Seeking and What Do Ye Find
Keeping a close lid on himself, even though he’d reached his internal boiling point the previous night when he was certain Kozy had picked up his phone only to hang up immediately without saying a word five times in a row, Dylan stood waiting in the kitchen for his daughters-in-law to clear all the grandchildren to the upstairs rooms. He wanted no distraction of any kind during the first family meeting finally possible via semi-cleared roads in M- and a break in the extreme weather conditions. Not until Nora assured him that everything and everyone was in order, did Dylan walk into the living room where his sons, sans one, and their wives ceased talking among themselves when he stood in the center of the room. He nodded at Nora where she sat on her usual chair a little outside the group with her pad of paper and pen. After making direct eye contact with each of the ten people seated around the spacious room, he spoke in a calm, low-key tone which gave barely any hint of just how tightly stretched were his nerves.
“Okay we all know it’s now almost three weeks since any of us have seen Sarge or talked to him on the phone. In the usual scheme of things this would not be any cause for concern. We all know he can sulk and dish the silent treatment for a solid month when he gets pissy. But, considering the ongoing extreme weather conditions and the resulting havoc, of which we all are very well aware of, I do not care for the fact that he has not made contact with me, Nora, or any of you.” Dylan paused for effect and with a faint hope that someone in the room might contradict the fact by volunteering information that Sarge had left a phone message elsewhere. No one said a word and he resumed his speech. “Nearly twelve feet of snow has hit Falls. That’s twice as much as M- and we all know what that’s been like. After a curtsey drive-by from the Falls PD at three seventeen am this morning, which was no easy thing to get under the circumstances, they and I are damn sure Sarge is not in that construction site he calls home.” At this point he nearly launched into a rant regarding the lack of simple phone curtsey one would expect even from the likes of Walter Kozy all things weather considered. Nora’s knowing stare dissuaded him from such venting which would have set off all the usual arguing about how to deal with the man’s continued presence in their missing son’s life.
Dylan tightened the lid on his temper and pushed his anger with Kozy aside. “Bottom line, I want to know where in hell my eldest son is and, why, if he’s not lying on a cold hard slab in some morgue, or under a snowdrift, he has not called to say he’s still among the living. We tried to file a missing person report this morning over the phone. Per the ongoing chaotic state of affairs in Falls, I suspect that’s not going to get any traction any time soon. Therefore, we need to track him down any way possible. Certain business decisions need to be made soon, as all of you are well aware. If something serious has happened to Sarge, we need to know and make adjustments accordingly.” He looked around at the nods and expressions of assent from his sons and their wives. “I said my piece. Let’s get to it. Who knows what so far? Let’s start with Denise and go around the room in order.” Dylan stepped out of the middle of the room to lean his back against the doorway leading to the stairs. He gestured with one hand for the buxom, dark-haired Denise to start any time she was ready.
Denise glanced at her husband, Patrick, then shyly looked around at everyone else as she delivered her report on the task she’d been given over the phone earlier in the week. “Suzy, the nurse who works at St. Sym’s hospital, finally called this morning. She’s been living at St. Sym’s all week. She ran a full patient ID check and did a bed check of the John Doe in ICU. He’s not Sarge. She’s been talking to the EMTs and they haven’t seen anyone who fits his description. She also put the word out in the ER that if anyone even remotely fitting his description shows up there that they should notify her first thing. That’s it for me.” She turned her baby blue eyes to Mark signaling the change of attention to him.
Mark, knowing how uncomfortable Denise was about being the center of attention even among family gave her a reassuring smile and rubbed her knees fully aware that his brother Patrick did not appreciate his efforts. Locking his hands behind his head, Mark stretched out his long legs and leaned back in his chair. “After getting the usual run around, I finally got a hold of that tight-lipped Oscar in the freight office. Obviously the docks are still shut down. But the Swede did tell me that Sarge worked a hard double last time he was on the docks. He came in Thursday for the graveyard shift and then stayed to work another full eight hours right after that on Friday. Old Oscakee says he hasn’t seen or heard from Sarge since he clocked out. But that goes for everyone since they closed the docks that Saturday morning so it doesn’t mean much.” He caught Nora’s pen waving for his attention and leaned forward to make eye contact with her. “Yeah, Mom?”
“Did Oscar say why Sargent pulled that hard double?” Pen pressed against her lips, Nora waited, hoping for some useful tidbit of information.
Mark shook his head: “I did indeed ask the Swede if he knew, but he just said that Sarge wanted Friday night free. Obviously. Oscar claims he doesn’t know what plans he had. Anyone hear from the ladies if he had a hot date?” Mark looked around the room for any responses to his request. When there were none, he shrugged and playfully punched Benj’s wife Sharon in the shoulder. “Tag, you’re it, foxy lady.”
“You’re shameless, Mark. I don’t know how Molly puts up with your constant flirting.” Sharon shook her head of brassy brown locks at him.
“Hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do to keep his groove on.” He smiled at Molly who was grinning at him from the other side of the room.
Sharon sighed and pushed Mark’s hand off her knee. “As for the ladies, not a peep out of any of them yet as far as Sarge goes. No calls. No unexpected visits. Zilch. Not a whiff of him. The phone chain is still moving along though. Kim and Lisa called just to let me know it reached them. But neither of them have seen or heard from Sarge in over a year as best they can figure; which, in a sense, is very good because it means he’s staying away from them. I guarantee that if he’d even randomly wandered to someone else’s door to get out of the storms and holed up with them, I’d have heard about it by now.”
Dylan rapped his knuckles on the wall he was still leaning against to draw Sharon’s attention. “He hasn’t made any more phone calls to either of them?”
Sharon vigorously shook her head of brassy brown locks. “Noooo. They both swear he’s been silent on that count. No one else has reported any others since he pulled that stunt.” To show she was finished, she simply turned and looked at James who looked as if he wanted to ask her something but declined to do so.
James sat leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “So far I’m dead in the water with his poker jokers. No Sarge at anyone’s tables in nearly a year. About the same amount of time MIA as Lisa and Kim reported. I’m wondering if there’s some connection between his lack of card play and the lack of lady play. It’s not just the games he’s not been coming around for either. He’s not hanging with any of them for beers and shooting the breeze. A couple of guys have called in his direction, but Sarge hasn’t done more than pick the phone up for a fast hi-and-go-fuck-yourself-I-have-to-run chat. To me, he’s looking pretty consistent on all counts with his anti-social bullshit.”
“I can’t say you haven’t got a point, James.” Nora looked around the room. “No cards and no girls for about the same amount of time. I can’t believe we didn’t pick up on this sooner. But let’s keep going. Benj, it’s your turn.”
Benj looked directly at Dylan and no one else as he spoke. “I’ve been seriously trying to raise Stanley on the horn, but so far no luck. His line is still out of service. I’ve tried calling around to his buds, but either hit the same no phone service problem or they don’t live close enough to him for direct contact. I figure my best bet is to run him down in person as soon as there’s a road to Falls open to traffic. If nothing else, I will do what I can to get close enough to walk to the tavern and leave a note there asking him to call you, me or anyone of us. I’m all set with Mickey to take the truck ASAP even if there’s no delivery anywhere in Falls.” Not until Dylan nodded his acceptance of Benj’s plans did he break eye contact with his father.
After winking at Benj, Connie tossed her blonde curls and smiled at everyone. “Let me tell you, it’s not easy getting priests on the phone even when you’re looking for a missing person. But after much haggling with the nuns and lay women running interference for them as usual, I’ve spoken personally with all the priests in M- even the ones at St. Paul’s, including that louse, Father Joseph. Get a load of this, none of them has recently seen Sarge at any mass, Sunday, Saturday, morning or evening. Actually, believe it or not, not a single one of them has set eyes on his mug for over a year. Another thing, he ain’t been to confession either. So, if he’s keeping on the straight and narrow, I don’t know where he’s been doing it–yet. I’ve got calls out to folks in Falls in case he’s been stepping in for Sunday rituals in that neck of the woods. But as of this morning, no one has called to say they’ve seen him even before the snow hit. Put this with the rest of his no-show action, and folks, I think we’ve got a very serious Sarge issue here.”
“Issue or not, we’ve got to find him first of all. Thanks for taking that job, Connie. I know that wasn’t easy going.” Nora smiled at her daughter-in-law who basked in her approval for a few moments before nudging Patrick to speak in turn.
Patrick ran his fingers through his wavy brown hair as he began. “No news on the police scanners of any use. Ricky hasn’t caught anything out of the Fire Department or the PD that might even remotely involve Sarge. Which, in a way, is good news; at least he hasn’t been head banging any walls. But, if he had, then we could draw a bead on him for a place and time. I’ve left word with every PD incoming desk to call here or my number if anything about Sarge comes their way. I made it very clear that as far as we’re concerned, he’s a missing person and that’s the only reason we’re reaching out for some extra eyes on the ground. All in all it went pretty well. At this point we’re doing the same thing that a lot of other people are doing regarding relatives who’ve been out of contact for too long and the officers I spoke with understood that.”
Dylan nodded and said, “Those Dago town cops agree to co-operate too, Patrick?”.
“Oh hell, Dad, who knows for sure? Saying they’ll keep an eye out for Sarge is the most I got from that part of town. I figured that was damned good all things considered. Ever since that weird nasty street war of theirs that everyone denies ever happening a couple of years back, those Dagoes on all sides blow smoke cover for Sarge like he’s one of their f’n own by birth. When you think about it, if he’s decided to have a pissy fit and drop out of sight because of the shave Mom gave him, then Dago town is at the very top of the list of places where he could disappear right under our noses. As a matter of fact, Molly and I were discussing that possibility earlier. Right, Molly?”
Molly nodded, “Oh yes we were indeed. I think this is something we should seriously hash out after we finish this go round. Irene is waiting so patiently.”
Irene sighed and looked from Dylan to Nora and then at everyone else.. “You sure got that right, Molly. I have been very patient indeed. Oh have I ever. If being patient regarding Sarge was profitable, I’d be rich as Roosevelt and then some.” She waved a hand as if to clear the air. “But let’s save that for later too. Anyway, Debbie kindly called to say she remembered Sarge asking if she knew anything about a play with a fox. She saw an ad in the paper about it being rescheduled because of the weather. But she was sure he didn’t say he was going to see it or anything else. Probably just more of the same bullshit he was pulling on her anyway. Otherwise, considering his long list of no shows at any family gatherings, well, I did not see any point in bothering anyone since before the start of this loser streak of his with the girls.” Irene paused, took a breath and then made no effort to hide her frustration when she continued her report. “In point of fact, according to my best reckoning, Sarge may have stepped out with the last few ladies, but I suspect he hasn’t been between the sheets with any one of them in at least a year. Maybe longer. Don’t look at me like that, Patrick. Everyone here knows he’s been off the lady game for quite some time now. I’m just stating the facts as I’m seeing them.” Noting that even Nora and Dylan were keeping their thoughts to themselves, Irene leaned back in her chair satisfied at finally having gotten everyone on the same page as herself. She slid her eyes towards Frances and nodded to convey that she had no more to say at the moment.
Keeping his eyes on his slim blonde wife for several long moments while considering the reasons for her frustration, Francis hesitated before speaking. “I’m still working my way through the yellow pages for the all the bookstores in Falls and M- both. Those people are in their own little worlds. I figured it was worth expanding the range of this fishing expedition in case Sarge holed up some place new when the weather hit. No joy so far though. Only the guy who answered the phone at Maniac Max’s, has seen him recently. That was the day after Nora’s birthday. So Sarge made a pit stop there before catching the bus back to Falls. All the guy on the phone would tell me is that Sarge bought a book. I got the feeling it might not have been Max on the phone. Whoever it was, they wouldn’t say anything else. I left messages on the machines for the public libraries in Falls and M-. They’re still closed for now. Same for the college library in Falls and the uni one in M-. I will follow-up as soon as their doors are open for business again. He can kick his smoking habit, but he’s too hardcore a book junkie to not feed his reading need for long. Eventually he’ll have to put in an appearance somewhere for a fix. That’s assuming he is able to walk and talk under his own power.”
“I get the feeling you’re holding something back, big boy. Shall I do my thing or wait?” said Molly.
Francis shook his head. “I’m good for now, Molly. Floor is all yours, darlin’.”
Molly stretched her arms overhead briefly then looked from Dylan to Nora before speaking. “Okay, aside from Big Bob’s in Falls, Sarge has not been making the chow rounds anywhere we’ve got eyes and ears in-house. He’s been a no-show everywhere in M- long since before the snow. Bob’s and Stan are all Benj’s so I let that be for him to handle. As for the bigger picture,” Molly made a point of staring at Dylan for a few seconds, “there’s that real dive in Dago town he grabs pies at fairly often. But talking to those folks goes nowhere. Unless you’re ordering pizza, they forget any English they ever knew. It’s like they all just got off the boat and unless someone puts a gun to their heads to force them to learn English, there’s no way in hell they’re going speak anything but their mother tongue. To be honest, I don’t think even then would those Dagoes say so much as hello in English. They’re so full of national pride that you’ve got to walk between Italian flags just to get in the place. The walls are covered with snapshots and magazine photos of everything from the Vatican to Sicily. So, sorry, but I found no joy there beyond the damn pizza I carried out for the kids. He’s been spotted catching a meal here and there, but with no routine that I can make heads or tails of. Other than Big Bob’s he is not a regularly scheduled customer anywhere anymore.” She crossed her legs and rubbed her shoulders against the back of her chair. “Sarge not keeping to his meal routine is not good for us keeping track of him.
Molly tossed her hair and looked straight at Dylan. “Before we open this up for discussion, there’s something I think needs to be said outright. I know you don’t like hearing us even whisper about it, Dylan, but let’s face it, Sarge has taken full advantage of your personal feud with Tony and all his Dago buddies. In turn, Tony and friends, for whatever their reasons, seem to get off on keeping Sarge off track and out of sight whenever he takes a notion to become the invisible man as far as we’re concerned. Sure it’s one way of Tony needling you just for old time’s sake. But the fact of the matter, pure and simple, is that Sarge being able to go AWOL whenever he pleases has created a serious business problem. Him not knowing this makes no difference to our bottom line. It’s time that either we bring him into the loop and he gets with the program or we cut him loose and be done with all this bullshit and move on.”
Dylan walked across the room and stood a few feet away from Molly. “Whom do you suggest to take his place for the long haul, Molly?” He looked at Mark. “Is this a power play of yours? Is it, Mark? Seeing him shake his head, Dylan nodded. “Now you listen and listen good, Miss Molly. Leave the business of dealing with Sarge out of the loop to me and Nora.” He stepped closer to her. “Don’t even think about enlightening him in order to bring him into the fold. You may think that would make everyone’s life a lot easier. But Molly, if there’s one thing I know about my eldest son, it’s this: if he knew the loop, he’d make life a total bitch for each and everyone one of us just because he could. So don’t get any bright ideas about forming a better working relationship with Sarge by dealing with him on the up and up. That’s not possible with him.”
“Then what are we going to do about him?” Refusing to be intimidated, Molly glared at her father-in-law.
Dylan moved in close and leaned down to put his hands on the arms of Molly’s chair. “The ‘we’ you’re referring to will do absolutely nothing. The only ‘we’ that will address the problem is me and Nora. I suggest you have a little chat with Mark about that on your own time.” Dylan stood up and looked at Mark. “If anyone else is operating under the delusion that putting Sarge in the loop in order to save time and energy is a good idea, well, consider that notion kicked in the ass and straight out the door right now.”
Looking at each face in turn, Nora took note that except for the painfully shy Denise, her daughters-in-law were doing their level best to keep their eyes on Dylan as he returned to the edge of the living room. While Molly was clearly subdued she was obviously seething. Mark appeared none too pleased with his wife. Her other sons seemed to be in concert as usual and yet there was something Nora couldn’t quite put her finger on regarding the group at large. She narrowed in on Irene and Molly and decided some serious one on one quality time with each was in order. Taking matters into her own hands, Nora stood up. “Molly, Irene, with me now.” Without a backward glance, Nora strode off to the kitchen. The two younger women followed her, careful to not exchange a word or glance between themselves.
It was not lost upon Dylan that all five of his sons’ eyes were on the close weave burgundy carpet as the three women exited the room. “What’s not on the agenda that needs discussing right now? Out with it anyone.” He watched the five men exchange glances and shrugs until Patrick spoke on behalf of the group.
“Don’t get pissed, Dad. We all know that when Sarge does what’s wanted, it’s all cherry. That’s not an issue. No one really wants him in the loop, primarily because Sarge is Sarge. Problem is that the guy who’s been standing in for him the last six months or so, well, I’ll put it this way, he’s got some bad habits. Messy bad habits.” Patrick stared at Dylan and waited for a response.
“He’s getting the job done, isn’t he?”
Patrick nodded. “Yeah, but, he’s just not good for business in the long run.”
“You don’t like this guy, then find your goddamned brother and do whatever it takes to get him back on our track. Send him on a little vacation with the hottest little bitch you can find to Hawaii or Tahiti if you think that’ll do the trick. I don’t care. If you want a change in the line-up then make it happen. I did my part. I found the best deal on the market to bridge the gap.”
The brothers looked at each other and then all at Dylan as if on cue. Again Patrick spoke for them. “’Whatever it takes.’ So be it. Now please go pull Mom off of Irene and Molly.”
Dylan waved a finger indicating no.
Breakfast Special #25 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/breakfast-special-25-what-are-bubbles-for/