Over and Under

Over and Under by Todd Tucker

Book: Over and Under by Todd Tucker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Todd Tucker
lawn could see anything that was actually happening inside the building, as security was being enforced at the door by two burly but friendly-looking strikers who were checking the union cards of each person going inside. Tom and I watched as a self-important
reporter tried to bluster his way past, to no avail. He left in a huff as the men at the door looked embarrassed by the commotion.
    “We’ll never get in through the front door,” said Tom.
    Especially since one of us is the son of a manager, I thought.
    It pissed me off. A big event was taking place inside the institute, in our town, and I didn’t like being excluded, as I was now in all things having to do with the union. I was as determined to get inside the institute as I was opposed to family secrets. I wanted to hear what the union had to say about the death of Don Strange and those responsible. And if hanging out with Tom all my life had taught me anything, it was this: you can usually get yourself from one place to another if you want to get there bad enough.
    Tom was examining the building with a critical eye. “Let’s go around back.”
    I rode around slowly, following Tom, the tread of my bike tires crunching on the dusty gravel of the driveway. In back we saw a number of potential entrances, narrow doors that looked like they had been designed for servants back during the institute’s glory days. I wondered who waitedinside those doors now. Guards with guns? Cops? I was constantly being warned by those around me that I had an overactive imagination, and I tried to keep it in check, but the fact was that men who belonged to this group had killed a man, and the criminals were still at large. I worried that my staid German neighbors had imaginations that were not active enough. Disaster had already struck in Borden, and I saw no reason why it couldn’t again. Everyone but Tom and me seemed to have accepted on faith that Sanders and Kruer were gone, the trouble they caused a tragic but fleeting event, a lightning strike. I feared it might be more like a drought, something that could linger and worsen indefinitely.
    Tom walked up to one of the small back doors and tugged on the knob. To my shock, the door swung open, and we looked right at the wide back of a man in a blue work shirt and jeans. Past him several other men stood in a relaxed circle inside a large, old-fashioned, institutional kitchen. It took the man just a second to feel the breeze at his back. When he turned around and saw us, he attempted to hide the dewy can of Falls City beer in his hand.
    “You run along now,” he said, his eyes darting guiltily from Tom to me and back, his free hand reaching to shut the door quickly. He certainly wasn’t a guard or a cop—he was a regular dude sneaking a beer and a cigarette while locked safely away from a reproachful and possibly Baptist wife. Still, he might as well have been an armed sentry as far as Tom and I were concerned. The other back door opened into the same kitchen, no doubt, in view of the same men, who had every reason to keep us clear of their impromptu stag party.
    “Hell’s bells,” said Tom. He scratched his chin and searched the building for another point of vulnerability.
    My eyes followed his to a low roof that provided a small area of shelter for one of the narrow back doors, this one at the very back corner of the building. I imagined it as a haven for a uniformed deliveryman in a pouring rain a hundred years ago. Above the small roof was a second-floor window. This was a tactic we knew well—my porch roof was the starting point for many of our recent adventures. We ambled over for a better look.
    “How can we get up there?” I asked. In keeping with the grand scale of the institute, the door was tall and the small roof above it seemed out of reach.
    Tom jumped at the roof with his hands up in the air. Even with his considerable athleticism, it was futile.
    “Can you lift me?” he asked.
    “Then how

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