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31 October 2017 @ 12:01 am
_Nowhere Man_ part 2  


With the light warped around him Eldon had the bumper in pristine condition in fifteen minutes. There was less damage than in Lily's car, but a sturdier framework to coax back into position. Nice car. Well built with what snobs would call elegance. Then he circled the house, stopping to eye the woman sunbathing in practically nothing. Umm. Yummy. Her hair was brick red, her figure sumptuous. He'd been alone for the last year, just eating occasionally as he slept and healed. But he knew better than to . . . hmm, that impulse had been easy to control. Good, the local collective subconscious wasn't trying to turn him into the God of Perversions or something. Excellent, in fact. Maybe he should stay here. He did bring out his hip flask and tip a bit of that wine into her lemonade. That would take care of her neck injury, if she had one. If one were technically minded, one would say the wine sustained Von Neumann nano-assemblers for manufacturing medical repair ribozymes. Most people just said “magic” and spared themselves the headache.

He gave her figure one last invisible leer and headed inside, to scout out the territory, mostly out of plain old curiosity. But also in case they had paperwork stashed somewhere. As mansions went, it was merely large. The whole place was immaculate. Only one maid? He hoped they appreciated her, obviously a paragon. Large palatial bedroom, with a huge bathroom, a small reading nook. Something dense. A safe set in the foundations. He grabbed a small bubble, and he could reach right through the thick metal and see what was inside. Papers mostly. Exactly what he needed. Birth certificates. One for a nineteen year old girl, another for a twenty-eight year old man. Born locally. Eldon grabbed books and felt the paper, ripped three pages out of the one closest in composition to the certificates. He melded them, pulled them out to the right size, moved the ink around to match the birth certificate forms and most of the information. He folded it carefully and pocketed it, replaced the real birth certificates and let his bubble go. There was much more house to explore. Down half a flight of stairs, two empty bedrooms, with a shared bath between. A turn of the hall, more steps down and two more bedrooms, these with signs of occupation by children. A boy and a girl, tenish? Across the hall, up two steps, and there was another over sized bedroom with a huge bathroom. Back down and turn the other direction to a nice comfortable TV room. Turn to the front of the house and find a more formal sort of sitting room, a fancy dining room. Beyond that a primo kitchen. Stone countertops of polished granite and two of everything, including sinks and ovens. There was another dining room, all chintzy and warm just off of it, and stairs going down, first to the garage and then further to the wine cellar, and a tasting room that must be directly under the sunbather. Huh. He listened carefully, mentally, and could 'see' her up there, and two more people as well. He climbed back up, and found the maid through the other kitchen door, pulling clean sheets out of a drier. And forward of that, a cozy little office where a woman of fifty or so sat with her computer, filling out invitations.

Hmm, not to a party here, but to some other address . . . he'd bet the movie star son-in-law. Why the mother-in-law was the one stuffing envelopes was less important than the fact that Lily was right there on the list and that if he got his name on there, he could see her again.

Mrs. Chesterfield dozed off for a moment, while he added Eldon Brown at a fake address, then waited around until she finished and sealed that one, before he abstracted it and slipped back out. He cheerfully made his way down hill, and told Lily that her nemesis had no dents in her car. "Are you going to pretend it didn't happen?"

"No. I'm going to pretend I barely touched her. And look, no damage to either car, so how could I have hit her hard enough to injure her neck?"

Eldon grinned. "Should seriously flamboozle her. I stuck a few drops of joy juice into her lemonade up there, so if her neck really was wrenched a bit, that will all be fixed too. So I'll take myself off your hands, thank you for the hospitality, and . . . Oh." He looked at the stack of bills she'd pulled out of her purse. "I feel a bit ungracious taking that. Oh hey, can I see your local ID?"

"Don't be silly. The repairs to just my own car would have cost more than that." She fished out a card, paper laminated in hard plastic. Pretty similar to the old Texas one he had. Her eyes widened as he grabbed some plastic from the garbage and a color advertising circular and turned them into a driver's license with his own picture on it.

"I'm sure that's quite illegal." She sounded shocked.

"I know, but when I try to explain about parallel worlds and all, they tend to lock me up."

She snickered at that, so he waved casually – don't push it – and departed. This time he bubbled the SUV and the wagon, and three horses. He rode Muffin up and around, exploring the area. A road through a steep walled canyon led to a flood control dam, something he guessed was built to break up the front of a flash flood and even out the flow, not stockpile it for later. The steep wall of the canyon, cut back to make room for the approach road, was perfect for his needs.

Because things that were inside a bubble didn't really exist in the Universe the bubble opening was attached to. All a bubble needed was a wall to attach to and a moderately stiff frame inside to keep whatever shape one desired. Such as a nice little stable with an attached apartment. In fact, if he made it two separate bubbles, he'd be able to store the horses in no-time, so no worry about feed and water and cleaning stalls. The doors and windows to his little house could be covered with illusions, where a strategically located tree wouldn't do . . . Such as this branch of a large oak tree reaching across the cliff face.

He shaped the loose rock laying at the bottom of the cliff into the garage for the SUV first, then the stable could go on the back. Ha! A corridor to a spot up in the mountains would be nice, wouldn't it? Or maybe he could find a nice pasture somewhere outside this desert. And his apartment up above the garage, with windows peeking out into the rest of the oak tree, here and there.

Huh. Nice. Maybe he could keep the whole thing, next time he had to move. In this over-civilized neighborhood he could even tap water lines and sewers. Seriously cool.

He had enough food left in bubbles to fix dinner, then got a reasonable night's sleep on the floor. He'd have to buy some furniture pretty soon.

First, though, he needed a way to earn a living. An honest way. He pondered the question over breakfast. He'd been drifting away from the gang since they'd kept straying into robbery whenever they got bored. No point in leaving them if he was just going to be a criminal anyway. Selling magic elixirs had proven to be hazardous and he really didn't want to run another baldness cure place.

He cocked his head thoughtfully at his SUV. Lily had thought that repairing cars was expensive. So . . . maybe he should repair cars. He put an illusion of a local license plate over the old Jefferson-half-a-dozen-worlds-ago plate and drove out to establish himself.

A public library had all the addresses he needed. He could get by with fake birth certificates and driver's licenses for years. But try and fake the number you paid your taxes under and they'd jump all over you. The gang had learned Worlds ago that they should never get between a government and its money.

So he found the Social Security Office and took a number and waited, and waited. He explained to the lady in the window that somehow his number had mixed up with someone who had died, all the while mentally suggesting that he needed to talk to some sort of very competent senior supervisor who could fix it for him. Another hour's wait and his turn with the competent man who, after a bit of a tussle with a tough, natural mental shield, found for him a Harlem Brown, a year younger than Eldon, who had died two years ago. The Supervisor was happy to revive the number, printed out all the info he had on Harlem, and promised to mail the new social security card to Mr. Brown at once. Eldon used Lily's parent's address and made a note to himself to check their mail frequently.

Eldon looked through Harlem's spotty employment record and had a nasty suspicion that he was going to regret picking up Harlem's past baggage. But he changed the name and numbers on his drivers license to match Harlem's, and then hunted down the next address on his list, a store that bought and sold gold, silver, coins, jewelry, teeth . . . He was a bit afraid to ask about the teeth. But the little man behind the security door and further caged behind a counter took a gold slug that weighted almost a pound and looked cynical when Eldon rattled off a social security number, and surprised when Eldon agreed to take a check.

He treated himself to a good dinner on Lily's cash, slept like a rock all night, and in the morning opened a bank account with the check.


". . . couldn't possibly hire anyone who knows so little. Go away and stop wasting my time."

Eldon frowned as he left. Repairing cars apparently required special training and certification. Even just taking dents out of the exteriors. This was the second place that had scoffed at him. Like on other worlds, he just wasn't employable. He'd have to start his own business. He slowed as he passed a high walled junkyard. Parked, and looked around.

"Looking for anything in particular?" The old man was so crumpled Eldon hadn't even noticed him among the crumpled bumpers.

"Got anything that still runs? I can do miracles with wrecked bodies."

The old man snorted. "Miracles!" He looked pointedly at the Suburban. "Sounds like you need bearings and shocks, maybe bent your suspension, there." But he got up and walked around the corner of the shack. "Got these two at auction yesterday. That's one's a popular model, and the whole left side's in perfect condition. That alone will repay the price. Everything else is pure profit. The other one's got real leather seats, but the rest of it is totaled. Maybe the engine and transmission will be all right. But the leather seats are where the money will come from. Can you miracle that?"

"That might actually be a bit much even for me." Eldon frowned. "Auction?"

"Yeah, some for wrecks, but most are just trade ins. Older cars, worn out, lots of dings in them. That's what you need to be looking at."

Eldon scratched his chin. "Hmm, I was thinking newer would bring more money."

" 'course it will. Cost you more, too."

Eldon leaned on him mentally to make him a bit more talkative, and wound up invited along to an auction. He bought two wrecks, both something called a mustang.

Sold them a week later as 'customized' to account for some of the extra hood scoops, side panel decor and the polished metal and the shiny paint job. He'd gotten a little carried away, showing off to Old Pat.

Old Pat had rented him a patch of ground on which to work his miracles, and watched in disbelief as he molded the metal. Pat left, returned with three wrecked Mercedes and suggested a partnership.

Chapter Three

Margo and Jack Level's home was a monstrous heap that put Margo's parents' mere 'ten bedrooms plus quarters for two domestics' mansion in perspective.

Possibly in eclipse.

Lily and her parents were announced, and walked into the ballroom. Margo's eyes lit up as she spotted Lily. "Thank god you could come. I need a dose of sanity. Or maybe I need you to ram Sindara again. Harder."

Lily grinned. "Well, she and Harold have kissed and made up and she admits that her neck hasn't felt so good in years and there's no damage to the Mercedes. So I think I'll not start another round, thank you." And she did back up into me, damn it!

"Spoilsport. They got here half an hour ago, and are all over each other. It's disgusting. They're almost thirty. They have kids."

Jack overheard that and flashed his grin at Lily. "I have this hideous suspicion that Margo thinks her love life will evaporate with a baby. Much though I hate to say it, I may have to keep inviting Harold and Sindara back to set a good example of an on-going healthy loving relationship."

"I think surprising the hell out of Margo sounds like more fun." Lily snickered.

"Oh, good. You like surprises?"

Lily spun at the unexpected voice behind her. "Eldon?"

Margo blinked. "Lily, have you got an actual boyfriend? Finally?"

"No. Eldon's just . . . well, a friend friend."

Eldon's bright blue eyes twinkled with mischief. "Ouch! At least it's happened at the front of our relationship, not the dreaded ending of 'Lets just be friends.' " He dropped his voice at the end to a deep dark bass rumble, and a couple of heads swiveled his direction.

"Good voice." Jack glanced at the pricked ears. "Do you act? You just caught the attention of a slew of people. Really, that was very, umm, James Earl Jones."

"Yeah, I saw him on the TV. Easy to copy. Nah, I don't act any more than necessary to sell a used Mercedes." His natural voice was deep anyway, and warm, amused.

"Oh, a lot huh?" Jack was eyeing Eldon thoughtfully.

Eldon grinned wickedly, but more arrivals were crowding up behind, and Lily took his arm and steered him away. Her parents followed, frowning dubiously at the tall man. Lily figured it was a tossup whether the frown was caused by the ponytail, the short beard or the dark skin color. She hoped they weren't about to terminally embarrass her.

"Err, Eldon, my parents, Madeline and Harold Bryant."

Eldon reached out to shake her Dad's hand. "Eldon Brown. A pleasure to meet you." He shook hands with her mother, too.

"Have you known Lily long?" Her mother was looking a bit intimidated, looking up.

"No, we just met a few weeks ago. Fear not, I am not the Man of Her Dreams."

Her mother blushed. "I didn't mean . . . "

Eldon just grinned. "I understand from some of my older friends that seeing what their daughters bring home are the most frightening experiences in existence. Then they look at me and shudder. And say things like 'thank god you're a courtesy uncle' and such."

Her dad cleared his throat. "Indeed. Come along dear, I think I need a drink."

ekuah on October 31st, 2017 08:55 am (UTC)
Tiny bits.
Most people just said “magic” and spared themselves the headache.
-Also it is much less of a mouthfull.

"Should seriously flamboozle her. I stuck a few drops of joy juice into her lemonade up there, so if her neck really was wrenched a bit, that will all be fixed too. So I'll take myself off your hands, thank you for the hospitality, and . . . Oh."
-How does Lily know what joy juice is?
-How does a new reader knows this?
A small
"Joy juice?"
"Magic healing potion, don't ask"
or something similar could fix this.

he'd be able to store the horses in no-time, so no worry about feed and water and cleaning stalls.
No-time? What is that?
'frozen in time' would explain it better and is more understandable for new readers.
(Anonymous) on October 31st, 2017 11:28 pm (UTC)
I do likeEldon. Perhaps the long paragraph about Sindara's house could be broken up.

(Anonymous) on November 1st, 2017 03:09 am (UTC)
I do likeEldon. Perhaps the long paragraph about Sindara's house could be broken up.

(Anonymous) on November 1st, 2017 05:03 am (UTC)
I do likeEldon. Perhaps the long paragraph about Sindara's house could be broken up.