Sign for Intermutual

Pippa and David were having a first date that was exceeding expectations. David: She’s not as much a cat lady as I thought. Pippa: Well dressed.

They went down the list of interests: TV? check, binge watch same shows? yes, eat out? adventurous? indeed, then the ‘what do you do?’ question.

David said “I work at Intermutual. I’m a program manager.”

“Like you do big calendars? and spreadshets?”

“Yeah and Gantt charts, too”

He then explained what a Gantt chart was.

“So what does this software do?”

“Hate to say it but it’s a project I can’t talk about.”

“Oooh man of mystery eh?”

“Un-huh and you?”

She was in health care – billing. They agreed to a second date.

Things moved along and they became closer and closer. Soon there were two toothbrushes in each of their apartments.

“Bad day at work?” He asked.


“Let me make you a cup of tea.”


They settled into the couch.

“Is it again Annabel again?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to talk about it now. I wish you could share more of what ever it is you do. I would appreciate being told the truth — the good, the bad and the ugly.”

“Wish I could. As you know, Freddy West (we never call him just Freddy) is the lead programmer where I work. Programmers hate having to say when they are done with an upgrade. They think what they are doing is an objet d’art…”

He said it like “obJAY duh Har…”

She laughed as he finished up his anecdote. He only shared personal stories, never anything about the work.

“There’s nobody at my work like that, everyone is so boring. You have to wrangle a bunch of creative people. How many women?”

“Too few I’m afraid.”

Pippa was a bit of a detective like Nancy Drew (the girl detective in the book series) she had idolized as a child. She was curious about David’s job. She was determined to find out more.

She would invite him to lunch at different places around Pittsburgh. She knew that although he liked having lunch out he didn’t like taking a long time off. She picked lunch sites all around the city and took note of which ones he declined. She isolated where his office was by triangulation.

There was only one Intermutual office that fit. He must work there. But even that office was somewhat hidden. In the building there was a sign for Intermutual but the office that matched the number on the directory was not for Intermutual. It was for a contracting firm. She poked around and found an office that was obviously in use but did not have a corporate identifying sign. The digital door lock worked with hand prints only. She was onto him. This is where he worked. But what did he do?

A few months into their affair she found out. A shadowy hacker crew WikiDrips published secret docs and emails from Intermutual. It had the address she had found as the office working on a secret project. She confronted him.

“How could you do that? How could you make the surveillance system for the communists? Don’t you know what they’ll do with it?”

David was already in trouble both publicly and with his management. He wasn’t the leaker! His name got published like everyone else. His landlord hadn’t evicted him but she was hinting strongly he wasn’t wanted. And there was more like that too.

The Intermutual crisis team had coached him. How well?

“Now I can tell you. We were inserting a backdoor into the system. When it would be used on dissidents we could publish what the communists were doing.”

“What about the millions millions! of people who were just caught up in it. What about their jobs, credit, families? If they aren’t famous what then? Is your shitty system going to help them? Millions of them? Your software was going to oppress literally millions of people! How can you sleep at night? In my bed?”

She started to cry.

He didn’t dare touch her. This was bad. On top of everything else, the constant meetings, the visits from the higher ups, the crisis team looking for the leaker(s) and this: the protests from other Intermutual employees, now he knew the worst.

David K. Daggett – program manager – responsible for the Gimlet system overall. Indictable offenses: censorship-compliant search engine, facial recognition country wide database, biometrics database, censorship artificial intelligence (AI) system. postal address [blocked] phone number [blocked]

They wouldn’t stay blocked for long. He asked the Intermutual response team if they could give him another identity – like witness protection. Nope.

The company did damage control by firing the whole team. They gave good severance packages with a hush clause that had enough bite that no one was likely to spill any more about the full catastrophe. Man of mystery.

Pippa was trying to move on. She dated but none of the men struck as ‘the one’. She often wondered if David had been the one. She even fantasized about him and then felt dirty. But she knew she would do it again.

David likewise thought of Pippa. He tried to forget her. He moved away from Pittsburgh and used the money from the severance to travel. Everywhere he went he was still a loser. It was not even his fault. His first job at Intermutual had been safe as milk. As he got promoted he moved closer and closer to Gimlet (secret you know) and then he was on the team. ‘Man of mystery’ she had said. Every time that vision appeared to him he moved to another town.

Finally he couldn’t do it any more. He moved back to Pittsburgh. He was working in the Community Supper at All Pilgrim’s Church. He was in the kitchen pouring beans into the steam table holding pan. He looked up and there she was. He wanted to die and be reborn as someone else that stood a chance.

Through the steam of the beans being poured she saw him.

Cue ‘Somebody I used to Know’

It was finally over for both of them.

David is on the far right screaming. Look at all the baggage he’s trying to get rid of: Pippa as Daisy Duck, Pippa the yogini and then all the Gimlet drama ‘Peaceful’ indeed.

If only he could get some peace.

The flowers are what await both of them. May they be happy. They learned so much but so much more to learn.


Excuses Are For the Weak

Featuring: Lid for (B 63.)

Alexia Beasley (Lexie) wasn’t going to take any more crap off of anybody any more. She had gotten free of that cult named “Gathering of Sacrifice” after seven years by not believing in excuses as she used to. Now she knew: Excuses Are For the Weak and she had been weak for far too many years.

She had only the money she had stolen. The last night at the Gathering she had been in bed with Teo and three other women. She was lucky and he fell asleep before he got around to her. She’d been in his room enough times that she knew where he kept his walking around money. There was five thousand dollars, drugs and a gun. She left the drugs. She blew a kiss to the other women. They envied her but were sure she’d be caught and dragged back like they’d seen it done before. They would all say they’d been asleep. Oxy ya know.

She had also stolen a cellphone confiscated from a new “recruit”. It was the first “sacrifice” every new sect member was required to make. She had the password for the phone. This also was a required sacrifice.

Lexie was one of the few allowed to use the one computer in the compound. She kept the website up to date. She knew there was a thing called Uber and that it had an app.

So for a while she was “Sarah”, but not for long. They’d be onto her soon. Teo had a private eye on retainer.

Lexie uber’ed back to the town she’d lived in before. Sarah’s card was billed. The gathering hadn’t maxed it out yet. As part of the onboarding, Sarah would then declare bankruptcy. In that town Lexie owned a house that the Gathering had never found out about. She was going home she guessed.

And in that home she found: Adam French her old boss! She looked in the window and there he was sitting on a new chair in her old living room. He was right by the window she was looking in. What a weasel, he took her house because she had disappeared. Her table, her lamps, some of her curtains.

It was more than she could stand. Men, men, men. Teo and now Adam. She had liked Adam. She had that gun and she was going to make this right. Adam grabbed his chest and fell to the floor. Lexie moved on.

She managed somehow. It is not as easy as it looks in spy novels to get a new identity. Lexie had to work as a housekeeper at a motel. They didn’t ask any questions and paid in cash.

The murder stayed unsolved.

She picked up a newspaper in a room. It was folded over and this headline was visible.

“Adam French Murder Still Unsolved.” She figured she had better read the article.

As advertised she had apparently got away with murder. Teo had bought a stolen gun, so it traced back to a dead end. No motive. She kept reading.

“French left his house and a good sized inheritance to one Alexia Beasley. She was rumored to have joined a so called cult named “Gathering of Sacrifice”. When that organization was contacted they declined to comment on any membership issues. A subpoena has been issued but the executor of the estate Jelena Tudor states she expects a long court fight based on the past actions of the Gathering.”

“French had begun to “squat” on the property soon after Beasley disappeared. The title for the property reverted to French after five years. Acquaintances said that French expected Beasley to come to her senses and return. He waited in vain.”

“What am I gonna do?” thought Lexie. She moved on to the next room to clean it.

Here we see Adam French. He’s going into his grave with so much unfinished business. He was carrying a torch for Lexie – that’s the yellow rose.

All the things in his beard Santa Claus, Garuda, the Fishes, the snake and Venus are going with him to his grave.

Claus: What he gave to and would have given to Lexie.

G, Fishes, Snake: All the time he spent at the office when he could have had a rewarding life instead.

Venus: The love he felt for L. never requited, the death of him.


Name Withheld re: Amezquita

Featuring (B. 96)

The courthouse was cracking. Metaphorically of course.

That Joel L. Bryant met Cheryl P. Amezquita at a gala charity event (name withheld at the organization’s request) is attested to by many witnesses. No one seemed to remember inviting her. A diligent search through the Name Withheld’s email and other correspondence shows nothing related to Amezquita.

The judge speaks for himself from transcript.

Bryant: I was stupidly busy.

Prosecutor Sullivan: You were busy. What did she say to you the night you met?

B: That she was a banana magnate – huge banana plantation somewhere in Central America.

S: And because this was an event that cost $1000 to attend, you believed her.

B: Well, yes.

S: Tell me what happened next.

B: We were talking – you go to these things for networking – plenty of attorneys I’ll be seeing in court or chambers were there, and she seemed like a network branch I hadn’t noticed before. So I did I made an effort to chat her up – Why was she here in South Carolina, any other travel plans, that kind of thing. Then she said she had a lawsuit in another state – no conflict – that she wanted to get some advice on.

“The thing you have to understand about Joel is that he’s both quirky and professorial about his beliefs.”

S: And…

B: Well I went to her hotel room, in a professional capacity of course, and she got out a fat binder, but she said “Can I put some music on?” not entirely customary but I said “Okay” and…

S: And…

B: It was devil music. Drums on top of drums on top of some singing i guess you could call it singing. She was sitting next to me and got kind of closer and closer and then I wasn’t looking at the binder any more.

S: And you were intimate that night?

B: Yes may God have mercy on my soul.

“…was there some weird subconscious element [in Joel ed.]that just wanted to derail the train and get off the train?”

S: When did you start to suspect Cheryl?

B: Yeah we all now know that wasn’t her real name. I’ll bet even your office doesn’t have more than a few aliases but no way to catch up with her. She’s smart.

S: No comment. What was the next time you saw her?

B: She said that she was looking at some property here in town, would I like to go with her?

“Sure” I said. We poked around in a building that also had this thing called “wework” She explained it to me and said that we could do better, with her money and my connections in town.

“There’s a long list of bizarre things he’s done, and I can’t explain them.”

She asked me to put up $10,000 as a good faith sum to let me buy shares before it went public.

S: And you gave it to her?

B: yes.

S: And you say the threatening texts started after that?

B: With….pic…pictures I’d rather not say any more – you have them.

S: What did you do next?

B: I called the number back that sent the pictures. No number. I mean the number was unavailable.

S thought: “You’re not the only one. Others hushed up but you so stupid. Don’t call us we’ll call you.”

S: “Thank you I think that’s all we need. Don’t leave town.”

“Bryant states: “Maybe there will be another chapter when waters calm with Adele [his wife ed.], but at this point the environment is not conducive to building anything given no one would want to be caught in the middle of what’s now happening.”

His performance reviews at Home Depot have been excellent for three years running. Doesn’t miss court at all.

The banana looks away out of shame. This was not the way the banana wanted to be known for.

Nash is in the rubble somewhere. He doesn’t want you to see him. Not after the pix went public. Did Adele do that perhaps?

She thinks she will get a better settlement in the divorce.

Devil music is being played by the drummer. Cats are dancing.


Above the Wooden Sky

Featuring (B. 186)

The green dragon hovered over him. He knew that the time was near.
///How could the Bardo look like this?///

His daughter was sitting by his bed. There was so much blue. He could see himself as an owl behind Adena even though he was looking at her face on.

There was a blue sprite in the room. She began to talk.

“….Guinevere, Dad! Listen! Nash! Mom…”

In Nash’s journal he wrote: “Good shoot at the wedding plenty of usable or even better shots. There was a girl. Ariella Wilberforce-Clarke. I got her name off the guest list. Then made something up about an aunt named Ariel She told me to call her. So forward like it. Call her tomorrow – 2 day rule and all”

Journal: “She finally picked up. I had sent texts too maybe too much? Anyway we should be seeing each other Harvard she had the champagne studying what? Oh of course semiotics,”

J: “That’s a cute good kisser moving right along. I told her I’d call her Guinivere she thought it was sweet probably doesn’t know the story good – Such is the silence o’er royal camalot. “

J: “Sweet spent the night – she’s the Guinivere. The rustle of her gown on the marble staircase.”

Nash now had no doubt. As it happened, Guininvere was to be the last of a long line of affairs for him.

“Was it that photographer again?” Guinivere could hear the sarcasm and ill will drip like icicles from her mother’s voice.

“It is a perfectly respectable occupation mother”, snapped Guinivere.

Was she in love with him? He was exciting, he knew so much about art and life, he was sexy, he had kept up working out, oh I can’t be in love with him.

Journal: She knows so little any tidbit of art theory or some obscure painter or what it’s like at different museums around the world Cute but maybe annoying she’s young

They traveled to Italy. He was her docent . Was he condescending? Was he getting tired of adulation?

“Do you know how many girlfriends he’s had?” asked mother.

“I don’t care.” But she did and she listened even though she knew she shouldn’t

They broke up and lived apart but ultimately whatever the drama; it was meant to be.

When Guinivere lay dying she was visited by all the men she had loved. The ones before Nash so young so young, the ones after Nash between Nash back to Nash so experienced so.

—Above the wooden sky the dragon was flaming again. Green flame. Gwen was it Gwen or was it Veronica? She…she…she..the blue sprite was talking again.–

“You need to know about Guinivere, even if you aren’t my father I feel like you won’t be able to rest unless you know the truth. She she was unfaithful she a lot. There must have been at least five of them. None was your friend. She always went to a hotel room. This was not when you two were apart it was while you lived on Sloan Avenue. Do you want to know more?”

–A blue sprite – Maggie was a blue sprite. He was sure he was not her father – she had been born during one of the longest separations. She was right about that.

What else had she said?–

He managed: “I’m sure it’s all right. Take my hand will you?”

She held his hand. Adena would not.

She was living apart. Timothy was so dear. She’d never thought, not with Nash that she would want a child. And then it was a girl. How sweet.

–The red flower–

The green dragon leans over the edge of the wooden sky. The dragon shoots a straight green beam/flame away to the right.

She has collected a few things but is worried about Adena and Maggie. Will they treat Nash with deference and respect?

The wooden sky is locked and unlocked by the mystical sign in the metal tab hanging from the sky. Perhaps Nash will unlock it.

The blue sprite a.k.a Maggie  who still calls him Dad even though he is not her biological father is speaking. Adena has her eyes closed, she’s had it with him. Maggie/sprite is standing on frozen rock that has flowed out of the volcano she is standing on.

May you be safe.

Watching it all is Nash the owl. If he wanted to he could look over and see himself dying. Owls are too smart to do that though. What’s in the owl’s mouth? A spider?

When the red flower drops Nash’s story ends.


Charles Canmore == 113

 Featured ware (B. 33)

He knew what he had to do. It all depended on the delivery. He approached Astrid as she was finishing meditating. He knew he could approach her because she had opened her eyes.

“Dear, I’m thinking I need an office or workplace or studio. My novel is kind of stalled and it might help.”

Astrid said “Of course honey. What are thinking about where it would be?”

“I think over in Newcastle.”

“Oh really? That’s a little ways off.”

“Indeed. Part of the process would be to make a break with my normal routine. I’m betting that the change would do me good.”

He knew what the place would be like. Plants everywhere spilling out of pots on the floor, pots hanging from the ceiling. Where ever one looked there would be green. Could he grow grapes there? Indoors? They’re just another vine, maybe he could.

Charley Canmore could it seems. He found an apartment with copious light to grow all sorts of greenery. He moved his desk from the house and had high speed internet. He kept no books, no music nor magazines there. The place blazed with light. He had extra lights added to the ceiling and had many floor lamps in every room. He bought a small bed. It wasn’t much more than a camp bed, but he wouldn’t be entertaining visitors of that sort anyway.

In fact, Canmore wasn’t interested in any visitors. He went to the apartment (by now he was calling it his ashram) alone by intention. It was a strong intention. The novel he was writing was galling him.

In the novel the protagonist was becoming more involved with the glass bead game – it was a prequel to the Hermann Hesse book. The protagonist Coale was more mystical than H.H.’s Knecht. Coale (named after the fire elemental) was deep into alchemy like H.H.’s fellow expat Carl Jung. But the material of the story was not lining up right for Canmore.

He started invoking the elementals earth, air, fire and water. He needed more time.

He was back at Astrid’s and his home.

“Honey are you sure you’re all right? You seem distracted all the time. I suspect the novel is not going well, but could you write something else for a while? As a creative break? Maybe we could travel and you could write dispatches from where we go. Sell them to a magazine.”

“Hush.” said Charley. “It is water rushing through me. I need it to cleanse me of my defilements.”

“You’re starting to scare me.”

“There, there you know how we creative types get.” He was silent for a long

He was silent while at his “ashram”, too.

No one ever saw him except when he was coming or going. While inside his room the only sign that someone occupied the room was the smell of incense.

Just like the original by Hesse, in Charley’s story nothing was happening or had ever happened. By now this was starting to bother him. He wanted a breakthrough, not a continuation of some imagined Western culture. Just as the glass beads were appropriate technology for the time of the music masters cited in the text, Charley wanted a superior choice. His story had changed and now included time travel, so that he could write a prehistory and a post history for Castalia.

The technology of our time stood in for the tech of post history Castalia. However Charley had a odd idea of what passed for today’s tech. He only used the internet to keep up with a few chat websites about the occult, and to get random numbers from . He was starting to use analog numerology as well. The secret code contained in regular text.

C. P. Canmore == 616
Charles Canmore == 113
Charles Peter Canmore Esq == 468

Nothing was working out.


Meanwhile the police sergeant was telling Astrid: “If he doesn’t want to be found, that is not a job for the police. You can hire someone to find him. Don’t use craigslist.”

She could sense the pity in his voice


Just as the nymph’s gift, she whom Apollo transformed into a fountain at Delphi, Charley was aching to taste that sacred water. Debased water was not piquant any more. Less and less bitter food.

An excerpt from [Title to be decided]

“Why did they leave? They were as strong a student as any other. They chose, Bob and Fred and Nathan to go to the fleshpots of the world. When they could have had the bliss of the weakling and coward. We….
Hey Luciana cut it out, 0kay?
You shut up, Philostrate! This is feelings we’re talking about!
High or low on the Salomon-Adam scale?
A 6 or an 8? 67590294
“Luciana you’ll probably be next”, said Philostrate

Charley was starting to include numbers into the main line of the text. The illumati would know how to decode them.

81114174 67015977 47248757 35089571 55800765 62922194 79129452 47171959 65381926 73469294 11075288 12900220 30453604 53947179 10862465 19269867 5004477 64109002 51428408 28698713 94917203 550052

When they found the body the house smelled, but not of incense.

Here we see Charles asking Astrid about the studio. He has a turtle on his back that will grow larger and larger until it takes over his whole life and death.

That turtle is of course numbers not a ninja. It does ninja him eventually to death.

He is trying to mollify Astrid with the offering of a dead huge thistle head. What does she think of that? Her familiar is doing a headstand and has not noticed the thistle yet.

Look closely – is Astrid pregnant? There is a little baby’s head just behind the thistle. Does Charley know? I bet not. If he did it would disturb him but probably would not deter him from his fate.

That would be another story.

Behind them is (B. 33) whispering “may we be peaceful”. Charles gets his peace, what about Astrid? Or maybe Charley is reborn as a hungry ghost? He certainly fulfilled the hungry ghost role in this life. Rehearsal?

Above (B. 33) is of course Charley’s ashram. And what a place it is. In his imagination there are indeed grapes or currants or something growing purple and untouchable. Inside is light more light and more light

(Thanks to Grego for the plastic leafy construction.)