The Loggers Hut,
Walter Launt Palmer,
watercolor and gauache on paper, 1900.
In the lobby of an old courthouse, where Lillie has just completed a difficult exorcism in the cells beneath, Lillie and crew are waiting out a violent protest staged by an anti-exorcism group.
"Someone's Toyota is going to need body work," Ted observed. "And there goes the display window at the antique store across the street." His hands twitched his baton. I had the feeling he'd like to be out there, roaring and laying about.
Two things happened at once. Just as Ted reported a fire truck nosing through the crowd from one end of the street and shields of the riot squad pushing in from the other, the bailiff came yelling down the main corridor behind us, belly jiggling under his white shirt as he ran.
"Bomb threat," he shouted. Everybody out! Evacuate the building. Back exits!"
He smashed glass and pulled the fire alarm. Dingdingding blasted overhead.
Johnnie charged past me and grabbed him by the shoulder. Questions I couldn't hear above the competing cacophonies, inside and out.
The bailiff jabbered up at him and pulled away. People scurried from doorways like ants. I hadn't realized so many people worked here. Maybe it just seemed like a lot, with the jostling and shrieking.
A couple appeared on the stairs. The bailiff bellowed at them to go back and use the fire escape.
Checking each office as he retreated, the bailiff pumped his arm over his head, yelling, "Back exits. Move it. Go! Go!"
"Phone calls," Johnnie reported as we huddled to hear. "To the station and the media. About fifteen minutes ago. Could be a hoax."
"Shit! That's one way to get us to show our noses," said Ted. "Pity your're so striking, lady, or you could slip out right now with the rest of the rabble."
He squared his shoulders. "Your call, Big Guy. Do we go?"
Johnnie scooped up the folding chair, tucked it under one arm, clamped my shoulders and tucked me under the other.
The left windows shattered. A smoking cylinder thumped, bounced, and rolled against the wall. For a second, I wondered. Tear gas canister shot wild?
"Pipe bomb," said Johnnie. "We certainly go."
Stocking, Stuffed: Santa left me a feather pen, its plume the colour of lapis lazuli, and a glass paperweight enclosing a botantical of Iris Spuria.