Caldwell picked up the phone and dialed Sergeant Boothe at the San Jose PD. Booth answered on the third ring.
“Sergeant Booth here.”
“Booth, Agent Caldwell with San Francisco FBI. We spoke a day or two ago.” Caldwell honestly couldn’t remember when they had talked. Time was a blur to him these days with the long hours and endless names and events in the reports he sifted through.
“Yes. What can I do for you Agent?”
“I’m looking at the report I got from you guys, was there anything info on cars coming or going from the scene?”
“No, we’re short-handed like every other department. Sorry.”
“No worries. I just wanted to check before I started putting int he calls to get security footage or red-light shots.”
“I hear ya. Sounds like you have something there. I told you it was a strange one.”
‘Yeah, it gets stranger by the minute. I owe you one.” Caldwell said with a laugh.
“We know you Feds, I’m sure you’ll be passing one my way sooner than later,” laughed Boothe, then quickly added,”I probably deserve it after this one. Well good luck let me know how I can help.”
“Sure thing. Thanks again. Bye.” Caldwell ended the call, then turned to his computer and put in the footage request based on the time of the events.
Two hours later he already had a response back. Apparently this was early in the morning, when not a lot of people are out and about. There were only a handful of cars the red-light cameras caught from a nearby intersection heading up to the access road. Caldwell settled down to start tracking down the half-dozen or so car owners that day. Investigations was a lot of paperwork. Why was he resistant to the idea. He was doing good. He was helping to find criminals. He needed to change his attitude about it all. There were other crap jobs, like undercover divisions. He had it easy and needed to be grateful.
Over the course of the next few hours he sorted through licence plates, owners and anyone who had a record or not. He stopped on a SUV as something about the owner’s name sounded familiar. He looked over at the stack of papers on one corner of his desk and mentally went though the stack. He lifted the stack about a quarter of the way down, then sifted through several loose leaf papers. There it is!
Several days ago he had seen a call come in asking for the Feds to get involved due to suspicious activity that could be terrorist related. People were always making such claims about their neighbors or a stranger they saw at the hardware store. Dispatch was able to ask some pointed questions that normally vetted out the crackpots and empty leads, but this one had been different. He looked closer at the half page report and saw that it came from the San Francisco office of A.S.E.R.T. That sounded more official than the standard civilian call.
Caldwell first looked up what A.S.E.R.T stood for and found it was stood for Association of Scientific Exploration, Research and Theory. The name of the person they were being asked to investigate was the same on the red-light camera capture, Ramsden Burr.
* * *
NOTES: Previous scene and this scene work better if I’m clearer about the passage of time between scenes. These can’t all be happening within a 24-hour period. Nothing for you here Jack Bauer!
It was Wednesday night, nearing eight o’clock. Ramsden sat waiting near the phone as he did every week. He wasn’t lost in thought about what his call with his dad would be like, instead he was going over the formulas and was seeing them more and more clearly in his mind’s eye. It was as if he could “feel” there was an issue in the pattern somewhere that he was missing. He went over it again and again, moving pieces around as he rearranged them, trying to work systematically through order of operation. When that failed, he had to go on what felt right. The phone rang. He was jolted out of his reverie.
“Hi,” Ramsden said as he answered the phone.
“Hello son, how are you?” Ramsden heard the strong, confident voice of his dad and it seemed to bring a calming to Ramsden.
“Hi dad, how are you?” Ramsden asked in return. He wasn’t sure where to start explaining things or if he wanted to.
“I’m fine son. I received your item yesterday. What are you getting into son?” Horace’s voice had a slight tinge of accusation.
“What do you mean?” Ramsden asked, honestly unaware of what context his father was referring to.
“It looks like you’re delving into witchcraft son. How could you?” His dad’s voice had taken on a clearly accusatory tone now.
“What?” Ramsden was blindsided and couldn’t process what his father was saying. Witchcraft?
“I may not be the smartest one in the bunch, but when you’re notes speak about incantations and connecting to the powers of the Earth, you’re delving into dangerous things, son.”
“You read what was on the drive I sent you. The drive I only asked you to hide. How did you get through the encryption?” Ramsden felt his blood rising.
“Son. You may be one of the smartest and most educated men on the planet, but you are horrible at picking secure passwords. You don’t think I’d guess the date of your mother’s passing and her name were part of your password? Not to mention swapping 1’s for i’s or 3’s for e’s is just too easy. But you still haven’t answered the question.”
“It’s not witchcraft dad. Modern medicine would look like magic or witchcraft to those who didn’t know what it was, but it’s only science in the end.”
“We’ve talked about this. Hypnosis is quote ‘a science’ unquote, but there are reasons we have natural barries built in our minds against forced out there that would wish to influence us.”
“Dad, you’ve talked about it, I’ve just let you talk. Plus I’m not doing hypnosis.”
“No but you’re breaking down natural barriers that are in place for a reason. Have you thought why the knowledge was lost? Could it be because it was meant to be lost in order to protect humanity?”
“You know me dad. I’m not doing this to hurt anyone. It’s not like I’m developing the atomic bomb.” Ramsden couldn’t believe this conversation. First his team blame him for what could have happened and now his dad too. Why is everyone against me?
“Ramsden C. Burr, you’re not hearing me. What you are doing is dangerous. You don’t want to be that guy that regrets going down in history as the man who brought something into this world that potentially destroyed all his good intentions.” His dad never called him by name. “Son, you know I only have two goals in life for you, right?”
“Yes dad, you’ve told me more than once that you want me to have a personal relationship with Jesus and to do God’s will. But I’m not that son, dad. I don’t believe in your God.”
“I know you don’t yet and science is your current faith, but I’m praying for you daily.”
“Science isn’t my faith, it’s my profession.”
“What is faith?”
“Dr. Burr, what is the definition of faith?” He was surprised his dad even knew he had a doctorate, let alone call him by his honorific.
“Faith is belief that does not rely on logical proof or material evidence. But that is why science is not a faith, we provide evidence at every turn.”
“How many things do your peers take as law but everyone knows it’s still an unproven theory?” Ramsden was about to answer too quickly, but caught himself.
“Yes, that’s what I thought,” Horace said, “Ram, I get it. Science seems more real to you and what we’ve been talking about these years is how science proves the Bible is accurate nd sustained by material evidence more than any other piece of writing in all of humanity. So when I share with you that what you are doing with breaking down these barriers between worlds, I didn’t say I didn’t believe they existed. I believe it more than the average American. What I’m saying is you need to consider what you’re doing before doing it. There will be consequences and a father never wants their child to have to learn things the hard way. That is why in our way we show our love by lecturing our children.”
Ramsden and Horace were both silent for a while. Ramsden was hearing his dad for the first time in a long time. He knew his dad loved him and only wanted the best for him. But it felt like a personal attack to say something, say anything negative about Ramsden’s work, his science. He had invested so much over the years. This was a part of him. Yes there were flaws in his belief in science, but that simply meant science hadn’t caught up yet to explain that area, yet. Right?
“You’ve talked to me before about God using all sorts of people to make his will come about. Do you think I could be part of that plan? Couldn’t what I’m doing be part of God’s plan and not some reckless pursuit?
“Do you feel you’re being reckless? If you do you may be doing just that.”
“No, those are the words of someone else. What about my question?”
“Yes, the Bible talks about about using both believers in Him and evil kings to make his will come about. But that doesn’t mean what they were doing wasn’t harmful or dangerous. It means God turned it around in the end for His good will.”
“So you’re saying I could still be doing an evil thing and not realize it?”
“Yes.” The conviction of his father’s answer hit him harder than if he had been punched in the gut. He really was on his own. His dad didn’t support him, his friends didn’t trust him. All he had was Jainukul who was willing to help him.
“Dad I need to go,” Ramsden said as he wanted to end the call as soon as possible.
“I’m not saying you’re evil or what you are doing is evil. I’m saying that until you give your life over to the Lord, you’ll never really know if what you are doing is for certain for Good or for Evil. Because until then you won’t have divine guidance, only human insight, which is limited and flawed. . .as science has proven about most of humanity.” Ramsden didn’t know if he wanted to yell at his dad to stop preaching or thank him for caring and being upfront with him.
“Son, I love you,” Horace said after another long pause.
“Bye dad.” The phone line disconnected.