“It’s Not Old Home Week”
“But there's something different about his smile
An unfamiliar frown
Yes, there's something different about him now
He's painted his smile on upside down "
-Sung by The Hollies
I had to go now.
Choosing the method of travel was easy. Planes were out. Too easy to plan against. They would be at the airport. If they missed me on one end they could be ready on the other. And I would have to travel quite a distance after the arrival, so that added another level of potential targeting.
The bus had many of the same problems, plus there was the longer time for the trip. There wasn’t such a thing as an express, so you would have all those stops to watch out for along the way.
Am I sounding paranoid yet?
Trains, again, had all the same problems as the bus, though they can be more comfortable. I hated comfort in a situation where I had to watchful. You can’t afford to be lulled when someone has a religious fervor to kill you.
So we decided to have Max drive me to the prison. Max had had some experience when he worked at the FBI. They all had to take a special driving course, about evading tails and attacks by other cars and hostiles of all forms.
Max got us a nice unmarked sedan out of the detective’s lot. We weren’t going to rent one, because we had no idea who might be watching those agencies. While I was getting a shower and change of clothes, the CSU people were checking the car for any problems.
They filled the car with fuel and then sent three other identical vehicles out of the lot at the same time as us. We all went in different directions.
It was like a movie, but I was far too tired to appreciate it.
“Boss,” Max said, “we’ve got a few hours till we get to the prison, why don’t you try to take a few winks. You haven’t slept much the last few days.”
“I’m old, Max. I never sleep well. And I’m going to sleep in a moving car?”
Everyone who knows me at all knows that I have a real problem with control. I have always slept lightly; any noise in the house wakes me. This started with a childhood trauma that I won’t share at this point. Let’s just say, nobody sneaks up on me while I’m asleep.
So you can see that when a car jumps, or a trains thumps or a plane dips, all those things wake me up again. It may have saved my life a hundred times. There was a time when I did thousands of miles a year in a car and might have fallen asleep behind the wheel, if I could sleep in a car.
So I set in for a long drive. I also hate to get drowsy and not be able to sleep. It always feels like I’ve been robbed of something very precious. So I often work to keep myself sharp, then when I can sleep, I am tired, but not upset about being robbed.
I was reading copies of the reports of the case, hoping that I didn’t miss something important.
Max was droning on, telling me about a case he left to come out and help me. Max is a truly great guy. It helped that he reminded me of my dearest friend, Hugo, but he was a great guy on his own.
Max had been a Marine, an FBI agent, a professional wrestler in college (you got to pay for that Fine Arts Degree somehow). He had a BA in Theater Arts, an MA in Philosophy and another in Criminology. He was a really well-rounded thinker. He took a long time finding out who he wanted to be. I understood him. We were much alike.
He had a bass voice that matched his profoundly massive frame. I don’t know if it was a basso profondo--I’m pretty ignorant about that aspect of music--but he had a deep, smooth voice.
Somewhere between boring retelling of horrendous crimes (most bureaucratic forms are created to suck the life out of reports and do so with a devotion that is scary) and Max recounting one of those “you had to be there” funny stories about a stake-out, something impossible happened.
I fell asleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream.
© C. Wayne Owens