140 Mile Stretch: Smoke And Mirrors

Meyer Coppolini was a magician, perhaps the greatest magician that Tom had ever known.  He had been a friend, and teacher for a much younger Thomas.
Meyer would know nothing of this type of adventures.  What he did understand was misdirection and strategy.  Meyer had been a soldier as well as being a magician.   He could read people’s intentions easily.
He had retired to Florida, but Tom could reach him by phone.  “Mr. Coppolini, you won’t remember me, but I was a student of yours.  I need to ask a question.”
“Thomas, you sound a little horse, but I recognize your voice.  How can I help you?”  Tom thought, he thanks he’s talking to a younger me.  “I think someone is playing a trick on me.  I think they are using misdirection.  What would you say about a man who walks in expensive clothes, well to do everywhere, but has a badly dyed head of hair?”
Meyer smiled, “I would say two things.  Either, you know him and he is trying to mask his identity.  Or he is not as rich as he may want to appear.  Clothes can be borrowed, much like coins.  Hair is a little harder to fake, not impossible, but harder.”
“Thank you Mr. Coppolini.  One more question, if that same person tried to focus your view in one direction, what direction would you look at?”  Coppolini laughed.  “Why, in exactly the opposite one.  Most would say that if a man points to his left hand, look at his right.  I say don’t look at either hand, that’s too easy.  Instead, look at his feet.  He is walking towards what he is pushing you away from.”
Tom thanked him and ended the call.  His words echoed through Tom’s head.  “He is walking towards what he is pushing you away from. The two words he used were family and power.  He wants me to focus on the family aspect, while he grabs for power.  Why?”
It hit him like a bolt of lightning.  “1918, He’s trying to get me to forget 1918.  That’s why he blocked us from getting there to start with.  Minnix wants me to think this goes back to the revolution, it doesn’t.  1918 is the key to it all.  When in 1918?”
Tom reviewed his mental notes.  He had crammed his head full of dates relating to 1918.  He stopped.  “It’s got to be, it’s brutal, but it has to be the answer.”  He rushed to Cameron’s room and knocked until he answered.
He started explaining as soon as he was inside.  “In 1918 The United States Post Office Department started the world’s third regular airmail service.  It ran between New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., that’s his strike zone.  It’s also why he’s trying to prevent us from getting there.  He just contacted me and tried to convince me it was about the 1790’s.”
“Why try and stop us, why not just make his move?”  Tom looked out the window and pointed.  “He can’t until that’s taken care of, and Minnix can’t take care of it, until he stops us.”

Crosby minus one


Sometimes your memory plays tricks on you. Like when you think an actor you like won two Oscars instead of one. Here is the updated version of “Crosby”.

The Italian Hatmaker: Reach Them First

“I did not think you were ugly.” Laura told her husband every time he recounted the story to his children in their cribs.  Now the children were much older, but her mind wondered back to that time often.  She did this as much as all parents do as their children grow bigger.  Laura smiled at the memory.  She thought his mustache had been ugly.  It was like a smear on his handsome face.

Once they were married, her first act was to shave it off.  Guiseppe never wore it or his beard again.  His face looked entirely different without it.  “Some men look grand with them, but you are not one of them.  You look incredible without it.”  That was the only persuasion it had taken.

This lead to the memory of what she was doing when the news of the escape came to her.  Laura turned red, embarrassed by her reaction.  That reaction was to laugh in the King Of England’s face.

“Laura, this isn’t funny.  Our entire plan hinges on these two!”  “Our plan?  This is not my plan.  This is your feeble attempt to hold on to the throne, I’m not concerned.” He never reacted in anger, so he left without speaking.

Laura looked at her servant Henri.  “Get a message to Paris.  Tell these two escapees to run.”  “Your Highness, why would they go to Paris? How would I find them?”  She looked frustrated.  “If anyone can find them you can.  Where will they go other than Paris?  It’s the closest port a stranger would migrate too.  It is there that they will meet the King’s Envoy.  You must reach them first before he does, now go!”

The Flop: Board Games

“You win again Ma’am.”  I was really tired of saying this.  For two weeks Mr. President, two infuriating weeks, the Prime Minister has beaten me in every board game we’ve played.  Between that and arguing about the sports of Curling versus Hockey, I’ve not had a moment’s rest.

The Prime Minister seems to be fond of winning.  Augustus and Jean Luc keep staring at the computer screen.  I’m not sure which of the two of them has consumed more coffee.  Have you ever seen two people pumped full of caffeine, yet curl up and take a nap at a moment’s notice?

“I’ll ask you for the hundredth time, where are we?”  The Prime Minister sighed after winning again.  I frowned.  “Miss Prime Minister, I’m afraid that for your own safety, I’m not allowed to provide that information.”

We went through this routine at least twenty times a day.  This time though, she paused for half a second.  Then continued on as if nothing was different.  I was on guard, but didn’t say anything.  She was up to something.

“I’m hungry, want something?”  I shook my head no.  “Ma’am, if you are hungry I can cook whatever you require.  My Grandmother was a chef.”  “I may be a politician, but I’ve never liked to let someone else cook for me when I could. Cooking relaxes me.”

She’s a great cook, almost as good as me, maybe better. She started cooking everything in the cabinets. This lasted for about four days. We we’re actually enjoying each others’ company. Until she sweetly looked at me and said. “We’re out of food, can you go to the store for some eggs?”

I thought I had her. “No need, I have a supplier close to here. What else do you need?” She was rattled, but not allowing it to show. Then she smirked. “Milk, butter, cheese, and chicken.” I matched her smirk.

“I can get all of those in a half hour.” To which she replied. “It took us a day to get here. That narrows it down. You wouldn’t risk a city, it’s an easy target. So we’re on a farm?” I frowned, she laughed. “Why do you think I’ve fixed so many meals the last few days? Surely you really didn’t think I was enjoying your company?”

Augustus spoke up. “No you don’t Camille. Normally I address you as Prime Minister. Now you are behaving as my sister’s child. Tell the man the truth.” My brain was hurting.

As you probably know, it was beyond my clearance, Camille’s Mother was Augustus’ half-sister. This was hidden to protect his family. Augustus’ enemies may have attached family members to get to him. This was the second most important revelation of the day.

The first was a bit more personal. “Tell the man the truth Camille!” She pouted like an eight year old, went to her bedroom, and shut the door. I looked at him. “What is the truth?”

Jean Luc purred oddly. “You’re right Jean Luc, to be so smart, he is a little slow. She likes you my boy, that’s what makes her so furious. Camille is angry at herself every time she sees you because she likes you.” Now I was angry.

The Native: The Gypsy Robe

Psalms 24:7-10
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who [is] this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift [them] up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he [is] the King of glory. Selah.

The Jews had formed their opinion of what The Messiah would look like. Prophecy after prophecy had been passed down. They felt they would know Him when they saw Him.Israel longed for a Conquering King. One that would sweep in, and flood Rome out of existence. They expected Jerusalem to rule the known world. Israel wasn’t looking for a Shepherd to reveal the unknown, and to open up the Eternal.

John 7:46

46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

I suppose that the twelve year old setting in the Temple was not what they had expected. If He had looked like David, perhaps they could have understood better. Young David had killed a lion, and a bear. This was a Carpenter’s Apprentice. To look at Him, was not to see the regal King they wanted, ah, but when He spoke.

The Bible says that He both asked, and answered questions of the Doctors. Is it possible that some of those veterans said, “He doesn’t look like what I expected?”  If so, they followed it with, “He sounds like more than I could have ever hoped!”

It’s not unusual for a King to hide in pauper’s clothing. To visit His subjects, He donned a fleshly robe. To borrow from the theater, He donned what they would call a Gypsy Robe.

In the American theater, specifically Broadway musicals, there is a tradition that dates back to the fifties. It started with members of the chorus, or ensemble. They were known as Gypsies, because they passed from one show to another. 

Theater people consider this to be a good luck charm. The youngest recipient was twelve year old Brynn Williams in 2005. The member of the chorus, or ensemble, who has been in the most shows is awarded it.

The robe is then  passed on to another actor in another show, until the robe was filled. Then it would be retired at one of three locations, including the Smithsonian. 

Matthew 2:15

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

The word Gypsy is appropriate because of the history surrounding it’s meaning.   Groups of the Romani people were mistakenly referred to as Gypsies, thinking they originated in Egypt. The legend is that they were exiled as punishment for harboring the infant Jesus. While this is probably just a myth, the analogy is apt.

We were spiritually trapped in Egypt, bound and scarred, needing someone to rescue us.  To do that, He had to become one of us.The Lord Jesus spent thirty three and a half years on this Earth in a robe of flesh.

For the majority of that time, He limited Himself to the boundaries of mankind.  As a man He slept, as a man He ate. On the outside, He looked like everyone else.  The Robe was accomplishing it’s mission. It concealed His greatness until He was ready to reveal it.

Then, at a Wedding in Cana, it started.  From there, people realized that He was unlike any other.  At 12, The Doctors of the Law had gotten a preview of what was now unfolding. As God, He raised the dead, walked on water, and healed the leper. God in a Gypsy robe walked among men.  He revealed something far greater than an Earthly King, the revelation of an Eternal Savior!

The Ruler Of Heaven, wrapped in a fleshly robe, born in Bethlehem to die for us. Prophets had simply passed away. Moses transitioned to Joshua. They all said goodbye, folding up their earthly robes and closing their eyes. Jesus was different. Unlike David, He didn’t need His own grave. Jesus borrowed one from Joseph of Arimathaea. He used it for three days and three nights, and gave it back.

Jesus said, …lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.  Jesus went to the grave to destroy our sins. He walked out of it to give us a new life. He put on a Gypsy Robe so that one day, we could put on an Eternal one.

1 Corinthians 15: 53-54

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Cambridge’s: The Olsen Clock

Winston Sr. was transported mentally all those years as he narrated to his son. “This was old Wilson’s store when I was young.  He had good merchandise, but nothing like we have been blessed with, save one item.”

“There was one piece that was the most exciting thing in the store.  I loved it, you might say, it helped point me in the right direction, for all the wrong reasons”  Winston hadn’t heard all this story before, but he knew what the item was.  “The Olsen Clock.”

His Father smiled.  He saw her outside across the way.  She was helping her Grandmother with shopping.  Ashley McCalister was home from college visiting.  Winston worked for Kent Wilson, and knew that Ashley would be in the store any minute.  He looked at the clock.

Winston was scheduled to leave early to go on a trip with his friends.  Kent was encouraging him to go on and have a good time.  Mr. Wilson stopped when he saw the look on Winston’s face.  It was during that visit that Ashley and her Grandmother remarked how beautiful the old clock was.

It was an heirloom from the early 1900s, that had seen better days.  It had an oak cabinet, sterling silver casing. It was made with copper gears, and had a jeweled face.  Time had weathered it, and conditions had damaged it.  Even though, it was in far less condition than it should have been, it was a treasure.

Kent had bought it as the talking piece of his shop, and it had served it’s purpose well for years.  A fleeting comment from Ashley would alter both their lives.  “Grandmother, when I marry, I want to buy this clock to remind us how precious time is.  I want to use it to cherish every moment of my family’s life together.”

Her Grandmother Linda smiled.  “Time is precious, when it’s used to treasure loved ones.”  Neither one of them paid any attention to the young clerk sweeping a clean floor.  They made their purchases and left.  He called his friends, cancelled his trip, and made an agreement with Mr. Wilson to use the money to purchase the Olsen Clock.

Find out what happens next in the upcoming installment of Cambridge’s next month.