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“Hurry, Hurry, get your stuff together…the Great Monday is coming!”

What is the “Great Monday”?- you ask, as you scurry about to find whatever stuff it is you should take to greet the “Great Monday.”

Well the Great Monday comes on June 3d this year- and as one must do the week before the Great Monday appears – you have a week of preparation. Actually, two weeks, but I didn’t write this until week one was over. So there.

On the Great Monday – I will become bionic. Yep. A brand spanking new hip. All shiny and pain free. I won’t see it- except a few hours before they put it in me- but I am told with great certainty that I will feel the difference immediately. No pain. That is good enough for me.

However the preparations have some difficult parts to them like: will power, sacrifice, self control and dedication. First you have to do just four simple exercises on the floor, and two while seated in a chair. You are supposed to do ten reps of each, twice daily.

First they wanted to see if we could do 20 pushups. Just 20. Form wasn’t judged at all. Just could you lower yourself down to your chest (belly) and back up. Everyone but me had to do a chair pushup. Where they sat in a chair and did pushups with their arms. So I was feeling pretty good about myself. Having done twenty actual pushups, and breezing through twenty chair pushups.

To be fair, everyone was over sixty five years old. The only thing we had in common besides bad hips and knees- was pain. Everyone was in pain. And overweight too. All but two guys who somehow managed to live their whole lives with discipline, self control, and will power. I bet they weren’t even human. One of those guys weighed exactly what he did when he graduated from High School. Six foot one inches tall, and weighs 155 pounds. Thin, but not rail thin.

The other guy was my size, but lighter. LOL He got up to 199 pounds at one point around age fifty three. Since he was only five foot six inches tall- just like me- he decided he didn’t want to weigh two hundred pounds- or anywhere close to it- so he changed his diet dramatically.

Listen to this and weep: He stopped eating sugar in anything. Cereal, tea, cakes, ice cream, soda pop- if it had sugar in it- he doesn’t eat it. And…he didn’t replace sugary drinks with the chemical laden “sugar free” substitutes. He amped up his intake of vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Way up. He still eats meat, but only small portions and only fresh cooked. He hasn’t been to a Fast Food Restaurant in more than twenty years.

He allows himself two kinds of treats: Two table spoons of plain vanilla ice cream on Mon- Weds- Friday. And on Saturday he goes whole hog and allows himself chocolate covered almonds- up to ten of them! Oh, and no beer, wine, or whiskey.

It took him two years to go from 199 pounds- to 135 pounds. And he hasn’t weighed more than 137 pounds since then. His name was Nick. I called him Saint Nick after he told me his story. But neither of those two guys could do twenty push ups on the floor. I was smug.

Except for this simple fact: I weigh 215 pounds. When I did my pushups, my belly was very close to the floor. To make my chest hit…well, I had to squeeze my belly out a bit to the sides so I could reach the floor. Sad.

Then we moved on to another exercise- snow angels without the arms. That is what I call them anyway. You lay on your back on the floor, and then you move one leg out like you were making a snow angel. Just one at a time. And slide your leg, do not lift it. If you have bad hips you are supposed to move it as far as you can- even an inch is good.

Okay, so I don’t have any will power, discipline, or self control- but I do have an ego. I went home and did two sets of ten snow angels. And I moved even my bad hip leg about twenty inches away from the perpendicular. I was stoked. Then I tried to get up. Ouch. For the next few hours my hips let me know how stupid I was to invoke my ego instead of my common sense. I have to skip that exercise for a few days before the Great Monday arrives.

They also recommend no caffeine, no smoking, and no drinking of alcohol. I don’t smoke or drink, but caffeine? I drink two litters of Pepsi in twenty four hours (Hey, don’t sound so shocked- I am not done yet!). I also drink between three and five cups of tea a day. And each cup has three heaping teaspoons of sugar in it too. I know, I know, why aren’t I a diabetic? Or dead. I eat sugared cereals- and add sugar to them. I know most of you are grossed out by now- even I am getting a little nauseous as I read what I write. Yech.

I also make buttered toast and add sugar (with cinnamon) to it. And donuts. I love donuts. I will even eat stale donuts while bemoaning the fact that they are stale. And cake. And chips. And candy bars. Hmmm…as Phil said in Groundhog Day: “I have a problem…I may have a problem.”

So in preparation for the Great Monday, I have to cease sugar, caffeine, and eat dark green leafy vegetables to increase my Iron. That means I need self control, self discipline, will power and some sacrifice. I haven’t used any of those in decades. And I had to ask where the Produce Section was in the grocery store. It isn’t anywhere near the bakery.

I do walk every day, even with my two canes- but that is habit not discipline. Walking – for me- is like breathing and peeing, just something I do without notice. LOL

One week of truly healthy dietary habits, fluid intake, and religious application to the exercises. Can I do it? Part of me knows I have to. Why? Because I want the best possible outcome for this surgery. I want to go for long walks again- without the companionship of pain. But a part of me knows me well enough to know that just not having Pepsi for a week would be a Hero Level Effort on my part.

And I have to wean myself off of caffeine. Going “cold turkey” from the amounts of caffeine I take in can cause massive headaches, or worse. But I have made a start. No tea. None for three days so far. And I have slowed my Pepsi down to a one liter bottle that lasts me two days. Oh, and I didn’t buy any cereal last week- so we are out of that.

Donuts? Don’t ask. I am on a roll. LOL

I do like vegetables and fresh fruit – and I never used salad dressing on my salad. So that was a point for me. I am eating lots of green things- even rabbits and squirrels are looking at me with envy. No fruit juices though, just the fruit. Last time I ate this many apples, cherries, or pumpkins, they were in pies. Pies covered with whip cream, and a scoop of ice cream on the side.

I have also learned about squash. Squashes. There are many kinds of squash, which is kind of like a thin movie star version of pumpkins or gourds. I bought butterscotch squash…only to find out it got that name from its color- not the taste. But it is good though- especially as a cold soup.

I have eaten enough tomatoes to be considered a pasta sauce all on my own. And spinach, kale, and celery. My stools are coming out like rattan patio furniture. I have so much fiber in me now, twice I got accidentally caught by hay bailing machines. I am fairly certain – if I keep this up- I shall become wicker furniture.

No processed food. None. All my favorite Marie Calendar frozen dinners- gone. Replaced by blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. Oh, and mango too. I do add a dollop of whip cream to them though. Okay, a big dollop.

I drink mostly water now. Lots of water. Maybe that is why I am shaped like a sagging water balloon.

The Great Monday is coming. I will be ready.

Smiles, Kevin


I stared silently at his picture. Laughter surrounded me as I remembered that I was in public. My focus returned back to the picture and my heart clenched some more. Squeezing my eyes shut, I locked my phone, trying to ignore the ache in my chest – right where the heart was ought to be.

I couldn’t get upset in front of my friends. I couldn’t show them that I was broken and miserable. I needed to put up a good face to save my dignity. So, that was what I did. I smiled and I laughed. And everyone around me smiled and laughed too. The only difference? I was certain that I was the only one who was faking it.

It had been a month since the fight. A month of anger and resentment. A month of hope that maybe, maybe he would text me first this time. Maybe, he realized that he missed me, and would drop everything and just call me. That was all I wanted from him. A call. A text – something that showed me that he still cared. That I meant something to him.

It wasn’t long before I was dropped home by my friend. She knew something was wrong. She could actually feel it. She didn’t question me as she dropped me off. She just smiled.

Once inside my room, I let out a huge sigh and slumped back onto my bed. My phone pinged, signalling that I had a text. With a smile, I opened it, hoping that it would be him. It wasn’t. It was Gavin. Gavin and I had become pretty close since the last month. As much as I hated to admit it, Gavin was my rebound. He kept me sane, plus he helped me get through with it.

A familiar pang set in as I returned to the earlier picture. Scott’s hand was over another girl’s shoulder, their heads touching. I mentally scoffed at their picture. He hated taking pictures. Especially selfies.

I scrolled down, reading the caption as my heart clenched some more.

“When you meet someone new and immediately click. New bestie for life.”

My teeth clenched as I found my throat hitched. I had known that scum for five years and never once did regard me as his bestie. Letting out an annoyed sigh, I angrily double tapped the post before locking my phone.

I rolled to my side, angry tears running down my face. Maybe that was all I needed. A motivation – a force telling me how our friendship just wasn’t going to work out. Maybe this was the end. I will just have to learn to live with it.


What can I say about a girl I loved since I was ten… that I love the way she laughs at me when I commit mistakes, the way she fusses over silly things and even the way she cries over some sad silly late night show…

She was my best friend and I have known her since we were small. She knew all my secrets, which reveals my feelings for her, that I love her not only because she’s pretty and smart but also the way she laughs at everything and the way she sees life and love. I could still remember the first time we met; I was five years old then. It was one windy afternoon having no one to play with except for my best friend, Troy. He and his family just moved out to a neighboring state at transfer because his father got promoted. And so I climbed up our tree house, I saw a moving truck coming down the street. I watched it approaching and noticed a family station wagon following it. It stopped in front of the house and out came a family. I was about to glance away when came out the loveliest girl I’ve ever seen.

She was four years old that time but then even at an early age she was a beauty. She had long curly hair, which reached almost to her waist. She had fair complexion and eyes which could make a man lose his heart into them. I continued to watch her when suddenly she looked up and saw me watching them in the tree house window. I was about to duck when she smiled and waved her hand. I waved back and then watched in amazement as I saw her running towards the tree house. So I went to the edge of the ladder and said, “Would you like to come up?” she answered, “May I?” So I help her climb up and when she reached the top she then turned to me and said, “By the way, my name’s Sam, what’s yours?” I answered, “My name is Christopher but then you can call me Chris.” She smiled and said, “Well I like your name. Hey your tree house’s neat!” then I replied, “Thanks! Troy and I made this. This used to be our hide out. We used to goof around, play ball and go biking together. He was my best friend and I kind of miss him you know.” She smiled and said “I’m here now, we could do things you do with Troy and I could be your new best friend too. I never had a boy for a friend before so it could be exciting to have one. I could learn how to play ball and I have my bicycle so we could go biking together. Now how does that sound to you?” I smiled and said, “Well that sounds good enough.” Then she held her hand and said, “It’s a deal then!”

So that’s how it started. So we became best friends and it was kind of strange at first for she was a girl and there are things which I was little bit hesitant to indulge her like catching frogs, swimming in the lake and climbing trees, but then she tried and did everything just to please me. There was even a time when she fell off the bike trying to catch up with me in a race we had and I was the one who bandaged her scraped knee. I could still remember the time when she hit the window of our neighbor when we were playing baseball and it was I who talked to Mr. Chambers and promised to pay for the damage, which meant having to loose a week’s allowance. I remembered the time when I fell off the tree when I tried to rescue a little kitten because Sam was near to tears when she saw the helpless kitten trapped in a branch. I even fought with the tough guy when they teased Sam and made her cry and I ended up having a black eye and a bruised cheek. I remember Sam crying as she placed an ice bag over the damaged eye and later gave it a get-well kiss. I did everything to please her and gave everything her little heart desires.

The lake was our favorite hang out. We had our Saturday swim routine. We would pack food and later eat them under the big oak tree. There was a special branch in which the two of us could sit together and tell each other’s dreams. She dreams of being a Ballerina and she knows my dream of becoming a doctor. She never laughs at my dreams and pursuits even if they were quite impossible. It made me like her even more.

As years went by, I noticed that my feelings towards her were slowly changing. Somehow, I thought it was just a simple crush case. But when I started thinking about her at night, dreaming of her and having the feeling of wanting to be with her all the time, I thought it was something different, something that made me feel strange, but then it was exhilarating feeling. It made me feel so alive. Whenever our hands touch, I could feel the tingling sensation in my spine. Once when we were at the lake having our Saturday swim routine and as I carried her towards the water edge, I had the feeling of not wanting to let go. I just wanted that moment to continue hoping it would never end. I then realized I was slowly falling in love with my best friend.

Many times I tried to deny the feeling for I was scared to imagine what would happen if ever I’d try to tell her how I feel about her. I was scared because she might think that I’m taking advantage of her and our friendship. I was afraid of losing her so I just kept my feeling hidden.

We reached the age of fifteen and I noticed that Sam grew lovelier each day. How my heart aches wherever I see boys glance her way. I want to punch their noses as I watch them talking to her giving compliments, flowers and chocolates. There were times when I watch her at a distance with mixed feelings of anger and hurt! Because it hurts so much to know that there were so many things I wanted to tell her but then I could not do so. There were so many presents which I long to give her but then I could not for she might see me only as a friend. I was also scared of letting her know how I feel about her as much as losing her.

Then one day, I just learned from a friend that she already had a boyfriend. At first, I tried to convince myself that it was just a rumor. Her boyfriend was Mark, a popular senior, who was the heartthrob of the campus. She, being the cheerleader was close to the basketball team to which Mark was the captain. When I saw them walking together at the parking lot that afternoon, I watched her with my heart slowly breaking into pieces. I saw her wave at me but I just pretended not to see her for I was scared that she might see in my eyes the pain I’m feeling inside because of seeing her with another guy. Those days that followed where the saddest days of my life. How my heart aches when I see her walk by me with him at her side. Every time we meet in hallways and I see him around her, there’s a feeling inside me that makes me want to grab her away from him. How it hurts to see the girl I long possess was now owned by somebody else. That special smile I long for her to cast on me was now casted on him. As she passes by me she doesn’t know that I whisper the words “God how I love you.”

Then one faithful day they broke up. She came too me that evening crying on my shoulder. They had a big fight and it ended up with their break up. Mixed feelings were scaring me inside. I was happy because she was free and maybe I would have the chance of telling her my true feelings for her but then I was feeling so bad because she is crying her heart out just for him. At that time, I was not quite sure of what I wanted to do.

So we found ourselves doing what we did in old days with our Saturday swim routine, spending time in our tree house. We still enjoyed doing childish pranks for we still are both young at heart. So many chances I had for me to confess my feelings for her but still I couldn’t bring myself to her for I was scared of losing her once more. I once lost her, now I could not bear of losing her again by telling her, “I love her”. So I just kept my feelings even if it was bursting to be expressed from my aching heart.

It was a week from our JS Prom, we were seated at the branch of an oak tree drying ourselves after our afternoon swim when she said, “I was wondering Chris if you would like to be my partner?” It just got out of my wits for it was like a dream I never thought would happen. It took me awhile to answer her, “I thought there are so many boys who would die for you to be their partner?” So she turned away and quietly said, “Well I just thought I would like to spend that night with my best friend.” Then she continued in a whisper I could barely hear, “Don’t you want to die just like them to be my partner Chris?” I was too stunned to speak for it came close for me to blurt my feelings for her. We… we’re silent for a while until I finally whispered, “I would be happy to be your partner Sam. “The she smiled and suddenly kissed my cheek. I could hardly contain the joy I felt that time. I saw her turned red and bowed her head. Suddenly she stood up and run towards the water saying, “Last one to reach the water treats to sundae fudge!”I ran slowed up so that I would lose which meant having to have her with me for another three hours or more.

Our Prom night came. I bought a new tuxedo and poured almost the entire bottle of perfume. I went to fetch Sam. Sam’s mother greeted me and I went to sit in the living room waiting for her to come down. I was talking to her father when I heard her say, “How do I look?” I look up and saw her lovelier than ever in a strapless white dress with her hair flowing around her face. I stood up and opened my mouth but found out I could not find my voice. Then I got her hand shakily fastened the corsage around her wrist and whispered, “To the loveliest girl in the whole world.” She then asked, “Is that true?” I nodded and she smiled and I smiled back then I turned to open the door for her. When we arrived at the gymnasium we hardly recognized our classmates. Gone were the jeans and T-shirts. They were replaced with tuxedos and gowns. Then I held out her hand bowed and said, “Would you give me the honor of your first dance?” She laughed and curtseyed. Then I led her to the dance floor. It was like a dream coming true, a moment of enchantment. I was there dancing with the only girl I ever loved. She was smiling up to me, as we were slowly moving in a smooth gliding motion. I found myself lost as I stared down to her sparkling eyes. The curls of her long hair were like waves enhancing her beautiful face. There were so many things I wanted to tell her that moment. I wanted to tell that she was the most beautiful girl that night. I wanted to tell her that she would always be the beacon of light in my darkness, but what I wanted to tell her the most was that I love her. I drew up all my courage and bent to whisper it in her ear but suddenly the music stopped and the magic was gone. I came close to telling her, but still haven’t done it.

We walked towards the table and found ourselves surrounded by friends. I asked her if she wanted a drink, she nodded and so I went to get one. It took me a long time to get one and when I returned to our table, she was gone. I asked her friend, Katie, where she was but she told me that she doesn’t know. So I went to search for her. As I was searching for her, I reached the garden. There I saw two silhouette figures outlined by the moon’s silvery light. They were so close to each other that I could never describe the feeling I had when I recognized the white dress that Sam was wearing that night. I just turned and left the gymnasium.

Since that night, I avoided her. Many times she tried talking to me but I never gave her the chance to do so. I was afraid to hear her say that she loves Mark and not me. I would rather have left in ignorance of her true feelings for me than to hear from those dreaded words and feel my hope crush and my heart break. I didn’t return her calls. I would not see her if she comes into our house. In the hallways, as she approaches I would go to another direction. It also hurts to do those things but then I thought that was the best way to forget her. Those months were tormenting but still I kept my pride.

The day of our graduation came. I was planning to take up medicine at a neighboring state and was to move out the next day. As the program ended, she approached me and handed me a rose. As she stared at me, there was something in her eyes I couldn’t describe. There was sadness in them and when she smiled it wasn’t the same smile she had. I wanted to hug her at that moment, tell her that I love her but then she turned and walked away from me.

So I moved out the next day as I planned. Luckily, I was accepted at the university. I concentrated with my studies but still I think of her at night. I was always wondering if she thinks of me too. I tried hard not to think of her but still I could not stop myself from loving her. Each achievement I have was done for her. I thought that if I will be successful one day, I would be able to tell her that I love her and by that time, I’m worthy of having her.

It was a year after our graduation when I decided to return home and see her again. I thought a year is too much for me not to see her and during the past year I felt like a person lost in the desert and only the sight of her could quench the thirst I have inside. As I got off the plane, I went home directly, desperate to get to her house desperate to see her, to hug her. Then I would tell her that I missed her and that I have loved her for a long time. This time I am determined to let her know my true feelings for her and I could not contain anymore the love I have for her. I reached their house; I saw her elder sister and I approached her. I smiled at her but I noticed she didn’t smile back. I was confused for she used to be a cheerful lady just like my dear Sam. I then asked, “Hi Jen! I guess you’re surprised why I’m here. Well I just want to visit you and I was also hoping to see Sam. I kind of miss her you know. Mmm… by the way have you seen her?” All I saw was sadness in her eyes as she replied quietly “Come follow me.”

I was confused with the way she’s acting but still I followed her. As we were walking, I was trying to indulge her in a conversation but she just answered my question briefly. Then I realized that she was leading me to the direction of the lake. It was still the same as I left it, with the same oak tree, Sam and I used to climb up. I smiled upon remembering the kiss Sam gave me when I agreed to be her partner. It’s been one of the happiest days in my life and I realized that I missed Sam more than I thought. Then Jen stopped walking and pointed to the tree. She then whispered, “There’s Sam.”

I looked at where she was pointing and saw a newly dug tomb with the name of the girl I ever loved. I could not believe at what I saw and desperately tried convincing myself that this is all just a nightmare and I would soon wake up. I stared at Jenny in disbelief with her eyes searching for explanations and she slowly started saying, “It has been a week since she died. She died of Leukemia, but even though she was sick, she never stopped thinking about you. It was even your name she uttered before she died. She asked us to bury her here for she always regards this place as a place of LOVE. She said that this is where she had spent the happiest days and that was when she was with you. By the way, she also asked me to give you this.” She handed me a parcel and with that she left.

I slowly opened the parcel and saw that it contained the dried orchid from the corsage I gave her for our prom. Then at the bottom I saw a letter. It was dated last month. I opened it with shaking hands and started reading……..


I know… by this time you read this letter I’m gone. I just want to tell you that I feel very lucky and thankful to God that I had a friend like you. I would also like you to know that I had left something inside, something I kept from you all these years. I love you Chris, not in a friendly way but as one who would feel like spending the rest of my life with. I have always loved you even from the start. I guess it just bloomed each day that’s why the happiest days of my life was… when you were by my side. You just don’t know how I dreamed of you at night and wake up in the morning and dream no more for you were with me. When you were away, I can’t stop crying because I was afraid to think that you are with another girl. I just can’t bear to see you with another girl. I just want you all to myself. I may sound selfish but that’s how I feel.

Each time, you held me close to you, was like a dream coming true, for to be close to you and feel your heart beating next to mine was like heaven. So many things I did so that you will learn to love me but I NEVER saw a hint. I did everything to please you because I love you so much that I even tried to fool myself that you’re in love with me too. So many nights I’ve cried when I think of myself unloved by you. Well you might think that what I’m saying are lies but, I tell you, my heart speaks the truth for I cannot bear telling a lie to the one I love. I know you might be thinking of Mark; but I just did that to make you jealous, to make you see me as a young woman, capable of loving and not as the little girl you used to play with. Sometimes I imagined that you were jealous and fooled myself that it was a sign that you feel something for me too. When Mark and I broke up and I came crying, I just did that to know… how you would react and with that I’ll know that you love me too. But I failed for you didn’t give me any clue. When our prom night came, you just don’t know how happy I was when you handed me the corsage and saying that I was the loveliest girl in the whole world. While we were dancing, I wanted so desperately to hear you say that you love me too but you NEVER did. When Mark came and pleaded me to give him a second chance, I was scared that you might see us talking. I didn’t want you to get the wrong impression so I told him we would talk in the garden. There I explained to him that it’s you whom I really love.

What happened next was that I found you missing and later learned that you were searching for me, I just concluded that you saw us together. The next day, I tried to explain but then you never gave me a chance to do so. You continuously avoided me and never knew how much pain I’ve experienced that time. I felt the world crushing on me. In our Graduation day, when I approached you, I wanted to tell you… how much I loved you but I decided that I just couldn’t do it. I could not bear to hear that all you feel for me is just brotherly hand of love. For I want you to love me as a woman and not as a girl or playmate. So I just turned away and left.

Now that saying I LOVE YOU might be too late, but still I want you to know that I will always love you and my heart has always been and will be yours alone.

P.S.: Think of me sometimes… and always remember that loving you was the best thing that ever happened in my life.

I felt my tears falling as I folded the letter. I wanted to shout out to let her know that I love her, if not as much, but more than she did for me. I love her more than anything in this world. I knelt touching the soil of her grave and rain started to fall. I continued crying softly and whispered, “Oh God, send my love to heaven.”




Detective Sergeant Forbes made a gesture of exasperated frustration with his big hands.

“I tell you, Mr. Carter, Donovan or Greene or I have had Louie under our eye every minute of the day since you first put us on the case,” he protested to the district attorney; “and at night one or the other of us has camped outside the door of his hotel room and peeked through the keyhole. If he’d contacted Landis, we’d have seen them.”

“That’s right, Mr. Carter,” Detective Donovan affirmed earnestly. “That guy hasn’t even been to the men’s room without one of us tag-gin’ along; he just couldn’t have met Landis without us knowin’.”

“He just couldn’t have, but he just has,” District Attorney Jeff Carter amended with deadly calm. “Or maybe you two think he pulls those phony tens and twenties out of his hat, the way a magician does rabbits. Louie and Landis are meeting somewhere, and meeting regularly.”

His voice rose to a sudden roar. “What’s more, they’re doing it right under your stupid noses. Now get back on the job, and this time try tailing Louie with your eyes open; you can tell Greene the same goes for him.”

The two detectives muttered hasty “Yes, sirs,” and departed from the district attorney’s office with an air of injured dignity which implied that they considered themselves unjustly impugned.

When the office door had closed behind them, Jeff spoke to his younger brother Stephen, who had been slouched sideways with his feet dangling over the arm of the visitor’s chair while he waited for the district attorney to be ready to go out to lunch. “I’ve never known Greene or Donovan —let alone Forbes—to fall down on a simple assignment of this kind before,” he remarked; “yet the facts prove they’ve slipped somewhere. But I’m hanged if I can figure out where.”

Stephen pivoted about on the end of his spine until his feet came to rest upon the floor in front of him. “Just who are these chaps, Louie and Landis, Jeff?” he asked.

“Counterfeiters,” the district attorney answered. “Lonesome Louie Madden pushes the stuff— gets it into circulation—and isn’t especially important. But Big Ben Landis is the brains of the gang; that’s why I want to use Louie to lead us to him. Naturally, the Federal men are working on the case, too; but they’re leaving this particular angle of it for my office to handle, and I’d like to show them we can make good. Only for some reason that’s a complete mystery to me, the best men on my staff seem unable to follow a trail that must be as broad as the back end of a Mack truck.”

“Maybe Landis is passing the money along to Louie through some other member of the gang,” Stephen suggested.

Jeff shook his head. “Landis doesn’t operate that way,” he replied. “He claims that the middle man is the weakest point in a counterfeiting ring—which is pretty much the truth—so he doesn’t use one. He manufactures the stuff himself, from engraving the plates down to the actual printing, and doles it out to two or three legmen, who pass it on small purchases, and turn what they get in change back to him—less their commissions, of course. He never gives any of them more than a few hundred dollars at a time, for fear they may get ideas about skipping out and going into temporary business for themselves. That’s how I know he must be contacting Louie practically every other day or so. The thing that’s got me beat is, how does he do it?”

“Could be he’s leaving the stuff somewhere for Louie to pick up,” Stephen offered. “Say a box in the railroad station, for instance.”

“I’m afraid that’s out, too,” the district attorney said. “I’ve got the daily reports hare from Forbes, Donovan, and Greene ever since they’ve been on the case.” he gestured toward a manila folder of papers on the desk in front of biro, “and not one of them so much as mentions Louie’s having gone anywhere near a railroad station or any other place where he could pick up a package that might contain two or three hundred dollars in phony tens and twenties. All he does when he goes out is stroll about the center of town for an hour or so and make a few small purchases with his phony money. I can’t let it go on much longer; yet if I pick him up now, I’ll lose the only chance I may get to catch Landis.”

Maybe Landis is wearing a disguise when they meet.”

Jeff smiled briefly, also ironically. “It would be easier to disguise a hippopotamus than Big Ben Landis,” be observed. “The man must ‘weigh over three hundred pounds. But let’s forget about him while we have lunch.” He reached for his own hat on the clothes tree in the corner, then tossed Stephen his. “I don’t want my appetite spoiled.”

Stephen caught the hat with one hand and placed it at a rakish angle upon his dark head. With the other hand, he picked up the folder of reports from his brother’s desk, and took it with him.



Late in the afternoon, having a free hour or so, Stephen went over the reports carefully in the privacy of his own law office. He learned from them two things that he considered significant. The first was that every morning at exactly ten-thirty, Lonesome Louie left the cheap hotel where he was staying to go for a walk, during which he merely strolled aimlessly about for an hour or so, then returned to the hotel; the second was that he repeated this procedure every afternoon at exactly one-thirty. Stephen smiled with satisfaction at the reports. They had told him precisely what he wanted to know.

That evening during dinner, he brought up the subject of Lonesome Louie and Big Ben Landis. “What would you say, Jeff,” he began, “to my going along with Sergeant Forbes tomorrow morning when he goes on duty?”

The district attorney looked up suspiciously from his plate. “What for?” he demanded.

“I think I know how we can make Lonesome Louie lead us to Big Ben Landis.”

Jeff snorted skeptically. “This isn’t a problem in deduction, Steve,” he pointed out. “It’s a matter of routine tailing that doesn’t call for any fancy mental gymnastics, but just for ordinary police training and practice; which Forbes has had, and you haven’t. If he hasn’t been able to spot the way Louie makes contact with Landis, how can you expect to do it?”

“Still, I don’t guess it’d do any harm if I tried,” Stephen persisted.

Jeff was forced to concede the point.

The following morning Lonesome Louie was temporarily disconcerted upon descending from the unclean flea-bag that was his room, to find two tailers instead of the usual one waiting for him in the lobby of the hotel—especially when he recognized in the smaller of the two the younger brother of the district attorney. But his generally lugubrious countenance relaxed in a confident grin when, as he sallied forth, both Stephen and the big sergeant fell into step behind him in the usual way.

“You see, Mr. Stephen,” Forbes said, discouraged, after they had played a kind of shadow tag with Louie for the better part of an hour, “he doesn’t meet anybody or do anything worth battin’ an eye at. He acts more like a man who’s just out to kill time.”

Stephen smiled in agreement.

“Forbes, how right you are!” he murmured, but he didn’t sound in the least discouraged.

Louie continued to lead them a merry, if somewhat leisurely, chase for another half hour, then he headed back to the hotel.

This time, instead of taking up their former position on the scuffed leather bench in the lobby facing the staircase and the perpetually out-of-order elevator, Stephen waited until the man they were tailing had disappeared from sight up the stairs; then he began to follow.

“We’ll just pay a little, friendly call on Louie,” he remarked to the sergeant. “I’ve a notion this is his time to be receiving company, although I don’t guess he’ll be expecting us.”

When they unceremoniously flung open the door to Louie’s room, the enormous fat man who was there with Louie sprang up with a violence that sent his chair crashing over backwards. His hand made a quick jab toward his hip pocket, but stopped midway when he saw the muzzle of Sergeant Forbe’s police automatic trained upon him.

“Okay, Landis,” the sergeant said with grim satisfaction, “you can reach, but it’s not gonna be for anything you can touch.”



Back in the district attorney’s office an hour or so later, Stephen lolled in the visitor’s chair and cocked one leg indolently over its arm. “It was all perfectly simple, Jeff,” he drawled. “I spotted it as soon as I read those reports, and noticed that Louie went for a walk every day at exactly the same time in the morning, and again in the afternoon. After he’d left the hotel —with Forbes or Donovan or Greene, as the case might be, following—Landis simply walked in and waited in his room for him to come back, when he gave Louie a fresh supply of the counterfeit money and collected his share of the real money Louie had got in change when he passed the phony bills. Then, when Louie went out for his afternoon walk, Landis left again. It was all perfectly safe and, as I said before, perfectly simple; so simple that I’d have spotted it even without reading the reports.”

“That,” Jeff stated flatly; “I don’t believe.”

Stephen smiled with the bland ingenuousness that always set his older brother’s teeth on edge. “But it’s true, Jeff,” he protested. “If Louie wasn’t meeting Landis—and it was plain that he wasn’t, or Forbes or one of the other men you had tailing him would have spotted them—then the only other way for them to make contact was for Landis to meet him. You all made the quite natural mistake of expecting Mohammed to go to the mountain, whereas,” his smile became even more ingenuous, “this was one of the rare instances in which the mountain came to Mohammed.”



This sinking feeling floats up again,
When I see you walking by,
I have shut my eyes and covered my ears,
But, everything that comes was just about your shadow and your voice,
And they were felt so real…
Even I can’t prevent myself to approach you,
Just want to be near you,
But, getting closer we are,
This scary I feel is getting bigger too…
I’m afraid when I already stand one step behind,
Then suddenly you feel weird, and then you walk away,
And away…


Intan was on the canteen at the break time. She was about to buy some meal for herself. The canteen was full of hungry students, and Intan was lucky to get the closest place to take her meal and pay for it.
“Give me the change Miss, please,” Intan shouted as the effort to get the change of her money. The canteen was so noisy, so Intan must shout aloud.
“Excuse me,” suddenly a voice came beside her. “Can you give me the plastic, please?”
Without looking at the person, Intan quickly snatched the plastic bags — which were located a few centimeters away from her hand, pulled out one, and gave it to the person. But, as she turned around to give the plastic bag, suddenly she was frozen.
“Thank you,” said the person.
Intan was so nervous. But, to make everything alright, she kept herself in normal mode. “You’re welcome.”
Intan quickly turned around to avoid the face of the person she just met. It was Fajri, a boy from the next class. Intan had a crush on him since a month ago, and she didn’t want Fajri to know her feeling toward him. Even there was nobody who knew about her feeling toward Fajri. He already had a girlfriend. That was why she never talks more with him.
Quietly Intan enjoyed that moment. She hoped the canteen keeper would take longer to give her the change, so she could enjoy the moment longer too. But, God didn’t grant her wish. The canteen keeper came soon after the moment she gave the plastic bag.
“Your change, girl,” said the canteen keeper.
Heavily Intan accepted the change. “Thank you.”
And heavily she left her place before. She weakly tried to walk against the sea of hungry students which was filling up the canteen.

Finally she could set herself free from the canteen. Slowly she walked toward her classroom. With a bit joy and so much sorrow she entered her class. She thanked but she cursed the day, too. Her feeling was unneat after she met her crush, Fajri.
Actually Intan wanted to forget her feeling toward him. Even she already tried the easiest way to forget him. But, it was never a success. She knew, since Fajri already had a girlfriend, she must throw away her feeling and walk normally. But, she couldn’t. Even, sadly, she always thought about him, took a look at him everywhere he was, listened to any news about him, and went to the places Fajri always visits in. And she realized how stupid she was.


With weary steps, I’m walking to reach you
I hope that you can see this feeling
(Which was torturing me for this far)
And you can set me free
But, this scary feeling keeps the control of me
Though I have been walking for a hundred miles,
When I’m closer with you, just a few steps behind,
I hide myself (again)
I’m afraid, and still afraid
You’ll feel weird, and you’ll walk away
And I’ll get nothing instead of hurt
And I know it’s more hurtful than this…


“Go to the library with me, please….”
“Aish…” Intan moaned, bothered. “But I don’t want to!”
“Oh Intan, please…” Nana, trying her best effort, kept persuading Intan. “You won’t let your best friend go away alone, right?”
“Nana,” Intan tried to speak up her reason.
“Oh please,” Nana didn’t stop persuading.
Intan exhaled heavily. She couldn’t stop wondering why she never wins herself from arguing with Nana, her bench mate.
“Well, then,” Intan answered. “I’ll go!”
Nana jumped and yelled in joy. “Hurray! We’ll go together! Hurray!”
Intan just hid her face. Quietly she felt embarrassed having a childish bench mate as Nana did. But, since just Nana could accept the quiet Intan as her bench mate, Intan could do nothing to win, even once.
“I’ll search for books the librarians recently bought,” said Nana while she pulled Intan up. “They must be great!”
Intan just smiled as the answer. She let Nana pull her hand and drag her to the library.
Actually Intan had a reason why she didn’t want to go to the library. She knew much about that place. She knew who the person who visits the library diligently was and often each week. And she tried to avoid that person. But, there was always a reason which made her unable to do her mission.
Finally she could see the library door. Her heart beat so fast. She indeed wanted to go away from that place. But, she had less power than Nana’s. Nana kept dragging her strongly as she pulled out her most naughty cow from the cage.

Well then, dramatically Intan entered the library. She was trying her best effort to not make any noise so there would not be any whispers talking about them. She quietly looked around to find that person. And, her prediction was right. That person was standing across the bookshelf where she stood accompanying Nana searching for her book.

Intan was slowly taking her breath. Even she was gasping. She was so nervous to stand right across that person in the other side of the bookshelf. He was busying himself by searching for his book. She thought and thought what she should do. But, instantly her mind reminded her about something.
“No, Intan! No!” her heart spoke. “You don’t have the right to do that! He’s owned, remember?”
Intan exhaled heavily, then without taking care about Nana, she got out of the library with so much sorrow in her heart. Once again, she must meet her sad reality; she couldn’t get closer with Fajri, whenever.


I’m such a fool girl,
Who chooses to hide her self
Than speak up facing everything
Love is a kinda trouble,
And needs more effort to be discovered
I know, and I see I must do something
So I can set this love free
But, I can’t do that thing
I just need to be closer with you,
But, I don’t know what’s going on…
Every time I get closer,
Those spooky steal my breath
And I can feel I’m gonna dying…


“Intan! Why do you leave me?” Nana shouted after they were back from the library.
Intan just stayed in silence. Her face was pale. Meeting coincidentally with Fajri was a big quake for her day.
“Intan?” Nana asked softly, feeling worried. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, dear…” said Intan softly with a thin smile.
“But, you’re…”
“Don’t worry about me, Nana dear…” cut Intan. “I’m just getting a syndrome…”
“Oh Intan…” Nana spoke, feeling sorry. “I’m sorry; I don’t know that you’re unwell…”
“No problem,” said Intan. “I’m okay. I’m okay.”
It was a lie. It was a big lie. She wasn’t okay at all. She felt so much pain. She still felt the big crush she got when she was in the library. Her heart and her brain were included in a war, an invisible war. Her heart forced her to get closer with Fajri, but her brain forced her to be away from him. It was such a dilemma for her. She knew she loved Fajri, but a condition made her feeling hard to be closer with him — which was a call from her soul.
Intan once again exhaled heavily. She thought, ‘Should I make Fajri know about this pain? I can’t help myself. He’s the one who can heal me! I must do something! But, how?! I find no way…’


I need somebody to stop this craziness,
And I know no one could come instead of you
But, I have no voice left in my throat
Meanwhile you’re so far away…
And you’re not aware of me at all
I just can hope a miracle will turn you backward
And you’ll see me
Crying with my bruised feet
With all of my hands spread out…


Intan closed her journal. She wept her tears from her cheeks. She looked at the ceiling of her room. She exhaled heavily; she never knew when this pain would reach its limit time. She would never know, and she had accepted her fate to be pained. As she wouldn’t die because of it, she could bear with it. She knew she would love Fajri for an unlimited time, and getting hurt wouldn’t make her die.

“For the conclusion,” Intan spoke while she stared at her journal, “I’ll always love Fajri, no matter whatever happens.”
Intan smiled at her journal. Quickly she ran into her fantasy, where she could see her shadow running freely on the green grass while chasing for her sweetheart, Fajri, who was running away from her with a great laugh and joy.