TOAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog ohoto 128 toadWHAT IT IS

Many people wanted to talk to Wagner but the Boston police were keeping him on a short leash, allowing only a few people access to him. One such person was Hazel Backstrom, a veteran FBI investigator with a reputation of getting the unspeakable to speak.

Wagner was a good speaker, telling Backstrom  that he and Lehman were to take the sailboat out of Boston harbour and meet Tiny LeBlanc in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia where forged passports, documents and money awaited them.

The rendezvous was to take place on July 4th and a combination of FBI, RCMP and the Coast Guard officials mulled around on Shore Rd. in Lunenburg waiting for the sailboat and LeBlanc to show up. As dusk fell over the picturesque town, a lone toad made it way down Shore Rd. hopping leisurely toward the officers. One joked it must be Tiny…laughter rang out from everyone…where’s the passports…more laughter! What wasn’t very funny was the fact LeBlanc and the sailboat never showed up. A hurricane blew through the area some days before and where Lehman ended up was anyone’s guess.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Once Cinder Willoughby found out the identity of the dead man on Cape Breton he immediately contacted Davey Doucet, figuring Doucet might be interested in a deceased William Offley Jr.

Doucet was somewhat of a pedantic individual, and insisted Willoughby show him the exact place where the body was found. The two had a thirty minute walk along a shallow river bed then a half kilometer down a quad trail to reach their destination. On the way there, they speculated why a German national with this most familiar name might be doing on the island, but agreed they had no concrete evidence forthcoming from the local police.

Reaching the site in the early afternoon, the two ombres rummaged about looking for clues, but the area had been methodically scrutinized by the local police and the only thing of interest was a toad persistently hopping about where Willoughby found the body. The two lads watched this toad as he hopped and dug and dug and hopped until a half decomposed piece of Monsanto letterhead became evident in the dirt.

BLACKBIRD

blog photo 127 blackbird

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IT IS

Margaret Brookside was as free as a bird, as free as the squawking black bird that harassed her every morning on the way into the Mercantile Hotel from a perch high in an oak tree near the employee entrance. With Davey Doucet’s help, Margaret has secured employment as a hotel chambermaid with the intent of keeping a close eye on Rene Boudreaux. Doucet vehemently instructed Margaret not to talk to, not to follow, not to spy on, not to contact, not to interact in anyway with Boudreaux. She was to observe and only observe from a distance.

For the most part, for the first week at least, she took Doucet’s advice, but as she watched the activities in the hotel’s kitchen she got a bit bolder in her surveillance. On one overnight shift she was sneaking around the kitchen and noticed the chef’s offices were left unlocked. The urge for some serious snooping quickly overcame her and she slipped inside but before accomplishing anything a boisterous gang of men burst through the traffic doors at the far end of the kitchen dragging a wooden trunk along the floor. Margaret shrunk down behind a desk and peaked through the glass door, watching eight pair of greenish work boots drag the slimy, fowl smelling truck across the floor.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Leaving for work in the early hours, Miles Hobbson was being watched by a sinister looking blackbird standing on a fire hydrant near the sidewalk in front of his house. The bird made no sound, but his penetrating ebony eyes made Hobbson feel uneasy…uneasy in a way that would become a harbinger of the day ahead for Hobbson.

Miles arrived at work at 6AM to a handful of protesters outside the municipal offices. The previous day he had outlined his vision for Beaver Falls and on this day, he would resign as mayor of the municipality. Hobbson knew the writing was on the wall when the Pennsylvania governor called demanding he resign, when the entire city council resigned en masse, when the police and fire department issued a refusal-of-service order to Hobbson’s residence and a city garbage truck dumped its load of refuse on his front lawn.

BITTERNS,FROGS and possiblities

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog photo 126 bitternWHAT IT IS

Buck-jimmy was a prodigy, born in the swamp country outside Chappell Hill, Texas and winning three world championship frog jumping titles in Apache County, Oklahoma. His retirement on Lake Tomiko was quiet and enjoyable, but there was nagging questions elite athletes often face when they give up their passion. The uncertainty he was feeling was exasperated when a group of amphibians on a cross country tour stayed at Lake Tomiko for a few days. They spoke of records being broken in the frog jump in Oklahoma and of new contests developed at the Apache County Fair. Buck-jimmy was particularly intrigued by a new and dangerous game where frogs had to hop through a flock of bitterns and avoid being eaten. Throwing caution to the wind, Buck-jimmy  jumped aboard Mutt Jefferson’s passing eighteen wheeler outside Sturgeon Falls, Ontario and was on his way to Oklahoma.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Perhaps it was serendipity, as Buck-jimmy tucked himself away on the main frame of Mutt’s trailer, Mutt was driving hard to his bird sanctuary in Gros Cap to pickup three highly trained American bitterns.

Some months earlier he had been approached by Apache County Fair organizers complaining that their frogs were easily out witting their stable of bitterns in a new contest they were running. Mutt offered them three shrewd bitterns schooled in spotting and retrieving golf balls for a local golf course in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Mutt said it would be a good fit!

So the upshot of this meant that Buck-jimmy could study these bitterns on the long trip from Gros Cap to Oklahoma and hopefully gain a wee edge on the other frogs.

HUMMINGBIRDS/SORCERY

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog photo 125 hummingbirdWHAT IT IS

Frank James was a well known Entomologist and considered a thoughtful scientist with interests and insights well beyond his field of expertise. On this evening, as he sat across the table from Dizzy and Bella, he thought of the people who capture and kill hummingbirds for some religious, voodoo, pseudo-sexual reason believing they will be somehow elevated into a higher plane of human existence. The birds are attached to bracelets, necklaces and assorted trinkets that promises to deliver the possessor to a transcendental reality. James knows he is a white, privileged first worlder, but can’t shake the belief that these types of rituals are born of ignorance.

Dizzy and Bella are now strangers to James, they have morphed into eco-warriors, wide eyed environmentalists who believe they know the answers to the world’s ills. He wonders if they are similar to the people who perform this hummingbird sorcery; emotional, irrational, but staunch devotees to their principle. His long search for Dizzy and Bella is over but it is clear he has not yet found them.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Graham was looking out his floor to ceiling window, his phone in his left hand glued to his left ear and in his right hand a list of agents he was trying to contact. He was flustered, pulling at his necktie, straightening it to the left, then the right and finally pulling it off altogether. He was having great difficulty finding someone for his time sensitive assignment and as he paced across the office floor he saw the helicopter appear on the horizon.

Cathy stood in the corner, head bowed, listening to her boss. He aggressively pointed his index finger in her direction, shouted she was all he had and ordered her to the rooftop. Climbing into the chopper, she knew it would be a difficult chore finding Graham’s trained hummingbird.

CRESCENT MOON

 

 

blog photo 123 cresent moon

 

WHAT IT IS

Mark Malloch, deemed fit as a fiddle by his physicians, was looking at it, Frank James and Basil McCormik sat in a rented convertible looking at it, Jones and Brown sat on a rock outcrop looking at it and Dizzy, Bella and two teddy bears were sitting in a canoe on Ice Lake looking at it…not only were they looking at the same crescent moon they were looking at it in basically the same place…Canso, Nova Scotia.

Malloch was in town for one last check on a rocket booster engine he helped design at Pratt and Whitney, an engine that was about to launch a new era in space tourism. James and McCormik were in town in their relentless pursuit of Dizzy and Bella. Jones and Brown were hastily ordered to Canso after INSECT picked up some wonky radio waves in the area and Dizzy, Bella and the two teddy bears were irrevocably drawn to the area for reasons unknown.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Justine Flagstaff traveled often and traveled light. A small black square luggage on wheels, maybe two feet long, a foot wide…that’s it. A few unmentionables, a couple of tops, a pant suit…dry cleaned when needed…no food or snacks…bought when necessary…sneakers…shoes and formal wear rented as required. Packing up her Pittsburgh hotel room took seven minutes, a ten second walk got her to the elevator and in another minute she was outside stepping into a taxi and looking up at the crescent moon. She paused, wondering how many of these banana moons she saw over the years…too many!

The taxi rumbled off in the direction of the airport. She examined the reflection of the driver’s face in the rear view mirror, it looked most familiar. Then it hit her, he was a keynote speaker at a journalist convention she had just attended at the Westin Convention Center. The driver, Miles Hobbson, had an interesting proposal for Flagstaff…an exclusive interaction with No.1…the most wanted wasp on INSECT’s top ten list.

FROM ABOVE

blog photo landscape airWHAT IT IS

Every September Mildred Duck takes a solo flight along one of the most dangerous flyways in Canada. Fly low, fly with your tail feathers to the sun and fly as thin as possible are the three tenets ducks live by. She takes this treacherous journey as an act of defiance, and to keep the memory alive of her own brush with death.

Mildred was shot in her first year along the shores of Georgian Bay. She was practising the three tenets when she noticed a portly, city fella aiming his easy rifle recklessly in the air. She dipped even lower moments before hearing the thunder, but a couple of stray buck shots tore through her left foot and into her underbelly.

She remembers little of the decent; it was haphazard and desperate, but she managed to put her self down in some bulrushes. She knew the golden domestic wolf she spotted from the air would be on her soon; she decided open water was her best bet. Her progress was slow and she knew it was all over when the shaggy grinning fool found her. He approached like a lizard, flat on his belly, the stupid tail wagging and frothy drool dripping out of its mouth. As it rose up to pounce, a second wolf came out of nowhere and a ferocious fight ensued. Mildred didn’t stick around to exchange pleasantries.  As the brawl escalated, she slipped unnoticed into the water.

WHAT IT IS NOT

As soon as Samantha touched down she saw Davey Doucet speeding up the runway, his pickup truck on a fast and steady trajectory toward her airplane. Within minutes she got the gist of what was going on and was back in the air looking for the truck from Louisiana.

Samantha was a skilled rescue pilot and quickly set up a grid search pattern emanating from Offley’s farm. She cruised the area for over an hour but saw no sign of the truck and decided he was long gone. On her return trip she brought the plane down to eight hundred feet to watch a monster flock of Canada geese land on a nearby lake. As she flew parallel to the flock, a helicopter appeared below her not more than a hundred feet away. She pulled up hard and banked away from the intruder using curse words she didn’t know lived in her vocabulary. The helicopter had the distinct markings of INSECT on the fuselage and seemed to be following the geese.

MIGRATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog photo 122 flying gooseWHAT IT IS

She felt just like the migrating Canada goose flying overhead; Margaret Brookside was heading to the fine state of Louisiana. She couldn’t believe her luck when Davey Doucet offered her an all expense paid trip to the Pelican state in exchange for some detective work. Doucet warned her it would be monotonous, needle-in-a haystack work but if she was up for it…UP FOR IT…Louisiana AND detective work…what is not to be up for?

Margaret spent five days in New Orleans poking around the French quarter but with no luck and then, as instructed, rented a car to traverse the rest of the state. The man at the car rental agency was deep south and smooth as butter, calling her his Pennsylvania Pretty as he answered two or three phones at a time. He eventually got all the paper work in order, pointed out the large window to the Ford Focus she’d be driving and suggested she wait in the car while he moved his truck that was parked in front of the rental. Margaret waited patiently, a wily grin crossed her face as she studied the decal of a chef’s hat on the truck’s tailgate. Glancing down at the paperwork in her hand, she was surprised to see it signed by someone Ellie was more familiar with than she was…Rene Boudreaux… a chef at the Mercantile Hotel.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Although he was the new interim leader of INSECT, Graham still liked to keep tabs on day to day projects, especially ones he had personally worked on.

Cathy stood in front of his desk, gazing down at the floor at nothing in particular waiting for him to ask for the third time if she still believed that’s what happened. In the outer office, Graham had informed her, were two of INSECT’s finest Ornithologists and they were more than capable of setting the record straight. Graham summoned the two scientists, and two twenty-something women strode through the large maple door with the utmost of confidence. The first to speak was Janet and she declared that as an expert on hummingbirds she could state categorically they didn’t “hitch” a ride on Canada geese for migration purposes. The second scientist, trying desperately not to giggle, said she worked with geese for over five years and had never seen this migration myth.

Cathy stood like a stone statue, feeling the ridicule of the entire room. Graham wanted to know what became of the hummingbird he had been training and all she could offer up was it escaped from the compound while a flock of Canada geese flew overhead. She said once again, the hummingbird landed on the lead goose and disappeared with the flock.