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FroM ThE DESK OF :        Lawrence Climo.

The End of The Spit



            It was their second day at The Cape. Skip was the only customer in the Electronics store when the repairman turned at his work table across the counter, holding the box and tape, and looked at him.

            “Found these in the dump, did ya?”

            “I thought I could pick up what was on the tape without asking for help," Skip lied, hoping to draw the conversation to a swift conclusion, "Didn't have the tools, though. Should have known better."

            There was a reason why Skip had added a pretense of embarrassment to his lie. He'd learned to do that as a teen. It seemed to ensure that his lies would stick, and that belittling himself would ensure there'd be no follow-up queries; that the other fellow wouldn't want to embarrass him further. It was weakness which Skip endorsed, not strength. That was both his armor and shield.

            Of course, it wasn't the nosy questions that he hated most during such encounters. It was the anxieties which those queries generated. Since his teens, lying had been his mainstream practice, the practice he'd hoped he would finally put an end to on this vacation. But that nightmare on the plane put the kibosh to that plan.

            Skip had plenty of reason for impatience. Adding to the irritating slowness of the electronics repairman trying to decipher the worn tape fragment he'd given him, and his annoying personal queries, there was the stifling air in that place. The shop was not only poorly lit, it had no air-conditioning.  For as long as he could remember, when under stress from any source, it was always thoughts of getting out, getting away, and being alone which would serve as Skip’s beacon and promise of respite. Alone and free he could imagine and pretend; that was where he not only found solace, he knew he'd find safety as well. It also filled a void.  At least, that's what his childhood camp counselors used to tell him. Of course in those childhood years he had no idea what the word 'void' meant, just as those counselors had no idea what compelled him to tune out and day-dream as he did.

            When Skip presented the damaged tape to this repairman, along with the child's shoe-box that held it, and had asked for technical services to make audible any words at the tape's undamaged end, he'd expected the man behind the counter, the man he called ‘Ugly’ in his mind, to do the job in minutes. Either he could do it or he couldn't. Either he could identify a word or two and do so, or he couldn't. Either he'd say it was a man's voice or a woman's voice, or say he couldn't tell. That box with the tape, that item Lottie had stumbled upon in the dirty shed behind their rental just the day before, the day they'd arrived, was of no interest to him. But Lottie couldn't stop herself from ruminating about the hypothetical child she'd imagined while looking at that child's shoe-box, and she’d become preoccupied with why it was so deliberately hidden. Skip simply wanted to be supportive and understanding. He owed her that much and more. The reason he was the one who’d entered this store was because Lottie was driving, and had wanted to park their rental somewhere in the shade. She'd asked him if he'd mind getting the repairman's work started. He didn't mind.

            Maybe it was the heat that explained why Ugly seemed at times to be merely going through the motions. Skip wondered if Ugly was naturally slow. Or obsessive, what with his intermittent cleaning and re-calibrating of the equipment. Then again, Skip pondered, maybe this skinny, old, bearded, and scowling electronics repairman with dead eyes, whose name tag read ‘Hagly’, was simply stoned.

            Skip nearly jumped when Ugly interrupted one of his mutterings to look directly at him and pronounce, "Must be pretty important, this."

            Skip's gut told him to shout at the man and demand he shut up and focus on his work. Experience, however, cautioned him that those urges typically provoked pushback, followed by misunderstanding and public embarrassment.

            For now, of only two things was Skip certain. One, Ugly had an agenda because that last poke at him had been deliberate. He was, he was sure, being baited. And, Two, he was badly in need of help from Lottie. What was keeping her?

            He turned quickly and looked when the bell above the door rang, but it wasn't her. It was another customer, who immediately reacted to the oppressive heat repeatedly pushing his eye glasses up on the nose of his already sweaty face as he approached and took his place behind Skip at the counter.

                Skip wiped his brow and took a deep breath. He checked the time. He felt very much on the spot and likely to be harassed with even more personal questions. He feared an anxiety attack was imminent.

                He tried to recall the idea Lottie had suggested on the flight over from California. It had seemed simple but for the life of him he could only remember the first part.

            He decided to put that part into practice. He had to do something; he could feel the discomfort creeping up. He began by focusing his attention on Ugly's limp and then trying to imagine how he came by it, what the problem was, and how the good leg was compensating. It didn't help. That strategy was still accompanied by his latent anticipation of an inevitable anxiety attack. Whatever his mind focused on, his guts kept pushing onto his radar what he knew he shouldn't think about, anxiety. Distraction, in the company of those thoughts, wasn't going to work. And he needed more than a mental distraction.

            If only he could talk to himself out-loud, he thought, he could drown out intrusion of other thoughts. That would distract him. Listening to himself talk out loud could close that gap and literally erase other thoughts. Shouting, he knew, would shut out messages from his guts. But talking out loud wasn't in the cards. It was what crazy people did.

            So, it was in desperation that Skip seized upon the next best thing. He'd shout to himself in his head. "What the hell!", was his opening internal shout.     

            Skip began immediately announcing his observations, as if speaking aloud to a class of imaginary students in his head. He began explaining what his eyes were seeing and what his mind was thinking and, in this way, filling the space in his head and mind with words, any words, leaving no room for anything else. As long as he spoke to himself this way gut feelings or mental "what ifs", or checks on his security status, would be blocked. What had earlier been a partial and weak distraction had now morphed into an actual detachment.


            What happened next was that he not only talked to himself  about what he was looking at in detail but consciously paid attention to what he was hearing and gradually and comfortably allowed one topic to flow into another. From Ugly's limp he easily transitioned into something that happened the day before. In this way he lectured his imaginary class of students about his adventure taking his rental car exploring, passing row after row of beach cottages. He recalled finding himself lost. It was in his eagerness to return to the main road that he had impulsively stopped and backed into an inconspicuous driveway and nearly hit a man carrying groceries. Neither saw the other. Fortunately, Skip hit the brake before contact. When he jumped from the car to see if the fellow was O.K. and apologize before having to listen to swears and accusations against him, the other guy, seeing the car was a rental and the driver a visitor, simply welcomed Skip to The Cape. Shifting his grocery bags, he had awkwardly reached into a pocket, taken out a personal card with his address and phone number, handed it to Skip and invited him to come over and pay a visit. His name was Mike.

            Skip’s lecture ended as the store bell rang and he immediately turned and saw it was Lottie. She was starting towards him.  He held up a hand, their eyes met, he nodded, put his thumb up, and smiled. Smiling, Lottie nodded back, turned and left the store. He knew she'd go on-line with her cell-phone and check out this repair business and its staff anyway. He knew her that well, just as she knew him. For now, he was determined to stay with this new tactic and see how long he could play it out.

            Turning back to Ugly, Skip was relieved to see the man busily at work. He felt pleased with himself. Excited even. He'd blocked his anticipatory frets and ended up not needing Lottie's help. Her reality-driven fact-finding habits and conversational demeanor that she would have applied minutes earlier would now serve only to enlighten him with data no longer vital. Lottie's background checks were always informative. She was incredibly good. Better than any other defense attorney he’d met. Maybe she'd find out how a stuffy, dark, and messy shop like this could remain in business in a modern, upscale, and most certainly air-conditioned mall district. Skip found himself enjoying his extended moment of self-confidence, this unexpected reprieve.

            Inasmuch as Ugly continued to show no interest in him and was continuing his mumbling and limping routine between work-table and counter, only now a bit more quickly, Skip felt safe enough to let other memories come into his awareness, into his hybrid lecture exercise. He was eager to continue testing this unfamiliar tactic.

            Preteen memories were where he began. He silently articulated for his imaginary class recollections of the time his parents and he had moved and how he had to adjust to a different middle-school with no friends. He noted that that's where it all started, his anxieties anyway. That was when he began keeping to himself, daydreaming, letting the world-of-imagination grow apace with his social isolation. He recounted how kids got used to teasing and laughing at him, and he got used to hitting them, while teachers got used to sending him to counselors who, unable to find a "diagnosis", settled for categorizing him as "bully", "antisocial", or just lazy.  And all along there was something inside him, even that far back, that let him know and now reaffirm how it was more complicated than any of that. He'd known non-verbally that it was connected to safety and peace-of-mind. He just didn't have the words back then. Self-confidence, he reminded himself with a tinge of bitterness, was never more than temporary, anyway; never more than a fleeting and unreliable moment.

            From there his memories took his monologue through the many ways he'd found, over the years, to manage his insecurities and their occasional and unpredictable spinoff anxieties, along with the inevitable habits of concealing such handicaps. The guardedness he'd cultivated around strangers and people he didn't know, which began in his early years, had never left him. But he knew he had come as far as he had in both life and work because of Lottie.

            By the time this internal monologue returned Skip closer to the present and began approaching the plane journey he consciously switched his attention to the bright side of the present. There'd be no troublesome phone calls, for example, from TV and film producers who would now have no way of reaching him. There would be no scripts requiring fine-tuning and certainly no more requests that he polish the incomplete scripts of that TV Detective Series that so repeatedly and predictably popped onto his desk.

            This up-beat reverie was interrupted when Ugly, for a moment, looked up at Skip in a strange way, almost staring at him, but quickly turning away and resuming his work.

            “Why folks come to The Cape and don’t swim or go out on boats is a mystery to me,” was still his favorite mutter.

            Skip, still detached from his worries, was eager to tell Lottie this unexpected turn of events. He was especially eager to credit her for her contribution. She had, after all, been the one to enlighten him many years ago when they began dating. She was the only one to not ask questions but rather offer answers, like suggesting that his habits of disengaging and keeping his distance while, in fantasy, trying to recreate and then re-imagine a connection, was actually a kind of home-made self-healing field-dressing. She'd accepted his fragile self-confidence and nightmare demons and was there to help. It was, she told him, part of what drew her, a student in law school, to him, a high school graduate with no interest whatsoever in more schooling.

            Ugly took off his head-set and Skip knew the work was completed. He took out his wallet as he watched Ugly clean and put his equipment away and then return the short piece of tape-recording back into the box in which it had been found.

            When he'd finished his limping back and forth from work-desk to counter he started preparing his bill.

            "How’d you know about me?” he asked without looking up.

            “You came recommended. You and a local woman. You were the closest to where we are staying."

            "That would be Berkie," Ugly said to no one in particular, still without looking up. "She'd have been good at this."

            After he finished his summary he turned the paper on its side and wrote something.

            He looked up at Skip and repeated. "She'd have been good at this", and then reached down to a shelf, took out a paper with "Problem Analysis" under the heading, "Earl's Electronics," and on that form began detailing his efforts and findings.

            As Skip watched he couldn't help but revisit what had brought him to Earl's Electronics in the first place. That first day at The Cape, Lottie had discovered the aging canoe stored in the collapsed shed out back, and hanging down from the canoe seat where it was tied was a child's shoe-box with scribbled letters on the outside and something taped to the inside. Her intrigue had led to suspicions about the unknown child who had been its owner, and about the ruined tape-recording which had only heightened her curiosity. She was unable to let go, let go of any of it.

The decision to check it out and then, hopefully, be done with it, was Skip's idea. He knew where obsessions could lead. He'd been there.

             “This is the best I could do," Ugly said, interrupting Skip's reverie.

            He handed Skip the box and the summary of his detailed efforts and findings.

            "These were my best guesses," he said in a low voice. "Couldn't make out any words. Sorry."

            Skip looked at what he'd written and understood why Ugly had made a point of saying he was sorry. What he'd written was useless.

            'Nothing was audibly identifiable', was Ugly's final conclusion.

            When Skip looked at the bill, he appreciated that the fee was minimal. Given Ugly's time making the effort, it was reasonable. The only surprise had been seeing what it was that Ugly wrote on the side of his summary. It was the name, "Berkie Price" along with a phone number and address. Why, he asked himself, would Ugly go to the trouble of including the name, address, and phone number of his competitor?

            Skip pocketed the bill with its findings and the summary, and took out the cash he carried, counted and handed the money to Mr. Hagly, said his thanks, and took the receipt. Picking up the box, he left the dark and stuffy repair shop. 

            Outside, he joined Lottie who'd found some shade to stand in. He handed her the problem analysis which she put in her shoulder-bag without reading and lead him to where their car was parked. It was in the rear of the greater portion of the extensive shopping mall where there were groups of trees offering shade.

            Skip knew her first questions would be about his experience. She always wanted to hear how he was doing when she knew he had faced stress. That was one thing that had attracted him to her on their first date, that blind-date, when her law-school instructor had met Skip in a courtroom where they were both following a criminal case, and knowing that Lottie rarely dated, had told her she'd find this guy an interesting, bright, and challenging fellow. He'd introduced them.  Lottie’s immediate attraction to Skip appeared to be because she had a longstanding habit of finding ways to keep good things from falling apart, an interest that had probably begun when her Mom became seriously ill. After her mother’s death, her Dad took up the chance to travel far on sabbatical. Even though she was still in high school at the time, Lottie had wanted very much to be in charge of her younger brother, knowing he’d never make it without her. Those habits had become her natural comfort zone. Interestingly, after she and Skip knew one another well she had begun to worry that her father might object to her proposing marriage. Skip had had a similar concern that her father might object to their even dating. To her surprise and relief, fears were allayed when she'd finally introduced them. Skip had told her father on being introduced that he was a high school graduate and had no interest or intentions to attend college. His response was brief but memorable. "For everything there's a season." That was it. At the end of that dinner, saying good-byes, her father had hugged Skip. Skip hadn't expected that and never forgot. It was he who, not long after, proposed marriage.



            Skip put the box on the back seat, got into the passenger seat and lowered his window. When he turned he wasn't surprised that Lottie, who hadn't yet started the car, was watching him.

            He knew what she was thinking.

            "On a scale of one-to-ten," she said.

            "Ten" He said with a smile. "I began with your idea on the plane. What I remembered of it, anyway. I muted the repairman in my head, focused first on his legs and then on a memory that I converted into a lecture to imaginary students. It turned out to be more than just a partial distraction. It turned out to provide total detachment. Who knew? There simply wasn't enough room in my head for other thoughts to seep in." He smiled. "It worked, there was no room for those thoughts!"

            Lottie leaned over and kissed him.

            "I didn't know it would be so hard finding a parking space in shade," she said as she sat back. "I would never have…"

            "Forget it. It worked. It worked, Lottie. That's all that matters."

            Lottie nodded, sat back and started the car.

            As she pulled out she asked, "Before I pick your brain for the details of this intriguing new approach with its happy ending, are you still interested in what I learned about your man in there?"

            "I am. In fact I'd like to talk about him first. He was weird. He was provocative. I mean, how does such a person even hold a job?"

            "Well, for one thing, Skip," she said matter-of-factly, her eyes on the road, "he owns that business."

            Skip didn't hide his surprise.

            "Impossible! He's way too much of a mess! No way could he keep customers coming!"

            "He owns the entire mall, Skip."

There was a long silence.

            "Tell me you're kidding. Just tell me you're kidding."

            "He's rich. He's very rich." At the light Lottie took the turn in the direction of their cottage. "I tried to find out how he came into that money", she said.


             "No mention online. What was mentioned was that he's a war veteran, lived for many years on benefits. Has been homeless. He was under the radar for a while and has had more than a few arrests. Petty thefts." She shook her head. "That must have been some character in the store with you."

            Skip, now buckled in, closed his eyes and, with his hands gripped together, pressed two fingers to his lips, what Lottie called his scholar-pose.  As she expected, he put his head back and began speaking to himself out-loud.

            "O.K….he was incapable of hearing, let alone translating, anything on that piece of tape I gave him. What he found - what he wrote - was totally useless. Then, when it came time to determine his payment he was unexpectedly generous about his fee, considering the time he spent at it."

            Skip suddenly reached down into his pocket, looked at the summary, and turned the paper on its side, read again what was written and held it out for Lottie to glance at.

            "I forgot about this," he said after she gave a quick glance. He brought it back and looked at it closely. "I'll read what he wrote in the margin of his summary."

            "It's a name, isn't it?"

            "Yes, but it isn't just any name. It's the name of his only rival. Hers was the other name on the list we'd been given." He paused. "So, why would a jerk bother to include not just the name of a rival but her phone number and address?"

            Skip pushed the crumpled summary back into his pocket and shook his head.

            "He was a jerk and I was treating him as a jerk and then…he wasn't a jerk." His expression one of total puzzlement.

            "A jerk who has millions," Lottie added, nodding while keeping her eyes on the road. "So tell me this. How does a real jerk get millions?"

            "You're the lawyer," Skip replied in a serious tone, by-passing the challenge. "You must have seen cases like this. Where would you start? Seriously."

            "You're right. I have seen cases like that." Lottie thought for a moment.  "His wealth? My first guess would be that it came from theft." She paused. "Second…second and third guesses…I see the two as tied together - inheritance combined with sound investment."

            Nodding, Skip said, "Go on".

            "An out-of-court settlement, maybe? He might have had cause to sue someone who was wealthy." She let out a long sigh. "That's all that comes to mind. Your turn."

            "O.K... I just thought of a reason."

            "Wait, let me guess."

            Lottie's earlier fixation on the box and the tape was now, it would seem, gone. Nearly all gone. This new topic clearly had her full attention and Skip was beginning to feel relieved.

            The car even slowed, so strong was Lottie's concentration, but when the cars immediately behind them became impatient and the drivers began honking, Lottie jumped in her seat.

            She sat up straight and shouted, "Jackpot!" as she checked her rear-view mirror and quickly picked up speed.

            "Jackpot!" she repeated when the traffic was back to normal. "He must have hit a Jackpot. That's what I overlooked." She was back now keeping up with traffic. "O.K., your thoughts."

            "Blackmail was what I had in mind," Skip said quietly.

            "You're cheating," Lottie countered in a teasing voice. "I shouldn't have asked you. You're the only one in the car who fine-tunes scripts of Detective Thrillers."

            It was as they began approaching their cottage that Skip sought confirmation that Lottie had actually and permanently dropped her fixation over the box and tape. That her obsession had not only been neutralized, it was gone.

            "So…we call it a day?" was how he phrased it.

            Lottie pulled into her parking space but didn't turn off the engine. Skip immediately understood.  It wasn't over.

            "I'd like to see what that other repair person, that woman, might have to say about that tape," was how Lottie phrased it. She began preparing the GPS for this next destination as Skip read the address and then the phone number out to her.

            Lottie called and confirmed that this Berkie person was open for business.

            As they headed in this new direction Lottie asked Skip to remind her how he got Hagly to give him Berkie's phone number and address in the first place.

            "Was it hard getting it out of him?"

            "He wanted me to have it, Lottie," Skip said quietly. "He wanted me to have it."



            Lottie pulled into the circular drive at their destination. She parked and took out the report Hagly had written, looked at it, and put it in her shoulder-bag. She reached into the back seat and grabbed the old box, got out of the car, and she and Skip walked quickly to the front door. There was no bell to ring or button to push but before Lottie had a chance to knock, the door opened.  

            “I called a moment ago…” Lottie began but the elderly woman interrupted.

            “Whisper, please. Sudden noises upset my granddaughter. Please come in.”

            Entering, and in a low voice, Lottie continued, this time expressing her surprise.

            “The repair person, Berkie Price, works here?"

            The woman nodded and led Lottie and Skip into a sitting room and gestured to two chairs.

            "Berkie was recommended by Earl's Electronics," Lottie whispered as they took their seats and their host sat on the couch.

            "Yes, you told me over the phone, and it's O.K. to speak normally now. My name is Plantoff. Gladys Plantoff. Berkie is my granddaughter and she lives here with me. She does her work upstairs. The two guest rooms have become her work space." She paused. "She used to work at Earl's but that was some years back."

            Lottie began their introductions. “I'm Lottie Janus and this is my husband, Skip."

            Plantoff smiled and shared a nod with Skip.

            "Your granddaughter," Lottie began, "was recommended by Mr. Hagly. Might I ask why she left his employ? Weren't they getting along?"

            “Oh, no," Plantoff replied. "Nothing like that. She just couldn’t take the noise when it started to get busy there. You know, the ringing when someone enters, cell phones, people talking loudly.” 

            "She was on good terms, then, with Hagly?"

            "She never complained to me." Plantoff paused. "About your request…" 

            Lottie picked up the box with the tape remnant and handed it across the coffee table. 

            After looking at it and noting its age and markings, Plantoff got up.

            "I'll take it upstairs to Berkie, now. Can I get you two a drink or some fruit while you wait?”

            Lottie shook her head. “Please don't bother." She paused. "And tell her we’re able to pay whatever fee she….”

            “There is no fee, dear." After a brief hesitation Plantoff added, "Well…It would be nice if you made a donation to the American Autism Foundation.” She turned and took the box upstairs.

            Lottie and Skip looked at one another. Neither spoke. Both of their expressions conveyed the same thought, ’Good people live here’.

            When Plantoff returned and took her seat she continued her conversation with Lottie. “You said on the phone you were new to The Cape, that you're from California?"

            Skip listened closely, admiring the frank and gentle way Lottie shared information with a stranger and fielded queries while enhancing their connection, all at this first contact. It contributed to his search for a key that would help him open himself up to such a conversation. He could see how good energies and positive feelings can move things along quickly and in two directions. However, he remained skeptical. What would be the method for recovering should one let one's guard down too soon? Then he reminded himself. There were probably people who never needed to have their guard up in the first place when initiating a contact. In any event he had no memory of ever doing such a thing of being such a person.

            Lottie was explaining about the house rental, the canoe in the shed, and the box hanging from inside it, when a younger woman of about 30 in plain dress, uncombed short hair and wearing sneakers, quietly entered the room holding the box. They'd not heard her come down the stairs.

            This younger woman, obviously Berkie, walked directly to Plantoff, head down, handed her the box with a note attached and, making no eye contact with the visitors, turned and left.

            Plantoff turned to her guests and excused her granddaughter's abruptness. "She's shy," she told them.

            After glancing at the attached note Plantoff handed the box to Lottie who read the note and froze. Her expression was somewhere between satisfaction and disbelief. Berkie had completed the job in less than ten minutes. Lottie tore off the note and handed it to Skip who read the words aloud.

            "Recorded voice: either sex: spoken words: end of the spit." He looked at Lottie. “End of the spit? Ugly…That's Mr. Hagly," he said looking at Mrs. Plantoff, and then turning back to Lottie, "…Hagly must have been pretending the whole time. Going through the motions." He paused. "It's almost as if he wanted Berkie in on this from the start."

            "Maybe he owed her something?"

            Plantoff listened to this exchange between her guests with growing interest and a glimmer of amusement.

            "If it's a joke," Lottie went on, "he meant for Berkie to see it. Tease her, maybe?" She paused and then offered another possibility. "Or mock you?"

            "Or else make amends? Maybe he'd bullied her and now regrets it?"

            Lottie turned to Plantoff. "Mrs. Plantoff…"

            "Call me, Gladys."

            "Gladys. Is 'End of The Spit' some kind of punchline to a joke? A Cape joke?"

            “Oh, no, it's nothing like what you've been suggesting, dear. It’s a place. It's a place here." With her two guests looking at her with expressions of surprise and uncertainty, Plantoff explained further. “It's a large piece of land. It faces the ocean and sits at a distance from the popular paved roads. It's not far from here, actually. There are no houses except a large, modern-looking beach residence. It's all owned by one man, a wealthy investment banker."

            With her guests giving their full attention, she wondered what exactly warranted such concern and added, "He's retired now. Won't sell. No one can build there." She shrugged. "End of the Spit. It's just a plot of land."

            "But, why that name?" Lottie wanted to know.

            "The name goes back years, dear. No one really knows how it started."

            "And that investment banker," Lottie pressed, "That owner who won't sell. Does he have a family? Or, is he a hermit now and crazy?"

            Plantoff shook her head. "He's old like me, dear, but he's no hermit and he's not crazy." She smiled and then patiently continued. "He has a family and from time to time runs for public office…and is elected. He makes generous contributions to good causes. He's a popular figure here and has that attractive house. Has a caretaker, too, who keeps it looking good and oversees the land around it." She took a deep breath. "Can I ask you a question?"

            "Ask away. You've earned it."

            "I'm curious what all this is about. What is so important about a fragment of tape someone recorded years ago?"

"It's not just the tape," Lottie explained. "It's also the box it was in." She paused to look at Skip who, she knew, was equally interested in knowing more about this unexpected obsession. 

            "Skip and I differ here," she began, "but, in my view, the box…this box… was deliberately hidden from view. It was, at one time, a child's shoe-box. We're on vacation but my last case…I'm an attorney…that last case involved an abused child. Important evidence had been looked at, of course, but went unrecognized…by me." She took in a deep breath. "This box …let's just say it reminds me of that case because I can't seem to shake out of my head that courtroom failure of mine." She smiled and shrugged. "Maybe, in its place, I'm trying to imagine a substitute, redeem myself somehow, uncover a case about a child that I can examine and then, having seen all there is to see, drop it, forget it, and clear my mind of it and, with that, clear the rest of my mind."

            "Yes," Plantoff said after a long pause. "We sometimes have crises and then have to live with them." She sighed a deep sigh. "I lost my husband and that loss has stayed with me ever since. I've had to live with it, it's part of me now. My way of filling the emptiness I was left with has become filling someone else's emptiness." She pointed at Lottie. "But you…you're young. You don't have to live with what you've lost, that opportunity to do something that came and then left. You don't have to keep trying to digest what you didn't do and could and should have done." She smiled. "You understand your failure. You'll get over this, dear. It's a learning moment, not just a loss. You're no longer that same person. It will pass."

            Skip, watching and listening and finally understanding the roots and depths of Lottie's preoccupation in this predicament, felt for her. He'd been right to follow her lead, and right to prepare to be with her wherever that took her. He was right to want to be with her as she played this out. He knew, too, that it was OK for him to add a question of his own about the matter at hand.

            "The electronics repair guy that your granddaughter worked for," he began, "Earl Hagly…he meant for us to come here with that tape. Your granddaughter meant something to him. Why he pretended to try and fail the way he did, I don't know. But I believe he meant for us to be told by someone else, not himself, what was on that piece of tape." He paused. "He wanted that other person to be your granddaughter.” Skip let Mrs. Plantoff digest that before continuing. "For me," he went on, "that presents one additional question. What do these three names have in common: Hagly, Berkie, and End of the Spit."

            Silence. No one spoke.

            Plantoff cleared her throat. She stood up and looked at her guests. “I’m going to get some nibbles. I’ll only be a minute," she said heading toward the door but then paused, "I'll be delayed a bit. I'm going to find some brandy."

            “No, please," Lottie said quickly. "We don’t drink so early in the day."

            “It’s for me, dear,” Plantoff said quietly as she turned again to leave. "It's for me."           

lawrence climo.webp

The End of The Spit is a gripping mystery novel following anxious and tortured script-editor Skip and his compassionate attorney wife Lottie as they embark upon a much needed vacation, but when they encounter a cryptic cassette tape hidden at their rental, can they resist the tangled web it weaves or will the secrets of the End of The Spit ensnare them both?

LAWRENCE H. CLIMO has practiced in inpatient and outpatient, public and private, and military and civilian settings along with jails and courts over the course of his professional life as a physician, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and psychopharmacologist. He has taken his turn in teaching and administration as well. His occasional articles have appeared in academic, professional, and popular journals. He is the author of "From Toxic Civil Discourse to Saving a World: A Midrash-Guided Memoir of a Vietnam Vet" December (2023). "The Patient Was Vietcong: An American Doctor in the Vietnamese Health Service, 1966-1967",  "Psychiatrist on the Road: Encounters in Healing and Healthcare", and "Caregiving: Lives Derailed" (under the pseudonym Eli Cannon). He is a Board Certified, Life Member, and Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He can be contacted regarding "The End of The Spit" and his other writings via email.

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