Rose 13 of 20 Something

Charlie was totally exhausted when he set out for home. Fearing he might fall asleep at the wheel, he stopped when he saw a cafe sign flashing and ordered breakfast. While waiting for his order he noticed that this place had served a different purpose during an earlier era and he asked the heavyset cook/waiter/owner about the green, embossed ceiling.

“It’s copper. You don’t see many of these anymore,” he said. “They say oxidation is what turned it green. This place used to be a firehouse back in the horse and buggy days. The hooks for hanging the harnesses are still in the ceiling,” he explained,” lumbering from the kitchen with Charlie’s ham and eggs and then pointing. Judging from his bulk, he was hauling an extra hundred pounds with him.

“They had to harness up before they could get going. I bet a lot of stuff burned down before they even got underway,” Charlie muttered between bites.

“It’s all they had back in the day. But you’re right. Communications was poor too. Look what happened in Chicago and San Francisco and probably lots more places we never heard about.”

Charlie had a refill on his coffee, then leaned his elbows on the counter, wishing he’d taken a booth instead of perching on a stool. Gazing out the window he saw the snow had stopped and there were signs clearing, hints that sunshine was not far away.

“That was some storm,” Charlie said.

“You’re not from these parts, are you?”

“No, I live across the line in Missouri.”

“Well, we are pretty used to this kind of weather. We prepare for it.”

After refilling his thermos, Charlie bid the cook farewell and pushed out into the crisp morning air. Tightening his tire chains, he got into his car, grateful he’d left the engine idling and the heater fan blowing. The highway wasn’t plowed. Pushing several inches of fresh snow made his progress slow, but he still caught up with the storm. Throttling back, he matched its speed, staying in rear of it, picking up slight flurries. He was anxious to get home, but the slower speed gave him time to think about the clandestine radio stations.

He didn’t have enough information to interest the FBI. Maybe the army? Probably. Then he remembered Major Holmes, his commanding officer at the radio site in Iceland. Serving together for three years resulted an unusual camaraderie between the commanding officer and his enlisted men. It was almost family-like. Consequently, the major had shared his home address with those men working under him. Charlie wondered if he should share what he already knew with the him? He might be a big help. He’d forgotten where Holmes lived. He would have to check his address book when he got home.

Charlie reached Butler in time for lunch He was headed for May’s Cafe for a bite to eat before going to bed. But first he swung by the shop and found Artie, his helper, beneath a farm truck on a creeper.

“How’s things Art?”

[Author’s note: Originally, Rose is written for and published in K9YA Telegraph, Chicago. I set out to make it an eight part series. However, the story took on a life of its own and I emailed Philip, K9PL, my editor, informing him that I needed four more chapters. Well, chapter twenty is nearly finished and will head off to Chicago by mid-January. I think we’re looking at finishing with chapter 24. These are busy people. I have to run to keep up.]

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