[Keith Buckley’s new Paragraph Line Books release, The Orphic Egg Caper, follows the antics of Osborne Yesterday, barely sober and brain-damaged private investigator, as he stumbles along the trail of a fabled talisman. You can find his book on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle eBook here: The Orphic Egg Caper.]
I first met the late Osborne Yesterday on Tuesday, March 2, 1976, during the second semester of my junior year at Indiana University. My directing professor, Richard Scammon, was reviewing the requirements of our final scene assignment when one of the theater department’s administrative assistants walked in the room unannounced, closely followed by two very serious, very button-down Establishment guys. Obviously Feds, and most of us had grown accustomed to these interruptions—several members of the Symbionese Liberation Army had met at I.U. before moving to the west coast, and the extremely dead Angela Atwood had been a theater major. Scammon had already bragged several times to us that he had inside knowledge about Atwood because she had been a student assistant director on one of his productions. He grooved on the attention and seemed happy enough halting class and waltzing off with the two G-men. I was getting an extremely weird vibe off the shorter, uglier one, who stared intently at me as he followed Scammon and his partner out of the room.
At least half of my fellow students seemed content to wait around and see if the agents would be finished with our teacher before the class was over. Not me: I shoved my notebook and coffee thermos into my backpack and bolted. My guts were tightening with sickening jolts of paranoia. I shared a house with three enterprising drug-dealers, and all I could think about was a rumored quantity of dope coming into town that evening. Even though I lived on a floor below the miscreants and kept my nose relatively clean, I wanted to give them fair warning and also be as far as possible from any possible busts. I ran outside, scrambled on my bike, and nearly got myself killed running every stop sign between the Theater Building and our house on North Prow. The house was empty when I got there, so I left large warning messages on all three locked bedroom doors on the second floor. Then I stuffed my backpack with homework for the rest of my classes and made the return trip to campus, this time heading for the Main Library, where I intended to stay until closing time.
I’d pretty much peeled myself off the ceiling by 9 p.m. that evening. Several calls back to the house on library payphones (way before cellphones, boys and girls) informed me that my roommates had taken delivery of five pounds of Oaxacan weed without incident, although they took the precaution of shuttling the dope to a girlfriend’s apartment for weighing and bagging. I felt safe and secure up there by myself on the 11th floor of the library’s graduate tower; the elevators only went up to 10, and nobody ever seemed to want to climb the extra flight of stairs. I was just beginning to mellow out over a reading for my Buddhism class when I heard the door from the stairway open. I didn’t hear any footsteps, though, and the next thing I know, the beady dark gray eyes of the hideous Fed are drilling into me again, intense yet also deeply serene and he pushes a badge in my face, and he says softly and distinctly “I am FBI Special Agent Osborn Yesterday and I need to know where’s the Tibetan you’ve been studying with, Keith Allen Buckley of 510 Prow Avenue.”
As a true child of the Nixon era, my first impulse is to deny being this Keith Buckley dude. Yesterday nods his chin at me and says “You’re a bad liar, Keith Allen Buckley and there’s your tell—you’ve folded your hands in what the Tibetan has taught you is the mudra ngang ring po, abiding patience” and he points at my neck. “It’s not doing shit for you, Keith Allen Buckley, because your pulse is now over 100, so just cool down because I am not here about those dope-dealing jokers you live with,” and then his dark eyes narrow. “Unless the Tibetan is using these dimwits to move Golden Triangle junk through this hole,” he says, and I just about piss myself blubbering “Honest to God, Officer Yesterday, my roommates don’t sell heroin and they don’t know anything about the Tantric group and Dzogchen Tulku Rinpoche or even where—“ and he picks up my backpack from the floor and tosses it on the carrel, and says “Yeah, I know. And I don’t care about them. You are going to take me to wherever he and his crew have been watching you dumb sheep screw for them. Right now.”
Little did I realize that the Rinpoche, who’d been leading a group of us through some wonderfully nasty so-called Tantric rituals, was a murderous opium trafficker who would escape Yesterday on this occasion, and whose return to Bloomington would trigger the events Osborne narrated to me and which would become the newest book from Paragraph Line Books, The Orphic Egg Caper.
[Keith Buckley lives in Bloomington, Indiana. When Osborne Yesterday retired from the FBI and moved to Bloomington as a private detective, Buckley worked as his amanuensis from 1990 until shortly before Yesterday’s disappearance in 2014. Aside from the 29 cases Buckley compiled and edited for Yesterday, he is also a writer, and is currently working on Welcome To Friday Noon Edition, which will contain a more detailed narrative of his first meeting with Osborne.]