Those weirdos again, Philip Strevor thinks in a dream. Southwest corner table.
A knock at the office door, then. Small but firm. “Daddy?”
Man, school’s out already?
Well at least she was a quiet kid, Philip Strevor consoles himself. Always reading that darn blue book, though. When he asks what it’s about, she just says, “stars,” sometimes, “stars and space.” But never just “space”, oddly. “Stars… and space.”
“Honey, why don’t you play with your new friend Anorexia out back in the alley. Get away from that book for a while.”
“Spica,” she then uttered, still reading. “Did you know that Spica is such a close binary star that each component is egg shaped due to the gravity pull, and cannot be resolved even with the most powerful telescope?”
“No I didn’t know that.” No more oddball star facts from you, missy, he then thought. He had to get these accounting numbers to Casey One Hole by tomorrow morning. And Philip’s sure he’d bug him about them all the time they were playing golf later on today. He always had to let him win, especially on that prized par 3 hole on the back 9 — the origin of his nickname. He learned that the hard way.
The kid relented. “Oh all right,” she said, putting down the book and heading for the door. “I’ll go find my *new friend* Anorexia.”
Good kid, Philip Strevor thinks again. But the crazies are now sitting at a table in the opposite corner of the building. How’d *that* happen? What’s going on?”
Almost the instant the doors shut behind his kid, more knocks, larger but softer. “Dearest?”
Oh God, Philip thinks. My mother. What does *she* want?
“What’s this trash you’re reading, Philip? ‘Celestial Handbook’? I bet it’s a celestial handbook.”
“That *trash* is what you gave your granddaughter 2 Christmas’ back. The one she still can’t put down even now.”
“Oh.” She scrutinized the cover more closely, then drew back. “Well it’s good for her to read. Keeps her out of the alleys. Where is she anyway? Wanisa said it’s your turn to keep her.” Philip feels the noose tightening around his neck. Might as well say “cut here”. Oh wait… it does.
“Mom, I’m *so* busy. Can we talk later?”
“Not until you tell me where Poodles is.” Poodles is (June’s) pet name for her granddaughter.”
“Okay, okay, just to get you off my back. Yes, she’s in the alleyway, but she’s supervised. Her new friend who just happens to be *13* is back there with her.”
“Have you checked? Did you follow her out to make sure her friend met up with her?”
“You should have run smack into Bug before you came in.” Bug was Philip Strevor’s pet name for his daughter. He then thought of the spooky trio that switched corners of the building. “*Did* you run into her?”
His mother disappeared. His wife took her place.
“Philip we need to talk. It’s about Casey One Hole. Yankton.”
He wakes up in his ersatz observatory. “Yankton?”