Friday, July 1, 2016

News at Eleven - A Novel (Copyright 2015 Doris Gaines Rapp - 10th Serialized Segment)

“Monday always comes when it’s not wanted,” Clisty moaned to Becca, as her cell phone balanced under her chin.
“I know. I know, but just think of some of the reasons you would have to sleep all the time: recovery from the plague; really advanced old age; you have narcolepsy and you fall asleep on the creepy guy next to you on the bus; you died and were laid to rest last week; do I need to go on?” Becca quipped.
“I wonder, if I died what would my Heavenly job be?” she yawned. “I might be a cloud-comfort-tester. Then again, I’d probably chase rebellious cherubs all over the golden streets, so I can interview them and ask the age old question, “Why do you rebel?”
“Oh bother,” Becca laughed. “Maybe I’d have to direct that bunch of kids with the wings.”
“Becca, that’s it. Kids! What is it that Pooky told us? ‘Daddy said I could go to school but then Grandpa said no.’” Clisty raked her hand through her hair and looked in the mirror. “Oh Becca, I look awful. I’m glad that skype hasn’t come to the cell phone industry.”
“I told you to cover all the looking glasses in your apartment in black fabric and not pull them down until at least, uh, two in the afternoon. Before mid-afternoon, you’re only looking at the ghost of last night’s past.”
“I’ll try to remember that.” Clisty started to pace along the carpet runner beside her bed. “Let’s get back to Pooky. Becca, the child may remember more than Faith does, especially if she was given a little more freedom, like her two weeks in school.”
“You call the Sterlings and I get ready and meet you there.” Becca suggested.
“Wait until I’ve had a chance to sit down with them. I don’t want to run in there with lights and camera blazing.” We settled it.  “I’ll call you after I talk to them.”
Clisty jumped out of her night clothes and into the shower. I hope this works. While the hot water peppered her body from the multiple jets, she started planning her strategy. Later, dressed in her new black spring-weight suit she had bought before the events of Friday had turned her world upside down, she hurried out to her car.


“Good Morning, Clisty,” Roma said as she opened the front door. “Come in.” She led the way through the living room. “Have you had your coffee yet this morning?”
“Just one cup. I’m ready for my second one,” she chuckled as she followed Roma into the kitchen.
“Let’s sit down here a minute.” Roma pointed to the ladder-back chairs that sat around the kitchen table. “Toast?”
“No thanks, Roma.” She reached for the sugar and stirred in a spoonful. “I was hoping to talk to Pooky this morning. What do you think? Will she talk to me?”
“Faith has wanted Pooky to stay in the background, out of the camera lights. I’m sure you can’t blame her.”
“Not at all,” Clisty agreed, and she did, but there were other issues at play. “Since Pooky was out in the world more than Faith, there may be someone who would recognize her. While they may be a friendly neighbor, they could also be the evil ones who kept her all those years. We all have to keep her safe.”
“That’s what I mean,” Roma agreed. “She is relaxing more and letting Ralph and I get closer to her. Although, it’s harder for Pooky to get near her grandpa. Literally. She talks to him now, but from a distance.” She shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe we have Faith home. I can’t believe a wonderful granddaughter came with her. I can’t believe that Faith was held as a strange slave for eighteen years.”
“I know,” Clisty admitted. “She didn’t have to work for them; she just ... filled some role I guess.”
“I think her job was to be the lady’s daughter, but The Guardian couldn’t let go of his power as supreme ... what did she call him ... Head Master?” The coffee was still hot so Clisty sipped carefully. “Of course, I wouldn’t put Pooky on camera. Just talk.”
“I’ll have to ask Faith and she’s still sleeping.” Roma picked up the coffee pot, and then put it back on the warming burner. “She sleeps so much, Clisty.”
“That’s been her way of healing her mind and body, Roma.  She seems to have slept a lot over the last eighteen years. If she were awake all day, she would realize how alone she was ... for hours and hours. Those who are depressed, sleep a lot.”
“She did say she was allowed to read and she enjoyed that. It was her way of having contact with the world around her. Not just books, the lady let her read magazines when The Guardian wasn’t around.”
“Can you just imagine all the places Faith has been within the pages of her books and magazines?” Clisty thought for a minute. “I wonder how she could pronounce all the word. She was all alone in her room most of the time.”
“She probably just put her own sounds and meaning to the words. That’s what my father did.” Roma smiled the smile of happy memories. “Grandpa Georgie was a self-made man. He read everything he could lay his hands on. We sometimes had to figure out what he was talking about when he was trying to explain something he had read because his pronunciation was so bad, but we all admired his knowledge. Knowledge isn’t pronunciation, Clisty; it’s investigation, inquisitiveness.”
“I like that, Roma.” She paused and thought about all that Roma had said. “I want to investigate. I want to find out why that man took Faith, where he took her and what her life was like. And ...” again she paused to think if she was ready to tell anyone about her new career offer, “I’ve been given a great opportunity.”
“Can you tell me about it, Clisty? Maybe you want to talk about it?”
“It’s yes to both. But, there’s someone I need to tell first.” She had made up her mind. She had to find Jake.


Office Jeremy Rhodes jumped to his feet when Clisty walked into the police station later. “Miss Sinclair—“
“It’s Clisty, remember, Jeremy?” she said as she smiled.
“Yes, Ma’am ... Clisty. I’m sorry Ma’am. I watch you on the news every evening and it just seems like I’m talking to a celebrity.”
“If I ever become a celebrity, I will be forced to resign. I wouldn’t be able to stand to look at myself in the mirror. Come to think of it, someone told me a mirror shouldn’t be looked into before noon anyway.”
“I think I understand that rule.” He winked and rubbed his chin. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Is Jake in?” She looked around the room of desks and chairs, all lined up, yet working together.
“Did I hear my name?” Jake asked as he came out of a separate office. “Hi, Babe.” His smiled was large and matched the fire in his eyes. “What brings you down here?”
“I have to talk to you,” she said as she walked over to him, took his elbow and directed him back into his private office.  She could feel all the eyes in the department follow them. Even with the door closed, the glass in the window and in the door made her feel like she was in an aquarium. She laughed to herself. “Men do like their aquariums.”
“Is there something wrong?” he asked. His brow furrowed with concern or curiosity, Clisty wasn’t sure which.
“So many things, Jake.” She fumbled with the oversized gray buttons on her red coat. Finally, Jake took her hands and placed them at her sides. He drew so close she could hear his breathing. As her coat fell from her shoulders, she could hear a collective sigh from beyond the windows, while Jake placed the coat on a chair. The room was full of unspoken words, but Clisty knew there were words that she had to say. She didn’t know why her hands were shaking but she had to get through all the connected pieces of her life. “Jake,” she pointed toward the desk, “you sit there and I’ll sit here.” While she sat on one of the facing chairs, she barely perched on the edge. Jake leaned back on the desk and waited, his arms folded across this chest.
“First, it occurred to me that Pooky has lived in the same house, the same neighborhood, the same town as Faith has lived since she was born nine years ago. Maybe she can remember something, names, streets, even what town they lived in.”
Jake leaned in closer with the new possibilities. “Will Pooky talk if I’m in the room with you?”
“I think that will be okay. You were with us when we first met her and she was comfortable with you then.” She looked down at her fingernails; then she hid them in her pockets. “The other thing is ... I have been given the go-ahead to chase this story as far as it goes. That will probably mean, at least, leaving the state, probably going to Illinois. Can you ...” she hesitated. She didn’t want Jake to think she was being forward. “Do you think your department will let you go with us: Becca and Clint and me?”
Jake’s eyes brightened; the corners of his mouth turned up into a boyish smile. “You’re asking me to go to Illinois with you?”
“Jake, now, cut it out,” she blushed. “I’m asking if the Police Department wants to send someone with us as we gather information about an unsolved kidnapping.” In her embarrassment, she stood up and focused her eyes on the budding spring day beyond the window.
“Oh,” he drew out, “if that’s what you’re asking, then yeah, they will probable send me.” Jake reached out, turned her around so he could see her, and wrapped his arms around her. “That’s great. I’m glad the station is letting you pursue the story.” He leaned back and looked into her eyes.
She wondered if he saw the rest of the story. “It’s not just the station, Jake. It’s the network. They’re talking about putting it on the national news, like a spot on their Tuesday night news magazine.”
“Clisty, that is great! It could really advance your career,” he glanced at the other windows that formed the glass wall to the outer office.  “A kiss right now would be most appropriate, but perhaps all the eyes ...”
Clisty placed her hands on both sides of Jake’s face, pulled him close and kissed him with genuine tenderness. Looking at him, she added, “I agree, most appropriate ... and a little inappropriate. At least no one can accuse me of work place harassment. I don’t work here.” She pressed her forehead into Jake’s chest. “But ... maybe not the best timing ... or perhaps it is.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but ... I think, I’m willing to listen.” He lifted her hands and kissed them tenderly.
“The kiss may have been an effort to soften you up before my last point,” she admitted. “My career may have already been boosted.” She turned and looked out the window again. “If the story goes well, the network is offering me a spot on their National, New York based, News Magazine. They’ll call it, Stories from the Heartland. They want to offer positive stories of victory over adversity from real people who live and work in the middle of the country, away from Broadway and Rodeo Drive.”
“Babe, that’s wonderful.” He threw his head back and exhaled from his toes. “Wait,” he stopped and jerked his eyes to attention. “You just said, New York based.”
“That’s right. The program is a network show, based in New York.” She turned to face him. “But, we can ...”
“Thank goodness, for a minute I didn’t know if there would be a, we can, anything in there.”


“We are continuing our expanded story of the suspected bank robber and his hostage,” Clisty updated the viewers that evening on the eleven o’clock news.
Dan Drummond faced the camera. “Melvin Dean Fargo, who was apprehended by police following last Friday’s stand-off, is charged with Criminal Confinement. His hostage? The woman believed to be the witness in Friday’s bank robbery.” They did not re-run the news clip from the ATM.
Clisty continued in confidence as her back straightened even more. “The network wants this newscaster to investigate Mr. Fargo, even beyond any involvement he may or may not have in the robbery of the bank. Our investigation goes far beyond those questions. It is our promise, to pursue this case until we answer all questions. And, that is the News at Eleven.

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