detective fletcher had seen people like oliver before, people who came in to the station to offer to help the police find missing children - usually a particular missing child whose story was in the media, but sometimes, like oliver, just offering general help.
she suspected that many such people must be child abusers and abductors themselves, and she never turned them away, but always spoke to them personally.
so far she had never found anyone who showed definite signs of being such of person, but she always questioned them closely, and had their backgrounds checked as thoroughly as she could.
fletcher had become a police person primarily because she wished to track down and apprehend such persons. people who she believed were part of a vast network of pedophiles and child pornographers that not only existed just below the surface of civilized society but whose members ruled the world.
her experience in the domestic violence unit had been mostly with drunken and drug-addicted lowlifes and not with the kind of powerful white men she sought to expose.
she had had herself transferred to the homicide unit, where she thought herself more likely to encounter such persons, whose existence she was more convinced of than ever.
but she continued to take an interest in anything that might lead her to the powerful ones, and also to people like oliver when they showed up.
her first impression of oliver was that he was the most unlikely candidate she had ever seen come in.
although he professed to have watched a great deal of television and read stories in the newspapers and national magazines about missing children, he hardly seemed to know what a missing child was. he talked about them as if he were talking about lost cats and dogs who could not find their way home.
at the same time, fletcher’s suspicious nature was aroused. oliver couldn’t be as vacant as he appeared to be - could he?
she decided to look into his background herself if she could find the time. big if, with the homicides piling up, including a few that looked like they would never be solved.
after letting oliver talk a while she gave him the standard speech.
she told him that his good intentions were appreciated, but that in most cases the tracking down of missing and abused children and the apprehension and prosecution of their tormentors was best left to professionals.
oliver protested mildly that he had read of cases where volunteers assisted in “widespread searches” of missing children. was there not a list he could be put on, to be called in such cases?
fletcher explained that there was no such list but that if he saw in the media of any particular case where the police were looking for volunteers he could offer his services “at that point in time”.
and with that she took down his name, address, and e-mail - oliver seemed to see no contradiction in this - and politely sent him on his way.
she added his name to a list she was keeping of people to check on. she noticed the list was getting a little long and resolved to stay late that night and work on it.
as always, she felt a pang of frustration on looking at her list, because it reminded her that she had never found anything on any really rich or powerful person.
the state of nebraska had a governor and two united states senators and five accredited billionaires.
surely at least two or three of them were members of the world wide child abuse cabal!
disappointed but not crushed - nothing ever really affected him much - oliver wandered out of the police station into the sunlight.
there was a mcdonalds across the street. he decided to treat himself to a burger and some fries.
seated in the window of the mcdonalds, morley had seen the man he called “gorbachev” exit the police station.
morley put his half-eaten crispy chicken sandwich down. he started to get up, so that he would be outside when gorbachev made his move, to the parking lot or the bus stop or just walking away.
but he quickly sat back down when gorbachev turned and headed straight for the mcdonalds.
that he would do this had not crossed morley’s mind!
morley just caught himself from staring too obviously at gorbachev when he entered.
oliver went to the counter and quickly ordered a big mac, small fries, and a coke.
he was always slightly bewildered by the large number of choices and ordered the simplest things.
morley felt like he was dreaming when gorbachev took his tray and moved to an unoccupied table right beside morley’s!
morley glanced around. the place was somewhat crowded, and the table gorbachev had chosen was one of the few empty ones. so there was nothing suspicious there.
but - he was close enough that morley could speak to him. and they were facing in opposite directions so that neither would have to turn completely around to speak to the other.
was this fate? was this morley’s chance?
should he just wait and follow gorbachev out when he finished? that would be a little riskier now that the guy had probably seen him and might recognize him.
or should morley try to start some sort of conversation? about what?
should he lean over and say something like “hey, pal, blah blah…” ?
people only did that in the movies and tv - morley had never seen anybody do it in real life.
but this might be the chance of a lifetime!
seen up even closer than he had been in the station, gorbachev looked creepier than ever.
and also like a guy capable of just sitting there and staring into space for a while…
what to do?
life was like that.
it just went along, and went along, and went along. and then suddenly you were faced with a decision that you never saw coming… and no time to think it through...
he found the opening pages confusing. there was stuff about alois hitler, alois hitler jr, and adolf hitler, and he had trouble keeping them straight. adolf hitler was the famous hitler who was like the devil, right? yes, the life and death of adolf hitler, that was the name of the book.
he started skipping through the pages looking for the parts underlined or highlighted, of which there were one or two on almost every page.
during his first year adolf did appallingly badly. his moral conduct was only “adequate”, his diligence was “erratic”, and he failed in mathematics and natural history. although he enjoyed drawing and sometimes thought of himself as a potential artist, the teachers did not share his enthusiasm for his work. other boys had their drawings hung on the walls for all to admire, but no one hung adolf’s drawings.
this caught rick’s attention. other boys had their drawings hung on the walls for all to admire, but no one hung adolf’s drawings.
that was just what had happened to him in school!
except that it was other boys and girls - mostly girls - who had their drawings put on the wall.
it was in the fifth grade. rick had made some drawings of police and soldiers protecting people and he thought they were pretty good but the teacher, mister ramsey, who all the kids thought was a fag and probably was, just looked at them and made some suggestions about “contrast” and some such shit.
but the kids - mostly girls - who did drawings of martin luther king or rosa parks or che guevara - mister ramsey never gave them any grief about “contrast” or “shading”.
and their pictures always got hung on the wall.
but what really should have opened rick’s eyes was when he really took his time and made a really good picture of a bunch of navy seals rescuing some american soldiers and nurses who were getting their heads cut off by some muslims in the desert. some of the soldiers and nurses had already had their heads cut off and rick drew the heads lying in the sand in pools of blood.
mister ramsey had been horrified and had called rick’s mom, ellen, and she had to go in to the school and talk to him.
ellen had gone in, and with rick there, had listened to mister ramsey suggest that maybe rick needed some help or “counseling” and she had just listened in that way she had, never arguing or contradicting him but with her eyebrows raised just a little bit with that yeah-right-what-an-idiot look she had with all human males.
on the ride home, ellen had laughed it off, and told rick to just be careful, don’t get people pissed off about nothing. it was the kind of advice she always gave.
“you can’t fight the city boat, especially when it’s rocking.”
rick blurted out that the kids all said mister ramsey was a fag, but ellen just laughed at that too. “i would have thought he admitted it. he seemed the type.”
“well, that’s what everybody says,” rick insisted.
“he doesn’t go around grabbing kids’ asses, does he?”
“no!” rick was used to ellen and his aunt grace talking about sex and men in front of him.
“then, what’s the problem? he’s probably got a boy friend just like himself with a scrunchy little beard just like his and they stand naked in front of the radiator when the sun goes down.”
but with all that, ellen hadn’t really stuck up for him, rick thought. she wasn’t going to make him get “counseling” but his picture of the navy seals kicking ass on the muslims wasn’t going up on the classroom wall either.
later, rick would look back on this as his first real encounter with political correctness and the liberal establishment.
but now, sitting by himself at the table in the library with the hitler book, rick had a thought he had never had before about anybody. famous or otherwise.
he was just like me.
rick realized he was never going to read the whole book sitting in the library.
he decided to get a library card, so he could take the book home and read more of it.
he returned to the front desk with the book. the young woman who had been there before had been replaced by another young woman, a young black woman who looked about fifteen.
she did not show any surprise or anything else when he said he wanted a library card so he could take out the hitler book, but politely explained that he needed a drivers license or passport and a couple of pieces of mail to verify his address, etc. before he could be issued a card.
rick was a little disappointed that he couldn’t take the book home right away, but he had a little headache from reading as much as he had so it was no big deal. he thanked the young woman and left.
on the way home he had another thought. maybe he could buy the book. he wasn’t sure how or how much it would cost. maybe there was a bookstore in town that had every book that had ever been written.
he could ask eddie about that. actually he could ask ellen or grace.
rick had a sudden felling that maybe his whole life was going to change.
but the feeling did not last, and by the time he got home he was feeling like his usual self, like a piece of shit.