Dante, My Inferno

Chapter 23 The Meeting

                                      Chapter 23    The Meeting

We, finally, met Linzie for breakfast near the U.S. Marshal’s office. We were a little late because Dante and I. Oh never mind. You can probably guess.

“So why were you late?” Linzie asked me. With a knowing crooked smile.

Sam busted out laughing and Diane just raised her eyebrows. Dante and I looked innocently at each other. As if we weren't sure why.

“Oh! I guess we took to long in the shower,” I told her finally.

“Together,” Dante added quickly. Which caused Sam to laugh into his coffee. And Diane rolled her eyes at her husband.

“Have you ever seen the like?” Diane asked Linzie. Who just smiled short of laughing herself.

“Yes, I have Diane,” Linzie told her. “And frankly, it’s good to see it again.”

“Thanks partner,” I said leaning over to kiss her cheek.

“Was he in love with Ann like this?” Dante asked her.

“He was,” Linzie told him. “I dare say he’s more in love with you though.” Then she leaned over and kissed Dante’s cheek. Dante just blushed.

After a quick breakfast. We walked down to the U.S. Marshal’s office. When we arrived, both Senators and Congressman Sanders were waiting. With Aids of course.

And there was Ned Blount. With who we thought, was a cameraman. Then in walked Attorney General Ashworth.

“Sir,” I said shaking his hand. Then I turned to Blount.

“Ned you’re early,” I said as he got to his feet.

“Well I quit the network this morning,” he told us. “I was hoping I could film this from start to finish.”

“But you and the Director have the final say,” Ned added. “And I even have it written out for our signatures.” He handed me a paper, which I took. 

 I read the simple document. Then I handed it to the Attorney General. He read it , looking at Ned Blount several times..

“Simple, to the point, and legally binding,” Attorney General Ashworth said. “I suggest signing it Marshal.”

“I suspect that there is more to this,” I said pulling out a pen. “Okay Ned. You and your cameraman are in. You can film.”

Ned smiled and pulled out his own pen. Linzie, Ned, and I signed the document. We had the three aids sign as witnesses.

Then we got started with Attorney General Ashworth. He outlined a limited authorization to get us started. And with hopes that we could expand it later.

Senator Baca presented us with documents for the posse members. It outlined what they're doing. What they can expect in equipment from the Marshal’s Service.

Then I outlined the training I would provide. That I would continue the use of two horses per rider. I also suggested that we look for an EMT to take with us for the injured. And that we would possibly add a pack horse or pack mule.

We discussed the need and benefit of these animals. I came to find out that both of the Senators aids were avid riders and hunters.

Everyone would receive basic tracking instructions. When asked why I told them. “If you can’t see tracks left. You can’t find those you are looking for,” I told them.

“Marshal Hickok you mentioned adding an EMT to your posse?” Congressman Sanders asked. “Any ideas where you may get an EMT?” 

“If he doesn't, I may,” Dante said with that evil twinkle in his eye. "Or better a doctor."

“Are you thinking of a doctor we know?” I asked Dante as his smile got bigger. “We could talk to them both.”

“Isn’t Donna a trauma nurse now?” Diane asked. Getting looks from the three of us.

“She was just certified,” I added with realization. “She starts at the University Hospital Trauma and Emergency Department. This week."

“She’ll be working with Adam,” Dante said.

“It sounds to me like we have a good start,” Attorney General Ashworth said as we were wrapping it up.

“Well A.G. Ashworth, Director Graff. We seem to have a plan in place,” Senator Baca said getting up. “But we have to be going.” 

“Let's suggest this as a pilot program,” he added. "I might even get you some funding for equipment."

“That sounds good,” I told him. “Though we may be the only ones for this program.” 

“We will just have to see.”

“Well Marshal Hickok. You are the go to man for these sort of things,”Attorney General Ashworth said. “So go home and get going with it."

“After we’re done here. I’ll make some calls,” I said. “And that will get us started.”

“Well if there is nothing else?” Senator Zachary asked. “We need to get going.”

“Nothing you need to stay for,” Linzie said. “We need to talk with Mr. Blount.”

“Well I would like you gentlemen to stay. If you could,” Ned told them. I think we all looked him rather puzzled.

“Unfortunately none of us can,” Senator Zachary said. “Matters on the Hill call.”

“Well I would like to thank everyone for allowing me to be part of this,” Ned said shaking their hands as they left.

“Ned you’ve come a long way for something,” I said. “So what do you want to tell us?”

“Actually yes,” Ned said. “This is my partner Dan Cantori.” 

“Business or life partner?” Dante asked with that knowing smile. Causing Ned to give Dan a kiss on the cheek.

“Truthfully we’re both,” Dan told us. “We just formed a news production company of our own.”   

“I’m from New Mexico myself,” Dan added. “We’re talking to New Mexico’s Education Television as a venue.”

“Can you both be at my ranch Saturday morning at 7 A.M.?” I asked them.

“No problem,” Ned said with a smile. “Dan’s parents' ranch isn’t to far from your place.” Realization hit me.

“You’re Dad was Geno Cantori?” I asked. Getting a nod from Dan. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you,” Dan said. “Dad really liked you Marshal Hickok.”

“Ned it's your turn,” Dan told him. Causing Ned to take a deep breath before talking.

“I’m tired of the news style the networks practice today,” Ned told us. “Dan and I hope to do better with PBS.”

“What brought about this change Mr. Blount?” Diane asked Ned. He smiled, looked at Dan and nodded.

“I did Mrs. Green,” Dan told her. “I saw what it was doing to him. So I did something about it.”

“He made me a video expose of my early work,” Ned told her.

“You mean your best stories,” Dan said correcting Ned with a smile.

“Those showed me who I was,” Ned said. “And who I hope to be, again.”

“Well then. It will be a pleasure to have you at the ranch Saturday,” Dante said. “But if I may. I have one more question Mr. Blount.”

“Call me Ned please,” Ned said. “So what’s your question?”

“What did you mean by congratulations yesterday?” Dante asked him. Ned smiled at the question.

“I know you two are engaged,” Ned told us. “Some of the Cub Scouts talk to loud.”

“Oh!” Dante said a little stunned. “And?”

“So congratulations,” Ned told us. “If I were going to do anything with it. I would have done it already.”

“And I would have left him,” Dan added with a stern look. "Had he done anything."

“Besides we’ve decided it's time to come out.”

“Another good reason to leave the network,” Ned told us. “It seems the networks don’t really want to see another gay reporter out there.”

“But what about..?” Dante started to ask.

“Oh! The Networks are fine with him. But they don’t want the rest of us coming out,” Ned explained. “And there are several of us. That’s why I quit.”

Just then there was a knock on the door. Linzie’s assistant opened the door and stepped in.

“Kelly! What is it?” Linzie asked him. Seeing the look on his face.

“I just received a call. Congressman Phelps is on his way over here as we speak,” He told us.

“Has Congressman Phelps called for a meeting?” Linzie asked him.

“No I Have Not!” Phelps said. Pushing in past Kelly rather roughly. Seeing me he stopped. “Are you Hickok?”

I took a sip of my coffee to let him stew a minute. Mind you it was bitter cold coffee.

“Congressman Phelps. It’s Marshal Hickok,” I replied.

“Well! Marshal I have been informed by those in Albuquerque. That you murdered Sharon McCall,” Phelps roared. “ I’m told she is the wife of Marshal Ethan McCall.”

Through the whole tirad. Dante gripped my hand tightly under the table.

“Well Congressman. It would seem you weren’t fully informed,” I told him. "It went before a grand jury.’

“They ruled it a justified shooting. Since she tried to ambush me and 13 year old Charlie Driscoll.”

“The son of Marshal Robert Driscoll. Hitting himin the arm.”

“And it was reviewed by Attorney General Ashworth,” Linzie told him.

Phelps was speechless, for the moment.

“Who did you get your information from Congressman?” Dante asked. Drawing Phelps attention.

“Who are you young man?” Phelps asked him. I shook my head slightly to Dante. Who nodded back. But Dante is Dante.

“I’m a friend of Marshal Hickok’s, Dante Green,” he told Phelps. Who smiled with glee. “Now who did you get your information from, Sir?”

“The Bishop David Lovejoy. Pastor of the Church of God’s Light,” he said proudly. “As Mrs. McCall was a new member of the church. He is aware of certain facts.” Of course she was I thought to myself.

“I have a question for you Congressman,” Ned said. Diverting the Congressman’s attention from Dante. And Dan was sure to get the Congressman’s attention on the Camera he was holding.

“What are you doing here Mr. Blount?” a surprised Phelps demanded.  

“Well I’ll tell you Congressman,” Ned said with a smile. “I’m doing a follow up on the Marshal’s Search and Rescue of the Cub Scouts.”

“Cub Scouts?” Phelps asked puzzled.

“Oh!, Yes. Of course.”

“I was hoping to find out more about the shooting myself,” Ned added.

“And Mr. Blount. What have you found out?” a curious Phelps asked him.

“Just what you were told,” Ned told him. “That Mrs. McCall fired on Marshal Hickok and a boy, 13 years old. From ambush.”

“And Marshal Hickok did the only thing that he could. He shot her.”

The look on Phelps face spoke volumes. He hadn’t been told the whole story. Or bothered to learn more.

“Now my question is this. What do you hope to gain by making these false accusations?” Ned asked Phelps. Who huffed at the question.

“It appears that the Bishop was not in possession of all the facts,” Phelps said. Just then the Attorney General walked back in. And I noticed that Kelly was absent.

“Congressman,” he said. “I was told you were here looking into an incident involving Marshal Hickok.”

“I believe that Director Graff, and the Marshal have corrected my misconceptions,” he told the Attorney General with fake smile. Then he looked at Dante.

“I believe you are the boy Bishop Lovejoy talked about,” Phelps said. I squeezed Dante’s hand.

“I’m insulted sir,” Dante told Phelps. “I have started my third year of college.”

“He’s a fine young man and I hope he comes to work for us,” Attorney General Ashworth told Phelps. “He’s studying law and criminal justice.”

“According to his professors. He’s an excellent student.”

“Then I wonder why your parents allow this relationship?” Phelps asked Dante. But it was the wrong question to ask, to the wrong people, and at the wrong time.

“Sir, we are Dante’s parents,” Sam said getting to his feet. “So be careful what you say to and about our son.”

“Well I see how it is,” Phelps said. But noticing the camera. Phelps dropped the attack on Dante and his parents. “Well I guess then. That I am wasting my time.”

“Especially since it is none of your business Congressman,” Diane said, having gotting to her feet as well.

“Just so you know. My son fell in love with a man he respects, and cares for.”

“Dante got Billy Hickok to fall in love with him,” she told him. Taking slow steps closer to the Congressman. 

“My husband and I approve of their relationship,” she told Phelps. As the Congressman was forced to take a step. Backing away from her.

“My son has proposed to Billy. Who said, 'yes'.”

“Is there anything more?” she demanded from Phelps.

“MY. My apologies madame,” Phelps stammered out. ”I will be going now.” Then he turned and stormed out. Like he stormed in.

We were quiet for a moment. I kissed Dante on the cheek. But Dante could tell I was still bothered by this.

“It’s not done. Is it?” Dante asked me after a moment.

“No,” I told him. “This Bishop Lovejoy is a flaming hemroid.” Causing Dante, Diane, Sam, and even Linzie to laugh.

“Marshal Hickok,” said Attorney General Ashworth. “There is only so much I can do for the two of you.”

“We go home tomorrow,” I replied. “It’s Lovejoy we need to worry about.”

“Oh Mr. Blount,” said A.G. Ashworth.

“Yes sir,” Ned said.

“Senator Baca got you permission to talk to those Cub Scouts and their parents,” A.G. Ashworth said smiling. “But if Marshal Hickok  needs to, or wants to. He can pull the plug at anytime.”

“Understood,” Ned said smiling. And looking at me nodded.

Editor note sorry it took so long real life caught up with me. From having my gallbladder removed to returning to work after being gone a month. Hope fully ch 24 will be to me soon