By Cindy and Walt
There was a soft rain falling on his five acre mini farm. Edward Alexander had worked for twenty five years to scrape together the money to buy the small piece of dirt in rural Virginia. The house was old and needed a lot of work, but that had always been his retirement plan.
For most of his twenty five years on the job, he had lived in a cheap studio apartment in one town or another. He had worked on the local Police Department for the first ten years. In that Department he worked himself up to Detective First Grade. There was quite a turnover in a town of 200k, so advancement wasn’t all that hard for a stay at home cop.
Edward (Eddie) was a straight arrow, by the book cop. It was probably the reason that when the State Police took over small town departments, his assessment read like a boring text book. He was however deemed a competent and necessary part of the department.
With the take over his pay jumped a few percentage points, so like the others he didn’t complain too loudly. The take over also meant huge improvements in the work. They were at least touted as huge improvements, there were surly huge investments in new technology and equipment.
The new structure lasted the next ten years. The powers that be, whoever the hell they were, one day deemed it necessary for all Police to have the ability to communicate with each other. Not only would they be more efficient but by combining the management there would be a huge saving to the taxpayers.
So after twenty years Eddie became a Federal Police Inspector for his last five years. The title meant absolutely nothing except another small raise to make it all more palatable. Which explained why after twenty five years on his last day people had gathered in the conference room. They were there to say goodbye to a Deputy Chief Inspector with the Homicide Division of the Federal Police. As a final joke on the humorless guest of honor, they chose coffee and donuts to send him on his way.
The people who gathered in the small crowded room were other Detectives, Office Personnel, and Criminalists. Eddie Alexander had no friends or family to invite. The Chief inspector of the Homicide Unit had spoke to his assembled worker bees.
Chief: You all know Eddie Alexander. He is probably the steadiest of all my detectives. Which is not to say he is unimaginative. He is simply relentless in his attention to detail. He is one of those rare men who can see the small picture and doesn’t give a damn for the big picture.
You know we call you Steady Eddie. Sometimes it sounds derogatory but it isn’t at all. Other people run around screaming the sky is falling but he just finds a brace to hold it up. So here is to you Eddie, may you find a soft place to land after your fall from great heights.
The Chief handed Eddie the coffee in a disposable plastic cup. Had he been given a choice, he would have called in sick on his last day and avoided the stupid farewell completely.
Eddie: Thanks boss.
Eddie took the cup and went back to his seat.
Chief: Talk about a man of few words.
The others assembled giggled like school kids. Eddie had never been an exciting guy in his personal life. Eddie had never thought much about any of them. Eddie was in fact a confirmed bachelor with no true friends. He had lots of people who liked and respected him, but no close friends at all.
Eddie had cleaned out his desk and turned his case files over to his replacement early, so for the next five hours he sat at his desk staring out the window. Over half his life was in the one cardboard box sitting atop his desk. He wasn’t even imaginative enough to see how the small cardboard container was a metaphor of his life.
His last meal in the city was a celebration. He went to the New China City Restaurant alone for the combo plate with egg rolls. Steady Eddy’s personal life was as bland as dishwater and he didn’t mind at all.
Eddie had dated a few times and found women to be a pain in the ass. So when he first became involved with the widow of a Police Officer, who was nuts, he wanted to run away. She however called him over to fix things about once a month. She got her plumbing cleared, and he got dinner with her and her two children. After the kids went to sleep, they always had boring sex. The arrangement lasted until she and the kids moved home to Indiana.
Anna met a man and decided the kids needed a father who was not a cop. Eddie never blamed her, since they were just friends. At least the closest thing to a friend he ever had. People around him envied his peaceful life style, but they sure as hell didn’t want it as a full time lifestyle.
Eddie: (into his phone) Dep….Hello.
Voice coming out of the phone: Deputy Chief Alexander?
Eddie: I was this morning. Who is this?
Voice: I’m Lucille Martin, Chief of Staff for Senator Jeffery Ames. I would like to arrange a meeting with you.
Eddie: To what end? I don’t know the Senator and as far as I know I have no business with him.
Lucille: The meeting isn’t with the Senator it is with me.
Eddie: I see. I am really not interested in making any contributions.
Lucille: (Laughing) I know the press makes it seem like all we do is raise money, but we try to fit in public business now and then. The meeting is about public service. We know you just retired and most likely will be bored silly in a month. This is just a chance for us to talk about your options.
Eddie: The only options I’m interested in at the moment is traditional shingles or architectural ones.
Lucille: Go with the architectural. Now how about lunch at that dreadful Cafe you like so much.
Eddie: You seem to know a lot about me.
Lucille: You, most of all, should know the devil is in the details.
Lucille had managed to make him curious. He decided that he should at least listen to her even if he did have to go into the city to do it.
Eddie: When do you want to meet?
Lucille: Lunch tomorrow and bring your appetite I’m buying.
Eddie: In that case I’ll skip breakfast.
Lucille: What dreadful combination of cereals are you having these mornings?
Eddie: I don’t know the names, but it looks like pine needles, maggots and bat shit.
Lucille: You got to love a man with a sense of humor.
She was gone without setting a time for the meeting. Eddie decided to just go at his usual time since she seemed to know everything else about him, she surely knew he ate lunch everyday at 1 PM.
Eddie didn’t worry about who she really was or what she wanted. There was nothing he could do to change whatever she had in mind for him. He also didn’t expect anything good to come of the meeting. He planned to have lunch with her then walk away.
The roofer showed up in the early evening, presumably after a full day’s work on another project. His truck looked like it was twenty years old and hadn’t been washed since it left the dealer’s showroom. The rust might have been the only thing holding the fenders on.
Roofer: So Mr. Alexander you ready to let me start work?
Eddie: We agreed on the work to be done and the way it is to be done, right?
Roofer: Sure we put it on old school, hammers and nails, not nail gun. I am gonna tear off the old one, use felt every where, shingle leaf on the edges and step flashing around the chimney. I am gonna install rubber boots around the two vents. It’s a small little three bedroom house so price is $2,500.
Eddie: We did not agree to that figure.
Roofer: That’s the going rate.
Eddie knew that he was right but he had no intention of paying that kind of money without a second estimate. During the last meeting the roofer went home to compile his estimate. So now he had come back with a full downtown price. Eddie had spent enough time in the farming community to know labor was at least 10% cheaper than it would have been downtown.
Eddie: I’m not going to haggle like a fish monger. I checked around and I’m prepared to do the job for two grand. More than that and I will have to take bids and compare them.
Roofer after a minute of silence: Twenty two and I’ll roof that shed out back. You know it needs it.
Eddie: Done, so when you want to start?
Roofer: Early tomorrow morning?
Eddie: Yeah that’s fine. I have to go out for lunch tomorrow, but I expect you will still be working when I get back. I’ll write you a check for half now and the other half when it is completed satisfactorily.
The roofer left with a check for eleven hundred dollars with which he would purchase the brown plain shingles for the roof.
Eddie watched some Television with his new Internet TV device for awhile, then walked on the deck with his Budweiser beer. He sat until 11 PM listening to the sounds of the night, then went to bed. The bed and small kitchen appliances were the bulk of the items to come from his studio apartment.
While Eddie Alexander was slipping into oblivion Lucille was busy recruiting another person for the Senator’s team. The interview was being held in a quiet brew pub in the middle of a revitalized neighborhood in downtown DC. It was within walking distance of May Jeffrey’s apartment.
Lucille: So you in or not. I have an appointment with a retired homicide detective tomorrow. I would like to be able to give him the whole team’s background.
May: Surely you can do better than a rookie assistant US attorney. You are talking about a high powered investigation cranking up.
Lucille: Don’t sell yourself short you know the law and now you have three years with the US Attorney’s office. Your evaluations have been excellent all the way through. You will still be working for the US Attorney but just on loan to the Committee.
May: Committee my ass. You and I both know I would be working for your boss. He wants to bring down those last members of the so called American Foreign Legion.
Lucille: You sound like you don’t approve.
May: There has been no evidence whatsoever that they committed any illegal acts under the US department of Justice’s jurisdiction.
Lucille: And that is why we want you. We all know Sylvia Porter is dead, but she had lots of underlings who did her dirty work. She knew where some pretty rank skeletons were buried, but that all died with her.
May bent over and kissed Lucille on the lips. The kiss lingered just a bit.
Lucille: What the fuck?
May: Those two guys at the end of the bar were planning to come down and hit on us. Unless you think your husband would prefer you come home filled with some other man’s sperm?
Lucille: I think he would prefer I just said no to you both.
May: Careful you are letting your homophobia peek through.
Lucille: It’s not homophobic to want to choose who kisses me.
May: So you say.
May picked up her purse, then stood. Be sure your cop knows who is in charge.
Lucille: He is in charge of the investigation. You will be in charge of the administration of the law. That’s how it’s going to roll.
May standing beside Lucille: So who is the hotshot cop?
Lucille: Deputy Chief Homicide Detective Edward Alexander.
May: My god not Steady Eddie. Tell me you don’t have Steady Eddie.
Lucille: I can’t since I’m seeing him tomorrow, if he agrees he will be heading up the team.
May: Are you going to sleep with him to make sure he goes along?
Lucille: I did not have to sleep with you to recruit you.
May: But you would have, if I had insisted.
Lucille: Yes I would have, but that wasn’t necessary and won’t be necessary with Eddie either.
May: No it won’t be necessary for me. Just knowing you would is enough.
Lucille: You are one strange bitch.
May: That’s what my daddy always said.
Lucille: Well that’s another thing he was right about.
May: You ain’t giving me this chance because of him are you.
Lucille: Frederick Jeffrey ran for congress when I was in college. I was one of his volunteers. He was so young and charismatic, we all called him the southern John Kennedy. But no, May, you stand on your own merits here.
May: Good, but nobody is going to believe either of us. So when do I start?
Lucille: There is going to be a team meeting just as soon as I convince Eddie Alexander to come on board.
May: Will you fuck him to get him on board?
Lucille: Not unless I have to. He is an old man.