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We have a total of 23 episodes, and they're all available if you follow the HFS link.

 

 
 

Diogenes' Lantern

Teaser


Dead acoustics, watery Scotch, barstools designed for some other species, barmaids so surly that not even the legendary Dawson charm drew a smile from them, and the band. . . if the ghost of Jimi Hendrix himself invaded the lead guitarist's body, the guy still would be a no-talent hack.

Joe Dawson sighed. {Should have known better. If word of a good house band travels more than fifty miles, it's an inflated rumor--and I'm exactly 51 miles from Maurice's club.}

With that grouse in mind, he tossed some coins on the bar and reached for his cane. As he left the barstool, the door to the restroom opened and a woman emerged. The light lined her profile, high cheekbones and full lips that told of African ancestry.

All thoughts of his waiting guitar and Maurice's good booze fled Joe's mind, replaced by an almost forgotten memory:


FLASHBACK: CHICAGO, EARLY 1960S

A crowded, raucous jazz joint. Most of the clientele are Negro and the music is loud but the crowd is rapt, their attention focused on the club's tiny stage. There, a lithe light-skinned woman with straightened hair pulled tight back sings the blues. Her red sheath dress shimmers as she sways, her body and soul caught up in her music.

At the very back of the club, tucked into an dark alcove behind some unused equipment, are two eighth-grade boys. The light from an overhead EXIT sign casts shadows of their heads as they peep over the boxes--one round from its tight kinks, the other flat on top from a recent butch cut.

"Ain't she great?"

"Yeah--Uncle says she's better than Billie herself."

"Sure glad your uncle let us come tonight. If we get caught here, he might lose his license."

The first boy shrugs. "Nobody or nothing's gonna shut this place down. Uncle knows whose baby needs shoes."

The second boy nods. He knows already that Chicago runs on under- the-table money.

On stage, the woman sings the final song of her set. The boys hush as she wrings the last drop of emotion from the music. As the sound of her voice rises, their eyes widen as the pathos and strength in her song stirs them.

"God. . . ." More of a prayer than a blaspheme, it is the only sound made by either boy until after the singer leaves the stage and the house lights come up. A pudgy black man in a tuxedo walks toward them and makes shoo-ing motions with his hands. With the singer's spell broken by his actions, the two boys duck out into the night.

They are halfway down the block before either finds a voice.

"Your ma's gonna kill us if she finds out where you've been."

The other boy shrugs with the nonchalance of a thirteen- year-old.

{Yeah, I'll get grounded for sure. But, hey-- hearing Callie Hodges wail was worth every minute of it.}


{No. No--it can't be.}

But, the more Joe watched the woman as she walked to the club's exit, the more he was certain. Wherever Callie Hodges may have been in the past three decades, she was there now.

He hurried after her, driven by the excitement of a fan catching an unexpected sight of his heroine. By the time he exited the club, the woman was across the parking lot between a delivery van and a white Renault. An opened purse held her attention as she searched for her keys.

Joe called to her, his voice hushed with the fear that he might be mistaken.

"Miss Hodges?"

She looked up and her eyebrows arched with surprise. Joe forgot his hesitation--despite the fine wrinkles and slight droop of skin beneath her chin, the woman was Callie Hodges, blues singer. Years could not diminish the pride in her carriage, the confidence in her eyes, the self-possession and control that he remembered so vividly.

"Miss Hodges, I'm--"

A dark shape stepped from behind the truck and blocked the woman from view. Joe heard a strangled cry and the 'thud' of a dropped purse. Another cry echoed in memory, that of Lauren's scream as she lost her life to Thorne the Immortal while he struggled in vain to help her.

"No!"

Driven by the disharmony of remembered and real terror, he rushed forward. As he neared, the attacker pulled his victim out of sight around the front of the van. Joe paused to grab the hinge of the van's rear door, his cane raised to ward off attack as he rounded the corner.

A quick yank took his footing from under him. He pitched sideways, twisting as he tried to avoid the fall. His shoulder hit first then his head smacked against the pavement. A flash of brilliant light burst through his brain and the world disappeared.


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