Good Evening Ted and Jody:
It seems I was busy all day, but have very little to show for it. I had breakfast with Art this morning. Somehow we got on the topic of cheese, Vermont, Wisconsin and inferior makers. I told him about not being able to get colored margarine in Wisconsin when I was a child. What we could get was one pound plastic bags with white or light gray margin and an embedded food dye bubble or capsule in the inner surface of the bag. Then when one cause the embedded food dye bubble to break one could knead the package and turn the margin yellow. This, of course, was state law to protect the dairy industry. Whenever any of the neighbors planned a trip to exotic places like Michigan, Illinois, Iowa or Minnesota, they went around and gathered per-colored margin orders from all the neighbors and then returned from their visits to exotic places with cars laden with cases of margarine (we really hated kneading the non-colored margarine).
After listening patiently to my rendition of kneading margarine as a child (kneading non-colored margarine was exempted from child labor protection in Wisconsin), Art told me that in Vermont if one applied for a position as a laborer on a farm or in any kind of food sales or preparation one had to fill out an eight-page application and then wait for a background check. If one passed all that scrutiny one then had a face to face interview. The first question in the interview was “Do you have any bad habits such as smoking or eating margarine?” If you said yes to smoking the usually looked the other way and told you to smoke outside. However, if you ate margarine, you were unemployable even if you had a doctor’s prescription stating that you had to eat margarine for your health and well-being.
As near as I can figure, our discussion this morning proved fiction is sometimes stranger than facts.
Warmest regards, Ed
019 Four Bites of Time
Fiction in 1150 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
Captain Batan and Detective Philipson walked up the front steps to the house immediately behind Mrs. Calkins’ home. Detective Philipson rang the door bell. However, neither man could hear a chime from the inside; so, Captain lifted the knocker and let it drop several times against the steel door. ‘If they can’t hear that, I’ll use the but of my service revolver as a hammer.”
After 30 seconds of no response from within, Detective Philipson fished a business card from his jacket pocket and his pen from his shirt pocket to write a note on his business card to stick in the doorframe asking the resident to call when the front door opened. “Yes,” the man said. “How can I help you?”
Captain Batan who was standing to one side of Detective Philipson said, “Deputy Marshal Stewart, I believe you just did.”
“Captain Batan, I didn’t see you,” replied Deputy Marshal Stewart. “I didn’t realize you had this much information when you came to see us. We realized that our guy was in danger when his wife was taken from the Credit Union. We moved him within the hour. How did you find this address?”
“I may be a Captain, but I am still a detective,” replied Captain Batan. “I don’t suppose there is any chance of our coming in and looking around?”
“There is nothing to see. We have just about finished packing,” replied Deputy Marshal Stewart. He opened the door wider and said, “Come on in.”
The two detectives entered and walked around boxes. The Captain went upstairs to the bedroom and saw the still open box of facial creams, eyeliners, nail polishes and the like and thought to himself, ‘They lived together here but made a pretense of her living alone. I wonder what he did for a living?’ Deputy Marshal Stewart followed him and Captain Batan pointed to the box of cosmeticians and exotic oils and asked, “Won’t she want those when we find her?”
Deputy Marshal Stewart said, “They won’t be far, we’ll . . . You got me there.”
Captain Batan smiled and said, “I won’t tell if you don’t.”
(June 17, 1929, 12:01 A.M., Ladoga, WY) Special Agent Fleishman materialized in the middle of the dirt road again. The interior of the building had a single low-wattage light bulb that was the only light in the establishment. Special Agent Fleishman walked to the window of the storefront and used a weak light to read the notice on the window. ‘These people have just had a loss,” he thought. ‘That often puts them on edge.’ He left the lighted area caused by the single bulb filtering through the window and put on a pair of low light glasses. He slowly walked around the side of the building where he thought the shotgun blast on his earlier visit was made. When he rounded the corner, the light from a building several hundred feet up a hill caught his attention. Weak lights were coming from windows on two levels. He took off the low light glasses and walked toward the building. As he got closer he could see it was a well-kept home with a swing on the front porch. Even even in the near darkness, he could see it was freshly painted or white washed. ‘If anyone saw Mrs. Calkins or the SUV, they would be in there,’ he thought. ‘What have I got to loose?” He mounted the four steps to the porch and knocked on the door.
The door immediately opened to reveal a man loosely holding a shotgun. The man said, “I heard you coming. So you aren’t an Indian. So who in the hell are you and what do you want.?”
“I am Special Agent Fleishman. I am looking for Mrs. Frank Calkins, Aida Calkins.”
The man raised his shotgun ever so slightly. “Show me your badge, Mr. Special Agent, but move very slowly or Mr. Savage here will join the conversation.”
“We don’t carry badges; and, I am not armed,” replied Special Agent Fleishman.
“Then best you turn around and walk away. The dog doesn’t bark, but if you turn back toward this house he will attack; and, Mr. Savage here,” he said patting his shotgun, “will bark. Trust me, you will feel Mr. Savage’s bark.”
Special Agent Fleishman did as he was told and pivoted once he was in darkness and about half way back to the dirt road.
(2 years before the Present) Agent White materialized in the parking lot of a bank. The SUV she was tracking sat in the lot with a driver behind the wheel. She went into a cafe across the street, entered its restroom and pivoted back 15 minutes. Exiting the restroom she could see the SUV had not yet arrived so she walked across the street, entered the bank and made herself look busy pretending to fill out deposit forms at one of the standing desks provided for customers and watched the parking lot and front door.
The SUV pulled into the parking lot and one man got out of the passenger side of the SUV and headed for the bank. Once inside he stopped at the same standing desk that Agent White was using. She could read the man’s deposit slip: ‘Mark Rogers, $9,500, account number 452865589-1.’
Agent White dutifully copied down the information that she saw on the deposit slip in front of her, folded it and placed it in her purse. She then left the bank.
(June 17, 1929, 7:00 A. M., Ladoga, WY) “It is good that you are here early, Mat,” said Tom Ladoga. ” With Norma Rae coming today there was no way to get a hold of you.”
“What’s up,? the Sheriff asked.
“A woman, Mrs. Frank Calkins, her first name is Aida, was tossed out of an automobile last night around 11:30 right by the pumps,” Tom Ladoga said. “Claims she was taken hostage in a bank job. Thora and I took her in. Not 30 minutes later a guy showed up looking for her. He said he was a Pinkerton or some kind of Agent. He didn’t have any credentials so I and Mr. Savage asked him to leave. He did.”
“Where is the woman?” Asked the Sheriff.
“Upstairs, still sleeping,” replied Tom Ladoga.
“You didn’t tell her about the phony Pinkerton trying to find her, did you?” Asked the Sheriff.
“No, I didn’t want to alarm her,” replied Tom Ladoga. “She seemed to be holding herself together, so I didn’t want to spoil that.”
“Good,!” said the Sheriff. “The less anyone knows the better at this stage of a kidnapping. Those fellows get to thinking the victims will be able to identify them. When they start thinking like that people end up dead. I’ll talk to her after your Dad’s service and your and Thora’s wedding tomorrow. Keep all of this under your hat, Tom.”