Ivy League walked into my office as I cracked the spine on an old murder book. I identified her immediately, courtesy of my mythical detecting skills. Well, those and her cute little uptilted nose, which I recognized from news reports about a recent gruesome killing.
She said, “I want you to find out who’s behind the demise of Fyne Literature.”
“I thought the cops already closed the book on his demise.” I slapped shut the hardcover in my hand to punctuate my sentence.
I said, “Word is, your lover was done in by an explosion of serial killer potboilers.”
“He was - he is - the love of my life, not my lover.” She perched on the edge of the chair opposite my bargain-priced government surplus desk, and looked at the painting on the wall behind me. “You’re no angel.”
Apparently I wasn’t the only one possessed of mythical detecting skills. The picture depicts a kneeling, white-winged warrior, weary yet steadfast as another day rises - or sets, depending on your point of view - on a ravaged city. You only need to glance at him once to know he did not weep, to know he would not, even in the midst of destruction and defeat; to know he understands war, in the way true warriors do. He knows the creed as well, the one limned by the glowing-eyed cat at his side: Show no weakness.
A grateful and talented character created the picture after I pulled her from the shadowy world where illusions take corporeal form and people merely think they can see. I can tell you horror stories, like the one depicted in that drawing, with entire civilizations reduced to smoldering ruins.
I’ll spare you, and myself as well. I meet my shadow every time I plunge into the murk of those battles, and the reality is too gruesome for me to revisit, at least in the daylight hours when I have a choice.
Ed the glowing-eyed cat would say the same, if you understood his language. I’m not the angel in the painting, though my features vaguely resemble his, but Ed’s real, as real as I am.
I said, “Fortunately you need a detective, not an angel.”
“Yes,” Ivy said. “And you meet both criteria.”
I’ve always been a sucker for a woman who can properly pluralize ancient Greek.
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