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Goat by the Horns

Identifying my problem is just the first step. It is important to also acknowledge that my life is not dire. I have a handful of friends who have reached out since my last blog; and I'm very grateful. It's good to know I'm not as alone as I sometimes feel. It's also good that I've let people know how I'm feeling because suffering in silence helps no one.

I've also been taking steps to enrich my life again. I found 3 of my cousins who live in Greece and I've reconnected with two of them and connected for the first time with the third. Facebook is good for something other than reminding me of gaps in my life. Now I have family somewhere in the world; and there is always a possibility of meeting up.

I've also reconnected with art. The happiest I've ever been was when I was immersed in a community of artists, writers and musicians. The positive flow of ideas and action helped me thrive. I need that again.

So I've started doing digital art again. This was the first piece.

Forest of memories
One of the reasons my angst started was that I was comparing my life now to my life in the past. Of course I focused on the happy memories, the close connections and the fulfilling experiences. You could say that it's a good thing to reminisce about good times. Not if I'm focusing on loss, making myself go deeper into the abyss. Like I'm on my death bed. Like I'm full of regret.

Not yet, buddy. Not for a long time hopefully.

Focusing on the past is basically like trying to remake a movie; it's never as good as the original and it loses something in the interpretation. I don't want a remake. I want something new, fresh and now. Sure, it will be colored by the past; it's impossible not to but why focus on it? It will only make me feel more depressed.

It's hard to strike a balance between focusing on positive growth and learning from the past without getting stuck in it. It's always best to resolve issues with people, make amends, build bridges, have conversations. But it requires the willing participation of all parties.

Sometimes, often, that is not possible. For instance how do you ask a once friend why she suggested you communicate with her via email when you called to make arrangements to meet for coffee? How do you recover from that bitch slap?

Sometimes you don't. You edge through the outskirts of your now online relationship, like a few posts and pics, send a "Happy bday" message and move on.

But the pain lingers. The question, "WHY?" is never answered. You want to know in order to move but you fear the answer will dissolve what little balance you're maintaining. You don't want to know the kind of monster you must be to a person who so coldly cut you off.

It's interesting to note that since talking about this particular experience, I switched from the first person 'I' to the second person 'you'. I clearly want to distance myself from the trauma of that experience. It most definitely is imperative I gather the courage to have that conversation, one that she has most likely forgotten because she made a conscious decision that I no longer mattered in her life. How can I even think otherwise?

But that's my pattern. If something goes wrong, I wonder what I did to fuck things up. This happens every time; and I know where it comes from - a father who was constantly critical, constantly disappointed in me, constantly pushing for 'better'. Needless to say, I failed in his eyes. And there's nothing I can do about it because he is dead so I need to move on.

Yet, I need to move on without this tendency to always blame myself. Everyone has a part to play in every relationship. I'm no longer going to... no. I will try to no longer appoint myself the scapegoat in every situation.

That's a good step.

Stay tuned


It`s not Clinical. It`s not that easy.

It's been a long time since I've blogged or participated in the blogging community; but it's not the only place I've been silent. My online presence is mirroring the silence that has taken over my existence. Since my parents` death, a heart-wrenching disastrous relationship soon after, a lack of any family nearby and friends who moved on to other chapters in their lives, I've found myself more and more isolated. I've discovered that my world has emptied despite the fact that I reach out, go out, try to stay active and meet new people.

Nothing works. My heart and life are in stasis. I make myself laugh but to be honest, I don't feel it. I don't feel joy. Or sadness really. Or anything. I feel dead inside. And shame. Shame that I am somehow so lacking that people do not want me in their lives.

This sounds dramatic. It probably is. But it's besides the point.The point is this does not mean I have had nothing to say, just that the thing I've been gathering the courage to say has remained unsaid.

I've been suffering in a deep, unshakable emptiness, trying to hide it behind humor or forced joviality. I jumped on the 'fake it to make it' train, desperate to get to a happy destination. The problem is this train is being conducted by Captain Delusion who is navigating me through a minefield of feel-good blogs and posts, each one driving my emptiness further into the core of me. The train has crashed.

I don't want to feel this way. Who does?

Before I get a stream of advice. I respectfully and warmly say that I have tried everything to change this state of affairs. To be brutally honest, the last thing I need is platitudes, quick fixes or lists of ailments others are experiencing. I know it sounds heartless; it probably is; but right now, I need help. I need to be able to crack through this hard cocoon that I`m trapped in. My jailer is firmly housed inside me. The only person who can break me out is me. That is not to say that I do not welcome others` similar experiences, struggles and victories. Those would be helpful. So would unconditional support and an acknowledgement that what I`m going through is not a topic for debate. Support can be given without advice.

What I am suffering is not clinical depression; it`s existential angst; mid-life crisis; absolute loneliness all rolled up into one huge monster of a situation. It`s just easier to call it depression. I have gone the therapy route but I haven`t found someone I feel comfortable talking to. It`s difficult to crack myself open in front of two, dispassionate eyes. Like T.S Eliot, therapists make me feel like a specimen, pinned and wriggling on the wall. I feel judgement and coldness. But it`s not them. It`s me, because it comes from within.

Even now, here, in my first step to push myself out on the ledge of admission, of confession, of an attempt to feel that finally I might be able to break out, break free and break open, I`m hesitant, very wary and ashamed.

I will hit publish. I need to. It`s the first step in dealing with this parasite feeding off my life force.
I will post this so people will know that my attempts to reach out are actual requests for help.

I`ve been taught to solve my own problems, that it`s impolite to complain or air out your `dirty laundry`. Fuck that. I`m about to be very impolite. And this is just the beginning.


Good Intentions

OK! The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I had every intention of blogging my little fingers off about Survivor and Utopia and other TV and social issues. Then hell opened up and swallowed me whole, in the guise of super stressed work issues and the inevitable health issues that ensue from a stress-filled environment that I'm working in.

I'll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, I toil. I toil hard.

Anyway. What the heck is going on in the real world of TV reality?

Survivor San Juan del Sur has been chugging along for Copacabana whose only chance at winning immunity is when a dumbass on Hunyebooboo (I can never remember the tribe names and am too lazy to Google them right now ) throws the challenge. Good grief! So one by one the Copacabana tribe loses people,with one making her exit after an elaborate lie about having not one but two hidden immunity idols. Oh Val! You disappoint me! And all the cops winning CBS reality TV shows. The other was ousted with an idol in his pocket after he was thoroughly trashed by a loud-mouth twinnie whose aggressive mouth makes her manly but then turns girlie when confronted in an aggressive manner. John Rocker's mouth is legendary but his exit was premature. Then aforementioned dumbass gets the boot after he tries to throw his weight around and play the mastermind. He "drew" the short stick...

Woo baby!

So, Utopia. I can't get the feeds without internet gymnastics that I don't have time for anyway. I've been watching the show but don't have the big picture. What I do know is there are a ton of jackholes in Utopia and that's not coming through in the edit. Its ratings aren't great mostly because it's failed to grab internet attention with the lack of feed access; it's lost a lot of the Big Brother fan base that was ripe for the picking after, yet another, disappointing season. At least I didn't despise the winner...

I digress.

Utopia is raw and filmed raw without the colorful BB fanfare. I'd say it was refreshing but it kind of feels like the barnyard of TV. Pun intended. It's not visually appealing and the crazy does not come through equally on TV. Sure Bella's, Bri's, and Red's crazy was paraded around but not Aaron's, Kristen's and Mike's deviousness. I guess I'm happy for the insulation of being a TV only. It's better for my blood pressure. I might continue this with Big Brother next season.

Not watching the feeds keeps the viewer tethered to the TV edit but since they insist of crappy casting, I think it might be almost meditative not to know what is really going. Feed watchers went into a frenzy of outrage against some of the house guests' behaviour and attitudes. But it didn't last long. Most jumped on the Twitter kiss ass bandwagon and rewrote history.

Speaking of which. I have messays to mark  but I will be back sooner than you think!

Stay tuned! :) (If anyone is reading... lol)


Survivor: San Juan del Stunt Casting

We (I) have always given Big Brother producers a hard time about their casting formula which has been getting more deranged as the seasons pass, but Survivor casting is no better. They've gone from bringing back their favorite retreads so they can finally win, to casting newbies who are more of the same.

The Survivor casting formula is simple: Gotta have a pageant queen, 911 must have representation now, throw in a simple country soul or two, a couple of geeks, a couple of models and don't forget the former pro athlete. This season is no different. We've got all that; and borrowing from Big Brother to bring in a couple of Broadway over-the-tops and from Amazing Race to bring back two of the most obnoxious people to be cast, not once but twice - the fucking Twinnies. Oh CBS, you bore me.

I'm looking forward to the beat downs Survivor conditions have coming their way.
courtesy of CBS-Survivor

Top Left: John Rocker and Julie McGee: Former pro pitcher who's been known to put his big foot in his big mouth and his model girlfriend who owns a spray tanning business fill out the pro-athlete and model casting slots. Put on your sunglasses, folks. This couple is bedazzled.

Next are: John Misch and Jaclyn Schultz: Former MSU football player and pageant queen. They're the selfie of the all-American couple, complete with a taste for the arts, wine and gosh-darn cutesy-ness.

Next are: Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly: Not one but two Broadway geeks who might break into song and dance in the middle of the jungle. I'm going to try to keep an open mind but Frankie J. Grande has ruined it for me. Josh seems energetic and Reed more OCD.

Next are: Drew and Alec Christy fill out the frat-boy/surfer dude mold. They're both clearly in it for the adventure high; and they both seem like goofballs, so they might capture the viewers' hearts.

Top right are: Jeremy and Val Collins: A firefighter (former pro-football player) and a cop fill out the first-responders casting quota. They both seem like two very smiley people who probably can take down an elephant if need be. I'd keep my eye on these two.

Bottom right are: Dale and Kelly Wentworth, a father and daughter team who fill out the down-home country slot as he's a farmer and she's a marketing manager with country roots. But don't count out the country folk, they both seem tough and smart.

Next to them are: Missy Payne and Baylor Wilson, a mother and daughter cheerleading super-duo. You can bet they're competitive and probably would knock some people out on their way to the prize. Missy owns a  competitive cheerleading gym and Baylor is a cheerleading word champ.

Then we have, ugh: Nadiya and Natalie Anderson - the dreaded Twinnies. I hate you CBS. You've ruined Big Brother, and now Survivor is in peril. These chicks are the epitome of annoyingly competitive, loud and obnoxious. I would kick them off the island on day 1.

Finally bottom left are: Keith and Wes Nale, a fire captain and firefighter. Whoa! 911 overload here.  They love hunting and fishing and having some brewskies. Good ole boys who risk their lives on a daily basis might just become the fan faves.

Well, seems the geeks were given a pass this season. On first impression, I predict this cast will be very polarizing among the fans. It, of course, depends on the editing and which confessionals they choose to air. You can bet the twinnies, N&N, Rocker and McGee will probably be the ones who cause most fan reaction and not in a good way. I bet Rocker will rock the idols. It seems to have been happening a lot lately, that the Alpha male seems to be showered with immunity.

Anyway. I will be blogging Survivor and Utopia. Since I'm Canadian and I don't want to go through internet gymnastics, I won't be able to see the Utopia feeds but I will be watching the show which premieres Sept. 7th on FOX.

Stay tuned! :)


Bachelor in Paradise? Hell yeah.

So yes, I'm watching Bachelor Pad, I mean, Bachelor in Paradise. Who can resist a hot mess that makes you feel so much better about your life and relationships? What are the odds that such a group of physically attractive people cannot sustain a relationship longer than a mosquito sting?


The second episode began with the sorry tale of Michelle K who left the show because of an illicit fling with one of the handlers. Hasn't this been done before? Didn't a twerp leave one of the Bachelors because of such a fling? I'd research it, but I don't care enough; but what does it say about these shows that the handlers are getting more action than the actual cast?


The dude obviously has more looks than brain cause she jumped off the second story balcony, breaking both his legs. What a putz. Wait! That's his name. And people say names don't predetermine the course of one's life. He winds up in the hospital, Michelle in the limo, suggesting that she found someone.


Love is in the air?

AshLee still has Graham in her clutches but I'm not sure how much longer this relationship will last. She might be planning their wedding; but he's planning his escape.

Lacey and Marcus paw each other in front of a scorned Robert's eyes, as he wonders what went wrong. Marcus jumped the rose line and won her attentions, dude.

Elise and Dylan seemed to hit it off, until her incessant babbling prompted him to invite her to date other peeps. When she lip-locked with the newly-arrived Chris, after his date with Clare, it sent Dylan into a full-out pout mode. Despite Elise's pleading to forgive her, he invited Sarah on a date. It didn't help him though. He refused Elise's rose and was tossed when Sarah gave hers to Robert.


When Marcus "accidentally" found Ben's love letter and confronted him about the woman who wrote it, Ben was forced to admit he was into her. This prompted a Michelle Money meltdown, bemoaning the unfairness of of it all, that she left her daughter and was cheated from a possible hook-up.

Anyway! Ben dramatically walked off the show. I won't be crying in my popcorn.

Speaking of Michelle M, she gave Marquel a rose despite the fact that he pretty much told her she's an alcoholic and had a list of issues about her, instead of Robert with whom she hit it off. And then they wonder why they can't make a relationship work.

Clare stopped talking to the wildlife when Zack walked onto the scene. His appearance revived Clare's hopes as she ran to be the first to greet him, latching onto him like a Bachelor lifesaver.

Anyway! Sarah and Robert are floating with a sea of drama surrounding them.

And I'm loving it.


The Future

Yes, I'm back! I know it's been a bumpy ride with my blogging and my writing. I've been struggling not with writing per se, but what to write about. I'n waffling between writing fiction or non-fiction. My mind is cluttered with ideas and directions. Which means I haven't been writing. But, that's a cop out. I do write but I cannot label myself or my writing.

I've made a resolution to write every day and see where that takes me. So the journey begins. For now I am writing about Big Brother 16 - a reality TV show I've been into for years. I thought I would stop this year but I just can't. So, for the summer, I will be blogging on my BB blog and when I can here until I can devote my time to this blog come September.

Want to read about Big Brother? Join me here Big Brother Shenanigans!



It's been a while. I haven't forgotten you. I'll be back soon. Right now, my head is cluttered. :)


Human Variations: Chapter Two


I’m not a wild horse
to be broken.
I’m not a token
to be flipped in the air,
and lost,
In the dust of your memory

Silver streaked their regal wings as they emerged from the snow caps into the quiet dusk. They laced through the stinging air, disappearing into the mystified blue of the darkening sky. A million stars revealed the playful mood of the awakening night, as the crystallized fingers of the hermetic trees clawed at the silent mountains.

Memory mingled with expectation, congealing into agony.

Her boots, caked with crusty slime, crunched on the dry twigs and fallen leaves. Although it was mid-September, the bitter cold found its shrinking target with relentless accuracy. Her heart entombed in layers of clothing, pounded in a steady rhythm, and her legs, though sturdy and well-trained, quivered with exhaustion. Her aching back could barely support the sack with the meager possessions she had taken in her flight.

 Her stomach contracted painfully, as her head started to pound with hunger. Her last meal of lentils and rice, the only fare to be had, had worn thin. Her memory taunted her with visions of the enticing delicacies she had once had access to. Her mouth watered, but she firmly removed all such thoughts from her mind. She had without regret closed all doors to the elite society in which she grew up. Her actions precluded returning to the familiar opulence which had been almost as staggering as the decay it hid. From the time she entered the wasted, beggar-swamped streets of the city, in her desperate journey to the mountains, she did not look back.

The wind rose to a whining moan. She controlled her mind, drawing from her years of training, piecing out the trail she had minutely planned. This was no haphazard escape, yet it was not without its dangers. They would pursue her, bent on taking revenge for her treacherous and traitorous acts as they perceive them. Those who will be sent to find her and eventually kill her will not know the truth behind her actions...


Mika’s body shudders so violently, as she falls from the sofa where she had fallen asleep onto the soft rug below. Disoriented, scared, drained from so many nights of restless, vision-filled sleep, she hugs herself to stabilize. She knows she needs help, and fast.


Samantha Burke's address is in a poorer part of the city.  She lives in an old, once quite majestic, house that has been sectioned off into apartments out of desperate necessity.  The house itself is quietly falling apart, but is doing so with some dignity. The owners have tried to keep it up, but the elements and the economy have gone against them.

 The officer that stands the door is obviously amused to see Curtis. “Surprised you don’t have your hands too full tonight, Bain.”

. Curtis grins at the tall blonde. “You went and got married Petros; there was no choice. What do we have here?”

Eva Petros shrugs. "Not much; forensics are finishing up in there. The door was locked from inside. She was lying near a table in the corner. It kinda looks like a shrine. There were no obvious signs of struggle, but her neighbor heard her scream.”

Curtis nods. “Thanks. Who’s in there?”

The officer smirks. ”Rebecca and Bill.”


His wry tone doesn't escape the officer and she grins. "Rebecca will be delighted to see you.”

Curtis winks, “Hey! We’re all on the same side.”

Eva grins. “Sure thing, Task Force.”.

Curtis quietly steps in, ignoring the annoyed glances from the detectives. The only good thing about Ms. Burke's apartment is the high ceilings. It's small and drafty. The windows are useless for light. Curtis can't believe anyone would willingly live here. It is obvious she tried to give it some color with the prints on the wall and the pillows, but the place is a dump. He studies the room meticulously.

The open window is open, it's lace curtains billow wildly with the arctic wind. The room is very neat, except for the small pedestal table in the corner where the victim (of what?) was found. Curtis examines it. The thick white candle stands melded on layers of other melted candles. The table itself is covered with candle drippings, forming an awesome and slightly grotesque sculpture. The officer was right; it does look like a shrine; but there are no pictures, no statuettes, none of the usual trappings.

 Curtis shakes his head. He seriously doubts there is a crime to investigate here, but it is a mystery. He steps over to the two detectives, to confer, knowing he will have to overcome their usual reluctance. This reaction doesn’t bother him. Curtis’ focus is elsewhere. He loves a good mystery.


Kiro Hammond absently drums his fingers on the desk as he quickly scans his newest patient's file. He scowls. Dr. Malcolm has asked him to review this case that has stumped even her. The recurring dreams and lack of sleep intrigue him. A clear picture of Mika Gurin has formed in his mind. It wasn't the meticulous contents of the folder or the words she spoke that gave him the clues. It was her voice on the tapes. The inflections, intonations, the pauses, the chewed phrases have revealed the broken path that his newest patient is on.

He closes the file.

He swivels in his seat to look out at the darkening Toronto skyline. The Tower flickers warnings to oncoming planes, much as the warnings flicker in his head. He reaches back and pulls out the elastic that binds his hair in its controversial ponytail, and loosens his tie. He feels a headache coming on. The peace and turmoil of the last few days on his boat recede to the background of his mind.

His life which has led him from the cosmopolitan to the primitively ancient cities of the world brought him back home. Back to the place he vowed he would never see. He, unlike most in his profession, believes in destiny, making the feelings he has been getting recently hard to overlook. Something big is about to happen.

 He reaches for the photograph that has gone everywhere with him, even on weekend conferences. He strokes the cool frame and gazes at the two faces that were so dear to him. His mother, smiles serenely, her almond eyes reflecting the beauty of her Japanese soul. She stands safely in her husband's arms. His father, a tall rugged Irishman with a weather-beaten face grins at his beloved. Kiro hopes he will have their courage and confidence to brave the storm coming...

His parents had weathered many storms in their lives. They even survived the greatest and longest monsoon of disapproval their marriage wrought. Both families were vocal in their resentment of a white Irish man marrying a Japanese woman; of a mariner marrying a noble woman. They were both thrown out of their respective families; but they didn't let people's dismay phase them . This was love pure and simple.

Their only true sorrow was that their beloved son was thrown into exile with them, but Kiro had never minded. His parents' magic was more than enough for him. He lived an enchanted life. To him, his parents were gods. Perhaps that is why he lost them so soon...

The wage of idolatry is death...

Kiro returns the photograph gently to its place of honour, as the phone rings. It is his aunt confirming their lunch date.


 All day, pins and nettles have been coursing though Mika’s system. She has worked like a robot, getting through twice as much as any other day. Others have steered clear of her, afraid to be near when the spontaneous combustion would surely kick in.

 Keeping busy is the only antidote to the constant churning worry She hopes her afternoon appointment with this doctor "whiz" will settle this turmoil that’s lasted for almost a year.

"Where the hell is Jones?"

"He called earlier. He won't be coming in until later. He was pretty hush-hush."

"I'll show him hush-hush. Who’s covering the Burke story? When, IF, he calls in, tell him to haul it in here, pronto!"

“Ummm...” Her assistant backs away slightly.

Mika takes a deep breath and smiles. This isn't the poor girl’s fault. “Sorry, Becca. I’m on edge and I don’t mean to go all Medusa on you. I’ll take care of it. Thank you.”

She sits down and picks up the phone. Her contact at the hospital dropped this case into her lap, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. Time to call in some chips.


"So, darling, how have you been?"

Kiro smiles warmly, "I can't complain Auntie."

The very polished woman who looks no older than him swiftly scans the nearby tables and frowns. "You know better than to call me that!"

"I don't see why not." Kiro grins mischievously.

She makes a droll pouting expression. "For a psychiatrist,  you have a pathetic lack of understanding for human vanity."

Kiro laughs as she gives him a hearty wink. "My dearest Mattie nothing can detract from your beauty."

Mattie’s laughter is like champagne crystal. “ You've been working on your charm, I see.”

"I try. What's new and sparkling on your horizon?"

"Did I tell you about my upcoming cruise to the islands?"

"No, you haven't but I'm sure you will."

Mattie takes a delicate sip from her glass. “i hate drinking alone. Why don't you have some wine?"

"Never at lunch dear."

Mattie sighs. "You make me feel like such a lush. Why can’t you learn to let loose a little?."

"It wouldn't do to intoxicate by patients with my breath. Now, you were saying about the cruise?."

Kiro listens carefully and affectionately to the details of his aunt’s newest escapade. Throughout the riveting account, he cannot help himself from being enchanted. All his life he has held the deepest admiration and respect for his mother's spunky sister. She had been the only relative in either family to thumb her nose at the indignation of such an "unholy" match and continue her relationship with her beloved sister and her husband. Indeed she was their friend, confidante and crusader.

When Kiro was born, she declared herself his godmother, becoming a fairy godmother at that.  She showered him with attention and praise. She took him to his skating lessons and later to his hockey practices to give his parents some time alone and to spend some time with him.  She was there for him when his parents traveled for their thriving export business. She was a second mother, a guardian angel, a confidante in his times of trouble and triumph. She was the only relative to go to his parents’ funeral.


"Look at him sitting over there all smug and confident. He is a handsome bastard isn't he?"

"Come on Natalie stop drooling, the cleaning staff has already been through this office."

"Don't tell me you wouldn't like to hop into the sac with him, Mika."

Mika gives the other woman a withering glance which goes unnoticed. "Sadists are not my type."

"No, masochists are." The other woman retorts icily.

"Excuse me?”

Natalie back-pedals quickly. "Sorry. I don't know what I'm saying."

"Obviously. Don’t you have any work to do?" Mika is doubly irritated by the comment and the fact that she has to deal with Curtis under Natalie’s hawk-eye stare.

"They say that he's the eighth wonder of the world."

"Oh my gawd, Natalie. Give it a rest!"

"Rest is not what’s on my mind,” drools the redhead.

Mika studies the other woman, unable to stop herself from taunting her. “Right, well if you will excuse me, he’s here to see me.”

Curtis ends the call, a satisfied gleam in his eyes. He quickly maps out a strategy for tomorrow when he'll meet with the Burks. He studies Mika as she breaks away from an obviously irritating discussion with Natalie and strides purposefully toward him. Even from a distance he can see the familiar hungry look in the redhead’s eyes. He gives Natalie no more thought, as he gets up from the comfortable leather sofa to meet Mika who is not smiling.



She sighs, slightly exasperated. “What can I do for you?”

Curtis grins to melt the glacier between them. “It’s more what we can do for each other. I won't ask if you've heard about Samantha Burke.”

Mika nods, warily. “Yep. We just ran a preliminary story.”

Curtis. “I’m investigating this case.”


Curtis, clenches his jaw, deciding to ignore her sarcasm. “It’s  better for both of us if we work together. We’re not at cross-purposes. We don’t want a repeat of the Spieller Case.”

Mika's smile is limited to her lips. “You mean you don’t want me to get more information and basically crack the case for you again while you try to coerce me to cooperate? You mean like that?”

Curtis foregoes trying to charm her. He studies her without expression. “That and you getting arrested for obstruction of justice.”

“Enter the threat,” she sighs wearily this time. “Look, that charge was tossed after I helped you solve the murders. I don’t give up sources and I won’t. So, what do you want?”

“A free exchange of information. You help me. I help you.”

This day is endlessly annoying, she thinks to herself as she stares the tall, muscular man down. “Fine. What you got?”


An hour later, after a gritty exchange of information with Curtis, Mika stands in front of an unfamiliar office door.  She’s been studying it for the last ten minutes, trying to get enough courage to open it and step in. Once again, she has to bear her soul into the hands of a stranger. Once again, she has to go through mental dissection. But if it will purge of the dreams that have been stalking her life, she will bite down and do it.  

She reaches for the doorknob and enters another world. The receptionist's desk is dwarfed by an enormous plant and the muted sounds of water draw her attention to an indoor waterfall. With less taste, the effect would have been tacky. It's beautiful but hardly conventional for an office.
"You must be Mika Gurin. Doctor Hammond is expecting you." The receptionist's musical voice cuts into her creeping hysteria.    

Mika nods as the secretary waves her in and lets herself into the inner office which is more subdued. The colors were chosen for a relaxing effect. The doctor however, is not what she expected. He must be in his late thirties, early forties. His tanned face is a severe alabaster sculpture.  His dark auburn shoulder-length hair is tied back.

He is imposing in the grey suit but his eyes entrance Mika. They are large almond shaped. A legacy from an Asian heritage, Mika estimates. Stunning in their own right with a turbulent sea green color that holds Mika's attention.

Immediately warning bells chime in Mika's head. A voice inside her insists she’s seen him before. Uncomfortably, she realizes that she has left too much time elapse since her entry. And in that time, he has been studying her too.

He smiles, a slow easy smile that rests on his face. In spite of herself, Mika returns the smile a bit self-consciously.

"Ms. Gurin. Please take a seat." He indicates a low, comfortable armchair in front of his desk.

"Dr. Hammond, please call me Mika. I'd like to thank you for seeing me so soon. I'm used to working on holidays, but I was surprised that you were in today."

He smiles again. "My receptionist and I have no ties so we prefer flexible holidays. Before we begin, let me tell you a little bit about myself..."

 For the next half hour, Kiro tells Mika everything about his professional life; where he studied; where he worked; the cities he lived in; some past cases he worked on. He entertains all her questions and answers them simply and truthfully.

This reassures her enough to tell him about her life. She gives a brief overview of her childhood and adolescence. She talks about her university life and the traumatic time she had when her father died and her mother later moved back to her native Vancouver.

"I felt doubly alone, but I knew that was the best way that she could deal with dad's death. I came to accept it and it's given me a place to escape to once in a while. She's remarried since and her new husband is really great. I'm happy for her."

"And what about you?"

"What about me?"

"Are you happy for yourself?"

"On the whole, yes. I have the job of my dreams, a wonderful house, and awesome friends. My love life isn't that great, but whose is these days?"

Kiro smiles and nods agreement. "When did the dreams start?"

 Mika tenses for the first time. "About a year ago."

 "Did anything happen that you think might have set these dreams off?"

 "Not that I can think of.  I was promoted earlier that year from researcher to assistant editor. The new job is more stressful, but frankly, I thrive on stress. I had spent the holidays with mum and Bill and it was really fun. I was going out with a man I was serious about at the time but later proved to be a genuine jerk..I really can't pinpoint anything specific."

 "Okay. Good enough. Now, this is what I propose we do...stop me when you like. I want to hypnotize you to go back to the events of the time just before the onset of the dreams and insomnia."


 "You sound a bit hesitant. Let me reassure you. Hypnosis has a good rate of effectiveness and is dangerous only in severe situations of psychosis, in which case I would not go into it without any extensive preparation. While you're hypnotized, although you're in a state similar to unconsciousness, you never really relinquish control of your psyche. In other words, you don't say or do anything that your mind cannot live with. Are you with me so far?"

 "So far."

 "I will be recording every session and  you will have access to those recordings. We can go through them together. Needless to say, I treat all my cases with extreme confidentiality. All tapes and files are kept in that safe to which only I have access, and my law firm of course, in case of emergency or death." He chuckles at her expression. "I know this seems all cloak and dagger, but my prime objective is that my clients feel secure and at ease."

Mika exhales deeply. "Let’s do this."


The streets are deserted even though it is early evening. Even the criminals that patrol the streets at night have given up and gone to their dubious source of warmth. Curtis likes walking at times like these. It gives him the sense that the city belongs to him.

His feet bring him to the tiny all night diner in the Greek section of town. This is the only place Curtis has ever considered home, and unconsciously, he gravitates here whenever his deeply buried soul is troubled.

He looks through the freshly cleaned windows. Nasos is there as always - big, tall, with the perpetual apron around his thick waist. The florescent light shines on his balding head. He is joking as usual with one of his pre-dawn regulars while attacking the grill with his famous pancakes.

Nasos is the only family Curtis has known. He took in the rebellious adolescent, giving him room, board and a job when everyone else regarded him with suspicion. It didn't matter that they didn't even have a drop of blood in common.

Curtis pushed open the door, the bell-chime announcing his arrival..

"Re! If it isn't the soldier of fortune. How ya doing Curtis?"

"Well. Ti kaneis, gero?"

"You call me that again and your chops will be minced meat... You hear him, Joe?  Calling me an old man! No respect do the young have for their elders."

Curtis straddles the stool and grins at Nasos' mutinous expression.

"What are you grinning at, re? Why don't you go home instead of prowling the streets?"

"If it weren't for us prowlers, you'd be out of work."

"Will you listen to him? Bull shit! How about a strong coffee? You look like you need it along with some pancakes...and  sleep."

"Nix on the last two, but a coffee will be great."

"Then get off your ass and get it! What? Did you forget you used to work here? Or you too important to hustle now?"

"Okay! I give up. I'll get it. Lord What a nag."

The two men grin at each other affectionately.

"How're the wife and kids Nasos?"

"Kids are great! George and Nikki are doing great in university.  Maria went to Greece for a few weeks to see family. And what brings you to the old neighborhood?"

Curtis holds up the cup and grins. "This."

"Oh, bullshit! Don’t you have fancy coffee shops in your neighborhood? What's troubling you?"

"Nothing's troubling me. I just have a new case and you know how it is."

“All I know is you better take care of yourself. You need to live life, not battle through it. I say this with love.”

“I know, man. I know.”


The wind rose to a whining moan. She controlled her mind, drawing from her years of training, piecing out the trail she had minutely planned. This was no haphazard escape, yet it was not without its dangers. They would pursue her, bent on taking revenge for her treacherous and traitorous acts as they perceive them. Those who will be sent to find her and eventually kill her will not know the truth behind her actions.

The imposing rock started to recede. The wind retreated, howling behind her. Slowly, the layers of cold began to peel away and she loosened her scarf to take in the chill air. Her hands in the thick gloves started to thaw. Between the last two mountain breasts, she saw the darker turquoise of the distant fields. She was closer to her destination, which eased the vice that had taken hold of her heart.

Rocks crumbled under her trembling feet. She could barely see, her body feeling heavy. A cave opening materialized, inviting her with its possible safety. She gathered some kindling; and illuminating the cave’s thankfully unoccupied depths, she entered her haven for the night.
A fire was soon burning high and warm. The ground cleared and the sleeping mat unrolled, she released her feet from their booted prison. With her sheepskin jacket wrapped tightly around her, she wriggled into her warm bedding.

Taking a deep drink of jasmine tea and several hearty chunks from the dried beef, she felt her frozen blood starting to course faster. She chewed slowly, listening to nature settle into the arms of the night. She settled too, resting her head on her bag. Nestled in the downy blanket, she stared at the purple core of the burnishing, copper fire. Tears trembled on her eyelashes and slowly drifted down her cheeks.

Her own survival was unimportant, her task, however, was. Those who would persecute her had their own motives. They believed in their own truths. She had to defend hers. Burying herself deeper in the bedding, she closed her eyes to sleep...

Mika's eyes snap open. She groans, wishing she has already started her hypnosis sessions with Kiro; yet he insisted that she journal her dream first. She gazes at the frost patterns like crone’s fingers clawing at the panes. She has confidence in Kiro, almost too much confidence for such a short acquaintance. Yet, it does not feel like that. The moment she looked into his eyes this afternoon, she felt transported. At ease. Protected.

“Irrational” she tells the empty room and pulls the pillow over her head. Doggedly, she decides that she will sleep through the night.


Curtis goes home to shower and shave. His condo, new, cool and functional sees him very rarely for any other purpose. It is sparsely furnished with the barest of essentials. No pictures or ornaments break the monotony of white walls and black furniture. No visitors have ever crossed the threshold.. Curtis even does his own cleaning to avoid any intrusion into his sphere. His dates are inevitably taken to hotel rooms of varying degrees of luxury or to their place if he cannot avoid it. Not even Nasos or his family have ever seen this inner sanctum.

Quickly, he throws his clothes into the laundry hamper, taking note that this chore can no longer be put off. He steps into the shower, alternating the water from hot to cold. He allows his mind the rare luxury of wandering.

Suddenly, the distant memory surfaces, of his feet sinking in the clay soil as he runs to the river. Then the tree comes into focus. The tree he would sit on, far away from the world, his haven from the poverty and confusion that he lived in. On the tree, he never felt helpless. Since then, he has waded through a world without trees or rivers, through solemn, grizzly realities. Some he barely escaped from with his life.

 He wasn't expected to be anyone then, or anything. He was just a boy. People laughed at him or got angry at him. He did not care.. Now, he is a man who avoids thought or emotion. He seeks not to find or be found.  In his mind, he wishes he never left that tree.

With a grunt, he pushes those thoughts away. In record time he is out of the shower, dressed, and ready to go to the department and then on to the interview that will possibly shed some light on this case that has haunted him since he heard about it.


On his third awakening, Kiro finally gives himself up to the sleepless night. He rises, feeling the chill crouching in the shadows. He pads to the kitchen to put the kettle on. He flicks on his CD player, letting the music softly stroke the air. Preferring the dark, Kiro stands at the window. He is held hostage by an overwhelming feeling of not déjà vu but déjà écouté. Her voice transports him to mountains and frosted air, fields and flight.

He looks down at the various lights still burning a hole in the night. The light in the kitchen reflects his image, superimposing it on the cityscape. He knows exactly what is happening to Mika, for it has happened to him. He however, has had the training and access to ancient wisdom to deal with the truths that lie behind those dreams. He must prepare Mika thoroughly and gradually, before any such realization can be allowed to foster in her. Kiro hates deception, but if he must use it, so be it. Mika must be made comfortable with rituals of contemporary psychology. Otherwise she will buckle under and break.

He stands naked at the windows, feet apart, hands behind his back, hair untied. He realizes that he has taken the stance of the warrior.

"That is exactly what I have to be."

His motionlessness is broken by the kettle's whistling. Returning to the kitchen, he prepares the tea. He pours it in a cup and returns to the window which he opens for air.

"Why must my life be plagued with visions?"

Shattered fragments are seeking to be reunited into a whole. Will he recognize these fragments? Was he part of them? Will he be able to put them back together? Who knows, but life?

Dragon's breath forms as the cold night air invades the room.

And life has secrets.


Human Variations - A Working Title

As promised, here is the first chapter of my novel entitled, for the time being, Human Variations. I'm still mulling that over. This novel is almost complete, with the last few chapters still to be written but totally outlined. As with all my work published online, it is copyrighted and cannot be used without permission.

Feel free to leave comments :)


A Star flared into the dark
splintering it
into a myriad prisms.
Thought became matter.
Samantha cradles against the icy window, gazing at the snow that lies battered on the street. In her head, a distant sound of sleigh bells ring. She watches cars and people as they rush to their holiday destinations. They look carefree, happy to greet the New Year. This is too much for her. The steel vice that has lodged around her heart tightens as it beats.

Samantha's raw fingers melt the frost on the window pane. Her anxious eyes once again seek the candle. It flickers, but goes on burning. She gnaws on her lips with her strong teeth, oblivious to the blood that fills her mouth. Last New Year twilight, the wick of the new candle merged with that of the old. The light was transposed to live forever. Since then, an endless string of candles have passed from her wax- burnt trembling hands, yet, her anxiety continues.

Tonight, as she stares out of her frosty window, the vortex starts pulling on her again. Again, she is powerless to resist. Again the despair begins. A sudden draft seeps through the cracks. The flame flickers. She gasps, running to the candle. She kneels before it, tenderly protecting it. But the icy breath, toying with the flame, blows it out. A shadow passes over the room. Samantha screams.


Mika's eyes snap open.  Gasping for air, she sits up in bed, clutching the covers. Disoriented, her eyes go to the moonlit window. A tree branch is knocking furiously against the pane. Trying to still her beating heart, she takes a few deep breaths. Bringing her fist up to rub her eyes, she quickly drops it down again.  Her face is drowning in tears. 

“It’s happening again,” she mutters. The dream she thought had left her, has come back with a vengeance. Throwing off the covers, she swings her legs over the side of the bed. "Water." she thinks and, like a sleepwalker, she moves across the deep rug of the room, into the hall, down the stairs, to the kitchen.

The water runs cold out of the chrome tap. She cups her hands and drinks greedily. Then, wiping her mouth, she supports her shaking body on the counter and gazes out into the sparkling garden and, beyond that, the lake. She wonders if she will ever sleep through a whole night again.

Her eyes, grainy from lack of sleep, find it difficult to focus. Her body, stiff from the dream, is reluctant to move. Her mind protests. Knowing that it is futile even to try sleep, she decides not to attempt the charade, preparing coffee, instead.

Mechanically, she trudges back up to the bathroom. She splashes cold water on her face and reaches for the towel. Catching her reflection in the mirror, she hesitates. “Why does my face always look unfamiliar to me at first glance?” The chestnut hair, the hazel eyes, the long nose and full mouth have been with her for thirty years. Yet, it is the face of a stranger.

Returning to the kitchen, she pours herself a generous cup of coffee, hoping that it will revive her. Its rich blackness fills her mouth, fills her body with artificial energy. Her heart, however, remains untouched and heavy in her chest. Mika wonders when the joy had left her life.

She could have been out, celebrating New Year's but she did not have to heart to go through the motions. She smiles wryly. She has never had the best sense of timing, choosing the one time in the year when loneliness can be deadly, to break off her engagement. But, she knows she had to be honest with him. She has never been one to hide from the truth and the truth is, she does not see herself as David's wife.

She probably can’t be anyone’s wife. Her career has always been her passion and now with the dream returning... She shakes her head to stop its descent into darkness. “This is no time to make commitments, when I’m losing my mind.”


The house occupies one of the largest corner lots in the area. Its walls are covered with a vine that never fades, but flares red in the fall. The stone that was said to have been brought over from England with the early settlers remains regally grey. The evergreens that flank the house protect it from the eyes of the curious. Many children in the neighbourhood would have liked to call it haunted if it weren't for its vivacious owner who has infused the very stone with her personality. 

Tonight the house is decked out in its festive splendour, solidly oblivious to the howling winds and blowing snow. Trees and bushes flash with lights, bejewelled with fairy lights. Beautiful ice sculptures of fairies and elves frolic on the snow-covered lawn. The orange glow of firelight spills out onto the frozen shapes, spotlighting their wintry glory. Passers-by stop to gape through the wrought iron gates, awed at the marvellous spectacle, thinking how lucky the occupants of the house must be.

Inside, Charlotte Burke paces, glancing at her daughter who reciprocates with a shrug. Her expensive pumps make no sound on the deep, caramel rug as she continues her pacing. The special dinner she planned, has long grown cold, but she could care less. The clock is perilously close to midnight and still no sign of Jonathan or Samantha.

Finally, she sits down with an exasperated sigh. "That girl is going to drive me to the nearest asylum. Where can she be? Sometimes I wonder who she takes after, with her eccentric notions and fantastical ideas. Where did I go wrong Stephanie?"

 The younger woman eyes her mother wearily, as she replaces the loose blond strand in its elegant coil. "Mom. We've gone over this again and again. You’ve got to let her be. She'll snap out of it. Hopefully."

Charlotte refills her cup with steaming tea and takes a cautious sip. "A miserable lot of consolation you're giving! Jonathan left over an hour ago. I know there must be something wrong."

Stephanie secretly berates herself for giving up a date with the scrumptious Fernando to come to this family dinner. She flicks her shell pink nail in irritation. "Will you please relax? He's probably trying to convince her to come."

"See. That's exactly what I mean. Why should he be trying to convince Samantha to come spend New Year's Eve with her family? It's not as if her social calendar is crammed with engagements. Oh. Listen to me. Is that the door?"

Stephanie flips through her phone. "No. It's the wind."

It makes a mourning sound as it knocks on the windows and brushes against the trees. Its sound makes the listener glad to be inside and warm, away from its eerie mood. The two women listen to the wind, each absorbed in her own thoughts, her own feelings of guilt. The ring of the phone makes both mother and daughter turn and look at the instrument with almost identical expressions of horror.

"Would you like me to get that mother?"

"Don't be silly. I'm closer." The receiver wavers slightly in her hand. "Hello?"


The pub is full of New Year's revellers. A smoky haze hovers over and around the milling crowd. The music from the pop charts has quite a few people convulsing on the floor. Curtis orders tonic water and settles in his favoured seat at the end of the bar where he can keep an eye on the action, unnoticed.

He remains oblivious to the voltage that attracts the female moths to his aloofness.  He scans the room of the small popular pub, ever on the lookout for a trail, a lead, an inside scoop. He is never disappointed, because his training has given him, if nothing else, an uncanny sense for detail.

When he was offered the position of investigator on a special task force, he wasn't sure that he wanted it. He had been used to traveling, and his career with the military suited him fine. But after his injury, he decided that active duty would have to be shelved, for the time being. So he accepted the job, with certain conditions.

The Commisioner was so pleased to have him that he accepted Curtis’ terms immediately, needing someone who is extremely good at undercover work. His uncut charisma and his unrelenting thoroughness have won him great successes in the past year. Curtis accepted the praise but steered clear of close associations and political game playing.

Even deep in thought, his mind is always keenly aware of its surroundings. In one corner sits a languid red-head with a short tight skirt and legs that go on forever. "Every man's wet dream," his lip curls at the thought. She sits nonchalantly, her nose high in the air, slowly sipping her drink. He sees through the pantomime, of course. The message in her glance is unmistakable, but he is not interested.

His phone starts vibrating and he reaches for it. Being on call at night like this has never bothered Curtis, but when he sees the message, he grunts in exasperation.

                                    A woman is at East General with a coma.
                                    A neighbour heard her scream before she
                                    was found, can you take this?
                                    Everyone else is on a call or not available.

He punches in his answer, gulps down his drink and leaves.


The hospital's attempt at holiday cheer is futile to those who have to spend time there. Charlotte, Stephanie and Jonathan sit close together in one of the waiting rooms. Incomprehension is etched on their faces as they search each other's eyes for consolation but find confusion.

Jonathan rests his face in his hands to avoid the many questions he cannot answer. Although he was the one to find his sister, he still cannot coherently piece together a story with a semblance of logic. When he got the apartment, there was no answer. But a feeling in his gut made him force the disgruntled super to open the door.

He found her lying inert on the floor, the blood drained from her face and body. When the concerned neighbour hurried into tell them that he heard her scream, a frozen anxiety gripped him while he waited for the medics to arrive. The fact that neither he, nor the EMS could revive her when they arrived seemingly hours later did nothing to ease his foreboding.

Samantha is lying in a coma and no one can find the cause.

The doctors are obviously puzzled and have pumped the bewildered family for any clue as to why Samantha can be lying inert and unreachable on a hospital bed. Her blood stream shows no evidence of drug use. Has she ever been a drug user? No. There is no sign of trauma anywhere on her body. Has she taken a bad fall recently? No. Has she had epilepsy or mild psychosis? No! Each assumption is more horrible and unfounded than the rest. The cruel fact remains there is no explanation.

Charlotte finally has the courage to break the deafening silence. "It's my fault I should have watched out for her. I knew she was teetering on the edge."

"Mother, please. Dramatics are not your style. We all knew that there was something wrong with Sam. We tried everything to help her snap out of it. She built a wall around herself and wouldn't let anyone in."

"Jonathan's right, mom. Please don't start this, again. It's so useless. Sam isn't a baby. She had, has, options. She just hasn’t exercised them. There was nothing we could do to foresee let alone prevent this. Even the doctors seem stumped."

"Is it possible that depression can lead to coma?"

"Jonathan. That's preposterous!"

"The resident psychologist will like to ask us some questions about Samantha. They want to compile a psychological profile." Charlotte sighs wearily.

"What has gone so wrong with Samantha's life that she has to end up like this?"

Jonathan shakes his head that feels heavy with weariness. "That Stephanie is the million dollar question."


The moon hangs low, glows bright in the heavy winter night. The glassy, manufactured beauty of the city shimmers on the cold horizon.  The water lies neutral, a translucent green. The tiny weather-beaten boats waddle like drunken geese against the dock. All is still on the pier. The pleasure craft, covered and stored by their owners for the winter remain silent. Nothing moves on the marina.

Kiro sits on his boat, cross-legged. Its gentle rocking lulls him. His eyes, intense beams of light, scan the purple horizon. His mind, trained to still its wanderings, focus on the foggy light of the ghostly orb. His body, subordinated by his powerful spirit, rests. An immobile clay statue.

Only his hair, coal black and long, sways in the snow-filled gust. He tastes the flakes on his lips. His whole body echoes the deep vibrations of the water and sky. He closes his eyes and once again the images pass through.

A tall slim girl, candle white.
A man running from his demons.
A woman on a trail, stalked by hurt.

Slowly, he opens his eyes and steps off his boat, reaching for his cell phone. It is time to go home.


"Can you tell me a little about Samantha's childhood? It will help to have some background and possibly piece the steps that brought her here."

Charlotte wrings the moist lace handkerchief in her trembling hands. Her eyes are fixed on the brick wall outside the window. "Samantha was every mother's dream. Her school life was exemplary, peppered with a normal amount of mischief. She was popular. She was an A student, a debating team whiz, a star soft ball player, and an accomplished flutist. Samantha was always the calm in the storm, the lovely anchor of our fatherless family.

I lost my husband when Samantha was three and my twins newly born.

I remember the day everything changed. It was a week before her nineteenth birthday. All the plans had been set. She was to go to Montreal and study music at the conservatory. We had also arranged that she stay with a cousin who has rooms to spare in her rambling old house. Her future shone brightly. We were all so happy for her.

That afternoon, Samantha sought me out in my garden studio. She sat down on a stool and watched me hack at my latest sculpture. All day I had an uneasy, restless feeling, and I naturally thought I was reading into things. I let her be waiting to hear what was so obviously going through her mind. I can honestly say I felt my spine tingle.

Suddenly, I could stand the suspense no longer, so I turned to look at my quiet daughter. It wasn't that she was simply staring out the window that alarmed me; she did that often;  it was her faraway expression. To this day it haunts me. I was about to say something, I don't know what, when she told me she found a job and an apartment and that she was moving out at the end of that month.

In vain I tried to get an explanation, I even resorted to pleading and threats, but I was met with stony silence. I recruited Jonathan and Stephanie but they too reached a stalemate. Samantha's mind had been quietly, sweetly, irrevocably made up. True to my beliefs, I backed off, and true to her word, and, as always, without much ado, she moved out on her nineteenth birthday. And that was when everything started to go wrong."

Charlotte buries her face in her hands and cries. Jonathan puts his arm around his mother's shoulders. He gives the doctor a reproachful look. He yearns for a cigarette, as he grinds his teeth.

 "What mother means is that things started falling apart for Sam, when she moved out and got a job at a small occult store. It wasn't what the store specialized in that bothered us; it was that it had an air of chicanery to it. The people that went there were the odds and ends of humanity. They drifted in for a chat, a cup of tea, a reading, a talisman, a trinket, a book. Most of them spoke in hieroglyphics, others spoke not at all just fixed one with their entranced eyes, or simply stared past at something I surely could not see.

They sought spiritual wisdom and comfort, and they found it in Samantha, I believe, not in the owners of that... establishment."

The doctor nods, taking detailed notes. "Can you tell me a little about her state of mind when she worked at this store?"

Jonathan let out a ragged sigh. "It's hard to tell what was going on her head. I can tell you what she looked like. She started dressing exclusively black and her hair, which had gone completely silver grey within a year, was always hanging down her back in a braid. But it's her eyes, pale blue, incredibly big on her small pointed face that burn in my memory."

The doctor looks up sharply. "Can you explain what you mean please?"

"I don't know how to explain."

Stephanie, who has been silently fiddling with the patent strap of her bag, clears her throat. "What Jon means is that she had this kind of vacant look about her. She smiled a lot, but it was an empty smile. Do you know what I mean?"

The doctor studies the attractive blond who has been unable to hide her reluctance at being here. "Do you think her place of employment caused these changes?"

Stephanie nods. "Definitely!  They closed the place down last year. The owner was arrested for fraud and embezzlement. Too late to help Samantha though."

"What did Samantha do then?"

Charlotte answers the question, her voice much steadier. "She went on unemployment and continued helping these... people at home. We tried to take her out for lunch, for dinner, for coffee, for anything, just out of there.  But she smiled her sad, little smile and shook her head. Every time, she had some tea, or reading, or séance, or consultation, God knows what!"

Their guilt was almost palpable. Family therapy might be necessary in the future, but right now he has a puzzle on his hands,. "Ms. Burke, you said something earlier about the store closing being to too late for Samantha. What did you mean by that?”

"After the store closed down last year, it was as if she too, shut down, lost direction. I tried talking her into getting another, better job, or going back to her studies. But she wouldn't.
 What got me really mad were these people who would come over seeking I don't know what... salvation from Sam? They just sapped the energy out of her. She read their cards. What a crock! They claimed that she was always right! She held their hands and talked them out of whatever particular frenzy held them. Truthfully, it gave me the creeps."

With a grim look on his otherwise unreadable face, Doctor Lazlow closes the folder, knowing it is time to bring in a specialist.