Cliffhanger

Paddy Mitchell

It seems I’ve left a lot of friends and readers hanging by their fingernails on the white crumbly chalk of Dover.

But not for long.  There’ve been a lot of developments yet that need a clear moment for me to tap out.

In the meanwhile, two nights ago, 10 pm California time and Mazie and I are holed up in a bottom feeder in Petaluma.  It seems every room in the county is booked up on account of some speedway event.  So we’re relegated to this grim shoebox pinned between a mostly vacant industrial park, victim of the Great Bubble, and an indian casino wedged in by the 101.  Roar of a freeway outside, the sheets smell like pee and loud banging emanates from the room next door.

The phone rings.  It’s Poppy Davis from the USDA (more on Poppy later).  It’s one a.m. in D.C. and she’s doing her best to impersonate an official from Fish and Wildlife.

She eventually breaks.  Remember when I had to reprimand Mazie for writing about your youthful indiscretions on Facebook? she asks.

I do.

Well now I’m doing the same for you, she says.  YOUR WIFE IS A DOCTOR.  You cannot be writing about illegal activities on your blog.

Yeah.  She’s right.  Which is why I tried to password protect it, but in the end it would have required too much policing and management, and as long as our exact whereabouts are not disclosed – well heck, California’s a big state.

And who would Paddy Mitchell and the Stopwatch Gang have been without their brazenness?  It distinguishes the petty thief from legend.

I peek out the curtain and look down at the tawdry lights from the casino.  I didn’t know their were any gaming tribes down this way.  A minivan weaves erratically through the parking lot.

What would a raven do? 

The Hideout

It’s bad.

We checked into a Best Western in Barstow late at night. We snuck Poe up to the room, drew the curtains and considered our situation.

It was basically no different than that of all the other criminals holed up in Barstow that night. We’d done wrong, had a kidnap victim in our possession, and were high on junk food.

No sooner had we passed Kingman when Kerry started getting the calls. The rehabilitator, upset and frantic, had been on the phone, accusing Kerry of having stolen the bird. She didn’t even have to waterboard him, and within minutes he was already pointing the finger at me. A century of abolitionist roots and Maine tenancy down the tubes. Sorry, Kerry.

And the rehabilitator had set to calling our house. She worried that I would release him to the wild and that he wasn’t ready. And I think she was just plain ticked that we had taken him from right under her husband’s nose.

Anna insisted that I call the woman back, but Kerry and I concurred there would be little utility in doing so. She was nice enough and had done her part, but there was little point in looking back at that phase in Poe’s life.

Besides, I didn’t want her to have my cell. And if she was really hot under the collar, she could use it to trace our whereabouts.

And lastly, we had bigger fish to fry. We were camped out in the Mojave with this dang bird that we needed to keep alive. The first priority was just getting to our destination and getting him out of the dog carrier. His life had already been hell enough.

We set Poe so he could watch us sleep and shut our eyes for the night.

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Poe hiding out in Barstow