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AJ PAUST


Webmistress' Note...

There are many rumors surrounding the mysterious disappearance of AJ Paust.

Last year, your Webmistress received a clandestine message in a bottle that floated up into her bathtub, which once contained a 1999 Sonoma Bordeaux (the bottle, not the bathtub - but that's not important now). The message said, "Meet me at the Casbah at midnight." Well, since it was already 8:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time and a flight to the Middle East would take a lot longer than four hours, especially the way airports are these days, I was confused until I turned the message over. "The Casbah Nightclub in Hollywood, you idiot," it said. Ah, I said to myself. That's one mystery cleared up, and the night is yet young. This is going well!

When I arrived at the Casbah I was greeted by my contact, a man dressed as a waiter who called himself Mahmoud El Faisal - well, actually I got suspicious at his blue eyes and snuck a look at his wallet while he was in the bathroom, and discovered that his real name was Michael Finkelstein of Trenton, New Jersey. But I wasn't alarmed - in this town you get used to all the waiters being actors...

But I digress. In a dark booth in the back of the nightclub Michael - um, Mahmoud - showed me something interesting. No, not that! It was a trio of stories written by AJ, a writer I had received brief communications from in the past, wrapped in an old copy of the Times sports page and tied with string to a large gray rock (the stories, not AJ - but that's not important now). "Guard these with your life," he said, twirling his mustaches, which believe me is a feat when you're holding a Long Island Iced Tea in one hand and your other wrist is chained to a briefcase. "People have died to protect them. Publish them at your peril." I think he may have been exaggerating a tiny bit, but I decided it was better to play it safe. After all, everyone knows how unstable actors can be...

Putting on my investigative hat, I plied Michael - er, Mahmoud - with more Iced Teas and promises of an interview session on "Inside the Actors Studio" until he broke down and confessed the rest of what he knew...that AJ is actually rumored to be an undercover agent of International Rescue. She is currently thought to be hiding out in a safe house in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, protecting hard-luck Fireflash pilot Captain "Crash" Hansen, who is being pursued by angry backers of Air Terrainean after they lost $100 million in passenger lawsuits last year. As proof of this Michael - uh, Mahmoud - produced a polaroid of a dark, blurry figure running through an airport terminal, clutching an old tartan suitcase in one hand and what looked suspiciously like the Travelocity Gnome in the other. Whether this was supposed to be AJ or Captain Hansen was never made quite clear (the dark, blurry figure, not the old tartan suitcase or the Travelocity Gnome, but that's not important now...).

When I contacted them for comment the next day, International Rescue of course denied all reports of any association with Ms. Paust, or Michael - gah, Mahmoud - for that matter. At least, I think they denied it. Long Island Iced Tea can give a person one heck of a hangover...


AJ PAUST'S STORIES: Connected stories:
The Conscience of the King
A Rock and a Hard Place

Stand alone stories:
Blue Dolphin

   
 
 
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