“Hello Ms. Rogers,” Said the old man. “What brings you out here today?”
“Hello Mr. Johnson,” she replied, “I’d like to ask you some questions for a piece I’m writing.”
“Oh?” He asked. He seemed happy at the prospect. “Do come in and have a seat.”
She did and accepted a cup of coffee, black with two sugars, she looked around the cottage. It looked like your typical hunting cabin, trophies that were all clearly antiques, except for the fish. Those were recent. None of the animals were less than 60 years old. Everything was scrupulously clean and there were little to no sharp edges anywhere. Even the rifle over the fireplace had the trigger mechanism removed. This was a man who was very precise about fitting in and doing the right thing, but he didn’t like guns or hunting or risk of any kind. Why even have the animals then? she wondered. Amos reentered carrying the two coffee cups on coasters on the tray and set it down on a placemat on the coffee table.
Once they’d exchanged a few pleasantries, Janet decided to get to the point.
“I’d like to ask you about a mutual friend of ours, Mr. Marcus.”
“Not Mr.” he said smiling, “and no you’re not.”
“What?” She asked.
“Marcus is his first name. The only one he gives out himself as a matter of course, and anyone who’d be a friend of his would know that. Not that he has friends really, not what’d you call friends.”
Shoot. She’d miscalculated.
“Anyone who knows Marcus knows the man is more antisocial than a skunk with distemper.” The words were said like he was angry, but Amos was known to be one of the worst (and most enthusiastic) poker players in the whole of the Iron Range and the increased twinkling in his eyes was giving him away.
“Really?” She said. “He seemed nice enough when I was there.”
“I’ll daresay he was tolerating you Ms. Rogers, and if he did, it was because he likes your writing.” he sniffed. “can’t say I care for it much myself. I prefer to read the paper for the funnies.” He was clearly winding her up, though she couldn’t see just why. It was probably best to just let him know what she wanted.
“I am writing a piece on Marcus to show the effect he’s had on the people around him.”
“Does he know you’re doing this?”
“No. I had the idea that it might be nice to have a party for him after the article comes out. A sort of ‘thank you’ from the people around here who’ve been touched in some way by the things he’s done.”
“Is this about Jessica?”
“Not just her Mr. Johnson.”
“Not just her Amos. Did you know that she saved thirty people in her time as an EMT and a first responder? There are other people he’s helped over the years. I’d like to see what the effect has been beyond just the immediate circle of people he’s helped.”
“I don’t know… I don’t think he’d approve of the attention.”
“Yeah, but he should know what effect he’s had on the people around him.”
“Listen ma’am, I don’t know if I like the idea of you using Marcus to get a story. Especially if he doesn’t know about it.”
“Please Amos, do you think it’s fair that he should be alone, 95 years old, stuck away in the cabin with no one. No man is an island.”
“I used to believe that, until I met Marcus.” he said, “What exactly do you want to know?”
“I want to know anything I can find about him. Who he was before he came here, why he came, who are the others who he’s helped over the years. There are rumors of a man in an oilskin or fur-lined coat coming out of nowhere to help stranded people, injured people, even people who’ve gotten injured doing illegal things. Then, as soon as he’s done the work and gotten them to the hospital, he disappears. Why does he do it? Somewhere there is a story in here if I can just find it. Please Amos, help me.”
“I suppose I’ve resisted enough to say I’ve put up a fight. I’ll tell you what: I’ll give you the stories as I think of them and you follow them wherever they lead, but I can’t promise he’ll like the article, or even come to an event thrown in his honor. Marcus just isn’t the type.”
“Thank you Amos. Where do I begin?”
“If I were wanting to know more about Marcus, I’d go talk to Frankie Bleeker. He’s probably had as much contact with Marcus over the years as anyone I can think of.”
“Frankie Bleeker? You mean Sheriff Bleeker?”
“Yep. The one and the same. Think about it. You’re looking for someone who would be everywhere that Marcus has helped someone, that is somewhere where there’s been trouble. Sheriff Bleeker has been there too, often after the fact, of course. He’s the one you want though.”
“Thank you Amos, I’ll do that. And please, let me know if you think of any other information I can use.”