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  • Patrick Rizio

Chapter 23

Donny Lambertino fired up his computer and began to prepare the bill. It still amazed him how easy it was to make money doing this. Why had he ever wasted those first two years in college? Then again, if he hadn’t needed money for college, he never would have answered that add for part time detective work. And if that hadn’t happened, he never would have learned how easy it is to gather information, and more importantly, how profitable it is to sell it.

Take this case. This couple wants to know the identity of a girl their daughter met at the planetarium three weeks ago. For some reason they’re desperate to know, all worked up about it. Most people are by the time they decide to use a private detective. The girl in question, and her mother, are regulars there. They have been recorded many times, on several of the planetarium security cameras. He only had to talk to three people before he got a name. After that, the phone book, and some inexpensive computer software, did the rest. The whole job only took about six hours total. He would charge them for three days work, at $300.00/day plus expenses. They would gladly pay it, and odds are, if they ever needed a detective again, they would use him.

He made sure to attach two business cards to the bill. Maybe down the road they would be suing a neighbor, or possibly getting a divorce? One could only hope.

*******

“Faster Uncle Jason, faster!”

“OK. sweetheart, but hang on tight.”

Jason pulled on the bars of the playground merry go round ride harder and harder. Soon it was going about as fast as he could make it go. Sarah was hanging on with both arms and leaning her head back. He knew how she loved these kinds of rides. He also knew he couldn’t make it go too fast for her. That would require something like a centrifuge, and he suspected even that would prove insufficient.

“Faster, make it go faster.”

“I’m spinning it as fast as I can. You just make sure to hang on.”

“You really are a father hen, you know that?” Alison volunteered.

“Guilty as charged,” Jason answered. Then he put his right arm around Alison, pulled her close, and kissed her. His left kept the merry go round spinning. After the kiss, he let Alison go, and began to use both hands on the ride again.

Turning back to his ladylove, Jason asked, “How about some help here lazybones?”

“Yes Mommy, help Uncle Jason make it go faster.”

Sarah was totally absorbed in the ride. It reminded Alison how, even when she was engaged in little girl stuff, Sarah was so totally focused, so in the moment with things.

That caused her to wonder, for just a split second, if Sarah really put her mind to it, really concentrated, could she possibly spin the ride without help?

She shrugged it off. No, of course not. That was ridiculous. She shouldn’t think such things. She reached out to help pull the bars of the merry go round and saw Jason smiling at her.

“To be honest, I’ve wondered along those lines myself,” he said still smiling. “But she is only eight years old you know. I really don’t think she’s quite up to levitation just yet.”

Alison felt foolish. She turned her eyes away from him, a little embarrassed.

“Why don’t you just shut up and pull big boy,” she responded.

“Yeah,” Sarah shouted, her head tilted back as she spun around and around. “Just shut up and pull big boy.”

Jason and Alison looked at each other in surprise and began laughing out loud. There is just something overwhelming about an eight-year old girl experiencing pure joy.

From the other side of the playground, a very tall man was unfolding his tourist brochures, without really looking at them. His attention was focused on the couple at the merry go round, and their little girl. A minute later he took three pictures of them while pretending to dial his phone. He then left the park looking only at the brochures, never making eye contact.

*******

Schimmel walked into the west wing of Universal’s V shaped complex heading for the gym. He entered through the double doors, walked passed the cardio machines, and looked impatiently at his watch. He continued along the mirrored walls by the free weights into the resistance machine area, after which he turned left, arriving at the workout room with the padded floor at the back of the gym. Thompson was waiting in the doorway drinking a cup of coffee. Schimmel had told him how busy he was, but his old friend insisted he stop everything and pay the gym a visit.

“Jack, it’s almost 3 o’clock and I still have a lot left to do today.”

Without looking up Thompson continued to casually sip his coffee.

“Some of us around here have to work you know!”

“Do tell. What a shame. You know, I think you should stop and smell the roses once in a while. They say it’s good for the soul.”

Schimmel took a deep breath and exhaled slowly through his nose. His old friend was one of the few people left who could still push his buttons. He smiled and grabbed the coffee cup from Thompson’s hand. After drinking it down in one gulp, he handed it back.

“OK. wise guy,” the big man said. “Show me why I came all the way over here. And it better be good.”

“Oh, it’s good all right.” Thompson said, walking over to two folding chairs set up a few feet to their right. He gestured for his friend to sit. A young Asian man entered from the doorway at the far end of the room. Jason entered after. They walked to the center of the mat, turned towards Thompson and bowed. Then they bowed to each other. They were both wearing the Gi, the traditional Martial Arts Uniform. Then they just stood there, about three feet apart and waited. After about a minute Thompson spoke.

“Begin.”

The young Asian man immediately came at Jason with a series of kicks and punches. His hands and feet were moving at incredible speed. Jason blocked and dodged each one, never striking back. The other man began to alter his attack, coming from different angles, with the same result. This continued for a full three minutes at which point Thompson yelled, “Stop!”

The two men instantly stopped, facing each other in silence. After a moment, Thompson spoke again.

“Begin.”

Again, the young Asian man came at Jason, attacking. This time with a different result. As the punches were thrown, his hands and arms were caught in a series of wrist locks and shoulder locks, resulting in his being thrown to the mat over and over again. Every punch, every kick, was countered with the same result. Him being thrown to the mat, landing and rolling with great agility, springing to his feet and attacking again. After another three minutes Thompson yelled, “Stop!”

The two men instantly stopped, bowed to each other, then bowed to Thompson, and calmly walked out through the same doorway they had entered.

The room seemed very quiet. Schimmel spoke first.

“That was uh, most impressive.”

Thompson began to smile.

“I’m one hell of a teacher.”

Schimmel grinned.

“Who’s the other guy?”

“A friend.”

“I see. Jack, you told me Jason was a quick learner, but this demonstration was, well, amazing!”

“Bob, this was no demonstration.”

“Excuse me?”

“You don’t quite understand. What you just saw here wasn’t a demonstration. It wasn’t rehearsed. There were no pre-arranged moves.”

Schimmel’s eyebrows came together in a questioning glance. His old friend continued.

“My man was instructed to attack, plain and simple. Only if a blow landed, was he to withdraw. Nothing was rehearsed. I’ve had them going at it for three days now. You know, my guy hasn’t laid a glove on him yet.” Schimmel sat back in the folding chair, half exhaling, half blowing out air.

“Wow, the kid got good in a hurry.”

“Faster than I’ve ever seen Bob. Which brings me to a question for you.”

“A question for...What are you talking about?”

“I think it’s about time you filled me in on my student’s...intuition.”

Now it was Schimmel’s turn to smile. He stood up and headed toward the door.

“What was it you called it Jack? An uncanny ability to anticipate what his opponent is going to do, almost before they do it?”

“Uh yeah, something like that.”

“You always did have a talent for understatement. Walk me back to my office, I’ll fill you in on the way.”

As the two men approached the double doors on their way out of the gym, Schimmel turned to his old friend. 

“Say Jack, just how good was that other guy anyway?”

Thompson kept walking and looked straight ahead.

“Black belt, 10th degree plus.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

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