Minutes after the Razor Baby and its duplicate had fled to the red plain, the local authorities arrived and cited Rusty for having a bonfire in breach of city ordinance. Rusty graciously accepted the ticket and immediately doused the fire with the garden hose.
Stewing the wet ashes with the butt of his spear, Paulus introduced he and his brother to Rusty by their true names, Pollux and Castor. Rusty, not being particularly well versed in Greek mythology, was left nonplussed by the demigods’ pomposity. He smiled, shook their hands and thanked them for timely arrival. Pollux regarded Rusty with an appraising eye. “This was a resolution neither my brother nor I would have ever foreseen,” he said.
“Aye,” said Castor. “The owl woman’s solution was perfect. Exquisite. Create an opposite player for the Thelema Child and leave them alone to tussle for eternity.”
“Brilliant,” agreed his brother.
“Brilliant,” echoed the other with cool resignation.
Once assured the ashes in the little pit were well and truly dead, Pollux and Castor made for the old motor home. Turning to Former Coroner Ron, Castor clapped the bigger man on the shoulder. “Well done, Doctor. Permanently removing the Thelema Child from this realm will not leave it a gleaming paradise, but it will most definitely be a world less cruel.”
“No,” said Goltry, “but the world is irrevocably changed. I know it. I can feel it.”
“Can you?” asked Castro. “How so?”
“Can’t you feel it? There is kindness in the wind,” said Former Coroner Ron.
Castor and Pollux paused at the door. “Might we offer you a ride somewhere, Doctor?”
“No, thank you,” said Former Coroner Ron. “I haven’t been home for almost a decade. I think I might hang about for a bit.”
And on that note, the two demigods climbed back into their rusty old chariot, Pollux harping on Castro when he saw how close the fuel gauge needle sat next to empty. Castro, smarting over the rigors of a mundane reality that left two mighty warrior godlings fussing over rising fuel costs, took the wheel and hastily piloted the old motorhome away from the Little Gray Town.
Amanda came to on the couch an hour later, draped in her mother’s old lime-green afghan. It was at that moment Rusty took the opportunity to introduce her to Carri and Dawn, mentioning they once lived in the bungalow and would probably be staying with him for the foreseeable future. Before Amanda could sputter one word of protest at the impropriety of Rusty cohabitating with an unwed mother and her child, Carri took a moment to point out that Amanda’s fainting spell may be indicative of a severe drop in blood sugar and would she like it if Carri made her up a nice fruit cup and a warm cup of tea? Amanda acquiesced, conceding to the concerns over blood sugar and all the while mentally reassuring herself that the whole passel of odd things she witnessed upon her arrival must have been an unconscious by-product brought on by her addled glucose levels.
“I’d best be going, too,” said Former Coroner Ron.
“How, Doctor Goltry?” asked Dawn from a bowl of warmed over macaroni and cheese. “You don’t have a ride any more.”
“I’ve started to develop a taste for walking,” he grinned. “I’ve found I can get places faster on my own two feet.”
Carri putting the metal teapot on the stovetop, moved to Former Coroner Ron and stretched her lean arms about his great girth, and buried her face in his barrel of a chest. “Thank you, Doctor. Thank you for everything. Please, don’t wander too far.”
“We’ll see,” he chuckled. “I left the whole of my worldly possessions in the trunk of a damn fine old car in a parking lot in suburban Wisconsin. I’m going to need all of that stuff if I plan to pick up my career where I left off.” And, he thought, there is a young woman and her daughter somewhere in Minnesota that might find comfort in the insights of one having recently vacated a World of Hurt.
Making for the front door of the bungalow, Former Coroner Ron turned and took one last look at the little front room. He no longer saw the place superimposed over the stark crime scene stills. He now saw it for what it was, a home–a safe home. It was a place to grow and live and love.
In the fall, Carri enrolled in college, intent on picking up her studies where she left off ten years ago. Testing out of the classes she’d taken previously was nothing compared to reconciling the registrar’s record of her previous attendance, not to mention she and Dawn’s death certificates on record with the county. Former Coroner Ron had indeed kept in touch, and with little effort he took one of his strolls between time and space and systematically erased all record of Carri and Dawn’s previous passing.
Starting at the local middle school, Dawn rapidly took up the life of a precociously rambunctious pre-adolescent girl. In time, the recollection of the years spent in the limbo of the little house faded to all but nothing as her head filled once more with Britney Spears, friendship bracelets, horses and video games.
Rusty kept writing songs and repairing cars. Coming home at night and finding Carri hunched over an opened textbook, her daughter bopping in the back bedroom with her ears encompassed by Walkman headphones, he’d feel the exhaustion of the day lift. He’d head for the kitchen and pour himself a cup of coffee from the pot Carri made while studying, and lean quietly against the little kitchen’s sink, and just marvel over his two owl women and the very simple magic they had brought into his life.
In late Winter Carri convinced Rusty to perform at an open mic night in a coffee house in Salem. So nervous he thought he might vomit, Rusty played a few new songs, and then he played the old song, the one song, and when he played everyone one in the muggy little shop stopped and listened and saw the world just as bit brighter and more beautiful place, if only for a moment.
This is for Tracy Leigh Fetzer
She knows why.
I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Kendra Hayes.
It was she who came to me over six years ago (and I a veritable stranger at the time)
with the idea we become writing partners.
Together we flogged one another’s work into something significant. Together we taught each other to be better writers.
It was one of the most invigorating and exciting creative ventures in my life.
I miss those times. I am blessed she created that opportunity for me. For us.
The end results of that partnership were that which you read here
and the first novel in Kendra’s urban fantasy series, The Shotgun Brides
Learn more about those ladies here:
I also want to thank Omar Willey for agreeing to serialize The Ghost and the Owl Wife here in The Seattle Star.
Omar is the closest thing to a Renaissance Man you may ever meet.
This is both amazing and sad as we need more people in the world like Omar, though he may demand to differ.
Some days I feel he carries the weight of the world. He reminds me I can always be more.
Thank you Omar. Thank you. Thank you.
And thank you for reading my little story. I hope you enjoyed it. Time is precious and yours is appreciated.
If you have suggestions for improvement or would like to read more, please let me know. I’m not too difficult to find.