A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY BULLETIN UPDATE

ANNOUNCEMENT, ANNOUNCEMENT!

Next Tuesday will occur on Wednesday. In the name of keeping myself sane, I’ve decided to do this prompt a mere once per week. On Wednesday. Because Wednesday’s child is full of woe and it’s the middle of the week.

WARNING: TODAY IS NOT WEDNESDAY. TODAY IS SATURDAY. THIS IS NOT A PROMPT. IT IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS PROMPT.

A NEW PROMPT WILL APPEAR VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29th.


I like telling stories linked to pictures. To help the process along, every Wednesday, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. You can use any of my pictures if you like, or any of yours. Link it back to that day’s post (ping back) so other people can find it.

You will have to forgive me if I miss a day here and there, or if Thursday is comes out on Friday.

Feel free to jump in.

What do I mean by “story” and “pictures”?

Story. Words. Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines, a fanciful tale.

Pictures. Video if that’s your thing. Scanned pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food. Any picture you ever took and would like to talk about

What to write about?

Your trip to Paris. You flight from Irkutsk. You favorite dog, cat, ferret, cockatoo. The weird boyfriend you had in high school. The last book you read, the next book you plan to read, why you don’t read books (but you write them)(don’t write them)(would like to write them).

Television shows, movie stars, classic film, history, language. Fiction, non-fiction. Everything, anything as long as you include a picture and some text.

SIMPLE

It sounds simple because it is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. There are no rules. You are free to follow my lead, ignore me, follow someone else’s idea. Any picture plus some text will do it. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry.

One final thing: If you want to get notices of these posts, you’ll have to subscribe to Serendipity. I’ll try to title relevant posts so you can easily recognize them.


So as not to waste this space, I give you the pictures I took this morning of a vase containing my very own, fresh-from-the-garden daffodils sometimes accompanied by Robbie, The Robot. Robbie loves flowers. I couldn’t keep him away. He quite insisted on being included.


  1. GENERATION GAP – GROWING UP BOOMER – Tuesday, April 21, 2015
  2. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Let’s start with a Serendipitous Bang (DAY 4) 
  3. MAKING MARIJUANA LEGAL – Thursday, April 23, 2015
  4. Photos and Stories behind them – day four – The secret places in Bern the capital town of Switzerland
  5. I Went To A Carnival, And A Baseball Game Broke Out!
  6. A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT | A Day In The Life
  7. A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY #2 – MEET TILLY 
  8. Spam-Bam Thank You Ma’am | Cordelia’s Mom
  9. And on the Eighth Day, God said … | Cordelia’s Mom
  10. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Early Peacock View and tiger spotting
  11. Size doesn’t matter… | The Happy Quitter
  12. Photos and Stories behind them: Day Five – The Birds
  13. Life’s A Ditch | Evil Squirrel’s Nest
  14. Of mountains and things | Willow’s Corner
  15. A Serendipitous Story
  16. Statue of Limitations | Evil Squirrel’s Nest
  17. Tradeoffs | Willow’s Corner
  18. oddments | Willow’s Corner

REASONS I STOPPED FOLLOWING OR DON’T COMMENT

The Daily Prompt wants a list. I did a version of this a couple of weeks ago, but it has changed. It’s half a rerun, half a rewrite.

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I’ve had to be away from the computer a lot in the past month. My email — the daily deluge of notifications, comments, advertising, and occasionally messages from friends — is overwhelming me. I thought I’d cut back a bit. Write fewer posts. Read a bit less.

It don’t like deleting notifications without reading them, but necessity triumphed. Nonetheless, I decided to try hosting a twice a week prompt. I think maybe I underestimated how much time it would involve. I may have erred on the side of “you’re kidding, right?”

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All of this got me thinking about why I follow and comment some sites, but not others. Following are the top reasons I don’t comment and/or follow your blog:

1) You get dozens of comments. If I have to scroll past two dozen comments before I can comment, you won’t miss me, especially if all I was going to say was “Great post!”

2) You’re a photographer. I’m a photographer. I can love your pictures, but not have anything to say about them.

3) I liked your post, but I’m late to the dance. Everyone has already said everything there is to say. If I have nothing new to add, I’m won’t say anything. If you allow “Likes,” I’ll leave one.

4) I hated your post, but I like you. If I have nothing nice to say, I won’t say anything. I try not to be over-critical. And anyway, I don’t have to agree or like everything you write.

5) If you post one picture per post 12 times a day, consider putting out two posts with six pictures each. I get buried by notifications, and comments. If you post that often, you become spam. Beloved, but spam.

6) If I’ve been following you for months and you never visit my site, I’ll stop following you. It’s insulting. You don’t need to read every word I write, but if you never visit, you will lose me. I have recently unfollowed half a dozen (more?) worthy bloggers who never felt compelled to find out what I’m doing. Respect means showing interest in other people’s work.

7) You write about one topic only. All the time. It is your passion, but there are other things which matter to me. I can’t read on the same subject every day, even if I agree.

8) You’ve got a problem. Your blog is where you let your feelings be known. First, I will be sympathetic. Then I’ll try to help. Eventually, I’ll give up. You are free to complain. I’m free to not listen. At some point, you have to move on. See number 7.

9) You’ve had a “sense-of-humorectomy.” You used to be funny. Now you’re a ranter. I have a limited capacity for rage, even my own. I get mad, but I get over it. After I stop being angry, I find my drama funny. If you can’t get past your rage, I’ll get over you.

10) More than half your posts are re-blogs. I follow you because I like you. We all reblog some stuff but if re-blogs are your primary material, I’ll pass.

11) I don’t have time. Today, I can’t make your party. I apologize. The clock ran out.

12) You write about stuff in which I have no interest. A sport I never follow. Books I’ll never read. Movies I won’t watch. I’ll wait for a while to see if you will move on, but after a while, I’ll give up. Our interests have diverged.

13) Your posts are too long. You love your words and I sympathize. I love mine, too, but I have learned to cut and cut some more. I run out of steam after 1000 words. Sometimes less.

14) You don’t respond to my comments. First, I’ll stop commenting. Then, I’ll stop reading. When I remember, I’ll stop following.

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LET ME LIKE YOU

I love dialogue, but it’s a mistake to demand comments from every visitor. I think we should take our “Likes” and be glad. It means people are visiting. I don’t expect everyone to comment, though I appreciate an occasional word so I know you are there.

That’s it for today. I am going to take some Excedrin and have a second cuppa coffee.

A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT – 2015 #2

This could be a hit or a flop, but it’s worth a try.

I like telling stories linked to pictures. To help the process along, every Wednesday, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. Sometimes, it may be a relatively long post. Other day, you’ll see just a couple of sentences. You can use whatever picture I post  or any picture I have posted — or any picture of your own — as a prompt. Link it back to this post (ping back) so other people can find it.

You will have to forgive me if I miss a day here and there, or if Wednesday turns out to be Friday (occasionally).

Feel free to jump in.

What do I mean by “story” and “pictures”?

Story. Words. Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines, a fanciful tale.

Pictures. Video if that’s your thing. Scanned pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food. Any picture you ever took and would like to talk about

What to write about?

Your trip to Paris. You flight from Irkutsk. You favorite dog, cat, ferret, cockatoo. The weird boyfriend you had in high school. The last book you read, the next book you plan to read, why you don’t read books (but you write them)(don’t write them)(would like to write them).

Television shows, movie stars, classic film, history, language. Fiction, non-fiction. Everything, anything as long as you include a picture and some text.

SIMPLE

It sounds simple because it is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. There are no rules. You are free to follow my lead, ignore me, follow someone else’s idea. Any picture plus some text will do it. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry.

One final thing: If you want to get notices of these posts, you’ll have to subscribe to Serendipity. I’ll try to title relevant posts so you can easily recognize them.


My entry for today:

A SERENDIPITY PHOTO STORY – THURSDAY APRIL 24, 2015

The headline in Boston Globe:

MARIJUANA ADVOCATES EYE LEGALIZATION IN MASS.

An effort has been launched to both get a question calling for the drug’s legalization on the 2016 ballot and to raise enough money for victory.

What happened?  Massachusetts passed a referendum making medical marijuana legal more than two years ago. After which, as so often happens, it vanished.

I bet legalizing it would have the same result. Nothing. Nada. Maybe they would stop busting people for smoking a joint at a concert … or would they? I suppose it depends on how the law is worded. I’m sure legalization would not make dope cheaper or more available.

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Why not? Because this is Massachusetts. Not only (to quote Tip O’Neill) is all politics local, but absolutely everything is political. Everything is a power play between dueling egos.

They can “eye legalization” all they want, but it won’t help me or my buddies. They’ll find a way to keep us from getting any. By the time they finish with the legal gobbledygook, it will be easier to buy it illegally. Like always.

I figure the process will be like applying for MassHealth. Fill out a thousand page form. Mail it in. Call six weeks later to learn they lost it. Fill in a another form. They’ll tell you it’s too late to meet the deadline (because they lost the first one). Eventually, they will start to process the application. If you don’t die in the interim, a year or two down the road, you’ll get fantastic medical benefits.

Weed? The price will be too high. You’ll realize what a bargain the illegal stuff was. Taxes alone will exceed the original non-legal price by hundreds of percent.

Dream on, you aging hippies. It ain’t gonna happen here. Not in our lifetime.


  1. GENERATION GAP – GROWING UP BOOMER – Tuesday, April 21, 2015
  2. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Let’s start with a Serendipitous Bang (DAY 4) 
  3. MAKING MARIJUANA LEGAL – Thursday, April 23, 2015
  4. Photos and Stories behind them – day four – The secret places in Bern the capital town of Switzerland
  5. I Went To A Carnival, And A Baseball Game Broke Out!
  6. A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT | A Day In The Life
  7. A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY #2 – MEET TILLY | MY OTHER BLOG – Living in Tasmania and loving it.
  8. Spam-Bam Thank You Ma’am | Cordelia’s Mom
  9. And on the Eighth Day, God said … | Cordelia’s Mom
  10. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Early Peacock View and tiger spotting
  11. Size doesn’t matter… | The Happy Quitter
  12. Photos and Stories behind them: Day Five – The Birds
  13. Life’s A Ditch | Evil Squirrel’s Nest
  14. Of mountains and things | Willow’s Corner
  15. A Serendipitous Story
  16. Statue of Limitations | Evil Squirrel’s Nest
  17. Tradeoffs | Willow’s Corner
  18. Oddments | Willow’s Corner

A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT

MARILYN’S LEAP OF FAITH

This is the kind of stupid thing I do which can be a big hit or a total flop. I have no idea if anyone is interested. If you are not, please do not participate. Don’t be a pill about it, though. I’m not recruiting anyone.

I would like to keep telling stories linked to pictures. To help the process along, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. You can use my picture as a prompt. Or you use any picture you like as a jumping off point. Link back to me (send a pingback) and I’ll publish it.

I’m not going to do this every day because that’s a bit more responsibility than I’m ready to take on. I’m aiming for at least two weekdays — Tuesday and Thursday to start. I’ll do more if I see sufficient interest.

I’ve been reluctant to host a regular “challenge” because my life is full of challenges and they aren’t much fun. You will have to forgive me if I miss a day here and there, or if Thursday is comes out on Friday. I’ll do the best I can.

Each of you is free to jump in. No themes for now except what’s in the picture. My current thinking is to leave things loose. No one needs to worry if they have “the right” picture.

What do I mean by story? Something written in words.

Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines about the camera and how you got the shot. A fanciful tale of time travel and parallel worlds. Video if that’s your thing. Old pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food.

Your trip to Paris. You flight from Irkutsk. You favorite dog, cat, ferret, cockatoo. The weird boyfriend you had in high school. The last book you read, the next book you plan to read, or why you don’t read books (but you write them)(don’t write them)(would like to write them).

Television shows, movie stars, classic film, history, language. Fiction, non-fiction. Everything, anything as long as you include a picture and some text.

It sounds simple. It is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. Otherwise, there are no rules. A pictures, some text. That’s it. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry. You’re in the driver’s seat.


Warning! I’ve never done this before. There are a few technical issues I’m not entire sure about, but I hope to get them ironed out pretty quickly. I’m using today’s post as the first of the series. It’s got a lot of pictures in it and you are welcome to choose one. Or pick your own!

You can take a hint from the topic (communicating between generations) or write whatever strikes your fancy. It’s just a point of reference.

You don’t have to do what I do. Just … do something! I’ll try to get these out early enough for everyone, but time zones around the world differ. I apologize, but the world is large and round and always in motion.

I’ll try to post the ideas a few days in advance on the page, but links won’t work until the day of publication. As I said, this is new for me, so be patient while I work out the details.

  1. GENERATION GAP – GROWING UP BOOMER – Tuesday, April 21, 2015
  2. MAKING MARIJUANA LEGAL – Thursday, April 23, 2015
  3. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Let’s start with a Serendipitous Bang (DAY 4)

FIVE EXAMPLES OF SENSIBLE VIOLENCE

We’ve all heard of senseless violence. The term is nearly as common as “stay in the car.” Everyone knows no one stays in the car and “senseless violence” implies there’s another kind. The sensible kind.

sensible violence

Reasonable, well thought-out violence.

1. “He needed killing” (really, I kid you not) is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.

2. “No one was supposed to get hurt.” You held up the bank using automatic weapons. You just wanted some money. To improve your life. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”

3. “I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. In the spirit of cleanliness and reduction of paperwork, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the washing machine in the basement laundry room. Sensible and tidy.  “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him down the stairs and into the machine.”

4. “Anyone in my position would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. Because it was the only reasonable response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to dismember her and hang her body parts on stakes in the yard. Anyone would have done the same thing.” Sensible violence was the only answer.

5. “I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you are angry. You were completely right.

So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, your plan went awry … it’s all good. Absolutely sensible.


 DICK CHENEY’S SEX APPEAL

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

Another one of the bloggers with whom I have been in close communication for more than a year just shut down. I suppose I knew something was happening because he wasn’t posting as often. Nor was he displaying the cleverness and enthusiasm characteristic of his past work.

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Why? He didn’t explain. I could take an educated guess. Several educated guesses and probably be right at least once. This is why I am afraid to invest heavily in virtual relationships. It’s not lack of caring. It’s my fear of losing those to whom I’ve become attached. All of a sudden, with no word of warning. Without knowing what happened to them, why they abandoned me. Wondering if I ever existed in their world. Or mattered at all.

This isn’t the first such loss. Or the tenth. There is constant attrition. People vanish. Poof. One day, you stop hearing from them. Sometimes they post something to let us know that they are going silent, but rarely why. More often, they disappear without a word of farewell or hint of an explanation.

I have thought about quitting. Each time WordPress makes another pointless change in the Interface, I think about throwing in the proverbial towel. Every time someone with whom I’ve become friends goes missing. To date, over the course of my three years of blogging, I take the hit, absorb it. I mourn and move on.

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It’s getting harder. Personal and virtual losses pile up. I can’t help but wonder who will be next? Will anyone I know now be around in a few months? Are we allowed to grieve for those we have come to care about, but never met? After all, it’s just the Internet, isn’t it? I mean, we aren’t real to one another, are we?

You are real to me. I share your lives. I know your husbands and wives, fears and hopes, triumphs and defeats.

I am afraid. Because slowly, it’s going away. I can’t help but feel a deep sense of sadness and foreboding.

TEN REASONS I DON’T COMMENT ON YOUR BLOG

Recently, I’ve had to be away from the computer more than usual. Winter is over. Stuff needs doing and frankly, I’ve got a bad case of cabin fever. Thus my email, the daily deluge of notifications, comments, advertising, and occasionally actual messages from friends, doth overflow. To the point of finding it necessary to delete a lot of notifications from fellow bloggers of new posts.

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It was hard for me to do it. I’m compulsive about reading and commenting, or at the least “Liking” the blogs I follow. It went against the grain to delete so many notifications.

I tried to catch up with myself, but kept falling farther behind until I had no choice. Unless I’m going to spend all day everyday in front of the computer, I can’t handle the traffic.

72-Computer-in-use_01It got me thinking about why I comment on some blogs and not others. Following are the top ten reasons I don’t comment on your blog:

1) You get dozens of comments and put the oldest ones on top. If I have to scroll past two dozen comments before I can comment, you don’t need me.

2) You’re a photographer. I’m a photographer. I feel comfortable pointing out I can love your pictures, but not have anything to say about them.

3) I liked your post, but I’m late to the dance. Everyone has already said it. If I have nothing to add, I’m won’t comment. If you allow “Likes,” I’ll leave one.

4) I hated your post, but I like you. If I have nothing nice to say, I won’t say anything. I try not to be over-critical because it is in my nature to be over-critical. I consider it a character flaw.

5) If you post one picture per post 12 times a day, consider two posts with six pictures each. It’s not personal. I get buried by notifications, and comments. I follow as many blogs as I can, but if you post that often, you become spam.

6) If I’ve been following you for months and you never visit my site, I’ll stop following you. Eventually. It’s insulting. I don’t expect you to read every word I write, but if you never visit, you are going to lose me.

7) You write about one topic. Only one. All the time. It is your passion, but there are other things which matter to me. I can’t read on the same subject every day, even if I agree.

8) You’ve got a problem. Your blog is where you let your feelings be known. First, I will be sympathetic. Then I’ll try to help. Eventually, I’ll give up. You are free to complain. I’m free to not listen. At some point, you have to move on. See number 7.

9) You’ve had a “sense-of-humorectomy.” You used to be funny, but now you’re an angry ranter. I have a limited capacity for rage. Even my own. I get mad, but I get over it. After I stop being angry, I find my drama funny. If you can’t get past your rage, I’ll get over you. Sorry.

10) More than half your posts are reblogs. I follow you because I like you. We all reblog some stuff but if that’s your primary material, you won’t hear from me.

I love comments and dialogue, but I think it’s a mistake to demand comments from every visitor. Personally, I think we should take our “Likes” and be grateful. It means people are reading and visiting. I don’t expect everyone to comment on everything, though I appreciate an occasional word so I know someone is there.

Now you know. In case you were wondering.

BIG GUY AND THE CARDINAL

Garry was working weekends that decade, so whatever stuff happened on Sunday was part of his beat. This particular Sunday, the old catholic cathedral near our condo in Roxbury, was going to host Cardinal Bishop Bernard Law. It was a big deal for the neighborhood’s shrinking Catholic population.

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For a Prince of the Church to say Mass anywhere is an event, even if you aren’t Catholic. We lived one block from that lovely old cathedral. The neighborhood was buzzing.

It was a grand dame amongst local churches.You could see her former grandeur, though she was currently in desperate need of restoration and repairs to just about everything.

Roxbury was an almost entirely Black neighborhood. It had previously been a Jewish neighborhood which was red-lined by greedy real estate brigands. We had been among the first two or three middle class mixed-race couples to move back to Roxbury. We hoped we’d be the start of positive move for the neighborhood, including how it would be reported by media and perceived by Bostonians. We had chosen it less out of altruism and more because it was a great location. Convenient to everything with lots of green space, lovely neighbors, and compared to almost any other place in Boston, affordable.

It was not crime central. You could leave your car unlocked on the street and no one would touch it. I know because my neighbor tried desperately to have his cars stolen, going so far as to leave the keys in the ignition for weeks. Not a chance. People watched out for each other in Roxbury. I never had better neighbors, or felt safer.

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The morning on which Cardinal Law was due to visit, Garry called.

“I was telling Bernie (Cardinal Law) that you used to live in Israel and are really interested in religion and stuff.”

“Uh huh.”

“So he’ll be dropping by for a visit.”

“When?”

“I think he’s on the front steps. Yup, there he is. Gotta run. Love you. Have a great day.”

BING BONG said the doorbell.

I looked at me. At least I was dressed. The house was almost acceptable. Thanks for all the warning, Gar, I thought. Showtime!

And in swept His Grace, His Eminence, wearing his red skull-cap and clothed in a long, black wool cloak. Impressive.

Big Guy stretched. Our Somali cat — the best cat in the world and certainly the smartest, sweetest and gentlest — was our meeter and greeter.

Big Guy

Big Guy

I offered the Cardinal the best seat in the house, the blue velvet wing chair by the bay window. Big Guy promptly joined him. We chatted for almost an hour. Israel, the church, whether there was any hope St. Mary’s would get funds to repair and upgrade before it was too late.

The neighborhood. A bit of church politics. Although Bernard Cardinal Law was ultimately blamed for the long-standing and terribly wrong policy of the Church in hiding the misdeeds of child-molesting clerics, this was years before that story came to light.

The man I met was wonderfully intelligent, friendly, witty, and a pleasure to spend time around. Which was probably why Garry was so fond of him and considered him a friend.

When it was time for the Cardinal to depart, he stood up. Big Guy left his cozy spot on the warm lap of the region’s reigning Catholic cleric. And that was when I saw the Cardinal was coated in cat hair.

Oh! Exactly what does one say in this odd circumstance?

“Wait a minute, your Eminence. Let me get the pet hair sticky roller and see if I can get some of that hair off your long black cape?” I was pretty sure the cloak needed more oomph than a lint roller. It was going to need some cleaning power beyond my limited resources.

So I shut up. Wincing with foreknowledge, we parted company. As he and his retinue swept out my door, I pondered how life’s journey takes strange side roads, unexpected twists, and turns. This was one.

“Meow?” questioned Big Guy. Clearly he liked the Cardinal and it had been mutual. I believe Big Guy came away from the experience with some special, secret understanding of Truth. I, on the other hand, felt obliged to call my husband and warn him that Cardinal Law was dressed in more than he realized.

“Oops,” said Garry, master of understatement.

“Yup,” said I, equally downplaying the difficulties that would arise from the incident. I had wrangled with Big Guy’s fur. I knew how bad it would be.

Some weeks later, when Garry, in the course of work, again encountered the good Cardinal, he called my husband to the side for a private word. The other reporters were stunned! What scoop was Garry Armstrong getting? Rumors ran rampant. Armstrong was getting the goods and they were out in the cold. Mumble, mumble, grouse, complain, grr.

“Armstrong,” murmured the Cardinal.

“Yes sir?”

“You owe me. That was one gigantic dry cleaning bill!”

“Yes sir, Your Eminence,” Garry agreed. “Been there myself.”

“I bet you have!” said Bernard Cardinal Law. And the two men shook hands.

When the other reporters gathered round and wanted to know what private, inside information Garry had, he just smiled.

“I’ll never tell,” he said. “Never.”

But now … YOU know. The truth has finally come out.