The Case Of The Three Fate's

Story written by pirate60 on Saturday 4, April 2015

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Part 2 in the Fate's saga: Jack Vine case book. (Full version)

Overall Rating: 91.5%

This writing has been rated by 2 members, resulting in a rating of 91.5% overall. Below is a breakdown of these results:

Concept/Plot:85%
Imagery:92.5%
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Flow/Rhythm:95%
Vocabulary:92.5%
From The Files Of Jack Vine A Jack And The Giant P I Case File Case Of The Three Fates (Part two of: The Three Fates Saga) It was Friday night; and me and Mary, along with Tiny and Terri; and Jack and Jill, all met at the grand opening of a new Irish restaurant called O"Flannigan"s. The owner, Hope O"Flannigan, was a friend of Jill"s from way back and had invited us all to stop by. Featured at the restaurant were several drinks made with Jill"s special lemon aid, one even called the "˜Jack Vine Special". I wondered if I"d get any of the royalties. When it came time to order the food we"d already had a couple drinks and were now very hungry. I had checked out the menu and spotted the dish I wanted to try. "I think I"ll have the Shepard"s Pie." I said, gazing into Mary eyes and taking her hand in mine. She blushed a rosy shade of red. "What are ya gonn"a have Mary?" Jill asked, handing her one of the menus on the table. For a second, Mary frowned and looked around nervously as if caught off guard; just as quickly she regained her smile, turned to me and said. "Why don"t you pick one for me Jack? I want to be surprised." I did so, automatically going to the seafood dishes I knew she liked, missing the odd look Jill gave Mary. As expected the food turned out to be amazing and I found that everyone wanted to try each other"s dish. We laughed, drank a few more drinks and generally had a blast. I was sure Hope O"Flannigan was well on her way to great success. Before going our separate ways Jill had taken Mary to the side for a talk. Mary, I noticed, was a bit closed mouth and not meeting Jill"s eyes. I was wondering what the scoop was and would have gone to find out but the conversation ended as quickly as it had started. Eventually we all parted and the incident was forgotten. "That was the Ritz." I said snuggling up to Mary under the cover. Mary was unusually quiet. "Is something wrong?" I asked. Mary after all was always bright and cheerful. " I just have a headache from all those drinks." She responded. "Its all your fault you know; you with that drink of yours." I smiled excepting her reason and kissed her warmly pulling her soft body to mine. We soon drifted off to sleep. The next morning I headed into the office to meet with a client whose case we had solved earlier that week. This one was of a cheating spouse and would likely end in divorce although I pushed the gent into trying counseling before throwing in the towel. If there was any love still left, I told him, try and make it work. The man nodded, handed me our check and then left. I could see he hadn"t heard a word I"d said; life was like that sometimes. That done, and with nothing more pressing to do, I sat back and with hot tea in hand, propped my feet up on my desk to chill out. It was then that the phone rang. "Jack and the giant private eyes." I voiced automatically. "Jack speaking." "Hey Jack." A familiar voice responded; it was Jill"s. "Well hello toots." I beamed. "What"s shakin"?" "Nut"n for"s I can tell." she chuckled. "Though Jack here has his head in the toilet bowl just"a heav"n his guts up. T"aint what ya"d call a drinker Jack, no-sir-re." I envisioned the scene in my head trying not to laugh. It wasn"t easy. "Sorry to hear that kiddo." I replied. "But I"m sure he"ll survive." "S"pose so." She said. "But that t"aint the reason I done called. I was want"n ta talks about Mary. Do you know she can"t read?" Jill"s question took me totally by surprise and I wondered if I had in fact heard her right. "Say that again." I requested. "Recon that"s a no then." She replied not bothering to repeat the question. "Jill." I jumped in. "What gives you the idea that Mary can"t read?" In my book this was a darn good question and one that would soon lead me into, "˜The Case Of The Three Fates." "I noticed her doing some of the things I use ta do back when I couldn"t read." Jill went on to explain. "Weren"t till I was mostly grow"d up that I took the time to rem"dy that. I ain"t had what you"d call much in the way of school"n you know." I got the feeling that what Jill was telling me was not only very personal but hard to relate. I felt much closer to her for that reason. "Learn"n ta read just wasn"t priority in the backcountry." She continued. "Still, I always wanted ta learn, books being a fascination to me. So"s I "˜ventualy done sumpt"n "˜bout it." She paused, as if gathering her courage to go on. She"d gone this far and I knew she was committed; in for a penny in for a pound so to speak. "I finally wents to the library," she continued undaunted; "figuring on start"n with simple kids books. You know, like "The Cat In The Hat" writ"n by that there doctor guy." "Doctor Seuss." I supplied with just a touch of a grin. "Yeah! That"s the fell"r. Well, it weren"t easy no-sir-re; darn near impossible in fact with me not know"n my ABC"s and all. That"s when I gots some unexpected help from the librarian. Her name was Miss Dartit and I guess she must"a been watch"n me and figured out pert"y quickly what I was try"n ta do. She comes over and we start"d talk"n" I could tell by Jill"s voice that this librarian was special to her. And by her relating this story to me, was a way for her to acknowledge the significance this woman had in her life. " Miss Dartit," she went on, "has a way "˜bout her, that put"s a person at ease, ya see. Took me under her wing, she did, and told me she"d help me out as best as she could. Tutor"d me f"r the better part of a month before I start"d ta catch on to read"n and all." "Say Jack." She said getting somewhat off subject. "Did you know read"n and write"n are the same thing? Miss Dartit told me you couldn"t learn one without learn"n the other" I found that statement somewhat funny but realized Jill was serious. "I guess I never thought of that." I said just as serious. "Anyways, Miss Dartit did what she could in the short time I was able ta make, chores back home being priority and all, and I can reads most things pert"y well now. I"m still not very good with prop"r speak"n a course but I"m always try"n to improve. Miss Dartit would want that." "You and her still keep in touch?" I asked. "No." Jill responded sadly. "I had ta do more and more work on the farm on a con"na my mothers health and so lost track of her. Lets get back to Mary," she said getting off that memory. "Like I said, I knows all the tricks ta get"n around read"n and stuff and I noticed Mary doing some of them last night." "Like what?" I asked having noticed absolutely nothing. "Like when she orders off the menu, bet ya a dollar she either points to a number or asks you ta do"s the ordering. Remember last night, she had you pick for her." What Jill was telling me finally registered; Mary couldn"t read. I was stunned to say the least. "How come she never told me," I asked out loud not really expecting an answer. "Same reason as me, Jack." Jill replied. "Embarrassment mostly. T"aint anyone wants ta look foolish; "˜specially ta someone ya loves; so she"s been side step"n it all this time." "What can I do, Jill?" I asked. I was in new territory here; this wasn"t like dodging a bullet or diving for cover in a shoot out. This was a hundred times more difficult. Heck I"d rather take a bullet than what I knew was coming next. "Only one thing ya can do." Jill said confirming my fear. "You"re gonna have ta teach her yourself." There it was, "˜Your going to have to do it". My head started spinning and my stomach wasn"t to far behind. "Me!" I heard spew from my mouth before I even got my bearings. "Jack! Ya can do it." Jill said encouragingly. "You can do more than ya thinks and she loves you more than anything. Just down play the embarrassment and do lots of kissing. I"ll helps to," she added, more so to bolster me up than for any other reason; "but it"s mostly gonna be on you ta see it through. Are ya ups for the challenge? "Challenge is my middle name sister." I said getting a hold of myself. "Tell me what I need to do?" I kept telling myself this would be a cakewalk; I mean how hard can it be, right? I know, I wasn"t buying it at all but Mary means more to me than; well anything. Jill gave me the rundown on how the librarian had eased her along; "˜small steps is the best", she kept saying. "˜Keep her spirits up". "Got it." I told her and hung up the phone to think things through. In less than an hour I was on my way to the towns library to get the books Jill said helped her the most. It had been some time sense I"d been to the library and I felt somewhat out of place. Like having a copy of Cosmopolitan setting by the can in the john; it just wasn"t me. I saw a desk in the middle of the large room and figured that had to be my best bet at getting what I needed. As I got closer I saw a somewhat past middle-aged woman looking over a stack of books. The small sign in front of her said "˜Librarian Assistant". "Excuse me," I said, "but can you help me?" The woman looked up and smiled. "What can I help you with young man?" she asked. I took a deep breath and handed her the sheet of paper with the names of the books Jill had mentioned over the phone. "I"d like some help finding these books," I mumbled. She took the offered paper and gazed at it. I noticed a grin form on her lips and waited for the inevitable. "My, my." She said looking me in the eyes. "These are some pretty hard books for someone as young as you." She had that look in her eyes. The kind of look that could put a raging tiger on its back, feet up in the air and purring to have its tummy rubbed. I coughed clearing my throat and proceeded to explain my dilemma. Smiling she placed her hand over mine and for a moment I felt as if I could identify with that tiger. "That is so sweet young man." She said. "I recall doing the same for a young girl some time ago. Such a nice child." As she rambled on, it hit me; this was the same librarian that Jill told me about. Could that really be true? "Miss Dartit!" I stuttered out loud; she stopped talking and looked at me in surprise. "Do I know you?" "Not me Ma"am." I responded now sure whom I was speaking with. "But I know someone that remembers you quite fondly." I related the story Jill has shared with me the day before and of what the two of us were attempting to do. She took on a glow at the mention of Jill and promptly offered her help. I quietly thanked whatever guardian angle had pulled that miracle off and excepted. "You bring little Jill and your girlfriend here to talk with me." She offered. "I"ll smooth things over and we can get to work with her education. I may be up there in age but I still get pleasure seeing a child discover the wondrous world of books. Grateful for her help, not to mention relieved, I informed her we"d be there the next day even if I had to trick Mary to do so. That was in fact what I wound up doing. Sunday"s were usually spent relaxing or doing small tasks around the apartment. With the wedding not far off there were still some minor things to do. Trying to con Mary into coming with me wasn"t going to be a piece of cake as you might have though. You see I have difficulty lying to Mary. For some reason my natural talent in that field always falls apart. In fact it took all my will power to come up with this one. "Hey Mary." I said. "Lets go out and grab a bit to eat; I"m starving." Yeah I know not the best start but give me a break. She smiled and nodded so I continued with my rehearsed fib. "But first I have to stop by the library to meet a client." This is where it almost fell apart. "Why would you meet them at the library?" She asked. "Why not the office?" "Uh!" I faltered. "Well, it"s like this; the client works at the library and can"t get off work. She"s a librarian you see." I held my breath as even I was having trouble choking that down, although it wasn"t that far off of the truth. "Oh, OK." She said to my relief. "I"m a bit hungry too." The drive to the library was a bit quieter than would normally have been, at least by me, for I was afraid I"d say something that would blow my story. Fortunately for me Mary could hold both sides of a conversation and did so without any problems. Once in the library I started over to where I knew Miss Dartit would be. Looking back at Mary I saw how wide her eyes were and wondered what she was thinking. It wasn"t until we were almost to the desk that I noticed someone talking with the librarian; it was Jill. Mary saw her at the same time. "Hey Jill!" Mary exclaimed, and then promptly slapped her hands over her mouth. She of course got a number of annoyed looks; as well as a few shushes. She giggled, yet kept that somewhat muffled, and went to where Jill was standing. Jill smiled, nodded to me and began introductions. I decided my best course of action was to just stand there and keep my trap shut. A tactic we men fall back on most of the time. "Mary, I"d like ya to meet a good friend of mine." Jill said. I noticed right off that she was painstakingly doing her best to talk proper. She related to Mary how Miss Dartit, had taken her under her wing and helped her learn to read. I was very impressed with Jill"s determination on showing her mentor how well she could speak, even if it was a bit of a fib. Miss Dartit, to Jill"s relief, soon took over the conversation. "Little Jill was such a sweet young lady." She started. "So full of both wonder and doubt. I could see she was somewhat at a loss as she stood there gazing at all the books. I of course had to see if I could help her find what it was she was looking for. Little did I know that she didn"t know how to read until she said so. She was so very timid and embarrassed that it broke my heart. Right off I took her aside determined to help in every way I could." Miss Dartit looked at Jill"s face remembering that moment. Jill I saw had a tear running down her cheek. Her smile however spoke only happiness. After a bit more reminiscing, Miss Dartit suggested we move to a more private place. We did so, following her to a larger room off to the side of the main library room. I could tell right off it was designed for children learning to read. On the walls were pictures of various animals and everyday objects with the spelling of each below. Near the tops on the wall ran a banner depicting the entire alphabet while on the floor were placed small tables and tiny chairs. "This is where we help young preschoolers learn to read." She said. "Many parents feel it"s a good idea to give their child an early start and so we set up this room to do just that." She steered us over to one corner of the room that had normal size furnishings; I figured it was probably for observation or, possibly just a place for the parents to relax a bit. I took that moment to check Mary out just to see if the sham was still working. It appeared not, for she was giving me the "˜eye". I did the only thing a guy can do in this situation. Yup, I fell back on the course of action we men do best; I pretended not to notice. Jill and her mentor relived many touching stories from that time and, to my relief, I saw Mary start to loosen up some. Hmm, Maybe I was going to get out of this without getting burned after all. Not on your life. It was at that moment Miss Dartit turned to Mary and spoke the words of my doom. "Jill tells me you and she shared the same misfortune." She said. Bam! I thought to myself. I"m sunk for sure, no doubt about it. "Don"t be embarrassed." She went on. Many rural kids have all had the same problem. You"d be surprised at the number of us that took longer than most to learn to read." She stopped with that line as if it was significant and I mulled it over. "˜Us", she had said, as in, she to. That thought sat in my brain going nowhere; Like a jalopy spinning its wheels in the mud. I wasn"t alone though, for no one else was saying a word either. After what was probably ten seconds but seemed like an hour, Miss Dartit began to laugh. "I see by your faces you didn"t understand what I meant." She said amused. "You didn"t know it Jill," she went on looking at her former student, but I to, was late at learning to read. In fact I wasn"t much younger than you. It was a wonderful lady from this very library that tutored me as I did for you." She continued with pride. "Would you like to meet her?" Without waiting for an answer she stood up, motioning for us to follow her. She led us from that room and turned down a hallway towards the back of the building. At the end was a door and on that door was a small sign that read, "˜Katie Elder: Head Librarian, Please Come In". Miss Dartit did so without bothering to knock. Inside, sitting in a big leather chair was a very old gal with gray hair and glasses. She was dressed modestly and wore her hair up in a bun. In her lap, I noted, was a kid of about five or so. He was holding in his tiny hands, a large book and reading out loud. I could see the lad was concentrating very hard; pronouncing words unfamiliar to him. For what it"s worth, I thought he was doing a darn good job. They both looked our way; pausing, and I watched the old librarian"s eyes light up upon seeing Miss Dartit. "Hello Bumble Bee." She responded affectionately. "Who are your friends?" Miss Dartit beamed warmly at the mention of her nickname. "Kate," she said; "are you busy?" "Of course not child." She answered. "Do come in." She looked at the little boy in her lab and nodded to him. " Timmy here was just finishing up his third book, weren"t you." The boy spoke up with eyes as bright as the sun. "Yes Miss Dartit." He said grinning happily. " And it was a real hard one to, see." He held up the book and I noted it was a book on trains. "Someday," he told us enthusiastically, "I"d like to be a train engineer." His face had that look of awe that kids get when thinking of adventure. I remember wanting to be a clown in a traveling circus and make people laugh. Yeah, I kind of missed that boat, didn"t I. Go figure. The tot jumped down and went over to one of the bookshelves in the room and placed the book in its appropriate spot. Having done that he ran to Miss Elder, gave her a kiss and hug, then ran out of the room. "What an adorable child." Kate said turning back to us. I noticed she wore long slender gloves. A bit odd, I thought, but figured it was probably fashionable in her day a few decades ago. "I"d like you to meet Jill Hill." Miss Dartit said to her boss. "She"s a young lady to whom I had the pleasure of teaching to read a while ago; and these are her friends." Kate, as I watched, regarded each one of us with a smile. She seemed to lingerer on me a bit longer than the others and I got the feeling I should know her. Try as I might, nothing came to mind. "Do introduce them Bumble Bee." The old bird said. Miss Dartit did so, starting with Jill once again, then Mary, leaving me last. That look of hers was giving me the heebie-jeebies; and that voice in the back of my head advised watching this one closely. The old gal grinned at me as I thought this and winked. Hmm. Miss Dartit then mentioned the reason Jill and Mary were there, and Kate"s smile brightened. Turning to Mary, she placed her gloved hand on hers and said, "You are going to love the magic of reading." Then, looking at me for just a second she added, "A good book can turn a simple bean into a stairway to the heavens." My eyes grew wide at that statement. Hmm! Was that beanstalk reference a coincidence? That voice spoke caution once again. "With your permission," Dartit went on; "I"d like to use the resource room and get started teaching Mary." I looked over at Mary to gage how upset she was with me, figuring on the worst. Her look however, told me she was as entranced with the old librarian as Dartit was. The old bird nodded and we all turned to leave. "Mr. Vine." She said to me. "Do stay a while longer, wont you?" Her grin was back, throwing me off my guard. So much so, that I had closed the door and seated myself before even realizing it. The fact that she knew my last name didn"t even register. "I guess I should thank you for letting Miss Dartit help my girl." I stated cautiously. "That was very kind of you." She sat quietly, as if appraising a dress in a store window she was thinking of buying. It was unnerving to say the least. "Say sister," I went on to break the silence; "I get this feeling we may have met before. Have we?" I"m not sure if it was the way she had tilted her head, or just the angle of the light reflecting into the room, but her eyes seemed to flash. Ignoring my question, she turned to a small teakettle and two cups sitting on top a small table beside her and poured us each a cup. Funny, I thought. I hadn"t seen it there moments before. "Thanks." I said, taking the one she offered to me. "Mmm! Good tea. Is it a special blend?" There was that amused look again. I was getting antsy. "Yes, It"s an old family blend." She replied. "Do you like it?" I nodded, finished it off and set the cup down, sitting back as I did so. Gazing around the room I scrutinize the layout more closely. You never know when you may want to make a quick retreat in my racket. That"s odd, I thought, something was different. When I had first come in, the room seemed like any other office. Four walls a door and a window. Even the light fixture above was a carbon copy seen in any business around town. Heck the only difference in this room, were all the books. But as I looked now, it had changed somehow. Sure, the bookshelves were still there, but now they appeared older somehow;and dust covered. Even the lighting had changed. That whitish florescent illumination had become orange and softer; not only that, it was moving, or shadows were at any rate. I looked to my left seeking out the reason for this phenomenon only to find a fire crackling away in a stone fireplace. Whoa! Where"d that come from? "Say sister!" I gasped, quickly standing up. "What gives?" My first thought was that the dame"s tea had been spiked and I was now hallucination. And what a tripper-a-one it was too. "Please, do sit down Jack." She said in a soft neutral tone. "You are in no danger here. Far from it in fact." "I think I"d like an explanation first lady; before I commit to anything." I growled. Frankly I was pretty sure I"d been slipped a mickey. What other explanation was there. She placed her teacup back on the table and refaced me. "Alright." She said. "We do owe you that much." "We?" I questioned, catching the use of the plural pronoun. She tilted her head in a kind of sideways nod; sort of like the way they use to do in old black and white movies. "Yes." She went on. "We. Myself and my two sisters; now do sit down. If I had had any intention of doing you harm I could have done so without you being here." What she meant by that I wasn"t sure but I got the feeling I wasn"t in any danger; at least not yet. I stepped back to the chair and sat. The chair, I noticed, was soft and very comfortable; it was also not the chair I had been sitting in before. "Could you quit with the hocus pocus stuff." I grunted, indicating the chair. "My mind is already two dimes short of a quarter as it is." She smiled, her eyes literally sparkling with merriment. "As you wish, Jack." She said. " But I thought you could use a more relaxing chair considering your current anxieties." "Thanks." I replied. I sat for all of thirty seconds mulling things over before going on. "OK sister, what"s your game? You say you are not here to do me in; I"ll accept that for the moment. Question is, who are you really, and why am I here?" They were both pushy questions but ones I needed to know. Once again she picked up her teacup and sipped it, as if calculating what to say next. "As I said," she continued, "I have two sisters; one whom you even met back as a child." "Could you be a bit more specific?" I said stopping her for just a moment. "I don"t seem to recall meeting any dame I didn"t know as a kid. And if she is anything like you;" I gestured at the ever-changing room, "I"d think I"d remember her." "Oh, but you do. "She chuckled. "It is just that you thought she was a he." "He?" Just who are we talking about?" "Why the man who sold you your magic beans," she answered; "or woman actually." My mouth dropped open. For how long I couldn"t say. I grabbed up the empty cup and held it out. "You got anything a little harder?" I asked. I figured if she could change a chair right in front of me she could probably change tea into scotch. Picking up the teakettle she poured me a refill, which I downed in one gulp. Yup, It was scotch all right. And not just any dime store brand either. This stuff was top of the line. I sat back in the chair to organize what I thought to be the facts so far. "OK." I stared. "Either I"m whacked out of my gourd or your way more than a simple head librarian. I thought of witch Hazel and Sasha; this sure seemed to fit into that category, so I went on. Your some kind of hocus pocus dame, I"m thinking; but not in the same way as my friend Hazel. Right?" Her smile got brighter, almost becoming a glow, but she didn"t confirm my guess. Yeah, she didn"t deny it either. "S"pose we cut to the chase here and you fill me in on what"s going on, OK." I could tell the scotch was beginning to have its usually bold effect on me. Boy do I like scotch. "Jack, you take all the fun out of things." She grinned. "First off let me introduce myself. I am Clotho although I go by the name Kate at this time. As I told you, I have two other sisters, one of which you"ve met. Her name is Lachesis, and like me goes by another name. In fact we all have had many names. Lachesis at the moment goes by the name Linda; you"ll meet her later when she gets back from checking on two friends of yours." My eyes narrowed, hoping to get more info on these two friends, she ignored my look however and went on. "My third sister is Anthropos, also known as Annette. She too is away although I"m not sure where. She likes to go off like that sometimes." She stated. I could tell she was lying. "OK. Lets see if I have this straight so far." I said ticking thinks off on my hand. "One, there are three of you. You"re Kate and your sisters are Linda and Annette. Two, you seem to be like witches, or at least can do that kind of hocus pocus stuff. Three, you"re not out to get me for anything I might have done to tick you off, or at least not yet. Four, I met one of you, Linda, back when I was a kid, i.e. the old man that sold me the beans. And Last, You make a damn good cup of tea and an even better scotch." She nodded each time I ticked a fact off, her eyes glowing merrily. Was it me, or was she loosing some wrinkles? Just then I heard another voice next to me. It was a dame, and so near that I nearly jumped out of my chair. "I"m sorry Jack." The feminine voice apologized. Standing next to my chair was an elegant looking lady of about thirty or so. She was dressed in a white silk dress and wearing a dark cloak. The cloak, probably dark blue, sported a hood, which was pulled back revealing lush, shiny black hair and sea green eyes. Her skin had a glowing like tan somewhat in the olive range. Italy or Greece crossed my mind. She was certainly a hot tart to be sure. "Hello Linda." Kate greeted her sister. "I"m glad your back. How are things going with, you-know-who?" "Quite well." Linda replied with a smile bordering on the naughty. "You Americans can be very creative sometimes." "Sister!" Kate called out in shock. "Do show a little restraint." I wasn"t following what was being said and figured it was for the best. I looked back at Kate, and yes, she was definitely much younger looking. In fact, she now looked to be about the same age as Linda was. "Look here sisters!" I growled. "This is getting way to freaky for my tastes." I motioned to the new, younger Kate, holding up my cup and nodding. She winked and when I looked in the cup it was filled. "Thanks toots." I told her. "Say you don"t do weddings do you?" Ignoring me for the moment, she looked back to her sister. "Have you heard from Anthropos?" She asked. Linda shrugged. "I"ve no idea where Annette is." She replied looking my way. "I"m sure she still blames herself for what happened." Kate I saw shook her head, taking a deep breath as she did so. "That was over three hundred years ago." She said. "You"d think she would have gotten a grip on her emotions by now. We do not blame her for what happened and it is almost fixed thanks to Jack." Linda nodded, looking my way. "Have you told him anything yet?" Her look, I saw a contradiction, and I got the feeling that whatever Kate was planning on telling me, she did not wholly agree with. "I was just getting to that when you showed up." Kate said. As the two talked I got the feeling I was watching a show on TV. You know, like, what was going on didn"t really need me. Kate abruptly turned to me with an apologetic look. "I"m sorry Jack." She said. "We do have a tendency of forgetting others are around. We do not mean to be rude or anything like that. Also you are very needed." Hmm, I thought. So they can read my mind. Should have seen that coming. The two girls, teens now, grinned impishly at me. "Look! Could you pick an age and stick with it." I growled. "Sorry." Kate apologized yet again while refilling her teacup, as well as one for her sister. "Now Jack," she started again. "What I am going to tell you must be kept to only yourself and your partner." "You mean Tiny?" I asked, wondering what he had to do with this. "Yes." Kate went on. "He also deserves to know what has happened, beings he, and you both, were the means by which we were able to fix our little mistake." She said the word mistake, with a bit of sorrow in her voice. "OK, sister." I said sipping the scotch in my cup. "Why don"t we get to the guts of your story, shall we?" I leaned back in my chair, eying them both. "No hurry. I"ve got plenty of time." "Yes," Kate stated, "but that almost wasn"t the case." I wondered what she meant by that crack but stayed quiet for the moment. "We are known as The Fates," she went on. "The three of us that is." Seeing I didn"t respond she elaborated. "We three are the persona that weave every moment of every human"s life." Again she eyed me; and seeing no response, frowned. I started to feel foolish, like I"d missed an easy question on a test and the teacher was shaking her head in disbelief. "Give me a break toots. History wasn"t my best subject." Rolling her eyes she continued. "Think of everyone"s life as a thread of yarn." She stated annoyingly. "The thread begins at birth and ends with each ones death. For some, the strands are long while others are short. Each strand is woven into the cloth of life, with those that you meet touching. The fabric is very long and complex, spanning from the beginning of time." She paused looking critically at me. "Are you following so far?" "Sure thing teach." I grinned and winked at her. Her smile returned and she almost blushed. "What shall be is preordained by our mother, father and the universe itself. We, The Fate"s, make it a reality. You might say, we make flesh what mother intended. She paused, her smile fading. "But sometimes things happen that were never meant to be. Our mother does not like that, nor does the Universe." I could see she was reluctant to go on. Whatever had happened must have involved these two personally, and a doozy at that. "Three." Kate corrected me; and I remembered they could read my thoughts. "You"re forgetting Anthropos." "Yes," I replied. "The one I haven"t had the pleasure of meeting yet. Where is she by-the-way?" The two sisters looked at one another with apprehension in their eyes. "We do not know." Kate replied. "Our sister feels the pain of the mistake more keenly than we do. She was, you see, the one who caused the error." "What do you mean by "˜the error"?" I asked pointedly. "That is complicated." Linda chimed in. "Annette, unlike the two of us, was, and still is, very emotional. She has desires, which we do not, and has, unfortunately, acted on them with someone she was never intended to be with." "This," Kate took up, "has had very sever results to the very fabric of time itself." She paused, reluctant to go on. "Look hot stuff," I said, "you"ve gone this far; you might as well go for broke. After all, isn"t that why I"m here in the first place? To tell me what"s up?" "I suppose you are right." Kate said. "But this is hard for me to say, even if it is you." "That"s another thing. I added. "Why me? What makes me so special? Am I Going to have to do something? If so, I"m going to need to know a heck of a lot more than you"ve given me so far." "Not to worry." Kate said. "You have already done most of what was needed. At least, to fix, the error; Linda has confirmed this. That is where she has been. The fabric, which was in jeopardy of ripping apart, seems once more, strong. That was one of the things I felt you had the right to know." "Yes. Well let"s get back to your explaining, shall we." I took another sip from my cup and found that the scotch had turned into a "˜Jack Vine" special. "Mmm! Nicely done Kate." I complimented. She smiled and sipped from her own cup. "As my sister said," Kate continued the narrative, "Annette has strong emotions. She yearns for love. That is something we cannot allow for ourselves. Not with our responsibilities let alone being immortals; that would not be fair to a lover." "Why not?" I asked, startling them both with my question. "Well;" Linda hedged, thinking the reason, obvious. " That just wouldn"t be fair to a partner; growing old and dying while we stay the same." Her eye took on that look, as if she was no longer certain after hearing my remark. "Besides," she went on, "the very fact that what she did, almost tore the universe apart is reason enough." "Why don"t I let you get on with it." I told them. Hmm. Maybe they can"t read my mind after all, or at least not all the time. "Let"s get back to this "˜error" your sister supposedly made. OK?" Kate nodded. "About three hundred years ago," She started, "and that"s not long for us, our sister gave into her desire for companionship. She apparently was love struck with a young man on the coast of what is now called England." I nodded, indicating I was still with her. "This young man, however, was already married in a somewhat loveless relationship and in desperate need of companionship. Annette took advantage of this and would go to him in his dreams." "This boy," I stopped her; his name wouldn"t be Arthur, would it?" They both looked at me but said nothing. "OK. Go on" "Annette"s need for a more physical experience became a reality when she got the idea to enter into the dreams of the young woman in question. In this way Annette could use the girls body as she slept. The girl got pregnant, of course, when she was never intended to. This should not have happened, yet it did. The very fabric of time and space convulsed." Kate"s look turned sadder. "Mother had to step in quickly. To stop the chaos, she grabbed a life from down the line in order to fill the void of this new child, which should not have been. Doing so forestalled the tear." "So, how did I solve this so called error?" I asked. "I"m a little lost here." "The whole problem with what happened," Kate continued, "was the child, not the act of love. Love, in any form, is always strong and good. It is the child missing down the line that was the worry. Eventually that thread would need to be there to touch all the other threads it was suppose to." "I see." Thinking the complex paradox through. "So the life which was borrowed to bandage this tear, three hundred years ago, was now needed to take it"s rightful spot in time, correct?" "Yes." Linda said, clapping her now adolescent hands. "Very good." I groaned and turned back to Kate. She was now back as the old librarian. "You say this all happened about three hundred years ago." I questioned. "Could it have been more like three hundred and seventeen?" The look of stunned amazement confirmed my hunch that the two could not always read my mind. "I thought so." I said, looking each one over. "Which one of you played the part of the wicked witch?" Kate blushed in embarrassment while Linda looked her way. Talk about an open book. "So, your solution was to have wait for her true love to show up then." "It was the only thing we could come up with." Kate said defensively. "The fabric would have torn apart. We needed to stop that from happening." "We had to put the child, on hold, as you would say." Linda put in. "My sister went under the guise of a witch and placed a spell, so-to-speak, on the child." "And to break this spell required a kiss from her true intended love." I finished for them. "It was the only way." Kate said guiltily. "Don"t sweat it sister. I can"t say I wouldn"t have done the same thing if I"d been in your shoes. The problem I"m having is with all those years of suffering Christina was made to endure." "That is what torments our sister also." Kate said. "She has not been the same and the world feels it with her." "How"s that?" I asked, wanting to understand the connection. "Of the three of us, Anthropos was the essence which people drew emotions from. She was the reason people enjoy watching the sun rise, or the feel of awe at witnessing the birth of a newborn. But ever sense the error, she has lost much of the good emotions." "What can you do about it?" "We can do nothing." Linda responded sadly. But our mother seems to think you can." "Me! What can I do?" Kate and Linda both looked at each other, then me. "We do not know." They both replied, concern written all over their faces. "Hmm. Maybe I should have a talk with your mother." I suggested. "You know; kind of get a first hand perspective of what she wants me to do." They looked at me as if I was a moron. It was Kate that replied. "That is not possible." She said. "Even we do not talk to her directly like we are now. Mother speaks to you in your soul." "What do you mean by that? Like in a dream or something." "At times," Linda nodded, "but not necessarily. Sometimes you just know she is speaking to you. It is hard to explain." I thought back to that crazy dream I had at the beginning of "˜The Curse Of The Golden Harp". Tiny and me weren"t strictly reliving the past verbatim; more like a surreal version, where we were both adults and even knew we were dreaming. I recalled my mom and a thought occurred to me. "Maybe your mother did talk to me already." I said, toying with the idea. "Oh! What did she say to you?" Linda asked. "Well, not much. You see, I thought she was just part of the dream. "But now that I think back on it, some of what she said kind of pertains to this problem. Maybe we"ll have another talk." I said and stood up. "Are we all through here? I"ve got some things to do." Miss Kate"s office was once more around me, while the old librarian once again was seated in her chair. Linda however was gone. "I believe the girls are finished for the time being." She said to me. Just then the door opened and in walked Mary, Jill and miss Dartit laughing and giggling. Mary I noticed had an armload of books and a smile that would have put the sun to shame. "Oh! Thank you both so much." She said. "I thought this was going to be very difficult; but it"s not at all." "Your amazing" Jill told her with pride. "You caught on so fast it was like magic." I looked back to Kate to see her raise her teacup, smile and wink. "Good luck Jack." She said. At our apartment, Mary was propped up in bed reading from one of the books she"d checked out. It was a juvenile version of "˜Sleeping Beauty" and was totally mesmerized. I smiled, kissed her on the cheek and rolled over to catch some Z"s. If things went as planned, I"d be meeting up with mom once more. "; Jack, you foolish little boy. How could you trade our cow for a handful of worthless beans?" I turned around and sure enough, there stood ma in all her glory in the doorway of our shack. "How ya doing Ma?" I replied. Her scowl turned into a grin and she turned and walked inside. "It looks like it is going to rain Jack;" she said cheerily, "do come in." With that, I felt the first drops of a spring shower. Chuckling I ran in through the door. Inside, mom had moved over to the fireplace and was stirring the contents of a bubbling pot with a wooden spoon. "Are you hungry?" She asked. "What are we having?" I asked automatically. It was very easy to get lost in the dream. "Turnip stew." She smirked knowingly. "Uh, that"s OK. I"m not that hungry." I said grinning back. "How are Kate and Linda?" She inquired." "They"re fine." I replied confirming my hunch on just who I was really talking with. "It"s Annette that I want to talk to you about." "Yes, of course." She replacing the lid on the pot then moving over to the table, sat down. "Do you know what you need to do?" She asked me. "If I knew that, would I be here now?" "You mean your not here just to see your mother?" She pouted insincerely. I shook my head, smiled and seated myself across from her. "What do you want me to do, ma?" I asked directly and to the point. "What do you think you should do?" "This ain"t going to be twenty questions, is it ma?" As I spoke I looked around the room noting familiar items from my childhood. Over in the corner near my old bed I spotted a toy police car and another that looked somewhat like a BMW. Hmm? I thought to myself. I don"t remember ever having those. "What exactly am I suppose to do to help your daughter, Annette?" I went on turning from the two toys. "Kate and Linda tell me I"m suppose to do something but they didn"t know what that something was. So how about it; what do you want me to do?" "Look Jack." She replied softly, her eyes boring into mine. "Whatever you do has to be your choice; right or wrong." "Yeah, well that"s easy for you to say, but I"d like a bit more to go on." "Like what?" "Like what does Annette want? And I mean from her heart. What is it that"s going to make her whole again?" Smiling she reached out her hand and placed it on mine. My heart almost stopped, she was so much like my real mom. "Jack." She whispered. "I am your real mom." The look she gave me was intense and honest. "What do you mean by, "˜real mom"? I asked confused. "Like my, "˜real real" mom?" She nodded and smiled even warmer than before. "And that means you have three much older sisters and one of them needs your help, not mine." My eyes nearly jumped out of my skull. I blinked once and there in front of me was an open bottle of scotch. Grabbing it I downed an eighth of its contents. "You know son," she said, "you shouldn"t drink so much. It really isn"t good for you." "Yeah! Right!" I mocked and took a breath to clear my head. "Let me get this straight. All these years, I thought I was an only child, and now I find out I have three sisters, they are immortals, and to cap that bit of news off, I also learn my mom is Mother Nature herself. Is there anything else you haven"t told me?" "What do you plan on doing to help your sister?" She said ignoring my rant. I groaned and took another deep breath. "Probably something stupid." "Good. That means you do have a plan; you just don"t know it yet." She stood up. "Be on your way now son and give my love to your sisters for me. I love you all." My eyes popped open and I sat up in bed. "Wait ma! How do I find Annette?" I cried out. Mary, who was still sleeping soundly next to me, mumbled her answer. "Same way you found me Jack." She answered. "Now do go back to sleep. It is much to early to be up." Mary giggled, rolled and snuggled against my chest. "˜I feel like I"m on my way to Oz", I growled to myself. Putting my arm around Mary"s shoulder, I closed my eyes hopping to get a little snooze time in; Not happening. It was dark. And I mean pitch dark. I put my hand out and felt a wall. No not a wall, a door, for there was a knob, which I grabbed, turned and walked through. I found myself in a very feminine looking room. The walls were a light pink while the windows; door and trim work were all a darker red. Along one of the walls, midway, was a bed. It too was garbed in a reddish blanket, Scarlet to be more precise. Covered beneath that blanket, sleeping soundly was a young boy and girl. "What the;" I started to say. "Why am I inside Christina"s bedroom?" It was actually a dollhouse that Tiny"s dad had made for her many years ago; Go figure. "Who are you?" I heard a voice from the corner of the room. Turning I saw a stuffed bear looking back at me. "Is that you Annette?" I asked. The bear blinked and shimmered into the form of a very pretty girl of about eighteen or nineteen. She had dark hair, long and flowing over one shoulder. Her figure was slim and petite with skin a light olive color similar to Kate and Linda"s. Her eyes were a deep shade of blue; even deeper than Mary"s. The dress she wore was a simple lavender one, which set off her face perfectly. "Do I know you?" She asked, stepping forward. I saw at once she had been crying, her eyes being red and puffy. "Kind of." I told her. "It"s a long story and one I"m not altogether sure about yet. The short of it is you"re my sister, see, and mom told me to help you out." Yeah, she"ll believe that load of hooey, I told myself. Her sad look turned to one of confusion, so I walked over to her and wiped off a lingering tear from her cheek. She staggered back as if I had slugged her and gasped. "You touched me!" She exclaimed. "Why"s that so remarkable?" I asked perplexed to say the least. I noticed as I asked this, that her face radiated a kind of glow; it made me feel really good for some reason. Like when you"re eating a chocolate sundae on a warm summers day. "No one"s been able to touch me sense;" She stopped herself, a name unsaid, so I finished it for her. "Sense Arthur?" She staggered back a step further and would have fallen had I not caught her. I knew then the answer to the question I posed to ma about Annette"s problem. That"s not to say I had the solution; I just knew what was wrong, there"s a difference. "How;how do you know who Arthur is?" She asked in awe. "Like I said sister, it"s a long story. If we had a couple of days to spare, I"d tell you. That"s going to have to wait though. When exactly was the last time you and Arthur were together?" I inquired. The question changed her glow to a dull bluish tint and a tear once more rolled down her cheek. "Come now toots." I reprimanded her in a humorous manor. "No crying in front of your brother." "Brother?" She mumbled sniffling. "Say, you"re not going to wipe your nose on your sleeve are you?" I asked with a mock grin. The memory of Mary doing the same thing when we first met was kind of ironic. Annette giggled at my remark and her glow turned back to a more neutral color. "That"s a good girl." I chide her. Now let"s get down to business shall we." "Mom Said I was to fix your problem. She, however, failed to tell me how, so I"m kind of winging it. I do that a lot so I think she figured I would anyways. Let me ask you a few things first, and no more mood swings, deal?" She nodded and I moved on. Turning, I looked at the two youngsters still sleeping soundly. "Question one, why are you here watching these two?" Out of the corner of my eye I watched my new sister turn to look also at the two lovers. "I"ve caused this girl so much grief." She said. "I guess I just wanted to see if she was indeed truly happy." We watched as the two shifted in their sleep, each moving closer to the other and sighing contently. Their smiles spoke volumes. "I don"t think any two could be happier." I told her honestly. "As I see it, the wait has done nothing but strengthen their love." When I looked back, Annette was eyeing me. "Love," I went on, "is the most powerful of all magic." It was a line Christina had told me once and I found it to be the key to what I needed to do. "Lets talk shall we? In my office, tomorrow. Will you come?" The question lingered for sometime as she considered the request. That dull blue neutral glow turned to a bright white and her smile radiating hope. "Yes brother." She replied. "I will be there at sun up." "Lets make that a couple hours past, shall we. I need to get some real sleep first." I sat at my desk, my chair tilted back and my feet propped up on the corner of my gleaming desk. Tiny was there; and oddity considering the time. When I ask, he told me he had a dream where mom had interrupted a most interesting dream, telling him he"d better be here if he knew what was good for him. I chuckled. Ma sure had spunk. My sister sat daintily in the newly restored antique chair in front of me, her smile as bright as the new sun. She was still dressed as before adding only a white shawl around her lush shoulders. Her face was glowing and her eyes sparkled with eagerness. I felt very close to her at that moment. "OK sister," I said, lets get started shall we?" I looked at my partner and saw him appraising Annette. Understandable to be sure, but I made a mental note to remind him he had a girlfriend already and that sis was, for all practical purposes, off limits. He looked my way noticed my glare and refocused his gaze up on the ceiling. Problem solved. "What my gut tells me is you need a beau same as Christina did. In her case, said beau had to be Timmy, or as Christina likes to call him, her "˜Tiny Tim"." Annette smiled at the cuteness and romance of such a nickname. "Does he have one for her?" She asked curiously. He did of course and it was one he kind of borrowed from me. "He calls her his queen of tarts." I grinned. Tiny I saw snickered then sipped from his cup of morning sludge. I looked back to my sister ready to get on with our case. "Correct me if I"m wrong," I started, "but you haven"t had any other men in your life, have you?" Now, you all may think this a stupid question giving what we already know from Kate and Linda, but you just never really know until you ask and this was as good a time as any. It might also answer if human like emotions applied to them also. "I am one of three immortals. " She began her story from the beginning and leading up to my question. "Five if you count Mother and father. None of use can be touched except by ourselves." I thought of mom putting her hand on mine and wondered where I fit into the equation. That however would have to wait of course, that and exactly who was dad? "So your problem with intimacy or lack of, could pertain to your sisters too, Aye?" "I do not know." She confessed. "They have always guarded their feelings most closely. But that is not what I"ve been told." I wondered what she meant by that and waited to see if she"d cough up some more info. Instead she went on with her previous explanation. "All I know is, even as a child, I"ve wanted something more. What that was I did not understand. But that was long ago." "What do you mean by "˜long ago"? I asked. "How long are we talking about?" "Since before the creation of the worlds." She answered. "The suns, planets, all that surrounds us, did not always exist; only mom, dad and the universe. It was after, that we came to be. "Wow"! I whispered. "Pretty darn good looking for a bird your age. She blushed and smiled warmly. "When did you start having these desires for male companionship?" I moved on. I was curious on this point of interest; why, I wasn"t sure. "When I began to dream." She said barely above a whisper. Her eyes lowered to her hands clenched tightly in her lap. I could tell this was a sensitive area so I said nothing; it would be up to her to continue when she was ready. The pause lengthened into minutes and I thought I might have to prod her after all. My gut told me to hold off giving her a bit more time; my gut hadn"t led me wrong yet, so I listened. "Immortals do not dream," she stated, still as quiet as mouse on Christmas Eve. She slowly lifted her eyes meeting my gaze. It was as if looking she were looking to me for strength. I nodded my reassurance and smiled as best as I could. Finally she continued. "At least that is what I"ve been told. My mother and sisters have never said anything to the contrary so I"ve always assumed it was so for them.." "But not with you." I interjected; she looked away, no longer able to meet my gaze. "No." She replied. "Not for me." "When was this?" I asked. I wasn"t sure she could go on without a little coxing so I figured a little sidetrack was in-order. I was also curious on her answer. Looking over at Tiny I realized he was as tight as I"d ever seen him; I grinned and refaced Annette. "I was but a teenager." She responded, taking the needed change in direction. "How I look right now is no true indicator of my age." "Yes." I said with a grin. "Your sisters were changing so often, I had to chastise them to get them to stop; it didn"t really work though. Hech! I don"t thing the two dames even realized they were doing it most of the time." Annette nodded her understanding and paused again. I could see she was moving back to my first question. "If I dream," she resumed with a bit more determination, not much, but a bit, "Wouldn"t that indicate that something very wrong with me?" I could see this was a question that had been haunting her for a long, long time. It was also one of her greatest fears; to discover the answer. ""Your afraid you"re somehow flawed." I stated openly. Like a freak in some ways, is that it?" She didn"t respond; she didn"t have to. Fear was written all over her face. I mulled the question over in my head, looking at it from all angles. I realized I was dealing with an immortal here, not something that happens everyday but my gut told me she was no different that any other gal. The glow she radiated, both brightness an color, were surly physical manifestations of the emotions we all share. No! I decided. She was definitely not flawed for having them. She was ; "˜human". Hmm, Could that be? I pondered; Human and immortal at the same time; Why not? If a lamb can play the banjo with three little pigs at the Meadow club, then who"s to say Annette can"t be both human and immortal. The world is just like that. I realized, and that"s OK with me. My smile must have told her my conclusion for she smiled back at me. And not just any smile. No. This was one of ungodly beauty. The kind of beauty that comes along only once or twice in a mans life. I thought of Mary and realized how blessed I was. Its no wonder Annette was the embodiment of all emotions. "Let"s move on, shall we sugar?" She nodded, her smile firmly in place. I"d be willing to bet Tiny"s golden egg laying goose, that Arthur has been the only beau you"ve ever dreamt of. Right?" She blushed then nodded; Tiny I saw simply rolled his eyes. I closed my eyes and ran the facts through my head putting them in a semblance of order. What I didn"t know much about was this Arthur character; other than the usual King Arthur and the "˜Knights of the Round Table" stuff. "I think your going to have to tell us what all happened, that three hundred years ago." "Three hundred seventeen." Tiny corrected me. "That"s about how long ago Christina"s curse was, give or take nine months." "Actually," Annette stated, " I have dreamt of Arthur for billions of years before he was ever born." Tiny and me both froze with looks of uncomprehending in our eyes, so stunned were we by the number. "Did you not realize when I told you earlier that I first started to dream as a teenager? I did mean that you know; literally, and it was of Arthur. "Wow!" Tiny exclaimed getting his voice first. "That"s a long time." Annette simply shrugged. I looked at Tiny and shook my head. "Doesn"t look a day over a thousand." I said getting a chuckle out of my partner. "I am sorry." She giggled. "Shall I try and look older? Our sisters have always been good at doing so." "Don"t bother toots." I told her. "That fact that you tend to stay in the same general pall park is good enough for me." I put Annette"s unusual age dilemma on the back burner and got back to her problem; and it was a doozy. "Sense Arthur is the only one you"ve ever thought about, I"m thinking he is in some way special for you; your soul-mate so to speak. Like Tiny Tim is for Christina." The parallels between the four were suspiciously similar. I was beginning to wonder if this was a coincident at all. "Maybe," I pondered out loud, "this whole ball of wax is the Universe correcting a mistake, not making one. Maybe Annette and Arthur were meant to be an item all along." I could see by the looks on their face they weren"t following; heck, I was having trouble grasping it, but my gut told me I was on the right track. I looked over at my partner hoping to get his take on it and could see his wheels were spinning full throttle. Whether he was going anywhere or just stuck in a mud puddle I didn"t know. "Your saying this whole business is natures way of getting back to what was suppose to be? And that your sisters true love was meant to be Arthur all along" "Not was big guy, is." Tiny frowned and I knew what he was going to say. "But Jack, Arthur"s dead." He pointed out. "So!" I shrugged. "Sasha isn"t alive, yet if you told that to Hazel or Rocci, I"d be willing to bet they"d call you a liar." "Who is this Sasha, you speak of?" Annette asked, unfamiliar with our three friends. I explained their relationship, describing how Sasha was what Hazel called, her "˜Spirit Guide". I also went into some of the romantic aspects, keeping it vague but hinting at the physical nature involved. "You mean this Sasha woman is no longer alive?" I nodded adding as an after thought that Hazel was a witch and that Sasha may have been also, although I didn"t know that for a fact. The expression on my sisters face was baffled to say the least. I figured that the dead didn"t really fall into this cloth of life. Heck, I doubt they even considered that as a possibility. Hmm, I wonder if this Universe was holding back on mom? "So, you think this is a way for your sister and Arthur to get together?" Tiny asked. "Not sure partner; but it"s worth a look-see. I think our next move is to have a talk with our two girls." It was agreed and I dialed Rocci on the horn. It was Rocci that answered so after the usual pleasantries I got down to brass taxes filling him in on the case I was currently looking into. "That"s quite a story you got there sport." He said. I could tell he was skeptical, heck I would be too. I did however point out the unlikely hood of a man dating two girls both in the same body. Rocci chuckled. "OK Jack. Lets say I bye your story. What do you want from me?" We"re going to need to have a talk with Sasha to hash out my theory. That means your girlfriend Hazel needs to be there too." "Sasha is also my girlfriend." Rocci replied at bit testily. "Sorry sport." I apologized. I didn"t mean that like it sounded. "Will you talk with them?" "Sure I will Jack." He said back to his usual good-natured self. Why don"t you bring this immortal friend of yours around tonight around six." "Sounds good dude." I replied. Oh! And another thing I should probably mention; the immortal in question is sort of my sister." There was a long silence on his end and I could picture the look he must have on his face. "You still with me sport?" I inquired. "Not sure, Jack. He finally answered. "Did you just say you have a sister? And that this sister of yours is an immortal?" "That"s the ticket sport." I grinned. "Umm, You ain"t been hitting that bottle of yours; have you?" He asked. I laughed but confirmed that said bottle was safely still in my desk drawer, untouched. "You sure can come up with some doozy"s." He told me. "Then I"ll toss in the fact that my mom turns out to be Mother Nature. Sort of like the creator, at least partly." This time the silence was a bit longer. "Ooook!" He finally replied. "We still good?" I wanted to confirm. He told me yes and repeated the time as six tonight. "Till tonight." I ended and hung up laughing. We arrived at Rocci"s pad at a little past six. I noticed when he let us in that things had change a little. Heck! They had changed a lot. The usual mismatched furnishings Rocci had acquired at garage sales and other low class places had been replaced. The utilitarian low cost junk had gone back to where it originated from; the dump. As I gandered around the room I was treated to a beautiful assortment of high end furnishings that actually matched. Not only that but even the wall, normally a dingy indeterminate sort of color, were now richly painted in festive and lively colors. "Been decorating?" I chuckled at my friend who I could see was waiting for me to razz him. He grinned and took us into the main living room. It to had gone through a thorough makeover. In fact the only thing I noticed of his former bachelor life was a dingy, heavily worn looking recliner. Why that had survived is anyone"s guess. "Hi Jack/Hi Jack" I heard two separate voices from the staircase. I looked that way and saw Hazel coming from upstairs. She stood all of five and a half feet, with her long hair cascading over her right shoulder. She was wearing a loose fitting comfortable evening gown, which did nothing to hide her hourglass figure. Her hair and eyes were her most unusual features being two separate colors. Her eyes, one green while the other, hazel, were to say the least most stunning. Her hair, mostly blonde, had distinct strands of a dark black marbled throughout. It to was mesmerizing. Her skin was alabaster in color and was unblemished; truly one hot looking tart. "Hi ya Hazel, hi Sasha." I greeted them warmly. "I"d like you both to meet my sister, Annette." "Sister!/Sister!" They exclaimed in stereo. I looked back at Annette to gage her reaction to Rocci"s girls. Her eyes I saw were wide in amazement and disbelief. Considering who she was, I found that slightly ironic. Apparently the dead didn"t fit in with her job and was probably not even thought of. I wondered if ma realized this or if it was something this Universe was keeping under wraps. The voice I identified as Sasha had asked Annette a question; she however hadn"t answered so I nudged her playfully. "What!" She gasped startled by my touch. "Oh, I"m sorry. What did you say?" "We asked if you were an immortal as Rocci has told us?" "Yes." Annette answered meekly. "I am one of three sisters that weave the fabric of all that will be." She paused and I got the feeling she would normally have gone on with, what I figured was a well worn explanation that she most likely had repeated many times in her life. For some reason she faltered telling Hazel and Sasha this. "Isn"t that interesting Sasha." The second voice of Hazel responded. The two gals were bizarre, to say the least; yet I had, over time, gotten quite use to them. My sister obviously was not. We eventually sat down and got comfortable; Rocci, in his only remaining symbol of freedom, while the two girls occupied a recliner next to him. I realized that it was only a matter of time before these three, like Mary and me, would eventually get hitched. Rocci seemed OK with that idea; so was I. "Rocci has told us you have an unusual problem with a gentleman." Hazel voiced. "He neglected to tell us any thing more." This being Sasha. They looked over to Rocci grinning as the spoke. "He finds this amusing sometimes." I leaned forward wanting to get right to the point on why we had come. I filled them in on Annette"s problem, explaining that, like Christina and Tiny Tim, Annette"s beau, was a very specific Joe, so putting her out on the playing field wasn"t in the cards. I then went on to say that, our Joe in question, was also deceased, hence the main reason we were there. To cap it all off I explained who our girls lover was, explaining that I didn"t bye that this whole business was a mistake at all; although that was only my gut feeling at the moment. "Sense Arthur is dead," I stated, "I"m thinking our only option is along the same lines as you two." "Yes," Sasha said, looking to Annette then back at me. "I see your dilemma. So you"re wondering if Arthur can occupy another"s body as I am doing so with Hazel" "That"s the ticket Doll face." I grinned. So what do you think? Is it possible?" "Well, of course it is." Sasha replied thoughtfully. "I am proof of that. But Arthur would have had to have died in order for him to do as I am with Hazel. He has not." Her statement hung in the air like a bad cigar. It was Annette that reacted first. "That can not be!" She exclaimed while jumping to her feet. Looking up into Annette"s bewildered eyes, Sasha went on. "I am afraid it is the truth non-the-less. Arthur Pendragon is not in the after-life; I would know this, I assure you." "Then where is he?" I asked to no one in particular. I turned to Annette, a thought hitting me like a truckload of tuna. "You said you knew when someone dies. Isn"t that what this fabric of life is all about?" She nodded and I could tell she was as confused as I was, although I was beginning to smell a rat. "Did you really look to see if this thread of Arthur"s was in fact cut?" I asked pointedly. "Kate did the cutting and yes I"m sure; for she was weeping with me as she did so. We held each other for a longtime after; Kate, me, and Linda too." Something wasn"t adding up I thought; two different accounts on the same story. "Maybe we need to have a good look at this rag." I suggested getting to my feet. "I"m getting a feeling someone"s pulling a fast one." I thanked Sasha, Hazel and Rocci, and with Sister in tow, headed out the door. "Where are we going?" Annette asked. "The library." I replied. "We"re going to visit your sister and check out this grease rag of yours." "She"s your sister too." Annette pointed out. "Yes," I smiled at her, "and sis has got some explaining to do." We skipped the pleasantries with Miss Dartit and headed down the hallway to Kate"s office. When we walked in, it wasn"t into her office, but that other room that I had been transported to, back when we had first met. Kate and Linda both were seated in chairs facing us. Not a good sign in my book. "It did not take you as long as we expected." Kate said softly. Her old eyes I noticed were not meeting mine for any length of time. Linda placed her hand over Kate"s patting it reassuringly. "Mother was right." She said as softly to Kate. "He is most remarkable." "Care to explain that crack." I asked with some heat. "Or shall we just go inspect the thread of one, Arthur Pendragon, a.k.a. king Arthur." "That will not be necessary." Linda answered, a blush to her cheeks. "We already know the answer." "Sisters! Annette demanded angrily. What does this mean? "She was on the very edge of blowing her cork and I found that somehow, reassuring. She was so much like me, I thought; or I her. "It was not my doing." Kate replied in a whisper. Mother made me." "Mother?" Annette gasped. "Yes." Linda spoke up. She said it was necessary to keep the fabric whole. Don"t you see?" "No, sister," I interjected, "I don"t see. Why did ma have you fake Annette"s boyfriends death, inflicting hundreds of years of sorrow on her." Kate lowered her head in shame, my accusation hitting the bull"s-eye. When she looked up, it was with tears streaming down her face. "If I could have bore her grief myself," she chocked, "I would have gladly done so." She turned to Annette, her face one of utter sorrow. "But I could not. I had to keep the truth from you or else the tear may have reappeared down the line. It was mother who so informed me of the possibility." She looked back at me, her eyes pleading for forgiveness. "You said that you thought life doesn"t make mistakes, Jack. You were almost right; there was only the one. One, which mother never saw coming. She never considered our emotions. We, the fates, immortals and weavers of lives turns out, do have emotions. When Annette acted on hers, it was not really a mistake; but it was not expected either and so jolted time itself. Maybe the universe would have survived the chaos as you suggested. This I do not know. I don"t believe mother did either. What was done was done quickly and in haste. It kept order but at the cost of four lives." "Four?" I said. Linda picked up the narrative. "You"re forgetting Christina and Tim." She reminded me. They, along with Annette and Arthur, share the disruption. You four," she went on, "were the bandage to heal the wound." "Christina and Timmy are both together again." I pointed out. "And happier than ever." Kate put in. "What of Annette and Arthur?" "Mother has informed us that you Jack, will bring them together at the correct moment to make all whole once more. "How am I suppose to do that?" I asked confused. "We are not sure Jack;" Kate said. "But mother seems to feel you will. She told me to give you something to aid you." She reached over to a small table between their two chairs, picking up a worn and well-read book, handing it over to me. I read the cover; "˜The Tales Of Kink Arthur". It was a book I had read as a kid; this was in fact my book. "You are to read this and act upon it. Its contents will give you the clues you need to find Arthur and correct the last two lives." I thought it over all of ten seconds. "I already know where to find Arthur." I said with confidence. He"s in England, in a meadow, near a pond with "˜The Lady Of The Lake"." As I said this it occurred to me that ma probably was The Lady Of The Lake, too. A busy broad; ma. "Say, Kate." I said reaching out my hand and wiping a tear from her old cheek. "You"re good with that hocus-pocus stuff. Let"s have that door open up in England, shall we. I"ve got a date with a lady." Kate smiled at me like a morning sun; the years melting like wax. "Thanks, Jack." She said, holding back more tears only these ones of joy. When Annette and I stepped through the doorway, it was into a lush green meadow with a pristine lake near by, the sky over head, as blue as blue could get. Where in England we were I had no real idea, nor did I care. "Lets go." I whispered, taking Annette hand and leading her down to the lakes shore. Kneeling I gazed into the waters reflection. "Time to remove the last bandage ma." I said. The reflection of sky shimmered, reforming into the image of my mother. "I knew you would do it Jack." She said with pride. "You"re quite the son." "Thanks mom." I replied, my heart full of love and pride. "I"m glad I could help out." I looked back at Annette who stood in a kind of daze. It occurred to me that she was a mess of conflicting emotions paralyzing her ability to even move. "Not that I don"t want to talk some more ma, I told her, "But if I don"t produce someone"s beau. She"s going to have a conniption fit to be sure." Beside mom, a second shimmer solidified into a young lad of about twenty. He was a lean muscular young man with wavy blonde hair, sapphire like eyes and a bearing about him that you just don"t see anymore. I noted that he wasn"t dressed in a suit of armor as in my book, but instead wore a simple brown tunic and hose typical of a lad from a humbler beginning. His eyes drifted past mine, searching of his only true desire. They stopped when they found Annette. "My beloved." He whispered yet was clearly heard by all. Stepping forward he broke the waters surface and strolled gallantly over to Annette, embracing her in his string yet gentle arms. As I watched, a blue white light enveloped them both. So bright it became that I had to blink and shade my eyes. In that instant they were gone. Bewildered, I looked back to ma"s reflection. She smiled but shook her head in answer to my unspoken question. "No Jack," She said. "It was not I. I believe you sister would like some privacy. Why don"t we give them a couple of months to get reacquainted? After all they have hundreds of missed years to catch up on." Her laughter echoed over the lake and meadow like the perfect note, then fading away as did her reflection, leaving me totally alone. Well not totally, for at my feet I saw a bottle of scotch and two crystal glasses. Chuckling to myself I picked them up and headed back through the doorway. It was my bedroom that I found myself, and Mary was already under the covers reading a book. "Hi ya blue eyes!" I said holding up the bottle of scotch and glasses. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree in December. She coyly patted the space beside her. "I"ve been waiting for you lover boy." She said grinning. "Scotch," I replied joining her under the covers. "A present from ma in honor of your learning to read." I poured us each a glass handing one to her. "Here"s looking at you kid." I said in my best Bogart voice. "Oh Jack!" She laughed. "You"re amazing. "Yes," I agreed with my best attempt at a grin. "I think I"ve heard that a few times this week." I leaned to Mary and kissed her passionately. The End
   

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    This is the full version on the second part in the Fate's saga. [part one was 'The Curse Of The Golden Harp, part two, this one, called 'Case Of The Three Fate's, part three called 'Case Of The Added Soul and the epilogue titled 'The Dream'. Hope you enjoy them all]
    Loved the dialog! Reading your writing has actually helped me with my own. Thanks and keep em coming.
    I'm glad and a bit surprised that it helped you out with your dialogue. I've been reading your work and it seems to me to be on a professional level already. Can't figure out why you're not published already.
    I thank you. You are too kind, sir.
    "I said ticking thinks off on my hand. " - ticking things off on my hand. Got a couple of sentences like this, Pirate.

    As usual, a good take on mythology and fantasy. I enjoyed it. I would break it into two, or maybe even three, parts. There are a lot of places where you could put a break. It would build suspense a bit and not effect the plot at all.
    I'll go over it again KT and see if I can spot the others as well. Thanks for the heads up.
    This is good but I agree with kt about breaking it up a little.