The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 92
On Friday Rich’s story of Mrs. Gaffe was ran. Rich was expecting negative comments. He received numerous calls thanking him for the kindness and dignity he wrote the story. Several people stopped him on the street as well.
Rich left the newsroom at the end of the day. Before heading down the steps he poked his head into Sam’s office. “See ya Monday,” Rich said.
“I got nothing but good feedback on the article you did on Mrs. Gaffe,” Sam said.
“That’s good to hear,” Rich said. “I thought this might be the one that might cause subscriptions and advertising to cancel.”
“Have I ever told you why I’m not teaching anymore or writing for the some major newspaper?” Sam said.
“No,” Rich said. “I just assumed you were satisfied to stay out of the limelight and you wanted a quiet life.”
“That’s certainly a part of it,” Sam said, “but I couldn’t do it anymore. The pressure was incredible to take an event and make it epic. Most of the time the man just walks,” Sam said walking his fingers across the top of his desk. “
Sam motioned with his head for Rich to come into the office. “Have a seat.”
“Years ago I wrote a series of articles about and slumlord,” Sam said. “The paper was threatened with lawsuits. I got vile calls from the man. Eventually he hung himself. Left behind wife and two kids. Although a number of building codes were ignored my the man, he was doing what he could to provide housing for people who would otherwise be left in the streets. The city took over the building and put everyone on the streets. My editor said to now chase after the city official who made the people homeless. I told him I didn’t want another hanging on my hands. That’s when I decided to teach. However I like to report and teach; so here I sit.”
“Are you happy?” Rich said.
“Yeah,” Sam said, “but you trouble me. There was nothing wrong with you treatment of the Gaffe’s, you merely reported. I saw to it you wouldn’t make the mistakes I did. And if for some stretch of a reason you felt responsible for Mrs. Gaffe’s demise, your article was brilliant.”
“Thanks,” Rich said, “but maybe I should be pumping gas.”
“What happens when you don’t insist a guy gets new windshield wipers and he runs into a tree on a rainy night because his wipers are bad?” Sam said. “Ya gonna stop pumpin’ gas?”
Rich smiled. “It’s probably just a matter of thinking things through.”
Sam leaned forward and spoke quietly. “We are in the middle of something big.”
“Big?” Rich said.
“Yesterday, the coroner game me an unofficial call,” Sam said. “He was told by the prison Mrs. Gaffe complained of chest pains the day before she died. Based on that he reported the death to be a heart attack, but he’s certain she was smothered.”
“The key,” Rich said.
“Yes,” Sam said, “the key, let’s just keep it where it is.”
“Are you sure?” Rich said.
“Yeah,” Sam said. “I’m sure.”
“Wow,” Rich said, “this is deep.”
Sam sat back in his chair and so did Rich. They were quiet for a few moments.
“Let’s take a break,” Sam said. “Remember I said something to you bout sailing the coast?”
“Yeah,” Rich said, “I remember.”
“Next week let’s get things ready here at the paper and The Odyssey for a long weekend. How does Provincetown sound?”
“Toss the key halfway in between?” Rich said.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Sam said.
The next week passed slowly. Saturday morning could not arrive soon enough for Rich. Plans and preparation were little remedy for the anticipation of an adventuresome trip.
Cold and drizzly weather settled into Rockland and Penobscot Bay Saturday morning .
Sam and Rich were aboard and The Odyssey well into the bay before the sun rose and reached beyond Port Clyde by the time it was in full view. It was bitter cold and on more than one occasion they doubted whether the voyage should be continued. The wind was near perfect which allowed their spirits to soar and enjoy the sailing and the sea. They took turns at the helm while one went below to warm himself. While below they listened to the radio to be certain of good weather for the remainder of the voyage. They put in at Rockport, Massachusetts and ate at a restaurant near where they docked. Their mood was hardy and happy. They ordered a generous meals and dined relaxed and contented.
Rich and Sam were the only two in the restaurant by the time they finished, but the waitress insisted they take their time. They sipped tea and looked out over the harbor from their table.
“What do you think of the newspaper business?” Sam asked.
“I rather like it,” Rich said. “Although the last week was tough, but I think I may have worked that all out.”
“Is this something you can see as a career?” Sam asked.
“At my age I don’t think too much about those things, but I can see myself doing it for a long while, now that you mentioned it,” Rich said. “Why do you ask?”
“You are getting experience,” Sam said, “but sometimes to assure acceptance and prosperity education may be needed. Few overcome that.”
“What are you saying?” Rich asked.
“Perhaps you should think about going to college for a while,” Sam said.
“What?” Rich joked. “Are you trying to get rid of me? Seriously though, what can they teach me that you can’t?”
“Nothing,” Sam said. “It’s the accreditation that a school can give.”
“Have you something in mind?” Rich said. “No, not really. I just want you to be aware of what may be needed if you wish to move on.”
“The contacts you make in college can serve you later. Just a thought,” Sam said and sipped his tea.
“Earlier in the week you mentioned some friends in Provincetown that we would visit,” Rich said. “Who are they?”
“Actually they live in Wellfleet, that’s down the road from Provincetown. Katie will meet us in Provincetown and we’ll go to their place. They are old friends,” Sam said. “He’s a federal judge now, but a few years ago he was my lawyer and before that he was my father’s junior partner in a Boston law firm. I think he’s probably my closest advisor. You see in the early days of the McCarthy years people got ruined. My friend helped me disappear or should I say convince me I should. He made me realize that it’s not enough to be right. There is such a thing as prudence. I had not the temperament nor the gall to withstand what others did. A good lawyer and friend can tell you that. I would have been crushed. I’m journalist not a crusader. My best work is behind the desk and not behind bars. Some can do both. The Judge said he could defend any corporation against the government or anybody, but don’t call him when it came to traffic court. He said you have to think too fast.” Sam clicked his cheek. “You’ll like the Judge and he’ll like you.”
“Do I call him Judge?” Rich asked.
“No, his name is Franklin Stafford, but he will insist on Frank,” Sam said.
“And his wife?” Rich said.
Sam motioned with his head out the window at The Odyssey. “How do you like sailing?”
“Remember South Pacific on TV with Gardner McKay?” Rich said.
“That’s what you want to do, right?” Sam said.
“I loved that show,” Rich said. “I dreamed of being that guy.”
“The coast of Maine is a far cry from the South Pacific,” Sam said.
Rich pointed to my head. “Not up here.”
They walked back to the boat and got on board. Sam lit the heater and the cabin quickly warmed. They laid in the bunks being gently rocked by the small waves until Rich heard only Sam snoring. Rich laid his transistor radio beside his head and listened to music to drown Sam’s snoring.