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datatime: 2022-12-03 21:42:58 Author:MvyaKxGM

"So it seems."

I laughed under my breath. "The thefts are symbolic, David. This is a creature of compulsion and obsession. It's a game. That's why he cannot hang on to what he steals. It's the process that counts with him, more than anything else."

"Ah, the photograph on the ship," I said.

"Ah, the photograph on the ship," I said.

"Wait just a minute, you can't ring off, I won't allow it, don't you realize-"

"That's always the pattern. He rises from the lowest employment to living in extravagant luxury, running up ludicrous accounts for fine clothing, motorcars, jet excursions here and there, and then it all collapses in the face of his petty crimes, treachery, and betrayal. He can't break the cycle. It always brings him down."

"Same thing happened later in Oslo, more or less. After a series of odd jobs, including very menial work, he started some sort of a spiritualist church, swindled a widow out of her life savings, and was deported. Then Vienna, where he worked as a waiter in a first-class hotel until he became a psychic counselor to the rich within a matter of weeks. Soon a hasty departure. He barely escaped arrest. In Milan, he bilked a member of the old aristocracy out of thousands before he was discovered, and had to leave the city in the middle of the night. His next stop was Berlin, where he was arrested but talked himself out of custody, and then back to London, where he went to jail again."

"And when you expelled him, he had wanted to sail on that very vessel back to America first class, of course."

"Lestat, there is something positively stupid about this creature. He speaks eight languages, can invade any computer network, and possess other people's bodies long enough to loot their wall safes-he is obsessed with wall safes, by the way, hi an almost erotic fashion!-and yet he plays silly tricks on people and ends up with handcuffs on his wrists! The objects he took from our vaults were nearly impossible for him to sell. He ended up dumping them on the black market for a pittance. He's really something of an arch fool."

"Understandable," I said.

"David, you investigated him before he became a member of the order, did you not? What sort of man is he... I mean how did he become this wizard of sorts?"

"Same thing happened later in Oslo, more or less. After a series of odd jobs, including very menial work, he started some sort of a spiritualist church, swindled a widow out of her life savings, and was deported. Then Vienna, where he worked as a waiter in a first-class hotel until he became a psychic counselor to the rich within a matter of weeks. Soon a hasty departure. He barely escaped arrest. In Milan, he bilked a member of the old aristocracy out of thousands before he was discovered, and had to leave the city in the middle of the night. His next stop was Berlin, where he was arrested but talked himself out of custody, and then back to London, where he went to jail again."

"Ups and downs," I said, remembering his words.

"He was highly educated, spent years at Oxford, though at times he had to live like a pauper. Started dabbling in medium-ship even before his mother died. Didn't come into his own until the fifties, in Paris, where he soon acquired an enormous following, then started bilking his clients in the most crude and obvious ways imaginable, and went to jail.

"Father worked almost all his life for Cunard shipping, spending his last years as a cabin steward in first class on the Queen Elizabeth 2. Very proud of his record. Great scandal and disgrace not so many years ago, when James was also hired, thanks to the influence of his father, and promptly robbed one of the passengers of four hundred pounds in cash. Father disowned him, was reinstated by Cunard before he died. Never spoke to his son again."

"Lestat, there is something positively stupid about this creature. He speaks eight languages, can invade any computer network, and possess other people's bodies long enough to loot their wall safes-he is obsessed with wall safes, by the way, hi an almost erotic fashion!-and yet he plays silly tricks on people and ends up with handcuffs on his wrists! The objects he took from our vaults were nearly impossible for him to sell. He ended up dumping them on the black market for a pittance. He's really something of an arch fool."

"Why are you so afraid of him!"

"Yes, She died of cancer. Terrible pain. Her only daughter became a seamstress, still works for a bridal shop in London. Simply exquisite work. She's deeply grieved over the death of her troublesome brother, but relieved he's gone. I talked to her this morning. She said her brother had been destroyed when he was quite young, by their mother's death."

"Not important, go on. How did he get into the occult?"

"Father worked almost all his life for Cunard shipping, spending his last years as a cabin steward in first class on the Queen Elizabeth 2. Very proud of his record. Great scandal and disgrace not so many years ago, when James was also hired, thanks to the influence of his father, and promptly robbed one of the passengers of four hundred pounds in cash. Father disowned him, was reinstated by Cunard before he died. Never spoke to his son again."

"Raglan," I said.

"David, you investigated him before he became a member of the order, did you not? What sort of man is he... I mean how did he become this wizard of sorts?"

"Father worked almost all his life for Cunard shipping, spending his last years as a cabin steward in first class on the Queen Elizabeth 2. Very proud of his record. Great scandal and disgrace not so many years ago, when James was also hired, thanks to the influence of his father, and promptly robbed one of the passengers of four hundred pounds in cash. Father disowned him, was reinstated by Cunard before he died. Never spoke to his son again."

"Of course I do, David."

"But, Lestat, it's an endlessly destructive game."

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