Septemus 23


Dear Sept,

You’re sleeping soundly on the divan while I’m writing. We had a big night at your new favorite place, the karaoke bar.

“Please can we go?” you asked during supper. “I’ll sing your favorite song!”

“What song is that?”

“You’ll know it when you hear it,” you said.

“All right.” It’s so hard for me to refuse you anything. “As soon as I do the dishes, we’ll head out and catch the next tram.”

“I’ll do them!” And you popped right up, grabbed my plate before I’d even finished the last bite, and washed it up, along with the pots and pans.


Ten minutes later, we were sitting in the first seat of the tram, watching the city lights coming ever closer, and half an hour later, I was listening to you sing, “Here Comes the Sun.”


All it took was hearing your high fluty echoing voice singing, “Little darling! The smiles returning to their faces,” for me to realize, yes. This is my favorite song.

Thankyouverymuch,” you said as soon as you were done. “I gotta say hi to Molly!” And you dashed out of the room.


I found you talking with the bartender.


“Does this belong to you?” she asked me.

“Well, not exactly,” I replied. “Septemus is very much his own person. But we came here together.”

“That’s OK,” you whispered to me. “It’snotliteral. It’s just a way of saying that I’m your son.”

Molly chuckled.


“You’re a very nice person,” you said to Molly. And you hopped up and grabbed all the dirty glasses and appetizer plates from the bar, and whisked them off to wash them.

“Is he always this helpful?” Molly asked.

“Actually, yes,” I replied. “But I also think he wants to be sure he can come back here anytime he wants. This is his new favorite place.”


It got late quickly, and we had to head out to catch the last tram home.

On our way out, you stopped to talk with a vendor.

“Do you really grill the garlic at the spice festival?” you asked him. He was wearing a spice festival garlic hat and apron.

“Actually, no,” the man replied. “I am, actually, very allergic to garlic. Can’t get near the stuff. This is just, you know, regulation.”


“Say,” said the man. “Do you have a little sister? Or maybe cousin?”

“Oh, I have loads of brothers and sisters!” you replied. “Ninety-nine, to be exact. Why?”

“Do you have, maybe, a little cousin named Pandora?” he asked.

“Pandora?” you replied. “What’s her number?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” he said. “Her name is Pandora. She’s my neighbor. She looks a lot like you.”

You got quiet.


“Yes, she’s probably my sister,” you said at last. “Tell her that Ruki says ‘sintu liyu.'”

The vendor walked off to the Forgotten Hollow station, and we got in line with the folks at the Magnolia Park/Willow Creek stop. You looked around at everyone, dressed like they’d just stepped out of a costume party.

“You know what, Pops?” you said. “I love the city.”


Oh, son. I hope this world remains a place of friends and friendliness to you, always.

Your pops,


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City Tales: Life of Don


He had to admit she was beautiful. Not in the glamour-magazine-cover/swimsuit-edition style of beauty, but in the something real, something warm style.

In the style of beauty that said, “These are my eyebrows! They’re perfect. Just the way they are.  I don’t need lace when I’ve got a cotton T. Why take half a portion when I’m famished? And besides. Your cooking is superior.”

In other words, Mac was down-to-earth. She was a natural beauty.


McKenzie was not Don’s type–at least that’s what everyone who knew Don said, and to his face, as often as they could.

“Congrats, but what were you thinking, dude?”

Most people gave it eight days. Then, after eight days passed, they gave it eight weeks. Now, after eight weeks, they gave it eight months.

He’d been thinking even eight years wouldn’t see it through to its end. This was a long-time type of thing.

They all said that his type was flirty, sexy, hot–the kind of woman you called a “chick.” Not the kind of woman you called… a woman.

He wouldn’t even call her a lady–and for sure, not a girl–because he knew enough to know those were not PC.

Not that he cared about PC. He didn’t give a damn. But he cared about her.


He cared about her enough to marry her.

Yeah. It surprised him, too.


Sure, you could call it a whirlwind.

It was more like an acid trip. Or maybe an endorphin explosion.

He looked out the window of her apartment–their apartment–out over the coastal mountains. It had been a weird, endorphin-thing, acid-trippy thing, with no drugs involved. Just love and sex, which were the two strongest drugs known to man–err, humankind–anyway.


He was still high.

They’d been married two months, and he hadn’t come down yet.


Now and then a brief moment of clarity intruded: He was married. And not to one of the Caliente chicks.

He was living in an apartment, of all things, and he had to ride an elevator to reach their floor.

He was living in the fricking city. In the city. With fog all around. And tugboats. And honking fog horns in the middle of the night. This was about as far from the desert as a dude could get.

And his wife was An Artist.


She said things like “This gruyere has a flowery, fruity note, don’t you think?”

“It’s melted,” he’d say back. “Like melty. You know?”

But that was what he liked about her.


She may not seem like his type, but that’s exactly what made McKenzie his type.

Some nights, they’d be sitting watching “The Bletchley Circle” and McKenzie would start talking about coded messages in shifts of light.


“You know that’s what Seurat was after,” she said one evening. “Every dot of light received by our brain is processed into a seamless whole: we reconstruct it into meaning.”

He watched as she finished the painting the next day.

“I see what you were talking about,” he said. “Like I gotta do the work in my brain to finish it.”

“That’s right,” she replied. “You’re the co-creator. It just dots until you complete the process and turn it into something that signifies.”


“I like that you don’t talk down to me,” he said.

“Why would I?” she replied. “You’re intelligent and perceptive.”

No one had ever called him that before.


Of course, he could be intelligent and perceptive and still be a hunk. What would his wife say? “One did not preclude the other.” Dang! He was getting good!


Easels stood before the windows in McKenzie’s studio. Mac often had two or three paintings going at once, but one or two easels were always empty.

Don found it tempting to paint.


“You should!” McKenzie said, when he told her he was thinking of picking up a brush. “You’ve got an artist’s soul, Don. That’s what first drew me to you!”

“And here I thought it was my abs,” he said.

“Well, they don’t hurt!” she replied, with a wink.


He felt afraid to start painting. He’d reveal how inartistic he truly was.

He stuck to leaving his shirt off when they were hanging around the place.

“Only an artist would slice tomatoes with such care,” Mac said. He was pleased that she noticed the precise angle of each cut.


“You think you’ll ever get bored of me, babe?” he asked her sometimes. They were good together, chemistry-wise and between-the-sheets–he knew that. But it was in the area of conversation and learning that he felt incompetent.

He knew he was smart. Anybody attracted to Mac would have to be smart. But he wasn’t educated, and that was the rub.

Why, she could have any college professor, doctor, psychiatrist, writer, editor, book publisher, art dealer–anybody intelligent that she wanted. Intelligent and educated.

And here she was with him. He hoped his brain was man enough for her.


Author’s Notes: City Tales is back with a new installment, following Don and McKenzie in their fancy apartment across town. It wasn’t my idea to have Don and Mac get together: This was entirely the game and MCCC. While I was playing CT for “My Lovely Landlord,” I received notification of their marriage. Don moved in with McKenzie to the beautiful apartment that MCCC had moved her into. They’re very happy.  I’m writing Don true to how he is in the game, so don’t blame me if he’s nice! And even if somebody is sweet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is entirely innocent, especially with Lily Feng as a neighbor!