TITLE: The Center of Gravity (WIP)
I believed in the healing power of parking garages. Every time my Camaro and I came to this particular one, I liked to take a minute to let it all seep into me: the darkness, the subtle rocking of the floor, the scoffing retreats of a couple hundred cars. It was the perfect place to have a secret.
Today, though, I didn’t have the time to do anything more than suck in my breath a few times. With my lock kit and Conspiracy File #157 in hand, I left my car at the street level and descended two floors to what someone had inexplicably named the Yellow Level. I went straight to a familiar red Toyota Corolla (not actual red, but the muted, brown-corrupted red that parents see as being an attractive color for a car) without stopping to indulge in my usual game of peeking around pillars and corners for the presence of a secret informant. It was only a good game to play when I wasn’t burdened with any other guilt or worry and could clear my mind long enough to imagine that I was taller and older and about to solve the mystery of Watergate. For now, my mission was clear – I needed to break into this Toyota to look for a few documents that I hoped had not been lost to the ages. My chances weren’t so good, because I’d known for years how messy my mom kept her car. Hands shaking, I started in on the front door lock.
Click, click, click, and go.
The usual piles of notes and receipts and checklists were stuffed into various cup holders and pockets. An appointment card from her grief therapist’s office trembled on the dashboard – her next visit was a week from now. No reason she’d be there today. I had been to see the same guy a couple of times, and there was no way a sane person, grieving or not, could stand to see him more than twice a month.
Three lunch receipts. She ate a lot of tuna fish sandwiches.
Dad had often talked about the tedium involved in research. It was true. He had spent at least ten years of his life delving into the far corners of the universe of President John F. Kennedy assassination theories, with me at his side as his research assistant for the last five years of this endeavor. Between the annual trips to the convention near the assassination site in Dallas, there were long weeks of reading books on ballistics and Communism. If JFK’s lunch receipts had been preserved for public scrutiny, we would have gone through those, too.
The glove compartment produced one thing that could have meaning: an envelope with Dad’s handwriting on it. For the FACT, September 1, it read. I picked this up by the corners and slipped it into the file folder as gingerly as I could. Maybe no one else had touched in since last September.