Note: This blog was briefly renamed Beware the Black Rose, and then A White Cat and a Black Rose, as part of April Fool's Day (and because I felt like doing it!)
It didn't surprise me at all when Black Rose Katie Specks, the time-traveling pirate scribe, turned up unannounced this evening, conveyed here as usual by our mutual friend Ariel Allegra. She has a habit of visiting whenever I happen to mention her online, at holidays and any other time she wants to comment on something I've said or done.
"I see you've been taking my name in vain again," was her opening comment tonight.
"It was part of an April Fool's joke," I said. "You don't mind, do you?"
She raised her eyebrows at me. "And who might the fool be? Not I, I'll warrant. If ye be renaming your blog using my nom de guerre, then I should have a say in what's in it."
"Ah, so that's why you're here. Is there anything in particular you wish to impart to our readers? Or shall I interview you again?"
"Nay, I wish to interview you. What is the meaning of last night's blog entry?"
"Had I wanted to convey my full meaning," I said stiffly, "I'd have done so."
Kate shook her head. "It seems curiously pointless to communicate half a thought and no more. Why are you afraid to say what you mean?"
"I have confidences to keep, and a non-disclosure agreement, and general good sense," I said. Kate looked skeptical. "Look, you don't blurt everything you know, do you?"
"Nay, but I don't claim to be an honest woman. You do. So tell me: is there dishonesty in your workplace that you wish both to conceal and reveal with your oddly chosen words?"
"Oh, no. Nothing like that."
"Do they mistreat you?"
"Then tell me what the problem is."
I smiled at her, even as she cocked her pistol at me. "I won't tell you, and I know you won't shoot me, so you may as well put that away. As the Dread Pirate Roberts said, 'Get used to disappointment.'"
To my relief, she put the uncocked pistol back in her waistband. "I really don't understand you, Karen. My mates back home think me dreadfully contaminated by your century, and yet your ways still make no sense to me. Aye, then, I'll drop the subject for now. But tell me of the cat with the eyepatch."
"Oh, that's a picture of a cat my brother had a long time ago. I just drew on the eyepatch to make him a pirate cat. I don't suppose there are any pirate cats, though. Are there?"
"If ye be asking whether we have a cat aboard ship then yes, we do, to help with the rats. But your brother's pretty puss is too clean and dainty to live below deck with us."
"I suppose that's true," I said. "He probably was."
"What else have ye been working on tonight? Did I see some frantic cleaning as I came in?"
"Yes. I was cleaning my desk."
"And trying to find something on it, I'm guessing."
"Well, yes. The W-2 was in the kitchen, it turned out, but the check stub from the county didn't turn up."
"The check stub is a record of payment, yes? Why would a county be paying you?"
"I had jury duty last year."
"Oh, aye? And was the rascal hanged?"
"No, but he went to jail for drunk driving the wrong way on a one way street with a suspended license."
Kate shrugged. "No, I don't suppose that's a hanging offense. What is a W-2?"
"It's a form, telling the government how much money my employer paid me last year. I need it to file my taxes."
"You mean you pay them voluntarily? Why would you do that? Is that down to your alleged honesty as well?"
"Well, if we didn't pay taxes we would be in trouble. But I don't really mind. Some of what the government spends money on is foolish and destructive, but they do good things with it, too."
"Are your soldiers still fighting in Iraq?" she asked pointedly.
"Then you're a fool to give them your money."
"They already have our money. This is a way to get some of it back."
"Oh, yes? Will they really give you money back?"
"A refund, plus an economic stimulus rebate. Yes."
"And what will you spend it on?"
"I'm not sure yet. Building supplies for renovations, probably."
"Fair enough. This place needs it. But if there's money left, I've a suggestion."
Kate smiled. "Buy your pirate friend a digital camera. And a solar battery, if you please."
"I'll think about it," I said.