Edgar Allan Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart

 

By Edgar Allan Poe

 

TRUE!-NERVOUS–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am! but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to tell how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees–very gradually–I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

 

 

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work!

I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it–oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly–very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha!–would a madman have been so wise as this? And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously–oh, so cautiously–cautiously (for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights–every night just at midnight–but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out: “Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or grief–oh no!–it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself: “It is nothing but the wind in the chimney–it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “it is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him. had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel–although he neither saw nor heard–to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and full upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open–and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray, as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And now–have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses?–now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!–do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me–the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once–once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye–not even his–could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out–no stain of any kind–no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all–ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock–still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart–for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night: suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search–search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:–it continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness–until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew very pale,–but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased–and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath–and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly–more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observation of the men–but the noise steadily increased. Oh, God; what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder–louder –louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!–no, no! They heard!–they suspected–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!–this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!–and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks!–here, here!–it is the beating of his hideous heart!”

 

Thanks so reading. Goodnight, and Happy Nightmares  .  .  .

 

A Rant: We Are Not OK

 

 

WARNING: THIS IS A POLITICAL POST AND MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME PEOPLE. CAUTION IS ADVISED.  

 

      A very interesting article by internationally respected journalist Yoichi Shimatsu, for those who may still be interested in the truth. I expect that NOTHING at this point is going to alter the official FBI narrative, but it’s still nice to see it all properly laid out. I have been repeatedly told in the past week that I am a ghoul for not passively accepting the official version of events. I have been told that I “dishonor” the dead, and should be ashamed of myself. I have been told to just shut-up, out of respect for the families of the slain. I reject that. And I believe, that if those poor victims could speak, they would reject it too. God bless every last one of them. May their loss not be for nothing . . . although I think that will be exactly what happens. I love my country and I want to be able to believe my leaders. Sadly, Las Vegas has proven that is no longer possible. It is a sad day for America, and does not bode well for the future of our Republic . . .

 

WE ARE NOT OK.

 

 

     By Yoichi Shimatsu

 

     Yoichi Shimatsu, who is Editor at Large at the 4th Media is a free-lance journalist based in Hong Kong. He is former Editor of the Japan Times Weekly. Mr. Simatsu is a former Tsinghua University lecturer. He’s been regularly writing to several global media outlets including US, China and so on. He’s been frequently sitting on CCTV News, Blue Ocean Network TV and other global media outlets in China, Hong Kong and other countries.

 

Official cover-ups of crimes that implicate the national-security establishment, as the Vegas massacre surely has done, must be handled with patience learned from prior investigative experience in order to spot disinformation and assemble credible evidence into a reconstruction of the totality of the crime, including the sequence of events, role of other participants, relationship to the government, background and motive.

In pathetic contrast, the compliant news media portrays alleged gunman Stephen Paddock as a lone gunman and man of mystery without making any serious effort at uncovering his connections to the intelligence services, which happens to be the key to comprehending the reasons behind this puzzling mass murder. Then there is the planted single gunman claim like the FBI tip to Info wars that suspect Paddock was killed in the Bureau’s assault and that Antifa (anti-fascist, anti-racist anarchism) literature was found in the 32nd floor room at the Mandalay. (Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo countered that falsehood from the FBI by stating forthrightly that more than one shooter was involved.) Here it will be shown that Paddock was anything but a radical anarchist and instead worked as a contract agent for the Defense Department and CIA.

The FBI-Las Vegas police feud was discussed at the 4chan thread, which was soon closed down for new comments:

According to a source in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department: “The LVMPD knows the motive behind the attack, but the FBI will not allow us to release the motive because it implicates the FBI in illegal arms deals and supplying arms to ISIS terrorists within U.S. borders. Stephen Paddock was an undercover FBI agent who participated in multiple illegal arms deals in the Las Vegas area in a gun-running entrapment scheme similar to Fast and Furious. Paddock thought he was engaging in another routine arms transfer, but ISIS had learned about the entrapment scheme and Paddock’s true identity. They killed him and carried out the massacre, and then fled the scene.

“Everything is being kept under extreme wraps because 1) armed ISIS terrorists are still at large and 2) this is very embarrassing to the FBI and they don’t want their scheme to become public knowledge . . . People within LVMP are disgusted and are pushing for this information to be released to the public.”

Arguably more grotesque are the online snipers who falsely insist that the Vegas massacre never happened but was a stage-play faked by crisis actors. (There are crisis actors, but they are hired by public relations firms after a calamity to divert public attention from the actual trauma victims.)

Citizen journalism defies online censorship and trolls

In contrast to the paucity of information from the mainstream media, rense.com has posted eyewitness accounts and revelations from hotel staffers. Despite the shutdown of new comments under management pressure, the online boards reddit, 4chan and VOAT have done a fast and worthy job of separating out some nuggets of information from the chatter and planted disinformation. Unofficial citizen journalism has assembled the pieces needed for a cohesive picture of the alleged perpetrator and his connections with the intelligence establishment and to the radical Muslim ISIS.

From these informal sources, three salient issues have surfaced:

– indisputable evidence that a squad of multiple shooters were involved rather than just a lone gunman

– the relocation of one of Paddock’s airplanes between Virginia airports after an ATF agent was killed in the cover-up of Eric Holder’s Fast and Furious gun-peddling operation

– the visits of Paddock and companion Marilou Danley to the UAE, Jordan and Israel while President Barack Obama was starting to turn against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Paddock as Agency Spy against ISIS

Those morsels of vital information indicate that Paddock served for a long-time as contract agent for CIA-FBI gun-running and as a possible trained assassin.

The Mandalay Bay affair was likely part of a covert program to transfer weapons from the vaults of the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency of Homeland Security), fitted with hidden RFID tracking chips, to ISIS militants inside the USA. Suspecting a sting operation, the ISIS team in Las Vegas shot him to death in his room at the Mandalay immediately before proceeding to fire at the crowd of revelers attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday night, October 1.

Police radio chatter and initial reports, especially in cases of politically sensitive crimes against public security, are often the most accurate, and therefore invariably followed by disinformation under a politicized cover-up. For an investigative journalist like myself, who led the probe into the Tokyo Subway gassing, consideration of early-on eyewitness reports and initial police comments is a rule of thumb. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) scanner (police-band radio) messages to and from the front-line cops is the indelible first draft, and what comes later is censorship.

The earliest time-sequence report out of Vegas was posted at reddit under “Gunshots Downtown Right Now?” by Caram2, who was alerted to the gunfire by his sister, an employee at the MGM Grand who escaped the concert by running to the nearby airport. The timeline is fresher and more revealing than his post-event introduction, which already by then was influenced by Fox News’ knee-jerk response of a lone gunman narrative from the FBI.

The comments below are his transcript from the LVMPD scanner. Here are a few notable excerpts of the salient points:

(The first gunshots were at 10:08)

10:11 Sister saying gunshots have slowed/stopped

10:29 2-4 shooters – some officers pinned down

10:38 Police say no shots fired 10-15 minutes

10:47 Scanner says two scenes, injured personnel

10:49 Reno and Trop(icana)

(note: Reno Avenue East is the location of the Tropicana, Excalibur and New York New York Hotels)

11:00 2 locations confirmed at Mandalay Bay and Ali Baba

(note: Henderson’s Ali Baba is a posh Lebanese restaurant.)

11:05 Scanner says 3 shooters unconfirmed. Hacienda and Trop/Vegas?? Has bodies / shooters. Not sure when last shots were fired. Tropicana offramp is closed.

(note: The Mandalay Bay is built on the site of the demolished Hacienda.

11:06 Scanner says multiple 419s?? Scanner: do not worry about injured, Neutralize Threat.

(note: 419 stands for “Dead Body”)

11:17 Officers outside the alleged shooter room at the Mandalay . . .

11:18 NYNY shooter is heading to the Excalibur.

(note: NYNY is the New York New York Hotel two blocks north on Las Vegas Boulevard S)

1:34 Metro (police) press conference: 2 suspects dead/1 detained. One POC.

(note – POC: police officer casualty? Or person of color?)

Making Sense of the Chatter

The sister, who was near the stage, escaped the gunfire after a truck tore down a section of fence and she managed to reach safety at the nearby airport. Her mobile calls from the scene and the airport indicated the firing had slowed within the first 3 minutes. Therefore, most of 1,000-2,000 bullets were fired in that short space of time, while the revelers were trying to disperse or find cover.

As part of the politicized gun-control debate, opponents of the Second Amendment have falsely claimed that a bump stock device (which uses recoil to re-engage the trigger) can enable a semiautomatic weapon, like the one found with Paddock, to fire 400 rounds per minute. This is a deliberate deceit, since 400 Rpm, take note here, is the “rate of fire” (as in highest firing rate during bursts) and not the number of bullets that can actually be shot within a minute. 400 shots would require 14 reloads and re-aiming, each requiring about 10 seconds, for a total down time of more than 2 minutes.

The FBI photo taken in Paddock’s hotel room showed a stack of curved AK-47 magazines, each holding 30 bullets; there was no bandolier-type machine-gun belt in sight. Therefore, the lone gunman narrative is preposterous, and anyone who put this sort of nonsense forward, especially from law enforcement, is a knowing liar. For that reason alone, the bump stock ban proposed in Congress should be voted down, at least until the proponents admit their deception and agree to stick to facts.

Multiple shooters, 5 or more sites

Aside from the Mandalay Bay, the police-radio intercept discloses two other nearby shooting scenes: the Tropicana and New York New York hotels. The Tropicana hotel-casino is located across Las Vegas Boulevard South (aka The Strip) about a half block from the Mandalay Bay (the southernmost on The Strip). It directly adjoins the site of the Route 91 Harvest Festival, opposite the Mandalay.

The rapid-fire shooting from the Tropicana is, therefore, consistent with eyewitness reports of a “crossfire” by the second shooter, who was likely killed by the police, as reported at the first Metropolitan Police news conference.

A third shooter, firing from New York New York hotel, is reportedly in detention, presumably captured while trying to flee in a car across the boulevard to the Excalibur. The NYNY is across the boulevard from the Tropicana, or the same side of the street as Mandalay Bay (and the Luxor). It is at a catty-corner across from the open-air concert venue.

There were three firing points in a deadly triangle, just like the trio at the Paris Bataclan (only 2 gunmen were killed, and one escaped) and Orlando Pulse (1 killed, 2 escaped). Triangulation is intended to keep the crowd confined rather than making a quick escape. (In a shooting situation, every couple of seconds feels like minute, when perception time slows to a crawl, and therefore within 20 seconds targeted individuals should be able to dash to escape or find cover, that is, in the case of a single gunman.) Even with those three shooters, at least one of them must have used a belt-loading machine gun, probably similar to a 7.62mm NATO standard, to account for the intense firepower within three minutes, along with the basso boom from the muzzle blast.

Guests and staff at another separate cluster of two or three hotels also heard nearby low-caliber small-arms fire, shootings which so far can be interpreted as diversionary actions intended to confuse the police. These secondary incidents were at the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace, and probably the Aria, at the corner of Flamingo Avenue, two blocks north of the Harvest Festival. Later that night a local civilian resident with a rifle tried to enter Caesar’s after having heard about gunshots fired inside.

Gunfire at the Ali Baba Lebanese restaurant was later denied, although it may have been a misfired weapon kept ready by a back-up team to assist the escape of the hotel gunmen.

Therefore, the hit squad in Las Vegas included a minimum of 5 gunmen, although more likely 6-7 shooters, with a contingent of support personnel for communications, logistics and transport as well as to trip up hotel security. Hotel staff at the Mandalay saw an assailant in a hotel security uniform being chased down a hall by police officers.

The attack on Las Vegas was a small-scale paramilitary operation, probably involving a squad of radical Muslim ISIS supporters to avenge Obama’s betrayal of the Caliphate. The “one POC” code word heard on police radio scanner likely refers to a “person of color”, likely from Africa, perhaps Somalia or Sudan, implying the two other suspects were light-skinned, perhaps Arabs or even white American recruits.

A most difficult problem in this incident is the code of silence among the hundreds of Muslim hotel workers and chauffeurs along The Strip, whose ultimate loyalties are with shariah law and not the U.S. Constitution. Vegas was a classic case study of the absolute failure and delusions about Muslim integration under the democratic traditions of American society. That is an undeniable fact that contributed enormously to the murder and mayhem, politically incorrect though it may sound.

On the side of caution, one cannot discount the possibility of an Israeli Mossad deep-cover false-flag operation aimed at ensuring more military aid from the U.S. against Iran and other foes. As for the professional sad clowns called “crisis actors”, the online bloggers who spread this sort of chum for fools are cogs in the repressive machinery of state working for the Feds or the Mossad.

 

 

For Paddock, to balk was a death sentence

The only remotely honest law-enforcement official with public presence, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, stated that suspect Paddock intended to survive the massacre. His assessment was based on the presence of a precursor chemical for explosives and more guns inside his car, which was left in the parking level of the Metropolitan. In other words, Paddock did not commit suicide, and there was no reason for him to wait for SWAT to arrive.

Since the firing had ceased by around 10:20 p.m., and the SWAT team did not storm his room until after 11:00, Paddock had 40 minutes to make his escape in the crowd of panicked guests down the elevators to the parking level. Why did he not exfiltrate?

The only possible answer is: Because he was already dead, killed before the shooting spree started. Who would have murdered Paddock just prior to the gunfire on the crowd below? One of the gunmen, of course.

Why? Because the would-be “buyers” of his stash of guns (none of them were legally purchased from registered firearms dealers, as implied by media fakery) had long suspected that his offer of weapons for sale was bait in an FBI-CIA trap. The ISIS knew very well that his disingenuous conversion to Islam was a ploy hatched by his bosses at the CIA and DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency).

So, the jihadists offered him one last test of faith before his “martyrdom”. At every terror site, at least one dead martyr must be left behind for the sake of the lone gunman myth, which benefits both the political class to appease public anger and also the terrorists trying to conserve manpower for their next strike. Paddock was more useful as a fall guy than as a fighter.

To flush out informers, crime groups will often order a new member to murder an undercover police informant or a friend in a rival gang, as depicted in the Johnny Depp movie “Donnie Brasco”. In real life and in the movie, Joe Pistone aka Brasco was shrewd enough not to flinch and shot his pal Tony Mirra, to the satisfaction of the Bonnano mob, and no further questions were asked of the rookie who had earned their trust as an unquestioning obedient henchman.

During the meeting to transfer the traceable guns to the ISIS men in his 32nd floor room, his client(s) would order him to start shooting at the concert-goers below as a test of faith. Caught totally off-guard by this demand to kill fellow Americans, Paddock would have balked. Instead of giving a straight answer, he probably requested a moment of prayer in the bathroom to think it over, allowing him to message his FBI support team.

His prayer was answered with a gunshot to the back of the head. That bloody head is edited out the FBI photo of his body, if indeed that was his actual corpse. (Since he was laid out with a Kevlar vest, why wouldn’t he also have worn a helmet to deflect bullets?) That’s when the ISIS team leader would text-message his gunman to commence the slaughter. They had no need for Paddock’s dodgy cache of weapons; they brought their own heavier machine-guns to the fatwa fiesta.

Now, boys and girls, if you want to be a secret agent for the Feds or the Agency, whenever the bad guys tell you to mow down your teammates, just do as they say and make sure there are no wounded survivors who might recognize you as one of their own and moan to you. “Jeez, good to see you again, hey, how come you’re not wearing a badge?” Kill everyone, even your loved ones, or you too will soon join the dead. That’s what it takes to be a first-class Fed, utter ruthlessness arising from the will to survive with no space for regrets or chance of redemption. It’s a lonely life that exits in hell.

Every Breath You Take

The sting operation known as Fast and Furious, initiated in 2009 by Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder turned into a self-inflicted disaster for law enforcement and national security. Supposedly traceable guns, embedded with RFID chips, were sold to the Mexican drug mafia. The concept was to track the homing devices inside the guns along the supply chain of felons up the ladder to the big bosses in Cuidad Juarez, Sinaloa state, the capital and other major smuggling hubs and money-laundering centers.

Since mobile-phone service and hotspots can be spotty in those backwaters, the FBI lost track of those firearms. It’s likely that the Mexican smugglers knew Fast and Furious was too good to be true, and took apart a gun to locate the tracking device. An estimated 10,000 civilian fatalities are attributed to those rapid-fire weapons, including American law-enforcement officials along the border, a blowback which led to an abrupt end of gun-walking. (The term means letting the criminals walk into a gun shop for an illegal purchase and walk out with firearms, in that case across the borderline.)

The killings of Americans with Holder’s guns resulted in an internal-affairs probe into the source of those firearms, which was the arsenals of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau (ATF, under the Department of Homeland Security). The Obama White House responded with a self-protective cover-up, and ATF bosses were under heat to perjure themselves before Congress. So, this is when Stephen Paddock’s airplane and his inexplicable wealth enter the dark picture show.

Homicide or Suicide?

That’s how one headline described the 2013 deaths of 20-year veteran ATF agent Paul Parisi and his wife Janine inside their home in Chantilly, Virginia. As an arson and explosives expert, Parisi was stationed at the local ATF field office, near the top-level forensic laboratory at Quantico, the FBI Academy, which also serves the scientific requests of Pentagon’s investigative unit called the Defense Security Service (DSS).

One of the questions related to Fast and Furious was the possible role of a suspected mafia mole inside U.S. law enforcement, so DNA testing and chemical analysis were meticulously done on recovered Fast and Furious guns, putting Paul Parisi on the wrong side in the eyes of certain higher-up circles who were not eager to see his forensic findings reach Congress.

A Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace

In that same area of Virginia, starting in 2006, one Stephen C. Paddock (the Las Vegas suspect’s middle name is Craig), who was a resident of Henderson, Texas, and Mesquite, Nevada, based his Cirrus SR20, tail number N5343M, at Chantilly airfield. But then, just months after the Parisi deaths, he relocated the home field of that single-engine propeller plane 22 miles away to an airstrip at Roanoke.

Parked at Roanoke for the next three years, the same-model Cirrus with identical tail number N5343M was registered as belonging to Volant LLC, which conducts top-secret assignments in intelligence and defense operations, something like the Mission Impossible team. Three weeks prior to the Vegas massacre, however, the Cirrus made its first recent flight, presumably by Paddock or another Agency pilot to deliver his consignment of guns to Las Vegas.

Thanks to a vigilant citizen online by name of Mike, that defense contractor is now in the spotlight. The limited liability company describes its team of experts as follows: “A Volant Associate proudly serves the needs of the nation’s Intelligence and Defense Community. Each associate matches a specific and rigorous profile and is the absolute best of his or her breed: a dedicated, driven, educated, broadly experienced leader who holds, at a minimum, an active Top-Secret SCI clearance”

To translate the alphabet soup: Top Secret (TS); SCI means Sensitive Compartmented Information, or high-level access to classified information on file. This lacework of acronyms can deadlier for one’s health than arsenic.

A notable feature of the Cirrus SR20 model is its rocket-opened parachute, which prevents a damaged aircraft from crashing into buildings while carry dangerous cargo, for example, explosives or ammunition. With seating for 4 passengers (which can be used for cargo space) and a range of 780 nautical miles, the Cirrus is an ideal plane for arms traffickers, involved in Fast and Furious and/or its successor program transporting spooked guns to Islamic radicals.

Online access to various employment agencies connected with Volant LLC have been blocked since recent revelations of Paddock’s long-time relationship to that defense contractor.

Dad was FBI’s Most Wanted

How could the eldest son of a bank robber, diagnosed as a psychopath, on the FBI Most Wanted List, become a government-trusted military contractor and a multimillionaire (with no visible means of support)?

A migrant from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to the Sunbelt, his father Benjamin Hoskins Paddock Jr. was arrested several times in the 1950s for automobile larceny, con games and passing bad checks, resulting in debts from which he tried to bounce back with two armed robberies at branches of the Valley Bank in Tucson, Arizona, in 1959 and ’60. While serving a prison sentence, Big Ben (6’2” tall) staged a prison break in 1969 and was on the lam for 7 years, operating under a false identity as a bingo parlor operator in Oregon. Although none of his sons admit to being in contact with him, the family somehow survived on the ill-gotten lucre despite the FBI watch on their Tucson home.

At the time of the prison escape and his posting on the Most Wanted list, Stephen Paddock was 15 years old, the eldest of four sons raised by their single mother. Contrary to the present-day media’s attempt to cast a “like father, like son” psychoanalysis on Stephen, in fact he managed to earn a business degree from Cal State Northridge, which qualified him to work as accountant and also gave him training in algorithms, later used to win big at video poker in casinos. Methodical, calm and low-key, his biography so far has showed no signs of his being a psychotic. His only deviance was the hiring of $6,000 per session hookers for bondage fake-rape sex, a dominance-subordination pastime that millions of otherwise straight-laced men and women also seem to enjoy, for whatever mournful reasons.

What is incongruous for the son of a fugitive bank robber, however, is that his entire working career, which lasted a mere 12 years, was entirely connected with the federal government, indicating the “protection” of the FBI over a potentially wayward youth. His first job was as a letter carrier, a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service, a routine that would prove useful later for his work as an intelligence contractor, if the mission required getting people to open their front doors and passing through neighborhoods unnoticed.

After a short stint as an IRS auditor, he worked from 1985-89 as an “in-house auditor” for an as-yet unidentified aircraft maintenance company, which was later merged into Lockheed. Just a mere one year into that better-paying job, Paddock plonked down $400,000 cash to purchase outright a large house in Northridge, California.

High Flier, High Times

What’s sticks in my craw is those dates of employment at the mystery company simultaneous with Air Cocaine flights into Mena Airfield, a major aircraft maintenance center in Arkansas while Bill Clinton was governor. It was one of few jobs in that era where an ordinary employee (pilot or ground crew and manager) could earn a tax-free million dollars a year. Perhaps not by accident, Stephen Paddock and the husband of Marilou Danley own homes in Fayetteville-Springdale in the northwest corner of Arkansas, where east-west US Highway 40 meets north-south state road 71 to Mena.

Whether or not his high times at Mena included helping Bill and the Hill roll up a carpet for Vince Foster, Paddock’s subsequent low-profile career was as a small-plane pilot, shuttling contraband or people on contract with intelligence agencies or the Pentagon. News reports indicate he often flew a small plane from Nevada to Alaska during the annual hunting season, a flight distance farther than Honduras to Arkansas. For the Alaskan hunt, he’s hauling a rifle of sufficient caliber to down a moose and maybe a few dollars more of extra hardware and ammo to offload in Idaho or Seattle.

OK, so the question begs an answer: Was Stephen Paddock a CIA assassin, as the ones in Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series? We have yet to locate the shallow unmarked graves, even if planes can also be used to dump bodies into lakes and oceans. Pity poor Joe Pesce in “Casino”, who had to use a shovel to dig holes in the desert.

ISIS Loyalty Pledge

The ISIS website boasts that Paddock was converted to Islam in April 2017, pledging allegiance to their jihad. He probably crossed the threshold on one of his cruise ship tours from Greece to the Middle East, which included stopovers in Dubai and Jordan, accompanied by his female companion Danley, who claims to have a niece in the UAE. Jordan is landlocked and the best method of entering that country is through the port of Aqaba.

Since it is by now certain that Paddock was a contract agent for U.S. intelligence, the Mideast cruise indicates:

– first, that he entered the region by cruise ship to avoid detection at region airports where he was probably a known commodity ever since the invasion of military contractors during and after the Iraq wars; and

– second, a CIA or DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) staffer, or a Mossad agent, would have escorted him for a quick briefing from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Jordanian border for his upcoming meetings with ISIS.

Both Dubai and Jordan are major hubs for the Muslim Brotherhood, which was involved in the Hillary-Obama fiasco known as the Arab Spring and financed by the jihadist Emirate of Qatar. Lest Americans have forgotten by now, the Brotherhood launched the first attempted attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and its members were aboard the 911 jetliners. Presumably, many and perhaps most of the captains of ISIS came out of the Brotherhood, the “grandfather of modern jihad”.

Here again in the Paddock caper, the CIA-DIA revealed a basic lack of common sense, even after losing captured “aid workers” to ISIS decapitators. After all, who in their right mind would join ISIS when its barracks and arsenals were being pounded daily by Russian airstrikes? For Stephen Paddock, however, volunteering for this fool’s errand was perhaps his way of making up for the crimes of his father against American society. He was trying to redeem the family name, as hopeless and suicidal as that may have seemed. There’s nothing like Christian guilt to bring on Shariah law.

Gift from Heaven

The masterminds of ISIS must have interpreted Paddock’s oath of fealty as a gift from Above, a doorway into the American heartland, even though it was through the tiger’s den, a trap laid by the CIA. By then, ISIS had a grudge match with President Barack Obama after he reneged on the trans-Syrian pipeline from Qatar to the Mediterranean and onto Cyprus and Ukraine, meant to compete with the hated Russians who have a near-monopoly on European gas supply.

Despite the risks of entrapment, the ISIS chieftains had every reason to feel confident about the planned strikes on Orlando, Vegas and San Francisco, cities that represent to the Islamic community the sins of bestiality, gambling and homosexuality. (Animals that talk, as in the Disney menagerie are considered diabolical.) The Muslims were gaining the upper hand against their Satanic foe. The Awan brothers team had control of the computers in the House of Representatives, thanks to Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Tim Kaine along with the California Democrats were staunch in their support for open immigration and sanctuary cities, havens for ISIS sleeper cells; Obama’s Pizzagate team set up a transport network for DACA children, ensuring a bright future for Islam in the New World; and Khizer Khan was gaining influence in the DNC. The counterattack was proceeding way faster than Saladin’s slow meandering drive against the Crusaders.

While Stephen Paddock’s intelligence bosses were eager to put marked guns in the hands of jihadist supporters in America, ISIS was many steps ahead of the intel bureaucrats James Comey, John Brennan and Loretta Lynch. If the killings at the Orlando Pulse were an initial taste of glory, the assault on Las Vegas would surely be a bumper harvest, a fiesta for the fatwa.

While Paddock and his Agency superiors set the trap as neatly as he would fill an accounting ledger, the ISIS gunmen quietly took their stations at the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, the Aria, New York New York, Tropicana and the Mandalay Bay, while an armed back-up team delicately nibbled on baklava with Turkish coffee, awaiting orders.

For Americans, a ghastly horrifying Halloween came early; but for ISIS the Autumn Moon glowed like honey dripping the sweet taste of revenge. In the Hijri calendar, the night of Oct. 1-2, 2017, marked the Islamic New Year, a blood sacrifice followed by a new dawn promising victory.

Where to Go from Here

What’s the prognosis? More of the same, because American society, including the self-serving political class, is much too narcissistic and divided to put up effective resistance to sustained attacks from fanatics who have no fear of dying and every reason to kill, in an era when citizens cannot even agree to stand up for the national anthem or celebrate Columbus Day, or even dare think of rallying around the commander in chief, all the while exulting in a frenzy of political correctness that prioritizes one’s private issues like sexual orientation over tough personal sacrifices for the common good.

The War on Terror and the Arab Spring, along with the absurd extremism of political correctness, as many of their critics like myself have repeatedly warned, have had devastating consequences for the United States and its democratic norms and cultural traditions. Until there is a minimal degree of unity as a nation, rising with a sea change among hearts and minds, the situation will deteriorate.

In contrast to the attack on Pearl Harbor, which united the country often to excessive zeal, the Las Vegas Massacre was a sharp blow that fragmented the USA into a million broken pieces that may possibly never be glued back together again. Regardless of the folly and disunity of all the sunshine soldiers and anti-social nationhood haters, those who struggle to revive America as a Good Nation, while accepting that greatness has probably been lost forever, will trudge through the approaching Valley Forge of our time toward the battles ahead.

 

 

Thanks for reading. May God help us all. And may God Bless the United States of America . . .

Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

 

 

This night, on Apropos of Nothing, on this chill October evening . . . another gem of Gothic poetry from the master himself. A tale of lost youth and lost love . . . and a connection that lasts beyond the grave. Welcome to the world of Edgar Allan Poe.

     Welcome to . . . ANNABELLE LEE.

 

Annabel Lee

BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

 

I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

I and my Annabel Lee—

With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven

Coveted her and me.

 

And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsmen came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.

 

 

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

Went envying her and me—

Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

 

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we—

Of many far wiser than we—

And neither the angels in Heaven above

Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

 

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,

In her sepulchre there by the sea—

In her tomb by the sounding sea.

 

 

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back in a couple days with Chapter Five of INNOCENCE . . . 

 

TALES OF ENCHANTED OCTOBER . . . The Raven

 

 

     GREETINGS, DEAR FRIENDS . . .

 

At last the summer heat has gone its lonely way, like the dying embers of an aging fire. September is dead and gone. And here, now, is enchanted October, with its chill air, long cold nights, flaming color, and the rustling of dead leaves.

And ghost stories.

All through this most enchanted month of the year, Apropos of Nothing will bring you thrills, chills, and tales of Autumns past, present, and future.

And long-ago memories—once comforting and new—now painful in the cold dark hours of the last lonely watch.

Sweet October. When apples ripen, pumpkins smile, and the skies grows somber, sullen, and dark. When the ghosts come out to play. When werewolves howl at the moon. When witches fly, and the dead walk.

When those oh, so dry-bones rattle in the inky blackness.

This day, enjoy a most classic tale of remorseless sorrow. Ancient lost love of youth, and much more recent—agony, pain, and regret.

Build a fire, brew some nice hot tea, wrap yourself in a cozy warm blanket. Ignore that persistent scratching on the windowpanes. And whatever you do—don’t answer that on so faint knocking at the door.

 

This night belongs to you—and the shades . . .

 

This night enjoy . . .

 

 

The Raven

BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

 

 

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more.”

 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Nameless here for evermore.

 

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—

This it is and nothing more.”

 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—

Darkness there and nothing more.

 

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—

Merely this and nothing more.

 

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

 

 

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

 

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as “Nevermore.”

 

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—

Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—

On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”

Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

 

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

 

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

 

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,

But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

 

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—

On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—

Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

 

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted—nevermore!

 

 

Thanks for reading! See you again soon, in the still of the night. Meanwhile . . . Happy Nightmares.

 

INNOCENCE by Lee Capp: Chapter Four

 

 

     We met up with Linh and Matt around six hours later at the city airport. Back in olden times, when Los Angeles was considerably smaller than today, it had been on the outskirts of town. Now, it was in the middle, surrounded on all sides by teeming life. It still proved to be a handy location for the many local well-heeled owners of small aircraft. I guess it should have come as no surprise to me to find out that old Hollywood Hank was one of these. That information, as well as the exact location of his out-of-state spread, had come to me via my personal human super computer, Emily Hatcher.

It was getting late in the day, and as I didn’t intend to make my move before morning, I phoned back to our hotel and ordered another room for the McCabes. The fact that the hotel was booked solid didn’t seem to matter very much as soon as I dropped the name of Holman. All of a sudden, they not only had a room, but a room with a view—and an amazingly nice one as it turned out. I tried giving them my credit card information, but they weren’t interested, already having orders from Holman to not let me spend a dime.

Rank has its privilege, I guess.

We watched Matt stick the landing of the small plane and taxi in to where we were waiting near a tiny greasy spoon diner call the Skyway Café. I was immensely relieved to note that he seemed to know exactly what he was doing.

We grabbed a waiting cab to get back to the hotel.

“So, where we heading?” Matt enquired.

“Holman’s back-yard.”

“Literally?”

“Yep. He’s a pilot too. Got a landing strip attached to his property.”

“Sweet.”

“Yep again. Gonna make our little surprise complete. No need to talk our way through the security gate at the end of his rather long and impressive driveway. My guess is his rent a cops aren’t going to pay too much attention to another small plane dropping in. They’ll figure we’re supposed to be there.”

“I can always call an emergency if I need to,” Matt said. “That gives me the legal right to hand anywhere that’s flat enough—including private strips.”

“What constitutes an emergency?” I asked.

“Sometimes not much,” Matt grinned. “Maybe just needing to take a dump real bad. The on-board restroom is kind of non-existent.”

“Where’s his place, Johnny?” Linh enquired.

“I’ve got the exact coordinates right here for Matt. Just west of Las Vegas, and almost up against Red Rock Canyon Park. Beautiful country. Looks to me from Google earth that he doesn’t have a neighbor within sight.”

“Big place, I’ll bet.”

“And then some, Linh. Somewhere between large mansion and medium castle.”

“We sure he’s gonna be home?” Matt asked.

“Not a hundred percent, but we’ll know before we land. No plane, no Holman. Apparently, it’s the only mode of transportation he uses to get out there.”

“What’s he got?”

“A twin-engine prop. I don’t know what kind.”

“Doesn’t matter. We’ll see it from the air if it’s there in the open. Hangar?”

“Not that I could see from Google, unless he’s added one recently. In the screen-shot I looked at, he musta been home because I could easily make out the plane parked no farther out than a hundred yards or so from the house.”

“I’ll file a flight plan tonight, Johnny. It’s probably only a little over two hundred miles, so it won’t take us long to get there. I’d like to leave early—say seven o’clock takeoff?”

“Sounds good to me, Matt. What are you flying anyway?”

“Single-engine Cessna. Model 172 to be exact. Sweet little ride. We’ll be a bit cramped.”

“Why so small?”

“Well, it’s a first plane for me. I got it used. It’s in great shape and the price was right. I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg, because I want to get a twin like Holman’s as soon as I’m certified to fly one.”

“More training?”

“Lots. But I’m going to do it. I wasn’t altogether sure I’d take to it, but it’s pretty much been easy for me. My trainers all called me a natural.”

“How ‘bout jets?”

“Maybe, Johnny—we’ll see.”

“What made you take this up anyway?”

“Well, after my head injury a few years ago, I really couldn’t fool around with watches anymore. Or for that matter, do anything that require very fine motor-skills. My fingertips just don’t want to work the way they used to sometimes. Concert pianist is out.”

“Wait a minute, Matt. You’re telling me you can’t repair a watch anymore, but you can fly people around in airplanes with no problem?”

He laughed. “Don’t worry, fraidy-pants. I’ll get you there and back, and muss-up not a wispy old white hair on your head.”

“Don’t make too much fun,” I said. “You’re getting more than a few of your own.”

“That’s for sure,” he admitted. “Time’s marching on for me now, same as for everybody else. I just turned twenty-six, Johnny—going on ninety in dog years.”

“How do you feel about that, Matt?”

“I feel just great. Just like all the rest of mankind. Doing my best and enjoying each moment as it comes. Being a husband and a father, there’s lots of good moments to savor.”

“Sounds like a winner,” I opined.

“It is,” he agreed.

“Al still with your mom, Linh?”

“He sure is, Johnny. She’s starting to worry me a little too. I may have to file charges against her pretty soon for kidnapping.”

I smiled. Nice to see close, happy families.

Our cab reached the hotel. We all enjoyed a fabulous meal in the rather ornate and fashionable dining room. As I expected, no check reached our table. I didn’t even need to sign. Every employee in the establishment seemed to know exactly what our deal was.

Kind of fun—but on the other hand, I missed Denny’s just a bit too.

We all retired to our rooms, with a plan to meet to meet downstairs early in the morning—hoping to avoid the hotel palace guard. I would leave a message for Gerald’s limo driver, telling him that his services would not be required. But the time he got to the hotel, I expected to be sitting in Holman’s living room. That was if everything went well. Sadly, my enterprises didn’t have a history of that.

I slept the night soundly alongside Maggie—the steak and crab legs settling very well indeed.

 

Morning came early. My first cogent thought of the day was that I probably didn’t want to take up the life of a pilot—not if it meant rolling out of bed and getting out of the house before the outdoor gods even turned the air on. Maggie was her usual chipper self. Early mornings or late nights seemed to have no effect whatsoever on her.

The four of us joined up and assembled at the front desk as I wrote out the message for the limo driver. Once outside, it was easy to flag down a cab, and once more we were on our way to the airport.

“How ‘bout we have a light breakfast at that little café,” Matt said. “I need a few minutes to make a couple of phone calls anyway before we take off.”

The three of us nodded our assent. I wasn’t that hungry, but was sure in the mood for some strong, hot coffee.

“You packing, Johnny?” Matt asked.

“Sure, Matt.”

“Got your PI license and carry permit on you?”

“Affirmative.”

“Maggie?”

“No,” she answered. “I’m as harmless as a new-born babe.”

“Doubt that,” Matt grinned. “We’ll be good then just in case anyone asks. Linh’s got her badge to go along with her piece. Chances are, the question won’t come up anyhow, but you never know with airport security.”

“How ‘bout you, Matt? You ever carry anymore?” I asked.

“Naw. Anybody I want to do away with these days, I simply invite them for a plane ride and push them out the side door. By the way, Johnny, you’re up front with me this trip.”

“Right by the side door,” I observed.

“Right,” he replied with a smile.

Arriving at the airport a few minutes later, I paid off the cabbie and we made our way into the Skyway café. Nice décor. Airplane motifs everywhere, up to and including little plastic models dangling from the ceiling by strings. The menu was surprising simple—mostly egg dishes and/or pancakes, and the well photographed entrees were sparking my appetite. I was immediately drawn to one item called simply—the Skyway’s signature dish—the garbage skillet.

Not one to pass up a chance for a new dining experience, I ordered it. The others followed suit. As it turned out, it wasn’t a bad dish, combining several different types of meats, eggs, potatoes, and veggies. Filled the hole nicely, and tasted good to boot.

By the time we reached the airplane, the sky was fully bright. As he had specified, I was in the “co-pilot” seat next to Matt, and the ladies were in the rear, looking for all the world like conjoined twins as they squeezed into the tight space. After completing his checklist and radioing the tower for takeoff clearance, he started the engine and we taxied down the runway. I double-checked the passenger door to make sure it was solidly shut, and cinched my seatbelt as tight as it would go. Matt applied full-power and we lifted off the ground with little effort.

The engine was plenty noisy, but we were all easily able to talk to each other through our headsets and microphones. I remarked to Matt how quickly we had lifted off—quite a bit different from the commercial jets that I was much more experienced with. Many of them seemed to use the entire runway. He explained that the tiny aircraft itself only weighted about sixteen hundred pounds, without fuel or passengers. He was able to pull it out of the hanger or push it in by himself, along with the use of a simple handheld metal hook/come along.

 

 

It was a cool looking little plane. White, with blue and grey “racing” strips, and a blue hood, or bonnet, as the brits call it. We climbed quickly to thirty-five hundred feet, and then more slowly to forty-five where we would cruise to our destination. I was amazed at how easily Matt multi-tasked, speaking easily with several ATC, or air traffic control jurisdictions, seemingly all at one time, while maintaining control of the aircraft and flipping switches and twirling dials. He was, as always, impressive—and I was—impressed, that is.

About twenty minutes into our flight, Matt suddenly let go of the controls and calmly looked over at me. “Take over, pal—it’s all yours.”

“Say what?” was my witty reply.

“The plane, Johnny. Fly the plane. It’s all yours.”

“Are you out of your flippin’ mind?” I almost screamed at him. “You’re the pilot, not me! You fly the thing.”

“Don’t worry,” he replied. “I won’t let you do anything stupid.”

“I’m not about to do anything stupid,” I yelled again. “Beginning with not touching any of these controls.”

He chuckled. “You sure, Johnny? It’s lots of fun.”

“Fun my butt.”

“Okay,” he said. Reaching across the control panel, he flipped off the control clearly labeled “auto-pilot.”

“That was on all the time, wasn’t it?”

“Sure, it was, Johnny. I said I wouldn’t let you do anything dangerous.”

“Very funny,” I said, with just a small trace of irritation in my voice.

“Thanks. I really love pulling that one. It’s a laugh almost every time.”

Matt and I flew on in silence for several more minutes, listening to the ladies quietly chatting about the scenery passing by underneath us. Finally, he broke the silence. “Johnny—I know you probably better than any other man on Earth, and I know you don’t have a fearful bone in your body. And, I know that if something were to happen to me right now, you’d take over the controls and do your best to land this thing. And with your Irish luck, you’d probably pull it off too. So, what’s really going on?”

I thought it over for a long half-minute, and then answered honestly. “I planned to learn to fly when I young. I wanted to go to Alaska and be a bush pilot. They were a big deal at the time.”

“What happened to the dream, Johnny?”

“Life happened—that’s what. Life did what life does and got in the way. Dad took off, I went to work, trying to fill his shoes. Then off to college, trying to be a better man than he was. Life got in the way. That’s what happened, Matt. Life just got in the way.”

Matt flew on in silence.

“When I was just a little kid, Matt, I guess I was just about like any other kid in America. I wanted to drive a car too—just like dad. So, just like a lot of other fathers, he went out and bought a little steering wheel that attached to the dashboard on the passenger side of the car, allowing the kid to have the illusion of driving the car. But I never had the slightest interest in taking hold of it and using it. Not even once, much to dad’s irritation.”

“Why’s that?” Matt asked.

“Because I knew I wasn’t really driving the car, Matt. That’s why. And today—just now, well, let’s just say”—I choked slightly on my words—“I knew I wouldn’t really be flying the plane either.”

Matt looked at me wordlessly for a few seconds, and then softly replied with a slight nod. “Understood, Johnny—understood.”

The rest of the flight to Nevada was uneventful. Soon, Matt nudged me and pointed out our destination a few miles ahead. It was big. Even at that distance, I could easily make out the massive house and long landing strip behind it. No gravel here. Every inch of it was well paved and maintained. As we neared, I could see the plane parked just off the end of it.

“Looks like we’re in luck, Johnny. Want to sneak in, or give him a little aerial knock on the door?”

I grinned. “Oh, what the hell, Matt, we didn’t come all this way to not have a little fun—go ahead and ring the doorbell too. This isn’t gonna cost you your license, is it?”

“Nope,” he replied. “What the FAA don’t know ain’t gonna hurt us.”

With a smile he pressed forward on the stick, putting the little plane into a sharp descent. This grand entrance was looking to be a lot more fun than I would have anticipated.

I had told him to ring the doorbell all right, but I didn’t mean to do it with our fingertips—although that’s what it looked like he was trying for. Matt brought the plane in low and fast—threatening to knock the chimney off the roof. Throttling up, and pulling up at the last couple of seconds, the plane screamed like a banshee as it passed over the roof.

So much for not alerting the security guys.

“They teach you that in flight-school?” I asked.

“Nope,” he replied. “I learned that one all by myself.”

“Do it much?”

“Not really—this was the first time.”

Matt banked the aircraft around and expertly brought it in for a smooth landing. Looked like he’d done it a million times. A short taxi to the end of the runway brought us up next to Holman’s twin-prop. Matt parked the Cessna about thirty feet to the side of it, and turned off the engine.

Already I could hear the shouts of several men as they approached us. Opening the door and hopping out, I prepared to meet them. Still about fifty or so yards off, I had a little time to size up our welcoming committee.

The tall and razor thin man in the front would be Hollywood Hank—no doubt about that. Flanking him on either side were two uniformed security guards. And trotting along behind by several paces was some sort of creature that I didn’t have an idea in the world about. Shorter by a foot than Homan, and slightly bent over, he tried to keep up with what looked like short mincing steps. I wondered if he was clamping a pool-ball in his butt cheeks. I was reminded of the way David Suchet moved in his Hercule Poirot role..

Interesting looking guy, to say the very least.

Maggie, Linh, and Matt joined me alongside the plane as the little group finally reached us. Matt was dressed in a tee shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes. I was wearing a suit and tie, and sporting a hat—making us quite a contrast, I supposed. The ladies were dressed to the nines, same as always. There was no way to make either of them look bad. Holman was red in the face—from both the surprise and the long walk, I supposed. He stopped directly in front of me. They always do. They just always do.

“Who the hell are you?” he bellowed.

I tipped my homburg back on my head several inches and stuck my hands in my pockets as nonchalantly as possible, trying my best to look cocky.

“O’Brien,” I said. “Johnny O’Brien—at your service.”

Holman’s jaw dropped open about a foot.

It was shaping up to be an interesting day.

 

 

Thanks for reading.  See you again in a couple of days.

 

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