“Have you spoken much with Daisy?” Margot asked Kitty.

“Enough to figure out that she’s crazy.”

Chuckling, Margot said, “Yeah, that’s what everyone calls her; Crazy Daisy the Fucking Finn. But she’s crazy like a fox. You know anything about Finns?”

“No, nothing.”

“Aside from Stockholm, Thunder Bay has the highest concentration of ethnic Finns, outside of Finland, in the world. Ninety to ninety five percent of them are pretty dour. The rest are crazy. A small percentage of them, like Daisy and Brian, are crazy like foxes.”

“Do you know him personally?”

“No. Not really. He’s four years older than me, so he went to school, elementary and high school, with my brother. But here’s the story of the only time I never met him. This is a perfect illustration of what I am saying about crazy Finns.

“I had just moved to Vancouver, so it was late 86, or early 87. Back then, Canada was allowing America to test cruise missiles in our air space. It was a huge issue that divided the nation. I was walking along Hastings Street, downtown Vancouver, one day, when I heard someone screaming, ‘Death! Death to you all! I kill you all!’ So, I look, and there’s a pickup truck, with a box on the back, and on top of the box there’s a scale model of a cruise missile. On the cruise missile, riding it like a horse, is a guy dressed in a US Air Force General’s uniform. He’s wearing mirrored Rayban’s, the kind Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun, and he’s the one yelling at people. Sitting behind him is the Grim Reaper. The Reaper remains silent, as the General yells, but the Reaper is pointing his scythe at everyone. So, the General points rigt at me, and is about to start yelling, until I say, ‘Brian? Brian Salmi?’ And he said, ‘Margot? Margot Freitag?’ Then the light turned green, and off they went.”

“That’s crazy! And funny! And you never saw him again?”

“No. I heard about him, in the news, fairly often. He was always doing some realy weird stuff. But that’s all in his bio, on Riff n Raff dot com. Have you read it?”

“No. Not yet.”

“It’s very funny. And it will explain who Brian is.”

“I will give it a read. So, what can you tell me about him that’s not in his bio? Specifically, how did he come to know of the tunnel?”

“That’s funny you should ask, ‘cause that’s the same thing I asked myself, when I saw he included it in Riff n Raff. I had no idea, so I asked my brother. Brian grew up poor. He lived in a housing project, called LaSalle Place. There were three native girls who grew up there at the same time. Identical triplets. Faith, Hope, and Charity were their names. Beautiful girls. And it is rumoured that every guy in LaSalle lost their virginity to one of the three, but none of them ever knew which one. The girls played that game, so none of the boys would fall in love with them, ‘cause they wouldn’t know which one to fall in love with.”

“There seems to be a lot of crazy like fox going on in Thunder Bay.”

“Oh, girl, you have no idea. Anyway, I imagine that either Faith, Hope, or Charity brought Brian to the tunnel, at least once, so that’s how he knows.”

“The tunnel of love!” said Kitty. “You must have made love inside it.” Margot simply smiled. “And? What’s it like? Is it out of this world?”

“There’s only one way for you to find that out, Kitty!”

“Experiential learning is the best,” Kitty replied. “What else do you know about him, that’s not public?”

“Four years ago, my brother, who is a lawyer, got a call from Brian. They hadn’t communicated for thirty years or more, so Gavin was surprised. And he was even more surprised when Brian told him why he was calling. He and his wife were trapped in Turkmenistan. A police state. She was working for an international school, and her boss had ordered her to start exchanging millions of dollars on the currency black market. They were gonna make a run for it, get the Hell out of there, without telling anyone, and Brian wanted Gavin to assure his wife that they could sue the school’s ass off, and that the absolute best course of action was to get out, and get out as fast as possible.”

“Wow! That’s insane.”

“Yeah, it is. But it’s even more insane. Brian was certain that the whole thing was part of a bigger plot to undermine the government, foment social unrest by devaluing the currency, which would result in runaway inflation, with the end result being regime change. Economic warfare. The kind of thing that a guy named John Perkins talks about. Perkins wrote a book about how he was involved in these reindeer games. Confessions of an Economic Hitman, is the title, if you’re intrigued enough to delve deeper.”

“And his wife was being used as a pawn.”

“That’s what Brain told Gavin.”

“So, what happened?”

“They got out. It took them ten days, or so, to make the arrangements, because they couldn’t find a flight that would take them, and their two dogs, at the same time. They wanted to go immediately, but had to wait ten harrowing days to take their dogs with them.”

“Man, they must really love those dogs.”

“You wouldn’t have done the same?”

“I don’t know. I suppose I would, but… wow! That’s a really tough call. But, never mind. They got out, and what happened?”

“It all came to naught, so far as I know. Gavin couldn’t find a way to get the school into a court. The school was legally owned by your government. Frankly, Brian was probably messing with shit he should have just left alone, happy that he and his wife weren’t rotting to death in a police state prison. But that’s not Brian. He was born with a fuck you smile pasted on his face.”

“Wait, why couldn’t your brother find a way to get the US Government into a court?”

“It was a very complex case. Even though Brain had all the evidence needed to nail them, including recorded phone calls, and email exchanges, they couldn’t figure out how, or even where, to file a case. It was extremely complicated, and honestly, it was just scary shit.”

Has your brother been in touch with him since then?”

“No. He has him on Facebook, and that’s how he knew about Riff n Raff. He gave me a copy for Christmas. I followed Brian’s Riff n Raff blog, but he stopped posting a few months ago.”

“He stopped posting at the same time the world first learned about the virus.”

“Wow! You’re rigt. You think there’s a connection?”

“Would it surprise you if there was?”

“No. It would not surprise me, at all. You think Brain has a role to play in all this?”

“I suspect so.”

“I suspect you’re correct.”




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