Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Five Hundred and Forty-three : Enter the police


3 days later

Thursday morning — 10:01 a.m.

Navajo Nation Police station

“No, sir,” Blane said.

He was sitting in an interview room, across from Detective Benjie Nez of the Navajo Nation Police officer. He’d been called into for questioning in the deaths of the Templars.

“We have to wait for the FBI,” Detective Nez said.

“Why is that?” Blane asked.

“The FBI has jurisdiction over the reservation,” Detective Nez said. “Sometimes we get guys who want to run the whole show. Agent Rodriguez likes to work in conjunction with the Navajo Nation Police.”

Detective Nez grinned.

“We like that too,” Detective Nez said.

“I bet,” Blane said.

Detective Nez seemed to be trying to keep Blane calm. Blane hated small spaces. This entire situation was uncomfortable and more than a little scary.

“So we wait for the FBI,” Detective Nez said with a smile.

The door to the room opened and a woman wearing a dark blue suit entered the room. Blane hopped to his feet. She held out her hand.

“Agent Rodriguez,” she said.

“Blane Lipson,” he said, shaking her hand.

“I apologize for the delay,” she said sitting down next to Detective Nez. She set a file on the table. “This morning, I have received seven phone calls from seven different high ranking individuals.”

She looked at him for a moment. Her cell phone rang. She looked at the caller identification and then back at Blane.

“Eight individuals,” Agent Rodriguez said. “Any idea why they would call me?”

“How would I possible know something like that?” Blane asked.

“They were calling in support of you,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Okay,” Blane said.

“You don’t seem surprised,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“How am I to know who usually calls you or how many calls you usually get?” Blane asked. “Is eight calls a lot?”

Agent Rodriguez looked at Blane for a long moment.

“You did not ask your friends to call me?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“I only just met you,” Blane said. “How could I ask anyone to call you when I’ve never met you?”

Clearly not impressed, the FBI agent tipped her head to the side and watched Blane. He responded by shrugging.

“How do you know so many high ranking people in the military or intelligence?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“I …” Blane sighed. He looked at her for a long moment before clearing his throat. “You must know that I cannot tell you that.”

“Why is that?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“I can’t tell if you’re actually curious or whether you just want to mess with me,” Blane said. “And I’m not sure what any of this has to do with what happened to my partner’s grandfathers.”

Agent Rodriguez gave Blane a hard look. She was silent for so long that Detective Nez shifted uncomfortably. After a moment, Blane shrugged again.

They sat in silence for what seemed like a long time. Agent Rodriguez took a breath and flipped open a file.

“You are a complicated person,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Okay,” Blane said.

“Abandoned as a child,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with me,” Blane said. “You should ask my biological mother about that.”

Agent Rodriguez looked at him again. After a minute, she continued.

“Foster care, street kid,” Agent Rodriguez said. “In and out of trouble — prostitution, drug possession, vagrancy. Taken in by the Marlowe-Lipson clan.”

“My father was Sam Lipson’s brother,” Blane said. “I wasn’t ‘taken in’ by the Marlowe-Lipson clan. My family found me, saved me. If you think anything else, you clearly haven’t spoken to any member of my family.”

Agent Rodriguez made a point of writing that in the file. Blane stifled the urge to roll his eyes.

“Gourmet Chef,” Agent Rodriguez said. “Worked as a personal secretary to this Jacob Marlowe. He a lover of yours?”

“Cousin,” Blane said. “Brother.”

“Which is it?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“Both,” Blane said defiantly.

Agent Rodriguez fell silent again. After a moment, she continued.

“And now you’re an acupuncturist,” Agent Rodriguez said. “Married to Heather. Father of two. And yet you identify as gay.”

Blane didn’t respond.

“It’s quite a history,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Okay,” Blane said.

“That’s all you have to say?” Agent Rodriguez asked. “Okay?”

“It is what it is,” Blane said. “I had a rough start. I’ve had a variety of careers before finding a passion. My wife and I have made choices for ourselves and our lives that included the choice of having two children.”

“She doesn’t mind that you’re gay?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“That’s really between us, isn’t it?” Blane asked. “You don’t really care what I do or don’t do in my private life. You just want to rattle me and you think pressing on my sexuality will do it.”

Blane shook his head.

“It will not,” Blane said. “I am what I am. She is what she is. We love each other deeply. We love our children deeply. We have made our choices based on our love for each other. From that came two children. It seems likely that someday we’ll have more. But Wyn is not a year old.”

Agent Rodriguez didn’t respond.

“I like children,” Blane said. When Agent Rodriguez still didn’t respond, he added, “Do you?”

“Do I what?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“Like children?” Blane asked.

Agent Rodriguez looked at Blane for a long moment.

“Are you telling us that you are a pedophile, Mr.… uh … I see you go by Lipson now?” Agent Rodriguez said.

Blane leaned back in his chair.

“That seemed to get to you,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Disrespect is ugly,” Blane said. “You want me to be ashamed of being gay. I am not. You want me to be ashamed of being left by my mother. I am not. You want me to feel like my love for my wife is somehow wrong and filthy because it doesn’t fit within your limited understanding of love. It is not.”

The agent looked irritated. But once started, Blane continued.

“You want me to be ashamed of having a rough start in life. Of having to prostitute myself. Of being a drug addict. Of being poor and homeless. I am not,” Blane said. “Of being taken in by the Lipsons. Of being married to a woman. You know why I am not ashamed?”

He glared at Agent Rodriguez and continued.

“Because my wife, Heather,” Blane said. “That’s why. She’s taught me that all of these little tiny experiences don’t mean anything. That the only thing that matters is how well we love each other.”

Agent Rodriguez looked at Blane. His eyes flicked to Detective Nez. The Navajo police officer seemed to be cheering Blane on.

Blane stood up.

“If you’d like to ask me about what happened earlier this week, I will be at our hotel for an hour,” Blane said. “Jake is likely to need me out on the site. I will be with him until we finish for the day.”

He started toward the door.

“Acupuncture,” the agent said.

Blane turned to look at her.

“You didn’t mention acupuncture as something to be ashamed of,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Why would anyone be ashamed of being an acupuncturist?” Blane asked. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

The agent sat there looking at him.

“So you’ve given acupuncture to all of these people,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“I have been called to a variety of places around the world to perform acupuncture for my clients,” Blane said. “While I am there, I have worked on other people. When they come through town, they stop in for a treatment and to talk about their options.”

“Why is that?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“They seem to think that I am good at it,” Blane said. “More than that, they believe that I listen to them and understand their problems. That I care. They believe that I care.”

“And do you?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“I can tell you that you favor your left arm because you have a torn rotator cuff in your right arm,” Blane said. “When you injured your right shoulder, you injured your ribs as well.”

Agent Rodriguez didn’t respond.

“Sliding into second base?” Blane asked.

Agent Rodriguez blushed.

“You can get surgery but until you heal these other injuries, you are at risk of another tear,” Blane said. He gestured to the door. “Now, can I go?”

“Why you?” Agent Rodriguez asked. “Why do they call you to perform acupuncture? Surely there are acupuncturists all over the world.”

“I was in acupuncture school when an old friend of mine’s sister, someone I knew by sight but hadn’t spent any time with, was injured,” Blane said. “Her husband and brother, my friend, were desperate to help her. Jake went to the same high school as she and her family went to.”

“Jake is your cousin,” Detective Nez said.

“Right,” Blane said. “I was just learning. She needed help. I was able to support her healing and learn at the same time. You could say that we did it together. I sought teachers to help me to help her. They are not without resource so they sought teachers for me. She needed real help. Together, we were able to help her get better. That has become my specialty.”

Blane shrugged.

“I can tell you that you will likely need surgery to repair that shoulder,” Blane said. “Acupuncture can support your healing as well as support healing your entire side.”

Agent Rodriguez didn’t move.

“Now, if you don’t …” Blane put his hand on the door knob.

“We have some questions about Monday,” Detective Nez said. “Would you mind sitting down again?”

Blane went around the table to sit down.

“We have heard from several witnesses that these men were looking for someone,” Detective Nez said.

“Dr. Nelson Weeks,” Blane said.

“His father is a patient of yours?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“He and his father were in a train explosion when he was an infant. It’s famously attributed to Carlos the Jackal,” Blane said. “You can look it up with ‘train explosion Carlos the Jackal.’ Nelson’s father managed to survived but has lived with grave injury.”

“Has?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

Blane sighed.

“He is in the process of replacing the joints that were injured,” Blane said. “He had his fourth joint replaced last week.”

“And he has to do with you because …” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Nelson’s father has been a patient of mine for almost as long as I’ve been in practice,” Blane said. “I was unaware that they were related because they have different names and they’ve been estranged. Nelson’s father got to me because he is a friend of Seth O’Malley who is friends with …”

Blane stopped talking when Detective Nez made a gesture with his hand. Clearly, everyone in the world knew who Seth O’Malley was and the kind of influence he exerted.

“Why did you go out to speak with them?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“It was my task to do,” Blane said.

“I don’t know what that means,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“I don’t either,” Blane said. “That’s doesn’t make the words untrue. I went out because Nelson and I are close. Because I would not let them disturb my family or him.”

“Was this Dr. Weeks there?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“No,” Blane said. “He left before they arrived.”

“I see,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Why did he leave?” Detective Nez asked. “By all accounts, he was having a nice time there.”

“He is involved in a Federal Trial,” Blane said. “He was recalled to Denver because they were talking about a plea agreement.”

Blane shrugged.

“It’s been on the news,” Blane said with a shrug. “Your computer might be helpful again here.”

“We are aware of the trial,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“You’ve been in touch with Dr. Weeks?” Detective Nez asked.

“We have video chatted a few times,” Blane said.

“And this guy,” Agent Rodriguez said. “This Tres Sierra?”

“What about him?” Blane asked.

“He is your wife’s lover?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

“You’ve really spent a lot of time thinking about our sexual relationships,” Blane said, mildly.

“It just all seems a little …” Agent Rodriguez looked Blane in the eye. “Hedonic.”

Blane burst out laughing. When he realized that the Agent wasn’t making a joke, he quickly stifled his laugh.

“It is what it is,” Blane said with a shrug. “I can assure you that Tres, me, Nelson, Heather — we don’t know anything about why these people came to harm us or what happened to them. Because it seems like you’ve skipped a step. These people came to harm us.”

“You are here to …” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Our children’s school closes a few times a year,” Blane said. “They are off this week. A large group of us, myself included, were going to head to Poland for a teaching trip, but the trip was canceled due to political unrest there. Nazis.

“My cousin, Jake, had been asked to help with some water wells here on the reservation. He owns an underground utility. The hotel was empty. We came here. Because the school is a part of the company, a lot of the company came with us.”

“And these Templars showed up,” Agent Rodriguez said.

“Exactly,” Blane said.

“Why water wells?” Agent Rodriguez asked.

The Navajo Nation detective turned in his chair to look at Agent Rodriguez. He shook his head.

“I am sure that Detective Nez can give you the history lesson of how the Navajo Nation was tricked out of the water rights to the river that runs through their reservation,” Blane said.

Detective Nez raised his eyebrows.

“Most people do not have their running water here,” Blane said. “We have a friend who’s grandparents asked Jacob for a water well. It just came together that we could do it this week. Once we were here, we wanted to drill as many wells as possible. The need is desperate. Sam Lipson decided to support our friend Gando Peaches in starting his own well digging company.”

Neither Agent Rodriguez nor Detective Nez said anything.

“So far, we’ve dug six wells,” Blane said. “When I am not giving people acupuncture, my focus has been on helping to hire and train one hundred and counting men and women from the Navajo Nation who are looking to gain a skill.

“These are good jobs. Once they learn how to do it, they can work anywhere in the world or stay on the reservation or leave to work in the cities. Hell, they could work for Lipson Construction in Denver. With our support, Gando will be able to provide water to historic areas of the Navajo Nation, allowing people to move back here.

“What is your problem with this?”

“Easy,” Agent Rodriguez said. “Forty dead bodies.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with me,” Blane said. “You know that I was sitting in a room with more than twenty other people when those men died. Nelson was in Denver. The children were in a room together. The adults were with me.”

Blane shook his head.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with me,” Blane said.

With that, Agent Rodriguez got to her feet. Detective Nez followed her out of the room. Blane was alone, in the police interview room, by himself.



Thursday morning — 10:01 a.m.

Navajo Nation Police Medical Examiner


Distracted, Pierre Semaines slipped into speaking French. When the attendant didn’t respond, Pierre looked up.

“What?” the medical examiner asked.

The medical examiner was about Pierre’s size. His skin was the beautiful kind of brown that Hollywood starlets worked hard to maintain. His eyes were intelligent. The wall of the office they were sitting in was lined with degrees from prestigious Universities.

Somehow, this man had taken an immediate dislike to Pierre. Of course, it didn’t help that Pierre had immediately forgotten the man’s name. He silently wished that he’d taken Sam Lipson up on his offer to go with him.

“Yes,” Pierre said. “I am able to take all of the remains.”

“These folks are a part of some club …” The medical examiner looked at his clipboard. He looked back at Pierre. “You sure you can take all of them?”

“I have received permission from the families as well as the Templars,” Pierre said.

Pierre pressed across the desk the official form releasing the remains for the families as well as the notice from the Templars that they would like Pierre to pick them up.

“My father is …” Pierre nodded his head to the area behind the attendant. “My wife’s father …”

“I see,” the medical examiner said.

The medical examiner’s intelligent eyes scanned Pierre.

“You seem …” the medical examiner raised his eyebrows, “complètement paniqué.”

Pierre chuckled at the medical examiner saying that he was freaked out.

“My father and I have been estranged,” Pierre said. “I …”

The medical examiner’s eyes watched Pierre intently. Pierre blew out a breath.

“I have been very angry with him,” Pierre said. “Very angry. I have debated with myself for years — will I go to his funeral? Will I not? Every time my sister calls I think, ‘Is he finally dead? Has it finally happened?’ But, of course, the next time comes around and it’s a big fucking mess that involves his desire to murder my only son.”

Pierre gave the medical examiner a hopeless shake of his head. The medical examiner nodded.

“The Templars still exist?” the medical examiner asked.

“Unfortunately,” Pierre said.

“You need help with this?” the medical examiner asked.

Much to his surprise, Pierre’s eyes welled up at this stranger’s offer for help.

“Probably,” Pierre said. “My son’s friends are here digging some water wells.”

“They’re digging a well at my mother’s house today,” the medical examiner said. “Is that a bribe?”

Denver Cereal continue next week…

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