The Badger novel is
about ninety per cent finished, but other projects have taken my
attention. What could possibly be more important that the Badger
novel? Bringing home the bacon! And yes, I’ve seen the video with the
coyote and the badger! Everybody and my sister sent it to me.
“Take this job
and shove it!”
Mavis leveled a
finger. “He born for better things than shoveling shit!”
“See here, old
chap! If you don’t want to shovel shit, why didn’t you just say
so? I have plenty of other work for you. We need to repair that old
storage shed. And when we’re done with that, I’d like you to
plant mint in the garden. I hear it deters rabbits.”
Mavis wagged that
“Badger work for
you long enough. Where his IRA? Where his pension plan?”
Ham spread his
hands. “I pay him a hundred thousand dollars a year, same as you. I
provide room and board. Surely you have the wherewithal to fund your
“Not point! This
man great martial artist! We open school.”
“See here, old
chap! You’ve been with me since the beginning! Do you want more
money? What if I were to give you a fancy title? Director of
Security! I’ll give you an office.”
“Boss, I just
feel my potential is wasted shoveling shit. I haven’t fought a
demon in years. I wouldn’t know how to fight one now. The demons
never come around anymore. I’ve always dreamed of opening my own
Badger raised his
hands. “Go. Go with my blessing. But before you go, would you be so
kind as to recommend a replacement? Someone who can do what you do.”
Badger thought long
and hard. “Wombat.”
berserker from Australia? Is that a good idea?”
Mavis seized Badger
by the arm. “Is best idea.”
“Do you have
Canberra,” Mavis said.
Facebook,” Badger said.
“I’ll try that.
Very well. Will you be in touch?”
Badger said. “I just want to try something new. If any demons show
up, give me a holler.”
Ham collapsed in
his chair, which squeaked and groaned. “Fine.”
“I’m a little
disappointed. I should have been more attentive. I thought you liked
Mavis seized the
Vietnamese vase from its plinth.
“Wait a minute,”
“This is my vase.
I only let you borrow because you wanted to study, remember? You no
Ham turned to
Badger exasperated. “She speaks perfect English when she wants,
“You want demon,
I crack vase over skull! Then you see demon!”
“I was hoping to
see the demon without violence.”
Mavis snorted in
disgust. “We also taking dogs.”
“Dog missing. Did
Ham looked up,
startled. “What? What dog? No! I don’t eat dogs!”
“Then why you
name him Waffles?”
Ham stood and waved
his arms. “Go! Go with my blessing, curse you!”
Badger’s hand and yanked him out of the office. “I already pack.
I get car. You get dogs.”
Badger sat on the
flagstone floor of the entryway and sucked his thumb. Mavis knelt
before him and took his head in her hands. “Norbert. Norbert. I’m
sorry I mentioned Waffles. You have to be a man now, for the sake of
Badger looked at
her with fearful eyes, then looked away.
Mavis cupped her
hands and howled like a wolf. Badger sprang into a fighting stance,
like Travis Bickle.
“Where are the
broadly. “They’re out there. But right now, I need you to get all
the dogs together. We’re leaving.”
As a result of
severe childhood abuse at the hands of his stepfather, Norbert Sykes
had issues. The American Psychiatric Association, which flitted from
trend to trend like a butterfly, had recently decided that multiple
personality disorder did not exist. They now characterized what used
to be known as MPD into four types.
identity disorder, depersonalization disorder, derealization
disorder, and dissociative amnesia disorder. Badger’s therapist,
Daisy Fields, who also served as Ham’s secretary, tried to keep up.
But it was impossible to keep up. She had diagnosed Badger with five
separate personalities: Gastineau Grover DePaul, a tough inner-city
black, Emily, a six year old girl, Max Swell, a gay architect, Leroy,
a dog, and Pierre, a mass murderer. Daisy had done her best, but
until Badger met Mavis, he was all over the place.
Since Mavis had
come into his life, he was calmer and more focused. She possessed an
intuitive understanding of psychosis from dealing with animals all
her life. She was born in Vietnam. They met at a martial arts
said, stepping out the main entrance onto the broad front stoop.
Inserting two fingers, he whistled. Barks and howls emanated from
every corner. Five dogs lined up in a row, wagging their tails.
Synchronized. Bob was a black border collie/golden retriever mix.
Mack was a female pug/Boston terrier mix. Freddy was a collie/dingo
mix. Ermagerd was a female snickerdoodle. Otis was some kind of
wondering why I called you here. We’re moving to a new home. No dog
left behind. The food will be the same. Has anyone seen Leroy?”
They all started
barking at once.
Mavis pulled up in
a 1990 GMC Suburban pulling a trailer. They stuck their suitcases in
the trailer. The dogs piled in. Badger got the shotgun seat.
“No. We come
“Where we going?”
“I rent farmhouse
from Old MacDonald. I save foal last winter. He like me.”
Badger remembered a
cold, windy night, staying up with Mavis in the drafty barn, Mavis’
arms up to her elbows inside the mare, gently easing the foal into
its new life. Old MacDonald had called it a miracle. There were two
houses on his property, the modest ranch style in which he and his
wife of fifty years lived, and the old double decker that had
belonged to his parents. The senior MacDonalds had lived there until
they passed, several years ago. They were buried on the property, as
were their parents.
Before they could
leave, Daisy Fields ran out the front door. A shapely blond in her
mid-thirties, she wore creased tan Banana Republic slacks, a vintage
flapper blouse, and glasses.
Where are you going?”
Mavis stood on the
driver’s seat through the sun roof, pointing down the road. “We
move to 221 Baker Street, five miles that way. You join us for dinner
tonight, Hoity Toity. Pick you up at s.x”
Badger stood on the
shotgun seat. “I want to open my own kung fu school.”
Mavis put her arm
around his shoulders. “He tired of shoveling shit!”
“Oh no! Oh no!
You can’t go! You’re the reason I’m here.”
Mavis said. “Ham relies on you. You do real work! Accounting.
Administrative. He needs you more than Badger.”
Daisy looked like
she was about to cry. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
about it!” Badger said. “We’ll pick you up at six!”
“Can you at least
leave me a dog?”
himself and turned to face the dogs. “Boys, who wants to stay here
with Daisy? I need a volunteer.”
Otis leaped out the
window, ran up the stairs, and licked Daisy as she crouched to hug
“Miss Fields, I
need you!” Ham called through the open window.
Mavis started the
engine. “Back later, pick you up at six.”
Daisy watched them
drive down the perfect black asphalt and exit through the stone gate
onto Brotherhood Lane.
late, she called out, “Wait! Wait! That can’t be your address!
Sherlock Holmes lives there!”