Mermaid, Chapter 24, part 4

It’s all Tim today as he fights the battle of the parking spot and checks out the Colonel.

Tim.

Wednesday 1/20, 1932.

Sal, Sillia and I went out into the sunny morning and I took pictures of them next to the car, Sal standing next to the car and Sillia in the car and the car with Sal and Sillia inside happily smiling away. Then we went back into the house for breakfast and I started to realize that having a car was not an unmixed blessing as mother called and wanted me to bring Kathy and Suzy, along with Vic down to Bennies for lunch. I was originally planning to have Bill drive me over to the station and then go into the city on the train and leave the car at Sal’s for the next couple of days as Vic was planning to take me to the NY Stock exchange today. Instead it was off to Manhattan in the car to deliver the Troubleshooter pictures, and have my write up gone over and go over to the exchange. I figured that I could leave the car at the bureau’s building if I had to so I drove in. About an hour later, I got lucky as there was an empty parking spot on newspaper row which made parking easy. I looked at the parking sign which said two hour parking and my wrist watch which was a Christmas presnt from Sal and Sillia and since I needed to shoot the last photo anyway I took a picture of my car in the spot. After I took the photo I went up the street to the building. Going upstairs, I dropped the film packs of the Troubleshooter and navy yard pictures off and Andy asked, “So what good stuff did you bring us today, Tim?”

“Pictures of the Troubleshooter and the car for the file. Along with the tour with the Japanse prince of the navy yard and Wallabout.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No, and I need a set for me and a set for Mrs. Troubleshooter. She wanted a nice set of pictures with her husband and the car, so I took them. Vic is expecting me so I need to go.”

I went upstairs to the business section to look for Vic and Tony at the front desk said that he was in Doris’s office, so I went up another floor and into her office. Babera, Doris’s secretary, saw me and said, “Tim, the inquisition awaits. Go on in.”

When I went in, Vic and Doris were over at the window, laughing at something. When they heard the door they turned around and I asked, “What’s so funny?”

“You’ll find out,” Vic said, smiling. “An old ox is about to be gored. There’s a change of plans. I was going to go over to the exchange today, but tomorrow is better.”

“Why?”

“Well you’ll need to get here earlier, but the princess is ringing the opening bell tomorrow.”

“With the other ladies?”

“Of course.”

“It’s going to be fun,” Doris said. Do you have the write up and the pictures?”

“Yes I do. I also dropped a stack of Troubleshooter photos off this morning.”

“Since Sal wasn’t doing any troubleshooting they must be for the files.”

“Sillia wanted good pictures of her and Sal, so I took them. This way, I have a set for my place, the files have a nice set and Sillia has a nice set. It was part of the deal with Sillia for her pictures.”

“Well let’s get started.”

“Remind me at eleven o clock. I brought the car today and I wasn’t expecting to park for very long.”

“Oh we will,” Vic said. “We saw you come in and take that picture too. That’s going to make things interesting. Hand us the write up.”

I did and we spent the next hour and a half as they cut it to pieces and then showed me how to tighten it up while still keeping the context. “You’re almost there,” Vic said. The paper would have gone with it, but every word is space that the paper can’t use for advertising. So what did you have to horse trade for the pictures?”

“Rides in the car and taking the Troubleshooter pictures. Since Kay was sold out of cookies there was no way that I could use cookies to trade for the pictures today.”

“It’s almost eleven o’clock and you and I have an appointment, so I think that I will give you your assignment for this afternoon. Take something that you heard recently and use it to research a story. It should be something that you overheard in a conversation that you didn’t know anything about. I know that you know how to use the periodicals section of the library and our morgue, but have you used the associated press as well?”

“No, I wasn’t sure that I could.”

“Once you had your credentials and were working for us, you have access to the files. We’ll go by and introduce you after we get back from lunch.”

We went downstairs and Roger joined us, smiling, as well as a bunch of other people from the building. As I went past the darkroom desk I stopped to collect my sets of the pictures. Andy said, “You weren’t kidding and these are great. Who’s car is that in the last picture?”

“Mine.”

He handed me a big enlargement of the picture. “Keep this handy, I think that you will need it shortly.”

For some reason he was smiling too. The whole crowd walked out with me and followed me as Vic and I walked up to my car. As I opened the door and put my satchel in, a cop came out and started to write up a ticket. I checked my watch. It was five before eleven. “Officer, why are you writing a ticket?”

“You have been parking over time.”

“Actually, I have not. I parked the car at five after nine this morning. It’s now five before eleven. The sign says two hour parking.”

“Can you prove that?”

“I have a photograph taken immediately after I parked the car. It has the car with a clock in the background.”

I pulled the photograph out of my satchel and showed it to him.

“How do I know this photograph was taken today?”

“The photograph was developed this morning at my paper. My boss saw me take the photograph. In any case, I only got my drivers’ license yesterday and I was at work all day yesterday over at the navy yard covering a story. So there is no way that this car could have been here another day to take the photograph.”

I showed him my license. He put his ticket book away. “This is the first time in a long time that anybody has ever been able to challenge a ticket like this.”

A man came charging out of the bulding next door. “Bill, are you going to ticket this car for parking in my spot, or not?”

“Not, Mr. Day. He was parking legitimately.”

“Boy, who do you drive for? I want to see him here, right now!”

“I don’t drive for anybody.”

I was beginning to see the picture here. The reason that the spot was empty was that the cops chased everybody out so that this clown had an easy parking spot every day. I must have pulled into the spot just before he did. So he wanted the cop to give me a ticket, which the officer couldn’t do as I wasn’t parking too long. Actually he wanted to punish my boss because he thought my boss owned the car. I just had an idea and I wanted to talk to Sal about it. Vic and I got into the car.

“Boy, who’s car is this. He’s in a lot of trouble and you can’t cover for him.”

“This is my car.”

“Who do you work for, boy?”

“I work for Roger over there. I need to go before the officer here gives me a ticket.”

The officer who was laughing his head off. Roger came over. “Jim give it up. You don’t want to mess with Tim here. Trust me, you don’t.”

“I don’t care about the boy, I want the guy he drives for. Nobody takes my spot and gets away with it.”

“Jim, he doesn’t drive for anybody. The car is his.”

“Roger, you don’t pay your reporters that kind of money, I don’t pay my reporters that kind of money, unless they are top drawer. This is a kid.”

“Jim, meet Tim Thomas. He did the kidnapping story for us.”

“The kid did that?”

“Chased it down, made the contacts, did the research and got the interviews. Took the photographs as well, including the picture with the car and the young lady.”

The poor guy was standing there open mouthed.

Roger went on, “In any case the car was a gift from his family. Not that that matters, but you should know better than to judge by appearances. Look at what you just did for yourself. He’s the hottest young prospect that I have seen for a long time and you just made sure that he knows what a true jerk you are. Thank you for that.” He walked back toward the paper’s building as I started to back the car out and pull out into the street. Bill actually stopped traffic for me with a huge grin. As we drove away toward the bridge I said, “he parks there everyday and pays the cops to make sure that nobody else does, doesn’t he?”

“Among other things, yes. You pulled in just before he generally arrives. Doris was looking out the window and saw you park the car, take that picture and walk toward our building. Jim never saw you and Bill wasn’t going to give you a ticket for parking legally with all those people around no matter how much Jim was screaming. JIm also sent messengers around looking for the driver of the car, but you were in our office by that point and the messengers were looking for a middle aged executive type, not a seventeen year old junior reporter.”

“I hope that Roger convinces him to apologize.”

“Why?’

“Well, I wasn’t going to make a habit of driving to the paper, but I think that I might change my mind about that. I can arrange to get here at a little after nine or so from my place. Then there’s Sal’s car, both the Duesie and the new wreck to replace the old wreck we finally trashed. I’m sure that the bureau might want to park a car over near city hall from time to time. Then there’s Stacey and Noro. Tom likes to shop radio row and he needs to visit his publisher.”

Vic started to laugh. “Roger did warn him. I hope that he pays attention.”

We drove across the bridge and over to the navy yard to pick up Suzy and my sister. I was waved through the gate and drove over to pick up Suzy and Kathy at the office. When we arrived there were not two mermaids but three waiting as Rachel was with them and had apparently completed her Change. Vic and I helped all three girls into the car and got in. Vic said, “So who is this young lady? I don’t’ think that we’ve met.”

“This Rachel, The admiral’s daughter,” Suzy said. “We are introducing her to her new world bit by bit. Today we’re going down to the bower.”

“Don’t you have to work?” I asked.

“We don’t have any ships due to dock for another week and nothing leaving, so this is a good time for Rachel to get acquainted with under sea. This is also part of training her for what we do and is work.”

“So, will I need to pick you up at Bennies tonight?”

“No, we’re Swimming up the harbor. I’ll meet you at the bureau’s dock for our Swim this evening. Then we can go for a nice dinner.”

“Vic, where does Jim go out to dinner so that we don’t go there?” I grinned.

“I’ll have to find out, or you can, this afternoon.”

“Who’s Jim?” Suzy asked.

“James Day, the publisher of the Sun. He has some habits, the one that brought him into conflict with Tim is being able to have his car parked in the same spot every day.” Vic smiled. “He has others.”

“Vic, does Jim drive himself or is he driven?”

“He’s driven.”

“Then all he had to do was walk around my car, into his building while his driver took his car and found someplace to park?”

“It gets even better. The driver actually takes the car back home every day so that the wife can do her meetings and so forth. In all the years that I’ve worked at the paper, since Jim started to use cars, back in the ‘teens, he has never used that parking space for longer than twenty minutes.”

“What happened, Tim?” Kathy asked.

“Well mom called and wanted me to pick you up today so the we could have a chat about something at Bennies with Vic. I don’t know what, but Vic and mother do. So rather than taking the train in, I take the car, and I figured that I would park at the bureau’s building if I have to. I cross the bridge and since I’m driving by, check newspaper row for a parking spot. There’s an open spot, I park the car and since I need to shoot the last picture in the film pack anyway, take a picture of my car in the spot. Then I go upstairs, drop the film off and go up to Doris’s office where she and Vic are laughing and looking out the window. They won’t tell me what’s going on and we go over my party piece. Since the car was in a two hour parking spot, at about eleven I and just about everybody in the paper who all know what’s going on, while I don’t, walk out to where this cop has started to write me up for a ticket. I have the picture I’ve taken earlier and point out that I hadn’t been parking for two hours. So the cop puts the ticket book away and this clown comes charging out of the building next door. Apparently he was waiting for the cop to punish me for parking in “his spot” this morning. He was also sending messengers around looking for the owner of the car so that he could beat him up for daring to park on a street in an open spot.”

“The best part was that poor Jim couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that the car was Tim’s. He made a total ass out of himself, in public, right in front of city hall.”

“What are you going to do about that, Tim?”

“Well, since Vic and I are going to be down there, I figure that a little before nine is a good time to get there and since that parking spot will be open, there’s no reason not to use it. Then the Detective sometimes needs to go to police headquarters, the Troubleshooter is looking for trouble to shoot, the bureau might need to clean out the garage and maybe Stacey, Noro and Tom might have things going downtown. I don’t know where Mr. Rockefeller’s driver puts Mr. Rockefeller’s car in the morning, but I bet he looks for a place to put it that’s handy. Then there are some of my old buddies from the neighborhood who’s dads drive trucks and make deliveries. They can probably use a parking spot that almost guaranteed to be open at certain times of the day.”

“Talk to dad about this,” Kathy said. “I bet he’ll have ideas. I bet we can keep putting different cars and whatnot into his space for his ten minutes every morning for a month or two.”

“Is that wise?” Vic said. “He is a powerful publisher.”

“That’s why we have a bunch of different people park there,” Kathy said. Maybe he could damage or hurt one or two, but if a bunch of people, some of whom are more powerful than he is park in the spot, there won’t be much he can really do. The others are just people doing their jobs. The problem is that he was abusing his position. Tim didn’t park there to deliberately inconvenience him and he was willing to go right after whoever just because they parked the car and the man had to walk around it. He’s done that before, hasn’t he?”

“I’ll leave that for Tim to find out.”

“In the short term, no, taking him on over his hissy fit about a parking space is not wise. Suzy, Tim, I know that we were planning to eat in town tonight for dinner, but I want to talk to Suki and the other ladies tonight. Tochi too. Maybe this isn’t wise, but we didn’t start the fight. The other man did. Maybe if he’s inconvenienced for a month or so, he’ll think twice about going after somebody else. Somebody, that unlike Tim, doesn’t have a bunch of connections and friends.”

Vic was starting to laugh. “Roger warned him. The man kept spouting his mouth off that he was going to get the man who owned Tim’s car for daring to park in his spot. After Roger warned him.”

I had another thought. “Where does Jim live? Near the water?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never thought to find out. You’ll have to find out yourself. For his sake, I hope that he doesn’t.”

“Tim, find out what you can about him,” Suzy said. “Then we can plan a strategy. Find out what your grandmother knows about him. We don’t really need to rush into it anyway. For that matter, maybe there are other approaches you could take.”

We arrived a Bennies and Vic and I got the girls out and into their chairs. As I was rolling Suzy inside I noticed some people at the end of the dock and a rather familiar fishing boat docked at the pier. Once I sat Suzy next to mother, I said, “Vic there’s somebody outside that you should meet. Suzy, mother, we will be right back.”

I reached into the car for the camera and then took Vic back down to the dock where Robert was there with a bunch of kids from the school including Andy, Trillia and several other mermaid girls. Robert looked up and saw me. “Hi Tim! Who is this?”

“This is my mentor, Vic. Vic, this Robert, the other brother of the two best guards in the city and this is Angelo del Vecchio, Suzy’s uncle.”

“Pleased to meet you, it looks as if you all are going on a boat trip.”

“We are,” Andy said. “we’re going to watch them catch fish. Tim, will you take our pictures?”

“I thought that you would never ask.”

I started to walk around the group taking photographs and as I did, I saw a familiar figure with two other men walking up the street from the speakeasy. I snapped a photo of the three and continued taking pictures of the kids and Angelo. I carefully kept Robert out of the frame and when the film pack was used up, I said. “I’ve used up the film in the camera, kids and Suzy and the other ladies are waiting, so we need to get back to Bennies. Have a good trip. Bye.”

They waved as we headed back inside Bennies. When we sat down, Suzy asked, “So why did you go back out?”

“Your Uncle Angelo was taking a bunch of the kids from the school out on the boat to watch them fishing. Robert was taking them.”

“That sounds like one of Robert’s fun stuff trips,” mother said. “Were there mermaids there as well?”

“Trillia, of course, and three of her friends from the Sound bower. That boat won’t have any tail issues and the girls get to experience something up top.”

“Andy looks familiar.” Vic said.

“He was the kid kidnapped from Vermont in late November.”

“He and his mother did not return to Vermont?”

“They went up for Christmas. His mother is doing some work down here and he came down again to be with his new friends.”

“Including the girl with the tail.”

“Especially Trillia,” Mother said. “They attached themselves to each other right after Andy got out of the Manager’s house.” “How is that going to work out? She can’t be on land and he can’t live under the water.”

“She fixed that with a little Christmas present.Not that being up top slows her down very much, but now Andy and she can go on Swims together and she never has to worry about drowning him accidently.”

“If she did that for him, what is he doing for her?”

“Teaching her to shoot and giving her a rifle that his Uncle Tom modified for her. A pistol as well.”

“An LT custom?”

“I don’t think so. Just a pistol that Tom modified the trigger guard for. Tom has been rather busy with other obnoxious characters this season. Tim, Suzy tells me that you had a run in with yet another one. What happened. Oh, there’s your father with your mail that we need to discuss, so why don’t we wait.”

Dad rolled over to the table. He had a folder in his lap and put it onto the table. “Tim, we have been getting your mail. That’s why Maria called Vic and had you come to lunch.”

“My mail? How did that happen?”

“Well your permanent address was the apartment and I had that mail forwarded to my office here.”

“I never had a lot of mail in the first place.”

“That was then, this is now. First of all there are three checks from White’s along with some others from the bureau and the navy and a weekly check starting from the first of the year from the paper. I took advantage of having power of attorney and Bennie being your business manager and guardian and set up a new account for the White’s and other freelance work and deposited your weekly check in your regular account. I’m also having my accountant take your pay stubs and the invoices from White’s, the bureau and the navy. So the money matters are dealt with.

Next is that we have the first copy of the newsletter and you and Stacey are a big part of it. Take a look.”

I did, and the Winchester story, with both of us contributing was. I actually had a writer’s as well as a photography credit. I handed it to Vic.

“Do you know how long I have wanted to see a copy of White’s? This actually started as a little game between Noro and I where Noro said that he could do my job better than I could and he wouldn’t let me see it, but could get people to pay for it. He thought that I would beg for a subscription and I tried to sneak one. I almost managed to finagle one but Noro caught on and squelched it. I also tried to submit pieces, but Noro had them turned down and then bought them from the people that did publish them.”

“Take that copy, Vic,” mother said. “I asked Stacey to have a second copy mailed too so that Stella and some others could clip Tim’s stories and Tim could actually get a chance to read what he wrote.”

“Tim, clipping isn’t a bad idea from time to time. How about we take this and clip some things that you didn’t write and we’ll pass juicy tidbits around the office. Jim will probably be looking into you and his people will be talking to our people for juicy stuff. While you won’t admit to being on the list, we can make it fairly obvious that you are and Jim will probably have a heart attack.”

“Who’s this Jim character,” dad asked.

We told him and he started to laugh. “How does the man stay in business? Suppose you had been what he thought you were? In a fit of pique, he could have upset an advertising client or somebody doing business with the paper. He was lucky that it was Tim and not me, for instance. I have quite a few connections and even outside the businesses, quite a few people might think twice about placing ad with a place run by a jerk like that. Even worse would have been Noro.”

“Now there’s an idea, Tim” Suzy said. “Not have Noro park there in his car, but visiting you and Vic and taking a ride in yours. He might back off from Noro’s Cadillac, but he’ll know about your car and you, he thinks. He’ll come out to beat up on you again and run right into Noro. Maybe Noro incognito.”

Vic started to laugh. “Noro will go for it. He loves popping people’s balloons. Noro, and not wearing that get up he wears.”

Eli and Theresa came in for lunch and I thought about something. “Vic, do you know Theresa?”

“Yes I do. I’ve edited her freelance work from time to time, why?”

“She just walked in and I wanted to ask her about something. Since you already know her, I can just go over and talk with her and come right back.”

I got up and went over to their table. “Hi Tim! I see Vic over there. I’ll say hi later. What did you want to talk about?”

“Well, were you having a meeting with the Director for lunch today?”

“No, I wasn’t. He’s rather short of funds right now. Why do you ask?”

“He was down here earlier with some people and I was wondering if they were talking to you. Apparently not. I have a picture, but I may not get it developed all that quickly. I need to get back to Vic and the others.”

“What are they talking about?”

“My mail, apparently. My first copy of White’s and some other things that we haven’t discussed yet. I’ve got to go.”

I went back to the table. “What was that about?”Vic asked.

“Something that I can’t really talk about that some people that I know are involved in. I saw somebody down here and thought that Theresa was meeting with him, so I asked her. She isn’t.”

“Troubleshooter things.”

“Partly. Certainly he will be involved before it’s over.”

“Well now that the unimportant things are done,” Mother smiled, “we can get to the important parts of Tim’s mail.” She had a stack of fancy envelopes. “First is an invitation to join the NY Press Club. I’ve sent that back with the membership check for you already. Second is an invitation for you and three guests to the Associated Press annual dinner. You and Suzy are going of course, and Suzy, we will need to talk to Chrissie and the other ladies about a dress for you. The other two are up in the air. Joe can’t make it because he needs to be here for a meeting and I do as well. I was going to ask Mike and Stella if that is Ok with you, Tim.”

“What is the meeting here?”

“The bowers are getting together that night to hammer out a mutual assistance agreement and work out lines of communication and arrange for frequent visits and contacts. All the bowers were dangerously isolated and several of us were badly injured. It took some time to get a time where we could get the royals from all the interested parties here and we can’t change it. Joe, I and Meria are hosting and Sal and Sillia are having a party. So we can’t go to the Associated Press dinner.”

“Ok, that works, so what else?”

“The Pulitzer Committee wants to talk with you and you are nominated, along with Bill as senior writer for the prize this year. So you will have to be at the awards dinner with Suzy. Joe and I can make that dinner and want to. So mark your calendar. Then there are some other things that want you to attend. The biggest is the press club dinner and the Associated Press.”

Lunch came and we started to eat. After we were about done Theresa and Eli came over and Theresa said, “Hi, Vic, what’s so funny?”

“Tim parked in Jim Day’s parking spot this morning.”

“Is he still doing that?”

“Yes he is.”

“Did he have a cop write a ticket? He did that to me once. I parked there to go up and talk to Doris for about an hour, it wasn’t more than that, and there was a ticket on the car. I just had it paid, but I did some research on Mr. Day when Doris told me later what probably happened. Tim, you seem to be planning something.”

“I had taken a picture of the car with a clock in it so the cop didn’t write my ticket. Jim sees me and has a fit, looking for my boss. He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that the car was mine. Meanwhile my paper’s entire bulding is out there, along with just about all the other papers, laughing their heads off. Doris must have tipped Roger off and the word got around. Doris and Vic saw me park the car, take the picture and walk up the street. Jim never saw me and started to send messengers around looking for the driver of the car.

I’m going to be parking in that spot as frequently as I can, having anybody else that I can think of park there and giving Noro a ride in my car to visit his old buddy Vic when he comes back down. Noro not wearing the Mr. White getup.”

“He’ll love that. By the way, Jim owns the house between Sal’s and the Manager’s. The house that has been empty most of the time. Now that the Manager and the sharks are gone, Jim might want to have parties and whatnot there again.”

Suzy grinned. “Tim, we will have to get over to the school tomorrow after you go down to the stock exchange and talk to the kids about their trip today. And other things like the story about what happened this morning.”

After our nice lunch was over, we rolled the girls over to the warehouse and left them to go on their Swim and started back up to Manhattan. As we were driving up, Vic asked, “So what is your research topic? There were some easy things at the table today.”

“I don’t think that you want me to go easy on myself. I had one picked out already anyway that I wanted to check up on.”

“What?”

“Some character from the War called the Colonel. A reporter friend and Andy’s mom were talking about him and he seems to be a real story like the Red Baron, only worse, with monsters. Even if the paper doesn’t want the story, maybe I can use it for that radio show that’s about Sal and I.”

“You listened to that? I know that Kay was talking about it, the grandkids like the show and so do a bunch of people at the paper.”

“Suzy made me listen last night. It was fun. Especially when Sal and Sillia were listening right there with us. They want me to write a script based on the sharks and send it in.” “Now there’s an idea. Writing for radio means that you have to visualize things in your writing without pictures. Where are you going to park the car?”

“The bureau, where I should have parked it in the first place. I’m going to need to go over to the pier later anyway. We can walk over from there.”

“Good, I can take you into Dow Jones and Moody’s before I drop you off at the Associated press. That mystery of yours sounds intriquing.”

“Well, it fits with the kidnapping story and I figured that it’s something that I can do as a long term project since it all happened over there. But I want to be careful because some friends want me to be discreet about looking into the guy.”

I parked the car at the bureau and handed George the keys. “Is that your new car,Tim? Mary told me about it. She wants a picture.”

“I’ll take one up right now. I took it this morning. Vic, I think that if we don’t take the picture up right now, we could be in trouble. I also think that I will give Mary the pictures of Sal that I did this morning and have another set made at the paper for me.”

“That sounds like you’re thinking.”

We took the elevator upstairs and Mary was at the desk. She smiled as I walked in and said, “A little birdie or two told me that you had a run in with Mr. Day this morning. Apparently you parked in his spot. Why didn’t you just put the car in the garage here?”

“I was going to and then I saw the open spot, so I decided to park in front of the paper instead.”

“Did you get a ticket?”

“No, because I took a picture of the car to fill out the roll after I took a bunch of pictures of Sal and Sillia this morning.”

“Do you have them? May I see them?”

“Here they are. I had them developed at the paper this morning. I was going to have a set for my place, but I’ll have some more prints made, so you can have them.”

“These are wonderful Tim. Sal and Sillia will be pleased. Thank you for the pictures.” She went through the pictures. “Here’s the picture of your car in the spot. While this is a nice picture, I think that you can do better, so you need to try again. Perhaps over the next month or so. Perhaps we can make arrangements for the space for bureau work. Call ahead when you are driving in. Where is your car now?”

“At the garage here. Suzy is meeting me at the pier with Kathy and Rachel and we are going back down to Bennies to meet with Chrissie and the other ladies for a discussion about dresses for formal events.”

“A discussion about parking as well, I suspect.”

“That did come up. My sister, Rachel and Suzy were rather annoyed at the man.”

Helmut came out from the back and saw us. “Hi Tim. I understand that you had a run in with Mr. Day this morning. What happened, Vic. Doris talked to Mary and said that you and she saw all of it.”

“Doris and I are in Doris’s office getting ready for Tim’s inquisition, er, editorial review when Doris looks out the window and see Tim’s car pulling into the parking spot. She waves me over to the window and we see Tim park the car and take a picture of his car in the spot. Then Tim walks down the street and into our building. Doris quickly calls Roger and tells him what just happened, so that Roger can intervene if Jim gets too obnoxious. Just as Tim has walked into the building and is out of sight, Jim is driven up like he always is and the driver can’t park the car in his spot because Tim’s car is already there. Jim gets out of his car, walks around Tim’s car, waves the local traffic cop over and starts screaming about somebody parking in his spot. Then he goes inside and starts sending messengers around to look for the driver of the car. Meanwhile Tim is working his way up the building , dropping off his pictures, stopping by the business section looking for me and being sent to Doris’s office. He comes in and we go over his write up while Tim is watching the clock. Just before eleven, he says that he has to move his car and since we were done anyway, we go down with him, followed by most of the building. Andy at the darkroom hands him his pictures back, along with that enlargement of the car with the clock on city hall clearly visible and we all go outside where the traffic cop is getting ready to write a ticket. Tim shows him the picture and Jim comes boiling out of his building demanding that Tim tell him who he was driving for. He could not wrap his head around the fact that Tim was driving that car.”

“So it was a troubleshooter all over again.” Helmut smiled. “Of course the poor guy doesn’t understand what he just did to himself. Mike and Nera are already concocting schemes, Mary has discreetly put the word out to Tim’s friends and I’m sure that Tim has some ideas of his own.”

“Well we have some other stops, so Tim, why don’t we get going.”

We went back downstairs and headed over torward the Dow Jones offices on Wall St. Vic introduced me aound and the word had already gone around about Jim and his parking issue. Apparently just about everybody had parked there by accident one time or another and gotten a ticket.

Then it was off to Moody’s where the same sort of thing happened. As we walked over to the Associated press building I asked Vic, “How many people has Jim pissed off over the years down here?”

“Just about everybody that has a car and has visited one of the papers in the morning for one reason or another. They like you already because you took that picture and didn’t get a ticket. I expect that a lot of people are going to park there, take a picture and have it developed the way you did.”

We walked into the Associated Press and Vic took me up to the desk. “Hi Vic, starting another one?”

“Hi, Ruth, This is Tim Thomas, the newest addition to our staff. He would like to do some research for a little test of mine.”

“One of those. Is he the kid who had the run in with Jim Day this morning?”

“He is, actually.”

“I hope that Jim realizes what he just did to himself. He’s been doing that ticket thing of his for years and then he made a complete spectacle of himself. Not only that, but Tim here showed how to not to get the ticket to a bunch of people that will not have a problem with taking the spot and taking a photo of their car in the spot. Tim how come you took the picture?”

“I had taken some pictures earlier in the day for the paper’s files and had an extra picture in the film pack, so I wanted to shoot the pack out before I took it out of the camera and the car was right there. So I took the picture.”

“Why did Jim have so much trouble believing that it was your car? You’re young, but you’ve been doing good work recently. I expect that Roger and your paper encouraged you to learn to drive.”

“Along with some other people. The car is a Packard sedan that my dad had. He can’t drive it anymore because of complications from his war injuries and he gave it to me. Considering some things that happened today, he did it so that I can run errands for my mother and sister among other things.”

“I think I see the picture. Your dad probably had the car for business and it isn’t something that a teenager would drive for himself, typically. So what can we do for our parking hero today?”

“I think that I will leave you in the capable hands of the ladies, Tim. Show me what you found after the Exchange tomorrow.”

Vic left and Ruth asked, “so what is the test? Vic does this with the young men he mentors. He asks you to take a conversation you overheard and chase the rumor.”

“I actually wanted to chase a rumor myself. I was talking to a friend from the NYTimes and his mother. While we were talking to another mother about their husbands being killed by Sturmtrups in the war, a name came up, the Colonel. I figure that he’s another of those characters like the red baron that people like to tell horror stories about and I wanted to know more about him.”

“This is your lucky day. Ethel is here today. Her husband was killed by that monster and she collects everything that we get about him for her blood file, as she calls it. Let’s go over to her desk and talk with her.”

We walked over to another lady’s desk and Ruth said, “Ethel, the young man here is looking into the Colonel.”

“Sit down young man and tell me why.”

“Well, I was having dinner with a reporter at the Times, his girl, my girl, my parents and his mother, along with some other people. Both the reporter’s mom and another lady had had their husbands wounded or killed by the Colonel and what they claimed were werewolves. I’ve hear other stories about the same werewolves from other people I know and I thought that it might be an interesting weird and strange story to chase down.”

“I would be very careful about chasing the story down and publishing it. There are people that will not want it exposed.”

“I just finished one of those stories. The shark kidnappings. They did not want exposure either. On the other hand they never saw me coming until it as too late. In any case I have too many friends and relatives that had husbands and fathers killed by this character and his people. So I want to have the stuff on him, so that if he does show up, he gets shut down, rather than hiding and killing like the sharks did.”

“This isn’t some boy’s obsession for you, then?”

“Not at all. Members of my girl’s family were killed and their neighborhood almost wrecked because some people came over here and worked in the dark. I want to ensure that that doesn’t happen again.”

“The people under the Rockaways?”

“Those people, yes. By sharks that were not sharks.”

“Ok, I think I understand some things I needed to know. You are fae and probably royal and you are related seemingly to the Rockaway bower. I know that you did the story about the kidnapping and probably were a lot closer to the center of things than a young unbonded Royal should be, for everybody’s protection. How much do you really know about the werewolves.”

“I know that my cousin’s bonded had to kill his brother because the brother had been Turned. I’ve run into some other people that had relatives killed by the werewolves and I’ve heard some stories about the dirty dozens. This Colonel character was new, though.”

“How did you hear about him?”

“A friend of mine was talking to the brother’s bonded and brought him up. Apparently he was pulling the strings to arrange for the brother to come over here and something went wrong. The brother was not supposed to stay at his farm and did.”

“So this killing happened about ten years ago. How about we make a trade. I give you what I have about the colonel for you saving me the time it will take me to track down the killing.” “Ok, that’s a deal. The man who was killed was Brad Benton, who was a monster when his brother, Tom Benton had to shoot him. Brad’s bonded, who is here in the New York area is Hilda Benton.”

“Her son was kidnapped recently. Were werewolves involved?”

“The kidnappers wanted to use her to force the Change on some fae degenerates to make werewolves. Tom was rather upset by the fact that they had taken his favorite nephew that he had finally met and that the people that took the kid were bothering his newly found sister in law. Which is about the stupidest thing any one would want to do.”

“Why?”

“Because Hilda is a high fae who is very very good with a gun. Any gun. Also anybody bothering one of the sisters is bothering all of them and that is just plain crazy. I’ve seen what two of them can do and Chrissie, Tom’s bonded hasn’t done anything to make the papers today, but give it time. And she can shoot too.”

She held up today’s paper. “This Chrissie, with the princess? According to the paper this morning, they are at the toy center today and Chrissie is judging a contest for her husband done by the company that makes those kits with his book in them. How come you aren’t with them? You were yesterday.”

“Vic was planning to take me to the NY Stock exchange today and my parents wanted to catch me up on some important mail that had come my way. Mr. Day and an inquisition of a piece I wrote replaced the stock exchange when Vic found out that the princess is opening the exchange tomorrow.”

“Vic likes editing and educating young reporters like you. Since you held up your side of the deal and you probably want to be off to Millie at your morgue and the library, why don’t I run my file over to the reproduction department and make a copy. I need to make a copy for a potential client anyway. They are willing to pay for what I have. And my insights. Come back when you have more and we will go over it. While we are waiting for the reproduction, tell me everything that happened with Mr. Day this morning. Apparently you managed to avoid getting a ticket.”

She took the folder over to reproduction and then came back. I told her about my car and how it had been given to me by my dad. Then I told her about how I had just been driving by and saw the space open, took the photo and went up to talk with Vic and Doris while Mr. Day had been raging around looking for the owner of my car. “The funniest part was when Vic and I were getting into the car and Mr. Day could not wrap his head around the fact that the car was mine. I had to be driving for somebody else. This was after he was surrounded by press people including my boss, who knew about the car, telling him that the car was mine. This was a bigger joke than the Troubleshooter, who is going to be laughing his head off when I tell him about this.”

“I would say that poor man, but he has been asking for something like this for a long time. Well, the prints are here and you should be on your way.”

They were, and I headed over to my paper where my picture of the car seemed to be very popular as it was all over the place, along with pictures of Jim, making a fool out of himself. Jim was lucky that the newsreel people hadn’t heard about the parked car in time to get a camera van there. Some of guys said, “Tim couldn’t you have waited another five minutes?”

“Bill was already starting to write up the ticket. Of course knowing what I know now I would have let him do it and waited. But not getting the punishment that little me deserved was probably why the man made such a fool out of himself.”

“That’s true. Most of us were hit with a ticket there. Jim doesn’t know what he did to himself today. Most of us have cameras and we don’t bring our cars downtown because of the parking hassle. But Jim’s place is now target number one and a bunch of us are getting together to bring our cars and cameras in on different days so that we can get to our assignments quicker of course. We also will need to turn in film and just take pictures of our cars with that clock on city hall in the background.”

They grinned as I went over to the morgue where a smiling Millie was waiting. “So, Tim, what are you chasing down today?”

“A character called the Colonel.”

“We’ve run a few things on him. Destroyed towns and villages where he was implicated. The person to talk to is Ethel over at AP.”

“Already did. I just wanted to see what we had before heading uptown.”

“Well let me pull the file. Take it over to reproduction and bring it back. I think that this is a Vic project rather than a hot story like your last one. Chasing random rumor probably.”

“Yes, but I wanted to check the rumors because I wanted to look into it anyway.”

She pulled the file and I went over to reproduction to have a copy made. The guy at the desk in reproduction asked, “Any car pictures in here?”

“The car is in an indoor parking lot that I have access to. I only used that spot because it was there.”

He laughed. “Not any more, it won’t be. Let me get to this stuff.”

I went over to the darkroom to drop off the pictures of the class going on the fishing boat. Andy was smiling. “Hail the lord of the parking spot.”

“You knew. That’s why you made sure that I had that big copy of my picture.”

“Tim, the whole building knew about the same time that you dropped the pictures off here. Doris looked through the window and saw you park and told Roger in case he had to get you out of trouble with Jim or cover the ticket. Then you dropped that picture here and those clowns came in asking the front desk if we knew who owned the Parkard in the Boss’s spot. Then you had the picture and beat the ticket and Jim made a perfect ass out of himself. What can we do for your lordship.”

“I need another set of the Troubleshooter car pictures. I had to give mine away to a lady who likes pictures.”

“I think I know who you are talking about and it isn’t a problem. What has the Troubleshooter said about your little adventure today? Is there any Trouble to shoot over in City Hall other than the usual clowns?”

“I haven’t talked to him and that possibility has been put forward. Though that space sounds like it will be occupied for a long time.”

“I think so too. We’ll put the pictures on your desk. What is this pack so that I can write it down. Never mind, I’ll just put your name and today’s date.” “I have a desk? There’s no rush on those. just a little human interst thing I ran into. Some kids going on a trip to watch fishing from a fishing boat.”

“I guess I spilled the beans and Roger, John and Vic haven’t told you about it yet. The fishing trip sounds like an interesting trip. A bit cold, this time of year though.”

“Ok, I’ll act surprised. I need to pick some stuff over at reproduction and take a file back to Millie, so I will see you.”

My material was ready so, I put it with the stuff from AP, took the file back to the morgue and headed over to the subway so that I could take the express up to the library. When I walked into periodicals Doris spotted me and said, “Tim, you aren’t chasing the ladies today?”

“No, I had other work. I’m covering them tomorrow.”

“Millie called and said that you were interested in war stories today. Stories concerning a German officer our side called ‘The Colonel.’

“Yes. Some friends of mine were talking about him and I wanted to find out more. Vic gave me the assignment to chase down a rumor that I heard and I decided to follow up on it.”

“Well I checked the indexes from the war and at first I thought it was all wartime propaganda. There was a lot if that. Still the Colonel or his name, Heinrich von Wulf would show up in reports about atrocities like hitting the forward hospitals, as well as the usual wartime things. He was not squemish about killing civilians either. I have a list of the stories that I found so far. The most interesting thing is that he wrote a book before the war and we have a copy here. Since it’s getting close to closing and Millie said that you talked to Ethel at AP, who collects everything she can on the man, why don’t you go up to the reading room. I already put the request out in your name. so go along.”

I went upstairs to the reading room and gave my name at the desk where you picked up the books. The book was ready and I started to read. Reading between the lines, the monster was there. He was big on hitting the morale of an opponent and making things as bloody as possible. He was also big on taking big chances and didn’t seem to care very much what the costs would be if he failed. He was big on diversions and keeping his main goal hidden and flexible. In this, he was a lot like Tom, but Tom used machines for his diversions and was very concerned about backing his operations up with firepower and lines of retreat. This character didn’t seem to care. I took a lot of notes and wrote down the title of the book. Since it was closing time, I put the book on the return cart and headed back downtown to the Bureau.

I dropped off my satchel and camera in the car and went upstairs to visit for a bit before heading over to my pier for my Swim. Mary looked up as I came in and said, “Did you find anything interesting?”

“Quite a bit about a character I hope never comes over here. The monsters that are successful are the worst. Are Mike and Nera still here?”

“They went down to the pier to Swim with the Japanese ladies and Chrissie.”

“Good. I’m on my way to join them.Suzy, Kathy and Rachel want to me to go Swimming with them and them we are all heading down to Bennies.”

“Well, go on to your Swim. You’ve had another long and busy day.”

I went back downstairs and drove over to the pier. The bureau’s little space was on the outer end of the pier and after I showed my bureau ID, the gate guard let me drive up and I parked next to Tochi’s two cars and Mike’s car. Suki saw me and said, Good, “Now the girls have a ride back down to Bennies. Now go and get wet for a bit. Then we can talk about your exciting day.”

How did she know about it? Then I realized that Suzyprobably told her. I walked past George talking to Tochi’s kids and Tochi, put my clothes into the locker and Changed as I splashed in. Suzy must have been lieing in wait because she grabbed me as soon as I hit the water. “This is going to be easy today. Just across the river and back. Then we all head down to Bennies.”

As we started out, Mike and Nera came up. Nera said, “we heard that you had an encounter with a rather obnoxious character. We want to help.”

“I don’t think that you need to. The poor guy doesn’t even realize what he did to himself. Just about everybody in the business today was planning to park in the spot and take a picture of their cars with the clock on city hall in the background. It seems that Mr. Day, has hit just about everybody with a car in the business with his ticket gag and they are all rather annoyed at the man. It doesn’t help that the man made an absolute fool out of himself. The one thing I am going to do is bring Noro over and have him talk with Vic. They seem to be old friends and I think that Vic misses talking to Noro from time to time. He also wants a picture for his book, but I can take care of that with the picture I have already.”

“That sounds like a wonderful thing to do, Tim. I think that we let father get too far from his old friends and too tied up in the bower. He was so tied up in his grief that he didn’t think about the friends like John and this Vic, who missed him too. You want to bring Noro over to the paper in your car and park in the spot. Then when the character comes out looking for you, he runs right into father. Father will love it.”

“I was talking to Theresa at lunch today and she just happened to mention that Jim has a house right next door to Sal’s. It’s that place that was always empty. Probably because its neighbors were the sharks and the Manager.”

Mike said grinning, “I imagine some kids we know will be asking you all about your day today.”

“Probably. They may want to practice their troublemaking skills as well. Of course our party crasher and her new friend from Vermont will want to come up with something.”

Nera pushed us all hard across the river and back and then we got in our various cars to had down to Bennies of home for dinner. I had wanted to talk to Mike about the Colonel, but the chance never came up and Mike and Nera were going to their houseboat so that Nera could cook dinner. Mike said that Nera was picking up cooking remarkably fast, but she liked to practice. Also, Nera and Sarla had been working together in the school kitchen practicing and she wanted to try things on poor Mike. Not that Mike complained.

So the rest of us packed into the cars with one surprise. I put Suzy in the front seat and turned to get my sister and Rachel into the back seat when there was Suki getting in. “Suki, shouldn’t you be going in your own car?”

“Keiko wanted to have a chat with Kathy and Rachel. I didn’t want to be in a car with three teenaged girls. All they talk about is boys.”

“What about your guards?”

“You have your gun, don’t you? Let me see.”

I opened my jacket to show Suki that I was indeed carrying my pistol.

“Good, I thought you would. So let’s go.”

I bowed to the inevitable and started off. As we started over toward the bridge, Suki asked, “So, Tim, what is really bothering you?”

“I decided to look into the Colonel today as an assignment that Vic gave me while you all were at the toy fair.”

“The Colonel? Who is he?”

“I’m not sure and I have quite a bit of stuff on him. I do know that he is a werewolf and a monster. I was reading his book this afternoon and it was looking at the mind of somebody truly Twisted. Still, for some reason I think that I need to find out as much as I can about him.”

“He’s far away, Isn’t he?”

“I don’t know. The Director had some people with him today. Military looking people. He was down at Bennies when Suzy and I took Vic to lunch.”

“I didn’t see the Director, Tim.” Suzy said. “He never came into Bennies. Eli and Theresa did, but they weren’t meeting with him.”

“I know. I saw the Director when Vic and I were outside, talking to the kids and Robert. He was coming out of that speakeasy down the street from Bennies.”

“Well I hope he got a good look at the street. When daddy and Dom get together and do something, they can go overboard. SP’s and mob shooters? Those trucks and the crane. That barge and the piledriver so they can fix the gardens.”

“I noticed some of that. I noticed the car with Dom’s people and the trucks. Was there more?”

“Yes. George Barnes had a crew. There was that pile driver and a dive barge working on the breakwater. There were bower people too. I suspect there was more on the next street next to your dad’s office. But with the guys there and the guns that weren’t being flashed around, any werewolves going down that street would last a very short time.”

“In any case, the ladies are hard to surprise and very capable, all of them,” Suki said. “They can be surprised and killed, but taken and held, which the fools may want to do, is a very dangerous proposition for the fools. Especially with Tom involved. I have never seen Tom be truly foolish except over Chrissie and the boathook and he did the smart thing and went right after her.”

“Suki, I’m going to see if I can find a copy of the Colonel’s book tomorrow after I cover you and the ladies at the stock market. I want to get a feel for how a true monster operates.”

We arrived at Bennies and I parked the car. I took Suzy’s chair out and Suzy put herself in the chair as I held the door. Then we went inside and I stopped. There, along with my parents, Tochi and his kids, Kathy, Rachel, the Japanese ladies, Chrissie and Haruka, Steve, Bill and Hilda were Roger, his wife, Jim, a man I didn’t know and two other women who must be Jim’s and the other man’s wives. I continued over to the table with my friends and seated Suzy. Roger called out, “Tim, Mr. Day has something to say to you.”

I turned to the table. Jim stood up. “Mr. Thomas, I want to apologize for my completely and totally inexcusable behavior this morning. What I did was stupid, pointless and very, very wrong. You just parked your car, just like anybody would. The fact is that the only thing I lost by not having the space was walking the few feet past your car into the building. For that I was willing to potentially ruin somebody for no other reason than that slight inconvience. I have to consider myself lucky that you were driving the car and not your father, who would have correctly hurt the paper and my business by telling everybody what I said this morning. For that matter I saw in you what I wanted to see and not what you were.

My editor pointed that out to me right after you left and I went back inside. He said that you had the courage to do, what we in our business are supposed to do. Including risking your life so that some degenerate monsters paid for their sick parties where they were feeding kids to sharks. He also told me that if I didn’t use the subway to get to work for at least a month that I could find another editor. This is a man that has been my editor for thirty years. He also pointed out that I should have listened when Roger told me not to mess with you, because you knew both the Trouble shooter and Noro White. In fact you freelanced for Noro in that little thing he puts out.

In any case, regardless of who you were, I should have treated you with dignity and respect. Especially when you were the best of what we should expect in our business. I know Bill Elliott and George. Leonard has handled my legal business for years. They were quite blunt about you when I called them to talk about you and the fact that you didn’t cave in to the siginificant pressure that Bill applied and to the the fact that Bill Elliott the third hired a private investigator to tail you and discover things that may be used to blackmail you. You did not let any of that sway you from bringing things to the light. So I was wrong and you were right. As far as the parking space I goes, if the rumblings up and down newspaper row are true, my access to the space is going to incredibly limited in any case. Even if Noro doesn’t become involved.”

“I haven’t told him yet. I thought about getting him involved, but my new mentor Vic has been talking about how he misses Noro and I would much rather get them back together than harass you.”

The other man sitting with Roger and Jim said, “I’m Dennis Talbott, your publisher, Tim and I am glad to meet you and even more glad that having Jim come down here forces Roger to give up one of Jorge’s special places without having to solve the puzzle. I’m really proud and delighted to have you on my team. When Roger let you get involved with the kidnapping story I was concerned that he was putting you at serious risk of having your career ruined before it started. He was right and made the right call. Thank you, Tim for that work and helping to end that blight over there in Brooklyn. As for your car, well, if your friends and family are any indication, you could afford it anyway.”

Jim said, “One more thing, When you see the Troubleshooter, tell him thanks for getting rid of the monsters in our neighborhood. Grace here is very appreciative of the fact that our neighbors are no longer monsters. Except, of course for the two green guys. We can have our grand kids at the house again and not worry if they might stray too far into the woods. ”

Dennis said, We’ll let you get back to your wonderful girl over there and the rest of that rather eclectic group of friends. I will say one thing about Noro and Vic, you’ll be sorry.”

They were all smiling as I sat down with Suzy. I was worried about that. I had been around Noro a lot for the last few weeks. How bad could it be?

We all had a wonderful evening and aftewords, Suzy dragged me under for a bit on our way to the navy yard and after dropping her off, I headed to my place.

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