Tuesday, November 30, 2010

places: nothing

I didn’t know what to expect when I got to Larkin’s place. I had no idea as to if his body been found.  I know that he had to have been missed by now.  Have the boys at the Federal Bureau been keeping an eye on his place? 

I kept a safe distance perched atop an apartment building. I used field glasses and surveyed the block for a little over an hour.  I then moved my car to a place about a block away. I broke in the back door. I was nervous.

I had to make this fast.

It was a small house, sparsely furnished.  Even if the place wasn’t being watched, it was possible that someone witnessed my entry and called the cops.

The kitchen wasn’t stocked with food.  Rod must have done a lot of eating out.  The drawers and pantry were empty.  There was chair, table, ashtray and telephone in the living room.  Nothing.

There were two bedrooms.  One was empty and the second was where Larkin had slept.  There was a bed, side table and small dresser.  I emptied the drawers and checked out every side and angle.  Nothing.

I tossed the bed and found his suitcase underneath it.  I thought I heard a car door close in the distance and so I grabbed the case and made my exit.

The suitcase felt empty.  Though I had only been in there a short time - I felt like I had been there too long.  I ran through a few back yards and got into my car.  I checked the rear-view mirror and took off.

I took the suitcase back to my place. I opened it and found an old band-aid. Nothing.

Rod had taken no chances.  He left no evidence of what he had been up to. I don’t know why I was hoping to find something.  I took a risk that didn't pay off. I’m disappointed but know that it would have bugged me if I hadn't of checked his place out before proceeding further.

Larkin had told me all that he was going to tell me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

places: driving in the rain

The sun was out.  It was raining and humid. Years ago Father McGregor once told me that the devil was beating his wife on such days. He was a good sort, patient with the kids.  He didn't care much for us in his garden though. I'm sure we tested the old man's faith on a daily basis.

We were treated well enough. If it were a family, it was a family of strangers.  My siblings were other orphaned and discarded souls with wounds of their own.  We were fed, clothed, and cared for - but we all knew that it wasn't home.

There were a few to fortune to find one. I remember a childhood pal named Danny. I remember when he packed his small bag with what few possessions he had and walked to the tall open doorway.  His new parents were standing there waiting for him  Danny looked back and said "bye". He was about ten years old, about my age at the time.  No one was in the room but me. My response was glued in my mouth and my chest. I just looked at him dazed.  He was wanted by someone.  He was going to a home.

I was just a stupid kid. I wasn't happy for him.  I just knew that I had lost a pal and envied his new life.  Danny was one of the lucky ones now. He was so much like me, my height, my build, he liked to play the same kind of games I did. Why couldn't it  be me?  I was told to feel happy for him. I just felt more loss.

No one there mentioned that during the Depression, that most folks couldn't afford another mouth to feed?  Most of us knew it without saying it.  Finding home was a long-shot.

There are only moments that I remember there. It's where I first learned to fight.  It's not because I wanted to - but had to. I remember being cornered. I remember being alone. I remember standing against the bullies and drawing blood.
McGregor said,"Dell be no gang'n up heer.  Dell be no haten ner fidd'n in dis holy place. Dis heer is every one's haven, and dars only one side within dees walls...an dat's de Lord's."

The kind old man never explained it, but I heard him say it often enough. My take on it was that we were all forgotten children, taken in by the church as a mission. We were all alike and shouldn't be taking our anger out on each other.

The fighting didn't stop. Boys will be boys. Fighting will always be, even in holy places.  I tried to avoid trouble, but one of the earliest lesson in life is that trouble never tried to avoid me.

This is what the rain brings. I had not thought of them in decades.

Almost there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

places: where to go now

Larkin's satchel had three more identities and more cash in each package.  This was the only up side to my dilemma.  My private war was financed by my enemy.  As long as I could move forward, I would pick dead men's pockets along the way.

But where to next?  During my brief hiatus, had I lost the trail?

I pulled out Clayton's black book.  I opened it.  It was a book of contacts.  There were addresses - some that I'd been to.  As I thumbed through the pages, I knew that many of these people would be dead soon.  Their names had been safely hidden in a secret compartment of Clayton's desk.  Their names were listed in there for no good reason.  These men would regret they had ever had dealings with Clayton.  I'm not taking any chances.  They might not be reds - but I'm going to be crossing out names in this little book.

All I have to go on now are these names and addresses.  The police are involved - the Feds are involved.  I'm sure that the Russians have changed locations.  I know already there's going to be plenty of dead ends.  I have to go with what I've got and watch each step.  If the police or federal police nab me - I'm cooked.  If the reds get me - I'm dead.

My chances are slim, so I'll try not to slip up - and go as far as I can.

These identities may or may not help me stay under cover.  The money will buy me what I need.  These contacts give me somewhere to go.


...and I also have another lead...Larkin's place!

There was that day a month ago that I saw him coming out of a soda shop.  He didn't see me. I was just curious at the time - wondering where my quiet co-worker lived.  I watched him as he walked down the sidewalk. I started my car as he crossed the street to the next block. I started my car and slowly drove down the street, but kept my distance. He only stopped to pick up a paper. He walked into a small house at the corner of the next block.

Maybe the late Rod Larkin has something else for me. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

places: return toward the edge

I rented a room at a motor court to have a place to sleep. I had taken Rod Larkin’s leather satchel.  I hadn’t had time to inspect the case earlier.  I knew what was in the parcels now, I could use the cash.  The identities might come in handy again.

I found three pairs of leather gloves in my suitcase.  Camille had been kind enough to do some quick shopping for me. The leather gloves were in three different sizes, just to make sure I had a glove large enough to fit over my bandaged hand.

After a few days, my hand was on the mend. It wasn't as sore. I was a little limited in movement, not near as bad as I felt in Bastogne.  Our gloves then didn't protect us from the intense cold.  I had to manipulate a firearm through my socks. Damn, we were cold.  Nothing could get as bad as that.  If I could pull the trigger then, I can still pull it now.

I unwrapped the rifle and spread the olive drab blanket across the bed.  I disassembled it and cleaned it.  After tinkering with it, I decided to go find an out of the way place to shoot it, test the sites.  It had been a while.

I found a place.  I spent a couple of hours squeezing off rounds, knocking off some cans and bottles between 300 and 500 yards.  It wasn’t long before my confidence returned.  Cans and bottles make it seem like a game.  It’s a different experience all together when a human being is the target.  It’s a different thing all together.  You can’t hear them from a distance.  It’s kind of like watching a picture show, and only you know when it's the last frame a person’s life.

Killing is easy once you get used to it.  Sure they come back in your dreams, but they can’t touch you.  They’ll always be at a safe distance.  Squeeze it off, and they’ll drop from your site.  I had an aptitude for it. I made it into a lethal skill.

I once won a twenty five dollar War Bond for being the best shot in my company - 300 yards - eight out of nine shots.  I nailed everyone at two hundred.  The audience made me a little nervous.  I was better than that in those days.

There are differences now. I’m in a different wood with a different prey.  The biggest difference is that I am alone.  I have no comrades, I have no army.

I ended my afternoon sitting on the bed thinking of where I had been, and places I needed to go.

Sometimes when I am stressed - I have a hard time staying awake.  I visualized Camille’s face as I had left her. We parted with a brief kiss and hug. It was as if I were merely headed off to work.  It was hard to say anything at that moment.  Maybe she felt the same. We had said all we knew to say without crossing into the forbidden.  We did not want our conversation to reveal too much of our fears. I left her and did not look back.

I know to come back is a long shot.  Just let the doubts go and do the job. I can’t afford to hold on to maybe.  Just let go and do the job.

Somewhere in my thoughts I fell asleep.  I woke up on top of the covers three hours later.  I was still clothed and with my shoes on.  I was still clutching my rifle.

I got up, turned on the desk lamp to look at the map.

Friday, November 12, 2010

places: an unholy thing

I drove to a sleeping part if town. There was a war surplus store there.  I parked around the back and broke in using a tire tool.   I had never been there before, but it was filled with familiar merchandise, with a distinctive government issued redolence.

I was looking for something specific. Surely after all the millions crafted and carried into combat, I should be able to find one here.

I was looking for an old friend.

It didn’t take long. There on the wall they stood, lined like soldiers.  They were standing as if at attention, brothers silently waiting for the next war to come.

The light of my flashlight reflected off their black barrels.  I needed more light to inspect them.  I took my chances and turned on a light at a display counter.

It only took a moment to find her. I felt of her wood stock, quickly disassembled and checked the workings.  I found the ammo that I needed.  Unlike the arms I’ve embraced and handled since, her feel was the most comfortable and familiar.

I took only what I needed.

I stole it without guilt.
I loaded gear into the trunk of my car in the dim light at the store’s back door. I worked as if no one were watching. There was little I could do if someone had.

I wrapped her in an olive drab blanket and laid her on top of the rest of the gear. The first time since this all started, I felt a little safer.  I know that I had no reason to feel this way. But I was carrying with me again, the tool of my old trade.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

places: breakfast

Eggs, chip beef on toast, bacon, sausage, anything off the menu and everything. The works. We fill our bellies as if it was our last supper together. The cross can wait. We fill our hearts with each other. We won't let the dangers that may follow spoil what precious hours we have together.

I am feeling better.

I am feeling so much better. Her presence, her touch is what this aching soul needed.
This is our promise to each other. Today all our troubles are pushed back to a far distance. We'll make no promises to each other. We won't speak of the future. We only have this moment. We'll spend it with each other.

We laugh. We act like young lovers.

I look at your glowing face across the table and drink it in like wine. Her warmth, her beauty she offers to me freely. I had never known a love like this. There is no need for conquest or taking. With Camille I have discovered a love comprised of selfless sacrifice. Her love is assuring and comforting. Her love gives me the desire to return it selflessly in kind.

I'd never had a place like Alice talked about. A home that he had come, and would ever wait for his return. I had never had that kind of place. I was always outside looking in. I came from a vacant lot. Maybe you and I will never have a house, but today I have a home. For years I had been looking for a place made by brick and mortar. Why am surprised where I found it. I have found this place in you.

If I could only put her smile in my pocket. If only I could wrap her tenderness around me like a coat. I could go anywhere. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. I am driving back there tomorrow. But today I am with you. I am basking in you. I will take tomorrow as it comes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

places: interlude

places: no lies between us

It was good to see Camille.  I put my arms around her and held her for a long time.  It did my heart good to feel her embrace - more than words.  It erased those doubts that often whispered in my head.  This love is for real.

She was of course surprised to see me all bruised and cut.  I was hurting still and decided to keep off the medication a little longer so we could talk.

There was no sidestepping the conversation.  I debated in my head whether to tell her about Clayton, and what I had done. I was tempted to just omit telling her that  I killed him.  During the course of my life I had refined the art of lying. I could probably pull it off...but not to Camille. She was the last person in the world to whom I would ever want to lie.
I became resolved to tell her.

So I braced myself.  I told her.  I told her everything. I didn’t white wash a word of it.

The room got quiet.  I could hear the muted sounds of the juke playing from the diner across the street. 

“Camile, Carter had a man killed.  He was going to kill me.” 

Tears welled in her eyes and her face turned away from mine.  I kept talking.  My heart was sinking in despair, but I couldn’t take the words back.  I just kept talking - to go ahead and put it all on the table.

She just gazed out the window.  The flashing neon outside washed her face in blue and red light. 

“I brought you here to get you out of the way.  If you still want me, I need you to continue to stay here, or better yet, leave the state.  I have to go back out there and settle this.  Even if you don’t want me, it’s probably best that you leave this place. Don’t look back.  You can keep all the money we’ve saved.”

“I want you.” she said, and then turned her eyes back toward mine. “I want you.” 

I have no words for what I feel.  To say that it is a great relief is an understatement.

“Why didn’t you tell me about your and Clayton’s relation?”

“Clayton isn’t my brother. I didn’t lie to you.  I don’t know why he would lie to you."

“To stay alive.  I had a gun on him.”  She put her hand on mine. 

“If he’s not related to you, then what was between you two? What have you been keeping from me?” 

Camille burst into tears, “I don’t want to lie to you. Please don’t ask me to tell you, at least not just yet.  I want to tell you, but I’m weak - I’m weak.  If I tell you, it will break your heart and - oh my darling - I just can’t.” 

Right then I wanted to take that pain pill.  I wanted to feel numb. 

“Clayton Tyler was not a good man, and I am not a good person.  I came to him because he was the only man I knew that had money and could help me if I asked.  I knew he would help me.  But I knew going in that Clayton -he’d have an angle - always had an advantage.  Nothing was free.”

“Camille, why did you bring us here?”

“Because we had nothing Johnny.”

She leaned her head against my chest.

“I should have warned you darling, but I didn’t want you to know what kind of person I am. I want to be with you always - always from the start. I was willing to do anything to get a second chance . . . for us.”

“We had nothing Johnny - nothing. Clayton as bad as he was, always seemed to have everything.”

I felt ashamed listening to her.  It wasn’t her place, and I let her lead us there. I was too busy being hopeless.  It was my place to work out some hope for the two of us.
“When I told him that I was leaving – he laughed – he told me that I would come back.”

“Camille, I’m not going to ask you anymore about Clayton.  I don’t know if I could take it.  Maybe you’re not right to trust me with it, I don’t know.  No matter what, I do love you.

I held her.  I felt her hot tears on my neck.

“Being here is my fault - not yours.”  I told her.

I kissed her.

“All this time, you were some one different than I thought.” I said, “All this time it’s taken me to discover that we are very much alike.  I have a bad habit of not seeing what I don’t want to see.” 

I opened the window to let in a breeze.  The music from across the street wafted in with the night air.

A Hoagy Carmical number.

Oh Johnny, can we get out this?”

“I don’t know - but you can’t go with me.  You can’t be anywhere near here..”

“What do we do now?” 

The lights were off in our room. The neon light outside came through the shifting curtains.  I held her. She held me.  We found ourselves dancing together - to the music from the diner across the way.

Monday, November 8, 2010

places: alice

As I was finishing up with my call, a semi pulled in the gravel drive.  The truck driver stepped out and approached the phone. I turned and made eye contact. He stood back so as to let me finish my call. I hung the phone up and stepped aside, “She’s all yours mister.”


I walked away from the area and headed on down the road.  About ten minutes later the same truck passed me and pulled onto the shoulder.  He idled there.  I was expecting some sort of encounter.

The fellow rolled down his window and peered down at me.  “Say mister, do you need a ride?  Which way ya head’n?”

“Sure. I need to get to the Cove area. Ever heard of it?”

“Sure thing. Climb on in.” 

The driver swung the door open and slid on over to his place behind the wheel.

“Say fella, you look like you’ve been through the ringer.”

I nodded, “You can say that again. It’s been a hard couple of days, but I’ve seen worse.”

“Ain’t we all pal.  I was gyrene, spent the war picnicking with the Japs, hopping from island to island.  That’s all behind us.” 

I wish.

“What about you?”

“Average joe - mud dog in the other theater.  After V-E, we were heading your way.  Me and the boys on that boat sure were glad that bomb dropped.”

“You’re tell’n me mister - you’re tell’n me.  Me and my best buddy came back stateside and went into business together. We’re doing pretty good.  By the way, my names James Allison.  My friends call me Alice."


So what’s your business?”

“Nothing much.  Jobs here and there.  I sure would be nice to tie down somewhere.”

Alice pointed over to the glove compartment in front of me.  “Open her up. Grab a card.”

“I usually have openings for drivers.  How’s that sound to you?”

I put his calling card in my pocket and thanked him, smiling from the irony.  “I’ve got some things to finish up around here.  You might just be hearing from me..”

“Hope I do.”

Alice must spend a lot of time alone behind that wheel, cause he didn’t quit talking to company.  Not that I minded.  It helped keep my mind off my troubles.

“So Johnny, mind if I ask what happened to you?”

“A car accident.  I don’t remember the details, I was asleep at the time I drove off the road.”

“Lose a finger?”

“Yep, pinky finger.  It hurts, but could have been worse. I made it through the war with hardly a scratch.”

Alice laughed.  “I know what you mean.  I got wounded a couple of times myself, but nothin’ to write home about.  Six months after I was was back in the states, I jack-knifed my first rig and lost a leg.”

“Go figure.” I replied.

“Go figure.” said Alice.

Alice continued, “I can’t complain.  I’ve seen a lot. . .a lot of things...bad things I’m not going to mention back here. Sure, I can’t help but think about them, but why dredge it all up?  Most of us scrounged through the depression, to later find ourselves beating back Nazis and Nips. It’s not just my story, but all of our story.  I don’t have any room to belly ache.  It’s because you and me have seen a lot of good men dealt a lot worse than us.  Losing a leg or a finger ain’t nothing in the scheme of things.  A lot of joes didn’t make it back.  No matter what we suffered marching to hell and back - you and me got to come back. I got no complaints brother - no complaints.”

I may not have seemed to be listening..but I heard every word.

A few minutes passed and Alice said, "Home".

I looked over at him.  He was looking at the road, and then glanced over at me.  "I'm still not used to being home.  I wake up and look out the window and I'm home."

I looked back out the window, at the passing houses.  Home.

"Ever heard of Cincinnatus?" Alice continued.


Alice chuckled, "No, Cincinnatus was a farmer that lived a long time ago.  He was nominated dictator during a real bad time in Rome. A group of Senators were sent to tell Cincinnatus that he supreme power over the land. When they found him, he was out plowing his field. So this guy Cincinnatus goes and puts on his toga and rules. He also personally led infantry into victory. Cincinnatus took on the role that his nation asked him to and then left it as soon as he could - to go back to plowing his field again."

I caught myself gazing at the truck driver as he rambled.

"That fella lived a long time ago, and yet,  I know just how he felt.  I bet he looked out his window everyday, just like I do. I'm still glad to be home.  That's me alright."

Alice looked over at me. I smiled, though I don't know why.  Normal people have fields to plow, a place to go. That's what I want, but it seems so far from here.

We were almost at my destination, a mile or two away from the inn where I left her.  I asked Alice to go ahead and drop me off. I thanked him as he reached over and shook my hand.

Alice was a regular guy - one of those kind of men I admire.

The truck pulled back on the road and drove off.  He gave a blast from his horn. He was gone. I walked down a short dirt drive and stepped up to the front door of a little farm house.

An older gentleman answered the door.

“That car by the road - the one with the for sale sign ...is it yours and how’s it running?”

The old gentleman grabbed both straps of his overalls. He stepped out onto the porch with me and looked over my shoulder at the car.  “It runs fine. It was my brother’s car.  He passed away last month. It runs just fine.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

places: all points bulliten

Cops...as if I needed more trouble.  Knowing that it wouldn’t take long for Burns & Francis to realize I gave them the slip. I needed to get lost and fast.

I got the cab driver to drop me off near a bus stop in a neighboring city.

“Keep the change.”

“Thanks pal.” said the cabbie. “Are you sure you want to be left off here?  I’ll take you where you want to go.”

“Thanks but no thanks.”

“Have it your way buddy.”  The cab drove off.

I waited at the bus stop just long enough for the cab to drive out of sight. I lit another one of Clayton’s Cubans and started to hoof it.

I knew it was more likely for the authorities to find me if I rode buses and cabs.  I needed to avoid the public, especially with this face.  I know I had to stick out like a sore thumb with all this dressing on me.

Seeing myself in the storefront windows, trench coat, fedora and bandages, reminded me of those invisible man movies.  Yea, I looked real conspicuous.  If the cops are looking for me, and I’m sure they are by now - it won’t take them long as long as I’m walking around looking like this.

Each step I felt as if I was walking through the town naked with a spot light on me.  I desperately needed to get out of this predicament. 

It sure would be nice if I were invisible.

I needed a car.  I’d stolen a car or two in my youth.  It could be done.  But it wouldn’t be smart with the cops already looking for me.  I had the commie money in my pocket. I had more of it back at the inn. I had a fake identity in my pocket...

Come to think of it, maybe I can become invisible.  I can use the ID’s as well as the cash.

I walked for about an hour, out from the city, away from the lights. I tried to keep an eye out for cars.  I avoided a few, but knew that it was too all easy to be caught.

I was hurting.  My hand was throbbing.  The painkiller was waning.  If I moved my fingers, I could feel a pain reach up through my forearm.  I wanted to take the pills the doc gave me, but didn’t know what they would do to me. I don’t remember half of what happened or what I was told at the hospital. I wanted the pills, but I needed to keep my head clear.  I had to deal with the pain until I get to a safe place.

While walking, I decided to take off the bandages on my head. I think the nurse got a little carried away with them in the first place.  I pulled my hat down and pulled my coat collar up.  I kept my bandaged hand in my coat pocket.  I felt vulnerable.

I headed slowly back to the inn, back to Camille.  I found another pay phone.  I called her.
It was so good hearing her over the line.  Her warm voice warmed me.

“Camille baby...”

“Johnny, Johnny is that you?” At the sound of my voice, her voice trembled.  “Johnny - where are you?”

“Listen honey, I don’t have long to talk, can’t stand out here in the open.”

“What’s wrong Johnny? Are you in trouble.”

“Yes.  I need to talk with you, but I have to find a ride first.”

“What happened to your car.  Do you need me to call Clayton?”

“No, don’t call anybody.  Just stay there.  I just wanted to call and make sure you’re okay.  Has anything happened there?”

“No. I have just stayed here like you asked.  I’m scared.  I’m scared for you.”

“Don’t be, just wait for me.  I’m okay.  I’ll be there as soon as I can.  I need to go now.”

“Okay.” I could hear the tears in her voice.

I wish all of this had not had happened to us.

“I love you Johnny.  I love you!”

I swallowed hard.  “I love you too.  Don't call anyone, just wait for me.”

Friday, November 5, 2010

places: meeting the fed

“Lieutenant Burns - Lieutenant O’Keith...”, the captain said, “This is agent Angelo Forte’ with the Federal Bureau. Earlier today you questioned a fellow by the name of Sam Fitch."

“Agent Forte’ needs to hear all you know about Fitch. The feds have been working on a case in our area.  Forte’.”

“Yes sir”, Burns replied, “We let him go because he said he wasn’t the guy we were looking for.  He had ID to bare his story out. We didn’t expect him to be carrying around a fake identity.”

“That’s okay detective.” replied the federal agent, “The case we’ve been trying to bust involves a forger.  We were getting close to nabbing the entire ring.”

“What’s with this guy Fitch - why are you looking for him?” asked O’Keith.

“We heard over the police band about the wrecked car.  It had been registered to a Tyler Clayton. Our source verifies that this Clayton is the one responsible for making these false identities - primarily for helping aliens into the United States.”

“Well, that explains why this character was walking around with two IDs.”

“Lt. Burns...”

“Formalities aside Agent Forte’, you can me Mike.” 

O’Keith shoved his hand in between them.“I’m O’Keith.” 

The agent smiled,“you guys can call me Angelo.” The three men shook hands as the captain made for the exit.

He sat down at the captain’s chair and gave a little more background.

“So who did this Fitch - can you give the name on the license he showed you?” 

The two police detective gave each other a nervous glance.

Forte’ continued, “I read by your report that Sam Fitch was admitted into the hospital.  Sam Fitch either is or isn’t his real name.  Do you remember the other name?”

“John something.” said Burns, “After he showed us his license, we figured we had the wrong man.

"How about you O’Keith?"

“I think you’re right. I’m pretty sure it read John.  I am sorry.  I wish we could give you something tangible.”

“That’s okay boys. Can either of you two think of anything that might be helpful?”

“No sir. It’s all in the report. There wasn’t much to the encounter.”

“Okay.”  Angelo replied. “I’m going to need you in this investigation.  You men saw him, talked to him. I need to find out who this guy is.”

“We’ll have to clear it.”

“It’s already been cleared. I’d like for you two to join me this evening.”

“Sure thing.”

“We lost track of an agent last night. He is undercover. We couldn’t stay too close to him during this investigation because the ring we’re dealing with is pretty big. Agent Robert Townshend was always on the move. He's going by the name of Rod Larkin. He disappeared last night. We need to find him.  We need to make sure he’s okay.  I’ve been given orders to go ahead and move in on the target locations that Robert had supplied us. We are simultaneously going to move in on all of them tonight, including Clayton Tyler’s residence. 

Forte’ continued. 

“Hearing about Clayton Tyler’s wrecked vehicle connects Sam Fitch to our case. Maybe Fitch knows of our agent's whereabouts.”

“We’ll do whatever I can to help you.” Burns said. 

“Have you heard anything else from the cab company?  Any follow up in the area where Fitch was dropped off?”

“No sir. The cabby said the guy rushed him across town and then got out at a bus stop.  None of the buses on that route, or area routes said they took on a passenger that fit Fitch’s description. It’s been a dead end so far.”

“We’ve had patrol cars on a manhunt.” O’Keith interjected, “Nothing as of yet.”

”Okay.” Angelo said, “We’re going to proceed to Clayton’s home in just a little bit. It’s highly likely that if Agent Townshend's cover was made, Clayton might have gotten spooked and bugged out. We may be entering an empty house. We don’t really know what we are in for. Would you like to join me?”

“Sure thing.” 

Agent Forte’ pulled his coat and fedora from the hat tree. He opened the door for the detectives. 

“Well...saddle up.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

places: other voices

“Will you tell him I was supposed to be home three hours ago?
Ask him if  I  can meet with this guy tomorrow?” 

The voice over the radio, “Sorry Lieutenant, there is an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation here waiting to speak with you.  The Captain said he wants you here ASAP.”

“Okay-okay . . . I’m on my way.”

“. . . if Francis is with you, you are to bring him along.”

Alright, we’re on our way.  Over."

"My name’s O’Keith”

“Shad-dup....Francis!” griped Burns, “If you don’t like your name, take it up with your mother.”

“I just don’t….” 

Burns, “Drop it!”

Burns was miffed. “We’re not going to live this one down.”

“He showed us a ligit ID.”  O’Keith sighed, “We should have taken him in anyway.”

“Should have, would have, could have...it doesn’t matter now.” Burns mumbled, “We’ve got to go back to the station.  The captain’s got a federal agent in his office that wants to have a chat with us.   I sure don’t feel like taking any guff about what happened.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

places: leaving the premises

I had a good sleep.  It felt healing.  Nurse green-eyes brought in a hot meal and told me that I had been given the okay by the doc to leave.  I was still feeling a little doped, but my mind was clearer.

I put my clothes on.  Clayton’s notebook and parcels were still in my pocket.  The .45 was missing.  I couldn’t remember if I had put it my pocket or left in on the car seat.   I could have sworn it was in my pocket.  I am just going to have to cross my fingers and hope that it didn’t raise any eyebrows.

I walked into the bathroom for some privacy.  I locked the door so I could open the parcels without anyone barging in.  I noticed that one of them was missing too.  I folded the false identities back into the brown paper wrapping and stuck them back into my pocket.  I needed the cash.

The nurse came to say good-bye.  She told me that some of my personal effects were in the bedside table.  In it were my keys and the late Sam Finch’s wallet.

I walked down to the hospital bookkeeping department and paid my bill with some of the commie cash.

I walked out the front door.  It was late in the afternoon. Camille by this time had to be really worried about me.

There were a couple of pay phones outside the hospital gate.  I needed another ride.  I called the first cab service in the book.

I waited for my ride underneath an old elm tree.  It was nice. I had been sitting there for about fifteen minutes when I was approached by a couple of guys.  I watched them walk toward me.  I was a little unnerved, but played it cool.

They drew their badges as they neared me. 

“How can I help you boys?” I asked as I lit a new cheroot.

Mr. Fitch, Mr. Sam Fitch.”

I drew and puffed to get it going.

“My name is Lieutenant Burns.  We have some questions to ask of you.”

“I don’t know what you’d be wanting from me, but go ahead and shoot.” 

You were in a car accident last night. There were a good many firearms in your vehicle. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about mister.” 

The second guy butted in. “You better work with us.  We don’t have to have this conversation here bub.  We can take this downtown and let you enjoy our facilities.” 

Lt. Burns shook his head. “Now Francis, I’m sure Fitch wants to cooperate with us.”  The intense looking dick crossed his arms and gave me his ‘if looks could kill’ look.

We had inspected the site of your accident and found guns scattered all over the place.

Frances said with a smirk on his face.“It was like an Easter egg hunt - only the eggs were guns.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“That knock on your head must have really made you loopy,” said Frances. 

“Well yes, it did knock me pretty hard, but I would remember any guns.” 

Burns looked at his partner with his if looks could kill look. “Let me do the talking Francis!”

“Then stop calling me Francis. You know I don’t like it when people call me Francis.  Only my mother calls me that.  I don’t like the way the boys at the station say it - not even you!  I likes to be called by my middle name, you know that!

“Okay O’Keith, can we get on with this?” Mike replied.

While Burns and Francis were going back and forth, I noticed my taxi had arrived.  The cabbie had gotten out of his car and I waved at him to catch his eye.  He tipped his hat in my direction and waited.

Lieutenant Burns attention turned back on me. 

“Mr. Fitch.  The car you were driving last night did not belong to you.  It was registered to a Mr. Tyler Clayton.  We’ve tried calling him, but haven’t heard from him.  If you can’t give us some answers, we are going to have to take you in until we get to the bottom of this.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“Don’t give us any of that guff, start squawking!” barked Francis. 

“Officers, I lied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I had an accident last night, but it was in my wife’s car.  I didn’t have any guns, just a box of flowers in the baseboard.

The officers glanced at each other and then back down at me.

Francis barked again, “You better not be jerking us around Fitch!” 

I tossed in a little indignant attitude. “...and why is everyone calling me Fitch? 

They looked at each other again while the cabby checked his watch.

“My name is Hale, John Hale!  I want to get back to my wife.  It was our anniversary and I’ve got to go buy some more flowers.”

“We’re going to need to see some identification mister.” 

I reached into my trench-coat for my billfold.

Francis held out his hand impatiently.

I put my driver’s license in his hand.  He handed it to Burns who then handed it back to me.

Francis mumbled something incoherently and then said, “Why didn’t you say so in the first place.  It could have saved us both the trouble.”

“Sorry officer, but I had a bad night last night, still a little shook-up from the accident.  You understand don’t you?”

”Of course.” replied the detective, “...Mr. Fitc...I mean...Mr.Hale. Thank you for your time.”

“No problem.” 

We all shook hands, kissed and made up.  They headed toward the front door of the hospital as I casually walked toward the cab.

The cabby asked me “Where to?”

“North Terrace area, do you know where that is?”

“Sure thing mister.” 

It wasn’t until we left the premises and drove down the road about a piece that I requested that he ‘step on it’.