Friday, August 25, 2006


Spare cash burning a hole in your pocket? Why not bid on this home-made robot with more than a passing resemblance to the croak-voiced enemies of Doctor Who?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Point And Click

Suggest a target for the Mars Orbiter Camera on board Mars Global Surveyor.

And here’s one of my favourite of all of the pictures beamed back from the still-functioning pair of Mars rovers. Not only because it was taken on my birthday last year, but also because sunset on Mars really makes you realise that it’s so very different from Earth.

(Note - the direct link to the picture turned out to be broken, but you can get to it via the NASA homepage by clicking on Larger Image.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Players - 6

After they had set off again, Randy Farrell explained that he’d been diagnosed with liver cancer three years ago, the doctors had cut a tumour as big as a goose egg out of him. He’d gotten better, but four months ago the cancer had come back worse than ever, had spread to his bones and his pancreas. He didn’t have long to live, which was why he wanted to do right by Edie. Also, he said, he loved the girl as if she was one of his own. He’d been a son of a bitch when he was younger, beating up on his girlfriends, even beating his mother once, but marriage and helping to raise his stepdaughter had grounded him. He’d even quit drinking after his last stretch in the joint, but not before the damage had been done.

His confession was well rehearsed and laced with jargon he’d probably learned at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and cancer support groups. But he seemed sincere, telling Summer that Edie had loved to read, English had been her best subject at school and she would have studied it in college if she hadn’t grown wild and gotten into trouble with the police. Telling her that Edie had loved a little black cat she called Edgar Allan Poe, that Edie had sewn her own clothes from patterns, and she had been a pretty good artist, too. Edie and her mother had never gotten along, Randy Farrell said, but he hoped he had been some help to her. When he’d seen her that one time after she ran off, she had been full of plans; he’d given her money to buy something smart so she could try to get back to school, train for an office job. Meanwhile, she’d been waitressing in a short-order place. The manager took a kickback straight from her basic pay because she’d been on probation and he could violate her back to jail any time he wanted, but she had been making that up on tips.

‘Everything was going right for her, except for that no-good boyfriend.’

‘Have you remembered anything more about him?’

Before driving to the Farrells’ house Summer had phoned around Portland’s five precincts in case Edie Collier’s boyfriend had reported her missing, but she’d had no luck.

Randy Farrell said, ‘I saw them together once, by accident. I was on the floor above them in the Lloyd Center, looking to buy something for Lucinda’s birthday. I saw Edie with some young guy outside the multiplex there.’

‘Did you get a good look at him?’

‘When I spotted them, like I said, I was on the floor above. By the time I had ridden down on the escalator, they’d split. Went to see a movie, I guess.’ Randy Farrell was quiet for a moment. Summer glanced at him in the rear-view mirror. He was looking at something inside his head and the corners of his mouth were turned down. Saying at last, ‘I just realized that was the last time I saw her.’

‘When was this?’

‘Two weeks ago to the day. I got Lucinda a crystal dolphin. She loves shit like that. Edie didn’t even send a card, I’m sorry to say.’

‘That was the only time you saw Edie’s boyfriend?’

‘If the guy she was with was her boyfriend, yeah.’

‘What did he look like?’

‘I didn’t really get to look at him.’

‘Well, was he white or black?’


‘How old would you say?’

‘I guess about Edie’s age. Maybe a little older, it’s hard to say.’

‘Edie was eighteen.’

‘Nineteen next month.’

‘So this boyfriend, Billy no-last-name, was eighteen or nineteen.’

‘Maybe a little older. I didn’t get a real good look.’

‘How tall was he?’

‘I was pretty far away.’

‘Taller than Edie? Shorter?’

‘Maybe a head taller. He had black hair, too, shoulder length.’

‘What he was wearing?’

‘Jeans, I think. Blue jeans. And a big plaid shirt, some kids wear them like a coat over their T-shirt? Like that. And he had a briefcase too. Apart from that, he looked like any of those kids who hang around Pioneer Square.’

‘What kind of briefcase?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Was it metal or leather?’

Randy Farrell thought for a moment. ‘I guess it was more like one of those cases you carry those small computers in. You know, with a shoulder strap.’

‘A laptop computer case.’

‘I guess.’

‘Did you get a look at his face?’

‘I only saw him from behind.’

‘Shoulder-length black hair, blue jeans, a plaid shirt. And a computer case.’ It wasn’t much, but it was something. There couldn’t be too many street kids who lugged around a laptop computer - or, at least, its case.

Randy Farrell said, ‘Edie told me they were in love. She showed me this cheap ring he bought her. Way she talked you could see she thought he was Mr Wonderful, but don’t you guys say that in a murder case the first suspect is the one nearest the victim?’

‘I don’t have an opinion one way or another, Mr Farrell. It isn’t my case.’
Newer Posts Older Posts