Vanishing Point: Forty-nine of 101

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FORTY-NINE

Yuengling in hand and Buffalo cauliflower before her, Karla inflated her cheeks and exhaled sharply. “Listen,” she said, leaning forward and speaking in a conspiratorial volume, “if I tell you something that I’ve done that’s well, maybe not exactly legal, do you have to report me?”

Stacie and Suzann looked at one another, both women bringing their heads back and furrowing their brows. “Well,” Stacie said nodding slowly, “it just depends. We are mandatory reporters. That means that if we even suspect you may have done something that endangered Skylar we have to report it. No exceptions. Would what you’ve done fall under that category?”

The corners of Karla’s mouth fell, her eyes narrowed, and her head tucked down toward her chin. “Oh, God no! Or, at least I sure as shit would say no. Exact opposite. What I’ve done is to protect Skylar, but it’s why we can’t go to the police. We just can’t.”

Suzann held up her left hand and said very slowly. “We want to help you and to keep Skylar safe,” she said, leaving her hand up but with only her index finger extended. “But you have to realize that we must act within the confines of the law. If you tell us things that we think need to be passed on to the authorities, we will. We must. There’s no attorney client privilege here.”

Karla’s head jerked back in surprise. “You’re an attorney?! I didn’t know that!?

Suzann smiled and shook her head. “No. Just an expression. I just wanted you to know that anything you say concerning Skylar’s safety we cannot keep to ourselves. Do you still want to tell us about this thing you’ve done that, as you said, may not exactly be legal?”

“I think I got to. I don’t know what to do and it’s about Skylar. Which is funny, in a sick sort of way, because what I did was tell her daddy that she was dead.”

Suzann and Stacie again exchanged glances. “So, Stacie,” Suzann said, now holding up her hand in the classic, “Stop!” position, “let’s talk theoretically for just a moment, shall we?’

Stacie tilted her head and raised her eyebrows. “Theoretically?” she repeated quizzically. “Oh! Theoretically! Yes, lets, shall we!”

“And it might be best if, for right now, you just listened; do you understand, Karla?”

Karla wrinkled her nose and crinkled her brow. “Maybe. Why own’t you two talk for a bit and I’ll listen?”

“That’s an excellent idea,” Suzann said, patting Karla’s hand. “Let Stacie and me ruminate and reflect for a moment. Stacie, have you had any students who were in the sole custody of one parent?”

“Well, sure,” Stacie replied. “I mean, every year, right? But-”

“No, no. Please. Let me finish. And when one parent has sole custody of a child then we have the right, actually, a legal responsibility, to prevent the non-custodial parent from gaining access to the student. Correct?”

“Correct,” Stacie replied guardedly.

“But we have no responsibility to search for an absent parent if a couple is separated and we’ve only had interactions with one of the parents.”

“Well,” Stacie said slowly, nodding her head. “That sounds right, though we’d have to comply with requests from both parents if there is joint custody.”

“Of course! But if we only have one parent listed as a guardian we have no legal requirement to hunt down the wayward parent who has elected to not participate in his, or her, child’s education.”

“Well, right. But I don’t think-”

“No, no. Again, please. Let me lay out my hypothetical case. If one parent is listed on all of our school forms and there are no restraining orders against the other, and separated parents have joint custody of a student, then we have no legal obligation to report this living arrangement as any kind of neglect nor abuse. Correct?”

“I, I think that would be correct. Hypothetically. But as I said, if the heretofore absent parent requests information about his or her child then we’d have to supply it.”

“Of course, of course. So, Karla, do you understand the conditions that apply to our purely theoretical exercise?”

Karla nodded slowly. “I think so. Yes.”

“Good. Now,” Suzann continued, “is there anything you’d like to tell us?”

Karla again exhaled but this time her whole being seemed to deflate. “I think I have to. What would happen if, theoretically, while Caleb was in prison I told him that Skylar died, and I told Skylar that her daddy died? What if I’d packed up the car, snatched Skylar and just left?  What if I left because I found out that my husband’s a killer?

“I know he is, and I know that if he finds me he’ll kill me, and I don’t know what he’d do to Skylar. Theoretical or not, I know that, and that’s why we have to keep Caleb Ezra Morse away from my baby and away from me.”

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Lights! Contrast! Action!

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No automatic alt text available.

Fashion is fickle, but safety is no accident. Visibility, ensuring that we are easily seen, is absolutely a rider’s responsibility. Studies show that effective lights, contrast, and bio-motion combine to make us safer by garnering the attention of drivers. The principles are simple, and the stakes are high. Getting struck by a car is no joke; I know, because I’ve been hit three times.

I began cycling the busy streets of the Maryland side of the Washington, D.C. line on my buddy Jack’s borrowed bike in June of 1980. Not sure if I’d like cycling, Jack let me borrow his bike to test the waters; I hadn’t been riding a month when I managed to be struck from behind at an intersection.

It was approaching midnight, well after dark, and my bicycle was equipped with the legally required accouterments for cycling after the sun sets- a rear reflector and weak-as-a-kitten headlight. I knew I’d be cycling well into the nighttime when I left home so I had also chosen to wear white “painter’s pants,” a fashion must have in the late seventies and early eighties, and a light-colored chambray shirt.

Front light, rear reflector, light colored clothing; I was ready to hit the streets! And I did. Ow!

Days after my close encounter with a VW Beetle I purchased my own ride. (I paid Jack for his tacoed rear wheel from the small amount of insurance money I received.) Fresh from a collision, I added state-of-the-art Berek bike lights front and rear.

In 1980, battery operated bike lights were glorified flash lights- simple, ineffective flashlights that used two “D” cells to fire up a three-volt, low-wattage incandescent bulb. Luckily, the streets I rode on had street lights otherwise I might as well have been riding with my eyes closed.

Riding in street clothes and helmetless in the wee hours of the night is asking for trouble. I quickly added a Belt Beacon, a nine-volt, amber covered incandescent flashing light (Whoa! Fancy!) to my ride along with a huge, ugly reflective arrow and MSR orange bike helmet. I knew that greater visibility equals greater safety, but I was a self-conscious, low budget teen trying to figure this stuff out on my own.

Fast forward forty years and the good news is that the guess work about visibility has been removed, all you have to do is follow the ABC’s of cycling safety. The bad news is that drivers are more distracted than ever.

Think you know your ABC’s? Let’s review.

A is for always on!

Lights are not just for nighttime. At least one leg of my daily commute is in full sunshine, yet I have my Bontrager Ion 800 headlight flashing to a syncopated, eye-catching, seizure inducing beat under the brightest as well as lowest amount of ambient light. Why? So people notice me! My light is visible from over a mile away and I cannot count the number of times drivers have waited for me because they’ve seen me.

And power matters! Don’t think some low level, 2018 version of my 1980 Berek head or taillight is going to catch the eye of distracted drivers. You need power, you need flash, you need to be the bigger distraction, day or night. Through the decades I have graduated from my Berek to a generator operated light to a Velolux and on down the line through the years. If your light is a joke why use it? To satisfy a legal requirement? Trust me, getting hit by a car, to quote Rocky Balboa, “Stings a little.” Bright lights flashing erratically catches the eye of the distracted tiger.

B is bio-motion.

We are programmed to notice movement. Mammals appeared on the Earth 160,000,000 years ago. In the ensuing eons we have been in eat or be eaten mode. As hunter or hunted we notice things that move, it is literally in our DNA, and what “moves” as we ride our bikes? Our feet. Our knees. Our lower legs. These are the parts that bob up and down with every pedal stroke, so these are the parts where bright, eye-catching colors do us the most good. Black shoes? Foregetaboutem! Low or no socks in drab colors? Who are you Charles Bronson? Bruce Willis? You got a Death Wish?

Color counts most when it’s moving. Make sure the parts that bob up and down are as eye catching as possible.

Contrast, like cookie, starts with C.

We know that in the Be the Bigger Distraction game our moving parts count the most, but don’t minimize your biggest and most easily seen billboards. A bright helmet is visible from farther away than bright socks simply because it is up higher. Add a flashing Ion 800 to the front and a Flare R to the back of your helmet and you’ve elevated the, “See me, feel me, (don’t) touch me!” game beyond the realm of Tommy and the Who. And are you really wearing a black jersey?! Bright, mismatched colors catch the human eye. Use that knowledge to make yourself seen.

The last time I was struck by a car was over three decades ago. In the interim I have ridden enough miles to circumnavigate the world six-and-one-half-times, that’s over 155,000 collision free miles, and by using my ABC’s I hope to do at least that many more without having a close encounter of the bumper kind.

We all need to do what we must to be the bigger distraction. Cell phones were not available until 1983 and they cost as much as a Yugo, the king of crappy cars. It was nearly the Twenty-first Century before DVD players started distracting drivers from SIPDE, searching, identifying, predicting, deciding and executing a course of action in our driving. People are texting while driving, watching videos, reading emails, all while holding their phones in one hand, eating a doughnut in the other and drinking coffee with a third; you think they’re gonna see you if you’re dressed in oh so slimming, fashionable black and are riding sans 800 lumens of look at me candle power front and equivalent attention grabber rear? You willing to bet your life on that?

Being seen is as simple as A-B-C. Do it!

 

Vanishing Point: Forty-eight of 101

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FORTY-EIGHT

“I think you need a drink,” Suzann told Karla, holding the young woman’s hand.

“No, no. I’m fine.”

“You’re definitely not fine,” Stacie said. “I’m so sorry.”

“Yes,” Suzann agreed, “so am I. But what are we going to do?”

A tall, thin, slightly pockmarked young man with a long, ginger beard bearing plates, silverware, napkins and three dishes of Buffalo cauliflower slid into the table next to Stacie.

“Hey!” Stacie declared, offering him her cheek, “how are ya?!”

“Great,” he said, bussing her and placing the cauliflower in front of each of the women. “Busy, but great. How’s your head? Great to see you.

“Hey,” he continued, “somehow the kitchen made three of these instead of two, so I brought out all three. I’m Sean,” he added, offering his now empty hand to Suzann.

“Suzann, Sean. Sean, Suzann,” Stacie intoned as the two shook.

“And I’m Karla,” the diminutive blonde said, taking Sean’s offered hand.

“Ladies,” Sean said, smiling and nodding.

“They did, did they?” Stacie responded, head tilted to the side and right cheek drawn up in a smirk. “You’d better tell somebody to keep an eye on those guys. And are we talking my head? You’re the one who had too much to drink.”

“Me? Never. Yeah, I know just the guy to do it. And speaking of drinks, what are you having?” he asked, nodding to Stacie.

“An Other West Coast. Steph suggested it. Sip?”

“Please,” he said with a nod and quick drink. “Great choice. Good beer! Well, duty calls. Great to see you, Stacie. Thanks for the beer. Ladies,” he added with a laugh, disappearing back into the kitchen.

“I take it that would be the Sean half of Steven Tyler?” Suzann asked. “Cute. And personable.”

“Yeah,” Stacie replied, nodding her head. “Nice neighbors. He had a twenty-fifth birthday bash last week.”

Suzann smiled then asked, “Karla, why don’t you have a drink?”

“No, thanks. I’m fine with just my water.”

Suzann frowned at Karla, turned her head toward Stacie and said, “I think someone’s not being very hospitable. My guess is that this someone’s worried about the bill. Stacie? Who’s paying for my drinks today?”

Stacie pulled her head back in surprise before smiling and saying, “Why, I am, aren’t I, Suzann?”

“Yes, you certainly are. And since you’re paying for drinks I think it would be rude of me not to reciprocate and pay for our hors devours, no? Especially since your fawning neighbor who is sweet on you provided us with three for the price of two?”

“That’s certainly what my mother taught me,” Stacie replied with a nod. “And especially so, now, as you said.”

“And, furthermore,” Suzann continued, “isn’t it customary to bring gifts of food and drink to those in times of need?”

“Absolutely.”

“Then Karla here should eat with us and allow you to buy her a drink, shouldn’t she?”

“She should.”

“No, no. I just can’t. I mean, look what you’re doing already. Water’s fine.”

“Nonsense,” Suzann declared catching Loren’s eye and twitching her index finger in pantomimed request for the server’s presence.

Loren nodded, held up her index finger and came to the table immediately following. “How is everything? Sean brought the cauliflower, I see. Is it good?”

“Delicious,” Suzann replied, not yet having tasted it. “Would you be so kind as to bring Karla here a drink? She could use one.”

“Absolutely! Karla?”

Karla exhaled, shook her head, fished her ID from her front pants pocket and then smiled. “Yuengling, please.” She said shaking her head and passing the ID to Loren.

Loren glanced at the ID, smiled, handed it back, nodded, and declared, “One Yuengling, right away.”

Of Rain

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No automatic alt text available.Splatter of rain sheets from the sky
it’s cold and fierce I’m warm and dry.
April shower into the night
I’m with my love every thing’s right.

Rivers that run and streams that flow,
hurry along they cannot know,
fierce reign of night, beauty of love,
her in my arms, love is enough.

As battlefield love’s sometimes viewed
my warrior conquest precludes.
Partners on earth, partners for life,
I’m blessed to have warrior wife.

Splatter of rain flowers may bring
shrinking violet I do not sing.
Passion-flower, thorn adorned rose,
heady flower, head to her toes.

Spring rain provides garden fecund
where crop we grow’s undying love.
Springtime is here so grandiose
both agape, heady Eros.

Rain covers us drenches our skin,
love’s not a game for one to win.
We walk along her hand in mine,
but it’s our hearts ever entwined.

Infinite tears time and again,
every raindrop sweet weather man.
Tears diamond bright speak of great joy,
eternal girl, forever boy.

Splatter of rain sheets from the sky
it’s cold and fierce I’m warm and dry.
April shower into the night
I’m with my love every thing’s right.

Vanishing Point: Forty-seven of 101

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FORTY-SEVEN

“Of course, we can,” Stacie said, pulling her laptop from her briefcase. “Let me boot this up and I’ll show you the video of our mystery Caleb; maybe he’s not even your husband and we’re all on edge over nothing.”

“Maybe,” Karla replied, “but outside of Gadsden, Heald seems to be a pretty uncommon name. Mighty big coincidence.”

“Okay,” Stacie said, “but if he’s looking for you and he’s using a fake name why would he use one that’s so transparent? To send a message? Wouldn’t that just warn you?”

Karla raised her hands in frustration. “I don’t know. Maybe to send a message? More likely to scare me. That’s why Skylar’n me keep moving, to stay away from him.”

“If he’s so much trouble why haven’t you gotten a restraining order?” Suzann asked. “They help. I have a friend here that I’ve known since coming to this country. Ex-cop named Manny Taisto. A real hard-boiled Brooklyn flat-foot back in the day, but he’s very helpful underneath his gruff exterior. I know he’d send us in the right direction.” Suzann added, “Anybody else hungry, or just me?”

“I’m fine,” Karla answered. “I’ll just have water. No. No cops. I can’t.”

“Not cop, ex-cop. He retired back when I was working at Lake Myrtle Elementary. I’ve known him for over twenty years,” Suzann finished, shaking her head slightly and scanning the menu. “I’m telling you, he’s stand-up.”

“I can’t. Please.” Karla insisted.

Loren returned with the drinks and a smile. “Steph decided you needed a pint of Other West Coast,” she said, placing the pint glass in front of Stacie. “Here’s a Moscow Mule and a water. Ready to order?”

The women looked at one another. When no one spoke, Suzann raised and lowered her eyebrows before turning her gaze to Loren and declaring, “Yes, please. I’d like the Buffalo cauliflower. Do you think there’s enough for three or should we get two?”

“I’d get two, if I were you,” Loren replied. “Anything else?” she asked, drawing out the s in else.

“Anyone?” Suzann asked the table.

“No, that sounds great,” Stacie declared. “Thanks, Loren!”

“Water’s fine,” Karla replied, eyes downcast.

“Okay! I’ll put the order in and be right back.”

“Oh! Loren?” Stacie called to the retreating server. “Is Sean working? If he is will you tell him hi for me.”

Loren twisted her lips to the side, then smiled, nodded and said, “Sure. Be right back.”

“Okay,” Stacie said, turning her lap-top toward Karla and Suzann, “this is the footage the Interlachen security cameras caught. That’s Caleb down in the corner, see?”

“Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn! Just. Damn!” Karla said quietly but vehemently.

“And that,” Suzann said, patting the young mother’s hand, “seems like a positive identification.”

Less One

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Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, wedding, suit and indoor

Three-score less one,
three-score less one;
how time does fly,
years and seasons.
Short time ago
took your first breath;
time marches on:
Oh! The years test.

Lip trembling tears
as young child cried
our mother soothed
and with warmth dried.
Long ago time
on prairie plane
through thirteen springs
dozen years gained.

Tiny princess
to countess grew
each stage of life
brings something new.
Insights revealed
each passing stage,
challenges faced
with every age.

Essential parts
from long ago
don’t count at all
as our years grow.
Square pegs it’s said,
abhor round holes;
you’ve found your legs,
no longer foal.

Finding a space
we feel at home,
nurture, protect;
to role we grow.
Just yesterday
you were a bride
with family
your heart abides.

Seven offspring
through the short years
strode hand-in-hand
with husband dear.
Challenges met
with tearful strife;
face life’s hardships
as revered wife.

Three sons with wives,
wed daughters two,
great dance of life,
all things renewed.
Time is a stream,
can’t be replayed;
current snapshot?
Five grands been made.

Three-score less one,
three-score less one;
how time does fly,
years and seasons.
With every year
challenges faced,
we know we’ve won
when life’s not raced.

Mi Hermano

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Image may contain: 4 people, including Greg Kenel, Kelsey Kenel and Justin Kenel, people smiling, people standingAgua, sangre kinship mixes
beautiful are family trees,
branches spread in all directions
burrowed roots, longevity.

Gregoro es mi hermano
es verdad he’s family,
through the actions of our parents
brother and I came to be.

Infinite seem past regressions
common source from which life springs,
past is set, future’s uncertain,
there’s no telling what life brings.

With my wife were blessed by offspring
through two sons our tree has grown,
brother likewise has two children
love them both as if my own.

Family is rock-of-ages,
life’s foundation, fills our hearts;
lift a toast to future blessings,
all the joy that they impart.

Gregory and I are brothers
share a bond deeper than skin
where one goes the other follows
in the loving way of kin.

Agua, sangre kinship mixes
beautiful are family trees,
branches spread in all directions
burrowed roots, longevity.

Vanishing Point: Forty-six of 101

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FORTY-SIX

“Statuesque” was hardly adequate in describing the towering, six-foot tall Craft Street hostess who beamed a smile down at Stacie and party. Karla’s razor sliced, bleached blonde, punk locks did not ascend to Sierra’s comely chin and she and Suzann stared in amazement at the WNBA poster child before them. “Stacie!” Sierra waved her hands excitedly in front of her at shoulder height before taking the teacher’s shoulders in her long, slender fingered hands and exchanging a quick hug and double cheek air kiss. “Great to see you. It’s happy-hour,” she sang in a passable imitation of Oprah Winfrey.

Stacie smiled back. “Great to see you too. Not too packed in here,” she added looking around the restaurant. “What are you, ninety-percent of capacity or so?”

“Yeah, It’s slow. Just give it a little time. You guys want to sit outside or at the bar?” she asked, eyebrows raised.

“Uh, no. Neither,” Stacie said, biting her lip and shaking her head slightly. “Actually, what we’d like is a table in the back where it’s hard to see us, but we can see the door?”

“Oh?” Sierra asked, head tilted and eyelashes beating rapidly, “Scoping out the men, are we?”

Stacie produced a big smile and a single, etiquette required cough of a laugh. “Sort of. We’re looking for one guy in particular,” Stacie said before adding, “To avoid.”

“Ah,” Sierra flashed a knowing wink. “Got it. Tyler’ll be glad to hear that,” the hostess said, leading them to a booth in the corner of the restaurant. Handing the trio menus, she added, “Loren’ll be your server. Good luck staying away from mister wrong!”

With Sierra’s departure Suzann cocked an eyebrow and asked, “Tyler, eh? And who might this Tyler be?”

Stacie colored slightly, brought her lips together in a frown, turned her head down and to the side and answered, “Oh, stop. He’s my next-door neighbor. You know? The Steven Tyler, Sean and Tyler thing? Tyler’s a server here and Sean works in the kitchen. They’re great! I just love ‘em.”

“And, from what MS NBA star said, the feeling is mutual?” Suzann asked.

“Oh, please! They’re babies! Well, not babies. My age now that I think about it. I guess I just hadn’t thought about them like that.”

“Well,” Karla interjected, “if they’re guys you can bet they’ve thought of you like that. Unless, they’re, you know, funny?”

“‘Funny’?” Suzann asked, brow furrowed deeper than a corn field in spring, “Did you really just say, ‘funny’?”

Karla blushed. “Oh, you know what I mean. Guys are guys. They’re always thinkin bout that. It’s just whose pants they want to get into, that’s all.”

“Well, the hostess -what is her name anyway?- indicated that this Steven Tyler wannabe is sweet on our little Miss Stacie here so it doesn’t sound like they’re, ‘funny.’”

“Funny, no. Hilarious, yes,” Stacie answered. “I really love having them as neighbors. Sierra, by the way. She’s Danish. She tells me that most Danes are tall.”

“‘Danish,’ eh? Perhaps it’s Stacie who’s ‘funny.’”

“What?” Karla asked before her eyes popped open and her smile flashed. “Oh! I get it! Danish! Like a Danish! Like Stacie’s sweet on Sierra. That’s funny!”

“Yes. Funny,” Suzann said as a diminutive, long haired blonde approached the table. “Hi, everyone. My name’s Loren- Oh! Hey, Stacie! How are you? Great to see you. What can I start you all off with? Drinks! Appetizers?”

“Great to see you too!” Stacie returned. “I’m not ready to order food yet. Would you please tell Steph I’ll have whatever craft beer he recommends, please?”

Loren smiled, “Got it. Ma’am?” she asked of Suzann.

“Moscow Mule, please.”

“Sure thing. And, excuse me, Miss but I’ll need to see some ID?”

Karla raised her eyebrows and said, “No you won’t. I’d just like a water.”

“Okay,” Loren answered with a smile and quick head nods. “That’s Steph’s choice for a beer, One Mosco Mule and a water. I’ll give you guys time to look at the menu and be right back with the drinks,” she said before turning on her heel and departing.

“‘Ma’am’ indeed,” Suzann groused.

“Well, don’t feel too bad. She wanted to card me. Obviously not very good at figuring out people’s ages,” Karla declared. “Hey, this is great and all, but can we get down to business. Please?”

Anti-Matter-Of-Fact

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Image result for paul dirac quotes
Fact checking’s for eggheads as it leads us nowhere;
read a rumor you like, and you’ll share without care.
If something pops up in your news-infotainment
so long as it’s ugly you’ll give it full raiment.

You must be offspring of physicist Paul Dirac,
you’re first prize winner for anti-matter-of-fact.
Revel in negative, simple truth you attack,
you’re so antimatter how do you interact?

With no need for reason instead embrace bombast,
when recrimination’s gone, bitterness still lasts.
Beyond partisanship, beyond world polarized
you’re spreading as truth things that are just blatant lies.

Eating bullshit for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner
adds to overflow effluent pool of manure.
You seem anti-matter, clear you are anti-fact,
why you love spreading lies, have you been Russian hacked?

With apologies to physicist Paul Dirac
what you swear is truth’s so anti-matter-of-fact.
Super-collider! Your protons are negative.
Come join our universe! This is no way to live.

Fact checking’s for eggheads as it leads us nowhere;
read a rumor you like, and you’ll share without care.
If something pops up in your news-infotainment
so long as it’s ugly you’ll give it full raiment.

 

Vanishing Point: Forty-five of 101

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PART FORTY-FIVE

Stacie looked over at Suzann and sighed deeply.

“What?” Suzann asked from the front passenger seat. “You’ve never heard of comic relief? Juliet had her Nurse, Prince Hal his Falstaff.”

“Falstaff. Oh, Lord,” Karla replied. “My gran-daddy drank that. Terrible stuff.”

Suzann looked at Stacie, started to say something, but instead gently shook her head.

“Well,” Stacie said, turning south on Little Road and moving to the western, or outer, left turn lane. “Craft Street has delicious food and, for those with ethanol in their blood, a full bar. Let’s order a quick one, brainstorm, and figure out what to do.”

“It’s not in my blood,” Suzann replied, “that’s the problem.”

“Patience, dear,” Stacie said, turning left with the light and swinging wide. She slapped on her right turn signal and made the first turn. Passing Chick-Fil-A she again turned left at the end of the access road where she made another quick left into the BB&T parking lot where she backed into a corner spot by the bank’s front door.

“What?” Suzann asked. “Are you out of cash? The bank’s closed. Why didn’t you go to the drive-up ATM if you need money?”

It was Stacie’s turn to shake her head. “No, I don’t need money, and yes, I know the bank is closed. This is where I park when I come here. The bank doesn’t tow for after-hours parking.”

“Not what the sign says,” Suzann declared, puckering her lips and looking skyward.

“Well, I’ve been coming to Craft Street since about the time I moved here and a lot more since Sean and Tyler moved next door. I’m just up Rowan, like, two miles.”

“Steven Tyler’s your neighbor!?” Karla declared. “How cool is that?!”

“Not Steven Tyler,” Stacie responded agitatedly. “Sean and Tyler,” she declared enunciating all four syllables didactically. “They’re guys who moved into my complex right around last Thanksgiving. They’re cool.”

“Oh. Nice,” Karla said, getting out of the car.

Suzann exited the car and Stacie hit the locks with her key fob. “So,” Suzann asked, “where is this place?”

Stacie pointed down and to the left. “Right over there. In the corner.”

“The sign says Zin Zari,” Suzann answered, brows knit together.

“Not on the corner,” Stacie declared. “In the corner. Right down there.”

“Down where all them empty parking spots are?” Karla asked.

“Not you too. Come on, let’s go,” she said leading the way to the restaurant.

“Steven Tyler?” Suzann asked of Karla. “How do you know who Steven Tyler is?”

“Oh! I loved him on American Idol,” Karla gushed. “Didn’t you?”

“I didn’t watch that one much,” Suzann said with a nose wrinkle. “I much prefer The Voice.”

“Do you? Me too!” Stacie said, opening the door to Craft Street. “I love that show.”