Willie seemed embarrassed. “Mrs. Winkie’s suggestion. Some kaffeeklatsch nonsense.”
Several curious dads shifted on their barstools. “The neon yellow nightgown? Their idea?”
“Yeah. Said the kids would pay attention. I came up with the lantern and stopping in here afterwards.”
“So you don’t go all through the town.” The guy speaking had bags under his eyes.
“ Nah, that’s an exaggeration. Just my street.” Willie took a sip from his beer.
“Do the kids get into bed by eight?” Same guy. Seemed hopeful.
“Yeah, absolutely. Everything’s quiet when I get home.” Willie warmed to his subject. “And it’s cured my insomnia.”
With minutes left, Mädchen found the crook’s password. “Bingo, Rumplestiltskin.” Using his name, she cast a cheater’s spell to bind his Alchemist Account.
Once she had access to his vault, she could see his transactions. Straw to silver, straw to gold, gold to straw; all typed in neat rows alongside the names of infamous drug lords and traffickers.
Mädchen sniffed brimstone in the air.
The wizard stood in front of her, hand outstretched. “The gold.”
“I don’t have it.”
He grabbed her. Once they touched, she ensnared him and worked a shrinking spell. His soul evaporated until nothing was left.
“She won’t wake up.” A harried looking Queen sat on the edge of her daughter’s bed while the royal physician poked, prodded and tested the Princess.
“Anything unusual to report,” he asked.
“Her birthday. Yesterday. She had a lie down after she’d opened her presents.”
“I see.” He peered at the child’s finger. “Something sharp, a sewing kit? Knitting needles?”
“She got a spindle from her godmother. And merino wool.”
“Tried it right away?”
The queen nodded.
“A witch practitioner is what you need.”
The queen frowned. “Magic, what kind of medicine is that?”
“Only a spell cures a spell.”
Sherlock Wolff tracked the notorious hacker, Lorelei, to the Rhine Club. Concealing himself at the back, he scoped out the exits. She sang. Too late, he noticed his cocoa turning wolfsbane blue. The arrest warrant in his hand wavered like a timepiece in a Dali painting. He found himself on stage.
Instead of serving the warrant, he was served. Instead of arresting Lorelei, she handcuffed him. Wolff’s supervisor appeared. “Good work, Detective Wolff.” He shook Lorelei’s hand.
Wolff couldn’t find his tongue.
He woke up in a Bavarian jail. The woodcutter in the next cell said, “Don’t I know you?”
“Sherlock Wolff, ma’am. National Narrative Crimes.” He held a promotional photo. “Have you seen this blond chanteuse?”
Mrs. Bear dried her paws . “Lorelei’s gone, I’m afraid.”
“Did she leave anything?”
“ A mess.” Mrs. Bear ushered the detective in.
“We’re looking for a first edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and a laptop. Seen anything?”
Mrs. Bear shook her head. She called her son in.
Babyface said, “Lori’s not a reader.”
“She’s a hacker. Breaking into physical books, shortening them, changing plots. Her ex-boyfriend reported her.”
“She told me about him. The beast.”
Detective Wolff said, “He’s a wolf. There’s a difference.”
Bavarian Boots had a storied history. Now the elves wanted to change the company name to Iberian Soles.
“We’ve voted to relocate to the Canary Islands.” The elf twisted his beard into a white knot that rested on his collar.
Shoemaker’s father had been right. What a mistake to encourage a union. First it was holidays, then four weeks vacation. Now this. “I’ll consider it,” Shoemaker said.
“When you’re two centuries old, you’ll want a warm place to live,” the elf said. “Visit. You’ll see.”
Shoemaker booked a trip for three days. A month later, the relocation plan was complete.
Two wolves walk into a bar. The first says, “What a day.”
The second buys the drinks.
First one gets to talking. “I install air conditioners. My first job, the place is straw. When I test the unit, the whole place falls down. The pig’s suing me.
“The second house is twigs. I say I’m not doing it. Too dangerous. So he yells, ‘Breach of contract.’
“At the brick house, the guy’s a lawyer. Rants at me about how his brothers are taking me to court. So I eat him. Now I’ve got indigestion.”
The second says, “Have an antacid.”
Eostre surveys the protestors at the Vernal Equinox Picnic. Signs read, “Change the name.” But there’s no consensus. Norwuz, Passover, Holi, Easter, Zhonghe…
Eostre gathers morning light and scatters its rays. It dawns on the participants that there’s better things to do. They discover Eostre’s hares laying eggs. Ashanti boils the eggs and Saraswati prepares dyes to color them. The feathered serpent, Kulkulkan, paints designs across the shells. Soon everyone wants a chance.
Eostre finds the old goddesses, Cybele, Wang Mu Niang Niang, Beorc, and Ishtar. Together, they lead the Rebirth Parade around the world, stopping to toast new beginnings.
My wife swore the UFOs had landed because green men were digging in the garden in the rain. But she’s a little daft and not Irish. It was leprechauns, for sure, wearing black boots, work clothes and trademark top hats. The rainbows bring them and the blarney keeps you from catching them green handed with the goods.
So when the rains came again, I made a trap baited with shiny things and kept an eye on the potato field. And I was there to see a big crow fly away, the gold chain I set out dangling from its beak.
House Sitter Wanted: April in our charming wooded cottage. A place for contemplation, close to hiking and river adventures. Feel free to entertain in our spacious three bedroom home.
Goldie pushed the door open. She’d expected a key under the rock near the entry. What a relief to find the house unlocked. The second surprise: There were three bowls of cereal on the table. Had the bears engaged her for a different time? She checked her phone. New mail. “See you April first. The Bears.” She sat down to rest, the cinnamon smell of porridge enticing her. They wouldn’t mind.