A rotund man sits at a typewriter, his sausage fingers dance over the old Underwood, and he puts down his thoughts, his gospel if you will. He is revered or feared by all, there isn’t any middle ground. He is the restaurant critic for the Brooklyn Daily News. If he likes a new restaurant then it will rocket up the charts quicker than a Wall Street broker chasing his secretary. If he unsheathes his poison pen then the restaurant owners will be spending their days in the serving line of the local soup kitchen. The clicking of key strikes is like a symphony to Francis Le Mangez. Today he is happy and full. “The soup was a delight and made me want to weep with joy. The Singe Café’s, famous, monkey flambé, in a white wine sauce, tasted as if it had been prepared by angels and I savored each bite. If you go out for monkey only once this year, make it the ‘Singe Café’.”
Francis had an office across from Henry. Henry liked Francis and they would occasionally discuss food, politics and baseball, while throwing back highballs at the bar on the corner. Francis was a food snob, but he could also appreciate a greasy burger and a beer. As Henry put the key in his office door, Francis popped his head out, and said, “Your cop friend was here looking for you. I took a message.”
He was, “What was the message?”
“Tell Henry to call me as soon as he gets back.” said Francis, as he handed the tiny piece of paper to Henry, with a pretentious scowl. Francis and Mike McDermott didn’t get along.
“Thanks”, said Henry, “Eat anything good lately?”
“I had a wonderful dinner at The Singe Café on 17th street last night. I am writing it up now.” He said, and whirled around and disappeared into his office.
Henry walked into the Wood Detective agency and put his hat on the hook by the door. He took off his overcoat and hung it next to the hat. He sat behind his desk, put his feet up and looked at the pencil. The numbers, so neatly written, were a message. He felt it was a message specifically to him, but he didn’t know what it was, or what he was supposed to do.
He picked up the phone and called Mike. Mike McDermott had been in law enforcement for as long as Henry could remember. He solved more cases than anyone in the 5 boroughs, by using his razor sharp analytical mind, and sometimes a massive right hook. Mike loved chess and music. He had every recording of Enrico Caurso. He also enjoyed gardening and had an encyclopedic knowledge of root vegetables. When he was young, his nickname was ‘Yam’. He was called ‘yam’ until a couple of fights and a growth spurt between his 9th and 10th grade years. After that he was called ‘Big Mike’. Henry just called him Mike. Mike McDermott didn’t have any use for private dicks, but he liked Henry.
The phone rang once and the voice on the other end bellowed, “Mike here…go.”
“Mike, Henry here, I heard you were looking for me.”
“So Frenchy gave you my message. I am surprised.”
“He isn’t so bad you know.”
An audible grunt came over the line and Mike continued, “Word on the street is that you are poking around Smith, Havershome and Blickstein Law firm.”
“So what if I am?” Henry played it cool. He didn’t want to tip his hand. He actually didn’t even know what cards he was holding, but he figured if Big Mike had gotten wind, then something must be up.
“Listen Wood, This is serious business you are sticking your nose into. If you know anything, you best come clean, before you get hurt.” Mike said with an intimidating tone.
“You threatening me Mike?”
“Not me, but there are some dangerous people involved. I am trying to look after you.” He replied with a friendlier tone.
“Dangerous people eh?” Henry said, trying to sound confident and hoping Mike would give him a clue as to what was going on. Henry needed a clue.
“I’m talking about the mob. The word is that some accountant has gone missing and they are anxious to find him. He knows things, things that could make a lot of people really unhappy.”
“Thanks for the heads up. I will try to keep my head down.” Henry said, and hung up the phone.
Henry was unsure of his next move and decided to head home. When he checked his magic closet he found that there was another gift from the future. A plastic case with a silver disk in it and a thing called a DVD player with a tiny screen that looked sort of like a television. The DVD was entitled simply, “Tage Frid”, and it appeared it had come from 1997, as that was the copyright date on the back. Henry was delighted with his gift from the mysterious closet and when the screen came to life he marveled at the picture. It was in color.
Tage Frid came from Denmark in 1948, “after a couple of thousand students, I learned a few things” came from the tiny speakers, and after 75 minutes he had witnessed the charming old man teach him how he cuts dovetails, fixes a mistake, builds a drawer for a perfect fit, glues up pieces and his thought process in design. Tage Frid puts to use a jig he built 30 years ago. Henry quite liked the Danish woodworker’s style. He thought about the DVD and that it was made 40 years in the future, about a man who was old, but today, in 1955, Tage Frid is a young man, who just arrived in the US a few years ago. Henry watched the DVD twice and marveled at the beauty of his furniture. He hoped that the closet would send him more of these DVDs, as they were very entertaining. He wished he could show someone his new toy, but he never told anyone about the time portal in his closet, for he feared that if he did, it just might disappear.
Henry wondered what Francis would say, what sort of review he would give this Tage Frid show. Henry knew that his recommendation would be 5 stars. He carefully put the DVD back in its case and put it and the player in a drawer under a blanket. He went to bed, thinking about Tage Frid furniture, and thinking about the numbers, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 23.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com