At about 7:30 A.M., Frank pulled into the HIHS parking lot and got into a long vehicle line at the gate for clearance to enter. He noticed that across the street there were three churches. One was a Methodist church, another was a Mormon Temple, and the other one was a Catholic Church. He thought more about it and it seemed like they were built like that on purpose to surround the school.
“Good morning Mr. Nickels,” the guard shack man said as he showed him his ID.
So now Frank is in a Dormitory. Everything seems to be in slow motion. The fog is thick and covering everything from the ceiling to the floor. He can hear what sounds to be laughter. Like a little girl’s laugh. It sounds so sweet and reminds him of the times he spent with his niece and a funny book on dogs.
He can barely make out the two front offices on the right side when first entering the dorm. There’s also a large tan double door way on the left that leads into the living room. Frank slowly and carefully makes his way into the living room. It has four big brown couches in a U formation, two beige love seats, an old dark wooden table, a vending machine, and a glass entertainment center with an old forty inch, perhaps original flat screen TV and Blu-ray player underneath. Some people are sitting on the couches and watching the old 90’s College sitcom “A Different World” on TV. It’s hard to make out who they are, but upon further inspection they look like four elder Native American women. Each was wearing a different colored dress with a Native American geometric pattern on it. The elder woman on one end couch wore brown. The woman to her right wore yellow. The next one red and the last one on the opposite end couch was in blue.
He passed a street performer dressed like an old Wizard when he said, “Hey buddy, I’ll trade you something for those cookies.” His voice had a very none threating and playful tone that at the same time hid something a little dark, questionable and possibly irritating. The old robe he wore was darkly purple, almost to the point of being black. His feet were not visible and his appearance gave the illusion that he was floating.
Nice trick, Will thought, his costume isn’t half bad even with the fake beard.
William looked at him funny and then laughed a little. He replied, “I’m not trying to get any weed OK. I’m just going home.”
“Who said anything about weed? I’ve got something much better,” his aged voice enthusiastically declared while he waved his right hand over his left hand, which was kept balled into a fist. Slowly he opened his fist and turned it around to reveal a small dark purple metal container the size of those curiously strong breath mints that you get from the gas stations. Upon further inspection, Will noticed he had a real beard. It wasn’t a fake. It was long, braided, and the braids were bundled together in a strange way that made it stand upwards and settle somewhat in front of his chin. It had streaks of red, yellow, green, and blue. This guy was really weird looking. For a very short second, Will could swear that the blue hairs were actually waving at him as if they had a mind of their own.
While walking away, Will told him, “That’s alright buddy I’ll do fine with these cookies.” Then he stopped, thought about it for a second, turned back around, and decided to give him the cookies because he never wanted the nasty rocks in the first place.
When he came back, the wizard’s weird braided beard wasn’t active any more, it was pointing straight down and all the individual colored sections were now unbundled.
Its 7:30pm. His long hour and a half journey on the Interstate-10 East freeway has finally ended. William, is parking his 2010 gray KIA Sportage into a parking spot in front of a red bricked sidewalk. He gets out, stretches, locks his car, then starts walking. The sidewalk leads to a colorful Art Walk in downtown Pomona, California.
He decided to stop by a local bookstore he had always seen passing by, but never explored. Maybe a stroll around the store would take his mind off of the horrible workday he just had.
The Pomona Arts Colony is approximately four city blocks jammed packed with arts and crafts stores, antiques shops, and thrift and vintage establishments. Multiple Art Galleries continuously display new Avant Garde paintings, sculptures, and exhibits. Event tickets tend to sell out quickly.
“Over the four decades that the Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School operated in Michigan, thousands of Native American children from across the country were taken from their parents and sent there to be stripped of their languages and traditions.
The U.S. documented five deaths of Indigenous children at the school from its opening in 1893 to its closure in 1934. But when the land where the school once sat was returned to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan in 2010 by the state, the tribe’s researchers uncovered a more extensive history of the federal government’s violence: records confirming the deaths of 227 children while at Mount Pleasant. The search for their remains is still underway.
The effort to figure out what happened to those children illustrates the challenge the Department of the Interior faces in its recently announced investigation of the more than 350 Native American boarding schools that operated in the United States for more than a century.”
After leaving the trailer with the items Jack brought, and stepping into the eighty-degree California heat, Will, navigates through the maze of construction chaos that is the parking lot of the Byte Corporation. The loud noises of bulldozers, saws, drills, forklifts beeping as they backed up, and workers yelling at each other saturate the environment. Some people are wearing orange safety glasses, yellow vests, and hard hats. Some people are on top of ladders as well as walking and working on the roof.
He walks past someone, not wearing safety glasses, dumping a grey plastic trash can into a blue dumpster and then his ears are assaulted by the loud annoying sounds of heavy metal bits and pieces slamming into the bottom. He narrowly misses walking into a puddle of oil, then at the last second after noticing a huge gap between the main office building and the parking lot, he quickly leaps over the gap, avoiding injury. The same old route. Normally once a day, but today he has to do it twice.
Now in the building, William briskly walks past the bustling Parts department. Then past Shipping and Receiving with its loading up of products into diesel trucks, and quickly through the conveyor belt jungle of the Configuration department.
“In, prison, a security guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you. At work, you have to carry around a security card and unlock and open all the doors yourself. In prison, you can watch TV and play games. At work, you get fired for watching TV and playing games. In prison, you get your own toilet. At work, you have to share a toilet.”
“Sir, I’m timed on each call. I have to resolve issues in a timely…” once again he tries to intercept and re-take control of the situation, but with no success. In his frustration, William grabs a yellow sharpened pencil from his desk drawer and starts to lightly beat down on his penitentiary green work desk.
He starts to fiddle and play with the white eraser until it finally gives way and breaks, only to bounce off, hit his dark red camp shirt, and begin to roll under his desk. As he pushes his office chair back and starts to crawl on the filthy snack sprinkled burgundy carpet, dirtying the knee areas of his loose fitting dark blue tech pocket pants, his troubled caller continues on.
On a Wednesday afternoon, at a small desk, in a cramped, long, dirty gray office trailer; right outside of an old dark urine colored building going through its third year of construction, sits an ordinary guy answering help desk calls for the Byte Corporation.
“Help desk this is William. How may I help you?”
“Yes,…I can’t figure out something on my computer,” responded a frustrated older male voice. His leathery, worn and tattered face smothered with wrinkles and sadness could somehow be seen over the phone.
“Maybe I can help. What’s your problem?”
“Well I’m looking for the meaning of life on my computer. The guy at the store said I could find it with this new model that I just bought, although, I don’t see it anywhere.”
“This is the new extra help from the BIA. His name is Frank Nickels,” Phil painfully introduced him.
“Nice to meet you, my name is Gertrude Albatross. I manage the Business around here,” she said with a very polite smile and demeanor.
Frank was shocked by the brutal display, but he went along with the charade because he had a mission and still no leads so he said, “Nice to meet you too.” He partially smiled and stayed far away from her.
She focused her scowl back on Phil and said, “My computer is infected with a virus Phil, and you know why.” She picked up an old wooden chair that was close to a table. She then smashed it on him and it broke in two. He fell to the floor reeling in pain, then started to crawl over to where Frank was standing.
“Call me Phil,” he said as they walked to the technology room.
Once he unlocked the door and let Frank in he was amazed at how large it was. It had four sections to it. There was a very dark corner section that looked like it had ancient artifacts of the I.T. industry in it. One section seemed to store supplies like printer toner cartridges, spare computers, monitors, and other ready for use equipment. Another section was where Phil obviously did administrative work and then there was an entire other room. It was a special room.
As a part of the special room there was a locked door and a glass window to allow viewing. This small room housed the server rack that had the network servers, network router, and switches. He pointed out that it had its own air conditioner, as well as the whole room used solar panels on the roof for power, and it could work on twelve hours of an uninterrupted power supply in case of black outs.
As they walked into the front door and made their way to the meeting room Frank smelled something interesting. He thought it was Marijuana. He noticed at the front desk a beautiful girl was sitting and talking on her cell phone. She was chewing gum, coloring her nails, and stapling all while talking. He also noticed that there were student art works in display cases that were in front of the business offices close to the front desk. Some of them were paper-mâché masks, which frequently resembled hideous monsters. One of them looked like Satan and had an upside down pentagram on its forehead as well as the Satanic Bible leaning against the mask.
Frank was a little unsettled to say the least. While no one was looking he brought his watch closer to the glass display case, and re-positioned his wrist as if stretching it. This pushed the camera button on the watch and thus notified Tony to remotely snap some pictures.
Wednesday morning came with another phone call. Frank looked at his caller id and it said Bureau on it. He answered, “Hello?”
An overly courteous effeminate voice said, “Gulliver Webster here, I’m calling to speak with Frank Nickels.”
The voice continued, “I’m with the BIA in this local area. Tomorrow at noon I’d like to have lunch with you to discuss the position you now have. Do you know where Harry Wang’s is? It’s within walking distance to the school.”
Frank’s cleanly shaved brown face humorously frowned because he thought he was hearing things, but he replied anyway, “No I can’t say that I do.”
“I’ll email you the directions. I look forward to meeting you. See you tomorrow,” Gulliver abruptly hung up leaving Frank holding his phone and almost responding with a parting word.
Interview day came and Frank found himself in the lobby of a very nice hotel waiting for Mr. Lark. Fifteen minutes passes in a black leather lounge chair, then a tall distinguished older gentleman wearing glasses and a dark blue business suite exited one of the elevators to his right and walked toward Frank. Frank connects his brown eyes to the gentleman’s blue eyes then stands up.
“Mr. Frank Nickels I presume?” he asked as he offered his hand.
“Yes that’s me. And you must be Mr. Lark?,” Frank said with a firm grip and shake.
“Yes, its nice to meet you. Here’s a brief rundown of the situation. There is an all Native American Boarding School in River City. You may have seen or heard of it, Herman Indian High School.” Frank politely nodded no. Mr. Lark continued on, “Well, the problem is that there are over 300 Windows 7 workstations, approximately 150 users, 400 students, and only one I.T. Support personnel. It’s simply too much work for one person. The systems are all antiquated and in dire need of maintenance and eventually a complete upgrade to Windows 10 along with Office 365. What you will be doing is assisting the I.T. person there with all of the extra work. How does that sound?”
“Excuse me Frank, someone is calling you!” a robotic voice resonated while the black smartphone flashed and vibrated on the nightstand.
It was a cold California morning and since it was Monday, getting to the phone in the dark was a slow process.
“This is Frank,” he finally answered in a deep phlegmy voice. Then he cleared his throat while listening for a reply.
“Special Agent number four, this is S.T.A.B.L.E. headquarters,” the serious tone was menacing. He demanded attention, “You will be getting a call from a contracting company for a most difficult and treacherous job. This is a major advancement in our war against the enemy, the insidious C.L.O.W.N. organization. You will be on your own for the most part, but there will be a contact to assist you from time to time. Please contact your Surveyor with any questions,” the line cut immediately.
6:33 A.M. Midtown Crossing Los Angeles between Pico and Venice. The sun is rising and bringing enough illumination to turn off the street lights now. The air is a cool seventy degrees with a light stench of smoked cannabis and tobacco. Thor’s Day morning traffic is typical with swarms of people and their vehicles rushing to get to work at Lowes on the bottom of the Crossing structure or Smart & Final, Ulta Beauty, PetSmart, or other stores at the very top level. In between these levels is a middle second level where a lot of employees and customers park their cars.
Across from this structure can be found another stretch of
property that is host to Planet Fitness, Ralphs, CVS, and others. The parking
lot in front of Planet Fitness features a stained white bricked and caged dumpster
enclosure with a metal door unlocked for access to throw trash in.
At the southwest corner on the roof of the Midtown Crossing Shopping Center, stands a huge six foot five, 300 pound, grayish whitish bearded man. He’s clothed in dirty dark blue Dickies pants, a faded black t-shirt, and settled on top of his salt and pepper colored hair is a blue Kansas City baseball cap underneath a grey hooded sweat jacket. Old worn out blue and white Adidas sneakers cover his size thirteen feet. His age could be around fifty to sixty years old because of the worn and wrinkled skin around his dark and rage filled eyes. Around his neck hangs two necklaces. One, a gold link, and attached to it is a golden hand with its middle finger prominent and the right thumb extended in a manner that almost makes the letter L or J depending on which side is visible. The other, silver, and attached to it is a blue mini Sharpie marker.
The crowd roared at the Mississippi rally. The stadium was
filled from top to bottom with rabid followers who behaved like their messiah
had just arrived. A tall orange menace wearing a red diesel trucker cap with
the acronym: MAGA embroidered in white letters on the front, approached the
podium in the center and declared in his bombastic speaking style, “My new
USMCA is a great triumph and an incredible victory for our farmers, factory
workers, and our entire nation. We are finally putting America first. We are
making America great again. Today!”
“There’s a guy named Joseph Atwill. He wrote a book called
Caesar’s Messiah proving that Christianity is a concoction created by Titus Flavius
Caesar of Rome to get people to worship Caesar, and pacify the Jews by getting
them to turn the other cheek when they get attacked in their own land. The same
land that Rome was trying to completely takeover. So, your religion is a myth.
There is no Armageddon coming and the Rapture has already taken place in seventy
A.D., to the Jews of that time period around a generation or two after the
mythical Jesus disappeared. There’s no reason why you should even be doing
this,” painfully he yelled.
On a chilly gusty evening, underneath a blood moon, a lone, old and worn Good Year Tire rolls into the Welldun City Veteran’s cemetery. It settles against a burgundy granite tombstone that happened to be the final resting spot of a long piece of red ribbon.
ONE WEEK LATER:
“Mrs. Griswold, if you can’t keep up your mortgage payments, then we will have to take the house?”