somewhere a clock was striking midnight as tania pushed open the door of the church of kerouac.
the interior was even barer than that of the church of elvis. a muscular dark-skinned man wearing a plain white shirt was seated at a counter. the counter held piles of pamphlets but there was nothing on the shelves but a large hammer. a few folded chairs were stacked against a wall.
the man showed no surprise at tania's entrance and flashed her a big smile.
"good evening - or good morning." the clock outside finished striking.
tania smiled back at him and showed him her badge and identification.
he showed no surprise at this either. "77H-66yr4-5900uf-34377s, john henry." he recited without being asked. "how can i help you, detective?"
tania picked up some pamphlets and began flipping through them. "what's the hammer for?," she asked him. 'it looks big enough to qualify as a weapon."
"why, it's just a hammer i used to build my little church here. i keep it as a memento, to remind me of how hard we all have to work, every day of our lives - " he stopped, and gave tania another big smile. "i have a permit for it, if you would like to see it."
"no, don't bother."
"if i may be so bold as to ask, does the unspeakable crimes unit check permits for building tools?"
tania didn't answer this, but kept flipping through the pamphlets. "you were having a little shouting match with your friend next door."
"were we disturbing the peace? and that ignorant blasphemer is no friend of mine." still smiling, he got up from behind the counter and went to the window. "i see you didn't arrest him - he was shouting louder than i was. again, no disrespect, but are there so few police in the universe that the unspeakable crimes unit - "
"message received and recorded. and i'll ask the questions, ok." she picked up another pamphlet. it was titled "jack and st james in search of cervantes."
"patience, gentlemen, patience," cried sancho, as they crested yet another hill and saw nothing but scrub before them. sancho halted his mule, and the mule carrying jack and st james halted behind him. "i can see an inn in the distance - i can feel an inn in the distance. patience, gentlemen - and endurance, eh?'
"i need a drink," said jack and st james in unison.
"and you shall have it - a drink and more. all you can drink! but what can we do for now? but push on - and endure!"
they moved on. the moon began to wane.
"this publication seems to be endorsing irresponsible behavior." tania put the pamphlet back on the counter. "but that's no concern of mine." she turned to face john henry. "what do you know about little jojo?"
"you mean little jojo the ragamuffin?"
"i mean little jojo who swept up for your friend - the ignorant blasphemer across the street." tania smiled at him.
"well, i used to see him around. he was always out in the street. i talked to him a few times, tried to enlighten him, but his brain seemed hardened - "
"from sleeping on those hard sidewalks"
" - but he seemed to have a good heart."
"a good what?"
"a good heart. but you know who you should talk to - farquhar. he was always talking to farquhar, because as you know, farquhar talks to everybody."
"no. i didn't know. who is this farquhar? can i find him around here?"
"well, farquhar is farquhar. he is always around. some say that he is a master of the lost arts. and some folks say, as they sit around the campfire at night, that all you have to do is start thinking about him and he appears."
"cool. start thinking about him."
"i'll get right on it." another big smile.
"meanwhile, i have a question. did you ever notice little jojo - or anyone else for that matter - with a letter in his hand like he was on his way to a mailbox?"
"no, i can't say that i did. i don't think there any mailboxes or post offices around here. after all - well. look who's here."
francis rondelay farquhar was outside with his friendly round face pressed up against the window. john henry motioned to him to come inside.
farquhar entered. he and tania looked at each other. neither gave any sign of remembering the incident in chuckie's bar a few nights before.
"i like your hat." john henry said to farquhar.
"thanks, it's new. i'll tell you about it some time - it's a long story,"
"all your stories are long," john henry laughed. "francis, this is detective kelly. detective kelly, this is farquhar." he pointed to the pamphlets on the counter. "francis was kind enough to write some of the literature here for us."
"indeed i did," farquhar said proudly. "and for many of the other churches on the street. including the church of elvis next door -" a slight frown from john henry. " - and many, many others."
"interesting," said tania. "do you actually believe in any of them?"
"of course, i believe in them. i believe in everything, and everybody. all religions, all beliefs, all humans are the same, that's my motto -"
"and all robots"
"and all robots, all living creatures - all creatures." he spread his arms wide.
tania picked up the pamphlet "jack and st james in search of cervantes." "did you write this garbage?
'i may have,"
"mr henry says you like to talk to people."
"of course - i will talk to anybody who'll listen"
"all the while scrupulously observing the human contact laws, of course."
farquhar laughed pleasantly. "detective, i venture to say i know the human contact code even better than yourself."
"what do you know about little jojo?"
"jojo? why, i haven't seen jojo in a while." he furrowed his brow theatrically. "all i know is that he was caught in the toils of this mysterious universe - like all of us."
"well, i am here to try to solve some of the mysteries of the mysterious universe. have you seen jojo in the last fourteen or fifteen days ?"
"not to the best of my recollection."
"did you ever see him writing or mailing letters?"
"no." farquhar glanced at john henry. "who writes letters these days?"
tania looked at them both. 'gentlemen, i thank you for your cooperation. i would just like to say that although some branches of law enforcement may become intoxicated with their responsibilities, we in the unspeakable crimes unit are always mindful of being servants of a threatened population and threatened universe. good night to you both."