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Linn Keller, SASS 27332, BOLD 103

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Linn Keller, SASS 27332, BOLD 103 last won the day on October 27 2016

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About Linn Keller, SASS 27332, BOLD 103

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  • Birthday 03/31/1956

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    Firelands Peacemakers

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  • Location
    Lorain County, Ohio
  • Interests
    History, calligraphy, any game that burns powder
    BOLD 103, Center Township Combat Pistol League
    Skywarn, ham radio, and no idea what I want to do when I grow up!

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  1. The Navy runs on coffee, and so do I! I do like Raylan's penetrating dictum, and I quote: "It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shakes, the shakes become a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion."
  2. Enfield carbine. General John Hunt Morgan and his men carried them on his famous Raid, part of which passed through the land of my nativity. They were carried because they could be fed with commonly available powder and caps, and if no Minie balls were ready, they could be stoked like shotguns. My choice, because it was their choice.
  3. And once again I benefit from one who is younger, smarter and better looking than me! Rye, many thanks! Information is where you find it, and that's information I didn't have!
  4. There are times when researching a subject is a bloody pain. It can be boring, tedious and frustrating, not necessarily in that order. Then there are such things as wondering what the saloon piano would sound like. We write about saloons, we post in the Saloon, it was part of our heritage. I was listening to Dave Bourne, Piano Player, on You Tube Wearin' of the Green, Saloon Piano Version I listened to this, and a number of other delightful tunes, but kept coming back to the Wearin' of the Green, and my imagination fleshed it out into another of the Short Stories. I reckon I'll bookmark that site. I'm liking these saloon piano tunes! (In the Short Story it mentions reference to an ornery lad in one of Old Iron Mustache's Journals who thumbtacked the felt hammers on a church piano ... my first wife did that when she was a child, that's where the idea came from, and she delights I've written it into my stories in multiple places now!)
  5. 41. YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE AN ANGEL Sheriff Willamina Keller was many things. She was Sheriff, she was a Marine, she was a collector of antiques and of history and lore of the Firelands County area, she was a wife, and she was a mother. Tonight she was frustrated as hell. Snow hit fast, hard and nasty, and she was obliged to call home to let her chief deputy know her flights were cancelled and it might be as much as a week before she could get a rode dug out so she could get to an airport and head West. She was even more frustrated because her twelve year old son lay in the remote cottage's bed, shivering, eyes wide and glazed, his skin mottled red: he had the flu and he had a fever, and she was snowed in. She'd tried to call for an ambulance, but cell service was so poor her call to the Firelands Sheriff's Office had to be done by text -- the signal wouldn't support voice -- and after she'd made that call, she tried to text 911, about the time cell service failed altogether. Willamina took a fast inventory: power was still on; if it went out, the wood stove was already lit and she had plenty of fuel -- at least a week's worth, she estimated -- water from a well, with a pitcher pump for backup, and well stocked cupboards: her host had laid in supplies, thinking he'd be staying for a few months, and he was more than happy to let Willamina use the Morgan County cottage near Burr Oak State Park while she was visiting. Linn sat up, looked around. His Mama was asleep in the chair ... he sat on the side of the bed and was shocked at how tired, how drawn she looked. His right ear drew back a little, almost as if someone tugged with a gentle thumb and forefinger: adrenaline roared through his skinny young body and he turned toward the door, bladed, slightly-curved hands coming up as he'd practiced time and time and time again, and he listened. He took one step, another, frowned: he looked down ... I'm dressed. I thought I undressed for bed. He stopped, jaw easing out, frowning again: he looked at the foot of the bed, saw his Victory model Smith in its carved holster, strung on the gunbelt and hanging on the bedpost. He took two silent paces toward the bedpost, slung the gunbelt around his lean waist, snugged it up, made sure the Jordan holster was in just the right position for a clean draw, and looked at the door again. Something is out there. He went to the door, stood a little to the side: there was no peep hole and no handy window to look out, so he gripped the revolver, unsnapped the strap with his middle finger, turned the knob, drew the door open a little and stepped back. A hand with a coat sleeve attached pushed the door open. "May I come in?" Linn saw a young man, kind of on the skinny side, cheek bones sticking out and worn coat threadbare at cuffs and the shoulder seam: Linn said "Come on in, it's cold out," and the young man thanked him politely, knocked the snow off his boots before crossing the threshold. Linn shut the door. "We've coffee hot," he offered, "and sandwiches." "That would be wonderful," his visitor sighed, stepping over to the stove and spreading his hands. "That feels so good!" Linn set out a plate, poured coffee, set out the opened can of condensed milk, looked in the refrigerator. The only sandwich was his, and he was hungry, but he did not hesitate: he brought it out, removed the plastic wrap and set it quietly on the table. "Have a set," he invited. "Are your feet wet?" "Yeah, kinda," the skinny fellow admitted ruefully. "Set your boots near the stove and peel out of your socks. What size do you wear? I've got extra." Willamina opened her eyes, looked over at her fevered son, lying in the bed: she lay a cool hand over his forehead, feeling the fever burning him from within. A knot popped in the wood stove; the wind had stopped, and other than her son's breathing, the cottage was filled with an utter, almost profound silence, as if Creation itself held its breath. Linn knelt, set the dishpan of steaming warm water on the floor. "Here, let's get you thawed out." He gripped the stranger's bare foot, eased it into the water. "Too hot?" The stranger flinched, then sighed with pleasure as his foot immersed slowly. "Oh, that feels good," he groaned. "Get some coffee in you," Linn said immersing the washcloth in the water and slowly washing the stranger's feet, one, then the other. "We heat up your feet and get some hot inside you, we'll chase the cold out from two directions." Linn carefully washed both the man's feet, leaned back on his knees, dried his hands. "Just soak there for a little. The water's not terribly hot, but we want to get your feet warmed up pretty good before we put dry socks on you." The stranger nodded, took another bite of sandwich. Linn shoved aside his own hunger. He was inclined to look toward the bed, but something bade him not: his own guilty conscience, he reasoned, his Mama took such pains to make the beds when they first rose, and he hadn't. "I see you're armed," the visitor commented. "Yes,sir. It was my grandfather's. He was killed in the line of duty while using it." "I remember when that happened." Linn's head came up and he looked sharply at his guest. "I was there." Linn leaned back a little too far, sat down, surprised. The visitor raised his foot, dripping water back into the dishpan, and he smiled gently. "You said something about dry socks." Linn felt as much as heard the staccato of the machine gun, his mother's pained grunt as the stream of metallic death rammed into her corsetted armor like a small jackhammer. Linn ran, punched in the code, yanked the door open, ran down the back hall and past the cells, around the corner and into the back corner of the lobby, shouldered through the door into his Mama's office -- He saw the revolver, in the frame, he leaped, knocked it down -- He seized his grandfather's Victory model Smith, tore it free of the frame -- He grabbed the handful of rounds that had been behind now-shattered glass, opened the cylinder, drove six into waiting chambers and swept the rest up, shoving them into his left jeans pocket -- He ran across the lobby, through the glass doors, through the outer door -- He saw the murderer's magazine fall from the buzz gun and Linn knew this was his only chance. He raised the revolver as he'd done a thousand times in practice, he punched the muzzle toward the assassin's face and saw the sight blade bisect his nose and he felt the narrow grooved trigger under his finger and he saw the cylinder roll around and the worn checkering of the hammer as it came back and then fell forward -- He saw a man a little to the left, watching -- Watching him. Not the assassin, not his mother, watching him. Linn blinked, looked up in surprise: his hand came up and he pulled the towel off his shoulder, carefully dried his guest's feet, one, then the other, sliding the dishpan carefully to the side, noting with surprise how tepid, almost cool, the water was all of a sudden. Willamina carefully lowered the towel into the dishpan of tepid water, squeezed out most of its watery payload: she lay it over her son's belly and chest, waited a few moments, lay another beside it. "I don't want to cool you off too fast," she explained, as if he were awake and actively listening. "Too cool and your capillaries will shrink and that won't let the heat carry out of your core." Linn's eyes snapped open, as if surprised: he looked past Willamina and said distinctly, "You were there!" Linn dried the man's feet carefully, thoroughly, then worked his own dry socks, clean and freshly removed from his suitcase, onto the man's now warmed feet. He looked up at him. "You were there," he said -- a statement of fact, not a question. "Yes. I was." "Who are you?" The man smiled a little. "Me?" He shrugged, considered, then looked back at Linn and smiled. "I'm an angel." "Then you'd know one of my great uncles. His name was Jacob." "I knew him, yes, he and Sarah and a host of others." He chuckled. "Jacob was well named. I never wrestled your Jacob the way I did another Jacob." "You cheated on that one," Linn said in an accusing tone. "You disjointed his hip." "That's the only way I could keep him from whipping me!" the stranger exclaimed in mock dismay. Linn stood, picked up the dishpan, carefully, walked over to the sink, poured it in. He turned, frowned, puzzling. "I never thought angels looked like chubby babies with wings," he admitted, "but I thought you angels had two heads and looked so scary people would wet their pants just to look at you." The visitor laughed quietly. "We also go in disguise." "Like Sarah used to." Again that quiet chuckle, that understanding nod. "She had better legs." Linn's grin was quick, boyish, then his grin faded a little and a worried expression took over. "How come you're here, then?" "I'm the Angel of Death." Linn tasted copper and he took a few quick steps to the side, positioning himself between the newcomer and his Mama. "Not my Mama," he said, and there was a warning in his voice. "No." The visitor stood. "Are you willing to go in her stead?" "I'm willing to stop you, mister, right here and right now." "You'd try?" "You are flesh and blood and nothing more," Linn said flatly. "You abide by the physical rules of this world while you are in this form and I can stop you." The visitor nodded. "And would she do the same for you?" Willamina Keller pulled the first of the four tepid-damp towels off her son, waved it a few times to shed the heat, draped it back over his thigh: she was rotating the towels, peeling one off, waving it to cool it, then replacing it: one leg, the other left, left chest and belly, right chest and belly. She turned to see someone she'd seen before and she drew a Daine-forged blade from her knee high boot top. "Don't try it," she snarled, and she felt her face tighten and her blood cool several degrees. "Are you willing to go in his place?" the visitor asked, and Willamina crouched ever so slightly, another blade whispering from the other boottop, shining with a blue and deadly reflection along its honed edge as she hissed, "Don't try it. I will stop you." Linn opened his eyes, blinking. His Mama sat in the chair beside the bed: damp towels covered his nakedness. He looked around, puzzled, not remembering how he got to bed. Willamina raised her head, looked at Linn, smiled a little. "How do you feel?" she asked gently. "I had a funny dream," Linn admitted. "Hungry?" "I'm starved." "I wrapped a sandwich for you, it's in the fridge." Willamina rose, looked toward the door, tilted her head a little to the side as if puzzling over something. Linn followed her gaze and saw an empty dishpan in the middle of the floor, with a folded, clean, dry pair of his socks in it. Mother and son looked at one another. "That must have been quite a dream," Willamina said speculatively. "Yes, ma'am," Linn admitted. "I'm lucky you didn't name me Jacob."
  6. Went to an ENT complaining of the condition. He looked me over carefully and well and explained that my arterioles in my inner ear were smaller than standard and blood singing through them sounded like screaming crickets in a hot August field. He said a vasodilator could help and he looked kind of sideways when he suggested diazepam -- I think he was looking for drug seeking behavior -- I told him I'd live with it, I've no wish to sleep with Prince Valium.
  7. And here I was going to guess it might have to do with what he's dottled in that meerschaum of his ...
  8. ... I think the sound advice on this thread just saved me some grief ... as usual, more than the OP is benefitted by the voice of experience!
  9. 40. MY MOTHER, THE SALOON GIRL I knew as soon as I read about it in one of the old Journals, I'd have to try it. I was still young when I slipped into church with a box of thumb tacks in my jacket pocket and orneriment in my heart. I'd been there plenty of times, that big empty church ... well, it's not all that big but it's solid built, and I would practice presentations and speeches from the East, but never from behind the pulpit. That was the Parson's and I never pretended to his authority, not even when it wasn't Sunday and I was there for practice. I'd stand ahead of the Altar and I'd speak to the back wall, I'd project my voice until it echoed back at me and I knew if I could do that with a house full of people, they'd hear me to the back row. When Mama hired me a piano teacher, I'd practice in the church, and the Parson gave me free leave to come and go as long as I didn't let any skunks in and I shut out the lights when I was done. Today, though, today would be an experiment. I'd gotten pretty good on the ivory 88, and Mama didn't really know how much I'd read of all those Journals she'd collected, so when I read about a certain ornery lad who slipped into this selfsame Church and pressed thumb tacks into the felt hammers to make it sound like a saloon piano ... ... well, I just happened to have a box of thumb tacks with me. I couldn't resist, after I'd carefully, silently, precisely tacked every last felt hammer in that upright, I set down on the ancient three legged stool and I spread my hands, and then I hesitated. I recalled a tune I'd heard, one time when Mama was hosting a group of Civil War re-enactors, Irish, every last one of 'em, and they'd been in full uniform of their era, a beer mug in one hand and their voices raised in surprising good harmony. They sang "The Wearin' of the Green" and as I set there in front of those yellowing keys, I shaped the tune in my head and then I closed my eyes and I lowered my hands and the music flowed out of my soul and through that piano. There is a magic to lovemaking, to fencing, to music ... you disengage the mind, and then you caress your lover, and I reckon I caressed that keyboard, and she came to life under my fingers, and that ornery bouncy Irish tune sang with a joyful, raucous life of its own. This was the first time I played with my eyes closed, and I played for the joy of bringing music out of that old piano, and I lost myself in the Wearin' of the Green -- the first time I ever had that happen. Not the last, but the first, and there was magic to it. Mama told me once there are consequences to all things. Every word we speak, or speak not; everything we do, or do not, has its effect in a world not seen: "I don't pretend to understand it", she smiled when she said it, "but it is true nonetheless." Sure enough, when I tinkled out the last bars of that fine Irish tune, a hand rested gently on my shoulder, and my Mama's voice puffed gently in my ear as she whispered, "Play it again, Sam," and I did. We came back later that night, and Mama brought a different pair of shoes, she tapped her heel noisily here and there, until she climbed up to altar level and rapped out a staccato tattoo: she looked at me and I knew the look she gave me. "Give me the Wearin' of the Green," she said, and right there in God's church I played a saloon piano with a grin on my face and my Mama danced like a saloon girl, danced in front of the Altar with delight on her face and music filling the Sanctuary. One week later I sat on a three-legged stool in front of an ivory keyboard, playing a saloon piano, in a saloon, only this was the saloon of a genuine sternwheel paddleboat: I wore a Derby hat, a striped shirt with sleeve garters, townie shoes with spats and a half mug of beer on top of the piano -- more for appearance than anything else. My father sat at a table with some men he knew, fellow FBI as I recall, drinking sparingly and eating sandwiches, and on stage, a pale eyed saloon girl disported herself most shamefully -- a fellow was announcing the acts, and he declared in a stentorian voice to the well dressed audience, that women in period did not show so much as an ankle without declaring themselves a shameless strumpet, at which point Mama came struttin' out on stage in a saloon girl dress that hit her about mid calf -- quite modest for today, utterly shocking for the period -- and the fellow in the top hat and cane said we should feel free to boo and hiss such indecent folk. The audience was free with its feelings, all right: palms pounded table tops, lips curled in raucous whistles, Mama planted her knuckles on her hips, swung her skirt, then snapped a finger down at me like she was swinging a blacksnake whip and called, "Play it again, Sam!" It was an annual fundraiser, and the first one we'd attended, at least as performers: Mama danced well that night, and I understand my father was most impressed with her skill: she'd skipped off the stage, and while she was changing into her next outfit, I played "Beautiful Dreamer," to which at least three couples danced, but when Mama came back out, a black-eyed Mexican with an impressively-large, double-strung guitar set up shop on stage, a little off center, and Mama flowed onto the stage. Flowed. That's the word I have to use. Regal as the Queen, haughty as a dowager, sultry as any temptress, eyes bright behind her fan: I think it was the first time my father ever saw his bride dance the flamenco, and she danced for him: I never in my life knew castanets, the custom ordered castanuelas she'd had shipped in from Mexico ... I never knew they could be so honestly ... ... sensual. Very likely it's because she was dancing for my father. Very likely it's because she was seducing him in public. Very likely it's because, that night, she wasn't the Sheriff, she was a woman, and that's exactly what she wished to be. Very likely it's because her word shrank down to his table, and his world shrank to the stage, and me, I sat there in sleeve garters and Derby hat and honestly marveled. I knew it was a genuine delight to dance with Mama -- it was more like I danced, and I held her as she floated -- but until that night I never knew just how powerful the dance could be. I recall that my father carried my Mama upstairs that night. My Mama. The saloon girl.
  10. An old and dear friend spoke of nights he'd known. Cleveland-ites, Akron-ites, Canton-ites.
  11. Hey Linn! Mail ads today, Fishers is advertising the Salvation Army donuts now. 10% of cost goes to The Salvation Army..............Buck

  12. GORGEOUS workmanship! Never knew model steamers had to be cleaned, let alone to that degree! Likening it to a BP cleanup only moreso, puts it well indeed!
  13. Roof is fixed. Laptop is ready for pickup. Wife is on her way home, she spent a long weekend with her father: yesterday would have been her mother's birthday. It rained before the roof repair could be done, but no sign of any leak, yippee!
  14. Jacob Keller was pleasant and soft spoken as he'd always been. The cute little hash slinger took their order and promised to be back immediately if not sooner with coffee and biscuits, and Jacob leaned back, eyes half closed, reminding Linn very much of a cat sunning itself, looking deceptively sleepy and inattentive, looking around for something upon which to pounce and devour. Linn smiled and thanked the girl when she arrived with coffee and a tray of biscuits, still warm, and a lump of butter: Jacob tilted his head a little, turned it slightly as he caught a snatch of conversation -- That woman is simply dreadful, he heard: that Mrs. Cushman just orders everyone around like her personal servants! Why, she was an absolute harridan when she bought railroad tickets -- Jacob listened but a moment longer: he murmured a polite "Excuse me a moment" to his cousin, plucked his Stetson from its peg and strode for the door: he stopped, spoke briefly with the hash slinger, pressing coin into her palm -- "Give the man what he's having and keep the rest," and the pretty young girl blinked, fancying she saw a little tornado of wind spinning where the pale eyed lawman had been just a second before. Jacob knew Cushman's place was close, and he knew a running man would be noticed, and he did not care. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, he thought as he sprinted across the street: I'm helping Him out today, and he swung down an alley, back to where the decent folks had their houses -- He saw a man on a black mustang, a man with a broad brimmed hat drawn low and his coat collar turned up, a man carrying something the way he will when it's valuable, Jacob had ridden in that selfsame posture when he carried his infant son as he rode -- The rider on the tough little black horse was carrying no infant. Jacob saw a drifting swirl of smoke, and he saw the man ease the mustang forward a few steps, and he saw the arm come back and a sizzling fuse, its end bright red and smoke drifting from it, and Jacob saw the man drive the sizzling bundle through Cushman's window, and then he leaned over the mustang's neck and put his heels to the horse's ribs, slashing at its hind quarters with the reins, and Jacob's eyes widened and he took a fast step to the side to get the corner of a building between him and what he knew was about to -- BAM -- The concussion was sharp, instantaneous, the sonic equivalent of a lightning-strike: it was not the deep-voiced concussion of powder sticks, no, this was that new fangled dynamite, much more powerful, more destructive. Jacob waited several seconds, knowing there would be falling debris, before stepping out and taking a look at what used to be a nice house, then looking past it for one last glimpse of someone he thought he recognized. Horsemen know men from the way they sit a saddle, even if they're not on their usual mount, and Jacob's eyes tightened at the corners a little. "You beat me to it," he said to no one in particular, then he smiled, just a little. "Thank you, friend. You saved me the trouble."
  15. "Sir, do you make coffee?" I stopped, gripping the corner of the headboard to keep it from swinging away from me. I'd just rolled out of the bunk and I was kind of surprised at how good my balance was not. "I ... don't have anything with me," I replied slowly, "... why?" Jacob grinned. "Do you reckon you can get dressed your own self, sir?" I passed the back of my hand over my eyes, felt tentatively at the back of my skull. "Hell of a square dance," I muttered, and I saw Jacob's eyes harden and go pale, and that ran some cold water down the middle of my back bone. I'd not seen that often, but when I did, it meant men were about to die, and die they did: his father was a hard man and a man of action, and I knew the utter slaughter one man could cause, for I had seen it in that damned War and may God keep me from seeing anything of the kind again! "Sir, let me look at the nape of your neck." Jacob stood with the ease of a panther -- dear Lord he even moves like his father! -- and crossed the room: I sat back down, bent my head forward so he could inspect where I'd just been feeling. His fingers were quick, cool, exploring the back of my head, down both sides of the back of my neck, then he came around in front of me and murmured "Lift your chin," and he explored under my jaw the way I've known doctors, or worried mothers, to do. I raised an eyebrow. "Well?" "Your glands are not swollen," Jacob said analytically, "and I was not able to express any corruption from the puncture site. You do not appear to have any infection pocket under your scalp. I'd say the Doc was right." I blinked. "What doc?" Jacob looked at me kind of oddly and his eyes weren't quite as ice pale. "I don't recall taking a hotel room, either," I pressed, and Jacob turned at the tap at the door. He drew the chair aside, opened the door left handed, his right gripping the handle of his engraved Colt: I saw him relax a little, heard the murmur of conversation, saw Jacob dip into his vest pocket and he came back in with my duds over his forearm. "Your suit is clean and dry now," he said, draping it across the bed beside me. "Do you reckon you can dress yourself?" I frowned, leaned forward, gripping the edge of the bed. "Why would they be clean and dry, Jacob?" I asked, and then memory hit me like a man hit by a tall wave on an ocean beach. I felt the concussion from the blast. I remembered seeing smoking chunks of -- wood? -- spinning up from what used to be the jail. Something hit me hard and I went face first into the dirt and I remember how cold the mud was when I landed and I came up on all fours and Bud-mule came over and said "Isn't this a fine day for a county fair," and I made a grab for his dangling tether and then the ground came up to hit me again. I didn't fall. The ground rose up and hit me. I blinked, shook my head -- carefully -- and then I took a long breath. "How many are dead?" I asked, and my voice was changed when I asked it, for I figured most of the people I'd come to know were now dead, murdered, and that did not make me happy a'tall. "Murphy is dead, sir. He'll not be testifying." "Utah? His nice? Anyone else?" "Safe, sir. Utah and his niece were either in the restaurant or just shy of it. Doc Ward got hit pretty bad by the concussion, I believe he took some shrapnel to the back." I felt the color run out of my face and there was a roaring in my ears: Jacob was bringing my boots across the room to me and I recall how lovely they looked, nice and well polished and I remember how they fell, slowly, slowly, and before they hit the floor Jacob had me by the shoulders and I reached up with the weak and palsied hands of an old man in dotage and I heard a faint voice quaver, "Doc?" and I had just this awful feeling of loss and of grief and I remembered men tore apart from shrapnel bursts and Jacob's hands were firm and strong and his voice was very far away and I heard my voice screaming the way it did after that battle when I threw my arms wide and my grief ripped its way free of my throat and pierced the very heavens overhead and then I blinked and realized I was hearing a memory, that my throat was locked shut and I could not have made a sound if I'd had to and I looked into Jacob's pale eyes and I managed to take a breath, and another, and finally I wheezed, "Is Doc alive?" Jacob's grin was broad, quick, genuine. "Yes, sir. Doc is very much alive." I threw my head back, my eyes closed: I forbade my eyes to leak, for I do not make friends that easily, and Doc was well more than a friend, and had been for some long time now. Jacob pretended not to notice as I wiped the moisture from my closed right eye and then I said "Hand me my smallclothes, Jacob. I need to get dressed." Jacob brought me my linens and once I got myself presentable and stood in front of the mirror, worrying the necktie into place, I asked, "Why did you ask about coffee, Jacob?" His laugh was reassuring, the sound a strong young man will make when he is honestly amused, and it was good to hear. "Sir, my father cannot make coffee to save his sorry backside. No" -- he stopped, raised a teaching finger, frowning. "No, sir, he can make coffee, but it is genuinely abominable. If he makes it, it's worse than two terribles, and I understand one of the ladies in town said his coffee is fine to strip varnish off a rockin' chair but that's about it. He'll rot the bottom out of a granite pot faster than anyone I've ever known." I shrugged into my coat, looked down at my burnished boots, nodded. "My coffee is not as good as Abigail's," I admitted, "but it's not as bad as your father's." "Good," Jacob said decisively. "Let's get some breakfast in you, sir, and then we'll see how Doc's pulse is a-beatin'."
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