Coal Blackstone was home from her Lolita fashion shoot.  She was feeling extremely old. 
     She dropped her briefcase in the hallway and proceeded wearily to the kitchen, extricated an icy bottle of gin from the freezer, fetched a martini glass, sluiced a half-capful of vermouth across it and topped up the glass with the crispy Icelandic gin she has begun to like so much.  Then she plopped a couple of black Calamata olives into the gin.
     She felt considerably better already. 
     “God bless the Juniper berry!” Coal said aloud as she took her first sip of the searingly cold, astringent liquid, “and,” she added pointedly, “to hell with teenage girls!”
     Coal was thinking to herself that cold gin tasted like silver, and was just about to admonish herself for being needlessly lyrical—how the hell could  she know what silver tasted like, especially in liquid form?—when the phone rang.
     It was her friend, Joy Pommery.
     “If somebody asked you to tell them what gin tasted like—right off the top of your head,” Coal asked her, “what would you say?”
     There was a brief pause.
     “Liquid silver,” Joy said.
     “That’s what I thought too,” Coal told her, “but it doesn’t really make any sense.”
     Joy sighed deeply. 
     “Well, hell, what does?” she said.
     “How’s his Mayorness?” Coal asked, “speaking of not making any sense.”
     “Well that’s really what I’m calling you about.”
     “Really?” Coal reached into her drink and ate an olive.  Then she took another freezing sip of her martini.  She never did understand what her friend saw in the coarse, vulgar, mountainous Cass Tamburlaine. 
     “Yes.  Do you remember those horrible death-threat paintings I showed you that somebody was sending to his office?”
     “Not easy to forget,” said Coal.
     “Well, yesterday, Cass met the artist!”
     “The artist?”
     “The guy who made the elaborate paintings with the death-threats scrawled on them.”
     The Raphael of intimidation!” said Coal.
     “The same,” said Joy.
     “How on earth did Cass ever find this guy?”
     “Under pretty odd circumstances.  Apparently he was having lunch at this grotty diner in the west end and the cook just comes right out with how he’s not really a short-order cook but how he’s actually a painter, and when Cass asks him what kind of a painter he is, the guy shows him a couple of his old-masterish things on paper and then admits that he’s the one who made the death-threat pictures.  Cass said he seemed sort of proud of it!”
     “So did Cass call the police or anything?”
     “No.  And such restraint is really odd for him.  No, what happened is that they got talking and Cass ordered a piece of pie and another coffee and they sat and talked for a while.  The guy said he had eventually sort of lost interest in the death-threat business anyhow.  He said he’d made the pictures at the request of this woman he was kind of with…”
     “And did he mention her name?”
     “Yes,” said Joy.  “Really funny name.  Bliss Carmen.  Like the poet.” 
     There was a long silence on the line.
     “Coal?  Are you still there?”
     Coal took a big cold gulp of her martini and ate the second olive.
     “I’ve met her.”
     “You have?”  Joy was dumbfounded.
     “Yes, she lost her dog—a scruffy little thing she calls ‘Fish.’  I picked him up when he wandered into one of my photo-sessions about a month ago.  He seemed hungry and miserable so I took him home with me and fed him and tried to clean him up a bit.”
     “What did Linc think of all that?”
     “Not much,” laughed Coal.
     “No, I bet not” said Joy.
     “This Bliss Carmen creature is supposed to be coming over to retrieve Fish sometime soon,” Coal added.
     “Yes? Well, just remember, Coal, that ‘this Bliss Carmen creature’ is the brain—if we can put it that way—behind the death threats directed at my Cass!”
     “Yes, I understand.”
     “I think you better have Linc there with you when she comes over,” said Joy.
     “I think so too,” said Coal.