Matthew Levine and
Robert Haydon Jones

Matthew Levine
“Looking Up”

The Trigger
By Robert Haydon Jones
Inspiration piece

Jimmy had come a long way. He came all the way in from Connecticut to Grand Central on the train from New Haven and then he walked and walked underground in Grand Central to the Shuttle, rode it on to Times Square and then he took an Uptown Express to the subway stop at 96th and Broadway.

From there, it was a four-block walk up Broadway.

At block three, Jimmy had to stop to hitch up his trousers and catch his breath. As he hitched his trousers, he looked around. No one was looking. Jimmy O’Hara had recently retired as a baseball umpire. Over the past ten years, he had become highly accomplished at hiding fatigue.

When he entered the restaurant, he got an enthusiastic greeting from his luncheon companions. The First Friday Luncheon group was in year 51 and still going strong. Malachy McCourt, his dear friend and Sponsor had not yet arrived. George Flynn, an English prof from NYU, had taken Jimmy’s usual seat next to Malachy’s place at the head of the table. Jimmy was irritated but there was nothing he could do. He ordered a seltzer.

He was slurping the seltzer down, when his phone chirped. “Hello,” he said.

There was a pause. Jimmy couldn’t hear anything.

“Hello”, Jimmy said again. “Who is this?”

“So, you’re not dead after all,” a voice said.

“I’m glad you’re still alive – although this time even I thought they had got you.”

“Max,” Jimmy said. “What in hell are you talking about?”

Max Perez was the Chief of Police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, one town over from Jimmy. Over the past nine years, he and Jimmy had worked together to deal with the rampant gang problem that was plaguing Bridgeport and other towns in the remnant rust belt.

Jimmy and Max were former Marines from different eras. Max had helped Jimmy deal with an angry leader of the Latin Kings gang. They had become very good friends.

“Jimmy, an hour ago, my patrol reported they had found you dead as a doornail in your car a block down the hill from your home. You had been shot twice. Once in the chest and once in the head.”

“My car? I drove it to the station this morning.”

“Well, it is the same model, a navy blue 2019 C Mercedes. Jimmy, the dead guy looks an awful lot like you. A burly Irish guy in his 70’s. Thomas Deegan, a retired Accountant He’s from over on Melville Avenue. He was a widower. Moved here three years ago from Waterbury to live with his married daughter and her family. When my guy called me, I told him to check for a wallet. Well, it turned out it wasn’t you Jimbo. But I’m thinking the bad guys thought it was you. Hell, my guys thought it was you.”

“This has got to reach back to the Flores case”, Jimmy said. “But as you well know, I had nothing to do with that.”

About a year back, the DEA had arrested Felipe Flores and nineteen members of his team. They had confiscated $20 million in drugs and $37 million in cash. They had also seized a notebook detailing cash payments to police officials in
Connecticut and Massachusetts.

It was the biggest bust in Connecticut history. The DEA had acted because of a trove of very detailed information they had received. Flores had already been sentenced to 25 years to life. The others were heading toward hard time. What’s more, 13 police officials had been arrested and most were pleading out. The big question was where had all the information come from. No one, except the head of CT DEA in New Haven, knew.

“So when they hit this poor bastard Deegan in what appears to be my car, you figured they had decided that somehow I was the leaker, right?”

“That’s right Jimmy. But, it felt wrong to me. The same car but the wrong car. Now, the wrong guy in the right car. A double tap – but not really. You know what I mean?”

“I hear you buddy. Anyway, it is good to be alive. Max, I’m at my First Friday luncheon in the city. I’ll call you tomorrow. Of course, if you need me for anything, call any time.”

Malachy finally arrived and greeted Jimmy but that was all the talk Jimmy would get from him. George Flynn had him walled off. Jimmy made the best of it. He talked to the other members of the luncheon club. He listened well. Jimmy left a little early. He had promised Anne he would catch an early train. As it turned out, he hit the subways perfectly and caught the 3PM express rather than the 3:30 local.

He was early enough to get a window seat. He enjoyed gazing out at the embankment. You could zone out looking at it. You could tell a lot about the people in the neighborhood by looking out at the embankment or, then again, maybe you could tell nothing. He thought about the dead guy, murdered in his Mercedes, which was a duplicate of Jimmy’s. Was there really a contract out on him? He doubted it. The whole thing was screwy.

One in the chest, then one in the head. You would know. You are about to be murdered. Then, he would murder you. Nasty.

The sun was still going strong when he got off the train at Fairfield. He saw a blue jay and then a robin. The high school baseball team was still out on their field practicing. It was good to be alive.


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  1. Posted March 21, 2020 at 11:06 am | #

    I’m really worried about Jimmy!…….Eagerly waiting for the next chapter.

  2. Posted March 24, 2020 at 11:41 am | #

    We have all have had close calls at some point in our lives, and Bob gives us the frisson of recalling them through Jimmy. Bob always has something to say and says it well.

  3. Posted March 31, 2020 at 2:12 pm | #

    Amen. RIP Jimmy clone. Jimmy lives.

  4. Posted April 2, 2020 at 12:00 pm | #

    Hmmm–Whenever I read about Jimmy the first thing I think is that I wish I met him in The Marine Corps–as I’m an old Marine too. I believe Jimmy is around my age–Korean War Marine! Jimmy would have been a great guy to hang around with! Semper Fi, RHJ is lucky to know him, and Semper Fi to you!!

  5. Posted April 2, 2020 at 2:24 pm | #

    I love how Jimmy struggles with age and demise and invisibility in one moment —and then takes an ammonia sniff in the next and actually sees the beauty of simplicity around him. His is an extraordinary journey to be sure. How does Anne put up with it? Anyway, this is a good installment in which the reader is bid to feel the raw emotion along with Jimmy — the petty jealousy when the prof takes the “best bud” seat next to Malachy — the shock of the image of himself slumped dead in his beloved Merc and even the SMH of the “bad way to go” musing at the end. Well woven!

  6. Posted April 3, 2020 at 7:25 am | #

    The shock of knowing he could’ve been killed wakes Jimmy up to the deepest appreciation of being alive and the smallest details of life going on — backyards seen from a train, birds, baseball games — are breath taking.So well done. Great painting by Mathew, too.