So you can read my books

Saturday, July 24, 2010


{"Not only is life a bitch, but it is always having puppies.
- Adrienne Gusoff.}

Mark Twain looked at me with narrowed eyes. "You killed pretty easy there, Roland."

I shook my head. "No, it wasn't easy. Not for me. Not for Shakespeare. But Marlowe took such delight in ... in ...."

I squeezed shut my eyes, knowing I would see the image of the Elizabethan assassin being literally swallowed by death for the rest of my days.

I smiled what I knew had to be a bitter twist of my lips. The rest of my days didn't promise to be much longer if I didn't start thinking smarter.

I smelled Marlene's perfume as I felt my arm hugged. "Come, Liebchen. You did what had to be done. There is no shame in stepping on a cockroach."

Mark Twain dourly snapped, "Human being, Marlene. A bad one. But still a human being."

I opened my eyes to see Marlene's icy face. "You are human because of your deeds, Twain, not your DNA."

His eyebrow rose. "DNA?"

"Unlike you, scribbler, I read more than my own writing."

"We're stuck on the wrong question," I said.

"Do tell?," frowned Mark Twain.

"Yes, it's not why I killed Marlowe, but why he didn't kill me."

Marlene's slim hand went to her mouth. "Mein Gott, he was not working for the ghosts but for those who want to know how to kill them."

Mark Twain looked uneasily over his shoulder at the narrowly watching patrons of Meilori's as they sat at their oval tables, sipped their drinks, and ran light fingers over knife edges and gun barrels.

Any one of them could be working either for the ghosts who wanted me dead or for those in the Shadowlands who wanted me alive just long enough to gasp out the secret on how to kill the unkillable.

The darkness, barely kept at bay by the old Victorian gas lights, suddenly seemed alive ... and deadly.

Mark Twain smiled grimly. "I do believe that Toya gal had the right idea : losing ourselves deeper in this beknighted hostel for the damned may be our only hope of keeping our scalps."

Marlene, her eyes even more grim than Twain's, nodded silently. I nodded along with her. And we walked into the waiting shadows.

We hadn't gone seven steps before a stout woman in Renaissance robes grabbed Mark's left arm. "Oh, Mr. Twain, where have you been all my life?"

"Avoiding you, Madame," he gruffed, extracting his arm with difficulty from the human killer whale.

She seemed to swell with indignation. "Why, I never!"

"Miss an opportunity to eat? And it shows, Madame, it shows."

And so the gauntlet began. What gauntlet? The one that always started whenever Marlene walked into a room filled with men and alcohol. A samurai hoisted up on the belt that held his twin swords, swaggered from the bar to our left, and winked at her.

"I know I could make you very happy," he leered.

"Why," she murmured, "are you leaving?"

A scruffy man in battered khaki and fedora shoved the samurai aside. "Out of the way, loser."

He flashed a wide smile, seeming to be glowing white appearing as it did in the midst of a two week’s growth of beard.

"Go on. I know you want to. Ask me out."

Marlene kept on walking past him. "Certainly. Get out."

We walked through the cluster of glowing tables amidst the hoots of the samurai.

A sound of a scuffle broke out. The rasp of a drawn sword. The snap of a whip.

Marlene sighed, "Men. So predictable. So full of ego."

With a graceful twirl of her hand, she plopped whip-boy's fedora on my head at a rakish angle.

"How?," I sputtered.

She smiled like an evil pixie. "Have you not heard the gossip, Liebchen? I am fast."

Mark Twain grinned crooked, "That is one word for it."

I turned to him. "You should be ashamed of yourself."

"I am ... most nearly every night."

I shook my head. "Marlene is a hero. For three years she entertained the troops on the front lines with a death sentence from Hitler on her head. She raised millions of dollars to buy bombs that were then dropped on Berlin -- where her mother still lived.

She risked not just her life, but the life of her mother, to fight Hitler. And it haunted her each night of that long, long war."

Marlene patted my cheek, kissing it lightly. "Always my champion, Liebling. I love you for it."

A tall, wiry man in a black suit with wide lapels, wearing a hat with an even wider brim, got up from his table. He shifted his shoulders in an unsuccessful attempt to hide the gun he wore in a shoulder holster. He strutted up to Marlene.

"Where have you been all my life, doll?"

"Hiding from you."

His face got hard. Unfortunately, his jaw was not. Marlene moved faster than my eyes could follow. A fast uppercut and he went down to the floor with a loud thump.

Quarters spilled from her tiny fist.

She frowned. "I had that roll of quarters for fifty years."

She stepped over him, with the grace of a lioness.

Mark Twain startled me by bending down, stripping the man of his coat and shoulder holster. He put it on awkwardly until Marlene helped him.

He smiled like Huckleberry Finn.

"Damnation. I'm beginning to list to the port. However does Captain Sam walk straight?"

I had hoped that this would put an end to our gauntlet. But male hormones are notoriously single-minded and short-sighted. I wondered how the human race has survived as long as it has. We traveled all of three paces before it started up again.

A musketeer, leaning on the bar to our left, reached out and stroked Marlene’s hair. "Haven’t I seen you someplace before, wench?"

She kneed him once, hard, four inches below his belt buckle. He went down huffing and squealing. She reached out and poured his mug of ale on his face.

"Yes, Rüpel, and that is why I do not go there anymore."

A bare-chested black man walked like a rooster towards us. He seemed to be wearing a woman’s hose on top of his head and more gold chains than Midas would have found decent.

His baggy shorts went below his knees. His shoes were canvas. His fashions were tacky. His attitude was worse.

He walked right up to Marlene, looking her up and down, stopping where no man should look, much less stare. "Yo, mama, what it is?"

She flicked the point of her saber to his Adam's Apple. "Unobtainable."

He staggered backwards, holding his throat. "Chill, mama! I didn’t mean nothing."

Marlene murmured, "That is true, Flegel. You mean nothing. To me. To us. And sadly, it would seem you mean nothing to yourself."

She slashed a small cut on his throat. "Go! Be nothing downwind of us. Go!!"

He went.

Mark Twain rubbed his own throat. "Valkyrie, remind me never to rile you."

Her eyes were windows into a cold, unruffled sea. "Remind yourself and be spared much unpleasantness."

Looking into those eyes, I saw, not her, but the dead ghost body of Hemingway.

I shivered. Could a ghost kill another ghost?


  1. Getting very interesting. I had to read the last chapter too - I've been falling behind. I played the above video while reading both posts. Adds to the mystery -

    I liked the way you used the Box of Darkness to kill Shakespear - or Marlowe. And Marlene is on kick-ass girl. Knows how to put her knees to good use anyway (lol)

    I'll try to post the button to my blog. Sometimes, I have success; other times I have to bribe my kids to help. We'll see how it goes.


  2. A very interesting cast of characters you and Ms Dietrich keep running into...the dregs of humanity. I couldn't help but grin as I read this, but it's dark humor. Don't any of the good guys hand out there, besides the ones who are your friends?

    I can't help but wonder now if Ms D killed Hemingway...but why would she do that knowing the consequence...unless she's using you for said it-never count out a female!

    I love cats and I would really love to read Gypsy's Tale-pleasepleaseplease!?!

    I've been keeping a weather eye out and hopefully, Bonnie is becoming just a regular storm that will pass quickly and w/o damage. Post a review of SALT and let us know if it's any good and have a great and SAFE weekend!

  3. I love Marlene in this - she's great (although you obviously need to watch your back around her).

    Waiting to see what happens next... and how Gypsy will play into the whole thing. Hmm... did Gypsy kill Hemingway?

  4. ...that's one motley crue of literary schemers you've managed to gather and lock horns with.

    I get a kick out of Marlene. Troublesome deviant.

    Enjoyable post as always. Have a great weekend, and from what I've heard of the weather down there...hang onto your hat:)

  5. Lovely Marlene has the best lines!!! Another crazy and compelling adventure - it's like a twisted nightmare gone bad! But with the added bonus of the gorgeous Ms Dietrich!

    Take care

  6. Ooo, another twist.

    I've had only three hours sleep and am thinking a nap is in order. I'll check out your Chapter Seven tonight.

    In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy your day off.

    OH, and thanks for the button, it is safely installed on my blog, hopefully steering others over to share in the fun.

    that rebel, Olivia

  7. I love that beginning quote and I seriously love your gal! And WHAT did she do!?!?! Good plot twist.