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A Case of Suits

(unfinished novel; excerpt)

Melton thought it was odd how that ducking into a corner diner, dripping wet from the raging afternoon storm, sitting at a back booth while watching people outside scurrying, wishing, probably, that they, too, could duck into this diner — how all this could make a person actually feel so … comfortable; so warm, almost. It was the contrast of the cold chaos outside — where the relentless pelting of the rain against the windows seemed to reassure the diners of their grand fortress’s security — and the calm inside, made even more soothing, if that were possible, by the ever-present smell of Hills Brothers coffee and potato leek soup.

It is in back booths like these that men go to disappear, and it was precisely this combination of elements that Agent Melton sought for the security and anonymity he now needed for the task at hand.

As he pulled out the package from underneath his raincoat, he no longer paid any attention to the return address. Ashland, Oregon, may be home to that egghead Shakespeare festival, but what connection that could possibly have with a long-lost problem in combinatorial mathematics he could not imagine.

“Another warm-up, hon?”

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, sure. Thanks.” Melton looked at his watch and realized that he had been pouring over the document for almost 45 minutes. The storm was still raging outside, and showed no signs of letting up. Perfect. He had another hour, at least, before he was due to call in, and damned if he might not just go ahead and have some potato leek soup.
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Valensole Beloved

(translation from the French: Valensole Chérie, by Aline Pélissier)

Valensole beloved
A field of bees
A softness that is heard.

Valensole beloved
Your sky stretches forever
Your scent permeates me.

Your hills, soft and rolling
A wind, that whispers softly
Sunlit valley
Valensole beloved.