Tag Archives: Dorelai Chronicles

The Lavender in Bloom with Honeybees and a Comment About Short Stories

It feels great to have the media files on this website working. The lavender is in full bloom here in New Mexico, so here’s a picture of lavender in the back yard.

Close up picture of lavender blossoms and a honeybeeThere are honeybees all over the lavender right now, so I took an up close photo of a honeybee. This second picture has the honeybee hidden in the photo.

In other news, it turns out the short stories Parallels and A Maze of Cubicles will be reissued in 2nd edition e-books under the Lynn Kilmore name, but all the other short stories and novelettes will not.  They will be taken off sale instead. However, the short story collection Tales from the Threshold will be made available as a Lynn Kilmore 2nd edition, and will have every short story and novelette published so far.

But if there’s a particular short story you want to buy on its own, you’ll need to do it before Fall 2014 (except for Parallels and A Maze of Cubicles). Writer’s Flight has already been taken off sale, but it’s still available to read in the Parallels short story e-book and in Tales from the Threshold.

I hope you all have a peaceful week.

Cheers, Lynn

My pen name is changing from L. M. May to Lynn Kilmore

Parallels 2nd edition by Lynn Kilmore book coverBack in 2007,  I picked out a pen name for my short stories and novels that I was going to submit to editors. I chose “L. M. May.”

I picked “L. M. May” at a time in my life when I had a lousy understanding of the publishing industry, and absolutely no understanding at all of my personality as a writer … and then I got published in a magazine under that name, and I felt I was permanently stuck with it.

Turns out I was wrong.

I just finished up two online classes through Skillshare with Seth Godin, and taking those classes of his challenged my all assumptions of what was possible. Also, a friend pointed out to me Dean Koontz’s blog post about killing off his pen name Owen West. Another friend pointed out that Katy Hudson changed her stage name to Katy Perry.

I finally realized that it wasn’t too late to change my pen name. I just had to be willing to go through the difficulties of doing so.

So I’m going ahead and changing  it to “Lynn Kilmore.” The behind-the-scenes aspects of changing the name will take years and years of work. The public work has the highest priority, so that stuff will change as quickly as possible.

There will be publishing headaches involved with the move of my ebooks and print editions to the new pen name. Everything published under “L. M. May” is going to be reissued in second editions under “Lynn Kilmore” over the next eight months.

However, one short story, Writer’s Flight, is being taken off sale permanently, instead of being revised, because it is included in the e-book of Parallels.

Unfortunately, the name change does mean two challenges going forward:

1) Links are going to break as the second editions come out. There will be temporary confusion as e-books are transitioned to the new name.

2) There have been delays in the print editions of two books, and the sequel to Cubicles is going to run late due to the changes being made in my name. However, all three books should be out in print before 2014 ends, and I’ll post when pre-orders become possible.

But once the main part of the transition is over, there’ll be some really fun stuff happening. I learned a huge amount in Seth Godin’s classes, and there’s been a lot of writing I’ve been holding back from being published as my unhappiness with my pen name grew worse.

I honestly feel as if I’ve been let out of a cage. You have no idea how standoffish and stifling I’ve found it these past seven years to be called “L.M.” instead of a read first name like “Lynn.”

Cheers, Lynn

For Reference. All E-Books published under “L. M. May”…

2 Novels: Soul Cages; Cubicles, Blood, and Magic.

1 Collection: Tales from the Threshold.

3 Novelettes: The Enchantment of Coyotes; Green Grow the Rushes; Shade Town.

5 Short Stories: Parallels; Writer’s Flight (will not be reissued under new name); Just One Date; King of All He Surveyed; A Maze of Cubicles.

All but Writer’s Flight will be transitioned to the new pen name.

June Update

Well, I’ve gone and changed the Writer’s Flight post, so now it’s an excerpt instead of the entire short story. Hope you all enjoyed it!

I’m happy to report that print editions of Soul Cages and Cubicles, Blood, and Magic will be coming out this fall for certain.

Also, there’s more new short stories to come, as well as the short story collection. My serious illness back during mid-April through May set back the editing schedule on the stories, which is why they and the short story collection have not been released yet. But unless I get sick again (knock on wood), everything should be finally on the path to being published.

Until next week, L.M.

Cubicles, Blood, and Magic – Chapter 7: A Job Interview with Louie

We’ve now reached Chapter 7 of Cubicles, Blood, and Magic. When we last left off, Dorelai was about to talk to O’Keefe in the middle of the night. (PG-13 rating, folks.)

Cubicles, Blood, and Magic: Dorelai Chronicles, Book One

 Lynn Kilmore

Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 7:

A Job Interview with Louie

On my TV, I saw the chef on the cooking show flip a pancake using just his pan instead of a spatula.

I wandered out of my bedroom into the living room so I could get a better view. “That’s got to be messy to learn how to do.”

O’Keefe picked up a mug from the side table and took a drink. After he put the mug back down with a thunk, he said, “How’s yer hip?”

I put my hand on the bruise. “Sore, but it no longer throbs.”

“Xu could take a look at it for ya when I take ya in.”

“That shouldn’t be necessary.” I sat down on the recliner.

“How long ya date that Dereck asshole?”

“Two months or so.”

“He ever hurt ya before?”


O’Keefe chewed the cigarette up and swallowed it. “If he comes back acting like he did last night, gonna have to go down to the station and file a report on him.”

“It was an accident.” Dereck’s cry of those words echoed in my mind as I said them aloud.

Digging a cigarette from the pack in his suit pocket, O’Keefe said, “Didn’t look like no accident to me.” He put the unlit cigarette in his mouth. “Didn’t look that way to Rabbi Eli, neither.”

“Objection noted,” I said. I didn’t want to talk about this anymore.

We sat watching the chef make an enormous omelet with Italian sausage, Portobello mushrooms, red pepper, and onions.

O’Keefe took another swallow of his beer by shifting the cigarette over to the far corner of his mouth. When he was done swallowing, he picked up the TV controller to set the volume much higher—the chef’s chatter would drown out our voices from a distance. “Yer apartment ain’t bugged. Yet.”

I didn’t like that “yet” in there. “So you think I’m going to get bugged?”


I waited for him to say something more, but he didn’t. “Is there anything I can do to stop it?”

“Nope.” He twitched an arm to encompass the view of my apartment. “No way ya can secure this place. The locks are a goddamn joke. There’s a fire escape on the back of yer building even a child could climb, not that anyone who knows their stuff would need it. Ya gotta goddamn roof highway running from brownstone to brownstone.”

“Are you saying I’m going to have to move?” I liked this place. I’d found it after living in Mather for a year in a crappy condo rental.


I let out an exasperated breath. “I don’t want to move.”

“Ya ain’t gonna have a choice.” O’Keefe absentmindedly touched his semiautomatic. “Being on guard 24/7 grinds ya down. Everyone but Rabbi Eli has already settled within Knossos—they have places on the outside to visit, but Knossos is where they go to sleep. And even the Rabbi will have to give up living on the outside before too long.”

Before I could ask, O’Keefe said, “That’s all I’m gonna to say about it here.”

So instead I asked, “What good is a semiautomatic against Mag—, um, the dangers around here?”

I couldn’t be sure, but I thought O’Keefe smiled while he patted his gun. “It can take down a lotta people with unusual abilities. Remember that, Trelton, cold stats are yer best buddy in dealing with yer enemies. How many bullets per minute ya do could be the difference between life and death. All but the most unusual struggle to block gunfire. The more bullets, the harder it is to block them all.”

“Then why isn’t there a submachine gun in your lap?”

“If I’d thought I’d need it, I would’ve brought it up.” Now I was sure O’Keefe was grinning at me. “It’s in its case.” He jerked a sharp thumb toward the street.

“No,” I said. “You don’t mean in your car there’s…”

O’Keefe waggled his antennae at me.

I said, “Don’t you dare bring it up here.”

O’Keefe laughed, and his cigarette fell onto the carpet. He snatched it up before it could make a mark, and ate it.

How can you eat that?” I said. “My stomach hurts just watching you.”

Pulling two cigarettes out of his pack, he swallowed both of them without even chewing.

“That’s disgusting,” I said, feeling both nausea and amusement.

“I’m a roach,” he said. “Whaddaya expect? That I’d eat flowers and poop sunshine?”

I laughed.

He took another swig from his mug of beer, then grabbed the controller to turn the volume back down. The chef’s show had been replaced by a cheery woman who was going to show us how to deep fry snack cakes. “Try to get some more shut-eye, Trelton. Ya gotta exhausting day ahead of ya.”

Part of me wanted to stay up and ask more questions, but I had to admit O’Keefe was right. I needed more sleep. Seemed almost pointless to get into pajamas, but teeth brushing was definitely called for.


The pounding on my front door woke me. I blearily opened an eye to check the time. Six. For a panicked moment I wondered if I’d forgotten that Stuart was driving me in to work today, until I realized it was Saturday.

Dorelai!” Dereck’s voice.

I stumbled out of my bedroom to the door to peek through the peephole. Dereck’s own eye was pressed up against it.

Looking over my shoulder, I saw that O’Keefe had stood up from my couch. On the TV some guy was trying to roast potatoes on a BBQ grill instead of doing it the easy way by baking them in an oven.

O’Keefe finished checking his semi, and slipped it into his shoulder holster under his jacket.

Are you okay?” Dereck called through the door. “I know you’re in there. I’m not leaving until I’m sure you’re safe.”

“I’m fine,” I called through the door. “Go home, Dereck.”

Dereck pounded so hard on the door it rattled in its frame. It made echoes up and down the stairwell. I could hear other apartment doors opening.

“Shut up!” A man’s voice from downstairs.

O’Keefe said to me, “Let me handle him.” He positioned himself by the door so that he could ambush Dereck. Softly he said, “When I give the signal, yer gonna yank the door open. Stay out of sight behind it.” He reached over to quietly flip the bolt and slide out the chain.

Then he gestured for me to unlock the doorknob and yank it open.

I did so, ducking down behind the open door.

Dereck said, “Wh—”

One second O’Keefe was beside the door, the next he’d pounced upon Dereck. “Who buzzed ya into this building?” I heard O’Keefe bellow. “Answer me. Now.”

What are you doing in my girlfriend’s apartment?”

“She ain’t yer girlfriend, asshole.”

I heard someone get slammed up against the wall.

“Who let ya in?” O’Keefe said.

“I’m having you charged with assault.”

“Do that, counselor. I’m sure they’d love to hear about what I and my friend saw ya do to Ms. Trelton last evening.”

I heard Dereck make a soft squeak.

“Was it 101? 102? 103? Ahh, 103.”

No,” Dereck said.

“Trelton,” O’Keefe said, “who lives in 103?”

I stood up behind the door. “Mr. Henderson.”

Dereck said, “Dore—”

“Shuddup,” O’Keefe said. “Yer not seeing her. Tell me about the Henderson guy, Trelton.”

“Retiree,” I said. It felt strange to be hidden behind a door so that I couldn’t see what was going on. “I’m not surprised he let Dereck in. He knew I was seeing him.”

“This ain’t happening again. Shut and lock the door, Trelton, I’m taking the garbage out and then I’m having a talk with Mr. Henderson.”

No!” Dereck yelled. “I have to see Dorelai first.”

“No, ya don’t,” O’Keefe said. “Shut the goddamn door.”

I slammed it shut, flipping the bolt, and pressed myself up against it to look out the peephole.

O’Keefe was hauling a squirming Dereck by the scruff of his shirt down the third floor stairwell. And I could hear doors shutting below. As O’Keefe made his descent with Dereck in tow, my ex-boyfriend’s tone changed from pleading to outrage.

You can’t do this to me,” Dereck said. “She’s MINE! I won’t let you keep her from me!”

As they approached the first floor, their words got too garbled for me to make out. So I ran over to the kitchen window that overlooked the street, to peer through a crack in the closed blinds, and saw O’Keefe drag Dereck down the steps and onto the sidewalk, then shove him at his sports car.

O’Keefe refused to leave the spot he stood on until Dereck got into his car and drove off.

Then he raced up the outside steps three at a time and buzzed me to be let back in.

I pressed my intercom. “So, Dereck’s gone.”

“For now,” O’Keefe said. “I’ll be up after I talk sense into Henderson.”

I buzzed him in.


When I let O’Keefe back into my apartment (I’d had time to get my coffee maker started, take a shower, and get dressed), he said, “Henderson ain’t buzzing Dereck in no more. And FYI—yer ex was using Henderson to figure out if ya’d come home.”

I thought back to Dereck’s phone call about La Belle. “So that’s how Dereck knew I’d gotten home early from work.”

“Explain it to me while I cook,” O’Keefe said as he headed toward my kitchen.

I trailed after him, and told the story of Dereck knowing I was home on Thursday night, while wondering if I wanted to hurt O’Keefe’s feelings by telling him I didn’t want him touching any of my kitchen stuff because I didn’t want roach germs on them.

He scrubbed down all four hands with soap and water, then tugged open the fridge door with one hand, while using another to get out a pan, and a third to rummage through my utensil drawer. With the fourth he got out the egg carton.

“Think back on all the times ya saw Dereck,” O’Keefe said as he cracked eggs into a bowl with two arms and got the pan ready with the other two. “Try to remember anything hinky—times he would show up unannounced, or would know things he shouldn’t have.”

The more I recollected Dereck’s surprise visits in the evenings, the more I was forced to acknowledge he’d used Henderson more than once to figure out when I was home.

Shaking paprika and pepper into the bowl, O’Keefe whisked the eggs as butter melted in the pan. “He’s been watching ya and having others spy on ya for him. And he talks about ya like yer a goddamn doll he owns.” He poured the eggs into the sizzling pan. “Ya gotta file a report on him in case ya need a restraining order. I can take ya to meet a guy I know in the Mather PD on Monday.”

I squeezed past him to pour myself a mug of coffee. I didn’t want to deal with the people and conflict involved in filing a report with the police, but I knew O’Keefe was right. Dereck had gone too far by having me spied on. I wrapped my hands around the soothing heat of the mug as I drank.

My cell phone went off, and I put my mug down to check. Incoming text.

Dereck: I love you. Talk 2 me.

Me: Leave me alone.

Dereck: You belong to me.

“Who’s that?” O’Keefe said. He grabbed my phone out of my hands to hold it up to his face while continuing to cook with the other three. “Don’t ever respond to a phone call, text, or email from that asshole again. It’s like pouring gasoline on a raging fire. But save the messages to show to the police.”

My cell phone continued to squawk as Dereck sent more messages. From the angle O’Keefe held it at, I could see all caps and exclamation points were getting used.

“Yer better off not reading this crap,” O’Keefe said as he handed my phone back. “Turn it off for now, and get his number blocked.”

I glanced down at my phone screen as I pressed the OFF button. In all caps was one last text from Dereck: BITCH.


Dereck’s texts had taken away my appetite, but O’Keefe coaxed some scrambled eggs and a slice of toast into me, then scarfed up the rest of what he’d cooked, washing it down with another can of beer. Then he cleaned up the pan and dishes, and rinsed out his empty beer and chicken soup cans to stack next to the sink for recycling.

It was about seven-thirty.

“Time to head out,” O’Keefe said as he hefted up his toolkit.

I took one last pass through the apartment, making sure all the windows were closed and locked. But I couldn’t help but notice how the fire escape went up past my bedroom windows to the roof. O’Keefe was right—the security aspects of my apartment sucked. Unless by some miracle it turned out I’d dreamed everything that had happened since Thursday, I was going to have to move.

When we got downstairs and out the foyer, we scanned the street and brownstones from the top of the steps, but there were no Magi around. O’Keefe walked up the street to a 1970s green Plymouth that reminded me a giant toad on wheels.

As I came up to it, I said, “Man, that’s an ugly car.”

He rapped on the metal. “Built like a tank.” Unlocking the trunk, he dumped his equipment inside.

I walked on over to the ugly thing. The trunk held cases of various sizes and shapes. One could easily hide three bodies, maybe four, in there.

O’Keefe slammed the trunk down and got into the driver’s seat. He had to lean over to pop the front passenger door lock. No automatic locks on this old monster. As I pulled open the passenger door, I discovered the interior smelled like The Dive—cigarette smoke and spilled beer.

He pulled out a glowing cell phone (it had what I was beginning to consider as Knossos’ trademark silver-blue aura) from his pocket to check, and grunted to himself at whatever message he read.

I checked the car for magical auras, but saw none. “Did you pick out this car, or did Louie force it on you?”

“My choice,” O’Keefe said as he pocked his phone, then turned the ignition as I got my seatbelt on. “I prefer a car big enough to survive getting rammed.”

“You stick out like a sore thumb in this thing. And there’s no airbag.”

O’Keefe shrugged as he pulled out from the curb.

There’s nothing like riding in a huge car with a human cockroach driving to make you feel like you’ve been taking too many shots of vodka.

I found if I squinted hard, I could almost make out the glamour that made O’Keefe look human to most people.

We’d driven about two blocks when I began to suspect there was something odd about the car’s engine. It had too much pick-up-and-go for an old car; it sounded like it had been modified; and there was an odd control panel where the radio should have been, as well as other extra dials and switches along the driver’s dashboard.

O’Keefe used his middle arms to light a cigarette, then put it in his mouth.

I coughed, heavily, to give him a hint, and hand-rolled my window all the way down. Good thing I’d decided against wearing a suit, and had gone for khaki dress slacks and a blouse instead.

O’Keefe rolled down his own window, then blew smoke out it.

“Do you even get a nicotine rush?” I said.

“Barely.” He shook ash off his cigarette as we waited at a stoplight. “More of a habit kinda thing, ya know?”

I put my elbow up on the passenger door, and took a moment to enjoy the illusion of a summer breeze as the car drove through the sticky air toward downtown. However, the sunlight quickly made my arm feel too hot and I pulled it back in. It was going to be a scorcher today.

Once he’d smoked the cigarette down, he stubbed it out in the car’s ashtray. Then he lit another.

“I’m going to be in a meeting with Louie,” I said. “I’d prefer not to reek of cigarette smoke.” My stomach was getting that fluttery thing that always happened before an interview.

“Dontcha worry,” O’Keefe said. “Louie’s already noticed everyone who rides in my car ends up smelling like cigs. Even when I don’t smoke, clothes suck up the aroma from the seats.” He stubbed the lit cigarette out in the tray.

We swerved down a side street near the downtown plaza and approached Knossos from a direction I rarely used. There was a multistory parking garage on a lot across the street from Knossos, and O’Keefe pulled into it, taking a ticket from the machine.

After the barricade rose, he followed the arrows that led to the garage ramp that curved downward to the underground level.

The damp coolness of underground was a welcome break from the heat. Being a Saturday morning, the level was virtually empty of vehicles. Orange fluorescents lit up the concrete walls and empty parking spots. O’Keefe’s engine sounded loud to me from all the echoes.

At a far corner of the parking lot was another down ramp, this one leading to a sealed metal gate that blocked the way. The ramp was so narrow that only one vehicle could pass through at a time.

O’Keefe touched another ticket machine, but instead of a ticket emerging, magical metallic goo surrounded his hand instead, then let go.

A metal gate lowered behind us, making it impossible for us to back up or for anyone to rush up from behind. Once closed, the metal gate before us rose to expose a dark tunnel. O’Keefe flipped on his lights and drove forward.

We were engulfed in the same silver shimmer that had searched the interior of Louie’s private elevator. The silver magic crawled all over the car and O’Keefe.

At the end of the tunnel a thick steel gate blocked the exit, and only rose after the magical search was finished. Another underground parking lot came into view, much smaller than the other, but in order to reach it we would have to drive through Knossos’ protective aura—I was intrigued to see that Knossos Tower’s magical shielding extended through rock and dirt as well as air.

Once through, O’Keefe jerked a thumb toward the parked array of cars, trucks, and vans. “All owned by AOX. Depending on the job, ya may find yerself assigned a particular vehicle.”

When we turned a tight corner, a row of five sports cars came into view. I wasn’t much into sports cars, but these looked to be chosen for speed, not show. “Don’t go near those,” O’Keefe said. “Those are for company jobs only, not joy rides. Adams and Gomez will throttle anyone who touches them.” From the way he sounded, he’d gotten busted.

“Do you mean Ines Gomez?”

“Nope. Mr. Gomez, mechanic. Ines’ husband.” O’Keefe pulled into a double space to park. “Shy of strangers. Never gonna meet him unless ya join AOX.” He turned off the engine, and the silence was startling after the racket of driving. “Well, Trelton, let’s get ya to Louie’s office before he gets restless and comes down here looking for us.”


O’Keefe took me up an elevator (there were several scattered around the parking garage to choose from) whose interior was just like the private elevator I’d taken with Louie and Eli, but it only had two buttons: B and P. O’Keefe pressed the B button.

As we rose, the silver security scan thing happened again, and then the doors opened on the service corridors of the basement.

We moved through the corridors at a fast clip, and I got disoriented. Again, in the distance I could hear the echo of hooves, but this time they were running away from us.

O’Keefe brought me to a silver-glowing steel door, but instead of putting one of his hands on the metal panel, he knocked.

It opened inward to expose to view an executive office done in what I would call “NYC shark attorney” decor—wood paneling, leather cushions, oriental carpet, gilt books on a bookshelf. There were even framed prints of wild ducks and English cottages on the walls. And everything was spotless, with an underlying scent of lemon wood polish. This was how Thanos would do his office once he made partner in his law firm.

The personality of the room was not that of Louie’s at all. Made me feel like I was walking onto the stage set for a play—Mr. Louie McDonough, Executive and Esquire.

And yet it was Louie sitting behind the giant wooden desk, with a metal tray in front of him and an open toolkit by his left elbow, scowling down at the ballerina musical box I’d seen him dissecting just a few weeks back. From within the cracks of the closed box came a white aural glow that made me think of snow glare. The bits he’d laid out on the tray—ballerina, gears, screws, et cetera—had no glow.

I was drawn toward the box, wanting to know what I’d see inside it, and walked up to stand before the desk.

Today Louie was dressed in what looked to be a hand-tailored suit, which meant I was grossly underdressed for this meeting. Not to mention I smelled like I’d been shooting pool in The Dive before coming over.

I wanted to throttle O’Keefe for that last bit.

“Here she is,” O’Keefe said to Louie.

Louie looked up from the box and smiled, standing up to come around from his desk to shake my hand. “Ms. Trelton, good to see you in one piece.”

He’d deliberately used my last name. I had a sudden conviction that this interview was just a formality. As far as he was concerned, I was his employee as soon as I’d walked into his office.

He grabbed a leather chair and pulled it up to his desk. “Please, have a seat.”

Sitting, I became aware that a strong scent of sandalwood lingered on my hand.

As he sat back down, Louie said to O’Keefe, “Go get some rest. I’ve got a job for you this afternoon.”

O’Keefe hesitated. “Ms. Trelton’s had a tough night and morning.”

“I’m aware of everything you’ve reported, but circumstances make waiting dangerous for her.” Louie pushed the tray toward me. “Don’t open the box, yet. O’Keefe, I am doing only the minimum that must be done. But done it must be. Go.”

O’Keefe muttered something, then went out by a different door, a polished wooden one that led into a ritzy receptionist’s area.

There were three doors that led off from this room—two wooden, and the steel one into the service corridor. All had the silver aura I’d come to recognize as a security screen. And on the ceiling, I could see display patterns of tiny silver dots that moved around, some clustering, some by themselves.

It took intense focus, but then I made out faintly glowing maps of the lobby and public basement of Knossos Tower those dots were superimposed on. I suspected I was looking at a readout for the tiny blobs the security field stuck on anyone who entered Knossos.

“You’re not supposed to be able to see that,” Louie said, exasperated.

I twitched, feeling like I’d been caught peeping into someone’s window.

“Haven’t you ever heard about curiosity killing the cat?” Louie said. “I must suppose that your unguarded behavior is because you trust me not to kill you, instead of stupidity or carelessness. There would have been a bit of a scuffle with the Magi last night if you’d behaved so recklessly in front of them as you do with me.”

My mouth went dry. “I’m sorry I looked. You aren’t going to—”

“Kill you? Of course not. That would be a gross mistake on my part, especially since you are of much more use to me alive.” Steepling his fingers, Louie sat back in his chair. “I prefer not to rely on magic to keep secrets.” He held up his palms before me. “My hands are empty.” Then he twisted his left hand around, so that a deck of cards appeared seemingly out of nowhere on his palm. “I didn’t use magic to do it. Magic trick.” The fingers of his left hand expertly fanned out the cards, then flicked them at me.

I instinctively blinked, but instead of cards flying out at me, they had vanished again.

Louie held up his bare left hand before me, turning it so that I could inspect it.

“Not magic,” Louie said. “And I refuse to spoil the trick by telling you how I pulled it off, so don’t bother asking. You may be able to see hidden magic, but your eyes are still only human.” He pulled open a desk drawer, and brought out a blank piece of paper and a gold pen, both of which he shoved across the desk to me.

“What am I to do?” I hoped it wouldn’t be a series of dumb questions like “Why are manhole covers round?” and such.

“I want you to open this musical box, and sketch for me the pattern you find inside.”

For a few seconds my sweaty hands hovered over the lid of the box. There was something deadly about the glow of the aura, and I wondered if Louie had lied about not wanting to kill me.

Taking a deep breath, I flipped open the lid to look inside.

The interior sides were still covered with white satin, but the bottom had been stripped bare to expose the wood underneath. Painted onto the wood was a snowflake pattern that emitted the snow glare.

From the box there came a puff of air smelling of cedar and ice.

I sketched the pattern as best I could. While I did so, I asked, “What exactly does this music box do, anyway? You said it did a nasty trick.”

“It slowly ensnares the mind of the recipient. When the box was opened, the target found herself in a vision where she was wearing the ball gown while skating on the lake with a prince to the music of the box. In the end she became utterly addicted to it and sat on her couch for days to experience the music box’s dream. Not eating, not drinking, fouling herself. She only survived because a friend noticed the stench and had the landlord open her flat.”

I spun my sketch across the desk to Louie.

He picked it up and looked at it, then nodded. “Correctly done. Only a magic wielder of great power and dedicated training ought be able to see those hidden marks.”

The snobbery was unintended, but there nonetheless. I wasn’t a magic wielder of great power and dedicated training. My breathing sped up, but I quelled the hurt and anger I felt so it wouldn’t show.

I said, “Did you figure out who gave the box to her?”

“Yes,” Louie said. “The culprit was apprehended.”

“And the maker?”

“That is confidential.” Louie reached over to flip the lid shut, and pushed the tray away. He dug a stone out of his pocket and wove with his hands a silver aura around it. He then put the stone on the desk between us. “Describe to me what you see.”

I did so.

When I was done, Louie said, “What you are seeing is hidden magic of mine. Magic that very few can see.” He touched the stone, and the aura went away. Then he held out his left hand, palm upright, fingers curved as if he held an invisible ball. Abruptly streaks of light crackled between his fingers and thumb. “This is the sort of magic everyone in the world can see, even those with no magical ability at all, like that prat, Jake. Looks like lightning. I can severely injure an attacker with it.”

He brought his hands together and made motions as if he were making a snowball, but instead it was a ball of magical lightning that crackled as it grew between his palms. He stood up from his desk to show me the baseball-sized lightning thing he had created.

“Catch,” he said as he flung it at me.

************** End of Chapter 7 *****************

Chapter 8 will go up next Tuesday.

Have a great week, L.M.

Cubicles, Blood, and Magic – Chapter 6: Zaliel’s Magi

As some of you probably noticed, instead of stopping at Chapter 4 of Cubicles, Blood, and Magic, we went onward to Chapter 5. I’ve decided to post to Chapter 10, and then switch to posting excerpts of new stories coming out.

Cubicles, Blood, and Magic: Dorelai Chronicles, Book One

Lynn Kilmore

Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 6:

Zaliel’s Magi

The threat in Peter’s voice as he spoke to Eli in the busy diner—that he would expose Eli’s true identity if he refused to cooperate—was clear. Nervousness made my coffee taste too bitter to keep drinking, so I pushed it away.

Eli jerked a thumb at the two Magi that stood next to our table. “This is Peter and Beth. Peter, Beth, this is an old acquaintance of mine, Dorelai, and these are her coworkers. Dorelai, if you would do the honors?”

“With pleasure,” I said, though I felt nothing of the sort. I made the introductions to my coworkers as abruptly as I could without risking Peter getting pissed off.

At the end of the intros, Peter said, “I hear you all have been having trouble with severe nightmares.”

“What’s it to you?” Tim said. He folded his arms over his chest.

“I noticed the dreamcatcher you were given,” Peter said, lifting a finger off the table to point at the gift box. “I think you will find that your bad dreams will not come back.”

“You know,” Tim said, “it’s rude to listen in on other people’s conversations.”

Peter smiled, making Monica give a faint gasp of admiration at his stunning looks.

Tim and Vadin weren’t moved, but Stuart did blink once, then looked away. For whatever reason, Stuart’s open resistance to Peter’s charisma moved me. I knew he loved Theo, but here I was seeing it firsthand.

Peter said to us, “Sometimes a dream can feel more real than reality while you’re trapped in it.”

“Yes.” Monica swallowed twice. “There were times I felt I was trapped inside those awful dreams.”

I saw within the golden halos above both Magi’s heads that eyes (like those on the buildings) were appearing.

Eli gripped his water glass too tight as he took a sip.

I wanted Peter and Beth to get lost. I didn’t want the Magi knowing anything about me or what was happening to me. And with each passing second, the magical eyes were getting bigger above their heads, as if Zaliel were approaching from a great distance to listen in on our conversation.

“Dorelai had some terrible dreams too,” Monica said.

Alarmed, I said, “I think it was subliminal suggestions from everything I saw with you and Tim.” The whirling pupils of the Zaliel eyes above Peter made me want to get up from the table and flee, but I made myself sip my coffee instead.

I watched as Peter froze up a moment, as if listening to a voice spoken within his own mind. Then he said to me, “You’re a bit thin, Dorelai, like Tim and Monica. All of you look like you’ve been through a bad time lately.”

“Yes, they have,” Eli said, urgent. “Tim and Monica have resigned from their jobs at Granite Hills. So far, the nightmare problems have been confined to their particular team.”

This had Peter again freezing for a moment, listening to that inner voice.

Eli was tense, watching both Peter and Beth, never taking his gaze off them. It hit me that he was feeding them information that would be easy to gather from our group—so as to seem cooperative—but misdirecting Peter and Beth into thinking I’d had a typical reaction to nightmare dust.

“It’s been a stressful spring and summer for all of us at work,” I said. “I admit I’ve had awful dreams with all that has been going on.”

Peter said to Beth, “Go on outside. I’ll catch up.”

Beth hesitated, but then Zaliel’s eyes flared in her golden halo as if it were speaking to her, and she left, but kept looking back on her way out.

Peter grabbed a chair and pulled it up to the booth even though we hadn’t invited him to do so. He laid his glowing fingers on the table, spread out. Tendrils of golden light crept out of his fingertips to wriggle toward all of us, except for Eli.

Eli picked up his empty coffee cup and saucer, and slammed both down on the tendrils crawling across the table. He’d struck with an accuracy that could only come from being able to see Peter’s magic. “I’m sorry Peter, but it is rude for you to impose on them like this. There are protocols that ought to be followed.”

Peter scowled, and the golden light burned even brighter around him; it seemed whatever part of Zaliel he carried longed to reach through Peter to emerge into the diner. He made no move to get up, but did pull the golden tendrils back into his fingers. “You are correct,” Peter said, sneering, “there are protocols.” Abruptly Zaliel’s presence faded away from around him.

Stuart gestured for our waitress to bring him the check.

Eli’s and Peter’s behavior had to have looked weird to my coworkers, for as far as they could see, Eli’d slammed his saucer and cup down for no reason near Peter’s fingers. So I was not surprised when they all rummaged around for their wallets. What did surprise me was that Peter made no effort to charm them into staying. All he did was keep sneering at Eli.

Tim, not needing to pay, was the first to make his excuse to escape. “I need to get home. Betsy and the kids will be waiting.”

Monica and Vadin slipped out of the booth to let Tim out, and didn’t bother to sit back down, instead giving cash to Stuart. After quick goodbyes, the three of them left.

So it was down to Eli, Peter, Stuart, and me.

I gave Stuart the money for my meal, and Eli did likewise. Stuart then paid the check with indecent haste. He didn’t even bother to finish up the last of the pot of coffee as he normally would. Then he said to me, while taking turns to stare at Eli and Peter, “Well, Dorelai, we should head to the car.”

“I can give you a ride, if you’d like,” Eli said. “My car is close by.”

“Sure,” I said. “Stuart, I’ll be fine heading home with Samuel.”

Stuart pinched the bridge of his nose like he was coming down with a bad headache—making me realize he was worried I was on the rebound from Dereck.

I said to Stuart, “Samuel and I need to catch up on what he’s been doing these last few years in New York City. He’s an old acquaintance of my mother’s.”

That helped Stuart to relax. A little. He knew my mother would make “Samuel’s” life hell in NYC if he did anything to distress me. “Then let’s go,” Stuart said to us.

You go,” Peter said to Stuart. “I need to talk business with Samuel for a few minutes.”

Stuart said, “You—”

Eli put a light hand on Stuart’s shoulder. “Peter’s obviously had a bad day at work. I’ll take care of it.”

Stuart looked at me. “Go on home,” I said. “I’ll be fine.” I sipped at my cold coffee.

With that, Stuart gave up on trying to protect us and left the diner.

“Outside, ‘Samuel,'” Peter said. “Your friend can finish her coffee.”


While I sat at the empty booth, Eli stood with Peter and Beth outside the diner in the muggy heat, and despite Peter’s gesturing for them to go someplace else, Eli stayed put. The only concession he would make to the two Magi was to move further away from the diner entrance. But Eli made sure I could still see him through the diner’s storefront windows.

I’d already entered both the AOX and O’Keefe numbers into my cell phone. My phone was on my lap with my thumb hovering above the speed dial number for AOX; if Eli disappeared from my sight I’d make the call while rushing to get outside.

Finally Peter gave up trying to browbeat Eli into going off with him and Beth, and the glow around Peter brightened as Zaliel again surged to the fore. And Peter got a stiff frozen look that made me wonder if he was speaking with his own voice any longer.

Whatever Peter/Zaliel was saying, it made Eli angry, for Eli drew himself up, and that’s when I noticed Eli was taller than Peter by two inches. The rabbi stared straight at the glow above Peter’s head, saying something forcefully to Zaliel’s whirling eyes.

Peter/Zaliel got mad, and it looked like they were shouting at Eli.

I rushed for the diner entrance and shoved the door open.

That got Peter/Zaliel to shut up.

I kept the door propped open with my hand (so that the diners inside could hear) as I called out in a whining tone to Eli, “What’s taking so long? I’ve got grocery shopping to do before the sun sets.”

Zaliel retreated from within Peter, as Eli said to them, “Our conversation is at an end. Dorelai is waiting.” He spun around to join me.

Peter gave me a huge predatory smile that made my skin crawl instead of charming me as it was supposed to. “You’ve got such a unique name—Dorelai. It suits you. What’s your last name?”

No point in keeping it hidden. They’d dig it up easily enough. “Trelton.”

Caressing his lips with a finger, Peter nodded. “You’ve got beautiful eyes.”

“I hate to cut this chat short,” I said, “but my fridge is empty, and I have a lot of work to do tonight.”

“I look forward to seeing you again, Dorelai Trelton,” Peter said. “I happen to work near the Chesterton.”

I looked hard and long at Beth. She’d turned her face away slightly, and there was a furrow in her brow as if watching Peter try to pick me up pained her.

And it was all too clear to me that Peter’s supposed interest in me was just an act to pump me for information about Eli and Jake, and an attempt to get under Eli’s skin. Aloud, I said, “Don’t bet on it.” I waggled my fingers at Peter and Beth. “Nice meeting you.” Not. I took hold of Eli’s elbow. “Let’s go.”

Eli and Peter shared one last look of mutual loathing, then Eli led me off to his car. While Peter and Beth did follow us, they made no move to stop us from getting into Eli’s battered compact car to drive off.


“Why do I get the feeling,” I said to Eli as he drove, “that Peter is going to keep showing up like a bad rash.”

“That’s his way.”

“He’s such a goddamn scum-bucket. Fuc—sorry,” I barely stopped myself in time from saying rebbe, “I forgot whom I was speaking to.”

“No apology needed.”

“I’m sorry about dragging you to a grocery store. I do need groceries, though.”

Eli flicked on his right turn signal. “We’re being followed. A silver Mercedes.”

I took a quick peek back as Eli made the turn. Beth was driving the car with Peter in the passenger seat. “Fu—frick. Don’t they have anything better to do than stalking you?”

Eli grunted, and I recalled I’d better watch what I said outside Knossos.

“Well, they’re going to find watching us really, really boring,” I said.

Then my cell phone went off. My mother.

I didn’t want to answer it, but if I didn’t, she’d keep calling me back until she reached me. She knew how involved I could get with coding, forgetting about my phone.

“Hey, Deborah,” I said as I smooshed the cell phone against my ear. My parents had raised us to call them “Nicholas” and “Deborah” instead of “Dad” and “Mom.” My brothers and I got in the habit of calling them “Father” and “Mother” behind their backs as an act of rebellion.

“Darling, how are you?” Mother sounded blue.

A car alarm went off on the street we were driving down, and I covered the mouthpiece to block it out until we were past. “Sorry about that. I’m riding to the grocery store. I can’t stay on long, the sun will set in less than an hour.”

My first tactical mistake. I should have never mentioned I was paying attention to sunset on a Friday evening.

“Oh?” Mother was intrigued. “What are you doing?”

I cringed, and was glad Mother couldn’t see it. She would have known something was up then and there.

To distract her, I said, “I broke up with Dereck.”

“You did what?” Then she added, “Darling, that’s the best news I’ve heard all month.” She was so excited she began to bellow into her phone. “I’m so glad you did. He’s a schlump, not nearly as smart as you are. You’re better off without him. Never marry. It’s just a burden and a heartache for women. I have enough grandkids through your brothers.”

I took my phone away from my ear to stare at it in shock.

Unlike Mother, Father didn’t care if I ever married or not. Nor did he consider me to be as gifted as my brothers, and so hadn’t objected as Mother had when I’d “thrown myself away” after MIT by moving to Mather instead of going to Silicon Valley or New York.

For Father, “brilliant” and “woman” never belonged in the same sentence.

“Dorelai?” Mother called out. “Are you still there?”

I put the phone back to my ear. “Sorry, just in shock about you saying I should never marry.”

“There’s too much compromise involved for the woman.”

Clearly Mother and Father were having one of their fights again. Every August, as the season of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approached, Mother got restless and Father got defensive. Deep down inside, Mother wanted to go to shul, but Father would fiercely object to it.

My mother’s parents sat shiva for her when she married my father, and both had died without ever relenting to see us. Father never let her forget that; it was one of his favorite rants on the evils of the religious mindset.

I drew my attention back to my mother. “Maybe I’ll find a guy who can compromise.”

“Hah, not likely.” Mother ripped something open, and then there was a chewing sound. A chocolate bar, unless I missed my guess.

Eli made a left turn, and I realized we were approaching the grocery store I’d asked him to take me to. I covered my mouthpiece to say to Eli, “Just one more block. Storefront with green trim.”

“Who are you talking to?” Mother asked.

“Someone I ran into.”


“Samuel Parisi.”

“Is he Jewish?”

“Yes.” I smacked my forehead. Stupid of me not to lie about that.

“Is he married?”

“That’s none of our business, Deborah.”

“Ahhhhh, so he’s single.” Mother sounded intrigued. Not good, not good at all. “Well, I’m glad you’re getting to meet some new people. I’ll let you get back to your companion and grocery shopping, darling, and call you Sunday.”

She hung up before I could get my thoughts together. Then it hit me.

Shit. She’d be digging up what she could on Samuel Parisi. There weren’t that many Jews in Mather. Sooner or later, she’d discover no such person existed.

“What’s wrong?” Eli asked.

I stared, unseeing, through the windshield. “That was my mother on the phone.”

The steering wheel jerked under Eli’s hands.

I groaned. “Oh, she’s going to have a fit once she realizes what I’m up to.”

He wanted to talk about this, but having to keep up the persona of Samuel made it impossible. Though if anyone had been listening in on my conversation with my mother, it wouldn’t take much to figure out that Mother had no clue who Samuel Parisi was.

No matter how I looked at it, Eli and I were seriously screwed.


Eli insisted on pushing the grocery cart for me, saying that I needed to rest after such an exhausting day. Peter and Beth hadn’t bothered to follow us in, instead just sitting in their sedan in the store parking lot.

“Do you mind if I purchase a few things to pay for?” Eli said as he grabbed four six-packs of the cheapest, nastiest beer in the store to put in our cart next to the carrots and turkey bacon.

At the look on my face, he laughed. “They’re not for me. They’re for a friend. We also need cans of chicken soup.”

On impulse, I grabbed a bottle of red wine before heading down the next aisle. And on the way to checkout, two loaves of French bread from the bakery.

As soon as he saw the bread, Eli figured out what I had planned. “Are you sure?” he said.

“I’m an atheist, but I wouldn’t mind if you say Kiddush.”

Eli’s face scrunched up for a second, but he got the pain under control before tears could form.

That’s when I knew I’d been right in guessing that he’d had to light the Shabbat candles and say Kiddush alone on Fridays since being shunned.

“I’ve already got plenty of candles to choose from,” I said. I knew that for the mitzvah of Shabbat, Mother would forgive Eli—a little—when the whole Samuel Parisi thing collapsed.


As we parked on the street near my brownstone, I saw Dereck sitting on the steps with a bouquet of red roses. Strangely, he wasn’t talking into his ear clip. Just brooding.

I actually felt embarrassed that Eli would see this guy.

As we got the groceries out of the trunk to carry, I whispered to Eli, “That’s Dereck on the steps.”

“Ah,” he whispered back, “the guy you broke up with.” He looked behind us, and I followed his gaze to see that Beth and Peter had parked a few spots down from us.

Great, just what I didn’t need, an audience.

“Give me a few minutes to reason with Dereck, then come on up the steps,” I said. There were few enough bags of groceries that I could leave the carrying to Eli while I dealt with Dereck. I dug around in my purse as I walked toward the brownstone, shoving aside my wallet and gum and pens and a packet of tissues, so that I could pull out my keys before I reached the steps.

Dereck stood up, and blocked my way as I climbed. “Dorelai, I want to talk to you. Alone.”

“I told you we were through. There’s nothing to say.”

Dereck made no move to step aside.

I sighed in frustration. “I’m busy. I’ve got work to attend to tonight. Now go away.”

He jerked a thumb at Eli lugging the groceries. “That doesn’t look like ‘work’ to me.”

“He’s just a friend. I’m sorry,” I said, “but I don’t want to go out with you anymore.”

He shoved the roses in my face and I tripped down the steps, falling on my hip and hands.

The brownstone foyer door whipped open, and the roach-guy jumped out, twisting Dereck’s closest arm behind his back.

Ow!” Dereck yelled.

I became aware that the roses were scattered around me, my palms were stinging where they’d hit the sidewalk concrete, and an empty-handed Eli was kneeling beside me. “Are you all right?” he said. “Can you move?”

I was able to stagger back to my feet without Eli’s offered help. But from the soreness I knew I’d have a bruise on my hip.

Dereck was staring at me open-mouthed. He came back to himself to call out, “It was an accident!”

The roach said in a male human voice, “Likely story, asshole. Ms. Trelton asked ya to leave.”

Dereck protested. “I was just—”

“The lady said she don’t wanna date ya no more.”

The roach-guy hauled Dereck down the steps to his sports car while Dereck yelled at him, “You have no right to—”

Roach-guy shoved Dereck onto the hood of his sports car. “Get lost before I mess up yer face.”

Dereck’s face worked as he looked back at me, then he said, “We aren’t done talking yet, Dorelai. I’ll come back another day.” He got into his sports car.

Good riddance!” the roach-guy yelled at Dereck as he drove off.

As one, my gaze and Eli’s went to that of the parked Mercedes. The two Magi were standing on the sidewalk next to the car; they’d obviously seen and heard everything.

Roach-guy noticed at whom we were staring, and swore long and hard as he threw out the roses and gathered up the dropped grocery bags with his four arms.

Eli ran over to help, and soon they’d herded me up the steps and into the foyer before them. As soon as the foyer door swung shut, he said to Eli, “When I saw him push her—”

“Dorelai,” Eli said, “this is Mr. O’Keefe.”

“Hi,” I said as I used my key on the inner door of the foyer, shouldering it open for them.

Eli pointed at a metal toolkit sitting under the apartment mailboxes in the foyer. He said to O’Keefe, “Let’s swap. I’ll take the groceries, you grab your toolkit.”

O’Keefe handed all the groceries back over to Eli, then hefted the toolkit. “Can ya climb?” he said to me. “Ya hit the ground hard.”

My palms and hip were throbbing. “I’m fine.”

“Lemme go up first,” O’Keefe said. “Apartment 302, right?”

“Right,” I said.

“Gimme me yer keys, and I’ll make sure it’s safe.” The arm he held out had the outer shell and hairs of a roach, but at the end was a human palm with a knifelike thumb. I dropped my keys into his palm, and as his hand wrapped around them I saw there was a thick shell on the outside of his hand.

O’Keefe rushed up the stairs with a speed I’d be hard-pressed to match.

I lived on the top floor, which I liked because the skylight above the stairway made my stairwell bright during the day. As I slowly climbed the stairs with Eli, I heard the echo of my front door being opened and the rattle of O’Keefe’s toolkit hitting the ground. Then there was the racket of bangs and squeaks as O’Keefe searched my apartment.

When we reached my door, I found it propped open with O’Keefe’s toolkit. Eli stopped me before I could enter. “We need to wait for O’Keefe,” he said.

O’Keefe appeared at the doorway to my bedroom. “All clear. C’mon in, and lock the door behind ya.”

I locked the door as Eli hauled the groceries into the kitchen.

I said to O’Keefe, “I haven’t thrown out the garbage yet. The manila envelope and letter from Thursday night should still in the kitchen trash.” I surveyed my dining room and living room—nothing lying around had any sort of suspicious aura. Everything was the same as it had been this morning.

It was only me that was different.

O’Keefe grabbed a silver-glowing box out of his toolbox and followed me into the kitchen.

I grabbed my tongs from where they lay amongst the dirty dishes in the sink, and handed them to O’Keefe, saying, “I used these to move the letter and envelope around.”

Eli and I put groceries away as O’Keefe rooted through my garbage with the tongs.

When I grabbed the first six-pack of beer to put it in the fridge, Eli said, “You don’t need to do that. O’Keefe prefers it warm.” Eli made a face. “He pours it into a mug and microwaves it.”

“Bleck,” I said. “So the cans of chicken soup are for him, too?”

“Yup,” O’Keefe said. He fished the envelope from Thursday night out, to flourish with a triumphant “Ha!” Pulling it closer to his eyes to study (but making sure not to touch it), he then shoved it into the silver-glowing box. Then he fished out the letter, again taking his time to study it closely, before putting it and the tongs in the box as well.

“That was too damn easy,” O’Keefe said. “That evidence should’ve been stolen. If ya don’t mind, Ms. Trelton, I’m gonna take the entire bag of trash.” He pulled the garbage bag top together and tied it shut. “Gonna put it near the door.”

The sky through the kitchen window was fading to dusk.

I yanked open the cabinet under the sink to pull out two candles while Eli took the bread and wine to the table.

“Good thinking,” O’Keefe said. “We could all do with a drink after that shitfest downstairs.”

Eli came back into the kitchen to fill two cups with water, and took them and a hand towel to the dining room. Then he came back in to ask, “Napkins?”

“Upper cabinet to the left of the sink,” I said as I dug a box of matches out of a drawer.

Eli took the matches, candles, and cloth napkins out while I grabbed three tall water glasses to use (I had no wine glasses).

When I came to the dining room table, I saw that Eli had covered the two loaves with a cloth napkin. He took a glass from me, uncorked the wine, and filled it to the brim. He then paused, and reached up with both hands to touch the top of his bare head. “Do you have a hat?”

“Let me see if anything would fit.” I went over to the hall closet and opened it. There was a summer straw hat that would match his tourist get-up. I snagged it.

At the sight of it, Eli sighed, but took it to put on his head. He said, “Do you know Hebrew?”


“Then I’ll pray in both.” He called out to O’Keefe in the kitchen, “Do you want to join us?”

“Nope. I’m gonna open up a can of soup to eat. But I’ll help ya make a dent in that wine when yer done.”

Eli lit the two candles, waved his hands over them as if he would pull the candlelight from them to his eyes, covered his eyes with his palms, and recited the blessing over the candles.

Once done, Eli uncovered his eyes, then picked up the glass of wine and began to pray Kiddush, first in Hebrew, then repeating in English so I’d understand what was said. I felt no presence of anything godlike, but the beauty of the words as Eli said them moved me.

“… Blessed are You, Adonai, Who sanctifies Shabbat,” Eli finished.

“Amen,” I said.

Eli gestured for us to sit. He took two gulps of the wine, then poured half of what was left from his tall water glass into another glass for me.

O’Keefe came out of the kitchen with an opened can of chicken soup and large spoon to sit at the table with us.

Picking up the wine bottle, Eli filled the last glass for O’Keefe.

I lifted my glass in salute to the two of them, and downed the Kiddush wine in a few minutes. Eli did the same.

O’Keefe swigged back his own half-empty glass in seconds.

Eli filled up our three glasses to the brim. “No more for you and me after this round,” he said to me, “we have to stay relatively levelheaded. O’Keefe has a natural talent for consuming large amounts of alcohol without getting drunk.”

“Ya betcha,” O’Keefe said, and swigged down his second glass.

“A good wine is supposed to be savored,” I said, “not chugged.” My insides were starting to get a warm tingly feeling. I tipped my glass to drink deeply.

Eli indicated that we should wash our hands with the cups of water and hand towel, and then he uncovered the two bread loaves and recited a blessing over them. He passed around chunks of the French bread for us to eat. I still felt stuffed from dinner, so I just nibbled on mine between wine swallows.

O’Keefe dunked his bread chunk in the can of soup before eating it. Like the rest of him, his mouth was a bizarre mixture of human and roach. Some drops of soup fell from his tongue onto the table. “I’ll clean up,” he said.

It had been a rough day, but I was starting to feel really, really relaxed and mellow. “No problem.” I rapped the wood of the table. “The wood’s stained and polished.” Then I began to giggle, and covered my mouth with my hands until it stopped. “I can’t believe that just came out of my mouth. That’s why I don’t drink. It makes me act stoopid.”

“You’re not stupid,” Eli said. He sipped at his wine. “Not even when inebriated. What you are is exhausted and overwhelmed.”

I looked into my glass to find it empty. I looked over at the bottle, but Eli pushed it out of reach. Sighing, I nudged my glass away so that I could fold my arms on the table and put my chin on my hands. My eyelids drooped.

“That was a mistake on my part,” Eli said to O’Keefe. “I should have realized it’d make her sleepy.” He got up from his seat, leaving his barely drunk glass behind, and came around to my side. “Sorry to do this, Dorelai, but we need to talk a few things over before you go to sleep.”

Grumbling, I followed Eli out into the living room as O’Keefe got up to follow.

I sank into my recliner chair, and pulled the lever so that my feet were propped up. Having my feet up felt soooooo good, and my hip had stopped throbbing. Or maybe it still hurt, and I just couldn’t feel it.

O’Keefe picked up my TV controller from the coffee table. He turned my TV on and set the volume to an absurdly high level. Then he and Eli leaned in close.

Eli said, “Dorelai, for your safety, O’Keefe is going to sleep on your couch tonight.”

I grinned, which felt weird. “I feel like I’m in a Kafka story.”

“So you … don’t object?” Eli asked.

A round of giggling escaped me and I saw no reason to stop it.

Eli palmed his face.

“Nice going, Rabbi, she’s sloshed,” O’Keefe said. “Didn’t know ya had it in ya. Chances are she’ll remember this conversation in the morning, but this ain’t the time to discuss matters of state.” He leaned forward so that I could see his strange face up close. Human eyes in a roach’s head. Wow. “Ms. Trelton, can I bunk on yer couch tonight—yes or no?”

“Yes,” I said. I clapped my hands. This was hilarious. “Ask me another question. This is fun!”

Eli groaned.

“Rabbi Eli, quit it,” O’Keefe said. “Louie said to get her home safe, and ya did. Considering what she’s been through today, this is exactly what she needs right now. Ya smuggle the evidence on over to Knossos, then get some shut-eye. I’m gonna nuke myself a beer and watch some TV. Trelton, is it okay if I watch TV?”

“Yes!” I said. O’Keefe’s accent made me feel like a kid again.

“Help me get her to bed,” O’Keefe said to him.

More giggles poured out of my mouth as they pulled me out of the recliner. Standing upright felt like too much work, so I let them put my arms over their shoulders to haul me into my bedroom.

At the sight of my bedcover, I said, “Bed! Yes!”

“Drop her on three,” O’Keefe said over my head. “One … two … three.”

I dropped back onto the bliss of a soft bedcover, and then my feet were being lifted and dropped to bounce on the bed as well.

Wonderful. I wanted to say it, but my mouth was too tired to move.


I awoke in the dark to find I was on top of my bedcover, and I heard the soft sound of my TV going. Took me a couple of seconds to figure out how I’d gotten there.

I was in my work clothes and shoes, and a fuzzy lingering taste of wine was in my mouth.

The recollection of my behavior made me wince. I’d been as giggly and silly as anyone I’d seen at a college party.

Rolling onto my side, I got off the bed to go to the closed bedroom door. I slowly turned the doorknob to pull it open and peeked out.

O’Keefe was sitting on my couch with his feet (wearing dress shoes) propped up on my coffee table. He wore a pinstripe suit modified to fit his body with its four arms. There was an unlit cigarette in his mouth that he was moving around like a toothpick.

And a semiautomatic pistol on his lap.

He was watching a bucktoothed chef flipping pancakes on a cooking channel.

I looked over toward the dining room; the light of the TV made it easy to see everything. The table was all clear and clean of anything from the Shabbat shenanigans. And my apartment smelled a bit like a brewery. O’Keefe had obviously been microwaving beer while I slept.

The bag of trash was gone from near my front door. Eli must have taken all the evidence over to Knossos. But O’Keefe’s opened toolkit remained.

“Dawn ain’t gonna be here for another two hours, Trelton,” O’Keefe said around his cigarette. “Go back to bed.”

I decided I would rather find out what O’Keefe might say if I stuck around.

************** End of Chapter 6 *****************

Chapter 7 will go up next Tuesday.

See you next time, L. M.