Friday, December 11, 2009

the seventeenth letter, part 18

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning click here

"do you want to watch the sunset?" larry asked.
"excuse me?"
"do you want to watch the sunset? we've been out here this long, we might as well stay and watch the sun go down."
"why? do you think it might not go down?" sally squinted at the horizon. a few little fishing boats and rafts had crossed their line of vision earlier but now it was empty.

'it's relaxing. it relaxes me. i just like to watch it."
"won't it get cold? you've got a jacket. i don't."
"you can wear my jacket if you get cold."
sally thought for a few seconds. "is that allowed?"

"you will not get arrested for wearing my jacket. i guarantee it."
"you absolutely guarantee it?"
"i absolutely guarantee it."
"i'm not as big as you. it might drag in the sand."
"that's not a problem."
"you don't mind if it gets dirty?"
"no. it's not mine. i got it at the office. they have others."

"they don't care if it gets dirty?"
"if it gets dirty, they'll have it cleaned."
"just like that?"
"they think they have more pressing things to worry about. maybe they don't, but they like to think they do."

"if my clothes got dirty nobody at work would clean them for me. that's if i even had a job."
"we're the police. we rule the world. it has certain advantages.
"i guess." sally looked around, at the water, the sand and the sky. "all right , let's watch the sunset, if that's what you're set on doing."

they sat in silence for a while, larry motionless and watching the horizon, sally looking around and jiggling her feet.

the last race was about to begin. bates and barras went down to the rail.

only a couple of other patrons were there with them.
the two regular jockeys, lemur and femur,were riding frankie and johnny.
frankie, ridden by lemur, was the favorite at 1 to 2. barras had bet on him.
bates had bet on johnny at 5 to 4.
lobo was riding cyclone, the third and oldest horse, who was going off at 10 to 1.
they watched as lobo got cyclone into the gate.

"ten million to one looks more like it," bates laughed.
a patron with binoculars around his neck was standing on the rail about twenty feet away closer to the starting gate. "that's the horse they run by himself, you can bet on if he finishes the race," he said, turning to bates.
"and does he ever finish?"
"it's been a while."

bates nodded. the three horses were ready.
"they're off!"
frankie and johnny moved out at a leisurely pace. cyclone didn't move.
"go, johnny,go!" bates waved his rolled up form in the air.

josephine closed the door behind tania and annabelle. the afternoon was getting on.
"do you mind driving back?" annabelle asked.

"no, not at all."
they got into the sedan.
"i got something to show you," annabelle said. she glanced back at house as tania started the car and circled out of the driveway.

"i think i found a clue." she patted her pocket.
"after all this time? jeanne will be thrilled."
annabelle hesitated. "you don't think charlotte will be?"
"i'm not saying she won't be. i just think she has other things on her mind right now."
"right," annabelle looked out the window as they passed more old houses. "what you're saying is that charlotte is a big lazybones who does nothing but scheme and play politics all day while jeanne does all her work for her."

"no. i did not say, imply or think anything like that."
"well ..."
"citizen detective, if you want to give voice to such thoughts, feel free. i will have none of it."

"ooh. testy."
"there's the duc de montfort's house over there. nice, isn't it?"

"are you making fun of me?"
"i thought you liked the old houses."
"i do. and some of the people in them are nice too. like the duc d'avignon." annabelle smiled. "he was a real gentleman."

"of course he was nice. it's what he does. it's all he's ever done or will do."
"maybe. but i learned something today."
"and what was that?"
"some old family people can be nice. they aren't all big snobs."
tania didn't answer. they drove on in silence until they were out of the old neighborhoods and back on a main highway.

"are you going to show me what you found?" tania asked.

annabelle reached into her pocket.

"i thought edwin did very well today, " said connie. she, edwin, bonnie, and rosa lee were gathered in the back room. bobby was minding the store in the front.

"i was a little nervous." said edwin.
"of course you were," said connie. "it was your first day as an outlaw."
"my second, actually. and all i did was mind a store."
" some police actually came in," said rosa lee.
"and he wasn't nervous at all," said connie. "no more than a good citizen would be,. it went very well."

"they didn't look that tough," said bonnie. "they looked like a couple of real knuckleheads. not gung ho at all."
"maybe." connie agreed. "but they didn't look like the type to cut you any slack either."
"this is all very well," said rosa lee.

"let's move on. edwin, are you ready to take the message to the streets tonight?"
"you seem to work well with connie. she'll go with you on the first night." rosa lee smiled at edwin. "maybe the second, too."
"thank you."
rosa lee took a pamphlet from a little pile beside her chair.

"what did you think of bobby's words?" she held the pamphlet up. it was titled "the true path to universal love." "you did get a chance to read it?"
"oh yes. i read it through twice."
"good. so what did you think?"

edwin hesitated. he glanced back at the door.

"thank you, major," said bates. "that was a very satisfactory afternoon."
"winners always feel that way," barras added.

johnny had ambled across the finish line a few yards ahead of frankie.
"i'm glad you enjoyed it," major mudd smiled gamely. after some negotiations as to the value of bates' coin, a payment on the 5 to 4 price had been agreed on.
"i'll tell you what , major," bates went on. "i'd like to invite you and your whole staff to dinner. what do you say ?"

barras eyebrows went up, but he didn't say anything.
"that's very kind of you," said the major. "the whole staff? there's just me, the two jockeys and the three stable boys."
"exactly. so there should be no problem." bates smiled and looked at barras. "we'll go to jasper's.

it's out toward the waterfront - just before you get there."
barras shrugged. "you sure it's still there?"
"i was there last week."
"the boys and the jockeys will be grateful, i'm sure," said the major. "for the free meal."
"free meal?" came a voice behind them. did i hear the words 'free meal'?"
all three turned to the individual who had spoken.

"did you have a winning ticket, sir?" the major asked.
"not likely. don't recognize me, mister bates? "
"deadman," said bates in a flat voice. "captain dave deadman, all dressed up and ready for the races."
"you always had a good memory. so what have you been up to, mister bates?"
"a little bit of this, little bit of that."

"can you help an old sportsman out, who hasn't had the best luck lately?"
"you don't have an entourage with you?"
"all right, you can come along." bates looked around the empty stands. "but nobody else." he raised his voice. "nobody else!"

"isn't it the same every night?" sally asked .
"what, the sunset? no, it's a little different every night."

"yeah, really. the colors, the patterns, they're a little different every time."
"i didn't know that."
"and even if it was the same, i haven't seen it for a while."

the seventeenth letter, part 19

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