The Eighty-eighth Key, Chapter 62.3

88BH

Standing inside a rabbit hole…what must that be like? And is there an event horizon between the real and the unreal? What kind of gravity would pull you hardest there? How would it feel to meet the White Queen, or the Red?

Alas, dear reader, time for tea. Tea for two, I dare say. Or will it be three?

Only time will tell.

[Herb Alpert \\ This Guy’s In Love With You]

Chapter 62.3

After DD and the doc left, Callahan stoked the fire while Eisenstadt poured two glasses of scotch, and he checked his watch, wanting to take in the pulsar again. He regarded Eisenstadt as she came back into the living room, still not sure what to think of this woman. With her Coke bottle eyeglasses on she looked decidedly frumpy and bookish, yet with them off she had a pleasant, easy going demeanor he found…decidedly – comfortable. Sure, she was five years older than he was, but in the great scheme of things that hardly mattered…

And then he caught himself. ‘Why am I even thinking of this stranger in these terms?’

And only one thing came to mind, really.

‘Because I really dislike being alone. Especially now that I’m not going to work every day.’

And, he had to admit now, seeing Sam Bennett in his current state had shaken him up.

So…he sat on the hearth with his back to the fire and he wasn’t at all unhappy when she came and sat right beside him again.

“How you doin’?” he asked as she slid in close, handing over a tumbler.

And she leaned into him, put her head on his shoulder. “I feel better now.”

“Oh?” he said. “So I’m not the only one feeling this way?”

“I like the way I feel with you, Harry. Comfortable, like somehow we belong.”

He nodded. “It seems funny that we have a history. Copenhagen and all that…”

“I am not too old for you?” she wondered aloud.

He smiled. “As long as you don’t want babies I think we’ll be okay.”

“Dear God. Babies. I would never have been a good mother.”

“Oh? Why’s that?”

“I was too focused on my studies, and I hardly could manage being a wife, let alone a mother. Now, of course, all that has changed. I’ve been teaching for twenty years and I hate to say it, but I think that enough is enough.”

“What are your plans?”

“I hadn’t really made any, as strange as that may sound. I have my place in Cambridge, and I have a small cottage out on the Cape that I go to when it is warm enough, but all-in-all I’ve led a quiet life since Anders passed. Teaching has been enough for me, I think.”

“And now?”

“I like the way my head feels – right here beside you,” she said as she rubbed her head on his shoulder. “I think I might enjoy this a little too much.”

There came a knock on the front door and Liz announced herself before she made her way to the living room, and when she found Harry and Deborah sitting by the fire she grinned. “Fix me a scotch, Harry?” she asked.

“Got ID?” he growled.

“Oh, c’mon Harry! I’m nineteen! I can handle it!”

“You know,” Callahan grinned, “I think your twenty-first birthday will be memorable for a bunch of reasons, and maybe chief among them getting snockered, but I made a promise to your mom…”

“I know, I know. And here he is, ladies and gentlemen. I give you Harry Callahan! Protector of ladies’ virtue everywhere!”

“That’s me,” Harry sighed. “So? Did you come down to check out the pulsar, or my liquor cabinet?”

“No, I wanted to tell you I’m flying back to Boston with you, Professor Eisenstadt.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Harry said, and Deborah nodded in agreement. 

“I really should get my degree, one way or another, but a Harvard degree…”

“I agree,” Eisenstadt said. “You are off to a good start, but it is only that. You must finish what you begin.”

Liz nodded. “So, what time is the doc coming down to pick us up?”

Callahan looked at his watch. “Six hours. The pulsar should kick off in a half hour. Are you packed?”

“Yup. Would you guys mind if I hang around and watch the light show from here?”

“Not at all,” Deborah said, standing and going over to the kitchen. She returned a minute later with a tumbler of something and handed it to Liz.

“It’s ginger ale, Harry,” Eisenstadt grinned.

Harry shook his head. “You two are going to make it real hard for me not to play the asshole.”

Liz took a sip then wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Geez, why do you even drink stuff that tastes like that? That’s revolting! It’s like battery acid with a little Tabasco thrown in for good measure.”

“See,” Harry sighed, holding up his hands, “I was just trying to protect you for the vices of old age.”

Liz put the drink down and and went to the piano; she started playing random notes but these efforts soon began to coalesce around a theme…

“Where have I heard that?” Harry mumbled – just under his breath.

“It’s what you began playing last night, just before…”

But now when Harry looked at Liz she was completely entranced, and for some reason he recognized what was happening to her – and what she was playing…

“Someone or something has linked up to her,” Harry whispered. “She’s being fed these notes. Did I look like this?”

Eisenstadt nodded, then out of curiosity she turned and looked behind and yes, there it was. The pink sphere. “Be very still now, Harry,” she barely whispered, “but the sphere has returned. The pink one.”

“Swell.”

The sphere was absolutely tiny now, no larger than an aspirin tablet, but it was bright – and spinning madly. It remained fixed near the ceiling, apparently locked into communicating with Liz and unconcerned with anything else going on in the room, so Deborah stood and walked across the living room until she was standing directly under the glowing orb. She walked to the hall closet and picked out a broom and returned, then held the bristled end up and inserted the straw ends into the sphere…

And there was no reaction at all, none whatsoever. 

And when she removed the broom the bristles appeared completely undisturbed.

“That cannot be?” she muttered, so she pushed the bristles back up and all the way through the sphere this time, and again the bristles appeared untouched. She swatted at the sphere with the bristled end and the sphere didn’t budge, so she flipped the broom and swatted the sphere with wooden handle – and the broomstick passed right through the sphere – and neither the sphere nor the broom reacted at all.

Eisenstadt looked at Harry and shrugged.

Though Harry, for his part, picked up his glass and drained it.

Eisenstadt came back to the hearth and sat by him once again. “It is as if it isn’t really here,” she whispered.

“Could it be some kind of projection? Maybe like a hologram?”

“Possibly. But there is another possibility, and one that disturbs me even more. There are theories concerning the possible existence of parallel dimensions, but what if there was a way for elements of one dimension to intrude on another?”

“I’m just curious,” Harry sighed, “but when you were growing up, did you eat your porridge with a slide rule?”

“Only on schooldays.”

“Figures.”

The sphere began moving now, and once again it slipped silently to the piano, hovering just above the closed cover. 

“Help me up, would you?” he asked Deborah, and once he had his walker underhand he slid over to the piano and pulled up the cover, exposing the various bridges and dampers – and the soundboard – and the sphere reacted immediately by spinning up to an even greater velocity.

Then Liz started playing the last movement of the Fourth, music she had seen only once – so Callahan really knew she had to be receiving instructions as she played…

…and then Harry realized she was playing his mother’s original score, the original phrasing unedited by von Karajan, and he stepped back from the piano in time to see Liz’s body shimmer in the air for a moment – and then disappear.

Harry looked up and watched the sphere – now spinning so fast it was hardly visible – and then he turned to Deborah. “I think we’re going to need a shitload of towels,” he grumbled.

© 2016-22 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 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.]

[ELP \\ Take a Pebble]

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