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.


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


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.


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





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

“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.”

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 40 Rusty

Savat waited in the parking lot as the hours passed. The radio played a list of golden oldies as the local FM jock made fun of the hard rock station between songs. Savat had rented a six year old white Chevrolet Caprice with no distinguishable features or markings. The people at Wrent a Wreck did not ask for any identification; only a cash deposit in advance. The emptiness of the night hung in the air as the time past. He watched as the Metro bus dropped off and picked up, each half hour then only each hour. Nurses and orderlies, secretaries who had worked late in their offices downtown, sales clerks and car wash attendants all made their way to their respective homes past the rusted white Chevy parked across from the hospital. They did not notice the reflection from Savat’s cold stare or that he was continually polishing the blue steel revolver that he held hidden in the shadow created by the dash board. He sat motionless behind the wheel watching the nearly vacant parking lot as the sodium lamps cast their imperfect light across the concrete. He lighted another cigarette; a plume of blue smoke escaped the half rolled down window. He reviewed the file and memorized the pictures that it contained while he waited.

J.D. made his way down the deserted freeway as he chomped away on the end of a stubby cigar. Now and then he would laugh; thinking of things he and Sinclair had done in the line of duty. They had been good for each other and it was no trouble at all to make the trip out to see him. He saw the Kroger store up ahead, “Almost forgot to pick up that bar of dark chocolate.”, as he steered into one of the spaces up near the front. He quickly made his way inside, picked up the item and went to pay for it at the check out stand.

“You were in the other night. You must like that cooking chocolate a lot.” The young girl at the register was testing her ability to carry on a conversation. J.D. just grunted in his own objectionable way.

“Not really; I just like to watch it melt in the trunk of my car.” J.D. had no idea what it meant. He took out his money clip and peeled off a pair of ones.

“No need to be rude.” The girl rang up a dollar fifty nine and hit the total button. “Your change is forty one cents, Sir.”, handing him a lump of coins with his receipt.

“Another nickel, you said forty one, where’s the other nickel?”, holding his palm out for her to see the quarter, dime and penny.

“I’m sorry, Sir.”, reaching into the tray and picking up the rest of his change. “It was an honest mistake. Please, don’t say anything to the manager.”

“Not a word.” J.D. headed out the door and was back enroute to see Sinclair.

Sgt. Perry was also on his way to the hospital; his left hand on the wheel while he kept the other fidgeting in his coat pocket. He came to a stop at the light two blocks from the hospital. When it turned green he paused, not seeing it until the guy behind him blasted the horn. His foot lunged awkwardly onto the accelerator as his thoughts were far from driving. Lou had suggested that he enter Sinclair’s room, insert a needle full of air into his arm and that would be the end of it. His right hand fondled the instrument of death deep in his pocket. “Up yours too you creep.”, forming the one finger salute as the car past him by, honking his horn and yelling obscenities at him.

Savat observed the Ford LTD at the corner. The solid blue car did not have a vinyl top like most of the Crown Victorias. It had black side wall tires instead of white walls, plain hub caps and a nearly invisible second antennae on the rear deck; a city ride. He watched as it pulled into the hospital parking lot and turned off its head lights. The driver’s door swung open; a pair of legs hit the ground as Sgt. Perry got out of the car.

Savat watched him cover the short distance to the back door of the hospital. Sgt. Perry was beginning to break out into a cold sweat as he considered the action he was about to take. He passed the receptionist on his way to the elevators.

“Hope you get to feeling better.”, the words caught him as he took a handkerchief from his pocket. The pale chalky color of his forehead announced the sickening feelings that had welled up in his stomach. He looked quickly for a restroom where he could regain control and without looking back, held his hand out as a mild acknowledgement.

He found the door to the men’s room just as the burst of vomit forced its way out; spattering across the small square tiles. He washed off at the sink, looking into the
mirror and wondering what kind of cop he had become.

“What the hell am I doing here?” He was talking to himself as the finality of what he was about to do surfaced. “I can’t go through with this!” He reached into his pocket and fumbled for the syringe that he had planned to kill Dosilmeyer with. He grabbed a couple of paper towels, wrapping them around the tools of death. “I just can’t do it.”, throwing the small package into the trash. He stood in front of the mirror and let the water run for a while longer as the color returned to his face. He felt the weight lift from his shoulders, having taken a new path. A few minutes later he walked out of the restroom.

“Your looking much better now.”, the receptionist commented as he walked by.

“Yes, thank you. Oh; you’d better call for a janitor. I’m afraid I made quite a mess in there.”

“Not to worry. You just take care of yourself sir.”

Perry headed across the parking; his burden of poor choices having been momentarily lifted. He never saw the car gathering speed as it closed on his position. Reaching for his keys, he unlocked the door and opened it. Savat had the pedal floored; believing that Sgt. Perry had finished off Dosilmeyer. The hood ornament lined up the target. There was a slight crumpling sound on impact as the door and Sgt. Perry became enmeshed with the front left fender. Savat’s car sped quickly out of the parking lot and down Hollister; flicking the high beam lights as he came to an oncoming car.

“Blind me; why don’t ya’? You ignorant Son of a . . .", J.D. swerved to avoid the pale white and rust Chevy barreling past him. He turned into the hospital parking area, unaware that Sgt. Perry had just been run over and left for dead. The security guard wasn’t sure what to do as he left his station and got into an improvised golf cart to investigate the disturbance. He puttered at five or six miles per hour across the lot; a single head light aimed skyward. Upon finding Sgt. Perry sprawled on the ground the security guard flagged down J.D. as he pulled in.

“Stop that car! Stop that car! It just ran over this guy and kept on going. Stop that car!” , pointing in the direction from which J.D. had just come.

“Wha’d it look like? Was it that dark colored Datsun that just went by?”, knowing that it wasn’t.

“No, it was all white and had some rust, yea lots of rust along the bottom at the doors.”, still pointing down Hollister.

“That’s the same car that hit me with the high beams just a few seconds ago.” J.D. cut a donut in the driveway and sped off in pursuit. He had not looked at the fallen driver and could not have known yet that it was Sgt. Perry. When he got back onto Hollister the street was empty. He raced down to Hammerly and glanced both ways. He pounded the dash once and headed back to the scene. By the time he got back a small crowd had gathered around. A couple of nurses who had been walking to their cars were busy applying their skills. J.D. looked down and recognized him. “Did ya’ get a good look at the guy who did this to ya”?

“No, never saw it coming. I must be getting rusty.”, his head being supported on the lap of one of the nurses. He was in bad shape; the blood was thick as it stained the starched white material of the uniform. J.D. reached into Perry’s car for the mike.

“Twenty Nora Thirty Eight, Days to dispatcher; put out a pick up on a white and rust colored Chevy Caprice, just left the area of Hollister and Hammerly. It will be wanted for FSRA.”, He looked over to Perry, “and I will need a supervisor for an officer down at eighty eight fifty Long Point.”

“Unit calling, I was on public service. Could you repeat that last transmission?” J.D. looked angrily into the mike as he bit his tongue.

“Twenty Nora Thirty Eight Days . . . put out a pick up on a white and rust Chevy Caprice that just ran over an officer. Last seen Hollister and Hammerly. I will need a supervisor at eighty eight fifty Long Point. Did you get that this time, Dearie ?”, still shaking his head at the marvelous abilities that some of the new dispatchers had.

“Clear. All units; just occurred in the area of eighty eight fifty Long Point, an F. S. R. A. involving a white and rust Chevy last seen Hollister and Hannibal.”

“Hammerly! That’s Hammerly!”

“Correction on that last location, make that Hollister and Hammerly.” Turning her attention back to obtain additional information, “Twenty Nora Thirty Eight Days do you have any other details such as a license number or driver information on the suspect vehicle?” J.D. looked to the security guard and within his own memory of the brief encounter.

“Not at this time.”, pausing as he tried to understand what one of the nurses was trying to tell him over the commotion at the scene. “Standby for a moment.. . . He’s dead.” Holding Perry’s lifeless head in her arms. “Twenty Nora Thirty Eight Days . . .That suspect will be wanted for murder of a police officer.”, dropping the mike to the floor of the car. He had never liked Perry; but all the same he was a police officer.

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 39 Norbert's Jewelry

J. D. finished off another cup of coffee while sitting in his chair at the top of the stairs where he had a view of the sales floor. There were several ancient wooden desks stored on the second floor along with forty six years worth of tax forms stacked in rows of boxes. The gray boxes faded into the darkness as the dust blended the edges one to another. Norbert’s Jewelry Store had been J. D’s extra job for the past eight years. It had started as only a Christmas Season job, standing around in his uniform all day to add an air of dignity to the small jewelry establishment. It was toward the end of Main Street; looking more like a pawn shop than a fine jewelry store. Sal Norbert was exactly what one would have expected; pushy, loud and very very Yiddish. J. D. would smoke his cigars as he walked around the store talking to the salesmen; now he only chewed on them. Each year J. D. purchased a piece; a gold nugget neck chain, a watch or something for his wife. It was good business for the store to keep him on.

“I need to be getting along now Solly.” J.D. mumble as he eased himself out of the chair; reaching down for a half empty paper lunch sack that was on the floor at the edge of the desk.

“Did you see those new diamond stick pins that just came in. Come, I want to see which one you like the best.”, Sal tugged the air in J. D’s general direction. Sal half stepped and slid himself toward the display case. He knew that at least one would be sold before the night was done. “Oh yes!”, pausing to admire the sparkling points of light as they danced off the end of the golden shaft. “This one will look nice on that tie. Come now, let me see, Oh yes this is the one.” Sal talked on and on, never for a moment was there a doubt that the sale was already rung up. “Of course I can knock off, say , fifteen; no, make that a full twenty percent.”

J. D. smiled and grunted through his cigar as he made his tie more accessible. “Such a deal. . .”, sarcastically, “I’ll settle with you on Friday.” The glitter caught the light from the showroom as J.D. walked across the floor towards the front door. Stopping for a few seconds at the full length wall mirror to admire his newest acquisition, “Solly, I don’t think I ever take home any money from this place. It all ends up back in your safe.” There along the back wall of the office were three old vaults. They were turn of the century jewelry safes. The doors had ornate gold trim designs and inside were individual locked compartments for keeping items separated. J.D’s grumbled a nod of approval as Sal wrote up the sale.

“Did I tell you? . . . That diamond came from the same mine as the ones in those earrings that you bought your wife. How is she doing? When are you going to get her that matching necklace?” Patting J.D’s back as he stood next to him at the mirror. “Just like it was made just for that tie! You two will look so good with her wearing that beautiful necklace.”

“Not tonight Solly.” Shaking his head, but smiling at having been set up so well. “I need to see an old friend of mine at the hospital. I’ll be in around noon for lunch; your buying this time.”, reminding Sal of the profit margin on diamond stick pins. J.D. crumpled the edge of the sack tighter in his hands. The brown paper was worn soft from being used for the third day in a row. He still had an apple and a wedge of cheese to snack on later. J.D. locked the several bolts on the front door and walked to his car, talking to himself about having bought the trinket.

“Tomorrow then; and have a nice visit.” Sal dismissed him and walked to the front counter where he had been arranging the diamond rings. He reached to his shoulder and adjusted the elastic suspenders. His thin body made even slimmer as the long stripe of the band sliced down a crisp cotton dress shirt onto a pair of brown slacks.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 38 Conversions

“Some interesting data here.” Scott looked over at Sinclair. Reaching up subconsciously with his hand he brushed his eyebrow a couple of times, “Very interesting.”

“Anything in particular?”

“You’re quite a remarkable person.” Scott stopped as he made an effort to phrase his thoughts. “I have . . . never been . . .sold on the idea of religion.” He tried to sound philosophical as he grabbed for words. Most of his adult life he had been surrounded by a scholastic environment. He felt the awkwardness of entering new territory. “I thought that it was a form of escape for those to weak to face the realities of the real world. I . . . could not . . . accept the concept of God. I have always been uncomfortable with things that I could not explain through logic.” His words came out almost as a pleading.

“What are you driving at? Was there something in last night’s ramblings? I haven’t had a chance to read the log. They had me in for blood tests since sunup.”

“Here on page seventy one, where you began thinking about your blessings. . .”, Scott read the lines to himself. He pointed to the middle of the page as he handed the massive accumulation of green bar paper across to Sinclair. “You pray differently than I did as a child. Your prayers are more like conversations, open ended dialogue. Its as if you almost expect to receive an answer from . . .God Himself.”

“Would it surprise you to hear that I do expect answers?”

“Yes, quite frankly it would. I say that. . . how should I put it? Yesterday I would not have had this conversation at all. There is something here in your transcript that begs me to stay a little longer.” Scott had printed out the first hour or so of the transcript, seven hundred forty five pages. The amount of information was awesome. It was the only way to insure that the data was kept in its purist form. Scott turned a few more pages to an image that was staring back at him.

“How did you get this picture mixed in?”, noticing that the pages ran continuously end to end. Sinclair didn’t know he could do that.

“Turn it around; how did You get that in there? I’ve seen it before, or at least something very similar.” He opened the leather brief that was on the desk and pulled out an old copy of the National Geographic Magazine. On the cover was a photograph of the visitor’s center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The picture was taken at night and in the center was the famous marble statue of Jesus Christ; His arms extended inviting all to enter His peace. The feature article, “The Mormon Experience”.

“When I first saw the image I knew right away that I’d seen it before. I had to go back several years into my library of old Geographics to find this issue. Fortunately I have them all cataloged and cross referenced.” Scott carefully placed the printed image next to the one from the magazine and waited for Sinclair’s response.

“You got me there.”, studying the two side by side. “It sure looks the same though, doesn’t it?”

“You think that’s strange. . .”, flipping another page of the transcript, “ . . . take a look at this one.” The two eyes came off the paper as if alive. The detail was exquisite, as their gaze followed; no matter where the page was held.

“Do you know who that is; . . . without me telling you?”

“Yes. . . but; I wanted to hear it from you. Its Jesus, the Christ?”

“It’s how I see him when I pray. Does this bother you?” Scott continued to hold the paper with the image in front of him; first from one side and then another as he let his soul escape the prison in which it had been locked. Tears found their way into his eyes, gently running down his cheeks.

“This is the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had. Do you see him often?”

“I can see him almost anytime of the day; that is if I take the time.” Sinclair was embarrassed that sometimes his thoughts often took him into places that the Lord would not go.

“And he really does answer your prayers?”, Scott let the question roll out; cautiously avoiding the part of the transcript a few pages further ahead’

“Yes, sometimes its not the answer I want to hear; but its always what’s best. Sinclair watched as Scott folded his arms.

“Let me ask you this; how can you justify being a cop with all of your Christian beliefs?” Scott’s cynical approach to life had led to his wariness of policemen. “I guess what I mean. . .is . . . do you believe, that its all right to kill?” Sinclair sat back in his chair for a moment as he let the words sink home.

“One of the nurses asked me almost the same question. At first I didn’t know how to answer her. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but for some reason it made me angry and frustrated; kind of caught me off guard.” Sinclair looked at the floor for a few extended moments as he carefully pulled his thoughts together.

“Policemen have so much . . . “, gathering the air with his hands as words tried to express his fears, “. . . potential for the abuse of power.” Scott’s apprehension was not without some merit. “I’m not so sure that I like the idea of giving the all powerful decision of life or death to some kid fresh out of high school.”

“Let me ask you a question. Would you feel any better if you thought that most officers out there working the streets had searched their own hearts on a regular basis?”, pausing as he took in a breath and looked directly into Scott’s eyes. “I know I have the highest regard for the gift of life. I feel sure that most officers do.”

“But what about the ones who don’t ? Can you guarantee that they won’t . . .”

“No guarantees in this life Scott. . .”, Sinclair interrupted, “ . . . you should know that.” Scott conceded the point.

“I suppose your right. Doesn’t it get to you; the job with all the miserable assholes you have to put up with?”

“It does, but only a little at a time. I sometimes wish I’d never joined. I find myself enjoying jokes that are crude or laughing when I shouldn’t. Bev will look at me once in a while to let me know that I’ve gone too far.”

“I’d like to hear more about what you believe. For some reason; I can’t put my finger on it just yet, I want to know more.” Scott picked up the pages once more, gazing at the eyes of the Lord.

“Have you ever read the Book of Mormon Scott?”, as they continued Sinclair had the computer load directly from the hard disk. Vern had bought him the computerized
Scriptures as a “get well” present; nineteen individual disks in all.

“No, but I understand that you Mormons use it instead of the Bible.” Scott had not done too much reading along the lines of religion. He read from the monitor as it brought up one of Sinclair’s favorites.

“And behold, I tell you these things that you may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” He found himself appreciating the simplicity and wholesome nature of the advice. Scanning over the text at random he would stop once in a while to take in a passage.

“I would like to see more. Can I borrow a copy?”

“I can do better than that. Why don’t you let me Lap Link onto your personal computer. That way you can have all of what are known as the Standard Works; The Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants. They are all cross referenced and I think you will find them easy to access.”

“You say that you use the Bible too? I can remember having to stand up and read aloud in my Sunday School class. At the time my reading skills were not very good. I felt awkward and never enjoyed going to church. I don’t think I’ve picked up a Bible since then.” Scott’s eyes never left the monitor as he talked.

“Your not alone; I didn’t get serious until I was in my late twenties. I started studying the New Testament and then the Book of Mormon. At the time about the only thing I knew about the Mormons was that they crossed the prairies in wagons. We had just started having children and in the back of my mind there were so many questions that I had no answers for. I figured it was time to . . . “ The door to the room opened slightly and Vern Rylan poked his head in.

“Am I disturbing anything? I can come back later.”

“No, come in.” Sinclair was always glad to have Vern in for a visit. “Scott Bartel this is Vern Rylan, my computer Guru.”

“I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. Your work here has impressed me.” Scott pointed to the voice synthesizer unit and nodded with genuine favor. “What I would do to get you into my department at the University?” Vern accepted the compliment graciously.

“You’re the one who has been reviewing Sinclair’s ramblings. He sure can manufacture some data, can’t he?” Vern opened his palms as he measured the thickness of printed paper and tried to imagine having to read through it all.

“So, what brings you up here today?” Sinclair cocked an eyebrow in Vern’s direction.

“I need to get some of this stuff out of here.” Vern picked up the Nintendo screen that was no longer needed.

“What’s that for?” Scott noticed the game company name painted clearly on the border.

“We were using it to translate sign language for Sinclair’s roommate. There’s no need for it now.” A silence crept over Vern as he thought about how he missed working to communicate with Mr. Alejandro. They had created a voice to go along with his cheerful personality. Mr. Alejandro would have been proud to have heard it, if he could have. Sinclair looked over to Vern and the two remembered their friend with respect.

“Why don’t you show Scott how it works. He might enjoy it?” Sinclair reached out to help open the screen and plugged in the adapter jacks. “You’ll have to turn on that lamp.”, pointing in Scott’s direction and involving him at the same time. Vern stood in front of the screen and without talking made a few simple signs. The voice synthesizer immediately began the process of converting it into audible English.

“That’s nothin’, watch this.” Sinclair read the bold print from the front page of the newspaper. As he spoke there came a flurry of signs across the monitor of his computer. “Not bad. huh?” Sinclair was showing off Vern’s work to someone who was capable of truly appreciating it.

“How much did you say they were paying you to work here?” Scott’s question was much more direct this time.

“Actually they didn’t pay me to do this at all. I did this on my own.” Vern had not done it for the money anyway.

“No, I mean what kind of a salary do you make here at the hospital?” Vern looked upwards as he visualized his pay stub.

“About twenty five hundred a month, give or take. Why do you ask?”

“I think you might enjoy working for the University if you could learn to live on three thousand a month; plus expenses.” Scott sat back in his chair knowing that his challenge had landed on the mark.

“Three thousand would be nice.” Vern let the idea wander about. “Does that include medical insurance for my family too?” Scott nodded along as he waited to complete the conversion.

“What kind of duties would we be talking about?”

“For starters, I’d have you working to refine this gadget. That should hold your interest for a month or so.”

“Sounds tempting; let me think it over and talk to my wife; before I give you my answer. Is that all right with you?”

There’s no rush.” Scott reached into his pocket and took out one of his business cards. He scratched out the phone number that was printed on the bottom. “I seldom have a need for these. The number’s been changed twice since I had these printed up.” Vern accepted the card and put it in his shirt pocket; then took it out and thoughtfully placed it in his wallet.

“Ya’ see, I told you it was good.” Sinclair smiled as he saw something very positive about to happen for his friend. Vern started to unplug the Nintendo screen from the synthesizer.

“Would it be okay to leave it on?” Scott quickly asked. “I was just starting to consider some of the applications that such a device could be targeted for.” Scott put his hands into the light; casting shadows onto the screen. The computer was not able to merge the random figures with the compendium of known signs.

“Please repeat your last sentence.” The computer flashed the message simultaneously.

“Well I’ll be switched.” Scott laughed as he tried to make the shape of a rabbit.

“You think that’s funny?”, Sinclair quickly signed the word YOUR onto the screen. He could hardly contain himself as the instant reply came out.

“Body blow !”

“I’m still working the bugs out.” Vern looked at Sinclair scornfully. “It was originally part of a boxing game.”

“Don’t apologize; I think you’ve done quite a job here.”

“Quite a JAB too.” Sinclair couldn’t resist.

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 37 Logged On

Sinclair turned off the voice synthesizer for the night as he quietly said his evening prayer and readied himself for bed. He wondered what kind of thoughts he would find recorded in the morning. Each word instantly ran onto the screen and as the text neared the bottom it was automatically sent to the hard disk for storage. Vern had given the computer a simple command that would repeat every twentieth line so that it was no longer necessary to manually save anything; it All went into storage.

“I guess this is one sure fire way to keep my journal up to date. ( Hahaha. )” Sinclair watched the added on laugh that was not part of his original thought. “The purpose of this, what is this anyway; oh yes, this documentation is to help Scott Bartell find out what is going on inside my head. Sounds like a kind of fruity alcoholic beverage; Scott Bartell. Sorry, just came to mind. I’m naturally crude sometimes.”

Sinclair could see a four pack of cold twelve once bottles filled with translucent grape colored wine. The impact of advertising permeated every part of society. Sinclair had not always been a member of the Church. He had played the fool more than once after having had too much to drink. He reached back to when he was in the Army. A special weekend pass had allowed him the chance to go home to Bev and his folks. It was all a blur excepting the trip back to Georgia. He was at the window looking out at the airplane he was about to board. There was a man standing on a tall triangular based ladder that reached all the way up to the engines. He had the shroud lifted out of his way and with his finger he was following a diagram that was on the inner part of the shroud. He then would turn and follow the same basic line on the engine until he got to a particular area; stop, shake his head and look back at the diagram. After having observed the same exasperated look on the mechanic’s face from several attempts to complete the line, Sinclair was not at all pleased to see the man slam the shroud back into place and tighten all the bolts. There was something wrong and nothing done to fix it.

“I’m not getting on until I have a chance to talk with that mechanic!” Watching the man as he came up the external stairway and into the main building, Sinclair cornered him and conveyed his concerns.

“Nothing to worry about. These newer jets can fly just as well on three. I wouldn’t let it bother you.” The answer was not at all what he had expected. Sinclair boarded the plane with the idea that it was time to get good and drunk. The booking agents must have been on his side; having over booked the flight, Sinclair was given the only seat left on the plane. He had never flown in First Class before, but he did know that he was going to get a proper meal and all the drinks he could swallow on the way to Atlanta. If it was to be his last meal he at least would have a good one. It didn’t matter that the plane was taking off two hours late and that he would miss his connection in Atlanta back to the base. Heck, he might not get there at all.

“ Another one, please and some olives if they’re are any?” The jet stream was much farther south than usual and the pilot found it pushing them, hurtling as it were, toward record matching speeds. The lost time was most nearly made up as the pilot’s voice broke the air.

“Ladies and Gentlemen this is your pilot speaking. We have taken advantage of some very strong tail winds and will be making our final approach into Atlanta within the next ten minutes. We are aware that many of you will be making connecting flights. Most of the flights out of Atlanta have been delayed because of the rain and you will more than likely be able to make your next flight. Please have the Flight Attendant assist you as you exit the aircraft as needed. Once again thank you for flying Delta.”

Sinclair took a moment to glance at his watch as he tried to figure out how much time had been made up. “Houston to Atlanta in an hour and a half?” It didn’t make sense. “Just think what they could have done with all four engines working. We could have gotten here before we took off. Hahahaha.”

The pilot had been correct, his connecting flight to Augusta was still waiting on the ground; it too had mechanical problems. As he boarded the aircraft he noticed right away that the air was hot and stuffy. There were three men in overalls going down the isle checking the over head luggage bins.

“Something wrong with the air conditioning?” , Sinclair asked one of them as he felt for air movement out of the square port just above his seat.

“Yea, we’re working on it now.”

“It’s no big deal to me, can’t we just get going? I’m late getting back as it is.”

“It’s not as simple as that. Without the air conditioning you wouldn’t be able to breath.”

“Take all the time you need.” Sinclair wondered how long it would be before he could order another drink. An hour later the plane made its way down to the end of the runway. It was now late into the evening as the rain fell from the sky. Sinclair was past worrying about being late. He was wondering how much trouble he was in. “I’d like a drink please; make that two!”

“You’ll have to wait until the plane is in the air, Sir.”

“Oh, I thought we were.” Laughing to himself was a sure sign that he had already had one too many. The short flight into Augusta and the ride back to Fort Gordon ended the miracle weekend. Sinclair stumbled into the company office and explained his situation. The sergeant behind the desk listened as the story came full circle.

“I suppose it wasn’t entirely your fault. Tell you what; you stand guard duty tonight while you sober up and we can forget all about it.” Sinclair had been given a reprieve.

The memory danced across the monitor and became part of his recorded thoughts for the night as he fell off to sleep.

“Scott Bartell; still sounds like some grocery store brand wine to me. Hahaha, sorry.” He read the words and laid himself down; closing his eyes as the pillow contoured itself around the base of his neck.

“Mild pain requiring attention one and a third inches above the left knee.” Sinclair reached down and rubbed his leg. The monitor registered his activity. As he rubbed the area he was reassured that he had sufficiently attended to the need. “You may resume pre-sleep preparations.” He had not yet reached the point of slumber and he noticed the slight change of light in the room caused by the words jumping onto the monitor. He looked at them through one eye.

“That’s interesting; I didn’t think those words.” Sinclair thought for a moment and then realized that he had just been rubbing his leg. “I guess this quiet time could get to be interesting. Its even getting the neuromuscular activity. “He rolled back and practiced a ritual to help himself relax. He would think about a specific part of his body and instruct that area to relax. Then one part of his body after another would work the kinks out and in a matter of a few short minutes he was totally relaxed.

“Arms; relax and allow the bed to support you. Elbow; bend a little more; that’s better, much more natural. Wiggle your fingers and let them relax too. Okay, now the muscles in your face are still trying to hold their tension. Your jaw is stiff; swallow and let your tongue settle. Now relax your lips and take a more natural breath. That’s better; now the wrinkles on your forehead need to soften along with your eyebrows. Look out into the eternities as you think about how peaceful it is here. Your shoulders are still too tight. Let them fall to the sheets as you feel the tension leave your body. It feels much better now.”

“Good night, Sir, and thank you.” Sinclair looked upwards with his eyes still closed, to a place inside his head as he contemplated the many blessing that he had been given. “Thank you for my lovely wife, my children who are always in my thoughts, the professionals here at the hospital who are tending to my every need, the chance to examine my thoughts on this marvelous contraption. . .” The edge of sleep mixed with the fading fabric of reality as he reported each and every impulse. Sinclair had not mastered the art of inserting graphics into his text recordings; however as he continued to dwell on his many blessings, he could see a clear image of his Father in Heaven.

“. . . Thank you for the Gospel and my chance to improve each day. Thank you for my Savior who has done so much for me.” The computer began to accept the thought much the same way that a printer accepts one line at a time; the entire image formed on the screen. Starting at the top and working down to the eyes, the eyes that looked back at Sinclair as he focused on the eternal nature of his own soul, the monitor began to record the image. Most of the features were incomplete at best, but the eyes were almost three dimensional as the detail of his thoughts became fixed on the screen.

Sinclair had no way of knowing that this particular vision was being saved onto the computer’s hard disk. He had passed into his first level of sleep and was moving rapidly into his first dream period.

“In . .the name. .. . of ... ....Jesus . .. ..Christ, .. ... .Amen.”, Sinclair’s thoughts came so slowly. He knew that it was impolite to start a conversation with the Lord and not wait for a reply. His mind struggled as he repeated parts of his prayer, not sure where he had drifted off in sleep. The moments became minutes as his day came to an end.

“Good night Sinclair, I Am with you.”, the computer recorded the response that Sinclair’s mind heard. The illumination from the computer cast a ghostly glow across the room; much the same as a television set left on after the late late show. Line after line being recorded as his every thought, his every internal command found its way across the darkness. Pleasant dreams and nightmares, flights of fancy together with passions of the flesh surfaced on the back lighted screen.

“Five Frank Twenty Five . . .”, the familiar voice of his regular dispatcher rambled into his thoughts. He was lying on his back on the cool ground. His mind replayed the event and his body responded by lowering his temperature slowly. There was a moment of panic as he felt himself slipping from control. The night air filled his nostrils as he lay in a broken heap.

“Five Frank Twenty Five . . . Five Frank Twenty Two what is your E.T.A.; Five Frank Twenty Five is not responding?” As the units got closer he could hear the wailing sirens. He looked up to where the railing had broken away just moments ago. He studied the faces of the men looking back at him. For a moment he recognized one of them. Straining harder to see, his body not keeping pace with his desire to remain alert, the figure faded into the shadows. The muscles in his neck, exhausted from the battle with gravity, relaxed as Sinclair fell into his pillow.

“Are you all right Mr. Dosilmeyer?” Launa the night shift nurse stood over him as the beads of sweat rolled off.

“Ummmm . . . Huummm . . .” Sinclair vocalized his need for human intervention as the nightmare replayed once more. She had heard his moaning and stayed with him, holding his hand much the same way a mother clutches a sick child. The computer continued to record his thoughts and she was able to understand what he was experiencing. The nightmare was there, his fears and his emotions mixed one after the other. Every word he had heard came back time and time again, certain parts of the event were played over and over.

With each successive replay the detailed graphics that he was able to generate took on a more representative likeness. Launa could almost make out the forms of persons frozen at the edge of the balcony even though the images were broken. There would be a quarter inch of graphics, then a line of instructional data, then another fourth of an inch of graphics as a continuation of the original thought. It was like the back page of the old “Mad Magazine”. She looked at each line; all the while trying to imagine how the picture would look if the alternating lines were folded or removed. Once in a while a face would appear on the screen, then just as quickly it would sink into the shadows.

“It’s all right, it’s all right.”, stroking the top of his hand more vigorously as she began to feel his tormented spirit. Tears began to fall from her cheeks with each passing moment. He had recycled the dream; not from the start, but only the part where the men were looking down at him. Over and over he looked into their faces as he tried to see the one face that he knew; their images being manufactured on the screen one at a time. The imperfect sketches were passed on to the hard drive.

“You can’t hide from me now. I know you are there. Come out where I can see you.” Sinclair’s mind sorted through the stored memory relentlessly. “I see you there behind the post.” There on the screen was a fairly clear picture of a man half way behind a post. He was trying to blend in with the rest of the people and yet somehow he just didn’t fit in. He was different in appearance.

“Can you look at him again?” Launa coached Sinclair as he continued the dream.

“Look at the man in the business suit again for me. I think I know that face too.” Launa watched on from her front row seat. She wondered to herself how she could have recognized part of Sinclair’s dream; it was a dream, wasn’t it? He had gotten better at sending images to the monitor. At first he had tried to get the whole image, now he was scanning only parts of the image at a time. The lines scooted across the top of his head forming a hair line. Then after the four or five lines would hit the monitor, a few lines of text before the next part of the image was sent. There was much more detail as his eyebrows were painted into position this time. The bridge of his nose and his angular cheeks fell into place as Sinclair fed the memory out one line at a time.

“Sgt. Perry?” Sinclair wondered to himself how Sgt. Perry could have gotten into his dream.

“That’s the one. Yes I have seen him here at the hospital.” Launa read the name of Sgt. Perry as it too had been sent to the computer. Launa was familiar with most of the accounts relating to Sinclair’s injuries. She watched the two struggle for a gun, the image presented was a whirling of shadows as only Sinclair could have seen it. The imperfect transmission was not the same as watching a video tape. The figures being generated darted by so quickly as Sinclair’s memories pulled and twisted along.

From the apartment door came the man in the business suit. He came toward Sinclair in a hurry. She watched as the two men crashed past the confines of the railing. Sinclair sent his thoughts as patches of reality mixed with strong emotions. The muscles in his body wrenched as once more he tarried in mid air.

“What would Sgt. Perry be doing at that apartment and why; after the you fell to the ground, did he not respond to your need for immediate help?” Launa couldn’t conceive of a rational or logical reason how another police officer could shirk his given responsibilities; it was unthinkable. “Maybe this just some wild nightmare that has combinations of reality mixed in to fit?” Launa continued to watch as Sinclair tossed and turned through each successive moment; he could hear her comments.

“I don't think so; but my memory could be playing tricks on me. Thanks for staying with me. I feel better now and will get back to sleep.” Sinclair’s answer joined the rest of his thoughts and became part of the transcript.

“You get some sleep now; its all over.” Launa continued to massage his hand.

“Muuurrrrppppphhhh.” Sinclair drifted off.

“Sweet dreams until morning, rest now.” She placed his hand back onto the sheets. He acknowledged with a slight nod. Launa kissed his forehead as she would one of her children who had been awakened by a bad dream.


“Julie, this is Moe, I need to talk with Mr. Sanderson.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 36 Frazetta

“You're making fine progress. It would seem that your trips to the Physical Therapy Department have been very productive.” Dr. Chatterly pulled and twisted on Sinclair’s legs as he talked, observing the extent of improvement along with the pain level that presented itself in mild grimaces and flinches.

“It is nice to be able to move about. You could use some time up there too.”, reminding Dr. Chatterly of how attractive Eva was. It was purely coincidence that Sinclair reached a pain threshold and let out a yelp as Dr. Chatterly pushed on the knee joint. “Hey! That hurt!” Sinclair waited a moment as the muscles in his jaw released their tension. “Was that a hint or are you still checking out the knee?”

“The knee looks fine.”, his hands guiding the lower half of the leg out and then back again. He stopped in mid sentence; his own awkward thoughts infiltrated the open wound of his soul. He could see Eva’s face crisp and clear, floating pleasantly in a forbidden corridor of desire. Taking a deep breath in through his nostrils; he could extract her scent from out of his memory, he closed his eyes.

“I didn’t know you felt that way about me Doc.”, oozing his words sarcastically. Chatterly recovered slowly from his mind trip to find he had been softly massaging Sinclair’s leg.

“I . . . uh . . .”

“Your stuck on her, big time.”

“Can’t get her out of my head. It wouldn’t be so bad if I were single; but I’m married and love my wife. For a while it was just a simple fascination; now I have a hard time picturing my wife’s face when I close my eyes. All I see is Eva’s face, her dark hair swept back forcing me to focus on her eyes and her totally disarming smile.” Chatterly closed his eyes again as he began describing the vision. His voice broke as he admitted to himself that he was in a real jam. Opening his eyes as he turned to look directly at Sinclair, “When I realized that I was becoming too familiar I ran away. I’ve stayed as far away from her as possible here at the hospital. Now, all you did was mention her name and my mind instantly was pursuing some wild delusion that she might care for me. What am I going to do?” Chatterly sank deeper into the chair.

“Maybe you better carry a picture of your wife and look at it during the day. I keep a picture of Bev in my wallet.”, reaching over to open the drawer and grab is wallet. The black leather covering had worn a distinctive outline from the badge rubbing against it from within. Sinclair opened it, smiling to himself as he looked forward to seeing the photograhs of his family, “Have a look; these are my kids. The oldest is Bonnie, then Jennifer and the chuckle head is William.” A great feeling of accomplishment filled Sinclair as he flipped through the pages of his life. He paused just long enough for Chatterly to nod before going to the next picture. “You’ve met my wife, Bev. This is how I see her. The two had been to Olin Mills all dressed up and feeling very much in love. The image had captured their feelings for each other on paper. The red dress complimented her winter colors and the large silvery buttons seemed to act as pointers to her smile. Sinclair was looking at his young bride and for the moment he was inside the picture. Chatterly sat up as he saw a transformation taking place before him. The wrinkles were melting away one by one from Sinclair’s face as if time itself had been reversed.

“I see what you mean. She is a fine looking woman.”

“Hard to believe that picture was taken over ten years ago; seems like only yesterday.” Sinclair let his breath out slowly as he held the picture out for Chatterly to see once more.

“You paint a good picture of how life should be. I wish it were more like that for me.”, a hint of self pity surfaced as he complimented Sinclair’s family life and simultaneously found the holes in his own.

“Think about the day you married your wife. What kind of thoughts did you store away?” Chatterly looked off into space as the question focused on a particular day. Forgetting that he was a medical professional, his thoughts quietly searched and sifted the files of life. He rambled peacefully through fields holding hands with his new bride on their way to a secluded lake. They had rented a cottage for their honeymoon. A smile found its way onto his face as he too was remembering his favorite moments.

“There’s hope for you yet.”

“I suppose you’re right. I think its time for me to take some time off and get my head screwed on straight; which brings me to the other reason I wanted to talk with you.”
Chatterly picked up Sinclair’s chart subconsciously. Glancing over his notes and picking
up where he had left off, “I see that you’ve been having some interesting experiences.”

“Anything in particular or just the usual patient who talks to his computer type of stuff?”, as Sinclair waited for a more specific direction.

“I’m not going to try and tell you that I understand all the stuff that is going on with you. I’ll be the first to say that I’m at a loss trying to give you a medical explanation for the way you can communicate the way you do. My specialty is fixing bones and muscles, not . . .” Chatterly could not find the right combination of words.

“Let me guess; you want me to visit the shrink again?” Sinclair had been visited by just about every specialist that was on staff.

“Not this time; I already know that your crazy.”, looking across the page and laughing. “I read the results of your tests from the last time. Your interpretations of the ink blots were interesting. I particularly liked the one that you said reminded you of Frazzetta’s art work. You must have blown Dr. Laramore away with that one.”

“Well, it did look an awful lot like one of his posters; it was called, “The Mammoth”. Are you familiar with his work?”

“Yes, in fact I have a couple of books at home that show several of his better posters. I went back over them and I’d have to agree with you; it did look very similar to the ink blot picture.” Chatterly was moderately impressed with Sinclair's wide range of interests.

“So, who is it that you want me to see?”

“His name’s Scott Bartell, he’s done some extensive work in the area of brain function abnormalities at Baylor University. He’s expressed an interest in your particular challenge. He wants to put you in one of his test tubes for awhile.”

“ Hey, why not; he’s not into electric shock stuff or anything, right?” Sinclair waited for a moment.

“Never on the first visit.”, as Chatterly contained his laugh. “He told me that one of his classmates had done some work with plants back in the early sixties that made waves in the accepted sciences. He was cutting leaves in half and placing them on specially treated photographic paper.” Sinclair sat up as he listened more closely.

“The energy released by the leaf was enough to present a crisp image. The interesting part was that even though there was only half of a leaf on the plate, it would imprint the image of the entire leaf; not a mirror image of the half that was left, but the original whole leaf. Kind of weird stuff, huh? Anyway, the unanswered questions that came about have led him looking for similar type situations in other life forms.”

“This is gonna sound strange, but I remember having read about that a long time ago. It was in the Academy of Science monthly publication. My grandfather was a member and had me put on their mailing list.” Sinclair enjoyed being able to jump into the conversation and felt a surge of excitement. “Once I read all about some kind of sail boat that had a rigid sail made out of corrugated tin or a fiberglass. This boat . . “, Sinclair made the shape of a triangle with his hands as he explained, “. . . would go faster than the wind that was pushing it.”

“Sinclair, there are very few things about you that would surprise me.”

“So when do I get to meet your friend?”

“I was thinking that the two of you could have lunch; say, tomorrow? I went over some of the aspects of your condition; your ability to project thoughts directly into the computer along with your inability to screen out all the rest of the garbage. He was eager; more like hungry, to meet you and get started as soon as possible. Who knows, maybe you will make it into next month’s Academy of Science as a feature article.”

“Sounds good to me; but who’s paying for all this?”

“Its on the house, no charge. When I mentioned what you had already accomplished he was quite impressed.” Looking over to the computer, “He did suggest that we keep a transcript of your communications. Will that be any problem?”

“None at all; in fact all my thoughts are automatically entered into the computer. It would be just a matter of saving them onto disk.” Sinclair thoughtfully considered that the content of such a disk would reveal not only his conscious thoughts but his inner ramblings also. “I hope this guy has a good sense of humor and doesn’t get bored to easily.”, he threw in hesitantly.

“Relax, this is all confidential.”, realizing that more was involved by the concern in Sinclair’s tone.

“So far so good.” Sinclair smiled as he made believe he was watching something outside the window.

“So far so good; what do you mean?”

“Nothing in particular, just that this reminded me of the office secretary who worked on the thirty fifth floor. That’s what she heard the man say as he fell past her window on his way to oblivion.

“Uhhhh, right.” Chatterly conjured up a series of pictures to fit the story. “Isn’t that just a little too much like the story of how you got in here?”, raising his brow as he spoke.

“Have you always been this quick?”

“What’s in that stuff your drinking? Maybe I should have them lower your sugar intake. You keep this up and I will”

“So I start tomorrow with this guy Scott, what did you say his last name was?”

“Bartell, Scott Bartell. He suggested that we send all the data to his office. That way he can print it all out and have some of his lab rats sift through it for him.”

“He wants it all sent by way of the modem?” Sinclair shook his head as he tried to imagine the mountains of goble-de-gook.

“That’s what he said. He has three under graduate aces on full time. This is how they make points.”

“I don’t want to sound ungrateful or anything; but when do you figure I’ll be going home? I mean. . .”, his face winced as he tried to phrase his thoughts, “. . .I can’t see much reason for being cooped up here now.”

“I’d like to say you could go home anytime. Your healing very nicely. Chatterly pursed his lip as he looked at the last few pages of charting. “What concerns me the most is how you fall out of touch; just drift off to who knows where. I know it scares the hell out of the floor nurses. Last Tuesday after you had breakfast your vitals went off the scale; stayed that way for almost three hours. When you came out of it all you could say was how tired you were as you went back to sleep for the rest of the day. We tried to tap into that computer of yours, but it was just a maze of jumbled letters and numbers.”

Chatterly flipped a few pages more, “Tell you what; you keep your numbers level for the next few days and I’ll see about getting you home soon.”

“Is that anything like a traffic ticket quota?”

“I don’t think I quite understand. What has your staying healthy got to do with writing traffic tickets?”

“Not a thing Doc, not a thing. I was just reminded of some my frustrations with the Department.” Sinclair had been at odds with his immediate supervisors over their insistence on the issuance of a minimal amount of traffic tickets. Over the past few years
it had become blown out of proportion. They would push him to write tickets and he would bristle, reminding them that it was a violation of State law.

“Well, I still don’t see the correlation.”, shaking his head.

“Never mind. I never said a thing.” Sinclair didn’t want to rehash the subject.

“What ever . . . “, walking to the door. “. . . I’ll be in later this evening to set up that telephone link.

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 35 Fill It Again, Please

“Time for another sample Mr. Sinclair.” Maime held a small clear collection cup in one hand while reaching to draw some blood with the other.

“Why can’t you just attach a spigot to my arm? That way all you’d have to do is turn the lever.” Sinclair looked at the list of fresh holes assembled along the crease of his inner arm.

“I know just what you mean Mr. Sinclair. Its getting’ hard to find a spot that hasn’t been stuck.” Maime extended his arm as she prepared the area with a Betadine scrub.

“There’s a spot; no, you got that one last week.” It was difficult to tell where the discoloration was from the bruises or from the Betadine stain. Sinclair accepted the situation and looked the other way as the prick of the needle entering caused a momentary flare of heat sensation.

“As often as we do this, why are you always lookin’ off? A grown man afraid of this little needle.” Maime made light of his inherent fear of needles.

“Never have gotten used to it I suppose.”, looking back as the blood was being sucked out by the vacuum container attached to the needle. “It doesn’t really hurt, sort of stings and gets hot, but it doesn’t hurt.”

“Don’t pay no attention to me Mr. Sinclair. I was messin’ with you is all.”, catching his attention as she looked him in the face.

“I know.”, changing the subject, “Looking at all the used up places reminds me of a dog we had when I was growing up. His name was Gritz. . We got him in the dead of Winter. He was a mixed breed of unknown origin, maybe some Setter and St. .Bernard. We paper trained him in the kitchen. As he got larger, which he did rather quickly, he adjusted easily to the outside stage. The Lord had provided a similar atmosphere. The snow was a little colder than the newspaper, but it was white. Gritz made the trip outside and accomplished the desired results; content within his limited faculties, having followed the instructions.

“That should do it.” Maime slid the shaft of the needle out and covered the hole with a square of dressing material while listening politely and occasionally nodding or smiling. Sinclair continued his reflection. “Hold this in place while, like I have to tell you what to do.” Sinclair automatically put light pressure over the gauze packing.

“Things went along and as Spring approached the patches of snow began to disappear. Gritz began to wander in search of an acceptable location. The patches of snow became harder to find; after a while they vanished altogether. Gritz went out one day and was quite perplexed when he could find no newspaper. The poor beast finally gave in to nature.” Sinclair laughed as he thought of the expression on the dogs face.

“Remind me to tell you about the time Gritz was attacked by a room full of balloons at my little sister’s birthday party.”

“I’ll excuse myself while you ah . . .”, handing Sinclair the clear urine specimen cup.

“Hold it a little lower.”, letting his laughter punctuate the statement. Sinclair was a big fan of the James Bond movies and couldn’t resist.

“Bev must be some kind of woman to put up with the likes of you Mr. Sinclair. Now would you please behave yourself as best you can and I’ll forget that you said that.” Maime smiled and would have blushed if her skin wasn’t so dark.

“This is the third time today that I’ve had to pee in the cup. I hope I’m up to the challenge.” The words came out and he could feel a hidden anger start to resurface. When the Police Department had developed their Drug Testing Program, Sinclair had been one of the first ones chosen at random by the computer to be a “volunteer”. He had a keen awareness of man’s free agency and the struggle to balance the needs and wants of the individual with the demands of society as a unit. He didn’t mind so much the idea of having to be held accountable; it was a necessary part of the job.

What Sinclair found to be repugnant was the Department’s attitude. He had been ordered to supply a sample of his body for an in depth chemical test; however, the form that the City had designed made it look like his signature was totally voluntary. Sinclair had signed the form and added the words, “under protest” directly under his signature. He drove to the testing lab after he got off. Some eager young men hoping to become police cadets were sitting on a bench waiting to be tested ahead of him. “You guys sure you want to join?” He shook his head and laughed; knowing that their choice had already been made and that his rotten attitude towards the Department would not sway them from the path. He completed the forms listing all the chemicals that he had taken in the past month; aspirin, nasal spray, antibiotics for an ear infection and some over the counter back pain tablets.

He was led into a small room where he could be assured that only he and God would fit. He was handed two fairly large containers. One was so the lab could test for illegal chemical substances like cocaine, heroine and marijuana while the other was to be tested for steroids. Each had a strip of temperature sensitive tape to insure that the sample was fresh and not contrived. Sinclair filled the first one about two thirds to the top when his well went dry. Standing inside the cubicle for a spell it became apparent that there was nothing left to give. He placed the lid on the container and handed it to the overseer.

“This is not a sufficient amount to run the test.”, looking at the sample that he handed her.

“Sorry but that’s all I have at the moment.”

“Wait here while I make a phone call.”, as she handed him back the test samples. “You may as well dump this. We cannot accept a partial testing sample.”

“Suit yourself; but I can’t stay here all day. I still have to get home and get some sleep.” She had already turned and gone to her desk. Sinclair sat on the bench as she talked into the telephone. She motioned for him to come over.

“He wants to talk to you.”, handing Sinclair the handset.

“This is Officer Dosilmeyer, who’s this?”

“Lieutenant Masters, Internal Affairs Division. I have been informed that you are not cooperating with the test. Is this a refusal on your part?” The words came over mechanically; as if someone had opened a refrigerator. Sinclair took the phone away from his ear and looked at it. Maybe he had heard him wrong or had missed something.

“Excuse me, would you say that again.” Sinclair had been in the military. The word “repeat” meant that another round of artillery was desired so he purposely used “say again” when he wanted to hear something a second time.

“Is this a refusal on your part?”

“You have got to be kidding me, right? I mean, here I am at this lab when I should be home sleeping. I gave them what I had and they had me pour it out because it wasn’t enough. Does that sound like a refusal to you. Give me a break! Geeezzzzz ! You can’t be serious, , , , can you?” Sinclair had dealt with I. A. D. on many occasions and knew only too well that he was not kidding. The Department made sure that humor and I. A. D. would have no common ground.

“If you do not complete the testing it will be entered as a refusal. Are you going to cooperate and be tested?”

“I don’t have much of a choice now do I?” Sinclair made it a point not to let his tongue get the better of him. He thought to himself, “And they wonder why my attitude is so bad.”

“That will be all, officer.” Sinclair put the handset back on its cradle.

“Looks like I could be here for a long time. Have you got a soda machine in the building. I could use some Dr. Pepper; make that a couple of Dr. Peppers.”

“There’s one in the lobby. Just let me know when you think you are ready to complete the test.”

“Its a shame you can’t take a core sample. This is pure bull shit you know, pure bull shit!” Sinclair was fighting off being totally offensive. “I’m sorry about that last remark; you're just doing your job.”

“No offense taken. I’ll be back here whenever your ready.”

“Mr. Sinclair, where are you off to now? Are you okay Mr. Sinclair?” Maime watched as the anger spilled into his jaw. The muscles tightened and his teeth ground firmly as he thought.

“I’m all right Maime. I was just going over . . .”, he thought for a moment. “ . . . no need to bring up that. Let me have that cup; but only because you said, please.”

“They finally got the lead shielding to put in the walls of your room. They got tired of doing all the routine stuff on paper; you know like they did a long time ago, before they installed the computers. Ever since you started up its been a real test.”

“I’m sorry Maime; I missed something. What’s this about lead shielding?”

“That’s a laugh. All you do all day is send us messages on the computer so’s we can’t get in a lick of work and you want to know how come.” Maime went on to explain to Sinclair the amount of chaos caused by his random transmissions. “Every time you start to dreaming all the computers go wild. The first time it happened we might as well have shut the place down. You were goin’ on about the morning you and Bev went down for breakfast at the Hotel Galvez . . .”, Maime was grinning from ear to ear, “. . . at two o’clock in the afternoon.”

“Hold on now, I never told anyone about that. You mean to tell me that . . .” Sinclair was still not aware of how far reaching his thoughts had become.

“Every nurse on the floor stopped by to keep up with your first day of marriage. You two must have set some kind of record for late breakfast. We had to start keeping the daily reports by hand. You should see some of the charts that got filed. What a mess you made, whoooweeee!”

“So what else has made it to the “General Hospital” crowd that I should be blushing about?”

"You got nothin’ to be ashamed about. . .”, Maime got right up into Sinclair’s face, “ . . . A man is supposed to be wild in love with his wife. You got a wonderful woman to love too.” It was like Maime was proud to be with him.

“How long ‘till the shielding goes in? I’m not so sure I like being this intimate with the entire staff.”

“The first layer was put in to keep you from messin’ with the computers down stairs. They had already drawn lots to see who was going to get to do you in. We had them put up a small temporary one at the desk to protect all the monitors just to make sure it would work.”

“I bet that spoiled the fun.”

“Sure did Mr. Sinclair, but I got to say it was a whole lot better than readin’ the paper; yes a whole lot better!”

“I think I should go fill this up.”, backing slowly in the direction of the bathroom. Sinclair looked down to make sure he was wearing his pajamas.

“Oh, yes sir Mr. Sinclair. I’ll just wait out here.”

“Right.” Closing the door behind him as he concentrated on the task at hand. They had been running tests on his blood and comparing the results with his urine hoping to find out how his metabolism was effected with different medication and diet. He thought that after so many tests that there must be some kind of clue, a correlation that would advance their understanding; but as yet it had not been observed.

“Did you say something Mr. Sinclair?” Maime had not heard anything; it was her way of checking on his progress.

“No, still waiting.” Sinclair breathed out as he tired of looking at the empty cup. “Hold the presses, yes, there may be a winner yet.” A mild wave of physiological sensation focused itself in the proper area. He closed his eyes and thought more intensely as the feeling grew towards fruition. “Ahhhhhh!”

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 34 Astros

“Got some tickets for tonight’s Astro’s game. Thought you might like a chance to escape this place.” Vern pulled the paper carrots from his shirt pocket and slowly waved them in front of Sinclair. Vern’s smile was impossible to ignore, expressing the youthful spirit that was bottled up inside him.

“Sounds good to me; but I sort of doubt that they . . .”, leaning toward the nurses station, “ . . . will go for it.” The problems that Sinclair was having with his “reception” limited his mobility.

“I already took care of that. They made me promise to take you in a wheel chair. You can sit in a regular chair at the game, but they didn’t want to take a chance on you over exerting or falling.” A flash of white sprang from Vern’s teeth as the depth of his smile increased.

“When do we leave; before I wake up and this is just a good dream.” Sinclair was already at the edge of the bed and started to get up.

“I knew if I twisted on your arm hard enough that you’d come around. It would help if you got out of those pajamas and put some street clothes on.”

“Yea, guess your right.” Sinclair eased himself back as he kicked off his slippers. “Reach in there. . .”, nodding toward the closet, “. . . and hand me a pair of pants and a shirt. Time’s a wastin’.” Vern looked in the narrow upright closet. There was a blue terry cloth bath robe, a white long sleeve shirt, a bright red Hawaiian print short sleeve shirt, a pair of gray dress slacks and a well worn pair of blue jeans.

“We’ll be sitting in the mezzanine . . .”, quietly talking to himself, “ . . . wouldn’t want to get to too dressed up” He looked back at Sinclair, who was already pulling off his pajama shirt.

“The red one. . . “, without looking up Sinclair blurted out, “. . . and the gray slacks.” Sinclair reached up and felt the day old growth on his face. “I better not wear my Detroit Tiger’s ball cap.”, laughing just enough to require a response from Vern.

“Okay, and just why wouldn’t you want to wear the cap?” Vern looked back into the closet, “ ‘' and I don’t see it up here anyway.”

“Never had one to begin with. I figure the confusion it might cause . . . , you know. . ., all those women thinking I was Tom Sellick.” A deep belly laugh caught Vern just above the cheek bone.

“I suppose I’ll have to put up with that kind of stuff the rest of the night?”, holding his one eye shut as if a punch had landed the mark.

“What did you expect; and if your real good I’ll even let you buy the ‘ dogs.” Sinclair was arranging the material of his garments so that they reached down to the knees. Vern watched on, amused at the strange looking underwear.

“Ahhhh . . .”

“Some other time Vern. For now can you just accept that I wear them as part of my religious belief.” Vern quietly held his stare; then shook it off, realizing that he had invaded some very personal part of Sinclair’s life.

“Hey, no problem. I wasn’t meanin’ to stare.”

“They are kind of long, ‘ took a while for me to get used to them myself.” Sinclair zipped up his fly and put the shirt on, leaving the square ended shirt to hang outside.

“Forgetting something?” Vern questioned a numb looking Sinclair. “ . . . Shoes, you know, they go on your feet?”

“Oh, yea. I was thinking of getting away from here so much that I kind of . . .”

“Glad I’m driving.”

“Rats! What’s a matter; don’t you trust me?” Sinclair had to laugh himself.

“I would like to see the game. Yes; I’m driving.” Vern showed Sinclair the ring of keys at arms length and exaggerated the motion of placing them back into his pocket.

“No faith at all, none!”

“Go ahead, you’re not gonna’ hurt my feelings.” Vern took a look back to the night stand. “You supposed to take any kind of medicine or anything?”

“No, I don’t think so. Let me ask at the nurses station, just to make sure.”

“Wouldn’t want you freakin’ out on me half way through the game.” Vern pointed an accusing finger at Sinclair.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Your welcome.”

“Hey, I’m not the one who talks to airplanes as they pass overhead.” Vern chided a little further.

“I only listen in, and what has that got to do with the price of eggs?” Sinclair thought for a moment, looking up at the ceiling. “ Would be kind of neat to talk back, wouldn’t it?” His expression absorbed the thought as he tied the shoe laces. “This is the painful part.”

“Your just getting old.”

“There you go again, making fun of old people. Someday your gonna get yours and I hope I’m around to watch.”

"If its worth anything, I hope your around too.” Sinclair stopped for a moment as he listened to the words. Vern really was his friend.

“Comment noted and logged.” The two of them walked down the hall to the nurses station. Vern checked out a set of wheels for Sinclair and signed the book. The three to eleven crowd had just taken over and were busy checking over the paper work. Sinclair exchanged greetings in passing. Inside he was still not quite sure that they were going to let him go out of the hospital. He held his breath as Vern wheeled him to the elevator. It wasn’t until after the doors closed and they were on the way down that he felt comfortable about the escape.

“ Made it!” Sinclair breathed out cautiously. They made it across the short distance across the parking lot to Vern’s car with only one airplane winging by. Sinclair looked up, only for a moment as he tuned in on their frequency.

“Anyone you know?” Vern was only kidding as he pulled on the invisible strings.

“No, just Southwest Flight Five Seventy Two asking for confirmation on some traffic in the sector.” Sinclair let the words out nonchalantly as Vern continued to guide the wheelchair.

“Can you really listen in on them . . .” Vern studied the lines on Sinclair’s face. “ . . .or is one of my legs getting a little longer. Yes I can feel the tendon being stretched even as I walk.”

“Right on both counts. Yes I can hear; . . . or should I rephrase that . . . receive their radio messages and yes, I was pulling your leg. This time of day my reception is not at peak. Its the best time of day for me to relax. I don’t have all that excess noise getting mixed up with my conscious thoughts.”

“Well here we are; not much to look at, is it?” Vern’s nine year old Chevrolet station wagon was well on its way to being used up. The tan paint had faded and most of the fenders had small door dings.

“You must not have seen my old pick up truck yet. Maybe you have a kindred spirit hidden under the hood, we probably got some parts from the same junk yard. I recognize, . . .yes . . . the El Cheapo Deluxe hub caps.” Sinclair was having a good time.

“No, these are all original. I don’t make enough to shop at the junk yard.”

“Your pay scale sounds just like the one we have at the Police Department.” The two of them laughing at their modest income levels. Sinclair adjusted himself to fit the seat as he snapped the seat belt into place. Vern inserted the key in the tail gate lock. The electric motor whirred as the rear deck window lowered itself. He placed the wheel chair in the back and slammed the tail gate back into place. On the third attempt the latch mechanism caught hold.

“I don’t know about you, but I think we should stop by the store and grab some chips on the way. The prices at the Dome are Astronomical.” Vern was in a grove.

“Good one Vern.” Sinclair loved the challenge of coming up with one pun after another. “Having been cooped up in that hospital so long; I’ve Lasorta lost touch with things.”

“Ouch, not bad.” Vern guided the car onto the street and down to the local “Stop and Rob” store. The Vietnamese clerk looked at Sinclair as the two went to stock up on junk food.

“I know you. You are policeman who work here on nights and visit me. Where you been; I not see you in long time?” A look at the name tag, quickly enough that his poor memory would go undetected and Sinclair returned the salutation.

“Vu, yes, its been a while. When did you start working the evening shift?” Vu was hard to gauge. His smooth features made it difficult to figure his age. Sinclair estimated him to be in his late forties, possibly even mid fifties. He had rich black hair slicked back and neatly parted. It did not appear that he ever had to shave. His frame was light, topping off near a hundred and twenty.

“I got robbed too many times. The last time they tied me up with cords and put a gun to my head. I can no longer work at night.” Vu was shaking his head, not really looking up while he was talking, as if it were his fault that the store was robbed.

“I know what you mean.” Sinclair had made a few of the robbery reports. Vern had picked up several sacks of Cheetos and a large bag of peanuts, already salted in the shell.

“This ought to do it.”, laying the glutinous bounty on the counter next to the register. “You do like Cheetos, right, Sinclair?”

“Sure, they’re fine with me.” Sinclair could eat almost any kind of chips. The trouble with Cheetos was they left his fingers a funny looking orange color, but on the other hand, they were just about the only kind of real cheese product that he would eat. He could eat pizza as long as the cheese wasn’t too thick and every now and then he would sprinkle a small amount of Parmesan cheese on his spaghetti. He could hardly stand the sight of a casserole that was covered with a zig zag of melted cheese.

“Sinclair is your first name?” Vu smiled as the strange sounding name rolled off his tongue.

“It was my grandfather’s last name.”

“It is nice name. Vu is my grandfather’s name. Things are very same.” Vu continued to smile as the idea of having something in common settled in.

“Yea, I think I heard of that guy. Wasn’t he some kind of famous electronics guy or something?” Vern was wearing a grin that begged for more.

“No, grandfather was rice farmer. You must be thinking of a different Vu. It is very common name in Viet Nam.”

“This guys last name was Meter, Vu Meter.”, containing his laughter as Sinclair tried to figure a respectable way out of the pun.

“You take care of yourself. We’re on the way to see the Astros beat the Dodgers.” Sinclair jabbed quickly as Vern was paying for the snacks.

“In your dreams.” Vern just happened to be wearing a Dodger blue pull over shirt.

The ride to the stadium wasn’t too bad. They had left early enough that the rush hour traffic had not built up. Once in a while Sinclair could feel the coded information from the motors of cars that were in close; but it was not nearly as excruciating as when his reception was at its best. He reached into the bag and opened a sack of Cheetos. The first one was always the best.

“Hey! Save some for the game!” Vern snapped off then added, “How about passing a few my way.”

“That’s a good idea; can’t you get this bucket to move past these guys?” Sinclair tightened up as he shouted in the general direction of the red car that was ahead of them. “learn how to drive on your own time clown!”

“Houston’s Finest seems a little hostile towards the public today.” Vern quietly commented as he put his blinker. He looked for a way to get out of the lane.

“Your right; I should be more laid back.” Sinclair looked toward the driver of the red car who was oblivious to the rest of the world. “That jerk’s doin’ his check book.” Turning to Vern and then back at the other driver, Sinclair began to boil. “You know what you can do with that check book?” , leaning out of the window as he glared at him.

“You always this much fun in the car?”

“ Just getting warmed up. Bev says I need to ease off a little too.” Sinclair sat back as Vern managed to move on down the road far enough for the red car to get left behind.

“Hey, how many of those are you going to eat?” Vern reached for what was left of the Cheetos. “Leave me some, will you?”

“Sure.” The two of them devoured the small treat and were both licking their fingers as they entered the gates to the parking lot at the Dome.

“Three dollars.” The attendant held out his hand as one of the other attendants clicked another digit into the counter.

“Three dollars ! Cripes !”, reaching into his wallet and pulling out a five. He handed the bill to the attendant who had read the bill and was counting back his change.

“Two dollars, your change sir. Follow that row of cars ‘till you see the next attendant down on the right.” Vern drove to the next attendant and quickly judged the remaining walk to be about a quarter of a mile.

“Hey buddy, I have this guy on loan from the hospital. Is there a way you can get us up a little closer?” The attendant bent over as he listened; his hands cupped to fight off the glare of the late afternoon sun as it reflected off the roof of the car. Vern bent his body back, pointing out the wheel chair.

“Well, I’m not supposed to; those spaces are reserved for the season ticket holders.”, pausing momentarily as he tried to place himself in their position. “Just tell that next attendant down there that Joe said it was okay. If he gives you any static I’ll square it with him.”

“Thanks, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate this.”

“No problem. Enjoy the game.” The attendant went back to funneling cars down the row to the next attendant. Vern parked; having to explain once more about the medical need to be close to the front. Sinclair reluctantly got into the wheel chair and let Vern shuffle him across the street. The lines at the ticket windows were longer than usual because the Dodgers were in town.

“Glad I got these tickets in advance.”

“If you hadn’t. . . I know some of the officers out here. We could have sneaked in the back door.”

“I wish you had said that before I forked out eighteen bucks a piece for these tickets.”

“I like it better with a reserved seat anyway. Sometimes I end up sitting up in the cheap seats; not that I mind. Some of the best baseball fans sit in the cheap seats.”

“Then we both qualify, this is the only time I’ve ever had tickets close enough that I didn’t need field glasses to see the player’s numbers.” They went past turn stiles via a side gate so that the wheel chair would make it through. The ramps to the mezzanine level were filled with people hurrying to their seats.

“Programs ! Get your Official Proo-Grammms right here!”

“You want a program?”, reaching into his wallet again.

“Save your money Vern. I never was much on keeping up with the line; distracts too much from the game.” Returning the money to his wallet they continued in the procession of fans.

“Programs ! Get your Proooo-Grammms folks !” The sound echoed off the concrete walls and blended with the rest of the familiar ball park sounds. Sinclair felt the peaceful arms of his favorite sport embrace him as the doors to the main corridor opened. Vendors calling out, young kids darting in and out of the pressing crowd, the lingering cloud from a fat cigar all hit his senses at once.

“This is really great. Thanks for having me along Vern.”

“My pleasure; now where the hell are our seats?”, as he tried to make out the information printed on the ticket’s edge.

“Take a right and head for the security office. I want to leave this chair and see a ball game. If you won’t tell I won’t.”

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Why don’t you . . .”

“Look, the wheel chair ramps are only a couple of isles away from the security office. We can leave it there where it will be well taken care of and I’ll only have to walk that little bit.” Sinclair was convincing; he got out before entering the office, not wishing to make an appearance in the chair. He had worked the Dome as an extra job for several years and did not want any of the officers to see him that way. Call it macho or pride, Sinclair was going to walk into the security office on his own legs.

“This is dumb, really dumb.” Vern was mumbling to himself as he stood close enough to catch Sinclair, crossing the beer slick that covered the entrance to the office.

“Oh be quiet, and let go ‘ my arm.” Sinclair took in a deep breath as he pushed the folded up chair into a corner behind the front desk. A red, almost a silvery red haired officer sat at the desk and eyed Sinclair as he entered.

“Dosilmeyer you old fool; how’re you doing. Heard about that deal you were in. Nice to see you getting around. Are you back to work yet?” Ned Sheffield had been working the desk almost as long as there had been a Dome stadium. He had twenty four years with the Department and hadn’t been on the street for at least the last ten. He worked up in Juvenile Division, day shift with Saturday and Sundays off. It didn’t hurt that the Dome jobs were run out of his lieutenant’s office.

“Not yet, but pretty soon if I have any luck.” Sinclair did not want to spend the evening going over war stories as he nudged Vern toward the door. “Keep an eye on it for me. We’ll come back for it when the game’s over.”

“Sure thing; good to see you up and around.”

“Yea, ‘ later.” Sinclair bit his tongue as he recalled how much he loathed the worthless excuse for a police officer. How was it possible for a man to show up for so many years and do absolutely nothing. The worst thing that bothered Sinclair was that somehow Sheffield had managed to convince the lieutenant, along with most of the Department, that he was a model officer. Maybe it was because he never got into any trouble; of course its hard to get complained on if you never do anything.

“Nice guy, you work with him?” Vern tossed in as he too waved gingerly back at officer Sheffield.

“What’s the isle number again?” Sinclair avoided Vern’s question entirely.

“Two forty one, row C , seats one eleven and one twelve.” They were standing next to one of the “Red Suits” who glanced at the tickets. Taking the tickets in hand as he walked down the short blocked steps to row C ; he pointed to a pair of bright orange seats and asked the occupants to show him their tickets also. The two simply got up and left via the next isle, not having any tickets to show him.

“Those are your seats.”, handing back the stubs as he continued to watch the young men who were searching for two more empty seats further around towards right field.

“My turn to buy; how about a soda to go along with a couple of hot dogs?”

Sinclair could hardly contain his desire to pitch in his share; handing Vern a twenty.

“Sounds like a winner. Speaking of winners, the Dodgers are coming out to take infield.”, Vern never missed stride.

“You call third place, Winners ; fine with me.”

“The season is still young.”

“So’s my Aunt Tilly; Vern, its the middle of August!”

“Plenty of time; after they win tonight they’ll only be ten games ‘back of Cincinnati.”

“How long have you been taking drugs Vern?” Sinclair chortled as he flagged down the soda vendor. Holding up two fingers and passing the money, the young man stopped and sent a couple of sodas toward them. “Before we inhale these; why don’t you run get us those dogs?”, handing Vern the change. “Glad I wore my brown shoes.”, grabbing the money as he vaulted out of the chair and up to the main corridor. Several minutes passed as Vern was waiting in line for service. He got four hot dogs; no sense in going through the line twice. On his way back he stopped at the junk stand and bought a couple of caps; a Dodger cap and a Detroit cap.

“Took you long enough. What you got in the sack?”

“Just something to cover up a genetic defect. Mind you now, it was all I could find on short notice.”, placing the dark blue Detroit cap on Sinclair’s head.

“That’s one more for you, and thanks.”

“You look better all ready.”, Vern had to swallow a chunk of hot dog to keep from choking as he began to laugh.” By the way . . . did you notice that while I was away that short while. . . that my Dodgers found a hole in your defenses. Is that a three spot? Yes, it looks like the Dodgers scored three in the top of the first.”

“How come you put mustard all over this? You probably got carried away in euphoria and couldn’t help it.” Sinclair was hard pressed for a positive response. They were bombing Knepper pretty hard. In the bottom of the second the Astros picked up a run on a solo shot from Glen Davis. The game progressed and they enjoyed salted peanuts and finished off the Cheetos. The more Cheetos Sinclair ate, the more relaxed he became. He did not understand what was happening. All he knew was that the extra noise inside his head seemed to abate. The game ended with the Dodgers on top three to one. The Astros left men in scoring position in the last three innings.

Sinclair was exhausted from the intensity of the game. Vern made sure that they were the last to leave as the stands were cleared after the game. They made a slow walk to the top of the stairs and waited a while for Sinclair to get his breath back. He was at peace within himself as he could only hear the normal sounds of life, just like anyone else. He could hear the kids stomping the empty beer cups with their feet to make the loud popping echo across the great spaces of the Dome. He could here the officers blowing their whistles as they herded the last remnants of the crowd out the doors. He could not hear the radio transmissions of passing airplanes or the microwave carrier waves that emanated from the announcers both. It was wonderful as the night air greeted him outside the doors and on the short trek to Vern’s car. He caught his second wind and was alert the entire way home.

“How about a burger, fries and a shake before we get back to the hospital?” Sinclair didn’t want to let the night end.

“You sure your up to it?”

“Go for it. I can sleep in as late as I want tomorrow.”

“Glad one of us can; I have to work.”

“I’m sorry; here I am keeping you away from your family ‘till all hours of the night and . . .”

“Just giving you a hard time. A friend of mine is a wheel at Jack in the Box. He’s always giving me these coupons to try out the latest sandwiches. There’s one on Long Point just a few blocks from the hospital.” Vern’s station wagon panted its way toward the exit gates of the Dome parking lot. Twenty four thousand people were in front of them as they inched forward.

“Hey lady, I know you probably spent a lot of money to get through driving school. I just want to know on what planet you got your license?” His voice bellowed as he sarcastically attacked the woman in front of them.

“Here we go again.” Vern breathed out slowly as he avoided telling Sinclair exactly how irritating it was becoming.

“Your right; I’m being an asshole again.” Vern smiled as he ignored Sinclair’s childish lashings. Fifteen minutes later they were on the Loop and breezing along. Traffic was heavy, but moving along at a good clip. It wasn’t long before they had made the Katy exit.
“Take Wirt, if you would.” Sinclair wanted to show Vern the edge of his police beat on the way.

“No problem guy.”, finding his way over another lane as he set up to exit the freeway. Sinclair pointed out the chicken shack where he had caught a burglary suspect many years before. Vern was enjoying war stories as each location held a memory, a tale of embellished un-glory. Sinclair would have made a great fisherman the way he lavishly recounted even the simplest events.

“Burger alert, Jack in the Box coming into range.” Vern turned the bill of his ball cap up as he simulated looking into a submarine range finder scope.

“Only thing better than a late night snack is a late night snack that’s free. What’re you waitin’ on?” Vern pulled up to the drive in speaker and placed the order while Sinclair looked all around the area that he was so familiar with. He could feel the street, not some weird vibration or anything like that, but he had a working knowledge of the area. He was at home working the night shift.

“Here’s your sandwich.”, handing Sinclair an old fashioned patty melt.

“ More cheese! Jeezzzzz!”

“What’s a matter, I thought the way you scarfed all those Cheetos down that you liked cheese?”

“I guess it will be okay. I’m just not used to so much of it at one time. I guess I shouldn’t complain; my head hasn’t been this clear in months. Maybe the cheese has something to do with it.” Sinclair was just spouting words, not really putting any stock in them as he shrugged his shoulders and took a bite out of the sandwich. “Not bad, not bad at all.”

“So how long have you worked this area?”

“It will be seven years this September.”

“All of it nights?”

“Yea, I was downtown for several years before coming out here. I like this much better; its more relaxed.”

“Except when your falling off balconies.”

“Yea, except when I’m falling off balconies. It happened just a short way from here. I haven’t been there since the night of the fall. Would it be all right to drive by so I could . . .”

“No problem, I would like to see the place myself.”

“Take a left at the light; its the first group of apartments on the right.” Sinclair sat alert in the passenger seat as the old station wagon approached the scene. It was all changed. There was a large chain link fence surrounding the whole complex; it had never been there before. All the apartments were vacant; there were no lights on, not even in the court yards. About the only thing that remained the same were the piles of trash that lined the shallow drainage ditch as Vern parked the car next to the hastily erected fence.

“I wonder what’s going on here. None of this used to be here.” Sinclair looked around for a way into the complex. The chain link had been poorly fastened to the upright standards; it was easy to pull it away and slid through the gap. “Wish I had my flashlight.”

“Hold on a sec’, I have one in the glove box.” Vern went straight away and found the old two cell Ray O Vac. Sinclair was accustomed to the ten thousand candle power beam from his police flash light; he had forgotten that most of the world was still using the antiques like Vern had.

“So when are you gonna’ turn it on?”, a faint yellow beam apologized quietly into the darkness as Vern handed it to him.

“Very funny, just hold the wire back so I can get in too.”

“What’s the matter Vern? Having trouble getting all those hot dogs around the fence post?” Sinclair aimed the light at Vern’s stomach and measured the opening in the fence with it.

“How about a soda?”, reaching into his pocket for some change. “ ’ Give you something to keep you quiet for a while.”

“Not from the Killer Dr. Pepper machine; anyway we just had some.” Sinclair had not told Vern the story about the machine.

“The Killer Dr. Pepper machine? Ooooookaaaaay.” Vern let the topic drop as Sinclair laughed sinfully to himself.

“I want to go around the corner and try to walk myself through. Maybe it will clear up some of the fragments that still have me wondering.” Vern was still looking back at the lifeless soda machine as Sinclair eased his way up the first couple of steps. The stillness of the night air did not have the stress hanging with his every move. It was very peaceful. There were no gun shots echoing off the brick walls, no muffled voices from behind closed doors, no chatter from a police handi-talkie mounted on his side. Sinclair was not threatened by the situation, and yet he could feel a slight desire to be somewhere safe.

“You shouldn’t be going up stairs; you want some help?” Vern awkwardly tried to assist Sinclair. The two of them made it to the second floor. Sinclair waited for the pain in his legs to ease before letting go of the rail on the last step. The night air was heavy with fog, much the same as the night that he was trying to remember. It hung lazily from the roof as the distant lights became saucer shaped blue and white dots on the morning canvas.

He walked to the door where the fight had begun and looked at the peeled veneer, just as it had looked that night. He tried to imagine the man coming out the door, pistol in hand and how he had wrestled him for it. He spun around and noticed the railing was gone. The concrete was broken where it had been anchored. He looked back into the apartment. He remembered seeing another figure, a husky male come out and . . .

“What’s the matter? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost. Are you okay?”

“I think we were pushed off that balcony. I remember seeing a man come out of the apartment just as I was getting control of the gun. We didn’t just lean up against that
railing and fall. I can almost see his face.” Sinclair closed his eyes as he concentrated.
The crow’s feet accentuated the intensity of Sinclair’s attempt to reconstruct portions of
the incident.

“Do you know what you’re saying? That makes it murder.”

“Yea, it does.” The two stood silent for a moment as the significance of the idea sank in. Sinclair looked out over the barren lot as he pondered the implications. Half a block away on the Moritz street side of the complex a car was parked, backed in. Sinclair hardly noticed at first; it was an ordinary car, nothing conspicuous. Once in a while there was a brief glint of light that would sparkle from the darkness that cloaked the general area.

“What ‘ you looking at?” Vern watched as Sinclair peered out into the darkness searching for the source of the light.

“Over there, see; there it was again.”, pointing towards the dark blue Buick. “I think we’re being watched by who ever is in that car. The light reflecting from his binoculars gave him away. There is was again; did you see it that time?”, still pointing.

“Yea, now that you mention it. Who do you suppose it is?” Vern studied the car; its lack of chrome, black wall tires and the tell tale wire on the back fender.

“Three guesses and the first two don’t count.”

“You think its a cop; but why?”

“You tell me.” Sinclair waved and smiled, a big toothy smile that reeked of sarcasm.

“Who ever it is must have seen all he wants.” Vern cackled as the two continued to wave. Off in the distance a temporary blur of red leaped from the tail lights onto the wall behind the car as the break pedal was tapped. The back up lights winked for an instant as the shifter passed from one gear to another. A splash of bright light broke through the night air and the car sulked off down the road.