Cycles. Everything in this world is cyclic—

“Sees spirits?” An interested voice murmurs in my ear, “sees ghosties, phantoms, shades, wraiths, spectres, spooks—”

I know that voice. And if I didn’t, the whiff of good rum gives him away every time. My rum, dammit. It’s The Sage again. My Sage, dammit. Apparently somewhere out there in the infinite reaches someone decided that I need looking after and The Sage was detailed off for that duty. How nice. He’s been missing for so long now I thought he’d given up and jumped ship … of course he knew where to find me, in town it’s always either the nearest coffee bar or follow the trail. So I like coffee, sue me.

“—goblins, apparitions, presences, disembodi—”

“Cyclic! Not psychic, I wrote cyclic. You really should read more closely.” I sense a disembodied presence lean closer to my page and invisibly peer, followed a second or two later by the ghost of a nod. Good. Now he knows that this post isn’t about him. Actually it doesn’t belong here either any more, now that he’s hijacked it. I’ll have to finish it off in my other blog and just enjoy the cranky old sod while he’s around.

“Cranky? Moi?”

“It means irascible.”

“That’s nice, Lad. Aye … iresisib—  irussabl— irra surble burble. Yeah.”

‘So, where’ve you been, and to what do I owe the dubious pleasure this time?”

At the next table a tiny infant’s eyes go wide as he looks in my direction. Damn. Sometimes we forget that the truly innocent can see things invisible to the average Joe or Josette.

“It’s something to do with them not knowing they can’t do it so they do it until the knowing that they can’t stops them. Quite simple, really.”

Wonderful. Hot coffee and a metaphysics lesson laced with Psychology 101 for free.

“So anybody, not knowing that you’re impossible, could see you?” I can see him even in full daylight, and I have it on very good authority that innocent I ain’t. In the dark he’s much easier to see, in the twilights he stands out like dog’s—

“Aye, Lad. I harboured over in a convent for a month once and no-one noticed. But when I passed through a kindergarten playground during recess in a snowstorm I copped enough broadsides to sink a ship o’ the line.”

“But as I was just thinking, I’m not innocent.”

“You and me is special, Lad. We have an accord—”

Damn. But wait, the last time he turned up during the insomnia hours at home he had to sneak past The Spouse—

“Aye, Son. Y’ Spouse has no problems seeing me.”

This time I see how he does it. For a brief moment there I felt a strong urge to look towards the doorway—I resisted it and on my peripheral saw a shadow loom briefly over my cup. The level went down with impressive speed. Got ‘im! Damn, it took me long enough …

“And now to business, Son.”


“It’s coming on the solstice festivities season—”


“Aye. And we were talking Spouse—”

Spouse. Every year the same, something special for The Spouse … special, but what?

“Aye. Uncharted waters and shallow reefs aplenty. Gales and a thundering lee shore—”

And me with no maps, no beacons, no compass and nary a star visible to set course by. I get the drift.

“It occurs to me that y’ could do with a rutter.”

A rutter. I wish.

“Or more better, a pilot?”

I nod imperceptibly. No point revisiting my coffee mug, it’s quite empty. Again.

“There’s a wee shop not far from here that sells rubies and pearls and other fripperies.”

I nod. He’s raving, but what the heck. Let him rave—

“And the merchant is selling up. He’s closing his store and leaving for calmer waters and a snug berth.”


“So it occurs to me that your Spouse is smitten by a ring she saw when dawdling by there one day. She went in and tried it on. It fits—”

A ring. How nice. Silver, knowing her. Probably a king’s ransom but unpretentious, she has good taste.

“—silver with a single emerald.”


“—the merchant has heavily discounted said bauble already but if he likes the cut of your jib he’ll as like to make y’ an even better deal—”

Damn. I’m beginning to jibber. Oops, gibber.

“—so we go in together and you cast an eye over the offerings. I’ll tip y’ the wink when y’ finds the piece.”


“—and get this, Lad. He’s a dog man. He loves them loutish brutes you fancy—”

“Bull terriers?”

“Aye. He keeps a couple on the premises all the time. They sleep behind the counter.”

My kind of jeweller, then. But wait, how am I ever going to explain so truly incredible a coincidence to my beloved Spouse on Christmas morning?

I sense him beginning to disappear himself, he’s going fast and this time his voice comes more as a fading echo—

“No problem, Lad. She’s such a trusting innocent … she’ll just think you’re one of them cyclics.”

He’s gone before I can growl a rejoinder, leaving me to buy a refill and meet him later at the jewellers.

Hell, I may even make an offer on the bull terriers …



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