About Dave

Surfer, Marine Biologist and Technologist = The ingredients of writing the perfect Sci-Fi

FOREST 404

Biophony [bi oph ony] : A term coined by Dr. Bernie Krause, referring to the collective sound in Ecology of vocalizing species (sans humans). A good example would be the different species of insects, frogs, birds, monkeys, etc., in a rain forest, vocalizing at one time, but not talking over each other.

I was reading a post on LinkedIn by Elsa Sotiriadis, PhD (*BioFuturist*) about a BBC Podcast/Sounds/Experiment called, Forest 404, which is an eco-thriller starring Pearl Mackie with theme music by Bonobo.

I find the title quite clever, being that 404 refers to the HTTP error code: “Not Found” (therefore, Forest Not Found). The story takes place well into the future, where a young girl (Pan) has a vocation of sifting through sound bytes of the past (aka, the slow times) and must decide what to delete and what to keep (hint: they are rewarded for deleting and Pan is quite good at freeing up terabytes of space.).  She comes across a SoundScape of a rainforest; now extinct in the fast times, and becomes curious about the origin of these sounds. But curious is not what those in charge want.

To get started, go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/forest (I recommend registering an account and logging in before you start listening).  It took me a bit to figure out what was going on and what to listen to in what order. I will save you this. Start with EP0.

  • All Episodes begin with Ep*
  • All accompanied talks begin with T*
  • All accompanied SoundScapes begin with S*

Each episode has an associated talk and SoundScape.  For example, Ep1 (episode 1) has an associated talk (T1) as well as an associated SoundScape (S1).  There are nine episodes in all. The episodes are the actual eco-thriller.  The talks are like a mini TED talks about the sounds explained through experts in their field (do not skip these), and finally, the SoundScapes are just that, the pure sounds of the episode (insight enhanced after the talks).

Each episode is about twenty minutes in length and the talks and SoundScapes range from four to eight minutes.  Take on one episode set per night (E, T & S), before bed, and I highly suggest the use of headphones, ear buds, etc. to get the full impact of how beautiful this truly is.

This entire production is an experiment to educate the listener and receive feedback to see if the needle has moved toward the understanding of Ecology (the slow times) and how good humanity (the fast times) is at interrupting the natural order of Ecology.  There is a survey you can take to add in your data set to this project. I would recommend you listen to at least two episodes and their associated talks and SoundScapes before taking the survey.

I have studied Ecology at length; it made up the bulk of my learning toward my degree in Marine Sciences and remains a major influencer in how I look at life around me. The rewards of the concepts, knowledge and observation have been the focus of my writings in Science Fiction.

I hope you take the time to experience this project, but it will require you to step away from the fast times.  This production is a beautiful blend of science, art, and the eco-responsibility of us all.

Advertisements

Stornelli Amorosi

Life is never more than an iteration– a series of fractal experiences where we jump from one era to another, seemingly different but always the same.

Years ago, in NYC, during the end of the Koch administration when subway cars lacked AC and the lights constantly flickered, I was sitting near the door of a downtown #4 wearing a three-piece suit with a WSJ folded precisely into quarter panels— a lost art that no one seems to practice anymore.  When you have traveled the underground for as many years as I have, you never need to look up to see where you are because the sounds along the route are as unique as the stations themselves. I could tell from the screeching and torquing of metal along the rails that we were approaching 14th Street and waited for the movable platforms to nudge their corroded teeth up against the cars and for the sleepy conductors to poke their heads through the windows, signaling to each other it was safe enough to open the doors. After the flush of commuters rushed in and out, an elderly blind gentleman, draped in a poncho, stepped in with an accordion and a sweeping cane fitted with a worn cup to catch loose change.  As the doors wobbled shut and the train jerked into motion, he found his footing and squeezed air into his instrument. This was the third panhandler to come through and I was running low on change. What I thought was going to be yet another mariachi tune evaporated when he began to sing, his voice, not expected, angelic, almost tearful, floating above the simple chords the way a butterfly glides over a field of wildflowers. I put down the paper and listened, purposely missing my stop at Wall Street to hear him sing. The last stop in Manhattan had arrived and the doors were opening. As I waited for the last breath of air to be squeezed out of his accordion, I dropped some singles into his cup before birthing myself through the crushing doors at Bowling Green and onto the platform where the tang of ozone lingered in the stale air. I remained there, held in a trance with a feeling of love for everything, regretting not having asked the gentleman his name or the title of the song as I watched the last car with its tags of graffiti drift into the darkness beyond.

For years it haunted me, my lunch hours spent frequenting the J&R music stores along Park Row, searching through stacks of LPs in the foreign language section, looking for Mexican folk singers while asking the staff if they could identify my comically mimicking cadence of the man’s voice.  My persistence carried through the decades, the Internet era, conducting endless Google searches for that needle in a haystack. Even with all this technology at my fingertips, I had given up hope of ever finding it.

Then the other night, Meredith and I were watching a movie she had picked out from Amazon Prime, “Big Night,” a 1996 release starring a cast headed up by Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Mini Driver and Isabella Rossellini to name a few. It was during the opening credits and listening to the music track when I felt the prick on my finger. There it was, the song which had haunted me for years began to play… in Italian and not Spanish.  I grabbed my mobile and tapped on the Shazam App….. Bingo! “Stornelli Amorosi” by Claudio Villa.

After researching everything there was to know about the song and singer, I now understand why that man on the train played this song and why it was chosen for the film.  I have researched Claudio Villa (impressive), and what Stornelli Amorosi means: A ‘love stornelli’. A stornelli is the Italian precursor to a rap battle… yes…way before it was popularized during the hip hop era of the late 80’s, where singers would brag, boast and throw insults, each trying to outdo the other.  Claudio’s love for this type is singing shines bright in his “Stornelli Amorosi.” Needless to say, it is now forever in my favorites.

A Tribute to Llewellya H. Willis

In the Sunday (5/12/2019) NYT Obituary was homage paid to Llewellya W. Hillis (1930 – 2019) — a Canadian-American trailblazer for women in the field of Science and a rock star to me for her extensive contribution in Marine Biology with a specialty in macro-algae… yes… seaweed.  Her bio is too impressive to cover here but I could tell from the obituary she had a favorite, Halimeda.  I know what you’re thinking… how can someone get excited about seaweed?  

 

Halimeda falls into a group of macro-algae, that have a calcareous infrastructure for the algae to grow on.  My guess is that Llewelyn was surprised by the depth at which this species grew (50 m +) during her research in the nuclear crater of the Enewetak Atoll, in the southern Marshall Islands, where she was one of the first, and a woman, to dive this research site. It was her research that linked this species as a major contribution in the ecology of reef building.

But what caught my eye in her obituary, was her link to William Randolph Taylor, who wrote the Bible of Seaweeds, ‘Marine Algae of the Northeastern  Coast of North America.’ At the time, in 1978, as a student of Marine Biology with a specialty in Marine Algae, I purchased my own copy for a small fortune— a must if you were serious.  To my surprise, I pulled my copy from the shelf and saw a great thank you by Taylor for Llewellya’s significant contribution in the making of this reference manual, which has served me well over the years with its saltwater stained pages from hours upon hours in the field.  

Silversides

Silversides

It should be of no surprise that my latest novel under wraps, Silversides, has countless references to seaweed, from the opening scene, to the flora on an alien planet, to my characters names being a derivative of various genus of seaweeds, and my protagonist, a girl, named, Nori.

When a person of influence dies, you feel a part of you has been torn away, but the influence that lies beneath becomes yours.

Thank you Llewellya H. Willis, for being the needle of my compass.

 

A Lost Opportunity

Mars Opportunity has not been heard from since June 10th, 2018, after a global dust storm swept across the Martian surface, most likely covering the solar panels with a layer of red dirt, too thick for NASA’s attempts to clear it away before Opportunity’s on-board batteries drained  against the cold winter months.

 

Today, NASA has announced it will stop trying to reach Opportunity–a time to say goodbye.

One of my favorite images from Opportunity was the tracks lit left behind, leading back to the horizon.  The things Opportunity saw…. Postcards wishing you were here.

Rover tracks disappear toward the horizon like the wake of a ship across the desolate sea of sand between the craters Endurance and Victoria on the Meridiani Plains. Opportunity took the image while stuck in the sand ripple dubbed Purgatory for over a month. This panorama (only partly shown here) was named Rub Al Khali after the “Empty Quarter” in the Arabian Desert.
Image Number: WEB13648-2014
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Fifteen years ago, Opportunity landed on Mars and was only anticipated to last ninety days.  Congratulations to all the NASA engineers and staff, to all those who contributed the financials, to all of us on Earth who followed this journey.

To see the raw Images taken by Opportunity over the past 15 years, click here.

So long for now Opportunity, we will see you when we get there.  And one day, when all who visit and move to Mars, I am sure you will have a proper place in the Mars Space Museum among your peers told for and lost, who will have made our visit and stay possible.

Total Lunar Eclipse of 2019

Call it a Blood Moon or Wolf Moon Or Super Moon, the point is, this January 20th, when the Moon is in perigee (closest approach to the Earth), we will also experience a total lunar eclipse. Weird things happen then….

On Jan 20th, 2019, the United States and Canada, with the eastern seaboard having the best view, will see the eclipse of the moon completely immersed in Earth’s shadow. The duration of totality will be longer than normal (1 hour and 2 minutes). The more south you can get the higher in the sky the eclipse will be (NYC about 70 degree, South Florida 80 degrees, Cuba 90 degrees from the horizon).

The reason this is called a Blood moon is that just prior to the totality, the umbra of Earths shadow casts a penny bronze ochre hue on the surface of the moon. The term Blood Moon is simply marketing hype….. Regardless, I saw the eclipse three years ago and it was awesome, but that eclipse occurred just before sunrise…. this one is occurring at midnight (east coast) and will be awesomer-er-er. Don’t miss this event….. Look up folks!

See the chart below for the time. Easterners, you all need to stay up past midnight, a small sacrifice for front row seats….

This event can be read in its entirety on SPACE.COM

Isn’t The View Delicious

End Of Days Series

“Can we see the basement now?” Frank asked their realtor.

“No, Frank,” Julie replied rather curtly.  “Let’s move on.”

“Why not?”

“Because that… is where people… get murdered.” She answered.

“Are you serious?” He said laughing, the corners of his mouth turning up as if her next line was to say she was only kidding.

“I’m dead serious, Frank. Every movie you have ever seen where people wander into the basement— those people get murdered. Let’s move onto the bedrooms upstairs,” and she turned to walk away from him.

“Julie, wait.” He couldn’t believe she was carrying on like this.  “If we’re going to be buying this house— and quite a handsome commission to you may I say— then we’re going to want to see everything, and that includes the basement.”

“I’m not going to show you the basement, Frank.” Julie said stopping to address him.  “That’s it! No argument.”

Confused, Frank looked to his wife for support.  “Gina… I’ll be right back. Go with Julie, please.”  He realized he was dealing with an idiot and started off.

“Frank! Stop right there!” Julie said halting him.

Regretfully, he stopped, tilted his head back in annoyance and turned to see she never missed an opportunity for a pose with her tone arms crossed, her perfectly manicured nails strumming lightly along her forearm to the clank of expensive bangles and bracelets on her wrist, her balletic legs one in front of the other to reveal the tautness of her Peloton shaped calves.

“Julie… I’m a big boy,” he said drawing a muffled laugh from his wife.”  He stood at 6’3” and was imposing with his barrel chest and stock build. “I can handle this.”

“There’s nothing to see down there, Frank… Nothing! It’s a basement. It’s empty…. The solar inverters, Tesla battery storage and state-of-the-art hybrid furnace are in the garage. There aren’t even windows down there, Frank, and for a good reason, the basement is where people get murdered,” she fired off in quick succession, her agitation making their choice in a realtor, questionable.

“Julie. It’s okay. I’ll be right back. Please show Gina the bedrooms and I will join you shortly, I promise.”

Julie closed her eyes and took in a slow breath then exhaled lightly to calm herself as her yoga training has taught her.

“Fine… If you want to get murdered in the basement, Frank? That’s fine by me, but you might want to ask your wife if that is fine with her, she said uncrossing her arms and gracefully invited Gina to weigh in.

Frank could see his wife’s brows rise and her lips pinch as if holding back a laugh. Not sure what to make of this, he said nothing and headed back through the kitchen toward the basement door, with it’s industrial bolt cinched into place.

With Frank’s exit, Julie huffed and stormed out from the dining room, leaving Gina to follow, the heels of Julie’s Louboutins stabbing at the travertine tile leaving the clatter of echoes in their wake.  Gina kept up, but was thinking about Julie’s talk of people getting murdered in the basement. It was silly… she knew… but what if Frank did indeed get murdered in the basement?  She would never forgive herself.  She pushed these thoughts from her head and followed Julie up the staircase, her hand sweeping along the curved cherry banister which felt like silk to the touch as she admired the finely tapered rungs with hand carved fluted tops, like tiny hands holding it up from below.

Julie paraded Gina through the two finely appointed guest suites with their private baths fitted with quartzite countertops and glass vessel sinks that with a touch along the counter edge, the vessels lit up from below.  Next, she led Gina down the hallway and surprised her with a concealed sliding door that revealed a laundry room fit for a queen. Further down the hallway they passed a servant staircases that led down to the kitchen and adjacent to the master suite, where Julie stepped aside affording Gina the unobstructed and spectacular view through the floor to ceiling windows looking out over the russet reds and virulent greens of the marshland beyond.

“It’s breathtaking.” Frank is going to die when he sees this view,” Gina said, pulling up her shoulders in such anticipation of surprise.

Julie responded with a quiet ‘hmm’ as if to say, we’ll see about that. “Yes. Isn’t the view delicious,” she muttered as if a compulsory response was needed, her hand reflexively dusting away a fleck from her lapel.

“Speaking of which, where is my husband?” Gina said stepping back from the threshold past Julie to the staircase in hopes of seeing him. When she turned around, Julie was looking at her watch, leaning against the frame of the doorway with her arms folded.

“Well. We might as well get going,” she said pushing off the doorframe.  “I’m afraid this home–as lovely as it is, my dear–is not for you.”

Gina was confused. She hadn’t even stepped into the master suite and loved everything about this home. “But I love this home…. Oh, I know I should never tell a realtor that, but you already know I just love it. Don’t tell Frank I told you,” she said in a hushed whisper.

“You will need not worry about what Frank will think,” Julie commented as she straightened out her Channel jacket and started down the staircase, leaving Gina shocked.

“Wait!” Gina called after her from the top of the stairs, watching Julie take each step in disappointment, a sale gone to waste. “Shouldn’t we wait for Frank to see the Master? That spectacular view?” With no acknowledgement, Gina, having once found Julie’s peculiar personality almost charming, was now ebbing to the point of anger. Who’s the client here, she found herself thinking as she began to follow Julie down the staircase like an abandoned puppy.

Never looking back, Julie walked through the kitchen and dining room to the foyer and looped her finger through the lockbox that rested upon the emerald veins of the Biedermeier console near the entrance, then opening the front door, she ushered Gina to step out and around her so she could lock up the house.

“Stop… Just stop! ” Gina screamed out facing the street with her arms locked straight down by her sides. She spun around to face Julie and stomped past her back into the house.

Julie knew it was pointless to call her back and went about her business of shutting the front door and securing the lockbox in place before returning to her Mercedes n the driveway, cell in hand about to dial her next client.

Gina heard the door shut behind her–the last straw–It’s time to get a new realtor. She stomped through the dining room and kitchen sweeping her hand along the deeply turquoise granite island to the open door leading down into the basement and stood at the top of the staircase, the dim Edison bulb illuminating the unfinished concrete floor below.

“Frank!” she called out. There was no answer.  “Frank!” She called again. A slight crack in her voice this time as she apprehensively started down the staircase, ducking her head below the transom of the ceiling, taking each step slowly until she reached the landing where the souls of her feet felt the crumble of cement pellets while her head was filling with stupid thoughts from Julie. She walked out to the edge of light looking into the pitch of blackness beyond.

“Frank? … Come on…. I want to show you the master,” expecting Frank to jump out from the shadows at any moment. Nervously, she brushed back her hair, crouching slightly with her knees pointing inwards. “It’s not funny, Frank!” Come on. Julie’s has left us…. She even locked us in! We need a new realtor, Frank!”  She felt a cold sweep of air rush by her leaving the smell of dank wetness in her nose. She couldn’t understand why people built basements in the first place. She would never use one let alone go down into one. But here she was.

The light switched off and she heard the door at the top of the staircase shut.

“You Fucker! That’s not funny, Frank. Turn the light back on!”  There was no answer and fright had taken hold. She was truly scared as more thoughts flooded her mind knowing Frank was taking advantage of it.

She jumped and screamed out when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Reaching up she felt her husband’s hand; a hand she knew was his, the smooth top and callused sides from his craft as a sculpture. She held onto it bringing it down by her side but it seemed too light, no resistance.  Terror gripped her when she realized there was nothing attached to it.

The next scream never left her mouth…

Please visit my WattPad site for more stories in the End Of Days Series and other works

A Sci-Fi Limerick

I have been a contributor on wattpad for several years now.  This site has been invaluable to me as a writer of Sci-Fi, where I can test the waters with potential stories, treatments, character studies and just general fun.  Which brings me to this.  There was a recent competition to write a Sci-Fi Limerick… A first for me and a challenge I could not pass up.  They must have liked it as much as I did because they gave me a great lead in:

We have the “most greatest” honour to host, today, The exceptional @DavidNadas, the Limerick specialist of the group.  Let’s let him entertain us with wit and music.

 

There was an Alien from Venus,

Who came to Earth to greet us,

When he stepped off the ship,

We heard his pants rip,

And out rolled his un-Earthly…

Well… you know.

To see other poems and nursery rhymes click here:  Tevun Krus (#59)

The Past Life Of Writing

Looking at this picture of my past I can remember everything about that day: How I felt, whom I was with, where and why I was there.  I can recall the smell the salt in the air and the heat of the sand beneath my feet.

But an odd thing happened the other day while attending a wedding in upstate NY.  My wife and I took a short trip from where we were staying to see the home that our dear friends once owned; it was a warm and beautiful home, a camp as it is referred to, and one  we had been to many times, tucked away in the Adirondacks along Upper Saranac Lake.  This place became the inspiration for the ending to my Sci-Fi novella, November Seed.

When we arrived at the camp, I got out of the car to snap an image and was overcome by a strong sensation of a past life that was my own.  I realized I was standing in the exact location of where a very graphic scene of my story took place.  One I had conjured up in my mind months after leaving here for the last time.

But I was not just standing on that road up in the Adirondacks remembering this scene; I was standing in the road where my main characters were dealing with the end of days, protecting their families and friends. I could see the entrance to the Point down the road and feel the tension rising within, my back pressed against the bark of the oak tree, the Moss 10-gauge held along my thumping chest. I could hear the pick-up truck approaching, its tires crunching along the snow-packed gravel and the tick of the engine getting louder. Then taking a few quick breaths I stepped out into the road with one hand along the trigger, the other signaling the pickup to stop….

I walked over to that tree and held my hand against the bark then turned to look back along the gravel road.  The smell of sulfur in the air seemed so real to me and I looked down at my feet expecting to see the litter of spent cartridge shells sizzling into the snow.   

This is what I enjoy most about writing, dissolving into a hyper-reality where I am alongside my characters; watching and feeling everything they see and do.  If I can go the real-world location and relive what took place there, then I know I have created the perfect scene.

A Time To Krill

HollywoodBefore every surf session I warm up on the beach.  It keeps me loose and responsive when I hit the water.  I’m about to go through a final full edit of my upcoming novel Silversides and below was my warm up exercise. (This short has nothing to do with the novel Silversides)

A first-person Sci-Fi detective named Stasch, titled A Time to Krill

Primal. It was the first word that came to mind when I entered the building, but it was the smell of sour tapioca and human waste that hit me square in the face. It seems that everything we do, for the sake of hygiene, is designed to mask this smell, but Natural Selection is an unrelenting force and this scent stays with us; humanity’s true signature.  I’m convinced it was our key to survival because no predator wanted any part of us and moved onto better smelling prey. I mean why is it that a day old kitten or puppy has enough sense to walk away from its own feces but a human baby would be happy to remain in a pile of it until removed? HA! I never lose this argument at a club, talk’n to the ladies with their designer scents, Eau de CRISPR, but then again they see me as an asshole and leave before I can close the argument. It’s what I need to do in my business. No one wants to hire a nice guy in what I do.

Stepping back outside I took in some fresh air and held my breath before reentering the conservatory (what a joke) then waded through the tide of human husks shuffling under the flickering lights of spent ballasts, their opened smocks and stained thighs as disturbing as seeing their arms curled up before them like human krill. They were staring beyond me, their mouths turned down and opened, sucking in on the pain, the intravenous bots at their sides like lamprey.

When I approached reception the waist-on-up android behind the glowing countertop was happy to great me, its hands folded neatly, the wig plopped on top neither male nor female in style.

“My name is Mauri. May I help you?” it said.

It was an outdated androgynous model made during the height of PC-tarianism and at least a decade old, its lips slightly out of sync with the synth box buried within.

“My name is Stasch. I got a tXT from a…” and I rolled my wrist to glance at the pane on my sleeve. “From a Milo Kee-van-is-tov, I said trying to pronounce it phonetically?”


The android gazed through me searching its DAT. “I’m sorry. We do not seem to have a guest here by that name.”


“Maybe Milo isn’t a guest.” I responded. “Maybe Milo works here.”


The android seemed to freeze as if stuck in a processing loop. “Ah yes. Milo Kivanastov. SubOS Custodian. He no longer works for us.”

“Check again. I received a stream from here, from Milo, early this morning…” glancing again at the pane, “at 04:32 to be exact.”


Another freeze, longer this time.  I couldn’t help but look up to mirrored wall beyond the android as if someone were at the controls.

“Milo’s contract ended with us at 06:00 this morning.”

“How convenient. You mean he was terminated.” I added.

“We try to avoid the phrase, terminated, here at the Lodge,” the android replied with a loving smile and tilt of the head right on queue.


“Can you tell me the SubOS outfit Milo worked for? I would like to apply for the vacancy,” I said knowing that if I asked where I could find Milo I would get a canned response of privacy protection. Which is crap. Nothing is private anymore.

“I do apologize, Mr. Stasch, but our CIS appears to be offline at the moment. Routine maintenance. Please try back later.”

“Never mind. I’ll run my own scrub on Milo,” I answered smartly with a wink to the mirror. My talk was shit, but I might as well make the string-puller sweat for a minute or two. My scrub search on Milo would turn up everything about Milo, but without Milo there would be no payment. I should have dropped this contract right then and there but I had nothing else going on and something bothered me about this one. There was no human activity around me other than the damaged trolling the halls and the android behind the counter was concealing, not something androids are known for.

I dropped a vCard to the android and left.  Let’s see who tugs on my line.

Figuring Milo ran the night stack and was a bit of a scumbag I walked the nearby streets looking for shitholes he might frequent. If I were Milo, I’d want some coffee and a vape and I found one called the Wanda Inn–bamboo shades drawn down tightly with a tilted flickering pink LED OPEN sign in the window. The door handle was sticky and a synthetic gong announced my entrance when I stepped inside. It was beyond dim as if night itself had not yet awakened and the air was crisp against my throat.  Behind the empty counter was a stocky woman, I think, whose arms were almost as big as my own but not as pretty. I placed my hands on the countertop where they could be seen.

“You must be Wanda.” I said in a raspy voice.

“You want coffee, fuckhead?” said Wanda with a raised chin and deep voice, which convinced me she was a he.

“As dark as the lighting in here,” I answered.

Wanda turned and grabbed a mug from the shelf and blew into it to rid the dust then poured a viscous stream of blackness to the brim and sloshed the mug onto the counter in front of me, the burnt smell of chicory an assault on my senses.  I hate chicory.

“Thanks. But not for the coffee,” I said and tapped on my pane to transfer two-hundred DASH to the address chalked onto the mirror behind Wanda and waited until Wanda’s wallet chirped and he looked down to see the transfer. “You ever serve a guy in here by the name of Milo?” I asked. “That would be a yes or no.” and I leaned in a little closer. “But a No and the next two-hundred DASH never reaches you. However, an answer of YES and you need to tell me something I can use.” I then whispered in my best Hollywood DeepOps voice, “But if the information turns out to be shit, I will be back to kick your ass.  And I mean that literally. I will sneak up and give you a swift kick in the ass and disappear before you can get up. You will get pissed-off, but with no one in sight you will move on.  And then a week or so goes by, maybe at a bodega, CryptoTeller or charging station, I give you another swift kick, a little harder this time, and you stay down a little longer because something feels broken.  And this goes on and on until you start to look for me everywhere you go. Trust me, no sane person wants that. Is that understood, Wanda Bergen of 8518 NE Banyan Street? You live just around the corner from here, right? Dirty white stucco duplex, top right corner? Blue awnings, one of which is a little ripped?”

Wanda’s voice was suddenly an octave higher and a little more compliant, but it was probably the promise of the additional two hundred DASH that made him talk.

“Yes… Milo did come in almost every morning… a little after six.”

I raised my brow for Wanda to continue.

“He worked the night shift at the River Lake Lodge. You know… God’s waiting room, two blocks up from here?”

“Was he here this morning?“

No.” Wanda replied. His mouth suddenly dry and he poured a half beer from the tap and took a quick sip, waxing a foam mustache and a lick clean of the tongue.

“Did he ever talk shop with you?” I asked.

“Only that the inmates… I mean the guests,” he said as if I were PC concerned, “were basket cases and once in awhile he would… you know?…. “ Wanda said taking another sip and a lick.

I raised my brow again.  Wanda was a quick study.

“You know…. the pretty ones,” he said with a forced smile.

I understood Wanda’s meaning, but that was not what I was after. “Did he ever tell you anything about the place itself or the people running it?

“Not that I–”

I slammed my fist on the countertop, startling not only Wanda, but also the detritus hibernating in the booths behind me. “Think Wanda.  Was there anything Milo said that made you curious? Anything such as activity happening after hours, strange people coming or going… shipments in or out, missing guests?…. That kind of thing!” I felt like I was getting nowhere so with one hand I opened my vest slightly to reveal the stock of my Russian made tecNIK while my other hand ran my down my face for whatever reason people do that other than it feels right to do it out of frustration.

Wanda took another slug.  He was visibly shaken and just where I wanted him.  

“Well…. he had this hidden chair between some cabinets just off the lobby in a camera dead spot and told me about a conversation he overheard about something called Triplex.”

Another raise of the brow.

“Ah.. I never heard of Triplex.”

“Did he say he knew who was doing the talking?”

“No.  Other than the tin can sitting at the desk he never met anyone who worked there.  They worked in another part of the building he had no access to.”

”Did he ever tell you what was going on in that area?”

“No… I don’t think so.  He said the tin can warned him that if he ever tried to gain access he would be terminated.  The tin-can creeped him out and he needed the job.“

I transferred another two hundred DASH to his account and left.

The sun was making its way over the canyon tops, shrouded in blue haze from the constant fires—La blue as we call it.  I hopped onto my bike and headed home to just below the ruin of scaffolding where the Hollywood sign once stood.  I have lived here as long as I can remember and where my famous grandparents lived before me. I was told this area used to be desirable, where the hillsides were rimed with swank and out-of-sight priced homes of former stars and movie moguls.  But when appSTAR made directors and producers out of everyone and avatars became the new stars, their human likenesses were reduced to ribbon cutting and signing autographs and could no longer afford to live here. Well that and a few large quakes……

TO BE CONTINUED AT SOME POINT.