by Rick Beck

Chapter 13

Uncles To Aunts

At Sibley Hospital George wakes up after a difficult night but he wakes up alert and hungry. He finds Mr. Warner at the foot of his bed once more. He's been home and returned by the time George opens his eyes on Saturday morning.

"You can talk while I eat if you like," George said.

Even the hospital food tasted good to George. He felt better but not good. The medications weren't as apparent and Mr. Warner was a surprisingly intelligent man. He seemed determine to see George through the crisis but George couldn't be sure why.

"You had another story I believe? I'd like to hear it."

"Yes, I do. I've never told anyone this story. We don't talk about it at my parents' house, and what we say at my house is limited by the knowledge I don't have. I'm speaking with limitation still present. To make a long story short, I have an uncle who became my aunt."

George stopped eating. He looked up to see if Mr. Warner was serious. His face said that he was absolutely serious.

"Your uncle?" George asked.

"To answer your question, I doubt anyone has confused him for a lesbian, but you never know. As I said, we don't talk about it. He's my father's brother. They were the only kids born to my grandparents on my father's side. Both my father and my uncle are more intelligent than most people. No, I did not inherit their brain power. That's why I am a newsman. I'm smart enough to get by, but nothing exceptional," Mr. Warner said.

" Whatever was responsible for their intellect, both are well known for what they add to any discussion. Uncle Robert was a GS-18 on the scientific side of the federal government," Mr. Warner said.

"Uncle Robert took me to baseball games. He loved the New York Yankees. If the Yankees were in town, he'd come for me to go to at least one if not two games over a weekend," Mr. Warner said.

"When I was eleven or twelve, Uncle Robert was going to New York City to meet with men who were in his category as far as brain power was concerned. He met two afternoons with these fellows, and on the first day we were in New York City, before his meeting, he gave me twenty dollars and said, "Have a good time. Be back at the hotel by six. The Yanks are playing tonight. We are going to Yankee Stadium."

"He let you go off on your own?" George asked.

"He did. Didn't give it a second thought. If I was intimidated by the city, his confidence in me gave me confidence in myself. I started off trying to figure out the subway system. I went from one subway train to another. I ended up at the end of the line in Coney Island. It's on the Atlantic Ocean. It was late in the summer. It wasn't crowded. I went on the Cyclone, a roller coaster, five or six times," he said.

"I got off the subway in Brooklyn. People always cheer when someone says he'd from Brooklyn. I don't know why. It's a place where people live. It had its own bridge. Otherwise, it was just a neighborhood."

"Anyone try to sell you the bridge?" George asked with a laugh.

"I must have been there before they came up with that con. I ate four hot dogs from a cart a guy was pushing around Times Square. By that time It was getting late, and I went back to the hotel. My uncle came in and we took the subway to the Bronx and we ended up at Yankee Stadium. We stood out front for a few minutes. I'd seen the Yankees play lots of times, but being there, it was inspiring. This was the house that Ruth built," Mr. Warner said with awe in his voice.

"It was before the war, WWII. The Babe had come and gone. Gehrig was in the midst of his Iron man run of consecutive games, and Joe DiMagoio joined the Yankees the year before. After he did, the Yanks won four consecutive World Series. It was great to be a Yankee's fan," he said. "It was the first time I saw the Yankees play at home. It wouldn't be the last."

"We went in and ate hot dogs. It was like going to the circus and the Yanks were in the center ring," Mr. Warner said.

"You weren't sick of hot dogs by then?" George asked.

"No. It was a ball game. You must eat two or three to be able to call yourself a baseball fan. Besides, ball park franks are the best," Mr. Warner said. "And I was eleven years old.

"I'm not a big sports fan. It's the flaw in my makeup. I never cared much for sports," George said.

"You have questions, ask Arnie Siegal. Man has an encyclopedic knowledge about sports. Doesn't matter which sport. Arnie dominates the sport pages with his analysis," Mr. Warner said.

"That's all there is about baseball. I was close to my uncle Robert. He treated me like a kid likes being treated. He gave me some freedom I wouldn't have had otherwise. He wasn't married. Didn't have kids of his own," Mr. Warner said. "He liked spoiling me."

"Fast forward to after I finished college and got married. My wife was pregnant with our second child. I was about thirty, and I was determined to become a newspaper man. My uncle dropped out of sight. We didn't have any idea where Uncle Robert had gone. My father looked everywhere. The only clue my uncle left behind, he left his GS-18 job with the Navy Department. He took a one year leave of absence, knowing his job wouldn't be there when he returned. He ran a program that was developing a new generation of secret weapons, and the government was worried he'd defected. The FBI came to my house and asked questions. When they said he could have defected, I laughed. He's a Yankees fan, He'll never stop going to Yankee games. He didn't defect. It made perfect sense to me if not to them."

George sensed the mystery around the missing uncle.

"By this time our first child was born and the second one was on the way. I went grocery shopping on Saturday, and before I went to the grocery store, I stopped at my parents' for breakfast," he said.

"Uncle Robert had been missing for over a year by this time. My father was close to his brother. Few people were in the same league with either of them. They were genuinely fond of each other. If he didn't call my father, I don't know who he would have called. Even the FBI stopped watching our houses. After a year, you figure someone is gone for good. Who goes away for a year," Mr. Warner said.

"I could see the pain in my father's eyes. His brother had never dropped out of sight before. My father always knew where his brother was until now. At work, he said he'd be gone a year. A year had passed the month before, and if we thought he might return then, we'd given up on that idea."

"I was still going to my parents' house on Saturday mornings. My wife and I thought it gave them a feeling of continuity. They always knew where I was. It helped for them to see me on Saturday. I was sure I'd never see Uncle Robert again, but I didn't tell my father that. There were any number of stories I knew about. Someone drops out of sight and isn't seen again. It's how I saw it at the time," he said.

"After breakfast one Saturday morning, someone knocked at the door. I'd been answering that door all my life, and I jumped up and yanked the door open, and came face to face with Aunt Roberta."

"Your mother's sister? You said your father only had the one brother," George questioned.

"My mother was an only child. The woman stood there looking at my face. I looked at her face. Her expression told me she knew me but I didn't know her. She obviously resembled my Uncle Robert, but I didn't see it. It was a woman. My uncle was a man. At least he'd been a man. Neither of us said anything and my father came to find out who was at the door. My father said, "Robert." How did he know? That threw me off balance. Like I said, my uncle Robert was male. I was confused and my father was hugging her saying, "Robert. Robert." There was something wrong with that picture."

"What happened," George said, losing interest in his food.

"He was in a pink skirt and jacket with a white ruffled blouse. Her hair was the right color but shoulder length hair replaced Uncle Robert's crew cut. There was no doubt we were looking at a woman."

"No one knew what to say. What do you say to your Uncle Robert, when he comes back as Aunt Roberta. How's tricks didn't seem appropriate. I tried to hide the embarrassment I felt. I couldn't imagine anything worse. Why did he come back at all?" Mr. Warner said. "I wasn't particularly enlightened at the time. I was stunned by the change in Uncle Robert."

"Uncle Robert had a sex change," George said. "I don't know that I could go there. Something about lopping off body parts that isn't very appealing to me."

"My uncle was now my aunt. I had no clue that my uncle was anything but my uncle. All those years he kept that secret. Reading about the operation, he saw a way out of a life he had been forced to endure. Right away he began planning his leave of absence," Mr. Warner said. "What courage he had to risk everything to make his dream come true."

He went to Sweden to have the operation. He took hormones for months and months. He learn how to walk, modulate his voice, and watch the way woman moved before they operated on him. It gave him months to consider whether or not to go through with it.

Then there were months of therapy, and more lessons on his new body before we got to see the finished product. My uncle had become my aunt, and if my father didn't like it, he never said a word."

"How did you break the ice," George asked, trying to have some understanding of what Mr. Warner had told him.

"My father hugged Uncle Robert. He called him by name a couple of times before Aunt Roberta corrected him. My father stepped back, took a long look at his brother for the last time. He hugged my Aunt Roberta, saying her name over and over. They both cried. My mother cried. I cried for Uncle Robert. I'd known him all my life. How could he do such a thing to himself?" Mr. Warner said. "As I said, I wasn't too enlightened at the time."

"Difficult adjustment," George said.

"Nearly impossible for me. My father never missed a beat. He took Roberta to the table he asked my mom to fix her breakfast. That gave my mother something to do, while i stared. There they were. Siblings trying to adapt to a new wrinkle. My father took it as well as anyone could," he said.

"I'd quizzed my father on it every time we saw each other. If my father had any reservations, he showed none to me. One day he heard me ask the same question for the hundredth time, and he glared at me, "What you need to understand is, this is how it is. If this is what makes my brother happy, than I'm happy for her. I loved my brother and I love my sister. This is how it is. We don't need to understand. We don't get to second think what is done. As long as your Aunt Roberta knows who she is, Nothing else matters. Don't you get it? My father never got angry with me but he was angry with me."

"You said he was smart. Smart enough to know he didn't understand, but he didn't need to understand," George said. "What happened?"

"I only saw Aunt Roberta at my parents' house. Maybe three or four times over the next few months. It had been winter when she came home, and it had become spring. It was the middle of baseball season. My Aunt Roberta called me one evening. "The Yanks are in town this weekend. What time do you want me to pick you up tomorrow?" It was that simple. Both my Aunt Roberta and Uncle Robert loved the New York Yankees. After that, we were OK. My second child had been born and Aunt Roberta came to the house to see both of them for the first time. I hadn't invited her over until she came to pick me up to go see the Yankees play."

"It was so simple," George said. "She was obviously smart enough to know not to push it. In time she knew you'd be her nephew. There is wisdom in that as well. You can't move too fast."

"Believe me, I didn't. I was young and I had no understanding of how complex the world was, George. I was brought up in a world that went by the numbers. You did this. You did that, and you gave no thought to people who couldn't do it that way. You either did it that way or you got yourself in trouble, or so I thought, until I met Aunt Roberta. I was forced to examine how things were. I needed to admit that everyone wasn't just a like. Each person is different in his own way. It is that different that makes this country great. It doesn't matter how arrogant and tiny some people's minds are," Mr. Warner said. "And that's the reason I'm here, George."

"The day Mrs. Miles came to the City News. You called me into your office to reassure me that I was OK. I hadn't seen that side of you before. I knew I had you all wrong. I knew I didn't know you at all. I knew what you let me know. I'm learning, Mr. Warner."

"You're young. The world does work in mysterious ways. You can't always judge something by the way you first see it. As often as not, we find ourselves changing our minds, as we get smarter, George. I should have seen this coming. Mayor Packard is not a man you want to cross. I let you cross him. Luckily Jack Carter was smarter than I was. If he hadn't had the feeling you were getting in over your head, you might still be lying in that field next to Loey's. That's another reason why I'm here. I did not see it coming and I should have. I know the mayor's reputation."

"This is how it is," George said.

"Thank you. I like that story even better than I liked the Hick and Eleanor story. Where is Aunt Roberta?"

"I haven't seen her in a while. She's working for NASA. She's helping with the lunar landing that's less than a year away. She hardly has time to call, she's so busy. They wouldn't give her the job she had as a man, but the Navy Department's loss was NASA's gain. Every one she works with knows her as Roberta."

"It's a wonderful story," George said, not wanting the breakfast that had grown cold, but his hunger had been satisfied.

"What I've learned," Mr. Warner said. "I've learned that this is how it is, George. You didn't choose this. This is how it is, and no one else has to accept you, as long as you know who you are."

"You said your father was smart. He boiled it down into simple terms," George said. "I'll remember that, Mr. Warner."

"See that you do, George. I've done what I came to do, and now I need to go to see my parents. I can honestly say that your breakfast didn't look that appetizing, but my mother's breakfast will be fabulous in comparison," Mr. Warner said, standing up and collecting the folder from the windowsill. "Take all the time you need, George. Don't come back until you're good and ready, but is there a chance you'll make it to work on Monday? Continuity is important," Mr. Warner said, remembering Dr. Knox's advice.

George laughed.

"I don't feel too shabby. I think I got off lucky. We'll see," George said, and Mr. Warner left his hospital room.

George had free time on his hands for the first time since he went to work at the City News. He didn't feel good, but he didn't feel bad. He didn't think he could stay away from the newsroom once Monday rolled around. He was a newspaper reporter, and he needed to do his job.

George overslept Monday, once he was back in his room. Mildred brought him breakfast. She worried about him being gone the entire weekend. George almost always came home in the evening.

George set his alarm Tuesday morning, and he walked into the newsroom a little after seven that morning. As a full-time reporter, he got his pick of desks that weren't currently being used by staff reporters, and he took the one with the Smith Corona he liked. Pops brought a name plate with George Hitchcock etched on it, placing on the desk in front of George.

"You feeling OK, George?" Pops asked. "Mr. Warner said you were assaulted Friday night. Spent the weekend at Sibley Hospital. You need time, son, you take it. I won't give your stories to anyone else."

"I'm fine Pops. I might not stay twelve hours today, but I'll be OK," George told him.

It was after ten and George had just come back with a fresh cup of coffee, when Pops called his name.

"Hitch, you're up. Can I trust you to get me the story?"

"Since when can't I get the story, Pops. Give it to me," George said.

"Since you got whacked in the skull. You sure you want this? I can put Sampson on it. Maybe stay in today. Make some phone calls," Pops thought out loud.

"Give me the damn story. I got hit in the head. My legs are fine."

"7th Street southeast. See the woman there. It's Cyril's Haberdasher. You think you can find it?"

"How do I know which woman?"

"Says her name is Norma Desmond. Sounds fishy to me. She's the only woman there. Since the rest of the employees are men, you should be able to pick her out. Something about a woman bleeding in her doorway."

"What about the cops?" George asked, putting on his jacket.

"Cops have been there. They've transported the woman. Go to Cyril's and get the story. Maybe follow up at the hospital, but you need to talk to this Norma Desmond."

"I'm on it, Pops," George said, heading for the stairs.

George did catch a cab. He was a full-time City News reporter now. He could even think about buying a car.

The taxi stopped in front of Cyril's. A woman was scrubbing the sidewalk at the front door.

"You Norma?"

"Who wants to know?" she said, looking up with one knee on the concrete and a scrub brush in her hand.

"George Hitchcock, City News. You called about a woman bleeding in front of this place," George said. "You are cleaning up the blood," he asked.

"You sure you ain't Sherlock Holmes? Damn fine piece of detecting if you ask me. Yes, this is her blood. Betsy Johnson," Norma said.

"Who's Betsy Johnson?" George asked.

"Her name. The woman bleeding. I sat with her after I called to get her some help. She said she was Betsy Johnson. I asked what happened, but she just said she didn't feel good. A loss of blood can cause that, you know," Norma said. "She lost a lot of blood. General Hospital. That's where they took her. She was white as a sheet, and that's a neat trick for a black woman. She was bleeding bad. You ask me, and because you didn't, I'll tell you. They do abortions back over there. I don't know which building but rumor has it they do abortions."

"You tell the cops that?"

"No. A woman needs an abortion, what she going to do? You might say call her attorney, but if she can't afford no more kids, how she going to afford a lawyer? I heard about a place nearby. You ask me, and you didn't, someone botched the job. She was bleeding bad when I called for help."

"What did you tell the cops?" George asked.

"I told them she was bleeding. She collapsed in my doorway. Cyril's doorway, not mine, but you get the idea. They looked at the blood, got a little pale. They were already white, so they were even more pale than poor Betsy Johnson. You need to go see what the story is with that woman, and then you need to come back here and find out which of those buildings is where they do the abortions. If you ask me, and you didn't, but that's what I'd do. Someone needs to know they did that woman wrong."

"You from around here, Norma?"

"Yes, I'm actually a seamstress. I only clean up blood part-time."

George left Norma and her bucket behind, flagging down the first cab that he saw.

"General Hospital," George said, and the cab was a far better option than walking today.

Going in General Hospital's main entrance, he immediately saw Judy Carmichael at the receptionists desk. He detoured into her reception area, and she saw him coming. She gave him a big smile.

"My word. If it ain't lover boy. What can I do for you today?" Judy asked.

"Hi, Love. They brought a woman in a little after ten. I was going to the ER. The cab dropped me in front. Figured it isn't much after eleven. She wouldn't be in a room this soon, would she?" George asked.

"I told you about the six hour wait. I'll bet she don't make it to a room as fast as that kid did. No one looking out for us black ladies here abouts," she said.

"Well, my business here is done, Judy. Lovely to see you again," George said.

"Wait a minute, Honey. I'll go with you. It might help. Go a name. All black women look a like to me," she said. "I'm not looking at them. I'm looking at their husband."

"Betsy Johnson. Norma Desmond said it was a botched abortion, and I'm sure she knew more than she told me. Betsy had lost a lot of blood, according to Norma," George said. "Left plenty on the sidewalk where she collapsed."

Judy moved ahead of George and went directly to the first nurse she saw in the ER.

"Come on, Lover boy. She's back here. They're trying to get blood into her at the moment. Nothing they can do but stop the bleeding and give her transfusions," Judy said.

"Hey, Jill. This is a friend of mine. He wants to sit with Betsy. That OK with you. He's safe, but he owes me five bucks," Judy said, kissing George on the cheek. "I was kidding. You don't owe me nothing, Sweetheart," she said. "I got to get back to work."

"Thanks, Judy. I'll come by to take you to lunch one afternoon," George said.

"That's a date," Judy said.

"I'm monitoring her vitals. She's doing a little better, but she lost an awful lot of blood, the doctor said. She's quiet as a mouse. We're giving her blood to replace what she lost. You a friend of hers?"

"George Hitchcock, City News," George said. "I want to tell her story. Tell how she got herself into this fix."

"Damn abortionists. She can't come here to get an abortion. They go into those back alleys. Can't afford no more kids. It's a crime the way women are treated. She isn't the first one I seen come in here this way," the nurse said, her nostrils flaring. "It's a crime the way they treat women. Make them have to do this to themselves. It's criminal. As if us black girls don't got enough to deal with."

"James," Betsy Johnson said. "That you James. I'm sorry I did this. I don't feel that good, James. Hold my hand. I'm so scared."

"Male voice. She thinks you're her husband. You hold her hand," Jill said. "I'm going to step out for a minute. The doctor wants to know as soon as she's conscious. Try to comfort her, George."

George held Betsy's hand in his. He immediately felt a connection to the struggling woman. She moved in small motions, like she couldn't get comfortable.

George thought that might be a good sign. She was waking up.

"I can't be here. I can't afford this," Betsy Johnson said. "I got three babies at home. I can't afford no more. I got to do something. James is working two jobs. He can't work no harder. We can't afford no more kids. Not fair to bring kids into this sorry world. I couldn't put no more on James. He don't know I'm pregnant again."

"It will be OK Betsy. You're going to be OK and James will understand. You are a good woman. Don't be fretting about things you can't control," George said.

"Who are you?" Betsy Johnson asked, looking square into George's eyes.

"Just a friend, Betsy. I'm a friend who is going to tell your story. You shouldn't be in this fix. If things were different you wouldn't be here. They'll fix you up and you'll be home in no time."

"You going to tell my story? I didn't think anyone cared about me. My husband works so hard. I got good kids. They deserve better than we give them, but James can't work no harder. I took to cleaning houses again. I don't make much, but we can't afford no more kids. Not fair to them. I got such good kids."

Betsy's hand went limp, a buzzer started going off. The curtain was ripped out of the way and a half dozen doctors and nurses were all around Betsy as George moved back out of the way.

"Clear," the doctor in charge said, shocking Betsy.

"Clear. Clear. Bag her. Now!"

"Clear," the doctor ordered, speaking in shorthand and four other people inside the curtain scurried around when he did.

"What's happening?" George asked the next person who passed. "She was just talking to me. What's going on?"

"Get him out of here. Someone get him out of here," the doctor in charge roared, holding up paddles to shock Betsy's bare chest again, again, and again.

The curtain was used to close George out. They couldn't shut out the sounds. The activity was frenetic. It continued for for about ten minutes. It suddenly went silent. There were no sounds except for heavy breathing and more silence. The loudest machine no longer beeped. There was one never ending buzz.

"Time of death, 11:43," a soft voice said as rubber gloves came off.

All sounds behind the curtain ceased.

George realized he'd stopped breathing.

He gasped a deep breathe. The smell of alcohol, soap, and disinfectant permeated everything in the ER. One person after another rushed away from behind the curtain.

Someone had put Betsy's arms across her chest to cover her nakedness. The final person there stood staring into Betsy's face. He held the useless paddles before putting them down. He pulled a sheet over the dead woman's body. He looked drained and defeated. He turned and walked toward George, after remembering he was there.

"We did all we could," the man said.

"I know," George said.

He lifted his head to look at George.

"You knew her?" he asked.

"Her name is Betsy Johnson. What happened," George asked, wanting the doctor to know her name.

"What happened? What happened? She just... Betsy just died," he said, softening his tone from angry to sad.

"She was just talking to me," George said.

"What happened. She went somewhere and got herself butchered, and they bring her in here and expecting me to patch her up. You can only pump so much blood into the human body at one time and Betsy lost too much blood. We couldn't pump blood into her fast enough to keep her alive. She'd lost too much blood by the time they brought her in here but we had to try to save her. I did everything I knew how to do but she died anyway."

"Just like that," George said, startled by how fast it happened.

"Just like that," the doctor said, looking George over. "Who are you?"

"George Hitchcock, City News. You are?"

"Dr. Spencer. You're writing a story about this?" he asked.

"That's what I'm going to do," George said.

"Don't write what I said about being butchered. Her family shouldn't read that. I was pissed and sometimes I speak without considering my words," Dr. Spencer said. I know you need to write something, but don't write that."

"Yes, sir. I intend to tell Betsy's story. That's what I told her I'd do. I keep my word, Dr. Spencer," George said.

The doctor patted George's shoulder.

"Tell her story. Don't quote the butchered comment. No matter how true it is," Dr. Spencer said, turning to walk away.

"Can I use your name, Doctor? I won't if you say no," George said. "I know you did what you could. I'll say that too."

"Go ahead. Use my name, just not the butchered part. Can't hurt. Maybe bring some sanity to the insane laws that force poor women to do this to themselves. Betsy Johnson should not be dead."

"Dr. Spencer, if Betsy came to you, instead of going into a dark alley to get an abortion, would you have helped her?" George asked.

Dr. Spencer took a sudden interest in his shoes. He didn't look up for a long minute or two.

"I wouldn't knowingly break the law. I can't practice medicine if I loose my license to practice medicine," Dr. Spencer said.

"If Betsy Johnson asked you to help her, you wouldn't have done it, knowing what you know now, knowing she'd die if you didn't help."

"No!" he said, looking at his shoes again. "I won't break the law even if it might save a life."

"Thank you," George said. "At least you're an honest man. That was for my edification. I won't write that. You did your best doctor."

George felt like walking. The paper didn't go to press for four hours. He had plenty of time. George cried while he walked. A woman with a husband and children was dead. All their lives were forever changed, and George wanted to know who killed Betsy Johnson? He'd write Betsy's story. He'd come back to work to be a good reporter, and he'd tell Betsy Johnson's story. He'd tell the world about what Betsy did, because she couldn't afford any more kids.

It took thirty-five minutes for him to be in front of the Smith Corona he liked. He typed through his tears. He typed everything Betsy said. He wrote what the doctor told him, not mentioning that she'd been butchered. There was only one title he could think of using. Who killed Betsy Johnson. He typed as the words drained out of him. This was a story that needed to be told.

"George," Pops said. "What's wrong with you?"

George ripped the copy out of the typewriter, handing it to Pops, after he'd said all he had to say.

Pops stood beside George's desk as he read. Before he finished, he put his hand on George's shoulder.

"You've had a tough day George. We all catch stories like this. You been knocked on the head and now you get a kick in the gut. Go home, George. Take the rest of the day. I'll see to this now. You go home and have a drink, and be back here first thing in the morning, and we'll hope for a better day."

George went home. He laid on the couch, putting all the pillows behind him so he could look out at the park. He'd cried himself out before he got home. Suddenly exhausted, he fell asleep.

The phone's ringing woke him a little before four.

"Hello," George said.

"Mr. George Hitchcock please," a sweet voice said.

"This is George. How can I help you?"

"You said I should call you George. This is Mrs. Delesandro. I have someone who wants to talk to you. Wait just a minute."

"Mr. Hitchcock, this is Jon. You remember telling me to call if I thought I might be getting in over my head?"

"I remember, Jon," George said.

"I'd like to talk to you about getting my tennis career back on track. They told me I was preparing to turn pro, but when I ask my coach about it, he says I'm not ready to make that move yet. I'm getting rusty. I need to play against better competition."

"That's what I've been told, Jon. With your skill set, you should be playing professional tennis players. It's the only way you'll become as good as your competition. Playing pushovers isn't going to help you. Can we arrange a meeting? I'll do some research and I'll know what to tell you if we schedule a meeting for later this week."

"I'd like that," Jon said. "Can I bring my mother?"

"I can come there, Jon. I know where you live," George said.

"My mother will want to be here. Talk to her and she'll tell you when she can be off from work," Jon said.

"Jon?" George said.


"I'm glad you called. I think I can help you," George said.

After hanging up the phone, George picked it back up and dialed the main switch board at the City News.

"Arnie Siegal," George said. "Tell him it's George Hitchcock."

There was a soft knock on George's door at about 6:30. George had fallen back to sleep, and he got up to answer the door.

"Mildred, you've already cleaned. The place is spotless," George said.

"I know. I saw this in my paper a few minutes ago. I went out and bought you these. You looked so tired when you came in. I thought these might help," she said, handing him five copies of that day's City News.

George opened the paper and saw the headline at the top of the front page. "Who Killed Betsy Johnson by George Hitchcock."

"Your a sweetheart, Mildred," George said, kissing her cheek. "Thank you."

"It's above the fold this time. That's better, isn't it? You're coming up in the world, George. I read every word. It's going to move people," Mildred said, leaving George to enjoy the small victory in a very long day.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead