Thursday, November 7, 2013

11. "this changes everything"

by jeremy witherington

illustrated by eddie el greco and danny delacroix

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous chapter, click here

goldberg looked around abdul's apartment while she waited for him to come out of the bedroom with his i d number.

she did not see anything to change her first impression - it was bare except for the big stuffed chair, and the table beside it with its lamp and two big black books.

a closed door to the right must have led to a kitchen, and the door on the left that abdul had disappeared behind, to a bedroom and bathroom.

that he was taking his time did not surprise goldberg, as he had seemed an absent minded and scatter brained type. common enough in old humans of accumulated years.

goldberg picked up one of the black books. like the book beneath it, it was bound in what she assumed was imitation leather. neither book had a title or other writing or pictures on the front covers.

bibles? goldberg had seen bibles but never actually opened one before.

she flipped open the book in her hand. it was not a bible. the first page read - "planet of the green jaguars by abdul al-jeremiel". so it was a book he had written himself. goldberg had never written a book herself.

goldberg fanned the pages of the book. there were no pictures in it. she preferred books with pictures. she put it down and picked up the other book.

the first page of the second book read: "the life of samuel johnson, ll.d. by james boswell". there were no pictures in it either, and she put it back on the table.

abdul had still not emerged from the bedroom.

goldberg went over and knocked on the bedroom door. no answer.

she knocked a little louder. still no answer.

she pushed on the door and it opened easily.

there was no sign of abdul.

the bathroom door was ajar. she pushed it wide open, he wasn't in there.

in the closet? not likely, but she looked anyway. it was narrow and empty.

there was one window, closed. but it lifted with no squeaking.

it was wide enough to climb out, even a wide body like abdul's. it led to an alley bordered by a short fence.

the reality was there. he was gone.

for half a second goldberg thought of leaving the apartment, not reporting or telling anybody what had happened. who would ever know?

but she knew it would come out some way. things always did.

just the thought of telling benson - oh no. she would rather do almost anything but that.

she decided to tell molligan instead. he was in charge, wasn't he? benson wouldn't like it, but it was worth the try.

looking out into the alley - not that she really expected abdul to magically appear - she took her phone out and hit the button for molligan.


"is that it?" jody asked molligan.

"just one more question."

"go for it."

"it's a hypothetical question."


"a question based on an imaginary situation."

"i know what a hypothetical question is."

"good. so - you are walking down a deserted highway, late at night - "

"i don't walk down deserted highways late at night."

"just suppose you did."

"i wouldn't . if i did, i wouldn't be me."

"all right. let's suppose - let's suppose you and some friends are driving somewhere late at night - somewhere far far away, like grand platte nebraska - "

"why would i be going to grand platte nebraska? and if i wouldn't go in a car. that's stupid. i'd take a plane or a rocket."

"well, let's say you are with your friends and they decide they suddenly decide they want to go to grand platte nebraska."


"oh, because - let's say because they want to go to this great new korean barbecue restaurant."

"korean barbecue! are you shitting me? bleeeah!"

"so you're not a food adventurer."

"not at all."

"forget all this, let's just say for some reason you're driving down a deserted highway at night - "

"first off, i wouldn't drive, i'd get an automatic car. like a sensible person."

"fine. you are riding along in your automatic car - "

"i would have to have some reason to be in it."

molligan laughed. he was not at all put out by jody's responses - he got similar ones all the time, especially from new humans. "all right, let me think here. there has to be some way -"

the phone rang in molligan's pocket. he took it out. the call was from goldberg, one of the techs he had put to checking the other apartments.


goldberg explained to molligan what had happened.

he didn't seem too concerned, but he never did. he always looked like he had seen and done things too terrible to be described.

"i guess i better call benson," goldberg finished up.

"no, i'll call her. you just go outside and see if you can find this character. he might not be able to get very far."

"on foot?"

"no, take the car. there is one left outside. just drive around. use your judgment."

"what about this apartment? should it be secured? searched?"

"um - i'll send dooley or someone down to do it. you go out now, start looking for your buddy abdul."

"all right."

molligan clicked off. "this changes everything," he said to himself.

jody looked at him. "changes what?"

molligan looked across the table as if seeing jody for the first time. "uh - everything."

"any more questions?" jody asked.

"not now."

"what about grand platte nebraska and lonely highways and all that shit?"

"we'll get to that later - maybe."

"so you're through with me for now?"

molligan thought for a couple of seconds. "maybe we better take you down to a station."

"fuck!! you said you wouldn't!"

"i said i'd try not to. now something has come up."

"are you going to put me in a cell?"

"you won't be in the black hole of calcutta. you'll be treated right. like a guest."

"what if i'm hungry?"

"we'll get you something to eat."

"i'm hungry now. i want an anchovy and kale pizza."

"no problem. we'll get you the best anchovy and kale pizza in town."

"and i want something to drink."

"excuse me, i have to make some calls." molligan started to call benson, changed his mind, clicked for dooley instead.

jody stared down at the table. "this sucks. i didn't even do anything."

molligan nodded, and waited for dooley to pick up.

12. cruising

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