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Carter: Part 1
The early April air felt crisp as Frederick Carter strolled to his office. In 1899 dentists were considered a rarity and Frederick was all but qualified. The man was elderly, but the toils of life and labors in the sun had aged him incredibly. His hands were calloused and withered making them tough like leather, not the hands of a venerable dentist. He rummaged through his coat pocket and produced a golden key, taking a minute to glance through the office window, and then unlocked the door.
The Dental Offices of Carter and Son were unsanitary, even by 19th century standards. The office was a cramped eight by eight room with boxes teeming with medical journals and patient reports. Dust and cobwebs had accumulated throughout the shop with mouse excrement neighboring the dental instruments. Carter shuffled through the clutter and sat down at his desk. The day’s work had finally begun.
The door chimed as Frederick’s son James stepped through. “Good morning father.” James sang, “Picked up a telegram for you.”
“Give it here,” Fred said never looking up from his work. URGENT was stamped across the top of the telegram. It read:
To Frederick J. Carter:
Dear friend your assistance is required again.
Meet me at the old mill at 0900 hours.
Frederick peered over his spectacles at the note. “Did you receive this telegram in a peculiar fashion?”
“Well no sir, I received it by reaching out my hand and grabbing it,” James said matter-of-factly. “No peculiarity.” James was of medium build and strength, but of low intelligence, not an imbecile just thick skulled.
Fred glanced up at James. “Son, how did you make it through medical school?” While James pondered the question, Frederick stood up and began to put his coat on, “I’ll be back. Pick up shop.”
The old mill was quite a hike for the crippled Frederick; a fateful blow from a horse had dealt him handicapped. His right knee popped with every step, but Fred could see the mill was only a hundred yards away. Then a shrub to his right began to rustle. As he limped over to investigate, a much younger man pounced on him from behind. The elderly man whipped his cane about trying to wound the attacker. He felt a sharp pain in his neck and looked to see a tranquilizer dart protruding from it. The man backed away as Fred tumbled over in a sleepy daze.
Fred awoke in a dim room, his legs and arms bound to the chair he was seated in. “If I told you, ‘Everything I tell you is a lie’, am I telling the truth or a lie?”
“Teddy I know it’s you. I would recognize your voice a mile away.”
“Amuse me.” The voice was of a man highly energetic and very intellectual.
“A lie, it can't be the truth without gainsaying itself and therefore being a lie, but some of my statements can be lies, and this is one of those statements.” Frederick said, slowly escaping his bonds. His days as an Indian fighter had taught him how to escape the most perilous of situations.
“Good to see you old friend.” Theodore Roosevelt stepped into the light. He wore his famous tan First U.S. Volunteer Calvary Regiment uniform. His Rough Rider ensemble was completed with a hat and his sword sheathed tightly at his side. “As you know we were at war with Spain. My men and I have countless wartime victories to be celebrated, but the celebration can only resume once my wartime fortunes have been carefully transported to my ranch, Elk Horn.”
“Are your men not qualified to transport such valuables?” Frederick looked at Theodore quizzically. “Am I, an old dentist, more qualified than them?”
“Well,” Theodore paused. “You are trustworthy, you are tough, and you are the most qualified man I have yet to see.” Roosevelt looked at Fred’s bonds. “But, you can not break the knots I have fastened you in. They are naval knots, the best in the world.”
Frederick smiled and stood. The knots fell around him. “You’ve underestimated me old friend. I’ve had the knots undone quite some time, but your chair was ever so comfortable I did not wish to stand.” Fred said with a wink. Theodore acted as if nothing had occurred and motioned for Fred to follow him. They walked through a narrow doorway and into a large, open ballroom. In the middle of the vastness, stood a lonesome crate locked and sealed with the mark of the U. S. Army.
“You shall have three days to transport the goods. I shall pay you handsomely and you can retire to Flori…” Theodore was interrupted by a large soldier. The soldier whispered to his colonel. “Bring him in.” The soldier left and quickly returned pushing a man into their midst. The man was covered with a hood and his hands were tied behind his back. The soldier ripped off the hood revealing James.
“James! You have disobeyed me. Who is picking up the shop?” Fred looked angrily down upon his son.
“Well pap, I followed you because you are old and what would have happened if you were to trip and bonk your head?” James said while demonstrating the ‘bonk’ by hitting himself on the head. “I’d never forgive myself.”
“Teddy, this is my idiot son James. James this is Colonel Theodore Roosevelt.” James looked at Roosevelt unimpressed by the title until he saw the sword.
“Say how would someone get a nifty sword like that?” James stared at the sword with wonderment.
“By helping your father deliver my belongings to my ranch Elk Horn.” Theodore smiled knowing his crate was as good as shipped.