My shoulders dropped when I saw the word “daughter.” I looked at Carol and said “shit.” Neither one of us said anything as we started closing the books that were spread out all over the table. I was too tired to look anymore so I thanked her for her help and left.
When I walked out of the Courthouse, I looked to my left, toward the clock. The greeter was there. I halfway expected him to look at me and mockingly laugh but he didn’t even glance my way.
City Hall was just a block up the street so I decided to walk up there and do what I had promised myself I would do. I was directed to a window where a marble name plate rested, bearing the name “Mr. Sawyer.” I told him I was there to make a donation for Bob Carter. While I was writing a check, I started telling him about my fruitless efforts at the Courthouse.
Although Mr. Sawyer had a friendly demeanor, I don’t know what made me think he actually cared. I told him about the picture and how I was trying to find out who it was. I guess either fatigue or desperation had set in.
Surprisingly, Mr. Sawyer listened sympathetically and as he took my check, said “you know, you might want to go back to the Courthouse and talk to Wilberforce Wentworth.” I looked at him and said “seriously? You’re kidding, right? Wilberforce Wentworth?”
Mr. Sawyer smiled and said “honest to God. That’s his real name.” He said, “he’s a character but he really knows his stuff and if anybody can help you find something, he can.”
I wasn’t sure if I was up for another lengthy visit to the Courthouse so I decided to put it off until the next day. I was emotionally drained and mentally exhausted. All I needed was to relax and get some sleep, although there was still an element of excitement stirring through my veins.
I got up and made sure I was at the Courthouse as soon as it opened. I went to the front desk and asked for Mr. Wentworth. I was a little hesitant because I still wasn’t sure that Mr. Sawyer hadn’t been pulling my leg about his name.
Sure enough, Wilberforce Wentworth did exist. His room was down a long corridor in the very back of the Courthouse. I gently knocked on the door and heard an almost gruff “come in.” I walked in and there sat this curmudgeonly old man who didn’t even bother to look up.
He was a small man who looked like a throwback to the days of the old bankers who wore rumpled white shirts, string-ties and elastic bands around their sleeves. He was bald except for a bit of fringe around the bottom of his head and he wore round, gold wire-rimmed glasses that reminded me of John Lennon.
There was an open registry book in front of him and his face was about three inches away, as if even with his glasses, he couldn’t see the print. His finger was carefully tracing the lines as he was reading. I wasn’t sure whether to speak or just let him keep reading. He kind of scared me a little.
He finally took off his glasses, carefully folded the arms down, looked up and asked what he could do for me. For a minute, I thought I had gone brain-dead because I couldn’t remember why I was there.
He finally said “I know I’m pretty but you obviously didn’t come here to just stand there and look at me.” I enjoyed that little slice of humor and thought how it really didn’t fit his appearance.
I quickly gathered my senses and told him I was trying to find somebody with the initials P. M. He said “you’re trying to find somebody with the initials P. M.” I said “yes.”
He chuckled like he thought I was joking and asked if that was all I had. I told him I thought that he might be a “third.” He said “you think he might be a third.”
I really wasn’t interested in playing the mockingbird game but I didn’t want to be rude, especially if he could help me.
I said “I have a picture and the initials on the back are PMIII. I lied when I told him that he was a distant relative and I thought he might have been born in the last part of the eighteenth century.
I didn’t say anything about the greeter.
Wentworth told me that if I could come up with any more information, he would try to help me but he didn’t think he could do anything until I did.
I thanked him and started to walk away, when he said “you might want to talk to Miss Spivey.” Now, it was my turn to play the mockingbird game. I said “I might want to talk to Miss Spivey? Who is Miss Spivey?”
Wilberforce said “she’s one hundred and nine years old. She’s been around for a long time and knows things. She lives in a pink house, right down there on Ann Street. I don’t know if she can help you but it might be worth talking to her.”
I wasn’t sure why he was telling me about her but I thought I might take a chance. At worst, it would be just another dead-end.
I thanked Wilberforce and as I reached the door, he peered over the top of his glasses and said “you know, folks say she can see into your soul.”
Having said that, he returned to his book and acted as if I had never been in the room.
To be continued…………………….