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Chapter 8 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour

Wednesday, July 16, 2015 -- The Eighth Day

It was 8:00 a.m. Moses Evans and Jack Wilson were enjoying a rich breakfast on the balcony overlooking a churrigueresque mezzanine. Valencia Ramos was in the shower, Jack Wilson said.

“She’s going to take me clothes shopping later this morning.”

“That so? While you interrogate her some more?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Strikes me the secretary isn’t short any cash.”

“Yeah, I had noticed that myself.”

“You trust her?”

“Only so far. And man is that a long way, bud!” Wilson laughed. Evans was starting to dislike that lewd laugh a lot.

Valencia came out, in her bathrobe Evans was disgusted to see. She gave Wilson a kiss on the cheek, and took some strawberries off his plate. She sat between the two men. “Hi,” she said to Moses Evans.

“Good morning.”

“We barely got acquainted yesterday.”

“Yes. I needed my sleep.”

“Yah. I felt the urge to hit the bed too.” She laughed and clawed Wilson’s arm. He grinned. Moses Evans looked on very, very careful not to show any expression.

“You don’t talk much, do you?” asked Valencia.

“Not that much, no.”

“He’s a good bo—guy,” said Wilson. “Leave him alone. Now what’s the plan for today?”

“Well.” She sat upright. She spoke only to Wilson. “Mall opens at 9:00 a.m., and we’re going to get you a change of clothes. Then I’m going to be a good cooperative girl, and point out the Turk who buys gold for the Professor. Then, I don’t know, dinner and a movie?”

“What do I do?” asked Evans very, very mildly.

“Well. I’ll give you forty dollars. You can spend that where you like downtown, though I’m sorry it won’t go as far for you as back where you come from. There’s a public library next door, which opens at 11:00 a.m., and you can take in some history if you like.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Now. I’ll get dressed. Oh—leave your guns will you?”

Wilson chuckled. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Please see sense. You can only get in trouble packing a gat in this state. It’s going to be certain prison time for you, you have no residence and nobody will vouch for you—“

“You could.”

“But I won’t. Won’t you see sense?”

Evans said, “I’d prefer to keep my gun from this, witness.”

Wilson said, “I’m right with you. No dice, sugar.”

“You’re being stupid.” She got up. “I’ll dress. Any more questions while I’m naked and helpless?”

“Yeah I got a question for you,” said Moses Evans. “Jim Jackson. Know him?” He watched her face.

“No. Should I?”

“John Elmswood?”

“No.”

“Rod Thomas?”

Aha.

“Yes, I knew Rod. Why?”

“Just checking,” said Moses Evans. “You folks have fun in the California sun.”

“Will do.” She flashed Wilson, with her back carefully to Evans, and ran back into the room. Wilson winked at Evans. Evans just sat there.

************************************************************************************

Evans crossed Orange Street and examined the Chinese pavilion, which was a gift of something called the People’s Republic of China, and a fancy Zodiac sundial, and sat with some ragged men who were waiting for the library to open. The men all had plastic bags and some had bicycles, and they were grateful to share a cigarette with Evans. He didn’t feel so badly about wearing the same clothes two days in a row.

The men were black and white and smoked together quietly.

Librarians were much the same here, ordering him to put out his cigarette outside, then helping him find a microfiche machine and guiding him in its use. He understood the genius of magnifying small photographs of newsprint and decided to bring the idea back home with him for use. He chose a box of reels of the Los Angeles Times.

The president of the United States was a black man.

Moses Evans read incredulously about the election of a black man – he picked up the use of the term quickly – and nowhere “colored” or “nigger”. Not even “Negro”.

A few clues from the newspaper had him asking the librarian for literature regarding the Civil Rights Movement. She acted as if such things were freely available to anyone who asked.

The mens room and water fountains were not segregated.

Moses Evans spent the afternoon reading about the Civil Rights Acts and Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcom X, and Rosa Parks, and desegregation, and a number of Supreme Court decisions that amazed him. He read court decisions that he could not believe a white American had written, and was more greatly amazed to learn that Justice Thurgood Marshall was not a white American.

After ten minutes of guidance, he was able to watch Martin Luther King Jr. give a speech online. He understood from the librarian that this was a permanent record stored in such a way that anyone with the equipment could view it anytime of the day.

He read about the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and its hardfought defeat by resolute Democrats, of all people.

He chose some books about police work and found most of them written like a college textbook. He read about a Federal Bureau of Investigation and its national school for police officers.

Finally he felt a little hungry, and realized he’d not eaten for over eight hours. He decided to test something he’d read.

He chose a pretty white woman and walked up to her.

“Excuse me, miss,” he said.

“Yes?” She looked at him, then around herself.

“Do you know a good place to eat?”

“I’m sorry, I haven’t any money.”

“I have the money. I just—“

“Sorry, I’m working on a paper. Excuse me.” She walked away.

Well, that was different, anyway. He left the library and walked right across Orange Street to the hotel. On the other side was a pedestrian mall. He saw a sidewalk café.

Good God, she’d been right. Forty dollars wouldn’t stretch very far at these prices.

He walked away down the mall, and along the block. He crossed Market Street and saw a bus depot to his left. Well, that usually meant good eating.

He stopped a short Chinese girl in dungarees.

“Excuse me miss,” he said.

“Yes?”

“Do you know a good place to eat?”

“Not around here. Umm. What you looking for?”

“Anything really.”

“Well…there’s a Chinese place across the street, and Jim’s burgers, and a grocery store. Umm, why are you dressed like a clown?”

“Oh?” He noticed then that he was the only one in sight wearing a jacket of any kind. Two security guards were walking towards him.

“No reason.” Then he thought. “Got kicked out my house.”

Her face closed like a door. “Oh, you’re—oh okay. Goodbye!”

He moved then, to avoid the guards. It was odd. Nobody objected to a Negro –a black man—talking to young women in public.

Everyone was dressed like a dockhand.

He moved across University Avenue to the Chinese restaurant. The menu didn’t explain anything to him. He moved on. The man behind the counter stared at him. Perhaps he should have asked for different clothes. He was still in a formal shirt and tie with celluloid collar, plaid coat, striped pants, oxford shoes.

He saw a liquor store next to a doughnut shop. He stepped inside for a quick sandwich.

The owner was an Asian immigrant. “What you want here?”

“You sell sandwiches?”

“No.”

“What have you got?”

“You get out! Go on!”

Well that wasn’t very different at all.

Down the block was a grocery store with a Spanish name. He went up to the door. A ragged black man stopped him. “Say man, you got any change to spare?”

He was shocked at the brazen begging. “No, I’m going to buy food.”

“Aw, man, can you help a brother out?”

“You’re a Brother? Ok Brother.”

“Cool.” He followed Evans into the store. They went through a turnstile and began to peruse the aisles. The quantity and variety of foodstuffs was incredible.

“Man, I sure could use a cigarette.”

“I gave mine away. Do they sell them here.”

“Not my brand, man, I like Pall Malls.”

“Well, can you make do with Camels?”

“If you won’t buy Pall Malls.”

A carton of milk, two sandwiches, and a pack of Camels more than $20.00.

A security guard came out after them. “Don’t eat that here. You have to move along.”

Evans said, “Because I’m a Negro?”

“I never said that! Hey! I’m just doing my job OK?” yelped the Mexican guard. “We don’t allow anybody to loiter outside, OK?”

Evans looked him in the eye. The guard met his gaze. No guilt there.

“OK,” said Evans. “We’ll go to the park.”

They walked back east towards White Park on Market Street.

“Haw haw, you shut him DOWN!” yelled the ragged man.

“So where’s the Brotherhood meet?” asked Evans.

“What?”

“The National Brotherhood of Freedmen? Where’s the house in Riverside?”

“Hey, you crazy man. I love you!” He laughed as he stamped off with his sandwich and Camel cigarette.

Evans sat under a tree on a bench and lit a cigarette. The park announced that Riverside had sister cities in China and Japan and Vietnam, where ever that was.

It was nearly 5:00 p.m. Evans had agreed to meet Wilson and Valencia at the Mission Inn for dinner at 7:00 p.m. He thought he might test some restaurants about seating a black man.

A patrol car pulled up to the curb. Two officers got out and walked into the park. Evans realized with a jerk that they were headed for him.

“Hey. Hey, can I talk to you?”

The officer was a female, Evans was surprised to see, a white blonde with her hair in a bun and WILLIAMS pinned to her bosom. Her partner was a very fit young man named MARQUEZ. Williams stood in front of Evans with a neutral smile on her face. Marquez moved to flank him and watched his hands. Evans was very careful not to upset them.

“Hello, officer,” said Evans.

“Hello. You know you can’t smoke in a public park, right?”

“No, why not?”

“Well, you can’t. My name is Williams. What’s your name?”

“Evans.

“You live in Riverside, Evans?” Marquez asked.

“I got a suite at the Mission Inn,” said Evans.

“A suite? Like the Presidential?” Williams was staring him in the face, watching his eyes so very carefully.

And Evans knew he was sunk. He knew that Valencia Ramos had been right about the gun.

“Got any identification on you, Evans?”

“No,” said Evans, remembering his badge too.

“You mind if I pat you down, Evans? Are you holding anything I should know?”

*************************************************************************************

Jack Wilson’s day had not been entirely pleasant, since he would not let her hold the gun in her purse no matter how much she pleaded, so he had to get a booth to try anything on. He thought the trousers were cut indecently low and refused absolutely to try anything with a plunging Italian lapel. Finally she got him a couple of pairs of denim pants and ridiculous suede shoes and loose turtleneck shirts.

They had lunch at the Plaza and Wilson had his first beer and pizza pie, which he enjoyed very much.

“We’re not getting a lot of work done.”

“We’re getting to know each other.”

“Is that so important?”

“I’m trusting you with my life.” She grabbed his hand. “I need to know that I’ll be safe, that you’ll round up the whole gang for me.”

“For you.”

“You know what I mean.” She squeezed his hand. “Jerry Jake is from your neck of the woods, but he recruited here. Like Rod Thomas.”

“What about Thomas?”

“Nothing. He was a jerk and ran the factory floor. He just disappeared.”

“He was found shot up.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Um.”

“Is that why Moses asked about him?”

“Think so.” He reached for a cigarette, stopped when he saw her staring at him with brows up. “Not here?”

“Practically no where.” She frowned, pulled out her cell phone, and spoke to it, oblivious of Wilson’s stare. “Hello?”

“What is that thing?”

“Yes this is she. Yes. Yes I did.” She waved at Wilson. “Yes, he’s with us. What? When? Where? No, we’ll check out at once. Can I do that over the telephone? Yes then do so. I know. I am so sorry. Thank you for calling me.” She stared at Wilson. “Your idiot friend is in jail."

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Chapter 8 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour
Wednesday, July 16, 2015 -- The Eighth Day

It was 8:00 a.m. Moses Evans and Jack Wilson were enjoying a rich breakfast on the balcony overlooking a churrigueresque mezzanine. Valencia Ramos was in the shower, Jack Wilson said.

“She’s going to take me clothes shopping later this morning.”

“That so? While you interrogate her some more?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Strikes me the secretary isn’t short any cash.”

“Yeah, I had noticed that myself.”

“You trust her?”

“Only so far. And man is that a long way, bud!” Wilson laughed. Evans was starting to dislike that lewd laugh a lot.

Valencia came out, in her bathrobe Evans was disgusted to see. She gave Wilson a kiss on the cheek, and took some strawberries off his plate. She sat between the two men. “Hi,” she said to Moses Evans.

“Good morning.”

“We barely got acquainted yesterday.”

“Yes. I needed my sleep.”

“Yah. I felt the urge to hit the bed too.” She laughed and clawed Wilson’s arm. He grinned. Moses Evans looked on very, very careful not to show any expression.

“You don’t talk much, do you?” asked Valencia.

“Not that much, no.”

“He’s a good bo—guy,” said Wilson. “Leave him alone. Now what’s the plan for today?”

“Well.” She sat upright. She spoke only to Wilson. “Mall opens at 9:00 a.m., and we’re going to get you a change of clothes. Then I’m going to be a good cooperative girl, and point out the Turk who buys gold for the Professor. Then, I don’t know, dinner and a movie?”

“What do I do?” asked Evans very, very mildly.

“Well. I’ll give you forty dollars. You can spend that where you like downtown, though I’m sorry it won’t go as far for you as back where you come from. There’s a public library next door, which opens at 11:00 a.m., and you can take in some history if you like.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Now. I’ll get dressed. Oh—leave your guns will you?”

Wilson chuckled. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Please see sense. You can only get in trouble packing a gat in this state. It’s going to be certain prison time for you, you have no residence and nobody will vouch for you—“

“You could.”

“But I won’t. Won’t you see sense?”

Evans said, “I’d prefer to keep my gun from this, witness.”

Wilson said, “I’m right with you. No dice, sugar.”

“You’re being stupid.” She got up. “I’ll dress. Any more questions while I’m naked and helpless?”

“Yeah I got a question for you,” said Moses Evans. “Jim Jackson. Know him?” He watched her face.

“No. Should I?”

“John Elmswood?”

“No.”

“Rod Thomas?”

Aha.

“Yes, I knew Rod. Why?”

“Just checking,” said Moses Evans. “You folks have fun in the California sun.”

“Will do.” She flashed Wilson, with her back carefully to Evans, and ran back into the room. Wilson winked at Evans. Evans just sat there.

************************************************************************************

Evans crossed Orange Street and examined the Chinese pavilion, which was a gift of something called the People’s Republic of China, and a fancy Zodiac sundial, and sat with some ragged men who were waiting for the library to open. The men all had plastic bags and some had bicycles, and they were grateful to share a cigarette with Evans. He didn’t feel so badly about wearing the same clothes two days in a row.

The men were black and white and smoked together quietly.

Librarians were much the same here, ordering him to put out his cigarette outside, then helping him find a microfiche machine and guiding him in its use. He understood the genius of magnifying small photographs of newsprint and decided to bring the idea back home with him for use. He chose a box of reels of the Los Angeles Times.

The president of the United States was a black man.

Moses Evans read incredulously about the election of a black man – he picked up the use of the term quickly – and nowhere “colored” or “nigger”. Not even “Negro”.

A few clues from the newspaper had him asking the librarian for literature regarding the Civil Rights Movement. She acted as if such things were freely available to anyone who asked.

The mens room and water fountains were not segregated.

Moses Evans spent the afternoon reading about the Civil Rights Acts and Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcom X, and Rosa Parks, and desegregation, and a number of Supreme Court decisions that amazed him. He read court decisions that he could not believe a white American had written, and was more greatly amazed to learn that Justice Thurgood Marshall was not a white American.

After ten minutes of guidance, he was able to watch Martin Luther King Jr. give a speech online. He understood from the librarian that this was a permanent record stored in such a way that anyone with the equipment could view it anytime of the day.

He read about the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and its hardfought defeat by resolute Democrats, of all people.

He chose some books about police work and found most of them written like a college textbook. He read about a Federal Bureau of Investigation and its national school for police officers.

Finally he felt a little hungry, and realized he’d not eaten for over eight hours. He decided to test something he’d read.

He chose a pretty white woman and walked up to her.

“Excuse me, miss,” he said.

“Yes?” She looked at him, then around herself.

“Do you know a good place to eat?”

“I’m sorry, I haven’t any money.”

“I have the money. I just—“

“Sorry, I’m working on a paper. Excuse me.” She walked away.

Well, that was different, anyway. He left the library and walked right across Orange Street to the hotel. On the other side was a pedestrian mall. He saw a sidewalk café.

Good God, she’d been right. Forty dollars wouldn’t stretch very far at these prices.

He walked away down the mall, and along the block. He crossed Market Street and saw a bus depot to his left. Well, that usually meant good eating.

He stopped a short Chinese girl in dungarees.

“Excuse me miss,” he said.

“Yes?”

“Do you know a good place to eat?”

“Not around here. Umm. What you looking for?”

“Anything really.”

“Well…there’s a Chinese place across the street, and Jim’s burgers, and a grocery store. Umm, why are you dressed like a clown?”

“Oh?” He noticed then that he was the only one in sight wearing a jacket of any kind. Two security guards were walking towards him.

“No reason.” Then he thought. “Got kicked out my house.”

Her face closed like a door. “Oh, you’re—oh okay. Goodbye!”

He moved then, to avoid the guards. It was odd. Nobody objected to a Negro –a black man—talking to young women in public.

Everyone was dressed like a dockhand.

He moved across University Avenue to the Chinese restaurant. The menu didn’t explain anything to him. He moved on. The man behind the counter stared at him. Perhaps he should have asked for different clothes. He was still in a formal shirt and tie with celluloid collar, plaid coat, striped pants, oxford shoes.

He saw a liquor store next to a doughnut shop. He stepped inside for a quick sandwich.

The owner was an Asian immigrant. “What you want here?”

“You sell sandwiches?”

“No.”

“What have you got?”

“You get out! Go on!”

Well that wasn’t very different at all.

Down the block was a grocery store with a Spanish name. He went up to the door. A ragged black man stopped him. “Say man, you got any change to spare?”

He was shocked at the brazen begging. “No, I’m going to buy food.”

“Aw, man, can you help a brother out?”

“You’re a Brother? Ok Brother.”

“Cool.” He followed Evans into the store. They went through a turnstile and began to peruse the aisles. The quantity and variety of foodstuffs was incredible.

“Man, I sure could use a cigarette.”

“I gave mine away. Do they sell them here.”

“Not my brand, man, I like Pall Malls.”

“Well, can you make do with Camels?”

“If you won’t buy Pall Malls.”

A carton of milk, two sandwiches, and a pack of Camels more than $20.00.

A security guard came out after them. “Don’t eat that here. You have to move along.”

Evans said, “Because I’m a Negro?”

“I never said that! Hey! I’m just doing my job OK?” yelped the Mexican guard. “We don’t allow anybody to loiter outside, OK?”

Evans looked him in the eye. The guard met his gaze. No guilt there.

“OK,” said Evans. “We’ll go to the park.”

They walked back east towards White Park on Market Street.

“Haw haw, you shut him DOWN!” yelled the ragged man.

“So where’s the Brotherhood meet?” asked Evans.

“What?”

“The National Brotherhood of Freedmen? Where’s the house in Riverside?”

“Hey, you crazy man. I love you!” He laughed as he stamped off with his sandwich and Camel cigarette.

Evans sat under a tree on a bench and lit a cigarette. The park announced that Riverside had sister cities in China and Japan and Vietnam, where ever that was.

It was nearly 5:00 p.m. Evans had agreed to meet Wilson and Valencia at the Mission Inn for dinner at 7:00 p.m. He thought he might test some restaurants about seating a black man.

A patrol car pulled up to the curb. Two officers got out and walked into the park. Evans realized with a jerk that they were headed for him.

“Hey. Hey, can I talk to you?”

The officer was a female, Evans was surprised to see, a white blonde with her hair in a bun and WILLIAMS pinned to her bosom. Her partner was a very fit young man named MARQUEZ. Williams stood in front of Evans with a neutral smile on her face. Marquez moved to flank him and watched his hands. Evans was very careful not to upset them.

“Hello, officer,” said Evans.

“Hello. You know you can’t smoke in a public park, right?”

“No, why not?”

“Well, you can’t. My name is Williams. What’s your name?”

“Evans.

“You live in Riverside, Evans?” Marquez asked.

“I got a suite at the Mission Inn,” said Evans.

“A suite? Like the Presidential?” Williams was staring him in the face, watching his eyes so very carefully.

And Evans knew he was sunk. He knew that Valencia Ramos had been right about the gun.

“Got any identification on you, Evans?”

“No,” said Evans, remembering his badge too.

“You mind if I pat you down, Evans? Are you holding anything I should know?”

*************************************************************************************
Jack Wilson’s day had not been entirely pleasant, since he would not let her hold the gun in her purse no matter how much she pleaded, so he had to get a booth to try anything on. He thought the trousers were cut indecently low and refused absolutely to try anything with a plunging Italian lapel. Finally she got him a couple of pairs of denim pants and ridiculous suede shoes and loose turtleneck shirts.

They had lunch at the Plaza and Wilson had his first beer and pizza pie, which he enjoyed very much.

“We’re not getting a lot of work done.”

“We’re getting to know each other.”

“Is that so important?”

“I’m trusting you with my life.” She grabbed his hand. “I need to know that I’ll be safe, that you’ll round up the whole gang for me.”

“For you.”

“You know what I mean.” She squeezed his hand. “Jerry Jake is from your neck of the woods, but he recruited here. Like Rod Thomas.”

“What about Thomas?”

“Nothing. He was a jerk and ran the factory floor. He just disappeared.”

“He was found shot up.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Um.”

“Is that why Moses asked about him?”

“Think so.” He reached for a cigarette, stopped when he saw her staring at him with brows up. “Not here?”

“Practically no where.” She frowned, pulled out her cell phone, and spoke to it, oblivious of Wilson’s stare. “Hello?”

“What is that thing?”

“Yes this is she. Yes. Yes I did.” She waved at Wilson. “Yes, he’s with us. What? When? Where? No, we’ll check out at once. Can I do that over the telephone? Yes then do so. I know. I am so sorry. Thank you for calling me.” She stared at Wilson. “Your idiot friend is in jail."
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Chapter 7 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour

Tuesday, July 15, 2015 -- The Seventh Day

It was just past midnight when Moses Evans slunk out onto the pavement outside Newton Street Division. He was very surprised to see Detective-Sergeant Jack Wilson there, with one arm in a sling. He was holding a paper bag.

“Hello, Evans. Thought I’d find you here.” His voice was raspy.

“How’s your arm?” asked Evans.

“Took a glancing shot to the shoulder.  I've had worse," slurred Wilson.  Evans realized he was on the way to being drunk.

“Army’s got those two rifles. The ones we dropped had rifles. Something special. Like, like an automatic Mauser. Heavy guns. It took something special to rip up LAPD. Thought you oughta know.”

“Get off the streets man,” said Evans quietly. “Let’s go inside where we can talk.”

“No time Evans.” He turned and staggered over to a black and white patrol car.

“Where you get this? This is for uniformed officers,” said Evans.

“It’s all blown wide open Evans. It’s all over with. Get in. Get in out of the rain.”

“All right, but I’ll drive.”

They sat in the front seat together, Evans watching the bleary-eyed officer adjust himself painfully in his seat.

“Brewster’s been relieved. He was wrong. We did want the National Guard on that one,” breathed Wilson.

“Where you live, Mr. Wilson? I’ll drive you home,” said Evans.

“Fuck that. No sleep. Not for me or you. We gonna work this case, man.”

“The sheriff—“

“Sheriff ain’t shit! This is our case. Our blood. We’re gonna get this cracked boy. We’re gonna go out there and find that hideout.”

“They might have driven on to Arizona or Nevada—“

“No! No sign at roadblocks. They didn’t get much farther than San Bernardino. No. They turned off somewhere. And you, and me, gonna find out where.”

Evans thought it was a damn fool stunt. Then he reflected, the friends who might have said so to him were mostly all dead today.

“Look at me.”

Wilson glared at Evans.

“Throw away that bottle.”

Wilson mumbled, then threw the bottle out the window. Evans started the engine.

**************************************************************************************

He had to admit it helped. It helped to get out on Route 66, and roll the windows down, and get soaked with rain, and stop at every turnoff, every side road, and let Wilson run out to check with a flashlight. It was better use of his night than staring at the ceiling at his apartment trying not to remember the way men died around you.

“Dunno how the did it,” Wilson had said. “Got us from both sides at once. Like they could talk to each other across the street.”

“It don’t matter, Mr. Wilson. Here comes another lane.”

“Got it.”

Wilson’s shoes must be ruined by now, his feet must be chafing in soaked socks. Wilson had his use for the pain too, he supposed, rubbing his sprained wrist. They wouldn’t be much use in a gunfight, if it came down to it.

Wilson flashed the light in his eyes. “I found it!” He shined the light on a wooden sign that read

EARTHLY PHARMACEUTICAL

****************************************************************************************

Gus and Anne Dooley had put a lot of work into making their diner the best along Route 66. It really lifted your heart to come in out of the rain and see the pert red upholstery and white napkins and steel silverware and smell the hot coffee and the hot greased steel grill. It was a real downer when Gus hollered, “We don’t serve niggers!”

“Serve me then,” laughed Wilson. “I’m white enough.”

“We don’t serve them what brung niggers either!”

“You heard the man!” hollered Anne. “Get out!”

That was enough for Moses Evans. He went back out and sat in the car. Wilson came out later with two slices of bread cut into diamonds in a napkin.

“Cold cheese sandwich. Best I could do,” said Wilson.

Evans didn’t say anything. Wilson stood outside in the rain.

“Procedure,” said Wilson.

Evans wolfed down his sandwich. “I’m finished now, Mr. Wilson. You won’t be eating with a Negro.”

Wilson sat inside the car and munched his sandwich. Evans said nothing.

“Procedure. We’re inside the county line.”

“Pomona, I think.”

“So it’s for the sheriff. We turn it over to him, and who knows what he does with it?”

“Ain’t no sense doing anything else, Mr. Wilson.”

“You held up pretty good back there, Evans.”

Evans looked at him. “What do you mean?”

“I mean at the factory. You didn’t get shot. You went down shooting. Pretty good.”

“For a Negro?”

“For anybody.” He finished his food. “What I mean is, I’m glad to have you with me right now.”

“You’re crazy,” said Evans. “You and I must be out of our minds. We’re part of an organization, and we’re lost in the wilderness. The sensible thing to do is to telephone the sheriff.”

“Want to ask that jerk to use his telephone?”

Evans didn’t say anything.

“We should get some shuteye,” said Wilson. “If that deadhead calls the cops on us, all the better.”

“You telling me, Mr. Wilson? Or are you asking me?”

“Call it a suggestion, pal.”

“Let me ask you,” said Evans. “If your arm was out of that sling, would you bring a Negro along with you?”

“You held yourself up pretty well out there, Evans.”

“It sure feels lousy to be appreciated,” said Moses Evans. He checked his revolver and loaded every chamber.

************************************************************************************

Daylight woke him and he could tell it was well into the morning, past 8:00 a.m. He slapped Wilson on the arm and then said “Sorry” when the man winced. He started the engine and they drove back to Earthly Pharmaceutical.

“Park it by the sign,” said Wilson.

Evans thought about it, and agreed. Having the black and white abandoned by the sign would be enough of a flag to even the bummest rookie if anything went wrong.

“We’ll walk up to the house,” said Wilson, “through those trees there.”

They marched through a line of willows and beyond a field of corn-high plants. Evans was surprised to find it was hemp plants. What’s the point of growing a field of weeds?

Wilson stopped him as they came to the end of the crops. There was a ranch house away across a yard and a garage off to their left.

“I don’t see anybody,” said Wilson.

“Me neither.”

“I’m going to try for the garage. Cover me.”

“They can stand two feet inside and I wouldn’t see them and they could see the whole yard clear as day.”

“Well…think about it.” Wilson ducked down, then crawled out of the hemp on three points. Evans held his breath as he lurched across the yard to the garage.

Wilson waved him over. Evans crouched and ran quietly, sure every second that he was being tracked from the ranch house….

“It’s their cars. The truck and sedan, shot to hell,” Wilson said. “They’re here alright.”

“So what do we do?”

“I see a phone wire running up to that ranch house. I say we phone it in.”

“Now you’re talking.”

“I guess…I got the worst injury, so it makes sense if I go inside first. That way you can get a clear shot afterwards.”

“That’s one way to think about it, Mr. Wilson.”

They crept up to the kitchen screen door. A clatter of porcelain made them freeze.

“Somebody’s inside!” hissed Wilson.

Evans started moving forward. He felt Wilson clutch at his arm, shook him off. It was no good standing in the yard.

He tried to put his foot onto the porch as quietly as possible, then he heard Wilson rush past him, leap onto the porch and rip the door off its hinges. He was through the door and then Evans heard a scream, and Wilson say, “Pardon me maam”.

Evans got inside.

What he saw was a naked white woman taking a tub bath in the kitchen, struggling to hold herself decent with both hands. “Do you mind?” as she grabbed at a towel.

Evans averted his eyes. Wilson didn’t. Evans decided to look into the next room. He saw and heard no one.

“Where’s the rest of the gang?” he asked over his shoulder.

“They’re all through the Gate by now,” said the woman. She had a towel around herself and was laughing at Wilson. “You peeked.”

“Damn right,” laughed Wilson.

“Where’s the Gate? Where’s it go?”

“It’s complicated. Do you mind if I dress? Without an audience?”

Evans left them then, checked the downstairs rooms, checked upstairs then. Nobody. When he came down, the woman was putting a dress on over her head, and Wilson was reclining happily in a kitchen chair. Evans was often to wonder how they’d have got on if she wasn’t naked when they met.

“This is Valencia Ramos,” said Wilson. “Miss Ramos, Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans.”

“Are you going to arrest me? I really had nothing to do with those hoodlums. I was a secretary. I should be in a Witness Protection Program.”

“A what?” asked Wilson.

“Oh shit.”

*************************************************************************************

Wilson seemed a very different man that Evans had seen of him. Evans felt a growing annoyance at the way he always seemed to be looking at Valencia Ramos, especially when she kept throwing glances at Moses Evans as if to shoo him away.

She was giving them a tour of the farmyard, explaining how hemp and opium cabbages were grown here and brought through the Gate, along with more exotic stuffs like elephant ivory.

“The Professor has the Gate rigged to handle three tons of cargo at a time, with a gross dimension of fourteen feet square by forty feet long,” she said.

“You keep mentioning this Gate. Where’s it go?”

“It’s complicated. I might as well show you, if you’re careful. It’s no problem for me, really, since I’m from there, but…well…they might be camped out on the other side.”

“The gang?” Wilson seemed to slip back into some semblance of proper manhood, thought Evans.

“Yes. I don’t want to be a melodramatic female but they’re quite dangerous.”

“Yeah. You wait back here. Come on Evans.”

Evans and Wilson entered the large barn. It was dark and they flinched when Valencia threw the lights on.

It stood twenty feet high fronted by a steel platform four feet off the ground. It was a metal ring with a shimmering center that was hard to look at.

“Don’t try to make patterns out of the Gate waves,” said Valencia. “Just walk through it. It’s like walking into a room through an open door.”

“Walk…through?”

“Oh sheesh. Let me.” And she climbed the ramp and walked through the shimmering center. She vanished and did not come out the other side.

“Hey.” Wilson checked the back of the ring, walked around it, walked forward. No sign of her.

Valencia popped out of the shimmering center. “They’re gone. Let’s go.”

Evans and Wilson just stared at her.

“Let’s go! Do you want to get caught here when they come back?”

****************************************************************************************

Beyond the Gate was another room, not in the barn, with a concrete floor and steel walls. Behind them, the Gate raised itself with its shimmering opaque center. Wilson and Evans advanced carefully, guns drawn.

“Put those away! You don’t have lawful authority to use them here!” said Valencia.

“We’re officers of the law in pursuit of fugitives—“

“Oh can it! Here you’re candidates for a loony bin and probably good for five years for impersonating a cop. Put those away.” She walked forward and opened the sliding door of the warehouse.

“We’re not going to—“ Wilson shut up when he saw the sky.

It had been black with rain. Now there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a clear blue from horizon to horizon, and the sun was a brilliant orb.

“Welcome to Earth 3, gentlemen.”

***************************************************************************************

She brought them to her car, which made them gape again. It was a 2005 Honda Civic but in some ways Valencia believed in being demure and practical. “Get in. The doors work the same. This ain’t a DeLorean.”

They got in. Valencia said, “Now I want to avoid those hoods as much as you do, so, I suggest we avoid apartments and try a good hotel. I know one I’ve never used while working for the Professor. It’s rich enough that any gang loitering around would raise trouble. Does that suit you?”

“Do they serve Negroes?” asked Evans.

“Uh….they all do. But watch your step. If you get out of line at the Mission Inn they’ll clobber you. That’s why I feel safe going there. May be about half an hour to Riverside.”

Evans felt the need for sleep. He didn’t understand how this woman came to be driving such a wonder car under a rainless sky, but figured that getting some sleep could only help. He knew one thing for sure – she wasn’t armed and dangerous.  Maybe just dangerous.  “What do you mean they all serve Negroes?”

“This is a whole different reality. Get it? Like the inside of a fishbowl. It’s way different. The Professor said the point of divergence…well, in your world they didn’t have world wars, did they? What do they call the Great Naval War of 1916?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” asked Wilson.

“On this Earth some Austrian archduke got shot in 1914 and blew up a world war. America fought –for- the British. The British Empire collapsed on its own after World War II. There’s no German Empire or Russian Empire or Japanese empire. Look, you can walk over to the library if you’re so fired curious.”

“So what’s the racket?”

“ A lot of things are very illegal in this planet. Like hemp and opium and ivory, and other things are rare and valuable like lithium…we have so much science over your world…only nothing like the Professor’s—“

“Who’s the Professor?”

“Professor Eleanor Godwrot. A Brit. He’s from Earth 1, and he’s the inventor of the Gate.”

“And he’s a super gangster?”

“I guess…I guess so. I don’t know everything about the operation. I’m just a secretary.”

“So you keep saying.”

“Look, I’m on your side, right? I heard something about those terrible things…I’ll cooperate any way I can. But I live here, right? I live on Earth 3, I just work on your Earth for the Professor and I want out. I want to live out my days on Earth 3. We focus on that, we’ll all get along.”

“Huhn. If you say so, girlie,” said Wilson.

“I do. You just need food and a rest. Here’s Riverside.”

She parked on a lot on Sixth Street, which looked ordinary enough, and said, “You wait right here and I’ll get the room.”

“Nothing doing,” said Wilson. Evans agreed with him. If she got into a hotel alone they’d never see her again.

They argued a little, discreetly, since they were on a downtown sidewalk, but she agreed to rent a suite of rooms for one night and took them into the hotel lobby.

They passed a row of valets and a garishly florid archway into a plush lobby filled with antique furniture and cased artifacts of colonial times. Nobody stopped a white woman from renting a room with two men, one of them a Negro, Evans noted.

“Fine digs,” said Wilson.

“The President stays here. When he’s a Republican,” said Valencia. “I normally wouldn’t engage a suite, the cost you know, but just this once…besides I really want to show you how willing I am to cooperate.”

Was she saying something extra? Evans wasn’t sure. She was looking at Wilson when she said it. He was very very tired.

They entered a posh suite of rooms, and Valencia urged them to pick out a bedroom. Evans entered a room with two double beds and sat down on the edge of one of them.

Where was Wilson?

He heard Valencia and Wilson laughing from another room. Were they…? Evans wondered at a cop who’d go that far with a moll. He also weighed their personal safety. But he also felt a numbing fatigue, and knew he had to sleep. In another hour he wouldn’t be any good anyhow. Rationalizing himself to sleep, Evans shut the door to the room and fell lengthwise on the bed.

***************************************************************************************

Evans woke some hours later, at first unsure where he was. Then he remembered. Cursing himself for rookie mistakes, he got up and went to the door of the bedroom.

Wilson’s bed was untouched.

Wilson was in the living room of the suite, in his shirtsleeves and barefoot. “She’s sleeping,” he said.

Evans just stared at him. Wilson laughed quietly. “Ain’t no such thing as an innocent man. Ever heard that one?”

“What next, Mr. Wilson?” There was no point challenging a white man as to his private conduct, thought Evans.

“That deserves some thought,” said Wilson. “Perps are loose somewhere this side of the Gate. We got no jurisdiction to drag them back by operation of law. Beyond that we really don’t have any idea where they are. We’re about 25 miles from the Gate, in a car I can’t drive yet. We’ve got no money of our own. We’re virtual prisoners of this woman.”

“About where I put us. And I figure it, we all got to be on the other side of the Gate to get this wrapped up.”

“I’m working on it.”

“Is that what—“ Evans bit it off. Wilson laughed.

“There’s a public library next door. Why don’t you research the place a bit. I’ll be, uh, interrogating the witness all day tomorrow.”

“Fine.” Evans didn’t look at Wilson. “What time is it now?”

“6:00 p.m. Let’s lie low for the night. They got radio with motion pictures in this place. We’ll order some sandwiches sent up by room service.”

“Enjoy yourself,” said Evans. “I might as well go back to sleep, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.”

Valencia called out from her bedroom. “Hey Jack!” Evans quickly walked to his bedroom and closed the door.  He decided he had another reason not to like Detective-Sergeant Jack Wilson.

There was no Bible in the nightstand.

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Chapter 7 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour
Tuesday, July 15, 2015 -- The Seventh Day
It was just past midnight when Moses Evans slunk out onto the pavement outside Newton Street Division. He was very surprised to see Detective-Sergeant Jack Wilson there, with one arm in a sling. He was holding a paper bag.

“Hello, Evans. Thought I’d find you here.” His voice was raspy.

“How’s your arm?” asked Evans.

“Took a glancing shot to the shoulder.  I've had worse," slurred Wilson.  Evans realized he was on the way to being drunk.

“Army’s got those two rifles. The ones we dropped had rifles. Something special. Like, like an automatic Mauser. Heavy guns. It took something special to rip up LAPD. Thought you oughta know.”

“Get off the streets man,” said Evans quietly. “Let’s go inside where we can talk.”

“No time Evans.” He turned and staggered over to a black and white patrol car.

“Where you get this? This is for uniformed officers,” said Evans.

“It’s all blown wide open Evans. It’s all over with. Get in. Get in out of the rain.”

“All right, but I’ll drive.”

They sat in the front seat together, Evans watching the bleary-eyed officer adjust himself painfully in his seat.

“Brewster’s been relieved. He was wrong. We did want the National Guard on that one,” breathed Wilson.

“Where you live, Mr. Wilson? I’ll drive you home,” said Evans.

“Fuck that. No sleep. Not for me or you. We gonna work this case, man.”

“The sheriff—“

“Sheriff ain’t shit! This is our case. Our blood. We’re gonna get this cracked boy. We’re gonna go out there and find that hideout.”

“They might have driven on to Arizona or Nevada—“

“No! No sign at roadblocks. They didn’t get much farther than San Bernardino. No. They turned off somewhere. And you, and me, gonna find out where.”

Evans thought it was a damn fool stunt. Then he reflected, the friends who might have said so to him were mostly all dead today.

“Look at me.”

Wilson glared at Evans.

“Throw away that bottle.”

Wilson mumbled, then threw the bottle out the window. Evans started the engine.

**************************************************************************************
He had to admit it helped. It helped to get out on Route 66, and roll the windows down, and get soaked with rain, and stop at every turnoff, every side road, and let Wilson run out to check with a flashlight. It was better use of his night than staring at the ceiling at his apartment trying not to remember the way men died around you.

“Dunno how the did it,” Wilson had said. “Got us from both sides at once. Like they could talk to each other across the street.”

“It don’t matter, Mr. Wilson. Here comes another lane.”

“Got it.”

Wilson’s shoes must be ruined by now, his feet must be chafing in soaked socks. Wilson had his use for the pain too, he supposed, rubbing his sprained wrist. They wouldn’t be much use in a gunfight, if it came down to it.

Wilson flashed the light in his eyes. “I found it!” He shined the light on a wooden sign that read

EARTHLY PHARMACEUTICAL

****************************************************************************************
Gus and Anne Dooley had put a lot of work into making their diner the best along Route 66. It really lifted your heart to come in out of the rain and see the pert red upholstery and white napkins and steel silverware and smell the hot coffee and the hot greased steel grill. It was a real downer when Gus hollered, “We don’t serve niggers!”

“Serve me then,” laughed Wilson. “I’m white enough.”

“We don’t serve them what brung niggers either!”

“You heard the man!” hollered Anne. “Get out!”

That was enough for Moses Evans. He went back out and sat in the car. Wilson came out later with two slices of bread cut into diamonds in a napkin.

“Cold cheese sandwich. Best I could do,” said Wilson.

Evans didn’t say anything. Wilson stood outside in the rain.

“Procedure,” said Wilson.

Evans wolfed down his sandwich. “I’m finished now, Mr. Wilson. You won’t be eating with a Negro.”

Wilson sat inside the car and munched his sandwich. Evans said nothing.

“Procedure. We’re inside the county line.”

“Pomona, I think.”

“So it’s for the sheriff. We turn it over to him, and who knows what he does with it?”

“Ain’t no sense doing anything else, Mr. Wilson.”

“You held up pretty good back there, Evans.”

Evans looked at him. “What do you mean?”

“I mean at the factory. You didn’t get shot. You went down shooting. Pretty good.”

“For a Negro?”

“For anybody.” He finished his food. “What I mean is, I’m glad to have you with me right now.”

“You’re crazy,” said Evans. “You and I must be out of our minds. We’re part of an organization, and we’re lost in the wilderness. The sensible thing to do is to telephone the sheriff.”

“Want to ask that jerk to use his telephone?”

Evans didn’t say anything.

“We should get some shuteye,” said Wilson. “If that deadhead calls the cops on us, all the better.”

“You telling me, Mr. Wilson? Or are you asking me?”

“Call it a suggestion, pal.”

“Let me ask you,” said Evans. “If your arm was out of that sling, would you bring a Negro along with you?”

“You held yourself up pretty well out there, Evans.”

“It sure feels lousy to be appreciated,” said Moses Evans. He checked his revolver and loaded every chamber.

************************************************************************************
Daylight woke him and he could tell it was well into the morning, past 8:00 a.m. He slapped Wilson on the arm and then said “Sorry” when the man winced. He started the engine and they drove back to Earthly Pharmaceutical.

“Park it by the sign,” said Wilson.

Evans thought about it, and agreed. Having the black and white abandoned by the sign would be enough of a flag to even the bummest rookie if anything went wrong.

“We’ll walk up to the house,” said Wilson, “through those trees there.”

They marched through a line of willows and beyond a field of corn-high plants. Evans was surprised to find it was hemp plants. What’s the point of growing a field of weeds?

Wilson stopped him as they came to the end of the crops. There was a ranch house away across a yard and a garage off to their left.

“I don’t see anybody,” said Wilson.

“Me neither.”

“I’m going to try for the garage. Cover me.”

“They can stand two feet inside and I wouldn’t see them and they could see the whole yard clear as day.”

“Well…think about it.” Wilson ducked down, then crawled out of the hemp on three points. Evans held his breath as he lurched across the yard to the garage.

Wilson waved him over. Evans crouched and ran quietly, sure every second that he was being tracked from the ranch house….

“It’s their cars. The truck and sedan, shot to hell,” Wilson said. “They’re here alright.”

“So what do we do?”

“I see a phone wire running up to that ranch house. I say we phone it in.”

“Now you’re talking.”

“I guess…I got the worst injury, so it makes sense if I go inside first. That way you can get a clear shot afterwards.”

“That’s one way to think about it, Mr. Wilson.”

They crept up to the kitchen screen door. A clatter of porcelain made them freeze.

“Somebody’s inside!” hissed Wilson.

Evans started moving forward. He felt Wilson clutch at his arm, shook him off. It was no good standing in the yard.

He tried to put his foot onto the porch as quietly as possible, then he heard Wilson rush past him, leap onto the porch and rip the door off its hinges. He was through the door and then Evans heard a scream, and Wilson say, “Pardon me maam”.

Evans got inside.

What he saw was a naked white woman taking a tub bath in the kitchen, struggling to hold herself decent with both hands. “Do you mind?” as she grabbed at a towel.

Evans averted his eyes. Wilson didn’t. Evans decided to look into the next room. He saw and heard no one.

“Where’s the rest of the gang?” he asked over his shoulder.

“They’re all through the Gate by now,” said the woman. She had a towel around herself and was laughing at Wilson. “You peeked.”

“Damn right,” laughed Wilson.

“Where’s the Gate? Where’s it go?”

“It’s complicated. Do you mind if I dress? Without an audience?”

Evans left them then, checked the downstairs rooms, checked upstairs then. Nobody. When he came down, the woman was putting a dress on over her head, and Wilson was reclining happily in a kitchen chair. Evans was often to wonder how they’d have got on if she wasn’t naked when they met.

“This is Valencia Ramos,” said Wilson. “Miss Ramos, Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans.”

“Are you going to arrest me? I really had nothing to do with those hoodlums. I was a secretary. I should be in a Witness Protection Program.”

“A what?” asked Wilson.

“Oh shit.”

*************************************************************************************

Wilson seemed a very different man that Evans had seen of him. Evans felt a growing annoyance at the way he always seemed to be looking at Valencia Ramos, especially when she kept throwing glances at Moses Evans as if to shoo him away.

She was giving them a tour of the farmyard, explaining how hemp and opium cabbages were grown here and brought through the Gate, along with more exotic stuffs like elephant ivory.

“The Professor has the Gate rigged to handle three tons of cargo at a time, with a gross dimension of fourteen feet square by forty feet long,” she said.

“You keep mentioning this Gate. Where’s it go?”

“It’s complicated. I might as well show you, if you’re careful. It’s no problem for me, really, since I’m from there, but…well…they might be camped out on the other side.”

“The gang?” Wilson seemed to slip back into some semblance of proper manhood, thought Evans.

“Yes. I don’t want to be a melodramatic female but they’re quite dangerous.”

“Yeah. You wait back here. Come on Evans.”

Evans and Wilson entered the large barn. It was dark and they flinched when Valencia threw the lights on.

It stood twenty feet high fronted by a steel platform four feet off the ground. It was a metal ring with a shimmering center that was hard to look at.

“Don’t try to make patterns out of the Gate waves,” said Valencia. “Just walk through it. It’s like walking into a room through an open door.”

“Walk…through?”

“Oh sheesh. Let me.” And she climbed the ramp and walked through the shimmering center. She vanished and did not come out the other side.

“Hey.” Wilson checked the back of the ring, walked around it, walked forward. No sign of her.

Valencia popped out of the shimmering center. “They’re gone. Let’s go.”

Evans and Wilson just stared at her.

“Let’s go! Do you want to get caught here when they come back?”

****************************************************************************************
Beyond the Gate was another room, not in the barn, with a concrete floor and steel walls. Behind them, the Gate raised itself with its shimmering opaque center. Wilson and Evans advanced carefully, guns drawn.

“Put those away! You don’t have lawful authority to use them here!” said Valencia.

“We’re officers of the law in pursuit of fugitives—“

“Oh can it! Here you’re candidates for a loony bin and probably good for five years for impersonating a cop. Put those away.” She walked forward and opened the sliding door of the warehouse.

“We’re not going to—“ Wilson shut up when he saw the sky.

It had been black with rain. Now there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a clear blue from horizon to horizon, and the sun was a brilliant orb.

“Welcome to Earth 3, gentlemen.”

***************************************************************************************

She brought them to her car, which made them gape again. It was a 2005 Honda Civic but in some ways Valencia believed in being demure and practical. “Get in. The doors work the same. This ain’t a DeLorean.”

They got in. Valencia said, “Now I want to avoid those hoods as much as you do, so, I suggest we avoid apartments and try a good hotel. I know one I’ve never used while working for the Professor. It’s rich enough that any gang loitering around would raise trouble. Does that suit you?”

“Do they serve Negroes?” asked Evans.

“Uh….they all do. But watch your step. If you get out of line at the Mission Inn they’ll clobber you. That’s why I feel safe going there. May be about half an hour to Riverside.”

Evans felt the need for sleep. He didn’t understand how this woman came to be driving such a wonder car under a rainless sky, but figured that getting some sleep could only help. He knew one thing for sure – she wasn’t armed and dangerous.  Maybe just dangerous.  “What do you mean they all serve Negroes?”

“This is a whole different reality. Get it? Like the inside of a fishbowl. It’s way different. The Professor said the point of divergence…well, in your world they didn’t have world wars, did they? What do they call the Great Naval War of 1916?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” asked Wilson.

“On this Earth some Austrian archduke got shot in 1914 and blew up a world war. America fought –for- the British. The British Empire collapsed on its own after World War II. There’s no German Empire or Russian Empire or Japanese empire. Look, you can walk over to the library if you’re so fired curious.”

“So what’s the racket?”

“ A lot of things are very illegal in this planet. Like hemp and opium and ivory, and other things are rare and valuable like lithium…we have so much science over your world…only nothing like the Professor’s—“

“Who’s the Professor?”

“Professor Eleanor Godwrot. A Brit. He’s from Earth 1, and he’s the inventor of the Gate.”

“And he’s a super gangster?”

“I guess…I guess so. I don’t know everything about the operation. I’m just a secretary.”

“So you keep saying.”

“Look, I’m on your side, right? I heard something about those terrible things…I’ll cooperate any way I can. But I live here, right? I live on Earth 3, I just work on your Earth for the Professor and I want out. I want to live out my days on Earth 3. We focus on that, we’ll all get along.”

“Huhn. If you say so, girlie,” said Wilson.

“I do. You just need food and a rest. Here’s Riverside.”

She parked on a lot on Sixth Street, which looked ordinary enough, and said, “You wait right here and I’ll get the room.”

“Nothing doing,” said Wilson. Evans agreed with him. If she got into a hotel alone they’d never see her again.

They argued a little, discreetly, since they were on a downtown sidewalk, but she agreed to rent a suite of rooms for one night and took them into the hotel lobby.

They passed a row of valets and a garishly florid archway into a plush lobby filled with antique furniture and cased artifacts of colonial times. Nobody stopped a white woman from renting a room with two men, one of them a Negro, Evans noted.

“Fine digs,” said Wilson.

“The President stays here. When he’s a Republican,” said Valencia. “I normally wouldn’t engage a suite, the cost you know, but just this once…besides I really want to show you how willing I am to cooperate.”

Was she saying something extra? Evans wasn’t sure. She was looking at Wilson when she said it. He was very very tired.

They entered a posh suite of rooms, and Valencia urged them to pick out a bedroom. Evans entered a room with two double beds and sat down on the edge of one of them.
Where was Wilson?

He heard Valencia and Wilson laughing from another room. Were they…? Evans wondered at a cop who’d go that far with a moll. He also weighed their personal safety. But he also felt a numbing fatigue, and knew he had to sleep. In another hour he wouldn’t be any good anyhow. Rationalizing himself to sleep, Evans shut the door to the room and fell lengthwise on the bed.

***************************************************************************************

Evans woke some hours later, at first unsure where he was. Then he remembered. Cursing himself for rookie mistakes, he got up and went to the door of the bedroom.

Wilson’s bed was untouched.

Wilson was in the living room of the suite, in his shirtsleeves and barefoot. “She’s sleeping,” he said.

Evans just stared at him. Wilson laughed quietly. “Ain’t no such thing as an innocent man. Ever heard that one?”

“What next, Mr. Wilson?” There was no point challenging a white man as to his private conduct, thought Evans.

“That deserves some thought,” said Wilson. “Perps are loose somewhere this side of the Gate. We got no jurisdiction to drag them back by operation of law. Beyond that we really don’t have any idea where they are. We’re about 25 miles from the Gate, in a car I can’t drive yet. We’ve got no money of our own. We’re virtual prisoners of this woman.”

“About where I put us. And I figure it, we all got to be on the other side of the Gate to get this wrapped up.”

“I’m working on it.”

“Is that what—“ Evans bit it off. Wilson laughed.

“There’s a public library next door. Why don’t you research the place a bit. I’ll be, uh, interrogating the witness all day tomorrow.”

“Fine.” Evans didn’t look at Wilson. “What time is it now?”

“6:00 p.m. Let’s lie low for the night. They got radio with motion pictures in this place. We’ll order some sandwiches sent up by room service.”

“Enjoy yourself,” said Evans. “I might as well go back to sleep, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.”

Valencia called out from her bedroom. “Hey Jack!” Evans quickly walked to his bedroom and closed the door.  He decided he had another reason not to like Detective-Sergeant Jack Wilson.

There was no Bible in the nightstand.
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Chapter 6 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour

Monday, July 14, 2015-- The Sixth Day

The headquarters of the National Brotherhood of Freedmen was a tall warehouse building with rusty corrugated steel siding. There was no sign or anything overt about the place to signify it as a gathering of black men. The Brotherhood had learned to be discreet.

Founded in 1898 by East Coast veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Brotherhood had grown into a national men’s organization and almost a political movement. Like a lot of regularly employed black men, Moses Evans had been glad to join and share in the

camaraderie of the organization. Though he hadn’t thought about it much, like a lot of professional blacks he had drifted away from the outfit. There just wasn’t that much a professional black man could do about the complaints of working class blacks or worse, those poorer down the ladder. At least that was how it seemed to men like Moses Evans, and he had allowed himself to lose contact.

But he had rights of membership here, and stood ready now to claim them.

Moses Evans walked up to the sliding hangar doors. A group of black men in rough denim clothes relaxed together in the shade of the building, and several nodded to Moses Evans. He pulled a small blue cardboard card out of his wallet and showed it to the doorman, who smiled and waved him in.

Inside it was bare concrete and cool and humid. A boxing ring was set up in the center of the warehouse floor, surrounded by wooden folding chairs, and punching bags hung on the far wall. Several men were sparring in the center of the ring. A bald black man in undershirt and shorts was watching them closely.

“Now what I tell you young men about clinching? Boxing is about controlled violence. How you gonna control your opponent if you can’t control yourself? Now you drop and give me fifty while you think on it.” He grinned at Evans. “Been an age, Moses!”

“Hello Slim.” Moses Evans was glad to see the older man again. “Getting ready for the Olympics?”

“One day young man, one day.” They shook hands. Slim Coleman was fifty but still looked as fit as when he had won bronze in Madrid. “We got the talent—if it can develop itself!” This over his shoulder to the young men doing pushups. “What brings you here during office hours?’

“Wanted to see Abner. On official business.”

“Boy!” called Slim. A youngster of about fourteen ran over from his seat near the cooler. “Run and ask Elder Brother Horner if he can see Detective Evans.” The boy ran on his errand into an inner office. “How’s Callie?”

Moses Evans sucked in a breath. “Gone.”

Slim eyed him. “Sorry to hear that man. You can’t bury yourself over it though. Ain’t seen you at a meeting, oh, been almost a year.”

“You’re right, Slim. Got to work on this crazy violence though.”

“Reds,” said Slim. “Damn Reds at it, you mark my words. Only Reds wanna dynamite a judge.”

The boy run back to Slim and nodded. Slim patted Moses on the shoulder. “Okay Moses. Don’t be a stranger.”

Moses walked along a fake rubber runner to a wooden door. Inside was a well-appointed office and meeting room. The floor was wood with a forty by sixty foot ornate carpet laid over the planks. Two dozen wooden chairs fronted a severe wooden podium in front of a deluxe radio set. Off in the far corner was a great oak desk with a glass top over green felt. The desk had two office telephones, a blotter, a pen set and a bronze statue of a bucking bronco.

Behind the desk was a large American flag on a pole and a bronze casting of a crescent moon and seven stars: the emblem of the National Brotherhood of Freedmen. Moses Evans was proud of the fact that this emblem had been included on the badge of the Special Investigations Squad of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Beside the emblem were a row of certificates hung in frames: a diploma from Stanford University, another from Harvard School of Law, and several affirming one Abner W. Horner as a member of the California Bar and practicioner before the federal court.

Abner Horner was a large black man with close cropped gray hair, clad in a fine alpaca morning coat and striped worsted pants. He rose and shook hands with Moses Evans. “Brother Evans,” he said in a deep bass voice. “Welcome.”

“Thank you, Elder Brother.” Moses Evans accepted a comfortable wool chair and a glass of soda water. Horner took two cubes of ice with his water but no Scotch.

“I come on account of three murdered Negroes,” said Evans.

“And you think I know something about it?” asked Horner.

“I think you might. Two of the murdered men, Jackson and Elmswood, were Negro laborers in trouble. They complained of violence and ill-treatment by their white employers. They were ready to do something about it.”

“Not a course of action I’d recommend,” said Horner. “Unfortunately.”

“Right. But before they complained to whites they’d probably complain to blacks. That’s why I think you might know something about it.”

“You make me very uncomfortable, Brother Evans,” said Horner.

“If you’re worried about breaking a confidence, we’re not expecting witnesses to testify. At this point we’re working blind. Give me a crack and I’ll bring the hard pressure.”

“Over the murder of three Negroes?”

“The man said to me, this ain’t Mississippi, Elder Brother,” said Evans. “I can bring the heat on this one.”

“Can you now? And where have you been, Brother Evans?”

Evans sat back, surprised by the practiced power of a lawyer’s accusation.

“We had high hopes in you, Brother. We know the character of the mass of our membership. We know that many have no vote, no voice, no money, no leverage. We know that to have a Brother among the police, even an outlying station, was a powerful advantage. And what have you done? You used us and shunted us aside.

“And who bears the brunt of your callousness? Who do you think, Brother Evans? The brothers come to me and say, we’re beaten, we’re abused, the white law won’t do nothing, we can’t agitate like Reds, and I, I Brother, I,” Horner banged his hand onto his desk, “I can do nothing. Because my right arm, you, have failed me.”

Evans said nothing.

“Now you want my trust? You come to me and say “I have the man behind me” and you want me to expose your brothers to death? I think not, Brother Evans. I think not.”

Evans drained his plain soda while he thought hard. “I was ordered not to follow up on this case, Elder Brother. I was ordered to abandon it and concentrate on the Olmstead bombing.”

Horner watched him. “Indeed.”

“Yes Elder Brother. But I won’t let the murder of Negroes be swept under the rug. If you give me the lead, I’ll run it down. And I’ll take to heart what you said, Brother. I’ll be more available to you in times to come.”

“Fairly spoken,” said Horner, and went to collect Evans’ glass. “Let’s put this behind us with a small libation. Your health, Brother.”

Evans sipped his whiskey soda. Horner drained his glass, then sat behind the desk. “The men you’re looking for work at Earthly Mechanical, on Olympic Boulevard. They’re notorious cheats and brutes. They do something with dynamite in their work, which is very mysterious and according to the overseer, Rod Thomas, dangerous. Thomas is the third dead Negro this week. Why they killed Thomas I’m not sure, since nobody is talking much since Elmswood and Jackson got murdered.

“Who are we talking about, Elder Brother?”

“White men. Eight white men from out of town. They roll with a white Ford truck and a black Chevrolet sedan. They’ve got another place out of town but they don’t hire Negroes for anyplace but Earthly Mechanical.

“In the past six months,” said Horner, “they’ve beaten a dozen men, badly beaten, and probably killed Jackson, Elmswood and Thomas. I don’t know that for sure. I do know that Jackson, Elmswood, and Thomas worked there and Jackson and Elmswood were not happy about it. Maybe they have it in for Negroes.”

“Who brought you the information?” asked Evans, mostly out of habit.

“No,” said Horner. “You have enough for investigation. You aren’t getting any testimony out of harmless victims, Brother Evans.”

“Fair enough,” said Evans. “I got enough to get a warrant, and that’s what I’ll aim to do.” He rose to go.

Horner rose to shake his hand. “You be careful, Brother Evans.”

Evans nodded. Discipline kept his mouth shut, but he wanted to caper like a goat. Earthly Mechanical had been named as a defendant on the list of cases heard by Judge Perry Olmstead.

***********************************************************************************

“My office! Now!” barked Lieutenant Freeman when Moses Evans walked into the Newton Street Station. He followed Evans into the room and slammed the door. “Where the hell you been all morning?”

“Working the Jackson/Elmswood/Olmstead case.”

“Now what did I – what?” Peter Freeman listened with astonishment. Evans related his conversation with Abner Horner. Freeman grabbed his telephone and called Parker Center. He asked for Captain Brewster, then said over his shoulder, “Good work, Evans. Wait by your desk.”

Evans walked back to the work area and got a cup of coffee. He sat by his desk and waited for further assignment. Lieutenant Freeman came out of his office, pulling on his suit coat. “I’ll be at Parker Center. Wait here, Evans. We’ll be coming back.”

“Yes sir,” said Evans. He’d done enough running off the leash.

Hours passed. Selby, Eli, Franzy, Wilkie, Yehonatan , Gaios and Tyrell each arrived at the station and waited at their desks.

“Something big going down?” asked Eli.

Evans didn’t want to blather it. The other men talked a bit about chasing down law firm staff in the morning. By 2:00 p.m. they were arguing what to have brought in for a late lunch. Lieutenant Freeman came back at 2:15 p.m.

“Let’s ride to Parker Center,” he said. “County bus is waiting outside.”

Riding in the sheriff’s bus made Moses Evans feel foolish. He didn’t say so. The men were tense. It was not good news they were heading into.

When they arrived at Parker Center, they were ushered into a ground floor auditorium. A large crude map was pinned to a corkboard, and Captain Brewster was standing in front of it with a pointer.

“Acting on information received, we are going to raid the office of Earthly Mechanical,” he began, and Evans knew there was not going to be any formal commendation for his work this morning. Which was good and bad, since Abner Horner wanted to be an informal informant. “It’s here, on the corner of Butter and Olympic. Since you Negroes helped crack this case, you’re in on the kill.

“I want two cars of the Robbery/Homicide Squad here on Butter Street across from the front door. Negro Squad will be parked here along Olympic. We’ll have them hemmed in and no where to go.

“Assume these men are armed and dangerous and have some explosives. So don’t take any chances, don’t turn your backs, and don’t go opening anything. Get in, get them outside, and get them into custody.

“Any questions?”

“Arms?” asked Guerino.

“Standard sidearms. Shouldn’t be anything too fancy I think.”

“Backup?” asked Wilson.

“What the hell, Wilson, you got two squads of detectives. You want the National Guard?” mocked Brewster. “Alright, we’re burning daylight.”

The detectives moved to the parking garage. Evans was disturbed to see they were in the standard sedans.

“No radio cars?” asked Tyrell.

“Split up and take two cars,” said Freeman. “We’ll be along presently with a warrant. Wait for the warrant.”

“How about we wait for the warrant and then park there,” said Yehonatan.

“Get going men. You gotta represent on this one,” said Freeman.

Evans, Selby, Gaios and Wilkie piled into one sedan. Selby lit a cigarette. Wilkie said “Shit.”

Evans drove to Olympic and Butter. He saw a sedan with Yehonatan, Franzy, Tyrell and Eli following behind them. In front of them were two sedans full of white detectives. There were no sirens or lights, but Evans didn’t allow a red light to separate the convoy. Fifteen minutes of tense driving brought them to their destination.

The light was dim but not too bad. They’d need lights indoors, Evans noticed. He got out and stood on the curb. His coat was open but his gun was holstered. The other black detectives got out of their cars.

“Eli,” said Evans. “Get yourself to that bar on the corner and get ready to telephone.”

“I want in on the action, Evans,” said Eli.

“Damn it, we don’t want any action! You get by that telephone,” snapped Evans. Eli ran.

Tyrell said, “We ought to have radio cars.”

Evans looked over at the two cars of white detectives. They were sitting in their parked cars. Evans said, “Wait here men.” He walked away, then walked back. “Selby. Arrange them as you think best. I’m going to talk to those guys.”

Evans walked across the hot asphalt and rapped on a window of a parked sedan. It rolled down. “What the hell?” asked Wilson.

“We’re getting set. You want to deploy on this side of the street?”

“We’re waiting for the warrants.” Wilson rolled his window up.

Damn proper of you, thought Evans. He jogged back across Butter Street to his squad. Selby had himself and Tyrell by the cars. He had Gaios, Wilkie and Yehonatan towards the blind wall of the factory facing Olympic. They were separated from the factory wall itself by a fence and three feet of open yard paved with asphalt. There didn’t appear any way for those in the factory to see onto Olympic Boulevard.

They waited ten minutes like that, for Brewster and Freeman to arrive with a warrant. Nobody came.

Evans saw the white detectives come out of their cars. Wilson waved to him to run over. Evans sprinted across the street.

“We’re going to enter without the warrant, just regular entry,” said Wilson. “We’ll be waiting out here just in case.”

“Seen anybody inside?”

“No sign of life.”

“Why don’t we wait for the warrant?”

Wilson just stared at him. Evans said, “Sir.”

“Because I said so, Detective-Sergeant.”

“Yes sir.”

Back he ran across Butter Street.

He didn’t forget that Wilson had wanted to go in without a warrant, but it didn’t matter. They opened up right after Evans got back across Butter. He thought it might have had something to do with how the white detectives stood behind their cars, but he’d never know.

The first salvo dropped three detectives by their sedans, and the remaining five white detectives started shooting into the factory. It was like nothing Evans had ever heard, a ripping sound of rifle fire like tearing cloth, like a salvo at a funeral that went on and on. Selby hollered “Potato digger!” Then they opened up from across Olympic. Gaios, Wilkie and Yehonatan had nowhere to go. They were dropped. “

“Christ!” screamed Selby. He ran for cover behind the sedan, Evans throwing himself alongside Tyrell, with their backs to the factory. Bullets sang through the body of the sedan itself, and Tyrell and Selby fell down.

No no no no no no no, thought Evans, emptying his revolver around the front end of his car. Bullets spat at the pavement in front of him, shattered the headlights, chunked into the engine block of the car beside him, but did not penetrate to shred him.

Screams came across Butter Street. The fire from across Olympic had shifted, and the white detectives had no cover. They either exposed themselves to the gunners across Olympic or they were visible to the factory itself. Soon there was no fire from the white detectives. They all seemed to be down. Evans reloaded.

With a crash, a white Ford truck burst the doors of the factory and through the thin fence gate. It stopped in Butter Street with a black Chevrolet sedan behind it. Horns blared. Two men with heavy rifles sprinted across Olympic Boulevard and down Butter Street to the two cars.

Behind Evans, Selby stood. He fired. Evans fired. He saw Wilson stand up behind a sedan, leaning on it. He fired. The two men fell face first into the street. Gunfire sprayed from the two cars, and Selby and Wilson dropped. Evans remained prone on the sidewalk with an empty gun.

Sirens screamed far away. Traffic seemed to have stopped. A police sedan rolled into Butter Street, nearly hit the two bodies in the street, stopped on the sidewalk. Captain Brewster got out yelling, “What happened? What the hell happened?”

Newton Street Division was in mourning. The widows were present taking hot tea and sandwiches administered by Sergeant Williams. Williams herself was weeping. The only woman not present was Ollie Yehonatan, who was at the hospital with her husband.

“Word is that he’ll keep the arm,” murmured Eli.

Rudy Eli and Moses Evans stood flanking Lieutenant Peter Freeman. Evans was proud to serve under Freeman that day, for the unflinching leadership he had shown on the street and here explaining to the women. Evans felt he was helping just by standing there now and so he stood.

There had not been a lot of hysterical wailing. It helped that Yehonatan was likely to pull through. It helped the other women to help Ollie Yehonatan with her vigil, to share in a hope they could not share, to delay a reckoning whose time must come.

Evans was grateful for his sprained wrist and bruised knees. He was grateful that he had emptied his revolver twice. He really felt bad for Eli, who had just had a loud argument in the corner bar about a Negro tying up a telephone reserved for paying customers. He had not won because of common sense or decency, but because all hell broke loose when the shooting started.

He did not want to look at Eli or talk over what he felt. What he felt was wrong, because rage and wrath were wrong to him. It was wrong for a cop to want vengeance.

Lieutenant Freeman had given a brief speech and Moses Evans had answered what questions could be answered. There was little to go on. The two vehicles had run into a roadblock thrown up by the sheriff, and had shot their way through. There was no telling how many men were left in the cars, though their number was reduced by at least two. The vehicles had proceeded up Route 66 and vanished.

Lieutenant Freeman said slowly, “The first Negro officer was hired in 1885. The first Negro squad was assembled sometime after the Great Naval War of 1916. It’s been continuously in existence from that time to this. I had hoped to hand it intact to my successor, the way I got it from mine…”

“Lieutenant, they’ll reform the squad. We’ll go on as before with you leading us,” said Eli.

“Don’t be so sure son. And in fact, after today, not so sure I want to go on.”

“You’ve had a hard day Lieutenant. Go home and sleep on it,” said Evans.

“Ain’t no sleep ahead for any of us,” said Freeman.

*************************************************************************************

Whatever the hell had happened Valencia Ramos wanted no part of it. And they were glad to leave her out of it.

The truck and sedan had come clattering into the yard, and she had seen, before they locked the garage doors, that the windshields were shattered. And Jerry Jake’s men were carrying each other into the barn towards the Gate. Jerry Jake had seen her watching and hollered, “Get the hell inside!” And not content with that, he’d followed her inside and glared at her.

“What’s happened?” she asked.

“Shut up. You didn’t see shit, and you don’t say shit. You wait here. The Professor—hell if I explain things to you. We’ll come back when we’re ready. You sit tight and don’t go anywhere.”

Professor Godwrot had rolled himself into the room then. “Go see to the others, Jerry.” And once he was alone with Valencia, he asked, “Have you got the key?”

She nodded. She didn’t trust herself to say anything. She took the necklace out and removed the key from it.

“Very good. Let me have it.”

She gave him the safe deposit box key and said, “What do you want me to do?”

He gazed at her very coldly and she knew that her life had been weighed in the balance. It was that kind of stare. He said, “Nothing. Stay put here. You don’t know anything about us being back. In fact if you hadn’t heard…well, stay put.”

“Yes sir,” she said, and he went out with the others. She presumed they were through the Gate again to Home.

Maybe they were camped out on the other side. It wouldn’t do to walk in on them there. She was stuck here waiting for whatever came along. Oh, damn them and their insane violence! It had been a sweet racket without all the desperate killing.

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Chapter 6 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour
Monday, July 14, 2015-- The Sixth Day
The headquarters of the National Brotherhood of Freedmen was a tall warehouse building with rusty corrugated steel siding. There was no sign or anything overt about the place to signify it as a gathering of black men. The Brotherhood had learned to be discreet.

Founded in 1898 by East Coast veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Brotherhood had grown into a national men’s organization and almost a political movement. Like a lot of regularly employed black men, Moses Evans had been glad to join and share in the
camaraderie of the organization. Though he hadn’t thought about it much, like a lot of professional blacks he had drifted away from the outfit. There just wasn’t that much a professional black man could do about the complaints of working class blacks or worse, those poorer down the ladder. At least that was how it seemed to men like Moses Evans, and he had allowed himself to lose contact.

But he had rights of membership here, and stood ready now to claim them.

Moses Evans walked up to the sliding hangar doors. A group of black men in rough denim clothes relaxed together in the shade of the building, and several nodded to Moses Evans. He pulled a small blue cardboard card out of his wallet and showed it to the doorman, who smiled and waved him in.

Inside it was bare concrete and cool and humid. A boxing ring was set up in the center of the warehouse floor, surrounded by wooden folding chairs, and punching bags hung on the far wall. Several men were sparring in the center of the ring. A bald black man in undershirt and shorts was watching them closely.

“Now what I tell you young men about clinching? Boxing is about controlled violence. How you gonna control your opponent if you can’t control yourself? Now you drop and give me fifty while you think on it.” He grinned at Evans. “Been an age, Moses!”

“Hello Slim.” Moses Evans was glad to see the older man again. “Getting ready for the Olympics?”

“One day young man, one day.” They shook hands. Slim Coleman was fifty but still looked as fit as when he had won bronze in Madrid. “We got the talent—if it can develop itself!” This over his shoulder to the young men doing pushups. “What brings you here during office hours?’

“Wanted to see Abner. On official business.”

“Boy!” called Slim. A youngster of about fourteen ran over from his seat near the cooler. “Run and ask Elder Brother Horner if he can see Detective Evans.” The boy ran on his errand into an inner office. “How’s Callie?”

Moses Evans sucked in a breath. “Gone.”

Slim eyed him. “Sorry to hear that man. You can’t bury yourself over it though. Ain’t seen you at a meeting, oh, been almost a year.”

“You’re right, Slim. Got to work on this crazy violence though.”

“Reds,” said Slim. “Damn Reds at it, you mark my words. Only Reds wanna dynamite a judge.”

The boy run back to Slim and nodded. Slim patted Moses on the shoulder. “Okay Moses. Don’t be a stranger.”

Moses walked along a fake rubber runner to a wooden door. Inside was a well-appointed office and meeting room. The floor was wood with a forty by sixty foot ornate carpet laid over the planks. Two dozen wooden chairs fronted a severe wooden podium in front of a deluxe radio set. Off in the far corner was a great oak desk with a glass top over green felt. The desk had two office telephones, a blotter, a pen set and a bronze statue of a bucking bronco.

Behind the desk was a large American flag on a pole and a bronze casting of a crescent moon and seven stars: the emblem of the National Brotherhood of Freedmen. Moses Evans was proud of the fact that this emblem had been included on the badge of the Special Investigations Squad of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Beside the emblem were a row of certificates hung in frames: a diploma from Stanford University, another from Harvard School of Law, and several affirming one Abner W. Horner as a member of the California Bar and practicioner before the federal court.

Abner Horner was a large black man with close cropped gray hair, clad in a fine alpaca morning coat and striped worsted pants. He rose and shook hands with Moses Evans. “Brother Evans,” he said in a deep bass voice. “Welcome.”

“Thank you, Elder Brother.” Moses Evans accepted a comfortable wool chair and a glass of soda water. Horner took two cubes of ice with his water but no Scotch.

“I come on account of three murdered Negroes,” said Evans.

“And you think I know something about it?” asked Horner.

“I think you might. Two of the murdered men, Jackson and Elmswood, were Negro laborers in trouble. They complained of violence and ill-treatment by their white employers. They were ready to do something about it.”

“Not a course of action I’d recommend,” said Horner. “Unfortunately.”

“Right. But before they complained to whites they’d probably complain to blacks. That’s why I think you might know something about it.”

“You make me very uncomfortable, Brother Evans,” said Horner.

“If you’re worried about breaking a confidence, we’re not expecting witnesses to testify. At this point we’re working blind. Give me a crack and I’ll bring the hard pressure.”

“Over the murder of three Negroes?”

“The man said to me, this ain’t Mississippi, Elder Brother,” said Evans. “I can bring the heat on this one.”

“Can you now? And where have you been, Brother Evans?”

Evans sat back, surprised by the practiced power of a lawyer’s accusation.

“We had high hopes in you, Brother. We know the character of the mass of our membership. We know that many have no vote, no voice, no money, no leverage. We know that to have a Brother among the police, even an outlying station, was a powerful advantage. And what have you done? You used us and shunted us aside.

“And who bears the brunt of your callousness? Who do you think, Brother Evans? The brothers come to me and say, we’re beaten, we’re abused, the white law won’t do nothing, we can’t agitate like Reds, and I, I Brother, I,” Horner banged his hand onto his desk, “I can do nothing. Because my right arm, you, have failed me.”

Evans said nothing.

“Now you want my trust? You come to me and say “I have the man behind me” and you want me to expose your brothers to death? I think not, Brother Evans. I think not.”

Evans drained his plain soda while he thought hard. “I was ordered not to follow up on this case, Elder Brother. I was ordered to abandon it and concentrate on the Olmstead bombing.”

Horner watched him. “Indeed.”

“Yes Elder Brother. But I won’t let the murder of Negroes be swept under the rug. If you give me the lead, I’ll run it down. And I’ll take to heart what you said, Brother. I’ll be more available to you in times to come.”

“Fairly spoken,” said Horner, and went to collect Evans’ glass. “Let’s put this behind us with a small libation. Your health, Brother.”

Evans sipped his whiskey soda. Horner drained his glass, then sat behind the desk. “The men you’re looking for work at Earthly Mechanical, on Olympic Boulevard. They’re notorious cheats and brutes. They do something with dynamite in their work, which is very mysterious and according to the overseer, Rod Thomas, dangerous. Thomas is the third dead Negro this week. Why they killed Thomas I’m not sure, since nobody is talking much since Elmswood and Jackson got murdered.

“Who are we talking about, Elder Brother?”

“White men. Eight white men from out of town. They roll with a white Ford truck and a black Chevrolet sedan. They’ve got another place out of town but they don’t hire Negroes for anyplace but Earthly Mechanical.

“In the past six months,” said Horner, “they’ve beaten a dozen men, badly beaten, and probably killed Jackson, Elmswood and Thomas. I don’t know that for sure. I do know that Jackson, Elmswood, and Thomas worked there and Jackson and Elmswood were not happy about it. Maybe they have it in for Negroes.”

“Who brought you the information?” asked Evans, mostly out of habit.

“No,” said Horner. “You have enough for investigation. You aren’t getting any testimony out of harmless victims, Brother Evans.”

“Fair enough,” said Evans. “I got enough to get a warrant, and that’s what I’ll aim to do.” He rose to go.

Horner rose to shake his hand. “You be careful, Brother Evans.”

Evans nodded. Discipline kept his mouth shut, but he wanted to caper like a goat. Earthly Mechanical had been named as a defendant on the list of cases heard by Judge Perry Olmstead.

***********************************************************************************

“My office! Now!” barked Lieutenant Freeman when Moses Evans walked into the Newton Street Station. He followed Evans into the room and slammed the door. “Where the hell you been all morning?”

“Working the Jackson/Elmswood/Olmstead case.”

“Now what did I – what?” Peter Freeman listened with astonishment. Evans related his conversation with Abner Horner. Freeman grabbed his telephone and called Parker Center. He asked for Captain Brewster, then said over his shoulder, “Good work, Evans. Wait by your desk.”

Evans walked back to the work area and got a cup of coffee. He sat by his desk and waited for further assignment. Lieutenant Freeman came out of his office, pulling on his suit coat. “I’ll be at Parker Center. Wait here, Evans. We’ll be coming back.”

“Yes sir,” said Evans. He’d done enough running off the leash.

Hours passed. Selby, Eli, Franzy, Wilkie, Yehonatan , Gaios and Tyrell each arrived at the station and waited at their desks.

“Something big going down?” asked Eli.

Evans didn’t want to blather it. The other men talked a bit about chasing down law firm staff in the morning. By 2:00 p.m. they were arguing what to have brought in for a late lunch. Lieutenant Freeman came back at 2:15 p.m.

“Let’s ride to Parker Center,” he said. “County bus is waiting outside.”

Riding in the sheriff’s bus made Moses Evans feel foolish. He didn’t say so. The men were tense. It was not good news they were heading into.

When they arrived at Parker Center, they were ushered into a ground floor auditorium. A large crude map was pinned to a corkboard, and Captain Brewster was standing in front of it with a pointer.

“Acting on information received, we are going to raid the office of Earthly Mechanical,” he began, and Evans knew there was not going to be any formal commendation for his work this morning. Which was good and bad, since Abner Horner wanted to be an informal informant. “It’s here, on the corner of Butter and Olympic. Since you Negroes helped crack this case, you’re in on the kill.

“I want two cars of the Robbery/Homicide Squad here on Butter Street across from the front door. Negro Squad will be parked here along Olympic. We’ll have them hemmed in and no where to go.

“Assume these men are armed and dangerous and have some explosives. So don’t take any chances, don’t turn your backs, and don’t go opening anything. Get in, get them outside, and get them into custody.

“Any questions?”

“Arms?” asked Guerino.

“Standard sidearms. Shouldn’t be anything too fancy I think.”

“Backup?” asked Wilson.

“What the hell, Wilson, you got two squads of detectives. You want the National Guard?” mocked Brewster. “Alright, we’re burning daylight.”

The detectives moved to the parking garage. Evans was disturbed to see they were in the standard sedans.

“No radio cars?” asked Tyrell.

“Split up and take two cars,” said Freeman. “We’ll be along presently with a warrant. Wait for the warrant.”

“How about we wait for the warrant and then park there,” said Yehonatan.

“Get going men. You gotta represent on this one,” said Freeman.

Evans, Selby, Gaios and Wilkie piled into one sedan. Selby lit a cigarette. Wilkie said “Shit.”

Evans drove to Olympic and Butter. He saw a sedan with Yehonatan, Franzy, Tyrell and Eli following behind them. In front of them were two sedans full of white detectives. There were no sirens or lights, but Evans didn’t allow a red light to separate the convoy. Fifteen minutes of tense driving brought them to their destination.

The light was dim but not too bad. They’d need lights indoors, Evans noticed. He got out and stood on the curb. His coat was open but his gun was holstered. The other black detectives got out of their cars.

“Eli,” said Evans. “Get yourself to that bar on the corner and get ready to telephone.”

“I want in on the action, Evans,” said Eli.

“Damn it, we don’t want any action! You get by that telephone,” snapped Evans. Eli ran.

Tyrell said, “We ought to have radio cars.”

Evans looked over at the two cars of white detectives. They were sitting in their parked cars. Evans said, “Wait here men.” He walked away, then walked back. “Selby. Arrange them as you think best. I’m going to talk to those guys.”

Evans walked across the hot asphalt and rapped on a window of a parked sedan. It rolled down. “What the hell?” asked Wilson.

“We’re getting set. You want to deploy on this side of the street?”

“We’re waiting for the warrants.” Wilson rolled his window up.

Damn proper of you, thought Evans. He jogged back across Butter Street to his squad. Selby had himself and Tyrell by the cars. He had Gaios, Wilkie and Yehonatan towards the blind wall of the factory facing Olympic. They were separated from the factory wall itself by a fence and three feet of open yard paved with asphalt. There didn’t appear any way for those in the factory to see onto Olympic Boulevard.

They waited ten minutes like that, for Brewster and Freeman to arrive with a warrant. Nobody came.

Evans saw the white detectives come out of their cars. Wilson waved to him to run over. Evans sprinted across the street.

“We’re going to enter without the warrant, just regular entry,” said Wilson. “We’ll be waiting out here just in case.”

“Seen anybody inside?”

“No sign of life.”

“Why don’t we wait for the warrant?”

Wilson just stared at him. Evans said, “Sir.”

“Because I said so, Detective-Sergeant.”

“Yes sir.”

Back he ran across Butter Street.

He didn’t forget that Wilson had wanted to go in without a warrant, but it didn’t matter. They opened up right after Evans got back across Butter. He thought it might have had something to do with how the white detectives stood behind their cars, but he’d never know.

The first salvo dropped three detectives by their sedans, and the remaining five white detectives started shooting into the factory. It was like nothing Evans had ever heard, a ripping sound of rifle fire like tearing cloth, like a salvo at a funeral that went on and on. Selby hollered “Potato digger!” Then they opened up from across Olympic. Gaios, Wilkie and Yehonatan had nowhere to go. They were dropped. “

“Christ!” screamed Selby. He ran for cover behind the sedan, Evans throwing himself alongside Tyrell, with their backs to the factory. Bullets sang through the body of the sedan itself, and Tyrell and Selby fell down.

No no no no no no no, thought Evans, emptying his revolver around the front end of his car. Bullets spat at the pavement in front of him, shattered the headlights, chunked into the engine block of the car beside him, but did not penetrate to shred him.

Screams came across Butter Street. The fire from across Olympic had shifted, and the white detectives had no cover. They either exposed themselves to the gunners across Olympic or they were visible to the factory itself. Soon there was no fire from the white detectives. They all seemed to be down. Evans reloaded.

With a crash, a white Ford truck burst the doors of the factory and through the thin fence gate. It stopped in Butter Street with a black Chevrolet sedan behind it. Horns blared. Two men with heavy rifles sprinted across Olympic Boulevard and down Butter Street to the two cars.

Behind Evans, Selby stood. He fired. Evans fired. He saw Wilson stand up behind a sedan, leaning on it. He fired. The two men fell face first into the street. Gunfire sprayed from the two cars, and Selby and Wilson dropped. Evans remained prone on the sidewalk with an empty gun.

Sirens screamed far away. Traffic seemed to have stopped. A police sedan rolled into Butter Street, nearly hit the two bodies in the street, stopped on the sidewalk. Captain Brewster got out yelling, “What happened? What the hell happened?”


Newton Street Division was in mourning. The widows were present taking hot tea and sandwiches administered by Sergeant Williams. Williams herself was weeping. The only woman not present was Ollie Yehonatan, who was at the hospital with her husband.

“Word is that he’ll keep the arm,” murmured Eli.

Rudy Eli and Moses Evans stood flanking Lieutenant Peter Freeman. Evans was proud to serve under Freeman that day, for the unflinching leadership he had shown on the street and here explaining to the women. Evans felt he was helping just by standing there now and so he stood.

There had not been a lot of hysterical wailing. It helped that Yehonatan was likely to pull through. It helped the other women to help Ollie Yehonatan with her vigil, to share in a hope they could not share, to delay a reckoning whose time must come.

Evans was grateful for his sprained wrist and bruised knees. He was grateful that he had emptied his revolver twice. He really felt bad for Eli, who had just had a loud argument in the corner bar about a Negro tying up a telephone reserved for paying customers. He had not won because of common sense or decency, but because all hell broke loose when the shooting started.

He did not want to look at Eli or talk over what he felt. What he felt was wrong, because rage and wrath were wrong to him. It was wrong for a cop to want vengeance.

Lieutenant Freeman had given a brief speech and Moses Evans had answered what questions could be answered. There was little to go on. The two vehicles had run into a roadblock thrown up by the sheriff, and had shot their way through. There was no telling how many men were left in the cars, though their number was reduced by at least two. The vehicles had proceeded up Route 66 and vanished.

Lieutenant Freeman said slowly, “The first Negro officer was hired in 1885. The first Negro squad was assembled sometime after the Great Naval War of 1916. It’s been continuously in existence from that time to this. I had hoped to hand it intact to my successor, the way I got it from mine…”

“Lieutenant, they’ll reform the squad. We’ll go on as before with you leading us,” said Eli.

“Don’t be so sure son. And in fact, after today, not so sure I want to go on.”

“You’ve had a hard day Lieutenant. Go home and sleep on it,” said Evans.

“Ain’t no sleep ahead for any of us,” said Freeman.

*************************************************************************************

Whatever the hell had happened Valencia Ramos wanted no part of it. And they were glad to leave her out of it.

The truck and sedan had come clattering into the yard, and she had seen, before they locked the garage doors, that the windshields were shattered. And Jerry Jake’s men were carrying each other into the barn towards the Gate. Jerry Jake had seen her watching and hollered, “Get the hell inside!” And not content with that, he’d followed her inside and glared at her.

“What’s happened?” she asked.

“Shut up. You didn’t see shit, and you don’t say shit. You wait here. The Professor—hell if I explain things to you. We’ll come back when we’re ready. You sit tight and don’t go anywhere.”

Professor Godwrot had rolled himself into the room then. “Go see to the others, Jerry.” And once he was alone with Valencia, he asked, “Have you got the key?”

She nodded. She didn’t trust herself to say anything. She took the necklace out and removed the key from it.

“Very good. Let me have it.”

She gave him the safe deposit box key and said, “What do you want me to do?”

He gazed at her very coldly and she knew that her life had been weighed in the balance. It was that kind of stare. He said, “Nothing. Stay put here. You don’t know anything about us being back. In fact if you hadn’t heard…well, stay put.”

“Yes sir,” she said, and he went out with the others. She presumed they were through the Gate again to Home.

Maybe they were camped out on the other side. It wouldn’t do to walk in on them there. She was stuck here waiting for whatever came along. Oh, damn them and their insane violence! It had been a sweet racket without all the desperate killing.



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Chapter 5 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour

Sunday, July 13, 2015 -- The Fifth Day

Moses Evans woke at 7:00 a.m. feeling slightly hung over. He stopped at his favorite diner for diced ham and eggs with orange juice, which he always broke fast with on the Sabbath. No coffee on Sunday.

He walked two miles to the First Methodist Church, using the time to organize his thoughts towards adoration of his God. He was a man, like any other man, ready to receive the word of God as it had been handed down from the first Apostles. He recalled the Ethiopian who was converted on the road to Jerusalem. There had been no distinction then, and Moses Evans could believe, following the Word, that there would come a time when no distinction would be made here and now.

The First Methodist Church was a new brick building with a Victorian trim and soaring steeple. It was a copy of the old church building that had been firebombed in 1991. That church had been built after the first church building had been firebombed in 1937. Moses Evans did not recall these events as he walked into the nave of the church, although he had been one of those in 1991 who had helped stripped the wreckage to the foundation.

He took his seat in the third pew from the front, close enough to maintain his rapt attention on the sermon, and relaxed himself to his memories of the smell of the hot wax of the varnish and the glow of the cedar pews, and the choir warming up.

The first hymn that morning was America the Beautiful, which they sang without any irony. Evans did not even think of it as ironic. He was fixated on the Son of God, who was no American.

The Reverend Doctor Herbert Donahue was a portly black man with stiff sideburns and balding, wearing a black gown with a purple alb. He strode to the podium with a quiet tread that did not resonate on the stage and smiled to his congregation. They smiled back. Doctor Donahue was truly well-beloved.

“Brothers and sisters, welcome to our home in Christ. I can call you brothers and sisters, for we have the bond of brotherhood between us. For we are assured “those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” And we are abjured by the same Paul that “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, but you be united in same mind and in the same purpose.” This is the brotherhood of the heirs of God, who we name Abba! Father!

“And this brotherhood of the Spirit far surpasses the brotherhood of the blood, as a survey of Scripture will show us.

“Are we not familiar with the story of Cain and Abel? The first of brothers, and the one grew jealous of the other, because the Lord showed him greater favor. And Cain lay in wait for Abel, and slew him. And when Cain was chastised by God for this crime, did he not disavow his brother, saying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What bond of brotherhood existed between Cain and Abel that can compare to the brotherhood of the Spirit to which Paul refers?

“Are we not familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau? We read that Jacob dressed himself in a skin to pass for his brother Esau, and so stole the birthright from his father Isaac. Brothers who strove with one another for their father’s favor? Did the one brother say, “Let this pass, he is my own brother?” No, there was strife between those brothers, and Jacob deceived his father Isaac and stole his blessing from his brother Esau. And when Esau learned of this, was he content that his brother would prosper? No, he was wroth at the deception that had been practiced upon him by his brother. We are told he conspired against the very life of his brother Jacob. This is the inferior brotherhood of blood.

“Are we not familiar with the story of Joseph, son of Jacob? Who was most beloved by his Father among all his brothers, and his brothers grew jealous, and lay in wait for Joseph, and but for one brother, Reuben, would have slain him? But Reuben reminded them of their duty of brotherhood. “Let us not shed his blood!” Yet the sense of this duty was so withered in the brothers of Joseph that they would not release their brother, and sold him into the most bitter slavery for the price of his flesh.

“I note in passing, brothers and sisters, that among the blood brothers of Joseph there was but one who remained true, but among the spiritual brothers of Christ there was but one who turned false. Is that not testament to the superior brotherhood of the Spirit?

“And perhaps you are not so familiar with the story of Solomon, who was preferred by King David over his brother Adonijah for the kingship of Israel, and there was strife between them, and Solomon had Adonijah struck dead for contesting the throne of Israel. This is the inferior bond of brotherhood of the blood.

“Is this not our story? Are we not reminded every day of the weak and unsatisfying bond of race and blood ties? Are we not betrayed regularly by them?

“But do not be tempted to hear this and say, “I am Abel, I am Joseph, I am Solomon, I am Christ, I am betrayed and hunted, and cast down by my brothers!” For we are at the same time Cain, Esau, the bloodthirsty brothers of Joseph, the disloyal Adonijah, we are the conspiracy against our brothers!”

The Reverend Donahue surveyed his congregation. Only the sound of breathing was heard in the church.

“We say “take the mote out of thine own eye” and ignore the beam in our own! Our brothers and sisters are with us every day, and every day we ignore true justice and charity! Are we not tempted every day to behave like the old brotherhood of blood and race, and ignore the commands of the brotherhood of the Spirit? Will we dare claim our inheritance in the Lord? Will we rise to the occasion of virtue when it calls us?

“Amen.” He stepped down from the pulpit.

“Amen” echoed the congregation gladly.

Moses Evans sat bolt upright in his pew. He had been given a thunderbolt of insight. There must have been some effort by Jackson and Elmswood before they took to the desperate course of agitation and direct confrontation. There must be some indirect witness to their frustrations. And Moses Evans knew where to turn for the testimony. He had refused to consider it out of his own guilt, his own neglect of the duties of brotherhood. He would humble himself enough to pursue the case. First thing Monday morning.

He walked the two miles to his apartment with a light-hearted step.  He did not stay for the festivities after the service, because that was what Callie liked to do, and too many of her friends would ask about her.  But for the first time Moses Evans didn't even brood on the matter.   His mind was occupied on the hunt.

There were times when Valencia Ramos was tempted to give up a life of crime, and this was one of them.

The gang had returned through the Gate. The Professor hadn’t even bothered to come in to see her. It had been Jerry Jake who had stopped by the office. Valencia felt she had to consider carefully whether Jake was being groomed to replace her entirely. The Professor still needed her, she figured. She was from Home and had all the credentials to do the banking.

Still…

“Anybody stop by?” Jerry had asked. She had told the truth—not a peep from telephone or doorbell. “Great,” said Jerry. “We’re all going back to the factory. Business.”

“I’ll come with,” she said.

“No, you stay here. Might be somebody comes around and we’d want to know who.”

“Jerry – I don’t even have a change of clothes here at the farm.”

“Wash yours in the sink. There’s an apron in the kitchen.”

Wash Dior in a sink?! But she did wash her underwear and sponged off the Dior suit. She wondered whether she should pop back across the Gate and go Home for a spell to get new clothes. The controls of the Gates were all at the Professor’s end of things, and not in either Earth 2 or Home. The Gates were just open for business. But she didn’t dare not be here when they called.

She had dared enough setting up the gold in the safety deposit boxes. And the Professor thinking he still had it all in one place with the only key.

Why put it all in one place in a bank vault where his wheelchair couldn’t go?

To have it ready for somebody else.

What happened when he made the transfer?

Well that would be a bad day for Valencia Ramos. Maybe she should run now. But the answer to that was the same. Jerry Jake would come for her.

She could not run until she solved the problem of Jerry Jake. And Jerry Jake would have to be solved by somebody else.

“A knight in shining armor,” she said to herself happily. Valencia liked playing men for suckers.

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Chapter 5 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour
Sunday, July 13, 2015 -- The Fifth Day
Moses Evans woke at 7:00 a.m. feeling slightly hung over. He stopped at his favorite diner for diced ham and eggs with orange juice, which he always broke fast with on the Sabbath. No coffee on Sunday.

He walked two miles to the First Methodist Church, using the time to organize his thoughts towards adoration of his God. He was a man, like any other man, ready to receive the word of God as it had been handed down from the first Apostles. He recalled the Ethiopian who was converted on the road to Jerusalem. There had been no distinction then, and Moses Evans could believe, following the Word, that there would come a time when no distinction would be made here and now.

The First Methodist Church was a new brick building with a Victorian trim and soaring steeple. It was a copy of the old church building that had been firebombed in 1991. That church had been built after the first church building had been firebombed in 1937. Moses Evans did not recall these events as he walked into the nave of the church, although he had been one of those in 1991 who had helped stripped the wreckage to the foundation.

He took his seat in the third pew from the front, close enough to maintain his rapt attention on the sermon, and relaxed himself to his memories of the smell of the hot wax of the varnish and the glow of the cedar pews, and the choir warming up.

The first hymn that morning was America the Beautiful, which they sang without any irony. Evans did not even think of it as ironic. He was fixated on the Son of God, who was no American.

The Reverend Doctor Herbert Donahue was a portly black man with stiff sideburns and balding, wearing a black gown with a purple alb. He strode to the podium with a quiet tread that did not resonate on the stage and smiled to his congregation. They smiled back. Doctor Donahue was truly well-beloved.

“Brothers and sisters, welcome to our home in Christ. I can call you brothers and sisters, for we have the bond of brotherhood between us. For we are assured “those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” And we are abjured by the same Paul that “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, but you be united in same mind and in the same purpose.” This is the brotherhood of the heirs of God, who we name Abba! Father!

“And this brotherhood of the Spirit far surpasses the brotherhood of the blood, as a survey of Scripture will show us.

“Are we not familiar with the story of Cain and Abel? The first of brothers, and the one grew jealous of the other, because the Lord showed him greater favor. And Cain lay in wait for Abel, and slew him. And when Cain was chastised by God for this crime, did he not disavow his brother, saying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What bond of brotherhood existed between Cain and Abel that can compare to the brotherhood of the Spirit to which Paul refers?

“Are we not familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau? We read that Jacob dressed himself in a skin to pass for his brother Esau, and so stole the birthright from his father Isaac. Brothers who strove with one another for their father’s favor? Did the one brother say, “Let this pass, he is my own brother?” No, there was strife between those brothers, and Jacob deceived his father Isaac and stole his blessing from his brother Esau. And when Esau learned of this, was he content that his brother would prosper? No, he was wroth at the deception that had been practiced upon him by his brother. We are told he conspired against the very life of his brother Jacob. This is the inferior brotherhood of blood.

“Are we not familiar with the story of Joseph, son of Jacob? Who was most beloved by his Father among all his brothers, and his brothers grew jealous, and lay in wait for Joseph, and but for one brother, Reuben, would have slain him? But Reuben reminded them of their duty of brotherhood. “Let us not shed his blood!” Yet the sense of this duty was so withered in the brothers of Joseph that they would not release their brother, and sold him into the most bitter slavery for the price of his flesh.

“I note in passing, brothers and sisters, that among the blood brothers of Joseph there was but one who remained true, but among the spiritual brothers of Christ there was but one who turned false. Is that not testament to the superior brotherhood of the Spirit?

“And perhaps you are not so familiar with the story of Solomon, who was preferred by King David over his brother Adonijah for the kingship of Israel, and there was strife between them, and Solomon had Adonijah struck dead for contesting the throne of Israel. This is the inferior bond of brotherhood of the blood.

“Is this not our story? Are we not reminded every day of the weak and unsatisfying bond of race and blood ties? Are we not betrayed regularly by them?

“But do not be tempted to hear this and say, “I am Abel, I am Joseph, I am Solomon, I am Christ, I am betrayed and hunted, and cast down by my brothers!” For we are at the same time Cain, Esau, the bloodthirsty brothers of Joseph, the disloyal Adonijah, we are the conspiracy against our brothers!”

The Reverend Donahue surveyed his congregation. Only the sound of breathing was heard in the church.

“We say “take the mote out of thine own eye” and ignore the beam in our own! Our brothers and sisters are with us every day, and every day we ignore true justice and charity! Are we not tempted every day to behave like the old brotherhood of blood and race, and ignore the commands of the brotherhood of the Spirit? Will we dare claim our inheritance in the Lord? Will we rise to the occasion of virtue when it calls us?

“Amen.” He stepped down from the pulpit.

“Amen” echoed the congregation gladly.

Moses Evans sat bolt upright in his pew. He had been given a thunderbolt of insight. There must have been some effort by Jackson and Elmswood before they took to the desperate course of agitation and direct confrontation. There must be some indirect witness to their frustrations. And Moses Evans knew where to turn for the testimony. He had refused to consider it out of his own guilt, his own neglect of the duties of brotherhood. He would humble himself enough to pursue the case. First thing Monday morning.

He walked the two miles to his apartment with a light-hearted step.  He did not stay for the festivities after the service, because that was what Callie liked to do, and too many of her friends would ask about her.  But for the first time Moses Evans didn't even brood on the matter.   His mind was occupied on the hunt.


There were times when Valencia Ramos was tempted to give up a life of crime, and this was one of them.

The gang had returned through the Gate. The Professor hadn’t even bothered to come in to see her. It had been Jerry Jake who had stopped by the office. Valencia felt she had to consider carefully whether Jake was being groomed to replace her entirely. The Professor still needed her, she figured. She was from Home and had all the credentials to do the banking.

Still…

“Anybody stop by?” Jerry had asked. She had told the truth—not a peep from telephone or doorbell. “Great,” said Jerry. “We’re all going back to the factory. Business.”

“I’ll come with,” she said.

“No, you stay here. Might be somebody comes around and we’d want to know who.”

“Jerry – I don’t even have a change of clothes here at the farm.”

“Wash yours in the sink. There’s an apron in the kitchen.”

Wash Dior in a sink?! But she did wash her underwear and sponged off the Dior suit. She wondered whether she should pop back across the Gate and go Home for a spell to get new clothes. The controls of the Gates were all at the Professor’s end of things, and not in either Earth 2 or Home. The Gates were just open for business. But she didn’t dare not be here when they called.

She had dared enough setting up the gold in the safety deposit boxes. And the Professor thinking he still had it all in one place with the only key.

Why put it all in one place in a bank vault where his wheelchair couldn’t go?

To have it ready for somebody else.

What happened when he made the transfer?

Well that would be a bad day for Valencia Ramos. Maybe she should run now. But the answer to that was the same. Jerry Jake would come for her.

She could not run until she solved the problem of Jerry Jake. And Jerry Jake would have to be solved by somebody else.

“A knight in shining armor,” she said to herself happily. Valencia liked playing men for suckers.

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Chapter 4 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour

Saturday, July 12, 2015 -- The Fourth Day

The telephone woke Moses Evans. He glanced at his clock and groaned. Only midnight. “Moses Evans,” he said thickly.

“This is Freeman. You’re off the Jackson/Elmswood murders as of this moment. I want you to rest up and get back here by 6:00 a.m.”

“What? What’s more urgent than two double-homicides?” sputtered Evans.

“Superior Court judge was assassinated by a car bomb this evening,” said Lieutenant Freeman. “That’s what. Get some rest. More than the rest of us can do. This is an all-hands deal.”

Evans said “Right sir,” and hung up. He tried to go back to sleep. There never had been a murder of a Superior Court judge to his reckoning. But to his mind, the serial killer of black men still should have been a priority. He reckoned that was not going to be a popular view within the Department.

He thought then of a dream he had once had, of a barge on a river, with a cheerful crowd of black people waiting to disembark on a dock. It had gone one way when he dreamed it, but thinking on it again, Evans began to imagine a florid meadow beyond the dock, and a grove of pecan trees swaying gently in a wind. It was one technique he’d learned for forcing sleep on himself, and he walked the paths of his imagination until his alarm rang at 2:00 a.m. as he’d left it. He said “Bless me!” like a cuss, and set it for 4:00 a.m. He found it easier to return to the blackness of sleep.

By 6:05 a.m. Evans was sitting upright in a chair at Newton Street listening to Lieutenant Freeman briefed the squad on the murder of the Honorable Perry Olmstead.

“Bomb set next to the engine block of his car. Unknown explosive. Samples taken to the Army and Pacific Technical Institute for analysis. Explosion killed Judge Olmstead and three Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies standing nearby.

“Access to the garage is restricted but not patrolled regularly,” said Freeman. “That’s changing as of immediately. All Superior Court judges are getting a police detail and deputies will be guarding all aspects of the Superior Court from now on. State Police have been called out for additional manpower as needed.

"Witnesses noticed a black Chevrolet sedan loitering near the garage.  No plate number.  DMV is moving on registrations of Chevrolet sedans but that is going to take a couple of weeks at best. 

“Perry Olmstead hadn’t heard a criminal case in four years,” said Freeman. “We’re looking over the records of cases he had heard, and those involved will be contacted by detectives. Our angle is the civil cases. He had five on docket in the past month, and we’re going to contact the attorneys involved.”

“Us?” asked Yehonatan. “What that got to do with the Negro community?” There was a murmur of agreement.

Lieutenant Freeman rapped his knuckles against his podium. He was dressed in a dazzling white shirt but from the crumpled look Evans suspected he had slept at his desk and not for long. “Hey there. You all wear a badge. Well, the law enforcement community in this state, the whole community, has just been slogged a bloody nose. So we’re on the case, ya hear? I won’t have any slackers. I doubt if some civil lawyer blew up a Superior Court judge, but that’s what you’ll all look into starting this morning, and you're on that angle until we get a better one.”

“What about the murder of three Negroes?” asked Rudy Eli, the rookie of the squad.

Lieutenant Freeman just stared him down, and went on talking to the room.

“A list of lawyers on Judge Olmstead’s docket has been prepared, and you’ll be assigned a list of firms. Your first duty will be to call on the head partner of these firms by 7:00 a.m., and then spend the day following up on your calls. I expect you won’t be getting a crack at the actual bomber, but, they may know of some disgruntled clients.”

“Fat chance,” somebody breathed. Freeman again ignored it.

“Okay. Here come the lists of attorneys. Get phoning. If they get disagreeable clue them in on who got bombed. Remember, for all we know one of these lawyers is next. Get an appointment to meet with them today and get moving on it.”

Freeman walked down the rows of chairs handing out lists to the men. Evans complained, “We ought to have one man following up on those phone numbers from those workmen, Lieutenant. Just to keep moving on that Jackson/Elmswood case.”

“I won’t take insubordination in a Detective-Sergeant,” said Freeman quietly. “You like that rank, you use it now in front of the others. Set a good example.”

Evans sucked his teeth and turned to call the first number on his list.

The law offices of Assurian, Flint and Dowd were impressive even from the first step up from the sidewalk. The steps were marble, not concrete, and the runner was rich Oriental wool. The sign on the door was a bronze casting, and the lamp by it was hand-made glass of a dozen different colors brazed together. Evans rang the bell and adjusted his lapels and tie waiting for the door to open. It was opened by a short, exuberant white man with dark features. “You the detective?” he asked with surprise.

“Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans. I spoke with Mr. Assurian this morning,” said Evans.

“I’m Karl Assurian. Please come in. My partners are waiting in the conference room.” Assurian wore a very expensive vicuna suit with no necktie. He led Evans down a corridor flanked by rich oaken cabinets filled with fine china, between which hung fine paintings of meetings and conferences. “I don’t have any of our staff here. I understood you to say it wasn’t necessary.”

“Not on Saturday, Mr. Assurian, but I’d rather go into that in front of the others.”

“Fine.”

They entered a broad long room with a large table. Evans figured it could seat twenty. There was a small bar cabinet at the far end, and two elderly white men were enjoying highballs. One, a sandy tall man with a checkered sportscoat, Assurian named as Henry Flint. The other, a florid white-haired man with a handlebar moustache, was Larry Dowd. There was no offer to shake hands.

“Balls. A colored detective,” breathed Flint.

“Gentlemen,” began Evans, into what seemed a dreamlike vision of a meeting. “I am Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans, of the Los Angeles Police Department. I’ve been sent to inquire regarding the murder of the Honorable Perry Olmstead and three deputy sheriffs.”

“Balls,” said Flint again, and sucked at his drink.

“Shh,” said Assurian.

“There’s no question of suspicion. Just that your firm had recent contact with Judge Olmstead, professional contact, and we thought as officers of the Court you’d oblige us by discussing anything unusual or odd in your recent contact with Judge Olmstead or those around him.”

“Balls,” drawled Flint.

“We were all shocked to hear of the Judge’s murder,” said Dowd. “We’ve discussed the matter coming here to see you, and none of us has anything to contribute. He was a highly respected member of the bar before becoming a judge, and if anything his reputation has grown since then.”

“A thirty-year man,” said Assurian. “I don’t know if there’s anything we can tell you.”

“Of course there’s routine to be followed,” said Evans politely. “Your staff doesn’t need to be brought in this weekend, but a police detective will probably be by Monday to speak with them as to their observations.”

“Send somebody else,” rasped Flint. “Send somebody white. We don’t need a nigger prying around here.”

Assurian and Dowd just smiled politely, as if being around racist drunks was part of their normal Saturday. Evans felt himself sliding emotionally on slickest black ice. He said a little too calmly and loudly in his own ears, “Well gentlemen, sorry to intrude on your weekend. If you can think of anything please call the Department immediately. Sadly, we never close.”

Assurian and Dowd laughed politely. Flint just swallowed more of his drink. Pale with a sprig of mint, Evans noted. Gin, probably.

Dowd said, “I hope you won’t be bothering any of our clients. We’re mercenary, but we hardly take on the sort of client who’d murder a judge.”

Evans said, “That’s a step we’ll probably have to take, Mr. Dowd, if we don’t find anybody likely to have committed a bombing. But the Department will be discreet about it.”

“No niggers!” snapped Flint. Dowd put a hand on Flint’s shoulder. Assurian moved to show Evans out.

“Henry gets a little feisty in the morning,” Assurian said over his shoulder, as Evans glided out over the rich thick carpet of the corridor.

“Ahem,” said Evans. “Thank you for your cooperation Mr. Assurian. You have a pleasant day.”

It was all the same, he thought. Whether they came right out with it like Flint or hid behind manners like Assurian, they were all thinking it. He went to a nearby diner, ordered a coffee and pie, then went straight to the restroom and wrung out his guts in rage for twenty minutes. He paid for his stale food as he left, figuring the queer looks of the help were part of the race problem in America.

But that was the worst interview he had that day with the attorneys, though nobody else was much more forthcoming with facts.

Evans finished by 3:00 p.m. He toyed briefly with the idea of giving a call to the day laborers on the Jackson/Elmswood case, just because he figured it was the proper way to keep that case moving. But he’d been warned by the Lieutenant not to, and Evans figured him to be a dog that growled once before biting hard. He did enjoy his rank, and he aimed to keep it.

Saturday evenings were traditionally a community day for the Newton Street Division, which rarely had a murder to deal with. This weekend had the usual celebration. It all went down at the Elite Delight, a saloon favored by the Newton Street Division. The wives were in one corner, talking about shopping. The men were gathered around the billiards table. Yehonatan and Wilkie were in their shirt sleeves. Wilkie wore a green shade on his brow.

“Y’all watch this one,” said Wilkie. “This one got to have the English on it.”

“Wilkie, shoot the damn ball already,” said Yehonatan.

Evans poured himself a tall glass of Tommy Boy, a local lager, from a foaming pitcher, and helped himself to a tongue sandwich made with squaw bread and Kansas City barbecue sauce.

“Now ales, all beer nowadays is ales,” said Tyrell. “But back in ye olden times, they didn’t make all ales with hops. They used other herbs.”

Rudy Eli put two quarters in the jukebox, and started to triple-stomp in time with the big band. The women cheered him on.

“This calls for calculation,” said Wilkie.

“Just take your shot without the commentary. Jesus! You wanna work for Columbia Broadcasting Company?” asked Yehonatan.

“How’s Callie doing these days, Moses?” called Betty Franzy, but Moses elected not to hear her. He didn’t talk about Callie.

“Best barbecue in America come out of Texas,” said Tyrell. “That’s cause it got a collision of all three of the barbecues in America. A collision?”

“Fusion,” said Franzy, eating pulled pork and corn on the cob.

“Whoo!” breathed Eli, as he finished his quickstep. He reached for the pitcher and gulped down half a glass of Tommy Boy.

“Easy son easy,” said Evans. “Yah can’t drink it like water.”

“Hey!” hollered Eli, who was the youngest on the force and didn’t know to leave shop talk away from the women folk. “Anybody else get the stone face this morning?”

“Ha. Haw haw,” said Tyrell sourly. Every other man grunted.

“Got called a nigger by a man in a thousand dollar suit,” said Evans, blurring the facts a little. Assurian had worn the suit.

“Did he say it? He said the word?” asked Franzy.

“He did.”

“Damn. To an officer.”

The wives were silent. Franzy noticed that, and said quickly, “Still it’s a good job, ain’t that right, fellas?”

“It gets to you after a while,” said Eli, who was single. Franzy glared at him.

Wilkie sank another one, then said “I remember coming up patrolling Chinatown. Man I am grateful for black people! At least I feel like I’m on the right side of the Pacific in Inglewood.”

“To each his own,” said Yehonatan in a wistful tone. Evans glanced at the half-Sioux curiously.

“Boy,” said Franzy to Eli, “you listen to your elders and Shut Up when they do, follow?”

“Be grateful for the black crook who knows ya got him. He generally don’t want any trouble,” said Tyrell.

“I guess that’s why they got black officers in the first place,” said Eli, a little sullenly. He finished his glass with a gulp and poured another.

“Nother pitcher here,” called Franzy.

“Make it two,” hollered Sue Wilkie.

“Two pitchers then,” said Franzy to the bartender.

“And let’s have some tacos,” said Ollie Yehonatan.

“Hey Hey! Look who’s here!” sang Linda Selby.

Peter Freeman made his way over to the group, saying hello to the wives first. Evans knew he was popular with the ladies, but always correct. Freeman took a glass of beer and a fat French dip sandwich, his usual.

“Hey boss, we was talking about the stablishment of the Force,” said Eli a little slurred. From behind his back Franzy took his glass and set it down at another table.

“First black officer in LAPD was in 1885,” said Freeman. “Since the coming of the Great Naval War and the rise of postwar Los Angeles, there’s been a perceived need for ethnic patrols to deal with community-centered problems.”

“Like the existence of the community, ya mean,” sneered Eli.

“To some, son. To some we shouldn’t exist at all. But we do, and right has got to be done by black folk. I consider it a blessing to be able to wield authority over our own community to some degree.”

‘But always after the white man is taken care of,” said Evans bitterly.

“Yeah. Something eating you, Evans?”

“Nothing.” Evans had another sip of beer and munched his sandwich. Freeman waited for him to finish.

“Been over the reports for today. Nothing much in them. Something happen that wasn’t in your report?”

“Ain’t gonna report sass to a nigger, sir.” Evans was surprised to find his tongue speaking on its own. He’d expected this from Eli. From the corner of his eye he saw Franzy snake away Evans’ glass to the other table.

Freeman sighed. “There’s universal right and universal wrong. I guess if you don’t believe that, then, you can’t expect to get up every day and sweep out the gutters of society. I believe that, and I believe, that doing the job we all do, we’re making a real difference.”

Betty Franzy said, “And I believe you oughta revive the Republican Party and run for Congress.”

Ollie Yehonatan said, “I can understand catching the bad guys. These guys blow up judges? Put them away! What more you need?”

Linda Selby said pompously “In 1885 they hired the first black officer. Haw haw.”

Mike Franzy said, “I think you ladies don’t need another pitcher.” He was hooted down.

Wilkie said “Now this one, is gonna be a little special.” Eli returned to the jukebox.

Looking back on that evening in later years, Evans had to pull himself up. It wasn’t all that especially happy, or friendly. Surely he put the gloss of nostalgia on what was really in some ways a tense gathering. Surely he imagined, with the gift of hindsight, that it was more fun that it really was, on account of what happened later to all of them.

Valencia Ramos had nothing to do but think about what had happened, and she didn’t know what to think. The Professor had spoken of Jerry Jake going with her, but not instead of her.

Yet that is how they left her, the Professor actually meeting Jake’s car at the driveway, and hurrying them along to the garage and the warehouse floor off of the farm office. Valencia was all dressed up in her skirt suit, ready to go through the Gate, and the Professor waved her back to the office.

“We’re going,” he yelled. “We’re all going for, I don’t know how long. You don’t know how long. You don’t have a radio and you don’t know what’s happened in town for the weekend. You don’t know where we went and when we’ll be back. Sit tight.”

“But the banking run,” she said.

“Skip it this week,” he yelled, and Jerry and his what else to call them, a gang, they all went into the warehouse and through the Gate.

Skip $50,000.00 in gold sales!

She went back to the main office and sat at her desk, drumming her fingers. After a bit, she went into the Professor’s office and turned on his radio.

She heard then about the bombing of a judge. It couldn’t have anything to do with that.

Could it?

She thought furiously. What if they were camped in the other warehouse? It was no good running through the Gate right into them. She was going to have to think of some other way to get away from them.

She had to go Home of course. There was no percentage in staying here, if ---

But how to keep Jerry Jake off her back? She might evade the Professor forever, but Jake was wise to the streets in a lot of ways. She’d waste a lot of the money dodging him.

So that narrowed it down to getting rid of Jake, and his gang. She grimaced. If Rod hadn’t be able to, why should she?

So it would have to be somebody else. And she’d just have to see who turned up, if they were at all suitable.

She’d have to hold the fort for now like a good girl. It was the only way.

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Chapter 4 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour
Saturday, July 12, 2015 -- The Fourth Day
The telephone woke Moses Evans. He glanced at his clock and groaned. Only midnight. “Moses Evans,” he said thickly.

“This is Freeman. You’re off the Jackson/Elmswood murders as of this moment. I want you to rest up and get back here by 6:00 a.m.”

“What? What’s more urgent than two double-homicides?” sputtered Evans.

“Superior Court judge was assassinated by a car bomb this evening,” said Lieutenant Freeman. “That’s what. Get some rest. More than the rest of us can do. This is an all-hands deal.”

Evans said “Right sir,” and hung up. He tried to go back to sleep. There never had been a murder of a Superior Court judge to his reckoning. But to his mind, the serial killer of black men still should have been a priority. He reckoned that was not going to be a popular view within the Department.

He thought then of a dream he had once had, of a barge on a river, with a cheerful crowd of black people waiting to disembark on a dock. It had gone one way when he dreamed it, but thinking on it again, Evans began to imagine a florid meadow beyond the dock, and a grove of pecan trees swaying gently in a wind. It was one technique he’d learned for forcing sleep on himself, and he walked the paths of his imagination until his alarm rang at 2:00 a.m. as he’d left it. He said “Bless me!” like a cuss, and set it for 4:00 a.m. He found it easier to return to the blackness of sleep.

By 6:05 a.m. Evans was sitting upright in a chair at Newton Street listening to Lieutenant Freeman briefed the squad on the murder of the Honorable Perry Olmstead.

“Bomb set next to the engine block of his car. Unknown explosive. Samples taken to the Army and Pacific Technical Institute for analysis. Explosion killed Judge Olmstead and three Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies standing nearby.

“Access to the garage is restricted but not patrolled regularly,” said Freeman. “That’s changing as of immediately. All Superior Court judges are getting a police detail and deputies will be guarding all aspects of the Superior Court from now on. State Police have been called out for additional manpower as needed.

"Witnesses noticed a black Chevrolet sedan loitering near the garage.  No plate number.  DMV is moving on registrations of Chevrolet sedans but that is going to take a couple of weeks at best. 

“Perry Olmstead hadn’t heard a criminal case in four years,” said Freeman. “We’re looking over the records of cases he had heard, and those involved will be contacted by detectives. Our angle is the civil cases. He had five on docket in the past month, and we’re going to contact the attorneys involved.”

“Us?” asked Yehonatan. “What that got to do with the Negro community?” There was a murmur of agreement.

Lieutenant Freeman rapped his knuckles against his podium. He was dressed in a dazzling white shirt but from the crumpled look Evans suspected he had slept at his desk and not for long. “Hey there. You all wear a badge. Well, the law enforcement community in this state, the whole community, has just been slogged a bloody nose. So we’re on the case, ya hear? I won’t have any slackers. I doubt if some civil lawyer blew up a Superior Court judge, but that’s what you’ll all look into starting this morning, and you're on that angle until we get a better one.”

“What about the murder of three Negroes?” asked Rudy Eli, the rookie of the squad.

Lieutenant Freeman just stared him down, and went on talking to the room.

“A list of lawyers on Judge Olmstead’s docket has been prepared, and you’ll be assigned a list of firms. Your first duty will be to call on the head partner of these firms by 7:00 a.m., and then spend the day following up on your calls. I expect you won’t be getting a crack at the actual bomber, but, they may know of some disgruntled clients.”

“Fat chance,” somebody breathed. Freeman again ignored it.

“Okay. Here come the lists of attorneys. Get phoning. If they get disagreeable clue them in on who got bombed. Remember, for all we know one of these lawyers is next. Get an appointment to meet with them today and get moving on it.”

Freeman walked down the rows of chairs handing out lists to the men. Evans complained, “We ought to have one man following up on those phone numbers from those workmen, Lieutenant. Just to keep moving on that Jackson/Elmswood case.”

“I won’t take insubordination in a Detective-Sergeant,” said Freeman quietly. “You like that rank, you use it now in front of the others. Set a good example.”

Evans sucked his teeth and turned to call the first number on his list.

The law offices of Assurian, Flint and Dowd were impressive even from the first step up from the sidewalk. The steps were marble, not concrete, and the runner was rich Oriental wool. The sign on the door was a bronze casting, and the lamp by it was hand-made glass of a dozen different colors brazed together. Evans rang the bell and adjusted his lapels and tie waiting for the door to open. It was opened by a short, exuberant white man with dark features. “You the detective?” he asked with surprise.

“Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans. I spoke with Mr. Assurian this morning,” said Evans.

“I’m Karl Assurian. Please come in. My partners are waiting in the conference room.” Assurian wore a very expensive vicuna suit with no necktie. He led Evans down a corridor flanked by rich oaken cabinets filled with fine china, between which hung fine paintings of meetings and conferences. “I don’t have any of our staff here. I understood you to say it wasn’t necessary.”
“Not on Saturday, Mr. Assurian, but I’d rather go into that in front of the others.”

“Fine.”

They entered a broad long room with a large table. Evans figured it could seat twenty. There was a small bar cabinet at the far end, and two elderly white men were enjoying highballs. One, a sandy tall man with a checkered sportscoat, Assurian named as Henry Flint. The other, a florid white-haired man with a handlebar moustache, was Larry Dowd. There was no offer to shake hands.

“Balls. A colored detective,” breathed Flint.

“Gentlemen,” began Evans, into what seemed a dreamlike vision of a meeting. “I am Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans, of the Los Angeles Police Department. I’ve been sent to inquire regarding the murder of the Honorable Perry Olmstead and three deputy sheriffs.”

“Balls,” said Flint again, and sucked at his drink.

“Shh,” said Assurian.

“There’s no question of suspicion. Just that your firm had recent contact with Judge Olmstead, professional contact, and we thought as officers of the Court you’d oblige us by discussing anything unusual or odd in your recent contact with Judge Olmstead or those around him.”

“Balls,” drawled Flint.

“We were all shocked to hear of the Judge’s murder,” said Dowd. “We’ve discussed the matter coming here to see you, and none of us has anything to contribute. He was a highly respected member of the bar before becoming a judge, and if anything his reputation has grown since then.”

“A thirty-year man,” said Assurian. “I don’t know if there’s anything we can tell you.”

“Of course there’s routine to be followed,” said Evans politely. “Your staff doesn’t need to be brought in this weekend, but a police detective will probably be by Monday to speak with them as to their observations.”

“Send somebody else,” rasped Flint. “Send somebody white. We don’t need a nigger prying around here.”

Assurian and Dowd just smiled politely, as if being around racist drunks was part of their normal Saturday. Evans felt himself sliding emotionally on slickest black ice. He said a little too calmly and loudly in his own ears, “Well gentlemen, sorry to intrude on your weekend. If you can think of anything please call the Department immediately. Sadly, we never close.”

Assurian and Dowd laughed politely. Flint just swallowed more of his drink. Pale with a sprig of mint, Evans noted. Gin, probably.

Dowd said, “I hope you won’t be bothering any of our clients. We’re mercenary, but we hardly take on the sort of client who’d murder a judge.”

Evans said, “That’s a step we’ll probably have to take, Mr. Dowd, if we don’t find anybody likely to have committed a bombing. But the Department will be discreet about it.”

“No niggers!” snapped Flint. Dowd put a hand on Flint’s shoulder. Assurian moved to show Evans out.

“Henry gets a little feisty in the morning,” Assurian said over his shoulder, as Evans glided out over the rich thick carpet of the corridor.

“Ahem,” said Evans. “Thank you for your cooperation Mr. Assurian. You have a pleasant day.”

It was all the same, he thought. Whether they came right out with it like Flint or hid behind manners like Assurian, they were all thinking it. He went to a nearby diner, ordered a coffee and pie, then went straight to the restroom and wrung out his guts in rage for twenty minutes. He paid for his stale food as he left, figuring the queer looks of the help were part of the race problem in America.

But that was the worst interview he had that day with the attorneys, though nobody else was much more forthcoming with facts.

Evans finished by 3:00 p.m. He toyed briefly with the idea of giving a call to the day laborers on the Jackson/Elmswood case, just because he figured it was the proper way to keep that case moving. But he’d been warned by the Lieutenant not to, and Evans figured him to be a dog that growled once before biting hard. He did enjoy his rank, and he aimed to keep it.

Saturday evenings were traditionally a community day for the Newton Street Division, which rarely had a murder to deal with. This weekend had the usual celebration. It all went down at the Elite Delight, a saloon favored by the Newton Street Division. The wives were in one corner, talking about shopping. The men were gathered around the billiards table. Yehonatan and Wilkie were in their shirt sleeves. Wilkie wore a green shade on his brow.

“Y’all watch this one,” said Wilkie. “This one got to have the English on it.”

“Wilkie, shoot the damn ball already,” said Yehonatan.

Evans poured himself a tall glass of Tommy Boy, a local lager, from a foaming pitcher, and helped himself to a tongue sandwich made with squaw bread and Kansas City barbecue sauce.

“Now ales, all beer nowadays is ales,” said Tyrell. “But back in ye olden times, they didn’t make all ales with hops. They used other herbs.”

Rudy Eli put two quarters in the jukebox, and started to triple-stomp in time with the big band. The women cheered him on.

“This calls for calculation,” said Wilkie.

“Just take your shot without the commentary. Jesus! You wanna work for Columbia Broadcasting Company?” asked Yehonatan.

“How’s Callie doing these days, Moses?” called Betty Franzy, but Moses elected not to hear her. He didn’t talk about Callie.

“Best barbecue in America come out of Texas,” said Tyrell. “That’s cause it got a collision of all three of the barbecues in America. A collision?”

“Fusion,” said Franzy, eating pulled pork and corn on the cob.

“Whoo!” breathed Eli, as he finished his quickstep. He reached for the pitcher and gulped down half a glass of Tommy Boy.

“Easy son easy,” said Evans. “Yah can’t drink it like water.”

“Hey!” hollered Eli, who was the youngest on the force and didn’t know to leave shop talk away from the women folk. “Anybody else get the stone face this morning?”

“Ha. Haw haw,” said Tyrell sourly. Every other man grunted.

“Got called a nigger by a man in a thousand dollar suit,” said Evans, blurring the facts a little. Assurian had worn the suit.

“Did he say it? He said the word?” asked Franzy.

“He did.”

“Damn. To an officer.”

The wives were silent. Franzy noticed that, and said quickly, “Still it’s a good job, ain’t that right, fellas?”

“It gets to you after a while,” said Eli, who was single. Franzy glared at him.

Wilkie sank another one, then said “I remember coming up patrolling Chinatown. Man I am grateful for black people! At least I feel like I’m on the right side of the Pacific in Inglewood.”

“To each his own,” said Yehonatan in a wistful tone. Evans glanced at the half-Sioux curiously.

“Boy,” said Franzy to Eli, “you listen to your elders and Shut Up when they do, follow?”

“Be grateful for the black crook who knows ya got him. He generally don’t want any trouble,” said Tyrell.

“I guess that’s why they got black officers in the first place,” said Eli, a little sullenly. He finished his glass with a gulp and poured another.

“Nother pitcher here,” called Franzy.

“Make it two,” hollered Sue Wilkie.

“Two pitchers then,” said Franzy to the bartender.

“And let’s have some tacos,” said Ollie Yehonatan.

“Hey Hey! Look who’s here!” sang Linda Selby.

Peter Freeman made his way over to the group, saying hello to the wives first. Evans knew he was popular with the ladies, but always correct. Freeman took a glass of beer and a fat French dip sandwich, his usual.

“Hey boss, we was talking about the stablishment of the Force,” said Eli a little slurred. From behind his back Franzy took his glass and set it down at another table.

“First black officer in LAPD was in 1885,” said Freeman. “Since the coming of the Great Naval War and the rise of postwar Los Angeles, there’s been a perceived need for ethnic patrols to deal with community-centered problems.”

“Like the existence of the community, ya mean,” sneered Eli.

“To some, son. To some we shouldn’t exist at all. But we do, and right has got to be done by black folk. I consider it a blessing to be able to wield authority over our own community to some degree.”

‘But always after the white man is taken care of,” said Evans bitterly.

“Yeah. Something eating you, Evans?”

“Nothing.” Evans had another sip of beer and munched his sandwich. Freeman waited for him to finish.

“Been over the reports for today. Nothing much in them. Something happen that wasn’t in your report?”

“Ain’t gonna report sass to a nigger, sir.” Evans was surprised to find his tongue speaking on its own. He’d expected this from Eli. From the corner of his eye he saw Franzy snake away Evans’ glass to the other table.

Freeman sighed. “There’s universal right and universal wrong. I guess if you don’t believe that, then, you can’t expect to get up every day and sweep out the gutters of society. I believe that, and I believe, that doing the job we all do, we’re making a real difference.”

Betty Franzy said, “And I believe you oughta revive the Republican Party and run for Congress.”

Ollie Yehonatan said, “I can understand catching the bad guys. These guys blow up judges? Put them away! What more you need?”

Linda Selby said pompously “In 1885 they hired the first black officer. Haw haw.”

Mike Franzy said, “I think you ladies don’t need another pitcher.” He was hooted down.

Wilkie said “Now this one, is gonna be a little special.” Eli returned to the jukebox.

Looking back on that evening in later years, Evans had to pull himself up. It wasn’t all that especially happy, or friendly. Surely he put the gloss of nostalgia on what was really in some ways a tense gathering. Surely he imagined, with the gift of hindsight, that it was more fun that it really was, on account of what happened later to all of them.



Valencia Ramos had nothing to do but think about what had happened, and she didn’t know what to think. The Professor had spoken of Jerry Jake going with her, but not instead of her.

Yet that is how they left her, the Professor actually meeting Jake’s car at the driveway, and hurrying them along to the garage and the warehouse floor off of the farm office. Valencia was all dressed up in her skirt suit, ready to go through the Gate, and the Professor waved her back to the office.

“We’re going,” he yelled. “We’re all going for, I don’t know how long. You don’t know how long. You don’t have a radio and you don’t know what’s happened in town for the weekend. You don’t know where we went and when we’ll be back. Sit tight.”

“But the banking run,” she said.

“Skip it this week,” he yelled, and Jerry and his what else to call them, a gang, they all went into the warehouse and through the Gate.

Skip $50,000.00 in gold sales!

She went back to the main office and sat at her desk, drumming her fingers. After a bit, she went into the Professor’s office and turned on his radio.

She heard then about the bombing of a judge. It couldn’t have anything to do with that.

Could it?

She thought furiously. What if they were camped in the other warehouse? It was no good running through the Gate right into them. She was going to have to think of some other way to get away from them.

She had to go Home of course. There was no percentage in staying here, if ---

But how to keep Jerry Jake off her back? She might evade the Professor forever, but Jake was wise to the streets in a lot of ways. She’d waste a lot of the money dodging him.

So that narrowed it down to getting rid of Jake, and his gang. She grimaced. If Rod hadn’t be able to, why should she?

So it would have to be somebody else. And she’d just have to see who turned up, if they were at all suitable.

She’d have to hold the fort for now like a good girl. It was the only way.
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Chapter 3 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour

Friday, July 11, 2015 -- The Third Day

The clanging bells woke Evans at 2:00 a.m. He took a warm shower. He put on another brown shirt, his holster, brown trousers, and a houndstooth coat. He walked down the block to an all-night colored diner.

“Morning Moses! You out late or up early?” asked the cheerful waitress. Moses had a porkchop baked in tomatoes and four cups of black coffee. The chop was tender as chicken breast and the coffee was fresh. He rode the bus to Union Station in the creamy langour of a man awake but too early, feeling that the best part of a long day was behind him. From the station he caught a bus to Newton Street, and drove to Crocker Center.

Despite the early hour, he still avoided using the elevator. He returned to the conference room on the third floor.

The black detectives of the Special Investigations Squad were all present, and none of the whites of Robbery/Homicide.

“Now, this won't do,” said Lieutenant Freeman, smiling wryly. “You men go smoke in the parking lot and I'll send for you after the others come in.”

The black men filed down the stairs to stand in the parking lot.

“Can't show up the white man,” said Detective-Sergeant Jewell Tyrell with a Texas twang. “Got to do wrong to get right.”

“Ain't no such thing as an innocent Negro,” said Detective Mike Franzy.

“I hope I can facilitate some movement in the Negro community,” said Tyrell.

“That captain sure is smart, to notice we're Negroes,” said Dan Selby.

'You fellows think we'll get some leads today?” asked Rudy Eli.

“Nobody going to talk to white cops about their troubles,” said Tyrell. “Captain knows it, he's just spinning the wheels.”

“No,” said Evans. “He's following the only real trace we have. He's just making sure Robbery/Homicide will get all credit for anything we find. If you're all as smart as you want to be, you get the witnesses in a line, with your white man talking to one end of the line and you work the other end toward the middle. That way you might find out something. Then whatever you find out, give it to Lieutenant Freeman after you come in.”

A white cop walked out onto the steps and hollered “Hey! You boys! You're wanted!” The men ground out their cigarettes and walked over to the third floor.

The Robbery/Homicide detectives were seated as before. Captain Brewster was shuffling papers on his podium. Lieutenant Freeman stood again in the back of the room. From Freeman's placid expression and ramrod bearing, he had been bawled out.

“Alright,” said Brewster. “Here's the assignments.

“Derren, you're with Eli. Fabian, you're with Franzy. Garey, you're with Gaios. Guerino, you're with Selby. Macario, you're with Wilke. Tiede, you're with Yeho – natan.”

Evans wondered if the Captain thought alphabetical order was some kind of secret code in the Department.

“Detective-Sergeant Roldan, you're with Detective-Sergeant Tyrell. Detective-Sergeant Wilson, you're with Detective-Sergeant Evans.”

Captain Brewster turned a page.

“Derren, and Fabian: take the docks of Los Angeles Harbor. Gary, take the workers at Hoover Pedestrian Mall. Guerino, you take the workers at Olivera Street.

Macario, check out the McKenna truckyard. Tiede, you take the Olson lumberyard.

“Those are just probables. We know that Jackson was hired at the Coleman truckyard. Wilson, you take that one. Elmswood was hired at the Bisk Tool & Lumber. Roldan, you check it out.”

Evans noted that Captain Brewster had addressed the white officers exclusively.

“Any questions?” asked Brewster.

“Then better get moving, they usually start there about 5 a.m. Report back here tonight at 12:00 p.m. “

Lieutenant Freeman said “A word, squad.” The black men gathered around the Lieutenant in the back of the room. “Remember what I said, you got to deliver on this one, men. It's on all of you. Just mind your step with these Robbery/Homicide fellows. If you get something, keep me in the loop.”

Evans remembered Freeman had been a good detective before he was promoted to what amounted to Negro ambassador to Headquarters. He resolved that he would seek Freeman's counsel more closely.

The men split up into pairs. Evans came to stand beside Detective-Sergeant Jack Wilson, a strong man in his middle-forties with blue eyes and hair like damp straw. He wore a black Stetson and a black suit with red pinstripes and a silver bolo tie.

“That was some solid work, Evans. You know this truckyard?”

“Only heard of it yesterday, sir.”

“Well, we'll go check it out.”

The two headed to the door. Evans turned down the hall towards the stairs. Wilson stopped. “Take the elevator with me, I don't mind.” Evans followed with some suprise.

In the elevator, Wilson said, “I don't know what you'll get from those workers. It strikes me that anybody who knows anything would be scared to talk.”

“What I'll get?” Evans stared at Wilson. “Sir.”

Wilson smiled. “I know why they have a colored squad, Evans. I won't get anything out of these guys. The best thing I can do for the new few hours is keep an eye out for a white Chevy.”

“Think we'll see it, Mr. Wilson?” asked Evans.

“That depends on how stupid they are, and I don't know them. They did a pretty thorough job of murder though. Just be on the jump if I whistle. It means we'll have to chase them.”

They walked across the asphalt lot towards the parked cars.

“Speaking of being on the jump,” said Wilson a little too casually, “you know how to use that gat?”

“Yes sir. Shot down a punk in 2008. I thought about it, Mr. Wilson. I'd back out if I couldn't hang.”

And how about you? Evans thought to himself. Are you as good as Selby, our veteran of dozens of Mexican ambushes? But Wilson was a white man and could not be challenged.

They reached Evan's blue Ford.

“Shit! what a jalopy,” said Wilson. He got in the passenger's side. Evans was pleased it was the front seat. “Strikes me as a bit of razzle-dazzle. We don't know for sure whether your Chevy is involved in the killings. And we can't cover all the sites for day labor in Los Angeles. Not all at once.”

“It strikes me as the best angle to check, sir.”

“Since Captain Brewster thinks so, I'll agree.”

They rode along towards the truck yard.

“Why you take up policing, Evans?” Wilson asked.

Evans looked at him, then kept driving. “My father pushed me to try for it. He said I was savvy and law-abiding. Might as well get paid for it.”

Wilson laughed. “Was he a preacher, Evans?”

“He was a Godly man. But he ran a boxing gym.

'Folly is close to the heart of a child,

But the rod of discipline will drive it from him'.

That was my dad's way,” said Evans.

“My dad ran a sawmill,” said Wilson. “He didn't think much of me joining a police force. He believed in the rod of discipline though.” He looked out the window. “But I had my own way.”

Evans bit his tongue. Wilson's father had been a white man. “I had five years on the mean streets, then made Detective,” he did say.

Wilson said “Four as patrol officer, then Detective. What about the rest of your squad, they have similar background? I'm curious what makes up an ethnic force.”

“All of them are solid policemen, sir.”

“No doubt.” They rode in silence for a time. “I mean that. I don't doubt it. It seems to me a different kind of cop. I am curious.”

“You'll be seeing it working today,” said Evans.

The Coleman truckyard was a bare six acres of gravel fenced in by two chain-link enclosures. German shepherds ran between. Inside the inner yard were a dozen heavy trucks, silent now. About a dozen men stood by the gate, ignoring the dogs who danced in fury behind them.

Evans parked a block past it at a spot that gave a good view of the road running past the truckyard.

“Good enough, sir?” he asked Wilson.

“Good enough,” said Wilson, digging out an unfiltered cigarette. “Good luck.”

Evans walked back over the wet pavement to the group of men. They stopped talking as he approached. He was the only man present wearing a tie and white shirt.

“Morning,” he said. Some nodded to him. Evans took out his badge and showed it. “Dectective-Sergeant Moses Evans, Special Investigations Squad. I wanted to talk to you men about Jim Jackson.”

Nobody said anything. Nobody quit looking at him either.

“You all remember Jim Jackson? I hear he was out here just yesterday.”

Nobody said anything.

“Jim Jackson is dead. He died by violence. I'm trying to learn all I can about him.”

A gaunt older man scuffed his feet and said, “Jim Jackson was a solid man. They shouldn't have done that to him.”

“Who did that to him?”

The old man didn't look up.

“I saw his wife, Alma. She said you men were having some trouble. She said Jim was worked up about it.”

The old man looked up at him. “I'd forget Mrs. Jackson said that, mister. Ain't nobody gonna help Negro day labor. And that's the true deal.”

“I'm out here now trying to help you.”

“I'd help myself by forgetting I saw you,” said the old man.

“All right,” said Evans. “So there was trouble, and Jackson was going to help. What do you owe some white men, that you'll hush it up?”

Nobody said anything.

“I'm not taking down any names,” said Evans. “Nobody got to testify if that's what's fretting you. But Jackson got hired by some roughnecks, and there was trouble, and now he's dead. Nobody is trying to sweep that under the rug. We're trying to put daylight on it.”

A small truck pulled up and the men swept past Evans to talk to the driver and passenger. Three of the laborers climbed into the truck bed. The small truck drove away. The others came back to stand before the gate.

“There now,” said Evans. “I'm not trying to bust up your livelihood. I'm not parked out front of here and stopping you from getting jobs. I'm trying to help you get on with your day. I just have some questions about Jim Jackson and the men who hired him.”

“And we're just not saying anything,” said one of the men.

“Jackson was one of you,” said Evans.

“And one of us could be Jackson,” said the man.

The old man asked “Do you really think they're gonna show up here after what they did? Cause if they are, any chance of it, we ain't said nothing to you. I guess I can't throw you off the pavement, but we won't say nothing to you.”

“I guess it's like that, the next day after and all. So you'll go back to work for them?”

“Didn't say that. I expect they won't show at all after what happened,” said the older man.

Evans thought he was probably right. Another small truck came, taking two more men. He was not making much progress, except he was with men who had known Jackson and his troublesome employers.

“What sort of trouble did they have?” asked Evans.

“Balls,” said the old man.

“I have some cards here with our number on it. Take one, and if you change your mind later, then call us anytime of day or night. We can respect a secret.”

None of the men would take a card.

A tall youth yelled, “Hey. Mister. I got a mother and a baby sister at home. I got no job. I didn't get hired all week. You gonna investigate that for me?”

Evans said sadly, “No, I'm not one to look into that, son.”

“Ain't nobody looking into that one,” said the youth. “So I got nothing to say about Jim Jackson.”

Evans walked back to the car.

“So now what?” asked Wilson.

“We try again tomorrow,” said Evans.

“Tomorrow, hell! We just started on today. Now what?”

“Well, I guess we report back that we got nothing. And we try again tomorrow, and maybe somebody feels like telling us anything, and we spend a day looking into it. For now, I don't know.”

Wilson nodded. “I can tell you Robbery/Homicide won't be tied down like that for long. There's too much crime in this city as it is. Maybe the Negro Squad has more time on its hands.”

“We have other assignments, sir. This one takes priority right now.”

“Easily.” Wilson lit a cigarette. “But I'll probably still be with you tomorrow anyhow. You think any of them will talk?”

“They're talking now,” said Evans. “It's just not much useful information. But they are open enough to say that's what they're doing.”

“Want a hand to apply the muscle?” asked Wilson.

Evans looked at him. Wilson was smiling but he didn't seem excited. He didn't seem like he was itching to beat up some stuffy negroes. “No sir, I don't think that's necessary.”

Evans walked back to the line of waiting men. They seemed surprised to see him again. Evans chose to start with the older man as being more garrulous and mature. “What's your name, sir? You may not recall, I'm Moses Evans.”

“You don't need my name for nothing,” said the old man.

“I'm working this double-murder case,” said Evans. “I'm back at it. We're going to keep coming back at it. We know Jim Jackson was hired out of this truck yard We're going to have a chat with his boss. You're going to see me every day until that happens. Now come on, man, speak at me like a human being.”

“Ronald Overton,” said the older man. “Say Mr. Evans, you trying to put the finger on me? We got no protection. We have to be out here to eat. Or somewhere like this place.”

“You got two detectives here with you now. We got other detectives at other areas. So don't think you can find another job site and duck the police. We're out finding answers. We're gonna find the men that hired Jim Jackson. You got nothing to say to me, Mr. Overton?”

Evans thought the older man was too easy with what made sense. He could not really promise protection to these men. Except that they caught the employers of Jim Jackson. If they were the killers after all, he reminded himself.

“Where you come from, Mr. Overton?”

“Chicago, Illinois,” said Overton, slowly.

“That's a rough town I hear. My folks are from Abilene, Texas. My father ran a gym.”

“ Folks come up from Memphis, Tennessee to Chicago. Gotta move around to earn a living. It's hard, terrible hard in Dixie.”

“How about you, young man? What's your collar?” asked Evans.

“Jesse Williams,” said the young man, who was not as angry. He was dressed in sloppy denims and a checked work shirt.

“Where your folks from?”

“My folks come from Memphis. We're here to find work.”

“And finding it rough going?” asked Evans. The youth nodded.

Evans talked to two more burly workers. They gave their names as Ray Jones and Bill Sampson. Jones said that he had come out from Chicago hearing work was a little easier in Los Angeles. Sampson had come from a plantation in Mississippi, having heard that Los Angeles was friendlier towards black men. They said nothing about Jim Jackson or the men who had hired him.

None of the other men were willing to give as much as their names to Evans. He trudged back through the gravel to where Wilson sat, smoking.

“Get anything?” asked Wilson.

“Got the names of some of these men, sir,” said Evans.

“That's all?” asked Wilson.

“That's all, sir,” said Evans. “I'll get more out of them as we go.”

Wilson sat in silence, smoking a cigarette. “It strikes me you move pretty slowly, Evans. I mean, your squad does.”

“These people want protection, sir. By coming here they're seeing that we're a form of protection. It's just a matter of earning trust.”

“I guess you figure on having enough time?”

“How do you mean, sir?” asked Evans.

“I mean that's not how Robbery/Homicide moves along,” said Wilson. “We're more into results. We take direct action to get results.”

Evans remembered Wilson's offer. “These people are witnesses, not suspects, sir. If they get flustered, they'll waste our time with false information.”

“You mean they'll lie.”

“I mean they'll aim to please and say what they think is most pleasing at the moment. Sir. And we'll have to track it down.”

“Yah. I see what you mean.”

“You'll see the results, sir. One tip and we'll have the day to follow it up. Could be tomorrow. We just have to plug at it.”

“Well then. Plug away, Detective-Sergeant.”

Evans walked back to the labor line when a green Ford sedan pulled up to the curb across the street. A lone white man got out of the car and came over to the line of black men.

“Morning!” he shouted and waved.

“Morning, sir,” said the laborers.

“Good morning, sir,” said Evans distinctly a second later. He did not recognize the man.

“I'm looking for friends of a Jim Jackson. You boys know him?” said the man. He was pudgy and wore a dark grey suit and tan overcoat and a dark brown cloth cap.

Evans raised a hand to Wilson, then stepped forward. “Who's asking, sir,” he said, reaching for his badge.

“I'm asking,” said the man, staring at the line of men, and not looking towards Moses Evans. “You there, what's your name? Did you know Jim Jackson?”

“Excuse me, sir,” said Evans. “Los Angeles Police Department.” He held his badge and ID card. “I must ask you how you know Jim Jackson.”

“Don't mean shit to me, Evans,” said the white man. I'm press.” He turned to face Ronald Overton. ”You, old man, what's your name?”

“Don't anybody say nothing here,” said Evans. “Sir, you are impeding a police investigation. May I see your press card?”

“No,” said the white man firmly to Evans. He kept facing Overton. “I asked your name, fella!” He grabbed Overton's arm.

“What's the trouble, pal?” asked Jack Wilson, grabbing the man's arm above the elbow in a pain lock.

“Press,” hissed the man. “I got credentials. Let me get them out.” Wilson still held his arm while he fumbled for his wallet.

“Show them to him,” said Wilson, nodding at Evans.

Evans stepped forward and took the wallet from the sweating man. “Los Angeles Times, Chris Nodds,” he read aloud.

“And a driving license in the name of Chris Nodds.” He gave the wallet back to Nodds.

“Yeah, I'm Chris Nodds. Press! Let go my arm!” yelped Nodds.

“Never heard of you, Nodds. So here's the deal, college boy.” Wilson kept the pain lock, put his face in Nodds' ear. “When I think of the Times, I think of a guy on city desk whose name is daily public record. I got his direct number. You know who I'm talking about. So. My partner busts you, and I call my friend, and I tell him he don't get tips from Robbery/Homicide anymore because Chris Nodds is in custody for fucking with a police officer. So when you get your one phone call and you call your editor to arrange bail, he already knows you're in the bag and he informs you you're fired and on your own. Or, you get the hell out of here and stop trying to scoop your betters. Begone.” He released Nodds, who trotted to the car wriggling his sore arm.

“Morning,” said Wilson to the black men.

“Good morning sir!” they said, grinning.

Wilson nodded and walked back to the car, grinning too. Evans grinned too, though he was not very glad.

“That policeman, he knows his stuff,” said Ronald Overton.

“That white man won't be throwing his weight around a cop again,” said Jesse Williams.

“He don't like college boys any better than cops in Mississippi did,” said Bill Sampson.

“Your city cop, he hates college boys,” said Ray Jones.

“Don't cops go to college?” asked Jesse Williams.

Ronald Overton said, “They just go to cop school.”

Bill Sampson said, “I should go just to learn how to grab a man like that! That's the way to get his attention!”

“Can you pinch like that, Mr. Evans?” asked Ray Jones.

“Yes, but I don't just grab a white man like that,” said Evans.

“I guess you got to watch your step too, Mr. Evans,” said Jones.

Evans knew that was part of it, but also, he did not like the idea of cops grabbing reporters. Still, Nodds had been out of line and Wilson had solved it. Evans thought it was time to keep the ball rolling.

“That's partly why I have a white partner on this case,” he said.

“Black cop white cop,” said Overton.

“Ha! You got the white man for emphasis,” said Sampson.

“You gonna have him beat truth out of us, Mr. Evans,” asked Williams.

Evans decided not to share that Wilson had offered to do just that. “No, I won't do that. You men are witnesses, not accomplices.”

There was a silence among the men.  “You a good man, Mr. Evans,” said Overton. “You know we can't open up about this mess.”

Evans said, “I know that Jim Jackson deserves justice. I know that so far you men are the only chance he's got for justice. I know that I've got to explain to his widow why her husband got shot and nobody is called to answer for it. Then, there's the fact that they also killed another man that night. They can kill again. Okay, so you don't want it to be you. Maybe keeping quiet about it will keep you alive. Maybe not. Maybe it will be some other fellow. For his sake, for your sakes, I want to nail these guys before it happens again.”

None of the men said anything.

A truck rolled up and honked its horn. Evans said, “There's your meal ticket. Better get going.”

None of the men moved.

Bill Sampson said, “I come from Mississippi. It ain't so different here, mister.”

“Meaning you aren't safe?” asked Evans.

“Meaning you're just a black man. You got a badge, but that white reporter stomped all over you. You can't cover for us, Mister Evans.”

“He's talking the truth,” said Ronald Overton.

“I got a wife and two kids,”said Roy Jones. “I can't take chances.”

Another truck pulled up. It was a white Chevy. Evans watched the men carefully. They stared at their feet and remained still. Evans did not think this was duplicity. He felt safely sure this was not the dreaded white Chevy they were refusing to talk about.

He still jotted down the plate number. The truck clattered off down the road.

“You're right about one thing, men. I answer to white men. They won't stand for this much longer.”

“That's the breaks,” said Bill Sampson.

Evans walked back to the blue Ford. Wilson was smoking a cigarette.

“Get anything, Evans?”

“Yes sir,” said Evans. “They love you.”

“Ha! That's good.” Wilson pitched the butt out of the window. “Maybe I should talk to them.”

“I don't think that's necessary sir,” said Evans.

“You've been saying that all morning. And we just have some friends of police work, and no leads. It can't keep going on this way, Evans.”

Evans thought quickly. “Sir, I'll get addresses, and we can follow up at their homes. They may crack away from the others.”

“And maybe not. I think we should start putting some leverage on these guys.”

“Like you did with Nodds? Sir?”

Wilson laughed. “That fat faker! I only did that because he deserved an arrest and we don't have time for the paperwork. I know better than to rough up the press, Evans. I'm not green, but I guess he was.”

“Think there will be a complaint against you, sir?”

“You like the Bible,” said Wilson. “Remember Paul before the Jewish council, when he says he's for the resurrection like one half of them? Or that time he's arrested and beaten, and he waits til the next day to say he's a Roman citizen? You remember those parts?

“Yes I remember them. You saying you got the Holy Spirit with you when you cut up?” Evans was so shocked he forgot the 'sir'. He bit his tongue.

“Hey, that's right, the Spirit was with Paul. No, I mean Paul caught them breaking their own rules. That's the best leverage, Evans, when a man is guilty by his own lights, and you offer to let him catch it.

“I caught Nodds scooping Tim Scott, the Times police beat columnist,” said Wilson. “He should have asked Scott what to do with that lead. Scott would have phoned somebody, and Captain Brewster would feed him as much as we like to share. Then Scott prints it under his name. Nodds can get credit for things like that when he proves himself a good team player. Instead he tried to strike out on his own. It's because he broke his own rule that I could lay into him.”

“If he were a team player you couldn't touch him, sir?” asked Evans.

“Wouldn't like to. Captain Brewster likes team players,” said Wilson.

“So does Lieutenant Freeman,” said Evans.

“And you like playing for your team,” said Wilson.

Evans looked at him for a moment. “Not sure what you mean, Mr. Wilson.”

Wilson stared back at him. “I mean you think you're on the side of those recalcitrant witnesses. You don't want a white man leaning on them.”

Evans said nothing, staring at the road.

“I don't say I blame you for it, Evans,” said Wilson, easily. “But, see, we both answer to people on this murder case. And those bosses are just not going to sit still for it.”

Evans said nothing.

“And our friend Nodds, gives us an angle of leverage,” said Wilson. “We're keeping the press off them. We can stop doing that.”

“That'd be setting them up for a killing,” said Evans.

Wilson stared at him for a long moment. Then he said, “Call me sir.”

“Yes sir,” said Evans.

“We don't have time for waiting on some close-mouthed yokels.”

“Yes sir.”

“We got to restore momentum to this murder case.”

“Yes sir.”

“You can tell me what you think we ought to do.”

“Yes sir.”

“Well go ahead. Tell me.”

“Sir, you go ahead and talk to those men, sir. I can't get more out of them, sir.”

“Okay.” Wilson leaned back and said nothing. Neither did Evans.

“Showtime,” said Wilson. He threw the cigarette away and got out of the car. He became grim and determined. Evans walked with him to the labor line.

Wilson hung his badge in his top coat pocket. He took out a memo pad and pencil. Evans fell into step at his elbow. They approached Ronald Overton first.

“What's this man's name?” Wilson asked Evans.

“Ronald Overton,” said Evans.

“What's your address, Overton?” Wilson asked the older man.

Overton said nothing, but looked at Evans.

“I asked you your address, fellow!” Wilson bellowed.

Overton gave his address.

“Got a phone there? What's the number?” asked Wilson.

He moved down the row of a dozen men. Some tried to fade away, and Wilson charged at them, ordered them back into line. He asked each man for name, address, and telephone number.

A white Ford truck pulled up and honked. Wilson ran to the window. “Police business. Take off and come back later.” The truck pulled away.

The line of laborers slumped.

“All right,” said Wilson. “My name is Detective-Sergeant John Wilson. I am with Robbery/Homicide, and you citizens are a disgrace to the Republic. You have material information regarding the murder of two men, men you knew, and you keep saying you've got nothing to tell us. Detective-Sergeant Evans has been trying to talk with you about this heinous crime, and you Negroes won't give him more than the time of day.

“Now I got your names, I got your addresses, I got telephone numbers. You are going to be bothered in your homes. Those of you with telephones, better answer those calls. The rest of you are going to get knocks on your door. Let me say now, anybody who put down a false address speak up now, or you are facing jail time for interfering with a police investigation.”

“That ain't a wrong address but sometimes I stay with my aunt,” said Jesse Williams.

“Better give me that address, son. Anybody else?” He stared up and down the line.

“All right.” He glared at the black men. Evans sucked in his breath.

“That's it,” said Wilson. “You boys are free to go. Oh, I almost forgot. Take one of Detective-Sergeant Evans' cards. You all take a card, now.” Evans went along the line, handing out cards. Everyone took one.

“That's all. Don't try to duck those phone calls and visits. We won't like it.” Wilson turned and went back into the car. Evans climbed in after him.

“Too damn bad we still have to wait for that Chevy. Maybe you better park along the block a little.”

“Yes sir,” said Evans.

Wilson said, “I don't think you should stand with those men any more. I think we let them steam in their own sweat a little bit.”

“Yes sir.”

“And now you can sit on your ass and smoke to earn your pay.” Wilson grinned.

“Yes sir. Thank you, sir,” said Evans.

Wilson looked at him a short while. “You persuaded me that these Negroes are too square to be wrung out. Also that your stripes aren't just useless decoration. I'll trust your experience on this one, Evans.”

Evans smiled, but he remembered what Bess Manson had said about the need to steal. He had to admit, to himself, that he heard that one too often from the community.

“I wonder why these guys don't find regular work,”

“It appears that isn't the program, sir. They can be hired piecemeal for a time of the boss' choosing. If they don't like it, they can walk off the job, but they won't be hired by that boss again. And the bosses talk about troublemakers.”

“Huh. Sure none of them are Reds?”

“Sir, that man Williams came up from a Mississippi plantation. He held my card upside down; I don't think he can read. I don't think any of them know what a Socialist is.”

“That might be stretching it a bit, Evans.”

“Maybe so sir, but I figure I'd have got more sass from a Red.”

Wilson laughed. “Yeah, they do not know how to shut up.”

Evans got out and trudged back to the truckyard gate.  “About what time would Jackson get picked up?”he asked.

Nobody said anything.

“Well, now I'm asking you so I can know when to leave,” laughed Evans. “Otherwise we're staying put as long as you do.”

One of the men said, “Usually we take off about now if nobody come. The truckyard owner open up about 8:00 a.m., and he don't want us standing here while his trucks come and go.”

“Okay, then we'll take off when you do,” said Evans. He went back to the car to wait.

No other white Chevy came. Eventually, the men left. Evans started the car and they drove back to Crocker Center.

Captain Brewster was exasperated. Apparently none of the teams had found out much more than Wilson and Evans.

“We did confirm some bad blood between Jackson and his employers, sir,” said Evans.

“You call that confirmed? We don't even know their names,” huffed Brewster.

“I believe they'll give more details in the days to come, sir,” said Evans.

“Days! What's your report, Wilson?” asked Brewster.

“I let Detective-Sergeant Evans make the approach, Captain, as it seemed likely these men would be hostile to a white officer.”

“Hell! You aren't doing anything at all, Wilson.”

“If Detective-Sergeant Evans thinks a slow approach is going to produce results, then I suppose we should follow his lead, Captain.”

“It's either that or toss it back to the Negro Squad, I guess. I can see why they created the ethnic forces in the first place. Alright, I can't have a Detective-Sergeant cooling his heels all day waiting for work. Take lunch, Wilson, come back, and then take off at three. Be back here by 3:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Evans, you can report back to Lieutenant Freeman. Be back here as well.”

Evans and Wilson headed down the corridor.

“Thanks, Mr. Wilson, for your support back there.”

“Not at all,” said Wilson. “He's got enough sense to see you know what you're doing. Wait and see, huh?”

“That's probably the best course, sir. Irritating, but it should pay off.”

“You must figure those guys are pretty square and level.”

Evans thought. “Yes sir, I do.”

Wilson nodded. “Shoving doesn't work on square guys. I guess you know that.”

Evans said, “I hadn't really thought about it, sir. It doesn't come up very often in our line of work. I think that's more of a patrol officer's trouble.”

Wilson said “You don't say. Hey Evans,” he said as Evans opened the door to the stairwell, “Do you think I offered to use muscle because those men were colored?”

Evans said, “Yes sir, that is what I had thought.”

Wilson grinned. “Well, it wasn't. See you tomorrow.”

Evans drove back to Newton Street, parked the Ford, and went to type his report.

Moses Evans thought about the apparent deal that Robbery/Homicide had with the Times. The Newton Street Division didn't make deals like that. Evans supposed they lacked the leverage, being a unit of black men gathered to fight black crime in ways white men could not. He remembered that he wanted to talk with Lieutenant Freeman. He took his reports to Sergeant Williams and asked to talk to the Lieutenant for a minute.

“Take them in with you,” said Sergeant Williams. “He'll want to read them first.”

Lieutenant Freeman had his feet on his desk. He did not put them down as he greeted Evans, and then held out his hand for the reports. He waved Evans to a chair while he read the report. Freeman read as Teddy Roosevelt had – quick Z's along and down each page. “Well well. By the way, congratulations on cracking that Manson case in a day.”

“It's the Jackson/Elmswood case that has me bothered. I forgot to say 'sir' to Mr. Wilson and he called me on it.”

Freeman waved it away. “He's a Detective-Sergeant. So are you. You'll both get past it. Wilson is a human being. There must be something else bothering you.”

“He wants to crack down on the witnesses.”

Freeman said, “So, then it happens.”

Evans said, “I think it would ruin our best lead on the case.”

“Maybe so,” said Freeman. “But we have to start pushing. They have a third body.”

Evans just stared.

“John Doe”, said Freeman. “Probably some kind of foreigner. Found this morning in an alleyway in just his socks. Looks like his clothing was cut off him. Now, this one is going to be different. For one thing, he was probably shot where he was found. From the front. Nitrate tests on his hands show positive. So he may have been able to fire back. And, he's a circumcised black man, light beard, with prominent tattoos on chest and back and arms, and some weird kind of dental work. Not silver or gold amalgam. Socks were made in China, of all places.”

“That doesn't sound like anybody we know,” said Evans. Tattoos were extremely rare among American black men, as was circumcision, and most either shaved clean or used shaving powder to remove their beards.

“We are checking the port for missing sailors,” said Freeman. “Ballistics is looking at the slugs, but it looks to be a .45, like the Jackson/Elmswood shooting.”

“Doesn't add up,” said Evans. “We thought we knew why Jackson and Elmswood had been killed. This John Doe throws it open. Can it really be a serial killer of black men?”

“Who sometimes let them shoot back? Anyhow who the hell is he?”

“If he's a sailor that might account for the nitrates without any shooting,” said Evans.

“Could be,” said Freeman. “But that's got to wait until we get an ID on the victim. For right now we have to push on the Jackson/Elmswood angle. It's all we have, and we have damned little.” Freeman cracked his knuckles. “The white Chevy truck has never made an appearance. That is, a couple of white Chevy trucks had come by Olivera Street, but the driver was a Mexican each time. We've asked the Department of Motor Vehicles for a search of the plate numbers and a copy of the registration, but that will take a week to process, and anyhow I don't think it's the same truck. I think these laborers are too simple to try and meet that truck in front of one of our detectives.

“Maybe next week somebody will run into that truck trying to hire more laborers, but I doubt it. Seems to me that they've gone to ground. So the best bet is those laborers, and the kid glove treatment isn't getting results. We shouldn't be putting more than a couple of men on this case, and instead we're working two squads. It's getting to you. I see it in you. I read it in your report. I know they're the last thing you do in a workday. It's getting to you.”

Evans sat in his chair with clenched fists at his knees. “We're supposed to protect people like those laborers.”

“Can't save them from themselves. Wilson won't get physical. I've heard good things about him from Brewster. He knows his limits. Do you remember yours?”

Evans said slowly, “I think I'm still learning them.”

“That's progress,” said Freeman. “If I didn't think you boys could manage with white partners, I wouldn't have approved this teaming up with Robbery/Homicide.”

Evans was startled. “I didn't know you had any say about it.”

“I sure did. Captain Brewster wanted it to be a mutually agreed operation. I had a veto. I withheld it.” Freeman sat up straighter in his chair. “Now, it isn't your task to bear the burden of the Negro race. You're not even the only Negro trying to be a good cop. Now, detective, get on home to bed. Tomorrow is a fresh day. Sir the white man when you see him.”

Evans wasn't sure Wilson was still to be trusted. But he admitted that he had failed with the gentle approach, so far. He could not really expect a white man like Brewster to be patient on account of the convenience of Negroes. Then he remembered how Robbery/Homicide had leverage with the Times, and for once he thought of Brewster as more than a fat buffoon, as a shrewd master of leverages unseen to him, all about him, that moved him as well as others unknown to him. And apparently Freeman, too, had his leverages to wield.

Then he realized he was sitting in front of Lieutenant Freeman after he'd been dismissed, and he hastened to leave. He said, “Good night, Lieutenant,” and went home to read the Acts of the Apostles. He wanted to check on what Wilson said about the Apostle Paul.

Valencia Ramos was at the farm office, preparing for a trip through the gate, when Jerry Jake burst through the office door, holding it open for the Professor. The Professor was swearing.

“God damn you! You’ve made it worse than before! I could have lost a lawsuit, but—“ he cut off sharply as they saw Valencia. “In the office,” said Godwrot. They passed by her and slammed the office door. Valencia heard shouting for a few minutes.

She had not seen Rod Thomas again, and she was beginning to accept what that meant about the whole operation. Valencia was not a meek little mouse who didn’t know what shipping opium and elephant ivory through the gate back Home meant, but she was starting to realize why Rod had asked her if she knew how the work force was kept in line. Rod Thomas had been part of that, and he had become a problem himself.

Probably thinking about being in danger warned her subconsciously to be busy when they came out of the office. She got open her filing cabinet and began pulling invoices. Jerry Jake rushed out the office and out the outer door before the office door had stopped moving.

The Professor crept in much more slowly. She heard the door open and his chair roll over the floorboards. She turned. He was staring at her.

“I guess things aren’t going so smoothly,” she said. He raised his eyebrows at her.

“I want to tell you that I’m not lost in the fog or anything,” she said. “I’m aware what we’re doing is illegal, and I just want to enjoy the fruits of my labors.”

He frowned a little, then laughed. “I am so glad you didn’t ask for more money. Because,” he rolled himself backwards, “I don’t have to buy your cooperation. You’re in it up to your neck.”

Valencia nodded, as if she understood, and to some degree she was with him. She was in too deep to persuade anybody she hadn’t known something was very wrong. Thinking about it later, she realized, that even if she’d known exactly what was coming, she’d not have dared to object. Did that make her legally culpable? She didn’t blame herself at all, not at all. She had that talent.

Tom Cooper was proud of being a courthouse deputy. Most of the deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office saw the duty as demeaning, a break from real police work of patrolling the county and making arrests. Cooper was glad to represent his office in a pressed uniform and deal daily with judges and the formalities of holding court session.

At present he was helping secure the judges’ garage, and to the other deputies present, they were little better than glorified parking lot attendants.

“Wonder what’s keeping old Olmstead,” said Deputy Jeff Price.

“Probably a little late reading with a snootful,” said Deputy Mark Gonzalez.

“He’s got a lot on his plate,” said Cooper. Copper respected the judges at the courthouse. He did not notice Price and Gonzalez look at each other.

Gonzalez lit a cigarette, a technical breach of protocol in uniform. Subtly Price and Cooper stepped away from him to talk to each other with their backs to him. “I put in for a transfer back to patrol duty,” said Price. “Gotta run with the posse again.”

“Beats jail duty anyhow,” said Cooper.

“It does at that,” laughed Price.

The courthouse door opened, and Price and Cooper both coughed loudly. Gonzalez’s cigarette flew through the air onto the driveway. Judge Perry Olmstead stepped into the garage, and sniffed at the air.

“Evening, your Honor,” said Cooper. Price touched his cap respectfully.

“Good evening, officer. Everything normal around here?” asked Olmstead, a gaunt older man with sideburns and a pince-nez.

“All in order, sir,” said Cooper.

“Good. I’ll let you get back to your smoke break then,” said the judge severely. He strode off to his cobalt blue Oldsmobile. The deputies looked at each other. Gonzalez shrugged.

Cooper heard the ignition kick over, then felt a blinding flash of heat and a soft pressure on his cheek that was the floor of the garage. Then he felt nothing at all.

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Chapter 3 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour
Friday, July 11, 2015 -- The Third Day
The clanging bells woke Evans at 2:00 a.m. He took a warm shower. He put on another brown shirt, his holster, brown trousers, and a houndstooth coat. He walked down the block to an all-night colored diner.

“Morning Moses! You out late or up early?” asked the cheerful waitress. Moses had a porkchop baked in tomatoes and four cups of black coffee. The chop was tender as chicken breast and the coffee was fresh. He rode the bus to Union Station in the creamy langour of a man awake but too early, feeling that the best part of a long day was behind him. From the station he caught a bus to Newton Street, and drove to Crocker Center.
Despite the early hour, he still avoided using the elevator. He returned to the conference room on the third floor.
The black detectives of the Special Investigations Squad were all present, and none of the whites of Robbery/Homicide.
“Now, this won't do,” said Lieutenant Freeman, smiling wryly. “You men go smoke in the parking lot and I'll send for you after the others come in.”
The black men filed down the stairs to stand in the parking lot.

“Can't show up the white man,” said Detective-Sergeant Jewell Tyrell with a Texas twang. “Got to do wrong to get right.”

“Ain't no such thing as an innocent Negro,” said Detective Mike Franzy.

“I hope I can facilitate some movement in the Negro community,” said Tyrell.

“That captain sure is smart, to notice we're Negroes,” said Dan Selby.

'You fellows think we'll get some leads today?” asked Rudy Eli.

“Nobody going to talk to white cops about their troubles,” said Tyrell. “Captain knows it, he's just spinning the wheels.”

“No,” said Evans. “He's following the only real trace we have. He's just making sure Robbery/Homicide will get all credit for anything we find. If you're all as smart as you want to be, you get the witnesses in a line, with your white man talking to one end of the line and you work the other end toward the middle. That way you might find out something. Then whatever you find out, give it to Lieutenant Freeman after you come in.”

A white cop walked out onto the steps and hollered “Hey! You boys! You're wanted!” The men ground out their cigarettes and walked over to the third floor.

The Robbery/Homicide detectives were seated as before. Captain Brewster was shuffling papers on his podium. Lieutenant Freeman stood again in the back of the room. From Freeman's placid expression and ramrod bearing, he had been bawled out.

“Alright,” said Brewster. “Here's the assignments.
“Derren, you're with Eli. Fabian, you're with Franzy. Garey, you're with Gaios. Guerino, you're with Selby. Macario, you're with Wilke. Tiede, you're with Yeho – natan.”

Evans wondered if the Captain thought alphabetical order was some kind of secret code in the Department.

“Detective-Sergeant Roldan, you're with Detective-Sergeant Tyrell. Detective-Sergeant Wilson, you're with Detective-Sergeant Evans.”
Captain Brewster turned a page.
“Derren, and Fabian: take the docks of Los Angeles Harbor. Gary, take the workers at Hoover Pedestrian Mall. Guerino, you take the workers at Olivera Street.
Macario, check out the McKenna truckyard. Tiede, you take the Olson lumberyard.

“Those are just probables. We know that Jackson was hired at the Coleman truckyard. Wilson, you take that one. Elmswood was hired at the Bisk Tool & Lumber. Roldan, you check it out.”

Evans noted that Captain Brewster had addressed the white officers exclusively.

“Any questions?” asked Brewster.
“Then better get moving, they usually start there about 5 a.m. Report back here tonight at 12:00 p.m. “
Lieutenant Freeman said “A word, squad.” The black men gathered around the Lieutenant in the back of the room. “Remember what I said, you got to deliver on this one, men. It's on all of you. Just mind your step with these Robbery/Homicide fellows. If you get something, keep me in the loop.”

Evans remembered Freeman had been a good detective before he was promoted to what amounted to Negro ambassador to Headquarters. He resolved that he would seek Freeman's counsel more closely.

The men split up into pairs. Evans came to stand beside Detective-Sergeant Jack Wilson, a strong man in his middle-forties with blue eyes and hair like damp straw. He wore a black Stetson and a black suit with red pinstripes and a silver bolo tie.

“That was some solid work, Evans. You know this truckyard?”

“Only heard of it yesterday, sir.”

“Well, we'll go check it out.”
The two headed to the door. Evans turned down the hall towards the stairs. Wilson stopped. “Take the elevator with me, I don't mind.” Evans followed with some suprise.

In the elevator, Wilson said, “I don't know what you'll get from those workers. It strikes me that anybody who knows anything would be scared to talk.”

“What I'll get?” Evans stared at Wilson. “Sir.”

Wilson smiled. “I know why they have a colored squad, Evans. I won't get anything out of these guys. The best thing I can do for the new few hours is keep an eye out for a white Chevy.”

“Think we'll see it, Mr. Wilson?” asked Evans.

“That depends on how stupid they are, and I don't know them. They did a pretty thorough job of murder though. Just be on the jump if I whistle. It means we'll have to chase them.”

They walked across the asphalt lot towards the parked cars.

“Speaking of being on the jump,” said Wilson a little too casually, “you know how to use that gat?”

“Yes sir. Shot down a punk in 2008. I thought about it, Mr. Wilson. I'd back out if I couldn't hang.”
And how about you? Evans thought to himself. Are you as good as Selby, our veteran of dozens of Mexican ambushes? But Wilson was a white man and could not be challenged.

They reached Evan's blue Ford.

“Shit! what a jalopy,” said Wilson. He got in the passenger's side. Evans was pleased it was the front seat. “Strikes me as a bit of razzle-dazzle. We don't know for sure whether your Chevy is involved in the killings. And we can't cover all the sites for day labor in Los Angeles. Not all at once.”

“It strikes me as the best angle to check, sir.”

“Since Captain Brewster thinks so, I'll agree.”

They rode along towards the truck yard.

“Why you take up policing, Evans?” Wilson asked.

Evans looked at him, then kept driving. “My father pushed me to try for it. He said I was savvy and law-abiding. Might as well get paid for it.”

Wilson laughed. “Was he a preacher, Evans?”

“He was a Godly man. But he ran a boxing gym.

'Folly is close to the heart of a child,
But the rod of discipline will drive it from him'.

That was my dad's way,” said Evans.

“My dad ran a sawmill,” said Wilson. “He didn't think much of me joining a police force. He believed in the rod of discipline though.” He looked out the window. “But I had my own way.”

Evans bit his tongue. Wilson's father had been a white man. “I had five years on the mean streets, then made Detective,” he did say.

Wilson said “Four as patrol officer, then Detective. What about the rest of your squad, they have similar background? I'm curious what makes up an ethnic force.”

“All of them are solid policemen, sir.”

“No doubt.” They rode in silence for a time. “I mean that. I don't doubt it. It seems to me a different kind of cop. I am curious.”

“You'll be seeing it working today,” said Evans.

The Coleman truckyard was a bare six acres of gravel fenced in by two chain-link enclosures. German shepherds ran between. Inside the inner yard were a dozen heavy trucks, silent now. About a dozen men stood by the gate, ignoring the dogs who danced in fury behind them.
Evans parked a block past it at a spot that gave a good view of the road running past the truckyard.
“Good enough, sir?” he asked Wilson.

“Good enough,” said Wilson, digging out an unfiltered cigarette. “Good luck.”

Evans walked back over the wet pavement to the group of men. They stopped talking as he approached. He was the only man present wearing a tie and white shirt.
“Morning,” he said. Some nodded to him. Evans took out his badge and showed it. “Dectective-Sergeant Moses Evans, Special Investigations Squad. I wanted to talk to you men about Jim Jackson.”
Nobody said anything. Nobody quit looking at him either.

“You all remember Jim Jackson? I hear he was out here just yesterday.”

Nobody said anything.

“Jim Jackson is dead. He died by violence. I'm trying to learn all I can about him.”

A gaunt older man scuffed his feet and said, “Jim Jackson was a solid man. They shouldn't have done that to him.”

“Who did that to him?”

The old man didn't look up.

“I saw his wife, Alma. She said you men were having some trouble. She said Jim was worked up about it.”

The old man looked up at him. “I'd forget Mrs. Jackson said that, mister. Ain't nobody gonna help Negro day labor. And that's the true deal.”

“I'm out here now trying to help you.”

“I'd help myself by forgetting I saw you,” said the old man.

“All right,” said Evans. “So there was trouble, and Jackson was going to help. What do you owe some white men, that you'll hush it up?”

Nobody said anything.

“I'm not taking down any names,” said Evans. “Nobody got to testify if that's what's fretting you. But Jackson got hired by some roughnecks, and there was trouble, and now he's dead. Nobody is trying to sweep that under the rug. We're trying to put daylight on it.”

A small truck pulled up and the men swept past Evans to talk to the driver and passenger. Three of the laborers climbed into the truck bed. The small truck drove away. The others came back to stand before the gate.

“There now,” said Evans. “I'm not trying to bust up your livelihood. I'm not parked out front of here and stopping you from getting jobs. I'm trying to help you get on with your day. I just have some questions about Jim Jackson and the men who hired him.”


“And we're just not saying anything,” said one of the men.

“Jackson was one of you,” said Evans.

“And one of us could be Jackson,” said the man.

The old man asked “Do you really think they're gonna show up here after what they did? Cause if they are, any chance of it, we ain't said nothing to you. I guess I can't throw you off the pavement, but we won't say nothing to you.”

“I guess it's like that, the next day after and all. So you'll go back to work for them?”

“Didn't say that. I expect they won't show at all after what happened,” said the older man.

Evans thought he was probably right. Another small truck came, taking two more men. He was not making much progress, except he was with men who had known Jackson and his troublesome employers.

“What sort of trouble did they have?” asked Evans.

“Balls,” said the old man.

“I have some cards here with our number on it. Take one, and if you change your mind later, then call us anytime of day or night. We can respect a secret.”
None of the men would take a card.

A tall youth yelled, “Hey. Mister. I got a mother and a baby sister at home. I got no job. I didn't get hired all week. You gonna investigate that for me?”

Evans said sadly, “No, I'm not one to look into that, son.”

“Ain't nobody looking into that one,” said the youth. “So I got nothing to say about Jim Jackson.”
Evans walked back to the car.

“So now what?” asked Wilson.

“We try again tomorrow,” said Evans.

“Tomorrow, hell! We just started on today. Now what?”

“Well, I guess we report back that we got nothing. And we try again tomorrow, and maybe somebody feels like telling us anything, and we spend a day looking into it. For now, I don't know.”

Wilson nodded. “I can tell you Robbery/Homicide won't be tied down like that for long. There's too much crime in this city as it is. Maybe the Negro Squad has more time on its hands.”

“We have other assignments, sir. This one takes priority right now.”

“Easily.” Wilson lit a cigarette. “But I'll probably still be with you tomorrow anyhow. You think any of them will talk?”

“They're talking now,” said Evans. “It's just not much useful information. But they are open enough to say that's what they're doing.”

“Want a hand to apply the muscle?” asked Wilson.

Evans looked at him. Wilson was smiling but he didn't seem excited. He didn't seem like he was itching to beat up some stuffy negroes. “No sir, I don't think that's necessary.”

Evans walked back to the line of waiting men. They seemed surprised to see him again. Evans chose to start with the older man as being more garrulous and mature. “What's your name, sir? You may not recall, I'm Moses Evans.”

“You don't need my name for nothing,” said the old man.

“I'm working this double-murder case,” said Evans. “I'm back at it. We're going to keep coming back at it. We know Jim Jackson was hired out of this truck yard We're going to have a chat with his boss. You're going to see me every day until that happens. Now come on, man, speak at me like a human being.”

“Ronald Overton,” said the older man. “Say Mr. Evans, you trying to put the finger on me? We got no protection. We have to be out here to eat. Or somewhere like this place.”

“You got two detectives here with you now. We got other detectives at other areas. So don't think you can find another job site and duck the police. We're out finding answers. We're gonna find the men that hired Jim Jackson. You got nothing to say to me, Mr. Overton?”

Evans thought the older man was too easy with what made sense. He could not really promise protection to these men. Except that they caught the employers of Jim Jackson. If they were the killers after all, he reminded himself.
“Where you come from, Mr. Overton?”

“Chicago, Illinois,” said Overton, slowly.

“That's a rough town I hear. My folks are from Abilene, Texas. My father ran a gym.”

“ Folks come up from Memphis, Tennessee to Chicago. Gotta move around to earn a living. It's hard, terrible hard in Dixie.”

“How about you, young man? What's your collar?” asked Evans.

“Jesse Williams,” said the young man, who was not as angry. He was dressed in sloppy denims and a checked work shirt.

“Where your folks from?”

“My folks come from Memphis. We're here to find work.”

“And finding it rough going?” asked Evans. The youth nodded.

Evans talked to two more burly workers. They gave their names as Ray Jones and Bill Sampson. Jones said that he had come out from Chicago hearing work was a little easier in Los Angeles. Sampson had come from a plantation in Mississippi, having heard that Los Angeles was friendlier towards black men. They said nothing about Jim Jackson or the men who had hired him.

None of the other men were willing to give as much as their names to Evans. He trudged back through the gravel to where Wilson sat, smoking.

“Get anything?” asked Wilson.

“Got the names of some of these men, sir,” said Evans.

“That's all?” asked Wilson.
“That's all, sir,” said Evans. “I'll get more out of them as we go.”

Wilson sat in silence, smoking a cigarette. “It strikes me you move pretty slowly, Evans. I mean, your squad does.”

“These people want protection, sir. By coming here they're seeing that we're a form of protection. It's just a matter of earning trust.”

“I guess you figure on having enough time?”

“How do you mean, sir?” asked Evans.

“I mean that's not how Robbery/Homicide moves along,” said Wilson. “We're more into results. We take direct action to get results.”

Evans remembered Wilson's offer. “These people are witnesses, not suspects, sir. If they get flustered, they'll waste our time with false information.”

“You mean they'll lie.”

“I mean they'll aim to please and say what they think is most pleasing at the moment. Sir. And we'll have to track it down.”

“Yah. I see what you mean.”

“You'll see the results, sir. One tip and we'll have the day to follow it up. Could be tomorrow. We just have to plug at it.”

“Well then. Plug away, Detective-Sergeant.”

Evans walked back to the labor line when a green Ford sedan pulled up to the curb across the street. A lone white man got out of the car and came over to the line of black men.
“Morning!” he shouted and waved.

“Morning, sir,” said the laborers.
“Good morning, sir,” said Evans distinctly a second later. He did not recognize the man.

“I'm looking for friends of a Jim Jackson. You boys know him?” said the man. He was pudgy and wore a dark grey suit and tan overcoat and a dark brown cloth cap.

Evans raised a hand to Wilson, then stepped forward. “Who's asking, sir,” he said, reaching for his badge.

“I'm asking,” said the man, staring at the line of men, and not looking towards Moses Evans. “You there, what's your name? Did you know Jim Jackson?”

“Excuse me, sir,” said Evans. “Los Angeles Police Department.” He held his badge and ID card. “I must ask you how you know Jim Jackson.”

“Don't mean shit to me, Evans,” said the white man. I'm press.” He turned to face Ronald Overton. ”You, old man, what's your name?”

“Don't anybody say nothing here,” said Evans. “Sir, you are impeding a police investigation. May I see your press card?”

“No,” said the white man firmly to Evans. He kept facing Overton. “I asked your name, fella!” He grabbed Overton's arm.

“What's the trouble, pal?” asked Jack Wilson, grabbing the man's arm above the elbow in a pain lock.

“Press,” hissed the man. “I got credentials. Let me get them out.” Wilson still held his arm while he fumbled for his wallet.

“Show them to him,” said Wilson, nodding at Evans.

Evans stepped forward and took the wallet from the sweating man. “Los Angeles Times, Chris Nodds,” he read aloud.
“And a driving license in the name of Chris Nodds.” He gave the wallet back to Nodds.

“Yeah, I'm Chris Nodds. Press! Let go my arm!” yelped Nodds.

“Never heard of you, Nodds. So here's the deal, college boy.” Wilson kept the pain lock, put his face in Nodds' ear. “When I think of the Times, I think of a guy on city desk whose name is daily public record. I got his direct number. You know who I'm talking about. So. My partner busts you, and I call my friend, and I tell him he don't get tips from Robbery/Homicide anymore because Chris Nodds is in custody for fucking with a police officer. So when you get your one phone call and you call your editor to arrange bail, he already knows you're in the bag and he informs you you're fired and on your own. Or, you get the hell out of here and stop trying to scoop your betters. Begone.” He released Nodds, who trotted to the car wriggling his sore arm.

“Morning,” said Wilson to the black men.

“Good morning sir!” they said, grinning.
Wilson nodded and walked back to the car, grinning too. Evans grinned too, though he was not very glad.

“That policeman, he knows his stuff,” said Ronald Overton.

“That white man won't be throwing his weight around a cop again,” said Jesse Williams.

“He don't like college boys any better than cops in Mississippi did,” said Bill Sampson.

“Your city cop, he hates college boys,” said Ray Jones.

“Don't cops go to college?” asked Jesse Williams.

Ronald Overton said, “They just go to cop school.”

Bill Sampson said, “I should go just to learn how to grab a man like that! That's the way to get his attention!”

“Can you pinch like that, Mr. Evans?” asked Ray Jones.

“Yes, but I don't just grab a white man like that,” said Evans.

“I guess you got to watch your step too, Mr. Evans,” said Jones.

Evans knew that was part of it, but also, he did not like the idea of cops grabbing reporters. Still, Nodds had been out of line and Wilson had solved it. Evans thought it was time to keep the ball rolling.
“That's partly why I have a white partner on this case,” he said.

“Black cop white cop,” said Overton.

“Ha! You got the white man for emphasis,” said Sampson.

“You gonna have him beat truth out of us, Mr. Evans,” asked Williams.

Evans decided not to share that Wilson had offered to do just that. “No, I won't do that. You men are witnesses, not accomplices.”

There was a silence among the men.  “You a good man, Mr. Evans,” said Overton. “You know we can't open up about this mess.”

Evans said, “I know that Jim Jackson deserves justice. I know that so far you men are the only chance he's got for justice. I know that I've got to explain to his widow why her husband got shot and nobody is called to answer for it. Then, there's the fact that they also killed another man that night. They can kill again. Okay, so you don't want it to be you. Maybe keeping quiet about it will keep you alive. Maybe not. Maybe it will be some other fellow. For his sake, for your sakes, I want to nail these guys before it happens again.”

None of the men said anything.

A truck rolled up and honked its horn. Evans said, “There's your meal ticket. Better get going.”

None of the men moved.

Bill Sampson said, “I come from Mississippi. It ain't so different here, mister.”

“Meaning you aren't safe?” asked Evans.

“Meaning you're just a black man. You got a badge, but that white reporter stomped all over you. You can't cover for us, Mister Evans.”

“He's talking the truth,” said Ronald Overton.

“I got a wife and two kids,”said Roy Jones. “I can't take chances.”

Another truck pulled up. It was a white Chevy. Evans watched the men carefully. They stared at their feet and remained still. Evans did not think this was duplicity. He felt safely sure this was not the dreaded white Chevy they were refusing to talk about.
He still jotted down the plate number. The truck clattered off down the road.

“You're right about one thing, men. I answer to white men. They won't stand for this much longer.”

“That's the breaks,” said Bill Sampson.

Evans walked back to the blue Ford. Wilson was smoking a cigarette.
“Get anything, Evans?”

“Yes sir,” said Evans. “They love you.”

“Ha! That's good.” Wilson pitched the butt out of the window. “Maybe I should talk to them.”

“I don't think that's necessary sir,” said Evans.

“You've been saying that all morning. And we just have some friends of police work, and no leads. It can't keep going on this way, Evans.”

Evans thought quickly. “Sir, I'll get addresses, and we can follow up at their homes. They may crack away from the others.”

“And maybe not. I think we should start putting some leverage on these guys.”

“Like you did with Nodds? Sir?”

Wilson laughed. “That fat faker! I only did that because he deserved an arrest and we don't have time for the paperwork. I know better than to rough up the press, Evans. I'm not green, but I guess he was.”

“Think there will be a complaint against you, sir?”

“You like the Bible,” said Wilson. “Remember Paul before the Jewish council, when he says he's for the resurrection like one half of them? Or that time he's arrested and beaten, and he waits til the next day to say he's a Roman citizen? You remember those parts?

“Yes I remember them. You saying you got the Holy Spirit with you when you cut up?” Evans was so shocked he forgot the 'sir'. He bit his tongue.

“Hey, that's right, the Spirit was with Paul. No, I mean Paul caught them breaking their own rules. That's the best leverage, Evans, when a man is guilty by his own lights, and you offer to let him catch it.

“I caught Nodds scooping Tim Scott, the Times police beat columnist,” said Wilson. “He should have asked Scott what to do with that lead. Scott would have phoned somebody, and Captain Brewster would feed him as much as we like to share. Then Scott prints it under his name. Nodds can get credit for things like that when he proves himself a good team player. Instead he tried to strike out on his own. It's because he broke his own rule that I could lay into him.”

“If he were a team player you couldn't touch him, sir?” asked Evans.

“Wouldn't like to. Captain Brewster likes team players,” said Wilson.

“So does Lieutenant Freeman,” said Evans.

“And you like playing for your team,” said Wilson.

Evans looked at him for a moment. “Not sure what you mean, Mr. Wilson.”

Wilson stared back at him. “I mean you think you're on the side of those recalcitrant witnesses. You don't want a white man leaning on them.”

Evans said nothing, staring at the road.

“I don't say I blame you for it, Evans,” said Wilson, easily. “But, see, we both answer to people on this murder case. And those bosses are just not going to sit still for it.”

Evans said nothing.

“And our friend Nodds, gives us an angle of leverage,” said Wilson. “We're keeping the press off them. We can stop doing that.”

“That'd be setting them up for a killing,” said Evans.

Wilson stared at him for a long moment. Then he said, “Call me sir.”

“Yes sir,” said Evans.

“We don't have time for waiting on some close-mouthed yokels.”

“Yes sir.”

“We got to restore momentum to this murder case.”

“Yes sir.”

“You can tell me what you think we ought to do.”

“Yes sir.”

“Well go ahead. Tell me.”

“Sir, you go ahead and talk to those men, sir. I can't get more out of them, sir.”

“Okay.” Wilson leaned back and said nothing. Neither did Evans.

“Showtime,” said Wilson. He threw the cigarette away and got out of the car. He became grim and determined. Evans walked with him to the labor line.
Wilson hung his badge in his top coat pocket. He took out a memo pad and pencil. Evans fell into step at his elbow. They approached Ronald Overton first.
“What's this man's name?” Wilson asked Evans.

“Ronald Overton,” said Evans.

“What's your address, Overton?” Wilson asked the older man.

Overton said nothing, but looked at Evans.

“I asked you your address, fellow!” Wilson bellowed.

Overton gave his address.

“Got a phone there? What's the number?” asked Wilson.
He moved down the row of a dozen men. Some tried to fade away, and Wilson charged at them, ordered them back into line. He asked each man for name, address, and telephone number.

A white Ford truck pulled up and honked. Wilson ran to the window. “Police business. Take off and come back later.” The truck pulled away.
The line of laborers slumped.

“All right,” said Wilson. “My name is Detective-Sergeant John Wilson. I am with Robbery/Homicide, and you citizens are a disgrace to the Republic. You have material information regarding the murder of two men, men you knew, and you keep saying you've got nothing to tell us. Detective-Sergeant Evans has been trying to talk with you about this heinous crime, and you Negroes won't give him more than the time of day.

“Now I got your names, I got your addresses, I got telephone numbers. You are going to be bothered in your homes. Those of you with telephones, better answer those calls. The rest of you are going to get knocks on your door. Let me say now, anybody who put down a false address speak up now, or you are facing jail time for interfering with a police investigation.”

“That ain't a wrong address but sometimes I stay with my aunt,” said Jesse Williams.

“Better give me that address, son. Anybody else?” He stared up and down the line.
“All right.” He glared at the black men. Evans sucked in his breath.
“That's it,” said Wilson. “You boys are free to go. Oh, I almost forgot. Take one of Detective-Sergeant Evans' cards. You all take a card, now.” Evans went along the line, handing out cards. Everyone took one.
“That's all. Don't try to duck those phone calls and visits. We won't like it.” Wilson turned and went back into the car. Evans climbed in after him.

“Too damn bad we still have to wait for that Chevy. Maybe you better park along the block a little.”

“Yes sir,” said Evans.

Wilson said, “I don't think you should stand with those men any more. I think we let them steam in their own sweat a little bit.”
“Yes sir.”

“And now you can sit on your ass and smoke to earn your pay.” Wilson grinned.

“Yes sir. Thank you, sir,” said Evans.

Wilson looked at him a short while. “You persuaded me that these Negroes are too square to be wrung out. Also that your stripes aren't just useless decoration. I'll trust your experience on this one, Evans.”

Evans smiled, but he remembered what Bess Manson had said about the need to steal. He had to admit, to himself, that he heard that one too often from the community.

“I wonder why these guys don't find regular work,”

“It appears that isn't the program, sir. They can be hired piecemeal for a time of the boss' choosing. If they don't like it, they can walk off the job, but they won't be hired by that boss again. And the bosses talk about troublemakers.”

“Huh. Sure none of them are Reds?”

“Sir, that man Williams came up from a Mississippi plantation. He held my card upside down; I don't think he can read. I don't think any of them know what a Socialist is.”

“That might be stretching it a bit, Evans.”

“Maybe so sir, but I figure I'd have got more sass from a Red.”

Wilson laughed. “Yeah, they do not know how to shut up.”

Evans got out and trudged back to the truckyard gate.  “About what time would Jackson get picked up?”he asked.
Nobody said anything.

“Well, now I'm asking you so I can know when to leave,” laughed Evans. “Otherwise we're staying put as long as you do.”

One of the men said, “Usually we take off about now if nobody come. The truckyard owner open up about 8:00 a.m., and he don't want us standing here while his trucks come and go.”

“Okay, then we'll take off when you do,” said Evans. He went back to the car to wait.
No other white Chevy came. Eventually, the men left. Evans started the car and they drove back to Crocker Center.

Captain Brewster was exasperated. Apparently none of the teams had found out much more than Wilson and Evans.

“We did confirm some bad blood between Jackson and his employers, sir,” said Evans.

“You call that confirmed? We don't even know their names,” huffed Brewster.

“I believe they'll give more details in the days to come, sir,” said Evans.

“Days! What's your report, Wilson?” asked Brewster.

“I let Detective-Sergeant Evans make the approach, Captain, as it seemed likely these men would be hostile to a white officer.”

“Hell! You aren't doing anything at all, Wilson.”

“If Detective-Sergeant Evans thinks a slow approach is going to produce results, then I suppose we should follow his lead, Captain.”

“It's either that or toss it back to the Negro Squad, I guess. I can see why they created the ethnic forces in the first place. Alright, I can't have a Detective-Sergeant cooling his heels all day waiting for work. Take lunch, Wilson, come back, and then take off at three. Be back here by 3:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Evans, you can report back to Lieutenant Freeman. Be back here as well.”
Evans and Wilson headed down the corridor.
“Thanks, Mr. Wilson, for your support back there.”

“Not at all,” said Wilson. “He's got enough sense to see you know what you're doing. Wait and see, huh?”

“That's probably the best course, sir. Irritating, but it should pay off.”

“You must figure those guys are pretty square and level.”

Evans thought. “Yes sir, I do.”

Wilson nodded. “Shoving doesn't work on square guys. I guess you know that.”

Evans said, “I hadn't really thought about it, sir. It doesn't come up very often in our line of work. I think that's more of a patrol officer's trouble.”

Wilson said “You don't say. Hey Evans,” he said as Evans opened the door to the stairwell, “Do you think I offered to use muscle because those men were colored?”

Evans said, “Yes sir, that is what I had thought.”

Wilson grinned. “Well, it wasn't. See you tomorrow.”

Evans drove back to Newton Street, parked the Ford, and went to type his report.

Moses Evans thought about the apparent deal that Robbery/Homicide had with the Times. The Newton Street Division didn't make deals like that. Evans supposed they lacked the leverage, being a unit of black men gathered to fight black crime in ways white men could not. He remembered that he wanted to talk with Lieutenant Freeman. He took his reports to Sergeant Williams and asked to talk to the Lieutenant for a minute.

“Take them in with you,” said Sergeant Williams. “He'll want to read them first.”

Lieutenant Freeman had his feet on his desk. He did not put them down as he greeted Evans, and then held out his hand for the reports. He waved Evans to a chair while he read the report. Freeman read as Teddy Roosevelt had – quick Z's along and down each page. “Well well. By the way, congratulations on cracking that Manson case in a day.”

“It's the Jackson/Elmswood case that has me bothered. I forgot to say 'sir' to Mr. Wilson and he called me on it.”

Freeman waved it away. “He's a Detective-Sergeant. So are you. You'll both get past it. Wilson is a human being. There must be something else bothering you.”

“He wants to crack down on the witnesses.”

Freeman said, “So, then it happens.”

Evans said, “I think it would ruin our best lead on the case.”

“Maybe so,” said Freeman. “But we have to start pushing. They have a third body.”

Evans just stared.

“John Doe”, said Freeman. “Probably some kind of foreigner. Found this morning in an alleyway in just his socks. Looks like his clothing was cut off him. Now, this one is going to be different. For one thing, he was probably shot where he was found. From the front. Nitrate tests on his hands show positive. So he may have been able to fire back. And, he's a circumcised black man, light beard, with prominent tattoos on chest and back and arms, and some weird kind of dental work. Not silver or gold amalgam. Socks were made in China, of all places.”

“That doesn't sound like anybody we know,” said Evans. Tattoos were extremely rare among American black men, as was circumcision, and most either shaved clean or used shaving powder to remove their beards.

“We are checking the port for missing sailors,” said Freeman. “Ballistics is looking at the slugs, but it looks to be a .45, like the Jackson/Elmswood shooting.”

“Doesn't add up,” said Evans. “We thought we knew why Jackson and Elmswood had been killed. This John Doe throws it open. Can it really be a serial killer of black men?”

“Who sometimes let them shoot back? Anyhow who the hell is he?”

“If he's a sailor that might account for the nitrates without any shooting,” said Evans.

“Could be,” said Freeman. “But that's got to wait until we get an ID on the victim. For right now we have to push on the Jackson/Elmswood angle. It's all we have, and we have damned little.” Freeman cracked his knuckles. “The white Chevy truck has never made an appearance. That is, a couple of white Chevy trucks had come by Olivera Street, but the driver was a Mexican each time. We've asked the Department of Motor Vehicles for a search of the plate numbers and a copy of the registration, but that will take a week to process, and anyhow I don't think it's the same truck. I think these laborers are too simple to try and meet that truck in front of one of our detectives.

“Maybe next week somebody will run into that truck trying to hire more laborers, but I doubt it. Seems to me that they've gone to ground. So the best bet is those laborers, and the kid glove treatment isn't getting results. We shouldn't be putting more than a couple of men on this case, and instead we're working two squads. It's getting to you. I see it in you. I read it in your report. I know they're the last thing you do in a workday. It's getting to you.”

Evans sat in his chair with clenched fists at his knees. “We're supposed to protect people like those laborers.”

“Can't save them from themselves. Wilson won't get physical. I've heard good things about him from Brewster. He knows his limits. Do you remember yours?”

Evans said slowly, “I think I'm still learning them.”

“That's progress,” said Freeman. “If I didn't think you boys could manage with white partners, I wouldn't have approved this teaming up with Robbery/Homicide.”

Evans was startled. “I didn't know you had any say about it.”

“I sure did. Captain Brewster wanted it to be a mutually agreed operation. I had a veto. I withheld it.” Freeman sat up straighter in his chair. “Now, it isn't your task to bear the burden of the Negro race. You're not even the only Negro trying to be a good cop. Now, detective, get on home to bed. Tomorrow is a fresh day. Sir the white man when you see him.”

Evans wasn't sure Wilson was still to be trusted. But he admitted that he had failed with the gentle approach, so far. He could not really expect a white man like Brewster to be patient on account of the convenience of Negroes. Then he remembered how Robbery/Homicide had leverage with the Times, and for once he thought of Brewster as more than a fat buffoon, as a shrewd master of leverages unseen to him, all about him, that moved him as well as others unknown to him. And apparently Freeman, too, had his leverages to wield.

Then he realized he was sitting in front of Lieutenant Freeman after he'd been dismissed, and he hastened to leave. He said, “Good night, Lieutenant,” and went home to read the Acts of the Apostles. He wanted to check on what Wilson said about the Apostle Paul.



Valencia Ramos was at the farm office, preparing for a trip through the gate, when Jerry Jake burst through the office door, holding it open for the Professor. The Professor was swearing.

“God damn you! You’ve made it worse than before! I could have lost a lawsuit, but—“ he cut off sharply as they saw Valencia. “In the office,” said Godwrot. They passed by her and slammed the office door. Valencia heard shouting for a few minutes.

She had not seen Rod Thomas again, and she was beginning to accept what that meant about the whole operation. Valencia was not a meek little mouse who didn’t know what shipping opium and elephant ivory through the gate back Home meant, but she was starting to realize why Rod had asked her if she knew how the work force was kept in line. Rod Thomas had been part of that, and he had become a problem himself.

Probably thinking about being in danger warned her subconsciously to be busy when they came out of the office. She got open her filing cabinet and began pulling invoices. Jerry Jake rushed out the office and out the outer door before the office door had stopped moving.

The Professor crept in much more slowly. She heard the door open and his chair roll over the floorboards. She turned. He was staring at her.

“I guess things aren’t going so smoothly,” she said. He raised his eyebrows at her.

“I want to tell you that I’m not lost in the fog or anything,” she said. “I’m aware what we’re doing is illegal, and I just want to enjoy the fruits of my labors.”

He frowned a little, then laughed. “I am so glad you didn’t ask for more money. Because,” he rolled himself backwards, “I don’t have to buy your cooperation. You’re in it up to your neck.”

Valencia nodded, as if she understood, and to some degree she was with him. She was in too deep to persuade anybody she hadn’t known something was very wrong. Thinking about it later, she realized, that even if she’d known exactly what was coming, she’d not have dared to object. Did that make her legally culpable? She didn’t blame herself at all, not at all. She had that talent.



Tom Cooper was proud of being a courthouse deputy. Most of the deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office saw the duty as demeaning, a break from real police work of patrolling the county and making arrests. Cooper was glad to represent his office in a pressed uniform and deal daily with judges and the formalities of holding court session.

At present he was helping secure the judges’ garage, and to the other deputies present, they were little better than glorified parking lot attendants.

“Wonder what’s keeping old Olmstead,” said Deputy Jeff Price.

“Probably a little late reading with a snootful,” said Deputy Mark Gonzalez.

“He’s got a lot on his plate,” said Cooper. Copper respected the judges at the courthouse. He did not notice Price and Gonzalez look at each other.

Gonzalez lit a cigarette, a technical breach of protocol in uniform. Subtly Price and Cooper stepped away from him to talk to each other with their backs to him. “I put in for a transfer back to patrol duty,” said Price. “Gotta run with the posse again.”

“Beats jail duty anyhow,” said Cooper.

“It does at that,” laughed Price.

The courthouse door opened, and Price and Cooper both coughed loudly. Gonzalez’s cigarette flew through the air onto the driveway. Judge Perry Olmstead stepped into the garage, and sniffed at the air.

“Evening, your Honor,” said Cooper. Price touched his cap respectfully.

“Good evening, officer. Everything normal around here?” asked Olmstead, a gaunt older man with sideburns and a pince-nez.

“All in order, sir,” said Cooper.

“Good. I’ll let you get back to your smoke break then,” said the judge severely. He strode off to his cobalt blue Oldsmobile. The deputies looked at each other. Gonzalez shrugged.

Cooper heard the ignition kick over, then felt a blinding flash of heat and a soft pressure on his cheek that was the floor of the garage. Then he felt nothing at all.

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Chapter 2 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour

Thursday, July 10, 2015 -- The Second Day

Moses Evans was awakened by the telephone.

“Good morning, Moses Evans,” he mumbled into the phone.

A familiar crisp growl said, “Get awake and get dressed. I'm sending a squadcar to fetch you. Figure on twenty minutes. You got that?”

“Yes Lieutenant.” Moses Evans hung up and got moving. For the Lieutenant to send a squadcar meant homicide. He was out on the curb waiting for the squadcar when it arrived.

The two uniformed officers were white.

“Good morning gentlemen,” said Evans as he let himself in the back. The two officers nodded.

Henry Cabot Lodge Park was a standard urban recreational park in the northeast of Los Angeles. Evans saw a jungle gym of steel tubes and a picnic area with box grills for charcoal barbecues. There was already a squadcar at the curb, and Evan's police car pulled up alongside. The officer who was not driving let Moses Evans out of the back.

The officers who had answered the report of a body were white men named Pollard and Wiess. Pollard met Evans at the curb. The other squadcar rolled away. “Body was found by two men on their way to jobs on the oil field, Julio Gonzalez and Albert Dunning. Neither says he saw the dead man before or recognizes him.”

The body was face down in a puddle beneath a tree by the road. He had been a dark-skinned man with close-cut grizzled hair, and clean-shaven. The rain washed the bullet hole in the nape of his neck, made a sopping mass of his corduroy jacket and old jeans, and polished the wire around his wrists. From his sturdy lean build and callused hands, he had been a workingman, but the cheapness of his clothes and his worn boots marked him as less than prosperous. A day laborer.

The blue Ford arrived from the Special Investigations Squad arrived carrying Dan Selby and three other detectives. Tim Gaios was athletic, in his middle-thirties, with sideburns. Omar Yehonatan, a hulking half-Sioux with straight black hair who was a head taller than any man in the squad. Mickey Wilkie, a bald stocky man in a light blue jacket and striped worsted trousers. They were all competent detectives with years of experience under their belts. They were black men who could bear authority in a city of white folks. They were also a good team. They crossed the grass to where Evans stood next to Pollard and Weiss.

“If you gentlemen don't mind, I'd appreciate it greatly if you would ask around the neighborhood about noise and disturbance,” Evans asked very politely, because of the white officers present. “Also if you'd step over to the oil field and confirm those men work there.”

Pollard and Weiss crossed the street together, while Yehonatan, Wilkie and Gaios fanned out heading in the opposite direction. Evans and Dan Selby waited by the body for the police photographer. Two detectives were needed to verify the site was undisturbed, and Selby had a swift precision that Evans appreciated.

Evans was grateful for the rain, because there would have been bystanders on a clear day. He examined the lawn around the dead man carefully, extending his search to the curb and gutter.

The photographer arrived and began taking pictures of the dead man. When he was finished, Evans went through the dead man's soaking pockets with difficulty. They were totally empty. There was no shell casing that Evans could find in the short lawn of the park or on the asphalt.

“I didn't find any shell casing,” Selby said.

“Neither did I. Think rain would carry it away?”

“Never heard of it happening before.”

“Right. I believe he was shot somewhere else, then dropped here.”

“Could have been a revolver,” mused Selby.

“Maybe, and there's the rain, but I don't believe in a murder site this clean.”

“Ugly business,” said Selby.

“It looks to be. Premeditated and organized,” said Evans. Most of the homicides the squad investigated were killings in hot blood. This looked like something very different. Evans wondered if the squad would be allowed to keep this case. The Special Investigations Squad of the Newton Street Division investigated black crime, not organized gangs.

A long hearse from the city morgue arrived to retrieve the body. Pollard and Weiss returned. “The manager at the oil field confirms Dunning and Gonzalez work there. He's not missing anybody today; didn't recognize the description of the victim.”

Evans nodded.

“Thank you very much, Officer Pollard, Officer Weiss. I sure do appreciate your cooperation here today. If you will please forward your reports to Newton Street, I will greatly appreciate it. Also, if you can wait around and give me a ride back I'd appreciate it. Thank you gentlemen.” The two white officers saluted, not smiling, and walked back to their car.

The three detectives walked back. Yehonatan gave their report. “Nobody in the neighborhood heard any shot or other disturbance, Detective-Sergeant. A lot of these buildings are commercial and nobody was present until about 8:00 a.m. this morning.”

“Very well. We're about through here. You might as well report back to Newton Street.” Evans went to his car and lit a Camel cigarette as he watched the detectives pull out into the rain. He thought about the next step. This victim had been close-shaven and well-fed. He had a home. He would be recognized by his neighbors. Odds are he had a family. Before the murder would be the absence. The missing persons reports have to be checked.

He walked across the grass to the waiting squadcar. He would return to Newton Street Division to see who had missed a good worker and provider.

Evans noted the blue Ford sedan parked by the curb of the Newton Street Division. Selby had come straight back. He strode up to the tall counter. “Hello, Sassy,” he said to Sergeant Williams. She did not smile back.

“Shhh. Mrs. Jackson is waiting for news.” She pointed at two black women sitting in the lobby.

“Missing person? Let me see her report.” He read briefly. It matched. Evans carefully faced the wall with his back to the widow, and said a quick prayer for balance. “Okay. I got it. We'll be at the morgue if I'm needed.” He walked over to the two women.

The two women were in their fifties, of a matronly disposition, and soberly dressed. The one on the left, in a grey dress and cracked black shoes, was consoling the other, so Evans addressed her. “Mrs. Jackson? I'm Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans.”

“I know. I know. I know he's gone,” whispered Mrs. Jackson, who wore an old black frock with shabby black shoes. “ I knew when he didn't come home.”

“Sister, we've found a man who may possibly be your husband. I need to have someone make sure. Do you know anyone who knew Jim who could come with me to see?”

“I could go, Alma,” said the other woman, but Alma Jackson shook her head.

“Can Doreen come with me? She's my best friend. Lives next door and been up all night with me.” She clenched her friend's hand.

“Of course, Mrs. Jackson. My car is outside.”

When they were in the blue Ford, Evans asked, “Are you ladies churchgoers?” Both women nodded. “I attend the United Methodist on Slausen. I find it gives perspective. You need that in this job. You need to put yourself beyond what man thinks in his mind to do to himself and his fellow man.

'To you I raise my eyes

to you enthroned in heaven.

Yes, like the eyes of a servant

on the hand of his master,

Like the eyes of a maid

on the hand of her mistress,

So our eyes are on the LORD our God,

till we are shown favor.

Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,

for we have our fill of contempt.

We have our fill our insult from the insolent,

of disdain from the arrogant.'

 

Alma Jackson almost smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Evans. We can use that one every day.”

They rode in silence for a time.

The rain made inter-city traffic a slow march from block to block. Then Ms. Jackson asked, “Did he suffer, Mr. Evans?”

“The man I saw, he did not suffer in going, ma'am.”

A truck skidded in the rain and Evans had to swerve to miss it. Mrs. Jackson began sobbing deeply, her friend almost as upset as she comforted her.

But she wept silently as she held her husband's hand as he lay on the morgue table.

The Booker T. Washington City Mortuary was usually a quiet place, thought Evans, as he stood back and stared at his shoes. It was another antique of a building, shabby but clean, making do as long as possible as the respository for deceased persons of color in Los Angeles.

The floor creaked as a white morgue attendant came in and tapped Evans on the shoulder. “You're wanted downtown for a conference in Robbery/Homicide. Today at noon.”

“Today?” asked Evans. Hot enough to stop a homicide investigation?

The attendant shrugged and went back out the door.

Evans said, “Excuse me, Mrs. Jackson. I have been called to a conference regarding your husband. A patrol car can drop you off at home if you like. Would you like a chaplain to ride with you?”

“Yes please, thank you,” said Alma Jackson.

“Is there anyone you would like the department to notify?”

“He has a brother in Texas, but, but I'll call him tomorrow,” said Alma Jackson.

“Come with me up front ma'am, and we'll arrange for that car and the chaplain. I'll wait with you until they arrive.” They entered the lobby.

“And I have to ask you ma'am, did you know of anyone with any grudge or complaint against your husband?”

Alma Jackson said bitterly, “Yes. My husband worked odd jobs. The men he worked for hired all blacks, like temporary. Jim said he was going to make trouble.

“Tell me about it, Mrs. Jackson.” Evans had his notebook out.

“ Jim used to stake out the Coleman truckyard waiting for work. For the past month he's been working for some white men who come in a white Chevrolet truck. Jim said they worked in some factory building a machine. He said the white men had guns. They were pretty free with their hands, and if you looked wrong they'd dock your pay. Jim said he was going to make trouble organizing the other workers. He said he wouldn't be stepped on.”

Alma Jackson wiped her eyes. “I don't know the name of the men or the factory they worked at. If you ask around the truckyard, I bet there's other men worked for them. Three young white men in a Chevrolet truck.”

“Where did they work at? The name of the company.”

“Jim never told me. He just brought cash money home.”

“What did he tell you exactly about those men?”

“Nothing more than they drove a white Chevrolet truck and they were mean men. Cheap and full of bluff, Jim said.” She wiped her eyes. “I guess it wasn't bluff. Jim didn't have any enemy in the world I knew of except he was out to make trouble for those men.”

“And did you know anything of Mr. Jackson's employers, ma'am?” Evans asked the other woman.

“Doreen Curtis,” said the other woman. “I never really spoke to Jim much about anything. I am more Alma's friend than Jim's.”

“Excuse me, ladies, while I see to your car.”

Evans found the morgue attendant back at his desk. “Excuse me sir, but may I use a telephone?”

“Don't see as I can allow that, Detective. We have to keep our lines free for relevant calls.” The white man smiled at him as he leaned back in his chair.

“Well maybe you could call then sir, and keep it brief as necessary. I need the Newton Street Division to send a car for these ladies and a police chaplain with it to escort them – “

“Alright, alright, go ahead and call yourself.” The attendant left his desk, gesturing at his telephone.

Evans made the call. He rejoined Alma Jackson and Doreen Curtis in the lobby. Alma stopped talking to Doreen and addressed him. “Detective-Sergeant, you seem a Godly man. Will you pray with us while we wait?”

“Be glad to, ma'am,” said Evans, and they bowed their heads as they stood.

Once the City of Los Angeles had decided that architecture was the symbol of a vibrant urban community, and it had voted to build Crocker Center. The building was as ornate and stately as a wedding cake and contained the Headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department and its major, white, departments. The Special Investigations Squads that served the black, Mexican and Chinese communities were in outlying stations.

Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans walked over the abstract tiles of the main lobby and into a new elevator that carried him to the third floor. He arrived at a meeting room on the third floor of Crocker Center at 12:20 p.m. Captain Norman Brewster of Robbery/Homicide looked up in annoyance. He was a fat man with his black hair parted down the middle and close-cropped on the sides. “All your people here, now, Lieutenant?”

“Yes sir,” said Lieutenant Peter Freeman, a slim, tall man with the LAPD mustache who was Evans' supervisor. He was standing at the back of the room with the other Special Investigations Squad detectives, standing out because of his solid navy blue suit and white shirt. Gaios, Yehonatan, Wilkie, and Selby were there in clothes wrinkled by the morning rain. There was Dectective-Sergeant Jewell Tyrell, a large bald man in his early forties. There was Detective Mike Frenzy, a lanky black man with a half-grown Afro. And there was Detective Rudy Eli, the youngest of them all, the only one who had put on a new coat for the meeting.

The Robbery/Homicide detectives, who were white, had chairs. Evans moved to the back of the room with the other black detectives.

“Okay,” said Brewster. “Since your boy was presumably out working on this matter, let's hear what he found out.”

Freeman nodded to Evans, who spoke loudly to a point over the Captain's head. “Yes sir. Body of a strong man was found in Henry Cabot Lodge Park bound, looted and executed with a shot to the back of the head. Presumably a small arm, big caliber. Not killed where he was found. This indicates at least two other persons involved, with a car. Killing does not match usual modus of Italian, Russian or Chinese underworld. So we have independent criminal gang committing murder of a Negro laborer in our jurisdiction.

“The dead man was Jim Jackson of Inglewood, as identified by his wife, Alma. Day laborer who usually stood at the Coleman truckyard for assignments. Jackson had been serially employed by three white men in a white Chevrolet truck. He told his wife that these men were part of a group of white men, armed, violent to the workers on the job site, whereabouts as yet unknown, and tried to withhold pay for insubordination. Jackson told his wife that he was going to organize some trouble.”

“Right,” said Brewster. He sighed deeply. “Okay. For those who don't know, another John Doe was recovered this morning. His name was John Elmswood, also colored day laborer, resident of Bell. Found in same manner, bound and without possessions. Differs in that he was shot ten times from the front. Found today in Evergreen Cemetery, probably not the location of his murder. Woman living with him, Jenny, says he was going to complain about back wages owed to him by some white men. Elmswood hung out at the Bisk Tool & Lumber looking for work. No description of his employers.

Sweet Jesus, spare us, thought Evans. The idea of multiple killings by the same crew was horrifying. Los Angeles had only seen twenty murders the previous year.

Captain Brewster put down the papers and stood erect, giving his voice more power in a manner learned in decades of Knights of Columbus dinners. “So. The Chief happens to agree with Detective-Sergeant Evans. This is somebody new and nasty. Two colored men murdered, probably by a gang, of unknown location.

“What we want to stress,” said Brewster, “is that Los Angeles is not Mississippi. Nobody can kill niggers for sport out here. This is going to be a top priority for Robbery/Homicide. You men are working on this from now on. To facilitate your movements in the colored community, we're pairing you up with detectives from the Negro Squad.

“The Chief has spoken to the Sheriff, and if we need additional manpower, the deputies will be available. Bear that in mind. If you need backup, call for it. It will be available.

The white detectives looked at each other. The black detectives blinked. The Police Department regarded the Sheriff's deputies as a bunch of cowboys best suited to break up bar fights or gambling joints. Most of the deputies seemed ready to agree. They were not on call to aid in scientific investigation.

“The best bet we have tonight is other day laborers, the ones who had complaints too. The ones Jackson and Elmswood were going to try to organize.

“Since the day laborers are the best bet, and they start the day early, you're going to start it earlier. You'll each visit work sites for day laborers and ask questions about white men in a white Chevy truck. Be back here at 4 a.m. tomorrow. You'll pair up and move out.

“If it is a gang operation, they'll be coordinating further crimes against life and property. Possibly not only Negroes.”

Hence the priority, thought Evans.

“But we have their trail,” said Brewster, “and we intend to get ahead of them and shut them down.

"One other thing," said Brewster. "Anybody talks to the press, and I'll have your balls.” Evans blinked. No reporter would use a Negro officer for a source, so that had been straight at the white men. He hadn't known they talked to each other like that.

"That's all for now," said Brewster. "See you tomorrow morning.”

“Question for you Captain,” said Lieutenant Freeman loudly. “My men should be allowed arms.”

Captain Brewster frowned. The white detectives turned in their seats to give hard glares at the Lieutenant. Freeman bore the stares without flinching.

“Ten shots to the front of a bound man. We got us some shooters,” said Freeman calmly. “Man oughta be able to back up his partner.”

“Yeah,” said Brewster sourly. “Yeah, you'd better. Stop by Armory and issue your men revolvers. I'll phone down authorization.” Chairs creaked as the white detectives looked at each other. Everybody in LAPD had been raised on tales of the slam the department had taken for the 1991 riots after two black police officers had shot a white man in self-defense. Nobody wanted to repeat the experience.

“Listen up. Freeman's got a point,” said Brewster. “You'll assume these men are armed and dangerous. Watch yourselves. Alright, get some deep shuteye.”

The black detectives stood back and allowed the whites to file out. Lieutenant Freeman signaled for them to gather around him.

“I guess you don't know how to telephone, Detective-Sergeant,” said Freeman to Evans.

“Yes sir.”

“We got all these white cops on black murders and you want to go off on your own.”

“No sir.”

“You came through today but you should have telephoned ahead. You had the Captain mad at this whole squad,” said Freeman.

“Sorry, sir.” Evans was sorry. Freeman had enough on his plate from the whites.

“Alright. Get your reports typed up. Then take the rest of the day off. Use it to sleep. You got to be back here at 4:00 a.m. All of you, be alert, be on the ball, and you cooperate with your assigned detective. You got to represent on this one.”

“Yes sir,” said the detectives.

“Question, Lieutenant,” asked Rudy Eli, the youngest detective. “What about the revolvers?”

Freeman looked at him a minute. Then he looked slowly around to see who else was listening. All the whites had left the room. Freeman turned back to the squad. “You get police revolvers, snubnose jobs, and you keep them hid, you hear me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I'll break the man who flashes a gun.” He waited.

“Yes, sir.”

“You draw and don't shoot, it's your ass. I mean that.” He leaned forward. “But you shoot through the lungs when you got to. Three shots rapid. Don't let some cracker light you or your brothers up. Don't worry about the Department. This ain't '91, and these guys are mad-dog killers. Got that?”

Eli nodded nervously. Selby said, “Hell, yes.” The others gave their assent.

“Right. Meet you all down in Armory.”

Moses

Evans joined the others as they took three flights of stairs to the cold basement Armory. The white desk sergeant stared at them with eyebrows raised.

“You ought to have got a phone call from Captain Brewster, sergeant,” said Lieutenant Freeman.

“Christ. The Japs invading or something?”

“Something.” Freeman signed for the revolvers, snubnosed .44 caliber weapons, and handed each detective a holstered weapon.

“For Christ's sake, carry on an empty chamber,” said the sergeant. “And don't blaze at everything moving. You ain't just arming anybody with color, Lieutenant?”

That was insubordinate, but the Armory sergeant was that way with whites too. He'd won the Medal of Honor fighting in Mexico, and that still meant something to a lot of guys.

“No sergeant, everybody come up from street patrol. They remember the training.” Freeman said that a little loudly, so Evans figured he was talking to them too. He removed his coat and put on the holster.

“Ammunition?” asked Freeman.

“You buy your own.” Amid a chorus of grumbles the sergeant added, “Welcome to the real. You think we buy anybody's ammunition? How much shooting you gonna do, for Christ's sake?”

“You know a shop that will sell bullets to Negroes?” asked Selby.

“Well.” The sergeant's eyes gleamed. “Matter of fact I do. Run by an old Army pal. If I send you there, will you tell him who sent you?”

“Yeah, and we'll give you four dollars on top your commission, Sarge,” said Selby.

The sergeant laughed. “Hot damn, a brother veteran! Save your four dollars, pal. Good to know you got some real talent in Negro Squad.” The sergeant wrote down an address.

Home alone, later that day, Evans tried to sleep without darkness. He finally settled for lying still with his eyes closed. Evans had been trained with a gun, had shot a man down. A knife-wielding punk. The man had recovered though. Evans had never taken human life. Through the lungs, three shots rapid. And Selby said, “Hell yes”. This was going to be an ugly case. Evans remembered the widow Jackson. It was an ugly case.

Evans was almost asleep when he remembered to set his alarm for two o'clock. He set the alarm bell and lay back to try to fall asleep again.

It was a very bad day, thought Valencia. She did not like the way things were turning out.

First Rod Thomas had stopped by the office. He sat in the lobby and stared at her until she asked him what he was looking at.

“You don’t know, do you?” he said, staring her in the eyes for once.

“What should I know?”

“Naw, you don’t know.” He settled back, glanced at her up and down, and grinned. “Good for you keeping your virtue. You do still got some virtue, don’t you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Nothing. Just Neegrow problems. Ever ask yourself how this place gets run with all them Neegrows in back working for nothing? Us Neegrows, excuse me. Us coloreds gotta stick together, don’t you think?”

“I honestly don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, Rod.”

“Mister Thomas. Go ahead, call me Mister Thomas. Just once.”

“Rod, seriously,” she began.

“I ain’t playing bitch!” he shouted furiously. “Call me Mister Thomas!”

The office door banged open, and Jerry Jake swept in, grabbed Thomas by the lapels, and threw him down the ramp outside the factory door. He slammed the door behind them, and Valencia only hear yelling and bodies thumping the wall. Jerry Jake came back in, with his collar popped open like a cartoon character. His hair was mussed and he was breathing heavy.

“Did he hurt you?” he husked.

Valencia just shook her head. Jake straightened his hair, arranged his collar and wiped his face. “I do believe you don’t get along with that nigger,” he said.

“Jerry, don’t call him that,” said Valencia.

“He won’t be around long to call anything,” said Jake, staring at the factory door, and then glancing quickly at her.

She frowned at him. “You mean you’ll tell the Professor?”

“Yeah,” he laughed, “that’s what I meant.”

“Please don’t Jerry,” she said. “I don’t like to bother the Professor with—“

“Bother me with what?” asked a thin voice from the office doorway.

A man in a wheelchair rolled himself into the lobby. Valencia turned a little pale. She did not like to meet the eyes of the man in the wheelchair, but that just made him upset. She looked into his ruined face, the color of strawberry ice cream, blotchy and scabrous, with his hands covered in bandages. She didn’t know what happened to Professor Eleanor Godwrot to have injured him, and somehow, meeting those eyes in their wasted face, it wasn’t anything to ask him.

“Bother me? With what?” he repeated.

“Rod Thomas is in here again bothering Valencia,” said Jake.

“So I heard. What’s it to you?”

Jerry Jake frowned. “Well, nothing really…”

“I don’t pay you to be chivalrous. Quite the opposite. But I don’t want Ms. Ramos to know what I pay you for, so I expect you to keep out of the office while she’s here. Go now.”

Jerry Jake frowned, backed out the factory door, stopped as he opened it. “What about…”

“Settle it. His usefulness ended last night. If we have to,” he stopped, glanced at Valencia, “then we have to and that’s that. I’ll talk about it with you later. Elsewhere.”

Jerry Jake left. Professor Godwrot sat thoughtfully in his chair. Valencia glanced at him, and noticed he was staring at her.

“Yes sir?”

“Haven’t you any work to be doing?”

“Yes sir.”

“Then do it.” He kept his ice-blue eyes on her. “Ms. Ramos.”

She raised her head, smiling primly. “Yes sir?”

“What does Earthly Mechanical mean to you?”

“Well… you do a lot of work with metals…”

“And?”

“And you prepare a lot of crates for shipment overseas…”

“And?”

She couldn’t keep playing dumb. She saw that in his stare. “You don’t exactly follow every little law on the book.”

He smiled. “No we don’t. And that doesn’t bother you?”

“No sir, it doesn’t. It makes me feel a bit better about a number of things.”

“That’s very good.” He stared at her carefully. “But I think, since everything is run so smoothly, that next time you go to the bank for me, Mr. Jake goes with you. Just so he learns some of the tricks of front office work.”

“If you say so, Professor. There’s nothing amiss with the banking.”

“My dear, I wasn’t suggesting there was. Just a thought of mine to improve Mr. Jake.”

He wheeled himself back into his private office and shut the door quietly. Valencia composed herself at her desk. Then she started to type most carefully. It wouldn’t do to make a mistake with the Professor, not in any way.

 

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Chapter 2 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour
Thursday, July 10, 2015 -- The Second Day
Moses Evans was awakened by the telephone.
“Good morning, Moses Evans,” he mumbled into the phone.

A familiar crisp growl said, “Get awake and get dressed. I'm sending a squadcar to fetch you. Figure on twenty minutes. You got that?”

“Yes Lieutenant.” Moses Evans hung up and got moving. For the Lieutenant to send a squadcar meant homicide. He was out on the curb waiting for the squadcar when it arrived.
The two uniformed officers were white.
“Good morning gentlemen,” said Evans as he let himself in the back. The two officers nodded.

Henry Cabot Lodge Park was a standard urban recreational park in the northeast of Los Angeles. Evans saw a jungle gym of steel tubes and a picnic area with box grills for charcoal barbecues. There was already a squadcar at the curb, and Evan's police car pulled up alongside. The officer who was not driving let Moses Evans out of the back.
The officers who had answered the report of a body were white men named Pollard and Wiess. Pollard met Evans at the curb. The other squadcar rolled away. “Body was found by two men on their way to jobs on the oil field, Julio Gonzalez and Albert Dunning. Neither says he saw the dead man before or recognizes him.”

The body was face down in a puddle beneath a tree by the road. He had been a dark-skinned man with close-cut grizzled hair, and clean-shaven. The rain washed the bullet hole in the nape of his neck, made a sopping mass of his corduroy jacket and old jeans, and polished the wire around his wrists. From his sturdy lean build and callused hands, he had been a workingman, but the cheapness of his clothes and his worn boots marked him as less than prosperous. A day laborer.

The blue Ford arrived from the Special Investigations Squad arrived carrying Dan Selby and three other detectives. Tim Gaios was athletic, in his middle-thirties, with sideburns. Omar Yehonatan, a hulking half-Sioux with straight black hair who was a head taller than any man in the squad. Mickey Wilkie, a bald stocky man in a light blue jacket and striped worsted trousers. They were all competent detectives with years of experience under their belts. They were black men who could bear authority in a city of white folks. They were also a good team. They crossed the grass to where Evans stood next to Pollard and Weiss.

“If you gentlemen don't mind, I'd appreciate it greatly if you would ask around the neighborhood about noise and disturbance,” Evans asked very politely, because of the white officers present. “Also if you'd step over to the oil field and confirm those men work there.”

Pollard and Weiss crossed the street together, while Yehonatan, Wilkie and Gaios fanned out heading in the opposite direction. Evans and Dan Selby waited by the body for the police photographer. Two detectives were needed to verify the site was undisturbed, and Selby had a swift precision that Evans appreciated.
Evans was grateful for the rain, because there would have been bystanders on a clear day. He examined the lawn around the dead man carefully, extending his search to the curb and gutter.

The photographer arrived and began taking pictures of the dead man. When he was finished, Evans went through the dead man's soaking pockets with difficulty. They were totally empty. There was no shell casing that Evans could find in the short lawn of the park or on the asphalt.

“I didn't find any shell casing,” Selby said.

“Neither did I. Think rain would carry it away?”

“Never heard of it happening before.”

“Right. I believe he was shot somewhere else, then dropped here.”

“Could have been a revolver,” mused Selby.

“Maybe, and there's the rain, but I don't believe in a murder site this clean.”

“Ugly business,” said Selby.

“It looks to be. Premeditated and organized,” said Evans. Most of the homicides the squad investigated were killings in hot blood. This looked like something very different. Evans wondered if the squad would be allowed to keep this case. The Special Investigations Squad of the Newton Street Division investigated black crime, not organized gangs.

A long hearse from the city morgue arrived to retrieve the body. Pollard and Weiss returned. “The manager at the oil field confirms Dunning and Gonzalez work there. He's not missing anybody today; didn't recognize the description of the victim.”
Evans nodded.
“Thank you very much, Officer Pollard, Officer Weiss. I sure do appreciate your cooperation here today. If you will please forward your reports to Newton Street, I will greatly appreciate it. Also, if you can wait around and give me a ride back I'd appreciate it. Thank you gentlemen.” The two white officers saluted, not smiling, and walked back to their car.

The three detectives walked back. Yehonatan gave their report. “Nobody in the neighborhood heard any shot or other disturbance, Detective-Sergeant. A lot of these buildings are commercial and nobody was present until about 8:00 a.m. this morning.”

“Very well. We're about through here. You might as well report back to Newton Street.” Evans went to his car and lit a Camel cigarette as he watched the detectives pull out into the rain. He thought about the next step. This victim had been close-shaven and well-fed. He had a home. He would be recognized by his neighbors. Odds are he had a family. Before the murder would be the absence. The missing persons reports have to be checked.
He walked across the grass to the waiting squadcar. He would return to Newton Street Division to see who had missed a good worker and provider.

Evans noted the blue Ford sedan parked by the curb of the Newton Street Division. Selby had come straight back. He strode up to the tall counter. “Hello, Sassy,” he said to Sergeant Williams. She did not smile back.

“Shhh. Mrs. Jackson is waiting for news.” She pointed at two black women sitting in the lobby.

“Missing person? Let me see her report.” He read briefly. It matched. Evans carefully faced the wall with his back to the widow, and said a quick prayer for balance. “Okay. I got it. We'll be at the morgue if I'm needed.” He walked over to the two women.

The two women were in their fifties, of a matronly disposition, and soberly dressed. The one on the left, in a grey dress and cracked black shoes, was consoling the other, so Evans addressed her. “Mrs. Jackson? I'm Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans.”

“I know. I know. I know he's gone,” whispered Mrs. Jackson, who wore an old black frock with shabby black shoes. “ I knew when he didn't come home.”

“Sister, we've found a man who may possibly be your husband. I need to have someone make sure. Do you know anyone who knew Jim who could come with me to see?”

“I could go, Alma,” said the other woman, but Alma Jackson shook her head.
“Can Doreen come with me? She's my best friend. Lives next door and been up all night with me.” She clenched her friend's hand.

“Of course, Mrs. Jackson. My car is outside.”

When they were in the blue Ford, Evans asked, “Are you ladies churchgoers?” Both women nodded. “I attend the United Methodist on Slausen. I find it gives perspective. You need that in this job. You need to put yourself beyond what man thinks in his mind to do to himself and his fellow man.

'To you I raise my eyes
to you enthroned in heaven.

Yes, like the eyes of a servant
on the hand of his master,

Like the eyes of a maid
on the hand of her mistress,

So our eyes are on the LORD our God,
till we are shown favor.

Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,
for we have our fill of contempt.

We have our fill our insult from the insolent,
of disdain from the arrogant.'
 
Alma Jackson almost smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Evans. We can use that one every day.”
They rode in silence for a time.
The rain made inter-city traffic a slow march from block to block. Then Ms. Jackson asked, “Did he suffer, Mr. Evans?”

“The man I saw, he did not suffer in going, ma'am.”
A truck skidded in the rain and Evans had to swerve to miss it. Mrs. Jackson began sobbing deeply, her friend almost as upset as she comforted her.

But she wept silently as she held her husband's hand as he lay on the morgue table.

The Booker T. Washington City Mortuary was usually a quiet place, thought Evans, as he stood back and stared at his shoes. It was another antique of a building, shabby but clean, making do as long as possible as the respository for deceased persons of color in Los Angeles.
The floor creaked as a white morgue attendant came in and tapped Evans on the shoulder. “You're wanted downtown for a conference in Robbery/Homicide. Today at noon.”

“Today?” asked Evans. Hot enough to stop a homicide investigation?

The attendant shrugged and went back out the door.

Evans said, “Excuse me, Mrs. Jackson. I have been called to a conference regarding your husband. A patrol car can drop you off at home if you like. Would you like a chaplain to ride with you?”

“Yes please, thank you,” said Alma Jackson.

“Is there anyone you would like the department to notify?”

“He has a brother in Texas, but, but I'll call him tomorrow,” said Alma Jackson.

“Come with me up front ma'am, and we'll arrange for that car and the chaplain. I'll wait with you until they arrive.” They entered the lobby.
“And I have to ask you ma'am, did you know of anyone with any grudge or complaint against your husband?”

Alma Jackson said bitterly, “Yes. My husband worked odd jobs. The men he worked for hired all blacks, like temporary. Jim said he was going to make trouble.

“Tell me about it, Mrs. Jackson.” Evans had his notebook out.

“ Jim used to stake out the Coleman truckyard waiting for work. For the past month he's been working for some white men who come in a white Chevrolet truck. Jim said they worked in some factory building a machine. He said the white men had guns. They were pretty free with their hands, and if you looked wrong they'd dock your pay. Jim said he was going to make trouble organizing the other workers. He said he wouldn't be stepped on.”
Alma Jackson wiped her eyes. “I don't know the name of the men or the factory they worked at. If you ask around the truckyard, I bet there's other men worked for them. Three young white men in a Chevrolet truck.”
“Where did they work at? The name of the company.”

“Jim never told me. He just brought cash money home.”

“What did he tell you exactly about those men?”

“Nothing more than they drove a white Chevrolet truck and they were mean men. Cheap and full of bluff, Jim said.” She wiped her eyes. “I guess it wasn't bluff. Jim didn't have any enemy in the world I knew of except he was out to make trouble for those men.”

“And did you know anything of Mr. Jackson's employers, ma'am?” Evans asked the other woman.

“Doreen Curtis,” said the other woman. “I never really spoke to Jim much about anything. I am more Alma's friend than Jim's.”

“Excuse me, ladies, while I see to your car.”
Evans found the morgue attendant back at his desk. “Excuse me sir, but may I use a telephone?”

“Don't see as I can allow that, Detective. We have to keep our lines free for relevant calls.” The white man smiled at him as he leaned back in his chair.

“Well maybe you could call then sir, and keep it brief as necessary. I need the Newton Street Division to send a car for these ladies and a police chaplain with it to escort them – “

“Alright, alright, go ahead and call yourself.” The attendant left his desk, gesturing at his telephone.

Evans made the call. He rejoined Alma Jackson and Doreen Curtis in the lobby. Alma stopped talking to Doreen and addressed him. “Detective-Sergeant, you seem a Godly man. Will you pray with us while we wait?”

“Be glad to, ma'am,” said Evans, and they bowed their heads as they stood.

Once the City of Los Angeles had decided that architecture was the symbol of a vibrant urban community, and it had voted to build Crocker Center. The building was as ornate and stately as a wedding cake and contained the Headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department and its major, white, departments. The Special Investigations Squads that served the black, Mexican and Chinese communities were in outlying stations.
Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans walked over the abstract tiles of the main lobby and into a new elevator that carried him to the third floor. He arrived at a meeting room on the third floor of Crocker Center at 12:20 p.m. Captain Norman Brewster of Robbery/Homicide looked up in annoyance. He was a fat man with his black hair parted down the middle and close-cropped on the sides. “All your people here, now, Lieutenant?”

“Yes sir,” said Lieutenant Peter Freeman, a slim, tall man with the LAPD mustache who was Evans' supervisor. He was standing at the back of the room with the other Special Investigations Squad detectives, standing out because of his solid navy blue suit and white shirt. Gaios, Yehonatan, Wilkie, and Selby were there in clothes wrinkled by the morning rain. There was Dectective-Sergeant Jewell Tyrell, a large bald man in his early forties. There was Detective Mike Frenzy, a lanky black man with a half-grown Afro. And there was Detective Rudy Eli, the youngest of them all, the only one who had put on a new coat for the meeting.
The Robbery/Homicide detectives, who were white, had chairs. Evans moved to the back of the room with the other black detectives.

“Okay,” said Brewster. “Since your boy was presumably out working on this matter, let's hear what he found out.”

Freeman nodded to Evans, who spoke loudly to a point over the Captain's head. “Yes sir. Body of a strong man was found in Henry Cabot Lodge Park bound, looted and executed with a shot to the back of the head. Presumably a small arm, big caliber. Not killed where he was found. This indicates at least two other persons involved, with a car. Killing does not match usual modus of Italian, Russian or Chinese underworld. So we have independent criminal gang committing murder of a Negro laborer in our jurisdiction.

“The dead man was Jim Jackson of Inglewood, as identified by his wife, Alma. Day laborer who usually stood at the Coleman truckyard for assignments. Jackson had been serially employed by three white men in a white Chevrolet truck. He told his wife that these men were part of a group of white men, armed, violent to the workers on the job site, whereabouts as yet unknown, and tried to withhold pay for insubordination. Jackson told his wife that he was going to organize some trouble.”

“Right,” said Brewster. He sighed deeply. “Okay. For those who don't know, another John Doe was recovered this morning. His name was John Elmswood, also colored day laborer, resident of Bell. Found in same manner, bound and without possessions. Differs in that he was shot ten times from the front. Found today in Evergreen Cemetery, probably not the location of his murder. Woman living with him, Jenny, says he was going to complain about back wages owed to him by some white men. Elmswood hung out at the Bisk Tool & Lumber looking for work. No description of his employers.

Sweet Jesus, spare us, thought Evans. The idea of multiple killings by the same crew was horrifying. Los Angeles had only seen twenty murders the previous year.

Captain Brewster put down the papers and stood erect, giving his voice more power in a manner learned in decades of Knights of Columbus dinners. “So. The Chief happens to agree with Detective-Sergeant Evans. This is somebody new and nasty. Two colored men murdered, probably by a gang, of unknown location.

“What we want to stress,” said Brewster, “is that Los Angeles is not Mississippi. Nobody can kill niggers for sport out here. This is going to be a top priority for Robbery/Homicide. You men are working on this from now on. To facilitate your movements in the colored community, we're pairing you up with detectives from the Negro Squad.

“The Chief has spoken to the Sheriff, and if we need additional manpower, the deputies will be available. Bear that in mind. If you need backup, call for it. It will be available.
The white detectives looked at each other. The black detectives blinked. The Police Department regarded the Sheriff's deputies as a bunch of cowboys best suited to break up bar fights or gambling joints. Most of the deputies seemed ready to agree. They were not on call to aid in scientific investigation.

“The best bet we have tonight is other day laborers, the ones who had complaints too. The ones Jackson and Elmswood were going to try to organize.

“Since the day laborers are the best bet, and they start the day early, you're going to start it earlier. You'll each visit work sites for day laborers and ask questions about white men in a white Chevy truck. Be back here at 4 a.m. tomorrow. You'll pair up and move out.

“If it is a gang operation, they'll be coordinating further crimes against life and property. Possibly not only Negroes.”
Hence the priority, thought Evans.

“But we have their trail,” said Brewster, “and we intend to get ahead of them and shut them down.
"One other thing," said Brewster. "Anybody talks to the press, and I'll have your balls.” Evans blinked. No reporter would use a Negro officer for a source, so that had been straight at the white men. He hadn't known they talked to each other like that.
"That's all for now," said Brewster. "See you tomorrow morning.”

“Question for you Captain,” said Lieutenant Freeman loudly. “My men should be allowed arms.”

Captain Brewster frowned. The white detectives turned in their seats to give hard glares at the Lieutenant. Freeman bore the stares without flinching.

“Ten shots to the front of a bound man. We got us some shooters,” said Freeman calmly. “Man oughta be able to back up his partner.”

“Yeah,” said Brewster sourly. “Yeah, you'd better. Stop by Armory and issue your men revolvers. I'll phone down authorization.” Chairs creaked as the white detectives looked at each other. Everybody in LAPD had been raised on tales of the slam the department had taken for the 1991 riots after two black police officers had shot a white man in self-defense. Nobody wanted to repeat the experience.

“Listen up. Freeman's got a point,” said Brewster. “You'll assume these men are armed and dangerous. Watch yourselves. Alright, get some deep shuteye.”
The black detectives stood back and allowed the whites to file out. Lieutenant Freeman signaled for them to gather around him.

“I guess you don't know how to telephone, Detective-Sergeant,” said Freeman to Evans.

“Yes sir.”

“We got all these white cops on black murders and you want to go off on your own.”

“No sir.”

“You came through today but you should have telephoned ahead. You had the Captain mad at this whole squad,” said Freeman.

“Sorry, sir.” Evans was sorry. Freeman had enough on his plate from the whites.

“Alright. Get your reports typed up. Then take the rest of the day off. Use it to sleep. You got to be back here at 4:00 a.m. All of you, be alert, be on the ball, and you cooperate with your assigned detective. You got to represent on this one.”

“Yes sir,” said the detectives.

“Question, Lieutenant,” asked Rudy Eli, the youngest detective. “What about the revolvers?”

Freeman looked at him a minute. Then he looked slowly around to see who else was listening. All the whites had left the room. Freeman turned back to the squad. “You get police revolvers, snubnose jobs, and you keep them hid, you hear me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I'll break the man who flashes a gun.” He waited.

“Yes, sir.”

“You draw and don't shoot, it's your ass. I mean that.” He leaned forward. “But you shoot through the lungs when you got to. Three shots rapid. Don't let some cracker light you or your brothers up. Don't worry about the Department. This ain't '91, and these guys are mad-dog killers. Got that?”

Eli nodded nervously. Selby said, “Hell, yes.” The others gave their assent.

“Right. Meet you all down in Armory.”
Moses
Evans joined the others as they took three flights of stairs to the cold basement Armory. The white desk sergeant stared at them with eyebrows raised.

“You ought to have got a phone call from Captain Brewster, sergeant,” said Lieutenant Freeman.

“Christ. The Japs invading or something?”

“Something.” Freeman signed for the revolvers, snubnosed .44 caliber weapons, and handed each detective a holstered weapon.

“For Christ's sake, carry on an empty chamber,” said the sergeant. “And don't blaze at everything moving. You ain't just arming anybody with color, Lieutenant?”
That was insubordinate, but the Armory sergeant was that way with whites too. He'd won the Medal of Honor fighting in Mexico, and that still meant something to a lot of guys.

“No sergeant, everybody come up from street patrol. They remember the training.” Freeman said that a little loudly, so Evans figured he was talking to them too. He removed his coat and put on the holster.

“Ammunition?” asked Freeman.

“You buy your own.” Amid a chorus of grumbles the sergeant added, “Welcome to the real. You think we buy anybody's ammunition? How much shooting you gonna do, for Christ's sake?”

“You know a shop that will sell bullets to Negroes?” asked Selby.

“Well.” The sergeant's eyes gleamed. “Matter of fact I do. Run by an old Army pal. If I send you there, will you tell him who sent you?”

“Yeah, and we'll give you four dollars on top your commission, Sarge,” said Selby.

The sergeant laughed. “Hot damn, a brother veteran! Save your four dollars, pal. Good to know you got some real talent in Negro Squad.” The sergeant wrote down an address.

Home alone, later that day, Evans tried to sleep without darkness. He finally settled for lying still with his eyes closed. Evans had been trained with a gun, had shot a man down. A knife-wielding punk. The man had recovered though. Evans had never taken human life. Through the lungs, three shots rapid. And Selby said, “Hell yes”. This was going to be an ugly case. Evans remembered the widow Jackson. It was an ugly case.

Evans was almost asleep when he remembered to set his alarm for two o'clock. He set the alarm bell and lay back to try to fall asleep again.


It was a very bad day, thought Valencia. She did not like the way things were turning out.

First Rod Thomas had stopped by the office. He sat in the lobby and stared at her until she asked him what he was looking at.

“You don’t know, do you?” he said, staring her in the eyes for once.

“What should I know?”

“Naw, you don’t know.” He settled back, glanced at her up and down, and grinned. “Good for you keeping your virtue. You do still got some virtue, don’t you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Nothing. Just Neegrow problems. Ever ask yourself how this place gets run with all them Neegrows in back working for nothing? Us Neegrows, excuse me. Us coloreds gotta stick together, don’t you think?”

“I honestly don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, Rod.”

“Mister Thomas. Go ahead, call me Mister Thomas. Just once.”

“Rod, seriously,” she began.

“I ain’t playing bitch!” he shouted furiously. “Call me Mister Thomas!”

The office door banged open, and Jerry Jake swept in, grabbed Thomas by the lapels, and threw him down the ramp outside the factory door. He slammed the door behind them, and Valencia only hear yelling and bodies thumping the wall. Jerry Jake came back in, with his collar popped open like a cartoon character. His hair was mussed and he was breathing heavy.

“Did he hurt you?” he husked.

Valencia just shook her head. Jake straightened his hair, arranged his collar and wiped his face. “I do believe you don’t get along with that nigger,” he said.

“Jerry, don’t call him that,” said Valencia.

“He won’t be around long to call anything,” said Jake, staring at the factory door, and then glancing quickly at her.

She frowned at him. “You mean you’ll tell the Professor?”

“Yeah,” he laughed, “that’s what I meant.”

“Please don’t Jerry,” she said. “I don’t like to bother the Professor with—“

“Bother me with what?” asked a thin voice from the office doorway.

A man in a wheelchair rolled himself into the lobby. Valencia turned a little pale. She did not like to meet the eyes of the man in the wheelchair, but that just made him upset. She looked into his ruined face, the color of strawberry ice cream, blotchy and scabrous, with his hands covered in bandages. She didn’t know what happened to Professor Eleanor Godwrot to have injured him, and somehow, meeting those eyes in their wasted face, it wasn’t anything to ask him.

“Bother me? With what?” he repeated.

“Rod Thomas is in here again bothering Valencia,” said Jake.

“So I heard. What’s it to you?”

Jerry Jake frowned. “Well, nothing really…”

“I don’t pay you to be chivalrous. Quite the opposite. But I don’t want Ms. Ramos to know what I pay you for, so I expect you to keep out of the office while she’s here. Go now.”

Jerry Jake frowned, backed out the factory door, stopped as he opened it. “What about…”

“Settle it. His usefulness ended last night. If we have to,” he stopped, glanced at Valencia, “then we have to and that’s that. I’ll talk about it with you later. Elsewhere.”

Jerry Jake left. Professor Godwrot sat thoughtfully in his chair. Valencia glanced at him, and noticed he was staring at her.

“Yes sir?”

“Haven’t you any work to be doing?”

“Yes sir.”

“Then do it.” He kept his ice-blue eyes on her. “Ms. Ramos.”

She raised her head, smiling primly. “Yes sir?”

“What does Earthly Mechanical mean to you?”

“Well… you do a lot of work with metals…”

“And?”

“And you prepare a lot of crates for shipment overseas…”

“And?”

She couldn’t keep playing dumb. She saw that in his stare. “You don’t exactly follow every little law on the book.”

He smiled. “No we don’t. And that doesn’t bother you?”

“No sir, it doesn’t. It makes me feel a bit better about a number of things.”

“That’s very good.” He stared at her carefully. “But I think, since everything is run so smoothly, that next time you go to the bank for me, Mr. Jake goes with you. Just so he learns some of the tricks of front office work.”

“If you say so, Professor. There’s nothing amiss with the banking.”

“My dear, I wasn’t suggesting there was. Just a thought of mine to improve Mr. Jake.”

He wheeled himself back into his private office and shut the door quietly. Valencia composed herself at her desk. Then she started to type most carefully. It wouldn’t do to make a mistake with the Professor, not in any way.
 

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Chapter 1 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour

Wednesday, July 9, 2015 -- The First Day

Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans of the Special Investigations Squad of the Newton Street Division of the Los Angeles Police Department sat in his Ford sedan. He was a rugged black man in his middle-forties, dressed as a businessman in a light brown shirt with a celluloid collar, dark brown tie, plaid brown sportcoat, checked brown pants and a mouse-colored fedora hat. Like many in LAPD he sported a clipped mustache. He had a small wooden cross pinned in his buttonhole.

Los Angeles in the rain was atrocious. The streets were drenched, most flooding over the curb, and the square cars sloshed slowly across intersections with their lights full on, one-two-three-four, as the traffic lights overhead strobed useless red. Evans did not enjoy driving through Los Angeles as he normally did. He was one of those who enjoyed taking a Sunday drive through the city, its broad boulevards stretching from the ocean east for miles inland, the beauty of Burbank and the cool forest surrounding the Griffith Park Observatory, the broad green expanse of MacArthur Park, the cultured landscaping of the six Imperial consulates along Diplomacy Row, the solid red ironwork of the double-decked trolley lines to Long Beach and Santa Monica looking like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. He enjoyed the ethnic diversity of the Greek community around the Byzantine-Latino District, the Negro colony along Inglewood and Watts, the Chinese colony near Hollywood, and the Mexican settlements near Huntington and East Los Angeles. Los Angeles was a city of nearly two million persons, many of them immigrants, Chinese and other Asiatics from across the Pacific, some few Europeans from the Atlantic, Mexicans from their impoverished country to the south, and whites and Negroes from Dixie mostly. But today using the car was a tedious chore, and Evans longed to be off the road again.

The Ford was idling rough again, and Moses Evans hoped it was the carburetor. That would be a straightforward swap out job. Anything complicated and they were in for a bad time. The Special Investigations Division was not allowed the services of the white police mechanic. Evans tapped the steering wheel idly, waiting. Detective-Sergeant Dan Selby crossed the sidewalk and swung himself into the passenger seat. Selby was also a black man, a dapper bantam, with cordovan shoes and a pearl gray windowpane coat over striped worsted trousers. He wore a green hat with feathered cockade.

“Get it?” asked Evans.

“Let's go,” said Selby, holding up a waxed paper sack of tobacco. Evans kicked the clutch and they rolled away from the curb.

“Sounds rough”, said Selby.

“A little. I'll let Yehonatan look at it this weekend,” said Evans.

“They never got the ignition right after 2000,” said Selby.

“Maybe so,” said Evans. “But this is a 1997 model.”

“Should have got a Chevy,” said Selby.

“As I recall we had no choice.” Privately Evans liked the two-toned cobalt blue sedan with its wood panelling and green wool seats. He knew better than to say so to anybody.

“Good thing we don't have to run after nobody,” said Selby. “A bicycle could outrun this heap.” He rolled down the window a crack and lit a handmade cigarette. Evans watched the road. Fortunately the heavy traffic of a rainy day in Los Angeles made the slow acceleration of their car less objectionable. Selby finished his cigarette before they reached Newton Street Division.

Newton Street Division was old Los Angeles, with creaking wooden floorboards and steel cones for overhead lampshades interspersed with ceiling fans. There were not many buildings from the 1950s left in the city and most of them served some city department. The lobby had once been painted white and was divided by a tall wooden counter topped by iron bars. Evans and Selby strode up to it.

“Hello, Sassy,” Evans said to the desk officer. Sergeant Angela Williams was a short black woman in her late thirties with her hair in a tight regulation bun and a severe black uniform dress.

“You hush. Got a file for you.” She passed the manila folder through the bars. Evans and Selby went to their common desk to read up. It was a plywood desk with two armless hard chairs for the men. It held a telephone, a typewriter, a cheap glass full of pencils, and a green-shaded lamp. Selby sat on his side and lit another roll-your-own. Evans read the file.

Harry and Sara Beechum, Colored, of Downey, had filed a report with a patrol officer before leaving for work in the morning. Harry Beechum was a bank clerk at the Bank of Italy. Mr. Beechum had his own account at the Bank of Italy, and had an easy time obtaining photostats of four checks cashed in May 2015. The checks were made out to “Cash”, each for over $100 and totaled $465.00. Mr. Beechum had told the patrol officer that these checks were forgeries by his former maid, who was also Colored. Evans passed the folder over to Selby and lit a Camel cigarette.

“Didn't know the Bank of Italy was that progressive,” said Selby after he had read the file.

“Perhaps they have a department aimed at the Negro community,” said Evans. He picked up the heavy black phone and dialed the number of Sara Beechum, and learned that Harry Beechum would be home after six that night. He looked at the wall clock. Three-thirty.

“Let's check out the Bank of Italy for a start.”

“Damn, I was getting dry,” said Selby with a smile.

The Bank of Italy main branch was a massive concrete block downtown with superb neoclassical mosaics over the double-doors. Indoors, the floor was marble, with solid red wool runners laid down for traffic. The runners ran past poles with chains in leather sheaths. The wallpaper was a leathery purple with gold filigree arabesques. Beyond the broad oak counter was the daytime steel mesh covering the entrances to the vaults with the safety deposit boxes. Evans and Selby hung their police badges in the breast pockets of their sportscoats and waited humbly by the door, very careful to keep their damp shoes on the rough coir mat. A suspicious blond page in his early twenties wandered over.

“What you boys after here?” asked the page.

“Detectives. Like to speak to your manager if he's got a minute.”

“Huh. Wait here.”

The two black men waited, hats in hand. A portly old white man with trimmed sideburns ushered the black detectives into a modest office. He did not shake hands or offer chairs.

“I'm Mr. Hamner, an assistant manager. What's the deal?” He relaxed visibly when Evans explained. “That's all right then. Wait here.” Hamner left them. Selby surveyed the office. Evans waited quietly.

“Nice bank,” said Selby. “If I had a bank account I'd like it at a bank this rich.”

“That's smart,” laughed Evans. He stopped smiling when Hamner returned. Hamner had a manila folder of photostats.

“This is about what the Bank can tell you,” said Hamner. “Those checks came to the Bank from the Green Check Cash Company down on 109th Avenue in Watts. Checks were submitted the 9th and cashed on the 10th. Very sorry to learn there's any hint of forgery, though of course, the Bank of Italy admits no liability.” He had a very casual tone. “Harry works over at the Atlantic Branch, if you'd like to have him sent for.”

“We'll get him at home, Mister Hamner,” said Selby.

“That's fine, fellows,” said Hamner. “Now I've got to get back to work.” He stood still.

Evans and Selby said “Thank you.” They did not shake hands as they departed.

Evans and Selby stopped at a Japanese pharmacy on their way to Downey.

“Phone,” Evans called out to the gray-haired clerk, who was whispering to his wife behind the counter. She stared at the black men.

“Customer only,” said the Japanese.

Selby bought two small bottles of Coke while Evans climbed into the booth. The clerk held onto the bottles until he saw Selby pay in full.

“You drink other place,” said the Japanese.

“Sure,” said Selby affably. The clerk let him have the bottles.

“No messages,” said Evans from the phone booth. “Let's roll to Downey then to Watts.”

That drive was long enough for Selby to drink both bottles of Coke and smoke three cigarettes. 

There was a time years ago Selby would have read a newspaper in the car, but after 2014 no detective in California let his guard down in a car at any time. Evans kept his own silent lookout.

Downey was a comfortable middle-class suburb south of Los Angeles. Harry and Sara Beechum had half a duplex. The lawn was faceted into different slopes, each well-tended, and bougainvillea framed the top edge of the lawn. It looked as if the Beechums had professional help tending it. Selby made a point of crushing his cigarette into the concrete gutter well away from the grass. Inside the house, there was a display of African wood carvings, a portrait of Marcus Garvey, and another of Admiral Heihachiro Togo. There was a smell of lemon soap and no tobacco. Harry and Sara were both broad, dark and cheerful. Harry wore his banker's suit and a yellow shirt. Sara wore a green sack dress. She brought a tray with a glass pitcher of iced tea and four tall glasses with sprigs of mint in them. Evans would have preferred hot tea because of the rain.

Mr. Harry Beechum seemed put out. “Why colored detectives?”

“Why not?” asked Selby.

“This is a felony case. It ought to be treated seriously,” said Beechum.

“Ain't nobody joking,” said Selby.

“Detective-Sergeant Selby and I are both experienced detectives, Mr. Beechum,” said Evans. “Now it happens you say you know who did it, and they're Negro too, so the Special Investigations Squad seemed the appropriate office to handle the case.”

Harry said, “Of course I think I know who did it.”

Sara said, “Harry, she wouldn't have the brains.”

“She didn't have to do it on her own,” said Harry.

“Who did it, Mr. Beechum?” asked Evans.

“Bess Manson, our former maid,” said Harry.

“Harry, you don't have any proof,” said Sara.

“I don't need proof,” said Harry. “She had access to the checkbook, she lives out in Watts, and she is a thief.”

Evans thought that pretty much summed up a good case. “What's Miss Manson look like?”

“She's short, creamy colored, and has green eyes,” said Harry. He gave the last known address in Watts.

“She dresses cheap too. And, she stole my scarves,” said Sara. “I caught her at it and fired her.”

“That's got nothing to do with you, Mr. Evans,” said Harry. “I want her for forgery. Four counts.”

“What did she say to you when she left?” asked Evans.

“What could she say? I said, “Bess, get your things and go,' and she went.”

“Forgery is a felony,” said Harry. “That's four years minimum. Maybe ten years.”

Evans said, “We don't prosecute. We get the evidence for the District Attorney. You read up on the statute, Mr. Beechum?”

“I did,” said Harry. “I am a teller for the Bank of Italy. I'm the chief teller in their new colored banking department. If they let us do loans, I will be an assistant manager. May I ask where you bank?”

Evans laughed. “Sorry, I bank at Wells Fargo,” he said.

“Well, you're making a mistake there,” said Harry. “The Bank of Italy is as solid as Wells Fargo, and since you're not in business in different states, there's no reason for you to keep your account there.”

“Don't got a bank account,” said Selby brightly.  Harry Beechum didn't look at him.

“Did you usually pay Bess with checks made out to 'Cash'?” asked Evans.

“Never. We always paid cash,” said Sara.

Harry said, “Those check cashing places are totally irresponsible. They ought to be shut down. Imagine cashing checks to cash for a stranger! We don't do that at the Bank.” Evans noted the capital letter.

“So when was your last contact with Miss Manson?” asked Selby.

“Missus Manson, if you believe her,” said Sara. “She says she has a husband in Texas.”

“You don't believe her, Mrs. Beechum?” asked Evans.

“Now you know the type of no-good who comes west these days,” said Sara. “I brought that bitch into my house, paid her quite well for her trouble, and she just had to have something extra. I could have paid her double and she'd still have robbed me. That sort has to take something extra.” Evans noticed she wasn't arguing against going after Bess Manson anymore.

Harry said, “Maybe she wanted something extra and forged the checks.”

Sara said, “Well. Well maybe, but she wouldn't think of that.”

Evans asked again, “When did you last hear from her?”

“We fired her April 23rd, 2015,” said Harry. “You bet I remember the date.”

“No contact with her since then?” asked Evans.

“Nope, heard nothing,” said Harry.

“Well.” Evans and Selby stood up. “Don't try to reach her, and if she should reach out to you, don't talk to her. We'll be in touch with you. Thanks for the tea.”

“You're welcome. Thanks for coming out,” said Harry.

There was a corner market a half-mile from the Beechum residence and Evans checked for messages while Selby bought flavored chewing gum and a box of matches. The pale clerk stared at them both in the face.

“How's your day, sir?” asked Selby, smiling.

“Go on and get out,” said the clerk. He stared at them until they left.

It was getting towards nightfall on a July evening when Evans and Selby rolled down 109th Avenue. There was no sunset, just a dimming of the grey sky to black as the rain fell. The Green Check Cash Company had a yellow brick building to itself. There was a line of men and women in the lobby, which had no chairs. Three clerks were attending to the line of people from the far side of a banker's high counter. Evans cut in line to ask the nearest clerk to bring out the manager, showing his badge. He and Selby stood off to the side, looking back towards the office, without glancing at the murmuring crowd. The manager, a sturdy black man in a pinstripe suit, gave them a bright smile as he opened the gate to allow them into the back office.

“I'm Gary Evans, officers. How can we assist you today?” They shook hands and the manager offered them chairs.

Moses Evans shared the photostats of the checks and explained the allegations that brought him to the office. The manager walked to a standing desk and opened a ledger. “Gladys was the clerk on those transactions. She's up front. Please wait here.” He left the room.

“This is more my speed,” said Selby.

“I'm still good with Wells Fargo,” said Evans.

One of the three clerks up front walked in, a cheerful young black woman in a flowery frock. “Hi, I'm Gladys.” The men rose as she entered. They shook hands as Evans made introductions.

“I sure do remember those checks, coming all on the 9th like that,” said Gladys.

“And the person taking the money, can you describe them?” asked Evans, thinking of the short, creamy Bess Manson.

“A tall Negro man, about thirty, with a pocked face,” said Gladys.

Evans felt surprised. Selby said loudly, “A man? What did he say?”

“Just said he had checks to cash. I called the bank and confirmed there were funds in the account to cover the check, and cashed them.” Evans thought that was that for the superior security of the Bank of Italy. He wondered if he could tell Harry Beechum.

“Did he provide any kind of ID?” asked Evans.

“No, we don't ask for ID if the check is made out to 'Cash'. What's the point? Our customers can understand that much.” Gladys was a bright, cheerful black woman who did not look anything like Harry Beechum, but she reminded Evans of him.

Selby asked, “Have you ever seen him around before or since?”

“No. I think I'd know him if I seen him again though.”

“What days are you here Gladys?”

“Here six days a week! Got to keep Sunday free for the Lord, but I'm about that rent money.”

Evans said, “OK Gladys, we'll come back if we need more information or an identification.”

The detectives thanked the manager as they left the building.

“Well well,” said Selby.

“I'm thinking we touch base with Bess Manson,” said Evans.

“Bound to eventually.”

“And that might settle it.”

Selby rolled another cigarette. Evans lit another Camel, and passed the box of matches. “Might as well be patrolling again, doing all this driving.”

“I was in Mexico during the war.”

“Yeah.”

But Selby was lost to the present, remembering the war again. Evans let it rest, as usual. He's a good man, Lord. Heal him his hurts.

The suburban lots became stores and then factories, then tenements.

Bess Manson lived on the third floor of a tenement building on 106th Avenue in Watts. It was definitely not a neighborhood the Beechums would buy into, though Evans wondered if they had started out there. He worried about parking his car at the curb. He knocked on the door of what was supposed to be her apartment, but the door was answered by a man. A tall black man, with a pocked face. Seeing him, the easy humor flowed off Selby like water. Suddenly he was rigidly balanced on the balls of his feet, arms loose at his sides, shoulders forward.

Evans blinked once at the man in the doorway. “I'm here to speak to Bess Manson,” said Evans, showing his badge.

“I'll get her,” said the man, and he turned and yelled, “Bess! This policeman wants to speak to you.” He stood in the doorway and did not offer to let Evans in.

“You always give warning like that, fella?” asked Selby, staring doggedly. But they heard heels on a wood floor coming towards the door. A woman matching the Beechum's description of their maid came to the door from the darkness of her apartment. She did not invite Evans in either.

“Yes?” she asked curtly.

Evans said, “Mrs. Manson, I want to talk to you about some checks that were cashed at the Green Check Cash Company in May. May I come in?”

“No,” said Bess.

“I'd rather not talk about it in the hall, ma'am.”

“Then you might as well go. I don't let strangers into my apartment.”

Evans thought while Selby stared them down. Here he was dealing with a crook. He knew she was guilty and how she had done it. There was no reason to play along with her. Evans said, “Bess, I know how you got the checkbook. I know that you forged those checks. I know that you had your man cash them. I can prove he cashed them, and we can prove you had access to the checkbook. Harry Beechum will testify he never wrote any of those checks.

“I can try to nail you for four counts of forgery. Those are felony offenses, and you'd do years in prison. Or you can plead guilty to stealing $465.00. That's a misdemeanor, and your man will only be accomplice to a misdemeanor. That's only a few months in jail. I'm giving you that break so you save me some trouble.”

Bess watched him a long minute. “I never forged any checks,” said Bess. “That was Larry here who did that.”

“No!” yelled the man. “Make him prove it!” Quick as a snake Selby spun him round, locked a wrist, and pulled him backwards into the hall.

“Shaddap,” said Selby. Larry did not resist.

“Tell me why you did it, Bess,” said Evans.

“Stealing is how colored people get ahead,” said Bess. “You must have been born into money not to see that. You like those high-toned Beechums. They try to be white. I never was allowed to go to high school when my momma took sick. I can't get by except by cleaning houses. And mister, those folks know you can't get by on what they're paying me. I hope that man Beechum doesn't expect his money back, because we spent it on food.”

Evans told her to step forward into the hall. They didn't look like they had eaten $465.00 in groceries in a month. He and Selby cuffed them both, then Selby went downstairs to phone for a squadcar.

The responding officers were white.

“Whaddya got for us?” asked the lead patrolman.

“Misdemeanor theft by check.”

“Uhhuh. OK bub, let's go.” They twitched Larry and Bess by the sleeve and led them off down the stairs.

Selby said, “Well that fell in our mitts.”

Evans said, “Wouldn't mind if they all went neat as that.”

Selby rolled a cigarette. “Drop me off boss?”

“That ain't regulation. But it's raining, so, sure.”

“Let's stop off someplace on the way. I got to wash my hands.”

“Right neighborhood for it.”

“Should have asked Larry to go first, then busted him.” Evans laughed.

Evans found a gas station. A young black man in denim overalls and a tweed flat cap filled the tank while Selby went to the john.

“I'll need a receipt,” Evans told the youth as he wiped down the side mirrors.

“What for?” asked the youth.

“Police business.”

“So I guess no tip, huh?” Evans gave him the packet of flavored chewing gum Selby had bought earlier. The youth grinned and got out a book of carbon papers. He wrote Evans a receipt for his gas, accepted a four-dollar banknote, made change, and by then Selby was back.

“You gave him my gum?”

“You smoke.”

“I don't get payback for those phone purchases.”

“You're getting it in gas right now. Getting a free ride across town for your errands.”

Evans dropped off Selby at the large Victorian house where Selby took rooms, then drove to Newton Street to do paperwork. He parked the car in the garage.

As he typed up his reports, Evans thought about the deal with Bess Manson. He wondered how much of the break he gave her had been some kind of guilt. He had never been hungry as a child. The truth, to his own mind however, was that the District Attorney would rather try a Bess Manson for theft than forgery. Harry Beechum would probably be sick with anger, but no matter how he tried, he could not wield the leverage of a white middle-class banker.

Evans handed in his reports and the receipt for gas and went out into the rain to catch his bus home.

At his apartment he lit the kerosene lamp and then the stove, heated some canned bologna and opened a can of corn kernels for his dinner, and then read the Gospel of John. He made something of a production of sitting straight while he read.

The promises of the Gospel were universal and color-blind. Evans thought about the despairing confession of Bess Manson. He believed in the Ten Commandments. Those had come from Almighty God. He could believe in a law, even a white law, that was based on those Ten Commandments. The United States, like nowhere else, could create laws based on the Ten Commandments, even though Negroes had little influence in the laws that were made. Where he had doubts, he figured, was with white people's application of that law as justice. That was where a Negro had to watch out.

Moses Evans prayed thanks for the safe day he'd had, and asked for a safe tomorrow. Then he undressed and went to sleep. Outside the rain came down gently on the living and the dead alike.

It had rained all day on the steel roof of the Earthly Mechanical building. Valencia Ramos had come to ignore the noise, the way you ignore a railroad track behind your house or any other constant and tolerable din. It was a matter of focusing your attention on what you really wanted. She was a red-haired woman with a ripe figure, the best money could buy back Home, and right now she was focused on getting three perfect carbons of her letter typed properly. She had an Apple laptop at Home but the Professor was adamant about avoiding what he called contamination. She didn’t really understand what that meant, but Valencia Ramos figured that not understanding what went on around her was part of what she was paid for on this job. She helped herself beyond what she was paid, of course, but, with that went being damn careful about appearances.

She had to make do with an Olympia manual typewriter, and it was very annoying. She wasn’t even allowed to listen to her iPod to help her relax. The Professor wouldn’t even have a radio in the lobby.

The factory door banged open and made her twitch. “Shit!” she yelled, then bit it off.

“Hey, that ain’t proper language for a lady,” said a voice behind her.

“Rod, do not bang that door! Thank you!” She reached for the eraser stick. It smudged but there was nothing better allowed her.

Rod Thomas slid into the room, grinning. He grinned too much for Valencia’s taste. His clothing also was not to her liking. He was wearing a dark blue zoot suit with lime green pinstripes and purple crocodile shoes—both breaches of security since he’d brought them from Home. He was a tall burly black man with a razor-trimmed goatee and, though it didn’t show in his work suit, tattoos all up his arms and back. He sat in an office chair facing her and sucked on a fat lollipop. She was sure that was from Home, too. Rod had received the same warning lecture she had from the Professor, but it didn’t seem to take with him for some reason. Maybe he figured it was too late to change himself. Maybe he figured he might as well play out the part he’d created for himself back Home.

She realized she’d been staring at him.

“What is it, my threads or the sucker?”

“It’s both and you being here Rod. The professor doesn’t like…I’m not supposed to chat.”

“Doesn’t like blacks in the office? Or should I call myself colored? Neegrow, that’s the word. No Neegrows in your fine office. Mind if I smoke? Of course you don’t.” He lit a fat cigar with pleasure. “Nice to have a good Cuban cigar for easy money.”

Valencia was a little taken aback to watch a grown man enjoy a cigar and a lollipop at the same time. Rod grinned and licked his lollipop lavisciously. “Like that? Or don’t you indulge? Or is that for whites only too?”

“Rod, you’re disgusting.”

“Yeah?” The fun went out of his face. “Well, you disgust me too, you fat white pig. You fit into Crackerworld a little too much for me. I don’t like you, Miz Ramos, and I thought you oughta know. Never cross me. Ever.”

“You’re crazy. I’m only working til I can get back Home—“

“That a fact? Professor know you’re a short-timer?”

She stuttered. She had not discussed her future with the Professor. He discouraged acting too smart or too greedy or acting anything but perfectly obedient. “Rod, please, I just want to work the office and run errands—“

“Yeah? Me too. But it’s too far along for that. Or don’t you know?”

“I don’t know anything but what goes on in the front office. And I’m glad not to know.” She bit it off. Rod grinned at her, one hand holding the cigar, the other the lollipop.

“Little miss innocent,” he said. “Crazy bitch, I don’t think it would matter to you if you did know.”

The factory door opened and a tall white man in a Palm Beach suit stepped through. “Hey Valencia,” he sang, and then in a stern tone, “You here again?”

“Yesss, Mister Jake, I here again,” said Rod Thomas.

“Well, beat it and stay out from now on. You’re not to bother Miss Ramos.”

“Am I? Bothering Miz Ramos?” Jazz asked with raised eyebrows.

“Yes,” said Valencia, looking at her feet.

Mr. Jake stood in the doorway, staring at Rod Thomas, who sat looking at Valencia, who stared at her feet. Then Rod gave an explosive laugh, and bounced out of his chair and brushed past the white man. “Scuse me, Mister Jake,” he said, and then was gone.

“Let me know if he comes in here again,” said Jake.

“It’s OK Jerry, I can handle him,” said Valencia.

“Yeah?” Jerry Jake frowned at her. “What’s between you two anyhow?”

“Nothing, Jerry! We don’t like each other at all.”

“Yeah? That so? Well you two travelers shouldn’t talk, in my view. You let me know if he’s in here again. Right?”

Valencia nodded without meeting his eyes, waited for him to leave the room and shut the door. Then she rubbed her eyes with both hands and trembled a little bit. This job was sometimes too much for her.

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Chapter 1 of Triple Earth
Written by ArmandChascour
Wednesday, July 9, 2015 -- The First Day
Detective-Sergeant Moses Evans of the Special Investigations Squad of the Newton Street Division of the Los Angeles Police Department sat in his Ford sedan. He was a rugged black man in his middle-forties, dressed as a businessman in a light brown shirt with a celluloid collar, dark brown tie, plaid brown sportcoat, checked brown pants and a mouse-colored fedora hat. Like many in LAPD he sported a clipped mustache. He had a small wooden cross pinned in his buttonhole.

Los Angeles in the rain was atrocious. The streets were drenched, most flooding over the curb, and the square cars sloshed slowly across intersections with their lights full on, one-two-three-four, as the traffic lights overhead strobed useless red. Evans did not enjoy driving through Los Angeles as he normally did. He was one of those who enjoyed taking a Sunday drive through the city, its broad boulevards stretching from the ocean east for miles inland, the beauty of Burbank and the cool forest surrounding the Griffith Park Observatory, the broad green expanse of MacArthur Park, the cultured landscaping of the six Imperial consulates along Diplomacy Row, the solid red ironwork of the double-decked trolley lines to Long Beach and Santa Monica looking like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. He enjoyed the ethnic diversity of the Greek community around the Byzantine-Latino District, the Negro colony along Inglewood and Watts, the Chinese colony near Hollywood, and the Mexican settlements near Huntington and East Los Angeles. Los Angeles was a city of nearly two million persons, many of them immigrants, Chinese and other Asiatics from across the Pacific, some few Europeans from the Atlantic, Mexicans from their impoverished country to the south, and whites and Negroes from Dixie mostly. But today using the car was a tedious chore, and Evans longed to be off the road again.

The Ford was idling rough again, and Moses Evans hoped it was the carburetor. That would be a straightforward swap out job. Anything complicated and they were in for a bad time. The Special Investigations Division was not allowed the services of the white police mechanic. Evans tapped the steering wheel idly, waiting. Detective-Sergeant Dan Selby crossed the sidewalk and swung himself into the passenger seat. Selby was also a black man, a dapper bantam, with cordovan shoes and a pearl gray windowpane coat over striped worsted trousers. He wore a green hat with feathered cockade.

“Get it?” asked Evans.

“Let's go,” said Selby, holding up a waxed paper sack of tobacco. Evans kicked the clutch and they rolled away from the curb.

“Sounds rough”, said Selby.

“A little. I'll let Yehonatan look at it this weekend,” said Evans.

“They never got the ignition right after 2000,” said Selby.

“Maybe so,” said Evans. “But this is a 1997 model.”

“Should have got a Chevy,” said Selby.

“As I recall we had no choice.” Privately Evans liked the two-toned cobalt blue sedan with its wood panelling and green wool seats. He knew better than to say so to anybody.

“Good thing we don't have to run after nobody,” said Selby. “A bicycle could outrun this heap.” He rolled down the window a crack and lit a handmade cigarette. Evans watched the road. Fortunately the heavy traffic of a rainy day in Los Angeles made the slow acceleration of their car less objectionable. Selby finished his cigarette before they reached Newton Street Division.

Newton Street Division was old Los Angeles, with creaking wooden floorboards and steel cones for overhead lampshades interspersed with ceiling fans. There were not many buildings from the 1950s left in the city and most of them served some city department. The lobby had once been painted white and was divided by a tall wooden counter topped by iron bars. Evans and Selby strode up to it.
“Hello, Sassy,” Evans said to the desk officer. Sergeant Angela Williams was a short black woman in her late thirties with her hair in a tight regulation bun and a severe black uniform dress.

“You hush. Got a file for you.” She passed the manila folder through the bars. Evans and Selby went to their common desk to read up. It was a plywood desk with two armless hard chairs for the men. It held a telephone, a typewriter, a cheap glass full of pencils, and a green-shaded lamp. Selby sat on his side and lit another roll-your-own. Evans read the file.

Harry and Sara Beechum, Colored, of Downey, had filed a report with a patrol officer before leaving for work in the morning. Harry Beechum was a bank clerk at the Bank of Italy. Mr. Beechum had his own account at the Bank of Italy, and had an easy time obtaining photostats of four checks cashed in May 2015. The checks were made out to “Cash”, each for over $100 and totaled $465.00. Mr. Beechum had told the patrol officer that these checks were forgeries by his former maid, who was also Colored. Evans passed the folder over to Selby and lit a Camel cigarette.

“Didn't know the Bank of Italy was that progressive,” said Selby after he had read the file.

“Perhaps they have a department aimed at the Negro community,” said Evans. He picked up the heavy black phone and dialed the number of Sara Beechum, and learned that Harry Beechum would be home after six that night. He looked at the wall clock. Three-thirty.

“Let's check out the Bank of Italy for a start.”

“Damn, I was getting dry,” said Selby with a smile.

The Bank of Italy main branch was a massive concrete block downtown with superb neoclassical mosaics over the double-doors. Indoors, the floor was marble, with solid red wool runners laid down for traffic. The runners ran past poles with chains in leather sheaths. The wallpaper was a leathery purple with gold filigree arabesques. Beyond the broad oak counter was the daytime steel mesh covering the entrances to the vaults with the safety deposit boxes. Evans and Selby hung their police badges in the breast pockets of their sportscoats and waited humbly by the door, very careful to keep their damp shoes on the rough coir mat. A suspicious blond page in his early twenties wandered over.

“What you boys after here?” asked the page.

“Detectives. Like to speak to your manager if he's got a minute.”

“Huh. Wait here.”
The two black men waited, hats in hand. A portly old white man with trimmed sideburns ushered the black detectives into a modest office. He did not shake hands or offer chairs.
“I'm Mr. Hamner, an assistant manager. What's the deal?” He relaxed visibly when Evans explained. “That's all right then. Wait here.” Hamner left them. Selby surveyed the office. Evans waited quietly.

“Nice bank,” said Selby. “If I had a bank account I'd like it at a bank this rich.”

“That's smart,” laughed Evans. He stopped smiling when Hamner returned. Hamner had a manila folder of photostats.

“This is about what the Bank can tell you,” said Hamner. “Those checks came to the Bank from the Green Check Cash Company down on 109th Avenue in Watts. Checks were submitted the 9th and cashed on the 10th. Very sorry to learn there's any hint of forgery, though of course, the Bank of Italy admits no liability.” He had a very casual tone. “Harry works over at the Atlantic Branch, if you'd like to have him sent for.”

“We'll get him at home, Mister Hamner,” said Selby.

“That's fine, fellows,” said Hamner. “Now I've got to get back to work.” He stood still.
Evans and Selby said “Thank you.” They did not shake hands as they departed.

Evans and Selby stopped at a Japanese pharmacy on their way to Downey.
“Phone,” Evans called out to the gray-haired clerk, who was whispering to his wife behind the counter. She stared at the black men.

“Customer only,” said the Japanese.

Selby bought two small bottles of Coke while Evans climbed into the booth. The clerk held onto the bottles until he saw Selby pay in full.

“You drink other place,” said the Japanese.

“Sure,” said Selby affably. The clerk let him have the bottles.

“No messages,” said Evans from the phone booth. “Let's roll to Downey then to Watts.”

That drive was long enough for Selby to drink both bottles of Coke and smoke three cigarettes. 
There was a time years ago Selby would have read a newspaper in the car, but after 2014 no detective in California let his guard down in a car at any time. Evans kept his own silent lookout.

Downey was a comfortable middle-class suburb south of Los Angeles. Harry and Sara Beechum had half a duplex. The lawn was faceted into different slopes, each well-tended, and bougainvillea framed the top edge of the lawn. It looked as if the Beechums had professional help tending it. Selby made a point of crushing his cigarette into the concrete gutter well away from the grass. Inside the house, there was a display of African wood carvings, a portrait of Marcus Garvey, and another of Admiral Heihachiro Togo. There was a smell of lemon soap and no tobacco. Harry and Sara were both broad, dark and cheerful. Harry wore his banker's suit and a yellow shirt. Sara wore a green sack dress. She brought a tray with a glass pitcher of iced tea and four tall glasses with sprigs of mint in them. Evans would have preferred hot tea because of the rain.

Mr. Harry Beechum seemed put out. “Why colored detectives?”

“Why not?” asked Selby.

“This is a felony case. It ought to be treated seriously,” said Beechum.

“Ain't nobody joking,” said Selby.

“Detective-Sergeant Selby and I are both experienced detectives, Mr. Beechum,” said Evans. “Now it happens you say you know who did it, and they're Negro too, so the Special Investigations Squad seemed the appropriate office to handle the case.”

Harry said, “Of course I think I know who did it.”

Sara said, “Harry, she wouldn't have the brains.”

“She didn't have to do it on her own,” said Harry.

“Who did it, Mr. Beechum?” asked Evans.

“Bess Manson, our former maid,” said Harry.

“Harry, you don't have any proof,” said Sara.

“I don't need proof,” said Harry. “She had access to the checkbook, she lives out in Watts, and she is a thief.”

Evans thought that pretty much summed up a good case. “What's Miss Manson look like?”

“She's short, creamy colored, and has green eyes,” said Harry. He gave the last known address in Watts.

“She dresses cheap too. And, she stole my scarves,” said Sara. “I caught her at it and fired her.”

“That's got nothing to do with you, Mr. Evans,” said Harry. “I want her for forgery. Four counts.”

“What did she say to you when she left?” asked Evans.

“What could she say? I said, “Bess, get your things and go,' and she went.”

“Forgery is a felony,” said Harry. “That's four years minimum. Maybe ten years.”

Evans said, “We don't prosecute. We get the evidence for the District Attorney. You read up on the statute, Mr. Beechum?”

“I did,” said Harry. “I am a teller for the Bank of Italy. I'm the chief teller in their new colored banking department. If they let us do loans, I will be an assistant manager. May I ask where you bank?”

Evans laughed. “Sorry, I bank at Wells Fargo,” he said.

“Well, you're making a mistake there,” said Harry. “The Bank of Italy is as solid as Wells Fargo, and since you're not in business in different states, there's no reason for you to keep your account there.”

“Don't got a bank account,” said Selby brightly.  Harry Beechum didn't look at him.

“Did you usually pay Bess with checks made out to 'Cash'?” asked Evans.

“Never. We always paid cash,” said Sara.

Harry said, “Those check cashing places are totally irresponsible. They ought to be shut down. Imagine cashing checks to cash for a stranger! We don't do that at the Bank.” Evans noted the capital letter.

“So when was your last contact with Miss Manson?” asked Selby.

“Missus Manson, if you believe her,” said Sara. “She says she has a husband in Texas.”

“You don't believe her, Mrs. Beechum?” asked Evans.

“Now you know the type of no-good who comes west these days,” said Sara. “I brought that bitch into my house, paid her quite well for her trouble, and she just had to have something extra. I could have paid her double and she'd still have robbed me. That sort has to take something extra.” Evans noticed she wasn't arguing against going after Bess Manson anymore.

Harry said, “Maybe she wanted something extra and forged the checks.”

Sara said, “Well. Well maybe, but she wouldn't think of that.”

Evans asked again, “When did you last hear from her?”

“We fired her April 23rd, 2015,” said Harry. “You bet I remember the date.”

“No contact with her since then?” asked Evans.

“Nope, heard nothing,” said Harry.

“Well.” Evans and Selby stood up. “Don't try to reach her, and if she should reach out to you, don't talk to her. We'll be in touch with you. Thanks for the tea.”

“You're welcome. Thanks for coming out,” said Harry.

There was a corner market a half-mile from the Beechum residence and Evans checked for messages while Selby bought flavored chewing gum and a box of matches. The pale clerk stared at them both in the face.

“How's your day, sir?” asked Selby, smiling.

“Go on and get out,” said the clerk. He stared at them until they left.

It was getting towards nightfall on a July evening when Evans and Selby rolled down 109th Avenue. There was no sunset, just a dimming of the grey sky to black as the rain fell. The Green Check Cash Company had a yellow brick building to itself. There was a line of men and women in the lobby, which had no chairs. Three clerks were attending to the line of people from the far side of a banker's high counter. Evans cut in line to ask the nearest clerk to bring out the manager, showing his badge. He and Selby stood off to the side, looking back towards the office, without glancing at the murmuring crowd. The manager, a sturdy black man in a pinstripe suit, gave them a bright smile as he opened the gate to allow them into the back office.

“I'm Gary Evans, officers. How can we assist you today?” They shook hands and the manager offered them chairs.
Moses Evans shared the photostats of the checks and explained the allegations that brought him to the office. The manager walked to a standing desk and opened a ledger. “Gladys was the clerk on those transactions. She's up front. Please wait here.” He left the room.

“This is more my speed,” said Selby.

“I'm still good with Wells Fargo,” said Evans.

One of the three clerks up front walked in, a cheerful young black woman in a flowery frock. “Hi, I'm Gladys.” The men rose as she entered. They shook hands as Evans made introductions.

“I sure do remember those checks, coming all on the 9th like that,” said Gladys.

“And the person taking the money, can you describe them?” asked Evans, thinking of the short, creamy Bess Manson.

“A tall Negro man, about thirty, with a pocked face,” said Gladys.

Evans felt surprised. Selby said loudly, “A man? What did he say?”

“Just said he had checks to cash. I called the bank and confirmed there were funds in the account to cover the check, and cashed them.” Evans thought that was that for the superior security of the Bank of Italy. He wondered if he could tell Harry Beechum.

“Did he provide any kind of ID?” asked Evans.

“No, we don't ask for ID if the check is made out to 'Cash'. What's the point? Our customers can understand that much.” Gladys was a bright, cheerful black woman who did not look anything like Harry Beechum, but she reminded Evans of him.

Selby asked, “Have you ever seen him around before or since?”

“No. I think I'd know him if I seen him again though.”

“What days are you here Gladys?”

“Here six days a week! Got to keep Sunday free for the Lord, but I'm about that rent money.”

Evans said, “OK Gladys, we'll come back if we need more information or an identification.”
The detectives thanked the manager as they left the building.

“Well well,” said Selby.

“I'm thinking we touch base with Bess Manson,” said Evans.

“Bound to eventually.”

“And that might settle it.”

Selby rolled another cigarette. Evans lit another Camel, and passed the box of matches. “Might as well be patrolling again, doing all this driving.”

“I was in Mexico during the war.”

“Yeah.”

But Selby was lost to the present, remembering the war again. Evans let it rest, as usual. He's a good man, Lord. Heal him his hurts.

The suburban lots became stores and then factories, then tenements.

Bess Manson lived on the third floor of a tenement building on 106th Avenue in Watts. It was definitely not a neighborhood the Beechums would buy into, though Evans wondered if they had started out there. He worried about parking his car at the curb. He knocked on the door of what was supposed to be her apartment, but the door was answered by a man. A tall black man, with a pocked face. Seeing him, the easy humor flowed off Selby like water. Suddenly he was rigidly balanced on the balls of his feet, arms loose at his sides, shoulders forward.

Evans blinked once at the man in the doorway. “I'm here to speak to Bess Manson,” said Evans, showing his badge.

“I'll get her,” said the man, and he turned and yelled, “Bess! This policeman wants to speak to you.” He stood in the doorway and did not offer to let Evans in.

“You always give warning like that, fella?” asked Selby, staring doggedly. But they heard heels on a wood floor coming towards the door. A woman matching the Beechum's description of their maid came to the door from the darkness of her apartment. She did not invite Evans in either.

“Yes?” she asked curtly.

Evans said, “Mrs. Manson, I want to talk to you about some checks that were cashed at the Green Check Cash Company in May. May I come in?”

“No,” said Bess.

“I'd rather not talk about it in the hall, ma'am.”

“Then you might as well go. I don't let strangers into my apartment.”

Evans thought while Selby stared them down. Here he was dealing with a crook. He knew she was guilty and how she had done it. There was no reason to play along with her. Evans said, “Bess, I know how you got the checkbook. I know that you forged those checks. I know that you had your man cash them. I can prove he cashed them, and we can prove you had access to the checkbook. Harry Beechum will testify he never wrote any of those checks.

“I can try to nail you for four counts of forgery. Those are felony offenses, and you'd do years in prison. Or you can plead guilty to stealing $465.00. That's a misdemeanor, and your man will only be accomplice to a misdemeanor. That's only a few months in jail. I'm giving you that break so you save me some trouble.”

Bess watched him a long minute. “I never forged any checks,” said Bess. “That was Larry here who did that.”

“No!” yelled the man. “Make him prove it!” Quick as a snake Selby spun him round, locked a wrist, and pulled him backwards into the hall.

“Shaddap,” said Selby. Larry did not resist.

“Tell me why you did it, Bess,” said Evans.

“Stealing is how colored people get ahead,” said Bess. “You must have been born into money not to see that. You like those high-toned Beechums. They try to be white. I never was allowed to go to high school when my momma took sick. I can't get by except by cleaning houses. And mister, those folks know you can't get by on what they're paying me. I hope that man Beechum doesn't expect his money back, because we spent it on food.”

Evans told her to step forward into the hall. They didn't look like they had eaten $465.00 in groceries in a month. He and Selby cuffed them both, then Selby went downstairs to phone for a squadcar.

The responding officers were white.

“Whaddya got for us?” asked the lead patrolman.

“Misdemeanor theft by check.”

“Uhhuh. OK bub, let's go.” They twitched Larry and Bess by the sleeve and led them off down the stairs.

Selby said, “Well that fell in our mitts.”

Evans said, “Wouldn't mind if they all went neat as that.”

Selby rolled a cigarette. “Drop me off boss?”

“That ain't regulation. But it's raining, so, sure.”

“Let's stop off someplace on the way. I got to wash my hands.”

“Right neighborhood for it.”

“Should have asked Larry to go first, then busted him.” Evans laughed.

Evans found a gas station. A young black man in denim overalls and a tweed flat cap filled the tank while Selby went to the john.

“I'll need a receipt,” Evans told the youth as he wiped down the side mirrors.

“What for?” asked the youth.

“Police business.”

“So I guess no tip, huh?” Evans gave him the packet of flavored chewing gum Selby had bought earlier. The youth grinned and got out a book of carbon papers. He wrote Evans a receipt for his gas, accepted a four-dollar banknote, made change, and by then Selby was back.

“You gave him my gum?”

“You smoke.”

“I don't get payback for those phone purchases.”

“You're getting it in gas right now. Getting a free ride across town for your errands.”

Evans dropped off Selby at the large Victorian house where Selby took rooms, then drove to Newton Street to do paperwork. He parked the car in the garage.

As he typed up his reports, Evans thought about the deal with Bess Manson. He wondered how much of the break he gave her had been some kind of guilt. He had never been hungry as a child. The truth, to his own mind however, was that the District Attorney would rather try a Bess Manson for theft than forgery. Harry Beechum would probably be sick with anger, but no matter how he tried, he could not wield the leverage of a white middle-class banker.
Evans handed in his reports and the receipt for gas and went out into the rain to catch his bus home.
At his apartment he lit the kerosene lamp and then the stove, heated some canned bologna and opened a can of corn kernels for his dinner, and then read the Gospel of John. He made something of a production of sitting straight while he read.

The promises of the Gospel were universal and color-blind. Evans thought about the despairing confession of Bess Manson. He believed in the Ten Commandments. Those had come from Almighty God. He could believe in a law, even a white law, that was based on those Ten Commandments. The United States, like nowhere else, could create laws based on the Ten Commandments, even though Negroes had little influence in the laws that were made. Where he had doubts, he figured, was with white people's application of that law as justice. That was where a Negro had to watch out.

Moses Evans prayed thanks for the safe day he'd had, and asked for a safe tomorrow. Then he undressed and went to sleep. Outside the rain came down gently on the living and the dead alike.


It had rained all day on the steel roof of the Earthly Mechanical building. Valencia Ramos had come to ignore the noise, the way you ignore a railroad track behind your house or any other constant and tolerable din. It was a matter of focusing your attention on what you really wanted. She was a red-haired woman with a ripe figure, the best money could buy back Home, and right now she was focused on getting three perfect carbons of her letter typed properly. She had an Apple laptop at Home but the Professor was adamant about avoiding what he called contamination. She didn’t really understand what that meant, but Valencia Ramos figured that not understanding what went on around her was part of what she was paid for on this job. She helped herself beyond what she was paid, of course, but, with that went being damn careful about appearances.

She had to make do with an Olympia manual typewriter, and it was very annoying. She wasn’t even allowed to listen to her iPod to help her relax. The Professor wouldn’t even have a radio in the lobby.

The factory door banged open and made her twitch. “Shit!” she yelled, then bit it off.

“Hey, that ain’t proper language for a lady,” said a voice behind her.

“Rod, do not bang that door! Thank you!” She reached for the eraser stick. It smudged but there was nothing better allowed her.

Rod Thomas slid into the room, grinning. He grinned too much for Valencia’s taste. His clothing also was not to her liking. He was wearing a dark blue zoot suit with lime green pinstripes and purple crocodile shoes—both breaches of security since he’d brought them from Home. He was a tall burly black man with a razor-trimmed goatee and, though it didn’t show in his work suit, tattoos all up his arms and back. He sat in an office chair facing her and sucked on a fat lollipop. She was sure that was from Home, too. Rod had received the same warning lecture she had from the Professor, but it didn’t seem to take with him for some reason. Maybe he figured it was too late to change himself. Maybe he figured he might as well play out the part he’d created for himself back Home.

She realized she’d been staring at him.

“What is it, my threads or the sucker?”

“It’s both and you being here Rod. The professor doesn’t like…I’m not supposed to chat.”

“Doesn’t like blacks in the office? Or should I call myself colored? Neegrow, that’s the word. No Neegrows in your fine office. Mind if I smoke? Of course you don’t.” He lit a fat cigar with pleasure. “Nice to have a good Cuban cigar for easy money.”

Valencia was a little taken aback to watch a grown man enjoy a cigar and a lollipop at the same time. Rod grinned and licked his lollipop lavisciously. “Like that? Or don’t you indulge? Or is that for whites only too?”

“Rod, you’re disgusting.”

“Yeah?” The fun went out of his face. “Well, you disgust me too, you fat white pig. You fit into Crackerworld a little too much for me. I don’t like you, Miz Ramos, and I thought you oughta know. Never cross me. Ever.”

“You’re crazy. I’m only working til I can get back Home—“

“That a fact? Professor know you’re a short-timer?”

She stuttered. She had not discussed her future with the Professor. He discouraged acting too smart or too greedy or acting anything but perfectly obedient. “Rod, please, I just want to work the office and run errands—“

“Yeah? Me too. But it’s too far along for that. Or don’t you know?”

“I don’t know anything but what goes on in the front office. And I’m glad not to know.” She bit it off. Rod grinned at her, one hand holding the cigar, the other the lollipop.

“Little miss innocent,” he said. “Crazy bitch, I don’t think it would matter to you if you did know.”

The factory door opened and a tall white man in a Palm Beach suit stepped through. “Hey Valencia,” he sang, and then in a stern tone, “You here again?”

“Yesss, Mister Jake, I here again,” said Rod Thomas.

“Well, beat it and stay out from now on. You’re not to bother Miss Ramos.”

“Am I? Bothering Miz Ramos?” Jazz asked with raised eyebrows.

“Yes,” said Valencia, looking at her feet.

Mr. Jake stood in the doorway, staring at Rod Thomas, who sat looking at Valencia, who stared at her feet. Then Rod gave an explosive laugh, and bounced out of his chair and brushed past the white man. “Scuse me, Mister Jake,” he said, and then was gone.

“Let me know if he comes in here again,” said Jake.

“It’s OK Jerry, I can handle him,” said Valencia.

“Yeah?” Jerry Jake frowned at her. “What’s between you two anyhow?”

“Nothing, Jerry! We don’t like each other at all.”

“Yeah? That so? Well you two travelers shouldn’t talk, in my view. You let me know if he’s in here again. Right?”

Valencia nodded without meeting his eyes, waited for him to leave the room and shut the door. Then she rubbed her eyes with both hands and trembled a little bit. This job was sometimes too much for her.

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Challenge of the Week #60: You have just discovered a new lifeform. Write a story of 200 words or more. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $100. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by ArmandChascour

NO GUNS THEY RAILROAD YA

July 3 2017

Jim has been missing for three days now. I begin to think I owe it to his family to abort the expedition. However I’m finding some exotic arachnids. One of them appears to be nearly a meter across. I have to take a photograph before I break camp.

July 4 2017

One of the arachnids came to my camp! It is a deep purple in color and has only six legs. It was pawing through my camp when I woke up, and climbed a tree when I left my tent. I was able to get some good photographs.

July 5 2017

I have had the chance to watch the arachnid hunt for squirrels and birds. I was wrong about the number of legs, it has two more legs much smaller than the six walking legs, which terminate in tripart claws. It uses them to tear at its prey. It is a good thing I waited a day to examine this beast a little more closely. Bungling the number of limbs would have made me a fool.

July 6 2017

My box trap failed to catch the arachnid. In fact the cagey bastard has stolen it from me, dragged it up a tree, and plays with it. I’ll have to try and grapple it down.

July 7 2017

The son of a bitch has made his own cage out of twigs and uses it to catch squirrels. I’m going to try talking to it, setting out rows of pebbles, see if it can count in a sequence.

July 8 2017

Spider bastard has my can opener and stole some of my spam. I’m tempted to clear out before food runs scarce, but even with video this ain’t gonna be believed. I need a physical specimen. Sorry spidey.

July 9 2017

Can he sense the difference between a dart gun and a camera? He runs when I point it at him. Still stealing my food.

July 10, 2017

Figured out what happened to Jim. The mother came for her brat today. Had to put six shotgun shells into her. No way to haul out a whole spider larger than a horse, but I can manage one leg. Junior keeps keening for his dead mama. Very annoying squeal. I’m still gonna stay around to get him too.

July 11, 2017

They colony spiders

August 22, 2017

The head guard has let me have my books back. They allow me a candle for an hour. I cracked the language barrier with Euclidean geometry, and once they got the lever and fulcrum they started feeding me. I get my own room separate of the other apes in here. I’m keeping up the language lessons as best I can.

September 2, 2017

Just allowed a final entry. Trial didn’t go well. Had to admit I shot the mother of the child I kidnapped. Tribal war chief really laid it on thick for the jury. Nothing about Jim allowed on record. Asked to leave a warning to future explorers which was granted. Gotta keep it short thinking NO GUNS THEY RAILROAD YA can be easily copied and posted as a sign.

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Challenge of the Week #60: You have just discovered a new lifeform. Write a story of 200 words or more. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $100. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by ArmandChascour
NO GUNS THEY RAILROAD YA
July 3 2017
Jim has been missing for three days now. I begin to think I owe it to his family to abort the expedition. However I’m finding some exotic arachnids. One of them appears to be nearly a meter across. I have to take a photograph before I break camp.

July 4 2017
One of the arachnids came to my camp! It is a deep purple in color and has only six legs. It was pawing through my camp when I woke up, and climbed a tree when I left my tent. I was able to get some good photographs.

July 5 2017
I have had the chance to watch the arachnid hunt for squirrels and birds. I was wrong about the number of legs, it has two more legs much smaller than the six walking legs, which terminate in tripart claws. It uses them to tear at its prey. It is a good thing I waited a day to examine this beast a little more closely. Bungling the number of limbs would have made me a fool.

July 6 2017
My box trap failed to catch the arachnid. In fact the cagey bastard has stolen it from me, dragged it up a tree, and plays with it. I’ll have to try and grapple it down.

July 7 2017
The son of a bitch has made his own cage out of twigs and uses it to catch squirrels. I’m going to try talking to it, setting out rows of pebbles, see if it can count in a sequence.

July 8 2017
Spider bastard has my can opener and stole some of my spam. I’m tempted to clear out before food runs scarce, but even with video this ain’t gonna be believed. I need a physical specimen. Sorry spidey.

July 9 2017
Can he sense the difference between a dart gun and a camera? He runs when I point it at him. Still stealing my food.

July 10, 2017
Figured out what happened to Jim. The mother came for her brat today. Had to put six shotgun shells into her. No way to haul out a whole spider larger than a horse, but I can manage one leg. Junior keeps keening for his dead mama. Very annoying squeal. I’m still gonna stay around to get him too.

July 11, 2017
They colony spiders

August 22, 2017
The head guard has let me have my books back. They allow me a candle for an hour. I cracked the language barrier with Euclidean geometry, and once they got the lever and fulcrum they started feeding me. I get my own room separate of the other apes in here. I’m keeping up the language lessons as best I can.

September 2, 2017
Just allowed a final entry. Trial didn’t go well. Had to admit I shot the mother of the child I kidnapped. Tribal war chief really laid it on thick for the jury. Nothing about Jim allowed on record. Asked to leave a warning to future explorers which was granted. Gotta keep it short thinking NO GUNS THEY RAILROAD YA can be easily copied and posted as a sign.

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Written by ArmandChascour

Tea Manners

In the tenth year of the Fortunate Emperor, the year of the Rat, the Master of the Temple of Inner Power was dispatched upon an urgent mission to the city of River Furs.

"Pardon me, Master," said the merchant, "you appear dusty and weary with your travels.  Will you take a bowl of tea?"

The Master looked at the merchant.  "Gladly, but only if you will join me."

"I should be honored."

A carpet was placed in the dust that they might sit, and the merchant's followers held another carpet above them that they had shade.  Tea was brought to them.

"Please forgive the poverty of this tea set, but I am on the road myself."

"It is a solid design and keeps the tea hot.  'Form without function is a great poverty', it is said."

"A worthy thought, though this wretched tea is not up to the conversation."

"You are most hospitable.  Thank you for this moment of repose."

The Master sucked his tea thoughtfully, glancing at the merchant's followers.  They were all dressed alike, in light blue pajamas, with belts of gold and gold puggarees about the legs.  The followers did not meet his gaze.

"I should like to return the compliment," said the Master.  "Allow me to invite you to take tea at our monastery."

The merchant stared at the Master, apparently at a loss for words.  The Master smiled inside.

"We are not characters in a charade, Chen," said the Master.  "We can speak our own minds."

"I have killed the two others you sent against me.  I cannot return as a brother to your House," said the merchant.

"If I order a thing, shall it not be done as I order?  You preserve discipline and good manners among your students.  Surely you cannot waste yourself out of concern for scandal."

"I will never go back," said the merchant, putting down his tea. "I have founded my own school and will continue my own course."

"I see.  You will waste yourself, through spite." The Master stood and returned to the sunlit road.  "Begin..."

If you abandon manners, can your behavior be correct?  If you lack correct behavior, will your methods be correct?  If you have incorrect methods, can you achieve your intended results?  Let your manners be impeccable, your methods be correct, and your goals be properly within your scope, and your consummation of life will be glorious.  Think on this for a candle of time.

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Written by ArmandChascour
Tea Manners
In the tenth year of the Fortunate Emperor, the year of the Rat, the Master of the Temple of Inner Power was dispatched upon an urgent mission to the city of River Furs.

"Pardon me, Master," said the merchant, "you appear dusty and weary with your travels.  Will you take a bowl of tea?"

The Master looked at the merchant.  "Gladly, but only if you will join me."

"I should be honored."

A carpet was placed in the dust that they might sit, and the merchant's followers held another carpet above them that they had shade.  Tea was brought to them.

"Please forgive the poverty of this tea set, but I am on the road myself."

"It is a solid design and keeps the tea hot.  'Form without function is a great poverty', it is said."

"A worthy thought, though this wretched tea is not up to the conversation."

"You are most hospitable.  Thank you for this moment of repose."

The Master sucked his tea thoughtfully, glancing at the merchant's followers.  They were all dressed alike, in light blue pajamas, with belts of gold and gold puggarees about the legs.  The followers did not meet his gaze.

"I should like to return the compliment," said the Master.  "Allow me to invite you to take tea at our monastery."

The merchant stared at the Master, apparently at a loss for words.  The Master smiled inside.

"We are not characters in a charade, Chen," said the Master.  "We can speak our own minds."

"I have killed the two others you sent against me.  I cannot return as a brother to your House," said the merchant.

"If I order a thing, shall it not be done as I order?  You preserve discipline and good manners among your students.  Surely you cannot waste yourself out of concern for scandal."

"I will never go back," said the merchant, putting down his tea. "I have founded my own school and will continue my own course."

"I see.  You will waste yourself, through spite." The Master stood and returned to the sunlit road.  "Begin..."

If you abandon manners, can your behavior be correct?  If you lack correct behavior, will your methods be correct?  If you have incorrect methods, can you achieve your intended results?  Let your manners be impeccable, your methods be correct, and your goals be properly within your scope, and your consummation of life will be glorious.  Think on this for a candle of time.


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