by Carl L. Biemiller,
edited by C. J. Carnahan and Eric Biemiller

lightning Copyright © 2005 by Eric C. Biemiller

Please respect the copyrights.
The chapter links are located at the end of each chapter.
Chapter 11

Ninety-nine and nine tenths of all the people who live in times of crises and world-shaking events never know it. Unless, of course, they happen to get blown up in one of the events or read about the crises in a history book when they are old. Nobody ever stops between the time he crawls out of his sheets in the morning until he gets back in the sack at night to cry, “My, my, I am living smack dab in the middle of a world crisis, and I am part of a vast historic change.”

In the first place, somebody might ask them what they are doing about it, which would be embarrassing as they aren’t doing anything about it, and don’t intend to get involved. In the second place, they have their own troubles which are more important than anything else. In the third place national crises, world woes, and historic changes are all supposed to be handled by people in Washington whose names they can’t remember very well, if at all.

Marterville was undisturbed by the fact that the little Federal judge who was trying the case of the seven burglars who broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington’s Watergate apartment complex suddenly decided on January 11 that there was more to the case than appeared. The little judge wanted more than the answers, which seemed to satisfy the U.S. Department of Justice at the time. He wanted to know where the money came from to mount the burglary. He wanted to know where the thieves took the fruits of their thefts.

The little judge said so. He said so very loudly and to the newspapermen covering the case, and the radio and TV reporters. “I am not satisfied that all of the pertinent facts have been produced before an American jury,” he said.

The little judge who had once boxed with Jack Dempsey, the famous prize fighter, further said to the people on trial that if they did not cooperate with the court he would put them in jail for as long as the life of a redwood tree.

At about the same time the Senate of the United States announced the formation of a Select Committee headed by an old Senator from one of the Carolina states to look into possible wrong-doing connected with national elections.

But Marterville didn’t care. Not in January 1973. The re-elected president of the United States hadn’t been inaugurated yet on January 11. Besides there was bigger news. The United States had, after a decade of death and destruction in Vietnam, declared itself a winner and was withdrawing its troops. The local university students would have to write up new signs when they wanted to demonstrate, although it was difficult for them.

Woodie’s father, reading about the little judge, said, “I hope they dig that Watergate case right down to the bottom of the well.”

Woodie said, “I told you somebody was sitting up nights thinking about Watergate.”

His mother said, “Yes, you did, didn’t you? What did you do after school today, dear?”

There was little sense in telling her what he had done, decided Woodie. Despite warnings, and knowing definitely what was right and what was wrong, he had played with the power.

He wandered over to the gym after dismissal to watch the freshman squad practice just to do something besides going home. The freshmen sessions were not quite as stuffy as the JV and varsity practices where the coaches threw everybody out who didn’t have a reason for being there. He found Emily and her hockey stick and police whistle, and Sue with her transistor radio and police whistle, watching Tinker shoot foul shots.

Tinker saw him come in and join the girls and he waved from the foul line. He then shot a string of ten straight fouls without a miss. He blew one which spun in and out of the basket and then shot another string of ten. Tinker was as relaxed as a sack of wet socks. He shot with an easy, fluid pop motion, and his eye was cold and un-irritated.

Woodie nudged Emily.

“Give him a holler. Bet him he can’t run another ten shots.”

Tinker heard her and nodded disdainfully.

“For a double hoagie with pimientos,” he yelled.

The first shot dropped through without even fluttering the strings.

Woodie frowned enough to pucker his eyebrows for a fleeting second. He was gentle with the power, guiding it with tenderness.

Tinker’s second shot moved by a hair at the basked and popped out. His third swerved an invisible fraction in its arc and missed. His fourth, fifth and sixth hit the back of the rim and bounced out. Tinker examined the ball carefully.

“Is it round?” asked Emily squealing with glee.

Tinker sighted. If he were annoyed, he never showed it. The Tink was fine under pressure. The ball arced lazily, and just before its dive into the rim, it swerved slightly and spun out. Tinker shot again and missed, and again, and again he was off.

Rumpelstiltskin Gomez, all four feet five inches of him with his satin hair flowing down the back of his freshman jersey, picked that moment to approach the foul line.

Tinker eyed him thoughtfully.

“Come here, Rump,” he said leading his friend to a spot beneath the hoop.

“I’m gonna lift you up, you hairy spic midget. Stick your hand into that basket and see if there’s a lid on it.” He said heaving Rumpelstilitzkin up with a surge and holding him in midair.

“No leed. Nothing. Just air. Maybe you got some cockeyes, Teenk?”

“Maybe,” agreed Tinker. “Come back here to the line and take a couple of pops yourself, Rump. That is, if you can lift the ball.”

Rumpelstiltskin Gomez was not a shot. He could dribble like drumfire, steal passes like the king of the bandits, and hand out marvelous assists. Shooting was an art yet denied him. But he tried.

His first effort from the foul line was short by two feet, an air ball. Woodie adjusted with a lift assist and the ball dropped through the hoop. Rump’s second shot seemed headed to some destination three feet wide of the basket. It curved back on course and dropped in. His third made the rim and ran around it five times spinning merrily and dropped through the net.

“Sometheeng, eh, Teenk?”

“You’re the Bill Bradley of the barrios, you little creep.” Said Tinker. “You keep that up and I’ll buy you a hair ribbon. Beat it. And, thanks, Rump.”

“Blue for the ribbone, Teenk, azul, si?”

“I’m going home,” announced Woodie. “You girls going or staying?”

“Going,” said Emily.

“Me too,” added Sue dialing to disaster somewhere and a voice which proclaimed a 211 in progress.

“Still never no music none?”

“Once in a while a cop sings, Woodie.”

“You going to yell goodbye to Tink?”

“In a way,” said Emily. She put the police whistle to her lips and trilled a blast, which echoed in the gymnasium girders. It also halted a practice scrimmage on the lower court causing one of the coaches to gobble angrily at his players. “He’ll know we’re leaving now,” said Emily banging on a section of the steel railing, which separated the gym floor from the spectator seats with her hockey stick.

Tinker waved them a weary farewell. He seemed deep in thought. Tinker accepted life, its triumphs and frustrations. If mystery confronted him, let it. He would work it out or not. He wouldn’t accuse his buddy, Woodie, of anything. But he wasn’t blowing any shots until Woodie arrived, was he? No, and not by a dang-sight, no … We’ll he’d just shoot another string or two right now … On the other hand, no he wouldn’t. It’d be like spying. Tinker picked up the ball and started down court to rejoin the squad with the ball under his arm. On impulse he spun and heaved the ball sidearm toward the basket. It kissed off the backboard and dropped through the hoop. “Two points,” he said absently.

Woodie avoided the gym for the next few days. He dropped his books at the house after school, visited with his mother and the peanut butter jar and walked across town to the beach.

The winter beaches along that segment of the Jersey coast were a fraud. Most of them were patchy, badly eroded, and the ocean heaved and blew against sea walls. Beaches built with the winds from the west were eaten away by the sea on the winds out of the north and east. But wherever Woodie could find space between surf and the gravelly sand he walked with salt in his nose, the blown mizzle of breaking waves in his hair, and the sailing gulls cawing the complaints of the lonely above him.

Dr. Bailiff was out of town. He was in New York at the Maimonides Medical Center. There was a theory that the extra sensory perceptions, the power, were submerged by the conscious mind. That ESP talents showed best in hypnotized or sleeping persons. Dr. Bailiff was watching experiments to see if sleeping people could be influenced by the thoughts of others.

Woodie knew, and he knew very well, that Dr. Bailiff knew that the power worked on anyone, awake or asleep or hypnotized. He knew that the power could create real realities or illusions of reality; that it could suggest, instruct and direct if used properly. He had said as much in the inter-mind reading sessions with Dr. Bailiff.

“Don’t worry about any forms of power except those that are your gift. You must learn their own use and range and strength. You must develop them with discipline and exercise as you make a muscle stronger with use and exercise. Practice, practice … but not openly and with caution,” instructed Dr. Bailiff, and his amethyst eyes glowed.

Woodie practiced on the beach in the skirl of the east and the west winds with the pure cold air deep in his lungs and his nose running in the winter chill and dampness.

He closed door after door in his mind, blocked neural tunnels, erected stout barricades against intrusion. He locked passages, shaped retreats. He sealed away self after his own fashion, in his own, self-devised secrecy.

“Use all the known blocks,” said Dr. Bailiff, “and if your power is strong, they will suffice, or at least, neutralize equal power. Then, if you can, you will invent a block that is specifically yours and thus unknown to any possible intruder. If that block is ever destroyed, the self that is you will be destroyed. What remains may be alive, but without use or function.”

“You’re spending a lot of time mooking about at the beach these days, according to the spy who is your mother,” said Ballard Senior.

“Yes, sir,” said Woodie Junior.

“I’m not prying,” said his father.

“Yes you are,” said Woodie.

“Yes I am. But if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t. That make any sense?”

“Yes, sir, Woodie Senior.”

“Okay then.”


January slipped into February, and for a few days Marterville knew a ‘January thaw’ in the wrong month. The temperature climbed to a freakish 67-degrees and the sun boiled layers of fog along the beaches. On one of those days Woodie crawled over the seawall after school and found an angle between a scraggle of jetty and the wall. It was tiny as a closet, warm as an oven from the radiant heat seeping out of the rocks, and as private as the secret hiding place in his own room at home.

Woodie let his slat-thin body splat and soak into the hot rock, watched the slanted light of a low sun pick green glints from the reaching sea, and relaxed, relaxed, relaxed until he floated free of his body.

He soared. He was one with the magnetic tides that ebbed and flooded over the earth and kin to the universe. Far below him, his body was an ant’s toy, a speckle on a warm dun rock. And as he dropped to rejoin it, he was aware of a strange awareness. He was caught in a sweep of power that moved across sea, sky and earth like a white light in the hands of a searcher looking for something lost in a dark room. The power seemed to move up one transect line and down another methodically, relentlessly, yet impersonally. It touched him, fixed upon him, left him and moved on as though he had been inspected, analyzed and filed for future examination.

He was frightened and dived into the haven of his body.

“Dr. Bailiff,” he called. “Dr. Bailiff …”

Dr. Bailiff was in Washington at some NASA office where he had gone to visit with Captain Edgar D. Mitchell, an American astronaut who had attempted to establish an ESP communication link with a friend on earth while Mitchell was in outer space. Dr. Bailiff was interested in some experiments on the effects of distances on ESP performances.

“Woodie,” said Dr. Bailiff with some surprise. “Be at peace. I’ll read you.”

There was silence broken only by the leading edge turbulence of a gull’s wing as its owner surveyed Woodie with a glutton’s eyes. If pigs had wings they’d be sea gulls.

“The Watchers, Woodie,” said Dr. Bailiff. “The Watchers passed over you. I wonder if they sought or if you attracted their attention. Were you using the power, Woodie?”

“I was out,” answered the boy.

“Stay in.”

“What are The Watchers?”

“When I see you,” said Reginald B. Bailiff in Washington to Ballard Kynwood Junior on a beach at Marterville, New Jersey.

“On the beach today, eh, Tiger. I envy you. Picked up a touch of tan too,” said Woodie Senior talking over his wife’s shoulder as he hugged her and simultaneously greeting his son.

“Right, Dad,” said Woodie Junior.

The Kynwood telephone rang in the middle of dinner. His father refused its summons. His mother nodded permission. Woodie answered the phone. It was Tinker.

“Hey,” he said. “I know it’s a school night, but you are practically a great scholar and I’m in pretty good book shape. There’s a movie, see, Sweethearts in Blood … Emily says some monster carves arms and legs and stuff off’n people and wraps them up as gifts for this girl he’s trying to have notice him. Very scary, creepy, creepy like that. I feel like a scary, all horrible and gore flick, don’t you?”

“Not very much,” said Woodie Junior. He could feel Tinker grope for the worst insult possible.

“Kynwood,” said Tinker. “I don’t think you get enough exercise.”

Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five
Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten
Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two Chapter Twenty Three Chapter Twenty Four Chapter Twenty Five Chapter Twenty Six
Chapter Twenty Seven Chapter Twenty Eight Chapter Twenty Nine Chapter Thirty
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