“So I guess you heard, I need to meet someone. But I definitely want to ask you some more about this before I go. Hang on, let me just call a cab real quick.” I grimaced at my phone and started scrolling through numbers. “I think I have a number for a cab company…”
“I already called one.”
My finger froze on the screen, and I looked up at him. “What?” Continue reading
“Hi, Benjamin Cooper?”
“Yes. Who’s this.”
“Ah, sorry. This is Carolyn Wilkowski. I’m sorry I missed your call this morning, I get terrible reception here at work.” Aha. My only other connection to my Great-Uncle. Maybe talking to her would be a little more productive than searching this desk.
“You have to work at nine in the morning on Saturday? Sucks to be you.” Continue reading
I skimmed I quickly flipped to the cover of the book. It said “The Fall of Saigon: American Policies and Politics at the End of the Vietnam War”. Huh. It was a history book, obviously, and the chapter that it had been open to was called “Operation Frequent Wind”.
I could not really be sure of the timing, but it definitely seemed like this was something my Great-Uncle had been working on before he died. Maybe it was important. I sat down to read. It took a few minutes to get the just of what was going on, since I did not want to start at the beginning of the book, but like most history books it was pretty dry, and mostly just a series of facts. Apparently, “Operation Frequent Wind” was the name of the helicopter evacuation of Americans and some “at-risk” South Vietnamese from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war. The book made it sound pretty heroic, a bunch of helicopters taking terrified civilians out of a city that was literally being invaded as they were doing it, rockets and bombs going off all around them. Then they flew out of the city, and landed on American ships in the South China Sea. Continue reading
I just stared around the room for a while, taking some time to adjust. I had not expected my search for my family history to be easy, exactly. I had expected to find family photos, journals, letters, that sort of thing. I was quite sure that I had some seriously repressed emotions around the whole issue of my father, what with him leaving my mom and never being a part of my life, so I had expected anything having to do with that side of my family to be difficult, emotionally. I had expected to find some photos with my father in them, and that it would bring up all sorts of emotions that a psychiatrist would really love to talk with me about. I had expected a weekend of pensive catharsis, looking at pictures of my father as a child. Continue reading
I could spend hours talking about what I found behind that door. To be honest, the things in that room are more of a testament to the burden that I am under than anything that I could write here. That room, and the secrets it holds, even from me, even now, are the heart of it all, the origin and the solution to a nightmare that reaches far beyond me and my family. But this is my story, not the story of the house.
So, suffice to say that although I was nearly overwhelmed by the things I saw that first time in my Great Uncle’s laboratory, I did not even scratch the surface of what was there to be found. Continue reading
I stepped carefully into the corridor. It was a space about three feet wide between the interior wall, with the office on the other side, and what I assumed was the outside wall of the house. Not too wide. Enough to space to walk, but still easy to conceal. I was actually impressed. I had never seen a secret passageway before.
I took another careful step, the light from my cell phone and some reflected light coming in through the door letting me see enough to know I was not going to step into a hole, but not much else. Continue reading
I spent nearly an hour sorting through the paperwork on and in the desk, but I did not learn anything really significant. Certainly nothing that told me anything about who my Great-Uncle was, or how he might have died. It told me a lot about his stock portfolio, which explained the size of this house. I found his electric bills, which made me quite sure I could not afford to keep the house.
But nothing about him. Continue reading
I pushed open the door the butler had gone through, and into a dining room. It was big, of course, like everything in this house, but the long table and the chairs were all covered by a white cloth, probably to keep the dust off. So was all the other furniture along the walls, what I guessed were other side tables and such. The lights were off, but there were a row of huge windows along two of the walls, so there was pleanty of light. But I was not really paying attention to the decor. I would look at that more later, maybe, but for now I wanted to find that butler and get some answers. Continue reading
I stood in the doorway and stared at the man holding the door open. He was average height and slim, with pale skin and dark eyes. His face was narrow and angular, with a slightly pointed nose. His hair was so black it was almost blue, combed straight back from his face. It looked like he had gelled it, but little pieces were poking straight up in a few places. He was wearing a simple black suit, with a little embroidered bird above the breast pocket. It was black, a slightly different shade than the fabric of the suit, and I guessed it was a crow. It just seemed to fit. Continue reading
As I walked up the gravel driveway to the house, I had some time to look around. The oak trees lining the drive were huge, craggy, and ancient. They were draped in Spanish moss, the long gray tendrils hanging down from outstretched branches like thick spiderwebs, in some places so long that they touched the ground. It gave the trees a majestic grace, but also looked a little creepy. Like they should be a graveyard somewhere. This late in the fall, most of the leaves were gone, littering the ground. They had not been raked, even from the gravel driveway, and in some places they covered it so thickly it was hard to see gravel at all. Continue reading