editorial consultant and executive producer: dan leo
illustrations by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas
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"hi, jerry, it's jake."
"i want to talk to bill."
"jake, how did you get through? i just told dorothy not to let you through."
"i told her i wanted to talk about something else - not get through to bill."
"so you lied."
'yes - i feel it's that important that i lied."
"you lied to dorothy - to dorothy, the gatekeeper to bill."
"yes - i just admitted it."
"jake, that's almost as bad as lying to bill. it's almost as bad as lying to me."
"can we cut the crap, jerry, and get this over with. just let me talk to bill, please."
"i need to talk to bill. its very important."
"jake - "
"i'm willing to take the consequences, if any, of failing to go through proper channels."
"i'll buy you a drink."
"a drink ? did i hear you say a drink? i am sitting here fifty feet from bill's office and you offered me a drink? what year is this, eh? am i hallucinating here?"
"i meant a drink of pure spring water."
"let's get back on track here. are you, or are you not, going to tell me what you want to talk to bill about?"
"i think bill should hear it directly from me."
"but the universe is in peril."
"the universe is always in peril. that's what it's there for. if it wasn't in peril, it wouldn't be the universe."
"i want to talk to bill. something has come up that he should hear about. directly."
"jake, this conversation is over."
"you are making a terrible mistake."
" jake, i have had enough of you. do you know what i am going to do when i get off the phone?"
"i am going to find the biggest ugliest agent under my command and i am going to tell him to get the biggest ugliest stick he can find and he is going to track you down like a wounded animal and beat you with it."
jerry clicked off. he picked up a pint bottle of water - the only thing on his desk - unscrewed the cap and took a few thoughtful sips. then he got up, opened the door of his office and went to the reception area outside.
dorothy looked up at him.
"that was jake . he was lying when he said - "
"i hope you don't mind."
"of course not." jerry smiled. "it's what you are here for, isn't it?
"i hope you are not really going to have somebody beat jake with a stick."
"oh no. i was just kidding - just venting."
"violence never solved anything."
"point well taken." jerry looked up. "who is this?"
a man with a cloth cap shading his face was slouched in a chair along the wall. he looked up when jerry spoke.
"jerry, it's roy, roy cohn. you remember me, don't you?"
"roy - of course!'" jerry opened the little railing in front of dorothy's desk and held out his hand. "great to see you. what can i do for you?"
"i got something real important i think the big guy, the inspector, should hear about."
"jake mccarthy? no, no i don't have nothing to do with that rat. i wouldn't walk across the street to pour a glass of water on him - if he was - if he was - something- i can't remember."
"that's o k."
"i don't remember everything. i'm not what i used to be."
"who among us is?"
"do you remember what you wanted to talk to bill about?"
"no, no, i don't mind. i may not be one hundred percent, but i know how the game is played."
"well, that's great. i'm glad somebody does."
"it's about brock, sergeant brock. you remember the brock case, don't you?"
"um - maybe you can refresh my memory. but we don't have to stand out here, come on into my office." jerry stepped back and motioned roy through the opening in the railing. "is there something we can get you? dorothy could get you something or have somebody get you something. something? anything?"
"uh - those things might present a challenge, even for us."
"i can get you some water," said dorothy, " or an orange or some grapes. how about yogurt - we have strawberry, blueberry, boysenberry - "
"strawberry is good. i'm a strawberry guy."
"jeez, i'm glad you could see me. what i am about to tell you was going to blow a hole in my gasket - or my brain."
jerry sat down behind his desk. "well, blow roy, blow."
"well, i just wish you had told me this before."
"the billing cycle doesn't come up for another week, i was going to notify you then."
"do you think he will give you any trouble?"
"i don't know. probably not."
"i can send somebody over. to be there when you tell him. i'm really sorry about this."
"no, don't bother. i can handle it. nurse johnson and i can handle it."
"yes, i'm sure."
"if you change your mind, let me know."
he took a flat pill container out of his pocket, opened it and took out a small blue pill, which he quickly swallowed.
then, with a sigh, he opened the door to the front sitting room.
"i hope nurse sherman didn't tire you too badly, sergeant."
"he'll be all right."
"yes, i'm sure. um, listen , mister brock , i just got off the phone with the representatve of your sponsor -"
"sponsor? what's this sponsor? what am i , a race car?"
"do you mind if i sit down?" the doctor edged toward a stuffed chair close to the sofa nurse sherman was sitting on.
brock looked at him curiously. "it's your place, isn't it? sit wherever you want."
brock thought for a few seconds. "i understand the idea. and so far i am taking your word for it that is the way it is."
"why? why are you taking my word for it?"
"why not? i will find out quick enough if you are telling the truth."
"how about radio?" brock asked. "hey, i know - how about television? that was the next big thing thirty years ago - i bet everybody has a television now."
the doctor shook his head. "ancient history. come and gone. remember, this is 1977."
"look, he doesn't to need to know all this stuff right now. what's this about je- about the sponsor?" nurse sherman stared at the doctor.
"and we are just hearing about it? when did this happen?"
"a couple of weeks ago. harris was going to tell us when the next payment was due."
brock yawned. then he yawned again.
"hey, you just woke up!" nurse sherman laughed.
the doctor didn't laugh. he looked intently at brock. "you know what this means, don't you?"
"no doctor, what does it mean?"
"no - you don't understand. there is no u s army any more. there is no u s any more. do you begin to understand?"
brock scratched his head. "not really."
the doctor laughed nervously. "you seem to be taking it like a philosopher, anyway."
"it hasn't had time to sink in."
"you are right, doctor," nurse sherman put in, " it hasn't had time to sink in. so why not leave him alone."
"leave him alone? but who - who is going to take care of him?"
"me. i will take care of him."
"you want to leave early? what about the report on mrs miller?
"you can't do it yourself?"
"oh, i guess so." the doctor exhaled and leaned back in the stuffed chair.
nobody moved. the doctor and the nurse looked at each other and brock looked at the floor.
"i sure could use a smoke," he announced after a while.
"maybe. i will see what i can do. it will take time. i can't make any promises."
"you can get him a steak?"
"you heard what i said. i said i could try."
"you never told me you could get me a steak."
"did you ever ask?"
"no, i guess not." the doctor leaned back and shook his head. "it never crossed my mind. i knew you were resourceful. i didn't know you were that resourceful."
"you know," said brock, "i thought the modern world and science and stuff was about progress. what kind of progress is it when there is less stuff, not more?"
the doctor forced himself up out of the chair. "an excellent question. i am afraid it is one i can't answer."
"you think so? it's bigger than most - i had it made special."
"get in." she opened the door on the left side.
"it's not locked?"
"no. get in."
"no money in it?"
"no money in anything. no money."
"now you've gone too far." brock settled himself in the right front seat, and gazed out the window. "i know you are kidding me now." he turned to face her. "hey! what the - where's the steering wheel?"
"what fun is this? could you drive it yourself if you wanted?"
"there's places you can go to drive cars around by yourself."
"well that's something. any around here?"
"but they are not that hard to get to."
"i guess not."
2) new age
"today's world? what's that supposed to mean?"
"oh, you'll find out, sergeant."
"maybe you should stop calling him sergeant?"
"oh, what's the harm? my great-great grandfather was in the spanish-american war and he called himself colonel to the end of his long days. we can humor the sergeant here." nurse sherman smiled a little less maliciously at brock. "i think he'll find little enough to humor him - in the new world."
"oh, i don't know." the doctor stared meditatively at brock. "i am sure he will prove very adaptable. i don't think his patron would have paid for his upkeep all this time if he didn't think so."
"yes, yes, of course. i should have thought of that first thing." the doctor looked up at brock for a few more seconds and turned and left the room.
"you've got your drink in your hand, sergeant . it's the only one you are going to get - at least for now."
"all right." he looked at the glass of water, put it to his lips and took a sip. "at least it's cold." he drained it in one gulp and handed it back.
"of course he's making a phone call. what else would he be doing?"
"i got pretty good ears. i can usually hear a phone being dialed - even in the middle of an air raid."
nurse sherman smiled. "really? how impressive."
"not to mention that i don't hear him talking to anybody."
"he's on the phone. things are a little different from the last time you were in an air raid."
"all right, how long have i been out? six months? a year even?"
"over thirty years."
"what? what year is it?"
"no! let me look." he started for the door and she stepped aside to let him pass.
he entered into a "front parlor" with heavy stuffed chairs and sofas and a large picture window. outside the window was a narrow paved street - and beyond that a flat empty plain under a cloudless blue sky.
nurse sherman followed him into the room and lowered herself onto one of the sofas.
"yeah?" brock walked over to a side door and opened it on to a small porch dominated by a long swing. "and where is that exactly?"
"we are just outside abilene, kansas."
"huh. a long way from berlin."
"not so long. distance is measured differently these days."
"if you say so." brock sat down on a stuffed chair and tested his weight on it. "you wouldn't happen to have a cigarette, would you?"
"i would not happen to have a cigarette. would you like another glass of water?i can make it extra cold."
"oh, a lot further than that." she came back with another icy glass of water, gave it to him and went back to her sofa. "humans reached the stars years ago."
"damn." brock took a sip of the water and looked down at his feet. "there must have been a lot of great wars out there." he shook his head. "and you're telling me i missed them?"
"i don't know where to begin." she looked at him pityingly. "you have a lot of catching up to do."
"yeah. hey, i'm hungry. we're in kansas, right? i should be able to get a pretty good steak."
"i'm afraid that might be a problem too. not an absolutely insoluble one, but a problem."
"don't excite yourself. everything will be explained."
"drink your water."
brock looked around. "where's the doctor?"
she shrugged. "probably doing some explaining himself." she looked right at him. "is there anything else you'd like?'
"well... yeah, there is, now that you mention it." he laughed. "but i don't know that you can help me out there."
"looking for something?"
he shrugged, and laughed again. "you're telling me you got a babe for me behind a door somewhere? upstairs maybe?"
"i think you're being the babe, sergeant. you know exactly what i'm talking about." she stood up, and walked over and stood over him.
"what! speak english, why don't you? we are in america, aren't we?"
"come on, you've been asleep for thirty-two years. you should have a little energy stored up." she put one hand on his shoulder and began unbuttoning her blouse with the other.
"but...but..." he looked at the picture window. "it's broad daylight. anybody can just look in and see us. and the doctor..."
"welcome to the new world, sergeant. welcome to 1977."