Short Story 16 of …


blog post
This is the 16th in this series of those not accepted by journals for publication also has its first line from The First Line Literary Journal. This is the fourth of four submitted as a group to the journal.


Ravi Justified


Loud music filled the room, making it hard to hear anything else. Ravi hadn’t expected a rock band during dinner on his last clean up night at Thursday Night Mission. He didn’t initially notice that many of those in the cafeteria style food line were dressed to look a little like belonging. Helpings were noticeably larger too. He asked the volunteer lady who did the head count at the end of the line and was told, “Looking good for the annual fund raiser.”

Only then did Ravi take a very careful look around. Most of the tables were occupied by a mix of regulars and those trying to look the same. Jordan Swain was one of three at a four-person table on the far side of the room. She looked like a cliché often used by his foster father – been through the ringer. They told me to make no contact, but… A non-regular joined the threesome. Probably best.

Ravi was taking the trash cans to the curb and was met at the street by the Bermans. They told Ravi they were comfortable with him living in the apartment and were leaving on a month or perhaps longer cruse to the Mediterranean. Hilda said, “There’s a freezer full of food and it could spoil, so we’d like you to use it.”

Moshe added, “All of the bills are autopay by our bank, and we have a notarized document giving you permission to be here and take care of any random expenses. We’ve set up an account in your name, but you’ll have to do what you must with the IRS because we will be paying you wages as a domestic. Aaron Penna is not only a friend but our personal attorney, so you can contact us through him with any questions.” Berman handed Ravi a bank signature card. “You will have a balance when I turn in the card this afternoon and there will be an auto-deposit each week until we return.”

Ravi stuttered, “I … ah … I … Thanks. When do you leave?”

“In the morning. Penna is picking us up and he wants to challenge you on the board again this week, so give him first game. If you choose, you may use the big TV upstairs and our computer if you need to write papers. Our files are on a cloud lock box, so you can set up one of your own if you want. Our email will come directly to our phone.” Moshe handed Ravi a set of keys. “Sign the card and you can use the Civic as you wish. I took the liberty of putting you on the insurance for it, but not the Buick. Aaron’s wife is going to use it while we’re gone.”

Ravi’s cell alarm rang at five. He’d forgotten he didn’t need to be at the mission. A feeling of peace tempered with confusion came over him. What now? He went outside into the sunrise and up the concrete side steps to the front porch. After picking up the newspaper, he sat a moment on the wooden swing. I’ll get something to eat and mow early. Wonder why they do it twice a week?

With the lawn mowed and edged, Ravi decided to walk to the library and take Aaron Penna’s chess challenge, then he remembered it was Saturday and Sabbath for most of the people in the neighborhood. He sat on the porch swing and unrolled the rubber-banded newspaper. The banner teaser said, “Arrest made in recent drug investigation.” Ravi opened to the referenced page:

Four arrests have been made in the drug trafficking case first reported in early April this year. At that time warrants were issued for Dr. Philip Wilson, Jordan Swain, and Roy Crenshaw all of whom had made bail, but failed to appear in court. Ravi Reynolds was released under caution pending further investigation. Ms. Swain turned herself in and was also released under caution. She was subsequently cleared by the DA Office of any criminal activity. Dr. Wilson and Nellie Bligh were arrested in Hawaii last Monday and transferred to local drug enforcement authorities the next day. Crenshaw was picked up at the home of Dimitri K. Boscovich, manager of Grimm Street 7-24 Market where Crenshaw and Reynolds were employees. Wilson, Crenshaw, Bligh, and Boscovich are due in court next week. Authorities did not disclose the current status of Swain or Reynolds.

The four accused appeared together in Judge Michaels court on Tuesday afternoon. An ADA office secretary called Ravi early Wednesday morning. He was asked to be interviewed as a prosecution witness. Within the hour he had a telephone request from the firm representing all four defendants. Ravi called Aaron Penna for advice.

Penna asked, “Have you been served a subpoena from either?”

“No just the phone calls.”

“Do you believe you have direct evidence for conviction or innocence of any or all of them?”

Ravi thought, then said, “I can’t think of anything definite either way. I don’t remember having an impression of any of them being involved in anything illegal before I was arrested. But I sometimes thought Boss … ah Boscovich might have had relationships with other than his wife.”

“Probably not connected, but who knows. When does the DA want you in?”

“This afternoon – 12:30.”

“What did you tell them?”

“I said I could.”

“What about … you said Hector and Sweet are representing the others?”

“I told them I’d be at the DA office and the lady said they’d get back to me.”

Ravi and Jordan Swain arrived at the courthouse at the same time. Both hesitated then said, “Hello” as in musical harmony. She continued first, “I saw you at the mission and hoped you’d take that empty seat.”

“I’d been working there for meals and a cot. I saw you too. That was my last day. What…?

“I was trying to look the part. I got back into school after that little hearing where you said I was who I said I was. My dissertation includes several chapters on the plight of the homeless and disenfranchised. I’d like to interview you sometime. That’s what I was hoping for then.”

“Wow! PhD then. I thought you were an undergrad like the rest of us.”

“Well, before this mess, Wilson was my advisor. I met him on the steps that day and he told me to go home, but the officers took us before I could leave. At first, they thought I was Nellie. You were part of the proof I wasn’t.”

Nellie Bligh and Roy Crenshaw testified against Philip Wilson and Dimitri Boscovich. Crenshaw was given one year suspended and Bligh was given a deferred prosecution order. Wilson and Boscovich went away for five years. Ravi and Jordan were never called to testify.

Aaron Penna approached Ravi at the library saying, “Young friend, I am grieving the loss of Hilda and Moshe. They didn’t share with anyone but me that they would not return from their trip. Both were terminal with cancer and wanted to die in their native Israel. They had no relatives, and before they left you were designated as sole beneficiary. After I beat you in the next game, we can go over the documents and arrange for all the details.”

Ravi’s story became a full chapter in Jordan’s dissertation.

-end-


As my octogenarianism continues, my mind wanders as I wonder.
Or could it be that my mind wonders as I wander?
It is a fact that I have opinions – or is it?