Pat Coughlin's Blog

Your Home for Shim Shoy Folktales, Hidden Cities, and more

Category: Urban Fantasy

More Intriguing Sorcery


Hidden Cities 15.1
The Recap Continues

Like all cities, Chicago has a Hidden City, and even in it’s suburbs, there were hidden suburbs. Ignatius Black, called Nash by those close, left the Hidden City of Chicago and settled and started and sustained his family in one such place on the overlap of hidden and apparent called Rauhoof Park. The Blacks were a long standing and highly respected family line of Magicians of the Hidden Cities, rarely leaving them for the apparent world, but Ignatius was what is called a Small Magician, born with small inner fires, and thus free to detach himself if he so desired, and he did, leaving behind, among other things, his brother Grissom, whose inner fires burned bright and hot, and whose scholarly aptitudes were making him a great Magician.

Ignatius Black knew some damn scheming and selfish magician had tampered with his son Greene, he could tell that much with his magical senses, but that was all. The boy wasn’t hurting from it, so he tolerated it, seeking avoidance of the hidden world and those that live there.

But when Greene was twelve, the sorceress who had tampered with him captured an entity that had spent some time in his empty head, and so she learned she had succeeded in creating an attractor of hidden forces. The Entity did not just tell her this, she tortured it for the information.

Using her Ravenheads, she brought about the tragedy that made Greene Vardim Black an orphan with nine and a half fingers. She kept a close eye on Greene during the year he spent as a high functioning catatonic at The Deitch Center. She was about to make her final move to make him her own when Grissom Black showed up suddenly and took him to Chicago.

More of what you have already seen but didn’t know about the life of Greene Vardim Black in the next installment of
Pat Coughlin’s Blog, your home for Shim Shoy!

Thank You!


The Return of Pat Coughlin’s Blog

Hidden Cities 15:
What we’ve encountered but haven’t yet
learned concerning Greene Vardim Black

Greene Vardim Black was dosed in the womb with certain alchemical essences that created a vast void in the space between his brain and the inside of his skull. It was a sorceress of the Hidden City who did it, and no one ever even knew it happened. She hoped to create an attractor and reservoir of the sources of magical energies, namely those infra-reality sustaining arteries of the multiverse called Flows, and the Entities, which are known by too many names to list here. The dose was also meant to make Greene a vegetable, his mind too far away from his body to access it at all. She was successful in one way, as many wayward Entities found their way into the empty head of Greene Vardim Black the very day he was born, and more and more as he went along, though again, no one knew about it. But she failed in the other, as little Greene was just fine. Prone to space-staring, perhaps, a little bit forgetful of details, perhaps, but for the most part okay, and this everyone knew about, including the sorceress, who figured she had failed, and left his family alone.
Until Greene turned twelve, and she realized her scheme had only half failed, after all.

This Chapter to be continued in the next installment of Hidden Cities at Pat Coughlin’s Blog!

P.S. For the interested, Hidden Cities chapters 1-14 can be found at my other blog, shimshoycapsula, at . From now on I will be posting all new stories both here and there.

Thank You and a fine Shim Shoy! P

Stanley Squantro, Part 4, Conclusion, Dustup On Chaldean Ave.

As we have been observing Stanley Squantro, the boy who could talk to walls, we have seen him take his seat at the social reject’s cafeteria table with the disgruntled Rod Bodkin and the elfin smartypants Laufey Londgren.  When Stan learned that Rod’s little sister, Lily Bodkin, had gone missing two years ago without a trace, the Squantro family decided to investigate, with Stanley taking the lead. Now, having ditched school alongside Rod, Stan finds himself alone in the walls of House Bodkin, which is one of the houses on Chaldean Avenue, the oldest street in the old town of Rauhoff…

The faces of the walls of House Bodkin were more immediately apparent to Stanley Squantro than any walls of any house he had ever visited, with the exception of the Mayor’s Mansion (A tour of which was the subject of a fifth grade field trip). The moment Rod Bodkin’s eyelids fell shut in sudden sleep, those old walls started talking to Stanley, where often Stan would have to instigate conversation, and their voices were loud and low and rumbling crumbling, like no other wall voice he had ever heard,




-Good afternoon, walls!  I thank you for your hospitality.


-I’m hoping you could tell me what happened to Lily.



-What happened then?



-A magical man?




The walls of House Bodkin let out a collective wailing sigh of regret.  When the din settled, the first wall began again


-But what happened in her room?


So Stanley went around and down the hall to Lily’s room, which had been left untouched in the two years since she disappeared.  The walls of Lily Bodkin’s room told Stanley that Lily was playing with her dollhouse when the little magical man came in, frightening her.  He waved his hand and cast a spell on her.  She shrank down until she was the same size as the dolls she was playing with.  She ran into the dollhouse and hid in it’s secret nooks and crannies, but he shook her out and when she landed on the floor she hit her head and was knocked out.  Then the little magician put her in his pocket and left.

-But who was he?

The walls had no answer.  They were silent.  But Stanley heard something in that silence, a soft calling out to him.  He followed it to Lily’s dollhouse, and looked inside of it, where the miniature faces of the miniature walls within were showing themselves to Stanley as they called to him.

-Hello little walls!  What are you trying to tell me?


-A boy from the neighborhood?


Stanley said goodbye to the walls of House Bodkin, and they said goodbye to him, and as Rod was still snoozing on the couch, left by the front door.  He walked down Chaldean Avenue, the light a blanket dapple through the canopy of leaves on the tall trees abounding.  A name jumped off a mailbox at the end of another long gravel driveway.


Laufey Londgren.  Sits with Rod Bodkin when no one else will.  A little magical man.  Laufey.  Elfin.  An Elf.  Looks like a boy from the neighborhood.  A little magical man in disguise.  Laufey.  Laufey.  Loki Laufeyson.  Laufey Londgren. A little magical man. Walls don’t lie.

These are the flashes of thought that go through Stanley Squantro’s as yet unseasoned deductive reasoners at this moment of looking from the Londgren mailbox to the Londgren house down the long drive , obscured almost completely by the Chaldean foliage.

Stanley walked down the driveway, disappearing from public view behind great unclipped evergreen bushes, up some stairs, and rang the doorbell.  Nothing. Not even a bell.  There was an old fashioned iron door knocker in the shape of a snarling wolf, and Stanley tried it, a fine coat of rusty dust falling on his hand as he banged it three times.  Still no response.  No one home.  To the side of the door was a big window, thick curtains drawn behind it.  some wind kicked up inside, blowing the curtain open for a moment.  In this moment Stan saw two things, a big dollhouse in the middle of an otherwise empty room,and the open window on the inside of the room, through which the revealing wind had entered.

As we can see, Stanley seems to have forgotten the deal he made with his Squantro Kin to share any information before taking action, and he continues to forget as he circles ’round the hidden house of Londgren, and finding the open window, climbs up to and in through it.

There was nothing going on in the empty rooms of the old house.  The only signs of life, light and movement came from within the antique dollhouse in the middle of the front room.  Crouching for a closer look-see, Stanley looked through an upstairs window and within beheld a tiny litle girl sweeping the floors and dusting the corners with a feather duster.  When she noticed Stanley’s relatively huge eye practically filling the window, Kong style, her cry of fright reached Stan’s ear as a pipsqueak of a squeal.

Stanley stood up, and finding the faces of the walls of the Lodgren house, spoke what would become his customary opening inquiry to strange walls,

-What goes on here?



-How can I help her?


-How can I beat him?


Just then Stanwas snapped out of walltalking by the sound of feet on the front steps.  Stan spoke to the walls again,

-Walls!  Help me hide!

With the walls helping him, telling him when and where Laufey Londgren was turning corners, leaving one room and entering another, Stan was able to stay one hidden step ahead of him.  they even told him when Laufey had shrunken himself and gone into the little house, and the coast was clear.  At the time Stanley was on all fours, scrunched up behind an old wooden trunk.  Opting for the greatest possible silence, he crawled carefully back into the front room, where he saw the jar.

Looking into it, Stan saw the jar was filled with fluffy fresh fallen snow, crystalline and cold. A tiny enraged voice startled him!

-Hey!  What the fuck are you doing?

It was a tiny Laufey Londgren, standing on the front steps of the little house, pointing furiously at Stan, who jumped to his feet in a flash.

-That’s mine!  Don’t touch it!

And the tiny little man started to growing.  Stanley lifted the jar over his head, shouting,

-AAAaaaaahhh!! Stop or I’ll smash it!


Laufey stopped growing at about a foot high.

-I’ll be dispersed!

-Let her go, or I’ll throw it right through the window!

-She’s mine!  My servant!  She is what is owed to me!

-Just do it, man!

-You can’t hold that jar like that  forever.  It’s very cold, isn’t it?

It was, and getting colder, it hurt to hold it in his hands, but Stanley stuck in.

-I’ll just smash it, then!


Stan’s finger’s started really burning then, so cold was the jar of snow, so with a great


Stanley whipped the jar at the window, smashing the glass of both to bits, the snow within flurrying forth in little snowy tornadoes that zipped all around.  Little Laufey screamed alongside Stan, and he didn’t stop screaming until Stan snatched him up by the ankle with frostbitten hand and whipped him hard against the wall, which knocked him out, to say the least.

In the ensuing silence one of the little snow tornadoes flew into the little house and in a kind of combination twinkling smashing crinklng, Lily Bodkin grew back to her proper size, shattering the little house to splinters as she shot up out of it.

She just ran out of there and straight home, where she shook her brother out of deep sleep and into a tearful reunion while the walls of House Bodkin shouted in their joy.

Stanley Squantro, meanwhile, found an old antique metal birdcage in a room of Londgren House, and scoooping up the crumpled footlong Laufey, put him in the cage and locked it’s litle door.  He tore down one of the curtains and covered the birdcage, then headed home with it.

Know that Laufey Londgren works, among other crafts, in the art of forced forgetting and the tinkering of memory.  It is a skill that has helped him live as incredibly long as he has.

Stanley entered the Squantro House to great inquisition from Ma and Dad.  The Siblings were still at school.

-So what happened? What’d ya find out?

-Are you all right, Sweetpea?  You look a little dazed!

-Whatcha got there?

-Stanley, your fingers!

Stanley’s fingers were frostbitten, and there was a bird in the birdcage, but Stan found he could not explain either circumstance, as he didn’t even know he had forgotten, and soon did not even care. Even for Ma and Dad, any excitement about or in regards to…what was it we were talking about?  In regards to something?  Oh well… (this memory spell had no effect whatever, however, on Ma Squantro’s treatment of Stanley’s frostbitten fingers).

Shortly thereafter, Dad Squantro felt a mysterious urge to free the mysterious bird in the mysterious birdcage that had appeared so mysteriously in his kitchen, and as his innate love of solving a mystery was so mysteriously nullified, he followed that urge, letting the bird fly out and out and away.

So Stan’s fingers would be prone to quick frostbite the rest of his days, and Laufey Londgren got away, and everybody involved forgot about the whole thing, and Lily Bodkin was rescued and reunited with her long anguished family, thanks to the boy who could talk to walls, and the walls that talked to him.

Thank You

Stanley Squantro, Part 3, The Walls Of House Bodkin

When we last parted company with Stanley Squantro, Boy Detective, The Boy who could talk to walls, The Squantro Family had decided to work together to solve the mystery of the disappearance of seven year old Lily Bodkin, the little sister of Stan’s new friend, the sullen and rough-made Rod Bodkin, two years ago now, by using whatever information Stanley might attain by talking to the walls in the Bodkin’s house on Chaldean Ave.

The next morning Dad Squantro drove the kids to school instead of taking the bus.  He had Stanley ride shotgun, though Brother Stevie had called it.  He dropped Little Sister and Stevie off first at St. Cameron’s elementary, but made a left turn instead of a right out of the parking lot. Stanley didn’t comment, he was used to Dad taking unexpected action. Dad, however, offered an explanation anyway,

-You’re gonna be a little late for school, today.  we’re going for a little ride.  I wanna talk to you about a couple things.

They drove out to and and all around unincorporated Rauhoff (Rauhoff, by the way, being the name of the suburban town that Stanley Squntro lives in), with it’s open fields narrowing into forest canopied roads and long gravel drives leading in the imaginatron to mysterious hidden abodes or withered ruins. Here are some of the things Dad Squantro said to Stanley in the course of this leisurely drive, lazily puffing on one of his hand rolled smokes from the silver case Stanley had found for him so many times, and would again,

-Chaldean Avenue is the oldest street in Rauhoff.  The walls of the houses there may be different than the houses you’re used to.  A long time ago the word Chaldean meant a god.  It’s a very old word, with very old meaning. So just be prepared, you know?  These walls might speak a whole diffrent language, so to speak.  Beyond that, and closer to practical reality, I suppose, is the fact that you’re taking it upon yourself to investigate a crime.  You could come up against some information you’re not prepared for, and you won’t be able to just forget it.  Ugly information, bloody information, information filld with fear.  Are you ready for that, Stan?

-I wanna try to find out what happened to her.  Rod would do the same for me.

-How do you know?

-I just know. It wouldn’t matter if he wouldn’t anyway.  It’s not about that, it’s about Lily.  I think I can handle it.  I’m going in Squire Errant style.

-How would you describe that, exactly?

-Open minded yet wary, keep my wits about me, be bold, be ready.

-That sounds real good,  Stan.  I’m proud of you, Stanley, wanting to help someone you hardly know this way.  You’re a good person.

Just then they noticed Rod Bodkin walking past them on the gravel road, heading toward Chaldean Ave.  They passed him by, and Dad exclaimed,

-He’s cuttin’ school!

He stopped the car and told Stanley to go catch up with him.  Stanley just opened his door and did as he was told without saying a word.  That was often how these two partners in crime worked, that is, with a minimum, if not total absence of unneccesary verbal signalage.

Catching up with Rodney Bodkin, the shaggy, sullen youth was happy to see Stan, and him to come over to his house, as his parents were away for the day.

Of the thirteen houses on Chaldean Ave, only five were occupied.  The Bodkin house stood two and a half stories up, a half acre from the gravel road via the gravel driveway.  Once inside, Rod Bodkin went straight for the fridge and cracked open one of his Dad’s tallboy beers.  When Stanley declined, Rod’s only response was a nonchalant “Suit yisself”.  Strangely, rod downed his beer and promptly lay down across a couch and fell right asleep, leaving Stanley alone with the walls of House Bodkin.

To Be Continued!

Stanley Squantro Part 2 , Boy Detective

Everything old is new again when Stanley Squantro comes a’ callin’ to talk to your walls.

On his first day of High School, not knowing a singular one of his schoolmates in the cafeteria at lunchtime he took his brown bag and went to a table in the corner where two other boys sat at opposite ends of the table.  Stanley asked if he could sit there and the two boys both said yes and so Stanley sat in the middle, on the side of the table that let him look out the window. It was a beautiful blue and golden and white and green day outside of that window.  The two boys it turned out were among the elite, academically speaking, of the school, but by equal contributions from their own unique selves and immediate social culture surrounding them, these fellows did not enjoy “popularity” as we are familiar with the term.  As you can surmise, my intelligent Audent, the circumstance was much closer to the opposite, decidely fuzzier end of the stick.  Ever observant and quickly deductive, this is the kind of persons whom Stanley Squantro could instinctively identify and would immediately go toward, completely aware of social “status” and completely uncaring of such things.  Laufey Londberg was a smallish elfin genius whose decidedly superior smirk and slithery squeaky intonation put off most people, while Rodney Bodkin wore torn jeans, a weathered leather jacket and wore his hair dirty and shaggy and typically carried around with him a distinctive odor speaking to hygienic habits in need of improvement.  These, being their immediately apparent qualities, that is to say, how they appear on the surface, acted as walls.  Not the same kind of walls that make a room a room, but the kind of wall that separates and defends, but walls never the less, and as we here together know, Stanley squantro can see the faces of walls that no one else can see, and talk to them, and they talk back.

Stan and Rod became buddies outside of school, while odd little Laufey maintained aloofness and apartness away from the cafeteria corner table.  When Dad learned the name of Stan’s new friend he said,

-Bodkin!  That’s the boy whose sister disappeared two years ago.

Stanley took this in for a moment, as was his way, and said.

-Can you qualify that?

To which Dad responded,

-It was big news around here, I’m surprised you don’t remember.

Mom interjected,

-That was the summer the kids stayed with PawPaw Squantro, Hon.

-That’s right.  Rodney Bodkin? Lives over on Chaldean Avenue?  Hello! Earth to Stanley!

Stanley was distracted, thinking about the adventures they had with PawPaw Squantro that summer at his ranch in the mountains.  The gold coins, the prospector’s ghost, and the spirit garden.

-Chaldean Avenue.  That’s right.  Gravel road and everything.

-Well there’s very little to tell.  Lily Bodkin was last seen two days after her seventh birthday, walking home from school.  No one knows what happened to her.  She disappeared.

Little Sister May piped up,

-Maybe Stanley can find her!

-That’s true.  I could ask the walls if they saw anything suspicious.

-Now Stanley,

Ma geared up,

-I don’t want you talking to the walls in strange people’s houses!

By this time, the Squantro Family had come to realize that Stanley’s “Wall Talking” was indeed a real phenomenon and no simple uncanny knack.  As Dad Squantro’s first act upon this confirmation of circumstance was to take Stanley in the car over to a rich old lady’s mansion, where lived a rich old lady, of course, whom, Dad happened to be aware, was much distressed over the loss of one diamond earring of a set crafted for the Queen of Sweden, inconsolable, even.  Dad presented Stanley and rented the boy out for an hour, during which time he naturally found the earring, and she was so happy she gave double the agreed upon price, as she was far  more vain than miserly.  Given this circumstance, it fell to Ma Squantro to try and keep a lid tight on the strangeness that had come to guest at the Squantro household.  It was her unshakable decree, that since Stanley already had a reputation outside of the family as having a knack for finding things, and seeing as how those skills could clearly be of great benefit to him, there was to be no discouraging of this circumstance.  It is also known outside of the family, though to a lesser extent, that Stanley is so good at finding things because “he can talk to walls”.  This is the bug to squash.  Don’t say it, don’t acknowledge when anybody else says it.  Stanley Squantro does not talk to walls. Stanley Squantro is simply very good at finding lost things , due to a keen eye. this was the unshakable decree of Ma Squantro.

It’s not that she disapproved of her son’s uniqueness, she encouraged it within certain boundaries, it’s that she recognized that Stanley’s uniqueness was of a sort that would draw an exponentially greater amount of attention than that of their fellow small town suburban citizens looking for missing diamond earrings.

They discussed it at some further length, as the Squantro family will, there at the dinner table, and Ma finally relented,

-If the opportunity presents itself, see if you can find something out.  Just be discreet.


Dad exclaimed, and the rest applauded.


Ma brought it all to a halt,

-If you DO find something out, you have to tell us first.  We’ll work it out together.  Promise?

-I promise.

When we return to the times of Stanley Squantro, Boy Detective, Stanley delves into a mystery that turns maliciously mystical and malevolently mythical when he enters into converse with

The Walls of House Bodkin

Only Here, at Pat Coughlin’s Blog!

Stanley Squantro Part 1, The Boy Who Could Talk To Walls

Stanley Squantro, like many humans in the modern world, spent a lot of time in rooms.  Rooms, of course, are made primarily of walls, which is to say a room can lack a proper floor or ceiling, but there is no such thing as a room without walls, as that would simply be outside.  Commonly referred as the “Out of Doors”,  roomless environments would more accurately be labeled the “Out of Walls”.  As a matter of fact and coincidence, this is exactly how Stanley Squantro referred to being outside.

“Where are you going, Stanley?”

“For a stroll out of walls.”

You get the idea.  It’s simply that the reality and importance of walls was very clear in Stanley Squantro’s unusual mind, and it sometimes influenced him in the way of little eccentricities like that.  To Stanley, “Out of Doors” was a problem experienced by housebuilding crews.

For your consideration, nobody can tell you how or why, but when Stanley Squantro talked to walls, the walls talked back.

By way of an explanation, he offers this;

“I can see the faces of walls.  Not always right away, sometimes it takes me a while, or maybe it’s a shy wall and doesn’t want to show me it’s face right away, but sooner or later I see it, and it sees me, and when that happens I can talk to it, and it talks back to me.”

Of all the people that ever shared space in a room with Stanley while he conversed with the walls,  no one could ever hear the walls talking to Stanley except Stanley, and what’s more, no one ever heard him talking to them, either.  To their senses, it appeared that Stanley simply stared silently at a wall or walls for a while, not exactly in a trance, just quiet, then he would “snap out of it” and report his findings, if appropriate.  Not that the walls care if their secrets get spread around.  Accordingly to Stanely, walls are dispassionate entities for whom such concepts as “secrets” are simply nonexistent.

“After all it’s people’s reputations that are at stake, not the wall’s.”  Stanley has often said in rebuke to the gossip hounds, or the overly curious, to be polite about it.  You can hardly blame such types for bothering Stanley Squantro, who has peeled back the concealing paint from the walls of so many historical mysteries.  But that’s for later.

What is Stanley Squantro? Is he a detective? A historian? A hero?  A villain?  All these and more, naturally.  To sum up, let’s call him a finder, outside, of course, from being a wall talker, which is obvious.

Throughout his childhood, he was Stanley on the spot for any and all lost items in the household.  Mom’s keys, Brother Stevie’s snakes, hamsters, mice, and various other small wild caught creatures (often found, unfortunately, in the same place, if you catch my meaning), Sister’s shoes and socks, Dad’s various secret stashes, always having to be moved to avoid detection and inevitably  forgotten.  Here’s how Dad approached it; Mom would be taking the kids along on a shopping trip or some such activity and Dad would request that Stanley stay behind to help him with  some project or other and when they were gone he would say real nonchalant like to Stanley,

-Say Stan, do your old man a favor and ask the walls where Dad put his stash last time, okay?

-Say no more.  Stanley would reply.  Returning with his quarry, for example a cigarette case tucked behind the bookcase, Dad would take it with one hand and pat Stanley on the head with the other, give him some cash and remind him that this particular finding was to be between the two of them only.  This kind of practice instilled in  young stanley the importance of discretion as well as it’s value.

You may be wondering at the nonchalance of this Dad person in regards to Stanley’s strange ability.  the fact is, Stanley never made a secret of his wall talking.  Whenever someone asked him how he was so good at finding things, he would just say the walls told him where they are. The Squantros were a witty and playful family, so to all of them but Stanley himself, his “talking to walls” was simply an adopted code the family used in reference to his bizarre success rate in the finding of lost things. You get me?

To be continued!

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