A Song of the Past: Sixteen

(Previous installment.)

Opening a File
“The main objective of any operation in an open file is the eventual occupation of the seventh or eighth rank.”
—Aaron Nimzovich, My System
Thursday, 7:10 AM
Thursday morning she woke up just after seven to find that Chuck was not next to her in bed. Then she heard him in the kitchen. She put on her robe and slippers, and went to join him.
He was bent over the stove, fully dressed, intently eyeing two eggs sizzling in a pan. Deirdre moved silently behind him, and slipped her arms around his waist. “Good morning, naughty man.”
“Good morning, naughty lady.” Chuck turned to face her, and kissed her on the forehead, then on the eyes, then the nose, and finally her lips. “I have to get in to the office, so excuse me for starting breakfast without you. I didn’t cook you anything because I didn’t know when you’d be up. Do you want eggs?”

“Yes, thanks.”

“Take these. I’ll make another round.” He handed her a plate with the eggs and some buttered toast on it. She fetched herself a glass of orange juice and poured one for Chuck as well.

“What do you have going on today?”

“I’m working on that murder case—the one you were the ME for. By the way, I apologize for the way I acted that morning—I was nervous around you.”

“Believe it or not, I figured that out. Once in a while, I get women right. And, to tell you the truth, I was a little nervous, too.” He gave Deirdre a coy smile. “Do you feel a little more relaxed after last night?”

“If I was any more relaxed I couldn’t sit up in this chair.”

“I know what you mean.”

Between bites they bantered about urban crime, the prospects for the future of New Haven, the differences between the east and west coasts, and their shared love of fall in New England. Chuck left after finishing breakfast, but not before inviting Deirdre to accompany him to the Yale Repertory Theater’s performance of Hamlet two days hence, on Saturday night, an invitation she accepted while trying, she feared unsuccessfully, to hide the giddy high that receiving the proposal had sent rushing up her spine to flood her head and befuddle her ability to form intelligible speech.
From her front porch Deirdre stared at Chuck’s receding figure and then at that of his car until it turned the corner and left Fountain Street. Even after he had disappeared she remained lost in an intoxicating reverie for a couple of minutes longer, before she could face breaking its spell to return inside, where she frantically readied herself for work. She grabbed a coffee at Hy’s on her way to catch the bus. She drifted back into her daydream as she sat on the bench at the bus stop, barely sipping the scalding brew but deeply drinking from the memories of the previous night.

Then the serpent slithered into her pleasure garden, disrupting her innocent absorption in its beauties, reminding her that she was responsible for redressing the wrong of Ben Moore’s murder. She acknowledged her obligation, leaving the garden and committing her awareness to the fallen world of crime and punishment. The image of the tie tack floated before her closed eyes, accompanied by the inkling that there was something else familiar about the emblem besides her having seen it at Hy’s, a perhaps more significant context in which it had fluttered past her gaze unremarked. Her adamant demand that her memory must disinter that moment from its unmarked tomb gradually convinced her that it had been that previous Sunday morning that she had blearily perceived, through the fog of her hangover, the garbled message that she now sought to decipher. She moved the image around in her mind, making it first smaller, and then larger, turning it to expose its various sides, and casting different hues of light upon it, until a bright blue illumination leapt out from the kaleidoscope and laid full claim to her attention. The tie tack shared at least one of its salient characteristics with another object, one featuring a bright blue focal point, which, it seemed to her, was set against a gray field. But where and when in God’s immense creation had she encountered the tie tack’s kin? A determined effort to recall any details about the occasion produced impressions of a fierce headache and the horrid, intrusive presence of acute motion sickness. Had she seen the second object on the very ride to the crime scene? She decided that when she got to work she should request the use of a department car for the day, so that she could retrace that earlier journey in a more sober state.

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