michel couldn’t transfer a sperm packet big enough to start a pregnancy, and George couldn’t transfer one at all, and got madder than hell if you even mentioned it. Michel hoped that while coaching his lawyer friend on Michel’s many interesting qualities George would have to say something about his reproductive bobbles, because if he really was close to this human, as close as he claimed, he’d have to say something. It would be embarrassing to George, and that made any mockery of his own troubles worthwhile.
It amused Michel and he and George were on opposite ends of an emotional and physical spectrum, but comfortably friends. It hadn’t always been so, but George was nothing if not pragmatic, and had forgiven Michel for taking bad advice and trying to kill him back in the day.
If he was George, he’d have been preparing for the meeting since daybreak, rehearsing and trying various things in his mind. There would be agendas, occluded and competing and colliding and colluding, and Michel thought it would all be horseshit. There were two things in his life right now, and everything else was a sunny expanse of boredom and pointlessness.
There was sneaking around the city at night moving furniture, which he never in a dozen lifetimes would have guessed provided the right amount of work-related mayhem and routine for his sadly deranged personality, and banging Kima, or trying to. Even making a commitment to not making a commitment was too much for him; he was content to fall into the work while making the occasional half-hearted effort to understand what George was doing, and the crazy places that Kima’s brain was taking her while supporting George’s work.
According to George, the lawyer (who was ‘one of the finest Canadian jurists of all time’ according to Maclean’s, which to Michel was like saying he was something excellent and yet rationally undesirable) was sick and maybe dying, and his wife was definitely dying, and that irritated Michel.
Most Sixers had a distaste for humanity’s folkways of death that was blatant, bigoted, unrepentant and immune to even gentle admonishment. If you’re going to die, get it over with! – only a fool lingers once the pin has been pulled. Sixers died abruptly and completely, although you usually got a little notice so you could say goodbye, if you cared to. That was a natural death. An unnatural death sent you away quicker than a lightning strike.
After a fine run, which included slapping a bear on the ass (it treed itself with a confused bellow, circled the top of the snag and mimicked a KFC bucket), Michel reached his destination. He was about to knock on the door when George who must have been taking invisibility lessons from Kima, forestalled him. The pain was stark.
“Ow ow ow shit fuck,” Michel said in English, but quietly. George’s hair had formed a clamp and pinched his three hairs. Michel mastered the urge to bob like a panicky spider on a thread and stayed still and quiet.
George’s voice, calm in Greek: “Cy is key to my plans, dead or alive, but if you scare him or do anything to hurt him or anyone in this household, or if you do anything puckish and droll and ignorant, I’ll make you wish you hadn’t.”
“You’re the boss,” Michel said, and tried to force a link. George, annoyed, slapped him off, and reefed just a bit on the three hairs.
“Eee,” Michel squeaked.
“I’m not your boss, and I never will be,” George said.
“You have literally got me by the short hairs. I don’t know how much more of a tyrant you could be,” Michel said. He kept his tone humble. “Then there’s my paycheque.”
“Thank Cy,” George said, releasing Michel. “He’s the one making it all possible. I mean it. No funny business.”
“Sheesh, what a grouch,” Michel said. His hairs were screeching at him, and he tried to think calm thoughts back to them. They entered the house, George determined, Michel, his jolly mood destroyed, with foreboding.
Still silent and invisible, he dodged early morning traffic and crossed a few streets. There was an almost dead man in the alley he cut through to get to George’s apartment building. He stopped for a minute to look at him, and then remembered that George had insisted that the MMCo staffers all start carrying Narcan.
Colour slid back into the man’s cheeks. He gave an almighty snort and sat up so fast he would have done credit to a Sixer.
“Hi,” Michel said. He had taken the form of a feminized angel, just for laughs. “If you walk with me now, I’ll take you to the hospital and you can get clean. If you don’t, in about half an hour the Narcan will wear off and your high will come back, and your breathing will go away.”
“Lemme die,” the man said, leaning his head back into the scummy brick.
“As you wish, human,” Michel said, like a true stuck-up ass. “I have places to be anyway.” All Sixers who dealt with humans on a regular basis knew ‘the sandwich’, which was a three part illusion. The side facing the human you were talking was real enough to trick human vision, but not quite dense enough to fool another Sixer. The side facing the outside world shows nothing but the street scene, with the human, less the Sixer; once again, good enough to fool all but the most unusual human, but as subtle as a flare gun to another Sixer. In the middle, it was your normal human illusion, or whatever suited you. If you didn’t have to move, you could keep it up all day. If you did have to move, it was easier to make a ‘bubble’, which was your normal invisibility pushed out just enough to accommodate your human chum.
“Are you really an angel from Heaven?”
“Are you really a drug addict from Edmonton?” Michel responded, having stealthily turned his new friend’s pockets. He could already feel the man’s breathing slow again. He needed a drip, in hospital, or he was going to die. “God damnit,” Michel said, irritated that he might miss George. “I gotta make a phone call.”
“You’re not an angel!”
“Jesus Christ,” Michel said. He appeared to pull off a wing feather and handed it to the man. It was actually a swan’s wing feather. He tried to keep a couple in stock. “Fine. I’ll make a phone call and you can die while I watch. This day was a write-off anyway.”
The conversation took place in Greek.
“Don’t leave yet,” Michel said.
“I have appointments all day starting in half an hour, so, no, I’m not hanging around for you,” George said. “I was about to jump in a cab.”
“Give me the address and I’ll meet you there.”
“You already met Cy,” George said. “It’s his house in North Van.” He provided the address.
“I had a different face,” Michel said.
“He’s okay with that. Explain it once and he’ll be fine.”
“One of the smart ones,” Michel said.
“See you there,” George said, and hung up.
Michel said to the man, “Let’s take a ride.”
The poor man shit himself in terror as Michel tucked him into one of his pockets and started to trot toward Burrard. They were not even a kilometre from the St. Paul’s Hospital emergency entrance. Flat out, he could make it in seven minutes, slower, obviously than it would have been if he wasn’t carrying 140 pounds of shit and regret.
As he crossed Robson Street the man passed out again. Michel started squeezing him to keep air going in and out, since humans, the poor dears, aren’t much good without air. In the parking lot Michel snuck behind a truck so that when he emerged, transferring his cargo from his pocket to his arms, he looked like a regular citizen trying to help this poor sick man. While yelling for Narcan, he suctioned off as much of the shit as he could out of respect for the staff. Then he ran down a corridor at random, found a blind spot to vanish in and a safe place to dispose of the shit.
“Finally back on my own schedule!” he said. He waited until somebody triggered the emergency sliding doors and then ran back up Burrard.
He turned right on Canada Place and bounced over various obstacles while fare jumping, until he was balanced on one of the Seabus masts.
Michel woke and looked down from the tree he slept in. He rarely slept in the same tree for more than a week, as he could damage it. He was sleeping in the tallest tree in CRAB Park to stay close to George’s apartment, so he could keep watch on George.
He could see the ocean. There was always the possibility she could swim into the harbour to see him.
More fool George, to spend money on shit like an apartment. With his hair out he didn’t even have to get wet in the rain if he didn’t want to. And cable? – which Michel was convinced was among the last of the really great corporate scams – why bother with it? He’d once watched a lot of TV but it was mostly to see what people were thinking was important, and then he realized that none of it was. His preference for carefully curated personal interactions over media reasserted itself in the 1990’s, and he’d never bothered with anything but radio news since.
He stretched out his arms and legs and performed a controlled fall like a Jacob’s ladder down the trunk of the tree. Sometimes he went for a run and a dunk in the morning, but not always. He silently and invisibly raided one of the trash bins for his breakfast. His nutrition buds told him what was necessary, and he ate it.
Humans made such a big deal out of food that he felt sorry for them. Obviously their evolutionary path was much more sociable, and there wasn’t really a moral problem with it, but being that dependent on other people for something without which you’d die in less than six weeks gave Michel the shivers, so he avoided dependency. He silently and invisibly defecated and buried it.
Sixers vary widely in their sleeping habits. Watermorphs sleep in the ocean. Most of the four-legged versions of the landmorphs sleep on the ground, and any birdmorphs sleep in trees or on rooftops if trees are not available.
Jesse, hearing this, asked what the hell happened during thunderstorms.
“Nothing. I love thunderstorms.”
“What happens if you get hit by lightning?”
“I die, probably. It’s one of our swears, ‘rocks and lightning!’ ‘cause they’re just about the only two things that can kill us.”
“Hunh! Bullets can’t kill you but lightning can!” Jesse said in wonder.
“Oh, I’d have a tough time if somebody hit me with a few quick rounds from a 50 cal,” Michel said, placidly. “Or a drone strike. That’d make me hop around for sure. Buckshot’s nothing, just makes me clang for a while after.”
“You know, echo,” Michel said, illustrating this by cupping his hands, palms together, about 15 cm apart and shaking them.
“I don’t echo inside; I’m not hollow,” Jesse said.
“Neither me,” Michel said. “And that’s not quite right ‘cause you’re a tube. But at least you know what’s inside you. I got no clue. Could be ghosts and water beetles and cupcakes, for all I know.”
“Don’t you have a heart? And I don’t get how you can both eat and shit without having a tube to do it with.”
“I don’t know if I do have a heart, and I don’t know if I don’t have one. Just know that everything works,” he said, and slapped himself. There was a loud reverberation, as if a gong had been struck. Jesse inserted his fingers in both ears and waited for the noise to die down.
“You say you don’t breathe.”
“No lungs,” Michel said. “Talk with a diaphragm.”
“You live on Earth, but you don’t breathe air.”
“Most of us live in the water. Never been a big fan. Did I tell you I swam out to meet Kima and by the time I got there I was so fuckin’ tired I couldn’t mate?”
Jesse burst out laughing. “You’re kidding.”
“No. She was pissed.”
“This face is not surprised,” Jesse said, pointing to it. “So is she the greatest, or what?”
“Don’t know ‘bout that, cause I don’t know ‘em all, but of the ones I ever met, she’s the greatest.”
Michel remembered the conversation with his usual good humour. Kima had only been mad for about ten seconds and then she was dying to talk to him. Her brain seemed like an elaborately geared toy that was going to catch fire from being spun up so high, so it was good thing she was sitting in four degree water all day. He had fondled her for hours, which was amusing in itself, while she talked. Her English was getting better, but she rattled at him in a disorienting mix of the language of light and Greek, sometimes at the same time, until he could feel his ability to keep up drop into unfathomed incomprehension.
It was obvious why George needed her for the project. He still wondered why they’d picked Vancouver when Halifax was a better choice, but you couldn’t go up against the two of them once they’d made a decision. Halifax at least he could keep living in Montréal and visit, but nobody had thought of his needs when they’d committed to this ‘logistical challenge’. This was George’s way of saying he was declaring war on the laughably named Western Civilization while hoping that nobody important or possibly nuke-tossing noticed. So far it was fine, or so George said. Michel was not a deep thinking individual, but he was no fool, and he wanted to practice the well known human aphorism Trust but Verify.
Today was the day he was going to hang out with George and see what he did all day. He had this big plan, which he and Kima and possibly Hermes and others had been dragged into, but Michel was still not clear on what was happening. He had no fears for himself, but Michel didn’t think much of George’s plans for his human acquaintances, and wished to satisfy himself that George wasn’t marching them all off a cliff.
“I’ll take your statement,” said cop number two. Looking beyond him, he said, “Where’d the other guy go?”
“Michel?” Jesse said.
“Took off and left you to deal with the mess. What a pal.” Cop number one was gloating.
“That’s okay, I was expecting it,” Jesse said. His knees were so cold they felt like they’d gone sledding with Amundsen.
Two more cops in plain clothes arrived. They went inside to chat with Rodrigues after confirming who everyone was.
“Can you explain why the buckshot is all lined up in a row on the front step?” said the third cop, approaching Jesse from behind, which was unpleasant, and then dropping into a squat next to him to scowl into his face.
“It realized it was being fired into Michel and fainted in terror,” Jesse said. George had said he’d never spend a night in jail as long as George had anything to say about it. Whether that useful promise had any legs, or tentacles, or any other organic means of locomotion whatsoever, was not clear. He remained hopeful.
The medical examiner and the forensics people arrived.
“Look, I was called here for a job, and a man tried to murder me and I found a dead woman who turned out to be my customer. Can you arrest me, detain me for questioning indoors or release me please?”
Cop number three got up in disgust and walked away.
Michel chose that moment to arrive – except it wasn’t Michel.
“Jesse!” Michel called. Reassuringly, it was Michel’s voice coming out of the strange face.
“Michel,” Jesse said obediently.
“I called the lawyer with our location.”
“Really?” Jesse said, pleased.
“Also all the media, and your supervisor, you braindead anchor on the taxpayer’s ass,” Michel said, giving a little wave to cop number one. “With a little reminder about how not to treat people when they’ve called in a murder.”
“Now can I stand up?” Jesse asked.
“I took pictures of them all, too, since it’s not illegal to take pictures of officers from the street unless there’s an active shooter (I don’t see one) or an evacuation order (nope, nothing around here like that), or there’s a national security issue (nope, plain old everyday femicide) but even then judges can be fussy when they think the cops are bringing the administration of justice into disrepute.”
“You can’t wet a river,” Jesse said.
“I hear ya, kid, I hear ya,” Michel said, nodding thoughtfully.
“Would you try to focus sir,” – the word sir nearly imploded under the weight of his contempt – “and tell us what happened?” cop number one said. His partner took notes.
“Jesse banged on the door. I heard the shotgun while I was coming up behind. I used a battering ram to shove Jesse to one side and the blast hit the battering ram.”
“Why would you take a battering ram to a client’s house?” cop number two asked, pausing in his dictation, appalled by such barbarism.
Michel was dismissive. “You think this is our first trip to Playland? We’ve both had guns pulled on us by unhappy exes, and had to get into places that had been barricaded by paranoid hoarders and crazed boyfriends and whacked-out landlords.”
“Don’t forget the pimp.” Jesse was not going to forget that night anytime soon. George had turned up for that one.
“Where’s the battering ram now?”
Michel looked around, eyes wild and dubious. “Should be here somewhere.” Jesse tsk-tsked. Michel was obviously pranking the cops, who would never find what had never been there.
“No record of Jesse Silver in the system,” cop number one said, coming back from his car. “How about you, Michel?”
“Here, have some ID.” The change in appearance made much more sense now. He’d lifted some poor soul’s wallet and was skin-walking his way through the encounter with the cops. He felt sorry for whoever it was had parted with his wallet. Or maybe Michel had squirrelled it away well in advance.
“The ID doesn’t say Michel.”
“It don’t when you were born a man and your true name is Michelle,” said Michel, softening his voice and raising his pitch a smidgen, “And you can see how much I look like the picture,” he said, presenting a profile and then replicating the blank expression on the driver’s licence. It was all Jesse could do not burst out laughing, so he looked down.
“Where’s your BC I.D.?” cop number one asked, eyes narrowed.
“I only just moved here from Montréal! Jesse can confirm,” said Michel. “I got three months, you officious dough head.”
Jesse said, “Can I please stand up now?”
Cop number two did something with his face, something Jesse couldn’t see. Michel snickered. Cop number one, surly to begin with and angered by his partner’s apparent lack of support, said, “Sure. But don’t move.”
Jesse was sorely tempted to break into a two person conga line and motor away into the darkness while Michel allowed a week’s allotment of RCMP 9 mm ammo to rain down on his ass. Giving up the truck hardly seemed worth it, and he had to wait for the lawyer, now anyway. He was amazed that Michel, with George’s assistance, seemed to have had no trouble rousting out a lawyer at two a.m. It took a little under an hour for him to arrive. Michel mentioned he was coming from North Van.
When he pulled up, there was a stir. Supported by a slender young man a few years older than Jesse, a very pink and white old man in an expensive black suit slowly made his way to him.
“I’m representing you, it appears,” he said. His voice was frail and breathy, but the intellect behind his eyes seemed unimpaired.
“My name is Cyrus Armbruster. You can call me Cy. This is my son Colin.”
“Grandson Colin,” the young man corrected gently.
“Yes. It’s your father’s fault for naming you after himself.” This appeared to be a gag of some standing, and Colin sighed but did not speak.
“Sir, aren’t you a retired B.C. Supreme Court judge?” cop number three asked hesitantly. Cop number two, realizing this was true, slipped inside to warn the others.
“Why, yes, I am!” the old man said, delighted to have been recognized. Colin gave Jesse a lopsided grin. “So young man, have the police been harassing you? My understanding is that you reported a murder and now they’re treating you like you did it.”
One of the detectives could be heard yelling, “What?” through the open front door.
Cop number one looked like he wanted to chew on some Tums®.
“I just want to go to the station house to get my fingerprints done for exclusion and go home,” Jesse said, suddenly realizing that even if he did get home within the next couple of hours, sleep would be impossible.
“Well, gentlemen?” the retired justice asked, smiling with welcoming calm.
“Don’t leave town,” growled cop number one.
“Jesse, will you undertake not to leave town?”
“I promise I will not leave the Lower Mainland without informing the RCMP for the duration of this investigation,” Jesse said promptly.
“Nah, I can’t do that.”
“Nah, I can’t do that. I won’t leave town or go more than 20 k out in the water. Love fishing you know. It’s why I moved to BC!”
“I’m not letting them leave until I search the truck,” cop number one said.
“Got a warrant?” Michel asked.
“Michel, your steadfast defence of your hard-won liberties is a credit to you, but in this case, there’s no harm in the police searching your work vehicle. Unless you think there’s a reason not to.”
“It’s not my truck, it’s the company’s. Your say-so, you’re the company lawyer.” Michel turned aside with apparent indifference.
Jesse took out the keys and opened the cab and the back doors. The old man and his grandson went back to their car to wait it out.
Cop number one, assisted with obvious distaste by his partner, took his sweet fucking time, but after about twenty minutes he realized that he would probably have to dig his career prospects out from under a disciplinary letter – or worse – if he kept it up.
While they were waiting, Jesse went over to the judge’s car. Colin rolled the window down.
“Do you know about our friends?” Jesse said.
“I only met George before tonight,” Colin said, not misunderstanding. “Michel is something else.”
“Do not talk about it,” said the judge, in a voice that had once commanded a courtroom.
“Colin, old buddy, I just replaced my phone and I lost your number,” Jesse said, winking badly.
Frowning, the judge decided to ignore the rest of the conversation.
“Sure.” They exchanged contact details and a knowing look that promised alcohol-fuelled revelations.
Emerging from the truck, cop number one looked at Jesse and Michel with a contempt that did not dare express itself in full, and said, “I’m keeping my eye on you. I don’t know what you’re doing here but I know you’re up to something. Kids like you don’t have pull like this.”
“Colin and I are drinking buddies,” Jesse said. The lie came easily, and Colin’s number was now on his phone.
“All we do is move furniture while complaining about the police, sir,” Michel said. “Last I checked none of that was a crime.”
“Get lost,” cop number one said.
“Get fucked,” Michel said, waving, as soon as the door closed and Jesse had started the truck.
Jesse was inclined to agree.
A news van turned onto 14th just as they were pulling away, which was lucky for them since they now had a nice big parking space in front of the crime scene.
The man whose identity had been purloined was asleep, and he would have been startled to hear that he’d been stopping buckshot in Burnaby while sawing logs in Côte des Neiges.
Michel ground up the ID later that night. He had spares, of course.
Thirty seconds after their departure, the detectives emerged from the house and told everyone not to sweat it. It was open and shut. The phone calls proved it. The asshole friend gave up Rodrigues, the gun matched, the bloody clothes in the burn barrel were his, and each of the four discharges had a matching hole. One in Melissa, one in the door, two in the poor dog.
The weird ballistics at the front door weren’t an issue. The movers had gotten lucky, that was all.
I’m fixing it so my friend can have a retirement party and not clean up after it. I REGRET NOTHING.
Episode 49 is written and will be posted early in the morning on the 17th, so relax.
I very likely will be writing, but
in case I get slammed on procrastinating on housework, always a possibility, I’d prefer to take a little break. The book is halfway complete. What will happen next? Will Jesse meet Kima? Will we ever see Michel and Kima interacting? When the hell is George coming back to enliven the party…. Why doesn’t he want to meet Raven? And who stabbed the nanny? Most of these questions will not be answered, but here’s the deal.
YOU CAN AFFECT THE OUTCOME?
Yeah, you can. If you’re reading this you know how to contact me. Whajja want?
- I saw Alex yesterday. He greeted me with ZIZI! and a big smile, and insisted on kissing me goodbye. I now know where his daycare is and have met his caregiver Miss Stephanie. Prior to that Katie and Paul and I walked the Quay.
- Katie and I are getting together on Tuesday to take an online course together and plot our next career move. I’m thinking LPN and she’s thinking trainer, and I dunno about that but whatever.
- I learned that my chronically dry eyes have symptomatic support and no cure. The dryness is starting to damage the surface of my eye. I have to use hot compresses and drops. I will be getting more data in 10 days’ time. I have a new prescription and of course the glasses I paid 400 bucks a piece for don’t have the progressive part done properly. I don’t know if Keith did them or not but I’m a little choked and I won’t be spending money at that eye care place any more. I was already choked for the replacement cost of the frames.
- Due to the historic windstorm anticipated for exactly the same time as the Retirement Party, it has now been re-skedded to November 26, which not very coincidentally will allow Turkey Day celebrating Americans to join us, which would be Macklemore-category awesome.
- Still going to take a bit of a break from writing and try to fill my artist cup a bit.