Ice, ch. 4

The 13th Annual North American Symposium of Tricksters was taking place in a run-down warehouse in the industrial waterfront of Los Angeles. Logan was with me despite the fact that he had passed six years ago. Logan was the ultimate trickster.

Robert collected us at LAX and we drove to the warehouse at dusk. We passed many marine supply stores as we made our way to the meeting, new ones like West Marine, and several old shops selling all manner of second-hand items, beloved of wood boat owners. Logan could never pass a used boats part shop without taking a look- usually a look meant an hour or more. The antique tools used for routing and shaping mahogany and oak were displayed in untidy piles. Scavenged bronze fittings from defunct vessels, be they winches, port frames, travelers or pump fittings, were beautiful to our eyes. We always left with a purchase- perhaps an antique wood plane, or a water stained book on celestial navigation.

It was late when we arrived at the symposium. The atmosphere was raucous but cheerful. It was apparent that witches, warlocks, pierrots and punches had made their way to Los Angeles from the four corners of the globe. Waffles were being served from a makeshift food stand. The path of glistening golden syrup on my waffle, traveling from one tiny square well to another in a benign flood, filled me with happiness and anticipation.

Logan had found a stall where a merchant was selling used tires and inner tubes of all sorts. The merchant's face was black as night. Logan needed a used inner tube to effect a repair of Scotty Ann's inboard toilet pump. He was obviously bargaining over the price of the inner tube. He and the merchant were standing side by side facing the crowd, laughing and joking together. The black man's accent was Tanzanian, Dar-es-Salaam I would guess. I always marveled that Logan could effortlessly integrate with the diverse populations we met on our travels.

Robert was not quite so much at ease. He seemed anxious to get back in his vintage Corvette and head back to his bungalow in Culver City. Robert was an African American emergency room doc. His skin was several shades lighter than our Tanzanian friend. Another African, (from Nairobi, I believe) approached Robert with a burlap sack of carved gourds to sell. Robert declined. 'How can I feed my family unless I sell to the white man?' the huckster asked plaintively. 'I'M NOT A WHITE MAN!' quoth Robert, obviously rattled. Logan cackled with glee.

Eventually I came to on my couch with Missy tickling my face with her whiskers. This morning was scheduled for an autopsy of a young man who had expired in a bedroom of a house in North Pole, a town within the North Star Borough not far from Fairbanks. Crystal meth was the drug of choice in North Pole. The decedent's wounds had been inflicted over several days in a workshop adjacent to the unkempt house. He had been tied to a workbench and worked over with everything ranging from fists to an orbital sander. The conflict giving rise to the young man's death involved disputed ownership of a used truck.

'Don't worry Mommy,' Missy purred in my ear. I felt her warm fish-scented breath on my neck. 'This is your last assignment with the Medical Examiner. After that, you're going to have lots of time to volunteer at the Literacy Council- teaching people to read!'

© 2017 Moe Dey - 3/1/17


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