There’s Something Here From Somewhere Else (Part 7 of 9)
(first appeared at valterramagazines.com October 2013 issue)
Meanwhile back in Washington … and don’t think that starting off that sentence with “Meanwhile” was an accident. Meanwhile is known as the most sinister of the conjunctive adverbs. No doubt that as soon as you saw that word sitting on top of the new sentence a small chill ran down your spine and you settled even deeper into your chair, waiting for whatever villainy was soon to be coming down the pike.
And rest assured you will not be disappointed because the man behind the desk in the unnecessarily shadowy office in Washington is up to his old tricks again. A new equally chiseled man now sat in front of him telling him the news about the old chiseled man that had previously been in front of him when we last visited this unnecessarily shadowy office in Washington.
The man behind the desk was unamused.
“What the fuck was Lapkin doing there?” he thundered.
“We can’t be sure sir.”
“Was there a gun show in town? Was it buy one, get one free at Hookers Are Us?” The man behind the man behind the desk had just called asking about the reading glasses and when the man behind the desk had told the man behind the man behind the desk that they were still not in his possession he had been reminded that there are any number of other men who would love the opportunity to get behind that desk.
The man in front of the desk sensed that things were about to get loud.
Instead they got quiet.
Then they got loud again.
“I want everyone on this. Everyone who is not out of the fucking country or ass deep in alligators is on a plane or a train or a fucking push cart to get me my glasses. Is that understood?”
The new chiseled man nodded. “Crystal.”
He went to stand up and then stopped himself.
“And what about Lapkin?”
Somewhere in the back of the chiseled man’s head the ominous music that had been playing since he stepped into the unnecessarily shadowy office grew a bit louder.
The man behind the desk reached over and picked up his pack of cigarettes. He slowly opened the carton as if mulling over this latest inquiry. He slowly lit it. He leaned back and slowly took in a long drag.
The chiseled man winced as the ominous music in his head became deafening and he leaned in slightly, afraid he might not be able to make out what the man behind the desk said in reply.
“Try not to let him kill everybody.”
“It has to be the glasses,” Ruth told Nap as they sat on the metal bleachers next to the ball field next to the water tower. “It’s the only thing I can think of.”
She handed them to him and he looked them over for signs of secret compartments or concealed weaponry.
“What do they do?” he asked after finding nothing interesting about them.
“I’m not sure how to say this. They let me read what the writer meant as opposed to what he actually wrote.” She sighed. “I’m not sure why this would make those men want to …” her voice drifted off as she saw the expression on Nap’s face change.
“Think about it,” he said. He had already thought about it. In his line of work a pair of glasses like that could change the game.
In her line of work it could make her an awesome librarian. She did not understand.
“Do you mean like the N word in The Constitution?”
“For starters. Do you have any idea how many things are written in Washington, in Moscow, in Beijing? How many lies are being told?”
Her face fell. She understood. The N word in The Constitution was just the tip of the iceberg. Nap handed the eyewear in question back to her.
“Where did you get these glasses anyhow?” Nap asked after letting the implications sink in a bit.
“At a yard sale. A stupid yard sale in a stupid $1 box.” Ruth began to get upset, the adrenaline of the past hour beginning to drain away. She choked up and a tear began a leisurely crawl down her cheek. Everything about her screamed vulnerability and Nap reacted the only way he knew how.
“Listen, I would bang you nine ways to Sunday if we had time but I’m afraid we need to find out more about these glasses. Time is short. I have no doubt company is on its way.”
Ruth’s body tightened. The hug she was expecting was not incoming. Instead she was now imagining a sky filled with helicopters, all of them searching for her. And the damn reading glasses that sat wedged comfortably between her sweater melons.
It was a short walk to his ’78 Le Mans and an even shorter drive to where Ruth had purchased the glasses. 100 Grapeberry Drive. It had been Nap’s experience that any address that sounded like it was only a block away from the Lollipop Forest was bad news. When he pulled up to a nondescript home in a nondescript neighborhood he was still on edge. Had he known that the place was only so nondescript because I didn’t feel like descripting it, I’m sure he would have felt much better but then a spy that drops his guard is likely to be an ex-spy pretty quickly so in the end it all works out for the best.
Green. The house is green. A split level, one car garage. Happy now? Honestly, it makes no difference. Just assume if I don’t go to great lengths to describe something that you’re free to picture it, within reason, however you want. Just know that if there was a helipad on the roof or it was ringed with razor wire I would have pointed it out.
It’s a fucking green house that needs a new coat of paint. All clear? Can we move on now?
All these 600 page thrillers you’ve been reading have really dumbed you down. I bet you’re waiting for a description of the damn door as Nap and Ruth approach it. It’s a door. Close your eyes, picture a door.
Now you’ve got it.
The pressed the doorbell and I’ll be damned if I’m going to describe the sound it made.
A woman answered.
If you ask me anything more about the woman I swear by all that’s holy I’ll make her a one-eyed Chinese midget with a limp.
“Can I help you?” the woman asked politely.
“I don’t know if you remember me but I was at your yard sale a few weeks back. I bought a pair of reading glasses.”
The woman looked up at her and examined her with her one good eye. “That was rong time ago. No remember.”
Nap stepped forward. “Do you remember these glasses?” he asked as he motioned to the pair perched on top of Ruth’s bazoombas.
The one-eyed Chinese midget limped forward to take a croser rook.
I mean closer look. Sometimes I get carried away.
“Of course. Those my grandmother’s grasses.”
“Can we speak to her?” Ruth said as she laid a hand on Nap’s chest in order to keep a comfortable distance between all parties.
“You need séance. She die rong time ago.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” offered Ruth.
“She ruved to read. All day she sit in her chair reading and reading. Absorutery ruved it.”
“Did she live here with you?” asked Nap.
“Yes. We keep room exacary rike she reft it.”
“Can we see it?” he asked as he started forward through the door.
“You no porice. You go now,” protested the midget as she limped in front of Nap.
“Sorry, I don’t have time for this,” he said and punched her in her diminutive jaw, knocking her flat. He stepped over her and quickly made for the bedrooms. Ruth stood slackjawed for few moments before leaning over to make sure the woman was still alive.
Ruth dragged her to a nearby chair and went into the kitchen to find a cold compress.
“That was not cool,” she yelled to Nap. “You can’t go around punching midgets. We are a nation of laws.”
Moments later he emerged with a book in his hands.
“Her diary. I figured she would make some mention of the glasses but nothing particularly helpful.”
“Here,” said Ruth, “let me take a look.”
She sat down and took out her glasses.
And if I’m to be completely honest here… a little ominous music began to play in her head.