The Eighty-eighth Key
As soon as the Israeli C-9 was ‘wheels up’ Callahan walked forward, and was surprised to find a complete operating room just forward of the wings; two surgeons were working on “Mickey” Rooney while a nurse finished bandaging the wounded Army Ranger. Harry looked-on through a little plastic window set in a metal door, completely mesmerized that surgeons were working on an airplane…in flight. He stood there until Rooney appeared to be ‘out of the woods’ – then he walked back to Colonel Goodman’s seat and stood there, waiting for him to look up – or in some other way acknowledge his presence.
“Sit down, Harry,” the Colonel said after a few minutes. He had not once looked up, which Harry found annoying.
“So, you were in Japan?”
“Yes. And I spoke with your father.”
“Really? What about?”
“Lots of things, really, but first on my mind was his safety…and yours.”
“Yes. What we’ve uncovered so far is astonishing in its depth and complexity. Not only law enforcement agencies, but as you discovered, a whole new ecosystem of criminal enterprises, and all of them set up by this Escobar character. Astonishingly, we’ve found Escobar’s ‘fingerprints’ on new operations showing up in Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, and New Jersey; more troubling for us is that within the past week we’ve uncovered his agents operating in Marseilles, Istanbul, and Beirut. We have agents trying to run down possible new evidence that Escobar is funneling money to Arafat and the PLO, and if this is true then we are all in for a world of hurt.”
“Yes. Swell, indeed. Very well put, Harry.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Yes, I suppose I do. But more to the point, just about everyone in the Bay Area knows where you live now, and even more to the point, they know where your father lives, too; I’m simply not prepared to leave him staked out on his front lawn like a tethered goat left to draw in the predators. No, I want him with us for the foreseeable future.”
“Speaking of? Where’s Stacy?”
“On the Jetstar. She left Boston about an hour ago.”
“Yes, the suspected mole in the Bureau is no more.”
“Yes, just so. And I doubt she’ll return to work there anytime soon.”
“You mean like forever, don’t you?”
Goodman shrugged. “Perhaps. I just don’t know, and it’s far too soon to tell.”
“What will she do?”
“I’ll offer her employment with us, of course. A new life, if she wants it.”
“So, where am I headed?”
“To the compound.”
“Listen, Goodman, I told you I’m not going to see her again.”
“And you won’t, my boy. Now, I want you to listen to me very carefully…”
And the colonel talked to Harry for an hour or so, told him about his mother’s passing, and Avi’s, and that after they arrived in Tel Aviv he would meet with lawyers to settle their estates. For now, the Israeli government was extending his use of the residence in the compound for the teams’ purposes, and Avi’s house in Davos was Harry’s now – should he want it. They talked about von Karajan’s conducting his mother’s final piece, the Fourth Piano Concerto, in a few months time, in June. And how the government hoped that Harry would attend…
But Goodman noticed a subtle transformation while he talked to Callahan. His eyes had cleared, his shoulders stiffened like he was preparing to assume new burdens, and yet he had not spoken much…
“After all the legal documents have been presented to you, Harry, Avi instructed me to give you further instructions…but these will not be in writing. All I can tell you is that they are important. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”
“Call me Ben from now on, would you? You and I will necessarily be in close proximity for the foreseeable future, and we’ll have no further use for unnecessary formalities…”
“I take it you and Avi were friends?”
“Yes, from the time we arrived in Palestine. We have been through much together.”
“What about my dad?”
“We are making arrangements to remove him from the California when she docks in Honolulu. He should be with us by the weekend.”
“And he knows about my mom?”
Goodman nodded, took a deep breath.
“How did he take it?”
“Like a man, Harry.”
“What does that mean?”
“The news crushed him, but that only made him stand taller.”
Harry chuckled. “You sound like John Wayne.”
Which caused Ben to lean back and sigh. “An interesting man, Mr. Wayne. I enjoyed his company immensely.”
“Are you familiar with the film ‘Cast a Giant Shadow?’”
“I’m not at all surprised. Mr. Wayne helped the producer secure financing for the project, and Avi and myself worked with him in another capacity. I suggest you see the film someday. You might appreciate those events a little better…what life was like after the war. And after the U.N. mandate.”
“Avi never talked about it.”
“No. He wouldn’t have found that seemly.”
“Mind if I ask you a question?”
“Of course not.”
“What’s this all about?”
“Yes, simply that and nothing more.”
“Hate is the most powerful emotion on earth, Harry, because it is so easily manipulated. Hate is a useful emotion, especially for those who seek to manipulate entire nations. Hitler divided the Germans using a dormant hatred of Jewish culture as his wedge. Just a few years ago in America, George Wallace used hatred of Blacks as his wedge. Stalin used Russian hatred of Germans to arouse fear and mobilized an entire country for war…and so it goes, on and on and on. Now the Arabs hate us for asserting control over our homeland because in the process we pushed the Palestinians off some land. The sorrow is that Arabs will accept this gift of hatred without reservation, and because of this Israel will be condemned to exist in a perpetual state of fear, and that fear will give rise to even more hate. It is a vicious cycle we are trapped in, all of us, all of humanity, and simply because we are so easily manipulated.”
“But, what of love, Ben? You know, as in love they neighbor?”
“Love is not so easily established, nor even manipulated. In fact, our love is rarely given.”
Harry sighed. “Tell me about Avi.”
And Ben shrugged. “I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”
“I’d like to know the reasons my mother left us and returned to him.”
And Harry watched the sudden curtain that fell over Goodman’s face. Total evasion, a willingness to conceal. And perhaps a willingness to kill in order to preserve a hidden truth.
“I’m not sure there is anything helpful I could tell you about those events, Harry, but perhaps you’ll learn more from the lawyers. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have urgent matters that I must attend to…”
Callahan and the team did in fact move into the compound, but not for long.
After Stacy arrived she was on the phone with Jim Parish; he arrived a few days later. They disappeared into a bedroom and were rarely seen. Sam Bennett met the team at the airbase outside of Tel Aviv, and he was always seen with ‘the Kildares’ and several other members of Goodman’s commando team. Sam’s wife Fran was waiting for him at the compound and they could often be found sitting in the shade by a swimming pool, holding hands and talking about how they might put their lives back together.
Frank Bullitt and Cathy seemed the most upset by recent events; she wanted her life back…all of it. Her house in the Sea Ranch, her job at the firm…because it seemed all that had been taken from her and most of all she resented Bullitt for everything that had happened to her. Over the course of a few days Harry watched as the two drifted apart, at first gently but soon between painful bouts of her sudden, unpredictable anger.
Harry’s trips to settle the estate were lonely affairs. Dry, stale talks about money and property, yet he suddenly found himself a very wealthy man. Avi had dozens of bank accounts in Switzerland, France, and Germany, each literally with balances in the tens of millions of dollars. He also now owned an impressive chalet in Davos, so of course, the next thing that came to mind was Sara…and how they had left things. Curiously, Harry now also owned a majority interest in The Rosenthal Music Company, with stores in Copenhagen and San Francisco, and he had no idea what to make of this, or even how to proceed. Even his mother’s old home in Denmark was now his…!
Once his father arrived, Harry sat with him in Avi’s lawyers’ offices for hours on end, and together they arrived at a plan. Harry and his father would fly to Copenhagen and meet with the minority owners of the music business and devise a plan moving forward, then Harry would go – alone – to Davos and see how Sara was doing.
And now that he had the means, he engaged contractors to repair Cathy’s house in Sea Ranch because, after all, it was his inexperience that had devastated the structure. And somehow, someway, he knew he had to repair Frank and Cathy’s relationship. If only because all this had happened because of him.
“Because of me?” he asked himself one morning in Avi’s lawyer’s office. Or was it, in the end, just as Ben had said? Had not Hate become the master of all their destinies?
“If so, can I really fix things?”
Because now there was one more profoundly important question hanging over all their lives.
The vigilantes and the emerging connections to Pablo Escobar.
None of them would be safe in The City going forward, at least not until this new cartel was dismantled, or at least severely hurt. But realistically, Ben advised, they’d all be at risk almost anywhere in the world they chose to go, because Escobar’s tentacles reached everywhere.
“You should all settle here,” Ben advised.
But Harry had simply shaken his head. “I’m a Californian, Ben, through and through. I wouldn’t know what to do with life here”
“California is a remarkable place,” Ben conceded. “I envy you, in a way. So, when are you off to Copenhagen?”
“Ah. Would you mind some company?”
“Dad is coming with me.”
“You’ll be staying at the Schwarzwald house?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Well then, I’d better come along. There are things there only Avi and I knew about, and I will need to show you.”
“And then to Davos, I assume? Will you keep the chalet, or have you changed your mind?”
“For the time being, yes, I’ll keep it.”
“Excellent. Avi would be so happy to hear that. What of the girl?”
“Shall I look into her condition?”
“Can you do that?”
“Of course, sir.”
And with that one exchange Benjamin cemented his relationship to Harry, just as Avi had told him it would. “Because, my friend, he is the son I should have had…and you must treat him as such…”
The three of them left for Zurich the next morning. They made their connecting flight to Copenhagen with just minutes to spare…
Harry walked up the ornate mahogany stairs to his mother’s old room; he found that the room occupied most of the top floor of the old house, and from the first moment he entered her father’s home he found that everything about it seemed familiar, yet in the oddest way possible.
She had talked about her life growing up in this room, about living in this magical city, all in a home filled with stories about fairy tales and little mermaids on rocks in the harbor…and of her father’s very cultured upbringing and how he bestowed that gift upon her.
Yet none of it had made much sense to Harry, especially not as a little boy growing up in Potrero Hills, California, all her tales taking place so very far away from the things he knew…
He walked into her bedroom and discovered it had been kept much as might have been fifty years ago. He went to the huge window and looked out over a sea of red-tile rooftops that he’d heard about so often, with the harbor and the sea not so far away that a little girl’s imagination could be kept from such overwhelming temptation.
He stood there for hours, and it felt to his father that Harry was soaking it all in, absorbing quite literally everything in view – like his son was suddenly thirsting for some sort of lasting connection to his mother.
‘How odd,’ Lloyd thought. ‘To turn away from her while she was alive, and then…this…’
As afternoon turned to evening Harry went to a light switch and turned on the lights, then he walked to a bookshelf and ran his hands across the spines of the books he found there…until…
…his fingers found one that seemed to call out to him…
It was a book by Hans Christian Andersen, and though he couldn’t quite make out the title he could tell that this book, among all the others on her shelves, had been read the most over the years.
So he began to pull it out and take a look.
But when he saw the cover he dropped the book.
He felt his hands…shaking uncontrollably.
Then he knelt beside the book and picked it up, carrying it to the light.
On the cover was an old man in a cape, and in the old man’s hand was a cane. Harry looked closer still and saw pulsing veins of silver inside the cane, and the man was holding the cane like an orchestral conductor might hold a baton…
And in the distance? A storm over the ocean, the vast seascape a livid scene roiled by lightning and cresting waves, and to Harry the image seemed to suggest the old man in the cape was conducting a symphony within those clouds…
And then he remembered how his mother sat before her piano when storms crossed the bay, and how her playing seemed to develop strength as those storms grew near…
And as suddenly his mind roamed to Davos, to the old physician in the cape who had helped him after his sudden fall on the ice.
‘This is the same man!’ Callahan thought. ‘The very same man who treated me on that magic mountain…’
“But how? How could that be?”
He felt a presence in the room and whirled around…
…and found nothing there…
So, with his mother’s book in hand he left the room and walked down two flights of stairs to the ground floor, and he found his father sitting at a desk in what must have been Imogen’s father’s study, and Lloyd seemed enthralled by something he’d found.
Startled, Lloyd looked up at his son. “Fascinating stuff, Harry. Correspondence between Imogen’s father and Freud…most of it in English, too.”
“Freud? You mean the shrink?”
“Yes indeed. As well as some notes written by Kierkegaard concerning the musical symbolism in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Fascinating stuff, Harry.”
“Do you read Danish?”
“After a fashion, yes. When you were a toddler I found it best that I develop at least a working knowledge of it. It was easier to teach Imogen, er, your mother, English that way.”
“Written notes? Isn’t Kierkegaard kind of famous?”
“Yes, very. So when I found them I wondered why they might be here, and I think I’ve found a few clues. Apparently, Freud had them and sent them along to your grandfather, because, as far as I can tell, Freud was helping your grandfather make sense of a few key passages in your mother’s first concerto.”
“You’re losing me, Dad.”
“Yeah? Well, me too. I’m no scholar but even I can understand that Sigmund Freud had Soren Kierkegaard’s notes on musical structures in Andersen’s fairy tales, and that your grandfather was corresponding with Freud about the matter – because he’d found similar structures in his daughter’s work. I mean, really, think about it, Harry!”
“Okay Dad. I’ll take your word for it…you’ve found something important. The most important question right now is what do we do with the material?”
Lloyd seemed to think about that for a while, then he shook his head. “A part of me says we should get this to the relevant expert…some sort of university type, I assume. Another part of me says we should maintain control of this stuff, because not only is it important, it may well be extremely valuable. We wouldn’t want to turn this over to an unqualified, or worse still, an undeserving scholar; someone who might cash in on it without carrying the research forward.”
“Maybe someone at the music company would know where to look?”
“Sitting on a bench in the garden,” Lloyd said, pointing to a door that was standing open. “Out there.”
Harry nodded and moved that way.
And Goodman was indeed sitting out back, seemingly adrift in the last light of their day.
“Not many flowers in bloom yet,” Harry said as he approached the bench. “Hope I’m not intruding.”
“Intruding? No, not at all. Besides, this is your house now.”
Harry looked around, shook his head. “Kind of hard to take it all in, I guess.”
“I can’t imagine what it must feel like.”
“Hollow, I think. Like I see all these things yet they’re all out of context. I didn’t know my grandfather or even know he existed until a few weeks ago. I don’t even know when he died…?”
“12 August, 1955.”
“You knew him?”
“Did you know much about his work?”
“No, but Avi did,” Ben said, now looking directly at Harry. Then he saw the book in Harry’s hand. “Ah, I see you found it.”
“Have you flipped through the pages yet?”
“Well then, you’d better take a seat.” Goodman watched Callahan sit and almost groaned when Lloyd came outside, heading their way.
“Hope I’m not intruding,” Lloyd said.
“It must be catching,” Goodman sighed. “So, Harry, open the book…to any page.”
He did so and found notes written in just about every vacant space on the two pages. “What is all this? Do you have any idea?”
Goodman shrugged. “Not in its entirety, but your mother told Avi about the book once, and he passed along what he knew, or thought he knew, to me. They are, as I understand it, her interpretations of Andersen’s books, but more importantly, her annotations lay out how she wanted to transcribe Andersen’s words into music. Now the odd part; at least Avi thought it strange enough to mention to me. Apparently you will find passages in there that record – well, certain, shall I say unusual conversations. Conversations she had, apparently, with the fellow on the cover.”
“The old man in the cape?”
Lloyd’s eyes lit up. “Say, Ben, isn’t that the man you saw on the docks in Osaka?”
“What?!” Harry cried. “You’ve seen him too?”
And now it was Goodman’s turn to express surprise, and he looked at Harry anew: “You have as well?”
“Yes, in Davos. Right about the time I met Sara.”
“Interesting,” Goodman sighed. “According to Avi, the old man in the cape always shows up as a warning. At least, he did for your mother.”
“But,” Lloyd interrupted, “was he warning you? In Osaka?”
“I didn’t take it as such, Lloyd. It was more like advice.”
“Harry,” Lloyd added, “what about you? Did he warn you about something?”
“No, not at all. He was a physician, and he treated me after I fell on some ice.”
“So, not really a direct warning, at least under the conditions,” Goodman said. “No, maybe his warning was more indirectly circumstantial…perhaps regarding the young lady?”
“You’re assuming,” Harry interrupted, “that the man was something other than a physician, aren’t you?”
“I am indeed,” Goodman sighed, then his eyes brightened. “Did you notice anything unusual about the cane?”
Harry closed his eyes and tried to visualize the pulsing silver inlaid strands once again, as they looked that day on the mountain: “Yeah. Silver bolts of lightning – and they seemed almost alive.”
“That’s what I saw, too. Just like on the cover on this book.”
“I assumed,” Harry continued, “well, it felt like he was about to conduct an orchestra…an entire orchestra hiding up there in the clouds…with that cane. And for some reason it felt like he, or maybe the cane, possessed an otherworldly power…”
“What the hell have you two been drinking!” Lloyd Callahan said, smirking.
“I’d just had some kind of wine, a white wine,” Harry said, his voice now in a flat, deadpan, almost monosyllabic crawl. “A Piesporter, I think.”
“Harry?” his father said, his concern now clear to Goodman.
So Goodman leaned over and waved his hand in front of Harry’s eyes. Nothing. No reaction at all, so he leaned closer and asked: “Harry, what do you see? Right now? What do you see?”
“What the hell…?” Lloyd whispered…
…because just then a long stream of frost seethed from between Harry’s lips…
And then Goodman grabbed Callahan and shook him violently…
…and in an instant, Harry came back to them…
…his jacket and face now covered with snow, his hand bleeding profusely from an open wound, little shards of ice embedded within the freshly torn skin…
Harry woke up from the dream and looked around the room. A hotel room – with no lights on – he assumed from the look of things, at least from what he could tell in the dark. He stood and groped his way to what he hoped was a washroom and found a light switch. With lights blazing he looked at his throbbing hand and saw it had been swaddled in gauze bandages, and the bathroom didn’t look like any hotel he’d ever been in…
He walked back into the room and saw a hospital bed, cold medical monitors parked in one corner, and his father sitting in a chair – snoring away.
He went and sit on the edge of the bed and coughed, hoping to wake up his father with the sudden sound.
And it worked.
Lloyd opened his eyes and looked around, orienting himself to the unfamiliar surroundings. “Ah, you’re awake. How do you feel?”
“What the hell happened?”
So Lloyd told him, all of it, everything that he and Ben Goodman had seen.
“It was a dream,” Harry said after his father finished. “I was reliving that afternoon on the mountain. With Sara. And Avi. Lunch up there…we had lunch up there on the mountain.”
“Is that when you cut your hand?”
“Yeah. And that’s when the old man came. He took me to a little clinic and sewed me up. We talked a little, too…”
Harry scowled. “That’s funny. Everything else seems so clear, but…I can’t remember anything at all about the old man.”
“What about the cane?”
“Harry, what do you think happened to you?”
Callahan looked down at his bandaged hand and shrugged: “That was the most real dream I’ve ever had, Dad. It was like I was there again, I could feel everything, too. I even tasted the wine again, but I’ve never dreamed anything like that before…”
“Neither have I.”
“Then I was in the back of that station wagon you had. The one you had when we went to pick up June and take her to the hospital. You remember that one?”
“Yes, that Ford. Maybe it was a Fairlane, but I can’t remember just now.”
“I held her while she died – again. I keep going back there, ya know? I keep hoping I can change things…”
“I know. I’ve never felt so helpless.”
“You liked her, didn’t you?”
Lloyd looked down and smiled, remembering her eyes…
“Yeah, she was a peach. The real deal. I always thought you two looked happy together.”
“I never told you what Mom did, did I?”
“She was the one who sent June to the abortion doctor.”
“Well, she gave June the number for Student Health Services. They gave her the contact information.”
“You know that’s not exactly the same thing, right? Your mother didn’t send June to the abortionist. June called and asked for help. Your mother did the only thing she could.”
Harry looked around the hospital room, confused now, and more than a little upset. “You know, it feels like my life was on one track, headed in the direction it was supposed to, but then all that stuff happened and everything that’s happened since is just wrong. None of this was supposed to happen.”
“How do you come up with that?”
“I don’t know, Dad, but it feels like June and I… Well, we were going to have a little boy. Maybe I would’ve gone to college, or she would’ve, and we’d have bought a house near you and mom and everything would have been different.”
“What else would be different?”
“I’d have become a musician. A real musician…you know what I mean?”
“And Mom would have never left. We’d have all been together like it was supposed to be.”
“Supposed to be? What makes you say that, son?”
“I don’t know, Dad, but that’s the way I’ve always heard it should be, you know? Maybe that’s what’s most important. Continuity, I guess.”
Lloyd shook his head. “Maybe. Maybe not. But I think it’s kind of dangerous to go through life thinking it’s supposed to unwind along preordained milestones.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you know I’ve spent countless nights on the bridge, talking to a helmsman at two in the morning and trying to stay awake…” He laughed a little at that thought. “I’ve talked to more than a few kids over the years, kids just out of school, and all they want to know is where they’ll be when they’re like fifty, or maybe sixty years old. They want certainty, Harry. Maybe that comes from all the uncertainty we face as we grow up, all those insecurities we experience day after day, but to me, these kids have already missed the point.”
“Yeah. Life doesn’t come at you like that. The captain of the Titanic was going balls to the walls because he wasn’t expecting an iceberg out there, and I guess that’s the point, Harry. Life is an endless succession of icebergs, even though some of them are right where they’re supposed to be. Sometimes we get careless, but sometimes no matter what we do we’re going to hit that bastard. And yeah, sometimes we go down with all hands lost. You can look at that as a trite cliché or you can accept that for what it is. Reality, I guess.”
“We’ve never talked about it before, but do you believe in God?”
Lloyd sighed, looked down for a moment. “You know, Harry, sometimes I do, but most of the time I just shake my head and walk away from all that stuff. If there is a God he sure gets the blame for a lot of stupid stuff, yet it’s the big things that bother me.”
“Like looking at all those scarecrows after the war. How could God let something like that happen? Six million Jews. Twenty million political prisoners in Russia. Who knows how many in China.” Lloyd sighed and spoke softly now: “How could God allow June to go through all the things she did at the end? No, I think God is kind of a phase we go through, and some people get stuck there. Maybe the ones who want to know how it all turns out in the end…when they’re nineteen years old. No sense for the mystery of life, I guess. Like they don’t even want to know. They just want to know how it all turns out in the end – and bypass all the hard stuff.”
“You know, I’ve seen things out there on the street. Bad things, Dad.”
“I bet you have.”
“And I’ve done some bad things too.”
But Harry simply shook his head. “I can’t go there now, Dad.”
“What about you? Do you believe in Him?”
“No,” Callahan said emphatically. “If God was up there watching all this? Watching what we do to other human beings? If there is, He must have washed his hands of us and split a long time ago, chalk us up to one big failed experiment.”
Lloyd laughed a little at the thought. “Maybe so.”
“Yeah, maybe so.”
“So, what do you think this old man in the cape is all about? Think he could be God?”
Harry drifted for a moment, then came back… “No. I think there’s a simpler explanation than that. Maybe something right under our noses.”
“I don’t know, but obviously something weird happened yesterday…”
“Yeah, you could say that…”
“And I was thinking about the old man then. So something about my thinking created some kind of rift…”
“What? Like ‘power of suggestion?’”
Harry shrugged. “Dad, I just don’t know. The only thing I can tell you is that it all felt like a kind of lucid dream. Or, really, more like I was reliving a moment in time that had already happened.”
Lloyd shook his head. “I’ve never experienced anything quite like that before. Not ever.”
“If she did she didn’t tell me about it.”
“So, a big fat mystery.”
“Well, next time you see him, you could always just ask…
Goodman took the Callahans to the Rosenthal Music Company after Harry was discharged from the hospital, and he met with employees who had worked there for decades. What troubled Harry most was the implied deference shown because, after all, he was their new boss…
When he met with the manager of the store later that day Harry asked the old man if an employee buy-out would be an attractive option to the people who had, in effect, dedicated their lives to the store.
“I doubt it,” Hans Bohr replied. “Actually, we’ve talked about this, and all of us feel it would be better if your family is still involved as owners and managers.”
“You do know I live in California?”
“And so did Saul. That never interfered with his efforts.”
“Who’s running the store in San Francisco right now?”
“In effect, no one is.”
“And what’s happening? Is it doing okay?”
“It seems so, sir. The store more or less runs itself these days.”
“How many people work there?”
“Just a handful. Two men in the store, the same for the piano showroom, and we sub-contract deliveries.”
“Anyone you know there that should be promoted to manager?”
Bohr shook his head.
“How about you? Care for a change of scenery?”
“No, sir. This is my home.”
“Well then, I hate to ask but could you assume a temporary manager’s role until we can sort this out? If you need to go there from time to time, I assume that would be agreeable?”
“Of course, sir. I would imagine all this is terribly new and unsettling to you. If there’s anything any of us can do to help…?”
“Thank you, Hans.”
Goodman took the Callahans to a meeting at the university; apparently, they wanted to purchase the Schwarzwald house ‘as is’ – for use as faculty housing, but Harry seemed non-committal about the idea, and he told the officials he would think about it and let them know.
When they were back in Goodman’s rented Audi Harry asked him what the house was worth.
“In dollars? Perhaps a half million, maybe a bit more.”
Harry shook his head. “You know, about three weeks ago I had a couple hundred bucks in my checking account, and maybe, and I mean maybe, a thousand in savings. It’s hard to think about numbers like these without falling into a kind of fog.”
“Perhaps you should hire a business manager to look over these assets?”
And then Lloyd spoke up: “Doubtful, Ben, that Harry could find someone he could trust to handle all these things – and not rob him blind.”
“My daughter could handle it, and I guarantee her honesty.”
Harry grinned. “Well then, maybe I should meet her soon.”
“Have you decided about the house in Davos?” Goodman asked.
“Good. What about the girl?”
“Id like to head that way right now, unless there’s more I need to work on here?”
Goodman shook his head. “No, we are at a good enough stopping place now. I think you should go and see to her needs. For both your sakes.”
“What’s going on back in California?”
“All of the bodies from the ground assault team have been identified; all Columbians, most active-duty military personnel.”
“Now, why is that surprising?”
“Why do you say that, Harry?”
“Seems like it would be a lot of trouble to get so many active-duty mercenaries into the country at one time.”
“Unless they entered illegally.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah. What about the men in the helicopter?”
“They are examining dental records, but frankly, if these people were not U.S. citizens that will be a dead end.”
“Well, he wasn’t on the helicopter, that much is certain. He was seen at work two days ago. Also, he is no longer using telephones we have tapped, so we have a new hole in our network information gathering capability right now. Everyone has gone silent, as a matter of fact.”
“Escobar? Where is he?” Harry asked.
“Last seen leaving San Francisco through the Golden Gate in some sort of speedboat. A Donzi, I believe. And the odd thing? The boat was reported abandoned and adrift out past the Farallon Islands.”
“I suppose it would be too much to hope the sharks got him.” Lloyd sighed.
“No storms to account for that, and the fuel tanks were nowhere near empty.”
“So,” Lloyd added, “someone picked him up out there.”
“That’s what your Coast Guard thinks, but of course there’s neither evidence of that, nor any proof.”
“Okay,” Harry said, crossing his arms over his chest, “Escobar is on the loose and McKay is home-free, laying low for the time being. What’s our next move?”
“Well, this is the hard part. Avi was spearheading this effort through the PM’s office, but now that he’s gone there is little willingness to continue the operation in California, at least at current levels. I’ve convinced the PM to let us have a month to wrap this up; after that, you may be on your own. Of course, this depends on what we uncover concerning Escobar and his efforts in Beirut.”
“Swell. Have you told Sam this?”
“No, not yet. And I’m not looking forward to doing so, either.”
“What has Stacy decided to do,” Harry asked.
“Complicated, to say the least. That friend of yours? The Army physician she’s shacked up with?”
“Yes. Well, I think they’d like to get married, and she’s mentioned his family has a dairy farm in Oregon or Washington, someplace like that. I wondered about getting her Israeli citizenship, a new name and passport, and letting her immigrate from here.”
“That’s insane,” Lloyd said. “She’s a citizen, for chrissakes.”
“She also killed an FBI agent,” Goodman said gently. “A corrupt one to be sure, but an agent nonetheless.”
“Just cook up some fake U.S. papers,” Harry sighed, “and let her slip in that way. Then we can get her up to Oregon and into her new life. Should be easy.”
“Okay,” Goodman said, and this time even Lloyd noticed Goodman’s odd new deference.
“So,” Harry continued, now thinking out loud, “we have a month to wrap this thing up. I suppose we have an idea of who the remaining targets are within Bay Area law enforcement agencies?”
“Enough to establish probable cause for an arrest?” Harry added.
“Doubtful on two counts. Remember, we’re dealing with information gleaned through illegal wiretaps. Further, we’re identifying possible suspects by voice-print analysis, and that’s rarely been held up as valid by U.S. courts.”
“So, is your team comfortable with the information they have? Comfortable enough, I mean, to hit these people?”
“No, and that’s why this conditional list is still around.”
“What about McKay? Is the evidence on him iron-clad?”
“The team is about evenly divided on that, Harry. Half are convinced he’s the mastermind behind the whole thing; the other half think he’s a fucking moron.”
“I’d vote for fucking moron,” Harry sighed.
“Frank and Sam have both said as much. With a few extra embellishments tossed in for good measure.”
“Understandable. So, we need to firm up the people on this list and take action in the next month…is that about right?”
Goodman nodded. “Yes.”
“Dad? Why don’t you go back to the compound with Ben? I’ll be back in a few days, and we can go over plans to return then.”
“I’d rather stay with you, son.”
Harry sighed. “Dad? I’m old enough to stay out past my bedtime…ya know?”
Lloyd Callahan nodded and looked away.
“This might not be easy, or it could be the easiest thing that ever happened to me…”
“I just want to be there for moral support, son.”
“You always have been, Dad. This won’t be any different, and if I get in too deep, I know who to call.”
The Audi pulled into the departure lane at Kastrup Airport and Goodman maneuvered to the Swissair area. Harry made sure he had his passport and wallet before he hopped out of the car, then he disappeared into the jostling crowd…
© 2020 adrian leverkühn | abw | and as always, thanks for stopping by for a look around the memory warehouse…[and a last word or two on sources: I typically don’t post all a story’s acknowledgments until I’ve finished, if only because I’m not sure how many I’ll need until work is finalized. Yet with current circumstances (a little virus, not to mention a certain situation in Washington, D.C. springing first to mind…) so waiting to mention sources might not be the best way to proceed. To begin, the primary source material in this case – so far, at least – derives from two seminal Hollywood ‘cop’ films: Dirty Harry and Bullitt. The first Harry film was penned by Harry Julian Fink, R.M. Fink, Dean Riesner, John Milius, Terrence Malick, and Jo Heims. Bullitt came primarily from the author of the screenplay for The Thomas Crown Affair, Alan R Trustman, with help from Harry Kleiner, as well Robert L Fish, whose short story Mute Witness formed the basis of Trustman’s brilliant screenplay. Steve McQueen’s grin was never trade-marked, though perhaps it should have been. John Milius (Red Dawn) penned Magnum Force, and the ‘Briggs’/vigilante storyline derives from characters and plot elements originally found in that rich screenplay, as does the Captain McKay character. The Threlkis crime family storyline was first introduced in Sudden Impact, screenplay by Joseph Stinson. The Samantha Walker character derives from the Patricia Clarkson portrayal of the television reporter found in The Dead Pool, screenplay by Steve Sharon, story by Steve Sharon, Durk Pearson, and Sandy Shaw. I have to credit the Jim Parish, M.D., character first seen in the Vietnam segments to John A. Parrish, M.D., author of the most fascinating account of an American physician’s tour of duty in Vietnam – and as found in his autobiographical 12, 20, and 5: A Doctor’s Year in Vietnam, a book worth noting as one of the most stirring accounts of modern warfare I’ve ever read (think Richard Hooker’s M*A*S*H, only featuring a blazing sense of irony conjoined within a searing non-fiction narrative). Denton Cooley, M.D. founded the Texas Heart Institute, as mentioned. Many of the other figures in this story derive from characters developed within the works cited above, but keep in mind that, as always, this story is in all other respects a work of fiction woven into a pre-existing historical fabric. Using the established characters referenced above, as well as a few new characters I’ve managed to come up with here and there, I hoped to create something new – perhaps a running commentary on the times we’ve shared? And the standard disclaimer also here applies: no one mentioned in this tale should be mistaken for persons living or dead. This was just a little walk down a road more or less imagined, and nothing more than that should be inferred, though I’d be remiss not to mention Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan, and Steve McQueen’s Frank Bullitt. Talk about the roles of a lifetime…given life by two actors who will stand tall through the ages.]