The Music in the Painting

Chapter Nine

Chaim’s Deli was half a block from the lobby of Cedars but Mac retrieved his car and parked just a few feet away in a red zone.

He hung the distinctive Motorola microphone by the cord over the rear view mirror while Litton took in all the radio gear.

"What does all this stuff do, I mean I know what it does but why so much?" The boy asked.

"Well" said Mac placing his hand on each unit as he explained, "these two here are for the Sheriff’s Radio dispatch but the one on the right is for the Detective bureau only. This one below the dash is an L.A.P.D. radio it covers the Metro dispatch, Tac 1,Tac 2 and central dispatch. This phone is a regular Bell radio phone that anybody and their cat can listen in on. This last phone operates on special channels that are outside the usual police or telephone band."

"So you keep that for confidential calls right?" asked Litton.

"Exactly right." said Mac.

"Now let’s get in there and get something to eat."

"Are you a picky eater Litton" Mac asked.

"No Sir!" Litton responded, "I like to try new things."

"Great" said Mac handing him a Dodgers cap. "Do you mind wearing this? It’s quite clean."

Litton placed the cap on his head and Mac grabbed his Fedora and hopped out leaving the car unlocked with the windows down. 

When they stepped through the door Mac heard an agitated Chaim Abromowitcz explaining to a customer that he couldn’t make him a ham and Swiss on egg bread or rye or any kind of bread.

 "Jesus" the man said, "What kind of place can’t make a simple ham sandwich."

Mac bent to speak directly in the man’s ear from behind. "That’d be the kosher kind; did you not see the big blue Star of David on the door?"

The man turned with the intention of telling Mac to mind his own business; but finding himself staring eye to Adam’s apple with Mac; he decided to apologize to Chaim.

Accepting the man’s apology Chaim said, "If you go two blocks west on Beverly, Mario’s will make you a Prosciutto and provolone to die for." 

Mac watched the man scamper out the door and then turned back to the counter and said, "Shalom Chaim, vos don er haben azt s gut?" 

"Not bad" said Chaim," your Yiddish is improving, it’s good to see you Mac."

"It’s very good to see you too Chaim." 

"And who is this young man in the smart looking cap?" asked Chaim. 

"Oh that’s my new partner Litton; he’s been helping me with a case."    

"Hello young man, nice to meet you." Chaim smiled down at the boy.

"It’s nice to meet you too sir. Um, Sir?"

"Yes young man? You have a question maybe?

"Yes sir why do you have that number on your arm? I saw a man in the hospital with a number like that but it was one thousand, one hundred and twenty-two higher in ascending order."

Chaim and Mac were stunned. Chaim recovered first and said, "I got this at a little European resort called "Sobibor". It’s how the people who ran the place kept track of their guests."

Litton eyed him skeptically and said, "It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me, I hope I didn’t make you feel bad." said Litton

"That’s okay Litton, no harm done. Mac knows the story perhaps he can tell you later." Chaim said gently. 

"Now my friends, what would you like to eat today?"

"Let’s start with a couple bowls of Borscht and some Latkes, and can you make one of those orange seltzer concoctions with the sherbet for Litton, the lad is mad for oranges?" 

"Consider it done, and maybe a nice knish for after?" said Chaim.  

"If there’s any room for it." said Mac, who turned and ushered Litton to a table near the window.

"I’m going to visit the men’s room but I’ll be right back. Do you need to go as well?" Mac asked.

"No sir, but when you’re done I’ll go and wash my hands."

Mac had barely left his view when a boy in jeans and a striped t-shirt wearing a Yankees ball cap came through the door. "Hi Zeydah" the boy called to Chaim.

"Hello boychick," came the reply from behind the counter. 

The boy eyed Litton and said, "So you’re a Dodgers fan eh?"  

"I don’t know what you mean." replied Litton

"Well you’re wearing a Dodgers cap aren’t you?" asked the boy impatiently. "I don’t know, Captain Mac asked me to wear it in here. Like, it’s a rule or something." Litton Responded.  

"Captain Mac’s here? Bitchin!" said the boy.

"Abram! Language, we’re not running a pool hall."  Chaim called out.

"It’s just slang Zeydah." Abram replied. He stuck his hand out to Litton and said, "Hi my name’s Abram but you can call me Skip. Everybody but Zeydah calls me Skip."

"Okay, um what’s a Zeydah?" Litton asked. 

"Oh, that’s Yiddish for Grandfather, Skip chuckled. "You’re not Jewish, Are you?" 

"I don’t know what that is." said Litton.

"Well Hi Skip" said Mac from the hallway.

"Uncle Mac!" said the boy and lunged for Mac wrapping his arms around the man. "Cool hat uncle Mac, who are you after today, Dillinger?"

"Abram! How are you young man? Hey smarty pants this hat is older than you are so show some respect." He smiled at Abram.

"I know, I’m just kidding, I’ve got one a lot like it that I wear for Temple. It just has sharper creases." 

"Are you coming to my Bar Mitzvah Uncle Mac?"

Mac grinned and said "How could I miss it? How’s the reading coming along?" 

"Really well, I think I can get through it no sweat." said Abram. 

"A little humility boychick, if you please;" came the voice from behind the counter.

"Come help me serve please Abram."

Chaim handed him a tray and together they emerged with a series of bowls and plates each full of wonderful food.

"Torah he reads better than our Cantor," said Chaim "But his head is maybe swollen a bit." 

"He’s a good boy Chaim, and he’ll be a fine man like his Papa and Zeydah."

"Meyn fondest hofn." said Chaim. 

During this exchange Litton’s eyes goggled at the sight of so much food.

Chaim walked to the door and turned the bolt and flipped the sign to read closed. He explained; "its 3:30 on the eve of the Sabbath, the pious are already at home and everyone else is eating pizza.

I thought Abram and I would join you in a little nosh. Abram; the prayer please?"

Abram said the blessing in Hebrew and they all said Amen.

Gesturing to the food Chaim said; "Gentlemen please? Enjoy." Litton tried everything on the table and loved it, especially the latkes and the drink Chaim had made for him. It was orange sherbet in sweetened soda water with a dash of something he couldn’t identify, but it was fantastic; and he learned the beauty of eating bread with a bit of olive oil to dip it in.

At the end of the meal Chaim filled four small glasses with wine and sat them in front of his guests, He sat and then raised his own glass and said "L’chaim!" Litton found the wine sweet and strong and struggled to swallow it.

Mac spoke up. "Thank you for the wonderful meal Chaim, I don’t suppose you’d allow me to pay you for our lunch." 

"Not a chance!" said Chaim beaming. "Today you are my guests."

The men shook hands and patted each other on the back. "Litton’" Mac called to the glassy eyed boy.

"Yes Sir!?" he finally replied to Mac. 

"Do you need the toilet before we leave? It might be a slow drive back to the school." asked Mac

"Yes please" Litton replied.

"I’ll show him where it is." said Abram "I need to go too; c’mon Litton." He said tugging at Litton’s sleeve.

"A bright boy that one." said Chaim   "He seems very perceptive but a little closed off."

He’s a schoolmate of Bobby’s; he had a breakthrough today. This is the most animated he’s ever been." said Mac. 

While Litton relieved himself, Mac explained the events of the day and why Bobby was across the street.

"Such a day you had, and I thought my day was hectic Oy gevalt!"  Chaim said loudly.

"Language Zeydah!" Abram chuckled.

Chaim looked theatrically abashed. "Forgive my manners please?" he said.

Everyone laughed except Litton who looked a bit at sea. 

"I’ll explain in the car Litton, we better get you back to the school or Reg will swear out a warrant for both of us.  Zey Gezint my friends, I’ll see you soon." 

Chaim and Abram returned leave taking, as Abram held the door and out they went.

In the car Mac instructed Litton to fasten his seat belt. Then he reached down and turned a knob on the radio control and handed the mike to Litton and advised him what to say. Litton pushed the mic. button and said, "King 3 is en route Pasadena on witness transport." 

"Uh 10-4 Sir" replied a puzzled sounding voice." 

"King 3 out." Said Litton and grinned at Mac.

The radio squawked again "Sam 1 to King 3 that sounds a little "927" (suspicious) can you verify that you are code-4?(okay) "said a much more serious voice.

Mac gave a theatrical grimace to Litton and gestured for the Microphone back. "King 3 to Sam 1 affirmative 1468 copy?"

"10-4 sir, sorry to bother you."

"King 3 to Sam 1 nice to know you’re on your toes."

"Sam 1 to King 3 thanks sir. Don’t forget to update your code by landline sir. Sam 1 out."

"10-4 Sam 1, will do. King 3 out." 

Litton hiked his shoulders and grimaced "What was that all about, did I do it wrong?" 

"No son, you did fine they just didn’t recognize your voice so they put us through the verification procedure to make sure I didn’t have a gun to my head." said Mac.

"Does that ever happen?"

Mac nodded, "sadly it has."  

After about an hour Mac pulled up to the school gates. "Good afternoon Captain." said the proctor on gate duty. "How’s Bobby doing sir?" 

"He’s doing fine, they kept him overnight, standard procedure for anyone who gets knocked unconscious." replied Mac.

"I’m glad to hear that sir; looks like you have another one down for the count."

Mac looked over at Litton and noted that the boy was out like a light.

"Hah, I hadn’t noticed that he dropped off, he’s such a quiet lad when he has nowt to say." He said. 

"You can go on through sir; I’ll let the Dean’s office know you’ve arrived.

Mac pulled up through the gates and drove to the main office. He parked at the curb just outside the lobby and lifted Litton out of his seat and carried the sleeping boy like a toddler one armed through the door.

Marilyn the Bursar smiled when she saw them. "Well if that isn’t just the cutest picture. Isn’t he a bit big to be carried like that?" she asked. 

"Oh I doubt he weighs more than five or six stone Marilyn, and he’s had quite a day." Mac said, gently placing Litton in one of the padded armchairs in the lobby. "Is Reg in his office?" He asked. 

"Yes he is, he’s expecting you. 

"Thanks Marilyn" said Mac and walked in to the Dean’s office.

"Aah Mac, good to see you. And how is our Bobby?"   

"Doc says he’s just fine, I’ll pick him up in the morning and he’ll be back here Tuesday as per usual."  

"I’m so glad to hear it. You know we aren’t meant to have favorites but I’ve become quite fond of him. He doesn’t seem to know how important he is to the boys and faculty here. A remarkable boy, so I allow myself this one indulgence." said the Dean. "Was young Raemer of assistance to you?"

"Absolutely! He’s a very observant and perceptive boy. He’d make a great detective someday, but he’s destined for something far greater than that I suspect, perhaps, the first detective on Mars?" Mac chuckled.

"I think you will all notice a tremendous change in his behavior after this. Bobby’s doing I suspect; he got Litton to look at the Seurat exhibition. It apparently made quite a connection. But I’ll let him tell you about that."        

"I look forward to it." said the Dean. "I called for our head boy to help Litton back to his Dorm." 

A knock at the door announced the Head boy’s arrival.

"Bursar said I should report to you sir" said a lanky, nice looking boy. 

"Hello Todd, please come in and meet Captain Mackenzie, he’s Bobby’s grandfather as you probably know."  

"Yes sir, we’ve all heard quite a bit about you sir, and we met at the museum as well. Very nice to meet you again sir" said Todd while offering Mac his hand to shake.

Mac took the boy’s hand and shook it and said, "I was going to seek you out in any case, Bobby wanted to extend his apologies about the weekend plans. The Doc doesn’t want him doing anything that strenuous the next few days. But we will get you in the water soon; he said you were quite keen to learn to surf." 

"That’s Bobby" chuckled Todd.

"How so" asked Mac. 

"Well sir, there he is lying in a hospital and he’s worried about me missing out on surfing. It’s just so typical of him." Todd chuckled again.

"Well he thinks pretty highly of you young man. You get mentioned frequently when we discuss the goings on at school. I think you’re pretty much okay in his book." said Mac.

The teenager blushed a bit and said "Thank you sir, it’s nice to hear. I guess I better get Raemer back to his dorm so he can get some rest; I noticed he was sleeping in the lobby when I arrived sir."

"I’ll walk out with you son." said Mac. "Reg, I’ll speak to you soon, I may have a line of inquiry you can help with. Perhaps you could dust off your knowledge of Renaissance painters."

"I’d be quite happy to help with anything of that sort." said the Dean.

Mac shook the Dean’s hand and passed out into the lobby where Litton was stirring from his nap. Mac placed his hand on the side of Litton’s face and said "Rise and shine my lad, it’s time for me to leave and I want to thank you for all your help today. It will make a tremendous difference in how we proceed."

Litton blinked and roused himself and said, "I’m glad I could help Sir. I really enjoyed learning what you do and how it’s done." 

Mac smiled and said "It was a pleasure having you along today and I look forward to seeing you again soon. Bye Litton."

"Good bye Sir." said Litton. "I learned a lot, Thank you."

Mac said goodbye to Marilyn as well and left the lobby.  As he drove out the gate he noticed a disturbing sight, it was Leonard’s fifty-three Chevy.

Mac reached for the secure phone and contacted Pasadena P.D. and talked to their Watch Commander. 

"I’ll advise my officers Mac. If he has anything he shouldn’t, he won’t have to make plans for the week end." said Pete. 

"You might have them run his Press Credentials. I think he’s still using one from the last place that fired him." added Mac. 

"Will do Mac, better we talk to him than some embassy’s security team. Hey, tell Walt I said Hi will you?"  

"I will do that Pete, and thanks for your help."