The Long Way...Home?*

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
He is trying to go home. Where is he really going? Where does he want to go?

Submitted: September 15, 2019

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Submitted: September 15, 2019

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The Long Way…Home!?*

 

 

When he saw the door of the house, he felt relieved. “At least I can call someone for help before the bastard jumps over me!” he thought.

He could now hear Sam’s voice echoing in his ears, “If someone asks you for something on the street here at night time, give it to him without asking a question. Otherwise you will regret it badly afterwards!”

He began walking faster. “He should not realize that I’m trying to get away, otherwise he may start running and I’ll not get to the door in time.”

He could now hear the sound of his pursuer’s footsteps more clearly. It was obvious that he had begun to move faster, too. “One more minute,” he mumbled to himself, “and I’ll practically be out of his reach!”

He took a long breath and began to run. The pursuant seemed to be running too. As soon as he got to the door, he rang the bell of his landlord’s place and then reached for his own key. He could now see his assailant rather clearly. It was a tall, skinny man with a bonny face covered with something like a thin beard. The guy was looking straight at him as he ran. The house door, however, clicked open before the mugger could reach him. Five seconds later, he was inside the house with its door safely closed behind him. “Thank God!” he mumbled looking up to the ceiling of a short corridor which led to a tiny lobby.

He could now hear someone laughing out loud. “I toldju so!” an old man’s voice rang in his ears while he was trying to gain control of his nerves. “You should’ve listened to me, young fellow!” said the old man cackling. “After dark, there’s no goin out on foot in Washington dc!” he added firmly. He was now approaching him holding a glass in his hand.

“He’s still drinking whisky,” he thought. “He sure looks and acts like the good old Bill I used to work with in that[H1] [H2]  wretched restaurant,” he mumbled to himself.

They were now standing very close to each other. The old man was almost a head taller than he was. “So, tell me,” he almost hollered before he sipped at his whisky. “Who was goino mug you?”

“No one, really,” he lied. “I just got suspicious of someone following me,” he added. “For a minute, I thought of what you’d told me and … I got panicky. That’s why I rang your bell.”

“Don’t be so naïve boy,” the old man muttered as he took a sip at his whisky, “I’m sure…someone was tryin to stick you up!”

“All right, maybe!” he gave in, grumbling.  “Thanks a lot for…answering the door … straightaway!”

“You’re welcome, my boy,” the old man mumbled, “glad to be of some help.”

“Thanks again,” he muttered as he began walking up the stairs.

“If you need anythin up there, Fred,” shouted the old man when he was half the way up, “don’t be too shy to ask. I know you ain’t got the best room in the world up there!”

“Okay, thanks,” said the man called Fred as he gently climbed up. “I should tell you what I don’t need,” he mumbled to himself. “You’re lucky I’m such a thick-skinned guy!”

The room door opened very easily. It didn’t seem to need a key at all. He walked in and went as far as a bedside table lamp to get some light. He then sat on the bed and began looking around.  In addition to the bed and the small lamp placed on a little footrest, he could only see an old chair, a tiny table and a small garment rack with some hangers dangling from it. His own suitcase and handbag were lying in the corner of the room.

He gently lay back and began to think. “If I can’t get in touch with Mr. Fillmore, tomorrow,” he mumbled to himself soon, “there won’t be much else for me to do in this area. I can give our man in Chicago a call to make sure everything is all right and then…leave for Berkeley soon after…”

He suddenly felt a wave of joy rising from his heart engulfing his whole being. A pretty female’s countenance, wearing a lovely smile, had suddenly gained control of his vision. “I’m so glad you’re coming back!” she gently said. “Maybe it was my wish that reversed the tide and forced you to return. Please come back …as soon as you can!”

“Poor girl,” he mumbled to himself. “She is not aware that our reunion may not last for very long at all!” He shook his head, “I was lucky she had not changed her living place since I left. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have much of a chance to find her!

 

He could now see two very familiar faces placed before him right across the room. “This is our last meeting here in Paris, Fred,” one of them said. “We are transferring you to the United States. Our comrades in charge of training are confident that you’re fully prepared for your next assignment.”

“What an astounding assignment!” he mumbled to himself, “After all those theoretical study sessions and our discussions about starting revolutionary action, they are sending me back to where I had come from…to continue doing the same old things!”

“I’m sorry, dear Fred,” the man continued, “I know that you expected to continue with your original plan to go back to the old country but we have no choice but to make certain arrangements before you can go on with that plan.”

 “Yes,” began the second man, “I have submitted my report about your work here. We are satisfied with your progress, and we are confident that you will be successful in carrying out the organization’s strategic policies. The reason why we have decided to lengthen your trip is that according to certain reports, you may be under surveillance of some foreign intelligence organizations.” 

“Who knows!?” he mumbled to himself, “Maybe the man who was chasing me tonight was a member of the FBI or the CIA or something– not a starved homeless or an addict punk!”

“Our present assignment for you is,” the man’s voice rang in his ears again, “to make a quick tour of the country and meet a few of our higher cadre’s to make an assessment of their theoretical needs before you return to California.”

He shook his head, gently rose, picked up a bag he had put on the tiny table and took out two sandwiches. “The first attempt to contact them almost cost me my life!” he thought as he munched. “I couldn’t let the hooligan have the documents I had in my sack. So I would have to fight him back, and perhaps get killed if the guy happened to be armed!”

When the first sandwich was finished, he got off the bed, removed the mattress, and stuck two pillows into a large hole which appeared in the middle of the bed spring. He then put the mattress back in its place, climbed the bed and lay down.

“How different is this stupid bed from what I had in that hotel room in Paris!” he mumbled to himself before he took a long breath.

“Why do you …have to go?” a girl’s voice resonated in his ears as he tried to stretch out his body.

“Well, you know,” he answered with compassion, “that I came to Paris for a…very short visit. I can’t stay here…forever!”

“The summer is only half over, Fred,” the girl’s voice sounded again. “You also know that…my fiancé is gone now…and he won’t be back for…another month.”

“Yes you’ve told me that, dear Olivia,” he heard himself say.

“Ok!” said the girl standing up, “I want to promise to you that…if you stay for another two weeks, I’ll sleep with you…every single night of it!”

“God!” he heard himself say. “You make my life so miserable!  How in the world…can I leave…when you make such unbelievably generous offer…? How could anyone…”

“You’ll stay, then?” cut in the girl called Olivia confidently.

“I wish…it were…that easy,” he mumbled. “You see, my sponsor has made all the…necessary arrangements…for me to leave Paris…tomorrow!”
“What!?” almost screamed the girl. “Tomorrow!? My fiancé just left …yesterday! How could you…!” she said grinding her teeth.

 

“Poor girl,” he muttered shaking his head.

“What about me….?” asked a female’s voice with heavy French accent. “You are leaving me and…you are thinking of that shameless Australian neighbor of yours?”

“I’m sorry, dear Laura,” he heard himself say. “But I thought you said that you would consider me your fiancé so long as I were here…and that…you would leave me…when the time came for me to go! The time has come now. What in the world do you want me… to do?”

Laura began to laugh. “I was joking, actually!” she said wearing a big smile. “I was quite sure…that you were going to leave me …sooner or later. So I have…nothing to complain about!”

“Not a bad trip at all,” he mumbled to himself. “It’s true that my attempt to go home turned into a nerve wrecking nightmare, but its ending part in Paris … was no less than  a lovely sweet dream!”

**

When he woke up, his back bone was badly aching. “The stupid pillows must have slipped down through the mattress hole again…like the middle of the night,” he whispered to himself. “I was lucky my whole body did not go through the hole this time!”

He took a look at his watch. “God!” he exclaimed. “This stupid bed ruined my day! It’s past ten o’clock!”

 He got off the bed, went to the lavatory, washed up and began munching on the second sandwich he had bought the night before. He then put on his street clothes, picked up a few things, left the house and began walking fast towards the nearest public phone booth. “He’s got to be there!” he muttered to himself as he approached the booth. “If he doesn’t answer me again, it goes to show that …for some reason or other… he doesn’t want to see me!” He felt a bit relieved now. “In that case, I can leave this place earlier than planned and get to see my dear friends in California sooner.”

When he got closer to the booth, he noticed that several people were waiting in line for their turns. “The next booth is only two blocks away!” he mumbled to himself.  He took a hesitated look around and then began to run.

The second booth was deserted. He ran straight into it without looking around and began dialing. The phone rang and rang without anybody answering it. He dialed a second time and then shrugged his shoulders and hung up. “God!” he muttered shaking his head in confusion, “It sounded like…someone picked up the phone at the last moment!”  

He turned his face and looked out of the phone booth. A woman was standing out there staring at him. Her face looked all wrinkled up to him. He shrugged his shoulders and opened the booth door. “Are you through, young man?” asked the woman before he could say anything.

“Yes…,” he answered hesitantly. “Actually, I think the guy on the other side picked up the phone just before I hung up.”

“Well, why donchu call again, then, handsome?” the woman said staring at his face.

“Okay! Thank you Mam!” he muttered before he dialed again.

“Yes…?” a man’s voice said firmly before the phone rang the third time.

“Hi!” he almost hollered, “May I talk to Mr.….Fillmore, please?”

There was a pause before the man mumbled, “Speaking! May I know…who that is?”

“Yes!” he answered firmly. “This is Freddy! Johnny asked me to contact you. He has sent you something from Europe… which…I must deliver to you.”

“You should either come to my house, now,” the man retorted, “or to my office on the Washington University Campus, in the afternoon.” He paused for a minute before he added, “It doesn’t make too much difference for you, though, because I live near the campus. Do you know your way around town?”

“No,” answered Fred, “But I have a map…of the city. Please …just give me the address.” 

“Let me write it for you, young man,” said the old lady whose head was practically inside the phone booth now.”

“Thank you,” mumbled Fred confusedly. “I could…”

The old lady stretched out her arm and grabbed the receiver before he could say anything else. She now had a tiny notebook and a pencil in her left hand. She quickly put the receiver between her head and her left shoulder and began to write. “Good bye, sir,” she said a minute later, and hung up.

“For heaven’s sake!” exclaimed Fred. “Why did you cut off?”

“I’m sorry!” said the old lady. “I thought you were through!”

She then looked at the address and said, “It’s pretty far from here, though. Do you have a car?”

“No, I…don’t,” mumbled Fred as he squeezed himself out of the booth, “but…”

“Don’t worry!” said the woman firmly. “My car isn’t too far from here. I’ll take you there myself!” she added before she stepped into the booth and closed the door.

“But…Madam…,” hollered Fred helplessly. The woman was now dialing a number.

“My God!” Fred murmured to himself frustrated. “She’s old enough to be my mother! What in the world does she want from me!?” He then stepped back a little and began staring at her with suspicion. “Appearing out of the blue … grabbing my friend’s address…offering to take me with her…!” he whispered to himself, “Could she be…a secret agent?” He nodded his head thoughtfully.

He gently took a few steps back and looked at his watch. It was past eleven. “There isn’t much time!” he thought.

“All right!” the woman said with a smile before he could think of anything to do. “I’m done now! I’ll take you to…where you wano go.” She then put the little notebook in her purse and added. “I don’t need this thing. I know the place. It’s a long way from here, but it’s all right! I’ll take you there anyway.” She signaled to him to come along as she began to walk.

“My name’s Marta,” she said when they came close to a green car parked along the curb. “What’s yours?”

“I am Fred,” he mumbled disgruntledly.

“Glad to meetchu, Fred” the woman said with a smile as she unlocked the car door. “Please, get in!” she added before she sat down behind the steering wheel.

“She’s not even half as old as I thought!” he mumbled to himself as he sat down, looking at her face. “She must’ve drawn those wrinkles on her face for some reason!”

“You’re not from around here, I gather, huh?” the woman said with a smile sometime later interrupting his thoughts. “Where’re you from?”

“I’m from…Berkeley, California,” he mumbled still deep in thought.

“Hum…,” she mumbled, “A very nice place! I went there once …when I was younger.”

“Good for you!” Fred murmured crudely. 

“Are you sore because…I’m givin you a ride!?” the woman then asked with surprise, taking a pick at him.

“Oh, no!” he answered wearing a smile, trying to sound normal. “Actually, I’m very grateful!” he added.  “I just arrived here yesterday. I feel a bit lost!”

She nodded without saying anything.

“Are you goino stay at your pal’s house…long?” asked the woman after a while.

“Well, I don’t know,” replied Fred. “It’s…possible.”

“Okay,” she said with a sympathetic smile. “I’ll wait for you out here…a little while…just in case you get through quickly. I can take you home … if you don’t mind!” She then pulled to the curb and stopped. “There!” she said. “That must be the place,” she added pointing to a rather old four- story building. “It’s the second floor! Number eight! Okay?”

“Yes! Thanks very much,” he said loudly nodding his head as he got off.

He walked to the door and pressed the bell button without looking back. When he was walking in, he took a quick glance around. She was leaning back in her car seat staring at him.

***

“Hi, Mr. Fillmore!” Fred said with a smile as he entered. “I’m so glad to meet someone who…is not working for the FBI or the CIA or other security organizations…for a change!”

Mr. Fillmore laughed. “I know what you mean,” he said after a minute. “Nowadays one can’t even trust his own eyes!”

“You know,” Fred continued, “when I was calling you, some elderly lady was standing outside the booth eavesdropping on our conversation. She even got ahead of me in writing your address and got hold of it before I did.”

“Oh, really?” asked Mr. Fillmore thoughtfully. “Was she American or foreign?”

“Well, she looked like a perfectly normal American lady but she sure acted very suspicious,” Fred answered. “She insisted on bringing me here and practically forced me to agree.”

“Well,” said Mr. Fillmore, “We don’t need to worry about it much because I think all of the American security organizations know me and, therefore, know where I live.”

“A more suspicious thing to me,” said Fred, “was that she insisted on picking me up after my visit here to take me home. As a matter of fact, she was still sitting in her car in front of your house snooping when I entered the building. For all I know, she may still be there!”

“Well,” said Mr. Fillmore, “That’s easy to find out. Our bedroom window opens to the street. I can go and check.”

“Will you do that, please?” said Fred. “I’m a sort of worried about it.”

Mr. Fillmore gently rose to his feet, turned the knob of one of the doors which opened to the hall where they were sitting and walked in. There were two beds and some other furniture inside the room. A couple of minutes later, Fred heard Mr. Fillmore’s voice shouting, “Was her car…green?”

“Yes, yes!” answered Fred with excitement. “Is it still there?”

“It sure is!” answered Mr. Fillmore as he returned. “Do you want me to go down and find out who she is? I have nothing to worry about. I’m an American citizen and my wife and children are all…Americans.”

“No, thanks,” said Fred curtly, “Please sit down for a minute,” he added “I’d just like to ask you a few questions and go.”

“Let me get you some tea or coffee to drink before I sit down,” Mr. Fillmore said as he walked towards their small kitchen.

“A middle-aged man with an American imperialist wife and children who are American citizens!” Fred murmured to himself. “How could he ever join us when we go to our own country’s villages to organize the peasants in order to begin a guerrilla war against Imperialism and its local stooges?” he thought as he waited.

“You look pretty tired and sleepy,” said Mr. Fillmore standing in front of Fred who seemed to be snoozing. 

“Yes!” murmured Fred, “You know,” he continued, “last night, when I went out to call you…and buy a few things, a huge guy began chasing me. I was lucky to get to the door of our house …before he caught up with me, and, so, I got away. I would’ve been killed because I couldn’t let him have some of the documents which I had in my bag…and would be forced to fight him back. My landlord here says that…”

“Yes, I know,” Mr. Fillmore interrupted, “Here in Washington dc, the streets are not safe at night. You should have waited until this morning to come out and call me. As you said, you were pretty lucky or perhaps clever to get away.”

“Here,” said Fred as he began taking out some letters and newspapers from his breast pockets. “Our comrades want to have…a detailed report of the affairs of the organization branch in your area as soon as possible. They said they have not heard from your section of the organization for a while now…”

“Yes, yes,” mumbled Mr. Fillmore, “I’ll do that …as soon as I get a chance. You see, it’s midterm time and…I have to give tests and correct my students’ papers at the university. Nevertheless, I’ll do …whatever I can to carry out our comrades’ order…as soon as …possible.”

“Okay, thank you,” mumbled Fred nodding his head repeatedly.

There were some minutes of silence before Fred asked, “Have you heard from our comrades in … Chicago…lately?”

“No, no,” said Mr. Fillmore shaking his head. “Not at all!”

“I went to see our man in charge of the…New York branch…on the way here,” muttered Fred softly. “There wasn’t much going on there either. The most important piece of news in the area was that our man in charge of the New York organization had just got a new job and was working hard preparing himself to…get married!”

“Good for him!” said Mr. Fillmore loudly with a smile. “I hope they’ll live happily ever after!”

They were both laughing now. “I know him quite well,” then said Mr. Fillmore. “He’s an awfully nice guy. Very active too! He loves to do political work, but to tell you the truth…I don’t think there are many people here or there…or anywhere else in this country who are willing to leave everything they have got here and go…up the mountains or among the peasants back in the old country …for organizing them to begin a revolutionary war!”

They were now staring at each other smiling in deep heavy silence.

“Okay!” Fred said finally as he gently got up. “I think we have talked enough for today. I’ll come and see you again if the need arises while I am still in Washington dc.”

“I can go find out what’s going on in Chicago, if you wish,” said Mr. Fillmore when they were both standing near the outside door.

“Well,” said Fred nodding his head. “I’d really appreciate it if you assume that responsibility. Then I can go back to California as soon as possible. That will make my long way home a bit shorter.”

“Okay, fine,” said Mr. Fillmore. “I’ll accept that responsibility. But I’m pretty sure there isn’t much going on there either. You can tell our comrades back in Europe about it, if you still have contact with them.”

“I think I’ll do that,” said Fred, “One of the organization leaders is supposed to come over soon to contact all the people in charge, and reorganize everything.”

He took a long breath and smiled before he added, “The most important world political issue for me at the present time is, though, whether or not the old lady is still waiting for me in her car outside!”

Mr. Fillmore began to laugh loudly as he gently moved towards his bedroom window.

“The issue is taken care of,” Mr. Fillmore said with a smile as he gently returned. “I can inform you, sir, that the so-called ‘old lady waiting for you out there’…is…still there waiting for you!”

“God!” said Fred shaking his head. “For a minute I thought all of the problems on my long way home were solved and I could hit the road tomorrow or the day after…”

Mr. Fillmore was now standing there looking at him with a puzzled look on his face. “How old exactly was…this ‘old woman’, Fred?”

“Well, I don’t know!” answered Fred. She had some wrinkles here and there on her face, but I got the impression that she had put them there purposely to…”

“Well,” cut in Mr. Fillmore, “How old exactly do you think she was. I mean in years…”

“Well,” answered Fred, “I’d say…forty or forty five.”

Mr. Fillmore stared at him for a little while and then began to laugh. “Okay,” he said, “If you really want to make your long way home shorter, one way of doing it may be …to go down there right now, get in that old lady’s car quickly and let her take you home. For all we know, not only she might come inside  your place to help you pack up your things faster, but she may also stay with you overnight in order to get you to the bus terminal earlier tomorrow morning!”

 

 

 

 


 


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