Archive | November, 2015

Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Bebe?

CD6D260E-0A8D-773A-44A33597039FD09B_6If we – “we”. the race Human – discover that superluminal [faster-than-light] travel is impossible and we never reach the stars, I believe I will be disappointed. Similarly, if we accomplish interstellar travel, but never discover another sentient race or find only artifacts, I expect I will be disappointed.

Apparently, fundamentally I believe a central function of life is to show off. Normal, I believe, for a showbiz kind of guy ike mmyself.

It could be, of course, that superluminal flight is possible, but we as a species cannot understand it due to a dimensional limitation of our brain, or something. Maybe there ae things travelling between stars naturally at E12 [E = 1 einstein, the speed of light] all the time. Maybe it can’t be done, as Albert E said flatfootedy all those years ago, and the only means of travel between stars is <E, inching along in what we complascently refer to as ‘normal’ space on what Roddenberry dubbed ‘impulse’ power and it will take millions of years for humans to reach from planet to planet.

IF that’s the eventual case, undramatic as it would be huanity would pass the timeduring migration by evolving. Each planet successfully settled would then be populated bya different – something: speie? Failyu? A different creature woul emerge from the vessel sentby forth by the human impulse to expand.

Of course, perceived by ourseves from within, is the natural course of Life to occupy all of space.

It may be, at that. In all universes either parallel or sequential it could be that the materiel of the current universe will attempt to fill each fallow segment of itself with the material of that universe.

Which would fit my current thesis to wit: /this is the Universe of Life and despite all appearances of lifeless desert planets of highly abrasive dust, poisionous atospheres and radiation-filled voids everything in this universe is simply Life iife, in every permutation it can assume.

Most of those naturally spell immediate death to any permutation other than themselves.

Life, it appears, is often like that.


County Commissioner Murder – Part 1

The call came in at 2:20 am, Tuesday, March 20. An address in Mount Lebanon William Bright had to look up, 22 Lilac Lane. A private road, it turned out, very near the center of the town. Bright thought he knew Mt Lebanon pretty well, for someone who’d never lived there or even eaten dinner there, but this was new.

At that hour it took less than twenty minutes to get there from County Police headquarters in the East End. Lilac Lane was tucked behind the Washington Avenue business strip, down a hollow, ending in a park-like valley. 22 was a large house off the end of the lane. a flagstone first floor with frame upper floors enclosed in a grove of cedar trees. A paved parking area spread between the end of the lane and the house,

A door with a small roof outside it and a light glowing beside it was directly in front of him. The door was closed. Through its window, Bright could see CSI technicians and a photographer at their work. They were very close to the door. Bright tried the knob anyway. It was locked. Nobody looked up.

As the front of the house seemed to be on his left, Bright walked to his right, the servant’s end of the building.

A door stood open, showing a mudroom and beyond it a kitchen. Bright went in. The kitchen was large and modern, filled with chrome appliances, a six-burner stove, pots hanging on hooks. The lights were off. Beyond it was a paneled diningroom lit by a chandelier over the table, which was on. The next room, the living room, was dark. A hallway to the left was lit. It probably led to the door Bright had first tried.

It did. Bright stood at the end of the hall, watching the technicians and the medical examiners, all of whom he knew. The body of a man sprawled face up before them, at the head of a flight of stairs heading down. He was fully dressed, and he had three bullet holes x in the middle of his chest. The holes were within ten centimeters of each other.

“Gentlemen,” he greeted them, “And ladies. What can you tell me?”

“Deceased is the well-known Councilman and realtor Andrew Randone,” said Assistant ME Bernard Page. “Fifty-four years old, shot three times in the chest, center mass, tight grouping, .38 caliber. At least two of them are still in there. The lone apparent exit wound may be an abrasion suffered as he fell. I mean, why would two stay there and one come through? But it happens. We’ll probably know before we leave.”

“What was he doing here at 2am?”

“This is his house. He lives here. The alleged assailant is his wife. Don’t they tell you guys anything?”

“We’re detectives. Were we not to detect something as latent as that, so the legend goes, it would blur our self-image and our keen sensibioiities woud be dulled and useless. Now/then. Where’s the alleged assailant?”

Melanie Pagliosi Randone was downstairs in the back in her office, Dr Page said. She had been with the body when they arrived. She had GSR on her hands and arms, both of them. She was still wearing what she had on. A female Mt Lebanon cop was with her. Bright turned and went down the stairs toward the basement and Ms Pagliosi’s office.

The basement was finished, with paneled walls and carpeting and incandescent lighting. The hall was narrow and rather long, about forty meters. Framed pictures hung on the walls and small table lamps sat on little tables all along it and made it feel like a classy European hotel hallway. It had a very gentle upward slant.

At the far end of the passage, Bright found himself in a very modern office lobby. A square space about twenty meters on a side. It seemed he was in a different building. He hadn’t noticed it when he’d entered.

As it happened, he was. Removed from the house, it was a two-story building about thirty meters on a side in the middle of a lawn. He realized he could have taken this as the place next door, and in the dark simply disregarded it.

Centered against the wall on his right was a receptionist’s desk. Near the top of the wall, foot-high letters spelled out “Media Planning”, the name of Ms Pagliosi’s firm. Light came from a room behind that wall, through a door facing along the wall. Bright had to cross the receptionist’s desk to get to the room.

As he entered the room, Detective Howard Brennan rose from a couch and turned toward him.

“Ah, good,” said Bright. “No reason for you to sleep.” They shook hands.

“How long have you been here?” said Bright.

“Maybe five minutes. We’ve just been introducing ourselves.” Brennan turned to the lady behind her desk, who stood.

“Melanie Pagliosi Randone, Detective William Bright.” They shook hands.

She seemed composed, unhappy, not particularly upset, just sad. Bright said, “I’m sorry … we’re all in this.” He couldn’t bring himself to say the formulaic “for your loss”. This seemed so much more real. She nodded and smiled sadly. He turned to Brennan.

“You Mirandize her?”

“No, listen, whe haven’t gotten to that at all yet.”

“Well, we will any second.” He turned back to Melanie. “Ms Randone, you understand, we have to do this…”

“Yes, of course, go ahead.”

Bright recited the warning. Brennan stood there. He seemed to be staring at her feet.

“Sorry to have interrupted. What were you and Detective Brennan talking about when I came in?”

She indicated the open takeout Chinese carton on her desk.

“We were comparing recipes for cold noodles,” she said. “As he told you, we’d just met.”

“OK, well, let’s begin. Mr Randone was out. Am I right in guessing it was either real estate business or politics?”

“Yes, some committee business, I don’t remember what.”

“Then he came home. Did you notice the time when he arrived?”

“I glanced at the clock when I heard the door. 1:37. It’s a wifey thing, I guess.”

“Where were you when you heard the door? Here in your office? How can you hear the door from here?”

“The burglar alarm can be set to ring when someone uses an open door to enter or leave the house.”

“Did you go to the door?”

“Actually, I did not. The door’s what, fifty meters away? By the time the alarm stops whoever came in could be on the third floor. The only people who’d still be at the door would be delivery people or Jehovah’s Witnesses, people I didn’t invite, who wouldn’t feel comfortable prowling around in my house. I knew Andy’d be coming in about then. I just kept doing my work.”

“But you did go to the door ar some point.”

“When Andy comes in, he goes to one of three places. Either he goes to the powder room just inside the door, he goes to the kitchen, or he goes to his study. Or he comes to see me. Four; he goes to one of four places.”

Bright made acknowledging noises.

“Each room makes specific sounds, none of which I heard. So I went out to the door because maybe I’d supposed wrong. Maybe it wasn’t Andy. I went and called upstairs, ‘Andy? Is that you?'”

“Did he answer you?”

“No. There wasn’t any answer.”

“Did you call several times?”

“O yeah, a bunch.”

“And, no answers?” She shook her head. “Did you go upstairs and look for him?”

“No. I wasn’t afraid, but I didn’t understand. I thought I’d just wait and find out if anyone came to see me.”

“You went back in your office.”

“I was finishing up some correspondence. When I was done, I went back to the door. This time, I took my gun with me.”

“You had it in here? Is it in here now?”

She revolved in her chair, opened a drawer behind her and brought out a Sig Sauer nine-shot .38 automatic.

“Why’d you bring it this time, or rather why not the other time?” said Brennan.

“Frankly, I forgot. I was halfway down the hall, the first time, and I thought, ‘Where’s my pistol?’, but it seemed, if I went back for it, I’d lose my chance: it wouldn’t work out.”

“Tell us about shooting your husband,” said Brennan. Bright did not look at either of them.

“First of all, I did not think I was shooting Andy. I’d gotten wound up in the lurid speculation that there was an intruder in the house.”

“Did you notice any sign that there was anyone upstairs? Hear any movement, see any shadows?”

“I heard some shuffling steps, yes.”

“Did you call out? Call your husband’s name, or ask if anyone was there, or anything at all?”

“Well, I was about to, but his movements were so abrupt they seemed threatening. And the trigger on the gun was so much more sensitive then I remembered it. I had barely grazed it when I’d fired twice, then three times.”

“I’d meant to comment on that. Your shooting, regrettable though it was, was also exceptionally fine. Have you practised a lot? What range do you belong to?”

Melanie was taken slightly aback. “The Noblestown Road Gun Club,” she responded. “And yes, I practised a lot. But that was years ago.”




Crosswicks Inn

110-Cruiser-03-bigCrosswicks Creek flows into the Delaware River about ten miles south of Trenton. Near its mouth, it widens. A boat basin is maintained there, berthing about a hundred 30 to 50 foot power boats.

One late summer day, my friend Willie took me with him to fetch a new forty-four foot Remington with six bunks, a full galley and bar and an array of electronic toys from a boatyard in Cape May for his friend, Bennie Warminster, an investment broker. I had never met Bennie, but if this was his boat, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with him.

That morning, I parked my car at the Crosswicks dock. Willie picked me up in a rented Cadillac at 5:30am. We drove to Cape May, stopping once to buy egg sandwiches and coffee, and once to buy a case of cold Yuengling, two hoagies and a large antipasto and some chips..

Willie met with the boatyard owner, a Mr. Sukeforth, He gave Sukeforth a very fat envelope of cash and the keys to the Caddy and also more than half the case of beer. Sukeforth gave Willie the boat’s keys and papers and assurance that the rental car would be turned in. We shook hands and were off.

We brought the boat up the Delaware leisurely drinking the Yuenglings and choffing down hoagies and salad, commenting on pretty girls and and other points of interest, finally docking in Crosswicks at 6:47pm. We walked across the parking lot to the Crosswicks House for the last beer.

All forty or so bleary eyes in the place turned toward the glare as we entered, and just as quickly turned back to whatever it was they were staring at. We ordered at the bar and sat in a booth by the back wall.

A big-boned guy at the end of the bar swiveled his stool all the way around and lurched towards us.

Willie said, “Gordo McKensie. You fuckin slob, wha chu doin here? Slummin?”

“Eyy, Pinhead! I guess I am, seein as you’re here.”

Gordo shook Willie’s hand, then hugged him, turned to me and hugged me, too. Looked straight at me, or as straight as he could. “Do I know you?”

“Doubt it,” I said. “Never been here before. Name’s Clem.” First name that came to me. Willie didn’t flinch.

“Glad t’meecha,” said Gordo McKensie, deep within an aromatic haze. “Arnold.”

“You look a lot like my cousin Bennie,” Gordo said. “You know Bennie? Warminster?” he added as an afterthought.

I pretended to think. “Nope, can’t place him,” I said. “I’m from Philly. He from Philly?” Philly was Not Here, the closest big NotHere.

“Hu uh. Bennie’s from right here in Crosswicks. Lives bout four, no, six houses down. Pinhead, you know Bennie, doncha?”

“Yeah, I know him.” I glanced at Willie. His face was calm, earnest, friendly.

“Yeah, cause, I kind of think of you and him as buddies. Didn’t you used to go to the shore together a lot?”

“On his boat,yeah.”

“On his boat, yeah, that was the thing! Out on his boat. That the boat he still has?”

“Uh, no. uh, he sold that boat, I think. He’s got some other boat now. A Remington.”

“O yeah? I don’t see him much anymore. Since he got back.”

“Well neither do I.”

“Zat so? I thought you two was real close.”

“No, not since… I only seen him once since he got back,” Willie said.

“Yeah? I ain’t seen him at all. How’s he look?”

“O, he looks alright.”

“I heard Darlene moved out.” Bennie’s oldest daughter, now 22.

“Yeah, she did that.”

“How’s your kid? Young Willie? How’s he doin?”

“He’s doin great. Workin for Ray G at his cycle shop. Yeah.”


“Yeah. Tells me he’s gonna open his own place in Yardville in a couple months. Ray G’ll help him.”

“He seein anybody?”

“Well, yeah. Darlene and him…”

“Where’s he livin now?”

“Who, Young Willie? He’s still home with Ethel and me, till he gets his shop open.”

“So is Darlene living with you?”

“Huh? No, no. She’s got her own place, somewhere around Bordentown I guess. She works, there, you know. As a barber.”

“A hair stylist.”

“No, she’s a barber, in a men’s barbershop.”

“Fancy that!”

“Yeah she does pretty good, too.”

I expected Willie to ask Gordo about his son. I didn’t know if he had one, but it seemed a safe bet. Instead, Willie got up and put on his jacket.

“Aww, man, lemme buy you guys a round, c’mon…”

“Gordo, good to see you man. I gotta run.”

I muttered something social and shook Gordo’s hand. He hugged Willie and we left.

In the parking lot, Willie stopped walking. He put his hands on his knees, bent over and took two deep breaths. When I looked at him, alarmed, he smiled and shook his head. We got into my car and started to Willie’s house.

“A little I’d like you to know. Bennie Warminster, Gordo’s cousin, was sent up for fraud a little less than five years ago. He got back last month or so, five months early for good behavior. Gordo lost – not everything, but enough. Denise, Bennie’s daughter, dated Ralph McKensie until maybe a year ago. She didn’t get together with my boy until this April, but … well, Ralph took it hard. Gordo … if he’d bought us that round, we wouldn’t get out of there for hours. We’d be lucky if we didn’t end up in the ER, too. OK?”

“Christ,” I said.

“Don’t ever say I don’t show you a good time.” said Willie. “O, and one other thing. You don’t look a thing like Bennie Warminster.”


Dog Time

dogPyreneseAs the Dog Whisperer has often said, dogs do not think. They react. Thinking consists of the processing of ideas, which leads to conclusions, new ideas and eventually the solution to a problem. Cats do this. For instance, they set ambushes. Dogs don’t.

What dogs do, though, is worry. While this clears up some part of the mystery of how dogs spend their lives it also sets up another conundrum.

It is well-known that dogs have a remarkably unstructured sense of time. They know when dinnertime comes, and when the humans are due home. But they have no concept of time passage, of hours, or even of “later” or “soon”.

That’s where the conundrum abides. As far as I know, worry pertains exsclusively to the future. I can’t imagine worrying about anything else. The only guess I can dream up is that dogs somehow worry about the present.

Come too think about it, my grandparents sometimes did something like that. In the early fifties, on occasional Sunday afternoons, my family indulged in drives through the countryside. Since my parents were known to drive at speeds approaching dangerously close to the posted limit, my sister and I were consigned to my grandparents’ back seat, hostages against our own welfare. As my grandfather drove, he and his wife discussed the disposition of certain trees in sight in front of us, and how likely each was to run into the center of our road and thus pose a hazard.

I think the rule is, “Dogs only worry about what they can sense here and now.” Worry is one of their reactions. Alarm, attack, flee, pursue, worry. Since worry pertains to conditions that can be anticipated but are not currently in effect, it could in fact be assigned to “the future”, but only to a future that’s very nearby – say, when a siren now blowing stops. No. I’m going to recurse myself again. The siren is part of ‘now’, which is instantaneous, and timeless.

For ‘now’, properly speaking, is the singularity, the dimensionless, timeless point in infinity that was once the beginning and shall be the end of our universe, and all the instances of that universe, now and forever. Now is the only time there is, ever will be.

Now is where we all live, where everything happens. Now is when the raindrop forms and when it begins to fall, and when it splatters on your windshield or on the soft soil of the garden.

All futures are now. All pasts. I was born now, and now I will die. And yet I cannot see tomorrow’s now, any of its infinite nows. Or any of yesterday’s, either, unless maybe if I make special arrangements.

Now is always at the junction of two or more laws. I could specify them but by the time you read that, the junction will hold different laws, so I’ll skip it for the moment. But here’s a glimpse of the matter:

A friend and I were discussing craps one day. I told her how much I loved watching the demonstration of pure probability, the animation of chance that a crap game displays. She said, “People have told me that all my life, but I think it’s nonsense. Each time you roll the dice the chances are 50/50. Your number comes up or it doesn’t.”

“Yes, that’s true. But so is this.” And I charted out for her the possible ombinations: one possiblity for 2 and 12; two possibilities for 3 and 11; and so forth. She’d never seen the bell curve before, and gasped.

“So you see, both laws are true each time you roll the dice,” I said.

A word of caution in dealing with the Laws. Don’t pay too much attention to them as you run the course. That amounts to reading a textbook while driving (or in common parlance, “texting” while driving. It’s similar to thinking about walking while you walk. Don’t ever do that.)


The Bear in the Road

JA_AN_Black-Bear-Highway… and then there was clanking and the sounds of metal tearing, the first sounds he remembered, Then glass shattering merrily, because once glass shatters there’s nothing you can do for it but rejoice until it fades away. Last, nothing but crickets and hissing, and eventually the hissing stopped and there was just crickets.

Weldon unstrapped himself. He just released the safety belt, turned off the lights and the silent ignition, opened the door and got out. The door clunked a bit, all right, but it opened easily.

Weldon walked up a suburban street on the edge of a development. His car had handled the curb most adroitly, in that Weldon would estimate he had been travelling at about three miles an hour and the curb was rather high. Even in his stupor, Weldon wondered how it had done that. He staggered back to look at the curb and the pavement in front of it.

Sure enough, lying on the asphalt not two inches from the curb were two pieces of roughly triangular concrete, like ramps up the curb, So his car had had help, the Unseen Hand had filled in where planning had made misfortune unfeasable. A Learning Experience. Paranoia had nothing to do with it.

Weldon was not astonished. This stuff went on all the time.

He had his cell phone to his ear and was talking to 911 when the first neighbor came up.

“We already called. They’re on their way. Are you all right? Tell the operator.”

“Um, they say they’ve already called you.” 911 said something that sounded pertinent. “Yeah, good. Right. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” Lights flashed around a corner. “Here you are now.”


Weldon sat on the curb. The cop, the neighbor and three other neighbors stood in a semicircle facing him. His papers were in order. He hadn’t had a drink, so his blood alcohol index was 0.00. He was exhausted, His ad agency had just completed a campaign that had required him to work 90 hours per week for three weeks straight. Still, he wasn’t complaining, just a litle groggy. Too, the day was overcast and a little misty. So he had fog both inside snd out.

The cop handed Weldon back his cards, The cop seemed to have something on his mind.

“Mr. Weldon, did you happen to see a bear anytime today?”

Weldon stared at the cop. “A beer? No, I told you. I’ve been up about three wee…”

“A bear, Mr. Weldon. An animal.” It was not what Weldon expected.

“There’s been reports of a bear around here, in the trash cans and eating dog food that was left out. You didn’t see it I guess?”

“No. No, sorry, I didn’t … bu … YES! Yes, I did see a bear! Earlier, when I first sat down in the car. Was it in this cul-de-sac?”

“That’s what I want to ask you. Was it?”

He didn’t know. All cul-de-sacs looked alike to him, and all bears as well.

“Have there been any reports since you’ve been here, Officer?”

“None confirmed. A lady on Laurel Lane said she thought she saw a bear back behind the houses across the street, but she couldn’t be sure.”

One of the other neighbors spoke up. “How long since this was all woods?”

“Seven years,” said the first neighbor. “I moved here exactly one year after it opened, and that was six years ago in August.”

The cop gave Weldon a summons for reckless driving and asked him “for the last time” if he wanted to go to the hospital and get checked out. Weldon assured him, No, that he felt fine. He’d wait for the wrecker and get a cab from the garage. A hundred bucks would be OK. And it would probably would be less. One by one, the neighbors drifted to their houses.

It wasn’t noon yet, but the mist had gotten thicker if anything and the entire woods was glowing, almost glaring with soft white light. The crickets were vigorously busy. There were no birds. Probably it had something to do with the fog.

Every so often, a click or clink or, once, a loud twang issued from the car.

Death doesn’t come all at once, thought Weldon, but bit by bit, organ by organ. He wondered which organ came last.

After an hour, he called the garage.

The woman said there’d been an emergency, and their truck had been been “conscripted”, Twenty-seven car pileup on the Interstate, and there were only four or maybe five garages with wreckers. They’ll be ‘right with’ him.

He sighed and walked to the first neighbor’s front door and rang the bell three times. There was no response. He tried to remember if the garage door was open or shut, couldn’t, and went to look. It was shut. There were no windows into the garage. He sat down on the front stoop, and rested his back on the railing.

There was a huffing behind Weldon’s left shoulder. He turned his head slowly, then rolled his eyes as far left as he could, but he didn’t see the bear until he rotated his body almost a quarter turn.

A big black bear, thought Weldon. Most black bears he’d seen had been one-and-a-half times the size of St Bernards, but that was it. Once in his youth he’d seen a St Bernard riding in a Volkswagen. This bear could not fit in anything smaller than an Escalade, and that after much pushing and stuffing, so much that no bear would stand for it.

This bear on his hind legs was easily six eight, six ten. The thought that it lived on nuts and berries shorn off bushes with its claws was laughable. Hell, it could eat five berry bushes, roots leaves and whoever was nesting therewithin every breakfast, lunch and dinner all spring, summer and fall and probably its stomach would be rumbling in its hibernation-bed before Thanksgiving.

Weldon wanted to stand up. Partially, this was because the bear was behind him and he had to twirl around if he wanted to look at it. and he very much wanted to look at it, but also because he felt somehow he wasn’t honoring the bear sufficiently if he just kept sitting there. He worried, though, that his awkward staggering to his feet would alarm the bear. In the end, his impulse towards Victorian courtesy (and his concern for the seat of his pants on the concrete steps) won out. He stood, surprised at how easily he moved.

The bear, busy with a worm or a root or something, took no notice of Weldon’s movement.

Weldon stood, watching the bear.

“Naw micha mowglie gotcha grmmkowwurss mmrm mmrd’gwr mrr,” said the bear, still digging in the grass. At least, it sounded like that to Weldon.

“Hunh?” said Weldon. The bear stopped digging. It looked directly at Weldon.

“Naw micha mowglie gotcha grmmdow mmrd’gwr,” it said again. Then, “How come you drove your wagon into the tree like that? Maybe you thought it was some kinda door, or something? But even then, it’d be a kinda narrow door for your wagon, wouldn’t it?” Still looking directly at Weldon, it said, “You can shift its shape or somethin, right?”

Weldon was flabbergasted, to say the least.He managed to reply, “No! I was asleep, unconscious. I didn’t want to do any of this!”

“Maybe your soma was asleep, but you were awake. Otherwise, how could you have gotten out of the wagon and put those rampPieces in front of the edgeStones so carefully? That was very cool, by the way. How did you know it would work?”

“I’m sorry. Did you just say that I did that?”

“Yes of course you did. Who else could have known your wagon’s size, or that you would be here?”

“How could I … Where are we, anyway? Can you tell me that?”

“This is Metedeconk, my sacred place. just off Route 9. Near Englishtown,” said the bear. “Four miles from your home.”

“What am I doing here? Am I visiting somebody?”

“Well, I don’t know everything. What’s your diary say?”

Weldon pulled out his smartphone, looked up today on the calendar. It was blank.

“Nothing in there, right? With a brain like yours, you gotta write this stuff down. O well. It’d probably just say ‘Metedeconk’ anyway. Let it go.”

“Why … You know a lot more about this than I do. What am I doing in Metedeconk?”

“O, just … it’s the Metedeconk time of the year. Other times, it’s The Highlands or my favorite, Brielle.”

“This is some load of crap! Come clean with me. I’m in the business. Who made you – Disney?”

The bear had gone back to sniffing around the lawn. Now it looked up.

“You are correct,” it said. “This is an illusion! It’s All – an Illusion! Know what, brother? C’mon, you guessed it – you’ve Passed Over! You’re on … The Other Side!”

Weldon stared at the bear.

“You are familiar with the old camp song, ‘The Bear Went Over the Mountain?’To see what he could see? He saw … The Other Side! Well, here we are. Same shit, different day. That’s what the universe is all about. Life! This is the Universe of Life! Everything here is alive, in every conceivable permutation. The rocks are alive, the interstellar vacuum is alive, the muons and quarks are alive.”

“The dead, they’re alive, too?”

“Yeah! Not just ‘undead’, mind you: Alive. But not in the same world as The Living. On The Other Side.”

“Um, look. Can I get a drink here? Are there bars on The Other Side?”

The bear grinned toothily. “Are there ever! Come with me.”

Together, they walked into the mist, into the woods.