CHAPTER ELEVEN- Gilbert and Arthur and Climbers, oh my.
He wasn't kidding. He really didn't know. Never saw the movies, never read the books. He was more in the dark than the store they just left. Barbara was stunned. She was amazed. She was- well, you get the general idea. Between the store and the restaurant, Barbara Meadows tried to fill in her husband on everything he needed to know about spy movies of the 1960's. He took it well. And this time, they had no trouble finding a spot to park the car- right next to April's front door. Ray still had questions.
"So- you're saying we should trade in this car for- what? An Aston-Martin?"
"I wish. Maybe the car, our house and everything you can cart out of Granville Corporation with a small truck."
"So- no Aston-Martin, then?"
"Probably not. Such is life. I'll get used to it."
Out of the car and in to April's. It was lunch time, and then some. Buying guns is hungry work. Over lunch, Ray and Barbara Meadows plotted and planned their next moves. Immediate move: Contact this Gilbert Lawrence guy and find out what they could from him about the climbers. The next immediate move for Barbara: Find a pistol range. Long range plan? Tough one there. What were they doing? After they found out all they could about these things Ray was seeing, what, if anything, they could do about them. Just go on and live their lives as though there was nothing out there at night? Not possible. Capture one? That seemed so side-show tacky. Tell the world about them? Yeah, right. They both had always secretly wanted to be complete social outcasts and local loonies. Or maybe not. By the time dessert rolled around, they had settled on finding out all they could about the climbers and keeping quiet about it for the time being. And well into the foreseeable future.
That first order of business after lunch- calling Gilbert Lawrence in Denver, had them heading for home on that bright May afternoon. It was well past two o'clock when they rolled up in to the driveway. Time to call. Now. Ray left the car outside in the driveway and they both headed for the front door. Key out and front door straight ahead, Ray Meadows stopped dead in his tracks, with his wife running in to him from behind. No brake lights on blue jeans. Ray was staring down in front of himself at the front porch floor. He was not blinking, nor was he likely to any time soon. Barbara was at a loss to explain the sudden halt.
"What? What's wrong?"
"Right there. On the porch. In front of the door mat."
"Yeah? A scrape. Your point?"
"A scrape. Just like the ones on the shingles."
Barbara walked around Ray to get a better look. Then she bent down and sat down to get an even better look. That was a scrape all right. No doubt about it.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Same three-pronged pattern. The climber is also a front porcher."
Ray started to look around the front porch as though he'd never been there before. He was seeing it all for the first time again.
"Did you come out this way this morning?"
"No, I went out the back to get my gardening tools from the garage."
"When was the last time we really came out the front door?"
"Other than to just get the paper?"
"I have no idea. It's been a while."
"So this could have been here for days."
"Now we call Mister Gilbert Lawrence in Denver."
Now it was Ray's turn to bend down for a closer look. He ran his hand over the scrape, as if he could tell more from the touch. In fact, he could have if he had realized it. His hand came away from the scrape with bits of paint on the finger tips. This was a fresh scrape. As in last night, or the night before at the most. All Ray