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[Tarvek has been shifting in and out of his own memories all day, alternating between an uneasy but convinced native Mayfield POV, and a frantic, panic-stricken Europan Spark-Prince convinced he's being mind-controled: which, of course, he is. He's seen Ilsa, but failed to accomplish much.  He's taken part in baseball, sack races, picnic with potato salad and fried chicken.  Now dusk is falling, and while the big show has yet to begin, dozens of daredevil little Mayfield scamps are already beginning to "light up."  Firecrackers, that is.]
 
[Tarvek, leaning against a big maple tree in the park, hears a muttering, raucous, edgy burst of laughter near the hedge line at one side of the parking area... the sound of adolescent boys who are about to cross a line they know they shouldn't.  After all, this is Mayfield, and boys will be boys.  The Mayfield father in Tarvek knows, just as surely, that it's time to serve as a role model to Mayfield youth, for Father Knows Best.] 
 
[Excusing himself from his wife and children, he rises and followed the whoops and chortling, only to find a small cat backed up against the impenetrable wall of the fence, scared as a gang of boys reach and grab.  Some have firecrackers, and some have string, and still others have matches, and all are planning how to tie the firecrackers to the cat and set them off.]
 
[Reality once more crawls for Tarvek. His eyes see two things -- a small, helpless cat, and an equally small, helpless Nall-the-not-cat, his draconic friend.  Both Mayfield Tarvek and Europan Tarvek, however, know what to do.  With a firm, certain shout he calls the boys to order, striding forward through their gathered ranks, grabbing the little cat by the scruff and quickly wrapping it in a confining but gentle hug.]
 
"Boys, that's not how we do things.  Not here in America, and not in Mayfield.  This great country of ours was founded on principles intended to protect the weak from the strong, to give rights to those cast aside, to defend the liberty of all.  We are a nation of protectors and defenders, and so shall it ever be."
 
[He staggers out, cat still held firm to his chest, unsure of himself.  He's Europan Tarvek again, for one moment, stroking Nall-not-cat, swearing because the stupid town is both the beautiful dream he just described, and the hell-hole that has trapped him, trapped Nall, and set the boys loose with their firecrackers.  Tarvek yearns for the dream -- and more and more sees the bitter nightmare, too.]
 
[How is he to deal with both?  He doesn't know.  So he holds the cat, which his Mayfield self has now decided is his cat, his family pet, their dear little Nall-cat.  He will hold Nall and protect him through the evening and the fireworks to come, and at the end he will bring him home and let him sleep safe, curled on the sofa in the home office where once the same Nall-cat lay dead with Dead-Ilsa.]
 
[Maybe, in the morning, it will make sense to all of them.]
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March 2012

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