July 30th, 1969
I was obviously not in a rational state of mind, especially not so soon after Hannah’s death, when I had spoken to Detective Inspector Tallis, because I think I may have opened an old can of worms. Damn! What was I thinking when I started asking all those very bright young man questions?
I was on my way home from school today. I was passing Pierre’s when I suddenly noticed Kowalski, the one legged man, sitting at a window table having a coffee. Almost at the same time I heard a car hooting incessantly. It was Tallis in an unmarked vehicle parked by the curb. After catching my eye, he beckoned me to come on over.
I waved at him through the passenger window but he indicated for me to come around to the driver’s side. I reluctantly obeyed, knowing that I would now be facing towards Kowalski, but I knew that it was exactly what Tallis wanted.
I had momentarily shielded my face by pretending to be blocking out the sunlight from disturbing my view. Unfortunately the sun was behind me and that sort of action would have made it all too obvious that I was on to him. I cast my fate to the wind looking up and down the street with an air of confidence.
“What’s up, Detective?” I asked frowning down into the open window.
“Oh, I was just having some donuts and coffee from Pierre’s when I saw you strolling down the street. I thought I’d ask how you’re doing.” He offered me a donut. “Have one. They’re not as good as Marnie’s, but, well…you know?”
I took it and asked, “Yeah, how is Mrs. Marnowijk.”
“Not good. Not good at all, I’m afraid.” Then he quickly asked, “How’s your mother?”
“Not good. Not good at all, I’m afraid. She blames herself for what happened.”
“Yeah, I know. I kept telling her it wasn’t her fault. The real one to blame is Hannah’s father’s killer.”
“I thought he was stung by a bee. Wouldn’t that make it an act of God?”
My heart missed a beat as he asked, “What about you?”
“What about me?” I asked a little too desperately.
“How you holding up? I know what happened must have been quite a shocking experience for a young kid like yourself? Even though you got the I.Q. of a twenty- year-old, it must still have been rather traumatic?”
“You know about my high I.Q.?”
“Word gets around. It’s the type of thing that makes big news in a small town.”
“Yeah, not too unlike a two-headed dog. So, I’m starting to become the main attraction at the local freakshow?”
“It’s not your fault you were born that way. Besides, you should think of it more as a gift than a curse.”
“Some days I wish I could push a button and just be a normal kid having a normal childhood – even if it’s just for a day or even a few hours. It’s difficult pretending all the time.”
“Pretending to enjoy the mundane activities that children enjoy, just so the adults find my behavior more…acceptable.”
“I seriously doubt that anybody could ever truly understand my frustration.”
“So, where you off to?”
“The public library. It’s the one place in the world where I feel…secure. Not even my own home gives me that needed sense of well-being.”
“They say when you’re young you wish to be older, and when you’re older you wish to be young again.”
“I promise you that there will be no such irony in my life.”
“That’s understandable. Especially since your life will become more…normal once you reach adulthood.”
“Exactly! It’s wonderful to have someone around who understands my dilemma.”
“You ever feel the need to talk. You know where the station is.”
“I appreciate that.”
“We don’t just catch bad guys you know? Serve and Protect. That’s our motto. Serve and Protect.”
“Keep well, detective.”
I had walked briskly off in the direction of the library. But after rounding the corner I had peeked back in the direction of Tallis and the unmarked vehicle.
About thirty seconds later Kowalski came out of the coffee shop and ambled over to the passenger window. His action was most welcome and relieving.
He had clearly shrugged his shoulders.
I smiled and took my first bite of the donut.
Tallis was right, it wasn’t as good as Marnie’s, yet to me it still had the sweet taste of…victory!!!