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  • Safe Harbors 13 – THE END

     A Willing Pen updated 4 months, 1 week ago 4Members · 4 Posts
  • Jane Whittier

    Member
    August 12, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    A reminder – what you have been getting is a little more than half the book, the main plot.  If you want the Jewish subplot, you will have to wait until someone decides to publish it.

    Chapter 13

    Cuffed

    Late Sunday afternoon, Eddie hitchhiked into Swarthmore.  He hid his camping gear in the same hollow where he used to keep it, and put the clothes he was planning to wear tomorrow into a small plastic bag. Then he settled himself with his back to a tree trunk and dialed his grandfather’s lawyer at the number of  the lawyer’s wife’s cell phone.  They went over Eddie’s testimony for about an hour.

    “Would you like me to pick you up somewhere, so that we can go to the courthouse together?”

    “Good idea.  I’ll be waiting at 9:50 in front of Temaki’s Sushi Bar on West Jasper Street. It’s about two blocks from the courthouse. If you think you’re being followed, let me know and I will get to the courthouse myself.  The cops and I are playing a game; and we might as well play it to the end. Did you know that they sent a police car to arrest me at my parents’ house on the thirteenth?”

    “You talked to your parents? I thought you said that you hadn’t spoken to them for a month.”

    “No, no I haven’t. I was there when the car drove up.”

    Eddie took the train to Media, and walked into the Hampton Inn, taking a room for two in the name of Leonard Takahashi.  “My father will be along later. He told me to pay cash, in case we decide to leave early in the morning.”

    “We need a credit card number.”

    “Sure.” Eddie rattled of this father’s card number, which had been included in the information in the passport, with the notation that it was for emergencies.

    “And photo identification?”

    Eddie produced his American passport.

    The clerk was still a little suspicious of a teenage taking a room in a motel.  “How do I know that this Leonard Takahashi is legitimate?”

    “There is no one easier to find on the web than a university professor.  Write ‘Professor Leonard Takahashi’ into your favorite search engine and see if you doubt that that is my father.”  A moment later, Dad’s familiar face was smiling out of the computer screen.

    The lawyer, Arnold Drummond, picked him up just in time. He had a driver, so Eddie slid in next to him in the back seat, setting down the bag with yesterday’s clothes at his feet.  Eddie had showered and combed his hair.  He was wearing the clothes he had bought in Israel so that he would fit in on their Sabbath, a white shirt and black slacks.  He had even used the iron in the motel room to take the creases out of the shirt.

    “You are looking spiffy,” said Drummond.

    “I thought it would be a good idea.”

    The drive took them around the corner and parked in one of the slots in front of the courthouse.  It was an impressive building, with two wings sweeping back from a central portico with six Greek columns, but what interested Eddie more were two stationery human figures.  Officer Michael O’Connell was standing at the top of a broad flight of six steps, and Dad was standing at the sidewalk, with the small park to his left. Drummond and Edie got out of the car as walked over Dad.  Drummond shook hands with him, and then Dad enfolded Eddie in a hug.  Eddie hugged him back but then pulled away and said, “I’ve got an appointment at ten, Dad.”

    “I know,” said Dad, as the three of them started pacing toward the entrance to the courthouse, “and O’Connell doesn’t want me there.”

    “How is everyone?” Eddie asked.

    “They are all fine, but once the planes were flying again, I sent Mom home to take care of the kids.  Alice and Danvir managed the policeman very well, but they didn’t want to be alone in case he would come back. I’m staying with Grandma and Grandpa. If you are someplace where we can visit you, Mom will come as soon as she can.”

    When they were almost at the courthouse, Dad clapped Eddie on the shoulder and said, “Love you, Son.”  Then he took as step back while Drummond and Eddie continued to the bottom of the steps.

    Eddie looked up at Officer O’Connell. “You wanted to ask me some questions.  I’ve arranged to have a lawyer with me.” The interrogation room was in the juvenile department.  The questioning covered a number of years. Drummond had told him that he did not have to answer any questions about why he had not wanted to go back to Chicago but other than that he gave straight answers to every question. They finally got to the day after the theft, when Eddie and Officer O’Connell had first met.

    “Wait a moment,” said O’Connell, “there is someone else I want to call in for this part.” He pressed a buzzer and another tall policeman came in.

    “And this is…?” asked Drummond.

    “Officer Tom Brady,” said the newcomer, shaking hands with Drummond and Eddie.

    “You say that you did not steal the money,” continued O’Connell.  “Then why did you run away?”

    “When Miss Selma opened the door, she did not ask me if I stole the money, she asked me why I stole the money, so it seemed to me that someone had convinced her that I was guilty. As soon as you stepped out, I guessed that it was you, and you certainly didn’t seem ready to believe much of anything I said.  I first made sure that you didn’t have a gun. My Dad always warned me that I was in danger of getting shot if I tried to run away from the police, particularly since I have dark skin.”

    “We don’t carry guns in Juvenile.”

    “Good.  And then you said that you wanted my Dad to post bond.  I really didn’t trust myself not to run away if it looked like I was going to be sent to reform school for a theft I did not commit, and I didn’t want my Dad to lose a lot of money, so I ran away right then. I’m sorry now that I didn’t listen to my Dad and stand firm.”

    “Okay, the two of you wait here.”

    Eddie presumed that the recording equipment was still running, so he just waited silently.  O’Connell and Brady returned shortly, with Brady carrying a bag.

    “You,” said O’Connell, “are the only suspect we have for this theft. There are no other fingerprints in that house except the Watson sisters.”

    That’s good.  They hadn’t found Uncle Jerome’s fingerprints on switches for the furnace.

    “There will be another hearing in front of a judge, and we consider you a flight risk, so we are going to fit you with this.” He open the bag and dumped out a hard plastic cuff which look like something an athlete wore to measure the distance he ran. “This is an ankle cuff.  It contains a GPS monitor.  We are putting you on house arrest at your grandparents’  house.”

    “Have you asked my grandparents about that? Maybe after you have been telling everyone what a thief I am, they will be afraid I will steal the silver.”

    “Don’t be such a smart-mouth, kid,” said Officer O’Connell. “Your grandfather fought for you like a lion fights for its cub.  Of course he’ll give you shelter. Tom here will be your probation office.  You have to report to him in person once a week and tell him what you have been doing.”

    “How am I going to report to him, if I am stuck in my grandparents’ house?”

    “You can have a mile radius and all directions.” said Tom.  “You and I can sit down with a map and decide where that lets you go.  There is a post-office within that radius and we will meet there by appointment.  You may be a flight risk, but we see that you know how to keep an appointment”

    The cuff was locked onto his ankle and Eddie was allowed to leave.  He and Drummond walked out to the lawyer’s car, where Dad was waiting, having brought car he was using around and parked it in the next slot.

    “We will speak again when there is a date for the preliminary hearing,” said Drummond. “He has to stay at his grandparent’s house, but you and your family can visit him there.”

    Eddie transferred the bag with the clothes he had worn yesterday into his Dad’s car and they headed out to the Baltimore Pike, which would take them straight to Swarthmore. On the way, Eddie started the tale of his adventures from the time he had run away from Officer O’Connell.  “And tonight,” said Eddie, “I will start writing it all in my journal.”

     

    Eddie was relieved not be incarcerated with juvenile delinquents, but house arrest was very irksome to someone who had been as free as he had been for so long.  Every weekend either Mom or Dad or his siblings would come to visit, but the weeks between would be long.

    “You know, Grandma, maybe you should register me in school. I could wear pants long enough to cover the cuff.”

    “School? You want to go to school?”

    “Right.  I thought it might be more interesting than just sitting around the house doing home-schooling. Maybe I’ll make some friends. And I can play on the sports teams.”

    “Okay, you’re on.  Let’s try it.”

    The school was a good one.  Some of the children were from the College community and their parents insisted on high academic standards.  Grandma had taught him well the year before and Eddie concentrated as he never before had in a classroom. “You know, after a year of minimum wage jobs, I know that I don’t want to spend my life that way . I’ll have to get some sort of education.”

    “Still thinking of being an astronaut?” Grandpa asked.

    “No, a journalist, I think.”

     

    The best news was that his probation officer, Tom, increased his range to two miles from the house so that he could get to school.  This also allowed him to go visit Pug and Princess, who jumped all over him, licking his hands and rubbing against his leg. Eddie didn’t try to go in, but Martha came out to meet him. “So you a’ Mistuh Eddie.”

    “Hope you are taking good care of Miss Watson and Miss Selma, Martha  They were getting’ awfully thin.”

    “Yup, Ah fattened them up a bit. Theah ski’ts done been fallin’ down. Uh – Mistuh Eddie, Ah know you don’ take them envelopes.”

    “Thanks, Martha.”

    “An’ Ah knows how it feel.  You knew that money was theah and di’n touch it. Ah knew all theah hidey-holes for them envelopes and di’n touch’m. Then Miz Watson shouts at me for a broken music box tha’s still on theah property. Wi’ ma deah George lyin’ dead at my feet.”

    “Not very tactful,” Eddie agreed.

    After that, Eddie came a couple of times a week to romp with the dogs and chat with Martha, who had more good sense than both the Misses Watson put together.

    “Tell me,” Martha asked him once, “Mistuh Jeromegetting’ anywheah wi’ that shoelace?” Martha liked Jerome.  He had negotiated the arrangement which left Martha with her pension but got her a salary from the envelopes.

    “Well, he did finally get the police to send it to be checked for DNA, and they found a smudge of blood which isn’t mine. That may help when we get to trial, if Miss Selma isn’t too confused to testify about where she found it.”  Eddie tried to imagine Miss Selma standing up to cross-examination by a hostile lawyer. She would collapse like a piece of wet spaghetti.

    “We gotta get some blood from the envelope man. The dogs are shu’a he’s the one.”

    “I was trying to figure out why he would take the money just now.  There is a lot in the house.  Three hundred a week for fifty weeks a year for ten years since the trust was set up. That’s a hundred and fifty thousand dollars that came in.”

    “You di’ that in yo’ head, Mistuh Eddie? Good fo’ you.”

    “My Dad taught me.  It wouldn’t take a detective more than a week to find out that most of that money wasn’t spent and didn’t go into a bank”

    “Yeah, upstai’s you can’ tun ’round wit’out trippin’ ove’ a bunch of envelopes.  They hide’m on the wardrobes, in t’ dra’ahs, in hatboxes, un’er t’ beddin’, all oveh.”

    .”Every week Miss Selma brought down three more envelopes to get fives and tens to pay me, but that’s still only $25,000 in the kitchen. It would be hard to search them out upstairs. Why not wait for more?”

    “‘Cause he wo’ks for them lawye’s an’ knew Ah was comin’ back to wo’k.  Miz Watson would ‘a’  fo’ shu’a  taken’m from the kitchen an’ hid’em back upstai’s.”

    “Or else he just needed the money for something.  But I like your idea.  So how do we prove that he is the thief?”

    “Let Pug and Princess bite’im.”

    “We can’t take the dogs to the lab to have the blood scraped off their teeth,” Eddie objected. “and he won’t sit still for us to swab his wound.”

    “Hmm.  You let the ai-ah outa his ti-ahs.  Tha’ll keep him here.”

    “My probation officer won’t like that idea with the tires.  But we don’t need blood.  A hair will do. We let Pug and Princess attack him, and I’ll pull them off, while you pat him on the head and get us a hair. When does he come?”

    “Thu’sday afte’noons.”

    “I’ve got football practice, but this is more important. I’ll talk to the coach.”

    On Thursday afternoon, Eddie sat behind a bush with the two dogs.  When a car stopped in front of the house, Eddie waited until the man, who did not have much hair except for a comb-over, was most of the way up the sidewalk, then slipped the leashes.  Pug and Princess started barking furiously and nipping at the heels of the man, who wore the uniform of a security guard.

    Martha came out of the house on cue and started shouting at the dogs. Eddie came out from the bush and fumbled getting the leashes back onto the collars.  Finally he “succeeded” and began tugging the dogs away from the cursing man. Martha, who was a big woman and heavy-set, started apologizing, straightening his clothes and patting his head. This dislodged the comb-over, so Martha apologized some more and began a two-handed patting of his head, over his vehement protests. Martha winked at Eddie and let the man go.

     

    Karen walked slowly up the staircase at work, her thoughts in Philadelphia where her father’s lawyer was attempting to get the hair tested to see of it would match the blood on the shoe-lace.  She noticed a congregation of Full Professors near Bill Diamond’s room, with some other faculty members hovering around them.  Today was Tuesday.  The cause of the stir probably something to do with one of the various faculty committees on which they served.  Someone saw her coming up the stairs and nudged Bill.

    “Ah, Karen, could you come into my room for a moment?”

    Sounded serious.  Karen hoped it was not some new administrative task for her.  As Lennie had commented, at the moment their emotional energy was concentrated on Eddie, on getting him through this miscarriage of justice without having him turn completely against all authority.

    “Uh, Karen, the Faculty Promotion Committee met this morning.  I’m extremely sorry to have to tell you that they turned down our request to have you promoted.”

    Karen felt as if she had been cuffed across the face.  “Sorry to hear it.”

    “Believe me, Karen, I fought for you.  Very hard.”

    “I believe you, Bill.  And it wasn’t like an all or nothing tenure decision.  I’ll still be doing the same job.” In fact, it isn’t important at all.  What is important is Eddie and the other children.

    “I’m afraid the Dean also said that he wouldn’t listen to appeals.”

    “Oh. Okay.” After the favor she had done him by agreeing to Head the Financial Math program last year! Why did every single career step in mathematics have to be so hard for a woman?

    There was a little knot of people between Karen and the refuge that was her office.  She almost considered going around three sides of the quadrangle to avoid them, but this wasn’t just some referee’s report that no one else knew about.  Soon everyone in the department would know what had happened. Karen straightened her shoulders and marched straight ahead.

    “Karen, this is horrible news.  So unfair.”

    “They said there were gaps in your list of publications, and maybe if you were promoted you would stop doing research.”

    “Some gap! One year no article come out, and the next year three. Don’t they realize that some articles take longer to place than others.”

    “Yeah, some chemist had the nerve to bring up your problems with your ‘juvenile delinquent’ son.  I had to clench my fists under the table not to shout at him.”

    “Shh, Jean-Paul.  We are signed on a statement not to say anything about what went on at the meeting.”

    “But why no appeal?  How can the Dean do that?”

    Karen didn’t have to think what to say.  She couldn’t have gotten a word in if she had wanted to.  But she didn’t want to. Her colleagues all thought that she had deserved the promotion and were furious that she hadn’t gotten it.  They were the ones who could judge her work, not some physicists and chemists. She didn’t care now that she had been turned down. She had her department on her side. Family was not the only possible shelter from the storms of life.  Sometimes a community could also be a safe harbor.

    Lennie and the children would also be angry, but she would just say that we win some and we lose some.  The one they hoped still to win, the one that really mattered, was Eddie’s court case.

     

    When Rina and Ronny came to New York for her sister’s wedding, Rina came down to Swarthmore to visit her father, and stopped by to visit Eddie as well. Rina told him the whole story about the switched twins.

    “And now we are switching again,” said Rina.  “Gila and her husband will come live in my mother’s house and Gila will take back my job.  Ronny and I will be moving to Beit Shemesh, to an apartment of our own.  But if you come back to Jerusalem, I think Gila would be happy to have you visit her.  We both owe something to your mother.”

    “What?”

    “Back when we were born, babies were diapered with cloth diapers held together with very large, sharp safety pins. Your mother taught our mother how to diaper us without sticking the pins into our skins.”

     

    Eddie had been trying to make a good impression on his parole officer, Tom.

    He followed all the rules and kept any promises he made.  Tom found Eddie a relief to deal with compared to some of the punks he was keeping watch over.

    After Eddie became convinced that Tom was not at all sure that Eddie had done what he was accused of, the family decided to let him read Eddie’s diary.  For the trial, the lawyer thought that they would have to do a thorough psychological evaluation of Eddie, and that the journal would do more good than harm, so they would disclose its existence.  Tom would also be testifying at the trial.

    Since Eddie turned himself in, Jerome had been cultivating a relationship with Officer Mike O’Connell. When Martha called about finding the shoelace, Jerome convinced Mike to go to the Watson’s house to pick it up and hear the story from Miss Selma and Martha. He warned Martha not to mention her suspicions about the envelope man. Then Jerome got Mike to call Mrs. Prescott and hear from her that Eddie did not have and never had had a shoe with a black tightly woven shoe-lace; all Eddie wore on his feet were sneakers with broad white laces. When the lab test showed that the shoe-lace was stained with blood that did not match Eddie’s, Mike began to consider the possibility that Eddie was not the thief.

    “But if so, why did he run away?” Mike complained.

    “Because he saw that you did think he was the thief.”

    Jerome let Mike worry for a while that maybe his only suspect was going to slip through his fingers.  Then he showed up with the hair from the security guard. “How is this going to sound in court?  One suspect shows up with evidence and says it is from someone else.”

    “Mike, listen to what you are saying.  That guard has another two hundred hairs like this one.  If this is a match, you can take another sample with three cops watching. Or just take some blood form his finger.”

    Grumbling, Mike sent the hair to the forensics lab for comparison with the bloodstain on the shoelace.  Three days later, he called up Jerome to announce that the two samples did match.  “Okay, I am convinced that Eddie didn’t do it. But I still haven’t got a case I can bring to court.  This depends on the shoelace coming from the thief, and you know that Miss Selma would fall apart under cross examination.”

    “Martha can testify that it was found in the house.  She won’t be rattled by any lawyer.  How did it get there if not from the thief?” asked Jerome.

    Mike sighed.  “Do you want me to try to get the cuff taken off Eddie?”

    “Better not,” said Jerome.  “Word might get back to the lawyers and from them to the guard.  We don’t want to spook him. We still have to get another hair from him.”

    “Listen,” said Mike.  “I think I’ve got enough evidence for a search warrant.  Right now the guy is sure that Eddie is the only suspect. Maybe he has been dumb enough to leave evidence in his apartment.”

    “Sounds good to me,” said Jerome.  “But Mike, make sure that you go along.  The family will want to know that the apartment was well-searched.  And get that extra hair at the same time.  In case you don’t find enough evidence to arrest him and then he runs away the next day.”

    “And if he runs away, you won’t think that proves that he is guilty?”

     

    Mike, from the juvenile department, didn’t belong in an operation to search the apartment of an adult, but he got himself included on the claim that the warrant was based on his affidavit. Two plainclothes detectives shadowed the guard, whose name was Timothy Hardy, .from the lawyers’ office.  He first stopped at a restaurant for dinner.  When he had .finished and seemed to be heading home, the other police officers parked one block over. The uniformed officers did not enter the building until Hardy was already in his apartment.  One, Pete, remained downstairs to cover the exits form the building, while Mike and two others, Dick and Zeke, went upstairs.  Dick knocked on the door.

    “Who is it?” came a voice from inside.

    “Delaware County Police.”

    “What do you want?”

    “We want to come in,” said the cop.

    “Do you have a warrant?”

    “We have a search warrant for this apartment.”

    There was a long pause.  Mike whispered urgently to Zeke, “Call the guy downstairs to make sure he isn’t chucking anything out the window.” Mike put his ear to the door to listen for the sound of flushing.  Any evidence which went down the toilet would be unrecoverable.

    Dick banged on the door and shouted, “If you don’t open immediately we will break the door down.”

    Hardy, still in his security guard uniform, opened the door.  “Where does the warrant allow you to search?”

    “This entire apartment.”

    “For what?”

    Dick spread out the warrant for Hardy, “Glass cutting equipment, surveillance equipment, clothing, cash and envelopes.” Dick stayed with Hardy, Zeke started in the kitchen, and Mike went to the bedroom.  He first looked for the shoes.  Timothy had five pair of shoes, three of them black.  On one of them, the lace on the left shoe seemed slightly shorter than the lace on the right. Taking it out to the light, he saw that on one side, the plastic tip for threading through the holes was not the original but had been made by wrapping cellophane around the end of the lace.  Putting on gloves, he removed the lace from the shoes and put it in an evidence bag.  Then, for good measure, he took both shoes and put them in a larger bag.

    “I found this in the back of a tool drawer,” said Zeke, holding up a tiny  surveillance camera in an evidence bag. It was the type one sticks to a window to record what is going on inside the room.

    “Look for a laptop,” said Mike.  “This thing sends the data it collects to a computer or cell phone.”

    Zeke took a call on his own cell phone. “Pete downstairs says that there is some kind of sack tied to a waterspout to the left of one of the windows.”

    Mike tried the living room window but saw no waterspout. Outside the bedroom window there was a waterspout, and there indeed was the bag in question, but it was two feet off to the side and tied with a double knot. “Pete!” he called down, “be ready.”  Mike went to the kitchen for a knife and started sawing through the drawstring.  Mike cut through the string and  the bag dropped two stories to Pete’s waiting arms.  When Mike got downstairs, Pete had already put on gloves and was opening the bag.  He extracted an envelope, which was unsealed.  “Cash.  $270.  Two hundreds, a fifty and a twenty.”

     

    The next day, after Eddie’s ankle cuff was officially removed, Mike apologized in the name of the department.  He and Tom took Eddie and his parents out to an ice cream shop for a post mortem, in which Mike described the search of Hardy’s apartment.  The stash in the bag contained $22,500, mostly in envelopes of $270 cash.  “The amazing thing is, that with all that cash on hand, Hardy didn’t buy a new pair of shoelaces and throw away the broken one.”

    Karen and Lennie drove Eddie back to the Prescotts’ house.  “What now?” Lennie asked him. “You have been making your own decisions for so long, that you might as well make this one, too.”

    “If Grandma and Grandpa will have me, I would rather stay till the end of the school year. If I come into a new school in Chicago in the middle of the year, too many people will ask too many questions.”

    “Makes sense,” Karen agreed, and Lennie nodded.

    “What about you, Grandpa? Do you agree to have me stay?” Eddie asked.  “You took me in because I was desperate. I have been happy here for more than a year, but I don’t want to be a strain on you.”

    “You saved my life, boy. You can stay as long as you like.”

    “Thank you, Grandpa.  And what about you, Grandma?”

    “I feel the same, Eddie. Stay as long as you like. I have enjoyed watching you grow up.”

    Eddie looked around at his family. “The normal place for a kid my age to live is with his father and mother and sister and brother.  I think that, starting this summer, I would also like to be normal.”

     

    THE END

     

     

  • A Willing Pen

    Member
    August 12, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    A very satisfying read. Different to anything I’ve ever read before. Kudos to you.

  • Brocha

    Member
    August 12, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    I love it. It was different, refreshing, fascinating, and opened windows to new worlds for me. Thanks so much.

  • A Willing Pen

    Member
    September 10, 2020 at 5:02 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Jane! I wish I can write something like this one day…

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