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 22

Watergate and what it symbolized did not go away. The Special Committee of the U.S. Senate stopped holding hearings on television. But each day brought more assertions of wrong-doing in high places. Clearer and clearer became the fact that only the President of the United States could aid the cause of truth. It also became clear that he was not about to do so. Lawyers and witnesses and accused persons became a blur of names. Significant tape recordings were forced from the White House by the courts.

“What distinctive quality of the presidency permits its incumbent to withhold evidence?” asked the tough little Federal judge.

“Though the President is elected by nationwide ballot and is often said to represent all the people, he does not embody the nation’s sovereignty. He is not above the law’s command,” ruled a Circuit Court of Appeals.

The White House staff cried that the President was being badgered by the newspapers, the television networks, the radio broadcasters and everybody who never liked him anyhow.

Watergate and what it stood for did not go away. It would never go away until it was cleaned away.

More and more, and louder and louder, a new word was heard. The word was impeachment, or the process of the law spelled out in the Constitution of the United States by which Congress is permitted to remove a president from office.

The President said that he would cooperate with the courts and with a new Special Prosecutor and with all proper authorities to get out all the facts, but that the White House would select the facts to come out.

The President said that he would not resign from his job. He said that he would resist impeachment too as it was nothing but a political attack upon him.

The President said that he was too busy with Viet Nam, Russia, and China back in June and July 1972 to know much about Watergate. One of the Special Senate Committee’s members analyzed the President’s log or record of his meetings during that period. It showed that the president held 164 meetings with people involved in Watergate and only ten meetings with Dr. Henry Kissinger who was in charge of Viet Nam, Russia, and China. And, in the ten meetings Henry only got two and a half hours of the President’s time.

Watergate did not go away. It moved into everybody’s house in Marterville, and each week it took up more room. It became an invisible guest in every home in the country, whether people recognized its presence or not.

Ballard Kynwood Senior reported its influence upon the college faculty with mournful cheer.

“The Professor of Romance Languages socked the Dean of Admissions in the eye,” he said.

“Who was for whom?” asked Connie.

“The Professor of Romance Languages is the President’s man.” He said that the President has done a lot for the country. He also stated that many great men in history were totally unprincipled, and that it was obvious that the President is great because he is unprincipled. He mentioned Napoleon.

“The Dean of Admissions said that it takes a crook to know a crook, and that any crook who defends a crook is a bigger crook. The Professor of Romance Languages took the first swing.”

“Was it a good scrap?” asked Connie.

“You and I have had bloodier ones,” said her husband. “But I’ll tell you, dear. I find myself walking around with a sense of subdued anger all day, and I don’t think I’m unique.”

Woodie and Tinker and Emily and their friends and peers did not follow the Watergate affair on anything like a daily basis. They had their own business, and whatever it was it was usually immediate. They knew, with the dull despair that comes from thinking about adults when you are young, one big truth. Something basic and precious, even though it was hard to explain, was being dirtied and, perhaps, killed to death in Washington, and that many people believed the President knew about it and consented to it.

Emily spent every waking hour possible as near Woodie as possible.

“I like to keep him in sight,” she said.

“Your gun sight you mean,” jeered Tinker amiably with a wary eye on Emily’s hockey stick. “That’s the way you used to zero in on me.”

“You were different,” said Emily directly. “Nice and fun and I liked you, but not, I think, special in a manner of being special.”

Tinker waggled his head.

“Somebody will catch you in a net someday, Emily. But you are a good kid, and pretty special yourself. But there is a touch of class about Woodie. He gets me right here myself.”

“That’s your abdomen.”

“So it is.”

They were lying beside the pool at Tinker’s father’s hotel using some wet lounge chairs vacated by guests, many of which had vacated the hotel itself. Labor Day weekend would see the last of them, and Labor Day was next week. They were waiting for Woodie who had spent the morning with Dr. Bailiff.

“What does he do with Dr. Bailiff?” asked Emily.

“I don’t know exactly,” said Tinker. “Some laboratory chores, I think. My dad says Dr. Bailiff is a famous parapsychologist. He checked on him for some reason. My dad says he works with the science of the unknown, but that he was a fine man and big in his business. Woodie never talks about what he does over there, and I never leaned on him for any answers.”

“I don’t think his folks know exactly what he does with Dr. Bailiff either. Mrs. Kynwood only says it’s useful work and it keeps him occupied, and gives him a vacation from me. She’s a real neat lady.”

Tinker looked at Emily and Emily looked at Tinker. She looked past Tinker and straightened one of the three patches of her bikini.

“Woodie’s got somebody with him. Rumpel, by golly, and a colored man.”

“Black,” corrected Tinker.

“More beige,” said Emily who was a stickler for accuracy.

“Hi,” said Woodie. “I picked up Rump on the street. This is Mr. Doyle Fisher. He was coming to see Tinker and I steered him along. Mr. Fisher is the new high school football coach.”

“Teenck. Emily. I am back. No?”

Rumpel was indeed back. He was splendid. He wore red white and blue sneaks, which were new, and he would wear them throughout the autumn and winter though the snows lay deep. He had on crimson shorts.

“Som’ reech Puerto Rican keed from thee cam’ gave them to me.”

Unfortunately no rich Puerto Rican kid had given him a shirt but he was deeply tanned and clad in his long pigtailed hair, which was tied neatly with a yellow ribbon.

“You’ve grown some this summer, Rump,” said Woodie.

Senor Gomez had grown, an inch, up to maybe four feet eight inches. He had widened some too, and his legs looked sturdy and had muscled.

“Thees year I play the futbol,” said Rumpelstiltskin.

“It’s okay with me, if it’s ok with Mr. Fisher. How are you, sir? And this is Miss Emily Nation,” said Tinker.

Mr. Doyle Fisher knew about Emily and Rump. He also knew about the high school rules in New Jersey, which said that no high school could hold football practice until school began. But, being new, he thought it best to get into town early and find out what he had to work with as a coach, and if he had anything to work with at all. The old coach had left town in June leaving nothing but an empty drawer in his desk at the gym, and an opinion of the fat high school principal and the Board of Education, which still rang in their ears. The old coach had bought a pig farm, as he believed that pigs were prettier, wittier and better company than the fat high school principal and the Board of Education. He also believed that they took instruction better than kids and he could slam them with a two by four if he felt like it.

This was all news to Woodie and Tinker and Emily and Rump.

“How come they hired you for coach?” asked Emily.

“They got me cheap. I’ve got a master’s degree and I teach chemistry as well as coach. I also like to run a tight squad and win ball games. If this Gomez cat played for me, he’d get a haircut.”

“I play for you con mucho gusto but I don’ theenck I change my hair, no?”

Rumpelstiltskin Gomez was a prophet. Nobody realized it at the time.

Doyle Fisher was a young man to anyone over forty. He was fairly old to anyone under twenty. He was twenty-six. He looked trim and his shoulders spread his knit pullover shirt into a tight fit. He looked like an athlete and he looked like a football player ready now for a kick-off. His features were even. He had a nice white smile. His skin was chocolate cream. He was a graduate of Grambling College and he had played football there.

“Grambling,” said Tinker. “How come you’re not playing pro ball?”

Doyle Fisher winked.

“The quota,” he said. “Every pro team has to have at least one white player so I got cut from the squad the year I went up to make room for a token white guy.”

“Tough,” said Woodie without cracking a smile.

“Yeah,” agreed Doyle Fisher. “So I’d appreciate it if any of you could tell me something about what kind of a turnout I’m likely to get this year.”

“We’re only sophomores this year,” said Woodie. “And I didn’t play freshman ball. Tinker did, and some varsity ball too.”

“It was Tinker I wanted to look over,” admitted the new coach. “But you look in pretty good shape, Woodie. Go about 165 on that beanpole?”

“About,” said Woodie.

The coach examined Tinker as though he were buying a yearling colt. Tinker was only wearing swim trunks. He was visible.

“Two-ten,” said Tinker. “Two-one-oh. This way.”

“And growing,” said Doyle Fisher smiling.

“I don’ have so moch pounds,” said Rump. “But I show you someteeng else I learn this summer from the cam’. You have a futbol, I show you now, no?”

“I have a ball in my car,” said the new coach.

“We go in your car, no?”

They weighed the idea. Nobody wanted to hurt Rumpel’s feelings. Not when he was standing there drooling eagerness.

“I’d go,” said Emily firmly and decisively.

“Well, it will give me a chance to know you all a bit better,” said Coach Fisher. “I’m gonna need friends.”

“A shirt and some mocs for my feet,” said Tinker. “And I’ll tell somebody we’ll be away from here for a while, Woodie.”

Emily pulled something from the back of the wet lounge chair and stuck her head through it. It turned out to be a baggy beach gown.

“You look cute,” said Woodie.

“You’ll surprise yourself someday,” said Emily.

Rumpelstiltskin Gomez surprised, startled and astonished them all, once they arrived at the high school football field.

Tinker centered the ball to Woodie. Woodie held it firmly and gently for Rump.

Rumpelstiltskin Gomez proceeded to kick field goals. He booted them from angles. He split the crossbars from ten yards, from twenty, from thirty and forty yards out. He did so with dispatch, confidence, and leg-booming strength. He did not miss.

“You want a shot from mid-field?” asked Woodie.

“I try,” said Rump grinning broadly and breathing as easily as though he’d been walking.

“Just get it up in the air,” said Woodie.

Rumpel skittered at the ball. He kicked continental, soccer style and banged the ball toward the faraway crossbars. It soared and soared dead on target. It started to fade at the goal line and dip.

Woodie focused on it for a moment, concentrated and released an impulse of energy.

The ball ascended grandly and with plenty to spare cleared the bar for a fifty-yard field goal.

Coach Doyle Fisher sat down on the turf.

“There ain’t no wind,” he said. “And that thing was short. I can’t go blind. I have a new job.”

Tinker watched the flight of the ball. When it crossed the bar he turned, ran at Woodie and wrestled him to the ground where they rolled like pups and pounded each other.

“You fixed my foul shots too. Screwed up my shooting. Oh, I remember, all right.”

“Don’t shout,” said Woodie.

“Rumpel, you were splendid,” screeched Emily.

“I keeck the futbol. I keeck the soccer bol for hours in thee cam’. Thees reech Puerto Rican kids have som’ soccer teacher. He ees a Hungarian man. He teach me in thee spare time. Every day keeck, keeck, keeck. Now I make thee team and make thee extra points, no?”

“We’ll snipe ‘em to death,” said Doyle Fisher. “Fold ‘em up by threes.”

“An no haircut I theenck,” said Rump.

“There is a streak of sneak in you, you crazy spic,” said Tinker.

Emily giggled.

“Mr. Fisher can get him a big headgear to hid the hair and he’ll look like a toadstool.”

Mr. Fisher was a cheerful man as he drove them back to Tinker’s father’s hotel. He showed his Grambling football training, however. He also showed an instinctive kinship with kids. He didn’t ask anything. He merely said, “Why don’t we keep this all to ourselves? No sense in taking the wraps off Gomes, the secret weapon, until we have to, eh? Then we surprise a few people.”

Rumpel brought Tinker up to date on his summer with the rich Puerto Rican young. It was educational for Tinker. The Latin culture as graphically described by Rumpelstiltskin Gomez was pretty heady stuff.

Woodie wandered off with Emily down the beach to wade in the surf. They didn’t have much to say at all, but the communication was rewarding. Positively pleasant, in fact.

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