Friday, May 23, 2008
Needles and Pins - Chapter XV - the collaborative novel
It was a blazing hot day in Needles. One of those scorchers that even the die hard locals dreaded. It was 115 degrees in the shade! Most cities would cancel town hall meetings in weather like this, but not Needles, where life goes on. The City Council planned a meeting with the California Drug Task Force, U.S. Treasury, ATF, FBI, San Bernardino County Sheriffs, and the Arizona State Police. Needles Mayor Charles Cheeseman, aptly nicknamed "Cheeseburger Charlie" wanted to get to bottom of the problem. Why weren’t the Feds, State Police and local cops working together? "We've had more violent, drug related crimes this summer than ever before and the city is swarming with cops, yet nobody seems to cooperate in finding and arresting these thugs." said Cheeseman as he wiped the Niagara Falls of sweat off his forehead. It was 95 degrees inside the Needles City Hall Building.
The City Hall was old and in desperate need of repair. The swamp coolers could not keep up with the sweltering heat and with all the finger pointing going on it was getting hotter and hotter. Each agency blamed the others for not cooperating in their investigations. Basically nothing was getting solved, and the peoples tempers were getting to the boiling point, or as hot as the outside temperature. In the back of the room sat Irv. He attended most all of the city hall meetings. He had a brown paper bag with an egg sandwich and a thermos full of Lipton Tea. He also had with him a copy of a crude map left by one of those dirty hippie kids that came in to his shop to pawn jewelry and use his Xerox machine. Amongst the town folks attending the meeting was a very tired Lavelle. He had spent the entire night at the in the emergency ward of the hospital with his sister Delorez, who was in critical condition after her car wreck.
For over three hours one agency after another explained that they were the only ones doing their jobs and that they were not getting important information from the others. Finally Cheeseman called for a hour and a half recess so they could go for lunch and cool down. As he was leaving the City Hall Lavelle spotted his old friend Irving sitting on a bench in the park across the street and asked Irv if he wanted to go to the downtown Denny's for lunch? "No thank you, I hate Denny's, it's too expensive. I brought my lunch with me, but I'll share my sandwich with you. Oh, I have something else that might be of interest to you. It's a map of some building-I think the El Garces Hotel, it has your name on it and was signed by somebody named Jujubee." said Irv, as he used his shirt sleeve as a napkin to wipe the egg sandwich off his chin. A stunned Lavelle insisted "Please let me buy you lunch, Lets go sit in an air conditioned restaurant, I would really like to know how you got that map and what you know about it?" For some reason Irv decided not to give Lavelle the map. "Thanks, but no thanks, call me tomorrow-we'll talk, my son. How is your sister? I heard the bad news. I'll say a prayer for her tonight." mumbled Irv with a mouth full of egg sandwich. Lavelle seemed nervous. "I have faith in Jesus and I think she will pull through, but she's going to lose an eye. I'll call you tomorrow."