Bill Jamison swung with stubborn intensity at his opponent’s haw, hammering away. There was no escape from his fury. Jab, jab, uppercut and, knockout!
Jamison then sat back and gulped down another swig of Scotch Whiskey. “Wanna try another?”
“No, Bill, I don’t want to try another. I came here to talk to you about something important, not play this game of Rock ’em So ck ’em robots you found in your attic”.
Jamison laughed and poured himself another swig of Scotch. “This is important, Paul. I saw a movie a few days ago, and it reminded me of these little robots I whipped everybody with”.
“It doesn’t hurt to glue your own robot’s head on, either does it?”
“You aren’t accusing me of cheating, are you, Paully?”.
“What if I am? You going to whip my ass for real?”
“Your problem, Paully, is that you take life too seriously. You worry too much. You think you can actually make life better by worrying”.
“No, I think I can make life better by trying to do the right thing”.
“And what’s the right thing, Paully? We got millions of people out there, and every one of them doing what they believe is the right thing. The world’ more fucked up now than ever. Millions of ’em, Paully”.
Paul sat silently. That was Jamison’s answer to everything. Don’t try. He loved pissing people off. He wanted them to hate him above all. Paul long ago concluded that it came from his own personal self loathing. Ever since Ellen died….
Jamison stood up, belched, and broke wind, deliberately. That was how he treated the people he liked. His behavior was much less tolerant toward people he didn’t like, which was most everybody.
“An old friend wanted me to talk to you. She has a favor she needs to ask of you”.
“She? Sounds good already. What does she look like? Nice ass? Long legs?”
“I didn’t notice”.
“Yeah, and I’m the pope. If she had ’em, you’d notice ’em. Sounds to me like she’s more than an old friend”.
“And how can I pleasure this old more than friend of yours?”
Paul swallowed his anger and chivalry. “She, um, her husband died…”
“Even better, no jealous husband”.
Paul ignored the barbs and waded into the story. “Her husband died on an old road while he was investigating something”.
“Something? Well, let’s see. Since I made money off two books about UFOs, I assume this ‘something’ was probably a UFO her husband claimed to have seen”.
“And she wants me to restore the honor of her husband in his search for truth”.
Jamison chuckled, gulped down a shot of Scotch from the bottle, and then roared with laughter.
“Imagine that! She wants me to defend her honor! What’s the name of this hero husband of hers?”
“People call him Cal. Cal Johnson”.
For once in his life, Paul detected a look of something like remorse in Jamison’s face, a look of pain he had seen last when Jamison’s wife died. “What’s the matter? You know him?”
Jamison sighed and turned his back on Paul. “Yeah, I knew him. Long time ago. OCS. He wasn’t a bad guy. A bit idealistic, like I was, back then. He obviously never outgrew it”.
“Before he died, he told his wife he wanted you to investigate this thing. ”
“I’m not an investigator. I’m a bullshit con artist. You know that”.
“That’s what I tried to tell Helen”.
“Oh, Helen. Now I remember. Back when we were looking to be officers, he told me about her. Met her in college or something like that.”
“Yes, I knew both of them in college”.
“And I’m betting you had a crush on this Helen woman, which tells me she’s a looker”.
“She is, not as much now as she was once, but she is”.
Jamison sipped the Scotch slowly, remembering. “Funny how things come back. I remember now. We both talked about Helen and Ellen. My Ellen, his Helen”.
Paul was astonished. It was the first time Jamison had even mentioned his wife’s name in ages. For the first time in a long time, there was a smile on his face, a smile of memory and some pain, but no less a smile.
“Cal Johnson bailed my ass out back in ‘Nam. Saved my life, actually. I got stupid and told him that I’d do anything he asked. He laughed and told me he might collect someday. Damn! Cal Johnson! What a time to collect! ”
Jamison began to chuckle and then began laughing uncontrollably.
“What’s the matter?”
“I been hangin’ around all this time, just waitin’ to die, giving a damn about nothin’, and here comes old Cal, and offers me an opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory.”
“You’ll see her?”
“I’ll see her. But I have to tell you, Cal and I knew some things most people don’t know. You see, we met in the military, bit we ended up in the same group for a reason. Back then, there was a great interest in certain people.”
“What do you mean?”
“Cal and I belonged to a rare group. Over time, it was explained to us, but we were told never to say anything to anyone outside our group.”
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you. What’s the story about this Helen? I’ll be willing to bet the farm that she’s either pregnant, or she had a special kind of child”.
“Yes, how did you know?”
“It had to do with our military training. Cal called on me because he knew I would understand.”
“If I told you–”
“I know, you’d have to kill me”.
Jamison turned and ran up the steps toward his bedroom. He was actually whistling.
“Where you going?” asked Paul.
“Packing. This will be interesting