The Eighty-eighth Key (59.3)

88th key cover image

Another brief snippet to round out the day, another little burst of story to set the stage. And so, yes, the music plays on and on, bringing us closer and closer to…the 88th key…?

Chapter 59.3

And then one day Todd didn’t come to the clinic.

And even Harry’s nurses and therapists stayed away that day, too.

And the next day? No one came, once again.

Yet on the third day several people dropped by for a visit. Detectives and uniformed police officers from the cantonal police department. And, as it happened, perhaps because it turns out that irony is a given that bedevils us all, most of those who walked into Callahan’s room were homicide detectives.

And they wanted to know if Lloyd had been in contact with him.

“No? But will someone, anyone, tell me what’s going on?”

But no, not even one of them would. Not a single one. 

And still the staff at the clinic stayed away from Harry Callahan, and soon he began to think the whole world had forsaken him.


It was almost two weeks before Didi came to his room, and she did not look or act like herself.

She was evasive, she didn’t make eye contact. She spoke in oblique references to vague goings-on far, far away, until Harry had had enough.

“You need to tell me what’s happening, Didi. You can’t keep me in the dark forever.”

“It is very complicated here now, Mr. Callahan…”

And it was the way she said ‘Mr Callahan’ that cued him in. She was wearing a wire, and was under duress. 

“Just the broad strokes, Didi. What’s happened?”

“Lloyd and Mr Bright got into an argument – in the meadow behind the house. It appears that someone, perhaps your son, concealed a firearm when he entered the country, and during this argument your son shot and killed Mr Bright…”

“I see.”

“There were several witnesses, Mr Callahan, so there is no doubt about what happened.”


“There are, however, several questions about events immediately after Mr Bright’s murder.”


“It seems that an Old Man appeared beside your son just a few moments after the event, and then both simply disappeared.”

“Disappeared? What do you mean, disappeared?”

“Just that, sir. And all the available witnesses report exactly the same thing; that within seconds of the single gunshot an Old Man appeared in the meadow beside your son, and almost as quickly your son disappeared, and I believe the Old Man, as well.”

Callahan nodded. “What gun did he use?”

“Your old duty revolver. The Smith & Wesson model 29; it is still registered with the police department in San Francisco so there is no doubt of ownership.”

Callahan shook his head. “I left it in the safe. At the house. And there’s no way Lloyd knew the combination to that safe…which means someone…”

And then Callahan remembered she was wearing a wire.

“Which means someone broke into my house and removed the pistol. You’d better call DD and let her know.”

“I already have. There was no sign of forced entry or anything else to indicate the safe has been tampered with.”

“So…somehow Lloyd got the combination.”

“You didn’t bring the weapon with you when you came?”

“Didi, how could I have. I never left the hospital, remember? I didn’t pack my bags, I didn’t even know we were leaving…”

“Is there anyway Ida, your employee from the Music Company, might have gotten hold of the combination?”

“There’s no way I can think of, but then again I have no idea how Lloyd could have gotten hold of the combination.”


A few hours after Didi left his room a police inspector came to visit Callahan. He was an old man, maybe about the same age as Callahan, but there any similarities came to an abrupt end. This inspector was short and lithe, more like a coiled spring that Harry’s lanky slouchiness, and his close-cropped hair was steel gray – like his eyes. He was a cold looking man, someone used to being lied to and then breaking down the liar piece by careful piece.

“You know,” the inspector began, “I believe you. At least I believe there were people who packed your belongings and moved you here. So, we have removed the hold we had placed on all your accounts. The good news is that the clinic will resume treating you; the bad news is that until your son is located and this matter is cleared up there is no way in hell someone like you will be permitted to reside in Switzerland. But here, Mr Callahan, things become tricky for you, because it appears you left the United States without officially clearing, so you are in Switzerland illegally. Also, for some reason the authorities in the United States will not re-admit you, so, technically, you are now a stateless person. Your U.S. Passport has been revoked and confiscated, I’m afraid.”

For some reason it was the cold, emotionless voice that bothered Callahan most of all. But no empathy for a brother police officer? That just grated him the wrong way.

So Callahan said not one word, he just looked at the other man eye-to-eye.

“You have nothing to say?” the inspector said. “Nothing at all?”


“You do know that we have nothing like your Miranda protections here, Mr Callahan, so I would advise you be very, very careful what you say on your way out of our country.”

Still Callahan remained silent.

“I see. Well then, until we meet again, Mr Callahan.”

A minute after the inspector left a uniformed officer came into Callahan’s room and sat. And though the officer turned on the television, he sat in a chair staring at Callahan, and not knowing what else to do or say Harry closed his eyes and returned to the comfortably open arms of waiting sleep.


It was after midnight, at least he thought it was, and a second policeman was, apparently, gone for the night. Callahan sat up a little and looked out the window, then he realized he’d heard something unusual.

‘What is that? A helicopter?’ he asked himself…and not a minute later several men in black commando uniforms entered his room, then a large gurney was wheeled in and several nurses and orderlies helped transfer Harry to the gurney. The next thing he knew he was up on the clinic’s roof, and a huge Sikorsky was waiting for him up there – with no markings visible and with its massive rotors drooping low and barely moving in the still night. Men loaded him in the Sikorsky by pushing his gurney up the aft ramp, and seconds later the helicopter’s twin turbines started to spool up…and then he grew concerned. No one had said a word to him during this transfer, and he’d had no idea about the move beforehand…

After an hour flight through the mountains the Sikorsky landed at a large airport, and Callahan’s gurney was transferred to a waiting aircraft, and while he wasn’t sure Harry thought it looked like the US Navy’s version of the DC-9, the medevac version if he wasn’t mistaken, and he didn’t know what to think after that. Were they taking him back to the states? If so, who was ‘they’?

The jet started to taxi almost immediately and was soon airborne, and still no one came to speak with him. All the window shades were down so he couldn’t even tell what direction the aircraft was headed, then a military medic was by his side.

“How’s the pain?” the teenager said, and the kid sounded like he was from Brooklyn so that answered that question.

“I’m okay. Where we headed?”

“Home,” the kid said, and Harry nodded.

He drifted off again, trying to fight off the disorientation and the sense of rootlessness that had engulfed him after the inspector left his room the day before…

He woke up to the sounds of flaps extending and landing gears rumbling into the ‘down and locked’ position, and then the young medic came and opened up the window shade next to Callahan’s head. Sun streamed in through the scratched plastic outer pane and Harry squinted, trying to make out…

But…the sun was rising over land, so this wasn’t the United States – and now he was thoroughly confused.

“Where are we?” Harry asked the medic. “I don’t recognize this coastline.”

The kid knelt beside Callahan’s gurney and pointed to a city in the distance.

“That’s Tel Aviv, right over there.”

“Tel Aviv? You mean…Israel?”

“Yes, Mr Callahan. And the Colonel told me to tell you – Welcome Home.”

© 2021 adrian leverkühn | abw | and as always, thanks for stopping by for a look around the memory warehouse…[but wait, there’s more…how about a 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 before work is finalized. Yet with current circumstances (i.e., Covid-19 and me generally growing somewhat old) waiting to list said sources might not be the best way to proceed, and this listing will grow over time – until the story is complete. 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 Jennifer Spencer/Threlkis crime family storyline was first introduced in Sudden Impact, screenplay by Joseph Stinson, original story by Earl Smith and Charles Pierce. The Samantha Walker television reporter is 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. Of course, James Clavell’s Shōgun forms a principle backdrop in later chapters. The teahouse and hotel of spires in Ch. 42 is a product of the imagination; so-sorry. The UH-1Y image used from Pt VI on taken by Jodson Graves. The snippets of lyrics from Lucy in the Sky are publicly available as ‘open-sourced.’ Many of the other figures in this story derive from characters developed within the works cited above, but keep in mind that, as always, the rest of this story is in all other respects a work of fiction woven into a pre-existing cinematic-historical fabric. Using the established characters referenced above, as well as the 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 with these fictional characters? And the standard disclaimer also here applies: the central characters in this tale should not be mistaken for persons living or dead. This was, in other words, just a little walk down a road more or less imagined, and nothing more than that should be inferred. 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…and what a gift.]

8 thoughts on “The Eighty-eighth Key (59.3)

  1. The US Govt does not leave a person stateless. At a minimum someone from the embassy would have told Harry his passport was being canceled and left him travel documents to return to the Statesa


  2. I’m fascinated by your end of the world scenarios and thank u for the Moody Blues quips. As a bloke in his 70s I can relate. You would have thought that with all the tech and money out there, that if there was a nuclear war, they would have developed atmosphere scrubbers to clean and re-use the nuclear fallout. And the orbs are a fascinating idea of ETS presenting themselves to us. I like it. Much better to deal with than a “little grey man with big black eyes” And yes I know that not all ET races are benign and friendly. Keep well.


      • But hopefully there are more good than bad. And let’s hope , like Pinky, it’s the good ones that are interested in us. I recently tore a calf muscle and was hoping a friendly alien medico would pop up and help me sort it. Been around our Sun 74 complete times now and looking to fix this bod up to what Inwas like at 35 just after my first marriage ended.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s