Author's Note: Somehow in the process of re-writing and editing, a paragraph from a later chapter appeared in Chapter Fifty-nine. The result was Kelly's ashes being interred before he died! The offending paragraph has been banished and Mike is graciously posting the corrected chapter.
The Godfather and DAs
At three, Josh and Alex had just finished their inspection of the apartment when there was a knock on the door. When Josh opened it, a couple were standing there. Before he could speak, the man said, “Hi, I’m Gary Carson and this is my wife Judy. We’re looking for Josh Taylor.”
“Come in, I’m Josh. When they stepped inside, Josh said, “Gary and Judy, my husband, Alex Bledsoe. We were just looking over our apartment after the cleaning service finished with it. We had some excitement here yesterday and had a cleaning service in to clean up.”
“Nice to met you, Gary, Judy. Sorry I have to run, but if you'll excuse me,” Alex said, “Josh, Cândido wants to do something with me. I'll be back in an hour, hour and a half.” He gave Josh a quick kiss and left.
Josh explained the excitement and said, “Why don't you just make yourselves at home, look over the apartment, open the closets, look under the beds, whatever. The movers are coming this afternoon and will pack what we are taking with us -- essentially our clothing and personal things and all the Asian artifacts. Anything you would like aside from those can stay and the rest -- furniture, whatever -- will be put in storage. I'll be next door.”
Josh and Alex had spent some time looking over the things in the apartment and finally decided, as Josh had told the Carsons, all the Asian artifacts, but nothing else except their clothes and personal items, including the computer would be going. The computer had too much Blankenship material on it to leave and Josh didn't want to take the time to save what needed saving and clean the drives. It was easier just to take it.
Gary and Judy spent half an hour looking over the apartment and then came next door to get Josh. When they went back to the apartment together, Judy said, “First off, I, we, love the apartment just as it is. We have been traveling light since we married and own practically nothing except clothing and personal stuff. Sorry you're taking the Asian artifacts.”
“I especially love the swords. They are wonderful reproductions,” Gary said.
Josh laughed. “Contrary to what the Japanese government tells you, some authentic ones do leave Japan. Those are authentic and they work as two men in the prison ward of the hospital can tell you. When they attempted to kidnap Alex yesterday, he grabbed one of the swords and fought off one and gave the other a couple of near fatal wounds. He's not out of the woods yet.” Shawn had told his roommate that Alex had been in New Beginnings since it was common knowledge, but didn't tell him he was on his treatment team.
Josh said, “There is one other thing. Our neighbors are very special friends and to be honest, you'll have to pass muster with them. Cândido is an anthropologist. Luc, his husband, is CEO of Blankenship LLLP. Both are Brazilian. Cândido's father was Portuguese and his mother a Brazilian Indian, a Bororo. Luc is Portuguese. If you like, we are going out tomorrow night and I am sure they would be happy for you to join us. We are having dinner then going to a club which features music from the fifties, sixties and seventies and Brazilian music. I'll check on that if you like, but the club is mostly gay if that bothers you.”
“Not at all,” Judy said. “Dress code?”
“Brazilian or one of the three decades, and I will warn you, Cândido, being Bororo, will be wearing mostly feathers and piercings and not a lot more.”
“Sounds like fun. And they let Cândido into restaurants dressed like that?” Gary asked.
“Apparently, as Luc set it up. If you are interested, I'll check with them and let you know.”
“Do. Will be a good chance to get to know them and them us,” Judy said.
“I would introduce you to Cândido now, but he's caring for Alex. He's a shaman and has been doing whatever a Bororo shaman can do for Alex. Shawn... Oh, Shawn was, I suppose still is, on Alex’s treatment team although Alex has officially been discharged -- anyway, after Alex had spent an afternoon with Cândido together, Shawn said he was way ahead of where he expected him to be. Now, about the lease.”
“We are prepared to sign a two-year lease if the price is right since we want to make sure San Francisco is where we want to live and work.”
They discussed that and very quickly came to an agreement. A realtor would be managing the property and Josh said as soon as they had Luc and Cândido's stamp of approval, they could go by and sign the lease, pick up the keys and move in. “As a matter of fact, I think you can plan to move in anytime after you are up and about Sunday morning.”
When the Carsons left, Josh went next door and found Alex drinking tea Cândido brewed after he had performed some ceremonies for him. Cândido told the two he had observed Alex sleeping and thought he could help him with some Bororo medicine, “but, Josh, you need to keep his medicine readily available. I can't tell the future, as I have said, but I can tell you, he will be a mature man before he no longer has serious flashbacks if he has sharp reminders of New Beginnings. I suspect all who were in that place for any time at all will as well.” He didn't say so, but I learned later Cândido had contacted as many therapists of those from that hellhole as he could locate and offered to provide medicine and even personal healing sessions for them. It was a pity that less than ten percent of those with whom he talked accepted his offer. The therapists had later got together and wrote medical journal articles of these experiences. All their patients were definitely helped by Cândido's 'mumbo-jumbo'. Shawn, Helen and Henry also wrote articles for journals which included notes about Cândido.
Friday afternoon late, Alex and Josh went to aviation services in Oakland where the planes were kept when they were in town and met Walt. “How’s the fellow from Crockett enjoying San Francisco?” Josh asked. “Sorry he ended up in a hotel.”
Walt laughed. “He’s not. Says he’s never known such luxury. He was having a ball until the tremor yesterday. I hadn’t noticed it, but he said he wanted the ground to stay still under his feet. Well, I have made all the arrangements to get the planes to the Mountain. I will fly the turbo as soon as your things are loaded and I have finished up my business here. I have a co-pilot lined up to fly with you and Alex to Pueblo Thursday morning very early. The co-pilot will become the pilot for the trip to the Mountain and is picking up a co-pilot in Pueblo.” Alex and Josh would pick up the truck and trailer and drive to Boulder.
That taken care of, they drove to that special Italian restaurant in Oakland. When they walked into the restaurant, Alex whispered, “Are you sure this place is safe? I expect to see the godfather any minute.”
“You will in about three minutes. This is probably the safest place in a hundred-mile radius,” Josh laughed and headed to the table where he saw Mr. VanWinkle and Bull sitting. “Josh! Alex!” Bull's voice roared across the restaurant. When they reached the table, Bull was standing, he grabbed first Josh then Alex and kissed them on both cheeks. “Sit, Sit.” As they seated themselves, Alex looked a little overwhelmed and Bull said, “You know, one of the many things I can't understand about you Mormons, even you ex-Mormons. You are cold-blooded, just like June and his crowd. When Italians meet, there's going to be some Italian spit exchanged, but I guess the cold blood doesn't carry over to the bed, huh? Mario,” he bellowed, “where's the vino?”
“Coming, Grandpop,” his handsome grandson appeared with a bottle and glasses followed by a young woman with a pitcher of ice water and four water glasses. “Hello, Mr. Taylor. This is my cousin, Annata.”
“Mario, good to see you. Nice to meet you, Annata. I'd like you to meet my husband, Alex Bledsoe.”
“Mr. Bledsoe,” Mario said, extending his hand. “Wow, Mr. Taylor, I can see you go for the lookers. Now if I were gay, I'd give you a run for your money for this one, well, if I could have you, man, that would be a dilemma. Nice to meet you, Mr. Bledsoe.”
“How's the love life going, Mario?” Josh laughed.
“No more Donna, no more Italian girl. Mia mamma is not happy, but Grandpop approves. She's Spanish, from Spain and beautiful and wonderful.”
“Nice girl, Mario. Never listen to mia mamma when it comes to picking a mate. How's the help tonight?"
“Ignacio is coming into relieve me. Chance of getting that Rolls, Mr. VanWinkle?” he chuckled.
“Possibility. Think this young lady will be impressed?”
“Probably not. Things don't impress her a whole lot, but she sure won't complain.”
“If you can't have the Rolls, maybe Mr. VanWinkle would give us a lift home and you could talk Josh into a Miata. Looks as if you are fixed for the evening in any case.”
“Want to hit the same movie theater?” Josh asked. “Don't know what's on.”
“Sure, anything would be fun with Reina.”
Mario had poured the wine and Mr. VanWinkle said, “A toast to Alexander and Joshua, reunited.”
“And one to June and Bull who made it happen,” Alex said.
“Food, Mario, food,” Bull said and Mario left and returned with huge bowls of pasta followed by Annata with a salad and salad plates. The four dived in and Bull kept pouring wine and urging us to drink water. Because of Alex, not as much was consumed as might have been, but we had a good time. Bull was ready to go to war over the attack on Alex. “Some son of a bitch from that hellhole is behind this,” he said, “I'll bet money on it.”
“That's it,” Alex practically shouted. “I knew there was some reason the attack brought on the reaction it did. I recognized the attackers! I didn't remember when I woke up. It was Benjamin Snipes and George Mitchell. James Strang's lieutenants!”
Josh took his phone from his pocket and Officer Winter's card. He had a good signal, so he punched in the number and handed the phone to Alex. “San Francisco Police Department, Officer Whitby.”
“Officer Whitby, I am Alexander Bledsoe. I was attacked in my apartment yesterday in what was apparently a kidnap attempt. Officers Casey and Winters were the investigating officers and Officer Winters gave me his card with this number.”
“How can I help you, Mr. Bledsoe?”
“I recognized my attackers at the time, but for reasons I need not go into, I did not recall that until now. They were second in command in the New Beginnings compound in Utah which was raided several weeks ago.”
“I remember. That made the news. Who are the two?”
“They may well have been using fake papers as I know the head of the compound was. The names they were using were Benjamin Snipes and George Mitchell. The compound was in two counties and the two Sheriffs are Sheriff Neil Rogers and Sheriff Peter Newcome. Excuse me a moment.” Josh was signaling Alex.
“Alex, I have their numbers in my phone. Tell him you'll call him right back with their numbers.”
“Officer Whitby, I am using my husband's phone and he just told me he has their numbers and I should call you right back with them.”
“So you two managed to get married while the mayor made it possible, too,” he said. “My husband and I were practically first in line."
"Afraid not, but we consider ourselves married."
"What is your number and I will call you back, otherwise, the incoming call may roll over to another officer.”
Alex gave him the number, handed Josh's phone to him and he retrieved the numbers. Alex gave them to Officer Whitby when he called back. “This should be a big help. Think they might still be connected with their boss?”
“I'm sure of it. Abraham Strang was the name he was using. They had plane tickets to Newark and I suspect were to meet him there after they got the ransom money.”
“It sounds as though you are not home.”
“No, I'm in a restaurant in Oakland.”
“Have any idea when you will be home so a police artist can get a sketch of the two and Strang made?"
“How long before we are home, Josh?”
“Two, two and a half hours.” Alex repeated the message, gave the officer their address and suggested someone call him in two hours.
Mr. VanWinkle told them he had checked and they could go on to North Carolina and if they were needed back in Utah because of the cases coming out of New Beginnings he assured the authorities they would be back. If they could get the sketch out of the way, they should be clear to leave as planned early Thursday.
Bull was, of course, not going to San Francisco and Alex had actually drunk very little and they had been at dinner two hours before they left, so he felt safe driving Mr. VanWinkle's Rolls and leaving the Miata for Mario and his date. Josh told him he could bring the car back Sunday morning and they'd go out for brunch. “But not too early as we are going to a wild club Saturday night.”
“How old are you, Mario?” Alex asked.
“I was eighteen yesterday.”
“And how old is Reina?”
“She's an older woman. She graduated high school last year, so she's eighteen and a half.”
“Think she might like golden oldies?”
“I know she does. We both do. Sixties, seventies and eighties.”
“Bit older than that like fifties, sixties and seventies.”
“Have trouble going to a club that is primarily gay?”
“Never tried it, don't think so.”
“Give me a call in the early afternoon after you think about it. Josh and I and some friends are going to dinner and a club tomorrow. I'll check and see if inviting you and Reina is ok since the friends invited us. You have to dress fifties, sixties, seventies or Brazilian.”
“Slight problem, Barefoot Boy, clubs are twenty-one, not eighteen.”
“No alcohol at Waiting for the Sunrise, so it's eighteen and over. Cândido told me.”
“My bad. Give us a call Mario.”
“Will do. Right now it's home, shower and off to the movie.”
“I’ll go with you to make sure you know about the car.” Outside Josh gave Mario a couple hundreds and told him tickets would be waiting. As soon as Mario left the parking lot, he called the theater and made arrangements for the tickets.
When they got back to the apartment, it was still early. Luc and Cândido were cuddled on the sofa in the living room, watching a movie. Luc paused it when Alex said, “Don't let us interfere.” Luc laughed.
“Alex, we have seen this movie so often we can practically quote the dialog. We always fall back on it when there's nothing else we want to do except cuddle. Good time at dinner?”
“Very good time. I do have a question,” Alex said, “I kinda stepped out of bounds, but with the clear understanding you had the first and final say. Bull's grandson is a really nice kid and I asked him if he and his girl might like to go with us to the club tomorrow night. He's straight, but assured me he would have no problem with a gay club. He'll call sometime tomorrow to check to see if it's ok.”
“How old is he?”
“He just turned eighteen. His girl is also eighteen, an older woman by six months.”
“I have no problem with it, you, babe?”
“None at all. Invite them to go to dinner with us as well.”
“Well, I have a confession as well. The Carsons who will be leasing the apartment if, and I really mean the if, you two approve of them, I asked them about going with us, thinking it would give you two a chance to look them over.”
“Great, the more the merrier, I say,” Luc said. “I'll call right now and add four to our party for dinner.”
“This is all on me,” Josh said, “since we invited the city to join us.”
“No way,” Luc said.
“Then we'll pay for our four guests.”
“Only if you insist.”
There was a knock on the door and when Luc opened it, a woman in police uniform was standing outside. “I’m Officer Saunders, the police artist. Mr. Bledsoe here? Someone was supposed to call.”
“No-one called, but Alex Bledsoe is here.”
“Is there some place we can work? Quiet would be nice.”
“We can go next door to our apartment,” Alex said. “I am Alex Bledsoe.”
Alex worked with the woman for over two hours and when she finished, the sketches were clearly that of Abraham Strang. She didn't bother with Benjamin Snipes and George Mitchell since the police knew exactly where they were. “I’ll get this on the wire as soon as I get back, with a special alert for the Newark police and airport security. Maybe we’ll catch the slimy s-o-b.
Next morning, Josh and Alex were up early and went shopping for Alex a for white, tight tee-shirt and tight jeans. When they came back, Alex tossed the shirt in the washer and gathered up his and Josh's whites and found Cândido's and Luc's in the bathroom basket and added them. He took the jeans and all the other jeans next door to their apartment and tossed them in the washer there. By the time he got back, it was time to dress and go to the interment of Mrs. Blankenship's ashes. They joined Luc, Cândido, James Davis and a half-dozen others in front of the columbarium. It seemed strange to just stand there while the black plastic box was placed in a niche next to Mr. Blankenship's with no service, no words said, nothing. It took all of ten minutes. Kelly was conspicuous by his absence.
Josh told Luc he was taking Alex downtown for lunch and to get his DA and they would be back before the movers came which, he hoped, would be at three. They would pack everything going to North Carolina, except the clothes the two would wear for the rest of their time in San Francisco and on the trip to the Mountain, take it all to Oakland and load it on the turbo for North Carolina. Walt planned to leave Tuesday early after finishing the paper signing in connection with the sale of his house.
“Oh, I put your white things and ours in your washer. Will you toss them in the dryer, please. Also the jeans in our apartment's washer. Do you have a key?” Alex asked.
Luc nodded and said, “Will do. We may or may not be home when you get back. The Indian is trying to get me out to the park this afternoon. We'll see.”
On the way back to the apartment, Josh decided his business in San Francisco was almost over. Packing would be completed today. The movers had agreed to be 'on call' for a substantial addition to their original estimate, but given the situation, that just about had to be the way it was. Josh called the movers and asked that they come at three and send people enough to complete the packing before five.
Alex and Josh had an early lunch, then they went to see Josh's usual hair stylist who had not seen him in well over two months, neither had any other, so Josh's hair, which was naturally half way between wavy and curly, was quite long and he made it very clear he did not want his usual executive hair cut, but wanted it left long and cut to emphasize its wavy-curly nature.
After much explaining, the young lady who was doing Alex's hair, which was very long as he had only one hair cut when he first got to the hospital in Provo, still could not grasp the concept of a DA. It was beyond her. Finally, Miss Penny, the owner of the salon, who was in her seventies at least, told the young stylist, “Ginny, let the old lady handle this. You're not likely to ever need to know how and I remember them well. Mr. Bledsoe, men would never have used hair spray in the fifties, but I will. I don't think even for a night on the town you want to be dripping Wildroot Creme Oil!” Half an hour later, Alex's beautiful blond hair was trimmed and styled and Josh loved it. It was longer than he would have worn it had they planned on staying in San Francisco and living among a business community, but on the Mountain, you wore your hair the way you wanted. Once that was done and approved, Miss Penny re-combed it into a perfect DA and made sure all would stay in place with a liberal application of spray and gel.
Three woman and two men arrived at the apartment at three sharp. The clothes Alex and Josh were taking with them had been moved to Luc and Cândido's guest room so any clothing left in the apartment was to be packed and shipped. That didn't take long as the movers brought closet boxes for the hanging things and drawers were just transferred from the chests to boxes. Packing the artifacts did take time as many of them were somewhat fragile. Alex insisted on the swords going with him and since they would not be flying commercially, it was a simple matter of placing them in their scabbards and rolling in bubble wrap.
While the movers worked, Josh and Alex had gone next door. Josh told Alex he needed to try on the tee-shirt and jeans to make sure they were tight. They were. Luc and Cândido came in while Alex was showing off. Cândido gave him a wolf whistle, then said, “You know those jeans have to be starched and ironed with sharp creases, don't you?”
"Whoever heard of starching or ironing anything?” Alex said. “You're pulling my leg.”
“Afraid not, babe,” Josh said. “Where were you in the fifties?”
Alex laughed, “Well, since my dad was born in nineteen fifty, I guess I was wondering around in his baby balls wanting to know when the fun would begin. So what am I going to do about my jeans?”
Josh called the concierge and asked if there was a laundry nearby that would starch and iron some jeans pronto.
“Fifties party?” she asked. When Josh told her it was, she said, “Indeed I do. When do you need them? It's quarter of five now.”
“It's a real rush job. Need them by six-thirty.”
“It's gonna cost, but I think I can arrange that.”
“Fifty to you and a one hundred percent tip to the person who gets it done.”
“Run them down to the desk while I make arrangements."
Jesse and Scott
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