Good Saturday morning!
I have no idea where I left off with you all about my lovely trio of characters so I will do a swift update and introduce you to the (fictionalized) famous person who will be joining the cast.
Michelle Duff, a motorcycle racer and enthusiast and one of The Boyfriend’s heroes, will be making an appearance in the book (barring any objections from her) as one of the people helping them on their quest. I wrote to Michelle yesterday to see if she minded and she responded that she is flattered although she didn’t understand what part she would play.
She first comes into the book here:
Rolf, Birdie and George, two months later
Dad. Dad! DAD! Wake up! There was a very big bird on the deck this morning! George paused. I think it was a bird. Kind of looked like a cat too. It yelled at me so I yelled back. It left something behind when it went away. Is it going to get in trouble? Dad! George jumped on the bed and nosed Rolf’s ear. Oh and my food dish is empty. I’m hungry!
Rolf groaned and pulled the pillow over his head. Unfortunately, ear plugs didn’t stop him from being able to hear George. The dog was better about not talking non-stop now but when he got excited it was- “Wait.” Rolf sat up. “Did you say the bird left something?”
Yes. Are you going to feed me now? George stood on the bed, pinning Rolf’s legs down and looking hopeful.
“Go see your Momma.” He flopped back down and covered his head with the pillow. He didn’t want to know. He didn’t want his brain to be already wondering what that cat-bird thing was. He had a feeling it was trouble and they’d been enjoying the last few weeks, settling into their new house and training. Rolf was far more proficient with throwing energy around and using a blade than he used to be. He liked the knife throwing lessons.
Nah. She said you’d say that. She says you’re supposed to come and see what the bird thing left.
Rolf groaned again. “Fine. Get off me.”
George grinned, tongue lolling out because he knew it made Rolf laugh, and leapt off the bed. He danced circles around Rolf, herding him out on to the deck, not letting him get dressed or perform his morning ablutions. His Momma had told him to bring Dad to her so that’s what he was doing. He loved his Momma.
Birdie laughed when she saw them coming, despite the worry in her eyes. “George, you could have let him get dressed.”
You told me to bring him quickly. So I did. He sat down in front of her and looked up hopefully.
“So you did. Good pup.” She ruffled his ears as he thumped his tail on the deck happily.
Rolf scowled at them both. “It’s a tad chilly.” Indeed, everything that dangled was working its way up to tuck close to his body for heat.
“Go get dressed, Daddy, it will wait.” She gestured at the wooden chest on the deck. “It’s not going anywhere.”
A gust of wind made him nod and he dashed inside, George close on his heels. He stopped in the kitchen to feed the dog and went to get himself ready for the day.
Birdie was sitting on a chair staring at the chest. It was teak with ancient bronze squared off strapping at the corners and in the middle of each edge, though the bottom had two straps. The top of it was curved, reminding her of a pirate’s treasure chest. The bottom edge of it was lined in the same ancient brass and looked like it had been hammered in place. Each strip of teak was fitted so closely to the one below it that there was no way to peek between them.
She shifted her gaze to the scroll tied to the padlock on the front, she had tried to take it off but been zapped. After a moment’s thought she formed a small ball of energy in her hand, focusing on her intent, and let it float to the ribbon holding the scroll. It burned the ribbon to a crisp and the scroll bounced to the table. Birdie picked it up and unfurled it.
To whom unto the chest is delivered:
It shall fall unto you to complete the tasks below
To right a wrong that brought a God low.
From west to north to east to creation shall you roam
‘Til this quest is complete you shall not see home.
Find the metal thinner than hair
A form you will need, a hearth and air
A fourth to join you.
A puzzle to confound you.
A quest you will complete
Strength you will need for the final feat
To open the gates
And change the will of the Fates.
Birdie was reading it for the third time when Rolf returned, a jacket in his hands and her gloves. She smiled at him as he helped her into it all. “Thank you, my love.”
“You are most welcome.” He smiled back, glanced at the scroll then turned to the chest. “This is what the cat-bird-thing dropped off?”
Yes! George bounced on his feet before standing on his hind legs and putting his forepaws on the table, nose going wild. I don’t know what the cat thing was –
“A griffin,” Birdie interjected absentmindedly.
– but it sure was loud! It said that Dad has to open the chest because only he has the key.
They both looked at him. “You talked to the griffin?” Rolf just looked in amazement at their dog. He’d been doing that a lot lately.
George just gave him an eye roll.
Rolf rolled his eyes back at the dog then look at Birdie. “What does the scroll say?”
She read it to him and added, “I have no idea what they mean. I may know someone who can help us with the metal thing but what’re the form, hearth and air about?”
“Maybe we have to build something. Who do you know that might know about metals?” Rolf picked up the chest as he spoke and looked it over.
“She’s a fragment of Athena. Quite familiar with this and that about building stuff with metal.” She set the scroll down and smiled up at him. “I’m really curious about what’s inside that thing, would you open it already?”
Oh, I’m sorry, did you not know that George the Dog could talk? That was Hera’s doing. Seems to think that it’s important for them to be able to communicate with the furry domestic beastie later in their quest.
It’s a brief mention of Michelle, really, and even when she comes up again a bit later (after a chat Birdie has with Michael Bublè and his mother!) Birdie truly doesn’t know who Michelle is.
“Who is Athena? Someone famous?”
Birdie really had no idea so she shrugged. “She’s just a friend. Like Mike, we know each other from the other Realm and got to know each other here too, for the same reasons. I’ve done some healing for her. She said to call her if I needed anything and finding a metal thinner than hair seems like a need.”
Rolf nodded in agreement, though he had a couple of ideas. “Well, call her then and we’ll spend today packing. Where is she? How much driving do we have to do?”
“Toronto.” She kissed him softly.
“How long are we packing for?”
George dropped the giraffe and trotted over. Don’t forget my treats! Or my giraffe or my bed or my balls. He raced away and came back with a turtle in his mouth. And Yurtle has to come!
Birdie chuckled. “Don’t worry, Dawg. We’ll bring everything we need.”
The real Michelle Duff is a transsexual who used to be Mike Duff. Mike Duff was a motorcycle racer and a Grand Prix champion at that. She had ride contracts with people like Yamaha at a time when that was virtually unheard of. She also (at least semi-publicly) began the process of becoming a woman at a time when it was far more difficult to admit to being something as simple as gay, let alone being a woman trapped in a man’s body. (Especially in the very macho world of motorcycle racing!) Michelle no longer races, having retired in 2004 from the amateur racing she got into after a bad accident in the pros, and focuses more on writing YA fiction, her cats and dogs and her property.
So now Birdie, Rolf and George are in Toronto and they’re about to meet up with Michelle.
In my conversation with Michelle she asked for the manuscript. I sent it to her last night so now I’m waiting for her to read it. I will continue writing and if need be, I will change Michelle’s character to someone else, but I hope I don’t have to. I like her. The Boyfriend thinks she’s fantastic. And I think she, herself or a fictionalized version of her, will be a good addition. I told her that Athena is a warrior and that from everything I’ve heard about her Michelle is also a warrior and that is why she’s a good fit.
Mr. Bublè I am not going to ask because he doesn’t exactly make an appearance. He’s merely a series of ellipses (…) in the midst of a conversation Birdie is having on the phone.
You can find Michelle Duff here.
Have a good day everyone! I’m off to tell The Boyfriend what to do. Gardening. Apparently, I’m not allowed to haul the plants around or get down on my hands and knees and dig. Or even grab a shovel and dig. Hmmph. My body sucks.