"How?" said Clark.
"To tell the truth, the stinker left us a clue right in front of our faces." He sat on the corner of his desk, and we settled back into our chairs. "It's that movie Johnny was the model for. That's the key. Indiana Jones, like us, was an adventurer. He was also a teacher of archaeology." He paused, letting that sink in. "So I did some checking around and -- viola! -- a Professor William Harper Littlejohn is head of the Archaeology Department at Drake College in Vermont. I made a little anonymous call to the college, described the old boy, and it matched him to a tee. Besides, with a moniker like that, who else could it be?"
"Excellent!" Clark and I said as one. The big bronze man rushed over and clapped his friend on the back.
"Vermont," I said, musing aloud. "We're going to need to winterize the van. We'll need heavy weather tires."
"Yes," agreed Clark. "And we'll need a way of communicating between Dot's truck and our van."
I held up an index finger. "I think I have an idea. A special hands-free intercom system I saw in town. Let me check into it." I paused. "Considering how many miles we've put on that van, it's probably overdue for an overhaul."
"Agreed. And since Thanksgiving's day after tomorrow . . ."
I nodded. "We can get started next week. We could be there by the middle of December."
Monk's face lowered. "I take it you won't be back by Christmas?"
Clark put his hands on his friend's shoulders and looked him in the eyes. "Sorry, old friend," he comforted. "But there's still Thanksgiving."
The grin returned. "And do I have a ton to be thankful for this year!"
It was the day before Thanksgiving.
We nicknamed the kitchen Pavlov's Lab because we would start salivating anytime we came within range of the extraordinary meal Lea was putting together. We distracted ourselves by calling friends and family.
I called Jack Heady in Portland, and wished all those in the house a blessed Thanksgiving. He returned the sentiment, then brought the news of the latest addition to Verner Victor's household. His wife had given birth to a daughter, Melody Ruth, a few days ago. All were doing well, and had much to celebrate this holiday.
On the other hand, Dot's call to Carrie in New York was full of sadness knowing her mother would be spending Thanksgiving alone. As they talked, I observed Monk and Clark, and saw the exchange of smiles and nods between them. Monk gently took the phone from her granddaughter. "Carrie? It's Dad. Pack a bag and head to JFK. Clark and I are going to charter a jet for ya. I think the Center can spare you over the weekend." He paused, listening. I saw his eyes misting over, and his jaw straining to keep firm. "Okay, baby. Call you on the cell with the details. Yeah, love you, too. See you shortly." He hung up the phone, and Dot locked herself around his bull neck in a hug. Then she launched herself at Clark and did likewise.
I knew this would be the best Thanksgiving this family had had in years.
A unique confrontation took place in the den. Dot sat in a chair while Clark and I stood before her. The tone of our voice made her uncomfortable.
"Am I in trouble?" she asked.
"We need to talk to you about something," I answered.
"O-kay." Her eyes shifted from Clark to me and back.
I started the questioning. "When we arrived in Tennessee, Gumball explained to you that the truck was on a six month lease with an option to buy. You planned on being away from work for at least six months?"
"Well . . . yes," she answered, somewhat cautiously.
Clark continued. "When you asked to join up with us, you told us you had some vacation time. Six months' vacation time? So we did a little checking. You resigned your job two days before the meeting with Penelope."
She looked up at the ceiling, and squirmed slightly in her chair.
"You lied to us. You didn't plan on returning to work. You wanted to be a part of our quest."
Clark added, "You expected us to support you."
She hung her head in shame. She had been caught, exposed.
"I'm afraid there's only one thing we can do." Clark looked over at me.
"Keep her on?" I said, totally deadpan.
"Keep her on," he replied, equally deadpan.
It took her two full seconds for our words to register. Then her head snapped up to see our smiling faces and she exploded in squealing happiness. She hugged us both, and kept repeating, "Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!"
"But please," added Clark, seriously. "Don't feel you have to lie to us, okay?"
She buried her head in his chest and sincerely apologized. Then she did the same on my shoulder.
"Welcome to the . . . team?" I told her, pondering the concept.
The end of November and the first week of December were busy for us.
We had our camper van and Dot's truck equipped with the hands-free intercom system, and also included a Global Positioning System that could be synchronized to show the other's position as well as their own. We had the camper van overhauled, and replaced the tires on both vehicles with ones more capable of handling the heavier weather with ease. We surprised Dot by paying off the truck and camper; she surprised us by purchasing a pair of small video camcorders and a TV/VCR combination for each vehicle. We got supplies for the trip, and included some additional warm clothing. And there was also the purchase of a second cell phone for me, since Clark was using the other one more than me.
We also dealt with an issue that we'd been avoiding for some time.
Clark missed being able to drive legally. But it all boiled down to his identity. 'Clark Savage, Jr.' was, to the world at large, a criminal and fugitive.
We had considered Clark turning himself in, but every scenario looked bleak. On one hand, if they accepted him as Doc Savage, he'd be publicly tried and sentenced for his 'crimes' against humanity. On the other hand, they could declare him to be insane (after all, the 'real' Doc Savage would be over 90 years old by now, etc.) and have him put away or something equally nasty.
In the end, our solution was found through immigration. 'Clark Robeson Dent' was born in 1944 outside of Delta, British Columbia. Due to an unfortunate fire, all his birth records were destroyed. With the help of Douglas Martin, Clark became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Once that was accomplished, it was a piece of cake to get him a driver's licence for New York State.
"Okay, we're about three miles apart," announced Clark from the driver's seat, interpreting the GPS display.
I reached over to the intercom switch in the ceiling panel. "Intercom on. Dot, can you hear us okay?"
"Aye, Captain!" came the response in a Scottish brogue. "I've got ye and Mr. Spock in my sights. But the Klingons are gainin' fast."
I grimaced. Clark looked at me and raised one eyebrow quizzically. I groaned. "I'll explain it later, okay?" I told him.
We could both hear Dot's laughter clearly over the intercom speaker.
Clark was standing by the lake. Monk, carrying a package, came out to him.
Clark looked up. "Yes, Monk."
He handed him the box. "I gave one of these to Dot. This one's for you and Perry."
It was plastic, about the size of a shoe box, padded and organized. Clark opened it and looked at the contents. He smiled. "Do you think we'll need these, brother?"
He shrugged. "Can't hurt. They always came in handy before. You know the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared."
"Very true. Thanks."
He leaned in. "Now let me explain a few of the improvements I've put in yours . . . "
"And I thought it was cold at granddad's place!" came Dot's voice over the intercom with a shiver. "Thanks for talking me into getting those extra thermal layers, Perry. I can't wait to change into them."
"No problem. I checked the weather before we went shopping, and suggested accordingly. How're you handling the roads?"
"Fine. Remember, I've driven a motorcycle during New York snowstorms. What about you?"
"Clark's got the experience, so I turned it over to him."
"Piece o' cake," added Clark calmly.
We parked in front of the Drake College Administration Building. It seemed the best place to start, since we weren't familiar with the campus. We got the directions to the auditorium where Professor Littlejohn was lecturing, and a photocopied map of the campus, and walked the short distance to the building.
The afternoon sun was warm, but there was a briskness in the air that caused our breath to fog before us. The campus was quiet, at the advent of Winter Break. The snow was about two inches deep on the ground, but we were fine. Clark had on an Australian riding coat with matching hat and cowboy boots. Dot wore her leather bomber jacket and jeans, and a red knitted scarf. I had my Columbia Sportswear winter coat, jeans and wool hat to keep me comfortable.
"How is it without the beard?" I asked Clark. After some consideration, he had decided to shave off the beard and let the hair on his head grow once more. Now that he had an 'identity' to fall back on, he could return to his normal appearance. And any resemblance could be written off as coincidence and accepted as flattery.
He rubbed his chin. "Unusual. And a little cold right now. But I'll get used to it."
The auditorium was easy to find, and we entered quietly. I caught the grin breaking over Clark's face as his ears caught the voice of the lecturer.
"Is it . . . ?" I asked, even though I knew the answer.
"That's him," he said, beaming.
We paused at the top of the stairs, then quickly slid into the vacant top two rows of seats. Clark and I sat near the aisle, with a chair separating us. Dot sat behind and between us. Below, a group of 20 or so students paid rapt attention to the words of the man standing by the overhead projector. His speech was intelligent, spiced with technical vocabulary and the occasional polysyllabic buzzword.
The photos I had access to showed him as a frail shadow of a man. However, from Clark's recollections, those outer appearances were deceptive of a much stronger man. As I looked upon him now, he looked even worse, and I hoped that Clark was still right.
Professor Littlejohn looked around occasionally during the course of his lecture, observing the reactions of his students. When he saw us sitting at the top of the auditorium, he looked our way once, then twice. Then he paused in his lecture to clean his glasses, peering in our direction with his head cocked slightly. Then he looked back to his notes, albeit looking up in our direction frequently.
"You've been spotted," I observed.
"Spotted, but not identified," Clark replied calmly. "I give it five minutes."
"Ten bucks says you're wrong," commented Dot, leaning forward.
I announced the time for the record.
Although Professor Littlejohn continued his lecture uninterrupted, it was obvious that our presence was making a difference. He cleaned his glasses twice while still speaking to the group, continuing to analyze us. More than likely, his attention was focused on the big tanned man who somehow looked familiar.
Suddenly we heard the surprised exclamation, "I'll be superamalgamated!"
"We have contact," I muttered, and looked at my watch. "Four minutes thirty-five seconds."
Clark reached behind him. Dot slapped a $10 bill into it. As his hand closed around it, he commented wryly, "Nice doing business with you."
Seconds passed. Professor Littlejohn repeated his famous interjection, then abruptly realized his disruption to the class. Thinking quickly, he announced, "Dear students, I apologize for my . . . hesitation . . . in my speech. Chalk it up to the holidays. And, since tomorrow is the beginning of the Winter Break, I've decided to be lenient and dismiss you early. Have a good holiday, and I'll see you all back here next year." He smiled.
The students quickly gathered their stuff and filed up the stairs to the exits, paying no attention to the three people who continued to sit and wait, nor to their teacher who stood unmoving on the lecture hall floor below.
Finally, as the last student allowed the door to close behind him, the bony figure of Professor Johnny Littlejohn put his notes in a well-used leather portfolio while glancing over his shoulder. Then, straightening his shoulders, he slowly ascended the steps in our direction. His movement was careful, his footsteps sure. He faced straight ahead, but his eyes darted at us, and at Clark. The closer he got to us, the more certain he was in his conclusions. As he came even with us, his mouth gaped with realization.
"How?" he muttered weakly.
"You're looking well, brother," Clark simply replied.
"Well, I'll be superamalgamated," he absently commented.
Clark stood and slowly approached the elderly archeology professor, who followed him with his eyes. Then he wrapped his strong arms around the thin bony frame and gave his old friend a gentle hug. Johnny hesitated only a moment, then sighed, let the portfolio fall from his hand and wrapped his arms around the muscled waist. Tears of joy and relief began to form in their eyes.
After a few moments, Clark made the introductions. "This is Perry Liston. I can honestly say that I owe him my very life."
He reached out a hand. It appeared frail, but the grip was strong. "My great pleasure, sir," he addressed.
"And mine," I returned.
He turned to Dot, who had come down to our level and stood. "And this, Johnny, is Dot Brooks." He said her name slowly.
His eyebrows raised considerably. "Brooks?"
"She's Ham and Monk's . . . granddaughter."
His head cocked to one side again. "Interesting. A most intriguing genetic amalgam," he mused aloud. It was the first time he had used his characteristic big words since we saw him. "I'm pleased at what kind of progeny would result through my former colleagues." He paused and smiled. "It's obvious that your attractiveness is a product of the maternal influence rather than the paternal."
She smiled back. "Granddad would probably agree with you."
"Goodness, my manners," he suddenly checked himself. "Can you stay for awhile? We could go to my cottage."
"We're here for as long as you need us."
"Splendid! Miss Brooks, would you grant me the honor?" And, offering his arm to Dot, they left the lecture hall. Clark and I followed, grinning.
Professor Littlejohn's cottage was a small three-room structure on the southern half of the campus. We retrieved the vehicles and were able to park relatively close to the cottage. The outside of the small house was beautiful, like a scene out of a calendar (minus the satellite dish, of course), and the inside was a unique combination of old-world style and state-of-the-art electronics.
My attention was immediately directed to the home entertainment center, and its giant screen television with proportional speakers. Professor Littlejohn saw my amazement and commented with a grin, "One of my few vices, dear boy. And please, do call me Johnny. 'Professor' is such a stuffy title."
Dot's attention was drawn to a strange scene in a corner. It was as if several trees were converging together in a short space, their limbs reaching to the ceiling. A board or two lay across the branches. A couple of sunlamps were placed strategically to give warmth to the entire framework. Dot peered at the animal that rested peacefully across the higher board.
"Johnny?" she inquired. "Iguana?"
"Yes. His name is Gandalf. He was the pet of an Egyptian dignitary, who presented him to me following a dig that produced some valuable artifacts. He's also quite friendly, although he has been known to bite if he perceives his area is threatened."
She reached up and stroked the lizard gently behind the top of the head. He reacted by leaning into the pressure and closing his eyes partially. Johnny took a few steps in that direction and commented, "I believe he likes you, my dear."
Clark and I secured the two vehicles, then we all settled down and visited. Johnny was intrigued by Clark's narrative of his hibernation, arrival in Portland, and the progress of our quest to date.
"And Monk is doing well?" he asked, somewhat shyly.
"Yes," answered Dot, and gave him the details of his marriage to Lea, how many children and grandchildren they have, and that they're living in Oklahoma.
"You also seem to be doing well, Johnny," commented Clark. "You seem to be at the peak of your career."
"It is a good time for me, I will admit." He broke into a grin. "However, there are several junior professors who are literally circling me like vultures waiting for me to shuffle off this mortal coil. They look at me as a scrawny old man with two feet in the grave waiting for the rest of the body to fall in. I do hope they're patient. I have no intention of rolling over and dying for them just yet."
"Thank God for that. Do you have plans for the holidays?" I asked.
"Not really," he answered. "I usually spend the holidays alone . . . myself and Gandalf, of course. It's not all bad."
"Would you care for some company?" asked Clark.
"I would love it," he beamed.
Since Johnny was unprepared for so many guests, we decided to drive into town and eat out. The restaurant was good, and we kept our conversation restricted to issues that wouldn't reveal identities or secret histories.
"You still haven't located . . . you-know-who?" asked Johnny, referring to Long Tom
"No," answered Clark. "Perry's been checking around, but hasn't found anything yet."
"Well, if it would help, you're welcome to take advantage of the library facilities at the College. They're quite good. They're usually shut down during Winter Break, but I have a key. You could have the run of the place while you're here."
I was thrilled. "Thank you, Johnny! Perhaps I could take a quick tour in the morning."
"You are eager, aren't you? I admire your tenacity. Reminds me of me, back in my younger days."
"Can I ask a question, Johnny?" spoke Dot.
"Clark said that you used to speak in polysyllables, except when around him. How come you're not doing that now?"
He laughed. "Oh, that. It was a defense mechanism, to hide my nervousness or insecurity around others. Or to throw off adversaries. I never did it around . . . Clark . . . because he never made me feel insecure. You're friends, so I have no need for it. Now, if you want to see something, watch me around some of the younger professors. They need a thesaurus just to keep up a conversation with me."
Days passed. We had a lot of fun reminiscing over past adventures from Johnny's perspective. Many subjects had been covered. One had been avoided. Until tonight.
As we sat around the living room, Johnny prepared some dinner. "I was married once. Nineteen-sixty-two. Her name was Lana." He smiled. "She divorced me while I was in . . . Australia, I believe. She married a stockbroker a few years later." He changed the subject. "Doc, you say you found Pat? How is she?"
Clark stood. "Not well. Do you remember our encounter with Dan Thunden?"
"That old codger that lived for over a hundred years? How can I forget him? Why?"
"Pat's got the silphium." He paused, then announced slowly, "Pat is Penelope."
"Oh, my." He turned, startled. "She became her own daughter?"
He nodded. "To hide the fact that she never aged. She's . . . not the same. She's bitter at me for all that happened while I was in hibernation."
"Nonsense! You didn't choose to be hibernated. How can she hold you responsible for what happened during that time?"
"Nevertheless, she does. And that hatred of me is so great that she wishes me dead."
I spoke in support. "He's right. I was with him when she declared her hatred for him."
He shook his head slowly. "It's incredible. Absolutely incredible. What exactly happened with your encounter with her?"
Dot had just entered the cottage. Separating herself from her coat, she added, "Yeah, I've never heard the full story myself. I'd love to hear what was happening on your end."
Clark sighed. "Very well. I knew that Pat had lost an eye in combat. I suspect it had been replaced with a glass eye. And when we were talking with Monk, we brought up the silphium, which reminded me of Pat's interest in it at the time. On a hunch, I looked through some pictures and videos of Penelope, and I noted the subtle fact that both eyes did not move in unison. So I concluded that Pat had secured the silphium, made herself young with it, and created the persona of Penelope as an easy way to explain a youthful Pat."
He walked around the room as he talked. All eyes were attentive. "But I had to prove my theory, and that had to be done in person . . . "
I sat in the camper van. Everyone else was in the cottage watching a video. But, with the quiet around me, I had the notebook opened before me. I put a CD into the player, and soothing piano music filtered around me. I brought up the email program and began to compose.
It's two days before Christmas, and I'm restless. Vermont is breathtaking, and the others are
wonderful company. My days have been filled with research, with plenty of quiet time for Bible
study and prayer. Dot and I have time to walk around and enjoy the area -- with the exception of
the occasional snowball fight. But I'm restless.
I'm in the perfect place for a vacation, but I don't need a vacation. I miss you all, and the ministry
we do this time of year. I need to be giving to someone who can't give back. Especially now.
Tomorrow I'm going to go into Rutland to find what God wants me to do. Pray that it comes
quickly, okay? I need to give out what God has given me, or I'll lose it.
Talk to you later. Perry
It's two days before Christmas, and I'm restless. Vermont is breathtaking, and the others are wonderful company. My days have been filled with research, with plenty of quiet time for Bible study and prayer. Dot and I have time to walk around and enjoy the area -- with the exception of the occasional snowball fight. But I'm restless.
I'm in the perfect place for a vacation, but I don't need a vacation. I miss you all, and the ministry we do this time of year. I need to be giving to someone who can't give back. Especially now.
Tomorrow I'm going to go into Rutland to find what God wants me to do. Pray that it comes quickly, okay? I need to give out what God has given me, or I'll lose it.
Talk to you later. Perry
I looked down at the words, then clicked the Send icon. But I didn't leave the camper van. I closed my eyes and let the music carry me back to Portland, to Paul, the long-haired pianist at Saturday Market. Hardly ever without his upright piano, his music was his way of ministering to all those who had ears to hear.
I missed it, and settled for his CD instead.
I cruised the snow-covered streets, gaining driving experience. Then I saw it, a storefront with a simple banner identifying it: RUTLAND COMMUNITY FELLOWSHIP. It was a church, and a simple one, too. I had a fondness for simple churches, and was attracted to this one. Bundling up, I left the van and walked up to the door. Mismatched paint covered up old graffiti. A laminated sign printed from someone's PC told me about their activities and worship services. I walked in. A bell tinkled over the door. An elderly lady in a blue dress approached from the back. Extending a hand, she identified herself as Eloise Lantz and asked how she could help me.
"Actually, ma'am, I think I'm here to help you. Is your pastor around?"
"Certainly. Let me get him." She disappeared behind a curtain-covered archway.
A minute later, as I looked over the posters on the wall, a youthful face addressed me. "Good morning!"
I turned to see him. He was tall and slender, in his 40's but looking a good deal younger. He wore a set of khaki coveralls and a denim shirt with rolled-up sleeves. He smiled a smile at me that was wonderfully infectious, and I knew I was definitely in the right place. "I'm Kevin Woods. What can I do for you?"
I shook his hand and we moved over to a row of folding chairs. I told him about being away from home, and the empty place inside me that could only be satisfied by giving.
He nodded, and suggested, "Well, you could pray."
I looked at him strangely. He grinned, then explained. "Tonight's our annual dinner for the homeless. But we're a little shy on groceries." He paused, then leaned in. "More than a little shy, actually. And four of our group came down sick with the flu. They won't be able to make it. So where do you want to start?"
I smiled. And I reached for my cell phone. "Watch," I told the confused Woods. "And pray."
There would be those in Rutland who would look upon this Christmas as one of the best in years. I certainly felt that myself. And, by the looks of my companions, I was not alone.
Johnny, the elderly archeology professor, after years of spending the holidays alone, discovered appreciation and admiration from the citizens of Rutland. And, considering the number of ladies who approached him during the evening -- including the charming Eloise Lantz -- there would be long-lasting social reprocussions for this batchelor.
Clark, like myself, had secretly longed for a way of sharing and ministering to others, so this was an answer to his prayers. A few of the older citizens saw his 'resemblance' to Doc Savage, but Clark fielded them with a grin and a shrug. And continued to serve with joy.
Dot, who was new to this, showed an eagerness that was beyond words. She was elbow-deep in dishes one moment, then cutting and dishing up turkey and ham the next, then mingling with her camcorder, filming the event and the people. She seemed to have a knack for getting people to open up and relax.
And I felt alive, helping out wherever I could. Most of the time was spent bussing tables and keeping things moving smoothly, side-by-side with the unique Pastor Woods. He slapped me on the back and praised God for making this evening so much of a success.
Needless to say, we supplimented their grocery list beyond their wildest dreams. We fed dozens of homeless citizens. And like the aftermath of the feeding of the multitudes, we had abundantly more than we needed. Not wanting to waste, we got styrofoam coolers and packed pounds of leftovers for those without food. Clark and I also met privately with Pastor Woods, and made arrangements for a perpetual line of funding for his church, to help the community. He accepted it with quiet humility and thanks to God.
It was a glorious night, and was even covered by a reporter for the Rutland Herald. It got out that we were the 'mysterious benefactors' who supplied the additional food. When asked who we were, we just said we were strangers passing through. We emphasized the work God was doing in this place, and redirected things back to Pastor Woods, who kept referring to it all as 'a God thing'.
As the last people were leaving the church, Dot came over to me. She looked both exhilerated and exhaused at the same time. She admitted how much fun she had, and asked me why I had come here. "Let's just say that I was inspired," I replied with a Cheshire Cat grin.
On Christmas Day, I went to the library as usual. Dot came with me. She was still talking about the previous evening's activities, still pumped up from it. As we switched on the lights and cranked on the heat, I shared with her a nagging concern I had regarding Renny. I had it ever since she had found the patent record back in New York, and just couldn't dismiss it from my mind.
"Then go after it," she encouraged me. "We certainly have the resources for it. I'll check the online card catalog, you check out the NEXUS."
In the silence of the Drake College Computer Lab, I used the NEXUS search engine that the college subscribed to, making a media check on the name Renwick. Then, one by one, I went through each of the referenced articles and papers, looking for some lead.
Three hours into the search, after a stretch and a sandwich, I found it.
'It' was a newspaper article written by one Barry Massey for the San Francisco Chronicle, a human interest piece regarding missing persons presumed dead but weren't.
During combat it was not uncommon for soldiers to escape the fighting by taking on the identities of their fallen comrades, especially if the dead had no family, and they were scheduled to be returned home. They supported their point by citing stories of three men who did exactly that during World War I, two during World War II, and two during Vietnam.
The article next moved on to natural disasters. Apparent 'victims' of hurricanes or earthquakes, reported dead, later discovered alive and well. They gave various reasons, including amnesia from shock, or deliberately escaping the responsibilities of their 'previous' lives to the 'freedom' of a new life and a new start.
My eyes caught the name Renny Renwick and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in Oakland, and I read on eagerly. As I did, my eyes went wide and my jaw dropped.
According to the article, Renwick's body was never positively identified from the bodily remains in his truck. They figured it was him because it was his truck, the body matched his general physical description, he was the last one seen with the truck, and he hadn't been seen since then. So they concluded it was Renwick.
I read the article again, then printed it off. I was sitting at the table, underlining the salient points and thinking, when Dot came over and flopped down opposite me. She looked drained. "There's nothing in the card catalog," she informed me. "What's that?"
"A Christmas present," I announced, and showed her. Her eyes got wide and she caught her breath.
She stood, having gotten her second wind. "Let's tell Doc!"
I slowly shook my head. "No. Not just yet."
I took a deep breath. "We'll need to contact this reporter and find out what he knows. However . . . why should he tell us anything?"
"Because . . . " She shrugged and shook her head. "I don't know."
I mused aloud. "So we need an angle, a key." I suddenly looked at Dot. "You."
Grinning, I stood and started outlining my plan.
"This is incredible, Perry!" exclaimed Clark, springing up from his chair, the photocopy in his hand.
"I'm impressed, Mr. Liston," commented Johnny. "So now we make contact with the reporter?"
"I already have. Dot and I have an appointment to meet him over lunch on the 28th."
"Pardon?" asked Clark.
"Our biggest hurdle," started Dot, "was giving the reporter a reason to give us the information he had."
"Therefore," I continued, assuming a formal tone, "I called him, representing Ms. Dorothy Brooks, the granddaughter of Theodore Marley Brooks and Andrew Blodgett Mayfair. I explained that, after reading his article, Ms. Brooks was interested in knowing if Mr. Renwick is indeed alive, if not for herself, then for her surviving grandfather."
"And it worked," concluded Dot.
"Since the appointment is in three days, we'll get there faster by commercial jet."
There was silence. I anticipated arguments to my plan, and steeled myself for them. But I was pleasantly surprised when Johnny came back with, "I think the boy has done quite well."
Clark looked at me. Then he smiled, and reached out and shook my hand. "Good work, brother."