Monday, September 30, 2019

A Mother-Daughter Relationship Essay

The publication had the rarest of chances and of course, a bit of luck, to have the honor of reading from Mrs. Jane Bingley excerpt at her house near Longbourn. We have come to speak with the former Ms. Bennet about her mother, who sadly passed away five years ago after a period of ill health. After being supplied by a generous amount of tea and sweets, Mrs. Jane Bingley was more than accommodating. She had welcomed us graciously into her home and had agreed a few weeks before to conduct this interview. Clearly, there were some unresolved issues before their mother’s death. I asked whether there were some specific issue. Yes, the whole affair was a fiasco. Men came strolling down our lawn, some high-society people, right old snobs by the way, and of course my mother, who I daresay was in the middle of it all. Indeed, it was quite a fiasco for the Bennet family. Miss Jane Bennet-Bingley was the eldest of five children of the Bennet family. Their mother, as she narrates, was highly-obsessed with the idea of accomplishing her self-sworn duty to see all her daughters to get married. She used to send my sisters and me to social gatherings, and such. It was the popular thing to do back then and consequently became a symbol of social stature. We were just middle-class, or more appropriately, preferred to linger between in the middle with menial social associations. This proved to be a factor toward their marriages which, by some sort of instances, was provoked by a high-class society member: the late Lady Catherine. She was arrogant, just like any aristocrat back then. She especially gave my sister, Lizzy (Elizabeth) a hard time since her husband was a nephew of hers. She did not want some sort of low-class society girl with his well-bred nephew. But then, the way things turned out surprised everybody, including me. About my mother’s personality (with expression of momentary soft happiness), I did not hate nor despise my mother. My father would probably scorn at the thought, but then again, my father talked little. He cared for us and for the family very much but he would just sit sometimes in his study and let our mother do all the talking. Mrs. Bennet was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervously. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news (Austen). Mrs. Bennet’s proudest moment would be the marriage of her two daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, to both respectable and hard-working men. We had our own marriage. My mother did not have any part of it; though I like to think that she did try to impress upon everybody else that she did have a part of it â€Å"on our marriage†. She was always fussy, kind to people, especially our husbands. She tried everything to put us in our good name, just to get married. Indeed, the social status during Mrs. Bingley’s time was centered on the idea that women had only one goal in their lives—that is, to get married. Quite ludicrous actually; in changing times, the status of women have elevated to a more distinguished level. But my mother, if she were alive today, would not understand that. Mrs. Bingley, according to their narration, lived for the purpose of seeing her daughters married without any preamble or consideration for their feelings. Her obsession for marriage blinded her real nature. She was a good mother though; she never failed to uphold her duty as my father’s wife or our mother. I was indeed surprised that my father did not react in such a way that he was displeased with my mother’s behavior back then. But I suppose it was really just her nature to be so. To summarily put forward a remark, I did not like the way my mother handled our affairs when she was still alive. She often embarrassed us and the family with her superfluous attempts of raising the name of the family even though it wasn’t needed. She was much concerned with the way we compose ourselves that she had started to ignore her own behavior. She acted like most mothers would do, though in a different case. And if she did not do what she did, I might still be single anyway. We loved her and we still do. Reference Austen, J. (1995). Pride and Prejudice.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Brainstorming & Applied Imagination

Brainstorming has a long history that stretches back to almost 3000 years, although it owes its current popularity to efforts of Alex Osborn in 1950s through his seminal work Applied Imagination (Proctor, 1999, 114; Sutton and Hargaddon, 1996). Osborn used brainstorming with an objective to increase creativity within organizations. In his surmises, creativity in organizations was impeded by hostile environment to new ideas that discouraged people from coming forth with their views and opinions.Further development of brainstorming has been result of Osborn’s commitment to encourage employees to come out freely with their ideas (Paulus and Brown, 2003, 110). Brainstorming gained rapid popularity due to its simplicity, its fun elements, its therapeutic abilities and its proven effectiveness in stimulating creativity and emergence of new ideas (Davis, 1973, 90). In brainstorming participants are encouraged to come openly with their ideas of wildest sort, without being interfered, and criticized, that leads to combination and improvement of ideas (Sutton and Hargaddon, 1996).Techniques of Brainstorming Generally brainstorming techniques are divided into two main categories that are a) Unstructured; b) Structured (Proctor, 1999, 114). While the unstructured brainstorming doesn’t involve any established procedure, resulting in unproductive efforts, the structured brainstorming proceeds through some set rules that make it a very effective technique. These rules and principles, suggested by Osborn in the early 1950s are (ibid) 1. No criticism: Criticism is not permitted during brainstorming session to help in uninhibited flow of ideas2. Quantity is encouraged: Large number of ideas increases likelihood of effectiveness of session 3. Unrestrained ideas: Brainstorming sessions encourages participants to come out with any idea, no matter how wild it appears. This helps people in coming out of their fears and express their views openly 4. Improvement of ideas: Brainstorming also encourages people to suggest in improving ideas of other people and suggest ways by which various ideas can be combined in unison, for greater efficiency. Benefits of BrainstormingThese techniques of brainstorming have helped in reaching solutions to various kinds of problems within organizations. As reported by Proctor (1999, 116) brainstorming has proved very effective in coming out with solutions of problems that pertain to Issues of reducing time in production line, 1. finding ways to handle shop lifting 2. In marketing and sales segment where within a short time a large number of concepts, punch lines and creative names are required. However the same techniques of brainstorming do not yield desired result if problem is too technical or require special expertise that cannot be suggested by other people.Today brainstorming has become synonymous with creative thinking and infusion of imaginative solution to problems that come in organizational setups. The basic concept of brainstorming is to achieve a synergy of ideas that helps to break situation of deadlocks. It helps in generating ideas and then narrows down attention to their detail whereby from a number of available options the optimum course is selected. Thus it creates a sequence where participants themselves become proponents of ideas and their judge to weed out the ineffectual concepts and retain only those that carry sufficient potential with them (Proctor, 1999).The distinct advantage of brainstorming is that it helps in bringing forth a number of ideas through creating a light and interactive atmosphere where one idea is instigator of many other ideas, and even an absurd suggestion acting as a stimulant for relevant ideas. The other advantage of brainstorming is that it is a therapeutic procedure in overstressed atmospheres where people are given opportunities to speak up, present their views, receive feedback and share their ideas with others (Davis, 1973).There are numerous instances where brainstorming has successfully delivered the solution to problems that had flummoxed organizations. Effectiveness of Brainstorming Although the effectiveness of brainstorming is demonstrated through various experiments and test groups, there is a controversy whether group brainstorming is more effective than solitary brainstorming (Paulus and Brown, 2003). As mentioned by Sutton and Hargaddon (1996), a majority of experiments conducted on techniques of brainstorming have come out with different observation on the thesis of Osborn.Their findings revealed that although group brainstorming is a widely accepted method for inspiring creativity, revamping business operations and bringing improvement in industrial and manufacturing processes, controlled tests have shown that compared to individuals thinking alone, the productivity output of group brainstorming is lower. Further findings by Mullen, Johnson and Salas (1991) suggest that in some cases groups consisting of more than two members have shown comparatively lower productivity than that of individual thought process.However, on exploring the reasons of lower productivity, its found some of them result from improper application of Osborn’s fundamental rules. The three main reasons suggested for lower productivity in group brainstorming are 1. Fear among group members in freely expressing their ideas, anticipating negative feedback by their group partners 2. Lower level of accountability, where member tend to go reckless and literally get focused on coming out with only wild and impractical ideas 3. Sometimes over generation of ideas by some individuals block idea generation process of other individuals who loose the coherence of their thought process.Electronic Brainstorming Application of information technology and computer analysis methods to brainstorming has provided new tools in hands of researchers to measure the effectiveness of brainstorming and improve its outcome by balancing te chnological capabilities with the situational requirements. Meeting styles within groups, in the words of Dennis (1994) have largely resorted to electronic communication styles that offers benefits of â€Å"parallelism, direct access to meeting memories and anonymity offered by pure electronic communication†.Group brainstorming has seen emergence of new techniques such as Group Decision Support System, Electronic Meeting System, Groupware, and Group Support System. Some of these methods help the group members to interact with each other by help of networked computers that facilitate instant communication, messaging, sharing of ideas and joint coordination. In addition members can highlight key issues on discussion on common large electronic blackboard that is visible to every group member (Dennis, 1994).Apart from the benefits of parallelism, access to meeting memories and anonymity of individual, the electronic brainstorming session also provides the facility of media richne ss, i. e transmission of complex information. Studies have shown that a combination of electronic communication and verbal communication produces better media richness than what either of them are capable of achieving alone (Dennis, 1994). Electronic brainstorming has received great boos by application of EBT or Electronic Brainstorming Tool that has been designed to assist researchers who are interested in method of electronic brainstorming (Clapper, 1995).The tool provides users with a simple interface to help in sharing and developing ideas for effective communication, leading to greater media richness. Reeference Clapper DL, 1995, EBT: a Tool for Electronic Brainstorming Researchers. Journal of Organizational Computing. Volume: 5. Issue: 1, Page Number: 22 Davis, GA, 1973, Psychology of Problem Solving: Theory and Practice, Basic Books, New York Dennis AR, 1994, Electronic Support for Large Groups, Journal of Organizational Computing, Volume: 4. Issue: 2, Page Number: 177Hargado n A, Sutton RI, 1996, Brainstorming Groups in Context: Effectiveness in a Product Design Firm, Administrative Science Quarterly. Volume: 41. Issue: 4, 685 Mullen, Brian, Craig Johnson, and Eduardo Salas, 1991, Productivity loss in brainstorming groups: A meta-analytic integration, Basic and Applied Psychology, 12: 2-23 Paulus PB, Brown VR, 2003, Group Creativity: Innovation through Collaboration (edit),Bernard A. Nijstad, Paul B. Paulus, Oxford University Press. New York Proctor, T, 1999, Creative Problem Solving for Managers, Routledge London

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Comparison of The Poplar Field by William Cowper and Binsey Poplars Felled 1879 by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Comparison of William Cooper and Bentley's Poplar Fields In 1879 Gerard Manley Hopkins was first defeated in that the two poems were about the riverside tree collection. Another thing in common with these poems is that they were cut afterwards, so the writers are now deprived of their pleasure in cold through colored. However, there are many differences between verses. Initially, we noticed that Hopkins used a more complex prosodic system to capture readers. Choose two verses given in the lecture. Let's compare and contrast these two poems (Binsey Poplars by Gerard Manley Hopkins and The Trees by Phillip Larkin). In a recent article by The Guardian, Billy Mills wrote that Trees have been rooted in poetry for centuries. - These two poems have many similarities in their contents. They all have a poetry relationship. The author wrote that his son is his father. My father thought that he was committing a crime, but this is a crime that God does not like. These two poems are related to th e life of the author. After Hopkins leaves his hometown and replaced his position in the world, the competition and cooperation between the father and his son lasted for a long time. For example, in 1879, Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote a letter to the bridge. I included some of my father's lines in Well Walk (Jots and other funny things.) Two months later, Hopkins created Bingxi Poplar Tree to celebrate the cutting of forest near Oxford Did. Clearly, competition with father is an important creative stimulus. Binsey Poplars is a religious poem, Hopkins has no personality. Everywhere in Binsey Poplars, the tone of poetry is sadness, appealing, anger, determination, and religion. This poem is written in spring rhythm which is an innovative metric format developed by Hopkins. In the spring rhythm, the number of accent in a line is calculated, but the number of syllables is not calculated. How to rhyme is different in each section. Since Binsey Poplars has only two sections, the system of v erse is AB, AC, BA, CC. This is also irregular. The position of the line of Binsey Poplars indicates that it is effective to run that line. This poem compares the line of a tree with the rank of a soldier. A military image means that the development of industry in rural areas is equivalent to war 'Binsey Poplars' was published in 1918. This is elegy of the scenery Hopkins knows intimately during Oxford. It has many atmospheric and landscape words like jumping sun - which means that the sun seems to interact with the environment. On the third line of the first quarter, he used felling three times. He did this to convey the sound of an ax hitting a tree. Hopkins believes that natural objects are like expressions created by God and that they use self to capture it. This poem is about Hopkins' love for Him and tells more about poplar logging.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Professional Sports Teams - Economic Market Analysis Research Paper

Professional Sports Teams - Economic Market Analysis - Research Paper Example Football, Cricket, Basketball etc are some of the popular games which are used for business purposes at present. These sports activities are marketed throughout the world with the help of different sports clubs formed at different parts of the world. For example, in America, different basketball clubs are functioning whereas in India different cricket and football clubs are functioning for business purposes. In Britain, Spain, Italy like countries, world famous Football clubs are functioning for business purposes and Manchester United is one of the popular football clubs in Britain. This paper briefly analyses the market structure of Manchester United. In one respect the place is Old Trafford where home games are played, but Manchester United also plays at a range of other venues. And, of course its products are sold across the globe, through the club's website and a range of other sales media. Manchester United markets itself as a global brand. The club also engages in a range of jo int promotional activities, for example with the mobile phone company Vodafone. Manchester United books, shirts, programmes, keyrings and many other items are sold and promoted through its website. The club has positioned itself at the upmarket premier end of the market and, as a result, it tends to charge premium prices as evidenced by the high cost of a season ticket to watch home league games (Marketing mix (Price, Place, Promotion, Product), 2011) Manchester United is operating in a highly competitive sports market at present. It is difficult for any of the football clubs in the world to establish monopoly in the market because of the severe competition existing between different clubs. For example, Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, A.C. Milan etc are some of the prominent football clubs in the world which are engaged in severe competition to establish their supremacy over others. These clubs are always canvassing better players from other clubs in order to str engthen their team and to reduce the competition from other teams. Thus Football clubs like Manchester United is operating in a heavily contested global sports market at present. Apart from providing an excellent team for global football tournaments, Manchester United boosts its business prospects through other channels such as sale of shirts, and a range of memorabilia, television rights etc. It should be noted that Manchester United plays both home games and away games and they visit many other places for participating in different championships. They have a wide array of supporters both in England and in other parts of the world. They utilize their popularity for business purposes as other clubs do. Unlike many other business activities, establishing monopoly or oligopoly in sports market is extremely difficult. It is a fact that Microsoft enjoys monopoly in operating system market whereas OPEC enjoys oligopoly in the oil market. Because of the huge control in the market, these o rganizations can interfere and control the market more effectively than their competitors. They can increase or decrease the production and raise or lower the product price at any time they like. It is difficult for a sports club like Manchester United to enjoy such controls in the market (even though it is the richest football club in the world) because of the huge

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Autophagy in cancer( colonic adenoma and adenocarcinoma) Literature review

Autophagy in cancer( colonic adenoma and adenocarcinoma) - Literature review Example From this point, it is evident that the microvasculature of the tumor tissue is actually structurally and functionally deficient and hence is unable to provide blood supply that is prerequisite for appropriate tissue growth. To support this fact, there is evidence that some tumors, like the pancreas cancers are actually hypovascular (Sato et al, 2007). These conditions contribute to hyponutrient state of the tumor. However, for hypoproliferation, excess nutrient supply is mandatory and hence tumor cells are likely to use alternative source of energy and nutrients or some alternative metabolic process for the purpose. One such metabolic process is autophagy. There is evidence that some cancers, like the colon cancer, are resistant to nutrition depletion state and continue to thrive because of this metabolic process (Sato et al, 2007). Autophagy is a catabolic process that is conserved in which the organelles of the cells are self-digested. The first step in autophagy is development of isolation membrane, a lipid bilayer structure. This membrane sequesters various materials of the cytoplasm like the organelles to form autophagosomes. This step involves activation of LC3, a mammalian homologue of yeast ATG8 through an ubiquitination-like reaction that is regulated by ATG3 and 7. During activation, the proform of LC3 is cleaved into LC3-I which is soluble unlike the proform. This is then further modified into LC3-II which is membrane-bound form. This form is finally recruited by the autophagosomes which engulf the organelles (Rosenfeldt and Ryan, 2009). The engulfed organelles further fuse with the lysosomes and then mature into autolysosomes. This step also causes autodigestion and diminision of LC3 and also various other components of autophagosome. Thus autophagy has an important role to play in the provision of nutrition to cells during shortage of external supply of nutrition. Following autodigestion, aminoacids are released from the organelles and they are th e alternative sources of energy to the proliferative and nutrient deficient cells. Though, theoretically, this explanation seems logical with reference to nutrition supply to cancer cells in unfavorable environment, several controversial arguments have arisen in this regard. Some researchers are of the opinion that autophagic machinery may not be activated in cancer tissue contexts (Sato et al, 2007). However, there is enough evidence to point the role of autophagy in the pathogenesis of colon cancers. In this literature review the role of autophagy in the proliferation and thriving of colon cancers will be discussed through suitable literature review. Pathogenesis of colon cancer Cancer of the colon (and rectum) is the third most common cancer in men and women. It has been estimated that 940,000 new cases of colorectal cancer and nearly 500,000 deaths are occur worldwide each year (El- Deiry, 2006). The frequency is same both in men and women. The risk of the disease increases afte r 40 years of age (El- Deiry, 2006). Colon cancer (colorectal cancer) is almost always adenocarcinoma. The most common predisposing condition leading to adenocarcinoma is adenomatous polyps. Alterations in the adenomatous polyposis or APC gene as a result of mutations is the beginning point of development of the cancer. This gene is mutated in individuals affected by familial

Analysis of Katharine Brushs Story Birthday Party Essay

Analysis of Katharine Brushs Story Birthday Party - Essay Example The reader doesn’t know anything about him, but using â€Å"self-satisfied† makes the first impression negative. The woman was presented as â€Å"fadingly pretty with big hat†. It’s obvious that the couple is not just married, they are not that young. The fact that she was wearing a big hat does not seem to be important, but at the end of the story, Katherine clarifies that it was her best hat. The surprise she prepared for her husband was quite banal, though the author let us know that it was thoroughly prepared: after the musicians played â€Å"happy birthday† the woman â€Å"beamed with shy pride over her little surprise†. Now it’s clear that she tried her best to please her husband, while his negative reaction to that surprise made her cry. Though we don’t know what exactly he said to his wife, Katharine characterized his words as â€Å"quick and curt and unkind†.Brush used bright adjectives which might seem to be a l ittle bit exaggerative, but that’s exactly what is needed in a short story to emphasize the ideas conveyed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Take Networking to the Next Level Assignment Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 words

Take Networking to the Next Level - Assignment Example This experience helped her realize that networking as we know it’s much too superficial to allow individuals to really find a connection and be able to utilize our connections and interpersonal relationships. Building an effective network is not just about searching for jobs, is about getting to know individuals on a personal and professional level, their experiences, skill set, interests and their passions. It’s about connecting individuals, helping each other, and learning how we can be an asset to each other on a professional and personal level. Tashee worked diligently for years at a company where she provided her best efforts to achieve the best results in her work. Four years later the company told her that she was under performing which came as a shock to her. Feeling insecure rediscovering networking through her professional association helped her better know herself, her strengths, goals and her networking colleagues helped identify her weaknesses and work in t hose areas that needed further development. CRITIQUE As the article states creating an effective network is not just about handing out a business card and a hand shake, is about building and nurturing interpersonal relationships. The process of building an effective network is a continuous process where we build a solid foundation for any future situation that might come up, from staying ahead of the competition through sharing information to finding an expert with a particular core competency. It's not just about meeting people, but getting to know them in a professional and personal level. It is not about interviewing a person, but an exchange of information where simple questions such as where a person went to school, what their hobbies are, and gaining insight about their personalities, their future goals, aspirations and what makes them tick is the key to building rapport with the individual. People in general like to talk about themselves and our job is to probe, listen, show genuine interest and have a real conversation where we share relevant information about ourselves since networking is a really a two-way street. Although the article provides some general insights about how to network effectively, it does not go into details as far the right techniques and guidelines to gain people's trust and create real relationships and effectively network. The art of small talk is the starting point of any relationship, whether is professional or romantic. Never underestimate the power of casual conversation, since most networking starts here. Expand your horizons by engaging in conversation with people you meet through your normal routine not only at work, but also in your everyday life (Hope). As a rule one must be genuinely interested in building relationships with others in order to network effectively. If one is not careful a simple networking conversation can turn negative really quick if the other person can tell that you are not genuinely interested, but are using them as a means to an end to gain information about their contacts and not as a mutual learning experience for both parties involved. There are many reasons why networking can help drive career success. Effective networking can he

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Religion in Things Fall Apart Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 words

Religion in Things Fall Apart - Essay Example The novel is one of the most influential of twentieth-century works of literature and is considered to be one of the landmark novels in English literature and postcolonial literature. What constitutes a man in the novel can be seen from the description of what constitutes success within the Igbo tribe, according to Achebe. This would include worldly success as well as the spiritual ascent. This is indicated through a variety of gestures within the novel on the part of the writer and the other members of the society that the novelist is a part of. The idea of the man is then derived not only from the material aspects of life but also from the spiritual; aspects of it. This can be seen from the fact that Okonkwo is also assigned spiritual responsibilities as a result of the social position that he held. He is assigned the responsibility of taking care of Ikemefuna, something that becomes very important as far as the progression of the plot is concerned. Apart from this, the fact that O konkwo is a part of the Igbo priesthood is also very significant as it points to his position within the spiritual society of the Igbo community. His removal from the priesthood is also accompanied by a fall in his social status and this points towards a connection between religion and society in the material sense of it as far as the Igbo community was concerned. The aim of life in such a society is to regenerate the society itself through a flourishing of human lives. This is what the religion also enjoins as is seen from the high price that it places upon the crime of murder. The price that Okonkwo has to pay for the one mistake that he makes is enormous. This can also be seen to be a worldview that he shares in when he says, â€Å"my children do not resemble me. Where are the young suckers that will grow when the old banana tree dies?† (Achebe). This emphasis on the regeneration of the society and the urge to see oneself in the future generations can then be seen to be th e basis of a social form of religion in Things Fall Apart. These lies are the story of how Okonkwo is unable to be satisfied with his own son and often compares him to his father who he felt was not somebody who had led a productive life. What is true and what is false, is also something that like traditional western religions, do not have their basis entirely in rationality and scientific beliefs. The beliefs that are upheld are often arbitrary and the very nature of the traditional religion supports this kind of an ambiguity in the ways in which religion works within traditional African society. This is then the result of a great many years of ossification of the traditional structures of religion. Such structures are then broken down in the face of colonialism within the novel. As important as an analysis of the traditional structures of the religion is the idea of the changes that were brought about in these ideas of tradition by

Monday, September 23, 2019

Mark Twain, His Life and Inspiration to Write Research Paper

Mark Twain, His Life and Inspiration to Write - Research Paper Example His younger schooling life was troublesome as he was plagued by illness during the first seven years of his life. His behaviour was almost eccentric, and he had a tendency to wander away from home and as a boy he read adventure stories of pirates and knights in the heroic fiction and poetry of such authors as Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron and James Fennimore Cooper. He thought of these writers as exemplary and he would not have become the highly original writer that in time he became. He was always a reader though he usually chose to present himself as far from being bookish. When his schooling came to close, he took a part time job that would later become his career. He served as a delivery boy and an office boy, became a printer’s apprentice for the hometown newspaper, the Hannibal Courier as he was following in the footstep of his brother Orion, nearly six years his elder, who has the same career in 1839. Two decades later, he wrote, â€Å"Education continued in the offices of the Hannibal ‘Courier’ & the ‘Journal,’ as an apprentice printer†. He served in all capabilities, including staff work as the Courier’s makeshift library introduced him to humorous publications such as The Spirit of the Times. He later found his concerns with victimisation and humiliation particularly congenial to his talents and attributes. For a short time, he adopted from the south frontier stories on the use of slang and elaborate misspellings. Like many of other writers associated with his school, he adopted a pen name. The successful publication of his work in the East made him turn his attention to local publication and was able to publish several items, some as a consequence of a... The successful publication of his work in the East made him turn his attention to local publication and was able to publish several items, some as a consequence of a disagreement with the editor of the Hannibal Tri-Weekly Messenger, whom he tried to embarrass. In May 1853, young Mark was awarded â€Å"our Assistant’s Column† and the column criticised newspapers that borrowed without credit. In mid-august, having been unable to find work in New York he took up a job as a typesetter and developed a literary technique he was to make good use of throughout his career. In the spring of 1854, he was obliged to leave the east because of what he latter termed as financial stress and then took his printing skills back to the Mississippi valley, sitting upright in the smoking car for two to three days and nights, as his interest in humour and in writing arose directly from his pleasure in books and in printer’s libraries and later his own substantial collection, he was an insatiable writer.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

How Would you physicalise a charcter from a play Essay Example for Free

How Would you physicalise a charcter from a play Essay Too physicalise a character from a play you need to have studied the specific character in a reasonable amount of detail, so you can portray them correctly. To do this effectively you need to do various exercises, all which will help you grasp the character the best you can. There are several methods which can help you to understand a character eg: Hot Seating, Spider Diagrams, and Workshops etc. In our lesson we explored the character by Hot Seating, Character Profiles and other exercises. Hot seating is an extremely effective method, as it puts you on the spot answering various questions in your characters persona. It helps lock in the information about the character you’re playing. You need to understand the questions being asked from your characters point of view so you can understand who your character is and why. We used this method in our lesson, and i found it was an effective way of physicalising a character. Another exercise we did in class which was effective was one where we were told to hold a pose in the form of our character then walk around the room in the characters style. This is a great exercise because although Hot Seating, Profiles are good they focus mainly on the psychological side, where as this focused on the physical aspect of the character. Character Profiles I believe are an essential tool in bringing a character to life. Because it allows you to go deep in to the information about the character, their background, family life, nationality etc. These aspects are what form how a character behaves and why they feel certain things. For example Stanley in Street Car Desire, has a particular hatred for being called a ‘polak’ as his family originates from Poland and deems the phrase derogatory towards them. Spider Diagrams are effective in showing your characters relations with other characters in the play. These are essential to know as it may influence why the act a certain way around someone. How did you explore the use of Verbal and Non=Verbal.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Dental Caries and Streptococcus Mutans

Dental Caries and Streptococcus Mutans Casey Best Running Head: DENTAL CARIES 1 Streptococcus mutans Introductory/Background 2 Streptococcus mutans is a facultative anaerobic, gram-positive, non-motile bacteria belonging to the streptococcaceae family. S. mutans contains a thick cell wall composed of peptidoglycan which contains sugars and amino acids. There are many different conditions in the mouth, but carbohydrates are motivators for this bacterium that produces lactic acids, thereby lowering the pH in the mouth and creating an acidic environment. Due to the ability of S. mutans to survive in a low pH environment and up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, eroding of tooth structure, known as tooth decay, can begin. Fuel for metabolism lacks because of the absence of oxygen; therefore, it is mostly found in the deep crevices of teeth or in the pit and fissures, also known as the biting surfaces. S. mutans was first described by James Kilian Clarke (1886-1950) after he isolated it from a carious lesion, but it was not until the 1960s that real interest in the microbe was generated when researchers began studying dental caries (Akhaven, 2014). S. mutans was re-identified in infection of animal rodents. All of Kochs postulates were tested in animal models, but it was difficult to establish that it was also a human dental pathogen until samples were taken from a decomposed tooth site showing a phenomenal connection between S. mutans and decay. Historically, cavities were characteristic to the general overgrowth of oral bacteria, termed the non-specific plaque hypothesis, meaning only certain bacteria are responsible for causing tooth decay. In 1960, however, Paul H. Keyes from the National Institute of Dental Research compared the bacteria makeup of caries active and caries in-active in hamsters and found a much higher percentage of a group of bacteria termed Streptococcus mutan s. This pathogen occurred during a time period in which people depended on foods that were enriched in carbohydrates, and this most likely contributed to the first appearance of dental caries. Tooth decay did not become an important health problem until sucrose became a major ingredient in the foods we eat today. In fact, studies show that as much as one-half of a pound of sucrose consumed daily at meals for two years was not associated with an increase in dental decay; however, when the same or lesser amounts of sucrose were ingested between meals, subjects developed new decay at the rate of about three to four tooth surfaces per year (Loesche, 1996). Although the need for certain bacteria to turn milk into yogurt and cheese was not known by early farmers, today we know that some species of bacteria keep our mouths healthy; however, S. mutans is not one of them. It is, in fact, one of the worst offenders against healthy teeth. The bacteria in the pots of yogurt werent the only thing de veloping so were the microbes in our mouth. Twisted berry is the term that may be used when referring to Streptococcus, because of the resemblance to a string of beads when looking through a microscope. Streptococcus mutans is a specialized microorganism equipped with receptors that allow it to adhere to the surface of the tooth creating a slimy environment. After adherence to the tooth, S. mutans begin to divide and produce micro-colonies within the slime layer to construct a biofilm (Microbe Wiki, 2016). When a biofilm is formed, S. mutans begin to make dextran, which is made up of many glucose molecules that allow it to bind to the enamel and enable S. mutans to attach sucrose and glucan-sucrose together. As a result, these products produce fructose, which allows energy for bacteria. Biofilms produce extracellular polymeric substances, which are mostly made up of polysaccharides and proteins that colonize a surface. Clinical Significance Bacteria are a large part of the human mouths ecosystem. The 6 billion bacteria that one mouth can hold are constantly in the process of multiplying, finding places to live, or dying. S. mutans is a heterotrophic organism, which means that it lives by getting its energy through consuming organic matter from other organisms, living or deceased, and making the human mouth the host. There are safe places in your mouth and unsafe places, and the unsafe places consist of pathogenic bacteria that can cause tooth decay, gum inflammation, and tooth loss. The mouth contains good bacteria and bad bacteria, which is known as Streptococcus mutans, and as much as 90% of the world is affected by this infamous microbe.Since its discovery by Clarke, S. mutans has become one of the most well-known organisms. As the world continues to consume more refined sugars, we fuel the production of acids for colony growth, which leads to the formation of dental plaque. If plaque develops on teeth, it can turn i nto tarter, and tarter is much more difficult to remove from the teeth than plaque. Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that contains bacteria, but it can easily be brushed off before it turns into tarter, which is a hard non-sticky substance. Tartar has to be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist, and because it is rough, it makes it easier for bacteria to attach to the teeth. The enamel is the hard outer layer of the tooth, and this hard layer protects the tooth against decay. Dental cavities are holes in the first two layers of the tooth, which are the enamel and the dentin, and once this disease has developed, it requires treatment almost immediately. A cavity will only grow larger and eat away at the tooth if left untreated, which can cause excruciating pain and may also cause bad breath. Dental caries has become one of the most widespread diseases in humans today and has negatively affected a multitude of people worldwide. Billions of dollars are spent each year on treating dental caries. The longer one waits to get a cavity filled, the more expensive and painful it will become. Not only will the teeth become extremely painful, the jaw will most likely be affected as well. Plaque buildup can also lead to gum disease called gingivitis, which causes tender and swollen gums that sometimes bleed. Gingivitis is a milder form of gum disease that can be treated with proper brushing and flossing; however, if it progresses untreated, severe periodontal disease can develop. Gum tissue will begin to pull away from the teeth and bacteria will start to destroy the underlying bone supporting the teeth, and this will most likely result in the loss of one or several teeth. S. mutans can also cause dangerous, life threatening infections. Tooth decay can spread in the mouth and completely destroy the teeth if not properly treated, and in the most extreme cases, can even lead to death. Cardiovascular problems, which are major contributors to early death in American men and women, can also develop as a result of this type of serious infection. Once this bacterium migrates into the bloodstream and arteries, it causes blood clots and restricts oxygen and blood flow. Although it has not yet been proven that gum disease causes cardiovascular issues, evidence exists that points to gum disease as a possible culprit. Healthy gums should be firm and a light pink color, but if gums are red or swollen, or if they bleed after flossing, it is time for a checkup with the dentist. This pathogen can travel from one person to the next via horizontal and vertical transmission. Some people are genetically more prone to periodontal and gum disease than others. So if it runs in your family, you should be especially vigilant (Griffin, 2005). A person that has dental caries may not even be aware that he or she has the disease because it cannot necessarily be seen with the naked eye and may not always be painful. The earliest sign of a cavity forming is a chalky white spot on the surface of the tooth that does not cause pain. If demineralization continues, the white spot may turn brown, which most likely represents a cavity. Once the nerves of the tooth are exposed, the tooth will become very sensitive to heat, cold, and sugary foods, and unbearable pain will ensue. Once the cavity has formed, the tooth structure cant regrow. Additionally, because of the pain, the ability to eat, sleep and function well is limited, and quality of life suffers. Preventative/Treatment Prosthetic devices are also a favorable environment for Streptococci, but the American Heart Association has reduced its recommendations on pre-medicating before a dental procedure, including those who only have pacemakers, prosthetic heart valves, a history of endocarditis, heart transplants or certain heart defects to pre-medicate, since they are at greater risk for infection (American Heart Association, 2016). When a tooth is weakened by internal decay, the tooth could fracture while chewing foods. If that happens, most of the time the tooth can be saved, but in some cases, an extraction of the tooth will be done if it is not salvageable. Although S. mutans does not have a vaccine, there are other preventable measures you can take to stop this bacterium before it causes damage. S. mutans is a natural bacterium in our body, so everyone has it, although not everyone is at the same risk. Learning how to control it will help prevent these bacteria from taking over. Brushing the teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste will help reduce the decay rate, especially after eating foods and drinks that are high in sugars. Additionally, fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent cavities from forming. It replaces mineral loss in the enamel and reduces the ability of the bacteria to make an acid. Many dentists also recommend using a mouth rinse with fluoride for those at higher risks of developing this disease. When brushing the teeth, only the front and back surfaces of the teeth can be reached, so flossing is extremely important and highly recommended to reduce accumulations of bacteria that thrive in the crevices between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing will also help reduce the possibility of developing gum disease in the first place. More than 50 years ago, examinations of people entering the military showed that Americans teeth were in pretty bad shape. At that time, few people took good care of their teeth, and there were no guidelines for how often one should see a dentist. Many dentists focused on fixing problems rather than preventing them (Colgate-Palmolive Company, 2014). Even if one is taking good care of ones teeth at home, it is still recommended to regularly see a dentist twice a year. Some people may even need to be seen more often depending on their oral hygiene, habits and medical conditions. The dentist is able to check for problems that may not be painful or in sight; moreover, x-rays are used to help the dentist diagnose problems before they become a major concern as they allow the dentist to see inside the tooth and surrounding tissue. Dental sealants are an invisible plastic coating that bonds to the tops of the teeth, filling in the pits and fissures and making them a powerful weapon against decay. They are typically applied to childrens teeth because this gives them more protection throughout their cavity-prone years; however, adults who do not have decay present would also benefit from sealants on their back molars, which are difficult to reach in the mouth with a toothbrush. To fix a cavity caused by S. mutans, the most common procedure a dentist will use is to remove the decay and fill that area with  composite or amalgam filling. The difference between the two fillings is that amalgam is cheaper and also more durable; however, it is made with zinc, copper, mercury and tin, and it can easily cause discoloration of the tooth as well as cracks and fractures. Composite is a made with plastic and fine glass particles, and it comes in different shades to easily match ones tooth. Additionally, since it is chemica lly bonded to the tooth, it provides better support; however, it cannot withstand the chewing forces as long as amalgam can. In extreme cases, a root canal and crown may be placed after the decay is removed by simply removing the roots of the tooth and placing a cap over the coronal portion of the tooth, but if the decay exceeds a certain level, the dentist may have to remove the entire tooth. Fighting Streptococcus mutans is a constant battle, and the most important weapon we have in the fight against its progress is knowledge. By practicing healthy habits and eating a balanced diet, along with taking proper care of our teeth and visiting the dentist regularly, we can all win the battle against gum disease and keep our teeth for a lifetime. References   Ã‚   Akhaven, K. (2014, October 19). Streptococcus mutans. Retrieved from MicrobeWiki: American Heart Association. (2016, October 10). Infective Endocarditis. Retrieved from American Heart Association: Colgate-Palmolive Company. (2014, May 7). How Often Should You Go to the Dentist? Retrieved from Colgate Oral Care Center: Griffin, M. R. (2005, April 6). Your Guide to Gum Disease Symptoms and Heart Disease. Retrieved from WedMD: Loesche, W. J. (1996). Microbioligy of Dental Decay and Periodontal Disease. Retrieved from Microbe Wiki. (2016, February 11). Streptococcus mutans- Tooth Decay. Retrieved from MicrobeWiki Website: Streptococcus mutans. (2014, October 19). Retrieved from MicrobeWiki:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Essay --

Introduction The recent combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have exposed our military personnel to intense ground combat and hazardous duty. Studies are needed to thoroughly assess the mental health of military personnel who have served in these operations and to reform policy with regard to effective delivery of mental health services to returning veterans. The US Armed Forces has been trying to implement different programs to encourage military service members to seek help when needed; but are these efforts enough? It is true that the prognosis for a better quality of life for veterans suffering with PTSD is increased through early intervention but no one can force anyone to seek help. According to the national studies 1 in 5 veterans report symptoms of mental disorders. In recent years the VA has developed the Seamless Transition Program which targets the group of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The focus of the program is to deliver a high level of care in a short amount of time but, most importantly, they're using a holistic approach. This approach requires c...

A Miracle from God :: Religion Jesus Christianity

A Miracle from God A complete wreck, I called out to God to let my mother live. I didn’t know what else I could do. I actually tried to bargain with God, that I would devote my life to Him, if only He would save her life. Understand that my dad was a complete atheist his whole life, until about a month before her problems began. He met a Christian at work who wasn’t your basic â€Å"ill-informed Christian,† that he usually ran across his whole life. My dad started reading The Bible all the time lately and his friend and my dad, one night said a prayer of healing over my mother. The next morning she woke up and she felt no pain, no skipping, no nausea, she felt great! Just to add a little note, she still hasn’t had a problem to this day. I knew it was a miracle from God; there is absolutely no other explanation! I always â€Å"believed† there was a god for as long as I can remember. I was a â€Å"Christian,† who believed in God, then went out and lived my life the opposite of a godly way. I needed a new direction and to change my life. I will never be the same person I once was. Life, in general, is so much more meaning to me now. No one can be perfect, but through Jesus he can shape us to be more like himself. God’s will is at work in my life and I thank God so much for all the joy he has given me. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Jesus. I would still have many more problems that I would have to face everyday. Not only my problems, but just the sole fact of feeling like there is something missing. We where created in God’s image, and while even â€Å"the best among us,† still sins, we know that we can call upon The Lord to be forgiven.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Igbo People †Origins and History :: Essays papers

The Igbo People – Origins and History Igboland is the home of the Igbo people and it covers most of Southeast Nigeria. This area is divided by the Niger River into two unequal sections – the eastern region (which is the largest) and the midwestern region. The river, however, has not acted as a barrier to cultural unity; rather it has provided an easy means of communication in an area where many settlements claim different origins. The Igbos are also surrounded on all sides by other tribes (the Bini, Warri, Ijaw, Ogoni, Igala, Tiv, Yako and Ibibio). The origins of the Igbo people has been the subject of much speculation, and it is only in the last fifty years that any real work has been carried out in this subject: any group of people, they are anxious to discover their origin and reconstruct how they came to be how they are. ...their experiences under colonialsim and since Nigeria’s Independence have emphasized for them the reality of their group identity which they want to anchor into authenticated history. (Afigbo, A.E.. ‘Prolegomena to the study of the culture history of the Igbo-Speaking Peoples of Nigeria’, Igbo Language and Culture, Oxford University Press, 1975. 28.) Analysis of the sources that are available (fragmentary oral traditions and correlation of cultural traits) have led to the belief that there exists a core area of Igboland, and that waves of immigrant communities from the north and west planted themselves on the border of this core area as early as the ninth century. This core area – Owerri, Orlu and Okigwi – forms a belt, and the people in this area have no tradition of coming from anywhere else. Migration from this area in the recent past tended to be in all directions, and in this way the Igbo culture gradually became homogenized. In addition to this pattern of migration from this core area, other people also entered the Igbo territory in about the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. Many of these people still exhibit different characteristics from that of the traditional Igbos – for example geographical marginality, the institution of kingship, a hierarchical title system and the amosu tradition (witchcraft). For some time some Igbo-speaking peoples claimed that they were not Igbo – the word was used as a term of abuse for â€Å"less cultured† neighbours. The word is now used in three senses, to describe Igbo territory, domestic speakers of the language and the language spoken by them.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove Chapter 16~18

Sixteen Mavis The phone behind the bar rang and Mavis yanked it out of its cradle. â€Å"Mount Olympus, Goddess of Sex speaking,† she said, and there was a mechanical ratcheting noise as she cocked a hip while she listened. â€Å"No, I haven't seen him – like I would even tell you if he was here. Hell, woman, I have a sacred trust here – I can't rat out every husband who comes in for a snort after work. How would I know? Honey, you want to keep this kind of thing from happening? Two words: long, nasty blowjobs. Yeah, well, if you were doing them instead of counting words, then maybe you wouldn't lose your husband. Oh, all right, hold on.† Mavis held her receiver to breast and shouted, â€Å"Hey! Anyone seen Les from the hardware store?† A few heads shook and a fusillade of â€Å"nopes† fired through the bar. â€Å"Nope, he's not here. Yeah, if I see him, I'll be sure and tell him that there was a screeching harpy looking for him. Oh yeah, well, I've been done doggie-style by the Better Business Bureau and they liked it, so say hi for me.† Mavis slammed down the phone. She felt like the Tin Man left out in the rain. Her metal parts felt rusty and she was sure that her plastic parts were going to mush. Ten o'clock on a Saturday, live entertainment on the stage, and she still hadn't sold enough liquor to cover the cost of her Blues singer. Oh, the bar was full, but people were nursing their drinks, making them last, making goo-goo eyes at each other and slipping out, couple by couple, without dropping a sawbuck. What in the hell had come over this town? The Blues singer was supposed to drive them to drink, but the entire pop-ulation seemed to be absolutely giddy with love. They were talking instead of drinking. Wimps. Mavis spit into the bar sink in disgust and there was a pinging sound from a tiny spring that had dislodged somewhere inside of her. Wusses. Mavis threw back a shot of Bushmills and glared at the couples sitting at the bar, then glared at Catfish, who was finishing up a set on the stage, his National steel guitar whining as he sang about losing his soul at the crossroads. Catfish told the story of the great Robert Johnson, the haunting Bluesman who had met the devil at the crossroads and bargained his soul for super-natural ability, but was pursued throughout his life by a hellhound that had caught his scent at the gates of hell and finally took him home when a jealous husband slipped poison into Johnson's liquor. â€Å"Truth be,† Catfish said into the microphone, â€Å"I done stood at midnight at every crossroad in the Delta lookin' to sell my soul, but wasn't nobody buyin'. Now that there is the Blues. But I gots me my own brand of hellhound, surely I do.† â€Å"That's sweet, fish boy,† Mavis shouted from behind the bar. â€Å"Come over here, I gotta talk to you.† â€Å"‘Scuse me, folks, they's a call from hell right now,† Catfish said to the crowd with a grin. But no one was listening. He put his guitar in the stand and ambled over to Mavis. â€Å"You're not loud enough,† Mavis said. â€Å"Turn up your hearing aid, woman. I ain't got no pickup in that National. They's only so high you can go into a mike or she feed back.† â€Å"People are talking, not drinking. Play louder. And no love songs.† â€Å"I gots me a Fender Stratocaster and a Marshall amp in the car, but I don't like playin ‘lectric.† â€Å"Go get them. Plug in. Play loud. I don't need you if you don't sell liquor.† â€Å"This gonna be my last night anyway.† â€Å"Get the guitar,† Mavis said. Molly Molly slammed the truck into the Dumpster behind the Head of the Slug Saloon. Glass from the headlights tinkled to the tarmac and the fan raked across the radiator with a grating shriek. It had been a few years since Molly had done any driving, and Les had left out a few parts from the do-it-yourself brake kit he'd installed. Molly turned off the engine and set the parking brake, then wiped the steering wheel and shift knob with the sleeve of her sweatshirt to remove any fingerprints. She climbed out of the truck and tossed the keys into the mashed Dumpster. There was no music coming from the back door of the Slug, only the smell of stale beer and the low murmur of conversation. She scampered out of the alley and started the four-block walk home. A low fog drifted over Cypress Street and Molly was grateful for the cover. There were only a few lights on in the park's trailers, and she hurried past them to where her own windows flickered with the lonely blue of the unwatched television. She looked past her house to the space where Steve lay healing and noticed a figure out-lined in the fog. As she drew closer, she could see that it was not one person, but two, standing not twenty feet from the dragon trailer. Her heart sank. She expected the beams of police flashlights to swing through the fog any second, but the figures were just standing there. She crept around the edge of her trailer, pressed so close that she could feel the cold coming off the aluminum skin through her sweatshirt. A woman's voice cut the fog, â€Å"Lord, we have heeded your call and come unto you. Forgive us our casual attire, as our dry cleaner did close for the weekend and we are left sorely without outfits with matching accessories.† It was the school prayer ladies, Katie and Marge, although Molly wouldn't be able to tell which was which. They were wearing identical pink jogging suits with matching Nikes. As she watched, the two women moved closer to Steve, and Molly could see a rippling across the dragon trailer. â€Å"As our Lord Jesus did give His life for our sins, so we come unto Thee, O Lord, to giveth of ourselves.† The end of the dragon trailer lost its angles to curves, and Molly could see Steve's broad head extending, changing, the door going from a vertical rectangle to a wide horizontal maw. The women seemed unaffected by the change and continued to move slowly forward, silhouetted now by Steve's jaws, which were opening like a toothed cavern. Molly ran around her trailer and up the steps, reached in and grabbed her broadsword which was leaned against the wall just inside the door, and dashed back around the trailer and toward the Sea Beast. Marge and Katie were almost inside of Steve's open mouth. Molly could see his enormous tongue snaking out the side of his mouth, reaching behind the church ladies to drag them in. â€Å"No!† Molly leapt from a full run, slamming between Marge and Katie like a fullback leaping through blockers to the goal line, and smacked Steve on the nose with the flat of her sword. She landed in his mouth and rolled clear to the ground just as his jaws snapped shut behind her. She came up on one knee, holding the sword pointed at Steve's nose. â€Å"No!† she said. â€Å"Bad dragon.† Steve turned his head quizzically, as if wondering what she was so upset about. â€Å"Change back,† Molly said, raising the sword as if to whack his nose again. Steve's head and neck pulled back into the shape of a double-wide trailer. Molly looked back at the church ladies, who seemed very concerned with having been knocked into the mud in their pink jogging suits, but oblivious to the fact that they had almost been eaten. â€Å"Are you two okay?† â€Å"We felt the call,† one of them said, either Marge or Katie, while the other one nodded in agreement. â€Å"We had to come to give ourselves unto the Lord.† Their eyes were glazed over and they stared right past her to the trailer as they spoke. â€Å"You guys have to go home now. Aren't your husbands worried about you or something?† â€Å"We heard the call.† Molly helped them to their feet and pointed them away from Steve, who made a faint whining noise as she pushed the church ladies away toward the street. Molly stopped them at the edge of the street and spoke to them from behind. â€Å"Go home. Don't come back here. Okay?† â€Å"We wanted to bring the children to feel the spirit too, but it was so late, and we have church tomorrow.† Molly smacked the speaker across the butt with the flat of her sword, a good two-handed stroke that sent her stumbling into the street. â€Å"Go home!† Molly was winding up to smack the other one when she turned and held up her hand as if refusing a refill on coffee. â€Å"No thank you.† â€Å"Then you're going and you're not coming back, right?† The woman didn't seem sure. Molly turned her grip on the sword so the edge was poised to strike. â€Å"Right?† â€Å"Yes,† the woman said. Her friend nodded in agreement as she rubbed her bottom. â€Å"Now go,† Molly said. As the women walked away, she called after them, â€Å"And stop dressing alike. That's fucking weird.† She watched them until they disappeared into the fog, then went back to where Steve was waiting in trailer form. â€Å"Well?† She threw out her hip, frowned, and tapped her foot as if waiting for his explanation. His windows narrowed, ashamed. â€Å"They'll be back, you know. Then what?† He whimpered, the sound coming from deep inside, where the kitchen would be if he were really a trailer. â€Å"If you're still hungry, you have to let me know. I can help. We can find you something. Although there is only one hardware store in town. You're going to have to diversify your diet.† Suddenly an electric guitar screamed out of the fog, wailing like a tortured ghost of Chicago Blues. The dragon trailer became the dragon again, his white skin went black, then flashed brilliant streaks of red anger. The bandages Molly had spent all day applying shredded with the abrupt shape change. His gill trees hung with tatters of fiberglass fabric as if toilet-papered by mischievous boys. The Sea Beast threw back his head and roared, rattling the windows through the trailer park. Molly fell in the mud as she backed up, then rolled and came up on her feet with the broadsword poised to thrust into the Sea Beast's throat. â€Å"Steve, I think you need to take a timeout, young man.† Theo Such a short period of time to have so many new experiences. In just the last few days, he had coordinated his first major missing person search, including talking to worried parents and the milk carton company, whose people wanted to know if Theo could get a picture of Mikey Plotznik where he wasn't making a contorted, goofy face at the camera. (If they found a better picture, Mikey would end up with great exposure on the two percent or nonfat cartons, but if they had to go with what they had, he was going on the side of the buttermilk and would only be seen by old folks and people making ranch dressing.) Theo had also had to deal with his first major fire, the hallucination of giant animal tracks, and opening a real live murder investigation, all without the benefit of his lifelong chemical crutch. Not that he couldn't nurse at his favorite pipe, he'd just lost the desire to do so. Now he had to decide how to go about investigating Bess Leander's murder. Should he pull someone in for interrogation? Pull them in where? His cabin? He didn't have an office. Somehow he couldn't imagine holding an effective interrogation with the suspect in a beanbag chair under a hot lava lamp. â€Å"Talk, scumbag! Don't make me turn the black light on that Jimi Hendrix poster and light some incense. You don't want that.† And amid all the other activity, he felt a nagging compulsion to go back to the Fly Rod Trailer Court and talk to Molly Michon. Crazy thoughts. Finally he decided to drop by Joseph Leander's house, hoping he might catch the salesman off guard. As he pulled into the driveway, he noticed that weeds had grown up around the garden gnomes and there was a patina of dust on the Dutch hex sign over the front door. The garage door was open and Joseph's minivan was parked inside. Theo paused at the front door before knocking and made sure that his ponytail was tucked into his collar and his collar was straight. For some reason, he felt as if he should be wearing a gun. He had one, a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver, but it was on the top shelf of his closet, next to his bong collection. He rang the bell, then waited. A minute passed before Joseph Leander opened the door. He was wearing paint-spattered corduroys and an old cardigan sweater that looked like it had been pulled out of the trash a dozen times. Obviously not the sort of attire that Bess Leander would have allowed in her home. â€Å"Constable Crowe.† Leander was not smiling. â€Å"What can I do for you?† â€Å"If you have a minute, I'd like to talk to you. May I come in?† â€Å"I suppose,† Leander said. He stepped away from the door and Theo ducked in. â€Å"I just made some coffee. Would you like some?† â€Å"No thanks. I'm on duty.† Cops are supposed to say that, Theo thought. â€Å"It's coffee.† â€Å"Oh, right, sure. Milk and sugar please.† The living room had bare pine plank floors and rag rugs. An antique pew bench took the place of a sofa, two Shaker chairs and a galvanized milk can with a padded cushion on the top provided the other seating. Three antique butter churns stood in the corners of the room. But for a new thirty-six-inch Sony by the fireplace, it could have been the living room of a seventeenth-century family (a family with very high cholesterol from all that butter). Joseph Leander returned to the living room and handed Theo a hand-thrown stoneware mug. The coffee was the color of butterscotch and tasted of cinnamon. â€Å"Thanks,† Theo said. â€Å"New TV?† He nodded to the Sony. Leander sat across from Theo on the milk can. â€Å"Yes, I got it for the girls. PBS and so forth. Bess never approved of television.† â€Å"And so you killed her!† Leander sprayed a mouthful of coffee on the rug. â€Å"What?† Theo took a sip of his coffee while Leander stared at him, wide-eyed. Maybe he'd been a bit too abrupt. Fall back, regroup. â€Å"So did you get cable? Reception is horrible in Pine Cove without cable. It's the hills, I think.† Leander blinked furiously and did a triple-take on Theo. â€Å"What are you talking about?† â€Å"I saw the coroner's report on your wife, Joseph. She didn't die from hanging.† â€Å"You're insane. You were there.† Leander stood and took the mug out of Theo's hands. â€Å"I won't listen to this. You can go now, Constable.† Leander stepped back and waited. Theo stood. He wasn't very good at confrontation, he was a peace officer. This was too hard. He pushed himself. â€Å"Was it the affair with Betsy? Did Bess catch you?† Veins were beginning to show on Leander's bald pate. â€Å"I just started seeing Betsy. I loved my wife and I resent you doing this to her memory. You're not supposed to do this. You're not even a real cop. Now get out of my house.† â€Å"Your wife was a good woman. A little weird, but good.† Leander set the coffee mugs down on a butter churn, went to the front door, and pulled it open. â€Å"Go.† He waved Theo toward the door. â€Å"I'm going, Joseph. But I'll be back.† Theo stepped outside. Leander's face had gone completely red. â€Å"No, you won't.† â€Å"Oh, I think I will,† Theo said, feeling very much like a second grader in a playground argument. â€Å"Don't fuck with me, Crowe,† Leander spat. â€Å"You have no idea what you're doing.† He slammed the door in Theo's face. â€Å"Do too,† Theo said. Seventeen Molly Molly had always wondered about American women's fascination with bad boys. There seemed to be some sort of logic-defying attraction to the guy who rode a motorcycle and had a tattoo, a gun in the glove compart-ment, or a snifter of cocaine on the coffee table. In her acting days, she'd even been involved with a couple of them herself, but this was the first one who actually, well, ate people. Women always felt that they could reform a guy. How else could you explain the numerous proposals of marriage received by captured serial killers? That one was a bit too much even for Molly, and she took comfort in the fact that no matter how crazy she had gotten, she'd never been tempted to marry a guy who made a habit of strangling his dates. American mothers programmed their daughters to believe that they could make everything better. Why else was she leading a hundred-foot monster down a creek bed in broad daylight? Fortunately, the creek bed was lined in most places by a heavy growth of willow trees, and as Steve moved over the rocks, his great body changed color and texture to match his surroundings until he looked like nothing more than a trick of the light, like heat rising off blacktop. Molly made him stay under cover as they approached the Cypress Street bridge, then waited until there was no traffic and signaled him to go. Steve slithered under the bridge like a snake down its hole, his back knocking off great hunks of concrete, and he passed through. In less than an hour they were out of town, into the ranchland that ran along the coast to the north, and Molly led Steve up through the trees to the edge of a pasture. â€Å"There you go, big guy,† Molly said, pointing to a herd of Holsteins that were grazing a hundred yards away. â€Å"Breakfast.† Steve crouched at the edge of the forest like a cat ready to pounce. His tail twitched, splintering a cypress sapling in the process. Molly sat down beside him and cleaned mud from her sneakers with a stick as the cows slowly made their way toward them. â€Å"This is it?† she asked. â€Å"You just sit here and they come over to be eaten? A girl could lose respect for you as a hunter watching this, you know that?† Theo Theo found himself trying to figure out why, exactly, he was driving to Molly Michon's place, when his cell phone rang. Before he answered, he reminded himself not to sound stoned, when it occurred to him that he actually wasn't stoned, and that was even more frightening. â€Å"Crowe here,† he said. â€Å"Crowe, this is Nailsworth, down at County. Are you nuts?† Theo stalled while he tried to remember who Nailsworth was. â€Å"Is this a survey?† â€Å"What did you do with that data I gave you?† Nailsworth said. Theo suddenly remembered that Nailsworth was the Spider's real name. A second call was beeping on Theo's line. â€Å"Nothing. I mean, I conducted an interview. Can you hold? I've got another call.† â€Å"No, I can't hold. I know you've got another call. You didn't hear anything from me, do you hear? I gave you nothing, understand?† â€Å"‘Kay,† Theo said. The Spider hung up and Theo connected to the other call. â€Å"Crowe, are you fucking nuts!† â€Å"Is this a survey?† Theo said, pretty sure that it wasn't a survey, but also pretty sure that Sheriff Burton wouldn't be happy with a truthful answer to the question, which was: â€Å"Yes, I probably am nuts.† â€Å"I thought I told you to stay away from Leander. That case is closed and filed.† Theo thought for a second. It hadn't been five minutes since he'd left Joseph Leander's house. How could Burton know already? No one got through to the sheriff that quickly. â€Å"Some suspicious evidence popped up,† Theo said, trying to figure out how he was going to cover for the Spider if Burton pressed. â€Å"I just stopped by to see if there was anything to it.† â€Å"You fucking pothead. If I tell you to let something lie, you let it lie, do you understand me? I'm not talking about your job now, Crowe, I'm talking about life as you know it. I hear another word out of North County and you are going to be getting your dance card punched by every AIDs-ridden convict in Soledad. Leave Leander alone.† â€Å"But†¦Ã¢â‚¬  â€Å"Say ‘Yes, sir,' you bag of shit.† â€Å"Yes, sir, you bag of shit,† Theo said. â€Å"You are finished, Crowe, you – â€Å" â€Å"Sorry, Sheriff. Battery's going.† Theo disconnected and headed back to his cabin, shaking as he drove. Molly In Flesh Eaters of the Outland, Kendra was forced to watch while a new breed of mutants sprayed hapless villagers with a flesh-dissolving enzyme, then lapped up puddles of human protein with disgusting dubbed sucking sounds that the foley artists had obtained at Sea World, recording baby walruses being fed handfuls of shellfish. The special effects guys simulated the carnage with large quantities of rubber cement, paraffin body parts that conveniently melted under the Mexican desert sun, and transmission fluid instead of the usual Karo syrup fake blood. (The sugary stage blood tended to attract blowflies and the director didn't want to get notice from the ASPCA for abuse.) Overall, the effect was so real that Molly insisted that all of Kendra's reaction shots be done after the cleanup to avoid her gagging and going green on camera. Between the carrion scene and some salmonella tacos served up by the Nogales-based caterer, as well as repeated propositions by an Arab coproducer with ha litosis that made her eyes water, Molly was sick for three days. But none of it, even the fetid falafel breath, produced the nausea she was experiencing upon watching Steve yack up four fully masticated, partially digested Holsteins. Molly added the contents of her own stomach (three Pop Tarts and a Diet Coke) to the four pulverized piles of beefy goo that Steve had expelled onto the pasture. â€Å"Lactose intolerant?† She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and glared at the Sea Beast. â€Å"You have no problem gulping down a paperboy and the closet perv from the hardware store, but you can't eat dairy cows?† Steve rolled onto his back and tried to look apologetic – streaks of purple played across his flanks, purple being his embarrassment color. Viscous tears the size of softballs welled up in the corner of his giant cat's eyes. â€Å"So I suppose you're still hungry?† Steve rolled back onto his feet and the earth rumbled beneath him. â€Å"Maybe we can find you a horse or something,† Molly said. â€Å"Stay close to the tree line.† Using her broadsword as a walking stick, she led him over the hill. As they moved, his colors changed to match the surroundings, making it appear that Molly was being followed by a mirage. Theo For some reason, the words of Karl Marx kept running through Theo's mind as he dug the machete out of the tool shed behind his cabin. â€Å"Religion is the opiate of the masses.† It follows, then, that â€Å"opium is the religion of the addict,† Theo thought. Which is why he was feeling the gut-wrenching remorse of the excommunicated as he took the machete to the first of the thick, fibrous stems in his marijuana patch. The bushy green weeds fell like martyred saints with each swing of the machete, and his hands picked up a film of sticky resin as he threw each plant onto a pile in the corner of the yard. In five minutes his shirt was soaked with sweat and the pot patch looked like a miniature version of a clear-cut forest. Devastation. Stumps. He emptied a can of kerosene over the waste-high pile of cannabis, then pulled out his lighter and se the flame to a piece of paper. â€Å"Throw off the chains of your oppressors,† Marx had said. These plants, the habit that went with them, were Theo's chains: the boot that Sheriff John Burton had kept pressed to his neck these last eight years, the threat that kept him from acting freely, from doing the right thing, He threw the burning paper, and the flames of revolution whooshed over the pile. There was no elation, no rush of freedom as he backed away from the pyre. Instead of the triumph of revolution, he felt a sense of sickening loss, loneliness, and guilt: Judas at the base of the Cross. No wonder communism had failed. He went into the cabin, retrieved the box from the shelf in the closet, and was beating his bong collection into shrapnel with a ballpeen hammer when he heard automatic weapons fire coming from the ranch. Ignacio and Miguel Ignacio was lying in the shade just outside the metal shed, smoking a cigarette, while Miguel labored away inside, cooking the chemicals down into methamphetamine crystals. Beakers the size of basketballs boiled over electric burners, the fumes routed through glass tubes to a vent in the wall. Miguel was short and wiry, just thirty years old, but the lines in his face and the grim expression he always wore made him look fifty. Ignacio was only twenty, fat and full of machismo, taken with his own success and toughness, and convinced that he was on his way to being the new godfath-er of the Mexican Mafia. They had crossed the border together six months ago, smuggled in by a coyote to do exactly what they were doing. And what a sweet deal it had turned out to be. Because the lab was protected by the big sheriff, they were never raided, they never had to move on a moment's notice like the other labs in California, or bolt across the border until things cooled off. Only six months, and Miguel had sent home enough money for his wife to buy a ranch in Michoacn, and Ignacio was driving a flashy Dodge four-wheel drive and wearing five-hundred-dollar alligator-skin Tony Lama boots. All of this for only eight hours of work a day, for they were only one of three crews that kept the la b running twenty-four hours a day. And there was no danger of being stopped on the road while transporting drugs, because the big sheriff had a gringo in a little van come every few days to drop off supplies and take the drugs away. â€Å"Put out that cigarette, cabrone!† Miguel shouted. â€Å"Do you want to blow us up?† Ignacio scoffed and flicked his cigarette into the pasture. â€Å"You worry too much, Miguel.† Ignacio was tired of Miguel's whining. He missed his family, he worried about getting caught, he didn't know if the mix was right. When the older man wasn't working, he was brooding, and no amount of money or consoling seemed to satisfy him. Miguel appeared at the doorway and stood over Ignacio. â€Å"Do you feel that?† â€Å"What?† Ignacio reached for the AK-47 that was leaning against the shed. â€Å"What?† Miguel was staring across the pasture, but seemed to be seeing nothing. â€Å"I don't know.† â€Å"It is nothing. You worry too much.† Miguel started walking across the pasture toward the tree line. â€Å"I have to go over there. Watch my stove.† Ignacio stood up and hitched his silver-studded belt up under his belly. â€Å"I don't how to watch the stove. I'm the guard. You stay and watch the stove.† Miguel strode over the hill without looking back. Ignacio sat back down and pulled another cigarette from the pocket of his leather vest. â€Å"Loco,† he mumbled under his breath as he lit up. He smoked for several minutes, dreaming and scheming about a time when he would run the whole oper-ation, but by the time he finished the cigarette he was starting to worry about his partner. He stood to get a better look, but couldn't see anything beyond the top of the hill over which Miguel had disappeared. â€Å"Miguel?† he called. But there was no answer. He glanced inside the shed to see that everything was in order, and as far as he could tell, it was. Then he picked up his assault rifle and started across the pasture. Before he got three steps, he saw a white woman coming over the hill. She had the face and body of a hot senorita, but the wild gray-blonde hair of an old woman, and he wondered for the thousandth time what in the hell was wrong with American women. Were they all crazy? He lowered the assault rifle, but smiled as he did it, hoping to warn the woman off without making her suspicious. â€Å"You stop,† he said in English. â€Å"No trespass.† He heard the cell phone ringing back in the shed and glanced back for a second. The woman kept coming. â€Å"We met your friend,† Molly said. â€Å"Who is we?† Ignacio asked. His answer came over the hill behind the woman, first looking like two burned scrub oak trees, then the giant cat's eyes. â€Å"Holy Mary, Mother of God,† Ignacio said as he wrestled with the bolt on the assault rifle. Theo Eight years of living at the edge of the ranch and never once had Theo so much as taken a walk down the dirt road. He had been under orders not to. But now what? He'd seen the trucks going in and out over the years, occasionally heard men shouting, but somehow he'd managed to ignore it all, and there had never been gunfire. Going onto the ranch to investigate automatic weapons fire seemed an especially stupid way to exercise his newfound freedom, but not investigating, well, that said something about him he wasn't willing to face. Was he, in fact, a coward? The sound of a man screaming in the distance made the decision for him. It wasn't the sound of someone blowing off steam, it was a throat-stripping scream of pure terror. Theo kicked the shards of his bong collection off the front steps and went back to the closet to get his pistol. The Smith & Wesson was wrapped in an oily cloth on the top shelf of his closet next to a box of shells. He unwrapped it, snapped open the cylin-der, and dropped in six cartridges, fighting the shake that was moving from his hands to his entire body. He dumped another six shells into his shirt pocket and headed out to the Volvo. He started the Volvo, then grabbed the radio mike to call for some backup. A lot of good that would do. Response time from the Sheriff's Department could run as long as thirty minutes in Pine Cove, which was one of the reasons there was a town constable in the first place. And what would he say? He was still under orders not to go onto the ranch. He dropped the mike on the seat next to his gun, put the Volvo in gear, and was starting to back out when a Dodge minivan pulled in beside him. Joseph Leander waved and smiled at him from the driver's seat. Theo put the Volvo in park. Leander climbed out of his van and leaned into the passenger window and looked at the .357 lying on the seat. â€Å"I need to talk to you,† he said. â€Å"You weren't much for talking an hour ago.† â€Å"I am now.† â€Å"Later. I'm just going to check something out on the ranch.† â€Å"That's perfect,† Leander said, shoving a small automatic pistol through the window into Theo's face. â€Å"We'll go together.† Eighteen Dr. Val The bust of Hippocrates stared up at Val Riordan from the desk. â€Å"First, do no harm†¦Ã¢â‚¬  â€Å"Yeah, bite me,† said the psychiatrist, throwing her Versace scarf over the Greek's face. Val was having a bad day. The call from Constable Crowe, revealing that her treatment, or lack of it, had not caused Bess Leander's suicide, had thrown Val into a quandary. She'd zombied her way through her morning appointments, answering questions with questions, pretending to take notes, and not catching a word that anyone said to her. Five years ago there had been a flood of stories in the media about the dangers of Prozac and similar antidepressants, but those stories had been set off by sensational lawsuits against the drug companies, and the follow-ups, the fact that not one jury found antidepressants to cause destructive behavior, had been buried in the back pages. One powerful religious group (whose prophet was a hack science fiction writer and whose followers in-cluded masses of deluded movie stars and supermodels) had fielded a media attack against antidepressants, recommending instead that the de-pressed should just cheer up, buck up, and send in some gas money to keep the Mother Ship running. The various professional journals had re ported no studies that proved that antidepressants increased the incidence of suicidal or violent behavior. Val had read the religious propaganda (it had the endorsement of the rich and famous), but she hadn't read the professional journals. Yes, automatically treating her pat ients with antide-pressants had been wrong, but her attempt to atone by taking them all off the drugs was just as wrong. Now she had to deal with the fact that she might be hurting them. Val hit the speed dial button to the pharmacy. Winston Krauss answered, but his voice was muted, as if he had an incredibly bad cold. â€Å"Pine Cobe Drug and Gibt.† â€Å"Winston, you sound horrible.† â€Å"I hab on my mask and snorkle.† â€Å"Oh, Winston.† Val rubbed her eyes, causing her contacts to slide back in her head somewhere. â€Å"Not at the store.† â€Å"I'm in the back room.† His voice became clear on the last word of the sentence. â€Å"There, I took it off. I'm glad you called, I've been wanting to talk to you about killer whales.† â€Å"Pardon?† â€Å"I'm attracted to Orcas. I've been watching a Jacques Cousteau tape about them†¦Ã¢â‚¬  â€Å"Winston, can we cover this in session†¦?† â€Å"I'm worried. I was especially turned on by the male one. Does that make me a homosexual?† Jeez, it didn't worry him that he was a wannabe whale-humper, as long as he wasn't a gay wannabe whale-humper. As a psychiatrist, she'd tried to drop terms like â€Å"full-blown batshit† from her vocabulary, even in thought, yet with Winston, she couldn't keep the term from rising. Lately, Val felt as if she was running the batshit concession on the cave floor. It had to stop. â€Å"Winston, I'm putting everyone back on their SSRIs. Get rid of the placebos. I'm going to put everyone on Paxil to get their levels up as quickly as possible. Make sure to warn the ones who were on Prozac that they absolutely can't miss a day like they used to. I'll move those who need it later.† â€Å"You want me to take everyone off of the placebos? Do you know how much money we are making?† â€Å"Start today. I'm going to call my patients. I want you to give them credit for the unused placebos they still have.† â€Å"I won't do it. I almost have enough saved to spend a month at the Cetacean Research Center on Grand Bahama. You can't take that away from me.† â€Å"Winston, I won't compromise my patients' mental health so you can go on vacation and fuck Flipper.† â€Å"I said I won't do it. You were the one who started this. What about your patients' mental health then?† â€Å"I was wrong. I'm not going to put everyone back on antidepressants either, so you're going to lose some revenue there too. Some of them didn't need the drugs in the first place.† â€Å"No.† Val was shocked at the conviction in Winston's voice. His self-esteem problem no longer seemed an issue. What a crappy time for him to be making progress. â€Å"So you want the town to know about your little problem?† â€Å"You won't do that. You have more to lose than I do, Valerie. If you blow the whistle on me, then I'll tell the whole story to the papers. I'll get immunity and you'll go to jail.† â€Å"You bastard. I'll send my patients down to the Thrifty Mart in San Junipero. Then you won't even have the legitimate sales.† â€Å"No, you won't. Things are going to stay just the way they are, Dr. Val.† Winston hung up. Valerie Riordan stared at the receiver for a second be fore replacing it in its cradle. How? How in the hell had she given control of her life over to someone like Winston Krauss? More important, how was she going to get it back without going to jail? Theo Joseph Leander had the automatic stuck against Theo's ribs. He'd thrown Theo's gun into the backseat. Leander was wearing a tweed jacket and wool dress slacks and a film of sweat was forming on his forehead. The Volvo bounced over a rut in the dirt road and Theo felt the barrel of the automatic dig into his ribs. He was trying to remember what you were supposed to do in such a situation, but all he could remember from the cop shows that he'd watched was never to give up your gun. â€Å"Joseph, could you pull that gun out of my ribs, or put the safety on, or something? This is a pretty bumpy road. I'd hate to lose a lung because I didn't get new shocks.† That sounded sufficiently glib, he thought. Professionally calm. Now if he could just avoid wetting himself. â€Å"You couldn't leave it alone, could you? It would have just passed into history and no one would have noticed, but you had to dig things up.† â€Å"So you did kill her?† â€Å"Let's say I helped her make a decision that she'd been waffling about.† â€Å"She was the mother of your children.† â€Å"Right, and she treated me with about as much respect as a turkey baster.† â€Å"Wow, you lost me there, partner.† â€Å"They use them for artificial insemination, Crowe, you fucking stoner. One squirt and you throw them away.† â€Å"You got tired of being a turkey baster, so you hung your wife?† â€Å"Her herb garden killed her. Foxglove tea. Contains huge amount of digitalis. Stops the heart and it's almost undetectable unless you're looking for it. Ironic, isn't it? I would have never known about any of that crap if she hadn't blathered on about it constantly.† Theo was not at all happy that Leander was telling him this. It meant that he was going to have to make some sort of move to save himself or he was dead. Ram a tree maybe? He checked Leander's seat belt; it was buckled. What kind of criminal kidnaps someone and remembers to buckle his seat belt? Stall for now. â€Å"There were heel marks on the wall.† â€Å"Nice touches, I thought. I don't know, she may have still been alive when I hung her up there.† They were coming out of the forest that surrounded the ranch into an open pasture. Theo could see a metal shed next to a double-wide house trailer a couple of hundred yards ahead. A bright red Dodge truck was parked by the shed. â€Å"Hmmm,† Leander said. â€Å"They got a new trailer for the boys. Pull up to the shed and park.† Theo felt panic rise in his throat like acid and fought it down. Keep them talking and they won't shoot. Hadn't he heard that somewhere? â€Å"So you killed your wife for a big-screen TV and a tumble with Betsy? Divorce never occurred to you?† Leander laughed and Theo felt a chill run through his body. â€Å"You really are dense, aren't you, Crowe? See that shed up there? Well, I hauled twenty-eight million dollars' worth of methamphetamine out of that shed last year. Granted, I only get a piece of that, but it's a nice piece. I move it all. I'm a salesman, a family man, innocuous and unnoticeable. Who'd suspect me? Mr. Milquetoast.† â€Å"Your wife?† â€Å"Bess found out about it. Funny thing is, she was following me because she suspected an affair, but she never found out a thing about Betsy and me. She was going to turn me in. I had no choice.† Theo pulled up next to the shed and turned off the Volvo. â€Å"You have a choice now, Joseph. You don't have to do this.† â€Å"I'm not doing anything but going back to my life until there's enough money in my offshore accounts to take off. Don't get me wrong, Crowe. I didn't enjoy killing Bess. I'm not a killer. Hell, I've never even taken any drugs. This isn't crime, it's just a well-paid delivery route.† â€Å"So you're not going to shoot me?† Theo really, really wanted to believe that. â€Å"Not if you do what I tell you to do. Get out of the car. Leave the keys. Slide over and come out on my side.† Theo did as he was told and Leander kept the pistol trained on him the whole time. Where did Leander learn to do that? He'd hadn't had a television that long. Guy must have taken a mail-order course or something. â€Å"Miguel! Ignacio! Come out here!† Leander gestured with the pistol for Theo to move toward the shack. â€Å"Go inside.† Theo ducked to get through the door and immediately saw rack upon rack of lab glass, glass tubing, and plastic barrels of chemicals. A single metal chair sat in front of half a dozen electric burners that were filling the shed with a brutal heat. â€Å"Sit down,† Leander commanded. As Theo sat, he felt the handcuffs being yanked out of his back pocket. â€Å"Put your hands behind you.† Theo did as he was told and Leander threaded the handcuffs through two metal bars at the back of the chair and snapped them over Theo's wrists. â€Å"I've got to go find these guys,† Leander said. â€Å"Probably taking a siesta. What was Burton thinking when he put a house trailer down here? I'll be back in a second.† â€Å"Then what?† â€Å"Then Ignacio will shoot you, I'm guessing.† Molly This was a first: a guy that actually did what you asked him to do. When she heard a car coming down the ranch road, she asked Steve to make himself look like a trailer and he had done it. Sure, she had to make a little box diagram in the air with her hands, and he missed the first time, trying to make himself look like the tin shed next to him, a miserable failure that resulted in only his head changing and making him look like a dragon wearing an aluminum bag over his head, but after a few seconds he got it. What a guy. Okay, his tail, which had always hung down into the creek bed before, was showing, but maybe no one would notice. â€Å"What a guy,† she said, patting him on his air-conditioning unit. Or at least it was an air-conditioning unit now. No telling what body part it had been before he changed into a trailer. She's patting my unit, Steve thought. A low growl of pleasure rolled out of his front door. Molly ran and hid behind the shed, peeking out to watch the white Volvo pull up and stop. She almost stepped out to say hi to Theo, then saw the other man in the car holding a gun on him. She listened as the bald guy led Theo into the shed and made some threats. She wanted to jump out and say, â€Å"No, Ignacio won't be shooting anyone, Mr. Bald Guy. He's busy being digested right now,† but the guy did have a gun. How the hell did Theo let himself be taken prisoner by someone who looked like an assistant principal? When it was evident that the bald guy was coming out, she ran to the dragon trailer, caught the edge of the air-conditioning unit, and swung herself up onto the roof. The bald guy was going around to the front door. She ran over Steve's back and looked down over the edge. â€Å"Miguel! Ignacio!† the bald guy yelled. â€Å"Get out here!† He seemed uncertain about going into the trailer. â€Å"I saw them go in there,† Molly said. The bald guy stepped back, looking like he was going to go into a fit searching for where the voice had come from. â€Å"You're an assistant principal, aren't you?† Molly said. The bald guy finally spotted her and tried to hide the gun behind his back. â€Å"You're that crazy woman,† he said. â€Å"What are you doing here?† Molly scooched up to the edge of the dragon trailer. â€Å"‘Scuse me? Pardon me? Beg your pardon? I'm the what?† He ignored her question. â€Å"What are you doing here?† â€Å"Excuse me. Excuse me, excuse me,† she almost sang. â€Å"There is an as-yet-unapologized-for aspersion on the floor. You'll have to handle that before we move on.† â€Å"I'm not apologizing for anything. What are you doing here? Where are Ignacio and Miguel?† â€Å"You're not apologizing?† â€Å"No. Get down from there.† He showed her the gun. â€Å"‘Kay,† Molly said, patting Steve on the head/roof. â€Å"Steve, eat this impolite motherfucker.† She'd seen it before, but it was especially exciting to be sitting on Steve's head when he changed shape and his tongue leapt out below her to wrap around the assistant principal. After the initial slurp, the inevitable crunch (which had bothered her before) was sort of satisfying. She couldn't figure out if it was because the assistant principal had pointed a gun at her friend and called her a crazy woman, or if she was just getting used to it. â€Å"That was just swell,† she said. She ran across Steve's back, slid down to the top of the air-conditioning unit, then jumped to the ground. Steve growled and the angles of his trailer form melted into the curves and sinew of his dragon shape. He rolled over on his side and Molly watched as the scales on his belly parted and seven feet of dragon penis emerged as thick and stiff as a telephone pole. Luminescent colors flashed up the length of the organ. â€Å"Wow, that is impressive,† Molly said, taking a few steps backward. Steve sent her a message similar to the one he had sent to the fuel truck. It worked better on Molly. Her knees went wobbly, a warm tingling ran up her thighs, and she could feel the pulse rising in her temples. She looked into Steve's eyes (well, one of them anyway), stepped up to his face and gently touched him on the lips (or what would have been lips, if he'd had them), and let the sweetly acrid smell of his breath (a mix of Old Spice, manly Mexicans, and barfed cow) wash over her. â€Å"You know,† she said, â€Å"I never kissed a guy with assistant principal on his breath.†