The Eighty-eighth Key, Chapter 70.2

88 final image 1.1

So, all things must end. Even Harry Callahan. And here ends the tale, save for a brief Coda I will post this Friday.

[The Moody Blues \\ Never Comes The Day]

88/70.2

“Harry,” DD said, her voice wilting as dreadful implications roiled her thoughts, “what have you done?”

“What has to be done.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Lloyd came back. He came back for me.”

“Lloyd? Harry…Lloyd’s been gone for years. Now, please, tell me what happened?”

“Gone? What? Do you think he’s dead? Is that really what you think?”

“Harry, he disappeared. No one’s seen him in something like twenty years. Even the police think he’s dead.”

Callahan brushed away a tear as he turned to look across the bay to Alcatraz Island. “There was always something wrong with him. From the beginning. Like he didn’t fit, you know?”

DD moved close and took his hand. “It was his mother, Harry. It wasn’t your fault.”

“None of this was supposed to happen,” Callahan said, his voice adrift on a sea of infinite possibility. “June was supposed to be. We were supposed to be. Something…or someone…changed everything. Lloyd was wrong because he was never meant to be…”

She looked into Harry’s eyes and saw a vortex of confusion within his thousand yard stare, and for the first time in her life a passing thought caught her off-guard: Was Harry evil? Had he been driven by psychotic impulses his entire life?

She pulled back from him a little, then stepped back even further away from him, but then he turned and faced her. “I’m not evil, DD,” he sighed. “Whatever else I might be, evil isn’t one of them.”

“Harry? How did you know what I was thinking?”

He smiled the smile of an inside straight, then he pulled back from the edge and shook his head. “I’m fine, DD. Really. And sorry, I was speaking in metaphors. Maybe I’ve been taking my music too seriously?”

“Harry? There’s blood on your hands.”

“I cut myself earlier,” he mumbled evasively.

“You know, for a cop you’re not a very good liar.”

“I’m not sure, DD, but I think I resent that…observation.”

“Have you watched the news recently?” she grinned.

“I gave up all my bad habits a while ago.”

“Since when did being informed become a bad habit?”

“When the news stopped being the news,” he sighed. “Could I fix you another glass of juice? I think these have gotten warm?”

“Only if you promise to put some rum in this one.”

“I can do that,” he grinned. “Two fingers?”

She held up three and Callahan’s grin broke out into an ear-splitting smile.

The doorbell chimed and Harry went to the door to let the Doc in, then he told him to report to the galley for mixing duties. “Aye-aye, Skipper,” Doc Watson beamed. “Y’all get through all that ‘bidnis’ nonsense?” he asked as he made his way to the kitchen. “Damn, you got enough power to run the ‘fridge?” the Doc cried when he saw fresh ice in the two highball glasses on the counter.

“It ain’t civilized to drink warm Bastards, Doc.”

“Ooh, I got here just in time, didn’t I?”

Harry smiled. “How was the new kid doing on the piano?”

“I ain’t real sure about this one, Harry. I think he was playing Debussy but it sounded an awful lot like Scott Joplin to me.”

“Fuck.”

“You got that right.” The Doc finished up the Bastards and carried them into the living room, and then he hoisted his glass in a toast: “Well, here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged wimin,” he said – just as a hail of machine gun fire erupted. Doc Watson pushed his wife to the floor and shattering glass rained down on them; he rolled over to see where Harry was and he saw Callahan standing in front of the window, his arms spread wide and his head tilted back – as if he was offering himself up in sacrifice.

Time seemed to slow and the Doc started to cry out as he saw bullet after bullet slamming into Callahan’s body – yet despite the volley Callahan simply stood there, smiling, until the gunfire stopped. He heard people screaming on the streets below as he ran to the shattered wall of glass, and he got there just in time to see a fairly large drone flying off towards the Golden Gate.

He heard DD crying and turned to see her kneeling beside Harry Callahan. The Doc walked over and was about to kneel beside his wife when he heard someone knocking on the door. Expecting the police, he walked over and opened the door, only to find an Old Man in a green loden cape standing there, and behind him stood another man, this one much younger.

“Is he gone?” the Old Man asked, his voice ancient, his accent Danish.

“What?” the Doc answered through the fog of denial.

“My grandson. Is he dead?”

“Grandson?” the Doc whispered incredulously. “I’m sorry, but who are you?”

“My name is Aaron Schwarzwald. Harald was my daughter’s son.”

“Uh, look, I don’t know who you think you are…”

But the Old Man had lost his patience and pushed his way past the Doc and into Callahan’s apartment, and the younger man, the other stranger followed him into the living room until they came to Callahan’s shattered body. DD was crouching over Harry now, her manner protective, the expression in her eyes fierce, and she tensed as the two strangers came into the room. The younger man knelt beside Harry and ran his fingers through Callahan’s hair, then he whispered something in Callahan’s ear.

“Who the hell are you?” she asked the younger of the two.

“I am Harry’s father,” the younger man said, now extending his right hand. “Saul Rosenthal…but I seem to recall we met once before.”

DD stood and staggered backwards, running into her husband’s outstretched arms, though quite by accident.

“I’m sorry,” the Doc said raggedly, “but that just isn’t…none of this is possible…”

The Old Man spun around and turned his eyes on Watson. “My boy, you have absolutely no idea what is possible, much less what is not,” he said slowly as he produced an ornately carved cane from under his cape, and this he tapped briskly – three times – on the slate floor. Storms formed outside the Golden Gate and within seconds deep rumbling thunder rolled across the bay, while lightning flickered in the gathering clouds.

Then the Old Man waved his cane around the room and all the shattered glass seemed to fly in reverse arcs back into their original window frames, and now even the Doc felt weak-kneed and light headed. Then shattered furniture began to reassemble before their eyes before the pieces slid back into place, and by that point the Doc’s hands were shaking.

Yet when DD and the Doc turned to see if Harry was now uninjured they were shocked to find that their friend’s body had simply disappeared, and so had Saul Rosenthal. Doc Watson turned to the Old Man at that point and he saw that the Old Man’s eyes had turned soft, almost compassionate. “What have you done with Harry?” the Doc asked, now doing his best not to pass out.

“We will take care of what remains, but it is you now who are in mortal peril. We must get you away from here, and quickly.”

“Danger? Us?”

But the Old Man had walked out into the large patio just off the living room, and now he was spinning his cane in a lazy circle above his head. “Come quickly!” the Old Man beckoned. “Time is short!”

+++++

From the rooftop of a rather tall apartment tower a few blocks away an Old Man in a black loden cape watched the two men enter Callahan’s home, then he saw the glass traveling back in time – and the furniture too – and he sighed as he shook his head. When Lloyd Callahan saw the blue sphere descending through the sudden storm he knew something had gone wrong…

Or…had it?

Callahan’s body wasn’t placed in the sphere, so perhaps he’d succeeded after all. 

And right then and there he decided he’d tell Sorensen that his father was indeed dead. No one would ever know the difference, and besides, it really didn’t matter one way or the other. Sorensen and his fascist cohorts were utterly clueless. He would dispose of them all soon enough.

He tapped his cane twice and disappeared.

+++++

Ralph Richardson and Sumner Bacon arrived at Callahan’s place about half past too late. Bacon picked the lock and they stepped quietly inside, and the ex-cop looked around the scene then set about reconstructing events. Three glasses on the counter and in the living room – each one untouched. A large pool of blood on the slate floor, and yet no effort had been made to hide it, or even to clean up the residue. He found an odd assortment of glass powder and wood fragments on the floor under the windows, and that stumped him – for a moment, anyway. Plants on the patio also appeared to have been scorched by something shaped like a sphere. And suddenly he realized that it all fit a pattern.

But then a tall blond haired woman wearing a red leather catsuit walked into the living room. She collected a sample of the blood on the floor and inserted it into a small device she had on her belt. She looked up a moment later and nodded. “It’s Callahan’s, alright,” she said as she walked over to the windows. She knelt and examined the powdery residue on the floor for a moment, then she reached up and ran her fingers over the glass itself. A moment later she nodded, then she stood and looked around the ceiling. She walked over to an air conditioning vent and peered inside; when she saw the pink sphere inside she shook her head and turned to Richardson.

“Remove the blood from the floor,” she said, and when Richardson nodded Bacon set about cleaning up the drying pool.

“We need to leave now,” she said a few minutes later – as she turned her head into the wind. “Sirens. I hear sirens.”

They made their way down the stairs and out the rear fire door just as San Francisco’s finest pulled up in front of Harry Callahan’s old apartment building. There had been reports of machine gun fire and strange lights in an apartment on the top floor of the building. They raced up the stairs and kicked in the door, and then with guns drawn they entered the residence and searched from room to room…

“Any sign of gunfire up there,” the shift sergeant on duty asked from the street below.

The responding patrolman picked up his radio and replied: “No, sarge, nothing appears disturbed, no signs of gunfire, and there’s no one here.”

“Who owns the place?” the sergeant asked.

“Some guy named Callahan. Harry Callahan,” the patrolman said as he looked at a piece of mail.

The sergeant shook his head. “Probably some drug dealer. Well, alright, you guys clear out now, and advise dispatch that the reports were unfounded.”

“You got it, Sarge,” the patrolman said, grinning at the reprieve. An unfounded call meant no paperwork, and like all good cops he hated writing reports.

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

[Debussy + Oslo Philharmonic \\ Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn]

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1 thought on “The Eighty-eighth Key, Chapter 70.2

  1. Interesting. Looking forward to the coda. Keep well. Play 432hz at low volume si it doesn’t hurt your ears and use plain tones. Keep well mate

    Like

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