Sunday, April 03, 2005

Chapter 30 / Saved

Sinclair turned on the light and left the door partially open as he led Eva into the room. He waved to Mr. Alejandro to let him know that he was back and had a visitor. Simple gestures like waving and greeting people as he walked had taken on added dimension. He was more than aware of his having been given a second chance at living. He attacked each moment will all his energies; often to the point of collapse.

“Let me close the door for you.”, Eva moved to push it.

“No, that’s the way I would prefer to have it; wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. You know how hospital rumors get around.” Sinclair took the opportunity to take in the full beauty of her figure, head to toe. “Yes, leave it open.”, as he turned away, nodding to himself; he switched the computer on.

“Okay.”, not really grasping at first, then blushing as she measured his glance. Sinclair waited for the orange glow of the monitor screen to come on before explaining how it all worked. While he had taken it with him to therapy sessions many times, he had never gone into any detailed explanation of how the unit worked. Eva sat patiently in the chair as he pointed to the various components; describing the function of each one.

“This is the heart of the synthesizer. It makes the words that are in the computer sound like human sounds. We spent several hours programming the individual qualities that make it sound like a specific human being.” He switched the screen to display the Attribute Selection Menu.

“You said we; who’s we?”

“Oh, you mean Vern, Vern Rylan. He’s a friend of mine; works on all the electronic stuff here at the hospital.

“So the two of you just fiddle with the sound until it matches what your hearing?”

“In a nut shell, yes.” Let me surprise you with some data that is saved to memory.” Sinclair thought for a moment; the computer paused, then immediately played back the selection that had been stored away.

“ ‘ Be right with you; gotta’ finish up with this first.” It was Eva’s voice, as if recorded by a hidden microphone.

“That sounds like me. So where’d you get that?”, exhibiting bewilderment. Sinclair put his finger to his lips as he motioned for her to be quiet, turning his attentions to the sounds that were being created by the computer. No “recording” had been made, at least no tape recording in the usual sense. The words spoken had been heard by Sinclair and redirected into the computer’s memory. The playback continued.

“Okay, so where’s this cop; or is he invisible?” Her face responded favorably as she recognized the conversation. Waiting for the next words, her ear bent slightly toward the speaker, anticipating her own words. She mouthed them, precisely only a moment before the sound came out. “Dr. Chatterly . . .”

“I’m sorry . . . he’s just outside.” Looking over to where Sinclair sat on the corner of the bed, applauding with her eyes. Eva listened; the synthesizer mimicked the original sound of Dr. Chatterly's voice very well.

“That’s Dr. Chatterly all right! Even the hesitation as his words got caught in his throat sounded the same.” The more she listened the more she wanted to hear.

“Mr. Dosilmeyer I’m Eva. Dr. Chatterly tells me that you are here to use our facilities.” Sinclair extended his hand as he too remembered how inviting the first meeting had been. The computer had given Eva’s voice a silkiness. It landed on the ear gently, almost lovingly. Eva picked up on it and wondered how many hours Sinclair had spent to create the effect. It was very flattering to have been “saved” in such a pleasant way.

“That is remarkable. How many people did you say were; how did you put it, saved to memory?” Sinclair was unaware that by spending so many hours manipulating and creating certain specific voices; intricacies of his own personality had surfaced. He was like an open book for all to read.

“Like I told you earlier, there’s Bev, Maime Stuart, Vern Rylan, Dr. Gwyne, Dr. Chatterly and you.” Sinclair had explained that to her just a short time ago. He wondered how she could have forgotten so quickly.

“Could I here some more? Something different; something from Dr. Gwyne. I used to work in the E. R. when I first started here. I’d like to here what you think he sounds like.”

“I not think that American’s treat minorities with respect; make things difficult for us.” The oriental snapping off at the end of certain words, almost silencing the last two letters, was pretty close; but lacked something. He had stereotyped all Orientals who had learned English as a second language.

“ I know, it sounds kind of flat. I didn’t spend that much time on his.” Sinclair discounted the lack of effort. He had not intended to play back that particular voice, at least not for someone who was listening so intensely.

“How come my voice sounds so . . .”, thoughtfully reaching for words that would describe what she perceived to be almost a flirtation of sound. “. . . how do I put it?”

“Sexy?; that’s because the first time I heard you talking with Dr. Chatterly that’s what I heard too. Does it bother you that I included that tonal quality? I could change it; make it sound a little less romantic.” Sinclair thought for a moment; the computer screen flashed and it was done.

“How come my voice sounds so . . .”, only now the voice was bland, having virtually no appeal of any kind. Eva listened to the adjusted voice; her face devoid of expression.

“I like it the other way too.” Sinclair changed it; only his time taking it just one notch short of afternoon delight.

“How come my voice sounds so . . .”, a sultry provocative sound oozed across the room.

“That’s what I call the Kathleen Turner sound. Great huh?”

“I think you’ve made your point. Could you adjust it back to where it was?” Eva smiled as she envisioned a secluded isle covered with palm trees, water falls and a beach to lay on as the summer sun ducked behind evening clouds on the ocean.

“A penny for you thoughts.” Sinclair waited as the distant look faded from her and she was again in the same room.

“Not for sale.” Eva looked at the computer as if it were alive. Realizing that the computer was only an extension of Sinclair’s thoughts, Eva avoided looking at him.

“Something the matter?”

“No, I was just wondering when your wife was coming. I need to get home to get dinner started.” Eva felt uncomfortable as she stood up and went to the window.

“Would you like to talk to some ants?” Sinclair was not sure what he had done.

“What?” Eva had rested on the window sill, looking out across the parking lot, where her car had been only a short while ago. She heard something that didn’t fit, something about ants.

“Ants, would you like to talk to those ants on the other side of that window?”

Eva looked; sure enough, there was an endless track of ants marching along an invisible
corridor at the edge of the brick work.

“Sure, right.” Eva looked back over her shoulder. A smile, similar to the one that hit Dr. Chatterly the first time that Sinclair had been to the pool, beamed from her face. Her child like enthusiasm wishing to believe the impossible and at the same time skeptical of such a preposterous feat.

“Good afternoon.” Sinclair concentrated on the line of ants.

“Give me a break. You expect me to believe that the ants just said that.” Eva rolled her eyes back exaggerating her total disbelief. “They told me it was the other guy who landed on his head.” Eva knew immediately that she had said the wrong thing. Sinclair closed his eyes and took in a breath as his insides chewed on him. Defending himself automatically, his words came out sharply.

“I don’t expect you to believe anything.” Eva looked at Sinclair and then back to the ants. The column had come to a halt. One of the ants had walked up on the window, away from the rest.

“We must be going now. Enjoy the sunshine for tonight it will rain.”

“You are putting me on, right?” Eva watched as the lone ant returned to its position and the line again moved forward. She studied Sinclair as he answered; hoping that he would forgive her careless remark.

“They never stop very long. It’s their military way of life.” Sinclair was not sure how to explain how the ants knew about the change of weather. Scientists had studied insects and how they acted strangely before earthquakes. There were many things that the lower life forms could teach the human race.

“Goodbye.” Eva quietly breathed out, not wishing Sinclair to hear.

“They said thank you.”, relaying the ants reply.

“So who’s this that you have talking to the ants?” Bev walked in; having found the door open, she didn’t knock.

“Hun, this is Eva; I’m sorry, but I don’t know your last name.” Sinclair was blank as to how to proceed as he turned back hoping that Eva would finish.

“Eva Fiarona, I work in the Physical Therapy Department. You must be Bev. He has told me so much about you; I feel as if we were already friends.” Eva felt more at ease having Bev in the room.

“Bev Dosilmeyer.”, reaching to shake hands. Bev felt a twinge of rivalry; wondering how to compete with such a young and attractive woman. The hospital issued skirt and blouse looked as if it had been tailored especially for her; matching her olive skin tones perfectly. Bev completed the greeting; smiling only after Sinclair’s eyes met with her own. Sinclair’s wink gave Bev the confidence needed to confirm the love stored in his heart.

“Hun, Eva needs a ride home. They repo’d her car from the parking lot this afternoon. Would you mind?”

“I’d be glad to. Where do you live?”

“Not too far from here. I could try my brother again.” Eva went to pick up the phone.

“Nonsense; I’m already here. It won’t be any trouble at all. You can tell me what you do for my Sinclair on the way there.” Bev made it a point to be possessive as she structured her reply.

“Hun . . .”, handing Sinclair a letter that had been left, “. . . I found this in the mail today. I thought it looked a little odd; not having a stamp on it and no address either. See . . .”, pointing to letter with only the name Dosilmeyer .

Sinclair held the envelope up to light but could see nothing. He slit the top off and removed the one page letter. Sinclair read to himself and folded the letter carefully, placing it back inside the envelope.

“Well, what did it say?” Bev watched as the lines on his forehead deepened.

“Eva, could you wait out in the hall for a moment? I need to talk to Bev.” A serious look, his “policeman’s face” found its way back from the long vacation it had taken.

“Sure, no problem.” Eva wasn’t sure what had been in the letter; didn’t want to know. The door closed quietly behind her.

“Where did you say you found this letter? Its important.”

“It was in with the rest of the mail. I found it on the floor under the mail slot. Is anything the matter?”

“Here, take a look.” Sinclair made sure to hold the letter exactly as he had before; not wishing to disturb any finger prints that may have been left. “Don’t touch! Just look.” The letter had been hand written on plain white paper, no ruled lines.

“It should have been you that died in the fall.”

“Oh my, who would send you such a hateful letter?”

“I don’t think it was sent. I think it was hand delivered. How else would it have gotten there, no stamp, no address?”

“It was on the top of the stack, now that you mention it.”

“Let me call that Sargent in Homicide Division. Maybe he can offer some help.” Sinclair dialed the number without even a glance at the phone, having called it so many times.

“I think you should spend some time with your father this week. Why don’t you and the children go fishing or something.”

“That didn’t sound like a question. You don’t want me to stay at the house; do you?” Bev waited for an answer but Sinclair had gotten through to Homicide.

“Let me speak with Sgt. Dribble, please; this is Officer Dosilmeyer.” The desk clerk quietly looked over the roster.

“He’s not in today. I think he started his vacation; let me check . . . Yes, he took the next two weeks off. Would you like to talk with one of the others?”

“Who’s there today; could you read me the list?”

“Let’s see; there’s Abernathy, Bowles, Cook, Franklin . . .”

“Keep going.”

“Givens, Kennedy, McDade, Needlhalter, Pearson, Tucker and White.”

“Let me talk with White; he knows me.”

“Just a moment while I ring his office.”

“I know this guy from a long time ago.” cupping the phone, “He’s okay.”

“White here. What can I do for you?” Sinclair listened to the voice, not recognizing it.

“Is this J. D. White; worked Point Control years ago?”

“Yea, who’s this?”

“M.S. Dosilmeyer, remember me?”, glad to have hit the right one.

“Oh yea; heard about your accident. Sorry to hear about it. You back to work yet?”

“I’m still trying to get out of this danged hospital. Hey, I hardly recognized you at first, what’s with you?”

“I know, hardly recognized myself after they cut that cancer out of my throat; damned cigars ate a whole in me.”

“You always did have one of those ugly green ones hanging out the corner of your mouth. Didn’t know; did they get it all out, the cancer I mean?”

“Yea, had to quit smoking though. Hey, I know you called to talk about something other than my cigars. What’s on your mind?”

“I just got a strange letter, more like a threat. I wanted Dribble to take a look at it since he was the one assigned to work the case.”

“Oh, what’d it say?”

“All it says is, It should have been you that died in the fall. That's all. My wife found it with the rest of the mail on the floor below the mail slot. There was no stamp and no address on it.”

“No stamp, no address; you say it was on the floor with the rest of the mail?”

“That’s what she said.” Bev was nodding as she listened intently. “As soon as I saw what it was I put it away. Maybe there could be some finger prints . . .”

“Yea, sounds like you better have him take a look at it; but before you do, why don’t you let me look at it too. I just transferred over from Forgery; maybe I can help.”

Changing the subject and laughing before he spoke, a devious little boy at the heart of it,
“Farted in any elevators lately?” J. D. was crude to the bottom line. He would wait until the doors were closed and the elevator was jammed full before expelling any gas that had built up.

“I knew there was a reason for my wanting to work alone.”

“Hey, you take care of yourself and save that letter for me; before that jerk Dribble gets his paws all over it; okay?”

“Sure thing J. D.”, then adding, “Why don’t you take a lunch break out this way; I’ll even buy you a cup of coffee.”, thinking of the first time they had been assigned as partners. There had been a major restructuring of the Department. Officers were given new partners and new areas to ride. It had been a cold Winter morning, Sinclair was driving with J. D. as shot gun. J. D. never did like to drive; Sinclair, on the other hand was never too comfortable when someone else was at the wheel. They had gone to the local Stop and Go for a hot cup; Sinclair a hot chocolate and J. D. for his coffee. Each took a sip, sitting in their respective positions as Sinclair threw it in gear.

“Son of a . . .” Each word highlighted as J. D. hit a higher octave. The fresh coffee, still steaming, hit the dark blue material of his trousers. Looking at Sinclair as if there was a motive; some plot to rid himself of a lousy partner; J. D. ranted and raved.

“Any officer with as many years on the force as you should certainly be expected to hold a simple cup of coffee while the car is moving.” Sinclair had laughed at J. D. as he showed him the technique of holding the Styrofoam cup, thumb at the top and ring finger on the bottom; the cup gently bobbing as the car eased on down the road.

J. D. was angry; he’d been shown up. He clamed up for the next couple of days; the silent treatment. After a few days, Sinclair found a way to buy J. D. a cup of coffee,
sort of a peace offering. From that day on they got along well enough to put up with each other.

“I still have a red mark from the first cup. Let me grab a folder from the “Lew’s” desk; make it look like I’m working.”

“Great, haven’t had too many visitors. You’d think I had the plague.” Sinclair was glad to have an old buddy; someone he could depend on for an honest reaction.

“Oh yea; take your umbrella. Its supposed to rain.”

“You always did kid me about my umbrella.”, looking out the window. The late afternoon sun baked the air into delirious waves of bent blue vapor. J. D. was the only beat officer in the history of the Department that ever used an umbrella while walking a beat. He had kept one stored behind the soda machine where he could easily get to it at the newsstand. It gave him an opportunity to visit with the old woman there. He called her “ Negs”, not because it was her name; but each time they would talk she would tell him about all the rotten things in her life. “Negs” could top any sad song. If J. D. told her that his back was sore; she’d remind him that she had a ruptured disk and had no money for pain medicine.

“See you when you get here.”, hanging up the phone as he remembered the past.

“What did he say?” Bev waited as Sinclair reminisced.

“J. D. is on his way out here now; no sense in you waiting. Call your Dad and see if you and the children can spend the night there; maybe stay the rest of the week. Why don't you and Eva Grab a bite on the way home?”

“Okay . . .”, unable to put her fears into words.

“It’ll be fine; I’m just a little paranoid, remember?” He closed his eyes as he leaned back against the pillows.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay. I can always call a cab for Eva?” Bev watched Sinclair as he struggled to remain awake.

“No, you go ahead. I need some time to think; I’ll be all right, honest.”, curling up and wrapping his arm around a pillow.

“Good night, Dear. I love you.”

“ Love you too.”