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You're in a bar, somewhere in Old Town Alexandria, off the beaten path. You thought you'd meet this guy at Bilbo Baggins, and split a sweet onion loaf and some mead, but alas, it's some dive that used to be a basement in a row house.
Across from you is a man you paid too much for too little information. You can't see his face clearly, but he smells of stale Chinese food and mildew. He slides a dirty manila envelope across a table that has fresh cigarette burns.
"Here's what I got," he says, as you read over the case. Half the text is scribbled on the backs of re-used printer paper. Notes are made in the margins of a Chinese take-out menu. As you flip through the material, it seems confusing and disjointed, but your guide summarizes what can't easily be seen.
"This is the blog of Grig Larson, a.k.a. Gregory Larson, a.k.a. Punk Walrus, a.k.a. Punkie."
"Punkie?" you ask. "How the hell did fat man get a nickname like--"
"He was born in Dhekelia, Cyprus, back before the Turkish and Greek war there, in 1968. He's a Scorpio. Sensitive, kind, creative, and has a stinger like a missile. Funny guy, at least he thinks he is..." the man leans back in his chair and you can hear him rolls his eyes. "Everything's there. He spent some time in Europe before he turned two, lived in Palo Alto, California until he was about 5. Then he moved to Northern Virginia in 1974."
"The Pentagon's in Northern Virginia," you mumble.
"No shit. Why'd you pay me if you're the smart guy?" he shoots back.
"Sorry," you say, even though you're not, "continue."
"Grew up an only child. Lost a sister when he was 8 or so, the story's not clear. He found her in 2003, but that's another story. Parents were tragic. His father hated children, and resented his mother for getting pregnant. His mother was a kind soul, and artist, but took her own life in 1987. He was labeled a geeky loner. A reader when it wasn't cool to be a bookworm. Didn't grow up to TV much, he parents didn't allow him to watch TV, although he did watch it at friends houses... when he had friends."
"I see he was a Thespian?"
"For a while. Then he got burned out. Joined science fiction fandom, and found his acceptance among the misfits. SCA, FanTek, BSFS, and those weirdos at Renn Fest. He grew up with them. Lived with FanTek after his mother killed herself in his senior year of high school. But he never lost that Thespian spirit."
"It's his fannish connections I am most curious about," you say. "What the hell is with this guy?"
"He got married in 1989. Still with the old lady. Even had a kid in 1990. He loves those two more than you'll ever know. Grig was an early member of FanTek, one of those SMOF types. Worked their conventions from Evecon 4 to 21. Became a panelist. Joined, wrote, and acted for 'And the Prune Bran Players.'"
"Ugh," you say. "So many bad Star Trek Skits. Skit upon skit of terrible zombie jokes."
"We are glad they are in the past. After Prune Bran retired into the witness protection program, he stayed with Fandom. Became a fairly famous Emcee for several conventions. He was also a costume judge, art show auctioneer, and awards presenter. All the jobs people hate, but he was too dumb to hate it. He actually likes being on stage. That's the Thespian part."
"So he's probably some assistant manager at a drug store? A janitor in real life?"
"No. That's the weird thing about it. He was in retail for almost 9 years. Kept getting employed as a manager. Even when he was unemployed, he wrote and published a book, raised his son, wrote articles, and so on. Then, get this, he jumped the retail ship in 1996 and started being a tech guru."
"You have to be shitting me!"
"Linux, Mac, even Windows. Started working at AOL."
You are incredulous. "What did he do at AOL?"
"Started as a Mac help desk guy. Got promoted to QA Testing. Then started programming their call centers. Ran their International Desk for a while. Became a war dialing specialist, and finally, systems administrator and programmer. Then he got an RHCT and quit."
"You mean he got laid off."
"No, he quit. I know, what the hell? Nobody quits AOL, they get laid off, right? After 9+ years with AOL, he just quit. Took a better job at a private ISP in Silver Spring! Doing what he loves, being a sysadmin! He's also their lead trainer for their NOC."
"He still in fandom?"
"Yeah. Works with Katsucon and Balticon. Does panels, Emcee work, even takes care of the staff morale from time to time."
"Lives with his wife, son, and sister. His father is gone and refuses to tell him where he lives. He has an uncle and aunt in San Diego. Then all his other relatives are in Sweden. He travels a lot to Sweden, this guy. Must like pålt or something."
"So what does this mean? Who is this 'Punkie?'"
"It's all here, right in this blog. This blog contains his travels into the 21st century while still making comparisons in the past. This blog is like therapy to him, while keeping his friends up to date with what he's doing. He's a writer, a tech geek, a Lego fan, a father, a husband, and a friend to many."
You sit and stare at the thick set of pages. "Where do I start?"
"Start at the beginning," he says, getting up, "Go through the middle until you get to the end," fog surrounds him. "Then stop," is the last thing you hear before you realize he disappeared into the fog of the bar.
"But how about the name 'Punkie??'" you shout. But no one is there.