09 Spinning Wheels


The bodies were laid out on the tarpaulin in exactly the same way they had been found in the mine. The men, whose corpses had been struck by the shell that had exposed them, were in fragments. Two women, whose corpses were further away from the point of impact, were mostly intact, though ossified by tar.  Tanya stooped to examine one of the females:  the woman was roughly her own age, in her early thirties, but was shaped differently. Whereas Tanya was long and thin, the dead woman tapered from extremely broad shoulders to delicate wrists and ankles. Her jeans had mostly flaked away, but her top was made of a durable synthetic fiber, which, though stained black, was intact. She had two rusted metal buttons on her collar.  On the first was written: “CO2 Kills Gaea”.  A second, equally rusty button, featured a stylized dove footprint. The bullet that killed her had entered through the base of her skull.

Who murdered her and why?

Tanya heard a knock on the door of the lab. She looked up. General Brightbottom had already let himself in. He had a terrible habit of treating the entire base as his personal property.

“I have something for you.” The General handed Tanya a package of micro-fiche documents that had just arrived from the University of Red Deer. The package was wrapped in a letter from the sender. Tanya wondered why the General was here. There was no need for the Base’s senior officer to hand deliver anything; there were plenty of people who were trustworthy enough to act as courier. Tanya looked up at the General; he was staring at her.

“Any theories?” he asked.

“Its all in my last report.” Tanya was self-indulgently brusque. She found it difficult not to be at this time of year. The Athabasca Day celebrations always upset her.[1] She realized that it was unfair to be rude to the General because of this. He didn’t know that her father had died in the Battle of Tar Island, fighting against Alberta.

In an effort to embrace the spirit of the holiday Tanya nodded toward the poppy on the General’s collar. She said as convivially as she could, “Did you fight in the Athabasca War?” She expected her question to elicit a rote, patriotic response. Instead the General’s face went grim. “I did. At Fort Vermilion …” he faltered. While the General collected himself Tanya decided to answer his original question. “You asked me about the bodies. My current theory is the obvious one: murder.  I strongly suspect these people were killed because they opposed the tar mines, although my only evidence is a button. Unless there’s something useful in that package.”

The General said, “There is”. He  appended nothing to this comment. He stood there, considering his next move, having forgotten to complete this one.

Tanya did not want to find out what the General’s next move would be. She said, “I’d better get back to work”. Her words brought the introspective General back to the present. “Of course.  I’ll pick you up at five. I’m looking forward to your husband’s surprise.” He winked conspiratorially. Tanya had almost forgotten that her husband’s project was a secret, because the entire Base knew what the secret was.

“Thanks”, she replied.  The General had already let himself out. Tanya watched him walk along the path toward the mess hall. She imagined him parading on a circular track, marching around and around in circles, with great dignity and pomp, never stopping because no one had ordered him to. The thought made her laugh because it seemed both absurd and possible.

A bus ticket Tanya had found on one of the dead women was dated May 15, 2027. Tanya’s plan was to look   for references to the missing hikers starting from this date. She intended to begin with the Red Deer newspapers and move on to the Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Slave Lake ones if necessary. She put the microfiche into a reader.

She found her first lead on the front page of the June 21 Red Deer Gazette,

Alberta Police today called off the search for Red Deer woman Alison Schipka, daughter of former conservative MLA[2] Utal Schipka. Ms. Schipka was reported missing one month ago. She was last seen camping at Lake Gregoire, south east of Fort McMurray, with at least three members of the eco-terrorist group Earth Now! Her parents insist that Alison and her friends have been kidnapped by one of the many private security contractors working in the Athabasca region.

Anyone with information relevant to the case should contact the Red Deer Police Department.

After another hour Tanya had found nothing else: the records were in poor shape, and were frustrating to deal with. She decided to take a walk. The base was defined by two pits that were created over two centuries ago, when the rocks in the area were first mined for oil. The South Pit was still being mined, although on a scale that was dwarfed by its history. Part of the North Pit was used by the artillery, but no soldiers were there now. Tanya preferred the solitude of the North Pit, so went that way.

When she reached the rim of the North Pit, she paused to take in the view. The foreground was full of ancient machinery: hauling trucks, backhoes, rope shovels and drills. Although they were gigantic, the machines were dwarfed by their backdrop: the North Pit was over 100 metres deep and twenty kilometers long. It had a dozen terraces partially covered by scrub. Where the ground was too harsh for even the toughest plants, she could see the layers of bitumen rock – the reason why the mine was here in the first place.

Tanya began the descent along the switchback road that the loaded trucks used to take when they exited the mine, two centuries previously.  Her approach startled a flock of parrots nesting on the western face of the pit. They flew into the air in a riot of noise and colour. It took several minutes for them to settle down again.

At the point where the switchback road reached the bottom of the pit Tanya encountered a hauling truck. It had once been painted mustard yellow, although most of the paint had long since peeled away. She could see an imprint where the product number T282B had once been stenciled in metre high letters. When Tanya stood on her toes she could just reach above the middle point of the truck’s tires. The truck continued an additional 6 metres into the air. The machine’s size made her think not only about what it could do – that was obvious – but what it represented. Tremendous effort had gone into making this machine. Its task, to mine rock so that it could be processed into oil, was clearly a priority for the civilization that created it.

Perhaps 50 metres beyond the truck lay the ruins of a rope-shovel. The machine’s cabin,  which was larger than the entire hauling truck, rested on a swiveling base to which was attached a pair of caterpillar tracks, which were used for locomotion. One of the treads on right track had been destroyed. Tanya inspected the damage: it was localized, but apparently fatal. Just above the broken tread was spray painted a globe in the centre of which was stenciled the words Earth Now!

Alison Schipka’s group had wrecked this vehicle. Perhaps that was why they were killed. It would certainly explain why they had been buried nearby. Tanya walked carefully forward.  Although the terrain was level, it was very slippery, because the tarry rock inhibited the ground’s ability to absorb water. She continued north-west for another kilometre and then, before she reached the artillery range, exited via a path that had once been an access road for small vehicles. After two switchbacks she reached Highway 63, which was the direct way back to the base.

When Tanya got to the road she was surprised to see that it had been paved with asphalt as far as she could see in both directions. While her husband Keelut built cars, others were building roads for his cars to use.

Tanya’s return trip was quick. She reached the lab one hour before her date with the General, so she decided to re-examine the newspapers for stories about vandalism at the mines. Within minutes she found something. On May 17 the Slave Lake Gleaner announced that rope-shovel 28 in the North Pit had been destroyed by “environmental terrorists.” A day later the Fort McMurray Free Press published the following letter,

I used to work on shovel 28 until those eco-freaks destroyed it. Now I don’t have a job, because management isn’t fixing it. When we capture those punks we should kill them slow.

Although Alison Schlipka’s parents had thought she had been kidnapped – and presumably killed – by a private security team, perhaps she, and her activist friends, had been murdered by vigilantes.

Someone opened the door.  It was Miriam, her assistant. She asked, “What did Professor Bryant send you?”

“I didn’t know he sent me anything”, Tanya replied.

“It’s that manila envelope, by the stuff the General brought.” Miriam said.

Tanya picked up the envelope. It had been sent to her from the Edmonton archives. In her rush to examine the newspapers, she had not noticed it. She broke the wax seal and removed a bundle of documents which had been bound together with string. There was a cover letter that had been hand written on vellum paper, which she read,

Mrs. Okpik,

I have great news! I’ve solved your mystery, and in a way you’ve solved one of mine. The murdered hiker – Alison Schlipka – was very famous for a brief moment 215 years ago. In fact, she was famous twice – first as a socialite  who was allegedly kidnapped by eco-terrorists. Later, when her diary was found, she was identified as one of the most notorious environmental activists of the 21st century. Athabasca Insurance, which has records going back that far, estimates she personally caused over $2 billion of damage to mining equipment, including $1 billion the week she was murdered by a private police force.  That’s a pre-hyperinflation number.

I’ve sent you a copy of her diary. I had my scrivener make it especially for you, so feel free to make margin notes.

Kind regards, JB

Tanya put down the letter and walked over to where the dig was reconstructed, at the back of the lab. Until this point she had thought of the corpses as artifacts, not people. She looked at Alison. Despite the tar,  Tanya knew exactly how Alison had been dressed when she was murdered. It was a tomboy style that was still in fashion. She could easily imagine what Alison had looked like, with her broad shoulders, copper coloured hair and green, scared eyes.

Tanya looked away from Alison’s corpse and toward her assistant. Miriam was reading the letter from Bryant.

Tanya said, “I’m going to read the diary outside.” She picked it up from her desktop, walked past her assistant, and exited out of the western door of the laboratory. She took a seat in the middle of the egg-shell blue wooden swing that dominated the west-facing side of the porch, and opened the diary to May 15, 2027 the date of the bus ticket they’d found.

We left Edmonton two hours ago.

The deciduous forest has given way to boreal, mostly pine and spruce, although you still see stands of maple and birch. There are blighted areas everywhere, which makes the landscape spooky.  Sri said that this blight is caused by a different beetle than the one that has destroyed the coastal forests.

All things considered, its not a bad backdrop for man’s biggest crime against nature.

May 16

Today’s my birthday! To celebrate we’re going to do an action! Details to follow …

May 17

We took out a gigantic rope-shovel last night. Sri threw a molotov cocktail onto one of its treads. It was all so simple, though Sri nearly set himself on fire. When the broken machine slumped over I felt like a little English sail boat taking on a Spanish Galleon.

To tell the truth, the action was more of a fuck-up than a success. Disabling the rope-shovel took no effort. But we were nearly caught by a rent-a-cop a moment later. He started sweeping the pit with a powerful searchlight, and even though it was windy we could hear the barking of dogs.  We were saved by freak weather. Just as the cop spotted us, the air pressure plummeted and the wind starting gusting really strong. While I watched the wind blow the cop’s car into the North Pit, I wondered if the earth ever needed me to save it.

Alison’s May 19 entry was simply “tonight we have some big fun.”

The next entry began in the middle of a paragraph.

… after the action we went into Fort McMurray, to a place called the Jackrabbit Grill, for some food. Writing about it now, in my tent, under the stars, far away from the town and everything, with the calming sound of the Lake nearby, I still think going there was a mistake. It may be the last mistake I ever make.

Going to the Grill was Sri’s idea. He thinks that if our movement is going to succeed we have to change the minds of the workers. His plan was to find someone in the community who was not dogmatic about the tar mines, and use them as an in. I thought the plan was foolish. The locals all knew about our action. They’d be looking for us. Police and rent-a-cops are bad enough without vigilantes. In the end, Sri won me over with these words. He said, “Sometimes crossing a barrier doesn’t involve stepping over a line drawn in the sand. Sometimes the barrier can only be crossed by looking at things differently.”  Although I fear his idea will kill me, he’s right. If we don’t get people to see things differently, we’re going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again, until we become extinct.

We disguised ourselves by changing into what we call our “church” outfits. My outfit was a pressed blue dress in a sixties style. It fooled no one.  The moment I entered the Grill someone asked me if I was“one of those climate bitches who thinks all these tornadoes are caused by the factory?”

I turned to go. Before I did a second man said, “Hey John. John. Chill out.”   He was very good looking – tall, fit, neatly dressed in a denim jacket, jeans and expensive boots. He apologized for his friend. He said that there had been some vandalism at the mine and tempers were really high today. I said I didn’t know anything about that – we were just passing through on our way to the Athabasca Dunes.

His eyes lit up when I mentioned the Dunes.  He asked me if I had been in touch with Lenny.

I gave him my stupidest look. I’m a terrible liar, and didn’t know what to say.

“Lenny Thiele”, he prompted. “He runs the camp up there.”

I said I didn’t really know because my friend made all the arrangements.

Sri jumped into the silence. He said, “I think I talked to someone named Margot.” The man began to say something, but stopped himself after a syllable. Sri is just as bad a liar as I am, but  has this breezy knock-me-down-and-I’ll-pop-back-up-in-your-face manner people don’t challenge.

Sri whispered to me that he thought the tall good looking man was a “conciliator” and we should get to know him. I thought he was out of his fucking mind but just said, “I’m not hungry right now” and ran to the car. The other three joined me ten minutes later. They’d gotten coffee and sandwiches to go. Sri got a toasted cheese sandwich for me, bless his mixed-up soul.

I ate while I drove. I was anxious to get as far away from Fort McMurray as fast as I could. We were staying at a camp south of town, just off Highway 63. When we passed the industrial park at the intersection of Highway 69, someone started to follow us. I know we were followed because I stopped before I turned into the Park, and the car behind me stopped too.

But what could I do?  All our gear was at the Park. It was already late and it was Sunday – we didn’t have enough gas to get anywhere. All the local stations were closed.

Sri got all caught up in the idea of tapping a pipeline for gas. There’s one within a couple of kilometres of here, he said. He thought we could vandalize it and get some fuel. I pointed out we didn’t have a refinery with us. That shut him up for a minute.

We decided to sneak out of the Park and drive to the next one down the road. It was about 50 kilometres away. We had more than enough gas to get us there. Our plan was to hide there overnight, and return our rental in Edmonton first thing Monday morning.

No one followed us out of the Park, but when we turned south onto Highway 63 I saw a car blink its lights. I don’t know if it followed us.  We got to Crow Lake Park in no time, even though I was careful not to speed.

That’s where I am now.

Its really dark. And we’re all alone. I hope. I think I hope.

I’m going to go outside to see if we’re alone.

I just went for a walk along a beautiful natural path that follows the perimeter of the lake. I think deer made it. As I walked along the animals got excited, but they became really quiet when I pointed my head-lamp at them. I turned my head-lamp off, wondering if the darkness would make the night quieter or noisier. When I did the night went silent except for one weird sound, this gurgling growl. It was very menacing, but probably was just an angry rodent trying to sound like a bear. Big or small, the growl worked. I got more and more scared by the noise and the dark until I’d almost forgotten about the scary men who are chasing me. 

When I stood still, right at the crest of the lake, even the angry rodents became quiet. It was like the night itself was expectant. That got me scared too – or kept me that way. Animals are silent when they’re afraid. What had scared them?

I know why I was afraid. I was afraid because I was alone and when you’re alone you’re vulnerable. I rushed back to our camp.

I wish some more of my team was here. Those millions in India and Pakistan and Bangladesh who now have to fight for their water. Or the tens of millions of people whose land has been reclaimed by the sea. I’m their advocate. Their shock troop. I wish they were here to add their voices to mine.

Do extra voices make a difference, if people aren’t listening?

The full moon is hovering on the horizon, just above the lake. Its beautiful. All of the tens of thousands of lakes up here are beautiful tonight. I know it.

I also know I’m not really fighting for those benighted people in Asia and Africa and what’s left of California, even though we are natural allies. They’ve already lost. I’m fighting for my people. Albertans. They don’t realize it, but this is all mankind has got left. We’ve destroyed the rest – or at least come so far along that that we can’t salvage the least of it. Yet the people here hate me. Many want to kill me.

Shouldn’t we be on the same team?

The next entry was dated one week later,

Consider the previous entry my last. What follows is a postscript.

I’m imprisoned in the Buxton Township police station

I haven’t been kidnapped by the police, or arrested. The station we’re in is abandoned. We’re being guarded by private security goons. Its certainly an inside job, though. The goons used official schematic maps to disable the security cameras.

I guess I should tell you – whoever you are – what happened. We were caught at Crow Lake. It was a community effort, coordinated by the rent-a-cops, but everyone was in on it. By everyone, I mean everyone we’d seen at the Grill, and everyone we’d met afterward, including a gas jockey, a convenience store cashier and two park rangers.

The good looking guy from the Jackrabbit Grill found our bomb kit in the false bottom of Sri’s suitcase. The rest had already made up their minds about our guilt. He wanted proof.


If only it had turned out differently.

Its dishonest to write that I thought it would. Personally, globally, it has all played out pretty much as expected.


Kirk tried to escape. I don’t know exactly what happened to him, but I know it didn’t go well. The shooting started the moment he slipped out the back window. It lasted for minutes. It sounded like he was hit 1,000 times. The rent-a-cops have a lot of different guns. I think they used them all.

There’s no longer any doubt about how this will end. So once again I ask the question, why did I take this path? I know I’m not suicidal, I don’t want to die. That’s why I ran out of the Grill, and why my idiot (God bless them) friends should have beat me to the door.

Of all the answers sloshing around in my brain the one that stands out now is one a rat might understand. I’m cornered – the people who hate seeing this planet destroyed – we’re all cornered. So of course I chose to fight like hell. I did fight like hell. To the death.

These two questions are my last words:

Do my enemies know they’ve won?

Do they know what winning is?

Tanya closed the diary and placed it on her lap. Her assistant immediately appeared beside her, but said nothing.

A horn honked. Tanya didn’t look toward the source of the sound. She knew it was the General. She clandestinely handed the diary to her assistant with a curt “Don’t let Brightbottom see you reading this”, gathered her purse from the floor beside her chair, and briskly walked down the stairs to where the General was waiting in a jeep.

The jeep – the first totally new motorized wagon Tanya had ever seen – was certainly going to raise eyebrows at the Athabasca Day celebrations. The General knew it. That’s why he had a grin on his face.

Once she was seated and they were on their way Tanya said,  “General, I have more information about the corpses.”

To her surprise, the General frowned. He brusquely said, “What do you mean?”

“I think the hikers were murdered because they vandalized some mining machines in the North Pit.”

“Which machines?”

“I’ve just identified one. The rope-shovel at the entrance to the North Pit.

“The one with Earth Now! stenciled above its broken tread?”

Tanya realized that the General knew most of her story already. She nodded.

“Is there anything else I should know?” The General’s manner was now distant and formal.

“That’s all. I doubt I’ll find much more.”

There was a very long pause. Finally, the General said, “Don’t talk about the corporate death squads. We like to forget that part of our history. In fact, don’t talk about any of this until I give you permission.”

Tanya nodded, but didn’t agree. She saw no reason why this story needed to be censored. It was hundreds of years old. No one would be personally hurt by it being told. And the story needed to be told, because it was about the world that created this one.

Rather than pursuing the conversation, Tanya changed it. She made a gesture that encompassed both the  motorized wagon and the newly paved road. “Today is going to be a big day for automobiles, isn’t it, General?”

The General smiled.

Tanya looked east.  In the distance she saw clouds of smoke and heard the sound of engines. She said, “The South Pit looks busy.”

The General’s reply was effusive, “How do you think we paved this road? Oil. Asphalt. Tanya, we’re turning back the clock.”

When they arrived in Fort McMurray it was after sunset, although not yet pitch dark. They took the highway straight to Liberty Square, in the centre of town.

Dignitaries were seated on the east side of the Square, on a small, wooden podium that had been raised one metre above the ground. They were illuminated by panels of electric lights attached to metal trellises. The west side of the Square was illuminated in a traditional manner, by pitch torches.

The General slowed the jeep to a walking pace when they approached the Square so that passers by could admire it. As they parked in front of the stage, on the stretch of road between the dignitaries and the audience, they were suddenly illuminated by a powerful electric light. There was a moment of baffled silence while the audience figured out what it was witnessing, and then a cascade of applause.

A second spotlight focused on an announcer who was speaking into a monstrous megaphone. The announcer introduced “the handsome General and the beautiful scientist”.

Once they parked, both the spotlight and the audience’s attention, drifted elsewhere. Tanya rushed to her seat in the bleachers opposite the stage. The General trailed behind her, shaking every one of the hundreds of hands held out to him.

A few moments after Tanya reached her seat,  all of the lights went out except for a handful of torches.

While the orchestra at the foot of the stage played an introduction, a machine projected an image of the Premier onto a gigantic silver screen. The audience gasped. A new movie. The Premier had made a new movie.

While the Premier spoke, an electric spotlight shone on each of the vehicles lined up in front of the stage, starting first with a motorcycle, followed by an auto-rickshaw, a passenger car, a light truck, the jeep Tanya had arrived in, and two racing cars. The racing cars, one with red stripes, the other blue, were the main event.

The climax to the evening’s festivities was a race to Tar Island and back. The two contenders in this race were the military secrets Tanya’s husband Keelut had been working on. Tanya looked for her husband on the stage, but didn’t see him. He was probably at his garage doing some last minute tinkering.

While the master of ceremonies announced the race, a gaunt man with a military haircut and civilian suit stepped out of the pack of dignitaries crowding the stage. The gaunt man’ progress was illuminated by the main spotlight. Tanya recognized him as General Brightbottom’s Patron – a former General who now worked at a munitions conglomerate. He lithely jumped off the stage and landed immediately beside the blue car. As he jumped, his tie was blown behind his head by a strong gust of wind. Some of the pitch torches went out.

The General shook the hand of the the driver of the blue car, who wore a denim jacket and navy blue jeans.   The blue driver’s hair was cut in a military fashion. The driver of the red car wore a thick, red leather jacket and white chaps. Her kinky dark hair was too long for the military. The General kissed her on the cheek, and then raised the starting flag.

A gust of wind blew the starting flag down before anyone was ready.

The General raised the starting flag again. The drivers’ revved their engines.

There was a precipitous drop in air pressure. Without thinking, Tanya ducked under her chair. As she did so, the stage in front of her was flattened by a wall of wind.  The silver screen crumbled as it blew away.

Tanya lay down longer than she needed to: the freak wind storm quickly passed. When she rose, she did so cautiously.

The stage was a dark hole, except for where the powerful hand torches of the rescue crews shone.  The damage from the storm was localized. It ended just before the highway. The new cars were covered in dust, but otherwise unscathed. The bleachers across the street from the stage, where Tanya was, were not affected at all.

The sound of a revving engine pierced the air.

The driver of the blue car, the military man, had never left his post. He was ready to race. The wheels of his car were spinning and spinning while he revved his engine. He was impatient for an opponent.

A crowd of people began chanting, “Where is the red driver?”

A man removed the starting flag from the corpse of the retired General. He leaped onto the first row of seats in the bleachers. The applause was almost as loud as the blue car’s revving engine.

Tanya watched as the people around her turned away from the damage, like a past they wanted to forget. They drifted over to the starting line, or stood on the bleachers, trying to get a better view. Some were cheering, others looked on with slightly dazed expressions. Only a few people had died; the crowd was quite large.

There was a tremendous cheer when the driver of the red car appeared. Her white chaps were stained blood red. Word got around that a shard of wood had nearly pierced her femoral artery.

The crowd was now louder than the revving engine of the blue car.

An ambulance alarm pierced the air. The crowd roared louder still.

The red driver opened her car’s door, even though one young man passionately begged her to turn back. When the man’s hands touched the red driver, they became bloody. The red driver was indomitable. She entered her car and turned on its engine.

The crowd roared its loudest yet, but the sound of two car engines revving was louder still.

While the cars’ wheels spun, a last round of bets was made. It was all about the red driver: some people thought she was too injured, while others thought she had spirit. Some bettors argued that she had something to prove.

The cars’ wheels kept spinning.

The man with the starting flag lowered it.

The cars raced through the debris that cluttered the newly paved highway.

Author’s Note

When I write, I prefer to explain not present, so not very much background information is given in these stories. For those who want a bit more backstory, here it is.

The starting point for this cycle of stories is August 2, 2011, the day two crises occur:  the US Federal Reserve discounts Treasury Bills (Default Tuesday); and a massive earthquake centered on the Hayward fault wipes out the North American Pacific coastline from Vancouver to San Diego. The inability of the our political and economic system to adapt to these catastrophic developments leads to the collapse of civilization.

The stories in this book are set between 200 and 230 years after Default Tuesday.  The technological center of this world is the Canadian mid-west, while the population centre is further north, in a now habitable arctic.  The main country in these stories is the so-called Federal Republic of Alaska and the Northern Territories. The Republic has an aristocratic (patron/client) model of government. The idea is that as social development declines, so too does democracy. Although the model for this aristocratic system is the mid-19th century Russian aristocracy, it has libertarian elements, reflecting its roots in current North American class structure. A recurring trope is that libertarianism doesn’t make you free: it leads to a class structure that favors the wealthy.

The Federal Republic of Alaska is actually controlled by Canadian successor states.  The story here is that in the early 22nd century Alaska  invaded the Yukon, and then got conquered by a coalition of Nunavut, the North West Territories, and what’s left of coastal British Columbia. After 100 years the coalition – including conquered Alaska – has evolved into the Federal Republic of Alaska and the Northern Territories, which is colloquially shortened to Alaska, or The Republic. It has a franchise based on property ownership, so is more aristocratic than democratic.

Don’t get bogged down in the impossibility of this alternate future because ultimately these stories are about right now: our drift toward a patrician form of government; the erosion of state institutions; the various identity problems we face in a class/gendered/hierarchical/technological society; the conflict between religion and science; the conflict between folk religion and established religion; our seeming inability to learn from history; our destruction and/or rejection of paradise etc.

The use of Canadian spelling is thematic.

I use the word toward – which is the American version of the English word towards. Canadian usage is inconsistent.

Comments and edits are welcome. I can be reached at brianmacmillan.com

-Brian MacMillan May 7, 2012

Notes on the Individual Stories

Notes on Mr. Market

The story begins when a ship called the Yéil arrives at Los Angeles, two centuries after California was destroyed (mostly flooded) as a result of the Hayward Quake. The name of the ship (Yéil ) is a reference to the trickster, Raven, who in Tlingit mythology is credited with – among other things –  stealing the moon on behalf of mankind. Disruption is an important narrative device in all of the stories.

Long Beach Island was created when the Hayward Quake – and its numerous aftershocks – caused much of the western coast of North America to flood. The “Island” is what remains of the southern suburbs of Los Angeles. It is comprised of what is now the area west of highway 405 (the San Diego Expressway), including land currently under the Pacific Ocean. Its northern tip is the area between Highways 110 and 405, just south of downtown Los Angeles. Downtown Los Angeles is completely under water.

The set for the story is the shanty town that has grown up around the old Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) headquarters, in Newport Beach. In the story, the ruins PIMCO headquarters is slightly closer to downtown Los Angeles than it is today.

I chose the PIMCO headquarters as the set for this story’s parody of financial shamanism because PIMCO has more bond assets under administration – $1.8 trillion in May 2012 – than any other company, and is the largest financial firm on the west coast of the USA.  Mohamed el-Erian, the person whose personal communication device is featured in the story, is one of the two CEOs of the firm (along with Bill Gross).

The idea behind the parody is that when the Collapse happens, trade decays and, as a result, communities have to draw upon local resources in order to survive. The natives who live on Long Beach Island have few skills to help them survive – knowledge about bond and equity trading has become practically useless, and quite meaningless in a world without global financial markets.  Over time this “knowledge”, because of its association with the lost wealth of the early 21st Century, gets turned into the magical language of the local religion.  All this is to parody our current deification of free market economics.

The Sustainable Garden – aka Eden – was built during the Collapse. This is one of my favorite historical themes – that even in dark ages technology develops. That’s something we’ll have to watch out for. If  a nasty batch of disasters wrecks our civilization, we may not even notice because our iPhones are so captivating.

Notes on The Cell

This story is about how libertarian societies can become oppressive. On a character level it is about the loss of innocence.

The term “hoarder” comes from Stalinist Russia.

Notes on The Doctor Returns

This story is the happy ending to the previous story. Its not a particularly happy ending, because the libertarian-aristocratic society that created the injustice in The Cell is still in place.

Notes on Lots

The backstory to Lots is that Rhonda got pregnant when she stayed over night with Cody on Long Beach Island, in Mr. Market. She wanted to get pregnant so that her child could have Cody’s genetic alterations. That’s why at the end of Mr. Market Rhonda has the marines kidnap Cody.

In the Republic of Alaska, procreation with genetically engineered people is taboo. When Rhonda reveals that Cody is the father of her child (Tanya), she is shunned by her aristocratic family and forced to live a middle class existence, which given the low level of social development at that time, is pretty rough.

The main theme of the story is scarcity versus plenty, played out in as many ways as I can think of. I also have some fun considering unusual ways in which beauty can be socially constructed.

Narratively, Lots is a re-casting of the ugly duckling story with a focus on identity issues.

I play with voice in this story – does it work or is it too much?

Notes on Social Networks

This story is a study of how social constructions define and distort identity.

Its also a love story influenced by the sun and the moon (and of course that trickster Raven).

There is a third theme about how culture – in this case poetry – plays out in real (non-literary) circumstances. That’s what the varying renditions of the Romeo quotation are about.

For non-information technology (IT) folks, the joke about the wooden internet may not resonate. The joke is that “building a wooden internet” is an answer to the question, “What is the stupidest conceivable IT job?” A computer network made up of poplar and pig iron is practically impossible. It would have to be too big. The Director’s insistence that building an internet out of wood is a strategic goal for the Republic reveals him to be an ignorant bureaucrat.

Every poetry fragment is thematic.

Notes on The Battle of Tar Island

The Battle of Tar Island is the final battle in a resource war between the north and the near-north, caused by global cooling. In the 21st and 22nd centuries the arctic has become heavily populated, thanks to global warming. The decline in manufacturing and global population that has happened because of the Collapse is causing a reduction in man-made greenhouse gasses, which is resulting in cooling.

Most of the imagery is 19th century – the Republic has early 19th century technology (Napoleonic wars) and the Albertan’s have late 19th century technology (US Civil war).  The battle is absurd because it takes place in a 21st century artifact, so everything is out of place and/or time.

References to the Tar Island factory – and the north and south pits – are entirely fictional but based on fact. Google Tar Island Alberta to see one of the world’s largest surface mine (its approximately the size of Manhattan and growing steadily), and the factory there. Those concerned about water issues will be horrified to know that pollution from this mine is allegedly polluting the entire Mackenzie water system, included much of the planet’s remaining supply of fresh water. Horrific fish mutations in Lake Athabasca lend credit to the allegations. Sadly, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is actively suppressing research into this issue.  The two maps – Route Taken by the Second Army 1 and 2 – illustrate much of the Mackenzie River watershed.

The protagonist, Anton, has spent his life defining himself externally – as the child of his parents, and as a node in a military hierarchy. Mutiny within the Republic’s army forces him to make existential decisions.

Initially I gave this story a completely ambiguous ending, but decided I liked it better when the protagonist achieved his objective without killing anyone, and without surrendering.

Notes on Spinning Wheels

On the surface, this is a “here we go again” story. I have gone to great lengths to make the ending ambiguous so that optimists can have a happy ending, and pessimists one full of dark humor.

[1] Athabasca Day. The first day of a week long holiday that starts on April 10, the anniversary of the Battle of Tar Island, and concludes on April 17, the anniversary of the Peace of Yellowknife.

[2] Member of the Legislature of Alberta


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10 Le Chat Sans Merci


Upon arriving at headquarters, my eyes bloodshot and my nose raw from yesterday’s investigations, I was greeted by an excited Mittens, his whole body still charged from the previous day’s catnip binge. He said, “I am ready to solve the case, my friend. We must gather everyone. Vite. Vite.”1

We spent the morning requesting that all of the suspects meet us at Trouble’s apartment at 1 p.m. sharp. To my amazement they all agreed, even Trouble.

We set off for the appointed meeting on foot. Mittens brought with him a black, wheeled suitcase, which he dragged behind him. Because he used his right paw to lead the suitcase, he had to walk on two hind paws, which gave him an unsteady, almost drunken gait. The thought of asking what he was bringing briefly crossed by mind, but I assumed it was some sort of prop to make the upcoming encounter more dramatic, so didn’t bother. Two other officers accompanied us: a Jack Russell and an Italian Greyhound. Between them they carried the purloined box. While Mittens and the toy dogs proceeded with their tiny, burdened steps, I loped ahead.

Although I still had not been allowed by Mittens to read the coroner’s report, I was certain that Fitch’s severed hind leg was the instrumental cause of Tulip’s death; I was equally certain that neither Fitch nor Bull was the murderer, the former because he was too beta, the latter because he was too alpha.

With two suspects down, that left Euphemia and Trouble. They had acted like conspirators yesterday, rushing away the moment they saw me. What might appear as an action provoked by a guilty mind, on reflection seemed less so. Guilty animals stand their ground, and lie; it was the innocent who got confused and acted impulsively. Despite her actions last night, was Euphemia simply ashamed to be seen with her sister’s lover so soon after Tulip had been murdered? That seemed likely to me.

And what about Trouble? I was as unconvinced of his guilt as ever. I never believed this untamed tom would use a weapon to murder the dam he’d dumped but still loved.

In my mind’s eye I recalled the angle of the gash on Tulip’s throat.

Tulip hadn’t been murdered. She had killed herself.

We arrived at our appointment at precisely 1 p.m. Euphemia, Bull and Fitch were there, but not Trouble.

Trouble’s absence did not perplex Mittens. The Cat Detective removed a pawful of treats from his satchel, and methodically laid them in a line from the fire escape to the floor where we had gathered. He then removed a can opener from his satchel, and went through the motions of using it. The bait worked. First we heard a meow. Then two more meows. Trouble appeared on the window ledge that opened out onto the fire escape. He sniffed the air a couple of times, and then leaped to the branch where the first treat lay. He gobbled up that treat, and the entire string of them, until he found himself enveloped by our society.

Mittens called the meeting to order. “Let us begin with the murder weapon.” He removed Fitch’s left hind leg from the purloined box. The leg had been mounted on a thin stick of mahogany wood; sharp claws poked out of a bloody mass of white fur around the paw. He dramatically pointed the leg at Bull as he said, “Did you kill Tulip using this heinous weapon?”

Bull was unperturbed by the question. He barked, “No.”

“Non, indeed.” Mittens said. “You had no motive, did you? Tulip was a valuable business partner, and les chiens sonts loyal en affaires.”2
Having already solved the case to my satisfaction, I found Mittens’ histrionics tiresome. I scampered over to the small floor-box that Trouble had rested in yesterday, and settled down. My ears were drooping and my eyes were heavy with fatigue.

The Cat Detective now turned dramatically to Fitch. “Is this your leg?”

Fitch looked at Bull, and then nodded yes.

“Did you kill Tulip?”, Mittens continued,

Fitch, once again taking a cue from Bull, nodded no.

“Mais, non.” Mittens echoed dramatically. “Of course you did not kill Tulip. Fitch is a loyal dog; you do what Bull tells you to do. Why would Bull tell you to kill Tulip?”

Mittens sniffed loudly, no doubt inhaling a stray piece of catnip that was stuck on a whisker, and then continued, “And now to the prime suspect, Trouble”.
The Cat Detective leaped to the wheel suitcase he had dragged with him from Headquarters. His sudden movement startled the toy dogs, and captured my attention.

Mittens’ removed a heavy object from the suitcase with a thump. What exactly he was doing was obscured by his large, furry body. He turned suddenly and exclaimed, “maintenant la vérité sera révélée”3 I leaped up in astonishment. Mittens was holding a vacuum nozzle in his right paw, as if it was a six-shooter.

Québécois, Canadian and international law speaks with one voice about the few situations in which pawed mammals can be exposed to vacuum cleaners without their consent; this situation, a police interrogation, was certainly not one of them. Mittens was one flick of a finger away from a trip to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

I looked at Mittens’ eyes. There was no sign of madness in them. If anything, his manner was that of a chemistry professor preparing to add vinegar to bicarbonate of soda: loopy, but fun. I realized that what I was witnessing was not madness at all, but sanity – sanity so extreme it allowed Mittens’ neo-cortex to defy a limbic system that must have been screaming for him to drop the vacuum nozzle and hide.

Euphemia had backed off into a corner, where she was now burying herself under a rug; Bull and Fitch had retreated too, but in a more dignified manner. The Jack Russell and the Italian Greyhound had both disappeared entirely. That’s what happens when you ask toys to do an alpha’s work.4 Only Trouble stood his ground. I briefly wondered if he was as crazy-sane as Mittens, but thought not. Domesticated cats anticipate; ferals react. Trouble would explode the instant the vacuum cleaner was turned on.

Although Mittens was in theory my partner, I knew it was my duty to disarm him immediately. The last thing Canada needed was a scandal about some feline rock star being threatened by a cop in the presence of an Upper Canadian dog who did nothing.

Mittens moved slowly toward Trouble. The feral inched backward, his nails making deep cuts into the floor as he did so. I crawled forward on my belly at a tangent to them both.

I was a step and a pounce away from Mittens. He knew how close I was. Without looking at me he said “Barks, don’t do anything rash. I’m just about to put the vacuum cleaner away. My little experiment is over. I have learned what I need to know. Regardez.5 He carefully put the vacuum cleaner nozzle down. For one second after he did so the vacuum cleaner roared. A startled Trouble sprang toward the nearest wall. For a long moment he hung there, held up only by his fangs and claws, and then slowly slid to the floor.

Our stunned silence was broken by a relaxed Mittens, who said. “Excusez moi.6 There must be something wrong with the vacuum’s power switch. De rien.7” He shrugged and then proudly walked over to the fang marks that Trouble had made on the wall. He turned to face us and said to us with a little bow, “Regardez bien.8 These marks are the same as the ones found on Tulip’s neck.”

I was outraged: Mittens could not possibly reach this conclusion without a detailed forensic analysis. The Maestro was not finished. Mittens turned to face Trouble, who was now grooming himself solipsistically, and said, “Did you kill Tulip?”

The feral finished licking his hair, which had become spiked from fright, back into place before he answered. Trouble’s reply surprised me, “Yes, I did kill Tulip. In a way.” He spoke with the straightforward innocence of a feral. “That’s right. I killed her, but so did La Belle Dam. We did it together. With Tulip’s help.”

Mittens was visibly off-put. His intention was to exonerate Trouble. He said. “But Monsieur Trouble, you didn’t murder Tulip by tearing her carotid artery with your fangs, did you?”

“Non, non. I killed her when I told her that I was going to sleep rough from now on; when I told her that La Belle Dam had won. Tulip said if I went feral she could not live any more. That is what she said to me: I can not live any more.” Trouble shrugged. “But what could I do? I am feral.” Trouble glanced at Euphemia, and then hopped onto the window sill. Euphemia followed his leap with wide, watery eyes.

Trouble now sat on the window-ledge beside the back fire escape. He was ready to leave us at any time. Indeed, his alien manner indicated that he had long since departed. I turned my gaze to Euphemia. She realized how stark her options really were. Although she styled herself as the wild-cat classics scholar who got what she wanted, there is a gap between domestication and ferality as wide – or as narrow – as the ledge on which Trouble perched. On the other side of that gap everything is different. There is certainly no time for scholarship, for scholarship requires a sense of history, and ferals are creatures of the present.

I could write about the play of emotions on Euphemia’s muzzle, but the tear that was forming in her right eye told me one emotion was dominant: regret, not at what should have been but what could not be. A domesticated feral is a paradox. We can stalk such impossibilities, and experience a thrill when we think we’ve captured one, but the impossible always eludes us.

I thought then about Tulip, with her lioness ears. How difficult the decision not to go feral must have been for her, for she thought her affectation of wildness could encompass all the world, which eliminated the need for her to make a choice. The world is harder than that. Certainly we can modify animal made-boundaries like national borders and laws, just as we can trim our ears and put spots on our fur. We cannot change the boundaries that arise from what we are.

The tear that had been trying to wrest itself out of Euphemia’s right eye finally succeeded: it fell as two drops onto her whiskers just as Trouble, without a backward glance, leaped over the window-ledge and disappeared into a shadow.

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08 The Kitten Klub


We agreed that our next destination should be the Kitten Klub. Mittens raced ahead, while I dawdled, curious to see if our story had made the papers. It had: La Derrière’s banner headline read, “Dog suspected in sex kitten slay”. The Gazebo asked the question that was on the mind of every dog in Westmount, “Is a riot looming?”.

The Kitten Klub was designed in a cat friendly style similar to Trouble’s apartment, but was grander – and less dog friendly. Mittens navigated the club with ease, while I proceeded slowly and carefully over, under and through faux roots, branches and blankets.

It was difficult to assess how crowded the club was, because so much of feline interior design is about hiding. From the density of cat smells in the air, I guessed that it was very crowded. I certainly kept finding my way blocked by felines. After a half dozen awkward encounters I gave up on my vision entirely and navigated by sound and smell alone. Inching forward, with my nose close to the ground, I must have looked like the hound-dog copper my mother-in-law warned my mate I would become.

Tonight’s headline act was Euphemia. Her first set was in one hour. Mittens’ nodded toward her dressing room. We would pay her a visit before she performed.

Euphemia greeted us while remaining seated in front of a theatrical mirror, applying spots to her pearl white fur. “I didn’t expect to see you twice in one day, Detective Mittens.” I fear my gaze lingered indecently, for she suddenly became embarrassed. “This isn’t me.” Euphemia spoke with conviction, but her words were unbelievable: she looked like she had been born to play this role.

Mittens rephrased my unanswered question. He asked drily, “Forgive my prying, Mademoiselle, but would you mind telling us how you came to be working here? Is this the realization of a life long dream, perhaps?”

Euphemia laughed in a coarse, but genuine fashion. “This my dream, hah. This couldn’t be further from my dream. If I could be anything, I’d be a farmer poet, like Hesiod, maybe. I’m doing this as a favour to Bull while he sorts things out. Its no effort for me. I know all of Tulip’s routines – she use to rehearse with me.”

Euphemia’s scent changed. Mittens’ scent began to change, too. Was Euphemia’s pheronomic charm getting to him? I couldn’t help but wonder.

Euphemia purred as she leaped beside Mittens,“There is something I want to tell you, Detective. I think it may be a clue. On the day of her death, I saw Tulip with a box.”

Mittens ears centred themselves on Euphemia’s voice. “What did this box look like?”

“It was 15 centimetres on two sides and half a metre long. Big enough to hold – uh – the left hind leg of a Pyrenees.”

“Were there any distinguishing marks on this box?” I asked.

“Yes. It had a white ribbon. And a card with gold leaf writing. I never got close enough to read the words. Tulip hid the box from me when she saw me looking at her.”

“Do you know where she hid it?”

“I don’t know for certain. There is a false bottom in her armoire. She sometimes hides things there.”

Why was Euphemia telling us now, and not earlier? Did she know we had found out about the murder weapon? I had an inspiration. I barked, “Who is La Belle Dam sans Merci?”

Euphemia began to purr and move languorously. When she spoke, she didn’t answer my question; instead she quoted,

“Dark tabbies, death-dark were they all;
They cried – La Belle Dam sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!”

“I believe Mademoiselle is indicating that she is this merciless cat” Mittens noted laconically.

Euphemia nodded negatively, “Non, Monsieur Cat Detective. La Belle Dam was my nick name for Tulip. I used to call her that when we fought. She used to get jealous because I always got my way.”

“Do you still get your way?” I asked.

Euphemia replied without hesitation, “Yes.”

It had not occurred to me that sharing an office with an aged tabby whose mange you couldn’t distinguish from his tweeds constituted “getting your way”. But I guess it does. Teaching at a famous University is quite an honour. In what other ways had Euphemia gotten her way? Was she getting her way now? Did getting her way involve Trouble?

After a polite pause I asked, “What about Trouble? Did he know about this pet-name? Did he use it?”

“What?” Euphemia was so distracted that my question startled her. She composed herself with a preen, and then said, “Trouble, why yes he picked up the phrase La Belle Dam from Tulip. Tulip was proud of the epithet and used it to describe herself when she was feeling particularly wild. Of course Trouble used the phrase differently. Her manner suddenly became much more sombre. “He, he …”. She stopped speaking, and began to groom herself.

Mittens gracefully leaped over the table onto the cushions beside Euphemia. He placed his paws around her ears and fervently licked the part of her forehead immediately above her eyes. Euphemia began to purr, but she was far from relaxed: her tail wagged agitatedly. Mittens’ retook his seat and said, “Madam, we were talking about how Trouble uses the phrase ‘La Belle Dam’.” He urged her on with a voice that was part whisper and part purr.

Euphemia was once again composed. She said, “Trouble uses the phrase, but differently than I do. For him La Belle Dam Sans Merci is a symbol of the allure of the wild.”

“Did Trouble ever called Tulip La Belle Dam?”

“Just once. Fur flew: Tulip thought he was being sarcastic about how domesticated she was.”

“Was he being sarcastic?” Mittens asked.

“I don’t know” Euphemia replied pensively. “Ferals aren’t really like that, are they? Y’know, sarcastic, condescending. They’re more direct. Maybe Tulip became angry because in her heart she knew she could never be truly wild, and Trouble’s words reminded her of that.” She shrugged.

I uttered a short, sharp yap to indicate agreement with Euphemia’s ambivalence. While I did so, Mittens inserted another question into the conversation,
“Mademoiselle, did Trouble ever ask you to go feral with him?”

The Cat Detective’s brazenness made my jaw go slack. With one simple question Mittens had offended the honour of both Euphemia and Trouble, while tainting the memory of dead Tulip. I braced myself, certain that Euphemia was about to attack Mittens. Instead she lightly hopped onto the ground, and then circumnavigated our couch, marking it with her muzzle as she went.

Of all of our suspects, Euphemia was the one with the best motive, jealousy. She obviously loved Trouble; but it took nothing to imagine her killing Tulip in a jealous rage. There was one glaring error with the theory: anyone could see that Trouble was a tom no molly could tame. Surely, Euphemia knew this. She was a clever cat.

When Euphemia had settled down again, Mittens’ changed the topic of our conversation. He asked Euphemia, “Did you ever want to be a performer?”
Euphemia replied, “No. Yes. For I while I did. When I was little. But as I got older I didn’t want to any more.” Her eyes narrowed to slits.
I wasn’t convinced by her story. To me she was saying that she wanted to be famous until her sister beat her to it. I smelt resentment.
Euphemia deftly changed the topic, “I like being a star now!” As she effused, she completed her costume by putting on rounded, lioness ears. She struck a pose. It wasn’t a pose you might see a primate model striking, with mammaries pushed forward and hair flying back. Euphemia looked like a hunter: her tail was rigid, her eyes were unblinking, and her body was low to the ground. She began that high octane purr felids make when they’re getting ready to pounce. Her narrow, glowing eyes mesmerized me; I became her prey.

Euphemia broke the spell with a “raareowr”, followed by an agitated wag of her tail.

While I resumed breathing Euphemia said, “Its time for you to go. I perform in five minutes.”

We did not leave the club: I lingered at the bar, curious to see Euphemia perform, while Mittens scored catnip in a restroom. The Cat Detective left with that look in his eyes. Neither the money nor the health aspect of ‘nip addiction scares me half as much as the craven aspect addicts have when anticipating their next line. No animal should want anything so much.

As I settled down at the dog bar the lights dimmed and the show began. I’m not certain what I expected, but whatever expectations I had were exceeded. Euphemia began her set with a cover of Born to be Wild, which caused a table of Maine coons to spray. Her middle songs, energetic covers of rock classics, perfectly set up her finale – a powerful rendition of It Smells Like Kitten Spirit. I prefer grunge vocals to have more caterwaul and less purr, but there was no denying that the molly could sing.

Euphemia finished her encore song, The Ghost of Tom Cat. While she was acknowledging the audience’s enthusiastic applause, there was a commotion in the back of the club caused by the entrance of Bull and his three-legged body guard.

I leaned over to a Spaniel who was sitting beside me, and asked, “Do you know who that is, not Bull, but the Pyrenees?”

“Sure.” he replied. “That’s Fitch. You know about his back leg? There’s quite a story.”

“Bull cut it off?” I asked in feigned horror.

“Naw. Fitch lost it on the shop floor. But Bull wanted to make some point to this molly named Tulip. You probably know her. The one with the panther ears who just turned up dead in Mont-Royal. That singer is her sister.” He nodded to Euphemia. “Anyhow, Bull starts telling this crazy story about how Fitch severed it to prove his loyalty. Of course Fitch goes along, he’s a beta.” The Spaniel paused to lap up some gravy from a bowl in front of him, and then continued. “You know what amazes me most? Bull did it all to impress a cat. Its too much.”

“What happened to Fitch’s severed hind leg?”

“That’s the funny thing. Bull gave it to Tulip and she refused to take it. She was freaked out. I don’t want to be speciest, but cats, they torture their prey. So why did Tulip get upset that her boyfriend has a creepy way of expressing his love? It doesn’t make sense. If you ask me, there’s some other story in there.”

“What happened to the leg?”

“Another weird thing. I heard from this mouse that Bull kept it in his office, even insisted that Fitch stick to that bullshit story about loyalty. It took months for Bull to let it go. Its sick when people lie like that.”

“The mouse’s story … ?” I prompted.

“Oh yeah, so I hear from this mouse that Tulip and Bull had a fight, and Tulip takes the paw she had previously refused. That happened last Tuesday, just hours before Tulip was found dead. Isn’t that fucked up?” I agreed that it was very fucked up, indeed.

I paid for my serendipitous informant’s gravy, and then withdrew into the shadow of a pillar near both the stage and the fire exit. I saw that Mittens was stalking the other side of the stage. Even from a distance I could see the glow of his catnip charged eyeballs.

As Euphemia was taking yet another bow Bull gallantly leaped in front of her and presented her with flowers that were bound to a long wooden box approximately the length of a Pyrenees’ hind leg.

To my amazement, Mittens sprang onto the stage, grabbed the flowers and wooden box, scooted right past me, and out the fire exit. He got clean away. Security didn’t even pretend to chase him. I looked back to the stage: Euphemia and Bull had also disappeared.

I lowered the brow of my fedora onto my nose, lowered my nose to the ground and slunk out the main entrance unobserved. Security was congregating around the door Mittens had just fled through, and had left all other entrances unattended. Amateurs.

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07 Bull


It was but a short scoot to our next destination – Bull’s office at Local 1210 of the United Litterhood of Longshoremen. The office was situated in a squat brick building on the west side of the St. Lawrence River, immediately north of the Port. We were greeted by two receptionists: a fat, scarred old tabby named Muffin, and a pit-bull bitch named Frisson. The tabby greeted Mittens, the pit-bull greeted me.

When satisfied with our stories, the pit-bull pushed a buzzer with her nose. A lanky German shepherd promptly appeared from behind a door flap immediately beyond the reception desk. He sniffed the air with gravitas, and then gestured for us to enter Bull’s office, which we did.

The moment I entered Bull’s office I was approached by Bull’s bodyguard Fitch, who inspected my genitals and anus; I reciprocated in the French style. Fitch was an unusual security choice: most guard dogs are German Shepherds because the breed is fast, strong, smart and mean. Sometimes they are Rotweilers, but that breed can be ornery. A vocal minority insist on Greyhound bodyguards for their speed.

The choice of a hairy, lumbering Pyrenees with a prosthetic left hind leg, was quite unusual, indeed.

“Why are you here, Inspector Barks?” Bull asked. Canine’s have a saying, “As rare as an unscarred alpha”. It refers to the undeniable correlation between alpha-ness and violence. With the exception of a small, nasty mark on his left cheek, Bull had no visible scars at all. He was wearing an expensive woolen vest and jaunty hat. To complete the picture, he had a large unlit cigar dangling from the side of his mouth.

I ignored the criminal dandy. Instead I asked Fitch, “Where’d you lose your hind leg, soldier?”

Fitch looked at me, and then at Bull, with drooping bloodshot eyes. His tail flapped side to side in a slow, agitated fashion. His ears drooped and he made a plaintive whining sound. Bull answered my question, “Fitch lost his left hind leg in an industrial accident. He was gonna go on disability but I gave him this job instead.”

“What kind of accident?” I asked. Bull nodded toward Fitch.

Fitch reluctantly answered my question, “I lost my leg in a boxing plant. Unsafe working conditions. Nothing to do with Tulip at all. Or any rats.”\

Bull choked on his cigar and accidentally singed his whiskers.

Rather than pressing Fitch about this apparent slip, Mittens changed the subject. “Monsieur Bull, tell us about your relationship with Tulip”.

Bull was visibly relieved not to have to explain Fitch’s words. “Tulip and I, we are – were friends …” His voice got caught in his throat. He appeared to be genuinely choked with emotion.

“How did you learn about Tulip’s murder?” I asked sharply.

“A mouse told me”, he replied.

Bull disdainfully flicked his unlit cigar.

Mittens pointedly asked, “I understand that you had business dealings with Tulip”.

“Sure. I still do, in a way. You see some of the guys at the Local have some money I’m responsible for investing. Its an investment club. Yeah. Anyways, we co-own the Kitten Klub with Tulip.”

“How is the investment going?” I asked.

“Not so good.”

“You strike me as a smart dog, Bull”, I barked archly. “Why do you keep your money in a bad investment?”

“The investment is going badly because Tulip is dead. She made us a lot of money.”

“Who inherits her ownership of the club?” I pressed.

Bull shrugged.

Mittens spoke directly to me, “Bull’s investment club is one beneficiary of Tulip’s death, mon ami; Euphemia – her sister – is the other.”

Mittens turned to face Bull. With a little bow he said, “This is a bad time to talk about Tulip’s will.”

The Cat Detective then did something only the most modern cats do: he looked Bull in the eye, “Excusons-nous, Bull, we are indiscreet.”

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06 The Devil’s Liver


Our next appointment was with Bull, Tulip’s business partner and possible lover, at his office by the Port. Before meeting with Bull, Mittens insisted we have a drink with a mouse informant at a bar called The Devil’s Liver. I find mice distasteful, and would prefer not to deal with them. They can be just as smart and insightful as any cat or dog, and always more so than the toy breeds of any species. But in the final analysis they are prey. How can you trust prey? Their world is distorted by a lens of constant fear.

The moment we sat down, even before we ordered our drinks, the small rodent spilled out his story: he was anxious both to begin and be gone. “Everyone always asks so I’ll tell you the gossip is true. Tulip did date Bull. I don’t know whether they mated, but judging from those ears of hers I bet they did.”

“What did Bull’s pack think of Tulip?”, Mittens asked. As usual, his voice was insinuating. He couldn’t ask directions to church without sounding like he was implying something dastardly.

The mouse shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. Bull is an alpha dog. His pack is loyal.”

The mouse emphasized the word loyal, and well he should have. There was never dissension within a pack unless there was a competing alpha.

“Any pooch challenge Bull’s authority?” I inquired.


“What about the breakup with Tulip? Was it ugly?”

The mouse shrugged, “They didn’t break up. I mean they did break up, but not the way the Press tells it. They did it for politics. They get – got – along just fine, at least they did until that last time.”

“What do you mean?” Mittens purred.

“Well, I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but the last time I saw Bull and Tulip they were having an argument in Bull’s office. They shouted at each other.”

“About what?”

“Wages? Another molly? I dunno. There was a loud noise; a crash. They both left immediately afterward, in different directions.

“Did they see you?”

“No. But I got a good look at them. I didn’t see what I expected. Not at all.” The mouse was so nervous he was chattering. Mus musculus never like being in the open for long. “Tulip was crying. Not yowling, but real crying, with tears. Can you imagine a cat crying? After they left I sneaked into the office. There was a glass container shattered on the ground in the middle of the floor. That was the odd part.”

“How so?”

“The container held a velvet pillow on which there was an imprint.”


“Yeah. The left hind paw of a right-leading dog.”

“You’re certain?”

“Whaddaya think they teach us in mouse school?”

“We believe you”, I hastily tried to diffuse the situation.

The mouse continued, “You know what else they teach in mouse school? – that the left hind paw of a right-leading dog is the least likely one to kill you. Its the weakest. Just like the lead paw is the strongest.”

“What’s that have to do with this paw print on velvet?” I asked.

“Nothing. I’m just saying”, the mouse replied.

“Did you – borrow – the velvet pillow?” Mittens asked.

“No way. You think us mice want trouble with Bull? I left everything exactly the way it was.”

“Do you know what happened to the pillow? Or the left hind paw that lay on it?” I asked.

“That’s the funny thing. Tulip came back. I hid in a mug. I didn’t see nothing. When she left, the whole mess was gone. She must have taken it with her. Even the hind leg she pretended to hate.”

“When exactly did this happen?”

“Tuesday afternoon. Just before she was murdered.”

How did this mouse know Tulip had been murdered? It was a stupid question. Mice always knew everything, because they were ubiquitous, and they talked. What one mouse knew, every mouse knew.

The timorous rodent continued, “You know what else is weird. After Tulip left, Bull came back. I saw his face. He was afraid. Can you imagine that. The most alpha dog in Montréal was afraid.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

“Naw, I didn’t stick around.”

I thought of the murids1 we’d smelt on the velvet pillow in Tulip’s apartment. I asked, “Did Tulip or Bull have any rat trouble?”

The mouse never answered my question. Someone knocked a glass over and he disappeared.

The sudden disappearance of the nervous mouse annoyed me to the point of anger. When I had composed myself, I wondered why. Upon reflection I realized that it was because the mouse had acted like a mouse. I had an insight into my bias against small rodents at that moment: I hate the way the way they quiver; I hate the way they scatter in the face of danger.

Why are my feelings about them so strong?

Because in my heart I know that I too am prey.

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05 Trouble


Mittens and I talked as we strolled toward our next destination, Trouble’s lair, a halfway home for ferals in V’Chat, the feline district of old Montréal.1

“Qu’est-ce-que vous pensez?”2 Mittens asked, referring to our recent meeting with Euphemia.

I replied, “I was struck by how unmoved Euphemia was. Her sister, her litter-mate, her twin has just died. I expected more grief”.

“Do not make the mistake my friend of thinking she was not sad enough”, the feline replied. “Certainly there are cats who suffer from remorse, but no one would call remorse ‘cat-like’ behaviour.”

“She had lots of remorse for Trouble”, I noted.

“Bien sûr. A crying cat.” Mittens replied, meditatively. This uncommon image caused both of us to lapse into thought.

The halfway home where Trouble lived had no rooms. Instead, its feline tenants occupied portions of a large open space. Trouble’s territory was on the south-west corner of the building, which meant that when we arrived it was flooded with afternoon light. His core turf was perhaps 100 square metres. He shared a space twice as large with his neighbours.

A pile of middens was strewn across a welcome mat at the point where his personal territory blended into that of the colony.3 Underneath the middens I could see a cartoonish picture of a home emitting a cheerful cloud of white smoke from a slanted chimney.

Mittens made a point of sniffing each fecal lump in turn. He did this with surprising dignity. When done, he hopped to the centre of the entrance and meowed once. My knowledge of the cat language is not nuanced, but I believe he was announcing his presence. He entered Trouble’s territory uninvited; I followed closely behind with my nose close to the ground.

The space before us was large and empty, except for a dark shadow with slits for eyes sitting in a box-like depression in the floor. Although you will periodically read about a mass murderer named Buttercup or a ballerina named Butch, I have always been struck by how most animals become their names. I assume that expectations mould behaviour, [which then alters looks]. One glance at the black cat in front of me left no doubt in my mind that he was trouble, the only question was what kind.

While I took a seat in the corner, Trouble raised himself, arched his back, and then sat upright. Mittens, who was seated in the middle of the room, blinked slowly and methodically. He approached Trouble at an angle, being careful to remain perpendicular to the feral’s line of site. At intervals Mittens repeated an odd sound, like a meow without the m. Sometimes he appended a rraarw, which I assume was because of Trouble’s Latin roots.

Trouble watched these antics with unblinking eyes. He entire body remained still, except for his ears, which tracked Mittens’ movements. This continued for perhaps thirty seconds, and then Trouble began to groom himself as if we did not exist, indeed as if nothing existed but his testicles and his tongue.

There wasn’t much for me to do while the cat introductions lingered on, so my eyes wandered. I noticed a public service announcement poster on the wall behind Trouble. It had a picture of a kitten poking its nose into a blender, the baby cat’s right foot just touching the blender’s purée button, its left paw reaching toward a cluster of razor sharp blades. The tag-line, Curiosity: the innocent killer/Curiosité, la tueur des innocents framed Trouble’s head. I know that it is politically incorrect to laugh at the ridiculous ways kittens kill themselves, but that is not what I’m doing when I say the poster made me smile. It was the word innocent that got to me. I had just met Trouble for the first time, and my mind was made up that he was not only trouble but guilty of murder. The poster reminded me to think twice.

Trouble jumped from the cement box he had been crouching in, up into the nook of one of the low lying metal branches that adorned the ceiling. His new perch had good feline feng shui: he was equidistant from the most important points in the room, Mittens, myself, the fire escape, and the main entrance.

Our introductions finally complete, Mittens spoke, “Bonjour, Monsieur Trouble. My name is Detective Mittens. This is Inspector Barks. We would like to ask you some questions.”

Trouble looked at us with the alien manner that feral – and wild – cats have. He faced us at an angle, with all of his superb senses slyly focused, and then acted like we were nothing more than cardboard cut-outs that could speak.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you that Tulip is dead” Mittens said, with genuine grief in his voice.

“What?! Tulip is dead?”

I remember as a Cadet being quizzed on the cat language’s fifteen core words. The diphthong that Trouble spoke next was certainly an instance of the core word yowl, although he uttered it with an energy I had not encountered in school.

While Trouble mourned, I examined what he had been doing when we arrived. I noticed a piece of paper beside the box where he had been sitting. I sniffed it. It was a letter. On one side was an artistic rendition of Tulip’s name, on the other side was written these words,

“What can ail thee cat-with-claws, alone and darkly stalking? The sedge has withered from the lake, And no birds sing.”

It was the first stanza from the Keat’s poem we had found in Tulip’s apartment. On the facing page was a paw imprint – Trouble’s signature. I was leaning over to investigate it more closely, when Trouble suddenly stopped his histrionics. All cats are like that – they have switches. One moment they’ll be calm, the next moment they’ll be crazy. Two breaths later they’re back to calm. Switch off, switch on, switch off.

Mittens resumed the interrogation. He said, “Monsieur Trouble, when did you last see Tulip?”

“Tuesday afternoon.”

“Did anything remarkable happen at this meeting?”

“I called her names.”

“What kind of names?”

“Button kins, dipsy doodle, perky-snips, flouncy-wouncy …”

“I see. What did you do next?”

“I sat in a tree and watched bugs.”

“For how long?”

“I have no idea.”

“Did anyone else see you?”

“No. Not that I know of. Actually, there was a mouse who saw me, but I eviscerated him.”

“Where was Tulip?”


“When you say you called her names, were these friendly names?”

“When I called her names I was aroused. Can you be friendly when aroused?”

“Touché. We found fang marks on Tulip’s neck. Were they yours?”

“Maybe. She liked it rough. And I am a feral.” He shrugged.

“Let me rephrase that” Mittens said politely, “We found your teeth marks near Tulip’s carotid artery and she was dead.”

“I’m rough, not murderous” the feral cat replied, with a distant voice.

“Even when aroused?”

Trouble arched his back. I prepared for the worst.

“There were also dog claw marks.” Mittens spoke an instant before Trouble uncoiled. “From a big dog, like a Rottweiler or German Shepherd.”

“Tulip didn’t have any dog enemies”, Trouble hissed as he settled down.

“The claw that killed her was not necessarily attached to a dog.”

“You mean the murderer used a weapon?” There was disdain in his voice.

Mitten didn’t respond.

“Was someone trying to make it look like a dog killed her?” Trouble asked.

“Peut-être4. All of the wounds were caused by a left back leg of a right facing dog. But who knows? There were traces of rat and mouse at the crime scene. Perhaps Tulip’s was killed by mice?”, Mittens mused.

The thought of a handful of mice fumbling with a half-metre long dog’s claw club while Tulip – the cat with lioness ears – waited to be murdered, was too much for me.

“Tulip was not killed by mice!”, I barked.

“Then by whom was she killed… ?” Trouble asked with a soft purr.

It was a good question.

A dog barked loudly. Trouble leaped to the darkest, most remote part of the room, a mesh of rebar branches just above the fire escape. Watching Trouble’s instantaneous reaction, I reflected on how domestication had attenuated my senses.

The dog barked again.

Trouble was gone.

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04 Euphemia


Our next stop was the classics department at McGill University, where Tulip’s litter-mate and twin Euphemia was an associate professor. Her office was in a quiet corner of one of the University’s older buildings.

We interpreted the indistinct grunt that greeted our knock on Euphemia’s office door as an invitation to enter. The office was long and narrow. Every surface was covered in books and manuscripts. Even the telephone tucked away in the corner behind the door was covered in papers. Illumination was provided by a low wattage fluorescent bulb, which gave the scene a damp, cold aspect.

I was surprised when a tabby – who I hadn’t noticed because he was as greasy and grey as the books that lined the walls – addressed us. “You must be looking for Euphemia.” The academic spoke with a croaking, tired voice, “She’s expecting you.” I noted disapprovingly that the academic’s collar was dusted with catnip.

We were spared having to socialize further by the appearance of Euphemia, who poked first her ears and then her head, body and tail through the doorway. Once through, she said, “Inspector Barks and Detective Mittens. I trust you have not been waiting long?” She slunk into the office, and sat in a corner, equi-distant from us both. Euphemia was not one of those fashionable cats who has adopted a primate style of dress, so it is more accurate to say that she was adorned, not clothed. She wore a modest kerchief around her head, she had three metal studs in her right ear, and her whiskers were dyed. Her most prominent adornment was her ankle bracelets, to which were attached tiny ceramic bells. These bells rang as she moved – useless if hunting birds, but no doubt quite effective at alluring toms.

Because my readers will range from mice to snow leopards, I hesitate to describe her eyes. If a small rodent encountered the glow of those eyes in a field at night, it might think “here is the Death Goddess”. Through those same eyes a dog might peer into the soul of a worthy adversary. But for a feline those eyes must have been special indeed, for they captured all of the ambiguities of cats: presence and distance, engagement and disengagement, the sense of being outside of time and in the moment, and most vexing of all: the calmness of the carnivore.

I have never inquired about Mittens’ sexual habits, but because of his soft, petulant manner I assumed he was attracted to hard, young toms, and was certainly a bottom. I was therefore surprised to see his eyes light up like supernovas as he greeted Euphemia with a little bow.

Following Mittens’ suggestion, we decided to relocate to a café in Outrement. We scampered instead of taking a cab. Mittens went ahead with Euphemia. I dawdled behind reading copies of La Derrière and The Gazebo, the city’s largest circulation dailies. The Gazebo ran an old story about the Nicaraguan kitten Tulip had just adopted. La Derrière appeared to be on our trail: according to a story on the back page of the front section, Tulip had missed a performance last night. The writer speculated as to whether she was the victim in yesterday’s murder. The story cited a source within the Police department who would “reveal all” today.

I put away the papers. When I looked up I saw that Euphemia was now beside me. She leaned so close to me that I could smell every molecule on her pearl white mane.

“You’re wearing jaguar musk?”, I commented.

She paused for just a moment before replying, “Leopard. But all pantherines smell the same.”

I prodded, “Did Tulip use that perfume?” .

Euphemia hesitated before she replied, “Yes. The scent is called Serengeti.”

Mittens had slowed his pace so that he could join us. He asked, “Who wore this perfume first, you or your sister?”

The question flustered Euphemia, as if she sensed that it could incriminate her, but she did not know how. She replied, “Tulip discovered it. But we’ve both been wearing it for years.” With these words she raced ahead, her head low to the ground.

Moments later we arrived at our destination, the Café Gauche. The joint had retro stylings: posters of primate females with veils, gloves, and that sort of thing. Euphemia fit right in with the hip, bohemian crowd. Mittens and I did not, but no one was fussed.

We settled onto a divan near a window. I let Mittens take the conversational lead: after all, both he and Euphemia were felines. I expected the Cat Detective to begin with questions relating to Tulip. Instead he said, in a gracious but insinuating way, “Tell us about Tulip’s tom-friend, Trouble.”

Euphemia groomed her paws before replying. The less cats hurry, the more they care, I thought. Tulip’s sister finally spoke, “Trouble was feral from birth. I don’t say that he was born wild because he wasn’t – he was born indoors, at dawn, to a domesticated mother. However, he became feral, along with his mother and five litter-mates when he was one day old, and did not sleep indoors again until he was an adult.

“Which was?”

“December, last.”

“I see.” Mittens groomed his whiskers. Euphemia’s tailed flopped erratically.

I jumped in with a question for Euphemia, “Your family is pure bred. Did anyone object to your sister dating a mutt like Trouble?”

“If they did, they didn’t say anything about it.”, Euphemia replied. “My family is very liberal: we shun breedism. At least we make a point of acting that way.” She shrugged and purred softly.

“What about your Sire and Dam?”, I pressed.

“My Dam hates everyone Tulip dates … dated. But she likes Trouble more than Bull.”

“… and your Sire?”, I prodded.

“Dad abandoned us when we were kittens.”

“I’m sorry to hear that”, I said. Her words made me think of the last time I’d seen my own father. He was eating a used tissue on the train tracks near the Junction, in Toronto.1

Euphemia shrugged again.

Mittens jumped into the conversation, “What about Bull?”

“Tulip and Bull were only ever about their nightclub. The dog-cat mating stuff, that was just hype.”

“Perhaps Bull and Tulip were fighting over the nightclub?” Mittens asked.

“Maybe. But Bull is an alpha. Alpha dogs don’t kill over things like night clubs. With them its always about bitches and hierarchy.”

Although I found Euphemia’s ennui affected, I had to agree with her words.

“What did Tulip think about Trouble?” Mittens asked.

“She loved him. Even …” Euphemia was so choked up she had to stop speaking.

“Tulip loved Trouble even though he was feral?” Mittens prompted, gently.

Euphemia burst out. “Tulip thought she could domesticate him!” Before my amazed eyes, Euphemia began to weep because of her sister’s feral boy-friend. It made no sense. Cats don’t weep.

We waited for Euphemia to calm down, which she did in a feline way: her tears quickly gave way to languorous fidgeting. First she circled her cushion. She sat down and groomed her right paw, and then shifted her hips in order to better groom her left paw. One dozen preens later, she reconnected.
Mittens immediately resumed his questioning, “Euphemia, what do you think of Trouble? Do you want to domesticate him?”

I – and most of my canine colleagues – find Mittens intolerably rude, but it is a fact that time and again his manners will be sincerely praised by felines. However, this time cat and dog opinion were in accord: Euphemia plowed through the pillows that decorated the space between them and landed on Mittens. Fur flew as they did a half roll, which ended with Mittens on his back and Euphemia on his stomach; her claws were sunk deep into his fur, and her fangs were at his throat. Euphemia held this pose for one breath, and then compulsively licked Mittens’ head a half dozen times before retreating. I had not yet processed what I had just seen when they were seated again, grooming themselves as if nothing had happened.

It was clear that our meeting was over. After a few minutes of casual grooming Mittens rose and slunk over to Euphemia. They rubbed muzzles in farewell – a long, languorous rub, even by cat standards. The air was charged with the smells of attraction and anger. No more words were spoken. Not even a purr.

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03 Tulip


Although Tulip’s career as an entertainer may have fallen on tough times her bank account – judging from the opulence of her Mont-Royal nest – had not. She lived in a three story brick scamper-up that had it all, including stalking grounds, an aviary, and rat warren.

I was pleased to see that Tulip’s nest did not look like a crime scene at all. There was no bright yellow tape, no crowds of reporters. Since the forensics team left, there was barely a police presence at all – just one fierce looking Rottweiler, whose primary job was to keep news hounds and curious cats away.

The murder had occurred in the indoor stalking grounds, where Tulip – and her many guests – would hunt small animals for snacks and sport. A chalk mark outlined the position of Tulip’s body. She had died in a fetal position. In the midst of her oversize furniture the chalk outline looked small, like that of a kitten. This made me think of my own litter of pups back home in Willowdale.1

We both began to sniff.

I was investigating an area of floor unexpectedly rich in smells when I had the good fortune to discover a cleverly disguised trapdoor, which opened to reveal a cement box nest – the kind you found in every fashionable cat’s house during the 1970s. The floor of the nest was covered by a velvet pillow, on which there was an imprint of the ear of a dog.

In the middle of the pillow was a card with an inscription written in gold. It read, “Tulip, here is a symbol of how my entire pack will protect you.”

I sniffed. “Look here” I said, pointing my muzzle toward a tiny hair on the card. “A piece of a mouse’s tail.”

Mittens was beside me in an instant. He ignored the mouse tail, but sniffed the card thoroughly, and then said, “Barks, I smell a rat.”

Which was a point I fastidiously put in the Cat Detectives column. A bit of mouse at a crime scene was the antithesis of evidence. Mice always get to a crime scene first, and are almost never perps. Ratus ratus was another matter, entirely.

“Do you recognize this rat?” I asked.

Mittens never answered my question. At that moment a gust of wind triggered our next discovery – a card floated out of an open book onto the floor. Mittens carefully picked up the card by the edges. On it several sentences had been written by a bold cat’s paw. It was a copy of a letter Tulip had sent to her litter-mate and twin, Euphemia.

Mittens’ read in a slightly high-pitched, theatrical voice,

Dearest sister Euphemia,

Today I couldn’t stand one more second of Trouble’s damned feral inscrutability. I asked him what he was really thinking. He told me, in a flat voice – no affect at all, not even a purr – that he hates La Belle Dam but he can’t help himself. “Do you mean me?” I implored him. “You know what I mean” he said as he leaped out of the fire escape. I haven’t seen him since. I don’t know what I’d do without him. But I’m loosing him. I can tell from his scent, and unfocussed ears. I’m loosing him.

What can I do?

xx oo Tulip

Mittens’ concluded his oratory with a little bow.

“Are there other notes?” I asked.

“There are lots of notes down at the station. Tulip was quite a writer. But do you mean, was there anything incriminating? Non. Only this. Mais cela, c’est très intéressante, n’est-ce pas?”2

“It is interesting indeed”, I replied. “Let us inspect the book the note fell out of.” I hopped over to the small leather bound volume. It opened to a poem called La Belle Chat Sans Merci.3

I scanned the first few stanzas, and stopped at the fourth. In the left margin the words “Tulip” and “La Belle Chat” were written with a kittenish paw.

I flipped to the first page of the book where I found the following dedication, “To my cat-bitch twin sister on my birthday.

We have stereotypes about the love litter-mates and twins have for each other. Like many generalizations, the stereotype is both true and false simultaneously. I could see in the note Tulip had written Euphemia that the two sisters had a deep, abiding bond. They must have shared all of their experiences with each other. But it took scant effort to imagine that love erupting into a most vicious cat-fight.

I showed Mittens the book. He read the dedication and said, “We have another suspect.”

“Indeed”, I replied.

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