I used to work for the F.B.I., in the Portland office. It was my
childhood dream to be the one who gets the bad guy.
My fiftieth birthday was in just three months. I had a wife and three
children, still do, and the same job I'd had since my graduation from Quantico.
We were living just outside Portland. My oldest son, John jr., was in his third
year at Washington. The twins were high school seniors at this time and my
pride and joy, daddy's little girls. Carolyn and I had celebrated our twenty-
fifth anniversary, that's the silver one I think, the previous Thursday night.
That warm July morning, I dressed for work as I had every other. Black
socks and slacks, a pin striped white dress shirt, and a black jacket. I
slipped on my loafers but was lost in the search for my tie. Coffee stained and
still unwashed, I found it laying on the laundry room floor. I swore to myself
to let Carolyn know about that. I walked into John's empty room, knowing he
owned some ties. It was just as he had left it, I guess, because I'd never
really gone in his room. I picked the red one he wore in his graduation
pictures and slipped it over my head. I stepped into the bathroom, combed back
my whitening hair, and left for the office.
The early morning sun shone in through the broken blinds that I noticed
hadn't been replaced as I asked. I looked over the pile of paperwork awaiting
me. “Why the hell do I gotta do all these damn reports?”
"Actually, you don't, not today." I turned to see a man much like myself,
but older and with his piece on. He was a little taller, but with the same
sagging features and large belly of my body. “I've come here to give you
something new.” With that, I was handed a thick manila folder. It felt like it
contained a video cassette. “All you need is in there, including my card. This
is top priority, Agent Caulsworth. You will report to me on the hour with your
progress. The paperwork here will wait.” The man turned and left. Outside, I
heard a jet-copter quietly lift off. Funny I hadn't heard it land.
I poured out the contents of the folder, the federal statement, a case
history, vid cassette, and a dossier. The card that fell to the floor read
'Federal Marshall Wilson R. Franklin'. He was from the Boise office.
"Must be real important for him to come all the way out here." Steve
Menschke was my oldest fr...
... middle of paper ...
...was the only thing that mattered to me, and he's all
I reached into my pocket and withdrew the tie. Mud concealed the red
fabric. I tried to think of John. My mind strained to see his face, hear his
voice. A tear rolled down my cheek and fell off my chin onto the tie. I
loosened the knot and slipped it back over my head. With my sleeve, I wiped my
I lifted the flashlight, switched it off and tossed it to him. "Take it."
I turned away and started back into the world.
Hendricks' team found me a few miles west of the hole. They airlifted me
to the Olympia hospital. I was treated for a broken clavicle and shoulder blade,
along with my ribs. The tissue damage to my back and side was extensive and I
have little use of either. After two days they released me.
The next day, I received a call from Franklin, in Boise. I was commended
by him for putting myself on the line. He granted me early retirement, and a
bonus for being injured. He asked if I might know anything about the
disappearance of David Brown from his grandparents' house in the middle of the
night. I told him I did not. I bid him farewell, hung up, and dialed John's
number at school.
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