Saturday, April 28, 2012

"The Package"

"He did what?"

"Lawrence Carpini skipped town. He left a message for you."

I took the phone from Jones and keyed in the repeat code. It was bad.

"Hey, Lieutenant Miles. Carpini here. I've been doing some thinking, and I'm afraid I have some bad news. You see, my analysis has shown that staying around to testify against Malzone would be bad for my health. Sorry to skip out on you, but the seaweed is always greener in somebody else's lake, so to speak. At least, that's what Sebastian is always telling me. I thought about heading to Canada, but he had something to say about that, too. You dream about going up there, he says, but that is a big mistake. So maybe Mexico. I know this quaint little spot there where my package and I can be kept safe. Don't come lookin' for me – I ain't givin' it to ya. Only Sebastian knows where I can be found, and he has a way with words."

That was it. The slimy weasel was leaving town less than a week before the trial. His testimony on Malzone's accounts was critical to the DA office's case against Malzone, and the files he had promised to deliver were going to be the nail in the coffin. And now he pulled this.

I slammed the phone back into the cradle. Jones flinched.

"What now, lieutenant?"

"Send out an APB on Carpini. Maybe we'll get lucky."

Jones' expression told me he didn't think that likely. I agreed with him.


As much as I wanted to drown my sorrows at Ditka's, it was my turn to watch Sophie and Jeanine would kill me if I spoiled another one of her nights out with her friends. I normally enjoy the one on one time with my daughter, but tonight I just couldn't get Carpini's message out of my head. It replayed over and over again. My anger had worn off, replaced by a nagging since of doubt. Something
about the message just didn't make any sense.

Sophie handed me a naked DVD and I dutifully put it in the player. She clapped her hands and plopped herself down on the floor as I returned to the lazy boy. This was cheating, I knew. I was supposed to be spending time with her, not letting her sit mindlessly in front of the TV, but I needed the time to think.

What about the message was off? Some of the phrases were strange, but Carpini would turn a strange phrase from time to time. The man considered himself a bit of a poet. I'd always known him to be quite articulate, choosing his words carefully. Maybe that's what he'd done in this case. Maybe he was trying to tell me something beyond what the words conveyed.

I ran through the message again. The seaweed line was something Carpini would say, though he had attributed it to this Sebastian character. I wasn't sure who that was. Maybe Sebastian Porter, one of Malzone's old business partners? What did he have to do with this? If I could figure that out, I might be able to understand what Carpini was saying. The parts about Canada and Mexico where obviously there to throw others off the trail; there was no way Carpini would spill where he was headed. "My package" obviously referred to the financial records he was supposed to provide the DA's office in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The next line was interesting. Carpini had slipped into a Chicago accent as he said it – a far cry from the cultured English and flawless grammar he usually used. "I ain't givin' it to ya," he had said. It was the only line in the whole message spoken that way. Maybe he used the accent to emphasize it. Maybe he pointed it out to let me know he was lying. I ain't givin; it to ya" may have been his way of telling me he still intended to give me the package even though he, himself, was bailing. Malzone surely knew that Carpini had spoken to us. Carpini had to know that he was safer with Malzone behind bars. Even if he ran Malzone would come after him. The financials would ensure Malzone was put away. Maybe Carpini had left them somewhere for me to find. If that was the case, maybe the key to the package's location was hidden in the message.

I thought it over for a while, but nothing came to me. I glanced at my watch. It was 7:35 – time for Sophie to hit the sack.

"Come on, munchkin," I said, "time for bed."

"But Daddy, this is the best part."

Reggae music filled the room as a the red crab in Sophie's favorite movie burst into song.

"The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else's lake. You dream about going up there, but that is a big mistake. Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor. Such wonderful things surround you, what more is you lookin' for?"

My mouth dropped open. Those were the exact lines from Carpini's message.

"Under the sea...Under the sea...darling it's better...."

What was that crab's name? Sebastian, wasn't it? "Sebastian knows where it can be found." My mind made the mental connections and threw out the memory of the headline on yesterday's society page in the Trib. I scrambled for recycling bin where I yanked out the paper. It took a few moments to find the page.

"Under the Sea – New exhibit opens at the Shedd Aquarium."

Bedtime forgotten I tore my cell phone from its holder and dialed the precinct.

"Call the Shedd Aquarium," I said when Jones answered. "We need immediate access."


The director at the Shedd was very accommodating. Within ninety minutes we hada crew at the Aquarium turning the exhibit upside down. The search lasted more than four hours with no results.

I smashed my fist into my open palm. "This can't have been a coincidence. It's got to be here."

"I don't know what to tell you, lieutenant," Jones replied, "There's nothing here. The director wants us out so they can set things up for tomorrow."

I shook my head. This had to be it. The package had to be here. How had I missed it? Had I been wrong about Carpini's intentions?

As we exited the exhibit room my eye fell on the sign. "Under the Sea" was spelled out in large brass letters that practically leapt off the wood base. My mind ran through the message one more time. I had been so certain. The last line echoed in my brain.

"Only Sebastian knows where I can be found, and he has a way with words."

A way with words. I had thought that was a throwaway line – but what if it was significant. A way with WORDS.

On a hunch I approached the sign. My fingers felt around behind the letters. There was a space there. I found the flash drive behind the letter "S."

Under the "Sea."

"Carpini, you are one clever weasel." I stowed the flash drive in my pocket.

Next time I had my alone time with Sophie it was ice cream for sure, and her favorite movie. Maybe I would even sing along.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Time to Start Anew!

I have been remiss in updating my blog.  It is probable that none of my meager number of followers (15) come back very often anymore.  Hopefully I can change that.  I realized that I have a number of stories I've never posted that are yearning for the public eye.  I have also recently discovered the "scheduling" function of Blogger, so I don't have to come back all the time to publish new stories -- I can do them by batches and have them load at appropriate times! (Yeah, so I was slow on the uptake with that.)

In addition, the Yahoo writing group I participate in (Fantasy_Writing) will be running a Mock National Novel Writing Month (henceforth referred to as "MNano") in the month of May.  To be honest, it was my idea.  I had such a good experience last Nano (see the official event's website here) that six months later I want to do it again.  The skinny is, write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. (Only May has 31, so we get a bonus day.)  That equates to ~1615 words a day.  (1667 in November.)  Sound hard?  After three years of trying I finally succeeded last year. Go me!  Time to try it again.  I intend to post updates on the blog to let everyone know how it is coming.  I may even post a snippet or two of what gets written.

So--come back often.  I promise to have more content.  Some of it may even be good. :)

It's Alive

"Igor, hand me the twisted metal fastener adjudicator."

"Yes, master."

The tool was placed in the Doctor's outstretched hand.

"Aren't you going to wear gloves, master?"

"Gloves? Why would I wear gloves?"

"The procedure, master. It is a delicate one."

"Delicate? Of course it's delicate you flea-brained twit! Gloves would only serve to hamper the exceptional sensitivity of my practiced fingertips."

Igor shrugged. "If you say so, master."

"I say so! Now quiet, while I open the patient."

A few deft movements of the Doctor's hands did the trick.

"Ah, we're inside. The magnification device, Igor."

Igor fit the contraption to the Doctor's head, then rotated the lens into place. The Doctor leaned forward.

"Ah, it is as I thought. The fourth rib on the right lateral line has snapped. It is unable to support the jolt of energy required for animation."

"Of course, master."

The Doctor eyed him askance, the lens making the sneering eye appear several times larger than normal.

"What do you know of such matters, Igor?"

"Nothing, master."

"Then stop your infernal chattering and hand me that coil of wire. Be quick about it, you worthless dung beetle, time is of the essence. If we don't finish this before the storm arrives...."

Igor handed over the wire. The Doctor took the spool.


"Well, master?"

"The heat probe. I need the heat probe, you mindless roach, or I'll have no way of attaching the wire.

Igor hastened to pass along the probe.

"Argh! Not the hot end first. Imbecile!"

"Sorry, master."

"Step back before you contaminate the patient with your oozing stupidity."

"Yes, master."

Some careful movements of the Doctor over the next several minutes saw the repair complete.

"Now, I will close this up and we are ready."

A rumbling from outdoors indicating the approach of a mighty storm.

"The storm, master."

"Yes, yes, I hear it, I'm not deaf. Quickly, Igor, connect the wires. Carefully, you ignorant buffoon, or you'll fracture the receptacle."

A great boom of thunder practically shook the windows.

"Now, Igor, throw the switch!"

A flash of light lit the night sky, followed by an incredible crash. The eye of the patient gleamed red. The Doctor threw up his hands in triumph.

"It's alive!"

- - - - -

Shaking the water from his umbrella, Martin reached for the door knob to his room. Given the sounds of the thunder outside he had reached the dorms in the nick of time. He opened the door.

"It's alive!"

Martin stared at the spectacle before him. Brad stood with his hands thrust at the ceiling, wearing his chemistry lab coat and cackling maniacally. A bike helmet with a large magnifying glass attached to the front with duct tape perched precariously on his head. Luke crouched near the floor, a pillow stuffed into his shirt over his left shoulder, his finger hovering near the power button on the Playstation. They turned to look at him. Martin blinked.

"Do I even want to know what the heck you two are doing?"

Luke managed to look sheepish. "The Playstation wasn't starting. Brad fixed it."

"It's alive!" Brad repeated shaking his hands for emphasis.

At that very moment the power went out.

"Correction," Luke said. "It WAS alive."

"Quick, Igor, plug the patient into the UPS! She will yet live!"

Martin sighed. "You two are such idiots."

He closed the door and headed back outside. He'd get wet, but at least he'd be safe from the lunacy of his roommates.