The opening pages of The Mystery Man Murders goes something like this —
(April Fool’s Day) is marked by the commission of good-humoured or otherwise funny jokes, hoaxes, and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family … work associates, etc.
My Spy Boy and your Spy Boy
sittin’ by the fire,
My Spy Boy told your Spy Boy
gonna set your house on fire.
— traditional song
April Fool’s Day.
Now that’s funny.
Every day is April Fool’s Day, for me.
And every day is a day in April, the cruelest month.
How fitting it is that these daily posts begin on such a funny day.
A day when you know that you can trust no one.
Most people find that amusing.
I have had a lifetime of such days, one after another.
And I am sick to my soul of duplicity.
Dear Diary: April fools in the rain
It was a dark and rainy night, after a heavy, dark, and rainy day.
The rain had started at dawn, at first light, and continued past lights out.
I was driving home from my home away from home, a used bookshop called Caspar’s Books and That, in the northern part of my city, Buffalonya, at the eastern end of Lake Eerie. Don’t ask me why (because I will lie just for the fun of it, or because I have something to hide, or because I live by my wits and I don’t know you), but I stopped across Delaware Avenue from President’s Park.
Maybe it was the lights and sirens.
Maybe it was the presence of persons I wanted to watch.
I do like to keep my friends close and my enemies closer.
Maybe it was for reasons that I will share as time goes on.
Police and detectives were interviewing four or five agitated people beside a city bus. A body-sized lump lay under a tarp.
The curious stood at a distance.
The rain covered all. The few street lights and the many colored lights on the patrol cars and Crown Vics, and an ambulance or two, reflected the misery of the moment in puddles of water.
I wanted to look under that tarp but knew that I did not have that option. You well may ask why I wanted to look under that tarp, and I could tell you why, exactly, or I could lie and say that I was worried about a friend I had not heard from lately.
I do. You do not.
But I will not leave you alone in the dark.
This tableau toward truth will endure as long as our connection does.
» » »
A youngish man of maturity roamed in the zone between the gawpers and the ones sworn to serve and defend. He looked familiar –- black wide-sided glasses, punk-short but natty hairdo (dripping wet), and a trench coat.
A trench coat. Yeah, a trench coat.
He watched with the care of a trained observer, which is more than I could say for most of the locals. When he went among the cops and detectives and EMTs and the rest, no one said, Hey, Bud, get back. His eyes focused on nothing and everything with the studied ease of a gatekeeper standing in the gap.
We made eye contact, the man in the trench coat and I.
“Whazzup,” I said.
“Not much, he said.
“On the job?” I said.
“Is it that obvious?” he said.
We smiled and shook hands like each had found a brother.
“Goose Grim,” I said, “late of our country’s covert corps and currently in exile in this fair city.”
“You can call me Stranger,” he said. “I’ve seen you around, Goose Grim. Call me, Stranger.”
And so I did.
Call him, Stranger.
Yeah, I think that I just might call you Stranger, too.
Here is a hint for you, Stranger.
Watch it if I say trust me or honestly, that sort of thing. Ok?
» » »
These daily posts, over the course of a year, or thereabouts, told my closest friends and associates the story of how the Stranger and I became friends, and colleagues, and where we went from there, and who went with us, and who tried to stop us. Now, you get to read the story.
You had best fasten your seatbelt, Stranger, for it may be a bumpy ride, particularly until we get to know one another a bleep of a lot better.