The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 126;
The July 4th holiday came and went. Rich called Dennis once for the rain check that was promised from the Boston. Dennis said it would have to be later; he was busy. Rich was relieved.
The mood at the office was normal with the exception of Sam. He was quite cool toward Rich.
Rich was curious about the cryptic reference from Mrs. Gaffee’s ledger. Thus, Rich took off early on a Saturday and headed to the general store in Port Clyde. He parked and sauntered in. There were a couple of tourists browsing. The new owners were now running the store.
Rich walked around and picked up a loaf of bread. He continued to shop looking for the place where “The stash was under the trash.”
He watched the man behind the counter at the register. “Where is the trash can?” Rich thought.
Rich brought the loaf of bread to the counter.
“That will be 24 cents,” the man said.
Rich handed him a dollar. The man handed him the change and sales receipt.
“Keep the receipt,” Rich said.
The man crushed it in his hand and tossed it in a can beneath the register.
“Oh,” Rich said as if forgetful, “Can you get me pint of lobster salad.”
“I’ll be right back,” the man said and hurried back to the meat counter.
Rich dropped his change on the floor. He squatted to pick it up. He feigned checking beside the counter where the cash register sat. He moved the trash can. A small finger hole was in the floor. “Lift that and you get the stash,” Rich thought. However, Rich did not do so. He had to think of a way to open the floor and see what lies beneath it without anyone knowing.
Rich got his order and headed back to Rockland. He resisted stopping by Dennis’s and Peggy’s. He felt if he could stop without being sincere and guarded it would be too uncomfortable to bear.
On the ride back he devised a plan to create a distraction that would cause everyone to run from the general store so he could explore what was beneath the floor. It would have to be something that would not enlist the help of another person. It would have to be something that would not be at the risk of anyone else. “A dumpster fire would be good,” Rich murmured. “It would have to be something loud. It has to attract a lot of attention. That’s a lot of work for not being sure if anything is under the floor or not.”
Rich arrived at his apartment He sat at his desk and began making a list of supplies to take with him. “4 cases of Moxie, 3 cases of canned soup, crackers (lots of crackers), 1 case of canned ravioli, 2 cases of spam, flour, sugar, coffee, powdered milk, spices,… And the list went on.
Rich drove to a wholesale grocery Saturday morning. He hulled the supplies back to Rockland and put them aboard The Odyssey. His plan was to be fully equipped and supplied by the end of July. This would allow him a month free from scurrying around the last minute and also to consider if anything was lacking.
For the next three weeks Rich was very busy. Thus, when the first of August came around The Odyssey was completely stocked.
The first Monday in August Sam invited Rich into his office. Rich sat across from Sam who sat behind his desk.
“How are you plans proceeding?” Sam said.
At this point it almost seemed as if Rich and Sam were estranged so Rich was not as open as he had been. “I still have a lot left to do.”
“Are you still planning on September 1st?” Sam said.
“I’m not sure,” Rich said.
“Well, never the less you will no longer be employed beyond the last Friday of August,” Sam said.
Rich felt that seemed almost cruel. He made it sound as if he was being fired. “Do you have a replacement yet?” Rich tried not to sound sarcastic, but it could be interpreted that way.
“I’m interviewing three guys this afternoon,” Sam said. “In fact, I was wondering if you could leave earlier. All three of them said they could start immediately.”
That hit Rich like a blow to the gut. He could feel his face turn warm. Rich nodded. “I’d really like to stay on.”
“There something else that I must tell you,” Sam stared stoically. “The column idea has fallen through. It’s not going to work out.”
Rich forced a smile. “Somehow that doesn’t come as a surprise.”
“Likewise with any sort of book deal,” Sam said.
“So I’m on my own,” Rich said.
“Yep,” Sam said.
“That’s not going to dissuade me,” Rich said.
“Com to think of it I can’t allow you to stay till the end of the month,” Sam said.
“Yeah, I’m getting that feeling, but I’d like to finish the week,” Rich said as if to plead. “I’d like to at least finish some things I’ve been working on.”
“You know something,” Sam said. “I think I’d like for you to leave right now. I’m sure whatever you were working on won’t be missed. Actually, Rich, you really weren’t that good. I thought I could make something out of you, but you are a dull farm boy, that’s all you’ll ever be.”
Rich stood. He started to extend his hand and realized that Sam most likely would not extend his. He shoved his hand in his pocket. “Thanks, Sam, you gave me a great opportunity and you’ve been good to me.”
Sam raised his eyebrows. “You have 15 minutes to clear out you desk and give me you keys.”
Rich removed the keys from his jacket pocket and took The Beacon’s keys from his keychain. He tossed three keys on Sam’s desk and walked out of the office.