Captain Lee and Captain Hamilton discuss what is going on in Big Loft before teaching some eager interns ... and for those of you who wonder if Captain Lee ever makes a mistake, read on ...
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, day 35, day 35.5, day 36, day 36.5, and day 37!
On the weekends, Captain Hamilton took over cooking breakfast for the family, and when he was visiting, Captain Lee assisted him. This was a good time for them to have their kinds of conversations … 23 years of Army service apiece, both planning to retire at year 24, both applying their skills in police work with all the counter-terrorism and anti-corruption work there was to do right in Lofton County. Their stand with the Black citizens of Lofton County at the Gilligan House Burning had been the bridge for the fire to sweep into the high quarters of corrupt policing and begin burning out the evil. That fire had never burned out, although around Tinyville things were calm. In Big Loft there had been flareups so hot it had taken out the mayor and other officials, and the slow burn in the county had caused the county to have to cover most of the policing in neighboring Miniopolis, Smallwood, Littleburg, and Shortport.
However, Captain Lee had not come to talk with Captain Hamilton about another flareup. He had come to talk about a conflagration so huge it could get up to the top of the highest rungs of Lofton County's society, thus becoming –.
“Loftarmageddon,” Captain Hamilton said, shaking his head. “Everything southern Virginia and its aristocracy was spared in the Civil War, between here and through Roanoke County.”
“Your imagination is so much more dramatic than mine,” Captain Lee said, “but, we will allow it. That is how it will feel to those involved.
“What I am about to say here I say knowing that if things had been done the way I see they should have been done, you and I could never have been born. Yet it was the gravest of mistakes for the U.S. Army to have put the entire Confederacy on parole, and not to yank the great landowners who had backed and supported that rebellion right out of whatever Sherman had not burned and made a public example of all of them. That would have done more for peace than Lincoln's 'let 'em up easy' policy – we would not have had 150 years of domestic terrorism and wasted time on lost causes, and the South could have moved forward without looking backward at something that was nearly won and did not have the consequences it should have in the loss.
“Our general – your great-great-great-grandfather and my uncle by the same distance – died in bed, and so did every other important Confederate. That is why, to this day, the men who have created the great evil that we are uncovering in and around Big Loft think that they, too, can get away with anything they wish to do, and still be revered by the people in society they wish to impress, and be held in terror by those they wish to dominate, indefinitely. That is the meaning of every statue of General Lee in Virginia, and the meaning of these men and women in their charitable rounds and business consortiums and public events while they do such evil in private to so many.”
“I thought you were doing better, Harry,” Captain Hamilton said. “That is some grim talk, and it is going to get grimmer if I catch your drift.”
“Certainly. I have worn this face all my life, a walking, talking image of a man whose face should have at least not been known by every child in the South by now. But I would rather have this complex than the one the whole society here would gladly have given me – to be the second coming of the general, with all the Arlington-type inheritance, with all the military record of glory, and thus access to return, as the first Lee in 150 years, to the Virginian stratosphere from which Robert E. Lee fell.
“No, Ironwood! A thousand times, no! I would rather die! I was not born for that! If I must bear the name, and the image, let me assist Lofton County in at last accepting the meaning of Appomattox – those involved in the hundreds of millions of dollars of devilry based on again making chattel of Black lives must be exposed to the light of day, in such a way that no one will ever think again that there are no consequences! That is what I am here for – not to lend all the powers of Lee to holding the system up, but this time, to drag it down, in full public view!”
“That's where I thought you were going, Harry,” Captain Hamilton said, after a long silence. “Well, let's get breakfast done, and then go look at the data before Mr. Black and his team come down this afternoon.”
Breakfast in Hamiltown was breakfast for 12 with Cousin Harry in the house, ranging in age from one year old up to 45 – plenty of energy and fun. The two captains found it hard to tear themselves away, but, owing to the very small staff Captain Hamilton had in Tinyville, he had to work half a day on Saturdays. This had been good in one way: Mr. Black and his young interns came down weekly to work on the 48 cases that Captain Hamilton knew had led to false convictions of the town's Black citizens, and in return, Captain Hamilton passed on knowledge about using big data techniques in field investigation. Saturdays had become very productive days, and Captain Lee was to take over the teaching that day to talk about big data techniques as they applied to cold cases.
Yet before that, Captain Lee showed his cousin the great bolt, the vast web of interconnected data that the Soames case had opened up, slowly straightening out as more data was added.
“Wow. The advantage of having years and years of data sets, all thrown in together, Harry. I can't say it makes complete sense to me this way, though – can we print this?”
“It will take as many pieces of paper, taped end to end, as would get to our heights.”
“Eh, well, Tinyville doesn't have a thousand lawsuits it has to deal with – I think we are endowed with a budget that will allow us to print six or seven pieces of paper.”
Captain Lee chuckled, and they printed the thing, and the two men laid it out across the desk, and then Captain Hamilton asked his cousin just to hold it up. Captain Lee was six feet tall; the papers, taped together, went down from his head to his feet.
“Yep, there's a little over six feet, Harry – what a mess,” Captain Hamilton said. “I do see it straightening out, but … no, it still doesn't make sense, and it's not the data's fault. What we have here is a failure of resources.”
Captain Lee peeked out from behind the bolt.
“That program is top of the line,” he said.
“Yes, but it only has so many modalities. We need one Morton Data Master doesn't have yet, and you can pass what we're about to do on to them free of charge. It's the fractal geometry thing – self-similarity and such.”
“Let me have that thing, Harry. OK. Stand way back and look at the bolt, and then come close and look at each piece of it. They are not identical, but they are iterations that are very similar to each other and the whole. Go look at it, then come back.”
“My word, Ironwood – you are right! Speculative Mode in Data Master needs a ping for self-similar patterns, and a different kind of resolve – this bolt will never straighten out. It can't. It's a big piece of near-perfect fractal geometry, and that means I will have to revise my whole line of thought about what it will reveal!”
“Right. I wanted you to see that first, Harry. Let's sit down a few minutes.”
The papers were laid aside, and the two men sat down next to each other, as they had a thousand times in 23 years.
“Harry, I know that you trust me, and you know I have your back. So, take this next question with that in mind: does your strategy for dealing with the 35 families and the roughly 200 people that are implicated on that big fractal have more to do with what was not done in 1865, or what you didn't get to do in 1992?”
It was like a lightning bolt hit Captain Lee; he shuddered from head to toe, having not realized his mistake until that moment, and instantly realizing the disaster his not catching that mistake would have been.
“Harry, the instant your mother's family was implicated, and you had to go up to see your mother's friends the Lancasters, your mind went back to what they all did to you after Vanessa died, and what they deserved then for their evil – you're still trying to burn them out, just in a different way,” Captain Hamilton said, his tone kind, but firm. “I think what frightens me the most is that you could pull it off successfully – never mind the disaster of a failure, and the loss of life it would entail – but you have the skill to pull it off successfully. Imagine the problem this would immediately create – Lofton County's already understaffed district attorney's office and legal processes stuffed with a glut of angry, very rich people. 90 percent of them would get out on bail and skip town in a week – the county doesn't have the resources and the state has insufficient will to track them down. So, with their money, they could wreak their revenge on your police department from a distance for years and years, and also re-constitute what they are doing from abroad.
“And this is why we talked about this, coming back home, taking the police offers because we knew that we couldn't transition directly from the army to civilian life, but acknowledging our limitations. I said that I would take a small town where big temptations to recreate our kind of field work would not come up often, and you said you would take the desk job so you would not have to be in or create field situations at all. We talked about this kind of situation, Harry, because we knew these kind of days would come. The Gilligan House stand would have happened with or without us – we just went as official support, and even that put us in a danger zone greater than even Commissioner Thomas thinking he was still smart enough to take down the two of us. Why do you think I stopped for us to watch the sunrise – to reposition our minds in our present, not in the horrors of our recent past?”
Bolt after bolt as the realizations hit Captain Lee – at last, his cousin put an arm around him, he was shaking so hard.
“Just breathe, Harry. I know how you hate making mistakes. Just breathe, thank the Lord that He provided for you to make the mistake, see it, and adjust before acting on it, and then we will take a walk for a little while.”
Captain Lee half-came to himself in the late summer heat, as he and his cousin took a brisk walk – when at last the shock came off, he found that it had taken more than half his strength with it, and he was sitting weakly beside his cousin. There was but one way forward – humility, and surrender.
“Thank you, Ironwood,” he said. “I could not see any of that before you showed me, and guided me to it. Thank you.”
“We're just now even,” Captain Hamilton said, “after you kept me from losing my mind after how my old church, where I used to take my children, turned out domestic terrorists to kill you, me, and everybody standing at the Gilligan House.”
“Ironwood, how are we even close to even, with all the times you have kept me from doing away with myself?” Captain Lee said with a sad smile.
“You forget, Harry – you've got to multiply you helping me get myself together by 12. There's Hamiltown to consider, you know.”
Captain Lee's smile widened and lost some of its sadness.
“I have so much admiration for you, Ironwood. That you have kept up that family, with everything we have been through … I hope someday to have your strength, and I pray the Lord strengthen me.”
A tear came to Captain Hamilton's eyes.
“Harry, they've kept me, not the other way. I couldn't have made it alone. The Lord knew that, and so gave me 12 reminders that I was accountable to Him to live and get back and attend to my healing. I admire you because I could never have gotten through alone – it amazes me that you go home to an empty apartment and have only seriously considered suicide a handful of times.”
“The Lord has been my strength, and has wrestled with me as He had to wrestle with Jacob,” Captain Lee said. “You see from the data here how weak I am. All this work, to go back to square one.”
“Now I wouldn't say that,” Captain Hamilton said. “So, it looks like a lightning bolt, but it's just upside down.”
“Let's turn it,” he said. “Now, what is it?”
“Ah – a grotesque but definite tree – a twisted cypress, perhaps, but definitely a tree, with many branches!”
“And a main trunk,” Captain Hamilton said. “Forget trying to figure out who this thing points to. Whose in that trunk line – who keeps the thing running? Strangle off the bark on that trunk, and the roots and branches will all die!”
Captain Lee smiled.
“And that way we give our honest new friends in the legal system a chance to cope with it all,” he said.
“Now, you're thinking clearly, Harry. Ring that trunk, and the rest will fall … a long, painful fall that will rupture what Mr. Black calls that posture of innocence over a long, long period of time. And I hear you have some wonderful lieutenants who know how to grab onto information and suspects really well.”
“Oh, they do,” Captain Lee said. “I train and then give the orders and they go with all their youth and eagerness and it is beautiful.”
“So, you need to go into the field and get into a full-blown PTSD episode for what reason?”
“None in the world, Ironwood.”
“Right, Harry. Right.
By the time Mr. Black and five of the interns he worked with at the Innocence Project arrived, the two captains were cheerfully going through the local data they were all going to work with that day. Lieutenant O'Reilly from the Tinyville force came in early to get the training from Mr. Black – “First time I ever looked at a Black man as someone I could learn from, but it definitely won't be the last,” the young lieutenant had confided to his commander Captain Hamilton – and then Captain Lee was given the floor for the first time on what Captain Hamilton unofficially called the “Saturday Sleuthing School for Post-Racist Investigators.”
Class was dismissed at 6:30, and everybody rolled back to the Hamilton home for dinner – Captain Hamilton made a huge restaurant order that he went into town to pick up and take over to his home for his wife to keep warm instead of having her and his elder daughters cook for 20. They did prepare sides of their own – the poke salad and ramps that Mrs. Hamilton, “little” Agnes, and Iris had picked in the spring came out of the freezer and was combined with spinach for vegetables, along with caramelized onions … the Hamiltons did up their vegetables big time.
While traveling, Mr. Black tapped Captain Hamilton on the shoulder gently.
“However this comes out,” he said, “your cousin is being wasted on the police force. That man is a natural teacher – nothing was ever more plain in the world. A lot of my interns were not too keen on listening to a walking, talking statue of Robert E. Lee, but he won them over in minutes, because his sincerity and passion and ability to engage the thinking of students is astonishing. Look at him.”
Captain Lee was walking with the group of interns, who were of every race in Virginia, and they were answering his questions about their experiences with law enforcement and how the use of data related with that.
“They hear people lecturing them all the time,” Mr. Black said. “They expected it from him, but the fact that he led them right off into what he does and how he does and why he does it – astonishing.”
“So, you think his next career should be taking the SSSPRI on the road?” Captain Hamilton said.
“Oh, yes, and not just for the Innocence Project and the Southern Poverty and Law Center and places like that,” Mr. Black said. “We already know what the problems are in the way racist assumptions are carried over instead of proper fundamental and 21st-century methods of investigation. What needs to happen is that his face needs to go into departments who would never, ever hear from me, and for him to get proper methods in there – or, get him into police academies and schools for private investigators, and even insurance investigators, and also journalists, and government data workers. Everywhere that you white folks keep aggregating information that you use to make decisions about yourselves and everyone else, he needs to be, if for no other reason than to show that there is a righteous, rigorous alternative to the usual evils that are done.”
“Are you trying to get my cousin killed?”
“I hear that you two are both Green Berets, highly decorated – sounds like y'all's kind of job, because believe me, this country needs this kind of service!”
Captain Lee heard Mr. Black and Captain Hamilton laughing pleasantly, but he was engaged with the younger people, all evening as they blended in with the Hamilton family and this little child and that clambered into their Cousin Harry's lap for a little while before clambering down to do something else. At the end, when Mr. Black and the interns had gone, and the younger Hamiltons had gone to bed or to their rooms, Captain Hamilton found Captain Lee half-asleep, half-smiling.
“How did all that feel, Harry?” he asked.
“It was a very productive afternoon – the Innocence Project has some wonderful, sharp young minds working with it.”
“That wasn't what I asked you,” Captain Hamilton said.
Captain Lee had to struggle awake – assessing the situation tactically was sometimes easier than accessing his personal impressions.
“I enjoyed that very much – the time just flew by,” he said. “I have been considering a career change to consultant around investigative issues in the era of big data, and this afternoon has confirmed to me that it is worth seriously looking into.”
“I enjoyed you, and I know the stuff you are teaching,” Captain Hamilton said. “You are a natural with people who want to learn, Harry … just like another relative from way, way back when. The difference is that you don't need to be at West Point, or in the battlefields of Virginia, or in a college in Lexington, or anywhere. You have the skills to strike out on your own, and create something that investigators and organizations who use investigators really need, especially those that want something different than following 400 years of the status quo.
“Also remember, Harry: you have sufficient resources to work when you want and with whom you want. You would therefore have opportunity to use a great deal of your non-lethal skill sets and keep them sharp while staying away from situations that are likely to trigger you. I'm not saying you leave Big Loft's police force at this present moment – things are rather critical. Yet, the Lord is opening a big, big door to the rest of your life, and I think you should seriously consider walking right on through. See if you can get a team together to help with the initial business aspects while you keep working at the police department – if you can, you could have a fully developed business vehicle to step into when you step away from police work.”
“I have gotten that advice once before,” Captain Lee said, and his cousin noticed that Captain Lee's eyes grew soft … he was going back to sleep, but there was more to it.
“Perhaps you have already found a potential team member,” Captain Hamilton said softly as he watched his cousin drifting off.
“Perhaps I have, Ironwood, perhaps I have ...”
He was gone, smiling faintly in his sleep.
“Well, Agnes, Harry continues to make progress,” Captain Hamilton said as he settled down beside his wife for the night.
“I saw that,” she said. “Something good is definitely up with him. He seemed relaxed yesterday when he came, and even more so this evening. He has smiled a lot more so far than usual.”
“For the first time in 27 years he is seriously considering a full civilian career,” Captain Hamilton said.
“Wow,” Mrs. Hamilton said. “The Army lifer has changed his mind?”
“Seems to be changing it, anyhow,” Captain Hamilton said. “Clearly, a lot has happened since we've seen him last. Everything is not roses and honey, but he does seem quite changed. Keep praying. Because Harry is at his core a loner, he may or may not tell me everything that is going on this weekend, but God knows, and, oh, I pray, Lord, keep it going!”