Chapter 21…

In this kind of work, it sometimes becomes difficult to keep a professional perspective and a personal one at a proper distance. Because once they become entwined, you’ve lost your necessary control.

Terrific, Sherlock. Too late for that now. That’s what happens when a fool rushes in. Spenser and Hawk would have snagged that guy before he even cleared the bottom of the stairs, Jenn would have been home inside an hour. Susan would have met them for brunch on Boylston Street,  and they’d be walking the dog around the Clamshell.

But because I knew Jenn, I thought I could cut through some of those always- necessary qualifying steps. And because I was approached by her sister, I presumed that she was being straightforward.

And now, stood in a huge mess and could safely presume that I was being played by someone. But not sure by who, or why, where, what, when, or how.

Nice . Glad to be of help. I should have stayed in contract security, where I could be taking a nap in the corner of a public library somewhere.

Well, anyway… back to the problem at hand.


Tuesday night, she said. So now we have a time-frame to work from- the ” when.”  And very shortly, all the others would fall into place. Because I’m sure that the plainclothes guy would get to all that rather quickly.

Like I should have.

We could have covered all this in my office over a nice cup of Eight O’Clock and a cruller. That’s why one has  an office to begin with…provided that one doesn’t rush ahead and lose all semblance of order.

She wanted me to trust her. She had that deer- in -the- headlights look about her that meant she really needed time. If I had set this up right, she would have had it.

I decided to go with it. If she was playing me, then I could fill in a few blanks just by watching how she responded to the plainclothes guy. But I would back her up if I could. After all, she hadn’t done anything wrong, and neither had I.

We were just trying to find Jenn.

The door opened…and I knew that I had seen this guy somewhere. And he looked like he was thinking the same.

He said hello to Janice, as if he knew her too. The uniforms went upstairs.

Such a small town, Rhode Island…

This guy had come to take Jenn out to lunch once, back in the day. Old friends, she had said.

And what the hell did that mean? Would that factor in to this, too?

When one has lost control, one needs to retrieve it. And the best thing to do right now would be to shut the hell up and let this thing unfold a little bit.

I nodded…and waited.





Mr. Monk and the Old Man…

I am the Old Man in question ( a reference to the last post ), and Mr. Monk refers to a wonderful TV series that ran from 2002- 2009. There was actually an episode titled ” Mr. Monk and the Old, Old Man”, so there’s a small inside joke there.

My niece Olivia would probably get it. Monk was one of our favorite programs. Even at her age then ( 8-9 ), she understood the humor.

It was premised on the idea of a retired police detective who serves as a consultant to the San Francisco PD;  who also suffers from an extreme case of OCD, along with several severe phobias.

Sure doesn’t sound very appealing; but in addition to being a very well-put-together detective show, Monk had a constant undercurrent of dark humor that was always understated, and never presented at the expense of the main character.

Tony Shaloub portrayed Adrian Monk, and was nominated for eight Emmys. He won three of them. The program received a great many awards.

The last episode still holds the record for viewership of a cable-tv program; 9.4 million.

We stopped watching after the finale, even though it has been in syndication ever since. But recently, we happened to watch a few ( more as a gentle reminder of Olivia, whom we don’t see as a result of estranged relations with her parents ).

I am pleased to report that Monk is always terrific, in a kind of Monty Python or Dress to Kill ( Eddie Izzard ) sort of way. You know it by heart, will recite favorite bits to other fans, and to anyone else who will put up with it.

If you have never indulged, may I heartily recommend it.

It carries a full five-star rating from Olivia.

Can You Hear Me Now??…

In the mood for a riddle?

Question: What’s weirder than an old fretless bass player who believes he is beset by men with sabers?

Answer: This thing.

The Psycho Phone.

Supposedly developed by Thomas Edison, circa 1920. There was apparently never a patent applied for on it. It was found in an antique shop and mistaken for a record player. It has four wax cylinders that are meant to record…from a microphone attached to an aerial antenna.

To record what, you may ask? There wasn’t exactly a flourishing industry based on wax-cylinder recordings at the time.

But you could play wax recordings of self-help subjects while you slept, because it had a programmable timer.

And…it could communicate with the dead.

 That was the secondary application; not nearly the selling point that the timer was. ( Because you were much more susceptible to self-help suggestion while you were asleep. See?…) That part is sort of normal, and actually seems very new-agy and hip for the 1920’s. But the dead thing…I would love to see how they wrote that into the owner’s manual. I really hope there was an owner’s manual.

So we’ve got a wax-cylinder home recorder that sees dead people. Now that’s worth the price of admission right there. Top that, Sony…Toshiba…Samsung…anybody?? Now that is what I call an app…

As Eddie Izzard would say, ” stick with me, my story gets better…”

Ok. So Mr. Edison didn’t actually get this thing out of the barn befored he died in 1931. And that apparently really bothered him.

How do we know that? Because… he returned during a seance 10 years later and instructed those in attendance to check with three of his assistants; they had the final plans in their possession.

They did; the PsychoPhone was built from those plans…and it didn’t work.

So…Tom came back in yet another seance ( because they couldn’t get the damned phone to work?)  and gave specifics about how to get it running ( to the guy who invented putty, of all things ). That guy worked on it for years, and no one seems to know how things went, or if  Tom had to come back again to tweak it ( ” if I have to get up one more time, I swear to God, you will not hear the end of it”…)

Then things get a bit fuzzy, and the PsychoPhone disappeared. Buried in obscurity.

But has obviously resurfaced; the subject of a History Detectives segment. Check your local listings.

Wouldn’t it be great if some huge electronics firm took a shot at this? I myself would wait in line for weeks on end for one of these. Even if it didn’t work. IPod…IPad…IPhone…IDied…

4G Network? Phfftt….

Oh, GTG. Phone’s ringing. I’ve got one of those ringtones that sounds just like an old bell phone…

Pithy Observations…

“I love the smell of estrogen in the morning”- Katie Couric

I love the smell of napalm in the morning“- Kilgore

” I love the smell of Europe in the morning”Eddie Izzard

” I love the smell of dirty wool in the morning”– RCoyne

I found myself recently indulging  in an odd re-enactor-based behavior. Many times, around many campfires, I’ve heard people comment that they can’t resist it; sometime during the off-season, you find yourself grabbing an old uniform jacket, or a blanket, a greatcoat, anything made of cloth, and stuffing it into your face and inhaling deeply. The effusion of woodsmoke, dirt, sweat, and wet wool that permeates everything is irresistable. Really just makes you want to get outside again. There’s no word for that particular odor, but if it could be bottled, it would knock ” Old Spice” right out of the market ( or at least “Pine-sol”).  It’s somewhere in between ” delightfully pungent” and ” wet dog”. More truthfully, maybe somewhere between ” wet dog” and ” road kill.”  I should think that the female of the species would find it most alluring. Available soon as cologne, after shave, and roll-on deodorant.

I’ ve noticed from local radio today that it’s all about John Lennon. All well and good, but I’ve also noticed that Pearl Harbor seems about ready to disappear altogether; in the newspapers, only a few human-interest angles having to do with surviving vets; no actual observance of the event itself. I presume that this indicates that any coverage will disappear altogether, probably by next year. We certainly wouldn’t want to appear insensitive to Japanese political or cultural interests. Let’s just hope that Iran and North Korea  also appreciate our sensibilities…

Chirp…Cake or Death…Chirp…

Eddie Izzard bits done with Legos. The Queens Anne and Mary love this… can’t imagine why. Watched a lot of Eddie while Verizon was down at my house. No phone , TV, or internet. Absolutely uncivilized. But we barely pulled through, thanks to English transvestites and Stevie Ray Vaughn. The Queens are a bit envious of Eddie’s wardrobe, especially the shoes. ” Dress to Kill” still holds up well in spite of its age. Great stuff. And the new biography ” Believe” is quite good, too.

Frighteningly quiet on the novel front. Methinks I may have inadvertently miffed G and C. Ah, well. Barn door’s wide open now. May as well leave it. I know that lots of people would like this if they only knew. How to contact them? Think…think, damn you, think!…