The little man who wouldn’t leave
July 3, 2017
Every time Ambrose Lincoln was in trouble, he looked around, and Chester Giddings was there. He became the hero’s shadow.
The little man with a black fedora had no business being in the novel.
He was a bit player.
Shoot the scene.
Collect minimum pay.
Might not even get a screen credit.
Chester Giddings was frail.
He was frightened and nervous.
He had been a private detective before the war.
Mostly he handled divorces.
Now he was with the Federal Atomic Commission.
He was looking for spies.
He hoped to God he never found one.
The scene arrived, and I needed Chester.
Mostly, I needed his room.
The assassin broke in during the middle of the night.
Ambrose Lincoln was waiting for him.
The assassin died.
Chester had nothing to do with it.
Chester didn’t like blood.
Chester wanted to wash his hands clean of the whole affair.
As I wrote in Conspiracy of Lies:
The sergeant with the Santa Fe police stood up and walked to the little man’s side. He spoke first. “And who might you be?” he asked.
“Giddings,” the little man said. “Chester Giddings.”
“You know the dead man?”
Chester shook his head. “I’ve never seen him before,” he said.
“Yet, you think he was trying to kill you.”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“Got a reason?” the sergeant asked.
“I’m with the government,” Chester said.
The sergeant glanced around at Ambrose Lincoln and rolled his eyes.
“You got any government identification with you?” the sergeant asked.
“Yes, sir.” The little man placed his fedora down on the side of the bed, removed his wallet, and peeled out a business card.
The sergeant held it up to the light, looked at Lincoln, and asked. “How come you don’t have one of these?”
“Guess I’m not important enough,” Lincoln said.
“But you’re important enough to carry a gun.”
Lincoln shrugged. “I’ve never had much luck in a card fight,” he said.
The sergeant rolled his eyes again and turned his attention back to the little man with a dark fedora.
“It says here that you’re with the Federal Atomic Commission,” he said.
“I’m an investigator,” Chester said.
“You carry a badge?”
“Just a business card.”
“You carry a gun?”
The little man shook his head. “Just a business card,” he said.
It was time for Chester to go. I didn’t need him anymore.
He wouldn’t leave.
I kicked him out
He came back in.
He was still frail.
He was still frightened.
But every time Ambrose Lincoln was in trouble, he looked around, and Chester Giddings was there.
He became the hero’s shadow.
He was never brave.
But he was growing stronger than he had been.
By the end of the novel, a lot of Ambrose Lincoln had rubbed off on the little man in the black fedora.
His hands still trembled with fright.
But he was cocky.
Shoot, by now, Chester thought he was invincible.
When Ambrose was rounding up the bad guys, he couldn’t do it alone.
He didn’t have to.
Here came Chester wandering into the scene.
As I wrote:
He was walking a little straighter than usual. He wore a crooked and cocky smile on his face.
The little man kicked the SVT-40 self-loading rifle away from the dead man’s hands and picked it up.
He had never held a rifle before, not in anger anyway.
“Is the safety off?” he asked Lincoln.
“It is. What happens if I pull the trigger?”
“You’ll blow a hole in the Russian and spend the rest of the night picking up the pieces.”
“I don’t think I want to do that,” Chester said.
“It gets messy.”
“Oh, I don’t mind the mess,” Chester said. “I called the general, and he’s on the way down the mountain. If the Russian doesn’t sit down and start counting his toes, I’ll leave it to the general to pick up the pieces.”
Federov sat down.
The bad guys had tried to kill Ambrose Lincoln.
They had tried more than once.
No one messed with the little man who wouldn’t leave.
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