Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Looking for an Old Photograph

(This story was posted previously; however, when I tried to link with it "the powers that be" had placed a blocker on it; claimed it had offensive material.  Here's the link to the original.)


Looking for an Old Photograph


I spent the morning looking for an old photograph. I wanted to find a group picture of my 1976 Point Control softball team to send off to an old friend. We would play in his backyard, tossing a worn out baseball for hours on end; pretending we were at Yankee Stadium. Forty years later we are comparing notes and catching up with each other.

I went through stacks of old pictures; finding all kinds of vacation shots in the mountains, our kids in various stages of growing up, cars we had owned (or had owned us); everything except the team picture. I found some photos from when my dad and I flew up to Chicago to take in a game, the Cubs at Wrigley Field, close but no cigar.

I rummaged through my desk, a study in creative disorder. I found my first rough draft for Chapter One of “Pecaw’s Gift”, a novel length work that I tried to get published. To save money I’d printed it on the back of my locksmith company letterhead; might as well since it had our old address. I wonder where I put the rest of that manuscript.

Maybe I could scan a copy of the plaque given to us for sponsoring my son, William’s, baseball team. They came in second place that year and each boy earned a trophy. Trophies are an important part of growing up. I still have the trophy from my Little League days. Thinking back, every kid who put on a team shirt got some kind of trophy just for being a member of the team, any team. It didn’t matter if they ever won a game, you got a trophy to put on the fireplace mantle. That trophy was a solid piece of evidence that you existed on this Earth. In time, at least in the back of your mind, that first trophy would be the start of many worldly awards; Rookie of the Year, National League MVP, two or three World Series rings, and the dreams roll on.

I played high school ball long enough to figure out that my chances of getting to the next level were slim to none. I did get my “letter sweater” and it hangs in the closet next to a light blue shirt with four hash marks on the left sleeve; the shirt I wore when I retired from the police department. Some trophies never make the fireplace; they hang in the closet.

I imagine that some time later in the day I may stumble over that team picture I was hunting for. It would be nice to have a look at some of the faces, young police officers taking a few moments in the middle of the night to play softball together. It was the “midnight league”, at least that’s what we called it. We all worked the evening shift and would get off duty around ten or eleven. The teams were made from various divisions within the police department. Ours was Point Control, the guys who directed traffic during rush hour, later to become Special Operations,. We came in third place that year; gave that trophy to our division commander to show off in the office. Point Control didn’t have too many trophies. There was the Safety Award Plaque that hung on the wall; the one that accidentally got nicked by a stray bullet, but that’s a whole other story.

I’ll keep looking for the picture; it’s become a challenge now. I did find a picture taken the day Lucy and I got married. We’d only been married a few minutes as we confidently marched back up the isle; my arm crooked around hers. I have to admit, that picture grabs my interest even more than the Point Control team photo. Trophies come in various shapes and sizes, this one still holds my hand on our Saturday night date.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Haberdasher

Part One The Haberdasher

On the edge of town, in an older section known as The Village, there were several shops that had lasted the test of time. Stores of a by gone era; a real Five and Dime with metal tiled ceiling, an old fashioned ice cream parlor next door to a picture frame shop and each had saved a portion of history, a longing to remain unsullied by the present. Mortimer Hershiser’s Haberdashery was one of the lesser known clothing stores in Houston. He had never once advertised in the Yellow Pages; perhaps because his shop had never had a telephone.


Mortimer’s shop was nearly invisible as it had no store front display windows, only a narrow door with his numerical address stenciled apologetically on the glass. The layers of paint and caulking that held the glass in place had become brittle and cracked over the years, as bark around a very old tree trunk. It would be safe to say that it looked more like the back door to one of the other businesses than a front door to his own. Mortimer, even his name seemed lost in the past. It was an accident, possibly a miracle that Frank Collier found himself standing in the small alcove directly in front of the Haberdashery; holding his broken umbrella in an attempt to stave off the wind and rain.

Frank Collier was starting his career as second assistant manager in charge of inventory with Wilson’s Big and Tall, a national chain store for men’s clothing. In actuality, Frank was a sales clerk who’s duties included restocking the shelves and closing up three nights a week. It wasn’t as if he was complaining; it was however, difficult to see much of a career ahead. One of the reasons that Frank had taken the job was because the company had a flexible transfer system whereby he could pack up and move to any number of other cities across the country and continue in the same capacity.

“Won’t you step inside, please Sir?” Frank looked behind him as the door was pulled into the darkness of the shop. Aside from being mildly startled, Frank managed to see the advantage of waiting out the gale inside the sanctuary of the shop rather than standing with the lower half of his trousers being pelted with rain.

“Thank you, the rain seems to be getting much worse.”, holding the remains of what used to be his umbrella at arms length.

“If its getting worse it’s a sure sign it’s almost over.” Mortimer replied, almost as if it were a tune. “Let me take that”, relieving Frank of the twisted shaft that was dripping on the floor, “It would seem that it has seen better days.” Frank released his grip and watched as it was tossed into a trash barrel at the edge of a counter where a huge bronze colored cash register presented itself for view.

“I know that line, from My Fair Lady, am I right?” Mortimer was a good six or seven inches shorter than Frank as he smiled up and nodded affirmatively. “I thought so.” Frank was about to continue his thoughts regarding the weather; or rather, the musical’s line when he realized that he was in some kind of clothing store. It was not like any he had ever been in; all the same, it had similarities to make him feel that he was on common ground with the stranger.

“Mortimer Hershiser,” reaching out his hand, “owner and operator of the Haberdashery.” Frank extended his hand reflexively while studying the diminutive features of the man before him. Mortimer stood about five foot seven inches tall and might weigh all of a hundred and thirty pounds soaking wet. His bony hand grasped coldly yet quite forcefully around Frank’s, causing him; no, forcing him to share a short exchange. The idea that came across Frank’s mind was somewhat morbid while at the same time funny; “If this man were taller, quite a bit taller as a grin crept onto his own face, he could pass as twin for that fellow Caradine, the one who used to play the mortician in all of those old Westerns.” Mortimer wore a dark wool suit, not cut the way modern clothiers design them, instead its proportions tended to run long, as if made for the early 1900’s.

“Frank, Frank Collier.”, returning the singularly abrupt motion, a placement of the hands too rigid to be considered a warm greeting.

“I have no appointment for anyone by that name.”, never letting go as his scrawny fingers touched the cuff of Frank’s shirt. “Who sent you?”

“Nobody sent me. I was standing there to get out of the rain is all.”, his voice automatically became defensive. It made no sense; why would a shop keeper coldly antagonize a prospective customer? It violated everything he had been taught. Had he accidentally stumbled into some kind of illegal operation? Frank noticed that the man was examining his clothing, inspecting each fold of cloth. “Hey, what give’s old man?” Frank wished he had kept his mouth closed as the words vaulted out and attacked the stranger’s ears.

“Excuse me, sonny. I must have mistaken you for someone with manners”, withdrawing the offered hand. Mortimer glared coldly back.

“I’m sorry, Mr.”, stumbling for his name, “Mr.?”

“Hershiser, Mortimer Hershiser. I own this store.” Frank’s demeanor was that of a schoolboy who had been sent to the principle’s office. “Maybe it’s a good thing you happened in today; could be just what you needed.” Mortimer stepped back a full step and continued to examine the packaged man before him. “I might be able to help you.”

Mortimer led Frank to where he was standing on an oval piece of worn out linoleum tile. The rest of the floor was covered with some kind of industrial carpet that was so dark as to defy dirt. Originally it must have been a deep maroon with some darker pattern of black diamonds. There against the wall was a familiar full length tri-fold mirror. Above his head a pair of spot lights focused on the oval upon which he stood. Off to his side, where Mortimer was continuing his examination, stood a chest of sorts. On top of the chest was an old fashioned pin cushion shaped like an apple. There was an assortment of cloth chalk in various colors in a small tray that also was full of straight pins and a couple of cloth tape measures.

“Stand up straight for me.” A simple instruction and yet Frank had a terrible slouch of a posture, something that reflected his self esteem or lack of discipline. “Come on now, shoulders back, square them, that’s a little better.” Mortimer shook his head slightly as he wondered what had happened to the world that would allow a young man to stand in such a manner; had he never been taught deportment? It would be difficult to fit him for a success unless Frank learned to wear it properly.

“I didn’t come here to buy a suit. I was just getting in out of the rain.
Don’t misunderstand; I appreciate your letting me stand inside until it quits.”
Awkward as he sounded, Frank was saying thank you.

“Be quiet and turn to the side.”, measuring the outer seam line down to Frank’s shoe tops. “You call these shoes?”, his Yiddish accent creeping in, “Oiy!”

“What’s wrong with my shoes? They’re the latest style and I paid right at a hundred for them.” Frank lifted his trousers slightly and looked down to make sure he was talking about the same feet.

“Head straight, back straight if you don’t mind?” It was a mild chastisement for having bent down. “How am I going to get you headed for success if you keep twitching?”

“Look, I know you mean well; but, I haven’t any money to buy a suit from you. Besides, I work at a clothing store; if I wanted to buy a suit, that’s where I would go.” Frank had the good sense to stand still while he went on to explain about his employee discount and how it might appear disloyal if he showed up for work in clothing purchased elsewhere. Mortimer continued to measure and take notes.

“The suits I make are customized and complete. The one I make for you today costs you nothing. Does that “suit” you?” Mortimer could have smiled at having made a clothing pun; but he didn’t. I never charge for the first suit and I have been in this business long enough to know what I’m doing.”

“Let me get this right; you’re making me a suit right now and it won’t cost me a thing?” There was a touch of larceny in his words, something for nothing, naw; even that was too much to swallow. “What’s the hitch?”

“I assure you, there is no hitch, as you say. This suit is free. I will have it for you, what’s today? Tuesday, it will be ready Thursday. You come by here Thursday around lunch time and I will complete the fitting.”

“I don’t have any say so, color or style? You’ve got to be insane to think I would. . .”, Mortimer cut him off before he could continue.

“As I said, if it doesn’t suit you then leave it and walk away. Either way you will owe me nothing.”

“I suppose, since you put it that way, I would be a fool to pass up a deal like this.” He lifted his head slightly and tilted his chin as he looked into the mirrors.

“That, sir, you already are. It is my intent to improve on that.”

******************************************************************
Part Two It Suits You

Thursday afternoon came around quickly enough. The cold front that brought rain on Tuesday had cleared out the skies. It was a rare day indeed when the air above Houston was crystal clear, deep blue and cloudless with no trace of the smog. There were only a few days a year when the afternoon temperature peaked in the mid fifties, this was an infrequent treat. Frank often would kid folks visiting from out of town by telling them, “Winter was the first Monday in January, but only if the sun didn’t come out.”

Oh, Houston had its share of cold weather; in fact just last year he remembered that it got to the freeze mark or below, eleven times to set a record. His uncle from New York would chide him about living in the tropics. He’d start going on about having to walk his dogs through Central Park in blowing snow with gale force winds; kind of like his father having to walk six miles to school in a blizzard when he was a kid and there weren’t any side walks.

It was two in the afternoon as Frank went to the back of the store, picked his time card from the slot and shoved it into the time clock for his break. Kathunka! His time was his own and he needed to drive from Greenspoint to the Village, try on and have his suit fitted and then get back; all within a one hour time frame. He wondered what his boss would think, having gotten a new suit at some place other than Wilson’s Big & Tall; no matter, he would cross that bridge when he came to it.

Traffic into town was light and he was able to reach the Village in less than half an hour. It took him a few minutes to find a place to park that was close to the Haberdashery. He was about to go around the block a second time when he noticed a car’s tail lights flash, then the back up lights came on from a car only a half block up.

A large black Cadillac maneuvered its way from the curb and into traffic. Frank took advantage of the opportunity and slid right in; noting that there was still half an hour left on the meter. “Must be my lucky day.”, talking to himself as he let natural gravity slam the door shut. The Haberdashery looked even less like a real store in the sun than it had the other day in the rain. Frank paused briefly, a smirk half crossed his right cheek as if to exclaim his disbelief. He peered into the dark window that pretended to be a store front. The front door opened and Mortimer Hershiser presented himself at the entrance.

“Your suit is ready, please come in for the final fitting.” There was a chill in the air, more so than had been brought by the Canadian front. Frank had begun to lift his arm prior to what he assumed would be perfunctory hand shake except that Mortimer was already stepping back into the shadows of his shop.

“Now, to make sure one last time; the suit is mine at no charge? Frank leaned a bit, hesitating prior to passing the entry way.

“A deal’s a deal. You don’t like the suit, you leave no charge. You like the suit you leave no charge.” Mortimer pointed to the curtain that separated the dressing area from the fitting area. “You going to stand there all day or what?”, impatiently prodding the young man to get on with life.

“Just making sure, that’s all. It still sounds too good to be true.” Frank pushed the curtain back and glimpsed the Navy Blue suit that was hanging on the hook. Having a little knowledge about clothing in his limited time with Wilson’s Big & Tall, he could tell that the workmanship was as good; no, better than anything he’d ever seen. The material was a light weight wool blend that spoke of elegance. He had been to one of the better men’s stores while on a training session and seen suits made for upper echelon corporate executives. This was the kind of suit they would have purchased. He calculated how much a suit, such as he was slipping his leg into at the moment, might cost; six or seven hundred dollars maybe a thousand or more? He was glad that he had put on a new pair of thin dress socks as his foot made it through and out the open cuff. He was about to slip his shoes back on when he heard Mortimer clearing his throat.

“Uh ah, leave the shoes, leave the shoes please.”, as if there had been no curtain at all between them. The cuffs did appear to be cut to the proper length as he also noticed that the waist band fit perfectly. There were no belt loops, only a set of buttons on the inner band. Sure enough, on the hanger was a set of suspenders. These were a soft Italian leather similar to the ones that had come with a tuxedo he had rented for a friend’s wedding. It took him a few moments to figure out how to attach them, not being accustomed to them as a daily function; all the same, they did make the line of the trousers appear much more streamline. The jacket was a work of art; the silk lining was a pale Robin’s egg blue with fluted piping at the inner pocket’s lips. The letters M and H appeared as a mosaic pattern, a part of the fabric; similar to a watermark on bond paper, not especially loud and yet noticeable even in the dimly lighted confines of the changing room. Frank carefully pushed his arm in, first his left arm and then his right.

“Feels nice, doesn’t it?” Mortimer confidently remarked. “Okay, you’ve had enough time in there. Have I got all day?” The little man’s timer was on the move. “Put these shoes on and let me have a look at you.” As if by some magic trick Frank’s posture was no longer slouched; instead he was standing, as if born into royalty and making ready for that evening’s courtly business. Frank was not aware that he would have a new pair of shoes to go along with the new suit. Again, shoes such as he was putting his feet into where not to be found at the local shopping mall. These had to be the most comfortable pair of dress shoes he had ever the pleasure to enjoy. As he looked inside the soft leather he noticed the familiar M and H pattern on the soft leather heal pad.

“Are these hand made too?” Frank quietly blurted out.

“You think these came from Tom McCann’s? Oiy!” Mortimer laughed and sighed while shaking his head in disbelief on such a stupid remark. “Stand up straight for me, let the suit wear you properly.” The words sounded strange, “…let the suit wear you?”

“Mr. Hershiser, I know you went to a lot of work, too much.” Franks finger tips glided down the lapels admiring the perfection. “Are you sure you want to…” He was cut off in mid sentence.

“A deal’s a deal! Turn to the left, now right. Very nice, yes it suits you very well.” Mortimer grasped his own chin while letting his brow arch slightly, approvingly. “It suits you. Now go and knock ‘em dead.” Frank was about to reach inside the curtain of the dressing area for his clothing when he felt a bony hand restrain his own. “Leave them. You’ll never need them again.”

“I still need my wallet; you know, driver’s license and . . .”

“You afraid I’m going to take your seventeen dollars and pretend to be you when I go to the movies?” Mortimer picked up the pair of trousers that had been hastily draped over the chair in the changing room. He then reached into the pocket and pulled out Frank’s wallet, “This, no, this will never do.”, he placed the wallet in Frank’s hand. “Hold this for a moment and promise that you will not attempt to place it inside this.”, gently tugging the edge of the exquisitely tailored jacket. Mortimer waited for the proper response.

“Oh, ah, no sir.” Frank looked at the billfold and thought what could be wrong with it. Mortimer slid open a drawer and sifted until he found exactly what he wanted.

“Here, this is what you will use from now on..” He handed him a long thin piece of fine grained leather about the size of a check book cover. “This is what a gentlemen wears; something that won’t ruin the lines of such a fine garment.” Frank emptied the seventeen dollars from his wallet, his driver’s license, insurance card and his two credit cards.

“Hey, how’d you know I only had seventeen dollars?” Frank counted the money twice to be sure, looking up to see the reaction from Mr. Hershiser.

“Is that important? I should think you would be more interested in why the suit fits you so well.” Mortimer never did answer the question directly. “No slouching, stand up straight, that’s better. Now square those shoulders and remember how this feels. It’s a lot like learning how to swing a golf club properly. Once the basics are learned the rest follows naturally.”

“Yes Sir.” Frank’s jaw hung a little lower, not sure how to proceed.

“Ah, right on time.” Mortimer looked out the window as a limousine stopped in front of the Haberdashery. “Remember, let the suit wear you properly and it will take you anywhere.” The front door to the shop opened and a well dressed middle aged man wearing a chauffeur’s cap entered.

“I’m to pick up a gentlemen; a Mister Franklin Collier.”, taking off his cap and looking at the two men.

“I’m Frank Collier.”, looking at the chauffeur, at Mortimer and back again.

“Then you’ll be coming with me. The mayor is expecting you for lunch in half an hour.”, holding the door to the shop open as a gesture towards the awaiting limousine.

“I have you down for your next fitting Tuesday, a week from now, Mister Collier. That is correct, is it not?” Mortimer’s steely eyes reached out and grabbed Frank in such a way as to halt his bewildered mind. It was as if Mortimer was reassuring Frank that all was as it was supposed to be and to go with the flow; his eyebrows flickered one time.

“Oh, ah, that’s fine, next Tuesday it is.”

********************************************************************

Part Three A Little Taste

“Franklin, Thank you for coming on such short notice.” The mayor rose from his chair at the Houstonian Club, all six feet three inches, and held out his hand. “Franklin sounds so formal; what do your friends call you?”

“Frank is fine, please, call me Frank, Sir.” He leaned over the table and took the mayor’s hand. The short drive had given him at least a few moments to contemplate the unanticipated meeting. He had not forgotten that he was due back from his break and working at Wilson’s Big & Tall. There had been a phone inside the limousine which he had used to explain an “unexpected emergency”, leaving it at that for the moment. His boss would never have believed the truth. Mayor Crawford had a firm grip, developed from years of political events and vote gathering. Frank wondered how long such a handshake was intended to last and waited for what seemed an interminable amount of time to be released.

“Frank it is then. I want you to meet some of my advisors, Ms’ Appleton is my personal secretary, Ms’ Higgins my Police Department Liaison, Ed Hoak my Fire Department Liaison and Bill Rumsey my Transportation Liaison. I’ve called them all here to meet the newest member of our team.” Frank took a moment to acknowledge each as the mutual admiration society took turns around the table. It had not occurred to Frank that he was the new member, waiting to find out who the new member was.

“Pleased to meet all of you.” Frank waited until the mayor took his seat, the others followed in order. He could not but admire the strong features and the stunning red hair that brought his gaze back for a second look at Ms’ Higgins. There was a confidence that came from her eyes as she looked back at him. It gave her power, something about the way she accepted his being taken by her as if it happened all the time without appearing to be snobbish. It were as if she had said thank you for noticing.

“I’ve been given your name as the next Youth Affairs Liaison, Frank. You come highly recommended, I might add.”, the mayor placed his napkin in his lap and glanced around the table to make sure that each of his team members gave Frank a proper smile of recognition. Each one in turn responded with a nod or a smile as the ritual of introduction continued. “You will find the offer not only challenging; but, quite gratifying.”, the mayor held his hand out as he rubbed his fingers together and grinned knowingly. “The rewards of public service, especially to those in just the right places, are very lucrative.”

Frank could not help notice that the fellow sitting directly to his right, Ed Hoak, had a suit with a hauntingly similar silk lining. Only a small portion of the jacket was exposed and yet, there, at the edge where the front panel came in contact with the inner lining; the mosaic pattern of M’s and H’s could clearly be seen. Frank wondered if they had all been to the Haberdashery or was it merely a coincidence. Frank did not believe in long odds or coincidence and his mind began to review pieces that were floating randomly in his head.

The waiter placed a plate of arranged leaves, some kind of fancy salad. There were ribbons of carrot placed on top of deep greenish purple spinach; maybe it was spinach, he wasn’t too sure. As soon as the others began to enjoy it he followed, not wishing to be the first. Between bites he looked around to take in the surroundings. The Houstonian had a reputation as one of the more exclusive clubs in town, having the honor of being President Bush’s favorite stopping off place while in town; Bush 41 that is; Bush 43 preferred the ranch just outside of Waco.

The dinning area looked much like any other private club, not that Frank had an extensive knowledge in that area. Each table had fine linen cloth, heavy weighted silver service, and there was no mistaking the Lennox pattern on the bottom of each plate. He’d been to a fancy dinner one time at the home of some well to do folks. It had been a pot luck dinner; Frank remembered flipping a dinner plate end over end on his finger tips to pass the time as he’d gotten bored waiting to be served. The Lennox emblem registered as it flashed before his eyes; the plate cost more than he made in a week. He casually refrained from any more twirling of the plate. He happened to look around and noticed the look of relief and gratitude on the hostess’ face, complimenting him on his regaining his senses. She never said a word about it; quite remarkable self control.

It didn’t take long to clean off the salad plate, not much to work with even if it was attractive to look at. The wait staff hovered all around making sure that the water glasses were topped off, bread crumbs were whisked off and empty plates removed quietly. The main entrĂ©e was brought out; a choice cut of steak that hardly needed a knife to cut into it. The flavors were an olfactory delight, causing his eyes to gently close and savor each consumed morsel. Fresh green beans that had been steamed only slightly, leaving them slightly crisp yet soft enough to distinguish them from raw. The flavor of each slender green bean, mixed with warm butter sauce that had been copiously added, was a perfect compliment to the steak. There were new potatoes with their thin red skins to round out the plate. Frank could not remember having treated his taste buds so well in one sitting. He tore a small piece of bread, dipped it in the natural juices left from the steak and drew it across a puddle of melted butter and popped it in his mouth to complete the gesture.

“I know it might take some getting used to Frank.” Mayor Crawford remarked with a tone of sarcasm as he looked across the table through his “no-line” bifocal glasses.


The mayor was cognizant of each facet of his outward appearance to include his eyewear. The little lines that separate the varied focal lenses in a standard pair of corrective lenses made him look several years older and so he had opted for the variable lenses to appear more progressive, as the manufacturer had promised in their literature. Mayor Crawford also wore a pair of “in the canal” state of the art digital hearing aids. They were almost invisible compared to the bulky units that he had avoided. Those young voters might make the difference in a close race; no need to alienate them by appearing to be an old goat, too old to relate to.

“I see what you mean.” Frank looked at his plate which now totally cleaned off. He had planned to grab a burger on the way back to Wilson’s; that was before … How long, he thought, before the limousine turned back into a pumpkin?

“I have some appointments.”, pushing himself away from the table Mayor Crawford touched his napkin to his chin and placed it on the table. “…y’all stay seated.”


Ms’ Appleton quietly stood and whispered to him and he nodded with his eyes as the words reached his ears. She might as well have been wearing curtain fabric as she blended into the background without effort.

“Frank, if you would find a way to be at my office, say around three fifteen or there about this afternoon, I would be privileged to explain your responsibilities.

“Three fifteen is fine with me, Sir.” It would be exceedingly wise to have a slim knowledge of his expected duties and his rate of pay, assuming there would be some form of remuneration other than the title.

“Only one Mulligan per hole, Sir.” There was a slight hesitation between the words “hole” and Sir, followed by a clearing of the throat and a muffled laugh. Bill Rumsey had played golf with Mayor Crawford enough to know how to bend the rules after a particularly bad hook was followed by an equally poor bunker exit. Bill stood even with the mayor and a good thirty pounds lighter. His thin features given to a lifetime of keeping in top form; he’d placed in the top five one year in the Iron Man competition. The two laughed; but only mildly as it was not prudent to remind the mayor of his inability to keep a proper score card, at least not with so many listening.

“Mind you; keep those traffic lights timed so I get to my meetings in a timely manner, ‘ ya follow?” The chastisement was equally mild, the smile on Mayor Crawford’s face would keep the best poker player guessing. Bill Rumsey nodded and looked to see how many had heard exactly what had been said.

“Enjoy your game. It’s a rare day this time of year.” Ms’ Higgins drew in a deep breath, wishing she were out in the open spaces with a chill breeze to dance with. The mayor was already out of ear shot, waving behind his back and on the way out the door.


“I wish my husband had taught me the game of golf. I’d enjoy something like that on a day like this.” She eyed the window, the grand view of the golf course, with a sigh of remorse for having to be inside.

“Make sure to be a few minutes early, just a thought.” Ed Hoak smiled and took a sip of coffee, the others parting and going off in different directions.

******************************************************************
Part Four City Hall

Frank was sitting in the outer office at ten after three, looking at his watch and comparing it with the large grandfather’s clock directly across the room from him. Having never been in the Mayor’s office, or anteroom, it never would have occurred to him that it would be furnished after the manner of an old English pub or possibly the local Steak and Ale restaurant. About the only thing missing was the salad bar as he looked around. The greeting secretary’s desk was crafted to look like something out of a Dicken’s book. She dipped a quill pen into an antique ink well as she entered, calligraphy style, each character neatly and painstakingly into the daily calendar log sheet. Regardless of how inefficient the use of time, there could be nothing but admiration for the artistic touch that such an artist produced.

“The Mayor will see you now.”, pointing to a solid oak door.

“Thank you, and your lettering”, not sure how to give a proper compliment, “uh, very nice.” The young woman smiled and accepted the awkward flattery that she had become accustomed to. Frank noticed that the secretary had pushed one of the buttons that was built into the desk as he walked toward the door, whereupon the door automatically swung open. He supposed, correctly, that there would be other buttons to lock it shut by way of a strong magnet and to alert security in the event of trouble.

“Have a seat Frank.”, Mayor Crawford barely looked up as he motioned to a Victorian style arm chair with a floral print, a course fabric that was had a deep blue background with touches of green twisting vines adorned by maroon flowers that spoke of Autumn. There were two identical chairs next to each other, separated by a free standing floor lamp made of dark mahogany. About a third of the way from the floor was a small oval table built onto the candlestick base of the lamp, even with the arm rests of the chairs. Before sitting Frank acknowledge Ms’ Appleton, sitting in the chair with the lamp to her left, affording her a comfortable well lighted position where she could take shorthand.

Thank you, Sir.”, watching as Mayor Crawford finished going over a form that was then placed into a manila folder and handed to Ms’ Appleton.

“I think we can skip to the middle and get you started without any needless delay.”, looking at Ms’ Appleton and then at Frank. “I need more data, a flow of information back and forth, between your generation and city hall. The way I see it, there’s a whole generation of folks out there, your age give or take a couple of years, who think that they have no say in how things get done around here.”, the mayor tapped his index finger on the center of his desk for effect. “Your job will be to open up that line of communication, tap into that vast block of voters.” The two looked at each other, the mayor tilted his head down one time and back up as Frank nodded that he understood.

“There are no set hours, no time clocks to punch every day. I’ll start you out at four thousand a month, plus expenses.” Frank never was very quick with figures, all the same he knew that four thousand a month; well, Wilson’s Big & Tall would have to find a new Second Assistant Sales Manager. A boyish smile found its way onto Frank’s face. “The city provides you with a car from the pool; something sporty perhaps, all gas and maintenance.” Frank had always associated city rides in generic terms; white four door sedans with half moon wheel covers. Was it possible that the “something sporty” might include the letters “BMW”? “Ms’ Appleton has a list of your appointments along with a few simple guidelines to keep us out of trouble, and the rest is up to your imagination.”

“Here’s your day planner, the directory in the back has been updated to accommodate your itinerary.” Frank glanced at the neatly highlighted entries for lunches, dinner and other social meetings with various local leaders. He observed that he was to have several luncheons at the University of Houston, Rice and the Houston Community College staffers. While he was glancing at the schedule before him, Ms’ Appleton continued, “Your membership card to the Houstonian, the Rotary Club and the Lions Club.” These had been placed in the front portion of the day planner along with a Master Card with the city seal boldly taking center stage, an American Express card and a Shell Oil Company card. “Tuesday and Thursday evenings at North Harris Community College you are enrolled in Public Speaking 101. If anyone asks; you are working toward your Masters and leave it at that.” The mayor nodded and smiled while listening; the information all aimed at grooming a particular image of the mayor’s staff members.


“This shows that I’m to attend a basketball game this evening at the new Toyota Center; is that correct?” Frank was never much of a basketball fan, all the same it would give him an opportunity to visit the brand new state of the art facility.

“You will be the guest of “Mattress Mac” and sit in his luxury box. Mac has a lot of influence with the younger generation, sports and young people, you know.” It did make sense, in a general sort of way. It might even open the door to meet with some young female voters. “No need in reading all this to you at once. You go down to the motor pool and pick out something. You can go over this,” pointing to the list, “when you get home.” Frank thought large for a moment, “What, no mid town townhouse with a hot tub?”

Nothing would have surprised him with all that had fallen into his lap over the past couple of days. He had been living in a rented house on the near north side, sharing the rent and utilities with two roommates. Working forty hours a week with occasional overtime provided barely enough income to cover his regularly occurring debt. After adding up the rent, car payment, car insurance, one third of the electric, water and sewer along with a very modest food allowance; there wasn’t much left over. He thought it an extravagance to have cable television; non of the HBO or Cinemax packages, only basic cable. His roommates, Brandon and Chris, thought he had gone to work; much like any other day and here he was sitting in the mayor’s office. He could hardly wait to share his good fortune with them, not that they would believe any of it.

“Thank you, Sir. I’ll work hard.” Mayor Crawford reached over and patted Frank on the shoulder.

“I know you will Frank.” The mayor paused and then struck a pose, as if he had forgotten something essential. “What am I thinking?”, passing a sheet of paper, some kind of form letter to Ms’ Appleton. “Have him sign the highlighted areas.”

“Yes, Mr. Mayor.” Ms’ Appleton glanced at the form and placed it before Frank, pointing to the three lines that had been spotted with a florescent yellow marker.

“This puts you on the City’s payroll and outlines all of the deductions for medical coverage, legal and…”, his voice tapering off almost imperceptibly, “…clothing allotment.” Frank hardly noticed as he signed off on the three paragraphs, that he had promised a full third of his current salary, to include present and all future entitlements, to an agency in charge of taking care of such benefits; Deposited Entitlements Valued Initiative Load. “Its kind of an inside joke around here. You look down at your take home pay and ask, “Where in the Devil did all that money go?”


There was a muffled laugh from Ms’ Appleton. Frank wondered why she had looked up toward the ceiling; a missed prayer drifted in the air. She reflected on the comment; a quiet acceptance that indicated a fair amount of disappointment as her countenance lost a portion of the sparkle from the moment before.

The mayor broke in, “Don’t forget that you have another fitting at the Haberdashery on Tuesday. Part of that deduction covers the suits you will be required to wear.” Mayor Crawford cocked an eyebrow and Ms’ Appleton was reminded with the same force as would slam doors shut.

“That has been penciled in…”, flipping the page ahead, “…there.” Ms’ Appleton pointed. Her facial expression returned as it had been; her momentary remorse dissolved into a smile. “If I am not mistaken you will have a choice between a Jeep Cherokee or a Ford Focus.”, looking at the mayor apologetically for her miscue seconds before.

“Either one will be fine with me.” Thinking to himself that an SUV might be a little more macho.

********************************************************************

Part Five The Cost of Doing Business

“Frank, it’s nearly time to lock up; will you get the front door?” Jake Farmers pushed a canvas walled trash container full of empty cardboard boxes ready to be tossed into the dumpster towards the main entrance to the store. Jake was completing his senior year, getting credit for working as one of the second assistant store managers at Wilson’s Big & Tall; part of the young business achievement program. “Frank…will you get the front door?”

“Sorry, Jake; I was thinking back about something from a long time ago and wasn’t paying attention.” It had been twenty years to the day when Frank had walked away from his “opportunity of a lifetime” at City Hall. He reached down for a key ring attached to his belt while walking from the cash register toward the front door.

“That’s okay, Boss; no big deal.” Jake paused for a moment before completing his thought, “Did you ever want to be more than just a store manager, something; I don’t know, something more important?” Jake felt a bit uneasy as the words left his lips; acknowledging how it must have sounded. He’d not intended for his question to come off as disrespectful; but felt sorry for the man he worked for, his never advancing very far in the business world.

“Tell you what, when you get through with putting that away; come back to my office. There’s something I want to show you, something I take out every year to remind myself of how lucky I am to be working as the store manager here at Wilson’s.” Frank smiled thoughtfully and took in a deep breath of air, a satisfying reflection of his life.

Frank’s office wasn’t much to look at, not much bigger than a modest walk in closet that had been expanded enough for a desk and computer. There were a few picture frames placed strategically on the edges of the deck next to the computer monitor; Frank and his wife Lulu, a family group shot of their children and grandchildren taken on Thanksgiving Day and a picture of the Houston Temple where he was an ordinance worker each Wednesday evening.

“What’d you want to show me, Boss?” Jake glanced around and didn’t notice anything in particular was different; his having used the computer in Frank’s office many times while performing his duties. Frank reached into his wallet and carefully lifted the leather section where he kept his driver’s license exposing the edge of a key. Pulling it carefully from its hiding place, Frank handed it to Jake.

“I want you to open that small closet and share a moment with me, might be important you hear what I have to say.” Frank wasn’t used to being mysterious; but his tone of voice set the mode for a serious exchange. The door to the closet, if it could truly be called a closet, being only six inches wide with only a file cabinet styled lock to keep it shut, was nearly invisible as it blended with the rest of the wall.

“Sure thing, Boss.” There was a slight hesitation as the key changed hands and entered the keyhole. Jake looked over his shoulder and found Frank smiling, almost laughing; but without a sound and much more serious.

“Now, take the garment bag from off the hook and open it, carefully, mind you.”

“Wow! This is some kind of piece of work!” Jake felt the material of the exquisite suit and observed the craftsmanship required. “…This yours?”

“Yes, Sir. The one and only time I wore it was twenty years ago to the day.” Frank stood silent while he put his thoughts together. “I wanted it so bad I could taste it.”

“Wanted what, Boss?” Jake didn’t have a clue because Frank had never mentioned anything to anyone about what had happened or what might have been.

“I could have had a closet full of suits just like that one; but the catch was I’d have to sell my soul to the Devil himself. I realized, just in time, that working here at Wilson’s was where I was supposed to be; not some fancy pants political “gofer” with an expense account and take home car.”

“What, you used to be in politics?”

“I guess you could say that; hum…for about half a day I was sitting on at the table with the big boys.” Frank explained all about the suit, the visit with the mayor; right up to the part where he was going to sign for a fancy fully equipped Jeep Grand Cherokee at the motor pool.

“So what happened to make you walk away from all that?”

“The cost of doing business was more than I was willing to pay; pure and simple, it was more than anyone should have to pay. I walked back up those steps, my feet felt like they had hundred pound weights dragging behind me with each step. I tore up my contract and tossed it in the trash, the mayor’s secretary sitting at her desk in disbelief.”

“That’s it; you walked away, that’s it?”

“Look at it this way; I found a wonderful lady who loves and puts up with me. I have three children who are all grown up and on their own, a couple of grand children and life if good; what else is there? I get to work at the temple every Wednesday and feel the Spirit of the Lord; compare that with selling your soul to the Devil and which would you chose?” Frank put the suit back into the garment bag, carefully zipping it shut and placed it back on the hook before locking the door.

“Thanks for showing me that, uh, suit, Boss.” Jake paused before leaving the office as he turned back, “…You think anyone would mind if I showed up at your church to find out what makes folks like you so happy just being plain and simple working folks?”

“Be there, Sunday, 8:30; I’ll save you a place.”

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Blue Marble

My grandfather gave me a spyglass on my eight birthday so I could see the heavens. I called him Pecaw from a time before language skills developed and the name stuck. He didn’t mind; maybe there’s a rank above “grandpa”, something that only a child notices. I would point my simple telescope, a sturdy cardboard tube painted black with some shiny brass rings to hold the lenses, at the moon. Through it I would wonder about life.

It never occurred to me that one day I would have a grandson to walk with; to point out the stars, the moon and the planets. The wonderful thing about walking with JJ is I become eight years old again and enjoy the night sky with renewed spirit of awe. I certainly never expected to be called, “Peapaw”, an honor to hear; for all I know it means “silly old fart who talks on and on”.

“StarzS, Peapaw, StarzS,!” Jay pointed to the planet Jupiter as the sunset faded into late evening. A jogger approached and quietly acknowledged the special moment we were having; possibly thinking about his own family as he smiled.

“Evenin’. . . nice night.”, his words measured his paced breathing as he continued by us.; glancing upward while Jay pointed at the brilliant object above the horizon. I nodded and returned the smile, a proud knowing smile, while kneeling to sit on the curb next to my grandson.

“Jay, that’s the planet Jupiter.” Jay was two and a half years old and it would be awhile before he would understand the distinction between a planet’s reflected light from that of a distant star’s generated light. The darkening sapphire evening comforter had only a few minutes left, the night’s darkness close to taking over as his young face sparkled back at me. A mockingbird swooped across the street and disappeared into the canopy of a large tree’s branches for the night. It was that magical time when trees lost their green color in favor of the shadows, their having absorbed any light attempting to betray their secrets. The only birds flying above were Purple Martins taking advantage of a swarm of mosquitoes that had volunteered to be a snack.

“Moon!” He pointed to my belt buckle, “Moon! Moon!”. He was right; my belt buckle featured a turquoise shaped moon set against various shades of hardwood mountains with a pitch black sky sprinkled with sterling silver stars. It was all held together in a solid brass frame.

I remember the day I bought that belt buckle. It was 1975 and I was an evening shift police officer assigned to work one of those art fairs at the edge of downtown. It was a hot summer’s day in Houston. I had a given area of the fair grounds to patrol on foot, mainly to be seen in uniform. The crowds, though rather large, were a friendly sort, happy to see a police presence as they enjoyed the flea market atmosphere. There were vendors hawking all manner of semi-artistic items; beads, wind chimes, handmade jewelry, paintings, and custom made belts. I’d passed one particular vendor’s stand several times over the course of the day. Each time I had been captivated by the beauty of his belt buckles. I talked with the fellow, he was from Albuquerque, and he was pleased that I enjoyed his workmanship. He polished and buffed one of them, tempting me to purchase and knowing that each time I stopped his odds of completing a sale improved. Fifty dollars was a lot of money for a belt buckle and I was reluctant, knowing that I would have to admit my weakness as soon as I got home with my new purchase.

“Is that an airplane I hear Jay?”, cupping my ear and exaggerating my anticipation until he too was honing in on the approaching noise that was hidden from view. Jay loved to watch airplanes as they settled into the invisible roads that led to the airport. I wondered if Jay would always look into the skies and appreciate the miracles around him. The moment had been trapped in time as we were both enjoying eternity. In the blink of an eye he would be sitting, pointing into the night sky with his own grandchild wondering how perfect moments happen.

I had been interested in astronomy even as a small boy. I would enjoy the night sky while walking the dog. I can’t remember how many times my grandfather, Pecaw, would direct my attention, pointing up into the heavens, “There is my favorite . ..”, as it cleared the tree line of the early autumn sky, “. . .Orion. See there, his belt with the sword hanging down?” He would draw his finger in the air, “That is where the great nebulae of Orion is found.” He would then talk about the Creation and how God had planned all this, the planets with their individual orbits, the Sun to provide us with energy and the moon to reflect on. Pecaw had a special gift for making the cosmos sound familiar and friendly as opposed to the cold reaches of space as defined by my science teachers. “Its all part of God’s plan.”, He would say, “All part of God’s plan for us to appreciate what we have been given. You ask your Dad, he’ll tell you.” Pecaw died when I was very young and so those walks remain as important memories and my link with him.

Dad had a special marble that he kept on his desk that had belonged to his grandfather. It was a deep cobalt blue marble about three quarters of an inch in diameter. When he wasn’t looking, or at least I thought he wasn’t, I would pick it up and hold it to the light. The lamp on his desk was a miniature Sun and I was holding the Earth between my index finger and my thumb, looking at the oceans completely covering the planet. One day while I was day dreaming, holding the Earth and not paying too much attention, I suddenly noticed that I was no longer alone.

“Still waiting for the dry land to appear?”, he asked in a reverenced hush. The marble was crystal clear all the way through, no cat’s eye or cloudy swaths to interrupt the deep blue cast. I smiled weakly, knowing that I had not asked permission to handle one of his prized possessions. “I remember the day I got that marble. It was at the World’s Fair in, let me think . . ., nineteen. . . thirty three; yes, that was it, nineteen thirty three.” He smiled as he remembered his own youth, “It was my birthday present that year. I’d turned eight and my grandfather thought it would be nice to treat me to see the World’s Fair in Chicago.” Dad may have been in the room with me but his mind was lost somewhere in the past as he recollected his train ride into Chicago, the excitement of having an entire weekend in the big city and having a chance to be with his grandparents.

“I remember going to see some kind of exhibition . . .the Century of Progress Exhibition . . . yes, that was it.”, his voice dropping as he emphasized the importance and weightiness of the times. I had never met Grandfather Copland and yet when my father’s voice would drop into that serious tone it was as if I were hearing him from beyond the veil. There was something about the gravelly voice, the way the words were put together, that of a much older person who had the knowledge of the ages caught in ancient vocal cords pleading with my inexperience and youth.

“You see”, he looked at me, the blue marble catching the light, “Grandfather Copland used to own that very same marble.” He nodded knowingly as we both glanced at its simple beauty. It now became more clear why dad had kept the marble in his coin tray on top of his desk; a constant link with one of his heroes. “Grandfather knew that I was ready to have something of enormous value”, dad’s voice shook with emotions from deep inside of him, “and so he took that marble from his watch pocket and handed it to me. I will never forget the look in his eye, a somber and ominous look that came from the center of his soul, “This is but a shadow of a greater truth and I am placing it in your care.”

It had made for a good story, how much of it was imagination and how much of it was true did not matter; it was something that my dad kept all those years, a gift from Grandfather Copland. “I think Grandfather Copland would want you to have it now that you’re old enough to appreciate what it is.”, dad closed my fingers around it, almost as if he’d given me a hug as the blue sphere became mine.

Dad was a pretty good furniture salesman and he did know the nigh sky; all the same, he was more a dreamer than anything. Dad had no real interest in the mathematical equations that linked one planet’s orbit with another or the chemistry that made it possible to identify which elements had shifted blue or red from distant stars. The night sky was part of his testimony of the Creation and that was good enough for him. I had taken basic science courses in high school, the same ones that everyone did. Later, when I went on to college there were the mandatory classes; Biology, Botany, Chemistry and even Physics. Astronomy was offered; but by then my interests, at least my primary interests, had been geared toward obtaining a business degree. I knew the names of the planets and could find them easily along the equatorial plain along with some of the more prominent stars and their corresponding constellations. I could anticipate the seasonal changes that brought into view different sets of stars. It’s no surprise that my favorite season was autumn; Orion leading the way back to older memories and walks with Pecaw or my talks with dad.

That young fellow who'd jogged by had reminded me of someone; nothing specific and perhaps it was only the fact that he was in his late teens or early twenties. Maybe it was his quiet smile when he looked at me standing next to Jay; no matter. I thought back to one afternoon in my sophomore year at Sam Houston State. I happened to notice a flyer that had been affixed to one of the bulletin boards. It was on the Old Main Building, the oldest and most beautiful structure on the entire campus; a building that, I might add, burned to the ground a few years back.

I remember the ornate stained glass windows and the dark oak wood work; a shame that the sprinkler system had never been installed. Anyway, where was I? John Pratt, an astronomy professor from Utah had been asked to speak regarding his theories on planetary alignment and biblical calendars one Thursday evening. While I read the leaflet my fingers instinctively felt down into the deep recess of my pocket for my marble, the marble I kept with me as surely as my wallet or my car keys. My last final of the semester would be Friday afternoon, Managerial Accounting. I had struggled to keep a low B average and it was important that I do well on the test. In my mind I tossed a coin and never let it land, thinking to myself, “If I don’t know it by now then studying for it all night this Thursday isn’t going to make all that much difference.”

“I sat in the back of the auditorium, the same room that I’d taken Freshman Botany, a mandatory drudgery that most students flunked their first try. It was the same room that the drama club used. The podium was spotlighted in the middle of a moderately sized stage; no microphone was necessary due to the marvelous acoustics fashioned into the hundred year old architecture. There was seating for about a hundred and fifty, a steep grade between successive rows made use of both the first and second floors. The high ceilings and the windows made use of convection currents to keep the temperatures tolerable, there having been no air conditioning considered at the time. The lights in the room were brought down and I had the blue marble in my hand, no longer a simple piece of glass. I held the Creation, as it were, supported on my finger tips where it could float in the vast expanse of space prior to listening to the talk.

“Evening, nice night.”, and with the same breath, “May I have a look at that magnificent bauble?”, from a young man sitting to my right. I had not noticed him, or rather, I’d paid him no regard until that moment. There were five minutes or so until the night’s event. The house lights flickered so that all might take their seats on time. I let the marble roll into the center of my palm, having formed a cup so that it would not fall. I was reluctant to permit a stranger to handle it; all the same, I could see no harm lifting my hand in offering.
“What a magnificent orb!.”, lifting it ever so gently; as if he felt my reluctance in the matter. I saw that as he held the marble, his eye studied each mark that had cankered its once pristine surface. There was a familiarity, a recognition of that which could only be observed with prior knowledge, as he found the various marks on the marble. “God’s fingernail”, a hushed whisper escaped his lips as he pointed to a small indention, a minuscule crease that had been on that marble for as long as I could remember.

“What was that?” Dad had explained the history of the marble, the same way that he had been briefed by Grandfather Copland. The fellow who had given Grandfather Copland the treasure had described all the marks on the marble; the thin indention he had called “God’s fingernail mark”. Dad said that it was the Grand Canyon in miniature, but I think he was checking to see if one of my legs was longer than the other. There was a smile growing across the young man’s face, a pleasant unforced smile.

“You are aware of the significance of this jewel.”, stated with validation and sureness. It was hard to place his accent. His clearly spoken words landed refreshingly crisp on the ear; Mid-west, Iowa or possibly Indiana. Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me; when I first had looked at him he appeared to be nineteen of twenty years old at best, then a moment later he had the presence of someone much more progressed, approaching ancient.

“It’s only a marble, a very old marble, that’s all. This belonged to my great grandfather and he’s been dead since; well; before either of us were born”, looking the young man over with a cursory glance. His manner of dress was disjointed; a walking anachronism, more like a “preppie” from the Fifties who’d got warped ahead twenty years. He could easily have come from doing a Bryl-cream or Vitalis hair tonic commercial with his slicked down hair, starched white shirt and pull over sweater vest. The fact remained that the stranger had identified “God’s fingernail mark”, something that would constitute a giant leap in coincidence, were such coincidences possible.

“You’re probably correct.”, handing the marble back with not even the slightest hint of contention. It seemed odd that he would be certain one moment and at once recant.

“How did you know about the mark, “God’s fingernail mark”?”, holding it up for inspection.
“It is a very unique piece of glass; surely you have been given its history?” Dad had never mentioned it in those terms, like it was the Hope Diamond or some such piece of jewelry. Maybe I hadn’t paid enough attention to the wild yarn. Dad told me; on more that one occasion, “Your grandfather thinks that an angel gave him this marble, an angel who knew God.”, or something like that.

“It belonged to my father and before him, his grandfather. I had no idea that it had any value or noteworthy legend.” The small blue marble sitting in my hand was all but black in the dimly lighted reaches of the back row.

“Then you will enjoy this evening’s presentation all the more. Its time to be quiet now.”, placing his finger in front of his lips as the lights in the hall diminished until only the spot light shone on the podium.

“Tonight our guest speaker is John Pratt, noted astronomer and biblical historian. His remarks will, no doubt, be interesting to all as he explains the cosmos in terms we can all relate to. Doctor Pratt will now address us on, “The Planets, Shadows of a Greater Truth”, Doctor Pratt.” There was a cordial yet generous applause as the spot light followed John Pratt from the edge of the stage until he took up his position behind the podium. I had never heard of John Pratt and had never read any of his books when I decided to attend the instructional presentation. My interest was similar to going to a show to be entertained.

Sometimes I would sit on one of the benches in the quadrangle in the late afternoon to listen while the students practiced their instruments; phrases from familiar classics streamed on a light breeze and I knew that many hours of labor had produced those sounds. I had no skills in music other than to enjoy the efforts of those who did. Astronomy appealed to me in much the same way as I sat toward the front of my seat to listen.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen and thank you.” He picked up a pitcher of water that had been placed on the podium and filled a glass, taking a couple of short sips to prime the pump. “Can anyone tell me where the planet Venus was on the day Mary found the stone rolled away from the tomb of Jesus?” John Pratt looked out into the darkness; a few hands went up around the room. “Well, I see that some of you have read my book, that’s refreshing.” He let out a light rumble of laughter and resumed; pointing to a young man in the front row who had mouthed the appropriate answer, inaudible to the better part of the audience. “You are correct, Sir. Venus was in “Resurrection” as it is called to those familiar with its pattern of appearance either in the evening or the morning sky.”

I was distracted now, wanting to hear the presentation while flashes of my own childhood memories interrupted my efforts to concentrate on the talk. How was it that I would enjoy this evening’s lecture more holding grandfather’s marble? Who was this fellow sitting next to me, younger than myself or so it seemed and yet …? The program continued as Professor Pratt had brought slides that were illuminated on a large screen behind him; he continued to explain his ideas.

“The cycle of Venus requires about 584 days to complete, and Mercury requires 116 days. Both of those values are one day short of being a multiple of 13: 585 = 45 x 13 and 117 = 9 x 13. Thus, the 13-day trecena is an excellent unit of time to track both of these planets. In fact, the period of Venus is about five times that of Mercury and 585 equals exactly five time 117. Moreover, the 263-day period that Venus spends as morning and evening stars nearly equals one Sacred Round of 260 days. Because of these coincidences, the Venus and Mercury calendars I have designed are aligned with the Sacred Round. That is, the day of creation, birth, prime, death, and resurrection of both Venus and Mercury always occur on a day "1" of the 13-day trecena. On the proposed Venus calendar, there are always exactly 260 days, or one Sacred Round, between the days of birth and death, which agrees with Native American traditions.” (footnote: The Planets, Shadows of a Greater Truth by John Pratt )

I was listening and watching as the orbits of each planet were shown along with the appointed dates of alignment. Was he making this up as he went along; what the heck was a trecena? Much of what was being discussed had the flavor of a religious ceremony as opposed to a purely scientific proposition. I looked around to see if they were going to start passing collection plates.

“The Lord stated, "And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, . . . things which are in the heavens above, . . . all things bear record of me." (Moses 6:63). Thus we see that these words can be taken literally. The planets not only bear record of the times of key events in the Savior's life, they sometimes even bear record of what the event was. For example, the planet Venus was "resurrecting" on the day the Savior did. Truly the celestial spheres are "for signs and for seasons" (Gen. 1:14) as the Lord instructed Moses.” ( footnote: The Planets, Shadows of a Greater Truth by John Pratt)

Pecaw had always told me that the stars and the planets were part of God’s creation for us to enjoy and here was a professor of astronomy, come all the way from Utah, to validate that. There was a warm feeling that came from deep within, something witnessing to me that the information was true. I was not up on biblical history; having avoided going to church most of my life, all the same some of the references were of books; presumably in the scriptures, not familiar to me. The first five books of the bible; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, going over them in my head and counting them on my fingers as I named each one, had been delivered by Moses, or at least that’s what I had been taught. I was not aware of a book called “Moses”. The more I listened the more I heard about books I never knew existed.

“Did you ever…”, turning to ask if he’d ever heard of a Book of Moses; he was gone. Maybe he’d gone to the restroom and would return. There would be a chance to ask him after the lecture; at least I hoped to have that opportunity.

“The Lord stated that Abraham knew the set time of the moon. The value for the average length of the lunar month on which the Hebrew calendar has long been based is 29.530594 days.
That value is far better than any other used in antiquity, and today's calculation of the average value (29.530593 days) only differs by 0.000001 day, which is less than a tenth of a second. The Hebrew value is so phenomenally good that I've believed for years that it must have been revealed and that the lunar orbit was designed to come out even in Hebrew time units. This revelation to Abraham might explain the origin of this super-accurate value. It is also possible, however, that the value had been known by Enoch, and was contained in the records in Abraham's possession (Abr. 1:31). The revelation states only that he knows it, not that it was being revealed at that time.” (footnote: John Pratt’s article “Abraham’s Three Truths”)

Here was reference to a Book of Abraham; I would have to find these books and read them for myself. I glanced over my program; more had been given in one meal than I could digest. On the back was a brief biography of Professor John Pratt along with information on how to order a soft cover compilation of his writings. I would have to think some more before ordering; twenty five dollars plus shipping and handling was rather steep. My job delivering for Ralph’s Pizza paid almost nothing. They had a small fleet of VW Bugs that could be seen all over campus to advertise and deliver to the dorms; a large pizza logo on every side of the car with Ralph’s Pizza in bold letters. The main reason I had taken it was because I would be guaranteed at least one real meal each day. I was living on the proverbial shoe string and counting pennies, not dollars. Every once in a while I would sell my free pizza to my roommate, take that money and buy a burger just to have a change of pace.

“Interesting stuff, huh?” My new found friend had returned and prodded my thoughts. It was a statement requiring only a nod of agreement, almost as if he had heard this information before.

“’Great, a little deep; but great all the same.” I had never met this young man before, all the same he reminded me of my walks with Pecaw, somehow becoming a familiar spirit by proxy. There was something worth knowing about this fellow, like solving a puzzle in the Sunday Times. The house lights came up as the event came to its inevitable conclusion and I escaped the rigid confines of an uncomfortable chair.

“Come with me, I think you should meet John and get to know him a little better.”, pulling my arm as he moved into the isle. Sitting on the back row had its advantages; one being that getting out of a crowded room was much easier, not so this time. Here we were, a couple of human salmon fighting the current of bodies as we made our way toward center stage. Any reluctance that I had held in reserve evaporated with each passing step.

“John, over here.”, waving to flag his attention. I noticed there was an instant recognition, so much so that Dr. Pratt, who had been engaged in direct conversation with someone else, dropped that person’s hand shake and lost interest immediately. It was the same as when meeting your brother who has been out of the country for several years. Passing time with a total stranger, talking about the latest sports scores up until that moment comes and your brother steps into view; there is no pretense that the earlier conversation was meaningful as you turn away, possibly without even a shallow attempt to conclude with a social pleasantry.
“How long has it been, too long my brother.”, Dr. Pratt could not contain the emotions as he hugged and that hug was returned. I stood respectfully a couple of steps back as the two revived their relationship, mostly by their eye contact and the nodding of heads rather than verbally.

“John, I have someone you need to meet with.”, turning to catch me with his other hand. “William Story, John Pratt.”, arranging that our hands should shake as he introduced us to each other.

“I enjoyed the seminar very much, Sir”.

“Call me John, please. William Story…?”, a momentary hesitation of thought, “…do I know you, somehow there is a familiarity about you?” Call me crazy; but I had to agree; there was a way about him, his eyes maybe or was it something less obvious? From the back row I had only a fuzzy humanoid basic structure; nothing that would have given particulars such as personal features.

“I don’t think so, pleased to meet you, er..a. John.” He had a powerful grip while shaking hands, not like he was trying to show off his strength, more friendly than that; all the same it was plain that he did more than do lectures and write about the stars.

“Show John what you showed me earlier.” There was a brief aside as John glanced over and then back to me as I retrieved the marble from my blue jeans. I could feel that his hand had left my shoulder, the cool air notified me. He was leaving and it dawned on me that I didn’t know his name. Come to think of it, I had never given him mine; how was it that he was able to introduce me so easily?

“Say hello to your brother Jared for me when you see him.”, John extended a wave as I brought the blue marble up higher so that the light would shine on it. The corner spot lights still aimed at center stage made the orb shine magnificently, the beams striking it made the rest of the room disappear in comparison. I know there were still quite a few of the audience by the background noise; and yet there was a distinct silence in that two or three foot circle where we stood. John Pratt breathed in and stood erect upon recognizing the object; something which most folks would have simply assigned to be an ordinary glass marble; it was similar to what I had experienced earlier in the evening.

“My goodness, so we do have something in common.” His voice was clear and hushed as he reached into his own pocket. When his hand came out there was no mistaking that he too had a marble, only his was a clear amber color He handed it to me, making a point to hold it a certain way so that as I took it from him I would have a particular view. “Interesting mark, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Huh, oh my!” It was the same indention, God’s fingernail mark.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 42 Lemons or Lemonade


“Officer Dosilmeyer, I’m Lt. Rayford. Since you’ve been away from the station there’ve been a few changes; I am now your night shift commander.” Sinclair did not know the man or anything about him. He appeared to be one of the spit and polish types; his uniform was immaculate right down to his plastic leather look alike shoes. His manners seemed to match up to the same high standard. Sinclair quietly waited; not having sufficient data to evaluate, but temporarily impressed none the less.

“My last duty assignment, before requesting a change of stations was I.A.D.” Sinclair’s left brow shot up, the mere mention of those letters brought dark thoughts to his mind.

“It figures.” Sinclair slipped momentarily, allowing his true feelings to be expressed; knowing all to well that he should have keep his mouth shut.

“Now wait just a minute before getting yourself all cranked up about me.” Lt. Rayford had a pleading in his voice which struck a cord with Sinclair. “I know a fair amount about your situation, more than most of the command staff. It may come as a surprise to you, but not everyone in I.A.D. is the total and complete asshole you’ve conjured up in your mind.”

“Hurmph !”, unable to contain the automatic response.

“I suppose that covers your opinion of I.A.D.”

“Why are you here, not to be rude or anything?”, but at the same time showing questionable manners. Sinclair glared out in his general direction, forming a scowl as his lower lip became tighter.

“I came to clear the air on a few issues that might help all concerned.”, reaching to his shirt pocket he removed a gray metal canister and unscrewed the end. Sinclair’s old partner had bought many cigars; these were not cheap.

“Go on, Sir.” Sinclair remained cautious, having been “helped” by the Department on other occasions.

“I wasn’t assigned to your specific investigation; however, some of the information I had from another complaint crossed over and so I had a chance to review your file. I read about everything you ever did or that they thought you did.” His hands spread to emphasize the thickness of Sinclair’s personnel folder. “Your a peculiar type of guy. It’s unusual to find that you are still with the Department, not that I find fault with what you’ve done as an officer; but, that you would manage to put up with the way things are done here.”

“I suppose that could be taken as a compliment. Was that your intent?”

“It was.”

“You still haven’t explained why your here. I mean, I must have talked to every supervisor in this Department; what could I tell you that you haven’t already heard about or read?” For a few moments the two men looked at each other very seriously, not sure of how to proceed. Lt. Rayford carefully relaxed himself as he began explaining his intentions to Sinclair.

“Dosilmeyer, it would have pleased the Captain no end to have you fired, for any reason. Its no secret that the two of you don’t get along; never have from what I’ve read. He reviewed every aspect of the your incident and subsequent responses to the Internal Affairs people.” Lt. Rayford paused as he studied Sinclair’s reaction. “As far as I’m concerned you acted properly, but the Captain; well he said that you acted out a hostility based on a racially motivated dislike for Hispanics. As he put it; “ I got him fired once and can do it again.”

“Wouldn’t put it past him.”, looking at a spot on the ceiling as he spoke. “So, where does that leave me? They’re keeping me here under observation; supposedly until they can figure out what’s goin’ on inside my head.” Sinclair wasn’t sure how much Lt. Rayford knew as he tossed the explanation out. “I’d like to get out of this place and back to work.”

“Not much chance of that. I’ve read all the medical and psychological reports. It will be the Departments contention that you are no longer able to act in the capacity of a police officer. Like I said earlier, I can find no fault in any of your actions relating to the incident that has taken place; but there are several other members of the command staff who are not sure how to close the book on this. I have recommended that you to pick up a full medical pension.” Lt. Rayford sat back as he took the cigar and played with it, never intending to light it. Had he been in the military it would’ve been a swagger stick instead. “You need to accept the fact that your not going to return to the Department.” Sinclair breathed out heavily as each word repeated itself inside his mind.

“You really don’t think I can make it back to full duty status then, do you?” Sinclair had been building his endurance up with the expectation of resuming some semblance of a normal life. He thought he would always be a police officer or at least for as long as he wanted to remain in that position. The idea of being run off was repugnant to his being.

“As I told you, I took the liberty of going over your medical charts. These unexplained departures from reality would make it nearly impossible . . .”, rolling the cigar as if it had been laden heavy with ash, “. . . the Department could never assume such a risk; that’s why they’re have to let you leave with a full medical pension.”

“I only have six years more to achieve pension status. I could work the desk or disappear into some quiet place like uniform supply division. There wouldn’t be much of a risk to the City there, would there?”

“Why would you want to hang around here six more years?” Lt. Rayford pointed the cut end of the cigar at Sinclair to make his point. “So you stick it out and get the minimum pension at forty five percent of base pay; why do that when you can leave now and pick up a full pay check under a medical release? You think about it for a minute; but its already a done deal.”

“When I first realized the extent of the injuries I had to overcome, well; I entertained the notion of a medical pension. It would have been easy to lay back and not go through the pain of rebuilding these muscles. I quit taking the pain pills a long time ago just to see if I could get through the day without help. I wore the edges off my molars the first week, but I got off them.” Lt. Rayford listened politely and let Sinclair continue without interruption.

“I did it so that one day I could get back in that damned blue and white police car. I’ve paid my dues and want to go on with it.”

“You’re not listening. My recommendation has already been approved. The Chief ran it by the pension board; starting Monday you are no longer to be carried on the roster.”
Getting up from his chair, Lt. Rayford stood and walked over to the edge to look out the window. “That’s where Sgt. Perry got hit the other night, isn’t it ?”, placing the cigar in the corner of his mouth as he continued without waiting for Sinclair to make any kind of response. “In case you’re wondering; the answer is yes. I was working a case up on Perry. From all the evidence, it appeared that he and his partner were making a sizable income by helping undocumented laborers obtain fraudulent papers.”

“So, Perry WAS in that apartment!” Sinclair found some more of the pieces beginning to fit.

“We were never able to actually tie him directly to that apartment, but it does fit. He was making regular deposits to his checking account and all the money came from the same management company that ran those apartments. We were able to trace the money to some fairly prominent crooks; but that is not important now that he’s dead. The other night when he was killed in the parking lot, we had been following him. I don’t want to needlessly upset you; but, I feel quite certain that he had come here, under instructions from his other employer, to finish you off.”

“So I’ve been told.” Sinclair matter of factly responded.


“How did you know? It has not been made public and there are only a handful of people who are aware of this.” Sinclair smiled as he thought of how to explain his source.

“I just knew; go on.”

“As I was saying, only a select few have been made aware of these findings; the Chief, Doctor Chatterly, and myself. We have decided that it would be safer for you to complete the rest of your recuperative efforts away from here.”

“You mean that I can get out of the hospital?”

“Yes, Dr. Chatterly felt it was a waste to have kept you here for the last month as it is; he’ll be along within the next half hour to go over the necessary forms.”

“This is too good to be true.”

“Actually we have reason to believe that this is the best way to prevent another attempt on your life. The way we see it, by rendering your testimony as “unreliable”; these guys will have no reason to worry about you anymore. You would no longer be a liability to them.”

“So I’m some kind of lunatic; is that what your putting down?” Sinclair was not thrilled at what he was hearing.

“Would you rather be a live lunatic or a dead cop?”

“I ahhhh. . .”

“We will make a statement to the press explaining your medical retirement from the Department. It will include a brief account of the irreparable damage in your brain to
certain reasoning functions, as a result of your valiant efforts in the line of duty.” Lt. Rayford stopped for a moment as he noticed Sinclair’s shoulders droop slightly.

“So that’s it? I just sit around and play dumb for the rest of my life?”

“Not exactly; that is unless that’s what you want. Well?” Lt. Rayford again pointed the cigar at Sinclair. “I had the idea that you might want to continue to help, sort of put your special talents to good use.”, raising the corner of his smile half an inch as an inducement.

“What talents would you be referring to, Sir?”

“We’ll work on that after your free and clear of this place.” Lt. Rayford opened the door and nodded the he had completed what he had come for. Turning back to Sinclair, “I did forget one thing.”, a broad smile broke across his face. “The station took up a collection. They all figured it would be used for flowers or something dumb like that.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out an plain white envelope and handed it to Sinclair. Looking at the bills and making a rough guess, he figured it to be about two or three hundred dollars. Lt. Rayford held the door open as Bev came into the room. She had been given a briefing of everything only moments before Sinclair himself. It was a dream come true for Bev; no longer would she have to wait up wondering about the welfare of Sinclair as he rode around the streets all night. As she walked past Lt. Rayford she thanked him with a quiet smile.

“I don’t know what to say, which is not like me at all.”

“Why don’t you and your wife take a weekend trip, you know, get back together.”, Lt. Rayford exaggerated his smile.

“What do you think, Hun?” Bev waited as Sinclair closed his eyes in thought.

“We could take that trip up to Dallas like we planned last Spring. Yea, that’s a good idea.” Bev had already packed an overnight bag for him.

“The car’s all gassed up and ready, Bek’s watchin’ the kids for the rest of the week and I called the Dallas Temple as soon as I found out we could go.” Bev reached into the depths of her purse and pulled the family group forms that had been put on hold since the accident.

“Guess that about does it. You don’t need me in here.” Lt. Rayford gracefully extricated himself from the room and let the door close behind him.

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 41 Loose Ends

Sinclair had been asleep for a couple of hours while Savat was sitting across the street. He was light years from reality; having enjoyed a mountainous helping of Devil’s Food cake prior to going to bed. The shielded walls had minimized the outside world’s constant bombardment, but had not eliminated it totally. Streams of random data continued to flow through the unobstructed window and there was the intentional gap directly above him. Moe continued to observe and report the daily activities as the siphoned bits highlighted not only Sinclair’s progress; but marked, all too vividly, his weaknesses.

"Boss, our boy is off on one his trips again.” Moe watched as the vast amounts of illogical characters paraded across the monitor.

“Thank you for calling. I was just about to come down and check on that file.”, talking into the receiver as he postured himself to his audience. He rolled the end of his cigar at the edge of a large brass tray. The last half inch of ashen leaf parted and fell quietly as it collapsed on itself; the finely compacted structure being unable to support itself. “I’ll get back with you later. I’m in a very important meeting with the Chief of Police”, he casually placed the handset down while continuing to hold eye contact with his guest.

“Sorry to have bother . . .”, the click of the phone being cradled ended the conversation, “ . . . ‘ed you, Boss.” Moe did not mind having been hung up on; it was part of the job. He lighted another cigarette and wrote down another entry on the “file”. He watched as Sinclair’s ramblings became even more absurd.


“LKDAFS034IKJNVDF98G3OI4LHKJANSDHN Pecaw . . .

Is that you Pecaw? 98747523UI45YOUIQYQET87SDGFY4399878
394597459Y245SDFGAHJ
012778kpk What are you doing there outside the window?

F114888888888888
34754513745173451735471253471253475147545RGC34

961346736416348666^^
679*8H2HHh567*9856*784**657*84999296736187864 -E1

Pecaw ?”

The conversation was mixed with the enormous avalanche of mixed characters; which
made it easier to pick out his thoughts.

“Hush up Chowder Head. I’m trying to concentrate.” Pecaw often let loose a mild scold in such a way that it came out as a hug. He turned only slightly to wink in Sinclair’s direction.

“KHhhkjhkHHIYYrrtrdfdDGFDGHJJgjggjgFFJHUgUGU

guguugGugu
GgUGj ioquweqlkj I hjhkladsfhkaj love keruihydiuhviahiwkj
hefkjhna you fhjakhfkabhyi too. uioiokadshfkhkh adjhfkjla_huiuyyyyyiuyllkl;====asodjfiquhqhhhwhwnamahjkh
Pecaw
ahkh1212424242141424144535353152515155245redqtrwr. . .”

“I know you do.” Pecaw was watching the activity in the parking lot below. “Looks like your old friend Sgt. Perry had some bad luck; yes Sir, some bad luck.”

“ . . guygugGGUuiuipoiIIHJOUIQKJHOElHLHAKAKJkhjkhkGHJKGA SHAKHKJAjhjkhkKHZHHihhIUHIhHhhhHUIETETReyPIP;HJGSRED

ghjkl;lKJHTYf

.. .. Good! hajsgdjgajGJKSKGHKHJGAHGHJASDJHQUIRI

UIOOPWEIOPL..MWE

That jalkjklj adjksjlakjfl sorry lkajsldjfljaljsdljfassholehasjkdhf hadskfjh . . .”

“Such foul language; I won’t have you talking about the dearly departed in that manner. It shows a lack of respect for the dead.” Pecaw was not one for swearing. The only thing that kept him from getting angry with Sinclair was the fact that Pecaw had been stationing himself nearby as a sentry. He looked back through the glass that separated his “being” from the room and chuckled to himself as he saw the reflection.

The lamps from the parking lot bounced beacons of light blue from his forehead. His hair was jet black with a regal sash of stunning gray to the sides. The squared edges of his brow peaked, “I suppose so.”, turning as the spirit of Sgt. Perry left his earthly body. Pecaw laughed to himself, “That’s one less sorry asshole after my grandson!”

Pecaw then thought for a moment as he glanced toward the window ledge and the room
directley above him, “You getting all of this Moe? ‘ Wouldn’t want you to miss anything
now.”

“I felt that thought.”, Sinclair rebounded as the idea passed his mind. “What did you mean when you said that Sgt. Perry was one of the dearly departed dead? What’s going on out there? Sinclair’s mind was still reeling from the chocolate rush as the thought process kicked into gear.

“Mr. Sanderson, sorry to bother you again. Something you need to know about just developed.” Moe had come to rely on the information that flashed out from Sinclair’s head. The words splashed onto the screen faster than a Wall Street ticker tape.

“Any time now you should be getting a call from security to inform you that a police officer, Sgt. Perry to be specific, has been run over and killed in our parking lot.” Moe continued to watch Sinclair’s thoughts as he held the phone to his ear.

“Thank you again, and yes my telephone line just flashed.” Sanderson picked up the other line and listened as the emotional guard gave an account of the terrible accident; nodding and acting surprised. Chief Denson’s driver, Officer Fernandez, knocked and entered without waiting, then walked purposefully to where the Chief was sitting. He leaned over and whispered the dread news, all at the same moment.

“I need to excuse myself Jack; one of our officers has just been involved in a terrible automobile accident.”

“Yes, I was just given the same information. It happened in the east parking lot a few moments ago. That was one of my security guards on the telephone. He was pretty upset by it all. Charlie, if you don’t mind, why don’t I go down there with you?”

Chief Denson looked to his driver who nodded his head with a short bobbing motion;
indicating the information was accurate.

“I’d rather you didn’t Jack. I will need to focus all of my attention on the investigation. Let me get back with you after I’ve had a chance to assess the situation.”

Chief Denson held eye contact as the two executives acknowledged the need to carry out
their respective responsibilities.

“You’re right; I’d only be in the way. I’ll make sure that all my people cooperate in the fullest. Let me know if there is anything . . .”

“Thanks Jack; I will.”, turning to Fernandez to change the subject. “Who’s in charge at this time?”

“I was told that an off duty Homicide unit was the first unit; a Sgt. J.D. White is holding the scene for now.” The two exited the executive offices and made their way to the parking lot. Several marked units had set up a perimeter as they made it across to the crime scene. A steady tide of blue uniforms came by as if to bid farewell, not really having an official reason to be in the area. A few more minutes passed and the investigative units from Homicide and I.A.D. began to filter in, polyester suits holding clip boards and tape measures mapped out the entire area.

“Chief Denson, I’m J.D. White. I was the first unit here. He had just been run over and the suspect was leaving as I pulled in. I put out the G.B. and tried to follow; but he was already out of sight by the time I figured out that anything had happened to begin with.” J.D. felt uncomfortable as he continued to brief Chief Denson. “I was here to visit a friend of mine. I never got a look at the suspect, only that he was in an old white Chevy Caprice; looked like a Caprice, or something similar.”

“Did you have any conversation with Sgt. Perry before he died?”

“Not really much that he said. He did comment that he had gotten rusty, that’s about all he said. I don't think he saw much.” J.D. paused for a moment then added, “He didn’t look like he was in much pain. I know that sounds improbable under the circumstances, but he had a look about him that just . . . I don’t know . . . peaceful, something like that.”

“Sgt. White, I know this has been a stressful event for you too; but I want you to go over this with Lt. Stromberger as well as the I.A.D. team. You can come in tomorrow and type up your official statement.” Chief Denson patted J.D. on the back as he walked over to where the body lay covered with a pale blue paper sheet. A pool of thick blood crept out and away from the under the edge of the body blanket. There were flashes from the investigator’s cameras. The Chief pulled back the corner of the blanket. The television news teams were close enough that the whole grizzly scene was brought into focus. The early morning news casters would have some fresh garbage to splash across the screen.

“We’re ready to load the body now. Who’s in charge of the personal effects?” The Medical Examiner looked to the Chief.

“Lt. Stromberger is in charge of the Homicide investigation and will take an inventory of those items.” Chief Denson turned to make sure that the suggestion was understood.

“I was just about to do that Chief.” Lt. Stromberger bent down and began removing items while talking into a micro-mini tape recorder. “Top left suit pocket contained one silver tone Cross ball point pen, two cigars in metal canisters . . .” Each item was listed on a sheet of paper by another detective; I.A.D. looked on and kept notes of their own. “ . . . one five and a quarter inch computer data disk, one Day Planner, assorted papers of a personal nature . . .” The inventory continued as each item was listed and bagged.

“Was Sgt. Perry working on an assignment or was he here on his own?” Chief Denson's question was directed toward Lt. Davis who represented the Internal Affairs Division.

“I don’t have any information on that at this time Chief. It will take a while to go through his files before that can be determined.”

“He may have been.” J.D. broke in hesitantly, not wishing to speak out of turn.

“Go ahead Sgt. White, we’re listening.” Chief Denson and the respective investigative heads waited for his reply.

“Well. . .”, clearing his throat and wishing he didn’t have to speak, “ . . . I was coming here to visit officer Dosilmeyer, an old partner of mine. He’s here recovering from an injury on duty that Sgt. Perry was investigating.” The Chief looked at the body being loaded into the black Suburban body car.

“It would be nice for his family if we could cover this as a duty related death.” He pondered for a moment as the situational requirements fell into place.

“Sanderson here, did anyone visit the file room tonight Moe?”, tapping his fingers.

“That’s kind of hard to say, yes and no.” Moe was having a hard time trying to explain Pecaw’s Spirit.

“Moe, this is not like you. I want to know who, if anyone, entered the room and what they did while they were there.”

“No. . .body , that is nothing with a body entered the room boss. I think there was a ghost of something, but nobody.”

“Then Sgt. Perry never went in to the room?”

“Sgt. Perry? Oh, no sir; I’d have seen him for sure. No, Sgt. Perry never went in the room.”

“What’s this nonsense about a ghost?”

“It’s all on the tape sir; honest.” Moe was still working on a way to explain what he had observed.

“I’ll be up there in a while. Try not to go off the deep end.” Sanderson clicked the phone off and immediately called another number. There was a subtle change, his confidence level was not as high. He waited for a moment as the line was picked up on the other end. A familiar beeping tone alerted him that he had reached a recording machine.

“ . . . please leave a short message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Beep. . . beep.”

“Lou this is Jack. That file is still open and the I need to talk regarding how to proceed. Get with me in the morning.”