Continuing on through the "Cold Person" freewrite with The Posture of Innocence -- Mr. Jetson Black makes the scene at Big Loft police headquarters, and, since he has to wait, deduces a few things about the captain from his office ...
And away we go into part 9!
“Good morning! My name is Mr. Jetson Black, and I'm here to see Captain H.F. Lee of the cold case division.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Ma'am, now you know the folks with the juicy tips never do.”
The receptionist swallowed that lock, stock, and barrel, as Mr. Black, a skilled private investigator, knew she would. Five minutes later, he, with all his six-feet-three, eye-poppingly sable-skinned and impeccably groomed self, was knocking on the door of Captain Lee's office.
Lieutenant Jackson opened the door, jumped, but then recovered himself.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Black – we got your message from the receptionist. Captain Lee is upstairs in the records room, but he told me to offer you the entire fruit basket and anything of his tea, coffee, or citrus beverages as refreshments, and that he will be right down and you should make yourself at home.”
The younger man was quivering slightly, affected by how much space Mr. Black just took up in Captain Lee's room – not just the physical space, but personality space...
“Oh, well, that is some mighty fine Southern hospitality from your captain – the times they are indeed a-changin'! If you have some iced tea, I'd love to refresh myself – even with the air conditioning on, it's hot today, that kind of heat that just gets on into your soul and lets you know you better become a Christian, because who wants worse than this for all eternity?”
“Yes, it is hot,” Lieutenant Jackson said as he looked in Captain Lee's little refrigerator. “Here's some sweet tea with lemon the staffers brewed up for the captain this morning. Would you like that?”
“Oh, yes, much obliged, Lieutenant. I tell you, y'all make it easy to share good news in this office. Yes, that big glass right there. Perfect. Much obliged. Y'all's staffers do mighty fine work, for this is delicious.”
“I'll just run up and let the captain know you've arrived.”
“You do that, son. I'll be right here.”
Lieutenant Jackson all but ran, and Mr. Black chuckled – mission accomplished, and he was alone in the room. He then stood up and looked Captain Lee's desk over. Nothing of case-related interest, not that he expected there would be. The captain was known, back to his West Point days, as being meticulously neat. He trained his people well too, for Lieutenant Jackson had tucked a file folder under his arm before leaving. The drawers were locked as well – Mr. Black pulled his sleeve over his fingers and tried every one, but, nothing doing. Oh, well. The file cabinets, a long line of nine cabinets – every drawer, locked tight.
Back to the desk – the fruit basket had exquisite nectarines, plums, and peaches in it, with some fresh figs on top to avoid squishing them, and a bowl of ice underneath to keep them cool. The captain had a calculator, his computer – off, and then password-protected when turned on – a blank notepad, and pens on the desk. Nothing more. In a corner of the room the captain had a set of wireless speakers – he was known for playing music in his office all day long, but nothing was on at that moment.. Nothing more.
There were no personal items at all – absolutely no personal touch. That confirmed many of the accounts Mr. Black had read about the captain: he was polite, as indicated by the fruit bowl, but still a cold person to many. His first nickname in West Point: Surgical Steel, referring to the cold, sharp sterility of his life as a cadet. He was brilliant in his studies, and was valedictorian of West Point in the year of his graduation – so, sharp as he could be, but devoid of any kind of social and personal life to speak of. With the exception of Ironwood Hamilton, H.F. Lee had no friends to speak of – and that had remained the case so far as anyone outside the closed worlds of Special Forces and JAG could look and see.
There had been a great tragedy in the brilliant cadet's life – the loss of wife and family, at that very early part of his manhood. That had changed him – although he had been reserved and precise before that loss, there seemed to be nothing left of him afterward but that when he moved through the world. There perhaps is nothing colder on a human being than a great, thick scar, and if it is on a man's soul, that is a cold spot indeed.
Mr. Black considered this in contrast to what Mrs. Tallie Mae Jones had told him – this cold Lee had not been so to her, and she would have been the last person to admit that about any Lee. Mr. Black suspected that Captain Lee, like his infamous Confederate uncle, had vast hidden depths – perhaps it was not a great scar that made him seem so cold, but just the effort to keep the interior and highly volatile state in check. There was evidence for that too in the captain's record, although one had to consider longer periods of time and the patterns involved – his utterly deadly field record and the record of what happened to corrupt men around him were of a piece. Except the latter was far more subtle, and yet more ruthless, than the former – for that sort of thing, a man had to have as much motivating passion as he did patience.
“As an investigator, I like a puzzle like this man,” Mr. Black said. “Can't wait to see what he is like in person.”