Mermaid, Chapter 19, part 1

In which Tim investigates shark activity, Sal conducts the Vincent Caliabierti memorial raid and Tom is recruited to help take over the Olympics. Who is the mystery guest?

Chapter 19.

Tim.

Monday 12/21.

Monday morning, Mike came over and picked Suzy and I up and we went back to the navy yard. Since Suzy was the most experienced Swimmer girl for dealing with ships directly, they needed her.  The navy had managed to sink a ship in the yard while we were gone. One of the old transports that had been confiscated from Germany during the war had sprung a sea cock while at the dock and settled. That wasn’t that big a deal and the ship was being pumped out when the ship settled far enough to find a rock that had been on the bottom and poke a hole in the bottom of the ship. So it became a much bigger deal and crews and Swimmers had been laboring furiously to get the ship pumped out and a temporary cofferdam on the hole that the rock had punched.  Mike and Captain Farr were putting the ship in Dock on Tuesday and Suzy, Kathy and Merlia were needed to help get things ready.  I was actually using my apartment tonight and Suzy was sleeping in the pool for the next few nights. I was going out for Sal’s big bust and Suzy was going to be there when it went down after work if something else didn’t break on the old wreck.  The ship had already been sold to a scrapper and was going to make one last voyage across the harbor after it was patched enough to ensure that it floated.

After Mike dropped me off at the subway station I made my way up to the library and found Doris’s desk again. I hadn’t picked up a paper yet but it turned out that I didn’t have to. She had today’s paper on her desk and when I walked in, said “Tim! This is surprise. I was just reading your story in the paper. It’s wonderful work.  I’m also glad that horrible story and that terrible club are over.”

“I am too. I got more than a bit too close to that story before the end.”

“Oh yes, that rather dramatic picture of the man chasing the little girl. What happened to her?”

“She’s fine. The detective and the rest of the cops rescued her. We knew where the clubhouse was and they were able to get in and get the girl out of the cage. The club committed suicide when things went down.”

“So it’s over?”

“The detective isn’t sure. He wants me to check the papers in Philly and see if there are similar things happening.”

“We can do that. Start about the same time as the kidnappings in Brooklyn?”

“Or a bit before. Some of the things that the Detective found after he shut down the sharks seem to indicate that the other club may have started first. We may also want to check nearby places for shark attacks.”

“So we start with Philadelphia about sixteen or seventeen year ago and maybe Wilmington, Baltimore and Atlantic City.”

We dug in and after a bit the young reporter who’s camera I had shielded showed up, saw me and said “Hi Tim.” He looked at the papers I pulled. “It looks as if my editor was right in having me chase a rumor. There must be something fishy in Philly.”

“Well I’m doing a favor for my girlfriend’s boss and writing up a report. He took me up to a wedding the weekend before last and we got some rumors that there are more shark clubs around and he wanted me to discreetly check it out.  If you go down there keep your eyes open and be careful.”

“I will. But I won’t be the only guy looking into this. The rumor is all over the place and after this morning there are a lot of hungry reporters looking to scoop you.”

“Well let me help you out.”

We went through the papers and we found the kinds of stories about kidnappings of kids that made no sense. The Philly sharks had spread the takings around and were probably using a boat as a good portion of the takings were off barges. Then I looked for stories about illegal fishing and they were there too. Along with some stories about a brief war on the water and some sunken boats. I wrote the stuff down as several more guys started to look at the same things. By the time it was time for me to get going we had had a good time and I had a good brief for the admiral.  I wished the guys a good story and left. After leaving the library I went to lunch with Suzy at the navy yard. As I picked her up at the dock that was flooded I asked, “So how is it going?”

“Why don’t you come Swimming with me and see?”

“I can’t, I need to be out at the house for Sal’s big show. I need to be there earlier than you do. So why don’t we get lunch and I can get going.”

The admiral must have had the word out to look for me at the gate as Tim Kirk tracked me down and grabbed us to join him, the admiral, Merlia and Mabel for lunch along with his and her parents. The admiral said, “I know that you are tight today, Tim, with Sal’s shindig this evening but I thought that I would grab you for lunch and see what you found.”

“I was unlucky, or somebody was leaking. A bunch of reporters showed up, all looking for Philly material on the same kinds of things that I was looking for.” I handed Tim my notes and the list of reporters tracking the story. “Here’s the list of the guys that were at the library. It looks as if the sharks started up and tried to start fishing in the gardens and the related watermen stopped it and merfolk sunk some boats to make a point. As far as bondings and shark attacks I didn’t have time to see if there were any from the papers. These sharks were a bit cagier than the ones up here and spread the kidnappings around and seemed to attack from the water.”

“Steve said that the people that showed up at the hotel during the wedding looked as if they had been in the military and a navy someplace might make a good recruiting ground for sailors and leadership,” the admiral said. “Josh mentioned that when they started to look into the sharks they were wondering why they didn’t have a boat.  If these sharks do have a boat it could make things complicated. Tim, why don’t you contact these reporters and horse trade some access for getting the same kinds of connections that Tim here gives us.”

“I’ll do that sir. And let some people I know down there in Philly know to make some discreet connections and look into this. Merlia and I will let the other stations know about this and what to look out for.”

I finished lunch, kissed Suzy and said, “I need to be going.”

“Ok, I’ll have car take you to the subway. Tell Sal and the rest, good luck.”

I left and a petty officer took me to the subway and I went out to Jamaica and transferred to the LIRR on the same train as the rest of the reporters. Who had been joined by my boss. I walked up and sat next to him. “I went to the library this morning to look into Philly for the admiral. There were a surprising number of other guys looking into the same stuff. The word got out somehow.”

“That happens in this business.” He grinned a bit. “Sometimes you horse trade for favors. Sometimes you owe somebody a favor. I did tell some of your fellows that you were looking into things in Philly.  I guess they told some people. How many are going down to look?”

“About ten so far. I didn’t see anybody from our paper, but they may have not hit the public library or did after I left.”

“Good, did you tell them to look into chemicals and fish wars?”

“Yes. We hadn’t found any fish kills, but there was a war. It didn’t last very long. I gave a report and a list of the people going down to the navy.”

“Well the more people chasing after those guys the better it is.”

“They may have a boat this time.”

“That would actually make sense from a shark point of view. So why was Suzy working this week?”

“Old ship leftover from the war had an accident and sank. They are patching it up so that they can send it over to scrappers. There is also some underwater dynamiting coming up.”

“That will be exciting. Why are they doing that?”

“A rock that nobody knew about became inconvenient. The ship settled on top of it and it made a bigger hole.”

“That explains all the pumping and working over there.”

“That did it.”

We arrived at the station and there were cars waiting for us. As we got in, Roger introduced me to the people I didn’t already know. They all knew who I was. He finished with “This is Theresa. She freelances on high society stuff with Doris for us in addition to feeding us things from time to time.” Even though I had never met the lady, she seemed familiar somehow, as if there was a connection. I thought of that as we were driven to the house. The house was bit different today because of the trucks in the driveway, the police cars, the vans and ambulances and the rest. The Duesie was there in the middle of it all, all polished and ready to go. Sal came out and said, “Hello gentlemen and lady, Welcome to my home.  We are a bit early for the main event so my fiancé, Miss Caliabeirti will give you a tour of the house and then we will explain the main show and provide some entertainment.”

Sillia was the perfect hostess and showed people around the first floor ending up at the ballroom which was filled with tables and people. There were some chairs and a portable bulletin board set up and Vicky and Carrie were in their maid’s uniforms putting pictures and maps up on the board. I had asked why they wore the uniforms and they just said that they were practical, comfortable and their husbands liked them, so why not? The compelled had all sort of abandoned the things that had been important to most people. The maids had been college girls from wealthy families that the manager had just grabbed when they were visiting Roger’s wife a long time ago and their husbands were bums just grabbed off the street and put to work.  But they loved each other and made the best of what they had. All of them had volunteered to work for the bureau until the Manager’s boss had been taken out and all of them were diligent and competent. As the ladies finished putting the stuff on the bulletin board Sal came over and everybody got quiet.

He started off, “I don’t know how many of you did your homework but before I started to consult and got this gig, I used to be a member of the NYPD. I also had a friend that got me into a great deal of trouble. That friend was Vincent Caliabierti.”

He put a picture of Vinnie and him on the bulletin board. “Vinnie and I had known each other since we were kids and back in the day we worked together even though he was in a business that was not strictly legal to make sure that while the business was illegal, it wasn’t bad. We went after places and shut down some bad people. We also made quite a bit of heat for some people that didn’t like it very much.

I was moved from vice to homicide about three years ago and it was rather strongly hinted that if I didn’t break my connection with Vinnie that my days in the force were numbered. At the same time Vinnie was killed, by sharks. The sharks used by that strange club that was shut down after young Mr. Thomas and a detective did some digging, some very good police work and using resources. As a result of the cleanup from that we recently discovered that the reason that Vinnie was murdered was that he had been looking into the kind of place that we had shut down and was killed so that the place could continue in operation.  We are going to shut that place down tonight. I will turn this over to Lieutenant  Frank Magelleno of the Nassau County joint homicide department who has responsibility for this raid.”

As Frank stepped up I stood aside and took a picture of Frank doing the brief. Then when Sal came back to take questions, which were rather inane, as in “How much do you get paid?” Sal’s answer was that he didn’t know. Every time he asked his fiancé she said don’t worry about it and handed him pocket money. The questions went back and forth like that until Sal said that he had to go and left. Then Frank came back and introduced some FBI types and local police as well his people who were in on this. Then he took us over to the Manager’s house where some people did a dog and pony show, showing how the raid was going to be conducted. The house was starting to look a bit battered , but Roger didn’t care. Then we were taken to Tono’s place and shown the school for the kids who had been kidnapped and the feds were looking for their parents. When Albert was asked who was paying for the school he said that he had contributors that wished to remain discreet so he was obligated to respect their wishes.

After visiting the school, we returned to the house for dinner and the ride to the bust. We watched as fancy cars delivered fancy people to the door and after the people stopped showing up, it was time for the raid. We didn’t have constructs to break down the door, but the rest of it was hard and fast. The guards were slow and didn’t even get their guns out before they were shoved up against the wall and cuffed. Several people did manage to commit suicide, but none of the “residents” did and most of the management didn’t either.  As much as they may have wanted to. The customers were taken to the precinct where their attorneys could bail them out. Meanwhile, the rest of the press and I took pictures of everything. Except the “residents.” They were the victims in this.

When it was over, Roger said, “I’m glad I came out for this. It’s been a long time. Sal did a good job. He even called in some of his old buddies from vice at the NYPD to help with the victims. Those poor kids.”

“Who’s that Theresa lady? I keep thinking I should know her, but I’ve never met her as far as I know.”

“I’ll let her tell you when she decides to. She’s sort of private and very good at what she does.”

I was going to talk to her on the train back, but I couldn’t find her. I got back to my first night in my new place and went to bed.

Noro.

Monday 12/21

Tom had asked yesterday if he could send Bill on some errands in the morning and I had said yes. So when the call came in, I had to drive myself over to the main house. Which was a pleasure actually even if the Cadillac was a tub to drive. I went into Eric’s office and asked, “so what’s going on?”

“The committee would like to meet with you.”

“The committee?”

“It has some fancy name, but we’ve all called it the committee for years. It’s the people that put together the Olympics for Lake Placid. They want to talk to you about sort of taking over things and making sure that they get over the last hump.” “Why me?”

“Because Lou can’t come up, White’s is one of the larger contractors and suppliers and they want somebody with clout to push Jacob around. They may also be looking for a patsy.” “Why would anybody think that I would want to do that?”

“Well Jacob did put his foot in it every time he ran into you. They are guessing that you are rather pissed at Jacob right now. I think that they think that you wouldn’t take any crap from Jacob and they are running out of time. A bunch of things aren’t done. I said that I would let you know.”

“If I hadn’t seen Jacob in action first, I would think that this is more of my family’s fun and games to keep me away from the bower. On the other hand the committee’s probably in a bind right now. But should I care enough about Jacob to want to get involved.”

“If Tom weren’t busy we would get him to do it.” “Do you think he could?”

“Have you seen his address book yet?”

“We weren’t supposed to see his address book. We made an agreement that we wouldn’t.”

“Well that was the scary books. Stacey started in on the book that Tom doesn’t care if anybody sees and his contact list was rather amazing. Mera should have asked him for it. The problem is that Tom is so self effacing that you would never know what he really is. You know how royal fae can pull people in. Well Tom did that in Washington. Stacey came in here and asked if the book was a joke. Why don’t we go over to the dining room, where they were starting in.”

We walked over to the dining room where Chrissie, her mother, my other two daughters, and Stacey were making a list. Mary was looking at the first page and said, “Noro, this is amazing.”

She handed me the list and the first two names were the president and former President. Followed by the emperor of Japan, the heads of state of a host of countries, cabinet secretaries, bankers, various business executives and on and on. The ones that I knew about checked.

Mera said, “We should have asked Tom for his address book. He never made a big deal about who he knew, so we never thought to ask.  I was going to ask my contacts in Washington about Tom and never got the chance because of the stuff from the city, all the bondings, the Manager and the wedding. Greta is going into town when she finishes the kitchen and having a pile of prints made of the wedding picture of Tom and Chrissie.”

“Why didn’t Tom send Bill to do that? He has him running some other errands.”

“We didn’t think of it until after he left. Tom wanted him to pick up a bunch of taps and other tools for the kids. They are coming back after school. Stephie is having the bus drop them off here and wait for the afternoon so that the parents don’t have to come and get them. Take a look at this book.”

She handed it to me. I thumbed through it and I had thought that I had a full address book. Tom had not wasted his time in Washington. Tom came in carrying a box. “Chrissie, you asked to see this stuff and here it is. I have the mill running and it should be about done, so I will be back to explain the stuff later.”

I pulled what looked like a thin book that had the White House stamped on it and opened it. It was a photograph of a younger Tom taken on his last day in Washington with President Coolidge and his wife with well wishes for his new life. I didn’t take much to kings and status very much, but this impressed even me. I had actually known Cal when he was governor. I handed to folder to Chrissie. “I think that you will want to have this picture framed.”

She opened the folder and said, “definitely. What else is in the box?”

We started to go through it and I had to wonder what Tom’s office had looked like. Stuff from all over the world. Just amazing things, a box of them. Chrissie said, Tom mentioned an invitation to the Imperial Palace.”

“This must be it.”

It was a beautiful piece of silk in a frame. Eric said, “to think that this has been out there with the rest of it, just sitting there and nobody thought to look, not even Stephie. This is something that we should put on the wall right now, until you have a home for it, Chrissie.”

“Yes it should. But for right now, let’s just leave everything in the box. When Elizabeth gets here, I want to go through the box with Tom while he disparages himself with everything in here and what it represents. That picture with the President, for instance. I can hear him say it right now, “that was just a picture on my last day, everybody got those.” I don’t think that everybody did and Tom shouldn’t do that to himself. I want Tom to do that over and over with the stuff in this box and the other box that’s still out there.  Eric, could you make sure that somebody brings that in too, please? I think we want both the boxes.”

Eric grinned and went out to find Bill. Greta came in and saw the box. “So why did Tom, presumably it was Tom, pull this old stuff out?”

“Because I asked him to,” Chrissie answered. “It was a good thing I did. The man just packs his life away, goes around and mopes and never tells anybody about the good things. Look at this.” She handed Greta the folder. “How many people get pictures like this from the President?”

Greta looked at it. “We never saw this. Poor Jacob. I think it was because Tom never touched his abilities and played with his machines.  I think that Jacob thought that Tom was our defective child.  So what else is in the box?” She started to poke around. “This is amazing.” She held up the invitation. “This should go up on the wall. The picture with the President too.”

“Let’s wait a bit,” Chrissie said. ‘I want Tom going through it while Elizabeth is here.”

“Oh, yes. Then we can get him to do it again with Helmut and Mary while Jacob and Helen are here.”

Eric came back in carrying the other box. “In the end it was just easier to go over and bring it back myself. I think he took the Pratt boxes with him.”

“Those had the papers hidden away,” Chrissie said. “The last time I was here, I said that I wanted to see his achievements and here are some of them.”

Eric turned to me and said, “Now that we are distracted, what do you think that you will do with the Committee?”

“Let’s go back to the office. I think that I will have to make an appointment and set up a meeting. Lou sent me up here and he wouldn’t have done that if things were not a real mess. If the Olympics have issues it would be egg on the face of a lot of people.  We have a lot of people involved in this and something like this going very publically bust would hurt the business even if we had nothing to do with why it failed. If need be, may I borrow Tom? For his connections, if nothing else.”

“Yes. The gun work has been a good business, but there’s a lot at stake here with the entire region. Larry has known for some time that the gun work would not last forever and that relying on Tom could be problematic. The fact that Tom is going through the shop with the boys is a good thing, but that at best that gives us until September to come up with a long term solution.”

“Where are Al and Mike anyway?”

As we talked we went back to the office.

“Poking around across the lake. They took Tom’s truck for a run. They will be back after lunch so that they can take Chrissie and the other ladies sledding while Hilda takes Athena skiing.”

“That will be something. They probably can’t stay out there very long.”

“They know. But they wanted to experience snow while they were here.”

“Well, let me make the call. Who will I be speaking with?”

“The committee secretary, Thomas Drier. Let me dial.”

Eric dialed the number and said, “Thomas, I have Mr. White here, he would like to make an appointment to meet with you. He’s at the farm. No, Antonio’s is not fine today. We have plans for the evening and Mr. White is here with his family. We can meet at George’s for lunch down over in Burlington. Mr. White, myself, Mr. Claytor and Mr. White’s aide will be there. One o’clock is fine.” He hung up.

“Done.”

“Why didn’t you have me talk to him.”

“Because he’s a weasel and thinks that real important people don’t make their own appointments. I’m sparing you, trust me.”

“Why Josh?”

“Because sometimes you need a pile driver and Josh works for that. Also he’s blunt and effective and the committee knows that Jacob insulted Josh. By now somebody has told them who Josh is. Finally Josh said that he wanted to be involved if we heard from the committee. I imagine that he knows something about this.”

“So why not Antonio’s? It’s a bit far, but we might want to talk to my people over there any way.”

“Because they are asking you for a favor. Also, George hates Jacob and won’t let him in the place. Even has a restraining order against him and I will have Boris there to enforce it if he shows up.”

“So we can keep Jacob out of the conversation. I see where you’re going with this. You’ve apparently dealt with these people before.”

“Yes. Around about the end of last year, the committee came over here without Jacob and asked if we could put together a proposal to host certain events. The Burlington city council, the county council, the state government and certain business people, myself included, put something together. That was when we started to look at the inn at the ski resort. The inn looked like a potentially good thing so we bought it anyway and started to add rooms to it and refurbish the main building. Josh is looking at it now with Bill, which is why I could not find Bill just now. So anyway, the proposal was on the table for six months before it was finally rejected. I suspect that the proposal was used as bludgeon to get Jacob to cooperate.”

Josh came in. “Eric that inn looks like it’s going to be quite the place when it’s done. Bill took me over so that I could get a good look. Father, have you seen it yet?”

“No. Not yet. But I’m glad you are here. The committee over there wants to talk to me.”

“Things are a mess over there and they want somebody to clean up. I was looking into that. I called Lou for some of the paperwork and Al is making a discreet contact over there and bringing stuff back. If you know what to look for, it’s fairly obvious. Some things are not finished, the stands at the skating rink, for instance. The company still had trailers on the lot. When I saw the schedule at the June board meeting, things were supposed to be closed down, by October  31st latest. I talked with some of the company’s people and they were miffed that they had to rush some things. The phone company still had people wiring phones. Bob and Scott actually spent a good portion of Friday, not setting their stuff up, but working phone lines, because they were recruited by the phone company over here to help out when the guys from over here saw them. There were all sorts of little things just not done. The parade was poorly organized and if Bob and Scott had not pumped up the skating show , the show would have been a dud. I’m guessing that you want me at the meeting too.”

“Yes. For the reasons you just explained. Plus I want to make it clear right up front that if Jacob complains, he won’t be dealing with me, but you and he’s already put himself on your bad side. I also want to recruit Tom at some point.”

“He’s busy.”

“I asked Eric and the gun work takes second place if necessary.” “Why Tom?”

“You obviously haven’t been to the dining room or you wouldn’t be asking that question. Stacey had a look at his address book.”

“She wasn’t supposed to talk about that.”

“Not that book. His desk book from his time in Washington. She started reading it and asked Tom if she could share it with Chrissie. He said yes and they are starting an apology letter project so that all Tom’s very important friends know that he is married. Tom brought in a rather amazing box from his office in Washington. Chrissie is having him explain it later.”

“He’s never said very much about that.”

“I know. I think that it’s because of the path of sacrifice and keeping things secret. Then he likes to surprise people. Which he has. I imagine that if the Manager hadn’t played his games the last couple of months he would have sprung surprise after surprise on us, bit by bit. Which would have been a lot of fun. Now he’s been forced to reveal things and he will have to come up with new surprises.”

“I suspect he will,” Eric said. “He actually surprised Stephie with ‘Nia.”

“Anyway, I want somebody with the White House Line memorized if we need it. Though I think that Jacob would crap the first time he saw Tom call the White house as if it was no big deal. I wonder what Tom’s relations with the White House office mom look like.”

“I want to see that too. Tom, just dialing the phone, and talking to the White House, just chatting away.”

“Can he do that?” Josh said. “In all the dealing with the Manager he never even hinted that he could do something like that.”

“He didn’t need to. I imagine if the admiral had gotten sticky about using navy resources or something that he would have used his connections. Or if the admiral had problems when he was doing related things. Since none of that had happened he just never used the connections.”

“When we were talking about what might happen if Tom went on the warpath, we never considered that his most powerful weapon wasn’t a gun or his tricks, but a telephone. I should have known better.”

“He has managed to surprise us, hasn’t’ he.”

“Well I want to see this book, maybe we should join the ladies and talk a bit.”

Josh had a good idea, so we went back out the dining room. One of the errands that Bill had gone on this morning must have been to bring Doris back because she had joined the ladies at the table. “This trip just keeps getting more fun. Tom is the most modest person out there. Yet there he was, with the President. If Mera had had an opportunity to have the wedding in the Summer, the guest list, just from the contents of this book, would have been incredible.  Yet Tom has never dropped a single name in my presence.”

“Doris, last night, when Stacey brought that book in, Tom said essentially, that if he wanted to talk to the President that he would just call and wait.” Eric said. “Or that he would leave a message and somebody would call him. The White House line and several others are not in the book because he doesn’t need to look them up. At Sal’s wedding I really want to talk to Roscoe. Tom has said next to nothing about his time in Washington and I want to know more.”

“Well, I would talk to his Japanese friend,” Chrissie said. “He’ll be around again soon. I’ll keep an eye out for him. He helped Tom set up the stuff for the wedding.”

“The fun thing right now is that Stephie hasn’t heard about this yet. She’s bringing the kids over this afternoon for Tom’s session with them.”

“Stephie said that Tom had never been able to surprise her, Greta said. “Well I think that this will be a surprise. Chrissie, this is the negative for the wedding picture, right.  I will go and get the prints ordered. Do you think that 100 will be enough?”

“For the time being. I think that that will handle this book.  We will have to see what Stacey finds in addition to this.” Greta left have the prints made. Josh had been going through the address book. He looked up and said, “I’m not sure what the rest of the books look like. I’m not sure I want to know what the rest of the books look like. Jacob treated Tom as not worthy of notice, called Chrissie here, a “Stupid girl,” and all the while, Tom had access to the kind of people I think that Jacob could only dream about. Noro, your driver is back and I think ready to go. Why don’t we talk to Tom and get going. Mary, Noro wants you to come too and play his aide. Every person of clout has to have an aide.” She giggled a bit and said, “I can do that, and this is going to be fun, I imagine. Who are we playing with.” “The Committee running the Olympics,” Josh said. “Definitely fun if what I saw is any indication. That parade Saturday leaked incompetence even before the boys’ show went off.” “It turns out that they never got the chance to set the whole thing up. They did the skating rink first and started in on the parade when the phone people here saw them and recruited them. They actually did more real work that needed to get done than they did on their fun and games.  Between the magical ending to the skate show and the phone work, the boys actually did far more good than harm.”

“Well, all they wanted to do was to ensure that their reputations were secure,” Eric said. “They did that.”

We collected Bill from the kitchen, walked over to the car and drove over to the shop. Tom was showing Bob and Scott another set up so we waited until he was finished and then I asked Tom, “How is it going?”

“Very well. We already over halfway through the pistols and we can start to do rifle stuff when the kids get here.”

“We may need you. In fact we probably will.” “What for?”

“Well, I’m being recruited to save the Olympics and I need somebody with real clout. So I want to use you to make certain calls, to the White House, say if certain people get sticky.”

“I can make calls like that,” He smiled “Vicky at the White House desk likes me and thinks that I am a very nice boy that should find a nice girl. I think that I should tell her that I found one. Father, are you ok if we slow down the gun work?”

“Yes. And let us know when the boys can finish the work or do something themselves. We all think that the Olympics are in trouble and may need that phone book of yours to crack loose a certain gentleman.”

“I was planning a Christmas present for him and I may still do that. But rubbing his nose in just how much he misjudged me will only sweeten the deal. Let’s go. Boys, the next few steps are fairly straight forward. Just follow the sheet.”

“We can handle it, Uncle Tom,” Bob said. “If we can’t, we’ll stop and do something else.” Tom got in the car with the rest of us and we were off. We were running a bit late, but that was ok, anyway. It’s not as we would be keeping anybody important waiting and we didn’t want anything from them. We actually arrived at the restaurant a little after one and Boris was there at a table with Al and Mike quietly having lunch and a bunch of people toward the back with several tables joined together. Eric said, “Hello, gentlemen, you had a proposal for Mr. White?”

“Eric, why didn’t you take the whole place for our meeting! We won’t be private.”

“I didn’t see the need. We can keep voices down and not disturb the other customers.”

Considering that the normal lunch crowd was gone and the only customers in the place other than the committee itself were my sons in law and Eric’s son in law there weren’t really any issues, but there was no point in letting the committee know that. Still Boris was in uniform and it’s not smart to piss the sheriff off. The waitress came over to take our orders and I asked Eric, “What’s good here?”

“The steak is usually good. It’s the special on Monday. May, I will have the steak.”

We all ordered the steak special like he suggested. The committee had apparently already ordered and I said, “so gentlemen, what brings you to me?”

The man who seemed to the leader looked at Tom rather nervously.

“We need your help.”

“My help how?”

“We want you to get us over the line in time.”

“So what can you offer that would make it worth my while?”

“What do you want?”

“That’s rather complicated. What I came up here for was some peace and quiet.”

“We can offer you a spot on the world stage.”

“Well I don’t really want something like that. For the last ten years my goal has been to retreat from that stage and stay out of sight.”

“The value and prestige of your company. If this becomes a fiasco we can make sure that the world knows that you were responsible.”

“Josh?”

“Al, did you get it?”

“Picked it up this morning. Dave met me across the lake and I picked up the rest from Lou at Western Union this morning.”

Al came over with a rather large stack of documents. He handed them to Josh. Josh looked over them and said, “Mr. Drier. Since I came up here I have been insulted to my face by Mr. Martin and now threatened. I take threats to the company very seriously because for the last ten years, it hasn’t been Mr. White running the company, it has been myself as the proxy holder. On Saturday, I noticed some things that were rather unsettling while Mr. Martin was ranting about the antics of my in laws. So I had Al meet with our people here this morning and obtain some material and had Lou send up some more material. Specifically the information regarding delays and ship dates. There is a stack of memos here showing that the delay of the signoff dates and the changes required because of things changed after the equipment was shipped created a large part of the mess you are in. I was rather mystified by the fact that the company still had an onsite presence because we were supposed to be closed up and out by late October the last time I saw a schedule at the board meeting in June. I’ve also had to take time off other business to address things that were supposed to be complete in October, through November. So gentlemen, I am not in a good mood, resorting to threats will not make me any happier and dealing with me being grouchy will not make my wife any happier.

We came here willing to listen to your proposal. So far you haven’t presented one. The fact is that there is a downside to this fiasco and we will take a hit if the games go bust.  Which is one reason I am here. Since you did not bring a proposal and some idea of what the issues are and what needs to be done to resolve them, I will have to put the deal on the table. So here’s the way it’s going to go. What Mr. White says, goes. Whoever Mr. White delegates will be treated as if they are Mr. White themselves. Which means that what I say, goes.  Finally all monies due to the company and other vendors will be paid on time.  That’s the deal on the table right now.”

“But, but how will the committee be able to do our jobs if we have to give approval to everything you do?”

“You won’t. But if you had been doing your jobs I would be with my wife and Tom here would be with his wife and Mr. White would be enjoying his peace and quiet, along with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. You came to us, we did not come to you. The company will take a hit. Frankly I should have looked more closely at how deep we were into this before it became a fiasco, but for the last six months I have been busy with other things, I didn’t know Eric or the fact that you had come over here for an alternative location for some venues based on Mr. Martin’s stupidity and greed. At the time I had not met my son in law, he had been involved in his own business and not paying any attention to the things going on over on your side of the lake.”

“So why is he here now?”

“Because he knows how to get things done quickly and has connections that I do not. I don’t anticipate needing those connections, but if I do, I want his cooperation.”

Lunch came and we five started to eat. The committee had apparently not ordered after all. Josh noticed and said, “Didn’t you order lunch?”

“No, Jacob said that this place was slop.”

“Well far be it for me to judge Mr. Martin’s taste, but this steak is excellent. I will bring my wife down here to get a second opinion. So did you bring an updated schedule or anything concrete?”

“No.”

“What did you bring, anything?”

“We just wanted to enlist Mr. White. We were going to set up another meeting for that stuff.”

“Mary, did you get it yesterday?”

“Yes I did, Josh. I contacted the office and they sent it over this morning by messenger.”

Ok, gentlemen, what is your answer. You have until we finish eating.

“We’ll, we’ll do it. Jacob won’t like it though.”

“One last thing. If I even see Mr. Martin before this is over, not only will I pull all the company’s people out and send them home, but the Olympics will be dry. Not a drop other than what people bring in themselves. Look up the Peacekeeper if you don’t think that I can do that.”

The rather dejected committee filed out and Al started to laugh. “Josh, did you have to be that rough on them?”

“If I hadn’t been they would dither forever. What they wanted was a patsy to cover their rear end when the thing blew up. They were looking for kindly Mr. White to take responsibility for their failure. Frankly I should have come up here and kicked some tails around and would have six months ago, but you showed up, Tom and I was occupied. Then it was Mike and Nera and then the Manager.

If Drier had come in here prepared, I would have just let Noro handle it. Noro dropped it on me because he knows that I don’t play nice when people start waving around stupid threats. Nobody on that committee seems to have done any homework or looked into the company. They should have known who I was and what my role was before Eric even called.  They just thought that they would be dealing with the out of it Mr. White and a bunch of flunkies. By the way, you can come out now, whoever you are.”

Now that Josh mentioned it, there was another presence in the room. Was the operative word as he seemingly phased through the wall and quickly moved up the street. “He’s gone,” I said.

“That’s a neat trick. I didn’t think you could phase outside Change. Whoever it was is tainted a bit by the dark, but isn’t a dark fae. Apparently he didn’t want to talk to us. At least not to me.”

“So now that we have the Olympics, what do we do with them.”

“I don’t think that the situation is irrevocable. If they had approached us next week, it would have been. They are about 80% there. The thing is that there is going be have to be some triage to kill somebody’s useless got to have before it eats time and resources that they don’t have. Tom, you and I will go through the not done list and kill whatever can’t be finished before the Olympics are over. Priority on things that are needed for completions are athletic venues,  restrooms, audience seating, from cheapest to most expensive in that order, and the food and drink concessions.”

“Why cheapest to most expensive on audience seating?” I asked.

“Because if people really want something, they will watch on a wooden bench, but fancy seating eats time and money that we may not have. I noticed at that rink Saturday that the prime seating was ready, but the rest wasn’t, the restrooms weren’t ready and there was no provision for food concession yet. So from now on its restrooms, the cheap seats and food concession first and prime seating and grandstands, last.”

Al said, “this was almost as good as a troubleshooter. That business about clearing the place out when the customers are the sheriff. Boris would you throw yourself out?”

“I might try if the food was lousy. But I eat here all the time. Strange spirit characters notwithstanding.”

“I wonder how long he was here?” Mike said.

“Probably saw us come in and did his trick to hear what we were saying, then the committee came in and then Noro and the rest. Then he was stuck hoping that he didn’t attract attention in a room full of high fae. He almost succeeded but Josh seemed to pick him up.”

“I don’t know why, but I felt a reflection of myself and started to sense around. There he was, but since he was being discreet and the room was full of fools I decided to wait until the meeting was over.”

“Well, whoever it was got an earful of nonsense.” I said. “Well now we have to waste time cleaning up somebody else’s mess. And we won’t even get paid for it.”

“Father, the reason that I mentioned that vendors are to be paid is that we haven’t been paid for it. They are way past due and have huge overruns.  I’m going to make sure that everybody gets paid when this over. Even if the committee has to take a personal loss. I’m also having Vic take a good look all the committee member’s taxes and Millie is going to come up and take a very hard look at the accounts payable and how they conducted business. They wanted to play with the big boys. Well now they get to see how the big boys play. When we get back to the house I will call and tell Lou that we will, in fact need the team of troubleshooters that we put together last month when Lou noticed things getting sticky.”

“Why didn’t Lou tell me about this then?”

“Because we couldn’t be sure how far you were still out of it and more importantly if you came in to this cold, they wouldn’t pick up that you already knew. You being out in the public, just being with family let me slip into the background and talk to our people. If I had come in as the top dog, I would have had to be even more rough than I was, maybe to our own people, who didn’t deserve it. You also sniffed something I didn’t and had Lou call in those people you talked about. Speaking of which, I’m wondering now if that character was one of those people. If he was I want him to teach me that phase trick without being in Change.”

“Well if he is, we will find out soon enough. I’m a bit amazed that he seemingly resonated with you. We’ve always thought that you had no relatives. I think that we need to keep an eye out for that fellow.” “Whoever he was, he’s spent a lot of time in contact with the dark. It hasn’t tainted him to the point where he is turned and he was very powerful, but he has more than his share of being in the shadows. But if he has been like Albert and Mary, that may be the same thing that is happening. Why don’t we get back and see what the ladies are up to. Mary, could you fill the role of Noro’s aide for the time being. I won’t hold you into account for not having the updated schedule since you didn’t have the job yet.”

“I’ll get it this afternoon.” Mary said, “This is going to fun and this time, instead of watching from the sidelines, I get to play too.”

Bill drove us back to the house and then drove Josh and Mary over to Lake Placid after Josh made a quick trip to Eric’s office to call Lou. We went in to the dining room, the ladies were working away and had been joined by Elizabeth, Vivian and Hazel, as well as Tom’s sister Diana. Elizabeth said, “This is typical of you, Tom. Hiding your true worth under a basket. My aunts told me about that. They would come over here waiting for your latest surprise and you would never talk with them. Now this. Mother, what should we tell Grandfather?”

“Nothing at this time. Tom is going to be around and considering where he just was, he’s going to create some surprises. Tom, did the Committee talk to you about the closing ceremonies?”

“What about the closing ceremonies?”

“Well they wanted you to build something that would do the same sort of thing as Bob and Scott did for the skating show.” “I don’t think that I will have time. The committee is already in a mess and Noro just got put in charge of the cleanup.” “I know. They were getting rather desperate.”

“Well I will be back, I have to see how Bob and Scott are doing.”

He left and Hilda and Athena came in with a box. Hilda said, “Well that was an experience.”

“What were you doing?”

“Shopping over in Plattsburg at a little hole in the wall.”

“What for?”

“Constructs. Bob and Scott needed replacements and Stephie and I wanted some, so we went shopping. The conversation was rather interesting and while he wasn’t Bob and Scott’s construct connection, he wished that he was.  We had to tell him that Bob and Scott were likely to be the largest purchasers for a while because the others had been shut down. But constructs weren’t the only things he sold and that was one weird place, wasn’t it, Athena?”

“Yes it was. Real magic hidden amongst hokum and waterpipes.”

“How many jars did you buy?” I asked.

“Forty. We cleaned him out. We figured that Bob and Scott will want twenty and we can use the others for some demonstrations. Al and Sal will probably want some too.”

Chrissie called out, “Hilda, Athena, have you seen Tom’s address book, yet!?”

“We weren’t supposed to see those.”

“Not the scary books, Tom’s desk book from Washington. Come here, look.”

She handed them the book and Hilda flipped through it. She stopped at one page. “I wouldn’t think that this was real except that the Director’s direct line is here and that is correct. So what have you all been doing?”

“Sending wedding announcements with apologies and pictures.”

“Well are you ladies ready for a break, Athena and I want to hit the slope and you said that you were coming.”

“We’re ready. We all got wet, so we can have a good time.”

Al and Mike left with most of the ladies, Greta went to start dinner and I decided to see how Tom was doing. He had the boys working on the next step and was setting up the hand drills and some taps for the kids. There was a large pile of steel block scrap waiting to be punched full of holes. “I had Bill go over to the place I use for tools and pick up a box of drill bits and ¼ taps.  I expect that the kids will break most of them, but that’s part of the learning process. I want to teach them that when you are making things, sometime you break things and that it isn’t the end of the world.”

“How’s Tim’s pistol coming?”

“About halfway. I’ve been slipping in the steps as we go through the others. If I have to, I will finish before we leave, myself.  The tank beds are another issue, but Bill’s guys are already starting on the plumbing.”

“Well you may have people from the company available. Don’t hesitate to use them. Right now your time is more valuable than you know.”

“The bad part is that I’m going to pull out a suit.”

“Don’t bother. Not for those clowns. Have it ready for somebody that means something, but when you are over there at the Olympics, just be yourself. I want to make it clear that we are taking time off from our lives to help them. When Josh gets back we will have a long talk about this. Josh was on top of it, but didn’t want to get me involved for good reasons. Though I wish he had, right from the start. This is going to be a challenge. By the way, you may have to handle international relations. I imagine that we have been lucky and haven’t hit that side of the mess yet.”

“Why me?”

“Because you probably know those people’s bosses if what I saw in that book is true. They will have more trouble dealing with you than me.”

“A lot of that was gun work. Once they realized that I was part of Larry’s custom guns, I became very popular because they wanted to bump the waiting list. But yes, I do know their bosses, more than likely.”

Stephie showed up with the kids and Tom got to work showing them how to center punch holes, drill them and tap them. Once the kids got going, I sidled over to Stephie and said, “Tom is good at this.”

“He is, actually. I wonder where he learned it.”

“Down in Washington, probably. He has some rather amazing things he did there, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise.”

“I told Tom a short while ago that he was never able to surprise me. I don’t know if he took it as a challenge or it’s just exposure, but he has been dropping surprises right and left.”

Tom came over and said, “the kids are really going at this. Is this affecting their normal school stuff?” “It’s the end of the term anyway. Actually this will help. I want to thank you for taking the time for this. Of course the kids are all looking for what you are planning for poor Jacob.”

“We took the Olympics away from him at lunch today. The committee wanted Noro as a patsy for when things fell apart and they got Josh instead. Apparently they hadn’t been paying their bills and Lou told Josh about it. So he was looking around Saturday when we were over there and wasn’t liking what he was seeing. I want to know why the bathrooms were not open and the food stands ready.  One stand not ready is one thing, but none of them seemed to be.”

“That’s an interesting question, Tom,” I said. “Of course you just gave yourself a job.”

“I think that I already had it.”

“We haven’t divided up the work yet. But not having those things ready could be a bad thing. So put it at the top of your list. I think I will go back in and Eric and I can make a tentative list of jobs and people. Before this is over I may actually delegate something to Andy, just to rub the committee’s nose in the fact that I am in charge.”

I left Tom to what he was doing, and went back to Eric’s office to make up that list. We also talked about the bathroom and concession issue. As we went through the list, things were going to be tight and it was just possible that I would need Andy and Gregor to run errands before this was over. After about two hours of making ten pounds of manure fit in a two pound bag, and all the other obligations we had, we managed to get a list put together of jobs and people. I said to Eric, “The important thing here is to keep the fun factor high and the grief factor as low as we can. Not that there won’t be a lot of grief, but I’m going to make it clear that we are taking time out of our lives to do this and if they don’t like it, we all have other things we would rather be doing. My primary goal though is to get my people out and paid. Which means they get the full Josh.” “Jacob had no clue who he was talking to.  I’m sure of that.  I hope the committee understands that Josh isn’t kidding and that he will shut down the Olympic parties to make his point. But Jacob has never spent any time on the Cape. Neither have I, but I’m Josh’s in law and haven’t been making a mess that he’s been not wanting to have to deal with for the last six months. Still I was amazed how he came right out with the issues the minute the committee started to push. Has he always been like that?”

“Oh, yes. You should have seen what happened when I tried to play games over the tank beds. He was all over me in seconds, with contingencies and had slipped a business plan to Lou over the weekend. While he came up here to visit, he knew about the mess and even if the boys hadn’t played their games, we would have probably ended up at the parade.  Even if we hadn’t, he would have gone over there for an inspection and talked to people. Even if the committee hadn’t come over and wanted me to take over, he would have gone over and raised hell.  Which would have been worse for the committee.  I have had to be as bad as Josh in the past, but ever since I’ve had him as son in law I can afford to be more laid back, because of what happens when people piss him off.  The problem is that too many people don’t realize what they are dealing with until they get the full Josh.  Jacob didn’t even pick up the fact that Josh was there, until Josh started to talk about kidnapping.”

“So what do we do about our mystery character?”

“Nothing for the time being. If he keeps showing up where Josh is, Josh will lock him down. Josh doesn’t see him as a real danger and Josh is sensitive to that. I think that we can trust Josh’s instincts. It will be interesting to see what Tom does.”

“Why?”

“Because Tom likes channels and communications and is willing to feed them to trigger reactions. So if he isn’t certain that our mystery guest is working for us, likely he will start to feed the mystery guest surprises the same way he did to Athena to feed the Manager.”

“Bill said that there is a duplicate set of the file he has out in the barn and Tom has mentioned a safe deposit box, so if we see him go to either place, he’s setting something up. I hope he tells us first, this time.”

“He said on the yacht that he would like to feed the entire document set to the other side if he could. So if he sees a channel, he will take it.”

Stephie came in. “Andy, Gregor and Jimmy are in the living room because Jimmy wants to meet the mermaids and Tom and the boys are finishing up Larry’s pistols and doing some rifles. Tom thinks that he and the boys will be across the lake tomorrow, or Wednesday at the latest, tomorrow more likely.”

“Josh and Mary will be back with the schedules and after talking to our people. I suspect that Josh will rent Antonio’s tonight and at every opportunity. Stephie, could I count on you and Hilda for some discreet services. We had a mystery guest and I would sort of like to get a better lead on what he is up to. He may contact you, or Hilda anyway, if not Tom because I suspect that he was the discreet person that Lou uses. He didn’t come out and talk with us, but Josh had just gone over on the committee and I imagine that is more than a bit scary to the uninitiated.”

“I can do that. Hilda can too. If the other guy is a strong fae, it might get tricky.” “He is, and it will be. He phased through a wall outside his Change.”

“Then I definitely want to talk to him. That’s one trick I’ve been trying to pull off for years and haven’t quite managed. How did you pick up on him?”

“Josh resonated.”

“I thought that Josh didn’t have any family. He’s said that he was left at an orphanage with very strong shields and no marks or trace of any kind.”

“We thought so too. We even tracked down the orphanage where he was left, but by the time we knew Josh, it had burned down. His adoptive parents had been dead for some time as well. Still, the possibility has always been out there.”

‘I hope he has family and finds out who he is. On the other hand I hope he doesn’t go full Josh on them. Why didn’t you schedule the meeting for dinner so we could all go?” “I think that it would have been over the top and once the committee actually opened the possibility of the takeover, Josh didn’t want to waste time. Any way your father booked the meeting and he set it up for lunch at a place where Jacob had a restraining order against him. How did that happen?”

“Jacob was having one of his arguments with father, I forget about what and father wanted to meet at George’s. So we go down and order the steaks and Jacob starts going on about how crappy the food is. You’ve had the steak there, what do you think?”

“It was excellent.”

“George has a special butcher that he shares with some places in New York. They grow the beef up here and send the sides down. Now George takes some of the poorer cuts, but he ages and marinates the beef. When Antonio moves he and George already have an arrangement. So George takes things like his steaks personally and came right out and said that if Jacob didn’t like the steak that George would make him another one. Jacob replied that anything that was made in that place would be slop and that George was a terrible cook. So George threw him out. So Jacob refuses to go and George calls Boris and Boris sends a deputy who talks to father and says to Jacob that he has to leave. He finally does, but threatens George, so George talked to the judge and had a restraining order placed on Jacob. Jacob can’t even come near the place without getting arrested.”

“So it was Jacob being Jacob. Since I’ve never seen him when he wasn’t pissed off what is he like when he isn’t?”

“I haven’t ever seen him other than when he was either pissed off or ready to be pissed off.”

“Is he always that bad?”

“Since the war,” Eric said. “When Edward died, it took a lot out of him. He became more self centered and like what you see now. I thought that the Olympics was the beginning of a change, but apparently not. Of course I never see him unless there is some sort of argument, usually stupid and easily forgettable.”

“Like George without the kidnapping would have been.”

“Yes. Still using constructs on people that hadn’t seen them before was out of bounds. By the time the boys, Bill and Joe are done though, there won’t be anybody left in the county who hasn’t seen a construct.”

“Or shot one, several times, Stephie said. “Hilda and Athena went shopping for more, did they find them?”

“Yes they did,” Eric said. “They cleaned out the supply and commented to the supplier that the people buying them in the past probably wouldn’t be. Apparently Bob and Scott are the biggest buyers anyway.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. They use them so often for their shoots and since they make money with the shoots, they can afford to keep buying them.”

“So the shoots are a business?” I asked. ‘I was never quite sure.” “Yes,” Eric said. “The constructs cost money, renting a field, paying for special shells and a safety officer. They have to charge admission and get paid by the County for officers that are training.  The numbers are not huge, but it’s been a good business for the boys.”

“They rent the field? I would have thought that they would use one of yours.”

“They do, sometimes, but they pay for that, just like any other event. They like to spread the shoots around and make them mysterious. Also if they used the same fields all the time it would be boring. I suspect the next one will involve a building ready to be demolished, since the constructs that George launched attacked buildings for the most part.”

Chrissie rolled in. “We’re back! Mother and the rest are in the pool getting warm and entertaining the boys. Stephie, you must see Tom’s marvelous boxes.”

“What about them?”

“Wait and see. Grandfather, you come too.”

We went back to the dining room, where we could hear splashes from the pool and the boys laughing. Chrissie went over to the box and handed Stephie the folder from the White House, “This is where it starts. We have the Coolidges’ and the Hoovers’ letters ready to go already. We are sending the letter to the emperor to the embassy in Washington. It’s not the only one. By the way you can’t have that picture for your museum. That goes home with us.”

“I can understand that,” Stephie said. “Where did Tom have this stuff stashed?”

“Out there in the barn with the rest of his stuff. We spent a good portion of today, getting letters out to people you would not believe with wedding announcements. It’s a good thing mother had those printed up and we had lots of leftovers from the wedding. I’ve been writing short letters of apology and including a picture. Here’s Tom’s address book. My sister couldn’t believe it when she saw it”

She handed her the book. Stephie started to thumb through it. “I think I can see why.”

“When I saw that book, I said that Tom had far more clout than I did,” I said. “The committee asked why Tom was there and this book is the reason why.”

Tom and the boys came into wash up and Stephie said, “Tom! How come you never said that you knew the President?”

“Because it should have been obvious. I never tried to hide it very hard. I’ve always said that I worked in Washington . Who did you think I was working with?”

“The Emperor?”

“I used to hang out at the Japanese embassy a lot. It started out as some constituent service, I got along with the military attaché and we started embassy party games. We were trying to see if we could get two small countries in Asia and South America to go to war with each other. They were on to us and just as our nefarious schemes would come to fruition, they would get together, have a party and declare peace. Anyway I have a lot of friends on embassy row.”

She was going through the box. “What’s this?”

“My letter opener. Careful it’s very sharp. There’s two swords that go with it in the other box along with the rest of the outfit. I went to the Halloween party as a samurai and Sumitomo went as a Texas Ranger. It was a riot, because I would only speak Japanese and Sumitomo had the Texas drawl down so well that a Texan was trying to figure out what part of Texas he was from.”

She pulled amazing thing after amazing thing out of the box as Tom explained them. The boys had returned to the dining room and were looking rather awe stuck as Tom would explain the various odds and ends of his life. Greta wanted to call dinner, so we cleared off the table and set the plates out. Al and Mike had gone over to Larry’s and came back for dinner. Diana was hosting Elizabeth, Vivian and Hazel and Bob and Scott left to eat with their families, and Doris wanted to get together with her photographer and write up the skiing story at her hotel. She hadn’t heard about me and the Olympics yet and I thought about how to handle the press through dinner.

 

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