The brilliance of the early morning sun rays
striking the side of David's tent woke him. He laid there somewhat stiff with a few
more aches and pains then he would admit telling himself he wasn't too old to
travel cross country on a cycle. He had put on over 400 miles Sunday and planned to make
it into Reno, Nevada by dusk Monday, in time to get a motel room for a shower and sleep in
a bed for a good night's rest. He broke down his small orange tent and was on the road
before nine. The sun was seasonably warm for fall and penetrated through his black leather
jacket into his back. The 1340-CC shovel-head engine purred without missing a beat,
carrying David west on Highway 50 toward Reno. The outright pleasure and solitude of
carving along the winding mountain road was pure freedom and David's mind harmonized in
the moment. He felt almost as if new blood flowed through him or a new spirit dwelt within
him. Whatever it was, David was on top of the world.
While, David was focusing on changing his records so that he could buy
Bill's business and then ask Marcea to marry him, he did not know the further he traveled
from Castle Rock, the closer Kirk got to discovering and then destroying the computer
infiltrator. The hunt was on.
Kirk stood up from his chair and paced while looking at the clues he
had written on the chalk board. If someone had been freezing, it makes sense they'd
misspell words. But then why a half hour later are all the words spelled correctly and
this guy now changes his name to Paul? Kirk prided himself on his cleverness, but he
was at a dead end. He checked phone books for all the David McClintocks but the few he
found led to no where. He needed Mr. Henderson to get one of his politician friends to get
him a Social Security listing of all the David McClintocks. He decided to do that after
Lunch meant a hangout where girls danced . . . and other things if the
money was right. He hated it when he had to pay for sex. If he had his way, all women
would be at his beck and call. Besides he was growing tired of the two women he was
blackmailing that worked in the building above the Department. They unwilling took care of
his needs, but it had become too easy. He had his eye on Scott's wife, Sue, as his next
Returning after a two-hour lunch, Kirk reached over and opened the
glove box. Pulling out a state map of Colorado, he unfolded and scrutinized it. After a
few minutes he found what he was looking for. About sixty miles west of Pueblo, was a
14,000 foot mountain peak named Mt. Antero. Kirk refolded the map and hurried toward the
building. As the glass doors parted, the security guard stood and greeted Kirk. "Good
afternoon, Mr. Smith. How are things going with that Scott, the guy you beat up in the
parking lot last week? I noticed he still is coming to work."
Kirk did not have time to chat. "We seemed to have gotten him
straightened out. But if you keep your eye on him, I'll remember you."
The security guard anxiously replied, "Sure, Mr. Smith. Anything
to help you."
Kirk stopped and looked at the guard's name tag. "Henry, that's
right. You were the one who helped me apprehend Scott in the parking lot."
"Yes sir, that was me. I just wanted to let you know I'm on your
side. If a promotion comes up, you said you'd remember me."
Kirk liked Henry's subservience. "I might need someone for a
special assignment, Henry. Would you be interested?"
Henry stood and actually saluted. "Yes sir!" To become a real
cop was his one and only dream. He had been the door monitor for eight years at the Public
Document Distribution Center and, like everyone else on the upper eleven stories, he was
not sure what really went on below ground. But he wanted to put his six weeks of training
at Security Guard School to use maybe finally draw his gun. Even better, maybe he
would get a shoulder harness with a nickel plated nine millimeter revolver just like the
one Kirk wore.
"If I give you an assignment, it will be top secret and you will
answer to no one but me. Do you think you can handle that?" asked Kirk.
"Yes sir," answered Henry, still standing at attention.
Kirk knew he could use Henry and would not even have to blackmail him.
He turned and started across the marble floor, slapping the Colorado map in his hand. At
the elevator he passed his security card through the slot and the door opened to go down.
Once again at his computer monitors, he pulled up some information. The second ground
floor contained all the information that D.O.S. had compiled for over a decade. All the
true statistics were stored there along with voluminous data on hundreds of people. Almost
every politician or important person had a file in the huge data base. Kirk pulled the
file up for Scott Thomas. While reading it off the screen, he picked up the phone and
dialed the extension for the front security station. "Henry, this is Kirk. I have a
special assignment for you already."
"I'm ready, sir."
"Remember that guy you helped me apprehend in the parking lot last
Monday? Well, it's not really him that we're after; it's his wife. The Department thinks
she might be a spy."
"Wow!" said Henry. The palms of his hands started to sweat
and he moved the phone to his other ear.
"Henry, I'll need you to do this job on your off hours and no one
is to know about this special assignment. Do you want to help? You know, if we find her
out, there could be one big promotion. I already put in your file how you helped with the
apprehension last week," Kirk lied.
"Yes, I want the special assignment," he said nervously.
"Good, Henry. Later today I will bring up her sheet: where they
live, where she takes her kids to school, and all that stuff. What I need you to do, is to
follow her and log when she is alone. Find a time and place so that I can pick her up to
"Yes, sir, Mr. Smith. I will be ready to start stalking this
traitor woman as soon as you give me the word. Is that all, sir?"
"Yes, for right now. And remember, this is top secret." Kirk
Henry sat at his security station excited, his adrenaline rushing. He
was finally a real cop. Even better, he would be working undercover.
Kirk sat at his desk aroused, the blood rushing toward his manhood. He
would soon have control over Sue. Then he would show her how inferior she was. The
thought of her screaming was a sick titillation that Kirk had to play out it made
him feel powerful, like a real man.
Mr. Henderson sat impatiently at his desk one floor below. He had to
find out who tapped into the Department's computer. If the public found him out before he
reached the pinnacle of his great plan, his dream would be destroyed. He had worked too
hard and was so close to let anybody get in the way. Like many men in power, he could
decide who should die to build his ideological world. Getting out from his chair with a
grunt, he left the office, determined to get answers from Kirk.
The elevator startled Kirk when he heard it stopping on the second
basement floor. No one was allowed on his floor. He started to move his hand to the gun in
his shoulder harness. Mr. Henderson emerged and walked toward the command center of
security monitors and keyboards. "What have you got on that guy that busted into our
computer?" he yelled over the hum of all the open reel computer systems.
Kirk unfolded the map and laid it out over all the switches and
controls at his command center. He had resolved another clue and hoped he could appease
Mr. Henderson with the new information. "Look here," said Kirk while he pointed
at the center of the map. "Look at this. About sixty miles west of here is a peak in
the Rocky Mountains called Mt. Antero. What's also interesting is that it's within the two
hundred mile radius of the computer hacker's calling zone."
"So what! No computer hacker lives on a mountain in the Rocky's.
The guy is just stringing you on."
"I don't think so. One of our microwave sites, where we download
the changed information onto the wire service, is on that mountain."
"Kirk, I don't care about all this computer microwave download
stuff. What are you trying to tell me?"
"I think somehow somebody tapped into our computer at this
microwave site up on Mt. Antero. I don't know how or what anybody would be doing up there,
but I'm going to go up there first thing tomorrow morning and look around."
"Why don't you get up there right now?"
"It'll be dark up there in a few hours and I could get lost or
stuck up there." Mr. Henderson accepted his excuse for not going right then. What he
didn't know was Kirk still had Scott's wife on his mind and wanted to get Henry, his new
confidant, on her trail.
Mr. Henderson looked at the chalk board where Kirk had written down all
the times and clues about the infiltrator, then back at the map. He was fairly confident
that Kirk would soon have his man, or kid, so he headed back down to his office without
saying another word. It was too bad that some innocent person had to die, but Mr.
Henderson told himself that a great leader has to push on and tune that part out.
Tuesday morning, Kirk started out early for Mt. Antero. He had almost
forgotten that years ago an engineer had taken him up there to finalize the installation
of the microwave transceiver for the Department. Ahead he spotted the weather-beaten sign:
MT. ANTERO 3 MILES. He turned onto the gravel road within a short distance the road
leading up became a forty-degree incline. The white, government-issued sedan spun its
tires. Kirk tried several times but finally had to back down.
Back in the nearest town, he tried unsuccessfully to rent a four-wheel
drive. Then he returned to Pueblo where he checked one out from the motor pool. It was
past two before Kirk was back on the gravel road, moving slowly up the grade in low gear.
He parked the truck, crawled under the gate and walked toward the concrete radio building.
About ten feet in front of the steel door of the building Kirk saw the remains of a small
fire. He then went to the concrete bunker, but could not get in because of the padlock on
the door. Snooping around the site a little more, he noticed how pallets had been broken
and burned and a big cable spool pushed up, probably to reflect the fire toward the
bunker. He picked through some of the burnt charcoal and put some pieces in a plastic
Ziplock bag. Now looking up at the three antenna towers, he realized one was aimed toward
the Public Documents Distribution building in Pueblo. Everything seemed intact, but Kirk
wanted to look inside the bunker for more clues.
Returning to the truck to find something to pry off the lock, Kirk
found a tire iron. Back at the door he tried to break open the padlock but was not strong
enough. Frustrated by his weak physical strength, he pulled the gun from his shoulder
harness and shot the lock off. He opened the door and looked around. Nothing seemed
abnormal except for a torn blood-covered piece of cloth on the floor. Picking up
the hunk of blood-covered material, he examined it and determined that it was a torn up
man's undershirt. Now Kirk had another clue and he dropped the piece of material into the
Ziplock bag that held the pieces of burnt wood.
Kirk just barely made it to the FBI lab in Denver before they closed
for the day. He wanted them to test the charred wood to determine when it had been burnt
and insisted that they do DNA testing on the blood on the piece of cloth. They needed
authorization and Kirk tried to contact Mr. Henderson, but it was too late. Kirk left the
Ziplock bag there, knowing one phone call from Mr. Henderson in the morning would have the
whole FBI lab testing the evidence.
Because it was almost evening, Kirk decided not to go back to the
Department. Besides, it was a good excuse to go check out a couple of kiddy porn shops he
knew about in Denver.
Reno had turned out to be too tempting for David. He had gone out
gambling and drinking into the late hours Monday, getting only five hours sleep before
leaving there Tuesday morning. Tired and somewhat hung over, David spent all day ridding
to the central part of Oregon. Ten hours on a bike was too much for even a diehard biker.
David found a motel for a much needed good night rest in the small town of Bend.
After checking in, David walked across the street to a Chinese
restaurant for dinner. As he ate by himself, he kept thinking about what to say to Paul's
father. Mr. Miller and David never did get along and David empathized with Paul because
David's own parents had distanced themselves from him when he started living with Marcea.
But the difference was, David had a whole life ahead to patch things up.
The waiter brought over the check and asked, "Was everything
"Yes, just fine." Then David started thinking about how
important families were. A big family reunion at a wedding bringing everyone together
would be great. Everyone there will be happy. Paul will be my Best Man, or maybe he could
perform the ceremony since he's a priest. We would invite Paul's parents and they would be
so proud of their son. Hopefully, Paul's father will listen to what I say tomorrow and be
strong enough to forgive so that he can truly see the man Paul is. Marcea's mother would
be there, happy that we are no longer living together unmarried. Even my family would be
happy about that. It won't be a big wedding, but the ceremony would be wonderful because
everyone would be there celebrating in love.
David finished his dinner, paid the check and walked back to the
motel. Inside the room he went right to the phone and called directory assistance to get
the phone number of Paul's parents in Portland. The phone rang five times before someone
picked it up. "Hello," a pleasant voice said.
"Is Mr. Miller there?"
"Yes. This is Mrs. Miller. May I tell him who is calling?"
"This is David. I'm an old friend of Paul."
Now the voice on the other end of the phone was excited. "Is this
"Yes, it is."
"It is so good to hear your voice. It's been over twenty years
since we talked. Paul just sent me a letter telling me that he visited you. He sure thinks
a lot of you. He told me about the beautiful girlfriend that you have, the wonderful
dinner he had with you, and her children, and how his weekend ended with his baptizing her
son Danny. He said it was one of the best things about being a priest. I'm so proud of
him. Anyway, I will go get Mr. Miller. Otherwise, I might go on forever."
There was a long pause before Paul's father picked up the phone.
"Hello, this is Dean Miller."
"Mr. Miller, this is David McIntosh. Do you remember me?"
David asked nervously.
"Yes, I remember you. You were a friend of Paul's. What do you
want with me?"
"I would like to come and talk to you about Paul. I'm in Central
Oregon now and plan to be in Portland tomorrow."
"Whatever you have to tell me about Paul, I'm not interested. I
hardly even consider him my son these days. Don't waste your time coming to see me."
"I am sorry you feel that way. Maybe if you give me a chance to
explain things, you might feel differently. I can come to your business or home, whichever
"Don't be coming to my home!" warned Mr. Miller.
"Okay, then I will come to your business. Do you still own Ace
Electrical and Plumbing Wholesales?"
"Yes! But don't bother coming by there either. I will be too
busy!" Mr. Miller screamed into the phone and then hung up on David.
David was mad and dialed back only to get a busy signal. He tried
several more times and finally called the motel manager to see if he had a Portland phone
book. The manager did and was able to give David the address of Ace Electrical and
Plumbing Wholesales. David was on the road early Wednesday, determined to get to Mr.
Miller's business before closing time.
As David was traveling to Portland, Kirk was having Mr. Henderson call
the FBI lab to get them started testing the charcoal and blood. The fire and bloody piece
of shirt had to be final pieces to the puzzle. Once the FBI determined blood type and did
DNA testing, he would be that much closer. Kirk informed Mr. Henderson that he was almost
positive that the fire was fresh and most likely had been built that Friday night.
Returning to the second floor, Kirk went to the chalkboard and added
two new clues to the information all ready written:
1. Friday night message: MY NANE DDAVID MCLINTOCK PLESSE
HELP I''M TRAPD ON MTANTREO. EMERGECY.
2. Message one hour later: NEED HELP! MAN IS
FREEZING. MY NAME IS PAUL. I NEED HELP IMMEDIATELY!
3. Message Monday afternoon: IS MR. HENDERSON
4. Thursday went to Lowry Air Base: Airman Green admits to
selling Clipper Chip to someone in a white truck with a business name on door.
5. Tuesday 11 days from first contact: Found blood covered torn shirt
and evidence of a fire on Mt. Antero.
Kirk put the chalk down and stepped back. Let's see. This guy gets
hurt up on the mountain and can't get down. That explains the bloody shirt. It gets dark
and cold and he starts to shake so he decides to tap into the computer line for help. He
is shaking as he is typing on his keyboard. That explains all the misspelled words. Then
he builds a fire, warms up, and tries to change his name to cover himself
especially since he owns the stolen Clipper Chip. This guy has to be a technician for the
phone company. Who else would be up there and know how to tap into the equipment? This
David McClintock is no match for me.
Walking back around his console of computers and security monitors,
Kirk dug into a drawer and pulled out the phone book. He flipped open the front cover and
called the number for Telephone Service. He asked if they had a David McClintock working
for them but was told that employee names were not given out. After being transferred to
several different Departments, the Personnel Manager said she would see if she could
release the information and that she would call back after lunch.
The electric latch buzzed and Kirk opened the red steel door. Mr.
Henderson was looking over some false information Scott had put into the Wednesday morning
papers. He was pleased with how Scott was chipping away at Christian good works and
influence's. The Department was so close. The new administration just approved a bill for
the Super Information Highway that would make controlling information and statistics even
simpler. Mr. Henderson was almost there. He felt in control. Nothing and nobody could stop
Kirk strutted over and sat in the chair in front of Mr. Henderson's
desk and proudly revealed his synopsis. "I should have the computer infiltrator soon.
I think I know what the bloody piece of shirt and fire are all about. The blood is
probably from a phone company technician who got hurt up there and couldn't drive down.
Then when it got cold . . . I checked the weather report for that Friday and the freezing
level was at 14,000 feet, the same elevation of Mt. Antero. That explains all the
misspelled words. The guy said he was freezing and probably could not type. Then he built
a fire and tried to use a different name because he knew if he got caught with the Clipper
Chip he would be in big trouble. Then somebody came up and got him. I noticed two
different tire patterns by the gate."
Mr. Henderson leaned back in his chair, pleased with what Kirk had
pieced together. "Do you know where the technician lives?"
"No, not yet. I am waiting for a call back from somebody at the
phone company for that information."
"I thought you told me you would have the guy soon!" yelled
Mr. Henderson, upset that Kirk had not already eliminated the problem. "It's been
over ten days. I've had enough of your excuses. What phone company maintains that
equipment up there?"
Mr. Henderson picked up the phone and ordered his secretary to connect
him with Midstate Phone Company. In less than ten minutes, having dropped a few key names,
Mr. Henderson had the vice president of the company on the phone. After talking for about
thirty minutes, Mr. Henderson gave him the name David McClintock and then hung up.
Kirk sat there the whole half hour not moving or saying a word, hoping
that his hunch was correct and that this David did work for the phone company. But there
was one piece of all the clues that just did not fit: How would a phone technician know
about Mr. Henderson?
The phone rang. Kirk knew that it must be the vice president of the
phone company calling back. Mr. Henderson picked up the phone. "Jack Henderson
"Mr. Henderson, I checked our personnel records and we don't have
a David McClintock working for us."
"Did you check your old records to see if he was ever employed by
"Yes, I did, and we have never had a David McClintock working for
as far back as I could check the records. But one of our technicians who maintains that
microwave site told me that there are some television translators there and the guy who
repairs them is named David. That is all I know."
"Did your technician know this David's last name?"
"No, but he said he drives a white pickup with the name Bill's
Electronic Service on it."
Mr. Henderson grabbed a pen and wrote down BILL'S ELECTRONIC SERVICE.
He said, "Thank you," and then slid the paper across his desk to Kirk.
Kirk picked up the piece of paper and knew not to say much. "I
will go check this out right now."
"You'd better hope that this David is the guy we're looking for.
And take care of by him by noon or I will get somebody who can do the job. You sold me on
all this high security computer equipment and it didn't work."
Taking the piece of paper, Kirk returned to the second floor. He dialed
Directory Assistance and they had the phone number of a Bill's Electronic Service in
Aurora, a small town south of Denver. Kirk hung up and then dialed the number. The phone
rang three times. "Bill's Electronics. Bill here."
"Bill, I am looking for David McClintock. Is he there?" asked
Kirk, holding his breath and hoping this lead panned out.
"No, he's not here right now. And his name is McIntosh, not
McClintock. Can I help y'all?"
"No, I just needed to talk with David. That was McIntosh,
"Yeah, right." Bill hung up the phone.
Kirk called Directory Assistance again, wrote down the phone number and
address of a David McIntosh that lived in Castle Rock, then immediately left the building
and headed north on Interstate 25. Turning off at the Castle Rock exit, he pulled into the
abandoned gas station, got out of the car and went to the trunk. Across the road was a
small store, but nobody was watching, no witnesses who would have to be eliminated. Kirk
opened the trunk, pulled out a shotgun, and pumped a shell into the chamber. He threw the
rifle onto the seat, got back into the car, and studied a map prepared to meet his
opponent face to face.
Kirk drove by the brown and yellow mobile home. Out of the corner of
his eye he caught the white pickup truck in front of the carport. He slowed to read the
BILL'S ELECTRONIC SERVICE decal on the door of the truck. He drove up the road, turned
around, then stopped where he could watch the house undetected. He needed to wait, to
track, then kill his prey.
It was only a matter of half an hour before the door opened and Marcea
bounced down the ramp to check the mail box. Wearing a leotard and a sport bra, her hair
was pulled up on her head. She opened the box, grabbed the mail, and sorted through it
while walking back toward the house.
Kirk waited ten more minutes but found no more activity at the house.
He needed to do something, Mr. Henderson would not be pleased if he came back empty
handed. The truck in the driveway was a good indication that David was there. Kirk got out
of the car.
Marcea was reading and rereading the postcard David had sent. It was
short and sweet and said how much he missed her. Marcea had just taken the postcard into
the bedroom and put it with her special things when the door bell rang. Running down the
hall to the door, almost expecting it to be David or a surprise, she open it. "Can I
"Yes, I'm looking for David. Is he home?"
"No, he won't be home for a week or more."
"Is there any way that I can get in touch with him?" Kirk
smiled wickedly, looking Marcea up and down. Her leotard accented her firm athletic body,
her frazzled hair not distracting a bit from her natural beauty.
Marcea felt the unwelcome gaze, and realized she may have volunteered
too much information. "That's all I know. Why don't you check back then?" she
said and shut the door. Her heart raced; from her short dancing career she recognized that
sick gaze all too well.
Standing on the porch, Kirk said," No bitch slams a door in my
face." He was just about ready to kick in the door when a small yellow school bus
stopped right in front of the house. The driver got off, looked at Kirk and then went to
the back of the specially equipped bus. Kirk knew he had been seen so turned and left the
After the driver lowered Danny on the lift gate, Danny unlocked his
wheels, and started pushing himself down the walk toward Kirk. When the two met, Kirk put
his foot out preventing Danny from going on. Kirk looked down at Danny and very loudly
asked, "When is your daddy getting home?"
Danny knew the man's loud talking only showed his ignorance but he
sensed evil as well. Danny let his head slump like he always did to anyone that talked
loudly, slowly or would not bother bending down and at least make eye contact with him.
Danny played his deaf-mute role for a while and then, when he raised up, he caught a
glimpse of the gun through Kirk's opened jacket. Scared and worried for his mother, he
rammed the footrest of his wheelchair into Kirk's ankle.
The chair tore some skin from Kirk's ankle, causing him to jump out of
the way. "Stupid deaf mute can't even walk," Kirk yelled as he limped toward his
When Danny got to the porch, Marcea quickly opened the door, she was
white with fear. Turning his chair, Danny memorized the license plate. "What did he
want?" Danny asked.
"He was looking for David," Marcea said in a shaken voice.
They went inside and Danny immediately went back to his bedroom to enter the license plate
number into his computer. He also typed in a description of Kirk: FIVE FOOT TEN, ONE
HUNDRED FORTY POUNDS, WHITE HAIR PULLED BACK INTO A PONYTAIL, ALSO HAS SILVER GUN IN
Kirk stopped back at the abandoned gas station to check his ankle. It
had quit bleeding but was already bruised. He thought about going back, dumping Danny out
of his chair and making him watch as he taught Marcea a lesson. But he remembered that the
bus driver had gotten a good look at him, he changed his plan. Kirk looked at the map and
decided to go check out Bill's Electronic Service for a possible clue.
He headed north on Interstate 25 to Aurora, a small town just south of
Denver. The vision of Marcea bouncing out to the mailbox in her leotard excited Kirk as he
drove. When the time is right, I'll show that broad to shut a door in my face. I'll
show her. She will never have another man like me. She won't admit it, but she'll enjoy
everything I do to her.
The sky-blue building with Bill's face under a big cowboy hat
painted on the side was easy to spot. Kirk parked out front and went inside. Bill was at
the counter. "Can I help y'all?"
"I called earlier about David McIntosh. I need to find him."
"I told you he's not here right now," said Bill. "Can't
I help you?"
"I need to know where he is, or when he'll be back." Kirk
demanded. "Well, I don't see that it's any of your business."
Kirk prided himself getting information from people. "Maybe you
could help me out. Does David work on those television translators up on Mt. Antero?"
"Yes, we both do. We have a contract to keep them on the air. What
is it to you?" Bill asked, getting somewhat perturbed with the questions.
"Hey, don't give me any guff, you big Texan ox. If I want answers,
I will get them. You don't know who you're dealing with!"
All six foot four, two hundred fifty plus pounds of Bill came around
the counter. Grabbing Kirk by his skinny little neck, he headed him for the door. Opening
the door, and with one push, he shoved Kirk out of his shop. "Its you who doesn't
know who you are dealing with!"
Kirk was scared. He thought of pulling out and showing Bill his gun,
but he had a better idea. He would be back with a fake search warrant and some help.
It was ironic just about a thousand miles away, David was also
being kicked out of a business. David rode all morning across Mt. Hood and the Cascades to
Mr. Miller's business. He found the big two-story warehouse in an industrial area of
Portland. Inside the door a stairway led up to the offices. David was stopped by a
secretary and she had David sit outside Mr. Miller's office door for over an hour. While
David waited, he examined all Mr. Miller awards and pictures displayed on the wall. He had
become a very prominent citizen. There was even a picture of the governor presenting him
with the Business Man of the Year Award. As David sat back down and patiently waited, he
watched over twenty salespersons busy on the phones taking and placing orders. It was a
hectic place. Between a break in the secretary's calls, David got up and asked her to
remind her boss that he wanted to talk to him. She did so reluctantly and then informed
David that Mr. Miller was too busy and that if he did not leave she had instructions to
That was it! David went back down the stairs, walked out to his Harley,
swung his leg over and, while pulling on his helmet, told himself. At least I tried.
Just as David was about to jump on the kick starter, he noticed the green phone company
junction box next to him on the side of the warehouse. Without a second thought, David
casually got back off his bike, bent down, and took out his tool-roll from the compartment
under the seat. Then, armed with a pair of pliers, he twisted the phone company security
seal off and opened the green metal door. Counting seventeen incoming pair of wires from
the trunk line, he looked for some markings to identify which line went to Mr. Miller's
office. David could not identify it because only a few were marked. What the hell!
He started disconnecting one wire of each pair on every incoming line. In less than four
minutes he closed the green metal door, went back inside and up the stairs of the
warehouse. There was a pleasant stillness; not a single phone rung. Even the babble of
sales conversation had ceased; the staff sat dazed. Mr. Miller busted out of his office
door and yelled, "Someone get to a pay phone and call the phone company. I'm losing
thousands of dollars." Two employees bolted from their desk and ran past David as he
stood at the top of the stairs.
"Dean, could you spare me a few minutes?" David asked loudly
across the order taking room. Twenty plus heads turned and looked at David. Who would dare
call Mr. Miller by his first name?
"Can't you see I don't have the time? I've got a disaster
here," Mr. Miller yelled.
"Yeah, and if your time wasn't so valuable, maybe your son
wouldn't be facing a disaster himself."
Nobody even breathed. You could have heard a pin drop. Ever since Mr.
Miller removed all Paul's trophies and medals from his office, the rumors had been
circulating. And he never did display the recently commissioned painting from a photo of
Paul being ordained a priest.
"We'll talk in my office." Mr. Miller motioned for David to
come in. Closing the office door shut out all twenty plus pair of inquisitive eyes. Mr.
Miller had become different since the last time Paul walked out of that office, after he
had disowned his own son. The recent change in Mr. Miller made it even harder to work at
Ace Electric and Plumbing. At least two employees had quit, due to the tension.
Mr. Miller stood behind his desk. Looking out into the parking lot, he
saw David's Harley parked there with baggage lashed to it. Without even turning he said,
"You never will grow up, David? I see you're still riding one of those damn
"It's a Harley," said David, walking across the large office
to behind Mr. Miller's desk and then plopping down in the executive chair. Some things
never change; they were already at each other. David leaned back and put his boots up on
the desk. Mr. Miller still hardly acknowledged his presence. During the entire drive to
Oregon, David had been rehearsing what he would say to Paul's father, but he still didn't
have the words.
"Could you take your feet off my desk? And hurry up. My time is
valuable not like yours, driving all over the country. That's why you will never
amount to anything. You're a nobody, just like my son."
David put his feet down, stood up and headed for the door. He could see
he was wasting his time. With his hand on the door knob he looked back over his shoulder
with a despicable glare. "You know, Dean, you never did like me. At one time I wanted
to grow up and be a big success just like you. But now that I really see you, you're the
one that's nothing." "What do you mean nothing? David, you will never have one
tenth of what I got."
David boldly walked over and was now eye to eye with Mr. Miller.
"You're wrong, Dean. I have something all your success and money can't buy. I have
your son for a true brother. There might be blood between the two of you, but there is
something more between us."
Mr. Miller thought that maybe David was Paul's lover. It all added up,
and this made it easier to pin the blame someplace else. Deep down Mr. Miller needed to
justify all the hours, over all the years, he spent at work away from the quality family
time he let pass by. He needed a rationale, a trade off. Not wanting to accept fault, now
pegged David as the root of all Paul's problems. "Go on, explain this great bond
between yourself and Paul."
"Sure, okay." David took a moment to gather his words.
"I don't care for the lifestyle Paul had chosen to live before he became a priest. I
can't hold it against him though, because, in a way, I'm still living that way. Anyway,
what about that night we won the State Football Championship and he caught you with your
secretary? Did he hold that against you? Hell no. All he did was love you. You were never
there for Paul. Although it looked like you were the perfect family, the truth is you're
just another defunct absent father. What's really twisted is that your son needs you now
more then ever and all you can think about is yourself." It wasn't eloquent but David
had said his piece.
The eminent and prominent Mr. Miller had never allowed anyone to talk
to him like David had. But he was more stunned than angry. "You know about my having
that affair? Did Paul tell you?"
David just shook his head side to side in disgust. Mr. Miller was
petrified that someone was on to his not-so-spotless past. "Hey, don't worry about
it. I knew you were cheating on your wife before Paul ever did. I use to see your car
parked behind that motel on Burnside Street when I was a junior. That was my business,
Dean respected David for his silence over the years. All he could think
to say was, " Thank you, David. I owe you for never bringing that out into the open.
You could have destroyed my business and family. How can I pay you for your continued
"You see, Dean? You just said business before family. You've still
got your priorities in the wrong order. But you're right. You do owe me," David said,
responding to the offer.
Mr. Miller swallowed hard. "Just tell me how much I owe you."
Now David was in charge. This was the first time he ever had the upper
hand on Mr. Miller. "The price I am going to ask is more than you will want to give.
And if you are as big a man as you want people to think you are, you will pay it."
Being a business man, Mr. Miller figured he could barter if necessary.
He sat down at his desk and David pulled up a chair in front of him. David needed a few
questions answered first. "Did Paul ever tell you about his sexual experience with
Judy, that girl that was tutoring him in math? Or did you know about how he almost date
raped his Senior Prom date?"
"No. Sex was something Paul and I never talked about. I left that
up to the school system."
"That's a great excuse Dean blame everything on the
teachers. And you're right, the school was teaching us all about sex, but that was all
they could teach. They couldn't teach the moral side of it, or all the complications that
came along with having sex too early. Those are the parents' responsibilities. Maybe you
failed Paul by not talking with him. My father told me that if I got a girl pregnant he
would kill me first, then make me do the right thing and marry her. Did you ever give any
of that fatherly advice to Paul?"
"No, I never did! I just couldn't do that father/son talk thing,
plus I was too busy." Dean stopped. This was the first he heard anything about
Paul's sex life, except for when Paul told him about being HIV positive. "What has
Paul told you? That the reason he is a fag is all my fault? Just because I didn't explain
the facts of life to him?"
"The correct word is homosexual. And your answer is no, Paul is
too big a man to blame anyone for his life. I think that you let Paul down; you were never
there for him."
"What do you know about our relationship? I built this whole
business for him; he could have taken it over if he wanted. I worked hard to get this, and
plenty of sons would give their eye teeth to have what Paul could have had."
"All Paul wanted was for you to be there more of the time. I
remember how we would run on the football field and he would search the stands for you.
Building this business was important to you, not Paul."
Mr. Miller continued in his denial, "True, I may not have made it
to many games, and maybe I should have spent sometime explaining sex and women with Paul.
But we were close as any father son."
"Dean, you were never close. You were always too preoccupied with
becoming somebody or something. You always thought you were so important, above
everything, even God. I can't understand how the rest of your family has stood by your
side all these years."
Mr. Miller had had enough. "Lets cut the small talk. Name your
"I'll name my price when I finish. This is not another one of your
business deals where you can buy out of your responsibility." David paused to get
back on the subject. "You say you and Paul were so close. Did you ever talk with him
about his tour in Vietnam?"
"No, I never had time." Mr. Miller's tone reflected his
"You don't have the faintest idea about the ugly side of war that
Paul lives with every day, about the enemy Paul shot and how while dragging him off the
road, a picture of this man's family fell out. How would you like that image staring back
at you, burning away at your conscience for over twenty years? Sure, he was decorated and
he fought bravely for what he believed in, but he needed your support when he came back.
Everyone turned their backs on us when we came back. Paul just needed to talk. Did you
ever think maybe he needed you?"
Mr. Miller's guilt was surfacing. This war had been different. When the
soldiers returned there were no parades, no honor from the others. Regrettably, some
dastards blamed them for the war. Dean had remained neutral, but he knew there was no
excuse for not even thanking his own son. Paul and David were part of the thousands who
offered their lives so that people throughout the world could be free. It went beyond the
war being right or wrong; it was about brave men who served and sacrificed.
Silence filled the office; enough had been said. Dean looked at David
and could not deny that his small empire was only possible because of the soldiers in all
wars who fought for freedom just like his son, and even David. Mr. Miller felt
selfish and empty inside. David was right: he was not half the man Paul was. Without
another word, David got up and was at the door before Mr. Miller said, "You still
haven't named your price. What do I owe you for your silence?"
With his hand on the doorknob, David turned halfway around and
answered, "You don't owe me a thing. And, if you ever talk to Paul again, please
don't tell him we had this conversation. If you can keep your silence, so can I."
David left and as he walked across the sales office he could feel the gaze from the
workers. He held his head high.
Mr. Miller sat numbly at his desk in the foreign stillness of the usual
hectic office warehouse. Then one phone rang out, breaking the calm, then another, and
another. He got up from his desk, walked to the window and saw David standing in front of
the telephone equipment box. It took about ten minutes before David had all the lines
hooked back up. When David shut the green phone equipment box, he glanced toward the
warehouse and saw Mr. Miller watching him from the second story window. Dean gave one
short wave just before David mounted his Harley and rode off.
Mr. Miller returned to his desk, buzzed for his secretary. Helen,
plain-looking but very efficient, had been with him for twenty years. She had replaced
Elaine years ago, after Elaine's affair with Mr. Miller ended. "Yes, Mr.
Miller," Helen said, standing in front of his desk with a pad in pencil in hand.
"Helen, could you have the maintenance man bring up that box of my
son's trophies and war medals that I had you store a couple of months ago?"
"Yes sir," she replied, hiding a smile. Mr. Miller had not
been the same since he had her removed those things from his office.
"And that painting I had commissioned of my son being ordained as
a priest, I want put out in the waiting area. Take down some of my pictures to make room.
I want it right in the center."
"Yes sir," Helen replied again, bursting inside. "Is
"Yes, one last thing. Tell all the employees to take the rest of
day off. I'd like them to spend some time with their families, or whatever."
Helen left the office with Mr. Miller's instructions. The phones were
switched over to the answering service; the maintenance man brought up the box of Paul's
items and hung the oil painting in the reception area. Fifteen minutes later everyone had
left, happy to have afternoon off, yet confounded why, because this had never happened
Helen was the last employeel in the building and she knocked on Mr.
Miller door, entered and said, "Paul's items are right out the door here. Would you
like me to stay and help?"
When Mr. Miller stood up from his desk it was like an enormous weight
had just slid off him. He walked over to Helen, put his arm around her, and together they
walked out of his office and across the reception area to the top of the stairs. Mr.
Miller thanked her and told her to go home. When he turned around, the oil painting of
Paul's ordination was now hanging in the center of all his own achievements where
it was meant to be.
Helen looked back from the bottom of the stairs and saw Mr. Miller
standing there, weeping like a child. The whole office warehouse was now silent and Helen
quietly locked the door behind her. Mr. Miller took out each artifact he had of Paul's
life and put them back on display, his soul being cleansed and purged. No matter what,
Paul was his son and he was proud. After almost an hour of reminiscing and making sure
every trophy was in its place, Dean went in to his office, over to his desk and picked up
I don't know where to start, but I can't go on with the hate that is
taking over my life. I'm truly sorry for the way that I reacted the last time you were
here, and I'm also sorry for not being there many of the important times in your life.
While I was convincing myself that working all the time was for my family, the truth was
that I was satisfying my own ego.
Paul, I was never the great athlete you were nor the war hero you
became, but I was a good businessman. I had always hoped you would want to take over the
business I had built. When you showed no interest, I was hurt. I then dove in further,
building even a bigger empire that could have been your's by just asking.
When you told your mother and I that you were going to study to be a
priest, I didn't say much because I was hurt. Instead of working to gain financial
prominence, you chose to lead a simple life and dedicate your life to others. I remember,
at your ordination, the glow that radiated from you. That day I was so proud of you, but
at the same time I was jealous and envious. It is hard for me to admit but I think that I
resented you for always being a better man than I.
I have to be honest. When you told me you were homosexual, I was let
down. My disappointment overshadowed my grief over your testing HIV positive. Now I must
live with how I responded. I have asked myself what kind of father I am. A man that can't
even forgive his own flesh and blood. God knows, I've had plenty of indiscretions in my
life and you never held them against me. It is time that I leave all the judging to God.
I'm sure that He has forgiven you and so do I.
Paul, you have always had a special grace about yourself that made me
proud so many times. I don't really know what it is. It wasn't necessarily the fact you
were an all star athlete or a war hero. Maybe it was your feeling toward others. Whatever
it is, I am still very proud to have you as my son.
There is so much I need to say and so much I should have done. The one
thing I want you to know is, I am here for you now and will be later. Please forgive me
for all that I have failed to do. I would very much like to see you soon.
Mr. Miller set the pen down, read over the letter, then called a
florist and ordered flowers delivered to his wife. He then called and made dinner
reservations. He felt like a whole man and wanted to celebrate his cleansing. Reaching for
the pen he added a post script.
P.S. One more thing, Son. I have yet to
tell your mother. I once read someplace that women will bear the pain of bringing children
into the world and that men will live with the pain after that. Man to man, we should
share this together. When the time comes, I would like to explain everything with
her, in my words.
May God bless our family.