Karl Thorrson was a giant, nearly seven feet tall with bones as dense as granite. His hands were as big as bear paws and his shoulders as broad as a draft horse, and yet despite his size he was graceful, light of foot like a dancer and as nimble fingered as a seamstress, and he only had one eye.
There was a large black stone in his other socket, studded with diamonds set in jagged line like a lightning bolt, when the diamonds caught the light just right rainbows jumped from his gaze.
The word on the street was that he could see with that rock in his head, that he could see even better than with the eye he was born with. People also said that he could see into the world beyond, they said that he had gouged his own eye out with a red hot iron to gain the power; they said he could see and talk to spirits and that he was haunted by them, ghosts were drawn to him like moths to a flame.
At the same time it was known that animals shunned him; people said he could command the lightning, they also said he was cursed by it, and the rain followed him relentlessly.
Karl Thorrson liked to believe the things people said about him, he encouraged such stories, he embellished them whenever he could, adding luster to their grandiosity.
The stories were only partially true.
On this day it was threatening rain. Heavy drops were in the air when he left Ingrid’s Magnusson’s bookstore on Lake Street. She had gone North to see her sister, his wife Helga, and Karl wasn’t happy about that, but he couldn’t stop her.
Karl was angry when he was at the reading room, he had an appointment to keep on Ingrid’s behalf, and he was impatient for it to be over. He was waiting for a professor from one of the local colleges, a Dr. Peirce Johnson who was a scholar of antiquities who was coming for a very precious book, the Albigensian Grimoire.
There were some passages that Ingrid had not yet been able to translate, and Johnson promised to be of help.
With his help he might raise the dead.
Karl Thorrson didn’t like the skinny little man when he met him, and he didn’t like hearing his name spoken out loud by some stranger in the reading room, a young man who had come in separately, asking for him. The giant did not intend to bother himself with making an introduction at that moment, but there was something about the young man’s voice that gave him an uncomfortable feeling almost from the moment he heard it.
Ms. Angela Guthrie, who was Ingrid’s assistant, dismissed the boy, and he left right on the heels of Dr. Johnson as if he were a highway man stalking his mark.
Karl didn’t like anything about the day, especially the heat and the oncoming rain that he was powerless to stop, despite what the people were fond of believing about him, that he actually had control of the weather.
Today he had business down Lake Street at a bar that refused to pay him for the protection he offered, one of the last hold outs on the strip. Karl wanted to get on with it, despite the feeling of nausea that had taken a hold of him.
He planned on taking care of the matter in person, rather than send his men a third time, just to see them get nowhere with the owners.
But he was wrong.