THE ONE: A Novella: ONE

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A young man arrives in San Francisco from Salt Lake City, where he immediately begins to exhibit mysterious powers.

Submitted: March 16, 2016

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Submitted: March 16, 2016

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THE ONE

A Novella

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter One

 

George Joseph Dawson evolved into a Jack-Mormon the moment he stepped off the plane from Salt Lake City.

Dawson was well over six feet with dark wavy hair and a slight stoop, even at his age: twenty-six. His stoop was entirely the result of the Tall Man Curse: he had to bend over to acknowledge the presence of ninety-nine percent of the people he met, both during work hours and when released upon the plains of frivolity and adventure.

He smiled into the dazzle of the October sun and collected his thoughts.

He had thanked each of the attendants at great length for their aid and assistance throughout the flight to San Francisco. George also made a point of waiting for the captain and navigator to emerge so that he might thank them as well.

They all seemed somewhat taken aback by George’s effusive thanks but immediately realized that here was a person who was absolutely sincere. All cracked their best smiles and welcomed him to the Bay Area; a couple even shook his hand and wished him good fortune in the City by the Bay, or simply: the City.

George Dawson was exactly what he appeared to be while thanking the crew of the 737: an extremely polite and gracious young man.

Every one of the female flight attendants had perceived something different about George; something strangely captivating in his general demeanor. Three of them had been on the point of volunteering to escort him around the City; even accept a dinner invitation; even propose one. Why was that, they wondered.

All three secretly admitted that they would immediately accept a dinner and dancing invitation from this tall, handsome, young man with the compelling persona, were he to track them to their hotel. The flight crew always stayed at the Hyatt at the foot of California Street. All the crews from the airline loved  the Hyatt. In addition to the fine menu and the occasional complimentary cocktail, they all enjoyed the exterior elevators; almost like a mild ride at Disneyland.

George found no one else to thank before he lined up for a taxi. 

However, once inside an SUV Yellow cab, George immediately attempted to chat up the driver; a young woman with the blackest hair he had ever seen. She only said hello and asked his destination.

Her tone was one of finality and George then attempted to discern her beauty; or lack thereof.

From what he could tell, the woman was about his age and had perfectly sized and shaped ears.

He couldn’t quite see all of her face and  he correctly decided that it would be bad taste to ask her to turn around for a moment. 

He settled for just studying her license photo on the dash beside the meter.

 

George had arranged both a job and a place to live before he left Salt Lake City.

He had been hired by the AAAA Insurance Company of Philadelphia as an ‘outside’ investigator with a car and an expense allowance.

This good fortune had been secured through a friend of his father’s who worked in the Palo Alto branch of the same company. George had sent in a resume and had answered a twelve-page questionnaire.

References, BYU grades and photos were also submitted.

The manager of the San Francisco office had reluctantly agreed to take George on as a temporary insurance investigator for a period of six months. 

In order to cover himself as best he could, the manager, Donald Piper, placed Dawson under the tutelage of their senior investigator, Bill Moore, a twenty-year veteran of the bogus-claims community.

Moore, a short intense man with a permanent scowl was also a dour man with too many problems and too few hours to sort them out. He was now being saddled with a greenhorn who came into Moore’s realm by way of a friend of a friend of the family. The entire manner surrounding the hiring of Dawson scraped Bill’s populist feeling; his class warfare gene; and all these factors joined together to fill him with a significant amount of grumbling displeasure.

 

Unexpectedly; startlingly; and against all preliminary odds, George became the company’s top investigator almost over night. And he settled the most cases per week and per month by an enormously wide margin.

Even the old pro, BM—as he was privately referred to by Frank Nassano and John Principe, the good guy investigators—was totally perplexed by Dawson’s results.

He even insisted that Dawson’s supervisor; Keith Fullafgas, show him all the clams, settlements and reports made by Dawson since day one.

Even Keith had thought of Moore as more of a BM than not. However, he quickly, and with a huge grin, invited BM to sit and read everything in Keith’s office; or he could make copies and take the copies home for review. 

Keith also asked Bill Moore in a collegial, ‘lets-be-friends’ way, to check, recheck and double-check every item of George’s work. 

There was something buzzing about George or draped over George or some invisible companion of George’s that spooked Keith and he wanted to verify these amazing results before he had a long talk with George and tried to determine his extraordinary powers.

Powers of intellect; of focus; of incisiveness; of persuasion, and , most of all: How the waltzing-mice was George capable of these astonishing results; of both quantity and quality?

Later, Keith told the others in the office that he had not only called about fifty of George’s ‘cases’ but also driven out to visit over twenty of them; on Saturdays; on his own time.

What he discovered from phone conversations and came away with after chats over a beer and some chips, was that George Dawson was the most amazingly wonderful,  honest, engaging man they had ever encountered.

Keith also made a point of trying to meet and interview those cases that George had deemed bogus and therefore declined.

Fifteen of the twenty made a point of making themselves available.

They were not ready or willing to confess their attempt at larceny, petty theft, embezzlement or some other arcane grift, but they felt a strong compulsion to tell Keith about George and what a supremely great guy he was, even though he denied their claims—and, in some cases, forced cancellation of ‘some wild travel plans for himself and the missus.’ Oh well.

After these tete a tetes with the bogus bunnies, Keith determined to find out who George Dawson really was. 

To Keith –and after that weekend review of Georges work by BM—to BM—George Dawson was clearly not what he appeared to be. But what the hell did that mean?

Keith, a really good guy with a wife, Heidi and five children under ten, began to construct various alliances within the office on his mission to determine the astounding fuel that drove George’s many afterburners.

Even the hot shot Ned Adams was eating dust from the rocket path set by the newcomer. And, despite George’s spectacular success, BM both admired and hated Dawson for all of the normal as well as some of the unusual reasons.

 

George Dawson’s living arrangements had also been procured before his arrival.

Three young men—all managerial employees of the AAAA Insurance Company—agreed to have George in the fourth and last bedroom of the luxurious condominium on Buena Vista Avenue. The condominium came with a balcony overlooking a steep slope, a valley, and then the gentle rising foothills of Twin Peaks.

George had been genuinely stunned by both the luxury of his quarters and the riveting view. He immediately took photos and sent them to his mother and father as well as to his nine siblings.

 

Now, three months later, George was caught up in the well-heeled white-collar singles life.

By some peculiar cosmic mix-up, George, who lived on Buena Vista Avenue on the other side of the park from Haight Street, had adopted, as his favorite roost, the Buena Vista Café at the bottom of Hyde Street opposite Aquatic Park and the turnaround point for the Hyde Street Cable Car.

Even coming from ‘honest George,’ most found it hard to believe this singular fact and George, being George, readily admitted that it was something of an extraordinary coincidence, one that neither George nor Keith Fullagas believed was a coincidence at all.

 

From the moment of his arrival in Babylon by the Bay, George continued to treasure a very warm and loving relationship with his entire family . . . in another State; the Beehive State, around six hundred miles away.

Not that George hated his family; or even disliked them; he just did not understand them.

Whenever he could corner Larry Wade in a Zims’ booth for a burger and a Pepsi—if only just  a living person to listen to his befuddlement—he would wait until Larry was almost through signing off his reports for their Supervisor, Keith Fullagas, before mounting his verbal fulmination regarding the Church of the Latter Day Saints and its effect on his family.

Fullagas was a man of wry wit, a bespectacled Argentinean with a non-identifiable Middle-American accent. However, Keith managed to make his thoughts clear, especially when it came to George and Larry, his two stars.

 

Lawrence Kincaid Wade was George’s best friend from the insurance office.

Larry, married to Arianne, was a tall lean guy from Boston who had started working at the company only three months before George landed. They had become fast friends while Larry mentored and tutored and then watched his pupil zoom to the rank of best investigator with remarkable ease; and a thoroughly unsettling ‘ease’, to Larry’s way of thinking.

Larry had been the first to be contacted by Keith to determine George’s secret powers and he was also the first to ask George point blank ,how the bloody beans did he do it; what was his secret?

“Hey man, you even do all this during the work week; what’s with that,” laughing, “and you’re making all of us look bad; even BM; and Piper.”

George managed a laugh despite the torments weighing upon and tearing apart his soul.

He politely acknowledged Larry’s question and concern, but moved first to the continuing religious itch that George could not help scratching.

“How can I tell them it’s a con job, Larry; I mention Fawn Brodie and they practically make a sign of the cross with their fingers, and wave Wal-Mart strands of garlic in my face.

“I mean, they just won’t listen,” sighing, “but I still love them, you know; it’s not them, it’s Joe Smith’s con job that’s screwing up their view of things.”

Larry was a good listener; he could feel the tent of conflicted emotions flapping around George while he openly agreed with the latter’s positions; both as they related to his take on Joe’s gig—and especially as it related to the Dawson family; as fine a group of humans that ever existed; all twelve of them; including George.

Larry had met George’s parents on two occasions when Larry suspected—correctly—that presenting a tall blonde WASP to George’s mom and dad would act as some manner of sterling imprimatur on the life their son was leading in Sin City; not only one of bottomless boredom and naïveté (considering the opportunities) but also one of mostly well-behaved goodness.

 

Larry and  Arianne were constantly amazed by the number of times George cut loose in the City and partook of its endless opportunities for social mingling and sequellae . . .

George was a big athletic guy who wore dark-rimmed glasses, an item that some people thought made him look boring. However, most women thought he looked like Clark Kent and that was where most of George’s guilt trips began: Dining and dancing his way to a point where he was put to the test of Clark’s true powers.

After every one of those evenings, whether a success from either party’s viewpoint, George would don the hair shirt and call his mother.

The conversations both began and ended with George promising—stressing with his deepest sincerity—that he was trying to reform.

“And Mom; tell dad that I need to ask him a few more ‘serious’ questions, about you know what, okay? Bye Mom; love you; hugs to all the family.”

 

End of Chapter One


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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