“There is no need to be rude Gary.”
“I am sorry, but.”
“I would have answered all your questions in time.”
“Yes Mrs. Eastman I realize that but I don’t know if you are aware that a man named Mr. Stuckey is in town.”
Mrs. Eastman held up her hand. “I am very much aware of Mr. Stuckey, he has been using EFG in a search to make money, to obtain one of the inventions or discoveries uncovered by EFG to make him a great deal of money.”
“Yes, I know this obviously my father was in his employment, trying to duplicate what he did in high school.”
“Yes, that is partially true but when I contacted your father, I informed him he was missing a key element in his pursuit.”
Sharon gasped. “You mean you wanted Gary’s father to succeed in making a woman.”
Mrs. Eastman got a disgusted look on her face. “Of course not young lady, and I assure you Mr. Donnelly did not want to succeed either, he stated that chapter in his life was finished, but he was trying to understand the process, your father was a first rate scientist.” She paused for breath. “Your father told me that he was sending Mr. Stuckey somewhat misleading reports.” Mrs. Eastman coughed and motioned for her butler, the man in grey to bring her a glass of water. Once she had taken a sip or two she placed the glass on a coaster and continued. “I informed Mr. Donnelly that there was a missing element, a variable he had not taken into account in his quest to understand his original process. The variable that only someone with a complete understanding of The Enigmatic Findings Group’s entire files could see. Do you understand the classic scientific method?”
Gary nodded his head. “My father taught me all about the scientific method. Define a question, gather information and resources form a hypothesis test the hypothesis controlling as many variables as possible, analyze the data and interpret the data. So what variable from his experiment was he missing? I am sure he was very though, he always was.”
Mrs. Eastman looked over the young man, he had been holding the girl’s hand the entire time except when he was talking, then he would find her hand again without looking for it, he just knew it was going to be there. She smiled; it had been the same with her first husband when they were young. “Your father was not looking, at least not at first, at the entire picture; he was only looking at his one experience. But down thru the years there was something else going on, something that had the laws of physics, biology and computer science bend.”
“You were leading up to this yesterday weren’t you?” Sharon asked, grasping the concept.
Mrs. Eastman just nodded.
“My father believed this as well, that something was bending the rules.” Gary stated.
“Yes, but only after a weekend of reading all the files I gave you he began to believe it.” Mrs. Eastman nodded gravely.
“So what is this thing; that is able to bend the laws of science?”
“That is what your father started to look for right before he disappeared, your father called it several things, but to simplify it he called it a Disruption Field. He realized that if all the events were true, invisibility, time travel, defiance of the laws of entropy, then something had to be disrupting the normal scientific laws in an area.” Sharon and Gary were both leaning forward at this point, and Mrs. Eastman continued. “Your father concluded that the device or item or whatever created the Disruption Field only worked on or around persons with a logical or scientific mindset or thought process otherwise all kinds of strange things would be observed all the time.”
“The two had to work in concert.” Sharon said in questioning tone.
“Well we weren’t really sure, of all the cases we knew about no one had ever mentioned any outside force or motivation, your father did not know of any outside force during his event.”
“So did my father start looking for this Disruption Field Generator?”
“Yes, a week before he disappeared he stated that he had a lead, now your father did not notify me on a regular basis, so when a month passed and no word came from him I was not worried, but at two months, I began to be concerned, but by then you had come to town and I decided to wait and see what would happened, your father stated that he had left some ways for you to contact me.”
Gary was on the edge of his seat. “Do you know where his lab was?”
For the first time Mrs. Eastman looked uncomfortable. “Ah no, your father was very secretive about it, I am sure the only person who knew where the lab was, was Gary your god father.”
“Then how does Stuckey know where it is?”
Sharon answered. “He was looking for it, he was paying the bills, I am sure no matter how through your father he had to order equipment, take deliveries and such, Stuckey was paying the bills, I am sure he figured it out.”
Gary sat back on the couch, and he closed his eyes and rubbed his temples and he looked at Mrs. Eastman with his brow lowered. “Do you think he is dead in the lab?” His voice almost cracked at the end but he took a deep breath and looked at the elderly lady.
Mrs. Eastman pursed her lips, and Gary could tell she was thinking. “Maybe, I am not sure,” she answered slowly. “But if he is, you should find the lab first, and Stuckey should not get your father’s research.”
Gary sat up slowly, holding hands again with Sharon. “Is there anything you can remember maybe a general direction, street name or something that he let slip that could help us find the lab.”
Again the thoughtful pause. “No nothing, I am sorry.”
The room was silent for a few minutes; Mrs. Eastman was the first to break the silence. “He did say something that last time we met though that was a little strange.” Sharon and Gary leaned in again. “He stated he had just received a letter from his brother.”
Gary and Sharon walked to his pickup truck, parked in front of the house now, knowing they did not need to hide the fact that Stuckey knew about their relationship with Mrs. Eastman. Gary came around and opened the door for Sharon; she smiled at him and slid into the truck. A few minutes later Sharon interrupted Gary’s thoughts as they drove back to the shop. “Was it strange for you Uncle and Dad to communicate?”
Gary snorted. “My Father was a geek, a nerd, the only thing he did not have was a pocket protector, whereas my uncle is,” Gary snorted again. “a nut case, his favorite color is camouflage, he got tossed out of the Marine Corp for being too gung ho, I never saw him go more than a half hour without, belching, farting, spitting, or giving someone a painful reminder that he was bigger and stronger than them.” Then Gary’s face softened. “But he was always there for me; he taught me how to ride a bike, even though I ended up in the hospital with a broken arm the first time.” Gary pointed to a place on his left arm just above the wrist.”
“Poor baby.” Sharon said teasing.
Gary laughed. “But he would not let me quit, the next time he came over, and my mom was not around he had the bike back out and made me learn to ride that bike.”
“Harsh.” Sharon stated.
“Yeah, but he was there.”
“So back to the point, your father and uncle, their relationship was strained.”
“More like non-existent, when my father was due to come to town my uncle wasn’t around. I asked my mother about it once, and all she said was it was something I would have to ask them about, I never did.”
They rode in silence for a few minutes. “So are we going to call your uncle when we get back to the store?”
“Oh yeah. I just hope he is somewhere he can take a call, we will have to wait till after midnight due to his job.”
“Why what is his job?”
Gary looked a little embarrassed. “Well, he is kind of in the entertainment industry.”
“Oh so he works at a theater or a concert hall.”
“Something like that.”
Sharon slide over to her boyfriend. “Okay what does he do?”
Gary sighed. “He is the prop master for the International Fighting Federation.”
Sharon laughed, and then tried to suppress herself. “Professional Wrestling, you mean he is the one who hands the stuff to the guys who wrestle on TV, like chairs and garbage cans.”
“Yeah,” Gary said hesitantly. “He is the one who makes the break away tables.”
“You must be so proud; I am surprised you didn’t tell me that the first time we met.” The car ride was quiet for a few minutes, and then Gary snorted while trying to suppress a laugh, the rest of the way back they laughed until they were crying, each egging the other one with a snide comment about wrestling.
The two of them got back to the shop, laughing as they came thru the door. They had noticed all the shades were pulled but all the lights were on. They were surprised when they came through the door. Standing over the table, was Andrew, with about twenty people gathered sitting around the table, all of their heads down either typing on laptops, or talking on their cell phones.
“What is going on?” Gary said. He looked at Andrew.
“Oh well this was Sharon’s idea. Geeks of the world unite to find a geek.”
Gary turned to her, and she nodded. “Well I cannot take all the credit Andrew made sense of my idea.”
Gary turned back towards Andrew, who answered back. “She said we would need an Army of people to find the lab without another clue to its whereabouts, so I started making calls, and these guys came.”
By now Gary had noticed that he knew most of the people, Jimmy, Clark, and all the other regulars.
“Susan and Betty are going thru your father’s schedule for this past summer, Joe is going thru your Dads’ finances for last summer to see if he can see any patterns, don’t worry he is a C.P.A.” Andrew said this last part in a stage whisper. “Well actually he is testing to be a C.P.A. third times a charm right Joe.” Joe motioned from across the table with a thumbs up.
Gary noted the guy who always wore a suit when he came into the store and bought Conan and Thor comic books.
“Clark and Jimmy and the guys with the laptops are going thru public records to determine ownership of buildings in town, correlating and cross checking building permits and tax records to see if they can shake anything loose about where the lab is.”
Gary noted the six guys sitting behind the laptops, occasionally one of them would write something down on a paper and hand it off to a little kid, who could not have been more than ten years old, then after collecting papers he ran over to Andrew. Andrew took the slip of papers and rubbed the kid’s hair in an affectionate manner. “This is Bruce, Clark’s younger brother, he brings me the eliminated areas and I cross off unlikely locations on the map.”
Gary now noted the huge paper maps covering the table. “Wow.” Was all he could say he was shocked and in awe of the work these almost total strangers were doing for him. Sharon hugged him and he hugged her back. He looked around the room and was deeply touched. Then the pragmatist came to the surface and he looked at his watch, and then said in a loud voice. “Brucey, take drink orders and ask everyone what they want on their pizza, my treat.” There was a loud cheer around the table.
Several hours later, and copious and probably dangerous amounts of energy drinks later they had their search location narrowed down to five buildings. Sharon and Gary had been busy all night, feeding their room full of research nerds and occasionally running out to check on a likely building. Their list was down to the final five, having eliminated four other buildings by actually going out and seeing the locations. The trouble was not with the methodology of the search, but the records themselves, not being updated. Some of the buildings had actually been torn down, some were evidently in use by a legitimate and on-going business. One that looked promising at first had upon closer examination from another angle had been actually been turned into apartments, this was discovered when Gary had peeked in through a window and found a Chinese family of four watching and episode of Sanford and Son. By the time they got back to the comic book shop the sun was coming up and Andrew was gathering up all the maps and papers.
“Five locations to check out guys, and I have a good feeling about these ones.”
Gary yawned and stretched, as he looked around the room. Jimmy, Clark and Bruce where still there. Bruce was asleep on the floor. Jimmy and Clark were poking at the leftover pizza. “Do you guys need a ride home?”
Andrew spoke up. “I will take them home in a minute, I need to get out and get some air.” Andrew picked up little Bruce and motioned for the other teenagers to come along. Gary shook their hands and said thanks as they left, each boy said no problem and indicated it had been kind of fun, in fact Clark said it had been cool.
Sharon had gone upstairs and Gary joined her a few minutes later after shutting off the lights. Sharon was asleep in the lazy boy recliner Gary threw a blanket over her and Gary cleaned up the few dishes that were sitting around more to calm down then anything else, then after tidying up for a few minutes he sat down on the couch. Gary been trying to call his uncle all night and he decided to try one more time. The phone was ringing when Andrew came up the stairs, just as he was about to give up he heard a gruff voice say “This had better be important knucklehead.”