The Posture of Innocence, day 35.5

in #writing3 months ago (edited)

The workday ends for Commissioner Scott, Mrs. Thornton, and Captain Lee, and since the latter two are neighbors in an apartment building without great insulation, the communication between them continues ...

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, day 25, day 25.5, day 26, day 26.5, day 27, day 27.5, day 28, day 28.5, day 29, day 29.5, day 30, day 30.5, day 31, day 31.5, day 32, day 32.5, day 33, day 33.5, day 34, day 34.5, and day 35!

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Captain Lee left the commissioner's office feeling energized – off to rest for the weekend, ready to get things cracking on Monday.

“Thank you for the hard-boiled eggs, Ms. Thornton,” he said as he was going. “That protein pick-me-up was just right.”

“Any time,” she said. “Enjoy your weekend, Captain.”

“You get out of here too, Ms. Thornton,” Commissioner Scott said. “I was in the stakeout and that press conference and my head is going to explode – just shut it all down and put on the message that says I'm out of the office for the rest of the day and get out of here.”

Mrs. Thornton went into the refrigerator and started putting together snack boxes.

“Gotta start the food fresh on Monday – just going to make us some provisions with this to enjoy the afternoon.”

“Captain Lee doesn't eat donuts, so you take what you want and give me the rest of those – I'm 60, I'm stressed out, and I need all the sugar I can get my hands on because Mrs. Scott isn't going to let me drink enough,” he said. “I haven't been able to drink enough to help my situation for 40 years, and now that I'm a Christian I surely can't.”

Captain Lee smiled.

“Let me help you, Ms. Thornton,” he purred. “Are we putting the mixed nuts in the Ziploc bags?”

Goodie boxes, coats, hats, and the trip down the back elevator to the back exit – Commissioner Scott just wanted out and went the fastest way to public transportation, and then Captain Lee and Mrs. Thornton walked off toward the Rosewood Apartments, where she lived in no. 313 and he just over her head in no. 413.

Mrs. Thornton had discerned something about the captain: the competent, reserved captain was personally a little shy. He probably had been a very shy boy, but, being of great intelligence, had developed himself in other ways to compensate. Certainly Captain Lee had dramatically compensated on many fronts, but he was still a little awkward in mixed casual company. Mrs. Thornton could see it weekly when Mrs. Della Scott and her Lofton County Seed Saving Society brought heirloom produce to headquarters for the officers to take. Captain Lee loved fresh fruits and vegetables, but dreaded all the water-cooler type fellowship, and strategically planned his entrance, his filling his basket, and his exit. If anyone asked for his help, or needed his ear, he stopped and politely did all that was required, but he never joined the conversations of his own accord, and if pulled in did not stay in long.

Even daily: Captain Lee was never at the water cooler or coffee pot, rarely in the lunch room unless lunching with someone else. He came in at 7:45am precisely to be ensconced in his office before the rush around 9:00. Again, if pulled in, Captain Lee was competent, and even beloved because he listened very well and made insightful, occasionally piercing contributions when appropriate, but he planned his day to not do that too often.

On the other hand, nobody poured into the small group like Captain Lee – his lieutenants were blooming and blossoming and were becoming the envy of the department because of all the time he spent grooming them. Nine chances out of 10, if he was talking with someone outside his office, one or more of those young lieutenants were engaging with him, and they would be climbing up and down to the record room, going to the lunch room, taking over conference rooms – talk, talk, talk about general principles of investigation, about approaches to different types of witnesses, and if it was lunch hour, how to approach life as a good and moral man. Other young officers were welcome to join these conversations, and often did, and there, Captain Lee was in his social element, the small group hungry for knowledge and growth. Reputedly, on down time, he had been the same with his teams in Special Forces. Captain Lee was also known to have older mentors of his own … all the senior jurists in the area who were not corrupt seemed to have adopted him.

That is to say: although Captain Lee was shy, he warmed up quickly in smaller settings. A walk with a colleague after work who had become a friend was one of those settings … not that he was necessarily going to start the conversation, but he could certainly carry it once he knew it was desired that he do so.

There was another thing: Captain Lee's body language often told one how he felt, if one paid attention. He was very comfortable with Mrs. Thornton. Not that he would walk faster than she could walk comfortably, but his stride had mellowed out ... less of the military march, more a stroll. On this occasion, not much was said … but a lot had already been said. He kept a very respectful distance from her, walked on the outside, looked both ways twice at every corner before crossing with her – there was nothing, to the open casual public, to indicate anything out of the ordinary … but his stride was saying a lot to Mrs. Thornton.

As it usually was on the occasions when they walked together, very little was said, but Mrs. Thornton felt very comfortable with the captain. He was always a perfect gentleman, and saw her to her door with his usual polite charm.

“Enjoy your weekend, Captain,” she said again.

“You also, Mrs. Thornton. Give your cousin Mrs. Bell my regards.”

Two minutes later, Mrs. Thornton heard his footsteps above her head, and a little later, a sound she was hearing more and more: the captain playing his instruments. He was a fine musician, and all of the sudden had started going back to his music.

“Keep healing him, please, Lord,” she said. “I thank You for what You have been doing … please keep doing it.”

In his apartment, Captain Lee had felt in the mood for his mandolin … he was getting back into practice, and he found that the music was flowing again. In his teens he had been a budding composer-arranger, but since Vanessa's death he had largely left off his music except on rare occasions … there had been times he could not withhold the gift from the families of one of his fallen men, or, occasionally, an impromptu worship service with fellow believers. On those days he found he could still play well. His cousin Major Hamilton had recorded one such occasion and played it back, and astonished his commander.

“Ah well,” the colonel had said. “It is good that you recorded it … that will never happen again.”

The colonel turned police captain on his way to exiting both military and police life now realized he had lied. It was indeed time for him to pick up all his old gifts from beside Vanessa's grave … he had confessed to the Lord that he had made an idol of his grief for her and his bouts of depression, and had turned from that idolatry. The grief was there. The bouts would come and go, but … .

“I am willing, Lord, with all that You have given me, to live, and use whatever is Your will … I am willing ... .”

An hour later, Mrs. Thornton and Mrs. Bell were both sitting and listening.

“Wow … I didn't know he could play like that,” Mrs. Bell said.

“I don't think he even knew,” Mrs. Thornton said.

“I don't even see how he needs to work at the police department – that man should be recording his music! I've never heard anybody play “Amazing Grace” like that!”

“Making a living from passive income selling music is tough – there's a lot of competition already positioned on keywords and plenty more coming in after you even if you get established. The other thing is, he wouldn't play like that for an audience … I think we are getting to listen in on something that is very personal to him...”

“Eavesdropping!” Mrs. Bell said.

“Yep,” said Mrs. Thornton. “Occupational hazard with apartment living. Let's listen some more.”

It went on for another hour … afterward, Captain Lee came to himself in tears, the act of freely giving himself to music by choice having tapped a great deal of pent-up emotion. It was like putting lights back on. Vanessa's death had turned out a lot, 23 years of the most rigorous forms of army life had put out quite a few more, but the switches were still there and he could reach them.

“I can recover … I actually can … oh, God, thank You!”

Since Mrs. Bell was cooking dinner that day, Mrs. Thornton, now relaxing in her room, could hear the captain's cry to the Lord, and his deep sobbing from his relief.

“Just let it all out, Harry,” she said, the tears rolling down her face as well. “You can do this. You can weep. You can laugh. You can make grand music. You can probably even dance – you look like you can even dance, and if you don't know how, you can learn. You can live, Harry. You can. And once you figure that out, you might even figure out you don't have to live alone, that you can share your life with someone who wants to share it with you … everything else can be figured out after that. But right now, just live, Harry, just live.”

Day 36 is up