First, a little housekeeping. Please note that the previously posted chapter 62 (actually 62.1thru 62.3) was actually supposed to be chapter 61 etc., so unless I’m totally lost now, with this post we’re actually up to the real chapter 62. Actually speaking, anyway, this is the actual 62.1, and the last 62.1 was actually supposed to be 61.1, and if you’re not actually confused yet, don’t worry because I’m actually confused enough for both of us.
Is it just me, or does it seem like Prince Vlad has a really bad case of projectile dysfunction? Maybe he should take lessons from Will Smith?
Okay…I’ll shut up now.
But, alas, if not for music matters, I’d have nothing else to say.
(King Crimson\\ I Talk To The Wind – Duo Version)
Chapter 62.1 (actually…)
It is four in the morning and Callahan can’t sleep. Everything he tries to think about, every distraction he comes upon always takes him back to the same point in time – to what caused his mother to die – because she had – obviously – chosen death. And now that Liz and Deborah Eisenstadt were here – and picking at all the old scabs covering this wound – he was beginning to feel very uneasy about all the other unknown events surrounding her passing.
His mother had been fighting what he’d always regarded a rearguard action against encroaching dementia, but what if he’d been wrong about that all along? ‘And not just me,’ he thought, ‘all of us. But me and Dad most of all.’
The single most important manifestation of her dementia, of her presumed psychosis, had been the repeated appearance of the “Old Man,” only now Callahan knew the Old Man was real. And not just real, but more than likely a time traveler. And if that was the case just what had the Old Man been doing to her? What outcome had he been trying to shape?
So…he’d realized that she hadn’t been some kind of garden variety schizophrenic after all? Maybe the Old Man had become more like her own personal tormenter, and maybe as his appearances became more and more frequent she’d grown depressed and felt undermined by his constant, unwanted intrusions? ‘I mean…who wouldn’t,’ he sighed as he sat at the piano, his fingers playing random notes in the deeper registers. “I know I wouldn’t be able to handle something insidious like…” he grumbled.
“What couldn’t you handle,” Eisenstadt said, padding into the living room in her bathrobe and fuzzy pink slippers.
“The things my mother had to put up with,” he replied, his hands never leaving the keyboard.
“What are you playing? It’s beautiful.”
“Playing? I wasn’t…I’m not – playing anything.”
“You could have fooled me. There was structure and melody, and an almost melancholic longing in these notes.”
He closed his eyes and started playing again, only now he was very much aware that specific notes were coming to him. He straightened up and addressed the keyboard and opened his mind and time seemed to dissolve as he played now, and he could just hear the crashing surf below and then a cool breeze flowing through the room…
“Mom? Is that you?”
Another passing breeze and then faint laughter, like children on a distant playground.
“What are you trying to tell me?”
His eyes closed, he reached out through the music, the notes pulling them together through space and time.
“I can…I think I can hear you now…”
He could hear her grand old Bösendorfer now, hear her playing and he knew he was hearing her in the compound, at Avi’s house.
He opened his eyes and it was like he was flying through cloud, his eyes watering as he crossed gulfs of cold hard time…
…and then… she was there…and she was…
…playing the Fourth. And yes, there was von Karajan, staring in disbelief as she played, and von Karajan wept in astonished understanding as her music was carried along on the breeze…
Callahan was behind and above his mother now, looking down on her as she scored this crucial last fragment of her final concerto, at the music he now know so well, and he watched as she made her way into the final passage.
But no, this was different. She…no…this wasn’t the music von Karajan had given him.
He moved closer, looked at her penciled notes on the sheet music and he could see the harmonic interplay take shape in the air above the piano.
He moved closer still and she turned and looked into his eyes. “Do you understand now, Harald?” she said to him. “Do you see where I am taking this?”
“I think so, Mom.”
“We can never do this again, so you must understand the harmonic structure, now, before you leave…”
He pointed to a section of notes. “I’ve never seen anything like this, Mom. What is it?”
“This is the key, Harald. This is the gateway, and you must now become the keeper. Sit beside me now and play the notes with me, form the chord in your mind. Do you see it now?”
“Yes. Yes, I do,” he said as he played.
“Then go now. Go, but Harald, you must never come back here. Promise me, now, that you will never…!”
“But Mom, I…”
“I know, I know. But Harald, you must guard what you have learned here because this will become very dangerous for you. Now…promise me…before they come for us!”
“Alright Mom, I promise,” he cried as he reached out for her…
…but she was receding now, disappearing inside the cold embrace of the same dense white cloud, yet even now she was reaching out for him and he saw her calling out a name. He strained to hear what she was saying then he recoiled in disbelief as he found himself tumbling through a black void, surrounded by shimmering blue fingers of dancing electricity…
And when he landed in a dazed heap he looked around he felt a damp wooden floor underhand and this place was very cold. Very, very cold. And when he raised his head and looked around it looked like he was laying inside a wooden bucket of some sort, and he felt ice cold condensation rolling down the planked walls of the bucket…
Then he felt a small hand on his shoulder, and he heard a little girl’s voice whispering close to his ear.
“You’d better stand up now,” the ticklish little voice said. “This is the bad part.”
He looked up, saw a little girl standing beside him and he took her offered hand and tried to stand – and suddenly he realized he was standing on two legs now.
But there were two men standing in the bucket too, and one of them was rubbing his hands as if to ward off the cold…
Then the little girl tugged at his shirtsleeve. “Could you pick me up, please. I want to watch.”
“Watch? Watch what?” he said as he lifted her up to his waist, and she pointed out into the mist.
“There. If you look real hard you can just about see it now.”
He turned and realized he was high above the foredeck of a large ship steaming through the night, but just then one of the men by his side crossed himself…
“Sweet Jesus,” the man said as he picked up the cold brass growler by his hand.
Harry turned and looked at the little girl as sudden understanding turned to panic. “Where are we?” he muttered.
“Iceberg!” the lookout cried into the growler. “Iceberg, dead ahead!”
“Don’t worry,” the little girl sighed, “it only hurts for just a little bit, but it’ll be over soon.”
Callahan watched as the iceberg came out of the mist and he knew there wasn’t anything he could do so he simply gave way to the moment and held on. The Titanic grazed the spur just beneath the waterline and shattered fragments of ice rained down on the deck, and he turned in time to see officers running into the wheelhouse to close the watertight bulkheads and now everything felt just like a nightmare.
“But it’s not,” the little girl said.
“It’s not what?”
“A nightmare. But don’t worry. No one will believe you, so it doesn’t matter.”
He swallowed hard but in the next instant he started falling again, and a billion years later – or was it just a second? – he was on the floor in the living room of his house and he felt like he was drowning in freezing water.
He heard screaming and when he looked up he saw a blinking owl, then the owl was by his side, helping him into his wheelchair and that’s when he realized his house was awash in seawater, and that the floor of his living room was covered in shattered fragments of ice…
“My God, Harry!” Eisenstadt cried. “What has happened? Where were you?”
“What do you mean…where was I? I was right here!”
“No! No, you’ve been gone for several minutes?”
“Oh God! Harry! Do you know what this means?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Harry! You left this time! You…traveled in time – just like the Old Man Liz mentioned!”
“The music, Harry! This music! The Fourth is the key!”
“Where did all this ice come from?” Callahan asked as he surveyed the wreckage around his chair.
“It must come from your movement through time…”
“I was on the Titanic. With a little girl.”
Eisenstadt stepped back from him as she stared at the ice in disbelief. “The Shift. You experienced the Shift.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The Aubuchon Shift, Harry. You’ve found the gateway…to the Shift!”
“The…gateway,” he repeated – but his eye had been drawn to a shimmering blue sphere that at first appeared to be smaller than a golf ball hovering near the ceiling. “What is that?” Callahan said, pointing at the ceiling.
Eisenstadt turned and looked up at the sphere. “Have you seen anything like this before,” she whispered.
“No Ma’am, I can’t say that I have.”
“Do you have any idea what…?”
“No Ma’am, I sure don’t, but I think I’m going to a gun store first thing in the morning.”
“You know, I’m not sure that will help matters.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right…but I’ll sure feel a lot better than I do right now.”
Another sphere appeared, then another. The first sphere started spinning rapidly, and it grew brighter the faster it moved.
“Harald? Is it my imagination, or does that one seem angry?”
“It’s your imagination,” Callahan growled – as two more spheres arrived. “Definitely your imagination.”
Another sphere arrived, but this one a subdued pink color, and the spinning blue sphere simply disappeared. Moments later the the other spheres began leaving, and soon only Harry and Eisenstadt remained in the room – facing the pink sphere and not at all sure what to do next.
“I’d do just about anything to have my leg back right now,” Callahan whispered to Eisenstadt. “You think we should offer it a glass of scotch?”
Which caused the pink sphere to silently drift across the room towards Callahan. He guessed it was about a foot in diameter – yet as it came closer it also seemed to be growing in size – but then the sphere drifted by his face and moved across the living room, finally settling above the Bösendorfer. It hovered there, then began – apparently – to examine the instrument in minute detail.
Callahan turned to Eisenstadt. “I think I could use another scotch. How ‘bout you? And maybe a towel?”
She shook her head, her eyes focused on the sphere as it drifted around and then settled under the piano. It moved to the keyboard a minute later and it appeared to take great interest here, lingering over the keyboard for several minutes, then the sphere drifted across the room and it spun up for a few seconds – then disappeared.
“Well…fuck,” Callahan muttered.
“Harry, you are a man of few words, but at least they are well considered.”
“Right, if you say so, Doc. Now, if you don’t mind…? I need a really big scotch, so if you wouldn’t mind…?”
She turned to Harry and grew quite serious: “Harry? You mentioned the Titanic. Where else did you go? Did you talk to anyone else?”
“No scotch, huh?”
“Oh, alright, alright, I see I have created a monster. Now…start talking, and leave nothing out!”
He looked at his piano while Eisenstadt went to refill his tumbler and grab a towel, and after she returned he looked at the last dying embers in the fireplace…
“I talked with my mother…”
“You spoke to her? You actually interacted?”
He nodded. “And she told me not to come back again. Made me promise, as a matter of fact.”
“Did she say anything else?”
“When I was leaving,” he nodded, “she said ‘Dana Goodman.’”
“Yup. I couldn’t hear her real good, but I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.”
“Goodman…Goodman…?” Eisenstadt repeated. “Where have I…”
“You mentioned her earlier, Doc. When you were talking about Claire…”
“Yes! Claire Aubuchon! She was a passenger on the Titanic, just a little girl at the time, but she was there…”
Callahan grinned. “Yup. I met her.”
“I met her, up in the, oh, hell, what do you call it…like a crow’s nest…where the guys standing watch were stationed…”
“And Claire was there? With you?”
Callahan nodded. “Yeah, and I got the impression this wasn’t her first time there.”
“You were a detective, correct? Can you find this Dana Goodman?”
Callahan shrugged. “I’m not sure how much access to information I still have right now. I’m retired, but actually retired cops have a fair amount of residual power. I can still carry the badge and the gun but I’m not sure how much computer access I have.”
“This might be a good time to find out, Harald.”
“Call me Harry, okay Doc? My mom called me that, and I never really liked it.”
“Okay, Harry. Tell me…do you have a computer?”
“No…well, there might still be a couple up in the studio.”
Callahan shrugged. “I don’t know if everything is still hooked up.”
“Would Liz know?”
Harry shook his head. “My, uh, my son hooked all that stuff up.”
“Oh. I see. Well, perhaps we should go see…”
They heard someone in the kitchen…opening a cabinet door and taking a glass down from a shelf. Then the refrigerator door opening, followed by the hissing sound of a large bottle of Coke being opened. Then they heard the sound of liquid pouring into a glass – and Harry looked at Eisenstadt and both shrugged.
And then the Old Man walked out of the kitchen, and Callahan saw he was still wearing the same loden cape, still carrying the same ornately carved cane as the other times he’d seen him, only now he walked with an easy familiarity over to the sofa and sat down heavily.
“I do miss Coca-Cola,” the Old Man sighed after he took a long pull from his glass.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Callahan growled.
“Oh, nothing, Pops. Just a sign of the times. So, how’s the leg?”
“It sucks. Why?”
“You ever figure out who shot you?”
Callahan shook his head.
“Wanna know?” the Old Man asked.
“Why do you keep calling me that?”
The Old Man smiled. “Oh, no reason. Just a sign of the times.”
“What the Hell does that mean?”
The Old Man shrugged. “So, tell me about the sphere?”
“The sphere?” Callahan snarled. “What are you talking about?”
“The sphere that just left. What color was it?”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Pops, listen. Just take my word for it…I need to know.”
“There were several blue ones,” Eisenstadt cried in exasperation, “and then a pink one appeared.”
“What did she do?”
“She?” Callahan growled. “What the fuck do you mean by that?”
“It seemed to study the piano,” Eisenstadt replied calmly, ignoring Harry’s sudden, inexplicable reticence.
“Yes. Then it left,” Eisenstadt added.
The Old Man put his glass on the cocktail table and sighed. “Well then,” he said, “as much as I’d really like to stay and shoot the shit, I must be going.”
“Of course,” Harry said, almost baring his teeth, “please…go.”
The Old Man stood and then he looked at Harry’s missing leg and shook his head. “Sorry the leg is still bothering you,” he said, then he tapped his cane on the floor twice and disappeared.
Eisenstadt looked at the spot where the Old Man had just been sitting, then she looked over at Callahan. “What was that all about?”
“I’m not sure,” he sighed as he toweled his face dry, then he wheeled over to the cocktail table and looked at the glass. “Could you see if there are any plastic bags in the kitchen? Like maybe a baggie or something like that? And a paper towel?”
She came back a moment later with both and he took the paper towel and picked up the glass, obviously checking for fingerprints as he held it up to the light. After rotating the glass and holding it up at various angles he carefully placed the glass into the plastic bag and sealed it.
“Are you going to check for fingerprints?” She asked.
“I am, yes, but I think I know who he is now.”
“Pops? He called you Pops, did he not…?”
“Yup. And Lloyd used to call me that, at least when he was happy he did.”
“That is your son?”
“What happened to him, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Oh, not much. He killed a musician and then disappeared.”
“Ah. A nice, well adjusted boy…”
“He was indeed. He was his mother’s son.” Callahan grimaced and then looked away, out into the night. “Could you push me out onto the deck, please?”
He looked at his watch and nodded. “It’s about time, I reckon,” he said as she pushed him out into the wind.
He locked the wheels and stood up, holding onto the rail to steady up for a moment, then he searched the southern horizon for Sagittarius…
“There it is,” Callahan said, pointing to the steam coming from the teapot, then he looked at Eisenstadt…who was shivering now as cool breezes off the sea settled over her. Without thinking he put his arm around her and pulled her close – just as the first burst of light pierced the night.
The blue sphere stopped spinning just then – as it moved in slowly towards Callahan.
© 2021-22 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.]
Questions, comments, or tips and tricks on how to make authentic Texas chili: firstname.lastname@example.org
(King Crimson \\ I Talk To The Wind)