The lanes of traffic spread out as they courted the parking lots surrounding the maritime museum along side Kenosha’s harbor. The day was pleasant being summer somewhere between sun up and dusk. Jenner rode his bicycle down along these lanes courting disaster weaving back and forth beside the occasional passenger auto that impatiently whisked past. Somehow in the back of his mind he was courting a confrontation. Something that awaited just ahead. But as to whatever it was, he was in a mood not to be dissuaded to enjoy the day in a manner of his own choosing. They say the kid inside never dies and the exhilaration of swooping across the intersection pedaling fast felt too good to be interfered with. The car in the turn lane not being too appreciative in a manner that was reminiscent of modern drivers in general. They also said there was something about the experience of driving that turned one from a Dr. Jekyll into a very impatient Mr. Hyde. Behind the wheel one could vivisect a single instant into overlong fractions of a section waiting for a driver ahead posing an obstacle providing the possibility of enduring a missed opportunity. Though the driver of the Ford SUV just to the side of Jenner minded his manners, the wrath generated by the stranger felt palpably like a storm cloud advancing a foot or two just behind his rear wheel. It was just a feeling of course. And with another lazy curving arc he pulled the own Schwinn racer up to the curb promptly planting his foot down upon it for balance.
The officer seemed to appear from just out of sight of his right shoulder. The policeman’s greeting was customarily curt. A sense of destiny or maybe the approach of fate behind his best attempt at an easy but forced manner. “I’m sorry to bother you but I must ask you but would you please come with me?”, asked the tall hulking anonymous entity supporting the uniform before him. Jenner seemed at a loss. The helpless feeling of some unexpected drama was congealing about him that he could not escape had arrived. He peered back unable to dodge the expression of his head nodding within the mirror of twin lenses drawing a bead on him from under the precipice of a khaki brown campaign hat’s brim. Jenner to his amazement found himself sitting behind a steel desk as a portable vintage record player was set down before him. The clunky artifact was of the sort that he might have seen at his grandparents on holidays. “Can you tell me anything about this?“, the cop sternly asked. Jenner stared at it totally perplexed as much by the context of the nature question or as to how this object had required his specific presence. The officer’s dead stare seemed substantially no different than the mirrored glasses. Two dead orbs a further response before the dusty cast metal Bakelite appointed antique. “If you are asking if I have ever seen this thing then no.“, Jenner said quietly. The two of them on either side each out waiting the other for a pregnant pause waiting for the baby to drop. A minute of climbing intensities of tiny infinities passing Jenner interrupted the silence with a, “Is that all?” “Can I go!” The enigma of an answer to solved the dilemma of this particular why not as important as making a swift and unheralded departure. “Sure!“, the cop sharply barked in marked disappointment. “But if you recall something familiar I would appreciate a call!” Jenner pulled the extended business card from the concrete grip that had been extended forward towards him. Ten minutes later he was on his bike pedaling once again. This time his mood not nearly so light. The storm clouds were overhead though he had yet to feel the first drop of rain from the otherwise absolutely clear blue sky.
He pedaled hard and fast along a lazy arc at the edge of the roadway that belted the front of the museum. Only coming to a near halt to jump the curb and a small section of grass until he was upon the asphalt of the pedestrian pathway that paralleled the long canal to the small sailboat marina. The mystery of the cop’s questioning him about a thing that he had no connection to seemed to totally preoccupy him. What sort of unsuspected relation was there to occasion unofficially official information. Did the authorities think that he or someone like him had stolen it? Of possibly that it might have at some point belonged to him or someone he knew? Someone he knew? Who could he muster in his memory that might have had the thing in their apartment? Or maybe, garage? Something to think about for sure. Especially for a nobody that worked part time at a body shop driving back and forth around town running errands. By this point Jenner was off the seat of his bike which was leaning up against a park bench while he slowly paced rubbing the increasing stiffness from the back of his neck. Who? Who could it be? His mouth was getting dry and he got back on his Schwinn to pedal back to 6th street to one of his favorite hangouts, Captain Mike’s. That old familiar sign upon the building’s side chiming, “Eat like a king, drink like and idiot“, seemed to strike a chord. He sure felt like an idiot! Something so simple as recollecting a single item that now was beginning to seem familiar though he had never cast eyes upon it before. What was it that seemed so familiar to him now but was impossible to place. “Gabby would know!?“, he thought.
Gabriela Magdalena LaFollette, though not directly related to one of this state’s more illustrious statesman, Governor and Congressman Bob, she had achieved her own kind of local fame. A hot mix of Spanish Dona on her mother’s side and pure French Canadian by her father, her looks were reputed to wound if not literally kill. More than one fistfight had spontaneously started over some trivial rivalry for her attentions when she served up drinks behind the bar on Friday.Perhaps she might have been described best in the corollary of some epic ‘femme fatale‘? A flesh and blood version of the mix of what the animators had in mind when they devised the cartoon character of Jessica Rabbit. A uncle of her’s had had worked at he old Warner Bros. studios with its premiere artist, Tex Avery, back in the heyday of three minute long cel vinyl based acid wit. Her demeanor had all the sass of a “Have”, but more probably, “Have Not”. A Humphery Bogart’s snappy Betty Becall tight packed into the legendary body of a Rita Hayworth in her role as Gilda! This old joint itself had all the verve and vinegar of an old Great Lakes fisherman’s joint. A fully stocked bar where once could get almost any variation of mixed drink and the best burgers in the area. Jenner felt his legs quiver as he realized his blood sugar was now waning that he needed to replace those extra ‘carb’s’ lost earlier through too much recent worry. It was getting to be late afternoon and Gabby wouldn’t arrive to be on call until seven that night. Saturday being one of the two nights that she was regularly assigned. He sat himself at a small table across from the end of the bar near the back entrance. Jim, the steady afternoon guy, waved at him as he passed from his perch behind the bar pointing silently at the tap. Steely Dan blaring out a little louder than usual proclaiming innocence of any current wrongdoing despite some well-vocalized past transgressions. Jim had the look of someone who could fully commiserate with that message. Old, gray and scrappy to a fault his lanky frame looked like it could waste a troublemaker with a single punch. Nobody had ever asked him about his past, but it was rumored that he had done some minor time served years back up in Waupun State Prison. Something about assault with a deadly weapon. The details were as hazy as the brains of the regulars who engaged in such gossip off the cuff now and again. Who could tell if it was local urban legend or actually had some credence? As far as Jim was concerned the Ojibwa translation of the town’s name, “dawn of another day“, said all that needed to be said. The beer was cold and not watered with that old hops rich taste so characteristic of the product of the old beer barons in Milwaukee. That was good enough for Jenner. A Cheeseburger Walrus smothered in mushrooms and onions ordered and on the way.
The joints interior itself had little to say beyond the brightly decor behind the bar. It’s primary source of light. Several four-seater tables stood opposite lined along the wall. Each with its own porthole looking out to the street. Most of the crowd were eating outside and Jenner had the bar nearly all to himself. His hands supporting both sides of his face as he studied the foam collapsing back along the inside of his partially emptied beer glass. His mind though temporarily derailed now began to ponder the events earlier int he day. It seemed so odd that the police had been tipped onto him specifically? Was it as a result of some insidious mischief by his old flame? She had left town the year before heading back out to her old hometown of San Diego. Jenner stared at the bubbles going dead and flat on the beer’s surface. Who did her know who has a big vintage 45RPM record collection? “Anything New?“, he hollered over to Jim whose graying temples were buried in the newsprint pages of the local digest. “Naw“, Jim responded with an irritated rustle. “No local break-ins or tourist fender benders down by the museum or nothing?“, Jenner quipped in passing. The paper rustled again a little louder. “How the fuck should I know?” “I only read the sports section!” “Wise man!“, Jenner replied as he scanned emptily along the bar’s backstop. The music track just above switched over to Journey’s, “Forever Your’s“. Jenner looked over at Gabby’s framed picture on the wall. “Isn’t Mikey a big audio buff of something?” “Used to be!”, Jim’s voice sounded from behind the journal hovering before him. “Say, how’s about another beer?“, he added, “I think your food order is just about up!” Jim coming around the bar minutes later with plate and brew in hand, “Why don’t you bite on this instead of chewing off my ears?” “I want finish my article in peace before a big crowd comes in!” Jenner took a chomp out his burger chasing it with a long cold swallow of brew. “I bet they don’t serve nothing more that American cheese sandwiches down at the jail?“, he thought to himself. He knew that he wasn’t too eager to find out.