For the next while the Friday Fillip will be a chapter in a serialized crime novel, usually followed by a reference you might like to pursue. Both this chapter of the book and the whole story up to this point can be had as PDF files. You may also subscribe to have chapters delivered to you by email.
A Crow’s Eye View
A small town early on a fine fall morning. Friday.
A lone dog barking sporadically somewhere out past the abandoned Bethel granary. Wanting in. Wanting out. Either way pointing up the precious stillness that lies around all things.
A little mist back among the trees and down in the low spot where the sinking, tarred-over CN tracks run through. What must it have been like when passenger trains came and went? Or a hundred years ago when the Dominion Electric Railway took tourists from the city on day trips all the way past Backton to Hightop Point? When the place was prosperous, a centre. There were mills then and seven churches within a block of the intersection of Chestnut and Gothic, still called to this day ‘Church Corners.’
The pasts interpenetrate and then wisp away.
The honey smell of a neighbour’s failing sweet alyssum as it releases a long dying breath. That towering sycamore across the street also perfuming the morning with its gentle aroma of tea. Grass greener than it should be, in the indirect and long low morning light. All things fey, to use the Scots word, foredoomed and knowing it, febrile and urgent in these last hours left to autumn.
Sitting on the stoop, caped in a blanket, not thinking. Not waiting.
Complexity can absent itself for a while, observer and observed as close as ever may be.
And the world is aware and membranous. The crow who has flapped her way into the beech next door gives out with a rattling sound. Another crow answers, or so it seems, with a cawing companion call. In an instant the sun tops the Richford house down the street and swells on up the road, touching everything eagerly all over like a blind mother returning home. Electrified, a lone cicada, surely the last of the season, sends out some high pitched static. Things get the message and begin to move.
No longer any general store or hardware store and precious few Friday fish dinners at the church to act as gossiping places. Knowledge still accumulates, though, and must be discharged. Which is why the phones and tablets come out even as the coffee is brewing. And here’s a curious thing: in a town so small that you and I will likely know each other and could meet and chat as easily as do our crows, news now traffics between us via routers in Delhi and Dubuque and Dubai. All distance is annulled with no earthly reason, certainly none that we understand or even care to know about. Thus, unshaven or ill-dressed, unsmiling or mid-dalliance, faceless you write your books a dozen times each day for me to read, perhaps with like to let you know that five by five I read your prose and passionate emojis.
So who connects on this warming October Friday?
Jenny Milton Frobisher
24 mins ⋅ 🌐
Woo hoo! Trucks out front!! Their starting to tear down the burned out lawyers building. About time!!!
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Alda Loumon Careful what you wish for. Your gonna be noised out, babe. Any hunks among the guys? I love to watch a man work. 😜
Like ⋅ Reply ⋅ 21 mins
Jenny Milton Frobisher Nobody hunkier than my George. Hands off, BTW. Don’t care about the noise. You try looking at rubbish all day. I guess the insurance came thru. Wonder what she got.
Like ⋅ Reply ⋅ 16 mins
Betsy Krine Too much whatever it was IMHO. I don’t like to be bitchy but I could live without you know who around. I’ve got kids.
Like ⋅ Reply ⋅ 3 ⋅ 14 mins
Alda Loumon Now now Elizabeth. Manners. Jenn message me.
Like ⋅ Reply ⋅ 10 mins
Tanya Pettikof Good morning all. Just reminding everyone of the bake sale for OPCA. Today. 4pm. Weiniger’s. I’m making my special cupcakes! And Karl is baking soda bread!! 💚💚
Like ⋅ Reply ⋅ 9 mins
So? What’s the deal? How did you get the down and dirty?
Swore not to reveal souces. But you met at China’s. That’s all I’ll say. But the deal is that they kicked out 175+ big ones
Sweet. I think I’ll torch our dump and take the money and blow this popstand
Know what you mean. But 175 wouldn’t last a week in the city and maybe 2 days in Paris
Young Benjamin Yarker texts the somewhat younger Madison McKnight, the hard to impress fire chief’s daughter, who is oh so worth the effort:
[hauled the burned pickup to collision centre yesterday. where were you last night?]
[talked to your dad. i think he likes me]
[sealed it for the investigators. truck I mean]
[investigators coming GTR]
Cars are fired up, coffee on the dashboard, phone slotted into the place where the ashtray used to be, or held, precious, between thighs, sited for vibration and some illicit manipulation, because hey, good buddy, we got us a convo. And the first of them head out for hospital or the 7-11 or the laundromat before everyone gets the big machines.
Or for the first shift at the gravel mine, having shared the news that it’s back to normal: talk about the daily grind. Hungry goliath stone slingers already rumbling in an obedient line outside the gates quite dwarf the figure in the wheelchair, who has put himself where he can be seen by the gathering workforce as they arrive. Normal. Back to normal. Move along, move along. Nothing to see here except the boss. And, of course, the crumbling coliseum where body and bedrock contest under a fat sun.
In town the sun is merely irritating, bleaching out the screens, which are never shaded enough by bent heads. (Information wants to be indoors.) Prayerful children amble to school, flicking occasional gazes at the oncoming world, thumbing their sleepy way through the dictionary of their day, the cyclopedia of their contacts, their loopholes on the excitingly dangerous world beyond the walls of here and now, unconscious — except for the three who are dealing — of the unusually large number of provincial police cars creeping the streets.
Comes a tall, not really skinny woman, weaving her way through the Brownian motion of children. Not striding, as she might, to judge by those long legs. Just moving forward, looking around, devolving a benign smile on unknowing heads below her. Peaceful. As you might be were the flipped coin to land with a head gazing up (‘We are all on the ground, but some of us are looking at the sky.’): the universe is lightening your load: a building gone, a truck gone, clients gone.
And with that in her head, her tail shows up.
The cop car was one of those stealth vehicles with the matte black finish and the secret writing on the side that awaits artificial illumination to crow ‘Ta-da! You’re busted!’. You could actually hear the hum-hiss of the window sliding down. “Ms. Rangel,” said the man in the passenger seat.
She stopped. Frowned. Felt a stab of fear: what now? Bent to look at him. “Yes,” she said.
“I wonder if you’d join us. We’d like to have a word.”
Oh god, she thought. Gladys was dead. Or something had happened to Wally.
“Ms. Rangel?” He was out now, holding the front door open for her.
She slid in and turned immediately to the man as he got into the back. There was a metal security mesh between her and him. “What’s happened?”
The communicator in the car crackled and emitted some unintelligible noise.
2 mins ⋅ 🌐
OMFG youll never guess who I saw getting picked up by the cops!!
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© Simon Fodden