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Charm City Cakes by Cliff Rhys James

Located on the corner of a somewhat nondescript north Baltimore neighborhood, not far from Johns Hopkins University, sits an ominous fortress-like structure of gray stone w ith dark tinted w indows running the length of one side. The front of the building has an imposing wood door without a window. This solid door is locked. On the stone wall next to it is an intercomtype speaker and a button, which, having taken this all in, I now push with a certain amount of trepidation. What have I gotten myself into this time? Something top secret or seriou sly i l lega l i s probably goi ng down inside this heavily secured compound, I’m thinking. But those thoughts are suddenly interrupted by the metallic screech of deadbolts sliding and chains coming unhooked. Feeling as though I’ve been transported into the middle of a horror movie, I brace myself for what is sure to come. The door slowly creaks open. All we need now is thunder and lightning on a stormy night and a butler with an accent. “Oh, hi,” a young woman smiles at me behind a riot of burgundy-red lipstick, “Come on in and make yourself comfortable.”

I hesitate for a moment. Is this a trap? She’s clearly dangerous because her handler/minder appears and quickly steps between us as if to shield me from some kind of dreadful fury. “We don’t know for certain where Duff is,” the minder says off handedly, “but he’ll show up or someone w ill f ind him. It usually happens that way.” (I later learn that few ever know for certain where Duff is, half the time not even Duff himself, which is part of his brilliantly mad scheme.)

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Tidewater Times March 2016  
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