Cover art Michelle Lee
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Where do they begin, the roads that lead a man to hell?
...With a ritual...
Lien Takananda sat at the kitchen table wearing her bathrobe, her short helmet of black hair still rumpled from sleep. She held three Chinese coins, concentrating, though aware of her husband Harry upstairs in the bathroom, singing a lascivious parody of a saccharine popular song as he shaved. Almond eyes on the copy of I Ching before her, she asked the same question she had every morning for over fifteen years, since Harry joined the San Francisco police: “Will my husband be safe today?” Then she threw the coins.
The six throws produced hexagram number ten, Treading. Treading upon the tail of the tiger, the text read. It does not bite the man. Success.
She sighed in relief, then smiled, listening to Harry sing. After a minute, she gathered the coins again, and as she had done for most of the past year, asked on behalf of Harry’s partner, “Will Garreth Mikaelian be safe today?”