blog photo 170 foxWHAT IT IS

The one man snowshoe trail rambled through thick pine forests, crisscrossing a stream where the muffled sounds of fast flowing water could be heard even in the dead off winter. Two bird feeding stations caused the trail to exist and the trail’s designer would often be greeted by nuthatches, chickadees and finches long before arriving at the stations where the little beggars would demand seed payment before he was allowed to pass. A third reason for Drake Johnstone’s daily trip arose as the cold winter dragged on, that being his discovery of a fox den near the end of the trail.

After breakfast and with the cabin in a reasonable state of cleanliness, Johnstone would take the snowshoes off the cabin wall, don his parka and sorel boots, fill his pockets with bird seed and bring along a touch of bacon grease for the fox. The trip took a couple of hours, faster now that the trail was well packed down from a winter’s worth of snow shoeing and now on most days the snow shoes could be discarded in favor of just boot walking on the hard surface.

Trail’s end was not far from where Johnstone left Schulz’s brief case and transmitter and he would occasionally find himself overcome by curiosity and venture to the site. As far as he could determine. The transmitter beeped away all winter long no matter how much snow piled up on it. As the month of March began to flex its warming muscle, Johnstone thought he’d have one last look before breakup, and as he closed in on the transmitter he could see a snow machine approach with two people aboard. Training his binoculars on the machine, Johnstone recognized one of them as Schulz and as he further strained to see an advancing helicopter, the pilot looked like his old political partner, Miles Hobbson.


The canoe kissed the smooth round rocks beneath the waters of the French River as Cinder Willoughby maneuvered the craft toward the shoreline so he could get a closer look at the fox den he’d been studying. Willoughby already collared the female last week but was having difficulty with the reclusive male. His luck was about to change this morning as the male appeared only a few feet from the water’s edge to lap up a bit of water. Willoughby raised the tranquilizer gun and with moments the diazepam took affect, the fox was collared and he drowsily returned to his den.

Miller insisted he could wait no longer, Davis must pull over at the next bathroom, there could be no discussion, no stretching out the inevitable, because the time was now. Davis pointed to the French River Provincial Park sign and decided this would satisfy the twisting agent in the passenger seat. Miller jumped out, Davis popped the trunk, Miller grabbed his man bag and ran for the bathroom.

Willoughby’s radio signal suddenly went haywire, he tapped his laptop with no results, pushed a few buttons but the signal didn’t return to normal. He looked around the parking lot, two cars, a pick up truck, a van and a third car that just arrived, now with its trunk wide open. Willoughby did a double take as he thought he saw a little teddy bear head peaking out of the car’s trunk. Checking it out for himself, he walked over to the car but the trunk contained only what you’d expect, a spare tire, a jack and some personal items. Returning to his vehicle, Willoughby was pleased to find his radio signals had cleared up and he could get on with the business of tracking the foxes.


blog photo 169 spider webWHAT IT IS

Sitting near the moonwalk on a vandal resistant cement bench watching the New Orleans tourists scurry along, Margaret Brookside enjoyed this version of the Big Easy. Tourists are generally an upbeat crowd devoid of busy schedules and deadlines and more intent on showing their tranquil demeanor. Some climbed into double decker buses, others boarded horse drawn carriages, and some just wandered around aimlessly, soaking up the vibe. Margaret chose this place to meet Samantha because the horses reminded her of home where a five minute drive would put you almost anywhere in Beaver County and wonderful horse country. Lost in the visual sea of vibrant colored t-shirts, shorts, hats and shoes, Margaret didn’t notice Samantha and two other women standing behind the bench she was on.

Samantha plunked herself down on the bench and quickly slid over to Margaret, pinning her against the cement edge of the bench. Jaden and Jaclyn, out of uniform and looking nothing like police women, stood behind the bench and studied the crowd, like police are supposed to do when on duty; but today they were not. The four women chatted among themselves while the reason for them all being in the same place showed up a half hour late. Cathy Jennings finally arrived with binders of INSECT memos and e-mails implicating a conspiracy between The Chaps and INSECT to carry out a “limited”extinction of all insects at Plot 82.


Davey Doucet generally does not worry about the why of an investigation.  When someone puts down good money for his services, he’s more than happy to oblige. In a professional sense he wondered why Slim Clemons wanted a complete work up on Miles Hobbson, but he was aware the two men had some arrangements in the past, and assumed additional relationships would exist going forward.

As Doucet dug deeper into Hobbson’s life, he found a number of oddities he was sure Slim would find interesting. There was absolutely no record of Hobbson before the age of twenty one. A house fire on Nevis not only resulted in the deaths of his adopted parents but all his school and church records were destroyed. He attended St. Theresa’s Medical University in St. Kitts at age twenty-three, dropped out after six months, disappeared from the island for several years then re-enrolled at age twenty-seven, only to drop out again. He entered politics shortly thereafter, rose to the position of deputy premier before being forced from office and finally showing up in the United States in his mid forties

Doucet’s next move would be to visit Nevis and find anyone who could remember the young Miles Hobbson.





blog photo 168 forest & roadWHAT IT IS

Sapphire is the envy of the chronically nocturnal, those, like her brother, who prowl around in the post midnight hours looking for things they can’t find, stubbing their toes on living room tables and chairs and making all kinds of racket while still convinced their surreptitious activities are known to no one. On most days the amiable zombie falls asleep a few hours before Sapphire is up for the day and is oblivious to her small photographic adventures that see her scouring the rural roads looking for possibilities.

The locals call it Montgomery’s road because the dilapidated cabin near the dead end belonged to Troy Montgomery, an immigrant, long gone from this earth. On one of her early morning excursions, Sapphire walked the nearly three kilometers of Montgomery’s road and was surprised to see a man trying to persuade well water out of an old pump in front of the cabin. Her offers of help only caused him to turn abruptly and disappear inside the cabin.

Later that same day, Sapphire squinted at the bulletin board behind the glass display case just inside the main entrance of the grocery store. Once a week on grocery day, Sapphire would peruse the notifications before starting on her grocery list. What was for sale? Who would plow your driveway? Tractor for rent! Homemade apple pie contestants required! A photo of a man wanted by the police, the same man Sapphire had seen at Montgomery’s cabin!


Mrs. B and Jackson walked the A line road every day and have been doing so for the last forty years. This is at least true for Mrs. B, but Jackson is only four years old, before him it was Jimmy, before that it was Jenny and before that Jelly. Jackson is a scrappy little mixed breed mutt who’d spend more time scruffing through the woods along the side of the road than actually walking with Mrs. B on the road. He’d been skunked twice, porcupined once and nearly run over by deer on several occasions. During the warm summer days, Mrs. B’s typical morning would start out with Jackson out on the deck, his beady little eyes staring at her through the screen porch door. After being ignored for a few minutes, he’d elevate his front paws, touching the screen itself and a few moments after that, he’d begin to customize the screen material to suit his particular mood on that day.

Soon after, Mrs. B would cave and the two were off down the road leaving the great state of Indiana for beautiful Illinois, as the A line road had the prestigious geographical fact of running across state lines. On today’s adventure, during the return trip home, a great horned owl appeared to attack a seagull, causing the seagull to drop a key it was carrying in it’s bill which then landed on a porcupine walking along the road, this was a first for Mrs. B and Jackson!


blog photo 167 waterfallWHAT IT IS

Justine Flagstaff took many months to recover from her encounter with No. 1, and although she  would not admit to mourning his death, the five days under his hypnotic influence left her drained and anxious. No. 1 instilled in Flagstaff the belief that a genocide was in its initial stages and as humans demonstrated an ever increasing appetite for using lethal chemicals against all insects, No. 1 encouraged sympathetic  people to help in this monumental battle. No. 1 had no illusions of victory; insects would be wiped off the face of the planet, replaced by robotic drone pollinators and mechanical microbes would be utilized in the soil to replicate bacteria and viruses. All song birds would be gone in a decade, most other animals shortly thereafter. It was No. 1’s hope that Flagstaff and others like her would record the devastation and keep the events archived for future generations to study.

Flagstaff returned several times to the place where she and No. 1 met, walking around the gazebo, hiking the nearby trails and visiting a cascading waterfall where she could get lost in her thoughts while the water’s song shielded her from distractions. Was No. 1 right? Was this enormous biomass on the edge of extinction? Would his predictions of the other species vanishing also come true? Left feeling empty and confused, Flagstaff would rely on her training as a journalist and tackle this story as she had many other stories, using the five double u’s to guide her conclusions.


Anything can be doctored; photos altered, text manipulated, eye witness testimony debunked or video aggrandized. Cinder Willoughby needed proof and anything less than witnessing a six foot bearded dragon in front of him, would not convince him such creatures existed. His work with Beaver County was complete and he had a couple of free days before his next gig, so he was driving around the area visiting sites where the dragons were allegedly spotted. Finding himself up near Fombell Rd, Willoughby found Ned Doucet and his nephew Davey Doucet sitting in Ned’s cruiser having a quiet lunch and making bold trade predictions about the Pirates upcoming baseball season. When the topic got around to the dragons, Ned said he’d swear on a stack of bibles that a dragon lived behind a small waterfall a half a mile away.

Ned was on duty, so the two old friends hiked to the falls to see for themselves, catching up on some news and gossip they may have missed out on since last seeing one another. Among other things, the pair dissected what they knew about Miles Hobbson but their walking was fast and soon they could hear the sound of the falling water. After an hour of exploring around the falls they found no signs of a dragon and headed back to the road when Doucet suddenly stopped, pointed skyward at a seagull riding the warm currents and floating effortlessly with a key in its bill.


blog photo 166 seagullWHAT IT IS

It is a well documented fact that ducks like geese, they also like herons, bitterns, terns and are said to be especially fond of flycatchers and in particular kingbirds. It is also said that ducks do not fancy seagulls, shearwaters or petrels. The reason for this animosity stems from numerous  incidents where seagulls devoured ducklings while the parent duck attempted to protect the brood. These acts of carnivorism have been going on for millennia, as has the dislike and distrust between the Families.

So, it was with great surprise when Mildred Duck received a message from a passing great blue heron that a seagull along the Georgian Bay wanted to see her. Mildred cleared her busy schedule, convincing herself she needed a break from rehearsals and other production related duties, and began the flight to Lion’s Head to see what the seagull wanted. Mildred loved the Bruce Peninsula, in fact she was shot along its waters as a yearling, and often returns on the crisp autumn days of October.

She found the loud, obnoxious gull standing on a telephone pole, pontificating about human over fishing, polluted gasoline-filled waters and toxic heavy metal run off filling the bay. She also mentioned that the canine who saved Mildred’s life all those years ago could be found living  near Tobermory.


The raccoon was probably hit by a mining truck; they move fast along this stretch of road, spewing up so much summer dust everything disappears in their wake. Cricket and Sapphire quickly closed up the car windows when three of these mining behemoths appeared, recklessly taking over the center of the road, forcing anyone and anything to the side. After the dust settled, a seagull was a mangled heap in the center of the road, its mate standing atop an electrical pole mourning his fate.

Seeing these gulls created a moment between brother and sister that extracted an emotion from both, it flooded into their consciousness, and they looked expressionless at one another, at the dead seagull, at the wailing seagull.

It was a near certainty that their parents had been murdered and the only suspect was the driver of the black SUV police found a few kilometers away. As their dazed eyes cleared and they focused on one another, the intent of what just transpired became obvious to both; they would find out who killed their parents and bring them to justice.















Ellie's Story ContinuesHe had a PhD in mathematics from the University of Texas and she a PhD in American History from Boston University. Finding work in academia was difficult so when Slim Clemons offered both a generous salary for a six month tutoring gig at his private lake in Illinois, there was no reason to say no and plenty of reasons to say yes. Tutoring Ellie was supposed to be a dream job, but her constant telekinesing out of class to spend time on the beach and her refusal to do her homework, made their work untenable. Ultimately, both prepared letters of resignation and were now waiting transportation to take them away from Slim’s enclave. It seems the little teddy bear got wind of the fact that Feather and Hammer were on the way with a knowledge key, a key purportedly so rich in it’s comprehension of the universe that Ellie’s scholastic achievements were guaranteed. Knowing this, Ellie spent the summer entertaining her many indulgences; smelling the enormous barbecues staged at the main cottage, lying on the beach in the hot sun and mischievously telekinesing in and out of other guests’ rooms.

Summer turned to fall and fall into winter when Ellie got word that the seagull carrying the key had lost it and it was now in the possession of  a porcupine who took it upon himself to deliver it to Ellie. Porcupines are slow land creatures who do not like to swim, so when she finally got to the lake she had to wait until the water froze over before delivering the precious key.

The key in the hand of the chosen teddy bear would miraculously produce a small locked box said to be from the fairy on Ellesmere Island, and the key now in Ellie’s possession would open the box revealing the knowledge key. It was an exciting day for Ellie, a day she had waited for these last six months. She placed the box in front of her, sat down in that most usual of teddy bear ways, held the key up to the sunlight, then slid it into the lock chamber and turned it.

Inside the box she found the knowledge key, a hand written note:




blog photo 165 flowerWHAT IT IS

They could disagree about anything. Jaden insisted the red fire hydrants flowed the slowest and it was the blue ones that gushed like volcanoes, while Jaclyn informed her partner it was the green ones that were slow and the orange dudes that meant business. They discussed this while watching a torrent of water beneath a wee little SMART car that had collided somehow with an orange hydrant and now sat atop the spewing water. The force of the water would lift the car slightly off the ground at random intervals, then a pressure change, and the car settled back to the ground. The car’s doing push-ups declared Jaden! More like pull-ups was Jaclyn’s response.

When the city maintenance crew arrived, the hydrant escapades ended and the two J’s cruised toward the rising sun to check out some biker activity their sergeant had asked them to keep an eye on. The Chaps favored a couple of bars in the French quarter but it was an abandoned landscaping garage that was the focus of police interest.  The J’s first pass in front of the building saw no one on the property, so they decided to park the cruiser down the block and wait to see if anyone showed.

Jaden looked out her side window and saw a deserted building lot covered in weeds, coffee cups, broken glass and thousands of wildflowers. Her soul mate would love a bunch of these wild beauties, so she opened her door, found a thermos in the back seat that could double as a vase, and started picking.

They looked like two sleuths, tip-toeing from the scene of a crime, their hair messy, tangled and cascading over their grey faces. Attempts to sweep it from their eyes resulted in fingers getting entangled in the frizzy mess with quiet moans of frustration drifting across the lot. Jaden watched these two unkept souls for a couple of minutes then cleared her throat to get their attention. Margaret immediately collapsed, a startled Samantha tripped over Margaret and ended up on the ground beside her. “You ladies lost?”


One munk paced in his tiny cage twenty four hours a day, stopping only to devour a few nuts and sip some water. Another munk slept for twelve hours, then ate incessantly for the other twelve. The third munk devised a way to open his cage, crawl along a copper water pipe to an outside wall and peer through a tiny hole in the foam insulation to the forest outside. His view of the world was extremely limited, a couple of trees, some timothy grass, blue wild flowers and a small piece of ever changing sky.

The munks were on the edge of Algonquin Park, in an underground bunker built by INSECT and awaited a fate they were sure would be most unpleasant. INSECT’s chief biologist was laid up with a severe case of gastroenteritis, so an outside biologist was contracted to subject the munks to a battery of psychological tests, some routine torture techniques and finally, dissection of their bodies.

Security at the bunker was tight, with credential verification, identification and background checks, finger printing and even retinal scanning was performed to make sure the right person was allowed access to the bunker. In the end, Stacks McDonald, backed by Slim Clemons’ flawless forgeries, was led down a dark hallway and into the munks’ holding cell.