Ah, Working. How wonderful having a job must be to the huddled masses. I’m quite happy to have our current gig, however, it wreaks havoc on my brain after 8 or more hours. So much so that I barely have the energy to shower and get ready for bed! I’m amazed that I ever did this for 40 hours a week consistently for several years. I’m amazed ANYONE can go to a factory and put in 40 hours doing the same thing day after day. Don’t get me wrong, the money is good! And I enjoy the people I work with. But the rhythm currently has not set in.
All that was to explain why I did not post the next chapter this last week. Truth be told, I thought that I would fix this particular part of the story. While writing it, I ran into a wall and decided to write right through it. I could not be stopped by some “detail” in the story when I had a deadline to meet! I had to write 50000 words in one month after all! So I decided to kick this small part of the story down the road to be handled later. Unfortunately, even now, I do not want to deal with it. I don’t even feel like fixing the punctuation ( again). Fixing the quotes is my biggest head ache and I usually just do not have the patience to deal with it after work. But I’ll take a stab at it now on this Saturday before I call it a night There may still be problems, but ah well. It can’t be helped. Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far and if you are reading the story…Enjoy chapter 13!
Tracy looked around for approval. David was still thinking where as the kids all had smiles on their faces. She knew she had them but she ultimately needed David’s consent for the plan.
“So what did you have in mind? Call him up and ask him ‘Hey Eth, Just wanted to call and ask what you had inside that refrige?” David said sarcastically.
“What’s wrong with that?” Tracy argued, “Sounds good to me.”
The rest of the brood nodded their heads and muttered support.
“Fine! ” David raised his hands in mock surrender. “Lets call him now while it is still early. In fact, lets keep calling him until we get a hold of him. I’m not going to leave any messages, nor will I be put on hold. ”
Whitney ran over to the phone, picking it up and bringing it over. David looked, preparing his fingers to start the walking. “Ok what’s his number?” David asked
“I thought you knew.” Tracy Replied. She reached for the phone book, “Look I tried to find him in the phone book and could not find anything.”
“How should I know his number? We have not seen each other for several years. Not to mention he has moved several times.”
“I looked online and couldn’t find his number either” . Tracy looked defeated.
“Have you tried the caller ID?” Sam asked
“Caller ID? We have that? How can that help?”
“That’s right,” Tracy pointed with her finger at the phone. “You said he called you the other day. He might still be on the list. And then we can redial his number if it is offered.” She pressed a small button on the phone and scrolled down the names of callers. “Here it is!” She rattled off the numbers.
David punched in the numbers as he heard them. “You know he said he was on calling from his truck. Either he has a cell phone or a phone in his car. Either way, we might not be able to get in touch with him. “ The phone began to ring.
A voice picked up. “I’m sorry, the number you are trying to call has been disconnected” David hung up. Having heard the familiar voice before.
“It’s been disconnected.” He dropped the phone from his ear, “Any other ideas.”
“That makes sense,” Tracy reasoned. “ I would imagine that he would use a disposable phone so he could not be traced.”
“Did you look up his phone number on line?” Sam asked. Samantha was the only one with any real computer literacy in the family. David knew how to Email and Tracy knew how to shop. Both Daniel and Whitney only used computers for games. But Samantha was required to learn the very latest because of the techno craze at high school. The Computer was used for reports and equations and research. She looked over at her parents for their response
“I tried a little.” Tracy admitted. “I got a little frustrated after an hour with no results.”
Sam nodded knowing the real meaning of that statement. What Her mother really meant was that after a few minutes of not finding anything on her favorite web sites, She went internet shopping for the latest fashions or books. Sam was actually impressed that her mother would even consider the internet as a resource for finding a persons address and phone number. She ran over to the office and booted it up.
The rest of the family followed. Even Daniel and Whitney, who rarely took any family gathering to be very interesting or fun, followed in. Sam typed in a search for yellow pages and several web sites came up. She clicked in on one and typed in the name of the person she was looking for. Several names that matched the name came up with addresses and phone numbers.
“Any of these look familiar?”
“Hmm I’m pretty sure he does not live in California. Nor Florida. Can we narrow the search a little?” David looked at Sam. It was odd that he was looking to his daughter for information and she was barely in high school.
Samantha typed some more to narrow the search. “No one in Michigan named Ethan Allen. Except the furniture store. “ She smiled.
“How about Ohio?” Tracy asked “Maybe he lives close to where the robbery took place.”
David and Samantha rolled their eyes. Sam clicked in a new search. “Only one Ethan Allen in Ohio and I’m guessing that he is married to a someone named Maude?” She scrunched her nose.
“I don’t think that is him, He married Cheryl”.” David volunteered. ” Maybe you should do a search for Ethan and Cheryl Allen.”
Sam searched again. This time finding nothing. No one in the united states was listed under that name. “Either they have no phone or they don’t exist. Sam reasoned. Whitney began to hum the twilight zone theme.
“Of coarse he exists, I talked to him a couple of days ago. He probably has an unlisted number.”
“If that is the case who else would know his number?” Tracy looked at the computer as if it had all the answers.
“Maybe his Dad? Try Donald Allen. Last I heard he lived up north somewhere.”
Samantha’s fingers once again worked their magic. Several Donald Allen’s lit the screen. “Ok Well, we have several Donald Allens in Michigan. All but one are located in Detroit. The other one is in Manistee. What do you think.”
” That must be him, Manistee! ” David affirmed “Give me the number! ” He picked up the phone once again.
Sam read off the number and David punched them in. The phone began to ring. “It’s ringing! ” David announced He gripped the phone with anticipation. The ringing stopped. A click then a message recording clicked on “You have reached the Allen residence…. unable to come to phone, but if you leave your name and number…Beep!”
The recording sounded like Mr. Allen was reading it. And ran out of time. David was just about to hang up when the phone clicked again. “Hello?” Came an aged voice.
“Hello? Mr. Allen? ” David smiled at the thought of finally talking to someone. The family hopped and jumped with celebration.
“Who the Hell is this?” The voice spoke back.
“David, David Noorman?”
“I don’t know any David. I told you people to stop calling me. I am satisfied enough with my health insurance.”
“No no no! This is David Noorman Mr. Allen. We used to be neighbors back when you lived in Grand Rapids. I was friends with your sons. Eric and Ethan. ” David explained.
“Yeah Yeah! That’s right” !
“What the hell you calling me for at this hour?”
David looked at his watch, It was ten past seven. “Sorry to call you so…late? I just was wondering if you have the phone number of one of your Sons.”
“Eric? Yeah I got his number, he is always trying to get me to take care of those kids of his. I tell you, I think they are spoiled rotten and they take so much out of me when I have to watch them. I’m not long for this world and I don’t know if I want to spend the last few remaining days or hours watching those kids even though they might be my grand kids. I don’t know what all the hype is about grandparents and their grand kids. All I see is the grandkids breaking all the grandparents stuff all the time and eating them out of house and home and not listening to anything they have to say…”
“Wait! No! I mean Ethan!” David interrupted. “ Not Eric! “ This was the most he had ever heard Mr. Allen talk. Usually he was always silent while Mrs. Allen did all the talking. This was the first time David had talked to him since Mrs. Allen had passed on.
“Ethan? You sure you don’t want Eric’s number?”
“Positive! ” Tracy nodded in agreement and closed her eyes. They knew first hand what Eric and his family was capable of.
“Oh, Yeah I got Ethan’s number. He has one of those unlisted numbers. That you get on the internet or something. They are not listed anywhere. The hospital tried to call him the a while back when I was there and they couldn’t find him. They are going to bury me in an unmarked grave one of these days if they can’t find my only living relatives. Ethan probably won’t even know I’m dead ’till after I’m six feet under.”
David eyes rolled as he made a talking mouth with his hand, signaling that Mr. Allen was unloading all his troubles on an available ear. David gleaned through the information.
“So you do have his number then?” David pressed on, finding a break in the ramblings.
“Yeah, What do you need it for? You planning on telling him to stop stealing?”
“Stealing?” David asked before considering where the tangent would take him . Tracy’s eyes widened as she tugged on David’s shirt. “What do you mean Ethan is stealing? ”
“Ask him if he has been stealing from the bank or any armored trucks” Tracy interjected pulling on David’s sleeve more vigorously now.
David waved Tracy away to get her to stop pulling on him and shush her up. Mr. Allen was talking and he could not hear them both. “Wait! Sorry, I didn’t catch that. What makes you say Ethan has been stealing?”
“Oh! He comes over here all alone sometimes and when he leaves. Things are missing! It sometimes takes me a while to notice. But when I need things they are gone. I’m sure he takes them.”
“Like what? Little nick knacks or money or jewelry?”
“No. Though he might be taking that stuff too. Since his mom died and he got that Ebay store. He might be robbing the graves to sell that stuff to collectors. That jewelry is probably worth a fortune to the right antique collector.”
“So what does he steal?”
“Big things! Like furniture and dishes and lamps! Remember my Buddha lamps? We had those forever! He came up one day and they were gone! He denies it. Says we put them in storage in the barn on the property. But I can’t find them! It took me a couple of days to see that they were missing.”
David thought back to the lamps. They were a prominent feature in the Allen household and fit in well to Mrs. Allen’s ’Opium Den’ Décor. The red velvet couch the blue velvet chair and the dark wooden paneling all gave the living room a creepy feel. Like a lounge or an underground temple. Eric and Ethan joked about the Buddhas often. Making fun of them with mustaches and beards made out of modeling clay. To the best of David’s knowledge, Mrs. Allen had bought them from a garage sale.
“So have you seen him recently?” David asked
“He comes up every week I think. Now that he doesn’t have a job he has lots of time off. I don’t know what he does with that time. Probably getting into trouble! But usually he comes up here and helps me chop wood. Maybe mow the lawn. I don’t mind as long as he leaves my stuff alone. I hardly have any furniture anymore.”
David looked at his watch. There was no telling how long this could take and he had better get the information when he could. “Too bad. Well Hey! If I could get that number, I’ll be happy to talk to him about it.”
“Huh? Oh! Right, Right!” David heard shuffling and the familiar sounds of drawers being opened and shut again. Mr. Allen was talking to himself as he rustled papers. “I’m sure I left it somewhere around here. Wait! Here it is!” More rustling then a pause.
Mr. Allen read the number while David repeated it to Tracy. Tracy scribbled down the number with vigor
“Thanks Mr. Allen David was eager to get going and having achieved the information he was looking for, was ready to end the conversation. “I’ll tell him ‘hi’ for you when I get a hold of him.”
“Yeah, when you do, ask him if he had something to do with my refrigerator disappearing. I think someone stole it!”
David paused, “refrigerator?” Tracy once again began shaking his sleeve. “What do you mean someone stole your refrigerator ?” David probed deeper.
“I mean it’s missing! I told him some one would take it if we left it there.”
“They stole it out of your kitchen?”
“No, It was sitting out next to the garage. See, It was in my living room for a long time but I wanted to defrost it. And I didn’t want it to soak the carpet when it did, so I call Ethan to help me move the thing. It was really too heavy for me alone. So Ethan comes over and we take it out in the yard next to the garage. I told him it would get stolen out there in the open where everyone could see it. We should have taken it to the property and put it in the barn out there.” .
“So why didn’t you put it in the kitchen where the refrige belongs?”
“Oh! I already have a refrigerator in the kitchen. This one was extra. Ethan thought I should take it to the dump, but I couldn’t see any reason to throw it away.”
“Because it still worked! There is no reason to throw away a perfectly good appliance if it still works. I could use it to hold extra stuff, or give it to church or something. Ethan just wants to throw all my stuff away. Or sell it on Ebay.”
David visualized the big rusty hulk that he buried that night. He could definitely see that the refrigerator had wore out it’s style long ago. He thought it best to not mention that he had a pretty good idea as to the final resting place to the behemoth.
“Hmm, Ok then, well I better let you go and I’ll tell Ethan when I talk to him .” David quickly took the phone from his ear “Bye! “ He shouted at the receiver as he hung it up. He paused to breath a sigh of relief.
“So what was all that about a refrigerator?” Tracy asked eagerly.
“Oh Yeah I now have a pretty good idea who’s refrigerator is buried in Yankee Springs.”
“It was his? Does he know?”
“I don’t think he knows and I was not about to tell him I had anything to do with it. I wasn’t going to get in the middle of something I had no business in.”
“So what did he say?” Tracy pressed further.
“Well, It appears that Ethan Steals stuff according to his father.”
“I knew it!” Tracy made a fist, assuring she was right all along. The kids and the cat were listening, also eager for more information.
“Now wait, I don’t think Mr. Allen has all his facts straight” .
“Why do you think that?” Sam asked
“He thinks Ethan is taking his stuff and selling it on ebay or something. He says he comes over and things go missing. Now maybe he just thinks that because he misplaces stuff of forgets what he does with it. I’m pretty sure Ethan didn’t take his refrigerator to sell it on ebay.”
“Did you ask him what was in the refrigerator, Dad?” Sam inquired.
“No, but I don’t think he knew what was in it anyway. I think it was empty. He said he moved it outside to defrost it.”
“Why would he move it outside?”
“So he wouldn’t get the carpet wet.”
“He has carpet in the kitchen?”
“No he has carpet in the living room.”
“Why was his refrigerator in the living room?”
I don’t know. I guess it was his ‘back up’ or something. He has two, er..HAD two. I think he still has the one in his kitchen.”
“He had two refrigerators? Why didn’t he get rid of one of them? ” Tracy looked confused.
“I don’t think he has to worry about that now. ” David looked at the piece of paper Tracy was holding. “We didn’t call him to find out why he has , er HAD two refrigerators, We called him to get Ethan’s number.”
Tracy held the paper out in front of her as she read the numbers. Once again David dialed them in as he heard them. The phone began to ring. The whole room fell silent.
“I won’t be surprised if he is not home. Or he lets his machine or voice mail get it.” David muttered to himself.
“Hello? ” Came a female voice.
“Ah Hello, Is this Cheryl?” David asked
“Yes. Who is this?”
“Hello Cheryl, this is David Noorman.”
“David Who? The voice sounded skeptical.
“David Noorman. One of Ethan’s friends. I was one of the groomsmen at your wedding, what was it? Ten years ago now? ”
“Oh, Sorry, I don’t really remember you much. Ethan’s not here at the moment or else I would let you talk to him.”
Oh Ethan’s not there? ” David repeated looking at Tracy and the kids. Tracy grabbed the phone from David
“Hi Cheryl. This is Tracy, we met at your mother in laws funeral? I was the one standing by the flowers telling you that it as ironic that funeral was going to be really quiet now that Mrs. Allen was the guest of honor. Remember?”
David’s eyes widened. “What are you telling her that for? Good lord! Tracy!” He turned away at the social blunder.
Tracy smiled as she heard laughing on the other end of the line. She nodded her head at David “Remember me now?”
“Oh yes! That was YOU? I never thought I was going to lose it during the service thinking of that. You were one of the only people I could relate too there” .
Tracy knew the feeling. There was a common bond when it came to mother in laws. Something that was written in nature. She thought of what to ask next.
“So where is Ethan now?” Tracy asked
“ He went out on an errand, I’m not sure when he will come back. Usually he goes up to his Dads. He goes up there quite a bit now that he has lots of free time.”
“Do you ever go with him?”
“Ah no. I usually don’t go there.”
“Why not? I hear Manistee is really nice this time of year. You can relax and take a nice color tour.”
“That’s all true, but I still would have to hang out with Ethan’s Dad.” Cheryl reasoned
“Is that bad?” Tracy inquired
“I don’t know if you have even been at his house, but everything is old and dirty. I don’t dare sit on any of the chairs because I might get my clothes permanently stained. The place is packed with a Hodge podge of old uncomfortable furniture. I don’t know if he cleans up anymore since his wife died. Come to think of it, I don’t recall it ever being clean there even when she was alive. ” Cheryl explained.
“I know what you mean. ” Tracy thought of her own in laws and thought how she never felt totally comfortable there. “What does Ethan do up there with his Dad?” She asked.
“I think he helps him chop wood and tries to clean up. He’s been trying to clear out some of that junk, but I guess his Dad fights him every step of the way. Just the other day Ethan told me that he bagged up a bunch of old rotten food and clothes so they could be thrown away. And after he left, his father went through the garbage and pulled stuff back out. Saying that there was still some use in the old clothes. It’s very frustrating.”
Tracy thought of the next line of questioning. “Has Ethan ever brought a refrigerator home from there?”
“A refrigerator? Goodness no! Where would we put such a thing? Several months ago, he brought two of the most hideous blue lamps I have ever seen. Thankfully he threw them away. I thought that we should donate them but Ethan said he had to break them. He said it should have been done years ago.”
“About how often does he go up there?”
“At least once a week. Sometimes more. Especially with hunting season coming on now. I imagine he will go up there for several days with his brother.
“Has he gone up there this week yet? “ Tracy asked. David was looking nervous.
“Not this week yet, I think he might be going up later. Maybe on Monday. Why? Did his Dad ask about him?”
“Oh no. I was just curious. So he didn’t go up there on Tuesday or Wednesday? ” Tracy pried further. Now David was the one shaking her sleeve, signaling that she might be asking questions that are too personal.
“I don’t think so. He has a online business that he runs while I’m at work.”
Tracy covered the phone with her hand, “She doesn’t know! ” She said excited.
“You are going to get her to start asking questions about your questions if you don’t use a little more caution!” David warned with a whisper.
“Online business? What kind? ”
“Oh he picks up things from a supplier in Chicago, sometimes Detroit, and sells them online. Kind of like a specialty distributor. We are still working out the bugs. Money has been kind of tight if you know what I mean. ”
“Try having three kids.” Tracy empathized.
Ok Ok I have had it this chapter is not really going the way I want it to so I’m’ going to end it .. Bottom line is that Dave and Tracy get no answers from Either Cheryl or Ethan’s Dad and they have no idea where Ethan is . By the end of this chapter you as well as David and Tracy are going to come to the Realization that the only ay they are going to find out what is inside that refrigerator is to dig it up themselves. They throw the shovels in the back of the pick up and are going to go out and find it tomorrow.