small stones – March 29, 2016

Loren

for years, I carried you
felt the unbearable weight
of each burden you brought
lugged you from relationship
to relationship, to solitude
and still you crushed me

now you are a stepping stone
I place you beneath my feet
tread upon your back
allow you to feel the weight
of joy and love
depression, I own you!

Tears & Solitude

Sad, haunting, gorgeous poeming!
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DoodleScribbles

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On empty bed, tears she shed

A lonely waking day she dread

If only moon shines eons long

A sinful night won’t be so wrong

They say I ought to be ashamed

Of solitude, am I to blame?

When I am but a forlorn soul

 Denied of ever being whole


A random thought inspired by a lovely blogger’s six-word story. Thank you, Lori! ❤️❤️❤️

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The Stacked Deck – Part 28

By the time Jack pulled up outside The Wild Card, the place swarmed with cops and an ambulance had arrived for Frank. Jack stepped out of his car and looked around for Bobby. Instead, he found an angry Officer Buxley.

“That was a nasty trick you pulled on me, Mr. Diamond!” Buxley stated as he walked inside the club with Jack.

Jack patted him on the back. “I’m really sorry it had to go down that way, kid. I didn’t have a choice.”

Buxley grabbed Jack by his right arm, causing Jack to wince and stop in his tracks. Buxley turned and faced him.

“You nearly got me fired, Mr. Diamond. You should have told me your plans.”

Jack peeled Buxley’s fingers off of his arm and stared down at him. “If I had told you, would you have let me take her?”

“Probably not, sir,” Buxley said as he wiped his brow and grinned sheepishly at Jack.

“Then I did it the right way, kid.” Jack smirked at him and continued to walk into the lounge.

Buxley stood there for a moment and then ran to catch up with Jack. As he fell into step, he filled Jack in. “Two shots. One to the right shoulder and one to the left side near his kidney. He’s stable, but they want to get him to the hospital as soon as he talks to you, Mr. Diamond.”

Jack nodded and headed to where Frank laid just around to the back of the bar. An officer and a paramedic stepped aside for him. Jack knelled down beside Frank who had his eyes closed and breathed heavily. Jack touched his hand and Frank opened his eyes, blinked a few times and then smiled up at Jack.

“There you are, Mr. Diamond.”

Jack smiled down at him. “Yes, Frank. Here I am. Looks like you took a couple of nasty bullets.”

Frank nodded and began coughing, repeatedly. The paramedic rushed over and began checking his vitals, but Frank pushed him away.

“I need to… to tell you something, Mr. Diamond,” Frank muttered between coughs.

“I’m listening, Frank. Just take your time.”

Frank nodded again and breathed in deeply. His hand shook as he grabbed Jack’s. “I tried to stop her, Mr. Diamond. She… she was acting all crazed.” he whispered. He began coughing again and his face reddened.

“I need to get oxygen in him,” the paramedic said as he held an oxygen mask over Frank’s face.

“No… no,” Frank protested. “I must… I must tell you!”

“Sure, Frank. Take some oxygen first. I am right here,” Jack said as he straightened up and nodded to the paramedic.

As he turned around, Jack saw Bobby talking to one of the officers. From the look on Bobby’s face, it wasn’t a pleasant conversation. Jack walked over and waited. When they were done, he pulled Bobby off to the side.

“How’d you hear about this?” Jack asked him.

“I was here. I had been talking to Frank about a hunch I had. I left, went to the bathroom and then I heard the shots. When I came out, Frank was on the floor.”

Jack raised a brow and then asked, “Did you see the shooter?”

Bobby shook his head. “There was no one here but Frank when I came back out.”

“How long were you in the bathroom?”

Bobby lifted his head, scrunched up his face and then looked back at Jack. “Four, maybe five minutes. Took me another minute to get back out here.”

Jack nodded. “What was the hunch you were working on?”

“I remembered what you said about women. How some of them are girlfriend material and others are dames. Remember?”

“Yeah, kid. I remember. What about it?”

“Well, I saw a picture of Jessica Daley and I gotta tell ya, boss, she was no dame. I decided to ask Frank about her.”

Jack raised his left hand, pushed his fedora up on his head, and scratched it. Jack pondered the angle Bobby was working on. “So you think she was coerced into her job here?” he finally asked.

“That’s what I was thinking, boss.”

“What did Frank tell you?”

“Not much. He said when Miss Daley first showed up at the club, she was with a businessman. Next thing he knew, she was working at the club.”

Jack shook his head. “Blackmail, I bet. That was probably some rich businessman with a wife and kids.”

The paramedic joined Jack and Bobby. “He wants you back over there, Mr. Diamond.”

Jack walked back over to Frank and crouched down beside him. “I am here, Frank,” he said as he touched him on the shoulder.

Frank opened his eyes. “Mr. Diamond… I saw your angel today.”

Jack understood that reference. Frank had always called Angelina his angel. “Was she here at the club, Frank?” Jack asked.

Frank nodded his head. “She came to see Mr. Angelo, but… he wasn’t here. Miss D’Amore took her to the back room for a few minutes. Then your angel… she left. That’s when your associate, Mr. Weston showed up.” Frank coughed a couple of times and then continued, “When Mr. Weston went to the bathroom, Miss D’Amore came out… she was yelling and screaming. She called your angel a whore and swore that she would stop her.”

“Stop her from what?” Jack asked with a curious look on his face.

“From winning you back, Mr. Diamond. That’s what she said.”

Jack’s face grew dim. He let out a deep sign and shook his head. If Angelina told Ella she wanted me back, there’s no telling what Ella would do. He looked down at Frank. The man’s face had turned red and he coughed uncontrollably again.

“Who shot you, Frank?”

“She did, Mr. Diamond. Miss D’Amore shot me. I… I tried… she had a gun. I…”
His voice trailed off as he coughed harder.

Jack motioned for the paramedic and stood upright. His mind raced with questions. Good God, Ella. What are you doing? he thought as he ran out of the club.


 

The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which will appear as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another exciting part of this story!

The Stacked Deck ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.

Click the link to catch up on the other parts of this story:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23. Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27

Jump forward to Part 29

The Stacked Deck – Part 27

It was nearly two pm when Jack hailed a taxi for Angelina. He needed a bit of time to process her information before Dani and Bobby returned. He sat at his desk with his bourbon and cigarettes. He’d down a drink and then take a drag off of a cigarette. He lost count of how many shots he’d had, but the cigarettes were piling up in the ashtray.

He still couldn’t believe that Ella was involved that deeply in Victor’s affairs, nor that she had helped Agosti run his. And Victor’s half-sister? Jack shook his head. Did I even know you at all? It would explain why Victor wanted her back, but it didn’t explain why Ella allowed him to beat on her. Jack still had too many unanswered questions. He would have to go straight to the source for the answers too. He just hoped she would give them to him. He’d had enough of everyone’s lies.

Jack turned to stand up and knocked his right elbow on the desk. He cursed as pain flooded his right arm. He’d had enough of this too. He opened the center desk drawer and removed a pair of scissors. He unbuttoned his shirt and snipped away at the bandage around his midsection. He pulled the bandage loose from his skin and then snipped at the piece around his shoulder. Just as he was about to pull it away, he heard the office door open. Jack tried to get his shirt back over his shoulder, but it was impossible.

“Damn it!” he yelled out.

Dani ran into his office and stopped in the middle of the room. She glared at him for a moment and then walked over to him.

“Just what do you think you’re doing, Jack?” she asked as she grabbed his shirt and removed it all the way.

Jack turned around and faced her. “I am sick of this!”

“You’ve made a fine mess of it,” she decided as she pulled away the remaining outer bandage from the wound. “I’d better have a look at it. Sit down, Jack.”

Jack sighed and sat down. Dani tossed the bandages into the waste basket and then removed the inner bandage. The wound was neatly sown, but it would still leave a nasty, jagged scar. As she ran a finger across the stitching, Jack flinched.

“Sorry, Jack. I’m going to clean and redress it,” she said as she walked toward the bathroom. “You shouldn’t need a full shoulder dressing though.”

Jack watched her walk away and then propped his left elbow up on the desk. He placed his hand over his forehead and grunted. He didn’t know what was more painful, his shoulder or his heart. When he heard Dani return, he looked up. She brought over a bottle of disinfectant, some gauze and tape, and placed them on the desk.

“This is going to sting,” she whispered as she pour some of the disinfectant onto a piece of gauze. “Ready?”

Jack nodded and gripped the side of the desk. “Just do it, Dani.”

Dani gently dabbed the stitches, stopping each time Jack tensed up. Once she’d cleaned the entire wound, she took a large piece of gauze and taped it to Jack’s shoulder. She picked up his shirt and walked around the desk.

“Here, let me help you put this back on,” she said and held the right sleeve out for him to slide his arm in.

Jack grinned as he edged his arm in and then turned around. He put his left arm into its sleeve and then faced Dani again. Instead of buttoning the shirt though, she placed her palm on his chest and sighed. Jack’s face grew dim and he let out a sigh too. He wrapped his arms around her. As he drew her in to his body, Dani pressed her head against his chest and embraced him back. They stood there for a long moment just holding one another.

Finally, Jack whispered into her ear, “Everything will be okay, Dani.”

Dani lifted her head and slowly nodded. “I hope so, Jack. I can’t… I can’t lose you too.”

Jack took a step back and placed his left hand on her shoulder. He gazed down at her and noted the concerned look on her face. “I won’t let that happen, Dani. I promise you,” he whispered again.

She nodded her head, took a deep breath and began buttoning up his shirt. “There, all done,” she said as she ran a hand down the front of the shirt.

Jack flashed her a crooked smile. “Thanks, Dani. Where’s Bobby?” he asked as he sat back down in his chair.

Dani walked around to the opposite side of the desk and sat down on top of it. Se picked up a stack of papers. “He said he had a lead on something. He wouldn’t tell me what though,” she replied as she thumbed through them. “What did Miss Favero tell you?”

Jack watched as Dani flipped through the papers. He understood her resolve. That wasn’t an easy question to ask. He knew the last thing Dani wanted was to hear about Angelina. He lit a cigarette, took a drag and exhaled.

“Seems Miss D’Amore is up to her chin in Victor’s business,” Jack replied. He took another drag and sat the cigarette down in the ashtray. He reached across the desk and took the papers out of Dani’s hands. “You don’t have to worry about Angelina, Dani. She is going back to New York in the morning.”

Dani tilted her head toward Jack and raised an eyebrow at him. “Who says I’m worried? I just want to know what she said.”

Jack chuckled and leaned back in his chair. “Sure, Dani… Anyway, it’s all a scheme. Miss D’Amore’s position at the club, the gambling in the back room, and even the smut pictures.”

” A scheme, huh? How does it work?”

“She grooms women to charm men and get them drunk. Then the men gamble away their money and are forced to take pictures to pay off their debts. It’s a blackmail scheme and Miss D’Amore is in on it all. Oh, and one last thing,” he said as he picked up his cigarette and lifted it toward his lips. “She’s Victor’s half-sister,” he concluded. He took a long drag off of the cigarette and snuffed it out.

Dani’s eyes widened. “Half-sister?”

Jack nodded his head.

“So you think she was grooming Jessica Daley and Charlie White got mixed up in the scheme?”

“It sounds that way. I’ll know more when I talk to her.”

Dani opened her mouth to make a comment, but the phone rang. She reached over and picked it up.

“Hang on, Bobby,” she said and handed the phone to Jack.

“What’s up, Bobby?”

There was a moment of silence on the other end and then Bobby finally replied, “You’d better get down here to The Wild Card, Jack. Frank’s been shot. He’s asking for you.”


The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which will appear as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another exciting part of this story!

The Stacked Deck ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.

Click the link to catch up on the other parts of this story:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23. Part 24, Part 25, Part 26

Jump forward to Part 28

The Stacked Deck – Part 26

Jack pulled away from Angelina and slumped down in the floor. He put his hand to his head and ran his fingers through his hair. What are you doing, Jack? Are you insane? Angelina reached out and placed a hand on his arm, but Jack recoiled. She jerked her hand back and stared at him with wide, questioning eyes.

“Don’t!” he yelled as he rose to his feet. “Just… just don’t.”

“Jack? What just happened?”

Jack cursed himself as he walked around to the other side of the desk. His legs wobbled and his hand shook. He slumped down in his chair. For the first time in hours, he felt the pain in his shoulder. You deserve that, Jack. Serves you right.

“Nothing happened,” Jack finally replied. “And nothing will ever happen between us again. Understood, Angelina?”

“You kissed me, Jack!” she scowled as she stood up and grabbed her gloves and purse off of the desk.

“You are a piece of work, Angelina. Showing up here out of the blue. Weeping over a long, lost past. A past of your own making. Yes, I kissed you, but I won’t make that mistake again.”

“You don’t have to be so cruel, Jack. I may have broken your heart, but I broke mine too!” She paused for a moment and then whispered, “If you only knew…”

Angelina turned her head, dabbed her eyes with the handkerchief and then walked toward the door. She got only a few feet away before Jack yelled at her.

“We aren’t done yet! Sit down!”

She ignored him and kept walking.

“I said, sit down!” Jack demanded as he slammed his fist on the desk.

Angelina stopped and turned around. She let out a sigh as she walked to the chair, placed the gloves and purse back on the desk and sat down. She glared at Jack and crossed her legs.

Jack noticed that her eyes weren’t the slightest bit red. There hadn’t been any tears at all. She’d played him and he’d let her. Had she played him all along? All of those years ago too? The ache in his heart ceased. He was tired of the games.

“You should have been an actress, Angelina. That was a brilliant performance,” he said as he leaned over his desk. “Let’s stop the acting. You have information. I need information.”

“Fine!” she said as she leaned back in the chair and crossed her arms across her chest.

Jack smirked and sat upright. “That’s more like it. Now tell me the rest of what happened in New York.”

Angelina let out a long sigh. “All I know is that Victor showed up, smoothed things over and brought Ella here.”

Jack narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean he smoothed things over?”

“How am I supposed to know? One minute the cops were all over her. The next minute minute they weren’t. You know Victor. If he wants something to go away, it goes away.”

Jack knew that all too well. He’d made Angelina disappear. He’d made the real reason behind Larson’s death disappear too. Yes, he was good at that. Still, he felt like Angelina was holding something back. He kept digging.

“What else?”

“I don’t know anything else,” she said as she lowered her eyes.

Jack wasn’t buying it. If that was all she knew, she had no reason to come there. She could have just stayed in New York.

“There is something else. What aren’t you telling me?”

Angelina raised her eyes and stared back at him. She sighed again and glanced away. Finally, she turned her gaze back at Jack. “Most of the time, Victor doesn’t care about anyone but himself. You know that as well as I do. When I left him for you, Jack, he told me if I didn’t come back that he would kill anyone close to you. I saw how you always looked at your secretary…”

Jack jumped back in his seat and opened his mouth to protest.

“No, don’t deny it,” she said as she shook her head. “I knew. Somehow, so did Victor. He wanted you to feel pain, Jack. He told me that he had your partner… what was his name?”

“Mason,” Jack interjected.

“Yes, Mason. He had him killed. That was to hurt you as much as I am sure it did Dani.”

Jack wasn’t enjoying this walk down memory lane. Was she stalling? He couldn’t be sure. “I’ve had my suspicions about Mason’s death all along. So, you aren’t telling me anything new. What are you getting at, Angelina?”

“I know you don’t believe me, Jack, but I really did love you. I went back to Victor to protect you. To protect Dani. I… I didn’t want anyone else to die over me.”

Jack eyed her suspiciously. He wasn’t going to fall for her game again by getting sentimental. “Even if all of that is true, what does any of it have to do with Ella?”

Angelina slowly inhaled, held her breath for a moment and then exhaled. “When Victor sent me to New York, Ella took me in. I became a confidant of sorts to her. She told me things, Jack.”

Jack raised an eyebrow and leaned forward. “What things?”

Angelina shifted in her seat. She folded her hands in her lap and coughed nervously. “They were running a scam at the Roosevelt. Ella would lure sailors in, charm them, and then…” she paused for a moment, breathed in and out and then continued, “then she would invite them to the back room.”

“What went on in the back room, Angelina?”

She looked into Jack’s eyes for a long moment and then confessed, “Gambling, usually. Sometimes private parties with whores. Sometimes…”

“What?” Jack demanded as his eyes widened.

“Smut pictures,” she whispered.

This all sounded too familiar. “And Ella was involved in all of it?” he asked as he sat back in his chair.

“Her and Mr. Agosti. The would get the sailors drunk and have them gamble away their leave pay until they were in debt. Then as a means to pay off the debts, Mr. Agosti would force the men to take pictures with women in compromising positions. To keep the sailors from talking, they used the pictures as blackmail.”

Jack didn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe it. Was Ella really capable of all that Angelina had said? Did Victor bring her here to continue the business because there was too much heat in New York? That was not the Ella he knew. Or was it?

“That’s not all, Jack,” Angelina said, interrupting Jack’s thoughts.

Could there possibly be anything worse, he thought. “What else?”

“Ella is not Victor’s girlfriend. Oh he loves her. There is no doubt about that. He will do anything to protect her.”

Jack stood up. Confusion washed over his face as he walked around the desk. He leaned up against it and asked, “If she isn’t his girlfriend, then who is she?”

“She… she is his half-sister.”


 

The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which will appear as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another exciting part of this story!

The Stacked Deck copyrighted ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.

Click the link to catch up on the other parts of this story:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23. Part 24, Part 25

Jump forward to Part 27

small stones – March 26, 2016

dreams-mirror

in a moment of shifting sands
memory washes over me, silently
enormous burdens threaten me
again, these thoughts linger
have I taken on too much?
is my mission here too grand?
should I just pack it in
go home, leave this charge
in more capable hands?
but no, I signed the contract
my spirit sealed this deal
I must somehow carry on
defeatism is not an option

The Stacked Deck – Part 25

“I… I can’t stay, Jack. I will take Bobby to lunch. Please don’t let her be here when we get back,” Dani had said as she walked out the door ten minutes prior.

Jack sat in his office, a cigarette burned in the ashtray and his mind focused on Dani’s words. He glanced at the wall clock. 12:50 pm. He had ten minutes to compose himself before Angelina arrived. It’d been nearly ten years since he’d seen her. Jack sighed. Don’t make a fool of yourself, Jack. She left you, remember that. Jack looked down at the ashtray. The cigarette was nearly burnt out, he took one last drag and snuffed it out. He stood up and paced back and forth. His mind reeled with questions. How was Angelia connected to all of this? What did she know about Ella? And why couldn’t she just tell Bobby instead of coming here? He went to the window, lifted the blind and stared out at the City below. Was she down there somewhere on her way here? Should he even care?

“Hello, Jack,” a soft female voice said behind him.

Jack turned around. He’d been so caught up in his thoughts that he hadn’t even heard her enter. Angelina. Her hair was shorter and her once-smooth face was now slightly wrinkled around the eyes and lips, but she was still beautiful, so damn beautiful. Jack walked over to his desk and sat down in the chair.

“Hello, Miss Favero,” he said coldly. “Come in and sit down,” he offered as he pointed to a chair across from him.

Angelina walked into the office. She removed her white gloves and placed them on the desk along with her purse. “I know it’s been a long time, Jack, but why so formal?” she asked as she sat down and crossed her long legs.

Jack watched her the entire time. He couldn’t help but notice the slit in her green dress, nor the thigh-high hose slightly exposed. She always did dress just slightly on the classy, yet slutty side. His eyes wandered upward where the dress met her breasts at a V-neck, a large emerald and diamond necklace rested between them. Jack coughed as he turned his gaze from her and reached for a cigarette. He offered one to her, but she declined. Jack lit it and took a long drag. As he exhaled, he sat the cigarette in the ashtray.

“I’d like to keep this strictly business, Miss Favero, if you don’t mind,” Jack finally replied.

Angelina turned her head and sighed. She slowly turned it back around and stared at Jack for a moment. “If you insist, Mr. Diamond,” she retorted.

“I do. Thank you. Now let’s get down to that business, Miss Favero. Mr. Weston said you had some information to share,” Jack inquired as he took another drag off of his cigarette.

“I do, Ja… Mr. Diamond, that is. Mr. Weston asked if I knew Ella D’Amore and I told him I did. I worked at the Roosevelt with her before she left several months back.”

Jack raised an eyebrow. “Were you also performing?” he asked as he leaned forward. Angelina was a singer at Victor’s club when he met her. He had no idea why he was curious about her current occupation, but he was.

Angelina shook her head. “No, I am a hostess. Miss D’Amore sang and danced.”

Jack nodded and leaned back. “Go on,” he said as he continued smoking his cigarette.

“Well, when I knew her, she was dating a sailor named Perkins. He turned up dead and Miss D’Amore was a suspect.”

Jack narrowed his eyes. “Why was she a suspect?”

“Because she was the last person to see him alive. They’d been at the club together after hours,” she said as she lowered her eyes. She smoothed out her dress and shifted in the seat. Finally, she looked back up at Jack and continued, “I saw them leave together. When the cops questioned me, I told them I had seen them get into a taxi together.”

“That doesn’t prove anything, Miss Favero. Why would the cops suspect her?”

Angelina cleared her throat and continued, “They’d been arguing. I was in the back changing and I heard them. It was a nasty fight, Mr. D…,” she said as she scooted to the edge of her seat. Her eyes teared up and she clutched the edge of the desk. “Oh Jack, can we please quit this pretense? Why must you be so cold?”

Jack stumped his cigarette out in the ashtray and slammed his fist on the desk. “You know why, Angelina! Why did you come here? You could have told all of this to Bobby. Hell, I suspect you did tell him. So why? Why come back here now?”

Angelina stared at him in disbelief and then turned her head. She lifted a hand to her face and wept.

Jack sighed heavily and stood up. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and walked around to the opposite side of the desk. He leaned against it and pushed the handkerchief towards Angelina. She pushed his hand away and turned half way around in the seat, burying her head in both of her hands. She continued to cry.

“Damn it!” Jack yelled as he crouched down and gathered her close to his chest with his left arm. “Hush, hush,” he whispered as he rubbed her back.

Angelina buried her head in his chest. “I’m sorry, Jack. God knows I am so sorry,” she sobbed.

Jack released her and lifted her head with his hand. He gazed into her brown eyes as he leaned into her. Memories flooded his mind as he recalled all of the moments they’d spent together. He pressed his lips to hers and kissed her with all of the hunger of a starved man.


 

The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which will appear as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another exciting part of this story!

The Stacked Deck copyrighted ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.

Click the link to catch up on the other parts of this story:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24

Jump forward to Part 26