Lawyers vs. Demons by Scott Baron brings in 2017 with a great title. Already a large part of the reading population will be rooting for the Demons. The rest of the reading population are lawyers so we will have to excuse that bias. This short 62-page read has four short stories plus a link to follow that will get you a free bonus story in return for joining a mailing list. I exercised my KU subscription to download this novel at no further cost.
Lawyers vs. Demons In this story the reader will learn who invented lawyers; the reader may never have wondered about this but will abide by the avid readers’ creed, all knowledge gained, both relevant and irrelevant, is good.
Based on his success in a courtroom, Henry is a great lawyer. No matter what the case, no matter how guilty the client, Henry won cases by using language and legal loopholes to redefine admittedly criminal acts as technically legal. He could control any hiccoughs that might occur during the course of a case but he couldn’t control his sneezing. During one loud sneezing spell, the sound Henry made sounded very much like “Atchzneephchael.” That non-word, but the actual name of a powerful demon, combined with an unfortunate attack of a bloody nose at a location where he had accidentally stepped into the center of a pentagram drawn at a memorial site, summoned the Demon. The Demon was happy to appear in the human world where it was easy to get an orange soda. The Demon looked forward to granting Henry’s three wishes. Each wish would be presented singly accompanied by a task the Demon had to accomplish prior to granting the wish. The Demon was sure the tasks presented by Henry would be easy to accomplish. Henry would get none of his wishes. Henry was equally sure that he could present impossible tasks to the Demon thereby achieving all his dreams. The price of failure was a familiar one, Henry’s soul would go to Hell.
It is not a spoiler for me to mention that Henry won. But, fittingly for this type of story, it was a Pyrrhic victory. This is a well-written short story that contributes its title as the title of the collection.
Déjà Vu The question is about the nature of Deja Vu. Are we really seeing things from the past again? Darren (the reader will get almost to the end of the story to find the narrator’s name) has stumbled on to another interpretation. For him, Deja Vu can give him limited access to knowledge about future events. He just has to figure out how to control his glimpses into the future so that they are long enough to be profitable. If he sees a small ball running around the rim of a roulette wheel, it is not enlightening. He has to extend the glimpse so he can see where the ball landed.
Darren figures out that there are two ingredients necessary for success in the future forecasting business. One is strong, espresso coffee, lots of it. The coffee then leads to the second necessary condition, sleep deprivation. He had to stay awake to the point of exhaustion, then the visions would come. Darren began a systematic study of how he could develop his new-found skill.
Along the way, Darren got greedy. Mafia members at casinos in Las Vegas spotted a constant winner even though he moved from casino to casino. Mob bosses ordered his capture and interrogation. They wanted a piece of the action. After awhile, Darren cooperated but then the increasingly rich mob bosses were in turn spotted by government agencies (CIA) and Darren was rescued … almost. The CIA had plans for Darren also. They wanted to create a lot of Darren clones to achieve goals from a bureaucratic bucket list. They had all the mob notes from earlier studies of Darren; they just had to expand the earlier research.
But Darren had withheld some information from his mob captors.
The Great Yoga Riot of Beverly Hills Burt Thompson (Yogi Vinrasha Himdalay) had built a successful yoga business that attracted a lot of celebrities. Each tabloid picture of a celebrity coming out of a Burt studio increased his income. True, it had taken him a while to build up the business. His past employment record filled with starvation-wage jobs could have gone on forever. Luckily, he had been beaten up and severely damaged by a wrestler as Burt was delivering divorce papers from the wrestler’s wife. The intensive physical therapy sessions he underwent during recovery were rewarded by the discovery of Yoga as a superior healing method; a method suggested by his massage therapist.
Now he had to develop a following, he needed a marketing strategy, and he needed large groups of people who would buy into his program. AA unwittingly provided him with the people looking for a support structure, they probably had not envisioned this in their charter. The yoga business grew and Burt was looking for new opportunities. He went to India, studied six months, and emerged with a new identity of Yogi Vinrasha Himdalay. He had new insights to share with his flock.
The new Yogi would incorporate a healthy eating and drinking diet into his program. As Burt, the Yogi was already a vegetarian but he needed a source of supply for healthy drinks. What better source could there be than the wrestler who had injured him and started the Yogi’s success? Yuri agreed to supply the drink component to all of Yogi’s centers.
The diet and meditation programs were a great success. Customers looked and felt better … until they didn’t. The Yogi knew his meditation program; he was confident about his food program. But what was in the drinks that only lately was causing problems?
Bruce (the Yogi) should have asked earlier.
The Gluten-Free Goddess of Bokano Maru Professors Harrison and Marks were visiting what they thought to be small pristine islands in the Pacific that had never been corrupted by civilization. When the first tribesman they met on Bokano Maru declined to share the civilized food offered by the professors after declaring it not to be gluten-free, the professors knew they were not the first to have visited the island. The question then, who was first?
Charlotte McAfee could have told them, but she never met the professors. They, in turn never learned her name. They only discovered that a woman had been on the island; she was the only survivor of a ship that had capsized. Perhaps that explained the Louis Vuitton bag that one of the tribesmen had. Charlotte had spent enough time on the island to teach them the limited, pidgin English the islanders used to communicate with the professors. They learned that Charlotte had championed an organic diet, condemning anything that was not gluten-free. The islanders adopted her suggestions as if they were a religion. The professors observed the periodic sacrifice in a religious ceremony of preserved food that had washed ashore with Charlotte.
Professors Harrison and Marks noted that Charlotte was not present on the island and expressed their sympathy to the tribe over the sadness that the islanders must have felt on Charlotte’s departure. But the people of the tribe demurred. They had a new, gluten-free religion and Charlotte would always be with them.
Four interesting tales, each one with a twist, is a great accomplishment by this skilled writer. There is no off-putting graphic sex and only implied violence so this can be a fun read for anyone 12-year-old and up. Below 12, readers hopefully do not have the experience to fill in the blanks left by implications.