A Phone Call in San Francisco - Retro Timeline
(This takes place just before the Junior Detectives go to the desert. The term liefde is Afrikaans for love and geliefde means beloved in the same language. And the character Kantorek appeared in my entry Decisions.)
San Francisco, CA
Nace heard the chime of his cell phone and groped about for his bedside table for it. He was vaguely aware of Goliath barking as well.
“Alright! Alright! I’m up for the love of God!” Nace groaned until he saw the display on the Motorola phone. He saw Angela’s name on it and the annoyance at the early hour rapidly faded.
She wouldn’t call unless this was a bloody emergency! She knows the time difference! I hope to God she’s alright! Nace thought. Almost a year ago last Tuesday he had nearly lost her to a gunshot in Cape Town. And he would take nothing for granted.
“Hullo,” Nace began, hoping he didn’t sound too bedraggled.
“Hey,” Angela said, “I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“No, my liefde, you didn’t,” Nace replied.
“You’re a horrible liar, Nace,” Angela quipped. But even tens of thousands of miles away Nace could tell something was wrong.
Deciding the direct approach was the best, he began, “Are you alright?”
He heard her voice slightly break on the other side, a sniffle right after it, “No, I’m not…”
Nace felt his heart sink and tried to keep the emotion out of his voice, “What’s wrong?”
“Remember that case computer crimes got?” Angela began, with a slight sniffle, “The one when you were packing to leave?”
“Vaguely,” Nace replied, hearing Goliath bark in the background.
“We solved it today,” Angela said. In his mind’s eye he could see her wiping a tear from her eyes.
God! I wish I was there! If nothing else to hold her as she’s going through this! Nace thought. He gulped, hopefully she didn’t hear it, and asked, “What happened?”
“We got the guy and we’ve got a strong case…” Angela began, with a hiccup. He heard her crying briefly on the other side of the line and it made his heart sink.
I wish I was there to just hold her as she’s going through all that! Whatever it is! Nace thought. He knew all he could do was listen as much as it hurt.
“There’s something more? Isn’t there?” Nace replied, knowing Angela had something she needed to get off her chest.
He heard Angela hiccup again after this bit of crying before he heard her respond, “Yeah...and we found his computer’s hard drive. We had to do a data recovery of terabytes of...I can’t even describe it...those poor...Oh my God!”
“Angela, its alright, I think I can imagine what you’re talking about,” Nace replied.
“It’s just how could someone be...I mean to do that to kids...Why?” Angela asked.
“There are evil blokes in this world,” Nace replied. Kantorek was one, and I sent the wanker before King Minos as he deserved.
His fingers lightly touched the brass casing from that kill. Kantorek. A Serbian mercenary sniper operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One who tended to pick his targets based on his caprices of that given week. Remembering the week it was children. And how two weeks later he finally had killed him.
“I-I know,” Angela said, “But having to prepare that evidence packet. To see what that guy was all about. I can’t unlive it.”
“God, I wish I was there,” Nace replied, “If nothing else to just hold you.”
“I wish you were here too,” Angela said, pausing before she composed herself, “I love you.”
“God, ek is lief vir jou,” Nace replied, sniffling, barely managing to say in Afrikaans, ‘God, I love you…’
“I miss you too, geliefde,” Angela said. He could almost see her weakly attempting a smile in his mind’s eye.
“Your Afrikaans is getting better,” Nace replied.
“I had a good teacher,” Angela said.
Goliath barked again, somewhat more plaintively.
Angela asked, “Let me guess the little fireball is awake?”
“He woke the moment you called,” Nace replied.
Goliath cocked his head as he regarded Nace and Nace cupped the mouthpiece on his phone before speaking, “Yeah, it’s mommy. Unfortunately she’s had a bad day…”
Goliath whimpered as if he understood and Nace replied, “Unfortunately flying you over there wouldn’t be quite so easy.”
He moved his hand away from the mouthpiece, “Yeah, the little fireball wanted to know if you were alright. I had to tell him that flying him to Cape Town was out of the question.”
“I know,” Angela replied, “But I at least can talk to you.”
“I wish I could do more than just talk to you, love,” Nace replied. Hoping his own voice didn’t break. It killed him to see her hurt.
“I’m fine,” Angela said, “They let me off early after I turned in my report. And I’ve got tomorrow off.”
“That’s good to hear,” Nace replied, “At least they weren’t complete wankers.”
“I managed to fix the bathroom sink, it doesn’t drip anymore,” Angela said, “At least fixing something kept me somewhat ok…”
That’s a good sign, she’s minding what she normally likes to mind. Nace thought, reflecting the number of handyman type projects he and Angela would get busy with around their apartment. I’d worry if she called the maintenance man over that.
Nace crossed his bedroom in long strides before he headed to a computer and began rapidly typing away at the keyboard. He knew a website of a florist in Cape Town and the address of their apartment by heart.
“Nace?” Angela asked.
“Oh, I heard every word, love,” Nace said.
“I know you did, but you’re up to something. Spill…” Angela began.
“Sorry love, classified operation and all,” Nace said, smiling. If he couldn’t be there in person, flowers were somewhere in the neighborhood of a next best thing.
He heard something that sounded like a kitchen cabinet opening, picturing Angela grabbing a coffee cup and a filter out of the cabinet. Knowing she was probably making herself a pot of coffee.
“Let me guess, some more coding tonight or taking in a movie,” Nace asked.
“A movie,” Angela said, “I don’t know if I should go near a computer right now.”
Whatever she saw had to have shaken her up, Nace thought. Because he knew if she was brewing a coffee pot he knew she was either going to have a movie or coding marathon.
“Probably for the best,” Nace replied, “So what’s on the tap tonight?”
“The Princess Bride, Finding Nemo, and The Princess Diaries,” Angela replied, “I feel like watching something lighthearted and innocent.”
“And I wish I was there with you to share the coffee pot and stay up all night with you,” Nace replied.
“I wish you were here too, honey,” Angela said and then she heard the buzzer from downstairs, “Hold on, I’ve gotta get this.”
Nace could faintly hear Angela talking with the fellow downstairs through the call box, then allowing him up to their apartment door. He heard the slight creak of the apartment door hinge and faint smatterings of her conversation.
The door closing and the sound of water running in a vase told him what he had planned had worked out exactly as he’d thought.
“They’re beautiful,” Angela said.
“Not as beautiful as you,” Nace replied.
“Thank you,” Angela replied, “I’m going to keep this right at the coffee table and then press them so I still have them when you come home.”
Nace smiled, “I’m honestly more looking forward to seeing you again.”
“You’re such a teddy bear under that hard exterior,” Angela said, “It’s like a part of you the junior detectives here rarely see.”
Nace grinned and said, “Well, you bring out the best in me, liefde.”
“Aww...you’re making me blush,” Angela said.
Nace could already mentally picture her sitting on the sofa, her legs folded underneath her as she fiddled with the TV remote and her coffee cup.
“What are you thinking?” Angela asked.
“Well,” Nace said, “To be honest I’m picturing your look after you’ve had a hard case and just want to relax.”
“Oh, what are you thinking?” Angela teased.
“Well, I picture you wore something comfortable, maybe something loose fitting. Like your Tampa Bay Lightning jersey and a pair of sweatpants or shorts.” Nace began.
“Close,” Angela replied, “I threw on your Johannesburg Lions Rugby Jersey. The red cotton one. It helps remind me of you.”
“That explains why I couldn’t find it while packing,” Nace replied, with a smile.
“So what are you up to today?” Angela asked.
“The JDs are going on a field trip to the Mojave,” Nace replied.
“Oh nice. That means you get to spring more of your surprises on them,” Angela surmised.
“Yeah,” Nace replied.
“Get ‘em good,” Angela replied, “Can’t have San Francisco lag behind Cape Town’s academy.”
“I will, love,” Nace replied, “And they’re a sharp bunch.”
Nace went on to describe his charges to Angela and he heard the slight laugh of mirth from the other end of the line.
“You’re so going domestic,” Angela teased.
“Well if going domestic helped me find you, I’m not totally complaining,” Nace replied, before glancing at his alarm clock, “Hate to do this, but I’ve got to get going. Got to get to the bloody airport and all.”
“Ok,” Angela replied, “It was great to talk to you. I love you.”
“Ek is lief vir jou. I’ll call you later when I get there,” Nace replied.
“I’ll be here,” Angela said before she hung up the phone.
Nace swiftly packed his bag and taking Goliath’s leash, walked out the door, locking the apartment and heading out to train in the Mojave with the JDs.
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