Originally published in Coming of Age #4



DATE:        January 3, 1993

TO:             P.T.B.

FROM:      Clarence, A.F.C. (dictated to MJ Mink)

SUBJECT: Caine, Peter

Narrative: Subject Peter Caine (who, may I say, has become something of a full-time assignment for me. I would appreciate if my earlier request [that he become my sole client] be reviewed at this time.) was approached this evening at the Agrippa Club, a pub popular with the local constabulary. Peter was imbibing (though not excessively) in the company of his foster father and police captain, Paul Blaisdell (ref report by Amanda, A.S.C.) and several police companions whose names are unnecessary for the purposes of this report.

I approached their table in the guise of a barmaid. The scene proceeded thusly (presented in narrative form, irrelevant details not included):

Peter was jittery. I could see that quite easily. His knees bounced, and his fingers tapped the table. (Note: There was no music which could have offered an alternate explanation for this behavior.)

"I got it," he announced to the table in general.

"Got what?" a stout man asked.

"And is it catching?" a lovely woman inquired sweetly.

He ignored their mischevious jibes. "The applied criminal psych class. At the FBI Academy."

"You're going to Quantico?" The female's eyes glinted enviously. "Must be nice. No one shooting at you for...how long?"

"Four weeks."

"I'll drink to that!"

They spoke more, but it was at this point that I decided to intervene. (I realize that my subsequent actions may seem extreme, but I would appreciate everyone remembering that I was dealing with a Special Person here, a minor Shaolin, who required Special Handling.)

I stopped at the table, obstensibly to take their ale order. In reality, I was dispensing advice.

"That will not be possible," I said, believing bluntness to be the very best sort of truth.

Peter Caine eyed me appreciatively (Please remember that I was in the barmaid guise at this point). "You're new here. What's your name?"

"Clarence," I replied, since truthfulness cannot be carried too far, a lesson I learned a few generations ago.

He grinned. "Well, Miss Clarence, I think we'd all like another round. It's on me."

"She said it wasn't possible," Paul Blaisdell reminded Peter, smiling.

"Oh, not the drinks, sir. Drinks are always possible. And sometimes advisable." I turned to young Peter. "I meant that your leaving the city at this time is not possible. You would ruin all my work, to say nothing of irrevocably altering your future."

Glances were exchanged among those at the table. I believe they were readying to identify me as a 'fruitcake', a colorful term that implies a certain level of dementia. I hastened to disabuse them of that notion: "I am your guardian angel, Peter."

The stout man groaned. "Why does this never happen to me? My guardian angel is probably an old woman with a beard."

It was wise that I had waited to approach them until they were tipsy and therefore inclined to consider me harmless. With constables, one can never be too careful. Particularly with Peter, who is quick to draw his sidearm.

"So tell me, m'angel," Peter said, his words slurring slightly, "why shouldn't I go to Quantico?"

"Because you would miss something very important. Will you not take my word for this?"

Everyone laughed. At me. I was somewhat vexed and continued, "Laugh if you must, but remember what I told you ten years ago, Peter Caine."

He eyed me up and down. "Ten years ago you would have been in grade school, angel."

Ten years ago I played a madam--no, that's not the correct term...well, whatever one calls a female fortuneteller (May I interject at this point that I would enjoy portraying a male now and again. Just to keep in practice. I believe that Peter Caine will proffer his respectful attention to adult males as well as females. Under the appropriate circumstances.) Young Peter and his curious friends, lured by the offer of free fortunes (a clever ploy on my part, as I understand teenagers have little funds) approached me. As I recall, Peter had been most disturbed by his fortune, and I was certain he would remember the words to this day. So I leaned into his ear and repeated them.
"He who was lost to you in fire, will be returned to you in flames."

He remembered. There was an instant of uncertainty, then he turned pale as a ghost (a being with whom I have some familiarity). His reactions were confused, which was to be expected. I walked away, just in case (ref above sidearm behavioral observation) and watched him closely.

He turned an anguished look on Paul Blaisdell.

"What's wrong, Peter? What did she say to you?"

Then Blaisdell looked at me. Had I another life to lose, I fear it would have been in jeopardy then.

Peter intervened. "Nothing. I mean-- nothing that makes sense. The only thing that could make sense is... impossible. So...."

"There goes your tip," the woman called to me, as if money were an angelic necessity.

"Still..." Peter continued, "I suppose it wouldn't hurt just to...stick around."

"Peter, you've waited a long time for a place in the class. Declining at this late date could jeopardize your chances of getting in the next one. And for what?"

Peter looked across the room at me. I decided to give him, as they say nowadays, a "little bang for his buck", to reinforce his decision. So I smiled at him, mouthed "Chinatown", and made myself invisible. He was, appropriately, stunned. He glanced around (as if he thought I could move more quickly than he could see?) then sighed. I knew he was thinking of his father then, since I didn't hold the monopoly on mystical illusions.

He smiled faintly at Paul Blaisdell and shrugged. "For a dream, I guess."

Summary: At this point, I vacated the premises, though before clocking out for the evening, I did a followup with Gabe to assure that his client was running on schedule. End of Report.

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