J. J. W. Mezun ☆ Season 6 ☆ 2022 April 15


Autumn wanted to ask Dawn how she e’er convinced her to set up a detective agency till she remembered that she already knew how, having been there @ the time. Then she took a sip o’ her coffee.

This’ll get you out from under the smothers o’ your covers & using your calculator mind for something refreshing for a spin. That’s the problem: you’ve been doing stealing so much that you need to try something else for a while, Dawn said, as if reading Autumn’s mind, which would be a rude thing to do.

Autumn nodded. Autumn could see why Dawn would think that way, since Dawn tried a million different things & ne’er finished any o’ them. Since Autumn knew this, she wasn’t sure why she thought ’bout it, much as how she wasn’t sure why she wasted time thinking the things she’d already thought multiple times — “Give it up, chump”, “¿Why am I doing this thing I’m going to keep doing e’en after asking?”, & “Perhaps I should stop being a rancid asshole this season”.

Autumn stared @ the rotary phone with 1 hand tapping the rim o’ her coffee mug & the other tapping the table. She didn’t ask why the phone was rotary, tho, e’en in her head. ’Twas better not to ask such things o’ this devilish realm their cruel literary god placed them in like slaves. She didn’t ask why everything was grayscale. For 1, it wasn’t grayscale, but a soupy pea green. She didn’t ask how she knew what color everything was when everything was just words in windows.

Autumn stretched & said thru ¡eugh! ¡eugh! ¡eugh! sounds, Business is just bashing us o’er the head with demand.

Dawn leaned back in her chair with her legs stretched out on the table, & began to say, You start with sass, but then — , only to fall backward as she slid the chair too far back & the chair was sick o’ it — ¡done!

No, less is mo’ my style, said Autumn.

This fall was so noisy, that it caused the phone to cry in alarm. Autumn picked it up & pressed it to her ear, Shh, it’s OK. That’s a lie: that line ne’er happened. I must warn you: the world is full o’ lies, & you should feel betrayed already before you get your hopes up & they fall back down.

Autumn put the phone to her ear a 2nd time, only to press it to her shoulder & say to Dawn, ¿What’s the name o’ our company ’gain?.

Dawn stumbled back up to the table, her glasses crooked. Book ’em, chief. ¿Company? Just say, ‘Autumn Springer, Private Mind’.

Autumn exhaled deeply & put the phone up to her ear & mouth. In a much slower, uneven way, she said, Autumn Springer, private mind.

Dawn whispered to her, No, Autumn: they should all have capital let — , only for Autumn to wave @ her to be quiet.

This is 王秀英 & someone has killed me. I need you to find out who.

Autumn’s brows burrowed for winter. I’m too busy for prank calls.

& I’m too busy for prank answers. If you want my sweet loot, you better tie the loop, dude.

Dawn leaned close to Autumn — close ’nough that Autumn could smell the bacon on her breath, which made Autumn twist her nose, which was quite a feat — & whispered, He’s probably been resurrected. You know, like what happens to you & Edgar all the time.

Autumn nodded. I take it you don’t remember the time o’ dying.


All right: we’ll be o’er.

As Autumn threw her father on the ground, she asked, ¿How were you able to hear him?.

I have ears o’ an elephant, Dawn said as she pointed @ her ears, demonstrating to Autumn what ears are. Hey, you know, that reminds me o’ a puzzle….

We don’t have time for puzz — , Autumn began to say before the puzzle consumed us all:

Puzzle #001

¿What did the Dallas chief o’ police say when an elephant walked into their police station?

¡That’s correct!, exclaimed Dawn.

That’s not a puzzle; that’s a lame-ass, trite, chicken-shit motherfucker riddle for kids, said Autumn. Everyone knows every puzzle has a solution based on objective facts o’ science, whereas since this is all fictional nonsense, any o’ these answers have = potential to be “correct” — if any fictional story could e’en have a “correct” outcome. The truth is that none o’ these options are truly true: the true truth is that the Dallas chief did nothing ’cause he didn’t exist, nor did any elephant. This whole story exists purely in your mind & on your lips. Then she took a sip o’ her black coffee, only to slam it back down with a grunt. No, you guys aren’t listening: this coffee isn’t black ’cause it doesn’t exist, it exists purely in your mind & in letters.

¿Then have you figured out the killer?, asked Dawn.

There is no killer ’cause there was no crime ’cause there was no 王秀英, said Autumn.

Dawn scratched her head, e’en tho it didn’t exist. I don’t know ’bout all this nonexistence stuff. Perhaps it’s true — I’m not the kind o’ grand philosopher queen who understands all those complex theories like dialectical materialism, poststructuralism, or Zizek’s theory o’ the deviation ’tween chopping balls off & letting them get dusty — tho as you know I do dabble in the gay sciences quite oft. But I feel as if just saying nothing truly exists, e’en if true, doesn’t truly solve anything. After all, math technically doesn’t truly exist, but sure is mo’ useful than a lot of other things that don’t exist, like the purity o’ one’s essence.

Ah, but my dear Dawn, you have yet to prove that usefulness is itself useful, leading you into circular logic.

Yes, ¿but are all circles all bad?, asked Dawn. I mean, it’s fitting, since e’en geometry needs to assume the existence o’ nonexistent nonsense like parallel lines; & while I do enjoy some noneuclidean shapes when I’m feeling particularly pumped up, e’en if noneuclidean geometry doesn’t exist, if you can’t respect classic geometry… I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to violently disagree — peacefully, ’course.

Autumn shrugged, e’en tho shrugs didn’t exist. If you find useless usefulness interesting, e’en tho interest doesn’t exist, I can’t prove you wrong for doing so, not the least o’ which since that would require me to prove that both you & wrongness exist. Personally, I have to admit that I’ve gotten bored o’ the whole topic o’ existence & whether this rando got killed months ago.

Then she stopped sitting on her chair & said, Anyway, ¿should we wait for Edgar to get back from whate’er you said he was doing?.

No, he said we should go ’head without him: he’s going to be gone all day doing his own inscrutable investigating that s’posedly only he could do, for reasons e’en the Programmers haven’t coded yet, which was lazy o’ them.

You can’t be surprised: those idiots still haven’t fixed the black void that is our ceiling by putting a texture there. Autumn pointed ’bove them to reveal to you, the reader, a black hole swirling in their black ceiling. & the best part is that they messed up setting its deactivation points so that it doesn’t work when it’s offscreen, e’en if it’s clearly in the — O, whoops….

The black hole began sucking Autumn & Dawn into it.

As they swirled round the black hole, Dawn grabbed Autumn & pressed her close to her. That means you’re trapped with me, I’m ’fraid.

Autumn stared @ Dawn, but made sure she kept her lids @ their usual heaviness. She begun to have ideas… but decided it’d be best not to tell you ’bout them. I hope you’ll understand.


…but it’s not. Yeah, I can move thru solid walls, which is useful, I s’pose, if you’re too lazy to use a door, but I can’t use the things I wanna use, either, which is a pain when everyone thinks ’cause you’re so magical & powerful & the like that they can ask you for something & you can give it to them on the dime, no problem, e’en if you don’t use US currency, & don’t you dare come close to a maybe no I can’t, ’cause then you’re a devil & selfish & agh, no wonder most o’ us stay ’way from all these jerks. ¿Who needs them? They’ll ne’er respect you like a living being, ¿so why pretend?.


That’s not true, Dawn said in response to what was ne’er said: we’re just bursting with clues — just look @ that:.

Autumn followed Dawn’s arm as it pointed out @ the passing train jogging past them with its noodly arms pumping in the foggy November air.

¿We’ve confirmed that the train didn’t do it? That’s good: 500,000 people were ’nough subjects already — we didn’t need a’least 100,000 times as many inanimate objects to worry ’bout, too.

¿How are trains inanimate?.


But it had noodly arms. ¿Didn’t you read the narration?.

Autumn’s voice became impatient. Artificially living.

Wait, ¿wasn’t I the 1 answering your questions?, asked Dawn.

¿How many mysteries do we have to solve today?, asked Autumn.

All this talk o’ whether or not something is living or whether existence exists reminds me o’ a puzzle…, said Dawn.

To be frank —

But you’re not Frank; you’re Autumn.

After a long pause, Autumn continued, To be honest — which I’m also not, but zip it — I’m not interested in any o’ your puzzles, said Autumn.

Puzzle #002

A priest named Hyakujō wanted to open a monastery & asked his students to answer a question to determine which o’ them would get to lead the new temple. He placed a vase on the ground & asked, ¿Who can say what this is without calling it by its name?.

¿What would you say?

¡That’s an answer!, cheered Dawn.

Dawn continued, As for the artificially living, everyone knows robots have no place in murder mysteries. Asimov proved it with his laws on robotics & refrigerated-hemoglobinned murder.

He didn’t make those laws; he lost that election, Autumn said down to the gravel, unbeknownst that the gravel was too busy to help them in their mystery.

He did make them, he just didn’t ratify them — that was the Campbell’s soup cracker. I’m not that stupid.

¿So then why did you bring it up?, said Autumn. ’Cause it sounds like a stupid subject.

I meant the people on that train. Dawn took off her glasses & began rubbing them on her jacket. Unluckily, her jacket happened to have mustard on it, so when she put her glasses back on, all she could see was mustard. ¿Who put the mustard there? I happen to know that all o’ the inhabitants on that train — every single 1 — all colluded together in refusal to commit the crime.

¿How so? ¿’Cause Wikipedia Wisteria said that murderers always have phobias for locomotives?.

No: murderers always have silly reasons for what they do, said Dawn. The answer is actually quite atomic, if you’d stop being so freely biased, stop filling your mind with all those inhibiting worries like whether you can step on cracks — ¿why take the risk? — or whether the earth revolves round the sun & only know the Occidental Express’s schedule ’nough to know that a murderer couldn’t have murdered 王秀英 & made it to catch the express, pardon the expression.

We don’t know when the murder happened, tho — watch it. Autumn reached out & grabbed Dawn from walking straight into traffic. I know it’s rude to intrude on others’ life decisions, & I am rude, so it fits, but I think you should clean that mustard off your glasses.

But I like seeing the world as if ’twere a next-gen video game.

Dawn continued, Anyway, as I was saying before the mustard rudely interrupted us: I think we’ll find out soon ’nough that 王秀英 was murdered a mere half hour ago, which wouldn’t allow for someone to jog all the way to the Occidental Express stop ’hind us before now. Unlike you, I always make sure to read everyone’s lines in the script, not just my own.

Autumn’s nose bent in concentration.

¿But don’t cars exist?.

’Fraid not, my friend.

Autumn looked round her & saw the sedans & trucks rushing past them on the highway ’bove the une’en grass path they were walking.

I thought we were on gravel, said Autumn… & we were next to a road — you almost walked onto it & a car almost hit you.

A car didn’t almost hit me. ¿When did that happen?.

When you almost walked right into the street.

I didn’t see any car.

In an exasperated tone, Autumn replied, You couldn’t see anything ’cause your vision is covered in condiments.

¿Wouldn’t I have heard it?.

I don’t know: ¿did you cover your eardrums in ketchup, too?.

1 mystery @ a time, said Dawn. Anyway, e’en if I can’t see, which I can, I can use my deductive reasoning to prove that a car couldn’t have almost hit me ’cause cars don’t exist. QED.

They walked on in long, tedious silence. Life always seemed simpler in detective stories wherein a scene can change & Sherlock doesn’t have to spend hours riding a bus, reading his newspaper so thoroughly that he reads the stock exchange, the want ads, & Crock or staring out the window & perhaps having 5th doubts ’bout whether detecting was truly his greatest passion or whether maybe he should finally go for it & become a professional violinist, e’en if it’d risk dragging him back down into opium addiciton, which has saturated the seedy underbelly o’ the music industry. Autumn couldn’t recall e’er reading ’bout Sherlock having an itchy shin, but she had 1 now & had to stop & bend down to scratch it, & make sure she wasn’t foolish ’nough to scratch thru her jeans, which would not only not relieve her itchiness, but would make her shin rash, which would make it impervious to the itch-curing properties o’ scratching. Autumn wondered why this happened & made a mental note to investigate this mystery online when they finished whate’er superfluous nonsense they were —

Then Dawn suddenly said, Wait: I know a secret passage that’ll get us there faster.

¿Sure it’ll be worth it?, asked Autumn, raising her leg to scratch her shin for the 4th time.

I ne’er thought you o’ anyone would turn down a way to save time.

Yes, but we don’t want to do it too much. You know how the natural world is full o’ arbitrary rules, like ‘What goes up must move toward the object with the greatest gravitational force in relation to that thing’s relative position’ & ‘you can’t go thru mo’ than 1 secret room or passageway in a single story’. It wouldn’t be fair if we hogged all the secret passageways, I s’pose.

But Dawn just slapped the air like a naughty child. O, you worry too much. ¿What’ll happen to us if we break these silly ‘rules’? You o’ anyone should think, ‘¿What’ll they do to us: shake their fist @ us & say, “¡That’s unfair!”?’.

But the mo’ Autumn thought ’bout it, the mo’ she realized they could do something ’bout it — something dangerous. If’twere something good, like being given a chest full o’ gold, then Autumn wouldn’t have worried, ’course.


As they walked down the sidewalk on their way home from 王秀英’s, Dawn said, ¿See? I told you 王秀英 would fill us with clues like Hazel fed German kids strudel. & you didn’t want us to come.

Without looking up from her sexy feet, Autumn said, I ne’er said I didn’t want us to come. I was the 1 who told him we’d come.

Yeah, but I could see it on your expression: ‘Ugh. Now I gotta do stuff ’gain & maybe get involved in something exciting. No, please, Jeeves’. You ne’er say what’s on your mind — not the most etiquette, ¿huh?.

No, it’s much mo’ polite to put my feet up on people’s tables so they can stare up my jacket.

Says the girl who used to go jumping round everywhere in a short skirt.

I ne’er claimed to be polite.

You know, this reminds me o’ a puzzle….

¿In what universe would I be interested in hearing a riddle from you inspired by the topic o’ panty shots?, asked Autumn.

Puzzle #003

¿In what universe would Autumn be interested in hearing a riddle from Dawn inspired by the topic o’ panty shots?

Anyway, it was good that we came. I don’t know how we could e’er hope to figure out this twisty mystery without knowing these clues, ’specially — .

Autumn burst in, Maybe we shouldn’t talk ’bout it too loud. She leaned in closer to Dawn & whispered, There could be people listening in on us who might try figuring it out before us & getting the reward for themselves — or worse, making it look as if they’re cleverer than we are.

Dawn laughed. Yeah, I guess you’re right. Sorry. I guess that’s why you’re the Private Mind & I’m the Public, uh… Mind.

So far you’ve been doing all the detecting & I’ve just been Watson from the sidelines.

That’s what it looks like so far; but I have a sneaking suspicion that the true detective’s the other & we’re just not privy to what’s going on in that other’s mind….

With a withered look out @ the windy gray streets & her hands nuzzled in her jacket pockets, Autumn said, We still have approximately 499,949 suspects.

Don’t forget to subtract us — we can’t be the killers, ’cause we’re the detectives.

¿Why not? It’d be the perfect disguise, said Autumn. Plus, that’s assuming someone hasn’t snooped in & took the job out from under us. I always wondered why there was ne’er any competition in mystery stories. Milton Friedman would be heartbroken.

I think the idea is that it takes only the most peculiar o’ minds to be interested in both the cruelty o’, say, poisonous murder, & yet also the normality o’, I dunno… giving a ‘lover’ chocolates or something.

¿How so? I’m not interested in either o’ those, but you’ve still gotten me out here so I could die o’ frostbite — the true reason, ’course.

Dawn turned to her. I feel bad ’bout adding to your unhealthy humor, ¿but you think there’s e’er been a murder mystery where the murderer turned out to be themself?

Yes: that’s called insurance fraud.

Autumn stopped when she saw Dawn stop. She saw that Dawn was putting a hand up toward a brick on an apartment wall.

You truly want the gods pissed off on us all, said Autumn.

I thought you didn’t believe in God.

Dawn pulled ’way a brick, opening up a hole that made it easier to pull out other bricks.

I don’t believe in any god o’ the Programmers. The Programmers themselves unquestionably exist ’cause we have their rants gainst fellow programmers, crackers, & carjackers hidden in our world’s DNA to prove it — & I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some rant ’bout too many shortcuts. This is the 3rd 1 in 1 story.

I only count 2.

¿You don’t remember the 1 we took in 王秀英’s condo just to get to his kitchen?.

O yeah. I forgot ’bout that ’cause it wasn’t in the script.

Yes it is: it’s right round where the 3rd shortcut is ’cause it’s mentioned off-hand.

Sorry, my eyes grew static as I was reading that part.

Dawn finished pulling back the last brick & led the way inside. Tho Autumn sighed, she followed after Dawn.

The Programmers probably won’t do anything this time. But if they do, we’d better be in agreement o’er who’s to blame.


On an evening like this, Autumn & Dawn crept up the stairs to the Wimsey apartment complex, room D505, Autumn holding a gun in her hands & a police badge she’d cadged on her left breast & Dawn holding her heart on her sleeves.

On the count o’ 3….

Immediately afterward, Autumn kicked down the door, waving 4 4s. But it got up ’gain & they were ne’er gonna keep it down. So Autumn brought out her Monster Key & fed it to the door’s lock.

Unfortunately, the door’s loud slurping alerted the man inside. Luckily, Autumn & Dawn entered immediately after, so it was no forewarning whatsoe’er. Autumn shouted, ¡Don’t shoot or I’ll move!, as she trained her gun on the perp’s shirt, which was all there was, in fact, ’cause the perp was a shirt, as am I.

¡I didn’t do it!, the shirt shouted thru its neck hole.

Autumn lowered her gun just ’nough to look mo’ closely @ the shirt, brows twisting @ this new complication.

Howe’er, she kept her gun aimed @ the shirt & said, We have all the evidence we need.

¿& what evidence is that?.

I figured out the broken sudoku o’ your alibi. You claimed you were with Farmer Fred last Saturday; but Farmer Fred has been dead since tomorrow afternoon.

OK, I lied. ¿But how does that prove I killed some random man?.

Autumn twisted her brows @ the shirt, ignorant o’ the fact that she had already been twisting her brows @ the shirt the entire time.

I… I caught you in a contradiction.

¿So? People contradict themselves all the time. We’re only human — well, some o’ us are only humans. I’m only a shirt.

That’s preposterous, Lance chimed in. Everyone knows contradictions don’t exist, & if you find contradictions… ¡you won’t get contradicted ’gain!.

Lance, ¿How’d you get here? ¿Where’d Dawn go?.

I’m still here.

I was talking ’bout Dawn, Lance. I’m well aware that you’re here, e’en tho you’re not.

That was actually me who said that, said the shirt.

So I present this mystery to you, my dear reader: ¿who said, “Lance, ¿How’d you get here? ¿Where’d Dawn go?”? ¿Autumn? ¿Dawn? ¿Lance? ¿O’Beefe? ¿The shirt? ¿Me?


Next, our protagonists hired a psychiatrist & were surprised by the swiftness by which they were able to psychoanalyze the murderer by just sniffing the blood pooling round 王秀英 after he’d pleasantly let them kill him ’gain.

The murderer’s Autumn.

Autumn took the cigarette out o’ her mouth & said in genuine curiosity, ¿I am?.

The psychiatrist nodded. You’re giving us lung cancer with that 3rd-hand-twice-removed smoke you’re injecting into all our lungs. ¿What have I e’er done to deserve such bodily defamation?.

Well, for 1 thing, I don’t like that rose you’re wearing on your shirt.

I’m not wearing a rose on my shirt.

¿You’re not? O, shit.

It’s true: I ne’er described the psychiatrist as wearing a rose on his shirt or e’en wearing a shirt @ all.

¿Why aren’t you described as wearing clothes? You’re an animal, said Autumn, accurately describing the kingdom in which resides Homo sapien.

I’m a free man.

Autumn took ’nother puff o’ her cigarette & asked, Anyway, ¿are you done yet?, Autumn continued, e’en tho the psychologist’s prognostradamus was swift.

The psychiatrist pointed round & said, If you look @ the lines I taped round the room — .

You didn’t put any lines round the room yet.

The psychiatrist put lines round the room yet.

There, ¿see? Anyway, as I was saying, you can see the angle @ which the blood splurt out when we stabbed the victim with a knife to emulate the real killer, & from that angle we can see that, ’mong other things, the killer is a homosexual — that is, a homosapiensexual who likes to have sex with humans.

That seems like a long jump to make: ¿How do we know he doesn’t like to fuck animals?, Autumn said as she rolled her eyes.

He does like to fuck animals, as humans are a part o’ the kingdom Animalia. Anyway, the scent o’ the blood also reveals that the killer prefers jazz o’er classical music.

¿How so?.

The shape o’ it. Nothing anyone does is e’er just what they do. Everything has meaning. Grandma’s hat isn’t just a hat she wears to cover her hair, but a symbol o’ her self-absorbed refusal to accept the social changes happening in the Southern states o’ the United States o’ America, which is why it gets destroyed by the Misfit, just as the Misfit destroyed her delusions & fucking destroyed it @ the last rock concert I’d been to. Blood doesn’t just spill in any ol’ shape just ’cause o’ silly things like gravity or projectile forces or toetonics….

¿What are “toetonics”?.

The psychiatrist’s face became solemn, e’en tho I hadn’t described him as having a face yet. You don’t want to know ’bout “toetonics”; it’s a secret kept by only the highest-level physicists — & for good reason.

But you’re a psychologist with some study in biology, not a physicist.

Yes, but I was able to analyze thru top physicists’ blood after I stabbed them to death their knowledge o’ a concept called “toetonics”.

During this whole scene Dawn had gone off to buy McCheesy’s & nobody noticed. How rude.


That was a waste o’ good money, Autumn said as they left the crime scene.

You paid him in Monopoly money, tho, said Dawn.

¿Do you know how much a copy o’ Monopoly costs?.

You shoplifted it.

I could’ve sold that board game to someone else. Think o’ the opportunity costs. This is why you’ll ne’er be an industry baron.

’Twas true, & Dawn realized @ that very moment that she would have to live with that realization for the rest o’ her life.

But then she looked up & said, This reminds me o’ a puzzle….

Jesus Christ…, said Autumn.

No, this is a puzzle ’bout economics…, said Dawn.

Puzzle #004

Imagine 2 islands with = primary factors o’ labor & land: island A uses these factors directly to only produce products for consumption, using no capital goods @ all; island B uses these factors to only produce capital goods such as hammers, screwdrivers, & Super Mario Maker levels, consuming nothing for a short while.

¿Why does island B end up with mo’ than 100 units o’ future consumption goods in return for 100 units sacrificed in the present to the Mammonth?

¡Good job, Autumn!, Dawn exclaimed with a finger raised up in the air.

I ain’t said shit, said Autumn.

As a poster in my doctor’s office once said, ‘Wise souls speak loudly in silence’ — or something like that, said Dawn.

Autumn ain’t said shit.


Edgar Winters found Autumn exactly where Dawn said she was: under a fir towering o’er her like a monarch, drowning her in the lefto’ers o’ its rainwater feast. All these drops bounced off her like rubber; the only meal she hungered for was burning cigarette after cigarette, further graying air already crowded with rainy clouds. He could tell she’d had her own feast just by looking ’pon the graveyard o’ soggy butts all round the fir’s feet.

Edgar itched with guilt as he saw this. He said in a soft but slow voice, Autumn, ¿is everything all right? You shouldn’t feel bad ’bout not solving some murder. Life’s not like some yarn well-sown by careful, crafty writers; reality is so twisted, so arbitrary… it’s basically impossible to figure things out. I have no idea why Dawn thought — .

Edgar shook & felt his heart race.

¡Idiot! You’ve been with Autumn all these years & you can’t keep from drooling out everything in 1 second?.

Autumn took a cigarette out o’ her mouth long ’nough to say, ¿When did you become such a nihilist? I stopped giving a shit ’bout Dawn’s dumb game hours ago. I bet it’s all a hoax, in any case. ¿Did you figure it out in your own secret-squirrel investigation?.

Edgar’s nerves forced him to look ’way; his nerves forced him to glance back & saw Autumn staring right @ him. She made a silent chuckle & as she stubbed out cigarette #28, she mumbled, That’s what I figured.

It came from Dawn’s cranium…, mumbled Edgar.

O, elementary, it did. Thick smoke ’scaped Autumn’s mouth. ’Twas an unsolved mystery whether ’twas ice air or cigarette smoke. Only she would be the class to construct such a dumb game. ¿Will you tell me the answer to this riddle?.

Edgar stared down @ the colony o’ cigarette stubs, grisly gray ’pon gray concrete in a gray world o’ rain. Dawn thought if you figured it out you’d feel better ’bout….

¿’Bout being a failure? That’s sweet. ¿What’s the answer to the riddle?.

You’re not a failure. Dawn says it’s probably her fault — .

The riddle. ¿Who killed the rando who called us? ¿Did he e’en die? I think he showed us proof o’ being revived, but you can’t vouchsafe that that can’t be faked.

He truly died & was truly revived, said Edgar. Autumn’s brows narrowed. She wasn’t sure if his shivering was just his thin bones’ weakness to the cold or the chill o’ guilt.

¿Who killed him? ¿Did Dawn make a deal with him & have him killed just to make me feel better? ¿Who has the bleaker humor now?.

I — I was the 1 who hired someone.

Autumn smiled. Birdshit. Get the fuck outta here. ¿You have connections with the mob now?.

With peak nervousness, Edgar mumbled, ’Twas actually a ghost….

O, well that makes mo’ sense.

As a skeleton, it’s easy to convince them to help me in need.

That’s convenient. Too bad we couldn’t use that trick the thousand times we needed it mo’ before. Autumn picked up ’nother cigarette. Today was a’least a 29-cigarette day, if not a 50.

Edgar shuffled his feet. I ne’er thought ’bout it @ the time. The idea just struck me, like magic.

Magic. ¿How’d you find this ghost? ¿Do skeletons have the power to conjure ghosts whenever they want?.

He was actually my twin brother.

I guess the idea ne’er struck you till now to mention that you had a twin brother all this time.

Edgar raised a finger. In my defense, I did mention having a twin brother; nobody noticed tho, — including the Programmers themselves — ’cause I whispered it very quietly.

Fair ’nough. I’m still surprised your victim was so cool ’bout the whole ordeal. ¿Did you a’least murder him in a soothing way?.

Edgar nodded. We used a special potion that Dawn made — she just figured out the recipe recently. It just makes you pass out & give up the ghost, as they say in the ghetto, which is far sweeter than real poisons, which usually have all kinds o’ complications & taste like acorns. Dawn gave me the paper that explains its entire chemical composition if you want to see it.

Autumn took a deep drag o’ her 29th cigarette. I’m cool.

I’m sorry I let you down so much, Edgar said with a glum hunch o’ his shoulders. Dawn thought it’d give your puzzler quite a boulder to smooth your sharp edge on so they don’t grow back into you or some words.

I feel much better knowing this was just a way to gaslight me into feeling better, said Autumn. ¿What e’er happened to a good ol’ punch in the head & a, ‘Quit moaning or we’ll give you a good reason to moan’. Though I s’pose that’s what you did.

Edgar couldn’t look @ Autumn anymo’. E’en in the sun he felt like he was lost in a fog round her, & Summers’ smiling light failed to illuminate it. & it’s been creeping on him that this fog was only growing thicker.