Minerva was irate as she waved my uncle Carl’s latest paperback in my face. I wasn’t worried that it would become a missile, but I was worried about what she had to say. She opened the book and aggressively pointed at a page.
“I don’t care if he bases his stories on us,” she complained, “I just don’t like that he takes the liberties that he does. Seriously, ‘Her ample, rosy bosom swelled as the werewolf lunged towards her. Tania swung her legs around the beast’s neck and crushed its fragile throat with her curvaceous thighs. The creature’s last sense was of the flowery fragrance of her…’”
“Yes, I know. It is a bit much, but it is just fiction. No one knows that Tania Wulfsmasher is based on you.” I tried to hold in a slight grin; I had read the book the day before and almost laughed out loud picturing Minerva wrestling a werewolf to the ground. My uncle had been a newspaper reporter in all of the major markets, but his ludicrous stories about the supernatural weren’t fit to print in the normal newspaper. The rest of the family had considered him a nut, and I agreed with them until I learned otherwise. He later turned his factual accounts into a line of pulp novels that sold fairly well; now he was writing novels that were about Minerva and I. Actually, they were centered on Minerva.
“I know they’re just stories, but I know who Tania is supposed to be, and it doesn’t make me feel happy to read about my anatomy; I feel so objectified. To tell the truth, Tobias is a bit upset as well.”
Minnie was sincerely distraught. She had been mildly offended by past novels, but this one was particularly inflammatory. I guessed that her husband’s unhappiness had less to do with Tania Wulfsmasher’s voluptuous body and more to do with the escalating relationship she had with her partner, Nathan Kingston.
“If it is bothering you that much, I’ll go to my uncle and see what I can do. I don’t think he’ll be moved by any argument I give him though; these books are his livelihood.”
“And I don’t want to take that away from him,” she said, her blue eyes watery as though she were ready to cry, “but if you could get him to hold back a bit more. Not even a lot. This is just so uncomfortable, you know?”
I set off for the retirement village by bicycle that afternoon with a copy of Wulfsmasher and Kingston in hand. The retirement village was sedate and clean, although a light scent of old people hung in the air. Did every grandma in the place wear White Shoulders? Did they even still make White Shoulders, or had the little old ladies resorted to making it in the bath tubs? I made my way to the patio where my uncle spent his afternoons whispering his stories into his tape recorder. He sat at the round table in the shade of a huge umbrella, wearing the beat-up raffia porkpie hat that he loved so much. I could hear his rich voice as he recited, “Never did Katya Wirsbiski consider that the homeless man she passed would follow her; also, it never occurred to her that an unloaded gun might scare away some criminals.”
“But neither did it occur to her that something sinister dwelled inside of that man, waiting, begging, for blood to spill. Right?” I smiled as I waved at my uncle who returned my smile with an extended hand.
“August, my boy, it is nice to see you. Why’d you come?” He jumped straight to the matter at hand, skipping pleasantries almost entirely. This was going to be a tough sell.
“I came because I read the new book.”
“Oh, liked it that much, huh? First time you came by so soon after a release. What didn’t you like?” I couldn’t believe that he so swiftly deduced the reason for my visit, but he had. His reporter’s instincts were just as sharp as ever. I let it all spill out on the table; there was no sense in keeping anything hidden from my uncle. He’d learn it sooner or later, regardless of how hard I tried.
“I’m sorry Auggie, but this is what the people want. It sells well, and I’m sure the extra money helps you and Minnie out.”
“It does, and I’m grateful, but Minnie’s husband isn’t very happy about this. I mean, I know sex sells, but some of this is ridiculous. ’She arched her back as he pushed his thick member into her softness…’ Would you want to read about someone doing this to your wife? Minnie and I are just friends, and this makes it seem like we’re more.”
“Does the book make it seem that way, or do you want it to be that way?” asked uncle Carl, and the question drove into my heart. Did I actually want something more than friendship? I hadn’t ever really thought about it. A scream interrupted my pondering; an old man was bellowing as he tumbled from his apartment window ten stories about. A wailing exploded from the others on the patio as he collided with the ground. I winced and looked away, but my uncle looked up at the window.
“It’s that witch.” he muttered. Collecting his tape recorder, he rushed to the door of the apartment building. The sirens of a police car and an ambulance muddled together in a cacophony moments after the fall. I walked over to get a look at the body, flashing my paranormal investigator’s badge at the coroner. I saw no marks of interest, though when I looked at the pool of blood the body left behind, I was speechless; the blood pooled in the shape of King Bodon’s Star. There was definitely some kind of witchcraft going on. I looked around for my uncle, but he was out of sight. I rushed indoors, thinking he had gone up to the jumper’s room. Sure enough, I found him there looking for clues, weaving absent mindedly around the policemen in the room.
“Uncle Carl!” I cried out, ’What happened?” he didn’t answer me. “Carl! Carl!” I yelled to get his attention. One of the investigators yelled at me to be quiet while another yelled to ’get that old man out of here and shut up that kid.’ When they ushered my uncle into the hall, he glared at me.
“I think I was onto something. There were some kind of herbs on the floor, but you showed up and they kicked me out.”
“How’d you even get in?” I asked.
“You’d be surprised what you can get away with when people think you are an Alzheimer’s patient…