Blurb: In 1565, a dwarf conquistador sired a daughter with a native woman. Four centuries later, ancestral ghosts unleashed by a genetic memory drug possess Alice, a dwarf member of a fertility cult. The ghosts wreak havoc on Alice’s personality, but they also help her machine gun through rival cult factions and succeed her mother as the cult leader. You might be surprised by what genes a dwarf has, but you can’t be more surprised the Emperor/Gladiator Commodus or more bewildered than Tycho Brahe. The prostitute from the old Rollestown colony might consider the situation easy on the knees, but she doesn’t arrive until the third book of the series.

Chapter 01                                                     (excerpt)

The Cabeiri

The Curiosity Trap

dWARf’s log—Whoredate 2/17/1997

A portrait of light and shadow hangs on the wall and while I slept, someone hung the lady. She was framed. Mom hinted she left a surprise; before she and Vane tramped off to The Castle, Ybor’s cyber-gothic dance club. Thence, with a wince, I hereby surmise, the painting pertains to the surprise. Smoke graces the beauty built for noir as it rises from the gun and my thoughts shoot to Vane, forty-five caliber thoughts.

Only the glint in the femme fatale’s eyes reminds me of me. I’m no beauty. Comely, normal sized girls snag the Snow White role; while, I’m forever cast as a dwarf. Vane could pass for a silver screen, queen of noir. Me—I’m built for a smaller role. In the screen credits of life, Alice Burroughs appears as, Lumpy Footstool, the stodgy dwarf.

I should wake Mom and ask her why she put up the portrait; although I’m certain, Mom plans for her little fish to nibble at the bait. If I wait, I stifle the Fisher Queen’s chance at satisfaction. On second thought, the trap tangles me in a no-win situation. She’s evil and I bet she’ll dangle me on the hook until I ask—Mom!

* * *

The Hangover

I hope Vane left you with a hangover and I hope she’s got a worse one, says Alice, as she spreads open the curtains to the less than superb view of Suburbia.

She did, ‘says Zinka as she throws a pillow over her head,’ and she probably does.

Who had the privilege of driving you two boozy floozies home?

The Blonde Manatee.

The who?

Daryl Hannah, on steroids.

You must mean Lil, the giant blonde who wrote an essay about mermaids.

Yes, and she’s just one of my students at my beck and call and if you raise your voice beyond a whisper, I’ll call upon my legion of coeds to tear your itsy bitsy body into itsy bitsy pieces. Go away. Never wake me up, except upon my command.

I know all about your mutant warriors, Professor Z, but who’s the woman in the picture?

Oh, I forgot.

Ow! You smacked me in the nose.

I mistook it for your snooze alarm, let me sleep.

‘Til when?

Nine.

It’s six minutes past that hour, now.

Dick weasels, Alice! Why didn’t you wake me up earlier? I expect a guest. She said, she’d arrive at ten.

Now, that you’re up, tell me about the painting. I sensed you set a curiosity trap, so I considered the silent treatment. After my morning chores, I changed my mind and put faith in your hangover’s ability to punish you. Who’s coming?

You’ll obtain an answer upon time of her arrival. Let’s talk, while I eat. Grab me a banana, perc my coffee and we’ll discuss the portrait. Make extra coffee. Our guest may wish a cup and I may need a double. Don’t forget the water and the aspirin. After you serve up a jizz of joe, we can talk . Hop to it.

Yes, Master, lowly daughter bring Queen Mom emergency hangover kit. Night after Vane, standard issue.

* * *

Belle

Will you keep it here?

No Alice, treasures belong in safer places, not an unguarded house. I’ll sit. You can stand and examine. Give me the banana.

Okay. You gonna dawdle, or tell me who the portrait portrays?

She’s the Russian Belle, and she taught Tampa’s mafia boss, Charlie Wall, how to pimp. Charlie had a head for numbers, but he lacked insight on the rube. Madams turn rubes into rubies.

I can’t imagine why you’ve told me this whale of a tale, but many girls can cast a stupidity spell and transform geniuses into witless penises.

You perceive the key to men, but a Madam must also hold keys to her whores. Own the store, whores owe, and you own the whores. The warehouse can hold drugs, but a smart Madam utilizes safer wares. Examine Belle’s dress and tell me what resides on her left breast.

A spider web stitch.

You begin college, next week. Soon, you shall also join my sorority, but Lambda Lambda Pi differs from the other Greeks—it has roots to an ancient cult, the Cabeiri cult.

Belching baloney. Vane’s just a foot short of being Rasputin and she’s suspicious enough to belong to a cult, but I don’t consider you cult member material. Dwarfs don’t belong in cults.

Forget Vane and remember dwarfs can walk in line with the norm; a short stride still reaches the same destination. For centuries, many cultures considered dwarfs as sacred and magical. Cults often feature a dwarf.

Even if that’s true, I still sense a prank and I expect a sucker punch, not a punchline.

How can I make you believe me? I showed you the stitch and you’ve seen what Dahlia sews onto her dresses. Dahlia tailors gowns for the Red Carpets of Hollywood and Broadway; consequently, you should ask why Dahlia designs for someone such as myself.

Dahlia showed me her stitch, but I still expect a hoax.

I predicted your disbelief, so I called a celebrity in whom you could trust.

Who?

You’ll find out when she arrives, but I’ll give you a hint. She’s a famous movie star and you admire her.

I don’t admire many; if any, movie stars.

You mistake starlets for bimbos and forget many possess a brain.

Not many.

While we wait for our guest to arrive, we’ll talk at greater length, on the subject, of Belle Orloff and Charlie Wall.

I saw a documentary on the Tampa mafia, so I heard about Wall.

Let me familiarize you with the Russian Belle and then I’ll expound further upon their connection.

She’s either a hooker or a Madam; inasmuch you mentioned how the Russian Belle taught Charlie how to pimp.

Belle owned a brothel in Jacksonville.

That explains the pearl necklace and that mighty fine dress. Did they deep throat for deep pockets, back then?

Yes, Belle’s girls passed along all the tricks that made Linda Lovelace and Georgina Spelvin famous. Circus girls performed such acts, long before silent film and the Blue Movies arrived. Cabeiri girls often train as rodeo riders and circus performers. Trick shooting, too. Belle led the Cabeiri, back then, and we call the dress she wears, a Widowmaker dress; proper attire for a funeral parlor or a saloon.

So the pearl-handled gun, in the portrait, serves as a fashion accessory and as a pee-pee shooter if the guy comes up short.

Yes, but let us move on to what links Charlie to Belle. After a night, in Belle’s brothel, Charlie Wall got the boot from his military school. Belle recognized Charlie’s potential and taught him tricks of her trade.

The documentary said he ran a gambling operation.

Numbers made Charlie—the Bolito King, but the Russian Belle taught him how to rule the underworld. You need more than sluts, slots, and suds to run a Black Market; big winners bring in the rubes and you need a slick whore to work the winners. That’s where the stitch and Lambda Lambda Pi comes into play.

So the slick whores belong to Lambda Lambda Pi and they all where the spider web stitch. A slick slut society.

Close enough. We prefer to call ourselves the Hands of Fate and we rock the cradle of history. The sister of Constantine the Great and his wife acted as our first founders. Both tried to poison—doorbell. Go see. I’m sure you will trust a famous face more than your commonplace mother.

Hedy Lam—

Yes, and you’re Alice; the dwarf I’ve heard so much about. She may have you beaten you by an inch, Zinka.