Lisa walked into the paranormal office while buckling on her gun belt. She had a look of grim determination. She’d put on her jodhpurs, boots and top from the time we went on the outlining safari. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“It’ll be fine. If I’m going to write these stories, a bit of research is necessary. I don’t know some of the details and I want to make the stories plausible.”
“You’re stories are all speculative fiction.”
“That’s not what I mean. Sure they have fantastic elements, but the real-world stuff has to be that much more accurate.”
“Those girls are hell-bent on destroying your writing career by sending you down a wormhole of research. They aren’t called the Research Sirens for nothing.”
“That’s why you’re coming, to protect me. I enjoy research, and a certain amount of it is necessary.”
“Yeah, and a certain amount of it isn’t. Remember when they talked you into flying to China? If Lorelei hadn’t showed up you’d still be there today.”
“They’re the best researchers ever, and I want their help.”
“I’ll pull the Land Rover around. It goes with my outfit.” She headed up the stone steps, then turned back. “Lorelei will be pissed if she finds out.”
“Then we can’t let her find out.”
Lisa parked behind the Olympus Lounge in the tiny mountain town. She set the meeting up, and this is where the Sirens chose.
She made me wait in the car while she looked around the parking lot, one hand on her big assed gun at all times. She held up her hand and made a come here motion with two fingers. She shouldered her canvas map-bag and we went inside.
The lounge was decorated with marble columns running up into a darkened ceiling. We crossed a marble floor while glancing at busts of famous authors.
The ladies waited on various pieces of plush furniture. Wiki sat cross-legged on a huge beanbag with her nose buried in the iPad mini she never seemed to be without. Her red A-line haircut looked like it was multiple shades from various dyes, and had been cut to look like it was chewed into shape. She wore a tee-shirt with the Apple logo, a denim skirt, black leggings, and sneakers.
Wiki had always been the most helpful, and she wrinkled her nose in the most adorable way when she spotted us. She jumped up and skipped to a table booth had been reserved for our meeting.
Conversia rose from the sofa and straightened her black sequined dress. Her caramel skin and huge spiral perm drew instant attention. The scoop neck on her dress wasn’t something that could be ignored. She walked gracefully to the table, heels clacking on the stone floor as she walked.
Libraria came out of the back somewhere. Her blonde hair was in a tight ponytail, and she hadn’t given up on the sexy librarian look. She carried a tray with a carafe of red wine and five glasses. She glanced at me over the top of her glasses before placing the tray on the table.
Conversia gestured at my chair and I took a seat.
Libraria poured the wine and offered me a glass first.
Lisa scooped it up and took a tiny sip. Her eyes fluttered as she did a complete chemical analysis. “He won’t be having any today. He brought his own.” She reached in her canvas bag and produced a small thermos and tin cup. “He prefers coffee anyway.”
Wiki leaned forward and gushed. “What are we doing today?”
“I, um, I’m working on two novellas and I’m nearly ready to start. They’re quite different, and I need to get some details right.”
Libraria said, “Thank the Gods you came to us first. Starting now could be a disaster. You need to do your research until everything is perfect. Why don’t you tell us what you have in mind.”
“Well, one of them is about these people locked in an underground bunker. They’re stuck there for three months, because of a regular thing that happens in their solar system. As a part of the story, I need to know about the human circulatory system.”
“What you need is a good book on anatomy. Entry into medical school would be even better, but you may not have time. I have a complete library here and can help you find anything you need.”
Wiki turned her iPad toward me and opened her mouth in a silent “ta-daaa” gesture. The whites of her eyes were framed by the heavy mascara she always wore. Her black fingernails and collection of friendship bracelets framed a YouTube video of the human circulatory system.
“Is that a new nose-stud?”
“It is! Thanks for noticing. It’s a real diamond too–”
Conversia placed a perfectly manicured, red fingernail under my chin. She turned my head her direction. She batted her eyes and leaned forward, the scoop-neck of her dress guaranteeing I wouldn’t turn away. “Pay attention. Sometimes all you need is a consultant. Someone else has already done this research. All you need to do is find them and ask them some logical questions.”
“Uh-huh, um, what kind of questions?”
“What do you intend to have happen in your story? Ask if that’s plausible.”
“Okay, so I have another story where the character is going to learn to play the upright bass. I don’t know anything about bass clef.”
“Squee! Look at these cute bass clef earrings I found.” Wiki wrinkled her nose and turned her iPad back towards me.
Lisa moved towards her. “Those are really cute.”
Wiki slid over in the booth so Lisa could sit down.
Libraria said, “I also have books about music theory, simple chords, and can even find you one about how to build your own bass.”
“Girls!” Conversia said. “The man needs another consultant. There are any number of music teachers, instrumentalists, and whatnot that could answer his questions. I suggest a month or two in Vienna or someplace where he can really learn.”
“It isn’t going to be symphonic in nature. It’s more like rock-a-billy, bluesy stuff.”
“I see,” Conversia said. “Perhaps I can set up a mentorship with Brian Setzer or someone similar.”
“That would be awe–”
Lisa slapped me across the forehead. She opened her mouth and played back an audio recording of my own voice. “I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be plausible.”
I leaned back in my chair and sipped my coffee. The girls leaned back in the booth, and Libraria crossed her arms.
“I think we’re done here,” Lisa said.
Wiki turned her iPad around once more. In a half-hearted voice she said, “Look, a cute cat… playing an upright bass.”
Lisa grabbed me by the collar and stood me up. She pointed me toward the door and gave me a shove.
“Bye, ladies. Always a pleasure,” I said over my shoulder.
Lisa pulled onto the highway out of town. “You’re such a dope. A few horn-rimmed glasses, a scoop-neck collar, and a wrinkled nose and you’re ready to move to Vienna. I told you they were dangerous. Lorelei told you they were dangerous.”
“I think Conversia was onto something though. I need a consultant for each story.”
“I have all your friends in my database, and there are a couple who will do a wonderful job. I’ll send out some email and see if they’re interested.”
“At least you didn’t fall under their spell.”
“Don’t be so sure. Wiki and I ordered those earrings, and a bass clef pendant to go along with them. We’ll be like sisters, she said.”