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―Shut up, Zach! You‘re a jerk!‖ Zach paused for about three seconds, and then
started mumbling the same rap song again quietly toward the glass of the window.
Salon-de-Provence sits on a large rock plain called the Crau, between the confluence
of the Rhone and Durance Rivers. In the center of the town is the Chteau de l‗Empri, a
9th century cream-colored castle, with two large towers, one wide and one narrow, with
medieval battlements. Morse pointed out the window of the taxi to the castle.
―Look at that, guys,‖ said Morse. ―That‘s the Chteau de l‘Empri. At one time, that
was the home of the Archbishops for the Holy Roman Emperors. That‘s where it gets its
name from. In 1660, this is where Nostradamus would have come to meet Catherine de
Médicis, who was the Queen Consort of Henri II of France. If you want later, we can take
a look at the castle. It might be fun.‖
―Thrilling,‖ said Zoey sarcastically, rolling her eyes and resting her head against her
guitar, wishing she were anywhere else but here.
―Pops, why is that castle so freakin‘ high?‖ asked Zach.
―The castle is perched on top of a great rock called the Rock of Puech.‖
―The Rock of Puke!‖ exclaimed Zoey, laughing. ―That‘s hilarious. Do you puke if
you go on it?‖
―No,‖ said Zach, ―Unless you look at your face! Hooooooooo! You is busted,
―Funny,‖ said Zoey, punching her brother.
―Not ‗puke,‘ ‗Puech‘,‖ said Morse. ―However, if you go to the top of the tower in the
castle and look down, you might get queasy. And what does ‗busted‘ mean?‖
―It means she‘s ugly,‖ said Zach, grinning at his sister.
―Zach, don‘t call your sister names. And stop using such horrendous grammar. I
know you know how to speak correctly. Why do you insist on pretending that you have a
second grade education?‖
Zach began improvising his own rap lyrics, which he often liked to do. He beat-
boxed a rhythm: ―Umm, sucka, umm, sucka, umm.‖ Then:
I am the man and my sista is a loo-zuh.
If I had the choice, I would never want to choose huh.
I am so fly, and we trippin‟ by this castle,
But my sista with her git-ar is just givin‟ me a hassle.
Pops, he‟s a stressin‟ and he‟s poppin‟ out a vein.
He wishes that his kiddies were real smart and not a pain.
He holds out his hands and he gently tries to calm us,
But Zach‟s in the Hizzle, with his Homeboy Nostradamus!
Umm, sucka, umm, suckaa, ummm….
Morse laughed. ―That was actually not half bad.‖ This talent of spontaneous rhyming
has to be worth something in later life, he thought.
The taxi went down the Boulevard Jean-Jaurès, turned right on the Cours Carnot, and
followed the line of what once was the northern wall of the city, to the Place Crousillat.
Morse pointed out to the children La Fontaine Moussue, an exquisite moss-covered