Previously, Ruby Dancer discovers that she is the daughter of Johnathon Blackwell Senior and thus the heir to the Blackwell fortune. The Bard is arrested, bailed out and then kidnapped by the men that bailed him out. Detective Tenaya Adrian attempts to get help from Chief Sandoval and meets a stone wall. They argue and she ends up being suspended. After she leaves the office a figure steps into the chiefs office to discuss the matter. We continue the story now as the discussion with Chief Sandoval is in progress.
"What the hell did you want me to do? Shoot her? This isn't some homeless bum that no one will miss. This is a Bel Air detective and a decorated one at that. She's doing what she is trained to do. It's your plan. I did my part. You did your dance. I got you a death certificate and a closed investigation. Christ! No body at the damn cryogenic facility. You didn't have a hundred bucks to get some computer geek to type something in?" Chief Sandoval had regained a little arrogance.
"The homeless bum is out of the picture, thanks to you. I don't know what we are holding him for. Do you have any idea who that fool is? He was in Pakistan alone before we had any unofficial presence there. He was the presence. You think he's crazy? Let me tell you something Sandy. I know he's crazy."
"Look dammit. He's been sittin' up in a tree house watchin' the property for God knows how long. We have to know what he knows and who he's told. Whatever he once was, he's crazy as a bed bug now". Chief Sandoval didn't like the idea of any of this spilling over into his precinct and personal life.
"I got pops out of the house. Now, my idiot brother is in there. That's fine. He isn't the man my dad is. He isn't the man my mom is for that matter. The idea is to let him play musical chairs while we do what we've gotta do. This Slater is nothing to fool with, crazy or not. And your detective, Christ, she's not going to retire to Cabo and drink Sloe Gin Fizzes. Look what she has found out already."
"I haven't killed anyone yet. I'd just as soon keep it that way. The idea here is to make money. We get the money and then we disappear. They can all sort it out at the family reunion." Sandy seemed a little more at ease now.
Winston Blackwell did two stints in the armed services. He was the only Blackwell soldier since World War I. Money buys exemptions. Well, Senior did a tour during the Vietnam war. He played harp in the All Branches Orchestra. He was a navy officer though he never fired his sidearm or went through boot camp. He just showed up for rehearsal with his harp.
Winston was a Navy Seal with all that implies. He had his leg blown off training mercenaries in South Carolina. You wouldn't know it to see him walk or even run. You could tell when he got in or out of a vehicle, or sat down to eat or watch T.V. He hated the United States.
As far as he was concerned, martial law should be declared and the military should start on one coast and march through to the other coast, eliminating every gang member, criminal and enemy along the way. He had a long list of enemies. His list of friends was shorter. It included anyone that could make him money.
Money occupied the thoughts of many people when it came to the name Blackwell. The reading of the will, meant to be a solemn private affair, had turned into a circus. It wasn't a slick Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey show either. This was circa 1910 traveling-freak-show and the Elephant-man was missing. By law, the reading had to be announced in the paper, and run for three days. The add was run in the, relatively obscure, Pasadena Star News. However, within a population of 250,000 individuals, someone was bound to notice. Three claimants showed up with attorneys in tow.
Ascension Bolivar and her son, Enrique had documentation that appeared to be in order. If it held up, Enrique Bolivar at that moment was the heir to the Blackwell fortune. Well, that title belonged to Ruby Dancer, but that wasn't known by anyone, yet. Lourdes Stevens was only thirty-seven and her mother, Sunshine Michele, claimed that she was the first-born daughter of Johnathon Blackwell Senior. Maybe she was the heir.
Famous Washington certainly wasn't the firstborn at sixteen years old. He didn't have parents to represent him. He showed up with his publisher and ghostwriter. "Harpster's Lovechild-Abandoned at Birth", it sounded like a good page-turner. A crack-addicted prostitute giving birth right on the mixing board in Blackwell studios, while Snoop Dog laid down tracks on his latest platinum album. It is said if you listen closely, you can hear the baby crying in the background.
The Enquirer had interviewed two of the three claimants on the way in, and had stories already going to press. Entertainment Tonight and other serious journalistic endeavors were on scene as well. What would Harpster say if he knew all about this?
He wouldn't know about it, where he was. At the moment, all he could say was, "Bard! They got you too? What the hell are you doing here? Do you know where the hell we are? What in hell is going on?"
"On the third day he arose…no…too grandiose…Persnickety Snodgrass snookered back enough schnapps to somnambulise a shirtless Sade…OH! I like that image! Come on down! You’re the next contestant. Such incompetence! We need more ice! Dammit Jim. I'm a doctor, not an ice cube. Another Abe Vigoda moment. Good to see you, Harpster. Come here often? I've put in a complaint with management. I've been kidnapped by thugs and stuck in some kind of cellar. NOT IN THE BROCHURE!"
Harpster rushed forward and gave the Bard a bear hug. "You are a sight for sore eyes. They think you know something and they want to know what it is. That's what is keeping you alive. I have them snowed. What the hell, I'm a writer and a damn pathological liar too. Finally, coming in handy. Keep them thinking you have one up on them, or you're a goner. We got to get out of here. You have the skills. I'm along for the ride, if you don't mind" He put his hand out.
The Bard grabbed his hand with a purpose. "Corporal Slater, reporting for duty sir. A little bit crazy, a little bit rock and roll."
Harpster looked like hell. It made sense since he had been taken there and back, in a proverbial sense, several times. His son didn't have the heart to kill him…yet. He was heartless enough to torture him though, or at least to allow his torture. Harpster's secret surveillance system probably kept him alive. Winston had underestimated him.
That old VCR system gave Winston the impression he could run his operation virtually unseen right inside the mansion. Harpster had left that system running and prominent to act as a decoy for his real system, a state of the art full coverage monitoring of his entire estate that would record how many acorns a squirrel had hidden in the oak tree in the south garden.
It took very little to convince Winston that he had back-up tapes ready to be released in several locations. The truth is that Harpster paid no more attention to his new security system than he did to his old. It didn't stop him from looking Winston in the eye and saying, "I know everything and I'm not the only one." That was enough to keep him alive. Harpster knew it was that and not some sentimental notion about father and son that warmed his son's heart.
The two friends started filling each other in on their recent activities. Harpster had been drugged and had no knowledge of anything until waking up in the room he was in now. He knew nothing about cryogenics or Dr. Khin or anything that the Bard told him about. He had no idea he was dead and on ice.
The Bard had a poor response to stress and his communication skills were more difficult than ever to comprehend even for someone that knew him well. It was a damn shame that a war hero walked the streets homeless.
True, it was the streets of Bel Air. But, in many ways that made it worse. Obscenely rich and soulless people throwing tidbits out their stained glass windows and watching with a little amused smile, while the little homeless man gobbled them up soothed their sense of obligation.
Harpster knew that the Bard stayed in the clubhouse. He had Lincoln put some of those appliances and furniture in the alley. He hung the cable line from the box himself for the Bard to find. The treehouse, he hadn't thought of. He had offered him a room in the house, but the Bard didn't like the idea of a free ride.
Well, there was much to discuss and hopefully the Bard would calm down and join in more coherently. Harpster couldn't help but wonder, what was unfolding outside of this dark little room. Apparently outside of this room was a world in which Johnathon Blackwell Senior was dead.