The Posture of Innocence, day 25.5

in #writing3 months ago (edited)

In the "Morning Mist" freewrite, Lieutenant Longstreet remembers a key clue to his case; the follow-up conversation reveals a key clue to Mr. Black about the way Captain Lee feels about the racial issues swirling through Lofton County and around its policing...

To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, day 19, day 19.5, day 20, day 20.5, day 21, day 22, day 22.5, day 23, day 23.5, day 24, day 24.5, and day 25!

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Lieutenant Longstreet all but ran, and Mr. Black chuckled gently in his wake.

“He's pretty good, Captain, I must say.”

Captain Lee lit up like any proud father would, to Mr. Black's further amusement.

“He is growing as an investigator quite remarkably,” the captain said. “It is deeply rewarding to see all of them maturing in the science, and art, of proper 21st-century methods of investigation. But, for those of us too old to need the computer – I presume you saw what I saw?”

“That locket stuck out like a sore thumb to me,” Mr. Black said, “a broken heart, but a big one, and she was always wearing it, like her angry attitude. The fork says murder, or suicide – that locket was shouting suicide arranged as murder, because any note could easily be put in there.”

“Of course,” Captain Lee said. “The clean spot on the footstool told me that just as conclusively. I would have speculated that she would have disposed of the note, but her attitude readily suggests that she would have kept it. I hope your speculation and that of Lieutenant Longstreet is the correct one, of course; it would be a tidier close than without, but...”

Captain Lee moved back into his chair, and double-clicked the suicide note place on the lieutenant's “Evidence needed for Fork A” table. The program considered it, and then the fork became one line: Fork A became the final result.

“Just speculation, of course,” Captain Lee said as he clicked off the table and the fork returned. “Wait until he gets back with the locket and note, and updates his true set. That will be quite a show for him.”

“Where can my people get a copy of this program?” Mr. Black said. “Data collection in the true set is impressive enough. We'll need to use speculative mode more often because we work with true sets that have lots more evidence purposely uncollected and/or suppressed – any way to unlock that mode more easily?”

“Taking the second question first: yes, there is,” Captain Lee said. “Here, I have the presets on very strictly – let younger investigators play around with speculation too soon, and you ruin them. I used the same presets back in JAG for a different reason: let an angered investigator play around with speculation too soon, and he ruins himself.”

“That was after Five Bright Nine,” Mr. Black said. “I'm not prying – I know you were decorated for it, I know most of it is classified, and I know just from what can be known that there were good reasons you left Special Forces for JAG shortly thereafter.”

Captain Lee's eyes burned with an anger not directed at Mr. Black.

“There were,” he said. “They could have been addressed a number of different ways. It was necessary for me to maintain the strictest discipline over myself, with the power of the Holy Spirit of God simply indispensable. It still is.”

“I expect that is why you have unusual understanding of what it is like to walk through the world always subject to abuses of power,” Mr. Black said.

“I knew that before Five Bright Nine,” the captain said, “for reasons nearer to your concerns than you may be aware. If you have done your homework on me, you will realize the significance of the answer to your first question about obtaining the program itself: it was made to my order by Morton Technologies of New York City, and I am certain they would be glad to make it available to you at a greatly reduced cost.”

Mr. Black thought for a long moment.

“Your in-laws!” he said.

“My brothers-in-law, specifically, all of whom are proud Black men such as yourself,” he said. “If you have done your homework, and I expect that you have, you know that my late wife, Vanessa, was what today is called a polymath – at 15 years old, she was already developing computer programming that was cutting edge for the time. What is less known is that she was developing such programming with her equally brilliant but younger brother, Victor Morton Jr..”

“I see. So, when you and Vanessa were married and moved to New York, you moved the entire Morton family to get them somewhere that they could use their talent with less fear.”

“With less fear,” Captain Lee said. “In order to be who she was meant to be, my wife had to leave all she knew. That stress contributed to her death, with that of our son. So: I have known for 30 years something of what you experience every day, so far as I could see it in the face of my wife, alive, and dead, and in the faces of her brothers, grieving, struggling, triumphing, but still saddened for their sister not being able to see what she began come to fruition. I say all that to say that they would be delighted to help you lift something of the burden of other families like themselves through your exoneration work. Here is their brochure, and if you wish, we can call Victor over lunch.”

Captain Lee had said all of that as smoothly and calmly as if he had described his day in the park. Nonetheless, Mr. Black was stunned by it – he knew the facts of the matter, but he had never guessed at the cool captain's feelings. His choice of words said a great deal. So too his deep quietness at lunch. The captain sat eating his grilled halloumi and sauteed spinach and onions and sat very still while Victor Morton and Jetson Black hit it off completely and were on the phone an hour, going three-way and four-way and five-way to get all necessary parties on board. To Mr. Black, Captain Lee's stillness indicated the exact opposite of what it projected to most people: the captain was stirred up, deeply, by their conversation, and the force of will required to keep all that emotion from breaking out had led to a stoppage of motion – equilibrium, by brute force.

This also suggested something else. Captain Lee was 45, and by all possible measurements appeared to be a gorgeous specimen of mature manhood – but things could not be entirely as they appeared, because there had to be a hidden cost of keeping strong passion hidden by brute force of will. The tension upon his internal organs had to be immense. Lees of his make had blood pressure trouble, and heart trouble. Now they were tough … one truly infamous example had carried on a whole war while dealing with what might have been two mild heart attacks, and without any of the advantages of modern medicine had still lived five more years to build a shattered college into a university before having a stroke and at last dying of pneumonia, at the age of 63. They were tough, those Lees. Yet there had to be a cost, and Captain Lee had to be paying it, somewhere.

At last, all the phone conversations wound down, and Mr. Black sighed with satisfaction.

“That was a grand connection, Captain; I thank you very kindly.”

“You are welcome, Mr. Black. We still have time to – never mind, no, we don't.”

Day 26 is up