No More Surprises (Ginger Man 12I)

Charlie tapped his fingertips on the table, his prepared lie coming back to him like a delayed check in the mail. “Look, I was just going through some of Mike’s stuff, and I remembered this story about the Ginger Man. Thought it was one of his best, but all I had was this one page in that notebook, and I thought, he musta done something else with that idea. I knew you knew him, and that you liked stories like this, so I was like — ”

“I’d believe you — ” Rune waved his hand dismissively over the top of the table — “if you hadn’t called me last week.”

Charlie blinked, and Rune continued. “You know, it didn’t occur to me until after I’d called you back that day to wonder, why the hell is this guy calling me? I mean, we met once, years ago, to play D&D one afternoon at Mike’s house. Now all a sudden, you call me — I couldn’t remember your friggin’ name — you’re calling me, asking whether I was missing anything or iffin I noticed anything unusual going on. I was too surprised at the time, and by the time I thought how weird it was for you to call me out of the blue like that, I’d actually moved on, to more interesting problems — ” Rune suddenly looked apologetic — “no offense.”

Charlie shook his head. “Nah, no problem.”

“But then you had to go and call me again, yesterday, saying you wanted to show me something Mike had written.” Rune tapped the notebook. “This time you gave me time to get ready, ask you what’s really going on. Now I ‘preciate you paying for pizza and all, but I think you owe me an explanation.” He drew his curly red hair back, glanced down at the notebook, then back up at Charlie. “Or at least an answer to the question that’s coming to me, more and more as you continue being evasive — do you think Mike’s turned into a Ginger Man?”

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