Part V - Chapter 23 - Nosey Norm

San Francisco, CA

The next couple hours were quiet at the bar. Jack and Clara had ordered a few bottles of liquor before disappearing to a nearby hotel. Norm continued to drink and read a morning paper.

“Does that man ever work?” asked Pete.

Ellie shrugged before stating, “He’s always got money to pay so I never ask. Speaking of money,” Ellie turned to look at Pete, “what’s with all of the treasure you have all over the floor in your room?”

Pete merely shrugged as he began to review more of Ellie’s notes on the bracelet. Ellie continued, “I’m not asking where it came from, merely suggesting that you should find a better place for it. Aside from all of the floor of one of my rooms for rent.”

“Ellie, I’ll address it later,” Pete responded before changing the subject, “What are we going to do about Socrates when he wakes up.”

Ellie waved her hand at the thought, “I can handle Socrates. Right now, we have got a misplaced scientist to investigate and you’ll need to be as good or better with that technology to keep one step ahead of him.”

At that moment, Norm hollered, “What’s up Doc?”

Ellie and Pete looked towards Ellie’s room and were shocked to see a scowling Socrates. He looked around the room as he slowly inched into the room.

“Soc to Brisco. Socrates to my friends. You can call me Mr. Poole.” responded Socrates in an unamused voice as he continued to look around the room.

“Soc. Doc. What’s the difference?” asked Norm.

“Has that couple left?” Socrates inquired cautiously.

“Yep, they’ve moved on,” Ellie stated in an overly mothering tone.

Socrates looked even more unamused by the tone but kept his voice even keeled, “May I have some coffee?”

Ellie paused recalling the mania from the morning and asked, “How about some breakfast with it?”

“Or lunch- whatever meal is appropriate for this time of day,” responded Socrates as he moved back to his table. He picked up his glasses and began to reshuffle the piles of newspapers and notes that Ellie had organized. Pete gave a mocking shiver to Norm and Ellie but neither looked amused by the joke so Pete went back to review notes about the bracelet.

“I suppose I should thank you for allowing me to sleep in your room instead of on the floor,” Socrates stated without looking up. The room remained in icy silence with Pete reviewing Ellie’s notes on the bracelet and Socrates reviewing the newspapers, unknowingly searching for Pete.

Norm seemed unable to handle the silence and broke the silence with a slurred question to Socrates, “Have you found your longhaired bearded bank robber who appears and vanishes from impenetrable vaults without a trace?”

“Not yet,” sighed Socrates as he let a few papers fall to the ground. Ellie brought Socrates a cup of coffee and a sandwich. Socrates seemed to soften as he bit into the sandwich and decided to relieve the tension in the room that he had caused.

“You know, I thought of another ‘coming thing’ while I was waking up a little while ago. What if all of the newspapers could be stored in one place, maybe a giant machine and it could filter out the key words that someone is looking for. Phrases like ‘robber,’ ‘longhaired and bearded man,’ ‘appearing and disappearing without a trace.’ I could not only save time but prevent my friends feeling the need to knock me out.” He smiled at Ellie but the joke seemed to fall flat. Socrates shrugged his shoulders before slipping back into his world of research, oblivious to the world around him.

Still unable to stand the silence, Norm tried again, “Well, Pete here is a robber-“

“Alleged misappropriation specialist,” corrected Pete.

Norm, unphased, continued, “Pete is a robber, he’s got long hair, he’s got a beard, and he’s disappeared.”

Ellie and Pete exchanged glances. They had both assumed that Norm was too drunk to have noticed what they had been up to and only now did both individuals began to think, “What if…”

“Really?” said an unmoved Socrates who seemed to have responded without truly comprehending.

“Really,” replied Norm.

Socrates took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment. “Norm, Brisco is back out in the field with a Hollywood actress and a scientist while looking for the son of Bowler. I appreciate your suggestion but I truly need to find a mastermind thief.”

“Tell me about this scientist” asked Pete as he tried to play it nonchalantly. “Is Brisco working with Professor Wickwire again?”

“Oh, just some young guy. Just seems a bit more socially awkward than I was at his age.”

“Is that even possible?” jibed Norm.

“What’s your gut feeling on this guy,” asked Ellie, knowing what information Pete was trying to get.

“Young kid but a good guy, I guess. Just seems to be experiencing more adventure than he wanted. But overall, he’s intelligent enough.” Socrates paused for a moment and looked at the three individuals at the bar. “I do appreciate the concern for both Brisco and myself but we’re both alright. And while I don’t mean to be rude but after losing a couple hours to sleep, I really have to get back to finding this criminal.”

Ellie sat next to Pete and they began quietly planning their next move. Unfortunately, they failed to notice that Norm had stood from the bar and was moving towards the lawyer. The bar fly then picked up the unsuspecting Socrates by the back of his wrinkled shirt and dragged him over to Pete.

“I’m telling you,” slurred Norm. “They don’t think I know but Pete pushes on his bracelet,” Norm lifted Pete’s sleeve to show the bracelet before continuing, “and then he disappears. He has a room full of loot.”

“How do you know that?” asked a shocked Socrates.

“I passed out in there once,” confessed Norm. However, at Pete’s glare, he continued. “Alright, you dragged it out of me. I may have slept in your room a couple times because I just couldn’t go home to Vera.”

A shocked Socrates looked between the bracelet, Pete, and finally, Ellie. The betrayal was etched across his face as he looked at her. Before Socrates could respond, Pete managed to push Norm away. He straightened himself up, tipped his hat at Ellie before saying, “No time like the present, I guess.” At that, Pete held up his arm and commanded, “Take me to Brisco County now.”

With a burst of light and a loud noise, Pete disappeared before an open-mouthed Socrates Poole. Ellie went back to cleaning the bar as if nothing had happened, while discretely tucking away the notes and journal out of sight.

Norm looked at Socrates and beamed before bragging, “I told you Pete was the man you were looking for!”

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