Part II Jealous
An hour later the cell rang again. I cautiously picked it up expecting Connor but wouldn't be surprised if it was Mom - that’s the kind of day its been.
"Hi Pip, How did you know it was me?"
"Sorry, How about some fish and chips, I'm starved."
"If that’s the best you can do, I'll meet you in the lobby."
"Great, but which lobby?'
"Connor, I'm not in the mood for games!"
"Pip, I really don't know where you are staying."
Another hour and we were finally downing a beer and waiting for our meals. Connor had explained that after the rock festival I had called him from my cell and when he answered a voice quickly said "Sorry, wrong number" and hung up.
I vaguely remember that, as I was dead tired, had a few too many beers, wanted to call Mom, Connor probably in the back of my head, and I accidentally called his number instead. Thinking he wouldn't know it was me, I quickly hung up. He went on to say that he waited a few days - not knowing specifically where I was - and dialed my cell. He got my number from his caller ID when I had called him accidentally. He therefore didn't know which lobby to meet me in and most importantly did not "misuse" his position and still wasn't stalking me.
He continued..."If this answers your questions satisfactorily, its now your turn."
"Okay, what are your questions?"
"Phone-o-vision? Really, Pip..."
"Connor, do you have any questions or not?"
"Yes, one big one. When we last met in Berlin your reaction to some of the things I said about your Dad clearly convinced me that you really didn't know that he might be alive. You are some actress Pip, because thanks to another phone mix up, I clearly heard you say ‘...I won’t tell Dad.’ This tells me that both you and your Mother know your Dad is alive."
I knew that was coming but I couldn't even think of a good fabrication, so I told the truth, "Look I was late for a scheduled call with my Mom - so I called her and caught her in the middle of brunch with a friend.
It was obviously a sticky situation for both of us - my missing our schedule and her with an unidentified friend. My Mom closed our phone conversation jokingly whispering '...Don't tell your father, he might be jealous.' This was her way of reassuring me everything was okay between us. I expected her to call me back when she was free - so when the phone rang I foolishly assumed it was Mom calling back and I was anxious to return the reassurance to her that everything was good between us. 'Not telling Dad' was a meaningless phrase to anyone but us. We occasionally referred to him in the present just to let each other know we will never forget him - just a little unwritten code between us,.... but hell, a logical bastard like you wouldn't understand, so think what you will."
"I'm sorry, Pip. I do understand and I do believe you. Actually that is exactly my point. When two people are as close as you and your father, there must be some - using your own words - 'unwritten code' or something that would enable him to let you know he was alive and it would be something that only you would recognize when it happened or when you saw it. That’s why I asked you in Berlin if there was anything, anything at all that would cause you to doubt his death. So all I'm asking is for you to think and be vigil as some might try to manipulate
you for their own gain."
As we left the pub, Connor said "Can we meet up again before you go? How about Wednesday?"
"Lets see, Wednesday, the Fourth of July, Independence Day - how appropriate, but then I forgot you Blokes don't celebrate the Fourth over here."
"We do. Its just that we call it 'Thanksgiving' - Nite, Pip"
It should be no surprise that it is early July in
Seeing right through me she smiled and said, "It’s always five o'clock somewhere and besides I'm not checking up on you. Don't worry if we miss each other one day we'll catch up on the next. I want you to have fun. It’s just that I'll miss you."
How do you respond to that? But the ironic part is, I not only don't mind, I look forward to that call and if I don't get it, I'm the one that gets upset.
I thought I had missed her call as it was almost six but my cell didn't show a "missed call". Concerned I called her. She answered the phone and calmly informed me she was having brunch with a friend and was unable to call on schedule and that we expected there would be some days when there was no contact. Trying to tactfully back-out of the situation, I said I was concerned that she might have heard about the bombings in
A brief second of silence was followed by "Pip, being married to your father for all these years and with him doing the kind of work he did I had to quickly get over being worried at every unfortunate event in the world."
My feeling of shared relief and disappointment quickly changed to defensiveness as she added "...besides you weren't even in the
A long shower was necessary even though I’m in a country where they take baths. As I stood motionless letting every drop of water do its job of reviving me and wondering why Dad might be jealous (was it who she might be having brunch with or that she was worried over me and not him), my cell rang. Without even reaching for a towel I stretched and picked up the phone...
"You didn't have to call me back, Mom. I understand and I won’t tell Dad." I quipped.
"Pip? Are you all right?" a male voice said. Stunned, I waited for more.
"Pip is that you? Connor here."
"Connor you sick bastard." I lashed out. "How did you know I was here? How did you get my phone number? Misusing your position to stalk me has got to stop!"
"Calm down and slow up Pip. I am not stalking you and I did not abuse my position. This was intended as a social call."
"Some social call! I just got out of the shower and I'm soaking wet."
"How do you know that? Did they issue you phone-o-vision too?"
"I know because -"
"Never mind! Ring me up in an hour. We clearly need to talk and you have some questions to answer."
"Agreed, an hour it will be. I have a few questions for you also."
"Like what? I thought you said this was a social call."
"It was but when you thought I was your Mom you said 'I understand and I won’t tell Dad'. What should I make of that?"
Heavy sigh, heavy sigh "See you in an hour Connor"
The bottle is empty. I’m still sober. The dawn intrudes, a welcome intrusion. I’m trying to piece it together. I imagined my father at the performance last night. There’s something in me that’s convinced sometime somewhere in his life he has been in Congress Hall. I rocked that fucker last night with every beat, with every pounding I was searching faces convinced the ghost of my father was staring back at me.
Thirty minutes before I went on a note had made its way backstage; some local security guy stopped me in the hall backstage saying, “Are you the one called Pip?”
“That would be correct,” I said.
He passed me a small envelope. I didn’t take it at first.
I asked him, “Who gave this to you?”
“An older looking woman,” he said, “she didn’t have a ticket, she passed it to my colleague outside.”
I’m staring at it now. It’s a picture of my father and my mother from 1989 taken after Vaclav Havel became president. Neither of them has ever mentioned to me that they were here together. What consumes me more than anything about the photograph is how full of life the two of them were. He’s cocky and she’s beaming. Obviously they’re playing to camera having a drink in times full of promise. All the note said was: he is missed by many, we share in your grief in ways you’ll never know; give my love to your mother-
Unrelenting light. A sweet torture for some. Living in extremes of any kind will eventually push a person to their limits. The Fins live in extremes. I waded through a sea of black to reach the sound of pounding. An agonized voice laced with beauty I thought that this young rod of testosterone would volunteer to be a sacrificial lamb. I would lay bets that if you offered him an alternative to his masochism he would simply attack you before he would consider giving up his pain. He was in a state of damaged bliss. A sea of black emanated a smell of young girls covered in yellow showers. An adolescent orgasm easily came as they watched this self-anointed martyr wallow in his own emotional defecation. Any hard-ons, naturally. The metalheads could not confess to that particular transaction but I’m sure there were too many to count. I continued walking through obsidian rivulets. He was raw this one- tats everywhere, another worldly spirit with an ability to plug in to dark and to light in equal balance. He could channel his anger. I’m the first to admit channeling my anger into something productive and not destructive is no easy task. He passed me; I stood in the doorway. He looked back and simply said, “I love you, I’ve always loved you.” I asked an attractive blonde with freckles how she survived the winters. She said there were more suicides in
My train pulled into the
I flagged a taxi to take me to a memory – an area where “the wall” used to separate two vastly different ways of life. My BMW taxi made me feel important until I noticed looking out the window at the heavy traffic (but not as heavy as in
While standing on the curb contemplating ancient history I felt a set of eyes on me...“Guten tag Pip!” came the voice that has entered my head entirely too many times during the last 48 hours.
“Oh a h h …. Hi,”
“Yes Connor, behind door number two. What a coincidence.”
“It isn't a coincidence. I told you I would see you in Deutschland”
“Deutschland is rather large and I told no one exactly where I was going so how did you find me so quickly?”
“That’s what I'm paid to do.”
“You are paid to find me?”
“No, I'm doing this on my own time. I'm on holiday, but I can use skills I acquired on the job.”
“So why are you stalking me?”
“I'm not stalking you.”
“What would you call it?”
“Well I might be conducting a little surveillance – but look lets not debate this here. There is a little gasthaus about a block from here. If you would join me for a Becks and bratwurst, I'll try to explain.”
“.....okay, but I'll warn you in advance – the only thing your whetting is my appetite”
Once in place at a remote corner table, Connor began --
“Look Pip we've gotten off to a shaky start. We're on the same side. I thought we could exchange information for our mutual benefit.”
“What kind of information?”
“Well possibly about your father.”
“You go first.”
“For starters, I do work where I said but this is not an official assignment. I am on holiday and my contacting you is strictly my idea and has not been shared with anyone.”
“What is it you want from me?”
“This is a bit awkward but I did learn from your father the importance of facing situations early and head on. so...”
“That's interesting. You just gave me the first reason to possibly believe anything you've said. I heard those same exact words from my Dad when I was very young. You may continue.”
“Pip I don't want to create any false hopes and I have no concrete evidence but there has been a lot of unofficial rumors within the international intel community about your father's reported death.”
“What kind of rumors?”
“Your father and his reputation were greatly admired by people in the business – on both sides , friends and foes. Few of us were satisfied with the reported circumstances surrounding his so called fatal accident. There also have been a few possible sightings. But this too doesn't make a lot of sense. If he didn't want to be seen, he wouldn't be. All of these things create a degree of speculation concerning what really happened, why, whether he is really gone, and if not where is he and why?”
Once again the mixed emotions of having my greatest hopes and worse fears play tag in my mind were in high gear.
He began with “Excuse me, but are you Pip so and so,”
I looked at him, not shocked but thrown off and suspicious because I have intentionally not exposed my last name, for my own reasons.
I answered him ‘Who wants to know and why?'.
“I'm sorry, I'm Connor and I believe I knew your father.”
‘You do, do you? Well, Connor, do you believe you knew my father or do you believe you know him?'
“Well, I’m quite certain that he was or is - your call Pip -a colleague of a gentleman with whom I have worked for a few years now.”
In a split second he turned to Santa whose eyes were glued on the scene and said, “May I have the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady.”
Without waiting for an introduction she rose, extended her hand leaving us with a beaming smile and an, “I’m Santa and I’m off to mingle. J’adore.”
Alone, he took a drink of his lager and began with “Your father would come over to our offices when he would be visiting the U.K.”
‘Scotland Yard, MI 5 or GCHQ?’
“Me? Try door number two.”
‘Ah, so that’s how you tracked me down so easily.’
“Your father mentioned you on an occasion when he was dining with the gentleman with whom I work.”
He laughed, “He actually told us an engaging story about you and him and the kinds of things you two would get up to just to baffle Kelly.”
“Your mother, Kelly, Pip.”
‘Yes I understand the relationship.’
“I don’t expect you to trust me. Not this early.”
‘Then I won’t have disappointed your expectations. Contrary to popular opinion, trust doesn't come from time. It comes from demonstrated mutual actions. So why have you tracked me down then Connor?’
“Nothing formal really, I thought I would give you my 24/7 private numbers in case you wanted to contact me.”
‘That’s a bit forward for a Brit isn’t it?’
“I’m not proposing that you run away with me and have a mad affair. Not yet.”
“In all seriousness Pip, store this in your classified section under Cheeky Bastard preferably.”
‘I have my own coding system Connor, but thank you for the coaching.’
“Expect to hear from me once you’re in Deutschland.”
‘Is that all you’re going to say?’
“Um, I hope to catch a show… And you will hear from me in a few days. Oh, one last thing- if there’s anything that your father may have left with you verbal or otherwise, anything, anything at all that you think would be important, or that you might be curious about, contact me will you.”
Clyde walked up, smiled shyly and politely asked, “Are you a friend of Pip’s?”
“Indirectly, yes, I'm her 'Secret Pal'” he said, as he introduced himself to Clyde and quickly finished his lager.
We didn’t say goodbye, he gave me a final stare and left with a final, “See you soon, Luv.”
Flying into London Heathrow several days ago I am reminded of an odd conversation that took place back home within the last few weeks, with Buzz – an old colleague of my Dad’s. Dad was always making trips to
(my dialogue is presented in black, Buzz’s conversation is in army green)
I was watching the brain draining device known as a television since my laptop was having separation anxiety with its server when Buzz came bolting through the screen door.
‘Where’s your mother Pip?’
‘Well hello Buzz, let me give you the script. Buzz comes in without knocking, gruffly acknowledging the daughter of the woman he came to see with a curt but serviceable, “Morning, Pip”.’
‘Sorry ‘bout that, good morning – where’s your mother?’
‘She’s not back yet. What’s the crisis?’
‘Nothing critical; I just wanted to check on something your Dad might have told her. What’s on the tube?’
‘They are doing a follow up on the soldiers that
‘You know, the soldiers that were on that boat in Iranian territory. They have confessed and
‘Pip, Pip, Pip, are you sure you weren’t adopted? Neither your mother, nor your father were ever such a casual reporter. They would have their facts straight.’
‘Facts? Straight? Lay them on me, I insist.’
I decided to play dumb and give Buzz a taste of his own medicine – letting the other person talk and then in machine gun fashion shooting them down.
‘Okay, if you insist – First, they weren’t soldiers they were sailors and Marines. Second, they weren’t in Iranian territory, they were in Iraqi waters. Third, they were captured, put in confinement, and only confessed under duress. Fourth, you should have noticed the heroes welcome the Brits gave them. Fifth….’
‘Whoa buddy! I’d prefer not to know the details. I can handle my version but with yours I’ve got real problems.’
‘Well, as you would say, first why didn’t they fight?’
‘They said some of them might be dead if they did.’
‘Let me get this straight – troops don’t fight because some of them might die? And where was the warship and helicopter that was supposed to be protecting them? Second, territory waters are always in dispute. Some countries claim three miles before international water. Others claim 100 miles or whatever suits them therefore what we or they thought was Iraqi waters could have been Iranian waters if we were Iranian. Third, their so called heroes welcome probably was the impetus for their government to allow them to sell their stories to the media even though that decision was contrary to their past policy. I can only imagine the impact that will have on British military in future similar situations. I’ll bet that decision comes back to haunt them and probably the rest of us. Fourth, and most important, they seemed to have ‘confessed’ awfully quickly considering they were threatened with possibly going on trial but I don’t recall any of them saying they were tortured or hurt (at least not yet). Is that what soldiers, excuse me, sailors and Marines are taught? Is that what you or Dad would have done?’
‘True, they are not your Dad, but…’
‘But brutally put – I wonder if Dad had been captured and he confessed, would he still be alive?’
‘Pip, don’t go there. Your Dad died in an auto accident – you know that!’
‘I know…that’s what we were told.’
‘Gotta get back. Tell your Mom I stopped by.’
I didn’t look up as he let himself out.
(conversation between me and my mom)
Mom returned shortly and I told her Buzz had stopped by –
‘That’s nice. What did he want and where is he now?’
‘He wanted to check with you on something but he left in a little bit of a huff and a big hurry.’
‘That doesn’t sound like him. What happened?’
I reloaded the Gattling gun and fired away, relaying the chat with Buzz as accurate as I could.
‘Well done. These are strange days aren’t they? You know the public is fickle when it comes to how they feel about the military.’
‘Yeah, I think Kipling summed it up best with his Tommy (Atkins).’
‘Yes that’s right!”
We broke into a chorus of –
“It’s Tommy this
and Tommy that
and Tommy go away!
But it’s ‘Thank you Mr. Atkins’
When the band begins to play.”