Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 10

 

captamericacover

(and in case you don’t know by now, this cover has nothing to do with the story)

Chapter One and in case you want to go back a week and get reaquainted with where the story left off Chapter 9.

Chapter 10.

“Okay let’s do this.”

Sharon and Andrew were standing beside him looking at the shelving unit mounted on the wall, he pulled the card, not that he really needed it now. He just wanted to be absolutely sure. “First Hawkeye. Andrew was closest to that title and he pulled all the issues off the shelf and examined the space behind it. Then he noticed that the part of the shelf behind this was stuck to the wall at a funny angle, he put his fingers behind it and it popped off. The other two were right behind him and he handed them the small wooden panel.

“Magnetics, and it was sticking to an old fashion metal toggle switch, the switch was in the up position with no label on it.” Andrew announced.

Sharon and Gary leaned in to look at it. Gary was about to flip it when Sharon grabbed his hand. “Not yet, let us find what is behind the rest of the books.” She stated cautiously.

Gary just nodded, and looked at the list again. “JLA.”

Sharon was closet to this title and moved all the issues off the shelf and on to the table. She again found the panel with the magnet, but this toggle switch was in the down position.

“Okay now for the last one. Kevin Smith’s Bionic Man.” Gary moved to the end of the lowest shelf and then to the top of the next one looking for the title, he found it on the next shelving unit over and repeated to procedure, but this time the backing was not sectional, it was one long piece and nailed to the rest of the shelf. “Something is wrong, no section it is one long piece.” He shook the self and all the comic books moved.

The other two came over and looked as well.

“Something is wrong, we missed something.” Gary exclaimed.

“But what, the first two were exactly where they were supposed to be.”

Gary stated the obvious, “Well I supposed we could take down every comic book and look behind each one.” He shook his head at the thought of all the work, and looked at his watch if they started right now, they had nine hours till the shop opened on Saturday morning, and sales lately had been very good lately on Saturday, a lot of people buying something for the geek in their life for Christmas.

Sharon leaned against the table and looked at the shelves, and then she snapped her fingers. “Do you remember what you told me the first time we met?”

Gary was puzzled. “Ah don’t be late and taking Wednesday off was grounds for immediate termination.”

She punched him. “No, the instructions you received from you father thru the lawyer. No major changes to the shop.”

“Yea so,” He motioned around the shop. “same as when I first started running it, same stupid mismatched furniture, same cash register with a broken 3 key, and same ugly carpeting. Same stupid store.”

“Not exactly, remember I talked you into changing you orders. A few more copies of some titles, and we got rid of a couple because they never sold.”

“Yeah so.” Then the light went off. “We changed how we stocked shelves.” He turned to Andrew. “Where is that photograph of you and my god father?”

Andrew had been watching the two of them as they worked it all out together, and realized at the same time about the photograph and was reaching for it on the counter. “Here it is.”

They all gathered around the photograph that showed the same shelf the other two switches had been found on.

“JLA is in the same place.”

“Hawkeye, too.”

“But Bionic Man was all the way down here.” Gary said pointing to the lowest part of the middle shelving unit.

The three of them looked at each other, Gary moved to where the book used to be placed. “Huh, Joe the Barbarian,” Gary said moving the books. “How is that selling?”

Sharon responded. “Does it really matter right now, is there a switch or not?”

Gary responded with by producing the telltale click which revealed the same setup. This switch was also in the down position.

They all looked at each other and Gary reached out and flipped the switch. The three of them looked around the shop and looked for something to happen. Sharon was near the first one they uncovered and she looked at Gary and she reached over and switched it in the opposite direction, in this case down. The three of them paused and looked around, the empty store.

“Andrew would you flip the second switch?”

“Sure.” Andrew stated calmly, and reached out and flipped the final switch in the opposite position.

This time the group waited a full minute, listening intently, all they heard was the occasional car going by outside the shop on the street.

Sharon spoke up. “You don’t think this could be operating something upstairs, or in the basement?”

Gary shook his head. “All the instructions I got from my father’s lawyer were about this shop.” He said motioning around. “Nothing about the apartment, besides no way my father could have foreseen Andrew helping out. No I am thinking he would have set it up so I could find it, whatever ‘it’ is, all by myself with no help.”

Gary walked away from the shelf, and rubbed his chin. Sharon came and leaned against the table, and Andrew walked over to a chair, turned it around so it faced away from them and then straddled the chair and sat on it backwards.

The three of them were silent for a few minutes finally Gary broke the silence. “Well let’s not make the same mistake we made before.”

“What mistake was that?” Andrew asked.

“Well we thought it was about the comic books, it wasn’t, my father was not into them, he was into puzzles, electronics, and classic novels.”

Sharon chimed in now. “Yes, like the puzzle box he sent you.”

Gary snapped his fingers and the other two looked at him. He got up and walked over to the last toggle switch found, stared intently at it and then very gently flipped the switch. He flipped it back and forth four or five times. Then he looked at the two of them. “It is another logic problem.”

“Huh?” Andrew stated.

The switch can either be in the on position or the off position. There are three switches. So they can be exactly eight settings overall. Either all off, all on, or some combination of on and off.” Gary was talking faster and faster. “So I am thinking that went we get all the switches in the proper position, whatever that is, then we will get the next clue, maybe even the answer to where my father is.”

“Makes sense.” Sharon said. “Guys, I have to run upstairs for a minute, please don’t do anything till I come back.”

“Well I might lay out all the positions, but I promise not to touch any of the switches till you get back.”

Andrew nodded as well.

Sharon gathered up her high heel shoes and walked quickly upstairs. Gary walked over to the counter and got a pen and piece of paper.

Andrew stood up and stretched, then looked at his watch. “Whoa, almost one.”

Gary did not respond, just kept working on the diagram.

“So does Sharon live here with you?”

Gary looked up. “No, she lives a couple of blocks away.” Then went back to the paper.

“So how long have you guys been a couple?”

Gary looked up again, with a confused look. “Oh well, we are not exactly going out. In fact tonight was supposed to be our first date.”

Andrew whistled. “Hey man I am sorry, I ruined your plans.”

“Dude, things like this have been messing us up all semester. Don’t sweat it.” Gary said and waved he hand dismissively. He looked at the sheet of paper. “Yeah I was right, eight permutations, of off and on for the three switches.

“Only eight, well this should not take too long.” Sharon said from across the room.

Andrew saw that she had changed into a pair of blue jeans, black Converse high tops, and a college sweat shirt. Even wearing this she was very pretty. He was a little jealous of Gary.

“Okay everyone man a switch.” Gary instructed.

They each got to a switch and they all placed their hands on them. “Okay, first thing, everyone flip the switches down.

Three clicks. Nothing.

“Everyone up.”

Three more clicks. Nothing.

“Okay everyone listen carefully,” Gary said looking at the paper. “Sharon flip yours down.”

Click. Nothing.

“Okay, switch yours back up Sharon, and Andrew switch yours down.”

Click. Then they all heard it, and felt it as well. A deeply recessed dull click and the whole shelf moved slightly toward them all.

“Okay that was weird.” Andrew said.

Gary looked around quickly. “I think this whole shelf is on a hinge, and I think,” and he pulled on the shelf, and it moved towards him. “Step back everyone.”

They all moved away from the shelf and very slowly with some effort Gary pulled the shelf away from the wall, with one end as the pivot point, and the end where Gary pulled opening like a door away from the wall.

“Can you guys pull the table back?”

Andrew and Sharon rushed around to the other side of the table and pulled it across the room and then ran around and moved the chairs out of the way. Gary then opened the bookcase entirely.

It was just a cinder block wall, but mounted on the wall were three large pieces of plywood wood painted white. Each with something different mounted on them.

The top one was a large poster board with two lines of various stick figures in various poses, some standing on their heads, some with flags; it almost looked like they were dancing.

The second board was a series of small electrical resistors, each with different bands of colors around them, fifty resistors total. Lined up in five to a row, ten rows total.

The last board was the simplest. One large box separated into five rows across and seven rows deep, with nothing in each block, just empty spaces.

“What the heck is this?” Andrew said.

The 1st Board.

photo

Click here to go to Chapter 11

Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 9

avengers (Again the comic book cover has nothing to do with the story, let me know if you like or dislike this added feature in presenting the story)

Continuing the Saturday afternoon posting of story. If this if your first discovery of the story start at Chapter One.

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Sharon walked over to the counter where the guys were standing, and got to a place where she could see what they were doing, leaned over and looked at the envelope. “From Gary’s father?”

Andrew shook his head trying to recover quickly from finding this hot girl in the comic book store.

“Where did you guys find this?”

Gary chimed in after staring at her full another second. “In his pull list, back in the September issues.”

“So can we open it now, I am here.”

Andrew nodded and started to carefully slit open the end of the large envelope again, once done he opened it and slide the contents onto the counter top. It contained a typewritten letter addressed to Andrew at the top and a large 8 ½ by 11 inch photograph, and a smaller sealed envelope.

Gary picked up the photograph first. It was a picture of his godfather and Andrew standing side by side in the shop with the comic book wall rack in the background. Andrew had a broom in his hand and his godfather wearing unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt with a Batman t-shirt underneath. In his godfather’s hand was his clip board the same one Gary now used when doing pull lists.

“What does the letter say?”

Andrew looked over at the two of them and started to read the following.

Andrew
Sorry for burdening you with this, but there is no one else I can trust right now. If you receive this upon your return from you Army commitment that means that my experiment has not gone according to plan. My son should be running the shop when you return and on his birthday he will know the full extent of what this letter means. Please give him the smaller envelope, if you are not able to give this to my son then please burn it as all will be lost and I do not want the progress I have made on my work to fall into the less than responsible hands.
Also enclosed is the photograph I took of you and Gary on the day before you left, I hope you remain safe and thank you for serving your county and doing this small favor for me.
W.D.

“That’s it.” He explained as he turned over the letter, looking at the back and he handed it over to Gary.

Gary held it out so that Sharon who had moved next to him could read it at the same time.

After he had read it though he looked at Sharon who looked at him with confusion, she was uncertain what was going through his head. Gary walked away from the counter and sat down on the large table they used to sort out comics.

Sharon moved a chair next to him she reached out her hand and took one of his in her hand. “So what should we do Boss?”

“My father needs my help.” Gary said with a flat voice.

“Ah.” Andrew said while walking over to the table and standing a few feet away. “I know it is none of my business and all.”

Gary and Sharon looked over at him.

“But are we assuming older Gary is wherever your father is.”

“No reason to think he is not, those two have always been best friends and have done everything together.”

“Well older Gary was someone I would consider a friend, so if you guys don’t mind I would like to help look for them as well. Gary was a good guy, he treated the kids in this town really good, he gave a lot of kids a place to go where they belonged so I would like to find him and repay the favors he did me and some others.”

Sharon looked at Gary. He nodded. Sharon stood up and took a few steps and reached out her hand. “Sharon Towner.”

“Andrew Harlan.” He said shaking her hand.

“Ah the guy with the big pull list.”

“Guilty as charged.” Andrew said motioning towards the boxes.

Gary stood up now and retrieved the smaller envelope off the counter. He walked back to the large table, and looked at the two others who gathered around. He carefully broke the seal and slid a piece of paper out of the envelope. It was an index card it had three hand printed words:

Hawkeye
Kevin’s Smith’s Bionic Man
Justice League of America

Gary flipped over the 3 by 5 card, nothing else on it. “What the heck is this?”

Sharon looked it over, and turned towards Andrew. “Are these on your pull list?”

Andrew shook his head. “No the only D.C. books I read are Batman and Green Arrow, and I haven’t really gotten into the Bionic Man stuff, I do read Hawkeye though.”

Sharon walked over and grabbed the big brown ledger, and started going over the pull lists. She would occasionally pause in running her fingers down the columns but then continue. The guys passed the card back and forth. Andrew even held it up to the light to see if it had anything like hidden writing. Nothing.

Sharon shut the book with a snap. “No one has all three of those books on their pull list. A couple had two of the three, but no one had all three.”

Gary looked over at Andrew. “Did any of them have any recurring characters or themes to them, or what do you call it, ah crossovers?”

Andrew answered. “No crossovers those are not to popular right now, and Bionic Man has not been around long enough to have any crossovers except with the Bionic Woman and that is not much of a crossover.”

“How about themes, anything revealed in any of those books that might have been revealed in any of the other books. Maybe a secret message or a code or something?” Gary said sounding a little desperate.

Sharon walked over to Gary and sat down next to him and grabbed his hand again. “We are going to find you father, it will just take some time.”

Andrew looked over the card again. “Guys, I cannot think of anything that these three have in common. One is a story about a non-powered hero, the other a cyborg and the third a team of super heroes.”

“Well none of them are anti-heroes.” Sharon added.

“Anti-heroes?” Gary asked confused.

“Yeah guys like the Punisher or Rorschach and Catwoman. Comic book heroes with the hearts in the mostly in the right place but use violent methods or illegal means to achieve the ends.” Sharon answered.

“How about the writers, or the artists, maybe the same guy did the same stuff in all three books?” Gary asked rubbing his temples now.

Andrew walked over to the shelf where the three most recent issues were stored and started to look at covers, then he got the three off the shelf, and pulled the older issues which were behind them. He sat down at the table and Gary and Sharon joined him. For the next few minutes that exchanged names back and forth. None of the names matched up at all. Then each of them started flipping thru the books and they passed them around each of them making a comment occasionally. After a while no pattern developed, at least not one any of them could see. Not even the hint of a pattern developed.

After a while Gary pushed the chair back from the table. “I am not seeing anything. No ideas about what these comic books mean to my father.”

Sharon closed the book she was looking at and then looked at the cover. “Wait a minute, what if he meant for you to look the comic books that you were here on you birthday, or what about the ones that were here when he left.”

Andrew chimed in. “Yeah, he would only have access to the ones from September.”

Gary replied. “Do we have the ones here from then?”

“I will look in my box for the Hawkeye from back then.” Andrew said getting up and going to his pull list boxes.

“You and I will look on the shelf, and then if not there than the old issues boxes.”

Gary groaned, the old issues boxes were something he hated. Not only did he have to bag and board all the issues that did not sell, but he then had to sort them into these cardboard boxes and mark them down in price. Of all the things he did in the store, old issues were the thing he dreaded dealing with the most. Gary looked at the time, and then he walked over to Sharon and grabbed both of her hands and she turned and faced him with a quizzical look on her face. “We missed our dinner reservation, it was for” he stopped and looked at his watch again. “Twenty-two minutes ago.”

Sharon shrugged and smiled.

“Maybe next semester?” Gary said smiling back.

“Definitely.” Sharon leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “In fact I was thinking New Year’s eve.”

“Definitely.” Gary responded and then he leaned into her and kissed her right on the lips.

Andrew coughed. “I think I messed up someone’s plans tonight.” Sounding a bit embarrassed from across the room.

The two looked over at him and both shrugged.

“Time to find those comic books.” Sharon said and slipped out of her high heeled shoes.

It took two hours of searching and Andrew finally had to download the actual issue of JLA that they were looking for onto to his computer tablet. They assembled all the comic books on the large table and they each took turns reading them. Sharon even took out a notepad and made notes. After another hour of reading all the issues they thought were pertinent they each confessed having no idea what was special, similar, related, or interconnected.

“I am flummoxed.” Sharon said after putting down her pencil.

“Flummoxed?” Andrew said raising an eyebrow.

“Yes, confused, baffled, stumped, mystified, bewildered.” Sharon said sounding like a teacher. “It means I do not know what we are looking for.”

“Oh I know what it means; I just don’t think I have ever heard anyone use it before in real life.” Andrew said trying to sound impressed. “What is your major anyways?”

“Undecided for now, but I love reading.” And motioned toward the comic books jokingly.

Gary had watched the exchange and but now he stood and stretched. “Anyone else hungry, we missed dinner.” He said motioning towards Sharon.

“Me too, how about we go out to this pizza place I know, a bit off campus, but really good. I can drive.” Andrew said standing now.

“Sounds great.” Gary answered and Sharon shook her head eagerly.

A half an hour later, they were seated at a small pizza place that was a neighborhood place, close to Andrew’s home away from the college part of town, it was totally dead but the service was great and the owner seemed to know Andrew because he welcomed Andrew with open arms when he came thru the door. Andrew explained that he had been coming to the place since he was a kid. They did not talk about the clue but they did bring it along. They got to know each other, Andrew told stories about his Army training, Sharon shared how she came to be working at the store, and Gary related stories about his father and god father growing up together. When the food was all gone, and the owner came over and told them the meal was free as a welcome home gift for Andrew they all pulled out their wallets and tipped well. It was just as they were walking out that Gary said something that changed their whole demeanor.

“You know I think I have read comic books tonight then I have in my entire life.”

“You did not read comic books growing up?” Andrew said shocked.

“No my father liked to read me the classics, Treasure Island, Robinson Carouse, big thick books, he never got me comic books, it was always hardbound covers.” He stopped in the door and Andrew ran into him.

“Sorry mate.”

Gary turned towards him. “My father did not read comic books.”

“Huh.” Sharon said.

“We are looking inside the comic books for the meaning, what if the clue referred to where the comic books were on the shelf?”

All three of them looked at each other, and ran back to Andrew’s car.

Chapter 10