The Eighty-eighth Key, Chapter 64.1

88th key cover image

Going to hit the ground running with a bunch of short sections this week, so grab a Coke and have a quick one. Oh, the video below goes into the background of the song, might be of interest to some of you:

[Dawning is the Day \\ Moody Blues]

Chapter 64.1

Callahan knew they were being tailed; he could feel it — he felt something almost like a tingling on the back of his neck, something he hadn’t experienced in years, yet a feeling he recognized right away. The sensation started as soon as they docked in Kahului and continued during the short taxi ride through town to the airport, and even as they made their way through the small terminal and boarded the 757 for the flight back to SFO, he found he wanted to turn and look over his shoulder. Once onboard he asked Brendan’s father if he could sit with the boy after take-off, then he joined Eisenstadt while the cabin crew got the passengers ready for departure, yet he watched people boarding to see who might look his way, or in any way like a threat.

“Do you feel it too?” Debra asked as he buckled in and settled in his seat.

“Yeah, ever since we docked.” He looked at Brendan across the aisle and the boy was kind of smiling as he looked up and through the overhead bins, almost like he was entranced by something only he could see up there beyond the aircraft’s outer skin, and the sight actually puzzled – and even revolted – Callahan. It was like the kid was tuned-in to an entirely different universe, one Callahan would never be able to see or experience, but he just couldn’t tell yet if the things the kid was experiencing were real, or the delusions of a runaway mind.

“What’s with him?” Eisenstadt added, nodding at Brendan. “He seems more agitated now than he did on the boat.”

As they looked on, Brendan lifted a hand and the began using his fingers to work out a problem on a blackboard only he could see, and even one of the flight attendants looked at the kid and rolled her eyes. Brendan’s father leaned over and looked at Callahan, his eyes full of questions he was still too afraid to ask, and that bothered Harry. From the time he had called the boy’s father to the trip on the boat, Harry felt like the man really wanted nothing at all to do with his son.

Callahan leaned across the aisle and whispered in the kid’s ear: “What is it? What do you see?”

“Twenty-six A,” Brendan replied in a low, sidelong whisper.

So Callahan leaned back in his seat and nodded. Whoever was following them was in seat 26A. ‘Okay…so what now?’ Harry asked himself. ‘Oh, right, I call DD…like I always do, and we get a tail on our tail…’ So, with that decided, Callahan stood and put his carry on in the overhead bin, chancing a quick glance back to the huge economy section — but the cabin was packed now and there was no way to tell row numbers from up in First.

But then, just as Callahan took his seat again the kid leaned close – and all he said was “Mossad.”


Once the 757 leveled off Callahan walked back to the economy section and when he saw that row 26 on the left side was vacant – save for a middle aged woman next to the window – he went and sat down next to her, landing hard in the middle seat as the aircraft lurched. The woman was wearing a scarf and huge sunglasses, but Callahan could see the woman had been seriously burned on her face and neck – then she pulled her glasses down and turned to him.

“Hello, Harry,” Didi Goodman said.

“Jesus, Didi, what the hell happened to you?” he sighed. He could see the results of reconstructive surgery — both on her face and in her eyes – and she seemed more than a little self-conscious at this point.

But she just shrugged. “How’ve you been?”

Callahan shrugged right back at her. “Okay. What are you doing here? I mean, I assume this isn’t a coincidental meet?”

“You’ve been attracting a lot of attention, Harry. Some bad actors, I think you could say, and we thought you might need some help.”

“Anyone I need to know about?”

She smiled evasively, but then she threw in another shrug — just for good measure. “This isn’t the time, or the place,” she said.

“People on this plane, I take it?”

And she nodded, carefully, slowly.

He shrugged too, because he wasn’t about to give up any information, especially as she still hadn’t mentioned the baby — yet.

“How’s your father,” he asked — reluctantly — not really wanting to open that can of worms, but she wasn’t leaving him a lot of room for casual chit-chat, either.

“Frail. He’s had two heart attacks, and he spends a lot of time at home.”


“Oh, he’ll never retire, Harry. He’s put all his eggs in your basket.” Callahan must’ve thought that was an odd thing to say, at least that’s what she saw on his face. “Can you have a helo pick us up at the gate?” she asked.


“I need to get off-grid now, but I’ll need to take Brendan with me. You’ll also need to get some additional security around your house.”

“Well, sorry, but I guess I’ve blown whatever cover you had,” he sighed.

“Oh, they know I know they’re following me.”

“I see.”

“I don’t think they were counting on Taggart heading straight to Seattle, however.”

“Taggart?” he said, smiling.

“You’re going to play like you don’t know him?”

Callahan shook his head. “Someone I should know about?”

“I’d assume so, yes, but they really want the boy.”

“Oh? Why? I mean, he’s a bit of a geek, if you get my drift…?”

“Not many people can see the things he can, Harry. He’s actually rather important, as these things go.”

“That’s kind of hard to believe.”

“Well, believe this: if they can’t get to him they’ll take him out.” He stopped and thought about that for a moment, then he started to get up — but Didi stopped him with a hand on his arm. “Harry, could I ask you something?”

He sat again and sighed, then nodded slowly.

“You haven’t asked about Ida. I assume you will never forgive us?”

“Oh, yes, you could say that.”

“We were trying to protect you, Harry. I know you’ll never believe me when I say that, but it’s the truth.”

He wanted to ask her if she knew who’d shot him, but then he thought better of it. Knowing, in this case, might be more painful than not knowing, so he let that question go — for now — and nodded. “Okay, you say so,” he said dismissively, then he stood abruptly and walked away, forward all the way to the head. He suddenly felt dirty as he stepped inside, so he did his business and washed his hands, then he looked down at his stainless steel leg and tried not to let his hate for her hate boil over — because he knew then that she’d shot him.

Shaking with rage too long repressed, when he got back to his seat he took the phone out of the seat back and dialed the Cathouse, then, while he waited for DD he asked himself — again — why hadn’t she asked about the baby? Was it possible she didn’t know? And…would Taggart’s plan actually work — or would the whole thing blow up in all their faces?

‘And why does she want the kid?’

Callahan simply didn’t know enough — only that he was groping in the dark, lost.

‘Why is the kid so important? What can he see up there with his fingers in the sky?’


WIP © 2016-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | and as always, thanks for stopping by for a look around the memory warehouse…

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