Wednesday, March 30, 2016

For Nicky

The summer of 2013 was hot in New York City. It was the kind of heat that draped itself like a wet blanket over your skin, that radiated from hot asphalt and got caught in the maze of skyscrapers.  Warm sweaty bodies crowded the streets.

We were there, too, M and I, and so were Nicky and Mike. They'd driven down all the way from Montreal to spend a couple of days on Manhattan with us.  It was the first time I ever met Nicky in person. It would also be the last time.

We ate, we drank, we walked. We had a picnic in Central Park and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We sat in the neon-lit night and talked and laughed. In a dark little bar Nicky and I had a drink named after us, and in Little Italy we had the Best Cannoli on Planet Earth.

Occasionally things got a little wild, and when it was time for Nicky and Mike to head back home, I actually tried to pack Nicky in my suitcase and take her home with me.

I missed her when I got back home, and I'm still missing her today. It breaks my heart that I will never again meet her or talk to her, because now, Nicky only lives in our hearts and memories.  There, on Brooklyn Bridge in a warm and sunny New York City, Nicky's walking along ahead of me and laughing when I want to take just one more picture.

Thank you for your friendship, Nicky.

I will never forget.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

30 Minus 2 Days of Writing: And Then My Brain Exploded

Welcome to the last day of the challenge, and to Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty's last adventure. MikeWJ and I are so sorry we're late to post, but we didn't have a lot of time, especially since I'm on Finnish time and he's on whatever time his lazy ass decides to get into work and start blogging. As you probably guessed, we wrote this together, his parts in bold, mine in italics. You'll figure it out.

My Dear Dr. Watson,

I awaited Moriarty's arrival in Berlin if not breathlessly, then with great anticipation. But she is as elusive as a greased horse at a glue factory and she gave me the slip once again, leaving only the parts and pieces of the Eiffel Tower to ponder along with the somewhat disgruntled German construction crew assigned to reassemble it.

At least I found it, and can return it to its rightful owners, who will no doubt reward me with their highest honor, the Jerry Lewis Memorial Legion of Honor.

Later, I tracked Moriarty to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Europe's largest train station, where I found a Toblerone she'd left for me in a private car. I wasn't sure if it was poisoned or her way of slying asking me out on a date, but I ate it anyway and chased her into Switzerland with a bouquet of flowers in one hand and my revolver in the other just in case. Now I mean to engage her at Riechenbach Falls and end her criminal reign of terror once and for all.


The stone castle sits at the very top of Reichenbach Falls. A wall made up of huge windows face out over the cascading waters, and for the brave, a balcony extends out and over the ledge. Inside in the grand dining hall, I'm setting the long table for two. Only the finest china and silverware for Sherlock. Like any civilized sociopaths, we'll sit down for a nice dinner before I kill him.

The doorbell signals his arrival, and I greet him at the door. He’s brought me flowers, ever the gentleman. I’ll put them on his grave after we’re done here tonight. He’s wearing his signature jacket with the collar turned up, and I can see the bulge of a gun at his side. I invite him in, of course, and pretend not to notice the weapon. I’m wearing a couple myself, after all; a knife in a sheath around my thigh, and a revolver at my ankle. This demands I wear a dress with a slit up to my, well, you know what, but it’s worth it for the easy access.

A timer sounds in the kitchen as I show Sherlock to the dining hall.

Dinner is served.


Dinner with Moriarty is exactly as you might expect, Watson. Less a meal and more like a game of chess—pass the salt, rook to Queen 4; More gravy, please—Knight takes Bishop, and check. It is both delicious and invigorating—doubly so given the provocative evening gown she is wearing to conceal her deadly arsenal of weapons. If I was capable of feeling normal human emotions and had a heart, I might give it to her, though she would certainly roast it in blood-red wine and serve it thinly sliced on toasted points of bread slathered with my own bone marrow.

I am distracted, I admit, my dear Watson. She is devilishly attractive for a murderer and thief, and also makes a delightful Cream of Chanterelle soup. But cannot afford to lose focus, for we face a final battle that will take one of us to a premature grave. In this case, hers.


Dinner is wonderful, if I do say so myself, and Sherlock is the perfect gentleman. I ask him to pass the salt and he immediately sends it sliding across the slick surface of the table all the way down to my end, just a fraction too fast. Testing my reflexes, no doubt. Little does he know that before I caught the saltshaker in a steady hand, I had time to re-holster the revolver I’ve been aiming at him under the table.

More wine? I ask. Of course, he says, and wipes at a drop of red wine marring the perfect white of his shirt. A drop of red that seems to foreshadow his own demise, I muse, as I make my way down to his chair. I lean in with the bottle of wine, and while he's busy eyeing my cleavage, I pull the knife I hid in a sheath around my thigh, grab his hair and move to stand behind him, my knife against his exposed throat.


While Moriarty attempts to use her ample cleavage to divert my attention away from her pistol, I sneak a syringe from my jacket pocket. It is filled with an extract of kurari that I acquired while on a curious case of missing cargo in the Congo. One drop of it will immobilize her.

I thought Moriarty might be fooled by my attempt to poison her. It is, after all, a woman's way of killing. But she knocks the syringe from my hand, falling into a secondary trap I'd planned all along. Spinning away from the knife she holds perilously close to my flesh, I move behind her and put her into a strangle hold taught to me by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The scent of her perfume is strong in my nose, but I do not go easily on her because of her femininity and obvious charms. She is, after all, Moriarty, and more devious and cunning than any man. I can’t see anything because she has a lot of hair, but I hear her gasping for air as I squeeze her neck with the crook my arm, and I’m sure I have her at last.


The bastard tried to poison me. What a silly thing to do. It takes more than a needle to kill me, he should know better. And I guess he does, as he’s currently doing a fairly good job of killing me.

Sherlock is strong. Very strong. While I can hold my breath for four minutes without problem, his arm is putting pressure on my neck and I'm starting to feel dizzy. I can't allow him to get the upper hand like this, so using Sherlock's hold on me as leverage, I lift my feet up on the table in front of me and push back with everything I have. We fall backwards and Sherlock ends up on his back on the floor as I roll off of him and up on my feet, as gracefully as a cat.

I grab the heavy antique vase that stands on a nearby table, and I raise it high above my head. Sherlock's brains are going to look fabulous splattered all over the floor à la Rorschach.


The ceiling of the grand dining hall at Castle Reichenbach is beautifully adorned with a lush Rococo Baroque painting of the Last Supper, and I might have stayed on my back and studied the artwork longer if Moriarty hadn’t been about to bash my skull in with a large vase. Fortunately, my training in the art of Savate enables me to kick the porcelain weapon from her hands. It flies into the air, traveling in a tremendous arc and landing with a loud crash on the hard wooden floor.

But Moriarty is a savvy warrior, and she presses her attack with a knife without hesitating. (What is it with women and knifes, anyway? Remember The Mysterious Case of the Bobbitt Bobbing, Watson? It still gives me chills.) She would’ve slit my throat in a second, but I skillfully use the toe of my right boot to kick the base of the blade’s hilt. The knife shoots straight up toward the ceiling, where its razor-sharp steel tip lodges trembling in the heart of Judas. Moriarty and I look at the knife in amazement, bursting into uncontrollable laughter as I leap to my feet to continue the fight.


Judas looks great with my knife through his heart. He would look even better with someone else’s knife through his heart. His gain is my loss and now I have to resort to my last weapon. I pull the Smith & Wesson 642 PowerPort from my ankle holster just as Sherlock jumps to his feet with the effortlessness of a much younger man, but as I fire the revolver at him, he stumbles with the clumsiness of a not-quite-so young man and falls backwards over the upholstered chair behind him. The bullet misses him by a hair and I can’t help but let out a frustrated groan.

I only have four bullets left, and Sherlock is hiding behind the chair, no doubt writing one of his silly letters to his imaginary friend, Dr. Watson. I crouch down low and make my way around, only to find him gone. The crunch of priceless Ming vase under careless shoes alerts me to his whereabouts behind me. How he got there I have no idea, but I turn and fire at him again, one, two, three times. The huge window behind him shatters in a million pieces and he dives out onto the balcony.


Moriarty fires four shots at me in a murderous rage, but fortunately for me she shoots like a little girl and while she thoroughly ruins the beautiful overstuffed armchair I duck behind, I escape her volleys unscathed. Diving through a shattered window to the balcony overlooking the falls, I turn and withdraw my own firearm, aiming to put a deadly hole in the spot in her chest where I suspect her blackened heart beats in absolute darkness.

But before I know it that ball of enormous hair has engulfed me again, blinding me like an enraged squirrel, although in darker tones, curlier and smelling faintly of raspberry shampoo, which seems like an oddly girly choice for a cold-blooded criminal. We tussle wildly, matching blow-for-blow and lunge-for-lunge until we teeter on the precipice of doom.

"Die, you pedantic bastard!" she shouts, running at me with her full Finnish force. Even as I slip over the edge and into the black chasm below, I desperately long to point out that, technically, I'm not a bastard because my parents were happily married when I was born.


And in that surreal moment when twilight robs the world of its color and turns everything into shades of black, we’re dying. The fall lasts forever, but forever ends too soon.

Our fierce battle has ended in a draw.

Little does Sherlock know that dying was all part of my master plan.

This extremely hastily put together post was written for Nicky and Mike's 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III, which is now FINALLY over. To see the other participants' posts, please visit We Work For Cheese. *

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III: Naked And Lost

I stopped stealing insignificant little things like money, jewelry and virtue when it stopped being exciting. The Eiffel Tower, however, is none of those things. It's 10,000 metric tons of hopes and dreams and national pride, and right now it's in pieces and on its way to Berlin, that beautifully organized city that appeals so strongly to my intellect.

And that's the beauty of the two cities, they're worlds apart, yet I feel drawn to both of them. I go to Paris when I need to let my mind run free, when I need passion and art and life to flow through my veins, silky French-accented voices that leave red lipstick on my skin and the teasing touch of feathers and velvet. But Berlin, that's where I go for discipline. When I need to delve into the deepest corners of my mind I seek out Berlin with its whispered secrets, forever repenting, on its knees, hanging by the chains, yet never defeated. Such strength and determination; it fuels my drive, energizes my mind and fills it with possibilities, with endless promise.

This is where the pieces of the Eiffel Tower will end up, and where feathers and chains will collide. On the abandoned tarmac of the Tempelhof Airport, tonight the Eiffel Tower will magically appear, less than 24 hours after it disappeared from Paris. My men are instructed to leave it in pieces, carefully laid out as a giant jigsaw puzzle for Sherlock and the good people of Berlin to figure out. Of course, I also instructed them to leave out one vital piece from the puzzle, making it impossible to reassemble the Tower correctly no matter how hard they try. The greatest prank ever played, and sure to frustrate the crap out of the stuffy Germans.

I can barely contain my glee thinking about it. It's reminds me of the time when I went polar bear hunting with Vladimir Putin and kept pointing out snow-covered shrubs for him to kill. Turns out Vladimir Putin has absolutely no sense of humor and I ended up naked and lost on the Siberian tundra. It was a good day.

I take a sip from my espresso and look out the window at the beautiful scenery speeding by. I'm on a train again, but this time without an ill-mannered sword making my travels miserable. I wonder how long it will take for Sherlock to realize that I'm not in Berlin. I doubt very long, I left him that bar of Toblerone, after all, and I feel a twinge of unease. I have some preparations to make before he finds me. Our game of cat-and-mouse has gone on for too long. It's been fun, but Sherlock is too observant for his own good. One of these days he will outdo me, and I can't allow that. When he finds me, and he will, I will see to it that he won't be around to mess with my plans anymore.

The train stops in the town of Meiringen, where a car is waiting to take me to my final destination. It's a short drive, and as we near our goal I can hear the roar of wild and unforgiving water. This is where the last chapter of Sherlock Holmes will be written.

Reichenbach Falls.

This rather hastily put together post was written for Nicky and Mike's 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III. To see the other participants' posts, please visit We Work For Cheese.

This particular story line with me in the role of Professor Moriarty and MikeWJ in the role of Sherlock Holmes started sometime around Day 7 when Mike took offense to my shameless blogging outside of our agreement. Rude of me, I know. So in this post, he challenged me. And I, of course, responded. With nudity. This got Mike's panties all in a twist, so he wrote this here post, in which he planted an extremely conspicuous tracking device on me, in what he thought was a brilliant move.  It was, of course, but let's not tell him that. I responded here, by creating a mystery for Sherlock to solve, which he did quite adequately in his next post. I mean, it was nothing to write home about, but he didn't suck, either. And now we're here, about to face off in a fight to the death. Or until one of us gets an ouchie. Tune back in on Friday for the unbelievably exciting last chapter in Moriarty and Sherlock's great adventure. Or don't.
We don't give a damn. *

Sunday, February 23, 2014

30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III: There Are Things

There are certain moments, certain things, in life that go straight to your soul. They happen when you need them the most, when you’re sinking and in need of saving. These moments lift you up and carry you through, and no matter how many times you go back in your mind and re-live those moments, they never get old. This is one of those moments.

It’s ten years ago. We’re not even twenty yet, but six months ago my sister was dying of pulmonary embolism. There have been tears and begging and whispered words to any deity that will listen, and most of all a bone-chilling fear that’s planted itself deep in my soul. But we’re here now, just the two of us under the Mediterranean sun. Two weeks in Cyprus to work on our tan and to celebrate life. Two weeks to get away from the horrors of what happened. Two weeks to melt away the winter that’s taken root within us.

And as the taxi driver laughs at our mispronunciation of the name of our hotel, I can feel the healing begin. “Chrielka!” he says loudly, as if dumb could be fixed by a louder volume, and we both try again, to his great dismay. He shakes his head and mutters something while weaving in and out of traffic and flipping other drivers off. Malin’s hair tickles my arm, and the trees are full of exotic flowers.

It’s the start of two amazing weeks of sunshine and the sea, of getting lost and finding our way back again, of fighting battles with cockroaches and emerging victorious, if a little worse for wear. It’s two weeks of incredible memories, but it’s that first taxi drive that I remember with the most fondness, because that’s what saved my life. It was those first few moments of laughter that expanded my chest and made room for the ice to melt.

This post was written for Nicky and Mike's 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III. To see the other posts, please visit We Work For Cheese.

Monday, February 17, 2014

30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III: I Faked It


I stared at Dr. W, then looked at the huge cabinet filled with various surgical implements, neatly packed individually in sterile packages.

“Uh huh. Scalpel. Coming right up.”

Tentatively, I reached for something that looked sharp enough to cut through skin.

“Nope. Not that one.”

I reached for another one.

“Not that one either.”

“Remind me again why you thought this was a good idea?”

“Oh, don’t worry, you’re doing great, just grab the one at the end there. Now give it to me.”

“If you at any point during this tell me to wipe your forehead, I’m sticking the scalpel in you.”

It started like any other Monday. I got to work at 7:45 am, turned on the computer, and greeted Dr. W. In retrospect, I think that’s where things went wrong. By 8:05, I was assisting Dr. W while he was cutting a woman open.

Well, cutting her open might have been a bit of an exaggeration. But he did cut away a huge mole right in the middle of her chest while I was busy not contaminating any of the instruments he had me put out and trying to ignore the fact that I normally faint just when having my blood drawn.

To my own amazement, my hand holding out a plastic jar for the severed mole was as steady as ever, and when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I looked positively excited. Maybe I missed my calling.

But I digress. Back to the beginning. So there I was, pulling out scalpels and scissors and suture kits and alcohol, some of it for cleaning the area, some of it not so much. The poor woman on the table was staring at me, wide-eyed, as if she somehow suspected I had no clue about what I was doing.

I didn’t, of course, but she didn’t need to know that. So for the next 20 minutes, I did what anyone would have done when confronted with hysterical patients, rogue moles and irresponsible doctors with scalpels.

I faked it. And I did it well.

I love my job.

This post was written for Nicky and Mike's 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III. To see the other posts, please visit We Work For Cheese. *

Thursday, February 13, 2014

30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III: Incommunicado

Sometimes I just drive.

No goal, no destination.

In the twilight the rush hour traffic slows to a crawl and the headlights become an endless string of pearls. Faceless people in cars without make or model, alone together. In my anonymous darkness the radio plays softly. Someone sings about an ice-cold winter -02, and I spend 30 minutes with only my thoughts and dreams for company.


This post was written for Nicky and Mike's 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III. To see the other posts, please visit We Work For Cheese. *