Narrator: The office still smells like mothballs and dusty secrets.
The office of the Arklow Eagle Eyes Detective Agency used to be the proud host of the country’s oldest pagan book store. The oldest book in the shop was a manuscript from 1776. Some thick, crazy tome whose cover has long since faded, but whose first page said in big bold letters, “The Faith of the Negro Pagans and Savage Indians.” Whatever, it was a different time, but I can never get past that first page. One of my ancestors is featured in the book.
Narrator: I used to work in the little pagan store for years, until Jo’s crazy aunt won the lottery and left it in my care as a present for graduating from the police academy. Caseload was slim, lately, which is why I live with Jo. I have very few bills to pay, and I do have enough to live on from the Redfield-Wade estates. I’m one of the richest men in the city, perhaps on this coast. However, I have always wanted to live like a normal guy. Save for my training and RedWing supplies, and the occasional gift to a friend, all the rest came as payment from services rendered or being contracted in to work with the Police Department. More down to earth that way.
Narrator: (cont) Our apartment, this morning, had one less teacup in it. When I came home, she hurled it at my head. It missed and shattered against the wall. She shouted several expletives and managed to unsettle her
Narrator: hair more than it already was. She managed to always perpetually have her hair perfect. She’s had this hairstyle, or a version of it for years. There was a time where she tried to do the same look, but Jared (dad) wouldn’t let her cut half of it, so we opted for the part that is short now to be cornrowed back into the same style. Even when she’s in a fury, she is one of the prettiest women I’ve ever met and I feel fortunate to have her as a sister. I found the chocolate bar in the cabinet, and shoved it into her mouth. She struggled for a second, and began to calm down, like a screaming baby who has just been given a bottle.
Jordan: Relax, Jo. I’m okay. I just took a stroll and wound up sleeping.... elsewhere?
Narrator: Johanna raised an eyebrow, but kept eating the chocolate. I could tell she was wondering if I met someone, but I didn’t really want to answer that.
Jordan: You should be almost ready for work... can you look into this DNA for me when you get in?
Narrator: I pulled the note out of a pouch on my toolbelt, and the pen that was next to it back in the North Side Apartment..
Johanna: [Mouthful] Whuffizdis?
Jordan: It’s a letter and I need to find the writer.
Narrator: Jo stayed silent for a moment, before taking the note and nodding to me. She finished chewing, swallowed, and coughed a little before speaking.
Johanna: Where did you wind up
Jordan: [ignoring the question] Did you hear anything over the Comm after I said I was on my way back?
Narrator: I was walking into the kitchen, because I was positively starving. I’m always hungry after a night of crime fighting and falling off buildings like an idiot.
Johanna: No, but why are you dodging this question? Did you meet someone? Was it Walters from Club Sparklerz? Was it fun? Please tell me you used protection.
Narrator: I shoved another piece of chocolate into her mouth, and proceeded to pour my cereal.
Jordan: No, no, no, and irrelevant. We’ll deal later. I need sustenance. Go to work. Bring back a name. If anyone can, it’ll be you, my supergenius lesbian.
Narrator: Jo rolled her eyes, and left the room. 2 Minutes later she was walking out the door in her lab coat, and waving to me. I whistled to her and she rolled her eyes as she closed the door. I took off my suit finally, and walked around the house a little. I showered, shaved, and got dressed, before leaving for the North Side, and the store that I was already an hour late to open. It was looking like I’d have to take the subway. Fortunately, our subway was running fairly efficiently these days. People used to have a habit of jumping in front of the trains, when their family lost all their money due to unemployment.
Narrator: When I arrived at the agency a half hour later, there was one person waiting for the agency to open. It was a woman, maybe early 30’s, with pale skin, round sunglasses and a midnight blue sun hat resting atop her classic red hair. She wore a bright red lipstick, and a midnight blue trench coat overtop what appeared to be a black bodycon dress. She looked like a blue version of Carmen Sandiego, and I would have laughed at that, but she was drop-dead gorgeous. She was clearly a woman who knew a thing or two about style.
Jordan: Sorry, I hope you haven’t been waiting long.
Narrator: I put the key into the lock, and proceeded to jiggle it around. The lock was definitely old.
Scarlett: It perfectly is alright, dear.
Narrator: She had an English accent with a bit of an Irish lilt around her L’s and R’s, practically oozing a “classy dame” vibe. I both liked and was confused by this woman already. I pushed the door open, and turned the window sign to “open.” I took my spot behind the desk before looking back at the woman.
Jordan: Thank you for coming to into the Arklow Detective Agency. What can I help you find?
Scarlett: Yes. I am actually here for one of those old Pagan manuscripts.
Narrator: She was looking in the direction of the cabinet that held the books about druidic remedies and healing techniques. This shopfront had formerly been a new age book store, and the owner had left in a hurry but I didn’t have the heart to get rid of the books, and I figured people would still come in looking for them. Like now.
Scarlett: I am looking for books from the author by the last name of Kandelle. I believe the title I’m seeking is “Tarot: The Candle Sorcery Method.”
Jordan: Right, we definitely have that. It’s right over, in the back.
Scarlett: Fabulous, dear, thank you.
Narrator: She came to the counter, and went to pay for the book with credit card. I waved my hand at the card.
Jordan: No need for that. We didn’t charge for books anymore, I’m just happy to have them off my-
Narrator: As I was handing the book to her, she grabbed my wrist suddenly. I looked into her eyes, and saw they had clouded over. When she spoke it was with a deeper yet layered voice than she had spoken with before.
Scarlett: Wade, beware the powerful plague as the crow flies. You only have half of your own story. The ones you love hid something from you. You have much to learn, or your mission is over before it begins.
Narrator: She released my hand and her eyes cleared. There was a pause, and then she seemed to come to. She smiled as though nothing weird had just occurred. She grabbed the book, and placed a business card on the table.
Scarlett: I will see you again very soon dear, young sir. Thank you for your help today. Call me if you ever need any answers you can’t seem to get on this side.
Narrator: She walked out the door. I stood there, a little flabbergasted. What did she say? What did that mean? Did I just serve a crazy woman? I looked at the card, and read the name on it. “Tarot By Scarlett” followed by a phone number. I grabbed my cellphone and texted Jo.
Jordan: “Yo, Carmen Sandiego just served up prophecy and a business card?”
Narrator: Her reply was almost instant?
Johanna: “W8... Whut?”
Jordan: “Gurl, I don’t even know... Tarot By Scarlett?”
Johanna: “Never heard of it.” [pause] “Got some weird news on that DNA.”
Jordan: “That was fast.”
Johanna: “It’s easy when there is no match on the DNA anywhere in the system. No direct handwriting match in any system. No name, nothing. But something else did come up.”
Jordan: “How is that possible? Doesn’t the city have a policy about DNA sequences being stored? And licenses are signed?”
Johanna: “For residents, yeah. Maybe he’s not a resident. National didn’t come back with anything real.”
Jordan: “So, BlackBird doesn’t legally exist?”
Johanna: “Guess so.”
Jordan: “So weird.”
Johanna: “Yeah, but what’s weirder is the data... it came back as a partial match for your DNA. The percentage was 98.5% the same.”
Johanna: “The genes between a parent and a child, or between 2 siblings with the same parents, is 75%. Identical twins are roughly 99.5% matches. You match up at 98.5%. This would mean that BlackBird is your twin.”
Jordan: “Obviously BlackBird isn’t my twin. I’m an only child. I think I’d know if I had a twin... right?”
Johanna: “Probably. You sure you never saw a face?”
Jordan: “No. But I saw an empty apartment.”
Johanna: “Research tonight?”
Jordan: “You betcha.”
Johanna: “I’ll run point from the Lair.”
Jordan: “Please stop calling your bedroom the Lair. It’s disturbing.”
Johanna: “Relax. I meant your office anyway. G2G, back to working.”
Narrator: I stopped texting Jo, and set about doing some work around the shop. It needed some dusting, and cleaning would take my mind off of the weirdness.
Narrator: The rest of the work day went smoothly enough. A gentleman came in asking me to determine in his wife was cheating on him, and I had to tell him that she wasn’t but she knew about his affair and she was meeting with a divorce lawyer. A woman tried to find her stolen cat, but there wasn’t actually a missing cat. I have a conference call with one of the subsidiaries of Redfield-Wade Collective. Blah Blah, relatively boring. That interaction with Scarlett got me thinking about the past though, and the prevalence of magic in my life. I had to take this seriously. Magic has been around me my entire life. When my parents were around, magic took the form of imagination and the belief in mystery. After they died, I physically became something that, for lack of a better thing to call it, is magical. Like, I have a weird connection to the world now because of my power. But I have a feeling that magic isn’t just some force out in the world with no
Narrator: (cont) rhyme or reason. If it isn’t that, then what is it? If nothing else, maybe
she can reveal to me why I have these powers but my genetic sequences appear the same as most other people.
Narrator: Whatever. As long as it’s not something stupid. I’ve seen True Blood. If I’m a fairy, I will be deeply upset.
Finally, 5 o’clock came and I closed up shop. I managed to save locate one old dog and return it to it’s owners. I locked the door on my way out, and walked in the direction of the subway. Before I could get too far, I ran into someone I typically never want to see. Kit “Mojito” Carbone. Why did they always have a habit of finding me when I don’t really have time for them?
Kit: [icy yet taunting] Well, well, wellllll.... If it isn’t the so-called “people’s champion”.
Jordan: [icy] Hello, Kit Mojito. Must be a slow news day for you if you’ve come to darken my door.
Narrator: It’s hard to hold back my disdain for them. Let me be clear, my disdain has nothing to do with their non-binary identity, appearance, or anything personal. It has everything to do with the things Kit has written on that blog of theirs. Kit had, on numerous occasions, called me “aloof and out of touch” and that my choice to live amongst the population instead of in my gated estate was a very Marie Antoinette thing to do. Nevermind my parents being murdered and that being why I didn’t want to live in my childhood home. No, I’m just out of touch.
Jordan: I’ve never claimed to be the people’s champion. I aim only to help where I can. Is that a crime?
Kit: Of course not, but you certainly don’t use all your resources to the “causes” you claim to support. Hell you’ve even voted for legislation that hurt the people you claim to support.
Jordan: That’s a bluff. You have no way of knowing what I voted for, except for what I tell you. Are you saying you hacked into a government file, which is a Class B misdemeanor at best, and could lead to 6 months in prison? Cause, you know... [trails off]
Kit: For example, the people would like to know: Why is your mansion not being used currently, when we need so many different services? You know we need a drug rehab center, a homeless shelter, housing for battered partners... Why have you not turned it into any of those?
Jordan: I think, and I’m sure the people know this, that I personally have funded two 8-floor apartment buildings for homeless families, as well as unlisted locations for battered partners with access to all social services and a healthy relationship with the police and attorneys who can help the people involved and keep them safe. But if they must know, my family expressly told me to save the Redfield-Wade Estate for my family specifically, as we have done for generations. Would you begrudge me my parent’s last request?
Kit: And why would your parents say that? What are you hiding in your family home? Is it literal skeletons?
Jordan: Just dusty books and portraits. Oh and my childhood memories of course. I have not been able to sleep in the property since that night. You do know their murder case is still unsolved? Well, I’m not sleeping there until I’ve caught their killer.
Narrator: I just knew the article and the blogpost would come. I have my oscar speech prepared, and yet simple questions here got me flustered.
Kit: That is... oddly understandable. Shit. Well, alright. Now, what about the missing men and women? The people are concerned that they have been kidnapped and are being held against their will somewhere. How are you helping locate them?
Narrator: In the last 8 months, a dozen women and men across the city had gone missing. They were all just suddenly taken, but no bodies have been found or evidence that they had run away. The police had been scratching their heads, trying to find a reason, or a mad person responsible, or any connection between the people who’d gone missing. They were all under 40, most of them were white, and all of them had gym memberships that they actively used. The men and women were fit and trim, and generally attractive. I’d done a few searches in the last week, hunting for leads, but I have not as of yet located anything. It was beginning to get particularly frustrating and dire.
Jordan: Do you have any leads? I know I’m using my time to track the ones I have. But if you have anything helpful to offer, it is your civic duty to say something.
Narrator: they wouldn’t have anything to offer. they just wanted to taunt me.
Kit: That isn’t my job to tell you where they are. It is your job to find them.
Jordan: Are you withholding information? Do any of your readers know anything? I’m being serious Kit, will you please ask your readers if they have any tips.
Jordan: Please, Kit. Live’s could be at stake here.
Kit: What would you give me in return? People don’t just post things to my blog without paying to be featured.
Jordan: Is it money you want? Are you joking?
Kit: No, I don’t want money. I want an exclusive.
Kit: I want an exclusive interview with the vigilante, RedWing.
Jordan: Uh, what makes you think I can give you that?
Kit: [lowered voice] Listen, as much as you annoy me, I have to acknowledge that you’re a good PI. You know your shit, and I know that if anyone can find him it’s you.
Narrator: Kit extended a hand to me.
Kit: You do that for me, I post this for you. Deal?
Jordan: [pause, sigh] alright, fine deal.
Narrator: We shook on it, and went our separate ways. I felt like something between us had shifted with that promise. I know they can be annoying and has a tendency to cast me in a negative light, but in the time of need, I had to believe they would come through for me when actual lives depended on it. I would still make a note to check out the blog later.
I held the Tarot with Scarlett card and looked at the address on the bottom. It wasn’t really on my route home, and in a residential stretch of the city. I think there was maybe an asian grocery store and a bodega bookending that particular block, but I don’t remember seeing any sign for Tarot readings. It was in the North Side part of the city, but only just barely. I began walking toward that area. I opted to walk and not take the bus or subway, which was a 15 minute walk. Most days I could make that journey in about 6 minutes when travelling by rooftop, but I didn’t feel like doing that. Besides, I wanted the air, and time to think. There would be plenty of time for rooftop jumping in a few hours, when I’d have to go out on patrol.
A bell clinked gently as I pushed open the door to Scarlett’s office, though that’s being a bit generous. I was fairly sure she lived in there. The first room is a sitting room. The room was lit by candles of varying colors. The walls were painted a deep purple, and the windows were covered by black curtains. In the middle of the room was a table covered with a deep green velvet tablecloth, a wooden chair and a high back comfy leather chair. On the table was several different decks of cards, a crystal pendulum, and a pocket knife. The floor was bare wood, and even through my shoes, felt cold. I walked forward, and touched the back of the wooden chair, and looked over the setup again.
Scarlett: Welcome, young master Jordan, descendent of Redfield and Wade.
Narrator: I turned toward the door that let to the kitchen. Standing there, in a long sheath dress made of black lace with her fiery copper hair elegantly swept over her right shoulder, stood Scarlett. Her decolletage neckline popped her cleavage out in a way that seemed more regal than trashy. Nestled right above said cleavage was a pentacle pendant. Her nails were an emerald green bordering on acidic, which matched her eyeshadow and eyes. Her lips were painted a rosy red. Her smiling seemed knowing, and I was at once enthralled and terrified by her. I found myself thinking for a moment, “God, I wish Jo was here... Scarlett is so her type.”
Jordan: So you know my name already? Glad you can google.
Narrator: I don’t mean to come off as a dick, but I am used to people knowing who I am. I’ve had a few interactions with the papers, and though they most of the time viewed me as a rich humanitarian, some journalists had some strange vendettas against me. Like Ronny Mario. I still don’t remember what I did to them to make them dislike me so much.
Scarlett: Ah, right, the skeptic with every reason to believe. I almost forgot how... committed some people can be to their denial.
Narrator: She sat in the high backed chair and rested her elbows on the table. I opened my mouth and closed it again. I wasn’t actually prepared for that level of shade. I also was distracted by the accent I had noticed before. It was quite lovely, and I could listen to her speak all day if I wasn’t careful.
Scarlett: Let’s not pretend that I don’t know why you’ve come here. You have questions. I saw you had them earlier today, and I left my card at the counter for just that reason. And while I don’t have all the answers at present, there are a whole host of ways to receive answers. Please take a seat, and we’ll begin.
Narrator: I sat, and she indicated for me to choose a deck. I selected the one on the far right, because the back of the cards were emblazoned with a series of birds in flight. She seemed not surprised, fanning out the cards and flipping and shuffling them. While she did that, she hummed a really beautiful song that I could almost recognize. She stared at me while she did this, her eyes boring into me. I only tore my eyes away when I felt a pain on my finger tip. I looked down and realized she’d cut the tip of my finger and was dabbing the blood on the deck and the crystal. I looked up concerned and a bit angered.
Jordan: Hey, what the f-
Scarlett: Oh relax, it’s been sanitized. I’m a soothsayer, not an idiot.
Narrator: She’s got the jokes this one.
Scarlett: This will help the deck get in touch with your questions. You have a few, but we’ll reach each one of them in due time. Let’s start at the beginning though.
Narrator: She fanned out the cards, face down, and had me select 3 of them. She arranged them in order before me, before flipping the one on my left. It was a woman holding a pentagram above her heart, her body obscured and encircled by black wings. Below the picture, it said, “High Priestess.”
Scarlett: I can tell you that your first question is about wisdom. Based on your energy, I would venture to guess that you want to know how magic works, particularly the powers that are relevant to you.
Narrator: My eyes widened. She knew I had powers, without me telling her or me having used them in her presence. What? That’s crazy. I nodded. She smiled, and began to explain.
Scarlett: Magic is energy, but it is a force divided into 5 types and 5 planes. These types are: spirit, physical, psychic, life or vitality, and astral. Spirit is powered by ancestry and the souls of the dead. Physical is matter and energy on the physical plane. Psychic is the connection between minds. Astral is the soul plane belonging to the living. And the life force, the vitality force, is the energy in our blood. In order to be alive, you have to have that last one. All living beings have these within them, whether or not they can control a few of them. You possess the gift of Force Fields, yes?
Jordan: Um, yes, but how did you…?
Scarlett: [laughing] If you keep asking me how I know things, we will never get through this, my dear. You possess a power that mixes these planes. Your force fields are a mix of psychic energy, physical matter, and astral energy.
Scarlett (cont) Magic can be made up of any single one of these, or combinations thereof. Every time you create a force field, you’re combining physical, astral and psychic magic all at once. The ability to manipulate these energies and planes is what is known traditionally as Magic. Does that make sense, Jordan?”
Jordan: Actually…. Well… Yes. It makes sense. It’s a little frustrating for me, because I like being able to see things at work.
Scarlett: But that’s just it isn’t it? You can see it if you pay attention close enough.
Jordan: I suppose I’ll have to open my third eye then, right?
Scarlett: [Laughter] You honestly just might want to consider doing that. It might be helpful for you in ways you can’t even imagine.
Jordan: [Chuckle] A private eye with a 3rd eye? That sounds like a bad joke. But I’ll keep my eye on that.
Scarlett: Certainly. Now, you’ve got a sub question here, so select another 2 cards
Narrator: I did as she requested, and she flipped them over. They were the Tower card and the Justice card.
Scarlett: Okay... okay. Your sub question was where did your power come from. I’m afraid my answer is a bit vague, but it came from struggle. Something tumultuous in your past that isn’t necessarily visible. This will require further examination.
Narrator: I opened my mouth to speak, but she cut me off, with a wave of her finger.
Scarlett: It isn’t necessarily the death of your parents. That was the activating incident of course… but it may have involved them before, when you were much younger. But it is cloudy. Also, no, in case you hadn’t guessed this, I am not telepathic. I can’t read your active thoughts. I can, however, clearly read your face and body language, and your palms and heart are as open as a book. Plus… I did google you, a little bit.
Jordan: Aha! I knew you had.
Scarlett: Well of course. How else would I have found your shop?
Jordan: I…. huh. That’s a fair point.
Narrator: She flipped the 2nd card I’d originally drawn. It was the Magician.
Scarlett: This card is about your mission. You’re here to make your city righteous again. You live for the hope of Justice. You walk the talk, in terms of fighting the good fight.
Narrator: She paused, and then looked into my eyes, smiling.
Scarlett: Ahh, I can see it now. Of course. You’re the one the criminal element have been calling, Redwing. I must say, you look taller in the costume. Must be the boots.
Narrator: I froze, How did she guess that?
Scarlett: Well, I had heard of you. Cleaning up the streets in Revenant Heights and Falcon Village, all by your lonesome. We are pleased to have you in this city, but the Parcelli family are markedly less happy, of course.
Jordan: Well then. Glad to hear news of me is spreading.
Scarlett: I wouldn’t be so glib about it. You’re definitely putting yourself in danger, and you need to be careful.
Jordan: I’ll bear that in mind, but it won’t stop me.
Scarlett: Oh of course it wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want you to. We need you in this city. I’ve been here for a few years. Long enough to know that this city needs saving from time to time.
Jordan: Well, I’ll do my best.
Scarlett: Of course you will. Now, for your last question…
Narrator: She flipped the last card, while I asked it aloud.
Jordan: Who is BlackBird?
Scarlett: Who indeed. The card is... Lovers. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean romance. BlackBird is someone who is your other half. Your true equal. A person who you are drawn to, even without knowing why or who they are. BlackBird saved you from something horrific the other night, saving you from the very connection that you felt. My professional advice: seek him out, as he may have some answers for you. You will be seeing more of him in the future, possibly sooner than you might think.
Jordan: Well, that’s... uh.... helpful, I guess?
Narrator: I had to admit, it was kind of nice to have some answers, and a new directive. I reached for my wallet.
Jordan: What do I owe you for this?
Narrator: She waved her hand dismissively, like I had earlier.
Scarlett: You owe me nothing. This one was on the house... but please do come back anytime you like.
Narrator: She smirked, stood up and turned to head out of the room, before she turned to back to me and narrowed her eyes, like a sultry cat.
Scarlett: But next time... do bring your friend, Miss Johanna. There are some things I learned about you on google.
Jordan: I’ll… I’ll make an introduction. Here’s my cellphone number.
Narrator: We exchanged contact info. Good to know she likes women, though I definitely had a feeling like she was attracted to more than just women. Well, Jo will be pleased. I got up to leave and held my hand out for a handshake. She presented her hand in a very classical manner, and I knew what she expected me to do. I took her hand, and kissed the dorsum of her hand.
Scarlett: This has been simply enchanting, dear. Please send referrals from your clients to here, if you can. I love a good story.
Narrator: She smiled, indicating a poster and more business cards. I nodded, agreeing to hang them up in the agency the next morning. As soon as I was out the door, I began texting Jo.
Jordan: “I think I just got you a date? Also, I found out kinda how magic works.”
Johanna: “1. You’re a saint. Hope she’s cute. 2. It’s magic, isn’t it? Doesn’t that mean there’s no set way it works?”
Jordan: “It’s magic, but magic is energy. I’ll explain over dinner. I should be there by 7.”
Johanna: “What are you cooking tonight?”
Jordan: “P.D. Wong’s.”
Johanna: “Beats Arktown Market.”
Jordan: “Damn skippy it does.”
Narrator: There was a pause, during which Johanna had obviously rolled her eyes and shook her head.
Johanna: “Who even says that anymore?”
Jordan: “I’m bringing it back. TTYS.”
Narrator:I dipped into the subway. A hearty dinner tonight was in order. My detective work is gonna have to be serious tonight. Finding Blackbird was bumped up to the number one priority.