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"Mrs. Cualla, we've been assigned to your class." Lex announced as both boys approached the teacher's desk.
After a moment to consider, Mrs. Cualla cautiously said," There must be some mistake. I'm surprised enough that students your age have been accepted to this school. But even so, if you're just starting, you should be in a first-year class."
"All I know about it is that this is where Mrs. Bright sent us." Lex said hesitantly.
"I'm afraid that this isn't going to be fair to you. Although I don't mind receiving new students mid-year, we may be too far along for you to be able to catch up."
"Well, I have the memories of someone who's already taking your class so, in a way, I am caught up. If you'd like, I can help Lucky... That is, if he even needs it. I've noticed that he picks up on things pretty quickly." Lex said seriously.
Mrs. Cualla held out her hand for their class schedules, then made a note on her attendance roster before handing them back.
Finally, she said, "I'm guessing that you somehow have Paul's memories and that all of this has something to do with his recent absence from my class."
"Actually, I have G's memories, but yeah, the rest is right on the nose." Lex timidly confided.
Mrs. Cualla looked to Lucky and asked, "You have no such memories to aid you?"
"No. But if someone shows me how to do a spell, I remember it. So it shouldn't take me too long to catch up." Lucky said seriously.
Mrs. Cualla was surprised by the response but finally said, "Perhaps this is the right class for you, after all. Lexington, would you take Lucky to the back of the room and skim through the classwork thus far with him, to give him an overview? If possible, I would like to get both of you on track with the rest of the class in the next week or so."
"Yeah. We should be able to do that." Lex easily confirmed.
"I can't do magic the same as other people." Lucky hurried to explain, then timidly added, "I thought you should know."
"You haven't noticed a talent for 'seeing' the spells cast on enchanted items, have you?" Mrs. Cualla asked carefully.
"No. I can usually see 'under' a spell when someone is casting it, but as far as I know, an enchanted item just looks like anything else to me." Lucky said honestly.
"Tell me what you see when you look at this." Mrs. Cualla said as she held up a tiny silver spider on a delicate chain.
"It's Kay's charm." Lex said happily.
"That it is. Paul and Filipe made the charm in this class."Mrs. Cualla confirmed, then continued by asking, "But what can you see when you look at it?"
"Nothing. To me, it just looks normal." Lucky said honestly.
"I can see that it's enchanted." Lex said seriously.
"Tell me what you see." Mrs. Cualla said with interest.
"It's just got the same glow as anything else that's carrying a magical charge." Lex said frankly.
"Not everyone can recognize a charmed item when they see it. This can be a very good skill to have if you're in danger of stumbling across cursed items." Mrs. Cualla said carefully.
"Yeah, well, I don't think there's much of a chance of that. "Lex said with a smile at the absurdity of it.
"You're Paul and G's brothers, aren't you?" Mrs. Cualla asked in a leading tone.
"Brothers, cousins... something like that." Lex somewhat confirmed.
"Paul strikes me as someone for whom encountering both charms and curses is more of a likelihood."
"Yeah. He's easy to love... and hate." Lex said in support of her statement.
"You know, this whole thing reminds me a little too much of when Paul was first put into my class. How about, we take a different path? I think I'd like for the two of you to attempt to enchant your own items." Mrs. Cualla said seriously.
"G never had to do this. I wouldn't even know where to start." Lex said honestly.
"Some people look at the charms that we have, and concoct ways in which we might modify them to make them more potent or update their function for the modern age. Other people look around and identify a need, then seek to address it." Mrs. Cualla said professionally.
"So we don't have to use spells that are already written?" Lex asked to be sure.
"I have an entire classroom of people who can do that. I'd rather give you the chance to 'craft' your own spells so that you can learn basic magic from the inside, rather than just reading about it." Mrs. Cualla said seriously.
"But why don't you do that for the rest of the class?" Lucky asked curiously.
"I do, at least for those I suspect may have a talent in that direction. Those with no talent or drive would gain nothing from the endeavor and only succeed in making me, everyone around them, and themselves miserable in the process." Mrs. Cualla said frankly.
"Professor Woo said something about us making a charm, didn't he?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"Yeah. He was saying that your matter construct spell might be partly managed by a charm so that a sorcerer could end up making one of his illusions feel like it's real." Lex carefully explained.
"That sounds like a rather interesting spell." Mrs. Cualla said honestly.
"Show her, Lucky." Lex said with a smile at him.
After a glance around the classroom, Lucky made a single hand sign and concentrated on releasing his spell. In the space of an instant, Lucky was suddenly standing before her, wearing his casual clothes.
"You were wearing illusionary clothing?" Mrs. Cualla asked with surprise.
"Yeah. But that's not the best part." Lex said happily, then told Lucky, "Go ahead."
Lucky spared him an annoyed glance, but then went through the short form version of creating the interlocking cylinders, then conforming them to his body. The entire process culminated with Lucky's illusionary 'sleeve' wrapping around his entire construct to make it look as plain and unremarkable as anything else in the mundane world.
"You two do the Darroch family name proud." Mrs. Cualla said appreciatively.
Lex and Lucky had matching beaming smiles at the declaration.
"I recommend that you go through your spell, step-by-step, and see if there's any way that you can contain some of it within an object. Don't worry yourselves with trying to do the whole thing, just make an aid to get a person past the... alchemical manipulation, let's say; something to allow a person with no such talent to be capable of casting the overall spell." Mrs. Cualla said carefully.
"Yeah. I can't cast the whole thing, so we could start with that, making something so that I can make an illusion uniform that feels real."
"But your illusion is just as good." Lucky said seriously.
"It's kind of a drain to have to keep feeding it magic and besides, it doesn't do the main thing that clothes are supposed to do; it doesn't keep me warm." Lex said frankly.
"I didn't think of that." Lucky said honestly.
"Sometimes it's nice to have a layer of protection against simple mundane things like a spray of water or dirt being kicked up by something. Being able to create a jacket or a coat when I need one might be a really good trick to have handy." Lex explained seriously.
"When you're ready to begin, I suggest that you look through the library and explore a few of the charmed items that we have lying about and see if you're inspired by their design in how to create one of your own." Mrs. Cualla carefully suggested.
"If it ends up that we can't make a charm, are you going to put us in with the regular class?" Lex asked curiously.
"Perhaps. Before that time, I hope to have a chance to evaluate you for your knowledge and aptitude in basic magic. We'll see how things go from there."
"What is everyone else doing?" Lucky asked as he looked around the classroom at all the students, each with a handheld mirror somewhere on their desk.
"At the moment we're exploring traditional death rituals and the associated charms. I wouldn't worry too much about that, as long as you take a moment to read through the chapter overview, you can probably answer any question I'd be likely to ask on the subject." Mrs. Cualla said seriously.
"Okay. And just in case, we'll be sure to review the chapters before it; there aren't really that many." Lex said seriously.
"Excellent. If you will go to the back table and begin your investigation, I'll bring you some textbooks shortly." Mrs. Cualla said warmly.
"Thank you Ma'am." Lex said respectfully.
* * * * *
Once they had their books, Lex decided that Lucky would be best served by spending a little time getting familiar with the textbook from the previous year.
The overview of charms and curses turned out to be interesting to Lucky and there were a few spells that he could see the value in learning by virtue of their utility.
While Lucky was reading, Lex approached with a talisman in his hand.
"What does that one do?" Lucky asked when he noticed.
"This? It wards off werewolves specifically and canines in general." Lex said quietly as he took a seat at the table.
"How can we use that for our uniform illusion spell?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"We can't." Lex admitted, then explained, "I remember my mom... I mean, G's mom, having a talisman like this one. I don't know why she was worried about werewolves, but she wore it all the time. G always thought it might have something to do with Uncle Gawain."
"If not having a mom of your own bothers you I can understand and stuff, if you need me to." Lucky awkwardly offered.
"I usually don't even think about it. I just saw this thing on the shelf back there and remembered her and her charms... that was her big magic, she had dozens and dozens of charms." Lex said distantly.
"Did you find anything to help us with our charm?" Lucky asked hopefully.
"I found a cuff that would probably work really well. If we could enchant it with the base construct spell, then the witch would only have to know the illusion to make it look real." Lex said thoughtfully.
"Would they have to know the 'changey' or would we enchant that on there, too?" Lucky asked curiously.
"I couldn't put it on the cuff. I know that much. But if we were to find some kind of a stone that we could mount on the cuff, we could enchant the stone separately. As long as the person using it activated them in order, it should work." Lex said thoughtfully.
"What would happen if they did it backward?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"A magical wedgie, maybe? I don't know. It would 'changey' their real clothes and their 'constructed' clothes would be intheir unaltered state." Lex said slowly.
"There should be a way that we can make it work the way it's supposed to every time." Lucky said seriously.
"Enchant the cuff, enchant the stone, then enchant the cuffand the stone to only perform one action, one way." Lex said consideringly.
"So that would make it so that you would always get it to do the uniform in the right order every time, but if you ever wanted to use it for a coat or something else, you'd have to completely kill all three charms and you'd probably end up destroying the whole thing before you could remake it the way you wanted it to be." Lucky said slowly as he reasoned it out.
"We also have to fuel it." Lex reminded him.
"Yeah. And we'd also have to put a limiter on it so that it wouldn't completely drain someone who had only a little magic to start with. If we didn't do that, it could hurt them." Lucky said frankly.
"If we make it so that only a witch of a certain level can use it, then we can power it from the witches personal reserve of magic." Lex said slowly.
"Yeah. But everything I'm reading about charms in here is about what they do and how they do it. The book doesn't say anything about how to make a charm." Lucky said honestly.
"I remember Paul telling G about that. Him and Filipe were able to figure out how to make their own charms by combining their abilities. But I don't think he ever said where he found out how to do that." Lex said slowly as he fought to remember.
"Paul takes things that already are and makes them do something new, he makes them do what he wants them to." Lucky said thoughtfully.
"Yeah. Okay. Paul can see inside spells and reconstruct them to do what he wants. You can reinterpret spells and mix them together using your own magic. If we can take your version of the spell and enchant an item with it, that should do it." Lex said carefully.
"How do we enchant an item?" Lucky asked simply.
"That's the big question, isn't it?" Lex asked in return.
"The answer's not in these textbooks, is it?" Lucky asked seriously.
"Not the answer to this, but a lot of other answers to a lot of other questions are in those books. And some of those answers are the ones on the tests that we'll have to take." Lex said frankly.
"So how are we going to do this?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"You keep on reading those textbooks, so you can get a good grip on how basic magic and charms work while I search the reference books and hopefully find a 'how to' guide on how to enchant an object."
Lucky didn't appear to be too happy with the arrangement.
"And if I can't find the answer by the end of class, we can ask Paul at lunch. He's already done this and knows where to findexactly what we're looking for." Lex said confidently.
"Are you sure?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"I personally saw Paul enchant a pendant for a mundane person... well, G saw him, but you know what I mean." Lex finished with a smile.
Lucky nodded for him to continue.
"Not only did he embed a spell within the pendant, but then he actually fueled it with the energy from a battery. He used several spell diagrams, and I can't even guess at how many magical disciplines, but in the end he had created an enchanted item." Lex said seriously.
"Yeah. That sounds like what we need. But I'd still feel better if we could do it without Paul's help. If he was able to find the answer, then we should be able to find it too." Lucky said honestly.
"I'll see what I can do to find us copies of those spell diagrams that Paul used. I have a feeling that that's the key to finding enough clues so that we can enchant our own items." Lex said speculatively.
"Yeah. While you're doing that, I'll get back to reading this. I'm not sure if it'll help us with making our own charms, but I'll probably need to know this stuff anyway, like on a test or something." Lucky said decisively.
"Even if you don't need to know it for a test, it won't hurt for you to have a good idea of what other kinds of charms there are and how they work. It might even give you an idea for the charm that we're trying to make." Lex agreed.
Lucky turned his attention back to his textbook with renewed dedication.
Seeing that, Lex returned to the shelves of books to try and locate something to aid them in their cause.
* * * * *
"How's it going?" Lex gently asked, not wanting to startle Lucky, who seemed to be absorbed in his reading.
"I don't think I've found anything that has to do with making a regular thing into a charm, but I'm almost seeing patterns in which things are charmed to do what spells. I don't know if that'll help us or not." Lucky said seriously.
"I don't know either, but I doubt that it'll hurt." Lex said honestly, then continued, "The bell's about to ring, if you want to get your stuff put away."
"Can I take these books, or do I have to leave them here?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"Those are textbooks, so you can take them if you want to. I'd ask Mrs. Cualla before taking any of the reference books." Lex assured him.
"Yeah. If we find out how to make a charm, I might go back and try to make a few of these. Some of them look like they'd be good to have." Lucky said honestly.
"Just remember that shortcuts and easy answers can end up backfiring on you. Before you go to a lot of trouble making a charm, be sure that it's something that you really want and willactually be more useful than doing without it." Lex saidsagely.
Before Lucky could respond, the bell rang, signaling the beginning of lunchtime.
* * * * *
"Do you remember Curtis from the cookout?" Lex asked as they walked out of the classroom.
"Yeah. I don't think I got to talk to him much, but I know who you're talking about." Lucky said slowly.
"He sits with us at lunch. He's not a witch, so we don't talk about magic when he's around." Lex said seriously.
"Oh? I bet that makes things weird." Lucky said slowly as he thought about the connotations of that.
"Sometimes. It's not bad though. Curtis is a fun guy, so no one minds holding back a little if it means that he can hang out with us." Lex explained.
"Okay. I'll remember." Lucky promised, then thought to add, "As long as you remember that you haven't met him before."
"What?" Lex asked with surprise.
"G's the one who knows him. When you meet him, remember that you're strangers." Lucky said seriously.
"Yeah. I didn't think of that." Lex said slowly, then noticed where they were and quickly said, "Real world."
"Huh?" Lucky asked in confusion at the unusual statement.
"Up ahead we'll be entering the regular school. From here on there might be mundane people who can hear us, so we can't talk about magic and stuff." Lex explained.
"It was like that at my old school, even though just about everyone there was a witch." Lucky said honestly.
"There's probably more mundane people than witches here, so you've got to be careful..." Lex trailed off with a smile when he saw Paul, G, Nazzy and Vinda waiting for them at the 'real world' crossroads.
* * * * *
"How are you guys doing?" Paul asked as he automatically walked to Lucky and gave him a firm hug.
"I think everything's pretty much like we expected." Lex said cautiously.
"Introductions?" Vinda firmly prompted.
"Don't act like I didn't already tell you." Paul said with a laugh, then continued, "Lex and Lucky, this is Nazzy and Vinda."
"I met you at the cookout." Lucky said simply.
"I didn't." Lex added with a smile.
"It's nice to meet everyone again or for the first time. Now can we eat?" Nazzy asked hopefully.
"Leave it to Nazz to cut right through the formality." G laughed with delight.
"I think they're having those huge fish steak things that I like so much, so I'm with Nazzy. Let's go." Paul said seriously.
"Haddock." G supplied with an affectionate grin.
"Whatever, they're awesome." Paul said as he joined Nazzy in the race toward the cafeteria.
"We'll talk at the table." Vinda quietly assured them before hurrying with G to follow.
"I thought they'd be asking us a lot of questions about how our day went." Lucky said honestly.
"They can see that we passed the entry exam and that we haven't been scared away yet. So those are the biggest questions already answered." Lex said frankly, then added, "I'm sure that they'll remember that we exist about two seconds after food hits their bellies."
"If this fish isn't really, REALLY good, my feelings are going to be seriously hurt." Lucky muttered as he followed Lex into the lunch line.
* * * * *
"Well?" Lex asked with a smile of anticipation.
Lucky finished chewing his bite of food and swallowed before saying, "Okay. Yeah. It's that good."
"Where have you guys been?" Curtis asked as he approached their table.
"History." Paul said simply.
"Creative writing." G said with a grimace.
"No. You were gone for a week and then all of a sudden you're back? Where have you been?" Curtis asked as he sat down in the next available seat.
"You know that field trip you went on to the courthouse? It was something like that. I think they called it a work-study." Paul said seriously.
"But where were you? What were you doing?" Curtis asked before taking a large bite of his fish.
"It was like a charity thing. We're not supposed to talk about it." Paul said reluctantly.
"Yeah. If it got out that these people were vulnerable, it would undo what we did to help them. They'd end up regretting that they ever met us." G said ruefully.
"So the school took you on a field trip to build houses or deliver blankets or something. And they're doing it just because it's a good thing to do. They don't even want any credit for it?" Curtis asked in amazement.
"I think they also wanted to teach us a lesson." Paul said frankly, then explained, "Now I know, without a doubt, thatwe have the ability to make a difference. I'm not going to trust that some celebrity or politician somewhere is going to step up and fix what's wrong. If I find out that someone needs our help, I know that we can help them."
"Okay. I understand what you're saying, and I think it sounds great. The only thing I don't get is how the new guys figure into it." Curtis said frankly as he turned his attention to Lex and Lucky.
"Cousins. You met Lucky at the cookout. Next to him is our cousin Lex. They showed up while we were on the work-study. Their schools were crap so they came here to get a decent education." Paul said seriously.
"Okay. That I can totally buy. The longer I'm here the more grateful I am to be away from my last school." Curtis said honestly.
"I've never been to another school, but from what I've heard from you and Paul, it sounds like we've got it pretty good here." G said seriously.
"Yeah. It's like the difference between day and night." Curtis replied to G, then turned his attention to Lucky and said, "It's nice to see you again Lucky, I remember you from the train."
"That's right. Uncle D let me blow the whistle." Lucky said happily.
Curtis smiled at the memory, then turned and said, "It's nice to meet you Lex. I know how it is to be new here. Just give it a chance and let me know if you need any help with anything."
"Paul and G have done a pretty good job of paving the way for us and raising the bar really high." Lex said with a grin at Paul.
"I like it up there." Paul said in his defense.
"By the way, where is everyone else?" Curtis asked as he looked toward the service line to see if any of their friends were there.
"I don't think Dex and Filipe are here today." Paul said honestly, then looked around to see if anyone knew anything more.
Finally, it was G who said, "I guess they were too tired after the work-study and decided to take the day off to rest. They were both there with us."
"Yeah. That's what I would have done if Dad would have letus." Paul said frankly.
"What about Karras? Was he on your work-study too?" Curtis asked curiously.
"No. He's here today. I had a class with him. I think he's having lunch with Charles." Paul said simply, then pointed across the dining room as he said, "There they are."
"Do you know if Corabeth is here today?" Lex asked Paul curiously.
"I haven't seen her, but I'm not in the habit of keeping track of her either. If she's here, she'll be in my next class. Did you want for me to give her a message from you?" Paul asked with a smile.
After a moment to consider, Lex shook his head as he said, "Just let her know that I'm here."
"Who's Corabeth?" Curtis asked cautiously.
"A girl in my class. Lex met her outside of school and they seemed to get along pretty well. That was before we knew that Lex would be coming here." Paul said simply.
"Did you have any problems getting scheduled? I know that you two being so young must have made things more difficult." G asked seriously.
"It wasn't too bad. Pretty much what I expected, except that we got second year English. I figured we'd automatically be in first year everything." Lex said honestly.
"Do you think that you'll do alright in that class?" G asked curiously.
"Yeah. I've had most of that stuff already and Lucky is picking it up pretty quickly." Lex said consideringly.
"Then it sounds like they put you in the class that you needed to be in, instead of automatically putting you with your age group." Paul said seriously.
"They did that to me too." Curtis said between bites of food.
"How's that?" Vinda asked with interest.
"Instead of keeping me with my class group in math, they moved me ahead to where the work was more of a challenge for me. Even though it's more difficult, it's totally worth it not to be bored out of my mind in class every day." Curtis explained.
"I wonder what happens when you finish their most advanced math class and you've still got a year or two to go." G said speculatively.
"We've already talked about that. Starting next year, I'll be taking college level classes for the subjects that I've maxed out. I'll get actual college credit toward whatever degree I end up going for." Curtis said happily.
"So does that mean that after lunch each day you're going to have to hurry over to the college?" Vinda asked curiously.
"I don't know yet. They may just decide to bring a college teacher here. I guess it depends on how many of us there are that blow the bell curve." Curtis finished with a smile.
"Hopefully you'll still be able to have lunch with us. I want to know how things are going with you." Vinda said with a smile at him.
"I'll make sure that I can. Besides, I don't want to have to give up this wonderful food for college cafeteria cardboard." Curtis said frankly.
"We'd better hurry and finish up. Lunch is almost over, and I don't want to waste a bite of this." Paul said seriously before taking a large bite of his fish.
The others followed his lead, none of them wanting to miss out on the exceptional meal.
* * * * *
Once the group were safely ensconced in the magical hallway, Vinda quickly asked, "Are you really G's self-portrait?"
"I was. Now I'm myself." Lex cautiously answered.
"When G told us about you, I couldn't believe it." Nazzy said frankly.
Lex let go of his 'Cousin Lex' form and grew to his full height.
"Can you believe it now?" Lex asked with a classic 'G' grin.
After a moment of staring, Nazzy cautiously said, "When you put it that way... yeah."
"So you get volunteered to go on a work-study project and you come back with a sentient copy of yourself? What did you do?" Vinda asked in amazement.
"You know how it is with stuff like this. We can't tell you anything, but I hope that you'll help Lex and Lucky try to fit in any way." G said frankly.
"Lex, you'd better change back before too many people see you." Paul quietly suggested.
"Yeah." Lex said as he shrank back down to his 'Cousin Lex' form.
"Is he a chameleon?" Nazzy slowly asked.
"No. But that'd be cool, wouldn't it?" G finished with a smile.
"I was originally created using sorcery, so illusions work a lot better on me than most people." Lex explained.
"But crafting takes just as long for him as it does for me. A chameleon can look at someone and copy them on the spot, it'll take Lex a couple days to get a person's look down and I don't even know if he could manage a specific voice." G quickly added.
"Whatever you guys went for must've been crazy. When my dad got home he was completely wrecked. I don't think I've ever seen him so tired." Nazzy said seriously.
"He's not the only one. I feel like I could fall asleep right here and now." Paul said frankly.
"Are you guys still going to Sorcery with me?" G quickly asked Lex and Lucky.
"Yeah. We already talked to Professor Woo about it." Lex said seriously.
"And he knows about me and Lex, so you don't have to worry as much about what you say around him." Lucky helpfully added.
"He's the senior professor, I usually don't see him more than a couple times a month. With all the students he has, he may not even remember who I am." G said honestly.
"He knows who you are." Lex said with certainty, then added," He even remembered who I am."
"You've got to tell us all about it later. We've got to go." Paul said regretfully.
"Lucky?" A voice cautiously asked from behind them.
"Karras?" Lucky strained to remember.
"What are you doing here?" Karras asked as he joined the group.
"I just started going to school here. This is my first day. I've got to go to Sorcery class right now. I'll talk to you about it later." Lucky said quickly.
"Yeah. Later. It's good to see you again." Karras said with a smile before hurrying away with the others.
G, Lex and Lucky turned in the opposite direction and moved at a deliberate pace to get to their next class before the tardy bell rang.
Those three dreaded words just popped up.
"To be continued"
I am glad to see that our new family members are getting along pretty well.
I kinda get a kick out of the various teachers always seem to think Lex and Lucky are going to be too young to do whatever the teacher would be teaching them.
It was cool to see the interaction between the magic users and the mundanes.
I have a funny feeling that maybe someday Curtess will put two and two together and ask about something he notices. It would be something magical that he shouldn't have been able to see, but he does.
He has no family connection to any magical person, yet he somehow has some sense of something being strange. It won't be someone slipping and saying something they shouldn't, it will be some charm or something that has a magical glow that mundanes can't see or detect, but Curtess will notice it andmake a comment.
I realise that the above paragraph doesn't exactly click with what is down below.
That's because I had already written that stuff when I had the thought about Curtess, so I put it in where it would make sense to have it.
The next stuff relates to the way the teachers react to our two guys being so young, and of course, they couldn't possibly be able to keep up with their elders.
I used to hate it when a teacher or anyone who was charged with placing me in a new situation assumed that I wouldn't be able to do whatever it was going to be.
I was skinny and puny as a kid, and I didn't see all that well. Nobody wanted to even give me a chance to try to do stuff.
When I was in second grade, my classroom had these large pictures of the alphabet just above the blackboard. Each letter was there with the printed version on the left and the Script version on the right.
My mom had taught me to sign my name. Of course that was cursive, or script.
When I turned in my first homework assignment, I had written it in script.
My 'teacher' was furious that I had gone ahead of the class and had dared to learn how to WRITE in something other than block letters.
I was sent to the principal for being a smartalack.
I don't remember what the punishment was, but I think I had to have detention.
Jeeze, just thinking about that raises my blood pressure, even now.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher