As we made our way to Crimson’s office in downtown Salt Lake City, Allison told me all they had learned about the Father of Modern Thought. Apparently, Crimson James was really Zachary Crimson, a professional golfer, who after having won four PGA tournaments by the age of twenty-five, suffered a tragic loss and gave it all up.
As the story goes, he was tied for the lead going into the final round of the year’s fourth major, the PGA Championship, when tragedy struck and he never finished his round … or played another professional round of golf.
Little did anyone know, but Zachary had been drafting theoretical papers under the name Crimson James thanks to the encouragement of his Stanford mentor and renowned physicist, Dr. Earnhardt Greinderbast.
The life of a golfer is not as glamorous as the Sunday trophy presentation suggests. For the most part, the majority of players consistently find themselves traveling to the next stop while that week’s winner hoists the trophy. This invariably allows for a lot of downtime without family and friends.
Zachary used this time as Dr. Greinderbast had suggested and it was during those few years on the tour that he generated his most productive work and provocative theories we take for granted today. Unfortunately, Dr. Greinderbast didn’t succeed in gaining widespread recognition of Crimson’s work until years after he fell off the map. Allison wasn’t sure why Crimson disappeared or what had caused that to happen.
“So what happened that night that altered the course of his life?” I asked.
“I’m getting there, Mr. Impatient,” she replied with a devilish grin and laid out the rest of the story.
Emily’s favorite author was Jane Austen and Zachary was always on the lookout for anything Jane Austen related he might surprise her with. As fortune would have it, Zachary ran into a successful executive during one of his tournaments who made an offer too good to pass up. The man, apparently dying and trying to prevent a family inheritance war, sold Zachary a handwritten manuscript of Pride and Prejudice for an undisclosed amount.
A week before the PGA Championship, Zachary gave Emily the gift of a lifetime and entered the year’s fourth major secretly believing it was his year for greatness. Anyone watching would have certainly agreed.
Sitting tied for the lead after the third round, Zachary returned home to find Emily’s dead and bloody body on the living room floor and the Austen manuscript missing. As a result, he chucked the clubs and went underground, unable to deal with the devastating turn of events.
“How long ago was that and what brought him to Salt Lake City?” I asked Allison as we crossed the street, ever cautious of these people-driven cars.
“This is even more fascinating,” she replied, excitedly. “That whole incident happened five years ago, but don’t get the idea that he hasn’t been a busy boy since. A little research under his real name shows he holds patents to several industrial chemical applications, including one that increases the flight of the golf ball.”
“I’ve never played golf, have you?”
“Sure, with my dad. The military’s got courses on most bases.”
“Interesting,” I replied as we entered one of the city’s tallest and most modern buildings. “Maybe you can teach me one day, but first finish the story.”
“It seems the patents – and money generated from them – are only there to provide the resources for his pet project.”
“And that is?”
“You’re never going to believe this, but our Father of Modern Thought moonlights as a cat burglar.” I crossed my eyebrows in disbelief, but she explained. “It seems whenever he can’t acquire rare, first editions through legitimate means, he steals them.”
“Come on, really?”
“But it gets even better. Once he steals them ... he burns them!”
“I think time travel’s messing with your brain.”
“It’s true. We saw him do it last night.”
“Why in the hell would he do that?”
“My theory is that he’s been searching for that Jane Austen manuscript since the night his wife was killed. I bet he blames rare books and won’t stop until he finds and burns that first copy of Pride and Prejudice. In short, he needs closure.”
“You worked all this out on your own, huh?”
“Maybe it’s the romantic in me,” she said, blushing. “Besides, how else could you explain it?”
I shrugged as we stepped into an elevator. Once it started to move, Allison faced me with a serious expression.
“So we think he has a lead on the whereabouts of the manuscript and intends on stealing it tonight.”
“Yes, right here in Salt Lake City,” she explained. “Actually, just outside the city, in one of the mountain communities.”
“But what about the theory?”
“Come on,” she said as the elevator opened and we stepped toward the rooftop access door. “Augustus can fill us in on his progress.”