028 Agent White’s Interview with Col. George Blackwell
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
A wet, windy and chilly morning here in the Great North Wet.
I got to thinking how Congress has changed since I spent a few months on an internship there in 1968-9. If I had to make an oversimplified statement about the change, it is money. We finally have the best Congress Money can buy.
The way it works is fairly straightforward. Moneyed interests make campaign donations to candidates (especially incumbents) for Congress, both houses. Large campaign chests generally insure the incumbents win. The state legislatures help by gerrymandering districts to insure more and more safe seats. Thus, Congressmen become entrenched and settle into long tenures on specialized committees.
Committee work is generally a matter of responding to lobbyists. Keep in mind the lobbyists are employed by the same folks who make large campaign donations to Members of the House and Senate who serve on those committees. Lobbyists have access to committee members whereas a normal run of the mill constituent does not have access to committee members unless they are from that member’s constituency. Hell, try writing to one and your letter will largely be routed through your own representative.
Moneyed interests, through their lobbyists, convince Members of a Committee that the best interests of their constituents and the industries they represent, their employees, and even the communities in which their firms operate are served by specific legislation. This gets to the real power. Most of that legislation goes through the Houses of Congress on “waiving the third reading of the bill and passage, without objection, by unanimous consent.”
Cute, no member of the House of Senate has to actually vote for most ‘special interest” legislation. They do not have to vote against it either. We end up with government by unanimous consent, without objection, that is. So, the campaign donors get the laws that they need to make a nice profit and no one actually has to take credit or blame for it.
It gets worse. With the Republicans in control, the leadership of the committees (chair) goes to the member who raises the most money for the party. So, in a very real sense, the American people are sold out to the special interest. Rather than campaign on the issues that they will encounter in committee: drug reporting, deduction schedules, areas for oil drilling and the like, candidates campaign on issues they will not face: abortion, medical insurance for all, murder by immigrants, and a whole host of what I would call “fake” campaign issues were not the term “fake” grossly overused by the pestilence.
It actually would be fairly easy to take private money out of Congressional elections—simply pass a bill removing money from the rubric of speech and then make private campaign donations illegal punishable by prison terms. The folks who would benefit most from such a law are incumbents. Since they already hold office and have a legitimate reason to inform their constituents, they would have one hell of a leg up in the initial and subsequent elections after private money was removed from elections.
As long as private money gets what it wants from “without objection passage by unanimous consent,” I expect gridlock, partisan bickering over side issued to continue. It would also help if the American Public took the time to follow what actually does and doesn’t happen in both Chambers in the Congress.
Warmest regards, Ed
The Case of the Missing Director 006 Over the Fence
Fiction in 1011 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
[2nd Floor Andy Kellog’ Back Bedroom, 21st Century] “Now you watch,” said Andy Kellog. “Someone will toss a bicycle part over Fred’s back fence. They creep up the ally and stay low so as we can’t see them then they toss the part over the fence. The missus is getting tired of the noise at night when the parts clang against each other. It keeps her up all night. Me I don’t hear anything when I get to sleep, but she is a light sleeper and the slightest sound awakens her. Why we went on vacation in Hawaii and the sound of the garbage truck a block from the hotel awakened her. We got the hotel to switch our rooms to the other side of the building; then, the traffic kept her up. I tell you, it is a wonder the woman ever gets any sleep. But the clanging of the bicycle parts is a new one. I swear . . . .”
As Andy talked Detective Philipson and Edith Gunderson watched out of the window intently. Andy was interrupted by “CLANG, tinkle, thud,” as a part seemed to fly over Andy Kellog’s neighbor’s back fence. Edith Gunderson pivoted and returned a split second later. “There was no one there.” She shook her head and said, “I even pivoted back to when it came over the fence. It just appeared out of thin air.”
“Well, let’s go down and look at those parts,” said Detective Philipson pulling a flashlight from his belt.
[Andy Kellog’s Neighbor’s Back Yard, 21st Century] Opening the beam on his tactical flashlight to encompass the widest possible area, Detective Philipson asked, “Does your neighbor have a backyard flood light?”
“Yes,” said Andy Kellog. “But floods make such nice targets for kids and their BB and pellet guns.” Andy Kellog kept looking up nervously “Aren’t you afraid we will get hit by a flying bicycle part?”
Edith Gunderson looked up and said, “Yes, aren’t we in danger of a part falling out of the sky?”
Just then a part in the middle of Detective Philipson’s tactical flashlight beam began to move and rose up and vanished. “My, my,” said Detective Philipson. “The parts are not changing shape, we are standing in someone’s inventory. Perhaps we should move back toward the house. The parts seem to concentrate at the back of the yard.” As the three moved back one part added itself to the pile and another left. “I wonder, said Detective Philipson if we pulled apart out of the pile, move it closer to the house if it would stay here or if whatever pulls them back would find it?” He grabbed a frame and tossed it toward the house. “Watch that one.”
Andy Kellog moved to his neighbor’s back porch and sat down on the steps and focused on the part Detective Philipson had move and said to watch. After a few minutes, he said, “It left. It got found and left. That is the darnedest thing I have ever seen. But it beats the hell out of the parts changing shapes.”
[Outreach Agent Simmons Lab, 27th Century] “No, that is a common manufacturing practice up-line,” replied Special Agent Fleishman. A firm petitions to use an unused plot of ground in the past for inventory. Then as it manufactures a piece it sends it back with a time tag and pulls it back when it is needed to complete an item. Normally, a license is granted for a plot of ground in the past where there is no one at the time or no civilized present. I’m guessing there is a glitch in their time stamps and the parts should be going back five or six hundred years earlier. Get a shot of their nameplate or other markings and we can track that down and get it stopped.”
“Well, that was a dead end,” said Edith Gunderson.
Captain Batan chuckled. “Welcome to detective work, Mam. We never know what thread to pull to solve a case; so we pull them all until we find the one thread that leads somewhere.
“What thread are we pulling next?” Edith Gunderson Asked.
“Ms. While is interviewing Dr. Chou as we speak,” said Captain Batan.
[Dr. Chou’s Lab, ATI, 21st Century] “I have a standing appointment with Director Meechum Saturday mornings,” said Dr. Chou.
“So, on the basis of his not being there for your appointment you went to the police?” asked Amanda White.
“Yes, the project was near and dear to the Director’s heart,” said Dr. Chou. “We were working on a way to fuse light and matter to make gravity-free mats. You see, if we can get the electrons in a light particle to interact with the nuclei of an atom. any atom we can get the material to float or suspend itself between gravity sources. It would revolutionize how to move material. The biggest thing since ball bearings. Every week, I try another series of atoms and take my findings to Director Meechum. He is the senior researcher on the project and secured the funding. He schedules our meetings for all morning. He even has them catered. When he wasn’t here, I asked the computer where he was and got squirrelly answers. Well, when a computer gives you funny answers, you know you are dealing with something fishy so I went right to the police. I gave my report to Detective Monarch.”
“Detective Monarch went on vacation,” said Amanda White.
“Funny, the Detective told me he was going to start by going to the lab and seeing about getting some straight answers from the Director’s Computer.
Some kind of exemption to the privacy rules of 2587. I must confess I was surprised that I didn’t hear from the man, but I got busy with a batch of atoms that looked promising.”
“Have you tried varying the type of light particle?” asked Amanda White.
“Funny you should ask,” replied Dr. Chou. “I just yesterday decided to do exactly that.”
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
A few years back I had a few short pieces stored in a file folder entitled “Breakfast at Micky Dee.” From time to time interesting conversations or encounters would happen at breakfast. For example, I met a man traveling by bicycle with a cat. When his wife died he put the baby kitten in his pocket and hit the road. The cat knew no other life than riding in the bicycle basket. Then there was Daniel who gave a man ride to Castle Rock in exchange for the gas to get back to Chehalis—he got stiffed. Then there was the fellow who asked me if I knew where there was a midwife. It seemed that there was a pregnant woman in the homeless camp up on the hill and he figured they might need some trained help when it came to the birth of the child she was carrying.
For the past year or so things at Micky Dee have been rather quiet. This morning, however, I almost got hit by a broom wielded by a crazed employee when I entered the restaurant. It seems there was a mouse loose on the premises and a man with a broom chasing it from one end of the restaurant to another. Most of the workers and patrons were focused on the hunt. All in all the action lasted a good five minutes before the mouse met its untimely fate at the business end of a regular old house broom. Before I left, I caught motion out of the corner of my eye, but did not report it to the house mouse hunter.
When I pulled into the boat ramp to see if there was a photo opportunity available, I found a car with three tires. I suspect an abandoned vehicle as the plates read August, 2014. It would appear that it has been flying under the radar for over three years.
Warmest regards, Ed
PS, I heard the government shut down. Does that mean the pestilence is even more unnecessary than usual?
The Case of the Missing Director 005 Warrant
Fiction in 1034 words by T. Edward Westen, 2018
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Winter seems to have returned to the Pacific North Wet. I suppose our journals would read like those of the Lewis and Clark Expedition members wintering her over 210 years ago—rain today. I can recall reading my Grandmother Western’s journal during the war years, 1941-5. Most of the entries were about the weather or that she got a letter from Herb or Ted.
My Uncle Herb was in the Army stationed in Northern Australia. He was with the group assigned to break the Japanese naval codes. He reported that they worked when a new code hit the airways and then swam a lot after they unlocked it. I wonder what he could have put in his letters home to his mother that the censors would let trough—Grandma was mum on the subject.
Grandma and grandpa lived in a five-room home in Washburn, Wisconsin. The boys’ room was full of light and a four poster brass bed. One could take the caps off the brass posts at each corner. In the vie or so inches of space, Uncle Herb had put an array of Australian coins he had brought back from his service there. When we visited there, I used to play with the coins. I always put them back before we left. I wonder what happened to them after Grandma passed.
Sine Grandmothers journal was written on the South Shore of Lake Superior, winter entries never said, “rain.” Snow popped up most days.
Warmest regards, Ed
The Case of the Missing Director 004 The Director’s Computer Clams Up
Fiction in 1116 words by T. Edward Westen, 2018
[Director Meechum’s Office, ATI, 27th Century] “Outreach Agent Simmons, you do not have clearance to access Director Meechum’s current whereabouts,” blandly stated the Director’s computer.
“Computer, this is Special Agent Fleishman, please put me on the Director’s appointment calendar as soon as possible.”
“Thank you, Special Agent Fleishman. I will notify you when an opening in the Director’s appointment schedule occurs.” replied the Director’s computer.
“Computer, this is Agent Amanda White. Director Meechum went missing at 09:13 Thursday last. We are trying to track him down. Is there anything you can tell us that will help us find him?”
“Agent White, I am sure the Director would be pleased with your concern,” said the Director’s computer. “However, under the privacy act of 2587, I am not at liberty to reveal any information about the Director.”
[Family Court, Judge Douglas Henderson’s Chambers, 27th Century] Edith Gunderson materialized in the anteroom to the Judge’s Chambers. She knocked gently on the door. “Come,” almost resonated from the door. She opened it.
“Edith here, your Honor, Have you got a moment.”
“Edith, I have missed our dinners since you took up playing at being Captain Kirk,” said a smiling Judge Douglass Henderson as he rose and walked around his desk. “However, you do bring this old man a smile on an otherwise bleak day. Is this a social visit, I hope?”
“First a bit of judge business,” replied Edith. “Is there a way to get around the Privacy Act of 2587 if a computer’s owner is missing?”
“Who is missing, Edith?” asked Judge Henderson.
“ATI Director Meechum,” replied Edith Gunderson. He has been gone a little over a week?
“And, what do the police say?” asked Judge Henderson.
“I fear they let it slip and did not follow up when he was first reported gone,” she replied. “You remember the detectives I brought to your court when that little girl’s future was at risk?”
“Judge Henderson nodded and said, “Yes, two fellows from the early 21st Century. Very sound fellows. Why?”
“Since the temporally local cops let it slide, I recruited detectives from my era for the job,” said Edith Gunderson. “They are in the Director’s office doing what police do. If the computer would tell us, we could save a lot of time?”
“The bottom line, Edith, is the computer is not allowed to give information that the provider specifically restricted,” replied the Judge.
“Even when the, as you call him, the provider could be in some, err, difficulty?” asked Edith Gunderson.
“I understand the sense of urgency,” said Judge Henderson. “But the Director’s right to privacy is what is at stake, not the computer’s rights. You would have to prove the Dictator is in imminent danger of life or limb, or he is not mentally competent to give privacy blocks to a computer. Can you do either?”
“We’ll when one of his agents asked where he was going, the Director said, ‘it is for me to know and you to find out.’ Sounds a bit weak on the mental angel to me.”
Judge Henderson laughed out loud. “That my dear lady is a common expression these days when everyone seems to know everything about everyone else. Sorry, that won’t help.”
[Director Meechum’s Office, ATI, 27th Century] Edith Gunderson materialized just outside Director Meechum’s office door and heard Captain Batan say “OK, computer, show us the next visitor.”
A small man with a pockmarked face displayed on the screen. “This is Barrister Hausdorff. He is ATI’s chief legal counsel,” droned the computer. “This was a matter of public record with regard to the bombing incident on Monday past.”
Edith Gunderson leaned into Amanda White and whispered, “How did they get the computer to talk?”
“Detective Philipson told the computer we only wanted publicly available records of those who had meetings with the Director for the two weeks prior to his going missing,” Amanda White said. They now have a list of 15 individuals who had meetings with the Director. Now, they can track down each one to get some feel for what he was involved with, what his state of mind was and where he might have gone.”
“I knew getting real detectives would pay off,” said Edith Gunderson.
Captain Batan looked up at her and winked. “It is a bit tricky without out a paper trail, but when you have lemons . . . “
“I know,” said Edith Gunderson, “Make a lemon pie.” She looked around and asked, “Where are Special Agent Fleishman and Outreach Agent Simmons?”
“One of the first faces to show up was a former agent who left the Agency under something of a cloud, Nathan Harris,” said Amanda White. “Anyway the guys went to have a word with him.”
“What kind of a cloud?” asked Edith Gunderson.
“Harris was selling implants in an earlier era to undertrained recipients” replied Amanda White. “A death resulted and brought his activities to the attention of the Agency. Meechum sacked him.”
[Home of Nathan Harris, 27th Century] “Knock louder, Johnathon,” said Special Agent Fleishman, the indicator says” he added pointing to the green light on the door, “someone is home.
Outreach Agent Simmons raised his fist to pound on the door when it finally opened. Nathan Harris’s head filled the door frame. “What the hell do you two bozos want?” Harris snarled.
”Nice to see you again too, Nathan,” said Special Agent Fleishman. “Jonathan and I were looking for Director Meechum. Is he around?”
“Why would that meddling old fool be here?” asked Nathan Harris with more than a touch of ice in his voice. “That old faker sacked me. I never got to defend myself, just sacked me with no nothing just kicked out the door? I wish he were dead?”
“I guess we should take the body off your hands,” replied Special Agent Fleishman.
“You saying the old faker is dead?” said an astonished Nathan Harris. “Well, I may have wanted him that way, but wanting and doing are two different things. I haven’t seen him since he fired me.”
“Unfortunately for you, your face shows up on the surveillance of his office a few days before he disappeared,” said Special Agent Fleishman. “You mind if we come in and look around?”
“Not without a warrant, you don’t,” said Nathan Harris. “No warrant no entry. I know my rights.”
Special Agent Fleishman nodded his head and said, “OK, you stand here and talk to Johnathon while I get the warrant you want. Special Agent Fleishman pivoted.
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Today was a medical morning. I listened to NPR on my way to get my bi-weekly shot. I learned that the new regulations put out by the pestilence’s minions and running dogs (I never knew what the term running dogs meant when the commies used it to describe us, now I still don’t know what it means but it sounds bad so we’ll use it to describe the sicko humans who work for the pestilence and support him in his quest to be god) now allow medical professionals not to treat patients if the medical professional’s conscious or religious beliefs are in conflict with the procedure. So, if a medical professional harbors beliefs against transgenders do they have to help at the scene of an accident? Next, I hear that a doctor donated the biggest amount of money ($50,000,000 comes to mine) to an Oregon university ever from his practice, dermatology as I recall, in southern California. Then I was asked for about $65 at the urologist’s office for them to administer an injection (I bought the material to be injected with me).
Now, doctors typically start practices in their early 30s after all the schooling they have to endure. This guy was 70, so he managed to squirrel away over a million dollars a year as he saved making from skin cancer and pimples (My urologist better up his rates if he is going to make a donation of any size). So let us focus on the $65 for a injection. The injection took a total of 10 minutes from the time I entered the office until I left. It was performed by a medical assistant who has a year of training and makes big bucks—way over minimum wage. Assuming she can do four of these in an hour she earns, say, $25/ hour and rakes in $260 for the firm (err, doctor). However, that is before the negotiated rate that BCBS and Medicare allow. As I recall, the last time I got these shots BCBS and Medicare allowed the doctor to charge $27.37 for the shot, cutting deeply into his profits. But that highlights an interesting point.
If one has insurance, medical charges are buffered by what the third party payer negotiations annually allow. However, if one does not have insurance, one pays through the nose. I’m guessing that the dermatologist who made the large donation didn’t accept insurance. Whatever happened to “first do no harm.”
Warmest regards, Ed
The Case of the Missing Director 003 Whose Case Is It Again?
Fiction in 1068 words by T. Edward Westen, 2018
[Outreach Agent Simmons’ Lab, ATI 27th Century] “So, after taking Dr. Chou’s report, Detective Monarch put the report in the ‘next available detective bin’ and went off on vacation,” said Special Agent Fleishman. “I watched him go.” He held up a flimsy and said, “Anyone interested in being the next available detective?”
“Let me see that,” said Edith Gunderson reaching out for the flimsy. “I take it you left the original so they can follow up when they have time?”
Special Agent Fleishman nodded and gritted his teeth.
As Edith Gunderson read the report she chuckled, “It would appear Dr. Chou was working on something with the Director. I wonder what it was?” Scanning further she said, I see no notation that the police made a visit to Dr. Meechum’s office.” She put the flimsy down, narrowed her eyes and said, “What say we get some professional detectives to take a look.” She looked at the assembled time travelers and said, “Does anyone want to come with me?”
They all nodded and Edith Gunderson pivoted taking them all with her.
[Outside Child Protective Services, City Hall, 21st Century] Edith Gunderson, Amanda White, Special Agent Fleishman and Outreach Agent Simmons materialized just outside Edith Gunderson’s former office. Edith Gunderson held up a finger and said, “I’ll just pop in for a moment and say ‘Hi’ to Millie.” As she reached for the doorknob, the door opened from within and Millie appeared.
Millie raised a hand to her mouth and said, “Land O’Goshen, as I live and breath it is Ms. Gunderson. My, my, I have missed you.” With that, Millie threw her arms around Edith Gunderson and said, “I know you haven’t come back to stay, but I do wish you would.”
“No, we have come to see if the boys upstairs can help us with a case,” replied Edith Gunderson.
“I’m, just,” said Millie pointing to the office behind her, “running an errand for the boss. A fancy cup of coffee, mind the stuff I make isn’t good enough for him.” She shook her head and said, “Please don’t be a stranger.” And she fled through the stairwell door.
“It sounds like all is not quite well in Child Protective Services,” said Amanda White.
“Probably just new boss jitters,” replied Edith Gunderson. She pointed upward and said, let’s go see some detectives about a missing director.
[Detective Squad, City Hall, 21st Century] Edith Gunderson was the first through the door from the stairwell. Amanda White was second. When Outreach Agent Johnathan Simmons came through the door he said, “This place hasn’t changed a bit.”
Special Agent Fleishman poked his friend and comments, “It has only been two of their days since you were here last.”
As the four time travelers went through the turnstile next to the Desk Sergeant’s desk Edith Gunderson said, “How’s it going, Jane?”
The Desk Sergeant looked up and said, “Hi Edith, Captain Batan expecting you?”
“I doubt it,” replied Edith. “We’ll surprise him.”
Detective Eddie Philipson looked up from his desk, waved and smiled. He was interviewing someone whose back was to them.
As they reached the door, Special Agent Fleishman said, “Let me.” He knocked once on the door and then opened it and stuck his head in.
Captain Batan looked up, smiled and said, “I didn’t use the beacon; to what do I owe the honor?”
Special Agent Fleishman stuck out his hand and said, “We have a missing director a detective in charge on vacation,” he pointed to his three colleagues saying, “And we could use some professional help.”
Captain Batan stood and said, “Let’s see what’s on Eddie Philipson’s plate.” He went to his office door, stuck his head out and beckoned for Detective Philipson to join them.
As Captain Batan was settling back into his chair, Detective Philipson stuck his head in, “Yes, Boss, HI Gang. Ms. Gunderson, you are looking fit as a fiddle.”
“What are you working on, Eddie?” asked Captain Batan?
“I just took a report from Andy Kellog who thinks there is a bicycle chop shop in his area dumping parts they don’t want in is neighbor’s yard,” replied Detective Philipson. “Otherwise it is quiet in the city.”
“Put a note on it for the Morning Roll Call to check the area,” said Captain Batan. Picking up his phone he pushed one button and said, “Lt. I’m taking Eddie out on a case. You are in charge until I get back.” He hung up the phone, smiled and said, “Let’s go find your director.”
[In the hall outside Director Meechum’s Office, ATI, 27th Century] Four time travelers and two 21st Century police detectives materialized in an otherwise empty hall. Special Agent Fleishman pointed to the door and said, “He was last seen in there, Thursday last at 9:13.”
“I went back and asked him where he was going,” chimed in Outreach Agent Simmons, “and he told me that was for him to know and me to find out.”
“And you say the police have not been inside?“ asked Captain Batan.
Special Agent Fleishman shook his head ‘no.’
“Do you have a key?” asked Captain Batan.
Amanda White reached down and opened the door. “Around here, keys would be useless, she said. Anyone with an implant could pivot in there. Everyone around here has implants so there is no point in keys.”
Stepping inside, Eddie Philipson pulled out his smartphone and started taking pictures. He moved around the room shooting all surfaces from every angle. When he was done he asked, “Should we dust it for prints?”
Edith Gunderson looked at Special Agent Fleishman who looked at Amanda White who looked at Outreach Agent Simmons who said, “Yes, I have just the stuff in my lab and immediately pivoted to return holding an antique pot of black powder with a duster. Smiling broadly he handed it to Detective Philipson who said, “Where in the world did you get this stuff, 22B Baker Street?”
“Why, yes, how did you guess?” asked an incredulous Outreach Agent Simmons.
Detective Philipson said, “You do know this stuff loses its power after a century.”
A crestfallen Outreach Agent Simmons took back the antique pot and said, “Pity.” Brightening up, Outreach Agent Simmons said, “Let’s ask his computer. Computer, this is Outreach Agent Simmons, where did Director Meechum go?”
The Case of the Missing Director 002 Police Investigation
Fiction in 1088 words by T. Edward Westen, 2018
[Outreach Agent Simmons’ Lab, ATI Headquarters] Both Edith Gunderson and Special Agent Fleishman grabbed for towels. Edith Gunderson went to Johnathon and helped him wipe the hot chocolate from his face and hair. “It is a good thing this was not piping hot, Johnathon,” said Edith Gunderson, “Or you would be in for a long burn recovery.”
“I don’t know why,” said Outreach Agent Johnathon, “But, I sometimes forget what I am doing.”
“When you start to remember,” quipped Special Agent Fleishman, “Get a mop and get this cleaned up before you start to stick to the floor.” He paused and then asked, “Did anyone think to report the Director’s absence to the police?”
Outreach Agent Simmons shrugged his shoulders, “I didn’t. I suppose someone must have.”
“Funny, I didn’t see any crime scene tape on the Director’s door,” said Edith Gunderson. “He is an important official. You would think they would be all over the case.”
Special Agent Fleishman stood up. “Remember, Johnathon, get a mop. In the meantime, I’ll drop in on the metropolitan police and find out what they know.” Special Agent Fleishman pivoted.
[Detective Squad, Metropolitan Police] Special Agent Fleishman materialized in the foyer of the Metropolitan Police, Detective’s Unit. He looked around and thought, ‘Except for the furniture, this could be the unit back in the 21st Century with Detectives Batan and Philipson sitting at those desks,” he thought. He approached the desk sergeant and said, “Excuse me, I am Special Agent Fleishman with the ATI and I am here to inquire after the investigation of our missing director. Could you please direct me to the investigator in charge.”
The Desk Sargent looked at Special Agent Fleishman and asked, “I suppose you either have credentials or a case number?”
Special Agent Fleishman held up a finger and said, “I’ll be right back.” With that, he pivoted leaving a Desk Sergeant with a gaping mouth.
The Desk Sergeant looked around pointed and said, out loud, “Did you see that?” Then at the end of his finger, Special Agent Fleishman materialized.
“Sorry, I never need credentials when I go, so I forget to carry them,” said Special Agent Fleishman handing the Desk Sargent a credentials wallet. “I don’t know the case number, but he should have been reported missing in the last week. He was last seen Thursday at 09:13.”
“Who?” asked the Desk Seargent.
“Director Meechum of the ATI,” replied Special Agent Fleishman.
The Desk Sergeant looked at the device on his desk and ran his finger over the screen. He pushed one screen aside and ran his finger over the new screen. He did this several times until he said, “Ah, here we go, Detective Monarch, Saturday morning, Director Meechum missing for 48 hours, reported by Dr. Chou.”
“Good, would you please direct me to Detective Monarch,” asked Special Agent Fleishman.
The Desk Sergeant looked up and around the room. He nodded his head in the direction of an empty desk and said, “That’s his desk. He is not here, apparently.”
“When was he last here or when will he be here again?” asked Special Agent Fleishman.
The Desk Sergeant was a bit perplexed. “Why do you need to know when he was here?”
“I would like to talk to the man,” said Special Agent Fleishman. “Perhaps give him some assistance, or help with his inquiries. If I know when he was here last, I could see him then.”
“That makes no sense, you know,” said the Desk Sergeant.
Special Agent Fleishman nodded his head. “I get that a lot. Do you have a time in past you would love to visit?”
The Desk Sergeant smiled, “I would love to see the last prep school game my son played in. He scored the winning basket in the last 3 seconds. I missed it because of a bomb scare at your building, ATI.”
“When and where was the game?” asked Agent Fleishman.
“Garfield H.S. Gym, last December 14th” replied the Desk Sergeant.
Special Agent Fleishman pivoted taking the Desk Sergeant with him. A man coming into the squad room saw the two vanish, sat down and said, “I used to see things, now things disappear.”
[Garfield H.S. Gym, December 14th] Special Agent Fleishman and the Desk Sergeant materialized on the sidelines in the Garfield Gym with the game in progress. Special Agent Fleishman pointed to the game clock which read 50 seconds and said, watch closely.
A Wiley player held the ball out of play. The threw a pass halfway down the court to his point guard who managed to tip the ball with his outstretched hand into the face of the Garfield defender. The defender managed to hang on tot he ball and in blind desperation heaved it back toward the Wiley goal. The ball made a lazy curve in the air and came down in the paint where the Desk Sergeant’s son scooped it up and passed it back out to the point guard. The point guard pointed to the clock and passed it right back. It was in The Desk Sergeant’s son’s hands less than a second and the lad tossed it over his head in the general direction of the basket. A one in a million shot. The arena dissolved into pandemonium when the one in a million shot found only net.
Special Agent Fleishman waited quietly for a few moments while the Desk Sergeant jumped up and down and yelled as loud as anyone in the arena and then pivoted with the Desk Sergeant still jumping and yelling.
[Detective Squad, Metropolitan Police] Special Agent Fleishman along with a jumping and yelling Desk Sergeant materialized at the Desk Sergeant’s desk in the Metropolitan Police, Detective’s Unit a few seconds after they had vanished. The man who saw them go, saw them come. The sight of the jumping and yelling Desk Sergeant was apparently the last straw and the man turned and left the unit muttering under his breath, “I need a drink, not a hopped up cop.”
Several detectives who had been quietly working at their desks got up and circled the Desk Sergeant and Special Agent Fleishman. Several reached out to try to calm the Desk Sergeant. Eventually, the Desk Sergeant realized that he was the center of attention and stood perfectly still. “I’m OK now, guys. Honest.” He turned to Special Agent Fleishman and asked, “I don’t suppose you videotaped that, did you?”
“No, but I can,” replied Special Agent Fleishman. “Now, when was Detective Monarch last here?”
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
I don’t usually read the letters to the Editor in the local paper. No particular reason, I just haven’t found them particularly insightful. However, this morning, in one just above a Michael Gerson critique of the pestilence, http://www.stltoday.com/opinion/columnists/national/michael-gerson-trump-is-at-war-with-the-central-ideal/article_59dba8d5-9ad4-5f3a-b0cb-9ea855cd2a45.html was a quiet little plea to show the pestilence more respect and stop criticizing everything he says and does and let him make America Great Again! Fortunately, the letter was signed so we can add that woman to our prayers. I rather suspect the writer has been empowered by the pestilence’s total disregard for human decency.
I read a piece yesterday that said, 2018 is the year for universal basic income to come into its right (or light). Judging from the sales, or lack thereof, of my monongraph on democratizing money, I’d have to say the article is a bit premature. The thing is universal basic income needs a way to pay for it. Given that only a percentage of the population is able to survive on what their earn and the rest need supplements from government and private charities, I would say, the old measuring stick of employment vs unemployment is not measuring the health of the economy. No, it is time to jerk the rug out from under those who take advantage of their wealth and put the rest of society on a more equal footing—universal basic income of $20,000 for all!
Warmest regards, Ed
The Chronicles of ATI – Book Seven The Case of the Missing Director 001 ATI Headquarters
Fiction in 1130 words by T. Edward Westen, 2018
[Hallway outside the Director’s Office, Agency for Timeline Integrity] Edith Gunderson and Amanda White materialized outside the door to Director Meechum’s office. Amanda White pointed to the small plastic, old-fashioned clock faces taped to the door with a spinner for an indicator and the words ‘BACK BY’ on it. The spinner was taped and pointed to 09:13.
“It is past that now,” commented Edith Gunderson. “Is he habitually late?”
“No,” replied Amanda White. “That clock is always set at 09:13. It is the director’s little joke that time is relative. He says, ‘It is always 9:13 someplace in the universe.’ And, he seems to be always in, except for the past week. No one has seen him since a week ago today, Thursday at, 09:13.
“He has an implant, doesn’t he?” asked Edith Gunderson.
“Yes, of course, all officer have implants,” replied Amanda White.
“Then he should appear at his cubical, in whatever condition he is in, every 18 hours,” replied Edith Gunderson.
“He hasn’t,” said an exasperated Amanda White. “And Jonathon Simmons has been on watch for all seven days.
“Well that reminds me,” said Edith Gunderson. “I had better get my implant changed or I’ll pop back to the Seed Ship when I am in the middle of something here. I do get involved and to suddenly end up in my cubical on the Seed Ship is always a bit disconcerting.” Edith Gunderson pivoted.
[Hallway outside Outreach Agent Jonathan Simmon’s Lab and Cubical] Edith Gunderson materialized sniffed the air and called out, “Jonathon, put on some more water.”
Jonathan’s door opened and he appeared holding a cup in one hand, “Why Ms. Gunderson, so glad you are here. You know it is not the same having a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows by one’s self. No, it is not the same. Come in. Have you heard?”
“Yes, that is why I am here,” replied Edith Gunderson as she watched Johnathan pour hot chocolate from a saucepan over a pile of marshmallows in a large cup. Pointing to the saucepan she said, “You know they have modern pitchers, kettlers and the like that one can use to serve hot chocolate.”
“It’s not the same, Ms. Gunderson,” replied Outreach Argent Simmons, “In a closed container I simply do no get the aroma or the bouquet when I pour. Call me old-fashioned, but an open pan for making the brew and then let the aroma explode over the marshmallow. Yes, old-fashioned. Making it is half the fun and taste. So where do you think Director Meechum could be?”
“I suppose you tried the obvious,” said Edith Gunderson, “by going back and asking him where he was going when he left at 9:13 on Thursday last?”
Outreach Agent Simmons held up a finger and pivoted. A split second later he reappeared and said, “The Director said, ‘that is for me to know and you to find out,’ just before he pivoted.”
“I guess you didn’t explain to him the gravity of the situation?” commented Edith Gunderson. “But before we get too involved or my hot chocolate with marshmallows gets cold I need to get new implants so I don’t get bounced back to the Seed Ship every 18 hours.”
“Right, I should have known,” replied Outreach Agent Simmons. He rummaged on a shelf and brought down two syringes. “Left arm up, Ms. Gunderson.” As he positioned the syringe in her left armpit to remove her implant, he said, “I just did this for Anderson, err, Special Agent Fleishman. He had a special for that other ship he was trying to find out who built.”
“Who built it?” asked Edith Gunderson rubbing her hand inside her armpit.
“It turns out we did,” replied Outreach Agent Simmons after taking a sip of his hot chocolate with marshmallows.” He held the cup up, wrinkled his nose and said, “Yes much better drinking with someone.”
“Edith Gunderson chuckled, “I do remember Special Agent Fleishman telling me about your first encounter with the brew. So, how is it we built it?”
“It seems that the first version,” replied Outreach Agent Simmons, “You know the Seed Ship,” was running around the universe empty for 70,000 years and its computer became self-aware.”
“Nikud, is the self-aware computer’s name,” said Edith Gunderson. “He is still with the ship and has two commands on the ship with a dozen-dozen more on a planet called Dockar.”
“Well, the self-aware computer, err KInud,” said Outreach Agent Simmons,
“Nikud,” corrected Edith Gunderson.
“Got, it, Nikud,” said Outreach Agent Simmons, “had time on its hands and made detailed drawings and plans as a result of studying its environment and left them all over the universe. One copy was found in an archaeology dig over in California and they built it. Well, one thing leads to another and they got caught in a wormhole and ended up a few hundred thousand years out of sync with no time traveler aboard. They were glad to see Anderson when he finally tracked them down. I guess you get a bit homesick when you are that, err, lost.” Outreach Agent Simmons picked up the other syringe and said, “OK, now for the new implant. Up with the other arm Ms. Gunderson.”
As Edith Gunderson raised her right arm, Special Agent Fleishman materialized. “Oh, I am sorry, I should have knocked.”
Edith Gunderson dropped her arm, smiled broadly and said, “Nonsense, you have seen and had this done at least twice.” She smiled broader and said, “It is so good to see you. Now I know we will find the director.”
Outreach Agent Simmons, said, “Up with the arm and then we can finish our brew and Special Agent Fleishman can tell us how to solve the crapper, capper, err case.”
“Caper,” corrected Edith Gunderson while winking at Special Agent Fleishman who suppressed a smile.
Quickly and deftly Outreach Agent Simmons injected Edith Gunderson with new implants and said, “No pivoting for at least 15 minutes.” Turning to Special Agent Fleishman he said, “I tried the obvious and the man said it was for him to know and me to find out. What kind of talk is that from a director?”
“If I am filling in all the blanks correctly,” said Special Agent Fleishman, “I’d say Director Meechum did not think he would be in any danger and was off to a routine meeting, appointment or the like. Did you check his computer for clues as to appointments?
Outreach Agent Simmons hand moved to smack himself on he forehead. Had he not been holding a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows the results would not have been so spectacular.
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Yesterday was a great day for clouds and reflections in Silver Lake. One never knows when that is going to happen. Then too, just going to the Lake does not always tell, for one part of the Lake may be impacted by winds and another not. However, by late afternoon, calm prevailed.
I caught a hallway interview with Sen. Durbin this morning going into a meeting, presumably about the Dreamers. He said last week you heard the President say he would sign anything we brought him. Then Thursday, we took him an agreement and . . . Durbin then said, we met all of his requirements . . . I say, Senator why do you listen to the pestilence? It seems that every day the pestilence says something stupid/inane/inappropriate/off color and the conservative press defends him and then he denies saying it. It is like, as one of Nancy’s Facebook friends put it, like watching Groundhog Day with assholes. After that hallway interview, I switched to the shopping channel for my own sanity.
Warmest regards, Ed
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
After about 36 hours of being well, I have slipped into a congestion issue, not a serious one, just enough to be annoying. I suppose I should feel lucky it wasn’t a banana peel that I slipped on instead—that would hurt.
After about five months of silence, I got a note from my friend up north this morning. Her son let me know several weeks ago she was home from the hospital after another stroke. It is good she is back online. Being laid up for that long of a time is as close to hell as one can come.
From Day One, I have thought the pestilence’s behavior was that of a teenager who never faced any consequences for his words, deeds or lack thereof. Nothing I have seen debases this notion for me. It is with some alarm that I am realizing that the Republicans are pussyfooting around his behavior, afraid of his base. I guess the concept of profiles in courage is no longer in the political conversation. What they forget is that if the pestilence is impeached, they will still have the White House. However, if this keeps up it will turn yellow with the volume of lies coming from it and its press office.
Enough, I do hope this finds you well and warm.
Warmest regards, Ed
The Machine 062 Exodus
Fiction in 802 words by T. Edward Westen, 2018
[Surface, Dockar] Commander Edith materialized on the hill overlooking the Sa landing strip. Buildings that had not been there two weeks ago dotted the landscape. No evidence of the rain of mud remained. She smiled when she thought back to how difficult it was to gain her footing in that mud. As she watched one surface to space vehicle land and another take-off. ‘I guess they decided that collapsing spaceships on the surface was not the best way to get building material,” she thought. She could hear the telltale sound of tendrils trudging up the incline behind her and said out loud, “You knew I was here?”
“Yes, friend Edith,” replied citizen Earnestine. “Our fellow citizens are always glad to see you and want to do what they can to thank you. Several told me you were here.”
“Your well being is all the thanks I want,” replied Commander Edith. “My ephemeral friends tell me that the rest of your species will be joining you in a matter of days. The Sa system will be devoured by that small black hole we tried to get rid of. I am sorry.”
“No, that was our mistake,” replied Citizen Earnestine. “We were so filled with fear and loathing that we destroyed our home system. I wonder what will become of us when we are reunited?”
“Harvey invented a way to create ephemeral beings,” said Commander Edith. He arranged to have James and Michael lay, shall we say, wormhole mines in your home system that resulted in the creation of well over 125 more ephemeral beings. The first 36 watched Sa destroy themselves and as a consequence, the ephemeral beings collectively determined to put a stop to that madness. My three said they did not have much input. Ephemeral beings are always disturbed by deaths. Those first 36 each witnessed two deaths within hours of becoming aware. I guess when you have only self-awareness and no body to put it into you find life more precious. Funny that.”
“What did they do?” asked Citizen Earnestine.
“They rendered all weapons aboard space vessels and connected to the Sa Defense Forces inoperable,” replied Commander Edith. “While they can not deal with hand-held knives, swords and blunt instruments, anything requiring computers will not discharge.”
“Hand weapons are easy to spot and remove,” said Citizen Earnestine. “We have new laws and we are changing our way of thinking. When the others arrive, they will find themselves at the mercy of their ephemeral friends and our citizens. You know, since we have landed here,” Citizen Earnestine spread her tendril out to encompass all around her, “we have not had a tendril raised against Sa by Sa.”
“Nikud, Moly, and Welli have sent you some presents that might help,” said Commander Edith. “When the ephemeral that accompany your former Defense Force arrive, show them these and I suspect they will figure out what to do with them.” She pointed to a crate in front of her marked androids.
“It sounds as if you are saying farewell, friend Edith,” said Citizen Earnestine,
Commander Edith bit her lower lip and nodded her head. “Yes, I came to say farewell.” She pointed up. “We sill have places to find so some of my passengers and crew and start news lives on new planets.
[Two weeks later, Surface of Dockar] Citizen Earnestine watched the first surface to space lander from the new arrivals land. A military-style parade filed out and prepared to give honors to someone. The Emperor emerged. Earnestine watched as the crate that Commander Edith had left seemed to come apart of its own volition. A dozen androids erupted from it. The androids took their bearing and decedent upon the military parade below. One after another Sa attempted to hang on to their swords, but to no avail, they were all taken. Finally, the Emperor’s sword was snatched from his scabbard. From the distance Citizen Earnestine could see the attempts made to keep the sword. The one she thought must be the new Emperor fell on an android, which summarily tossed the Sa into the line that had been the military welcome and knocked them all down. Citizen Earnestine shook her head and thought, ‘I guess I had best go down there and let them know what the local rules are if they want to stay.’
As Citizen Earnestine made her way down the slope an android approached her. “Excuse me, Citizen, I am looking for Citizen Earnestine,”
“you found me,” replied Citizen Earnestine. “Who pray tell are you?”
“I am Fire, Madam,” replied the android. “I am told you are part of the peacekeeping establishment. I and my friends want to join.”
The Machine Epilog
Fiction in 337 words by T. Edward Westen, 2018
[Command Deck, Seed Ship, in the Nebula] Commander Edith materialized to find Walter, James, Michael and the androids for the three ephemeral beings watching a hologram of the system where they last saw the scurry. “Anything?” she asked.
“Welcome back,” said Walter. “No sign of any activity. There would be no emissions given their machine, but we have explored and found no sign of the 17th Colony Scurry anywhere.” He pointed to the planet that the Scurry had begun Terra-forming and said, “The plant seems to take shape much faster than it ought to.” He scratched his head, “But there is no sign of any hand, or should I say, paw, involved.”
As Commander Edith looked at the hologram and the closeup of the planet behind it, she caught the flicker of a new presence behind her. She turned. “As I live an breath, Amanda White.” Commander Edith threw her arms wide open and said, “I am so glad to see you, come give old Edith a hug.”
“Old my foot,” replied Amanda White, “Edith Gunderson, you look 10 years younger than when I last saw you.”
“Well, they say traveling at the speeds we travel slows time down,” said Commander Gunderson, “but I don’t think it is quite reversed. How did you find us?”
Amanda White walked over to the navigation station and lifted a small figurine of a police officer. She held it up. “This was the beacon Agent Fleishman left for Captain Batan to call him. Agent Fleishman left it here when he was with you last.”
“So, this is not just a casual social call,” said Commander Edith.
“No, I was kind of hoping I’d find Agent Fleishman here,” replied Amanda White. “We need him and you back at ATI. There is a problem.”
Commander Edith looked at Walter who nodded and said, “Leave the beacon so you can find your way back home.”
Commander Edith smiled and nodded to Amanda White and the two women pivoted.
Good Morning Ted and Jody:
I went out yesterday evening to take a picture or two. At the boat ramp, I saw a novel way to get a boat out of the water without a boat trailer. I only wish I had been able to take shots of the man getting out of the back of the Chevy after they got the truck out of the lake—there has to be an easier way (unless one doesn’t want to lift the aluminum boat into the back of the pickup).
I might have been down (indeed, still a bit rocky), but I did catch the pestilence’s remark about African countries, the fallout and even a Fox guy saying how that was what the bar room talk is. Oh, good, that certainly makes it alright. I am now thinking that impeachment is off the table and we need to work for outright deportation before he offends every country and we run out of places who will accept him. Maybe if we threw in an aircraft carrier and a submarine or two?
I did talk with Chris a couple of times while I was out of it. The last I heard they were hiring a lawyer to try to untangle the mess in which the fellow with no license and no insurance left them.
Nancy had some coupons from the Honda Dealer for a $9.99 oil change and cheap windshield wipers so she took the Ridgeline down to Vancouver and had it done. It only set her back $129.99 plus the better part of a day. I suspect she will be less restive to my taking the truck to Fred from now on.
Warmest regards, Ed