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|Investigator part one (standard:other, 79677 words)|
|Author: Anonymous||Added: Apr 18 2014||Views/Reads: 1902/2319||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Part one of a continuing story... This story is not pornographic. It does however contain adult situations and language nothing worse than you would see or bBritish TV|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story replacement early, so for the next five hours he sat at his desk staring out the window. Over half his life was in the one cardboard box sitting atop his desk. He wasn't even imaginative enough to see how the small cardboard container was a metaphor of his life. His last meal in the city was a celebration. He went to the New China City Restaurant alone for the combo plate with egg rolls. Steady Eddy's personal life was as bland as dishwater and he didn't mind at all. Eddie had dated a few times and found women to be a pain in the ass. So when he first became involved with the widow of a Police Officer, who was nuts, he wanted to run away. She however called him over to fix things about once a month. She got her plumbing cleared, and he got dinner with her and her two children. After the kids went to sleep, they always had boring sex. The arrangement lasted until she and the kids moved home to Indiana. Anna met a man and decided the kids needed a father who was not a cop. Eddie never blamed her, since they were just friends. At least the closest thing to a friend he ever had. People around him envied his peaceful life style, but they sure as hell didn't want it as a full time lifestyle. Eddie: (into his phone) Dep....Hello. Voice coming out of the phone: Deputy Chief Alexander? Eddie: I was this morning. Who is this? Voice: I'm Lucille Martin, Chief of Staff for Senator Jeffery Ames. I would like to arrange a meeting with you. Eddie: To what end? I don't know the Senator and as far as I know I have no business with him. Lucille: The meeting isn't with the Senator it is with me. Eddie: I see. I am really not interested in making any contributions. Lucille: (Laughing) I know the press makes it seem like all we do is raise money, but we try to fit in public business now and then. The meeting is about public service. We know you just retired and most likely will be bored silly in a month. This is just a chance for us to talk about your options. Eddie: The only options I'm interested in at the moment is traditional shingles or architectural ones. Lucille: Go with the architectural. Now how about lunch at that dreadful Cafe you like so much. Eddie: You seem to know a lot about me. Lucille: You, most of all, should know the devil is in the details. Lucille had managed to make him curious. He decided that he should at least listen to her even if he did have to go into the city to do it. Eddie: When do you want to meet? Lucille: Lunch tomorrow and bring your appetite I'm buying. Eddie: In that case I'll skip breakfast. Lucille: What dreadful combination of cereals are you having these mornings? Eddie: I don't know the names, but it looks like pine needles, maggots and bat shit. Lucille: You got to love a man with a sense of humor. She was gone without setting a time for the meeting. Eddie decided to just go at his usual time since she seemed to know everything else about him, she surely knew he ate lunch everyday at 1 PM. Eddie didn't worry about who she really was or what she wanted. There was nothing he could do to change whatever she had in mind for him. He also didn't expect anything good to come of the meeting. He planned to have lunch with her then walk away. The roofer showed up in the early evening, presumably after a full day's work on another project. His truck looked like it was twenty years old and hadn't been washed since it left the dealer's showroom. The rust might have been the only thing holding the fenders on. Roofer: So Mr. Alexander you ready to let me start work? Eddie: We agreed on the work to be done and the way it is to be done, right? Roofer: Sure we put it on old school, hammers and nails, not nail gun. I am gonna tear off the old one, use felt every where, shingle leaf on the edges and step flashing around the chimney. I am gonna install rubber boots around the two vents. It's a small little three bedroom house so price is $2,500. Eddie: We did not agree to that figure. Roofer: That's the going rate. Eddie knew that he was right but he had no intention of paying that kind of money without a second estimate. During the last meeting the roofer went home to compile his estimate. So now he had come back with a full downtown price. Eddie had spent enough time in the farming community to know labor was at least 10% cheaper than it would have been downtown. Eddie: I'm not going to haggle like a fish monger. I checked around and I'm prepared to do the job for two grand. More than that and I will have to take bids and compare them. Roofer after a minute of silence: Twenty two and I'll roof that shed out back. You know it needs it. Eddie: Done, so when you want to start? Roofer: Early tomorrow morning? Eddie: Yeah that's fine. I have to go out for lunch tomorrow, but I expect you will still be working when I get back. I'll write you a check for half now and the other half when it is completed satisfactorily. The roofer left with a check for eleven hundred dollars with which he would purchase the brown plain shingles for the roof. Eddie watched some Television with his new Internet TV device for awhile, then walked on the deck with his Budweiser beer. He sat until 11 PM listening to the sounds of the night, then went to bed. The bed and small kitchen appliances were the bulk of the items to come from his studio apartment. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ While Eddie Alexander was slipping into oblivion Lucille was busy recruiting another person for the Senator's team. The interview was being held in a quiet brew pub in the middle of a revitalized neighborhood in downtown DC. It was within walking distance of May Jeffrey's apartment. Lucille: So you in or not. I have an appointment with a retired homicide detective tomorrow. I would like to be able to give him the whole team's background. May: Surely you can do better than a rookie assistant US attorney. You are talking about a high powered investigation cranking up. Lucille: Don't sell yourself short you know the law and now you have three years with the US Attorney's office. Your evaluations have been excellent all the way through. You will still be working for the US Attorney but just on loan to the Committee. May: Committee my ass. You and I both know I would be working for your boss. He wants to bring down those last members of the so called American Foreign Legion. Lucille: You sound like you don't approve. May: There has been no evidence whatsoever that they committed any illegal acts under the US department of Justice's jurisdiction. Lucille: And that is why we want you. We all know Sylvia Porter is dead, but she had lots of underlings who did her dirty work. She knew where some pretty rank skeletons were buried, but that all died with her. May bent over and kissed Lucille on the lips. The kiss lingered just a bit. Lucille: What the fuck? May: Those two guys at the end of the bar were planning to come down and hit on us. Unless you think your husband would prefer you come home filled with some other man's sperm? Lucille: I think he would prefer I just said no to you both. May: Careful you are letting your homophobia peek through. Lucille: It's not homophobic to want to choose who kisses me. May: So you say. May picked up her purse, then stood. Be sure your cop knows who is in charge. Lucille: He is in charge of the investigation. You will be in charge of the administration of the law. That's how it's going to roll. May standing beside Lucille: So who is the hotshot cop? Lucille: Deputy Chief Homicide Detective Edward Alexander. May: My god not Steady Eddie. Tell me you don't have Steady Eddie. Lucille: I can't since I'm seeing him tomorrow, if he agrees he will be heading up the team. May: Are you going to sleep with him to make sure he goes along? Lucille: I did not have to sleep with you to recruit you. May: But you would have, if I had insisted. Lucille: Yes I would have, but that wasn't necessary and won't be necessary with Eddie either. May: No it won't be necessary for me. Just knowing you would is enough. Lucille: You are one strange bitch. May: That's what my daddy always said. Lucille: Well that's another thing he was right about. May: You ain't giving me this chance because of him are you. Lucille: Frederick Jeffrey ran for congress when I was in college. I was one of his volunteers. He was so young and charismatic, we all called him the southern John Kennedy. But no May, you stand on your own merits here. May: Good, but nobody is going to believe either of us. So when do I start? Lucille: There is going to be a team meeting just as soon as I convince Eddie Alexander to come on board. May: Will you fuck him to get him on board? Lucille: Not unless I have to. He is an old man. Day 2 Eddie was in the cafe five minutes before Lucille entered. He didn't recognize her of course, so he had to wait until she moved toward his table. He didn't recognize her but he recognized the look of someone coming toward him, so he stood. Eddie: Lucille I assume. Lucille: Steady Eddie, you look just like your picture. Eddie: I do hope you aren't talking about the dreadful ID photo. Lucille: No the one of you coming out of the Senate Hearings on the Swamp Dog Mercenaries. Eddie: So that's what this is about. I really don't know any more than I told the Senate committee. Lucille: I'm sure you think that is true, but we would like for you to continue that investigation. You would give us a huge leg up. Eddie: That case was closed with a 'cleared' notation. There is nothing to investigate. Lucille: A man is murdered and there is nothing to investigate? Eddie: The man who was murdered was a drug wholesaler. Everyone figured it was the cost of doing business. Nobody is going to miss him. Lucille: Two weeks before he died, he is alleged to have had the son of a congressman killed. Some kind of message he was sending I heard. Eddie: I don't know about that. All I know is a drug lord in Columbia claimed to have been responsible for the killing. It was his way of taking the heat off the drug trade, I expect. We were told it was no longer in our jurisdiction. DEA would be taking the lead. Lucille: Don't you just hate when that happens? Eddie: It was just a job Lucy, not a crusade for me. Lucille: You can call me Lucille or Ms Martin, but you can not call me Lucy. Eddie: Okay then let me explain that I am retired. I don't need a job and didn't come looking for you. So Ms Martin our business is done. You don't need to buy me lunch, since we are not doing business after all. Lucille: Wouldn't you like to know who actually put that hole in Carlos' ear. Eddie: Not especially. I was told the case was closed, so the case is closed. Eddie wasn't nearly as cool as he acted. No cop likes to be pulled off an active case. When he found out the Congressman's connection, he was reminded that it was all political. He didn't really need that reminder. The last five years had been ripe with political decisions made by others. Lucille: Did you put a name to the image? Eddie: I assume you read the file. Lucille: The file might easily have been sanitized. Eddie: If you saw the image you know as much as I do, a woman with a blonde wig, great body, and large dark glasses. The Federal database couldn't find her. That was four years ago. Lucille: Five years and two months since the murder. Eddie: Nobody cares about a drug cartel operative who gets killed doing business. Lucille: Senator Ames cares. Eddie: Why? Is he going to run for President? Eddie looked for a reaction. There was a small twitch in her face. He knew then that it was a political ploy. Nobody really cared. They just wanted to investigate so that they could keep the Foreign Legion thing alive till the elections. Of course it could be that the kid's father had hired the Swamp people to off the drug dealer. That would pretty much seal his fate. At least it would ruin his career. It would also mean any chance he ever had to run against Ames was gone as well. Eddie didn't like politics or politicians. Lucille: So what's it going to take to get you on board. Eddie: You don't have anything I want. Get yourself someone else to persecute the kid's father. You don't give a crap about some dope dealer. You probably don't care about Swamp Dog. It all just makes for good theater. Lucille changed her tactic: What is it you plan to grow on your five acre mini farm. Eddie: Goats. Lucille: Why goats? Eddie: Why not? Lucille: Six months, that's the most this will take. Eddie: Let me tell you something. You do not want me to take the job after this discussion. Because if I do and the facts don't fit your needs, they will come out anyway. If this begins to look political, I will go to the press. I don't work for the government anymore. For twenty five years I have played by the rules. I am going to be a decent human being and do the right thing in my final days. My non-disclosure agreement is no good anymore. So why not just go find yourself another boy. Lucille: You have experience dealing with this thing. You have credibility and you have already testified before the Committee, so they probably won't call you again. Not unless we get some hard evidence about the blonde with the big boobs. So are you in? Eddie: I know I'm going to regret this. I have given all my suits and ties to the Goodwill. If I work for you, the dress is casual. Lucille: As long as you don't become a nudist. Eddie had a grilled cheese and homemade potato chips. Lucille had a ham and cheese salad. Lucille paid the check as promised. Lucille: Tomorrow 9 AM at this address. She was standing on the sidewalk outside the New Town Cafe. She nodded then walked to her car. Eddie: Where is that address? I don't recognize it. Lucille: Google it. Now don't set a bad example by being late. You are going to meet the team and you are one of the bosses now. Eddie: I was one of the bosses yesterday but I still had to put up with shit. Tomorrow I don't have to put up with anything. We are clear about that, right? Lucille: You just have to do what you do, then tell us when it is done. We don't care how you do it. Eddie: Then I'll see you tomorrow. Eddie drove his brand new South Korean Econobox through the town of Bailey Crossroads and five more miles then into the driveway of his small three bedroom frame house. He was glad to see that the roofers were still driving nails. Eddie went inside after waving up at the roofer boss. Once inside he opened a can of diet soda from Walmart, then turned on the new Internet TV. He unlocked what used to be the linen closet in the hall to remove the strong box. From the box Eddie removed an old style cell phone, then installed a battery. He dialed the number of the House of Representatives Office building. Eddie: You were right she is obsessed with you. Voice on the phone: My staff heard she was going to try to recruit you for the Senate Investigation. I suppose for a change they knew what they were talking about. Eddie: How long has she been planning this. Voice: The investigation has been ongoing. When she was told you were going to retire, they began making plans. You are considered the expert on Swamp Dog investigations. You didn't act eager to work for them did you? Eddie: Of course not. This isn't my first rodeo. It might have been a while, but I know how to work undercover. (knock on the door) I have to run. I have to pay my roofing contractor. I'll stay in touch. Eddie went outside to check out the roof. Just before he climbed onto the roof to inspect it, he tried to work out the story line for the intrigue in which he found himself at the moment. He gave up and just spit on the ground and muttered, "Politicians". After he climbed the ladder he walked all over the roof. Only then did he hand over the roofer's check for eleven hundred more dollars. Roofer: Call me if you have any trouble. Eddie: Don't worry I will. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Meanwhile in the Senate Office Building Lucille was picking up her secure office phone. It was as secure as a phone could be by that time. Lucille: May, your boss is going to be in to see you, if he hasn't been in yet. The first meeting is tomorrow at 9 AM at the Hole In The Wall. The equipment has been installed and we are already to go. May: Good I'll be there in the morning. I still don't see why all this hung on one man. A retired Federal Cop for god's sake. Lucille: That Fed has information that never made it into the report. All cops keep over half the information on a case in their heads. They at least know which paths to walk down. That kind of thing doesn't go into reports, but can save us months. May: Alright but it has been my experience that cops and lawyers on the same team make a disastrous mix. Lucille: Maybe, but we need him and I need you to play nice, understand? You are ambitious and he is not, so use that. So there shouldn't be any pissing matches. May: I'll see you in the morning at nine. When the connection was broken Lucille began alerting the rest of her people. She had five people in the crew, each with a different agenda. That's why they chose her to lead the investigation. Get out in front of a potentially embarrassing story and stay ahead of the curve. Cops and lawyers didn't understand political perception and the news cycle's effect on it. Lucille had her cop, her lawyer, her retired CIA operative, her forensic computer nerd and her nurse practitioner. The nurse was just in case there was medical information to be reviewed. She was also going to coordinate the movements of people and act as receptionist. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lucille speaking into the phone: Selina, we are on for tomorrow morning at 9 AM at the Hole. Selina: I'm not sure you need me, since I'll just be sitting around most of the time. Lucille: Would you rather be sitting around in the office, or sitting around at home. Salina: Do the others know who they will be working with? Lucille: No but they will have to know. We are going to have to be honest with each other. None of us are perfect. Salina: So, of us all who have the worst history. Lucille: That depends on your definition of worst. I know that is a political answer, but this is going to be a political game. If you tell that, I'll swear I never said it. Salina: Yeah, who would the other politicians believe? One of their own, or a Junkie Nurse. Lucille: Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Salina: Yes let's hope. Lucille reviewed Salina's file only because she knew that Salina was a bit of an idealist, always a bad sign. She had been an Army combat medic when the Army first began allowing women into combat. That's where she first tried Morphine. She swears she never compromised the men under her care, but who knows. According to her probation report she secretly kicked it on her own. She went through college drug free, according to her statement. College was paid for with the college benefits supplied by the Military. Where the money for her living expenses came from was not really clear. Evidently no one thought to ask. Three years before that night, she was caught with five bindles of heroin. She also had fresh track marks on her arm. She did a year in a Federal prison before being paroled. Since her parole she had tested clean for drugs of any kind. She lived in a halfway house part of the time finally moving to a tiny apartment after taking a job with a Medical Supply Distribution Center. She drove a truck delivering medical devices to geriatric facilities. She even saved a life when one of the patients went into cardiac arrest and the new nurse panicked. Those places didn't hire the best nurses even Lucille knew that. So she recruited the junkie nurse to be the receptionist and half ass medical authority. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lucille spoke into the phone again: Michael, are you ready to begin work? Michael was a chubby mid twenties pimply faced kind of kid. He was the best computer specialist Lucille could find in DC, who didn't work for NSA. He most likely would have, if he could have passed the background check. Michael's problem, other than the occasional Joint, was his willingness to reprogram phones and clean computers which had once belonged to other people. He told Lucille he felt like he was saving the planet by recycling. So what if he recycled other people's junk without their permission. He had worked with a gang of kids who hung around high end restaurants and train stations. The information on the laptops and Iphones was sometimes worth a few bucks. How was he to know the actors in the video, of the two people fucking, were cops. Trying to blackmail them got him arrested. Michael: Do I have a choice? Lucille: Not if you want to stay out of jail. Michael: Then I will be there. Just tell me when and where. Lucille: Tomorrow 9 AM at the Hole. Michael: 10-4 Lucille: Don't try to talk like a cop. You aren't now, nor will you ever be a cop. (her tone was motherly) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lucille prepared to make a call to the last member of her team. Wesley was a former CIA operative. He had been on forced retirement for five years. At thirty five he lost a leg while trying to dismantle a bomb which he had placed under a local warlord's car. It was a tragic accident since Langley changed their mind about the need for the bomb. The removal order came half and hour after he placed the bomb. He had to return to the car and take it off. It was dicey but he and the bomb were in the safe house, when somebody, somewhere made a call to his daughter or some such shit which according to Wes triggered it. Nobody knew quite what happened. So in the absence of any witnesses his version stuck. Wes had either been a drinker or started to drink after the accident. There was a review of the case, wasn't there always, and Wes was deemed unfit for duty. He was offered an office job or a pension. He went out on his CIA pension which was good enough to drink himself to death. Then of all things Wes got religion. A year of preaching was more than enough according to his statement. After that he was just a drunk. That is where Lucille found him and convinced him to check into a clinic, get clean and come back to work for her. Wes was her mole on the investigating team. He owed her and he believed in paying his debts. Lucille into the phone: Nine AM at the Hole. With that call her work was done, but the day wasn't finished so Lucille read reports until 5 PM. She hated reading intelligence reports from field operatives. She would much rather be in the field or listening to conversations from wiretaps. Political intrigue went back to the cave men and the fight for food, she was sure. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That night Eddie watched TV with his mind on the next day more than any of the make believe heroes with their glamorous lives. He knew what it was like to be a real life cop hero and it lasted about two months. Then it was back to being bored to tears. May went to a very upscale club to meet a mid level state department employee. The woman was middle aged, but she was also a very powerful woman. She was not as well known as others but was more powerful than most of them. Her power was also the source of her ability to meet and seduce women like May. They had a quiet drink, then left early to have kinky sex in the state department employee's bed. Selena would have liked to go to a club, but the ankle bracelet wasn't her best piece of jewelry. So she sat home with a bottle of wine and the same TV shows Eddie watched. Michael wore one of those bracelets as well. Since all of his ill gotten gains went into lawyers and fines, he lived with his semi professional bridge player mother. Now that he had a job at least he could get away from her some of the day. Maybe he could manage a place of his own some day. He went on line to join a virtual reality game, so that he could interact with other people. His avatar was an average guy nothing special just average. Michael felt that average was an upgrade to his reality. Wes went from cheap bar to cheap bar till he found a prostitute young enough to be his daughter. He engaged in sex with her. He usually only had sex with her once a month on check day, but he was back on the government payroll, so he could afford her more often. Lucille went home to her banker husband and two elementary school children. She had delivered them almost at her desk. She worked right up till the day before delivery in both cases. The kids were her gift to her husband. He needed the nuclear family to parade around at company picnics. So she gave it to him, then hired a really good nanny and went back to work. They never discussed that he was bi sexual. Even though his leanings were more toward men than women. Which made it easier for him to stay away from other women. The banking community was more conservative than most businesses, so he knew being discrete about his private life was everything. It also meant he never questioned his wife. He knew she was more about her job than about sexual desire. So they had what Lucille thought was the perfect marriage. Lucille looked at the empty king sized bed and mumbled. "What a waste." Of them all Eddie was the only one to accomplish anything positive that day. He at least had a new roof on his little house in the country. The others ended the day just as they had every other day. Day 3 After a stop for a bacon egg and cheese biscuit Eddie arrived at the address fifteen minutes before the nine o'clock starting time. He had time to scout the abandoned parking structure. He would have but he couldn't get in. The gate to the eight foot chain link fence with barbed wire on top was locked. Eddie looked around, since he couldn't believe he had the right place. He was sure that he had the right address, since the whole block was occupied by the parking structure. The sign on the gate informed him the area was not to be trespassed upon. It also stated that failure to adhere to the rule would result in arrest and prosecution. The parking garage was the property of the United States Government. There was a phone number on the sign, but Eddie decided that if no one else showed by 9 AM, he would be heading home. Just as Eddie started the car the first of them showed up to work. It was Lucille obviously the others didn't care about first impressions. Well, it wasn't his team so if Lucille couldn't be on time then no one would, including Eddie in the future. Lucille unlocked the gate. Lucille: The others here yet? (walking past his car) Eddie: I have no idea. I have been waiting since before nine and I have seen no one. What the hell are we doing in parking garage? Lucille: I thought you would approve of not drawing attention to ourselves. The Dog has friends in high places. Or high friends in low places, he thought but said nothing. Eddie stayed in his car and followed her inside. They drove up the parking garage to the third level just below the roof structure. On the stairwell side of the third level sat an enclosed structure that looked a lot like a double wide mobile home. The enclosure turned out to be big enough for eight desks and a bathroom. Much more impressive was its state of the art communication center. Eddie (after looking the place over): Did you have that awful graffiti painted on the outside. Lucille: After 911 Dick Cheney got paranoid about security. He wanted small operation centers everywhere. This is just one of them. It has never been used till now. The senator requisitioned it for office space last year. You and the others are why he did it. He didn't know your names, but he knew what you were going to do. Eddie: I see. So where are the others? Lucille: That's a very good question. We give them ten minutes then we start looking for them. Eddie: If we have to look for them, I'm out. Do you understand? An investigator's hours maybe erratic, but you must have confidence that someone is available to support you when you call. Lucille: Don't be such a Prima Donna. Her voice was sharp and cutting. She knew she was allowing her anger and disappointed to show it. She also knew Eddie was correct, but she didn't like being threatened. She knew that all this was on her. She had assembled the team of misfits. She could have gotten a squad of Federal police to do the investigation, but she would have no control over them. It looked as though she had none over the team she had assembled. Lucille: I'm sorry I snapped at you. You are the only one taking this seriously it seems. I will get them here on time tomorrow, if I have to carpool every fucking one of them. Eddie: You were five minutes late. Maybe you should lead by example. Eddie took a closer look at his desk. Both he and Lucille's desk was set up to look over the others. It was on a lightly raised platform. The simple stage must have been built as a place for a briefer. Eddie didn't like it but it was there so he would live with it. That is if there was anything to live with. May (Addressing Lucille as she entered): Sorry boss, I had to stop by the dry cleaners. (Actually she had to go home to shower and change) Lucille walked her outside the door into the parking garage. Lucille: What do you think people will say when I fire you. How is that going to look on your resume? You pull this shit again and I am going to terminate you on the spot. Now you can quit right now and it probably won't look so bad on you, or you can stay and do your fucking job. What you will never do again is to embarrass me again. Do I make myself clear? May: I will think about it. Lucille: Don't bother just get back in your car and go back to DOJ. I'll call ahead and advise them it didn't work out. May: Wait a minute, it won't happen again. I really want this task force on my resume. I promise to play nice. Lucille: If you can't get up in the mornings on time then sleep in your own fucking bed. Now get in there and make nice with your new boss. May: Hold on I didn't sign up to work for a fucking cop. Lucille: The door is still open. If you can't play nice, do us all a favor and walk out of it now. May didn't answer. She just turned to walk into the office area. Lucille followed her inside. She put her briefcase down on the second desk on the stage area. Lucille (throwing the files on Eddie's desk): Those are files on your team. Now I have to go round them up. Eddie just glared at her, but he opened the files and began to read. Lucille (into the phone): Where the fuck are you? (There was no way she would hide her anger) You bet you skinny drunk ass I'm pissed. I can fire your ass even faster than I hired you. You are a fucking consultant, not a government employee you are not protected. So get sober and get in here. Eddie: Wesley I presume. Lucille: Yeah he may prove to be unmanageable. Eddie: Yeah sometimes they can't be resurrected. Give him one more try but only one. 'One more chance' can also be an addiction. As they spoke a middle aged woman walked into the 'Hole in the Wall'. Lucille: It's about time. What's your excuse? Salina: I stopped to pull a bully off a three year old. Here is the cops badge number, since I'm wearing this thing he thought I might need it. Lucille: Okay yours is the desk with all the monitors by the wall. Salina: I don't know shit about computers. I can use one, but I can't find anything more than porn or a movie. Eddie: The monitors are the CCTV for this office. There might be other feeds from time to time but someone will show you how it all works. You are a smart lady you can handle it. Salina (smiling at Eddie): Thanks boss I'll give it a try. (Eddie nodded) Lucille: I just have to go get our computer genius. Michael: No you don't my mom finally found the place. We have been looking since nine. Lucille: You call ahead next time, or the next door you hear slam will have bars. Eddie (opening the door to the stair well.): Lucille, could we have a talk? (When they were outside) I will have a talk with them. We just need to get everyone to work now. Lucille: You are suddenly less angry than me. Eddie: I'm sure you have a reason for tossing me in with this gaggle of misfits and losers. I will do my best to make some order of it all. That's what I do best. Once back inside Eddie went from desk to desk meeting and then explaining each person's task for the day. Mostly it was going to be a get acquainted with the equipment and create working relations with other branches of the Federal police and computer archive systems. Eddie: Michael, pull up all the files on the Carlos Delgado murder five years ago. Then run a search for the word cartel and copy any names that come up. Pull the intelligence file on that Cartel so we can read the background. Then give it all to Salina. Salina did you hear that. (she nodded) I want you to read it all and pick out anything that stands out to you. Look for paramilitary type operations against the cartel. It is operations that are unexplained or unauthorized that interest us. Salina: Right boss. You looking for black ops? Eddie: Any kind of raid pulled off like a combat operation. (he turned his attention to May. May call your friends at DOJ and find out if there were any rumors as to why the investigation was canceled. Not the facts we know but any rumors. May (surly): I know what you want and I don't think that will do my career any good. Eddie: Fair enough, would you mind taking out the trash and sweep the floor. May: You are kidding right? Eddie: Not at all it's the only totally safe job we have here. Everything else carries some kind of risk. May: I'll make the call. But I will not risk damaging my career for some pie in the sky investigation. Eddie: That's fair. You are young still and have a future, unlike the rest of us. You should remember careers are made not on the safe track, but by standing out. Sometimes you have to bend the rules to get noticed. Rough looking middle aged man: So what you want me to do? Eddie: I want you to find me someone to talk to about the Cartel that took the rap for the murder of a Carlos Delgado. Wes: Tell me which Cartel and I'll make some calls. Eddie: Michael is checking on that now. Wes to Eddie: Can we talk? Eddie (opening the stairway door): Sure step into my private office. Wes: You know I drink a bit. Eddie: Sounds like a song. Wes: It has never caused me to fuck up a job. I never, ever got anyone hurt because of it. Eddie: That's good to know cause if we go Tactical you will be my partner. Wes: Good. Just wanted you to know I'll be standing there hung over or not. Eddie: Maybe you can at least draw fire. Wes: If we can't kill them, at least we can confuse them. Wes extended his hand to Eddie who took it. They went back inside without saying anything else. Eddie (holding the door to the stairway open): Michael a word please. Michael: Sure boss (he said walking outside.) Eddie: Something smells about this whole thing, so I want you to watch yourself. Mainly I want to know why they think Carlos was connected to the Swamp Dog crew. There is a potential for a shit storm. Try not to get caught without an umbrella. Michael: I can find out if there is anything connecting the Swamp to the killing in the system. I am sure I can do it without getting caught in their web. Eddie: I know I have loaded a lot on your plate. There is one more thing. Let's keep this between us. Lucille doesn't need to know. Some things are bigger than Lucille. But be careful protect yourself first, then do the job. Michael: I understand she has a lot of clout. Eddie: Yes she does. Follow her orders, but protect yourself. Eddie (holding the door open for Michael): Salina a word please. Salina: Sure boss. Eddie (once the door was closed): You've got the biggest job of all. You have to keep us all safe. From the time the first one of us steps foot in this building till we all leave you are charged with keeping us safe. Don't get the idea that being on the desk is just a make work job. You are just as important as Wes or me. You do understand that? Salina: Yeah I get it now. I also give great CPR. Eddie: At my age that's a good thing to know. Eddie intentionally did not have a chat with May or Lucille. It was obvious to everyone who he felt he could depend on, and who he didn't trust. Why would he? A lawyer and a political operative, talk about your whores, he thought. Everybody spent the rest of the day checking files and extracting the relevant data. The investigation was taking form. The story line was forming but it was all speculation and rumor. There was not a single fact to back any of it up. The story line was the Senator made a call to the Swamp Dog people and it just happened. They found out who the killer was even before cops had him on the radar. They dispatched a crew of assassins and the deed was done. Then the cartel took credit for the kill for some reason. There were hundreds of possible scenarios for each of those events. Each of them would make a completely different story line. Eddie: Wes a moment please. (Eddie walked to the stairway before he spoke.) Does the farm know anything about Swamp Dog? Wes: Like what? I mean they know they exist, but not a lot more. The Swamp is closed mouthed but so are the controllers at the farm. Someone might know something, but they aren't going to share. I personally had no contract with anyone down there. The CIA and Swamp Dog are probably incestuous. That might also be true of military special ops soldiers. Eddie: There is always a former member of any organization with an ax to grind. Wes: I'll ask around, but don't expect much. Eddie: He doesn't need to have been familiar with our case. We just need some background on the outfit. Listen though, if you think they might come after you don't do it. Wes: I never heard of them doing that and I would have. They hid behind the curtain of silence and political clout. They never needed to silence anyone outside their own people. I don't even know that they did that. Eddie: Just be careful. Day three ended with no real progress made, but with a lot of information having been processed. May left first right at 5 PM, then Salinas a few minutes later. She had been told to go since Michael could monitor, if they decided to work late. Ten minutes later Wes left along with Michael. Wes had agreed to take him home. Since Lucille had left much earlier, Eddie was the last to leave. He locked the door, shut off the light, then locked the front gate. The drive to Bishops Crossing took only thirty minutes even in the traffic. It was unusual for the traffic on the crowded roads to move right along, but it did. Once he got to Bishops Crossing and passed the shopping center there, it was a nice back road drive to his little piece of dirt. He managed to get the Econobox into the drive, even though the drive was just a muddy mess after all the recent rains. He knew that paving the drive was not a priority but couldn't be put off forever. Eddie had to force the front door open since it stuck terribly after a serious rain. Eddie hadn't gone out for lunch so he hadn't even known it rained. He did a quick walk through and found no new water stains. There were so many things which had slipped through the cracks while Eddie had been living in the studio apartment. The apartment was only a few blocks from his office, so he stayed there for the last five years. The leaky roof was only one of the things he had neglected. It only leaked when it rained, and even then he visited the place only sparingly over the years, so he just let it slide. If he had taken advantage of all the opportunities to take payoffs under the table, he could have paid off the mortgage much faster. As it was he paid it off the same year he retired. He had planned to do most of the work on the place himself, but now that he had agreed to work for the Senator, he had extra money and no extra time. It looked as though he would need a handy man. He had a list of handyman type workers provided by a local policeman. He had checked with the local coppers when he first bought the place. Those names led to other names before he knew it. Eddie: Hi there are you still doing floor refinishing? Painter: I do small repairs to the flooring as part of the painting contract. I really don't like floor refinishing. Eddie: Well I got a little five room house that needs paint and some kind of flooring work. I'm not sure how much. Painter: You need to do the flooring first, then paint. Eddie: That sounds about right. Do you know anyone who does flooring? The place is about forty years old and has carpets. One of the corners came loose and I think there is hardwood under it. I would like to get that refinished if it's possible. Painter: You speak Russian? Eddie: No why? Painter: I ran into some guy from the Ukraine. He gave me his card, but his English is shit. Eddie: Give me his number and I'll see if I can communicate. Once Eddie had his number he changed his mind about calling. If he had a communications problem, it would be better to see him in person. First day he had off Eddie decided that he would hunt down the Gerick person. So he had a beer as he settled in for the night. Michael was home in his mother's basement. He was using his home computer to access the office computers, which he used to remotely hack into the DOJ files and the NCIC computer. He was working off the clock, because it was more fun than playing virtual reality games. Wes brought the six pack home and got drunk. Salina sent and received emails to her long list of friends. Some of them really were friends. Others were virtual friends. May stayed in even when she was invited out by the State Department worker. She was asked to her friend's home, not really out for a date. Just show up, fuck her, and leave. It somehow didn't sound as exciting as it had the night before. Lucille stopped on the way home for Chinese take out. Her kids loved it, even if it was reasonably healthy food. They watched TV for a couple of hours until she had all the preteen comedy she could stand. When she had them in bed by nine, she went to her half of the king sized bed and fell into it. Thus ended day three. Day 4 Mike woke up ready to try new things. The old things, that had been his whole world a couple of days before, hardly held any interest at all for him. His new gig seemed exciting. Who was the blond chick with the great boobs? It was almost all he thought about. He tried to figure a way to track her down but he had no idea how to unravel the thick cord of deception. He didn't even have a clue. He remembered the day before when during his ride home with Wes, Wes had suggested he run before breakfast to clear his mind. Wes: You don't have to run far Mike. Just do it consistently. Mike: Running makes my knees hurt. I have tried it. Wes: Okay, do you have a bike? Mike: There is an old one of mine from when I was a kid in the garage. Wes: When I let you out of the car go right into the garage and pump up the tires and adjust the seat. Tomorrow morning ride that bike. It won't hurt your knees, but it will make your mind even sharper. Ride it out till you are exhausted, then head home. When you get home take one of these pills. It's the best high in the world. It's like really mellow man. The next morning Mike rolled the bike out and took off on it. It was early enough so that there was almost no traffic on the road. He rode away from the house till he was tired, then he turned and rode it home. When he arrive home he took one of the white pills Wes had given him. He took his hot shower and felt better than he could ever remember feeling in his life, especially so early in the morning. His mom was up fixing breakfast while he answered his email. They left early at Mike's insistence, so that he wouldn't be late. He and Wes arrived almost at the same time. Wes: Did you ride your bike? Where Mike was a clean cut kid, Wes looked like a homeless street person. The nerd and the hobo would a been a great tag line for them, Mike thought. Mike: Damn right I did. I rode about five miles out and five back. When I got back I took the white pill and the shower. Man I am so fucking mellow I can't believe it. I don't give a fuck what happens. Wes: This is our secret. Keep it to yourself. Wes used his key to get through the gate then drove his car inside, with Mike as a passenger. They drove up to the third level. Mike: Did you run this morning? Wes: I got a hangover, so I run till I throw up, then I run home. Mike: Are you going to be okay? Wes: Yeah Mr. Hangover and me are really good friends. Eddie: Hey you two let's get some coffee, we need to talk. Mike, call Salina and tell her where we are. Wes: Where is your Econobox with the slanted headlights. Eddie: Lucille thought I should drive an American car, so she got one assigned to the Team. The car stays here and it's for official use only. Mike: Like for coffee breaks? Eddie: Yeah for those. No one spoke again until they were in the parking lot of the local McDonalds. In the drive thru Eddie ordered three small black coffees. Mike: I would rather have a coke. Eddie: Three black coffees he repeated. He pulled the full sized Ford into a parking space. Eddie passed the coffee around. Eddie: Take small sips it's very hot. (after a couple of sips) Well anything to report? I know you both worked last night so did you learn anything. Mike: I couldn't find anything connecting the big titty blond to anyone. There is also nothing connecting her to the murder. She just happened to be in the lobby around the time Carlos was reported dead by his bodyguards. The only thing the blond and the woman with Carlos at the time had in common was she had a great body according to the guards. Eddie: Yeah I knew all that. My detectives interviewed the guards. The medical examiner said he thought the drug dealer let someone stick an ice pick in his ear. Actually something a little larger than an ice pick. Wes: There was an advisory to look out for people carrying very sharp pencils. According to the National Transportation Service, they believed they could be daggers. Eddie: We didn't find any foreign stuff in the wound according the M. E. (Medical Examiner). A pencil would leave graphite behind. There was none. Wes: Okay it was just a thought. I couldn't find anyone from the Swamp in town, but there is a former operative in Alabama. He most likely won't talk since he left in good standing. And he is the boyfriend of the Swamp's lawyer. He is the only one I can find living in the country. Eddie: Well lets see how the rest of the week goes, if nothing pops out at us we probably should fly down and talk to this former Dog of War. Wes: Technically he was just a contractor. Maybe we can find out a little about how the Swamp is organized. Eddie: Well let's get back to work. Keep sifting the shit. Eventually something that doesn't stink will fall out. Mike you got any idea how to use that computer shit to cut down on the suspects, or find the connections. Mike: To be honest boss we got lots of data, but we don't really know what questions to ask. We might already have the right data just don't know it. I will keep analyzing what I have. Maybe something will pop up. Eddie: Mike, shift your focus to finding me a connected member of the cartel. We do know which cartel it was. Maybe someone who was there will want to help us. Wes let me know if any of your old CIA buddies ever met any of these guys. We are still trying to find a thread we can pick at. Wes: If you just want a thread, we were sent details of an operation fifteen years ago. The email just said it was a private contractor. They had no rules of engagement, so they warned the bad guys a few times then they lit their asses up. They never named the contractors, but looking back on it, I'm sure they were from the Swamp. Mike: Unnamed contractors came up in a couple of investigations that got dropped for security reasons. Frankly it didn't look as if the investigations were going anywhere anyway. I picked them up all over the world. I even got a few in the states. The most recent was something to do with a Girl who got falsely imprisoned on one of those island countries which cruise ships visit. She was held in prison for almost a year. She was listed as a private contractor offering protection to a billionaire's family. Eddie: Probably nothing but find out all you can. The three of them went back inside and started to work. There was a donut box with a dozen fancy donuts inside, well not quite a dozen. There was also a brand new coffee pot sitting on a table. It had not been there at five the day before. Eddie: So who do we thank for the Coffee and donuts? Lucille: I arranged the coffee pot and I made the coffee. I am sure that it is better than anything you guys are getting at those drive thru restaurants. May: I brought the donuts as a peace offerings since I have been a bitch. I promise I will do better. I am never going to like being ordered around by a cop, but I will try to be a team player. (she said it looking at Eddie) Wes: Not that I'm complaining about the sugar fix, but what happened to you last night. May: I had a very special visitor who convinced me it was in my best interest to pitch in. So meet the new May May. Eddie: May May? May: Childhood nickname. Eddie: Well thanks for the donuts. As a matter of fact if you are serious, Mike is going to come up with some information. Take a look at it and run it by whoever you need to in order to get a current address on the woman in question. In the meantime everyone one else work on the blond with the big boobs case. She is our best lead at the moment. May: Why are we concentrating on this woman when that whole operation is what we are supposed to be investigating. Eddie: We are looking at the operation of Swamp Dog and we are also trying to catch a thread into the cartel that is involved with it. There may be some kind of solid connection between the two. It wouldn't be the first secret alliance in history. Now back to work everyone. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Since Eddie had awaken at five in the morning cold as hell, he began to think of living as where he lived not the house he visited on weekends. The Kerosene heater, he used for the occasional weekend visit, was never going to do. He needed to consider a better heating system. He made a call to a heating and air conditioning company in Bishop's Crossing. The guy agreed to come out on Saturday since it was the only time they could agree upon. Wes: A word boss. (he said it walking toward the stairway door.) I talked to a friend who is so far out of reach, he might as well be on the lunar colony, if you get my drift. Eddie: The lunar colony is an urban legend. Wes: Right, anyway the company who owned the freighter which was carrying the rockets to a group of terrorist we had ties to was Bluestone Shipping. Their headquarters is in Washington believe it or not. Eddie: Let's see, a shipping company hauling rockets to rebels, backed by the CIA, has its headquarters in DC. Who would have thunk it. Wes we need to go see the boss over there. Eddie (stuck his head in the door): May, a word please. May stood instantly hoping her boring research was over. May: Yes boss. Eddie: I want you and Wes to go interview the president or CEO whoever you can get at this Bluestone Shipping Company. But first I want you to sweet talk Mike into pulling everything he can on them. I want you armed with the facts when you broach him or her. You fill her in Wes. From that early morning chat until after lunch there were conversations between the people of the team. Lots of research and sharing of information. Eddie tried to learn what he could about the Bluestone Shipping Company, but he couldn't find a current listing for them. May: A word boss. (she said it while walking to the stairwell) Eddie: You know we can talk inside some of the time at least. May: You are probably right. Mike found that Bluestone is no more. They seem to have gone out of business a month after the pirate attack off the coast of Africa. The company's security team fought off the Somali pirates. The pirates lost twelve men and two boats. Bluestone closed down and disappeared. Most likely thought there would be some kind of civil suit. Eddie: So it was a dead end? May: Oh no Mike found a report written to the Department of Justice explaining why they had no jurisdiction. It was written by the CEO of another shipping company. Mike is digging now to see if they are shipping for the CIA under some dummy companies. No matter what he finds we have a name and current address. I think I can take my DOJ ID and get into his office. From there is it more or less up to Wes to sweat him. Eddie: (he stuck his head back in the door) Wes, a word. Wes: Right boss. Eddie: Has May explained how you are going to sweat this guy. Wes: Yeah leave the knife and forceps in the office. The gaff is to bill it as a DOJ investigation. Being uncooperative will likely mean the end of the government shipping contracts. Eddie: That sounds good to me. Tomorrow is Friday set the appointment for sometime during the afternoon. If we need to travel to do interviews, we can do it next week. Wes: Sounds good. Eddie was back trying to decide what to do to his house when Mike came to his desk all excited. Mike: You are going to love this. He tossed a digital picture of a blond. Eddie knew a booking photo when he saw one. They did them the same even in banana republics it seemed. The match to our mystery blond wasn't perfect, but it wasn't impossible either. Eddie: Did you get us a name. Mike: Rose Seabold with a bunch of other aliases I think. She is some kind of operative for hire. Not only has she never been investigated, she has never even been mentioned in an investigation. Eddie: She isn't now. She just resembles our person of interest. So where is she? Mike: Last known address Mossberg Alabama. Eddie: That's where the retired Swamp Dog is living now. That's some coincidence. Mike: More than you know. He was involved in the same contract she went to jail working, the one that was to protect that billionaire's kid and grandkid. Eddie: I guess I should pack a bag. Mike: You want me to get Wes. Eddie: Yeah do that. Also try to find a more recent picture of our girl. Wes tomorrow is Bluestone then next week we go to Mossberg Alabama. Eddie had Mike spent the rest of the day on the Mossberg connection and some time on the Bluestone connection as well. At five o'clock Eddie almost had to order everyone to leave. They all wanted to stay and work. Well all except Lucille who had to be called to arrange the plane trip to Alabama. She was somewhere doing political things. Her idea had been to get it started then go 'hands off' which suited everyone except May. May: Mike could I talk to you please. The two of them went into the parking garage far away from the stairwell. Mike was thrilled to be in the presence of such a pretty young woman. May had hair the color of honey and she was tall. Mike liked tall leggy blondes but who didn't, he thought. He also like that her breast were on the small side of perfect. Okay he would have liked them to be larger, but she really very attractive in her own right. Mike: What can I do for you May? May: Do you have a name for us on the shipping company. Mike: Sure there is so much going on, I guess I forgot to give it to you. There is an operations manager who was the assistant to the operations manager with Bluestone. He might know all about it. May: So what's his name. Mike: Simon Highsmith. I have no idea what he knows but he should know something. He was at Bluestone when the hijacking attempt took place. May: Thanks Mike you are a doll. (She spoke as she walked away) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Salina walked into her small apartment. She was on a leave of absence from her minimum wage job delivering medical equipment to mostly geriatrics patients. She did not miss that job at all. What she was up to at the moment wasn't exciting, but it was at least interesting. Salina drank a beer before she heated her TV dinner. When she went shopping for groceries it was easy. She just picked up a frozen dinner for every night of the week. She was not allowed to hang out with her old friends so it was easy to stay out of trouble. The closest thing to trouble she got into was giving first aid to neighborhood thugs. They paid well and they had an interest in keeping her safe. That night one of her neighbors brought her toddler to Salina's house. The mother was illegal and afraid to go to the free clinic. Salina: Listen closely your baby has a temperature. It isn't dangerously high but it is too high. Give her these and if she still had a fever in the morning take her to the clinic regardless. Mother: Si Senorita. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mike went home to his basement bedroom. He could have stayed in his old room but he needed privacy on the million to one chance a girl would ever want to come home with him. The chances were even less since he had the ankle bracelet, which restricted his movements. He drank a coke and tried to interest himself in the role play game. He just could not get interested. He changed over to remote accessing the office computer. He added even more color to the investigation. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eddie tried to decide on a type heater based on information from the Internet. He had pretty much decided not to put in central heat. The house was small enough that a free standing unit with a good blower should work just fine. He had grown up in a house with a floor furnace, so he wasn't worried. He decided to install a gas burning stove in the living room. There was a wall that would allow the air to pass down the hall in a straight line. It might mean that the bedrooms would be cooler. That might be a good thing. Eddie liked a cool bedroom. He would just have to experiment. Eddie: (into the phone) Hi. We have an appointment on Saturday. I need to cancel it. If you insulate houses, I would still like to talk to you. Contractor: No we don't do insulation, but I know a guy. He seemed perfectly happy to hook Eddie up with someone else. In the end that one didn't work out either. Eddie made arrangements with the Home Depot to send a man out to talk about several cold weather projects. The Home Depot installer agreed to make it Saturday morning. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May went to dinner with her more mature State Department girl friend but didn't spend the night. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lucille played an interactive video game with her kids. Something about saving a princess from hoards of rampaging republicans. Day 5 Mike began day 5 with a five mile bike ride in the suburbs and a hot shower. His mind was clean and his body was clean. He really felt good. His mother had breakfast on the table when he returned from his shower. Mike: Mom could I have coffee this morning? Mom: Since when do you drink coffee. Mike: I figured I needed a new harmless bad habit. He said it with a confident smile. His mother returned his smile and felt better since he had a job which he seemed to be enjoying. She had begun to think instead of his taking care of her, she would be taking care of him into her seventies. Wes woke up with a mild hang over. He remembered the lie he had told Mike, so as he promised he went directly from the bed into an old running suit of three layers. He knew that in a block he would be soaking wet but he wasn't sure he would make it much farther than one block. He actually made a mile total. The neighborhood was pretty rough but he like that about it. Even the gang bangers moved out of the way when he ran. They didn't know him or what he was capable of, but they still made room for him. Unless there were four or more of them in the respect me mode, then he had to growl like a dog at them before they made room for him the first time. He returned home to shower and dress for the day. After his shower he washed his hair three times then took scissors to it and his scraggly beard. Then he went to the closet and found his one gray suit. I sure as hell never thought I would wear that thing again, he thought. He looked at himself in the mirror. I still looked a little scruffy, but that's the style, he thought. He reached into the medicine cabinet for the bottle of white pills like the one he had given Michael. The label read Aspirin. He smiled at the trick he had played on the unsuspecting kid. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May woke up in her own bed for a change but she wasn't alone. The very young man was the high school son of a friend. He had phoned his mom to say he was sleeping over with one of his basketball teammates. So she woke him not with a kiss but by shaking him. May: Get your ass dressed and out of here and don't ever come back. She couldn't even say she was drunk. She had just wanted him and took him. Now all she wanted was him out of her bed before he did something stupid in keeping with is age. Something like take a picture with his cell phone. That's why she had stolen it the night before. May (showing him the phone): I'll hand this back to you on your way out the door. If you are not dressed and out the door first, I will take it with me to work and deliver it to your mother. (an obvious bluff) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Salina (standing in the hall): How is your daughter? Mother: She still does not sleep and the fever is still with her. Salina: Take her to the free clinic two blocks over. See Father Eye before you go inside. He will accompany you. Tell him I sent you. Mother: Thank you. Salina: I have to go but take her now. It will be a long wait to be seen but she needs to be seen today. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eddie was half way through his drive at that exact moment. Why the shit am I driving half an hour every morning and night to do this? I don't need the money or the aggravation, he thought. The answer was simple, unfinished business. Lucille had hit on it, no one liked to be call off a case till all the leads were exhausted. They were all worked to death of course, but he was the one who should have made that decision. So maybe it was about career closure, he thought as he pulled into the neighborhood. Speaking of unfinished business he needed to decide what he had to do next on the house renovation. He was trying to do it in some logical order while living in the house. Thinking about the house was his distraction. He parked the car on the third floor of the deserted parking garage, then entered the almost portable office structure. Salina: Lucille called. She won't be in. Her exact words were, 'Tell Detective Alexander to carry on without me.' Eddie just nodded. He hardly recognized Wes when he walked through the door only five minutes late. Mike followed behind him by a minute or two. May came out of the Bathroom. Eddie: Meeting please. What is the plan of attack for today? In other words where are we? May: Wes and I are going to see the operations manager of the shipping company. Eddie: Let Wes handle the interview follow his lead. May, I know you think that you know more than the rest of us, but if it gets technical Wes is the expert witness. What time is the appointment? Wes: We decided not to make an appointment. May is going to call his office just to be sure he is there, then we are just going to walk in. She can show her Department Of Justice ID. That will get us into see him I'm sure. They obviously do a lot of business with the company. Eddie: Sounds good. Mike what are you up to? Mike: I'm going to try to trace the movements of that Seabold woman and fantail it with news stories of violence in whatever town she was in at the time. The super computer at the NSA can do all those calculations in a day. Eddie: Do I want to know how you got them to cooperate. Mike: Probably not. Mike's smile was a huge conspiratorial one. Eddie just shook his head and looked away. Eddie: Salina what are you up to today? Salina: I am going to continue reading case files, unless you have something else? (she obviously was hopeful that he did.) Eddie: No nothing else at the moment. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May and Wes left the office together. May took one look at the dirt covered, trash filled car which belonged to Wes. She just shook her head. May: I'll drive. Wes: I can make room for you. (he was grinning) May: I'll drive, I don't remember when I had my last tetanus shot. Wes recovered a canvas bag from the car before they left. They drove for about ten minutes fighting the crosstown traffic. When they finally came to a fenced-in warehouse, they were forced to leave the car outside the fence. It looked as though the employees parked there as well. Wes: (Into his cell phone) Mikey boy, run me a couple of license plates. Wes gave him the plate numbers off the higher end cars. He went through them methodically till the got to the Operations Manager's car. Wes: Thanks Mike, you are a genius. He turned his attention to May who had overheard it all. Wes: Time for us to go work our magic. Once inside finding the office was easy. May: My name is Mayfield Ritter with the Department Of Justice. We are here to speak with the Operations Manager, or to do a thorough inspection of the warehouse it's his choice. She hadn't even given the reception a chance to refuse the meeting, before she gave her ultimatum. Wes didn't really like May but he had to admit she had a really nice combative nature. Avery Taylor: I'm Avery Taylor is there something I can do for you? By that time they were in his office. May just walked in and sat down without being invited. Wes pulled up a chair beside her. May: We are investigating Bluestone Shipping. You were assistant Operations Manager there before they went belly up. Avery: Yes but they have been out of business for fifteen years. May: They have been bankrupt not simply out of business. That's what we want to talk about. You have several very delicate cargo shipments for the US government, and we want to know about your Bankruptcy. Avery: I wasn't involved in the decision to take the company into chapter 11. I'm afraid I can't help you. May: Actually we know all about the finances. It's the motivation of a perfectly sounds business to seek court protection while it reorganizes itself right out of business, that interests us. So unless you would like us to review all your dealings with the US Government, since Bluestone reinvented itself as this company, you will answer some questions for us. Avery: I think I will have to consult with our lawyers. May: I think he will advise you to cooperate with this court order for all your financial and shipping records for the last fifteen years. Or you can just answer our questions and save us all a lot of grief. Avery: What questions? Wes: One of the last shipments before you went out of business as Bluestone Shipping, was a load of Missiles for some African freedom fighters. There was an attempted hijacking of those missiles. We would like to know that you took proper precautions. So who did you hire? Avery: I remember it well. I never met any of them, but they were a group who did lots of work for the government. Protecting embassies that kind of thing. Wes: Do you have a name. Avery: Those guys are being investigated by the congress now. Swamp Dog I think. May: Do you know the name of your contact there. Avery: I don't think I ever heard. I do know we were all upset when we found that she had killed a dozen hijackers and sunk the two boats. Wes: You were afraid of some international liability, so you just dissolved Bluestone and came back the next day? Avery: Something like that. I really don't know anything else. If you still want the records, I can get them for you. It will take a couple of days. May: Why don't you get the records dump ready, and I will call for them. She and Wes left the building. They sat in the parking lot for several minutes, during that time Wes refused to allow her to move. Then after about ten minutes he got up and walked back to the door of the office portion of the warehouse. Wes (as he walked past the receptionist and pushed his way into Avery's office): Sorry I dropped my cell phone. He recovered the phone from under the corner of Avery's desk. Wes and May quickly walked out the door. May: You know that was illegal. Wes: What I dropped my cell phone I do it all the time. Oh shit I had it set to record. The two of them listened to a one sided conversation between Avery and the company lawyer. The gist of it was the lawyer saying not to worry their friends would take care of the court order. May: So we know for sure that Swamp Dog provided the security for the boat. Wes: My guess is Sylvia Porter made her bones on that trip. Something pushed her ahead of all the men. It could well have been the success of the mission. May: You know that was illegal and we could never use it in court. Wes: Mayfield, I am not a cop. I don't think like a cop. The fact that Alexander told you to let me take the lead, should give you a hint that this is not a traditional investigation. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The whole office met for the debrief. Wes: Well we learned that it was Swamp Dog that did the killing of the Somali Pirates. They definitely wouldn't want that to get around. I think that is what brought Sylvia Porter to power. There is no college degree for that job, it's strictly OJT. What you really need is a huge set of balls. Eddie: Mike, get me all the background you can on Sylvia Porter. Salina, condense it to a profile please. Wes: You might want to cross check bank records with violent events for her as well. Prior to fifteen years she might have been a contractor. May: I can check with the DOJ to see what they have on her. I'm sure they have been told to cooperate. Eddie: Okay, everyone else you have your jobs for the rest of the day and probably most of next week as well. We are never going to get the full picture, but lets see what we can get. Remember this is not a criminal investigation so we don't have to follow those rules. As investigations often do, criminal or not, the Swamp Dog investigation made maddeningly slow progress that Friday afternoon. Salina found nothing, Mike dug up insignificant information, Wes' sources had nothing on Silvia Porter. The only data came from the Department of Justice who did have a file dating back to her days as a county sheriff. May asked them to fax it over, but found that she would forced to review it in their offices. The file was too politically sensitive to leave the building. Eddie: You know I can't let you decide what is and is not relevant to the investigation. You are part of the department that is stonewalling us. May: I can divorce myself from the department. Eddie: Horse shit. You are a career oriented person May. You and Lucille have that in common. She chose you, because you will keep her in the loop a few spaces ahead of me. I can't have that. May: Then how will you get the information. Eddie: I'm going to go to someone who knew her. I'm going to Alabama even if I have to drive there. So tell Lucille to get two tickets or plan on a second investigation that does no include you or her. May: How can I convince you that you can trust me. Eddie: It isn't likely that you can. May: How about if I pressure DOJ to allow you access to the file? Eddie: How do you plan to do that. May: I can try to convince Lucille to have the Senator make a call. Eddie: It won't work. Do you remember what was going on twenty years ago? May: Hardly I was seven. Eddie: Back then there were city policemen and county sheriffs. The almighty federal government decided to wage war on local police in order to bring them under the national police umbrella. A lot of very bad political things were done by the government to make it work. Things they didn't want the voters to know about. My guess is Porter was somehow involved and that's why they are holding the file hostage. I don't think DOJ will ever release it. If they ever let you see it, it will be so heavily redacted as to be unreadable. As for Lucille she won't even try. My guess is she knows the limitations of her power as well as what happened twenty years ago. May: So what are you suggesting. Eddie: I have no idea, but I know the next step lies in Alabama. May: Then I want to go. Eddie: I think not. It's Friday and the day is almost over. Go ahead and leave now. Go out and have some fun. Forget about the investigation. Get laid or something. May: I have a few minutes left, I think I can get some non-classified information from DOJ. Eddie: Up to you. (he said that as he walked back inside) Salina left at five. Wes had become the unofficial carpool go to guy. He drove Salina and Mike home after work. Salina stopped at the downstairs apartment to check on the child. The doctor had given her some antibiotics. The doctor also told her mother that the child needed better nutrition. The priest arranged to get the child on a 'don't ask, don't tell' feeding program at the local senior community center. It was a voluntary program run by 'do gooders' who actually did do good. Mike went into the house whistling. His mother was both shocked and thrilled by the change in him that had taken place in just three days. It seemed that working a real job for real people was what Michael had needed all along. Those were here thoughts anyway. Wes stopped at a bar and had a half dozen beers before he walked to his apartment. He was in an evil mood, which he usually was when he drank. The young hoodlums parted to let him pass. When he got home, he ate a sandwich then continued to drink. He passed out by 10 PM. May drove her much cleaner car to the Senator's office where she delivered her verbal report to Lucille. May: You know that Alexander knows I'm a mole for you? Lucille: Don't be so dramatic of course he knows you are keeping me informed. He is also right the DOJ is not about to air their dirty laundry. I'll order a voucher for two tickets to Mobile Alabama. You can pick it up on Monday. I don't care when he uses it. Eddie drove the half hour home. He contemplated a weekend with nothing to do, so he got back in the Econobox and drove to Bishop's Crossing to a Home Depot. Even though he had an installation crew coming the next day, he bought paint, brushes, tape, and drop cloths. Since he had a step ladder, he figured he was good to paint. He had no idea when he intended to use the paint, but he had it in case he got bored. Eddie stopped at a restaurant for a nice dinner before continuing home. It was late when he finished putting away the purchases, so he skipped the TV. Instead he fell into bed and slept. The weekend-1 Eddie was up at 6 AM which was his usual time. He read the local paper on line with a cup of coffee made the night before. While he did that fresh coffee brewed in the drip machine. The machine was one of the old style Mr. Coffee knock offs sold in Walmart. It might be a knock off, but it made good coffee. Eddie joked that it should have been called Mr. China. As was usual he ate a bowl of custom cereal which he mixed himself. It was a blend of cheap cereals bought at the dollar store. The kitchen cabinet that served as his pantry was filled with many food items from that particular store. Since it was the weekend he would be making a list and going to both the dollar store and the grocery section of the Walmart later that day. Between the two he could find all he needed. The two cheapest places in town were still way too expensive in his opinion. After the coffee and the morning update of the news, Eddie took a shower and dressed for the wait. He had no idea how long it would take the Home Depot installer to arrive. They were seldom early, almost always late. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mike was up at 10 AM more or less. Like all young people he could never seem to get enough sleep. Most likely because he stayed up until well after 1 AM. Unlike his usual habit he used the time to compile information on the mysterious blond. He had an advantage the others who looked for her over the years lacked. He had access to many terabytes of information gleaned from the archives of the NSA. Tracking the mysterious blonde would have been hard, maybe even impossible without that information. It might have been done previously if those archived files could have been accessed in real time. In other words if there had been a system that could process all the data he had available, the mysterious blonde could have been identified before she did her killing thing. At least she could have been brought to justice somewhere along the way. Mike knew it was just a matter of time till he could identify her. Courtroom style evidence was for the others to worry about. His job was to identify her. He hadn't been officially told that, but in his mind the priority was to put a name to the gorgeous blonde's always hidden face. He lacked that one piece of information to nail her ass. He needed something from the early days. So far she was just the mysterious blonde, or possibly Rose Seabold, who at best was a ghost, or at worst no longer existed. He knew that at present the ID was so murky that it made the investigation a complete cluster fuck. Mike loved puzzles, which was why he was so good with a computer. He was preparing to hunker down with his cup of coffee and power bar. He was determined to learn to like black coffee. Sure he knew it was just so that he would get to run with the big boys. So what he thought. As he filled the coffee cup a stranger entered the kitchen. The man looked terribly embarrassed. Mike could see the indecision on his face. He was trying to decide if he should back out or try to bluff his way through. Stranger (extending his hand): Hello you must be Michael. Your mother has told me all about you. Mike (Ignoring the hand): And you are? Stranger: I'm Simon and I have to go. I just thought I would introduce myself. I didn't want to sneak off like a thief now that you are some kind of super cop. Mike: That's not really what you thought. You though oh shit busted. And it was not alright to sneak around when I was Sarah's son Michael the computer nerd either. Simon: That's not what I meant, but I really should go. Simon was obviously very uncomfortable as he left the room. Mike returned to the basement with a power bar and his coffee cup. He stayed with his computers until 2 PM when he took a break. He rode the bike ten miles before he returned home to shower. When he found his mother in the kitchen with a smile on her face, he knew he shouldn't but he just couldn't help himself. Mike: So Mom did you get your itch scratched? Sarah: Michael that is rude. I suppose I have your new friends to thank for that kind of comment. (She paused then smiled) Yes Simon stayed over and if you must know, we had sex. This is still my house and I can do what or whoever I want. Mike: Yes you can. He said that as he walked to the basement door. Then descended the steps into the artificially dark room. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Salina had a steady stream of sick and injured people at her door. She cleaned wounds and dispensed aspirin all day. She also referred people to the free clinic if they were in serious trouble. The poor who could, made donations for bandages and antiseptics. The local Catholic Church brought aspirin and other mild pain meds over in huge bottles. Those were donated by manufacturers or drugstore chains. Many were nearing their expiration dates, but they were still effective. She often had to ask a patient to bite down on a towel, while she stitched a knife wound. The gang bangers couldn't go to the hospital emergency room, or the free clinic, since they were forced to report the wound. In exchange for her treatment of the gang bangers, she got protection and a few dollars for supplies from them. Her apartment was declared a safe zone. When the gang wars ravaged the neighborhood armed men from different gangs had stood by the entrance to her apartment to make sure she was safe. She asked them to leave as it discouraged the poor illegals from seeking help. Such was Salina's life in those days. She often had dreams of her former lives. Those dreams were filled with fear and agony. She described herself as the junkie whore nurse, because it was accurate. At least it had been accurate at one time. She found a day old pastry in her refrigerator and had that for breakfast along with a cup of strong coffee. She was allowed out of her home only to work or go to the store. She had to explain any deviation from her approved schedule. So she stayed home and watched TV while she waited for the next crying child or injured worker who had no insurance and a fear of the system. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Wes was either hung over, drinking, or having really horrendous dreams all weekend. He tried not to sleep since all sleep brought to him was a long line of victims, victims of his former employment. He was in fact the personification of the evil men that do, in the name of the greater good. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May woke up Saturday in her own bed with a young attorney. She had met him as she left the Senator's office. He was one of the multitude of young lawyers who worked in the Senate office building. He was probably a good judge of character as he recognized her available look. He took her to dinner, then she took him to her bed. After she dressed for the day, they caught a cab to his apartment so that he could shower and change. May found his wife waiting. She tried to think of some excuse for being there other than the truth but just stared at the woman stupidly. She and the man's wife had an awkward conversation while he showered. He was planning to dress for a day in the park with May. Tommy's wife: So you are Tommy's latest whore. May: Would you rather I left? Wife: Why bother, we both know what the two of you have been doing. May: I didn't know he was married. I would never have come here if I did. What is he some kind of sadist rubbing your nose in his affairs. Wife: It is some of that and some just plain insensitivity. When he gets dressed, he is going to take us both to lunch. We will sit and try to be polite. May: I have no idea how you can do this. I mean you are so gracious. Wife: I do it because I love him. Why did you do it? May: I guess because he was charming and swore he was great in bed. Wife: Oh he is both of those. He is also a narcissistic sociopath. But I have to admit he is lovable. (she was smiling) May (trying to decide whether or not to run like hell): This is a little strange. I have never met anyone so understanding. Wife: I would expect that is true. I know it's very strange but honey it's our life. You might enjoy it if you try just going with it. (She smiled brightly) May: Okay I'll give it a try. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lucille spent the weekend with her kids. Soccer games Saturday morning in the park and kiddie movies in the afternoons. She also pretended that her marriage was good, even though she knew it was the cold war with good manners. She did give the investigation some thought as she reviewed the tapes from the office the night before. Of course she taped everything that happened. After the first day she also had cameras and microphones installed in the stairwell. After all she was in charge of keeping the Senator informed as to the progress of the investigation. She had the feeling that if Steady Eddie got too close to the truth, she would be shutting it all down. Lucille pretended to enjoy the weekend even though she would rather have been working. Not in that Hole In The Wall, but in the Senator's office. If she wanted, she could have an affair. But it was like she told that May woman everything wasn't about sex. It was all about power, who had it, who didn't, and what you would do for more of it. About the whole family thing, she was one of those women with very low maternal instincts. She had managed the pregnancy and delivery pretty well, but the actually day to day grind of motherhood was just not for her. At least she admitted it and avoided it rather than drown the kids like so many unwanted kittens. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eddie made the deal with Home Depot for the blown in cellulose insulation in the attic and the walls and for ten storm windows and two new storm doors. The agreed price was over fifteen hundred dollars. It was a bit much, but he was working again. He could stretch his pension to cover the Home Depot, even if he worked himself out of the job. He also knew that the job was only six months at the most, so he planned to pay off the Home Depot in just one month. Eddie: So you are going to start on Tuesday? Installer: Well some of us will. We can work on the windows and doors from the outside, but we are going to need to get in for the overhead insulation. Eddie: Yeah the access is a trap door in the ceiling of my hall closet. I guess I need to be here for the insulation work then. Do you have any idea when that will be? Installer: My men can do it as well as the doors and windows. We only need a couple of hours for the overhead so we can start with it first thing Tuesday morning. If we do the ceiling first we can be out of your way by 10 AM most likely. Eddie: Lets do this, you start work on the doors and windows. Call my cell phone and I'll come home to let you inside so you can do the overhead. Then when that is done, I will go back to work. It will take about an hour, for me to get back here from the city. Installer: That will work just fine. On Sunday Eddie watched a couple of movies on his new Internet TV system. In the early evening he heated a frozen dinner in the microwave before he sat down at the computer to check his email. The kerosene heater was working as hard as it could but it couldn't quite keep it warm enough. If he used the rear of the house for a den he would have been very cold. So he moved everything into the living room and left only the bathroom door open. There was no door leading into the kitchen so there was a free exchange of air there. By having his TV system and computer station in the living room the Kerosene heater managed to keep him from being terribly uncomfortable most of the time. His next purchase had to be a heating system, he thought. Eddie decided that he would paint the kitchen cabinets. Those most likely wouldn't be harmed by the flooring contractor should he decide to hire one. He sanded the dark stained wood before painting the cabinet skeletons white. He decided after the first set of wall cabinets that they were going to make the place brighter. He had to make some repairs to a drawer, but all in all it was a successful Sunday. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On Sunday morning May was still with Tommy and his wife, Edith. She found that once they got past the uncomfortable first meeting, she and Edith had a lot in common. Edith was a follower and knew it. But she was able to turn the lack of alpha characteristics to her advantage. She exploited the weaknesses of others. May decided that she might just like Edith better than her husband. She had dressed for dinner at a fancy restaurant with the two of them Saturday evening. The sex after the date had been more than simply adequate. There was something beyond simply erotic about the whole thing. She had felt it even during dinner. When she woke up in their king sized bed, she felt quite content. The three of them went to breakfast, then back home for more sex. It was quite a weekend even if she did sleep alone Sunday night. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Salina had a gang member come in who was experiencing loose bowels and vomiting. She was sure he was suffering from flu, but didn't want to rule out something more serious. She suggested he go to the emergency free clinic on Monday if he wasn't feeling better. Banger: There are warrants out for me. If I go there they will lock me up. Salina: You could have something much worse than the flu. I don't think so, but I have no way to test. The only thing I'm sure of is that you aren't pregnant. Banger: I would laugh but I'm afraid I would have an accident. Salina: Go to the clinic and give them the name of a friend who is not wanted. They can't refuse to treat you. Maybe you can slip away after they determine what it is you have. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mike (into the phone): Hey Wes, are you there. Wes: What day is it. Mike: It's Sunday man. Wes: What's up that couldn't wait till tomorrow? Mike: I guess it can wait. You sound like you have been drinking. Wes: Yeah Mike, it's what I do. So what's the news you are dying to tell me. Mike: You sure? Wes: Yeah I'm already awake. Mike: That former Swamp Dog operative was the Operations Commander on that cruise ship fiasco. Wes: Oh really? Be sure the boss knows before you tell either of those women about this. I don't want him to be blindsided by any of this. In the meantime keep digging. Run the financial on all of the players we know so far, the guy, the woman who was in prison on the island, and that Swamp Dog lawyer. Mike: Sure thing Wes. How about giving me a lift to the office in the morning. Wes: Okay but you call me before you leave on your ride. That should give me enough time to get my run in. Lucille spent the evening Sunday with her family. The kids and her husband didn't require a lot of time which was a good thing. The kids were too young for boarding school, so that was a fight she and her husband would have time to prepare. She waited until the kids were in bed to have a drink. She most likely would have only the one drink before taking a bath. She usually masturbated in the tub, since it was her quite time. She had a very active fantasy life. She imagined having sex with all kinds of men and women. Lucille was not actually bisexual. She simply fantasized about it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Steady Eddie finished the second coat on his kitchen cabinets Sunday. He was satisfied that they were at least clean looking. He also decided that he could paint the kitchen, since the work for a new floor would be no more than replacing the vinyl covering. It seemed structurally sound and didn't seem to slope. He decided that the kitchen walls and ceiling would be a good project for the next weekend. After all he had planned to do some of the work himself. He went on line late Sunday evening to check the news. He found one of the Sunday political recap shows. There was Lucille's boss talking about the hearings. Senator Ames: We need to get to the bottom of this whole affair. We need to know who did what, and determine if anyone covered for them. It looks like one or more people interceded to have investigations aborted. We are still investigating and holding hearings. I give the American People my word. We will get to the bottom of this whole affair. Day 6 The day six meeting began with a rehash of all they knew and all they needed to know. Eddie: It's time for a working hypothesis. We can't prove it, but we think Rose Seabold was in that room. If she was then she killed our drug lord wannabe. Her motive was money. Most likely she was getting paid well for it. It is very likely that she stole a large amount of money from the victim. Wes: So we start there and work out? Eddie: Unlike a politician, before we ruin her life, we are going to be sure. We don't need as high a threshold of proof as a cop, but we have a moral obligation to get it right. No wild accusations and no leaks to mama on this. If Lucille wants to know she needs to attend the meetings. No one outside this room gets our working theories, ever. Mike: So how do we prove Rose and blonde body are the same. Eddie: Good question. Salina make a few calls. See if the island court or prison has a blood sample or her fingerprints. If we can get her prints or DNA we can start to tie the fake names to her. One of those names will lead to a mistake. They always slip up. Wes: Do you want to hold off on Alabama till we have more on her? Eddie: No. Let's go there and ask about Swamp Dog. We will just work her into the conversation and see what their story is. Shit somebody get us a fucking storyboard. May you are close with Lucille, tell her we need a white board down here. It's the easiest way for us all to get on the same page. Mike: I think I can prove that Rose Seabold had a loose connection with at least a domestic group working with Swamp Dog. I think I can also prove she was an asset of the state police back when they were in charge of all law enforcement in the state. It was a black bag relationship, but I think there was one. They purged their files just before the Feds took over, but there might be some financial data. I found traces of a truck purchase. That truck was later registered to Rose Seabold. There was never any record of the purchase, or of any sale in the official record. There was just some comment in a discretionary acquisition. The SBI bought a truck that they gave to Rose Seabold, maybe. May: That tie is way too iffy to be of any use in a criminal case. Eddie: True but we aren't talking about a criminal case. Do I have to keep reminding you of that? If that is true, how did she get from the old SBI to the Swamp Dog? Wes: And was she ever a part of the Federal Police Undercover Group. If she was part of their black bag operations, did they order the hit on Carlos? Are we looking at corruption in the Feds on a giant scale? Eddie: Seabold, Martin, or whoever she is, may be the key to opening the lock on those operations. She could not have been the only one. The only thing we can prove is that she was in a bodyguard operation that may have been routed through Swamp Dog but everyone involved was a contractor. The Government did not get involved in covering anything up for them. That's why she was in prison for almost a year. Eddie: Michael, keep downloading information. There is going to be some tie in all those bits or bites whatever they are. Wes: So what we going to do in Alabama, since we don't know what to ask Rose. Eddie: If she is there, we just have a chat. If she is not, we ask Bart, as he calls himself now, about the organization of Swamp Dog. You know who did what, that kind of things. We get some more names from him, then some names from those names. Pretty soon we have the whole organizational chart filled in. Along the way we just might find out about Rose Seabold. Hey Michael what was the first address you have for the Rose Seabold ID? Mike: She lived in a place called Farmer's Grove community. She lived there for several years. She kind of pulled up stakes and left for no reason. There doesn't seem to have been any plan or reason for it. Next time we hear of her she is in Alabama. Those were facts Mike had pulled from the digital soup during his weekend of tracking Rose. Eddie: So she was Rose Seabold until a couple of years ago when she became Iris Martin in Mossberg Alabama. In that case we need to send someone to talk to the people in Farmer's grove. Some of them surely knew her. Mike, how about you and May go down there and nose around. It's a pretty good drive, so you are going to need a car. Come by here tomorrow and pick up the Ford. In the meantime get a copy of the Senator's staff credit card. Put all your expenses on the card while you are gone. Be sure you talk to anyone who might have known her. May: Where do we start? She seemed to be lost. Eddie took a deep breath but he didn't speak. Mike: Did you know that the women who was leading Swamp Dog, when all this American Foreign Legion shit came out, was once Sheriff of the county where Farmer's Grove is located? It was back in the old days when they still had sheriffs. Maybe we could ask around about the Porter woman and just let it go to Rose Seabold. It's a start anyway. It gives us a known person to connect to Swamp Dog and maybe then we can connect Rose Seabold to Sylvia Porter. Eddie: Okay Mike you guide the direction of the investigation but let May ask the questions. You keep me advised and I'll try to give you some direction but it's going to be mostly on you. Leave from here tomorrow morning, so come prepared for a few days on the road. May can interface with the Federals there. Your Ankle bracelet just might make them less than cooperative. Besides she still has her DOJ ID card. Mike's eyes were bright. He was thrilled with the assignment. May was less so, but she didn't mind getting away from DC for a while. She could handle Mike for sure. She also felt she could use the break from Tommy and Edith. The sex was great but she didn't want to give them time to get clingy. The road trip would allow for a cooling off period. Salina: Bad news boss. There are no records on Rose Seabold on the island. According to the people I spoke to there was never a Rose Seabold on the island and certainly not in the prison there. Eddie (More to himself than Salina): That is a little odd, but I guess there are lots of folks who would be willing to pay to keep her a secret. The billionaire for one, then of course it could be a political conspiracy if you believe in the dishonesty of politicians. Don't much matter what happened back then, the DNA and Prints are missing. So now we have to look for another source of DNA or Fingerprints. Give May and Mike a quick lecture on where they might find her DNA. You never can tell since that shit last forever. Hell give us all a lecture after lunch. Everyone settled into their research projects until lunch. Then after lunch the meeting with Salina went well enough. Everyone had a pretty good idea where people left their DNA. Eddie always had a pretty good idea, but the others were a little surprised that DNA was not as easy to pull up as they made it sound on TV. Wes: A word boss? Eddie: Sure. (They walked to the stairwell. Eddie kept going until the were outside.) Wes: What's that all about? Eddie: Lucille had a camera installed on the stairwell. I'm pretty sure she doesn't trust that I will keep her up to date. Wes: Should she trust you. Eddie: Of course not, she is a political operative. Those kids are trained to trust no one. I am a former cop, so I was taught to be suspicious of everyone. I guess we are just being who we are. Wes: Okay... So I called a buddy in the CIA. He said about fifteen years ago Swamp Dog began taking jobs in the United States. One of them was bodyguard for some rap singer. Sylvia Porter was a contractor on the job. It might have been her first contact with the Dog. She would have had minimal contact with the real bad asses. How she graduated from contractor babysitter for a rapper, to head the whole thing is beyond me. Nobody else understood it either. We are really going to need to talk to someone inside the organization back then to understand it. Eddie: We don't have to understand it to get the facts right. As a matter of fact we can probably do a better job investigating, if we don't try to understand it at all. Wes: Yeah understanding is the stuff nightmares are made of. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mike was so excited he could hardly contain himself. He wanted to shout he was so thrilled. He forced himself to keep looking for more information to sift. He wanted to be on his way into the field, but he knew his true value wasn't in talking to people, it was in finding out about people. He was trying to find a former address when he checked the real estate records. It looked as though Rose might have dabbled in real estate development. There were buy and sales records for several items on file with the country registrar of deeds. Mike copied the addresses and any other names involved in the purchases or sales. By the end of day he had ten names and their home addresses. He was proud of himself. He wanted to tell May about it, but it was too late. She had already gone for the day. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May had been summoned by Lucille. Her meeting with Lucille took place in Lucille's very comfortable office in the senate office building. Lucille: So where are you? May had struggled with her decision about her response all the way to the meeting. She knew that she would be asked the status of the investigation. She was struggling with how to answer. May: I'm right here. Lucille: I mean with the investigation. May: It's progressing which is why I'm here. Mr. Alexander wishes to have a staff credit card to use for travel expenses. Actually I think we need two of them. You knew that Alexander and Wes were going to Alabama sometime this week. What you didn't know is that Michael and I are going to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lucille: The cards are no problem but why are you going to the mountains? May: Our person of interest at one time lived in a small place called Farmer's Grove. We are hoping to find someone who can remember her. It is possible there might even be a picture there. Mike also found some Real Estate transactions in which she was involved. We are hoping to find out more about her there. Lucille: Sounds like you are making progress, keep up the good work. Check back with me after your trip down south. May: I will and thanks for the credit cards. It makes me look more valuable to the team, and gives me a reason to come see you. I think Mr. Alexander is a little paranoid. Lucille: Don't you think he has reason to be. May: I guess he does at that. May left the senate office building after 5 PM for her drive home. When she got out of the car in the parking area of her apartment building, she turned her phone on. There were two messages from Edith and one from Tommy. May (Into the phone): What do you need Tommy? Tommy: You of course. Edith and I were wondering if you would like to have a drink tonight. May: I think I need a day off, but I appreciate your offer. Tommy: Oh okay. He sounded disappointed. May went into her apartment to have a glass of wine and a sandwich. She made her sandwich from a fancy cheese and the last of the bacon. She had fried it so crispy that it was almost burned. She was intending to watch television news, then go to bed early and alone. If she was going to drive all the next day, she needed to get a good night's sleep. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mike walked into his mother's house and found her sitting alone in the kitchen. She looked upset so he stopped to talk. Mike: Is everything alright? Mom: Sure honey it just times like this I miss your dad. Mike: Mom he isn't dead. He lives in a studio apartment downtown. You could go see him. Mom: No honey, I can't. He sent this today. She handed Mike what turned out to be a wedding invitation. It was addressed to the both of them. Mike: Well I'll be fucked. Mom: Mike that is a terrible thing to say. Besides I think I'm the one who feels like that. (she laughed.) Mike: I have to go out of town for a day or two. Why don't you invite your friend to stay over? Mom: (She looked at Mike then shrugged) I don't think his wife will let him out again so soon. Mike stared until she laughed again. He smiled back then walked to the refrigerator. He chose a hard boiled egg, then walked through the door which led to the basement. Mom: I'm going to have a glass of wine would you like one. Mike: Start without me and I'll come down later. I need to check a couple of things quickly. Later, when Mike walked back into the kitchen his mom was sitting at the table with half the bottle of wine gone. Mike: So what are we celebrating. Mom: I guess we are celebrating freedom. Mike: Mom you and dad have been divorced for five years why celebrate now? Mom: I suppose that I finally believe it is over now. Enough about me and the prick you call dad. Tell me are you a virgin. Mike was terribly embarrassed. He was most likely blushing he knew. Mike: No mom I'm not a virgin. Of course living at home and wearing this monitor has put a real cramp in my style lately. Mom: Yeah it hasn't been easy on either of us. I like the new you by the way. You are almost sexy these last few days. Mike: Thanks I guess. I have a new found respect for you. He smiled at her as he emptied his wine glass. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ When Wes dropped Salina out side her apartment building, he noticed how rough the neighborhood looked. Wes: Would you like me to walk with you to your door? Salina: Wes I walked alone yesterday, and I will tomorrow. So no thanks unless you want to come in for a drink. Wes: I never turn down a drink. In this neighborhood even my old piece of shit car might not be safe. Salina: You car will be fine. Wes: Then sure why not. Word spread quickly through the projects that the angel had a man in her house. She and Wes shared a couple of beers before the first knock came at the door. It was a child with a splinter in her foot. Salina shrugged then set about taking the splinter out. She soon had it out and the wound clean and bandaged. Wes: Why not send her to the free clinic? Salina: Some of the mothers can't afford the free clinic. Wes: Huh? Salina: They are illegals. Some of the men have warrants, so they don't want to give their names. If I can help them I do, if not I sent them to the clinic through a local priest. Wes: Why do you do it? Salina: Pay back for all the evil shit I have done. Trying to balance the Karma scales. Wes finished another beer dropped a five dollar bill on the table. Wes: Use the money to buy some more beer or a pack of sewing needles, your choice. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It was 7 PM before Eddie got home that Monday night. He had stopped at Little Ceasar's to buy whatever pizza they had ready. It was a combination of three meats that night, so that's what he had for dinner. When he arrived home he sat at the kitchen counter across from the range to eat his pizza and drink a beer. He actually would enjoy the left over pizza more the next night. He watched his Internet TV news for a couple of hours then went to bed. He knew that he had to be awake at 6 AM to be able to get his morning shit done and make it into the office by 9 AM. When he got into bed, the phone rang. He had no idea who would call him at 10 PM. Of course he had to answer it or he would never be able to sleep. Eddie: Hello? Mystery Voice: How you doing on the investigation. I haven't heard from you so I was getting a little worried. Eddie: I told you I would call when I learned anything. So far we are just checking background information. I'll let you know if anything point toward you. I agreed to do that. Day 7 It was Eddie's usual 6 AM start on the day when he finally crawled from his warm bed. It was also an awful time of the day to do anything that wasn't part of his routine. He did his morning things half expecting to see the Home Depot winterizing team to show up. Since they didn't, Eddie got his morning off to a proper start. He stopped at the plaza at Bishop's Crossing for a very quick biscuit. He had a small thermos of coffee since he didn't care for the restaurant's coffee. Most all of them were the same standard dishwater blend. He ate his breakfast in his car to save time. That particular morning was going to be all about time. He needed to be in the office earlier than his team. His thermos was empty by the time he arrived at the office. He poured a cup of the office coffee, which was just a couple of notches better than the restaurant swill. Then he put the day old coffee into the microwave oven to heat. With that cup of coffee in hand, he stood looking at the storyboard. They had posted the very poor surveillance picture shot by a camera outside a jewelry store beside the hotel. The camera caught her reflection in the store's window. Naturally the definition was terrible. Eddie had of course seen the picture during the original investigation. At that time it had been an only half hearted investigation, one which ended too soon. Since the investigation was heating up, Eddie expected it to be ended sooner rather than later. Still there was the chance that without any teeth, he might at least find out what happened. He had to admit the driver's license picture of Iris Martin was similar. Mostly it was the perfection that was similar. She was too perfect to be a call girl or a country girl. She obviously had corrective surgery, so who paid for it. Certainly not the evil mercenaries, as they liked to bill themselves. If he ever got her talking he wanted to ask her that. Who had created Rose Seabold? That might be the real question worthy of an answer. Wes and Mike arrived just before eight. It was obvious that Mike was looking forward to his road trip. He was lugging a large black backpack. Eddie: After you got the kitchen sink in that bag, did you have room for your laptop? Mike: Do you think I over packed? Wes kidded me all the way in. Eddie: You would be fine for a six month hitchhiking tour of the back roads. Mike: I can cut it down some. It's mostly electronic shit that is redundant. Wes: You are going by car and that Ford has a full sized trunk. You will be fine. Just make a note of what you really need to carry next time. Eddie: Yeah it is your first road trip. You will figure it out. If you don't it will be your last road trip. Wes, speaking of road trips gather all the information on Mossberg you can find. Particularly information on the one who calls himself Bart. Look into all you can find on the life and times of one Iris Martin, Rose Seabold and half a dozen other aliases I'm sure. Wes: I got ya boss so when are we leaving. Eddie: I am going to try to make reservations for tomorrow. That is if May has a credit card for us. We can fly down there using the vouchers, but we can't survive without that card. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to pay for the Senator's witch hunt. I do have faith that May can weasel the cards out of Lucille. I'm not sure what information she will have to trade for them, but she will get the cards. Salina arrived next she looked tired. Mike also noted that she smiled at Wes. Wes: A word boss. Wes was already headed to the door. He held the stairwell door for Eddie. Eddie (after they were outside the building): What is it Wes? Wes: I went into Salina's house when I drove her home yesterday. She is running a free clinic from her apartment in a housing project. She has junkies and illegal immigrants coming and going all the time. Gang bangers get their gunshots and knife wounds tended to by her. A lot of the shit she does is really, really close to the line. We ought to do something for her. She is not even shielded by the medical confidentiality laws. Eddie: Yeah she is a convicted felon with her license revoked. Wes: Yeah but she is doing good things. Eddie: We don't make the laws. Stay close. If she needs anything, we will try to work it out. You aren't screwing her are you? Wes: Of course not. Eddie: Okay we need to fly out of here tomorrow. I have no idea when we will return. Wes: I have nothing on my dance card, so it's not a problem. Eddie got the call from his installer about 10 AM. Installer: We be ready soon Mr. Alexander. Eddie: So what time do you want me home? Is noon too early? Installer: We should be ready then or soon. If gone, we go lunch, but be back soon. (The answer had been in broken english) Salina and Wes spent time with the files from Mike's latest download. There were a lot of secret smiles. Eddie had believed him when Wes said he wasn't screwing Salina, but he also knew from the looks that it was just a matter of time. Eddie waited until 11:30AM before he advised the others of his lunch plan. Eddie: I have to go to the house to meet some people. It isn't case related so if anything comes up call me on the cell. The two of them nodded as he walked outside. Eddie realized that it hadn't been necessary to specify his cell phone, since he hadn't had a land telephone line installed. It just didn't seem necessary. He stopped on the way home at the Bag-o-burgers for a a couple of the small burgers. They were probably 50% fat but he loved them anyway. The men were sitting around the yard drinking water from plastic bottles. That told Eddie the investigator that they were most likely ready for him. They had probably already been to lunch. He was glad since it meant they would stay at the work till they were finished. Eddie could see the new windows and the two new storm doors that had been installed and looked good. He could also see some of the siding they had removed to force cellulose insulation into the wall cavities. They seemed to be complete except for the overhead insulation. Eddie: You ready to start inside? Installer: Si. He obviously spoke the best English of them all. Their language skills or lack thereof didn't matter at all to Eddie. He showed them the access to the attic and walked away while they jibber jabbered. Finally they brought in the machine and began to blow the attic full of insulation. It took them only an hour or so to finish the job. Eddie was back at his desk by 2 PM. Eddie: Did I miss anything? Salina: Nothing at all. Our sweet young couple didn't even call from their mountain vacation. (Eddie glared at her) Come on Boss Wes is hoping they'd become an item. Eddie: I am going to ignore that remark. Let's get our ducks in a row for the trip tomorrow. Salina call the airport taxi service and get us a ride. We probably need a pick up at the office before 10 AM. Wes: what are we going to do about firearms? Eddie: We are going to behave in a manner which will not require us to find a need for a firearm. And if someone draws down on us, I expect you to take it away from him and stuff it up his ass. Wes: Yeah you can expect that, but I'm not Bruce Lee and life is not a movie. I'm way too old for that shit. Eddie: Then maybe we should get Lucille. She's the youngest we have left since Mike and May are gone. Wes: I think we can struggle. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May: What the hell are you doing? She and Michael were in the restaurant attached to a three star motel. She would not have been in the restaurant, if there wasn't a requirement that staff stay within a per diem rate when traveling. That rate did not allow for really expensive motels or restaurant. It did cover three star motels and their restaurants. May: Well? Mike: I'm eating my french fries. May: You are covering them with ranch salad dressing. Mike: I like ranch dressing on french fries. You want to try one? May: That's disgusting. (Pause) So where is this place where you haven't made the reservation located? Mike: It is the only place we can stay in Farmer's Grove. It's a bed a breakfast three miles from the downtown. From here it's about fifty miles. It is winter and it's a small bed and breakfast downtown. I'm sure they will have room for us. May: There is a downtown in that place? Mike: A small one. There is a branch Post Office that has been closed and a couple of small town retail things. May: So how far is this County Seat place from Farmer's Grove? Mike: County Seat is twelve miles east of Farmer's Grove. May: After you finish those disgusting french fries, we will finish our drive May was very attractive in the slightly stocky way. She wasn't fat or even chubby. She was simply thick here and there. Mike of course thought she was beautiful. He felt she was even prettier than the pictures of Rose Seabold, who everyone agreed was a knock out. Seabold was almost mythical, while May sat right across the table from him. Mike: Okay I'm finished. If we leave now we should make it to Farmer's Grove in an hour or so. May: Maybe you should make reservations for us before we get back on the road. Mike: Okay I will. (he punched at the screen on his smart phone, then smiled) It's done. May: Well I hate B&Bs, but it's the only game in town, so I guess we have no choice. Mike: none. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eddie sat in the office being very bored while May drove the office Ford while being bored. When 5 PM finally came the three of them left the office together. Eddie wasn't at all surprised to know Wes was driving our resident former nurse home. Wes: You wanna stop for dinner somewhere? Salina: Sure the sick, lame, and lazy can wait. Wes: I promise we will go somewhere fast. How about one of those sandwich food trucks over at union station. There is usually a steak and cheese truck over there. Salina: You can afford to eat at a gourmet food truck? Wes: No but I'm trying to impress you. Salina: Don't try to impress me. Let's just go to the sandwich shop on 13th. They are inexpensive and the food is good. Wes: Would you rather have wine or beer with your sandwich? Salina: I would rather have a soda and so would you. (It was obvious that she saw Wes as someone who needed taking care of) At least you should have coke if you are going to help me. Wes: I have no idea how to help with your calling. Salina: Some how I don't think you will throw up at the sight of blood. So you can be trained. Wes: Sure, but the sight of blood gives me really bad dreams. Salina: Not tonight. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May (standing at a Victorian reproduction desk): What do you mean you only have one room. I know I saw him send the message to make the reservations. Wife and co owner of the Inn: His message said, party of two, not two rooms. We don't have another room. You can drive to Williamston or College Hill they both have motels. Mike: (consulting his I phone) The closest motel is twenty five miles. May: Wonderful. I'm tired and I need a bath. I am also hungry. Can we at least get a second bed. Wife: There is a sofa that makes a pretty good bed with the back cushions removed. May (to Mike): You screwed up, you get the day bed. They each signed the register so that the owners would know who to notify when she murdered and dismembered him. There was hardly enough room for their clothes in the closet. Actually there was no room for his. There was hardly enough room for her clothes. Wes and Eddie thought he had over packed, he took a picture of the closet packed with her clothes. The Iphone shot would show them what over packing really looked like. Dinner was at the family steak pit half way to College Hill. The food was good but the ambiance was non existent according to May. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eddie found that the Kerosene heater, he had used on weekends when he visited the cabin was quite warm that night. It was a small tenant farmer's house but he thought of it as a cabin. Even with the new insulation he left the bedroom doors closed. The new insulation and the semi shut down house made it almost pleasant inside. He was even able to turn the heater setting down. He did the usual things, watched the news and a couple of the TV shows on line. Eddie was sure the house was going to be quite warm when he got the wall furnace installed. He decided to go to bed early and leave the packing for morning. Of them all he was the first to go to sleep. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the community of Farmer's grove May and Mike were in their room after dinner. It was only 8:30 and Mike didn't want to go to sleep. May tried to go to sleep, but she just lay there staring into the darkness. The room was lit only by the changing level and color on the screen of Mike's tablet. He had the sound muted but the colors danced. May: Why don't you shut that thing off and go to bed. Mike: I am way too excited about tomorrow. I have never questioned anyone. May: Neither have I. Where should we go first? Mike: While you were taking a shower I interviewed the owner's wife. She gave me a name and address. Someone named Jeremy and his sister Alice Littlejohn. Apparently she returned home this summer after the congressional investigation began. They were supposed to be great friends of Rose. After her husband came back in the room she walked away. It seemed she had let the cat out of the bag. May: Where had she been? Alice I mean. Mike: Apparently England. May: So what are you doing now? Mike: I'm logged into a chat room. I found it mentioned in a report someone at the Swamp Dog compound wrote. I think Rose Seabold or Sylvia visited it. Maybe both. They might have used it to communicate with having it overheard. It a pretty anonymous place. May: (rising from the bed) Let me see. Mike (Changing the screen quickly): That's probably not a good idea. It's an adult chatroom. It get pretty dirty at times. May: I have heard of them. I know that if I sign in as a woman, I will get a lot more information than you can as a man. It's like ten to one men in there. Mike: Yes I know but I'm not sure you can handle it. May: You have no idea what I can handle. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ After the last of Salina's patients left she sat in the kitchen. She drank a cup of coffee while looking up at a bottle of Irish whiskey sitting on the counter. Wes: Tell me something, how come you drink when it is why you are in so much shit. It is obvious that you are in control of it now, so what happened? Salina: You mean how can I take one or two and stop. An addict is always an addict according to folklore. Wes: Yes that is what I always heard. And I have a little experience with alcohol addiction. Salina: I never had the addictive personality disorder. The cops where amazed that, when I went cold turkey in jail. Not that I cleaned up in jail but that I didn't go back to it when I got out. Once I kicked it I was able to make rational decisions. Once I had that ability, I decided not to go back. I never even went to a meeting. Wes: I guess I haven't gotten that far yet. Salina: You aren't an alcoholic, but you are a habitual drunk. You are going to keep running from your demons till they get tired of chasing you. Wes: Maybe. Salina who was somewhere between mildly attractive to slightly unattractive managed to project sex when she wanted to. She thought about it, then decided she wanted to. With that in mind she excused herself while she went to change. When she returned she was wearing a heavy pink robe. It wasn't sexy till she opened it and revealed there was nothing but Salina under it. Mike could have seen that it was after midnight, if he could take his eyes off the scars on her body. Day 8 00:01 AM on day eight found Eddie fast asleep all warm and toasty in his newly insulated share cropper's house. He was dreaming of the day when his house was complete, and he could sit on the deck in the back yard and watch his goats graze. Eddie hadn't been joking when he said he planned to raise goats. First he had to finish his house then find the money for a fence over the whole property. Five acres of Chain link fence wouldn't be cheap even if he did it himself. He knew that so he was going to go with a goat pen first for their safety and heavy chain attached to junked wheels so they could graze during the days. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The same midnight found May and Mike giggling like children over the remarks in an adult chat room. The giggles lasted till 1 AM when May returned to her warm bed to sleep. She was surprised that she had found Mike good company. She was at least a third older than him. Still he was harmless and didn't really seem to be running any games on her. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It found Wes in Salina's bed making love to her. Well he thought of it as making love, but Salina thought of it as getting screwed by a man she respected, if not loved. Wes had allowed her to do her work during the evening. At that moment he was showing her what he could do with her body. She of course wasn't just lying in one place quietly allowing it to happen. She was a totally willing participant. She even did things she didn't usually do on a first date. She was acting very much like the perfect crack whore slut. She did what ever it took to get what she wanted. In her case it wasn't drugs. Well maybe it was the best drug of all, one her own body manufactured. The free flow of endorphins was truly intoxicating. She wondered if she could be charged with driving under the influence of great sex. Then she wondered how the hell they would test for it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lucille was sleeping on her side of what she felt was a cold king sized bed. If I ever fall in love and get married for the right reasons, I'm going to sleep with my husband in a twin bed, she thought. Since she couldn't fall asleep she simply got out of bed and had a drink. She looked at the empty king sized bed and wondered who her husband was screwing that night, not that it mattered to her. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eddie arrived at the office first, after having stopped on the way in to purchase coffee and a small box of cake donuts. Since there was likely to be only three of them in the office, a half dozen donuts had sounded about right. He had bought plain cake donuts because he didn't like sweet icing on his donuts. The others would just have to live with it. He bought two chocolate cakes, and two spice as well a plain yellow cake pastries. None of them had any extra sugar of any kind. He told himself it was his way of keeping his weight down. In truth spring would do more for that than anything else. In his case physical activity defeated the munchies every time. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ While Eddie, Wes, and Salina munched on donuts and coffee, May and Mike were sitting uneasily over breakfast at the downtown grill in County Seat. May: Do we need to talk about last night. Because if we do, let's do it now and never speak of it again. Mike (Smiling): I don't need to talk. I'm fine with how our first date went. Mike actually laughed confidently which bothered May immensely. She just didn't know how to respond so she shook her head and looked at him sarcastically. May: Tell me again why we drove all the way here for breakfast. Mike: This place was mentioned in Sylvia Porter's biography report. We have to eat somewhere and someone might remember her here. You know killing two birds with one stone. Also getting a feel for where she started is a good thing. The black waitress came to the table to get their order. Waitress: What you out of town lawyers going to have? Mike: Okay out of town I get, since you probably know everyone who comes in, but what makes you think we are lawyers? Waitress: Do you really want to know? May: Sure give us your homegrown deductions. Waitress: Well he looks like a nerd, and you look like you sittin' on the sharp end of a fence post. What with your little black tailored power suit and all. The only things brings folk like you here is the judge sittin'. We be the County Seat after all. May: Well I'm a lawyer and this is my nerd bitch. She probably enjoyed saying it too much. She winked at the waitress who broke into a real laugh. Waitress: Well, he do look that way now that you mention it. So what y'all going to have? May: If you have a breakfast special, I'll have that. Mike: The bitchboy will have the special with black coffee and some information. Waitress: What kind of information? Mike: Did you know Sylvia Porter? Waitress: Course I knowed Miss Sylvia. Everybody round here knowed her. Best damn Sheriff we ever had. May. So you knew her as a Sheriff? Waitress: Honey I knowed her from the first day she came to town. She come running in here on her first day as a Deputy. Had a big ole black stray dog running behind. He wasn't chasin' her. Like all you stray dogs he knewed she was going to feed him. I fixed him a plate of left over eggs and stuff. Silvia gave me two tips. One from her and one from the dog. I found that dog a home. I could almost always find her strays a home. Them strays just attached themselves to her like they knowed they was going to be safe. Grill cook: What y'all want with Sylvia, she be dead. You can't fuck with her no more now. He was holding what was obviously a very sharp knife used to cut things for the stew pot. Or maybe to cut the heads off Yankee white trash, May thought. Mike: We are looking for a friend of hers Rose Seabold. Grill cook: Never heard that name. A look passed between the two cafe employees. It signaled that the information well had dried up. A customer seated at the counter turned to look at the two of them. Customer: You see that sign across the square? The one that say the Fox and Hounds Pub. Mike: Yeah. Customer: That's owned by the Brit and his friend Jeremy. They knowed Sheriff Porter real well. Most likely if anyone knows that Rose person, it will be one of them. May: Thanks. She and Mike concentrated on the greasy food. It was delicious but May could almost hear her arteries hardening. After breakfast they went back to the B&B to discuss their next move. May: What kind of B&B gives you a voucher for a greasy spoon cafe two blocks away? Mike: I don't know May. I never stayed in a B&B before. But take a look over there. That is a Farms Cooperative Savings and Loan. May: So what? Mike: I never saw that in either of their financial reports. It was pretty close to where they both lived for a while. It might be the tie in if they both had secret accounts in there. May: That's out of my realm of expertise but trust me Michael you still haven't stayed in a real B&B. So what's next bitch nerd? Mike: Since we don't want to hang around for a court order for the records and I can get them anyway, I guess we go visit the brother and sister act, Jeremy and Alice. May: You going to call and make an appointment? Mike: I think we might do better just showing up on their doorstep. May: Unless they aren't home, or are just heading out the door, or something else. Mike: It that is the case we shall adapt, as Wes says. He says it's all about being able to adapt. May: What is this you and the burned out CIA man getting to be asshole buddies? Mike: Before I met Wes, I would be pissed by that. Now I just think it is sad that you don't have anyone you respect. So let's get over to Jeremy's and see what is going on with them. May: (shaking her head) You are getting all zen on me aren't you. Mike: Wes says when you are deprived of something it is natural to attack those who have what you want. Whenever you are attacked it is usually about envy or sex. I would love to think your attack was about sex, but most likely you envy my relationship with Wes. May: Right, you are one sick puppy. May insisted on driving, so Mike just tried to stay in the moment. He wanted to remember where Jeremy and Alice lived, if he ever returned to Farmer's Grove with someone who would let him drive. The long driveway led from the county road led to a very nice modern designed house. There was a Bentley parked in the circular driveway in front of the house. May rang the bell. The two of them waited until a woman answered. May: Hello my Name is May, I with the Department of Justice. I am here to see Mr. or Miss Littlejohn. Alice: Well Miss May, I'm Alice Littlejohn and my brother Jeremy is here as well. So which of us would you rather talk with. I would think you might like Jeremy better. May: How about we make it both of you. Jeremy: So what can we do for you? (walking up behind Alice) May: You could start by inviting us in. Then by telling us all you know about Rose Seabold and Sylvia Porter. Alice: Why would we do that. We have no idea who you are or why you want to know about them. We are also very particular about who we invite inside. May: We are investigating Rose Seabold's possible connection to Swamp Dog. Is there something in there you are hiding. Jeremy: Do you by chance have an arrest warrant for one or both of us? Or even a search warrant? May: No of course not. Jeremy: Then you should go get one, because I have nothing to say without being placed under arrest. At that time I will require a lawyer, before I talk to you. May: Your lawyer wouldn't happen to be named Rita would she? Alice: Actually she is yes. Did you know Rita grew up within twenty miles of here? May: No I didn't know that. When May and Mike made it back to the car, it was still mid morning. May started the car then drove out of the drive and onto the county road. May: Where to now. Mike: There is a place around here somewhere called the Village. Rose was instrumental to the development of it. Surely someone there will know her. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Wes waited until Eddie left the office, then kissed Salina goodbye. He hurried down the stairs to catch up with Eddie. They rode in the minivan to the airport then they spent two hours waiting to board the plane. The flight took less than four hours. It seemed as if they spent more time waiting than they did in the air. When they arrived Wes went to rent the car. He had more experience with airports than Eddie. Well at least his experience was more recent. Eddie drove the Econobox rental from Mobile to Mossberg. Once there they found the local cafe, they began their interview there, even though it was after five the place was still open. The fry cook had a pretty scarred face. They weren't burns, he had been beaten more than once, it appeared. Eddie: Hello, (He was talking to the waitress) My friend and I would like a couple of steak sandwiches and cokes. Waitress: Okay, I haven't seen you around before. Wes: That's because we are not from around here. Do you by any chance know a Rose Seabold? She might have been calling herself Iris Martin. Waitress: Sure I know Miss Martin but I don't know you. You two sound like cops. Eddie: Fair point. We are from Washington and we need to ask her a few questions. But we are not cops. We just work for some Senator. Cook: (after he walked from the kitchen) If you find that woman remind her she owes me money. He turned and looked at the waitress who scurried off. When he was sure he had made his point, he returned to the kitchen. When the check came, Wes signed the credit card receipt. Wes: So you don't know where Iris is now? Waitress: None of us know. Eddie: Would you know a good place in town to stay? Waitress: If you want to stay in town, you will have to stay at the fish camp. Or you can drive over to College Hill. They got a couple of mom and pop motels. Only they ain't mom and pop no more they are all Paki. Eddie: How do we contact the manager of the fish camp? Waitress: Well you go to that bulletin board and take a card. Then you call. Wes: Okay. Sounds like a real class operation. Eddie: This from the man who told Mike he once fell asleep outside an afghan bad guys house, and woke up in a camel pen filled with dung. Wes: That kid talks too much. Eddie: Hell he idolizes you. Careful what you say to him, he believes all of it. The owner gave Eddie directions to the fish camp alongside the Alabama River. The small house had been remodeled to add small kitchen areas to the three sleeping rooms. Since the weather was better recently, there was only one room available. It was very much the same story as with Mike and May. Of course neither group knew about the other at the time. Eddie and Wes didn't mind the two sets of bunk beds, since they each got a bottom bunk with no one over them. Unlike the others Eddie and Wes went to be early. They had plans for a full day the next day. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Back at the Farmers Grove B&B Mike and May were discussing the lack of cooperation from anyone who knew Rose. They had decided to give up on the interviews for the day. The new plan was to start over the next day with the village. Mike was sure someone in the village would remember Rose. In the meantime May used her tablet to enter the adult chat room used by Sylvia and Rose to pass messages. She signed in with the screen name, DivorcedFemLawdog. Just as she expected the men came out of the woodwork to chat with her. Mike heard her punching the screen almost non-stop for hours. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Salina had a really quiet night. She had hoped to stay busy but it was a boring night till 11 PM when the insistent knock on the door pulled her out of a stupor. Not a drug or alcohol stupor but one caused by a flashback. The knock first was a part of the flashback, but it finally pulled her out of the flashback. She finally went to the door. It was so late she was pretty sure she knew who was at the door. Salina: Who is it? (She said through the cracked the door) Male voice: You know who it is puta. I came to collect the rent. Salina: Not tonight Raphael. I'm tired. Raphael: Unless you want to spend tomorrow with a broken door open up right now. Salina stepped back and Raphael pushed into the room. Once inside he went to the refrigerator, then helped himself to a beer. He then leaned back against the counter and drank it. Raphael: Word is you got a white boyfriend. Is that true? Salina: He isn't a boyfriend just a man who helps me with the people who come looking for help. Raphael: You know you are my puta. If I hear he has been here again, I will kill him. Do you understand? Salina: (staring at the floor) Yes I understand. Raphael: Good now pay your rent. Salina walked across the room, stood in front of him, then lowered herself to her knees. She unzipped his shiny black pants and removed his only average sized penis. She took it in her mouth and began to suck and move her mouth on it. She had to work several minutes before he became fully erect. Once he was erect he began to move his cock inside her mouth. Effectively using her mouth as a vagina. Once he was really into it he couldn't last long he came with a grunt. Salina's mouth filled with his semen. She swallowed it to complete the ritual. Raphael: Good. You are paid up for another week. Once he had gone Salina went into the bathroom forced her finger into her throat and threw up several times until her stomach was empty. Maybe it helps keep her from getting anything or maybe it was her only means of rebellion but it too was part of the ritual. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The road trip was in full swing. Nothing had been accomplished but they were in full swing. Well as far as Eddie and Wes went they had found out where Rose ate her breakfast most mornings simply by asking the owner of the fish camp. It was something called the Dairy Queen, about five or six miles away. Day 9 Part 1 May: You know I hate this cafe? Mike: It's where the breakfast voucher is accepted. You got to relax and just go with the flow. You fight the flow you will wear yourself out and still not get anywhere. May: It that more of Wes' bullshit Zen. Mike: When you hitchhike on the waves of contentment, you get to the same place refreshed and ready to fight the good fight. It is Wes' own version of Zen. So let's go inside and just go with it. May: What an ass. Once inside they were assaulted with the smell of burning pig flesh and bird embryos. Waitress: I see the lawyer and the bitch boy are back. What y'all want this morning? Mike: Two specials and some information. What the hell is the Village, some kind of resort community? Waitress laughing: Not hardly honey. It's some kind of hippy nostalgia place out on the back road to College Hill. It you drive out there, you will see a sign that says festival park, follow those signs to the office of sorts. You will recognize it for what it is. May: These eggs are much better than those cooking in my egg cooker, but I bet I have lost a few months off my life eating here. Mike: All lost years come off the end of your natural life. Do you really want to be in a hospital bed hooked to tubes for a few more months? Or would you rather have good eggs now. May: Shit that actually makes sense. That's one scary thought. It means the government is fucking with us with all these health warnings. Mike: Yeah, the trick is to eat so that you can enjoy the good years. I have not done that, but now I am trying to do it. You know I miss my bicycle. Wes has me riding every day before work. It clears my mind just like he said it would. It, along with the shower after, and the white pill helps me think. The pills do nothing on their own. I have tired. May: You seem to have made a lot changes in just two weeks. Mike: Time is not measured by the passing of daylight. It is measured by what we overcome on our journey, and by the distance we travel. May: You know it's a good thing I wasn't issued a weapon for this trip. I think I would shoot you. Mike: You do not want to do that it would only add to the burden your soul must carry on its journey to the light. (He knew that he was fucking with her and he enjoyed it.) May: That's it. One more of those little wisdoms and I'm going to stab you with this butter knife. They finished their breakfast in silence. The waitress had hovered to listen to Mike/Wes' philosophy. Waitress handing them their receipt and taking the voucher: You talk real nice. What your real name? Mike: Michael, but Mike is ok. Waitress: If you can get away from the lawyer bitch, call me. (She wrote her number on the receipt.) May: (once they were outside) Shit, how often does that happen? Mike: Er, never. And you wondered why I think so much of Wes. May: Getting laid isn't everything. Mike: Getting me laid may be the only thing worthwhile we do today. May: You may never get laid by anything other than a skanky crack whore. Mike: (with good humor) Killer of dreams, thy name is May May. May: Bitch boy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Salina had a bowl of oatmeal then went to the office to check on the others. She was determined to keep them safe. It was what she had always done, keep people safe. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eddie and Wes went to breakfast at the Dairy Queen. They had an ID picture of Rose Seabold from her pot business application. They began with the waitress behind the counter. Eddie: Do you know this woman. The shift manager pushed by her to look at the picture. Shift manager: We all started here a few weeks ago, and I ain't never seen her. Sorry, now you are holding up the line. Wes looked upset but Eddie shook his head. Eddie: How about two of your big bacon egg and cheese sandwiches and two coffees? The bacon egg and cheese came on a sour dough role. Wes: No wonder this was her favorite breakfast place. That is a really good sandwich. Eddie: Too much bread. Eddie picked at his with a plastic fork taken from the coffee bar. They were quite the odd couple. Eddie picking at his sandwich as if he was having high tea at the White House, while Wes tore into his like a stray dog. Wes: So we going to the tea plant next? Eddie: It would be the next logical stop. Maybe her buddy Bart can help us locate her. Wes: Oh I'm sure he can. The real question is will he. They are all connected but we have to find the threads. I don't think they are not going to hand them to us. Eddie: Stop with that Zen shit, just say it. Wes: You know what I meant. The common thread is Swamp Dog and the first rule of Swamp Dog is? Eddie: The first rule of Swamp Dog, is never talk about Swamp Dog no matter how insignificant the question seems. Wes: Right, the Evil Mercenary. He stands alone on the scorched battleground asking help from no one, and giving free help to no one. Eddie: You don't believe that shit do you. Wes: (With a shrug) Don't matter what I believe. It only matters what they believe. So they left the restaurant and drove to the downtown of Mossberg. They parked the rental car across from the factory. It was impossible not to notice that the whole block had been restored. It had the look of old New York style condominiums. Wes: I'll bet you ten bucks Rose has a hand in those. Eddie: No bet, I read the file about her real estate developments as well as you. The only empty parking space in that block of Main Street was in front of a fenced in, very small private park at the very end of the block. It had probably been a parking lot for the original retail stores predating the condos. After entering the unsecured front door they found Bart inside the plant mixing ingredients for his special herb tea. He was wearing a white lab coat and one of those silly looking hairnets. Eddie: Bart my name is Eddie. I work for the Senate Committee investigating Swamp Dog. I would like to ask you some questions. Bart: Yeah I thought so. I got a call from the manager of the DQ and one from the owner of the fish camp. Wes: Nothing goes unnoticed in a small town. Bart: Some things do. They didn't tell me about you. So are you that guy. Wes: It's not me. Eddie: (confused) You two know each other. Bart: No I thought he was someone else. So what do you want to know? Eddie: Well are you, or have you ever been an employee of Swamp Dog. Bart: (without any hesitation) I make herbal tea, nothing more. Eddie: I have it on good authority that you worked for the Swamp Dog at one time. Bart: I make herbal tea, nothing more. Eddie: Then before you made Herbal tea. Bart: We have reached the point where I must talk with my lawyer before I say anything else. Eddie: I believe your girlfriend is the lawyer for Swamp Dog. She your lawyer too? Bart: Sorry I'm going to answer no more questions without consulting with my lawyer. Eddie: Just one more question. Where is Rose Seabold? Bart: I have no idea. Eddie: We are going to find her. You could make it easier on yourself. Bart: I make herbal tea, nothing else. Eddie: From what I hear you froze Iris Martin out of her own plant. If I were you I would be worried. Bart: I make herbal tea, nothing else. The two of them left. They crossed the street and looked at the plate glass windows on the renovated building. They each had a name from the building's past. They both realized what a great view of Main Street those buildings had. Eddie: How did he know you. Wes: He doesn't know me. Trust me he has never met me, nor I him. He was just reminding me that we are all connected. Some in different ways, but we are all connected. Eddie: Guys with your background have always been a mystery to me. I just need to know, can I trust you? Wes: My background is why I was chosen. Yours is also why you were chosen. Just like Bart back there knows. We are all connected. Some connections are stronger than others. Eddie: You are driving me nuts with all this Zen shit. Wes: That is just part of our connection. His question was really, 'Are you the guy who is going to burn it all down'? Eddie: You mean his good life? Wes: That's the one. Eddie: Let's go find her connection to the catfish pot farm. I know there is a contract on file that gives her a third of the profits from a very profitable pot farm. She doesn't even have to work for them. Sounds like a motive to make her disappear. At the least we can follow that money. Wes: As I understand it those profits are capped at a total of five million dollars. She is allowing two guys, who had nothing, to buy a five million dollar farm. They are buying it using only the profits from operating the farm. They have a damn nice income while they are buying the place. I wouldn't mind a deal like that. Eddie: I read that report on the farm, but there has to be more to it. Those two are PTSD sufferers from the Swamp Dog. She was rehabilitating them, then she up and decides to turn the farm over to them. I just don't buy it. Now she has disappeared. So either she was planning to split with the money all along, or they disappeared her. Wes: She hasn't touched any of the money from those accounts according to Mike. But there is one thing. You never know something, till you know what you don't know. He said it getting all mystical again. Eddie: (frustrated) What the fuck does that mean? Wes: She is good at disappearing, so we wont know how she did it till she surfaces again, or until we figure out where she went. She just dropped off the world a few months ago. Hell we aren't even sure when she went missing. Eddie: So how did she do it and where did she go? Wes: The where should be first, since the how is probably not traceable. She has spent half her life doing things without leaving a trail. Every operative has a stash of money and ID's just for that purpose. Even when you go under completely you have to surface somewhere, sometime. Somewhere there is a new lady in town. Eddie: Fucking A. We need a profile to figure out where she might go. We need some new eyes on her background. Wes: There are a lot of holes in her life. Ever wonder why there are no tall tales about what she has done. Those are all part of the persona most of these people try to project. Bigger than life stuff. Eddie: So? Wes: So she has none of that. Nobody knows all of what she has done or even what she is at the moment. Either that or they were so involved in it that to tell her story would be a confession. The truth like the sun shines on the flower and the weed equally. Eddie: I sorta know what that means. I can't tell about you, or I will be going to jail along with you. Right? Wes: Exactly. She is that gal. Eddie: What gal? Wes: The one who doesn't give a shit what you think about her. She doesn't need to promote herself, or to have anyone else promote her. You are going to need a confidential informant inside the organization you think she was working for. I have no idea what you can promise them, since we don't have any idea what she did, or for whom she was working at the time. Eddie: I would find a victim to talk, but I'm afraid they are all dead. Wes: There is always collateral damage. We need Mike to go back through the files again. This time let the profiler guide him. Don't need a cop or a field man, certainly not the DOJ lawyer or the political operative. You need someone who understands her. Eddie: Where do I find this profiler. The FBI profilers are great at predicting what a loony tune is going to do next. Rose is no loony and she isn't going to do anything. She is on the lamb. Wes: I'll bet you a week's pay Salina can do it. Eddie: She is a junky nurse. Wes: And I'm and old drunk. Who gives a shit? If she can do what we need, then what have we got to lose? If she can't, we will know soon enough. Eddie: I'll think about it. In the meantime let's go look at a hydroponic pot farm. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There was a knock on May and Mike's door after breakfast while they are preparing for the day. Since they weren't expecting anyone Mike carefully cracked the door. The crack grew very quickly as the tall straight gray haired man leaned into the door. Intruder: Who the fuck are you working for? Don't give me that DOJ shit. I have nothing to do with them and they have nothing to do with me. The local alcohol cops maybe, but DOJ not a fucking chance. May: I am with the DOJ. Intruder: I didn't ask that, I asked who you are working for. Mike: When in doubt, the truth works pretty well. May looked at him angrily. She apparently expected the computer nerd to defend her from the man who looked like a soldier. That automatically and the fact that he was a friend of Sylvia Porters made him dangerous. Too dangerous for Mike to handle and he knew it. May: If you are going to kill anyone start with him, he is driving me nuts. We are investigators for the Senate Select Committee investigating Swamp Dog. Are you the one they call the Brit? Brit: I am, but I got nothing to say. You two need to just move along there is nothing to see here. He showed that he could still do a respectable about face and march off. May: Was that a get out of town by sunset message? Mike: Maybe not sunset, but definitely a get out of town. At that point Mike called Wes. He explained what had happened then listened for a long time. Mike: Wes said to pack the car and do what interviews we could, but not to come back here again. Preferably make the interviews on the way out of town. May: I have to admit I like his advice better all the time. The two of them checked out of the B&B, then loaded the car. They were gone well before the noon check out time. May found the Village just as promised. In the office they found a well past middle aged woman with a nice body for a woman so old. She also had a pleasant smile and beautiful gray hair. May: We are interested in the village, we heard a lot about it. Ruby the agent: Oh? What have you heard? Mike: That it is a good place for an artist to live. People are very understanding. Ruby: Yes we are. We have everything from a tattoo artist to a high end jewelry maker in our community. We have our own festival park for shows. The park also has a retired circus tent. We use it for winter shows mostly. Tourist come for the crafts in the summer. In the winter they drive over from 'The Snow Devils' ski resort to shop. Mike: All the houses look kind of small. Ruby: Yes they do. The houses were originally built by the Mill for the worker's families to stay. The rental houses in the artist community are all three bedroom one bath homes. The houses that were for sale have all been bought now. A lot of successful people with ancestors who worked in the mill bought them for retirement cottages. Some of those have garages and room additions. Like I said there are no houses for sale at the moment and our artist community is full. You are welcome to fill out an application though. May: So who renovated these houses. Ruby: A local who no longer is involved with the Village. She sold it to the current owner. Carlos will be at his office I expect. It is up on the mountain. May and Mike didn't know that the office used by Carlos had once been a sample cabin. Rose had built it as a sample for a project Jeremy was involved in. If they had been able to get all the history on Rose, they would have been able to trace it back to Jeremy. Since they couldn't get a complete history on Rose they would never know. Even though they had a hard time believing it, Carlos hid behind his poor English skills. What ever May or Mike asked he just shook his head and replied, no English. They left in frustration and began the long drive back to Washington with their tales between their legs. Day 9 Part 2 May: (into phone as she drove she gave Eddie the complete rundown) So boss we are headed back home. All we got is stonewalled. Eddie: Turn your ass around and get back there. From what you just told me you haven't exhausted all the possibilities. Move your headquarters to Williamston or somewhere else, but get back to that town. May: What more can we do? Eddie: What makes you think that waitress wanted to screw Mike. She may have wanted to talk to him outside the restaurant. Now have Mike call her and set up a meeting for tonight. Have him take her out and wine and dine her without you. He will figure out what he needs to do. Tell him that he has my permission to sleep with her if that's what it takes. May: I think this is a mistake and that it is dangerous, but if Mike is willing I'll go along. Eddie: Ask him if he wants to talk to Wes about it. Obviously he didn't since May cut the connection. Eddie had been about to drive off from the Main Street of Mossberg. Wes obviously wanted to speak. Eddie: What? Wes: You are the boss, but you know if that Brit guy was an operative for the Swamp, he could be dangerous. Eddie: He's a bar owner. He isn't looking for any trouble. He just wanted to scare those kids off, I hope. Wes: Well it's done and we couldn't drive there in time to cover his ass anyway. God knows that May won't be any help if he gets in trouble. Let's hope if he does, it's just a beat down. Eddie: Best case is they slip in and out unnoticed. Wes: If he survives this, we are going to have to get him some training. Eddie: If he survives this he won't need any more training. When this ends we all go our separate ways. Maybe Lucille will send us a card at Christmas. Wes: Start this cramped up piece of shit car and let's go to work. Fifteen minutes later they were at the gates to the catfish farm. Eddie blew his horn and waited. Wes: You see those cameras and the dogs. If you wanted to go in that compound uninvited you would need an armored vehicle at least to crash the gates. Eddie: If these two really were Swamp Dog alumni, there is a chance there is some heavy duty shit underground that would turn an armored car into an armored oven. Wes: Yeah that's what I would do. Here they come. What they thought were two men was actually a man and woman. Dressed as she was, and with her body type, it had been hard to tell. They stopped on their side of the fence. The man was carrying something that looked like an M-16 with a grenade launcher mounted under it. Most likely under the AR-15 semi automatic was a 12 gauge shotgun Eddie: We are federal inspectors, we need to look over your operation. Male farmer: (To his companion) Cover me. He stepped into the space between the walk gates then emerged through the second gate. When he emerged on the outside the wire, the dogs started to bark again. The man said something to them in a foreign language. Male farmer: Let's see your paperwork. Eddie: Okay we are investigators for a Senate Committee checking on Swamp Dog. But we can have inspectors here in a couple of hours. Male farmer: Then you need to do that, because you are not coming in and you are not talking to anyone here. Now you have yourself a good day, and you might, as long as you don't try crashing the gate behind me. He turned his attention to Wes. Male Farmer: What you doing traveling with the cop? You're that guy aren't you? Wes: No I'm not that guy. But you should talk to us. It would make my life easier and in the long run yours as well. We can get a squad of ATF in here just by dropping a dime. Male Farmer: Do you think they would be the first ones in here to inspect? We have the arms we need to protect our crops, but nothing illegal, so bring it on. He turned and walked away. They were back in the car and headed back to the fish camp when the conversation continued. Wes: That went well. You charmed them as usual. Eddie: What is this 'are you the one' shit. Wes: It means different things different times. In this case it mean the traitor to be killed on sight. Eddie: I'm going to ask you again. Were you ever a part of the Swamp Rats. Wes: No, but they were players in the same world as some of the CIA people. I recognize them when I see them, and they do as well. In some of the nastier places of the world, CIA operatives have told the bad guys where to find the contractors in order to save their asses. So the contractors are on the look out for those informants. Eddie: How do they recognize you as CIA. Wes: There are ways. That's all you need to know. Eddie and Wes sat in the small almost warm room of the fish camp to discuss their next move. Eddie: There were three mail boxes for the building where Rose/Iris lived. Do you reckon she keeps the condo in case she wants to come home? Wes: Since we are talking millionaire here, she could afford it. Wish we had Mike here. We might could find if she had a contractor or cleaning service. Eddie: Why would she need one? She has Bart living two doors down and the boys from the farm to do anything he can't. My guess is that if we went to the door they would know it before we could get through the triple lock door lock. I would guess that it would not be the Federal Rural Police Officers who would put a gun in our face, Wes: I would agree. We could cut the power but then they probably have battery backups on the cameras. But I bet you they are monitored by a company not by Bart or the Farmers. The company monitors are never gone to dinner or to piss. Eddie: So what we try to get a warrant then go search it. Wes: I was thinking, have Mike find the monitoring company and cut their power. Eddie: We don't have those kinds of resources. How about Mike sends them a phony message that says we have to shut them down for some kind of service and then we slip in. Wes: We could just get him to loop the feeds so they look the same as they did the two hours before. Then we go up the back stairs and spend some quality time picking locks and looking around. Eddie: For that to work he would have to be back in DC, and we would have to stay here. Wes: So tomorrow night? Eddie: Next week. We want time to do this right. Your plan is the one we will use only we won't be at the fish camp when we pull the pin on it. Wes: Yeah, best to do a drop in raid. I expect I can get us a nice little black box to use. Eddie: Good for you. Now let's find something to occupy us while we wait for Mike to talk to the waitress. Wes: We could go to a movie. Eddie: Even if I do sleep in the same room with you this is not a date. Wes: Jesus you smiled, I don't believe it. Eddie: Don't tell anyone, it might ruin my relationship with the others. (after a pause) How do you think she spent her time? Wes: Nobody will talk to us so she could have been a stripper at night for all we know. Eddie: Her finances don't show her ever having a real job. She could do anything she wanted. She sure as hell had the money. But what is there to do for entertainment in a town this size. Wes: You know that's a harmless question. We might get an answer to that one. They went back to the Dairy Queen drive in restaurant to have a burger for dinner. When they sat down next to an older couple Wes was the first to speak. Wes: Excuse me folks we are kind of stuck in Mossberg for a couple of days. Our truck broke down. Is there anything to do here. Old man in overalls: Not unless you like to watch a fire burn in the fireplace. Wes: We are staying at the fish camp, there are no fireplaces and it ain't the season for fireflies. The couple joined Wes and Eddie in the laugh. Old woman: Well they are having a social at the Grange tomorrow night. They have coffee all day long for us old folks. Eddie: I think Wes had a little more action than a coffee club in mind. Old Woman: You mean a younger crowd? Stop by anyway sometimes we have younger mothers stop in so their kids can play together. Eddie decided to risk it. Eddie: We used to make deliveries to the tea factory downtown. There was a really nice looking woman who ran it. You wouldn't know if she still owns it would you? Old Woman: No she sold out to some other strangers. I hear she got real sick, Cancer. Haven't seen her in a while. I hope she didn't have it come back on her. Wes: (After they left) That's the problem with gossip. Lots of time it's just plain wrong. Eddie: Yeah but you know who might know more? The people who work at the Grange. We should ride by. Wes: We can do that but most likely it is closed this time of night. Eddie: I bet there is a lounge in a motel in the next town over. She might have gone there. We can at least show her picture around. So an hour later they walked into the lounge at the Howard Johnson's motel. Nobody recognized Iris. It was the same at every motel lounge in town. Wes: You know maybe she likes it down and dirty. We should try a biker bar. Eddie: Might as well try a strip joint then. Probably a booby bar somewhere in town. Wes: Hold on, the kid is on the line. (into the phone) What's up grasshopper? (after listening for a few minutes) Okay head on back to DC in the morning. Yes I'm sure Eddie won't call you back again. Wes: Well the kid says he got a lot of personal shit on Rose/Iris but that all. He said, when she lived there she worked on oil rigs. Some kind of security shit, you know on the rig a month or more at a time. Eddie: Bullshit that was her cover. Wes: Fuck it's all a cover. She was going deep undercover. Places she couldn't even come home for a visit. Eddie: Something always bothered me. Her ID's weren't bought online, they were real. Maybe not the last ones, but the first ones were for sure. Wes: She was a fucking undercover cop. No telling how much shit she did for the Feds before she went to the dark side. Eddie: Ask yourself who would she have worked for back then. She started during the transition. She would have to have been with the State Police, not some half ass locals to have been in that deep. Wes: I don't know about any of that shit. I was out playing war games, when you were playing cops and robbers. Eddie: More like cops and dope dealers. We need to get Mike back to the computers. Wes: Let him have the night off. (he laughed gently) Eddie: Okay but they head home in the morning. Eddie: Lets go to that Grange in the morning, then see if we want to try to get home, Wes: I'm going to call Salina. I'm curious about that cancer story. (he dialed the cell phone) Hello Salina, tell me something. Why would an otherwise stable woman tell people she had cancer? She did say it was in remission. Salina: Are you talking about Rose? Wes: Yes she told some locals that she had cancer, but that it was in remission. Salina: If it was after her imprisonment, she might have lost a lot of weight and looked sickly. She might have even had some medical issues. I can only imagine the hellish conditions she endured. Eddie: She is smart. Cancer treatment would explain her being gone for so long and her obvious weight loss, Wes: Could she have had issues which would require treatment? Salina: Of course. When Michael gets back I will have him check for any medical treatments she might have had two years ago. Eddie: He is going to be one busy boy. Wes: It will be good for him. Keep his mind off the waitress. Eddie: Would it work for you. Wes: Not a chance. Eddie: You realize that you called Salina at home. That is not something you would do with a coworker is it? Wes: That is none of your business. They were on the way to a biker club when they had that conversation. The bar had been a large convenience store previously. It just had that look. The owners had just blacked out the door and window and reopened it. There was a counter that ran along all the walls and a bar made from rough cut two by eight unfinished lumber. Eddie: Hey bartender you ever seen this girl? Bartender: (without even looking) no never seen her before. Eddie: Come here. Now you listen close you made me for a cop what you didn't make me for is a Deputy Chief Inspector. Bartender: Is that supposed to impress me? Eddie: It should since first of all the office knows where I am every minute and there is a swat team within five minutes of this place right now. I can call them in to keep all you boys in place while they check for gun and dope. If we find any we can and will close this fucking place for about a hundred years. Now do you know her? Bartender: She has been in a few times but not for a year or more. We through? Eddie: Yeah we are. Wes: Shit that was pretty bad ass. Eddie: I have my moments. Now let's leave before someone calls my bluff. Wes: You were bluffing? (laugh) The two of them stopped for breakfast at midnight after checking a few more clubs. Wes was pretty much at home in the rough biker bars and strip joints but Eddie was not at all comfortable in those surroundings. Even when he played bad cop he was nervous. Eddie: I don't know what she would have been doing in those grungy little clubs where we went last. Wes: It's called fun Boss. You should try it sometime. Yeah right, Eddie thought. He said nothing. He would have called May when he was back at fish camp if it weren't so late. He could find out tomorrow whether she had stayed in College Hill that night. He didn't care. He just wanted Mike back at his computer as soon as possible. The heat at fish camp was minimal at best, but it was as good as his sharecroppers cabin had been before the insulation. Even though he had only slept in the house once since. He knew it would be better than the fish camp. Eddie: You know Wes, Mike is going to be the key to breaking this. It will be something he pulls up, or something we can pick up at her apartment. Either way he is probably going to provide the information that beaks it. Wes: If we do break it. Eddie: Yeah that too. There is nothing we can do here, so I'm going to make a plane reservation for tomorrow. Wes: I'm not like these guys around here. Even though we have some things in common, swamp life is not one of them. Eddie: I hadn't thought of it, but this could be Swamp Dog West. There seem to be plenty of them here. Wes: You know we may never be able to tie her to the Swamp. Even if we tie her to the drug killing, we don't have anything to tie her to the organization. Eddie: What is it they say 'Miles to go before we sleep'. Wes: Yeah but not tonight. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mike met the waitress name Lucy after work. He drove and she directed him to a nice restaurant in College Hill. The restaurant was located not more than a couple of miles from the motel where he and May were spending the night. Lucy asked about Mike and he sounded like a nerd for sure but she didn't seem to mind. After he learned about her and she about him it was time to get serious. Lucy: Mike you been with many girls? Mike: Truth is none. Lucy I be your first. I kind like that. Mike: Could I ask you about Sylvia Porter first. Lucy: Let me just tell you all I know before we waste the whole night. Lucy knew a lot more than she thought. Most likely it was because Mike knew so little. Mike: I got to thank you for talking to me. I will really impress the others that I could get this much information. Lucy: Sweetie I expect you to pay for the information. Mike: Would you like to get a bottle of wine and go back to my room and watch TV? Lucy: Well it all sounds good except the TV. Day 10 May: We are almost home. You are not my ideal travel companion. Mike: Ever since I got back from my interview of the waitress, you have treated me like shit. What's up with that. May: Are you trying to say that I am jealous? Mike: Maybe, something is wrong for sure. May: If I was going to be jealous, it might be because she chose you instead of me to confide in. Mike: Don't blame me because she saw me as more sympathetic. May: Fuck you Mike. I'm plenty sympathetic. Mike: If you say so. May was very upset Mike had reminded her yet again that she had little empathy toward others. She didn't like that about herself. It was, however, true. What she hated most was her inability to fake it. She didn't like that people could read her that easily. She would have liked the black girl to take her home and do sick disgusting things to her. Then spill her guts. She and Mike had time to stop at the office after having driven the work car all day. Salina: So how was the trip. May: Mike got himself laid, so it wasn't a total loss. Salina: Details Michael. I have been stuck here doing nothing fun while you guys have been out playing. Mike: A gentleman does not kiss and tell. May: A gentleman does not screw for information. Mike and Salina together: Huh? Salina: Boss man is all hot for some information, if you can get it quick. He want to know what Security Company does the surveillance on Rose's home in Mossberg, and he wants to know what private doctors or clinics she has been to since her return home, Michael shook his head then went to the white board and wrote under Sylvia's name, jewelry maker and lived at the coast and gave the dates. Those dates were the time between her being the County Sheriff and going to Swamp Dog as director. Then he sat at this desk to find a payment from her bank's automatic payments to a security company. Since he had her account number it was easy to find her CCTV feed monitoring company. He wasn't sure what the boss wanted, but he made notes. One of the CCTV cameras covered the front stairs, one covered the rear stairs and one inside the house. The one on the rear stairs faced outside, so it shot not only anyone coming and going but also anyone hanging around outside. He switched to her medical issues. By finding the dates of her stay in hell, he was able to narrow down the times of interest. Since they were legitimate expenses, she had paid for the treatments using the clean expense accounts. Those accounts were online and open to review by the banking commission. Thus they were open to the review of hackers like Mike. His next move was to get her records from the clinic and send then on to Salina's computer. Mike: So what was she being treated for? Salina: To keep it short Malnutrition, vitamin deficiency and three different treatments for parasites. Mike: She had worms? Salina: Like every thing else we know about her, she had giant worms. She had an STD and scarring in her vagina and rectum consistent with sexual violence. In other words Rose was a pretty broken flower. How she functioned at all is a wonder to me. May: Don't start falling in love with her, she is likely to have committed murder among other crimes. Salina: (Angrily) I'm not the one who swings that way. The woman maybe all that you say, but it doesn't change the suffering she endured on that island. She did not add bitch but the implication was plain. Mike took the sensible stand with self preservation in mind he remained absolutely quiet. Since they came by air Eddie and Wes made it to the office, but not before the others had gone for the day. Eddie: I guess we might as will go home and meet back here in Monday morning. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May was still miffed as she drove into the parking garage where she stored her car. Since there was not nearly enough 'on street' parking to meet the demand of the tenants in her building she used the garage. If she chose to circle the block instead she would likely have spent more in gasoline than she could save by not paying the parking garage charge. In truth she could do away with the car entirely and save even more money. Having a car in DC was status, so suffering the disadvantages for that went along with the status. Her apartment seemed cold when she entered. It was in fact cold due to those government mandated thermostats in all new buildings. Those thermostats turned the heat down to the lowest temperature possible, while still maintaining the safety of the other systems. In other words it was forty five degrees in the apartment. The up side to the thermostats was that there was no up side. If May spent the night with a friend, the apartment was icy upon her return. It took less than an hour to climb back to a comfortable temp. The moment she left the apartment the thermostat was reset to forty five. The apartment was so well insulated, also by government mandate, that the temperature took a long time to fall to that point. Usually it was in the low sixties after a day's work. After the three day trip, it was at the forty five degree mark and had been for days. Which meant she would have to sit in the kitchen under the vent to feel warmth even after the hour passed. May kept her coat on while she called for Pizza delivery. She removed a bottle of wine from the cabinet, then returned to sit under the heat vent. She had heard during a DOJ briefing that Pizza delivery was a dangerous move. Several of the delivery men had either attacked women, or checked the place out for future crimes. Worst of all she felt obligated to tip them for doing it. She made the conscious decision to stay in. Having made that decision she changed into her frumpy but warm gown and robe. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Salina was home in the project eating an orange that one of the patients had brought her as payment. It was a good orange even if it did have lots of fibers and seeds. It tasted much different from the synthetic orange juice she usually bought in the stores. When the knock came at the door she went expecting it to be one of the patients or maybe Wes. It was neither it was Raphael. Raphael: I came to collect the rent. Salina: You are early. Raphael: There is no early. You know it is just whenever I want it, or when you need to be brought back into line. There is a rumor about a gringo. It is time to reinforce your connection to me. You do remember who allows you to stay here and take care of these sheep. Salina: Yes I remember who allows me to stay. Raphael: Not just allows you. You are under my protection as long as you stay in line. Now pay for your protection. Salina knelt in front of Raphael the half black and half South American giant of a man's penis into her mouth. He was a large muscular man but had only an average sized penis. Nonetheless she made love to it as well as she had to Wes' penis. She felt a connection to Wes but only a need to survive as a motive for doing Raphael. Even so after a while she got into it and began to enjoy the feeling of his penis in her mouth. She, however, did not enjoy when he tried to drown her with his semen. As usual the power he exerted over her was an aphrodisiac and he came quickly. Raphael: God you do that better than anyone. That's why I will never let you go. He zipped his pants, then left. On his way down the narrow stairs he literally bumped into Wes. Raphael: Watch where you going gringo. He also smiled since he knew Wes' girlfriend had just given him a blowjob. Not just a blowjob but in his mind a great blowjob. He was sure she did it so well because she loved his power. Wes gave him a hard look then shrugged and walked away. He walked up the stairs slowly and listened to the sound of Raphael walk away. When he reached her door it was ajar and there was the sound of wretching. He went inside before speaking. Wes: Hey you okay? When she came out Salina's face was flushed. Her hair was a mess and there were stains on her blouse. Wes: What happened to you? Salina: Nothing, Wes: Bullshit. What happened? Salina: Nothing that hasn't happened a hundred times before. Nothing that won't happen again. So just forget it and go. Wes: Just tell me this, was it that man I passed on the stairs? Salina: Yes Raphael. He manages the building. He keeps the thugs away from the people who come to see me. Wes: You should move. Salina: I can't move they have no one else. Wes: Does he own the building or work for the owner? Salina: No I don't think so. I think he just does business here. With the local gangs maybe. People who do business in these buildings pay him for protection. Wes: I thought the gangs had declared this neutral ground. Salina: In my case the protection is from Raphael himself. Wes: I see. Clean up I'm going to take you out, if there is no one here when I return. Wes went back down the stairs. He had no weapons, so it would be a fair fight, of that he was sure. Raphael depended on his bulk and willingness to injure people to intimidate them. Wes did a quick mental assessment as he had been trained to do. For instance he knew there were damn few CCTV cameras that worked in the project. Most had been destroyed by the gangs. Gang bangers didn't like being watched. So Wes wasn't worried about being filmed. That night he didn't particularly want to be watched. Salina had been forced to tell him where to find Raphael. Wes waited for him to come outside the filthy little convenience store which catered to the project's residents. Wes: Hey man you want to buy some weed? Raphael: Who are you man? Oh you that whore Salina's gringo. She tell you about me Gringo? Wes: Yeah that's me I thought you and me should talk. How about you ain't afraid of a skinny ass gringo are you? Raphael: Okay we talk but not here on the street man. Follow me, I know a quiet place where nobody will disturb us. Raphael led him to a dark alley between two of the buildings. It was obvious he planned a beat down or worse. When they were deep in the alley Raphael removed a knife from his pocket and attempted to turn toward Wes. As he came around Wes jabbed him in the throat with stiff fingers. As Raphael gasped for air Wes removed his belt made a loop from it, then flipped the loop over Raphael's head. He held him upright as he kicked his legs from under him. When Raphael was helpless on the ground, he put his right foot on Raphael's back then used the belt to choke the life from him. Wes looked at the lifeless body then removed the belt from around Raphael's neck calmly and replaced it around his waist. He then returned to Salina's apartment. The two of them went to dinner at an oriental restaurant on the edge of the project. Salina didn't ask what Wes had done, and he didn't brag about it. When they returned they walked by the alley. Wes was glad there was no activity around it. Wes was counting on the likelihood that who ever found the body first would remove the wallet and money. Before the cops were called most likely all his jewelry and his cell phone would be missing as well. Wes spent the night in Salina's arms. She felt safe and loved for the first time in a long time. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Friday night, 7 PM Mike: Mother I'm home. It took his mother five minutes before she joined him in the kitchen. His first thought was that it was early for her to be dressed for bed. Then he realized she had been in bed for a totally different reason. Like Salina her face was flushed and her hair was a mess. Unlike Salina she was smiling. Mike: Okay where is his car. Mom: In the garage. He is spending the night and we didn't want the neighbors talking. Wes: Why would anyone care that you are fucking some guy. If I'm okay with it, why should they care? Mom: Please watch your language. The reason he is parked in the garage is that his car has government license plates. Mike: Jesus mom not a politician. You know they are all married and only looking for a piece on the side. Mom: Maybe that's all I'm looking for. Now take your sandwich and stay in the basement. We will talk more tomorrow. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eddie didn't arrive home until 7:30 PM. He chose to make coffee before doing anything else. It was cold, since when he left he shut down the kerosene heater. He had also drained the water from the pipes. Not only did he drain the water from the toilet tank he poured a couple of ounces of rubbing alcohol in the bowl. He hadn't needed it, but the alcohol was cheap and a new toilet wasn't. He was forced to listen to the pipes bang and clank while they flushed the air out through the faucet. At the same time there was the noise of the toilet tank filling. He had the coffee on before he started the kerosene heater. He, like May, had to sit near the heater to stay warm. May's situation just went to show the new energy saving technology was really a step back a hundred years or more. It made one wonder how may other things were really a step backwards. The trip out of town had been a more or less disaster, so he was exhausted. He made sure the house was warm and the heater was safe, before he went into the kitchen. He drank the coffee he had made in the Mr Coffee knock off, while he contemplated the empty space left by the previous owner when he removed the range. Eddie was comfortable with the small appliances he had used in the studio apartment for years. In the apartment he had also used a gas cook top. He felt he might miss that, so he decided to go online to look for a cook top only. He didn't feel that he needed an oven as much as he need storage space. His sink in the house was one of those old double porcelain things. There were spaces for counters on each end of it even with its attached dish drainer space. He thought he would put a cabinet at one end to hold the microwave and toaster oven. On the other end he could easily fit a couple of gas cook burners. After his coffee and with those decision made, he lay on the sofa bed. It had been salvaged from his apartment. Once he lay down he quickly went to sleep. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lucille put her kids to sleep then had a drink. She was sick and tired of her husband coming in late leaving her to manage the house alone. They had agreed to manage things together, even if it was all they did together. She hated sleeping alone but managing an affair in addition to her job and her so called home life would just be too much. If she had a sitter or it wasn't the nanny's night out she would go to a bar and troll for men. Someone who wasn't so clean cut. Maybe she could fine a man who just wanted to use her mercilessly. She had never tried it but felt as though she might like it. Instead she had another drink then placed a call to May. It was her intention to leave her a message. She certainly never expected to speak with her. May: Hello Lucille. Lucille: Are you home? May: Yes, what the hell are you doing home. Are there no Washington parties for you to attend? Lucille: It's the nanny's night off and my husband had a bank meeting. May: A banker's meeting on Friday night? Why don't you get a sitter and go have a meeting of your own. Lucille: Afraid it isn't my style. May: Too bad I was about to volunteer to babysit no sense in both of us being alone. One of us might as well have some fun. Lucille: I would expect the someone to be you. After all it would be easier for you to get a date than me. What is it they say a bi woman has twice as many chances to meet someone. May: Boss you realize that is a sexist comment. I might have to use it to blackmail you. Lucille was a little concerned for a second then realized that May was joking. Weekend Two Saturday Mike awoke that Saturday with nothing on his plate. He couldn't go into the office some stupid rule about over time. They could track his logging on and off the computer. The door lock also had a tracker on it. He could access the computer from home, but the requests from the others were all filled for the time being. He wanted to work on the puzzle, but it wouldn't be fair to force the others. So he went up to see if his mother's companion had gone. He really didn't want to see the man who forced his mother to moan, whine, and scream obscenities. Mike: My God didn't she know mothers didn't do that kind of thing (a mumble to no one) In the kitchen he found a note.... Gone out to breakfast. Mike: Simple and to the point. Time for me to ride the bike... He got on his boyhood bicycle and rode it to a dinner in the closest shopping center. Every shopping center in the burbs had some kind of small restaurant. The one he chose was 70% take out, but they did have a few booths. Since he was on a bicycle he ate at the booth. After his dry eggs and burned bacon, he sat at the booth using the restaurants WIFI. He checked out the sites he used most often. Most of them bored him almost to tears. That is until he got to his online bank account. He found that unbeknown to him someone had made a $1500 dollar deposit in his account. He assumed it was his pay for two weeks as a government contractor. Of course it could have been from his previous business. He occasionally got commission payments on the account. He had never before found one so large in the account. He decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. In the same plaza, where he ate breakfast, there was a moped store. Actually it was a pawn shop which had branched out to selling a few scooters. Salesman: That's a real beauty. 50CC 4stroke top speed forty miles and hour. A really nice ride for the money. It's the next logical move up from the bicycle. Mike: The bike is more about exercise than transportation. I just came by to look since I was here having breakfast. Salesman: I can make you a great deal. Gas it up and you can ride it home. I'll even hold the bike for you till you come back for it. Mike: What is the great deal? Salesman: Normally this model is $999, but I'll fill the gas tank and give it to you for $899. I might be able to get it financed for you, but then it will be $999. Mike: Let me get the name and other specifications and I'll research this model. If it is what you say it is, I'll catch a ride over to pick up one. Salesman: Right, is there anything i can do? Mike: not for the next four or five hours. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Wes woke up in Salina's bed. Unfortunately Salina wasn't in it. She was sitting in the kitchen at the table with a cup of coffee. Wes joined her with no shoes or socks and in his tee shirt. Salina: You look comfortable. Wes: I am comfortable. How are you this morning. Salina: Making a list for the grocery store. It seems the Government made a deposit into my account last night. Wes: I guess I should check my account when I get home. Salina: Oh you are going home? Wes: Eventually yes. Maybe not today though. Of course I need to go take a shower. He needed to do was the smell of death off his body, but he didn't say that to Salina. She didn't need to know what happened when he last had to run out for a bit. Salina: So go take your shower and I'll be back by noon I'm sure. Wes: I need to check on some things around the house. How about we meet back here at three. Maybe we can go somewhere? Salina: Not till you convince Lucille I can be trusted. She has control of the ankle thing. At least I think she does. Wes: Okay we will still do something, I just don't know what. When he got home Wes downloaded five movies. They were the newest ones on the premium service. He put them all on flash drives so that he could take his laptop to Salina's house. His plan was to use his computer /TV connection gizmo. He carried that along as well. Of course he had to remove it from his own TV first. He left his house planning to return to Salina's all clean and sweet smelling. His plan also called for him to stop for a deli sandwich tray from the Jewish Deli on the same block as his slightly better than slum apartment. He always visited it when he needed fancy take out to impress a woman. He hadn't done that in a very long time. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ - May May: (Into the phone) Hello. Lucille: It's me. Are you busy this afternoon? May: I was going to wash my hair and do my laundry, so no not at all. Lucille: I am taking my kids to the Lincoln Park this afternoon. Could you meet me at the playground area. I can bring coffee and donuts and you can bring me a real update, since all I get is 'nothing to report' reports from Steady Eddie. May: Sure, I take my coffee black. I like filled donuts and I don't care much what they are filled with. Lucille: Good shall we say 3PM? May: Sure I'll throw my laundry in the car and do it after we meet. Lucille: Don't you have a laundry room in you apartment.; May: No the apartment has one for everyone but it's all closed off. It's also pretty creepy. I always go to one one of those suds and brew places. I have a drink while the clothes wash. Lucille: I have never been to one of those. Maybe I'll stop by and buy you a drink for my next update? May: Sure why not. But for today it's Lincoln park by the swings at 3PM. Lucille: That's right the kids have already been promised. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------------- While May and Lucy were having their phone conversation Eddie was at the outdoor mart. He had found on line that they had a two burner propane stove for less than a hundred bucks. That would give him his burners to complete his kitchen appliance set up. Eddie: Hey there how about some help over here? Salesgirl: Just a minute. The bottle redhead was talking into a cell phone. Eddie waited a couple of more minutes then he decided, fuck it. He walked to the next aisle over and asked a man at lease seventy for some help. Old Man: Sure let me get someone in that department. Eddie: If you are going to call the redhead, don't bother. She is too busy on the phone with her boyfriend. Old Man: How about I get the department manager. Eddie: That would be fine. Five minutes later a kid about fifteen showed up. Eddie explain what he needed and the kid found a complete table top cook setup. Burners line valves and all. Eddie went to the register to pay. Redhead: Hey mister, why couldn't you wait five minutes for me to finish that call. Eddie: Because my time is probably just as important to me as yours is to you. The difference is you are being paid for your time, and I'm the one doing the paying. So technically I'm paying you to ignore me and I really don't like that at all. Now get the fuck out of my way. Eddie pushed past her. A black woman rang it up, he paid with his debit card, then went to his car. White driving home he drove by a flea market, so he stopped to check out a couple of used furniture dealers. Eddie: Hey there. I like this chest do you have a ruler. I need to measure it and I didn't bring mine. He took a scrap of paper from his wallet and compared it to the chest. He carefully measured it. Eddie: Sorry it's too short by five inches. It's wide enough and deep enough but it five inches too short. Very old Gray haired lady: Too bad people once used a can of veggies under the legs to raise them up. Eddie: Thats and excellent idea. Not a can of veggies but a couple of two by fours will lift it high enough. How much do you want for it. Old Lady: Since you got to do all that, how about twenty dollars. Eddie: Fifteen would be better. (haggling was expected) Old Lady: Done ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------- Mike: So mom where is your married politician tonight? Mom: Oh he is home with his family. I guess I'll see him next weekend.he might even call a few times during the week. That how this is most likely going to play out. Mike: You have done this before? Mom: Since your dad moved it out there have been a few times. It's always the same. They find a younger woman and they just move on. I'm usually their first affair. Of course I am a little older now, so I don't have quite as many options. Mike: Why do you do it? Mom: I like sex of course. Mike: Hell, mom everybody likes sex, we we don't chose inappropriate lovers. Mom: Have you finally found yourself a woman? Maybe you will move out of the basement now. Mike: I found a woman, but I still can't afford to live anywhere else. Also she is about five hundred miles away. Mom: I don't believe that. The woman sure, but about you moving out. It was never about money, it was always about being alone. Mike: I guess you are right. I like living here with you it's comfortable. And I can wash your car so it not all bad. Mom: No it's not all bad. When you were a teenage boy did you even fantasize about me. I mean it wouldn't have been unusual, or even shameful it's just a fact most boys do. I'm too too bad looking and you have seen me at my best and worst. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------- Wes and Salina were only interrupted three times during their movie night. Two of the interruptions were patients and one was a cop canvasing the neighborhood. Cop: Ma'am we are going door to door asking, if anyone knows this man. He showed her a mug shot picture. Salina: Of course that is Raphael, he is some kind of representative for the owner, I think. At least when I see him he tells me he is taking care of the place. Has something happened to him? Cop: Why do you ask that? Salina: When cops ask about someone in this neighborhood, he is either dead or he killed someone. Cop: We found his body this morning. We just got around to organizing the door to door. Salina: I really don't know anything about it. He was here last night asking me if I needed anything. That was about 9PM. Cop: How about you sir. Wes: I'm just visiting Salina here. We work together. I never met the man. Cop: Call me, if you think of anything. (He gave Salina a card) After the cop left Wes made a sandwich on a Hogie roll. He opened a beer and looked up to see Salina staring down at him. Wes: What? Salina: How dangerous are you? Wes: Honey, I'm a pussy cat. Salina: More like a Tiger. Wes knew that a secret shared, is no longer a secret. It didn't matter how much you trusted the person. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------------------- Eddie spent the after noon trying to fit the dresser into the space beside the sink. He had decided That the space should be his cook area. The chest of drawers would make a fine replacement for a base cabinet. He was able to fit the two gas burners beside the microwave but not the toaster oven. He changed his mind. Instead of the microwave he placed the toaster oven beside the cook top. He used those items less than the microwave so he planned to place the microwave and the Mr. Coffee clone on the other side of the sink. When he found another dresser. Eddie: Hello. Voice on phone: What are you finding out? Eddie: Well today I found out that kids have no respect for anyone. I have no idea how this country is going to operated when they are the majority. The last generation fucked it up bad enough. Voice: You know that's not what I mean. Eddie: To be honest we can't get anyone to talk at all. Not even a casual interview. They just clam up and refuse to discuss anything. Voice: So what are you going to do next? Eddie: We are going to try to follow the evidence. Whatever we can pull out of the stew. Voice: Stay at it Eddie. I know you are fighting the good fight. Eddie: Did you have anything to do with selecting the team? Voice: Do you want to change the members? Eddie: No I just want to know if whoever chose them couldn't have found competent people without all the baggage. Voice: Eddie people in their right minds, would never go near this investigation. Eddie: Yeah I guess you are right, there aren't likely to be any winners. Voice: Keep me informed. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------ May was on time for her meeting. She saw Lucille by the playground equipment. She allowed the children to play on the large climb and slide village. May expected to see Lucille in a different light. Instead she was reminded even more that Lucille was a political animal and seemed to have to human emotions. She was almost robotic with a computer for a brain. Lucille: Here is your coffee and donut as promised. So what does the team know now that it didn't last time we talked? May: They know maybe even less than before. We have some theories and leads but none of it can be proved and shouldn't be in the public domain. I would rather not be the source of conjecture, that we later have to clarify or take back. Lucille: So this is all a waste of taxpayer money? May: Surely you knew that was likely, since people all over capitol hill are looking into all this. There may just be nothing to find. If you think the things they have done need reigning in, you may have to find a way to do it which doesn't require a smoking gun. Lucille: Do you know anything at all which we don't. May: It's petty much accepted that one of their contractors was involved in some killings in the Caribbean, but they were ruled self defense. One of those contractors might have been involved in the murder of a Drug distributor in this country. We know she was working for a second contractor at the time of the Caribbean incident. There were sketch ties to Swamp Dog. She was imprisoned there. She was later released but we haven't pursued how that happened. Someone with Juice might have interceded for her. That might be a place we could look next. That person might be an opening to the congressional connection. May had realized that as she spoke. She knew it was a lead they should follow. The boss might not know what the investigation was about, but May did. Which was why she was being asked to narc or the others. Lucille: Keep me in the loop. (Louder and to her children) Come on kids time to go. May went home to call mike and arrange a meeting. She decided to make the meeting with Mike for the next day. She needed some release. So instead of Mike, she called a man from DOJ. One who had nothing to do with her career. He could neither help her, nor toss a monkey wrench into the works when she proved to be not as loving as she seemed on the surface. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------- Lucille went home. She her husband and the kids had a cook out. They grilled hamburgers for the kids and steaks for themselves. Lucille's husband: We should have called some friends over. Lucille: We don't have those kinds of friends. Beside what would we talk about, who you were screwing these days. Husband: I was thinking we could talk about how much more important your job is than mine. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------- Mike slept alone in his basement wondering why his mother seemed to be flirting with him all of a sudden. She was attractive even at forty four. She kept her figure and dressed well. Since she worked in the clerical office of the FBI she had been instrumental in keeping him out of jail. The ankle monitor was a great improvement over gang rape in prison. He just wondered why she was so flirt at the moment. He gave up on the idea and decided it was his imagination. Since the waitress in County Seat, he had begun to see everything in a sexual light. He looked climbed the stairs to look at the scooter in his garage. It was bright orange and didn't look quite so cutesy as his other choices. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------- Wes had spent the day with Salina so spending the night was expected so he did. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ----- Eddie went to bed with his unfinished kitchen cabinet on his mind. He had the name of a handy man he could get to install the upper cabinets. Which left him only the conversion of the base units. It would be an eclectic mismatched mess of a kitchen, but it would suit him. Weekend 2.2 Sunday. Wes woke up to find Salina in the bed beside him. He reached over to hug her, when he did she turned away, but press her backside against him. He wiggled into her even closer, then tried to go back to sleep. Salina knew whose penis was pressing against her and she didn't mind at all. She had felt him inside her only a few hours earlier. She was surprised how tentative he was with her. Almost as if she was the one with the power. She knew he was a very dangerous man, but he seemed almost childlike the night before. Salina: You know I'm not going to break, if you want to do things to me. Wes: What is it you are saying to me? Salina: I guess I'm saying I want to please you no matter what it takes. I want you to let go and do whatever makes you happiest. Wes: Just being here makes me happy. It also makes me happy to see you happy. Salina: You know that is not what I mean. I hated what I did for Raphael, but I also got exited by it as well. Then I hated that I hated it. Do you understand. Wes: Yes I do. Sex is like killing. You hate it the first few times, then one day you don't hate it. You are good at it, and you are proud of that. Next you are ashamed of it because you are supposed to be. Later you are ashamed, because you let someone outside the circle convince you that you are defective. Defective because you don't feel remorse for doing a job that needs doing. Salina: Yes I understand that. Salina turned toward him with tears in her eyes then slithered down in the bed, pulled the sheet off of Wes. Without warning she took his soft penis in her mouth and began to nurse on it. She did it exactly as she had for Raphael and she enjoyed it just as she did with Raphael. She even enjoyed it when she had to suck the semen from him. He had not fully recovered from the late night they had shared. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------- From his basement bedroom Mike heard his mother moaning and grunting. The politician must be back, he thought. He he climbed the stairs that led to the kitchen. He continued to hear her moaning and grunting. He could see that the door to her room was open. He knew it was wrong and he also knew it would scar him for life to see her, but he couldn't help it. The congressman must have come after midnight since the two of them had shared take out pizza and a bottle of wine just before then. He was sure that she had flirted with him, and he probably flirted with her as well. When he could see in the room, he saw that the man, who was choking his mother with his penis, wasn't the congressman. She was sucking on the penis belonging to the Pizza delivery man. Actually he was just a boy. He was possibly even younger than Mike. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------------------- May woke alone and depressed about it. She had been alone in the mornings too often lately. She had trolled the bars the night before, but couldn't find anyone who was the least bit interesting to her. She knew for a fact that the men and women were the same ones or at least the same types who frequented the bars. Those were the ones who stayed over, then took her to some trendy restaurant for breakfast. Kissed her on the cheek then disappeared with an 'I'll call you'. Half the time they didn't even have her number when they promised to call. She was alone in her bed, which she hated. but she hated more that it bothered her to be alone in her bed. She wasn't even sure why it bothered her. Sure her body often screamed for release, but that was not the case that Sunday morning. That Sunday morning she was piss that she felt the need for someone else to make her complete. It was a realization she came to only because she was investigating two women who had not needed anyone else to make them complete. She envied them. They seemed to have lived in the world, but not been a part of it. Almost like they were some kind of new super humans. Not a super human because they could fly, Rose seemed super human because she could live almost a year in Devil's Island, as she began to think of it, come back and not be any different for the experience. They had obviously tortured her, but she didn't come back a killer, she had been a killer when she went there. It didn't change her, she had always been who she was after her return. May couldn't wrap her head around it all. She wondered what she would do if she met Rose Seabold in a bar. Better still what would Rose Seabold do. May decided to walk to breakfast. It was only five blocks to the neighborhood sandwich shoppe. She got up almost took a shower, then decided to wait till she returned. She wore three layers of clothes when she left her apartment for the five block walk. She began at a blistering double time pace. Instead of the walk she could have gone to the gym, where she had a membership, but the walk suddenly made more sense. Along the way she passed real people doing real things. It was a kaleidescope of sights. There were joggers in their matching running suits from her neighborhood, and and immigrants standing in the doorways watching the people go by. The immigrants were dressed in colorful if unfamiliar clothes. May: Why the fuck have I never noticed all this life before. Shit life is all around me, I just never looked. She felt like a small row boat in the sea of humanity. She knew that it was silly to wax philosophical about a five block quick march to breakfast. It was simply a morning of discoveries. She went into the sandwich shop. She sat at the counter for the very first time. She perched on a stool near an older man in a blue worker's uniform. Waitress: What can I get you? May: I'll have what he is having and the coffee black. Waitress: You not having your coffee with all that latte stuff in it? The waitress asked not because she knew May, but because she knew the type. May: No I want it truck driver style. She couldn't remember where she heard it, but she was sure that it was in County Seat. Probably from the waitress there. The one Mike, the little shit, had fucked. She laughed at that thought. Some was in possession of a shorted out brain to not only was she acting like a bimbo, but also thinking like one. The food came and it was excellent. It sure as hell wasn't healthy, but it was better tasting than her usual egg white omelet. After breakfast she power walked back to her apartment and took a shower. After she dressed for the remainder of her Sunday she felt terrific. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ --- Lucille woke up with her whole family in bed with her. The kids knowing it was Sunday had slipped into the bed. Her husband as usual came home in the middle of the night. He was still sleeping when she awoke. As was her Sunday tradition, she slipped into the ratty old College Jersey. It was one she wore for her winter rowing matches. She rowed from the number one position in her four woman Scull. That jersey she wore over sloppy athletic sweat pants. It was probably her outfit of choice to remind her of her glory days, or some such nonsense. It was also comfortable for her cooking chore. It really wasn't much of a chore. She opened a packet of premix for pancakes and a pack of chocolate sprinkles. Her main work was to mix an egg and 3/4 cup of milk with the pancake batter, then pour it into the pan. When they were done on one side, she flit them and add multi colored chocolate sprinkles. All that was taking place while the coffee was cooking. She saved one cup of the coffee from the night before to drink while the new coffee brewed. Something she had started to do since working on the new project. The people in the office, who arrived before the new coffee was stated by Salina, all drank a cup of the reheated coffee straight from the microwave. After she tried it once she found it tasted strong and awful, but it was what she needed first thing in the morning. After breakfast her two sons dressed for the day, then she took them back to their room and redressed them. That to was a Sunday tradition. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------ Eddie was awake and out of bed before any of the others. He had things to do, even if it was Sunday. His renovation of the tenant farm house had all kinds of problems. He had been determined to fix them all himself, until the job came along. Even so there were some jobs that he hadn't deemed urgent, so he was planning to do them as he found the time. The rear deck was one of them. The rear deck was not a repair job, it was a complete build from the ground up. He looked out the rear door and found the eight posts he had set the day before still standing tall. He had dug the holes for the treated six by six posts in the afternoon of the day before. He also poured the cement into the holes to secure them. The cement really hadn't been necessary but he did it anyway. The posts were eight feet long with roughly three feet set into the holes. That left them five feet above the ground. They could be trimmed later with a few saw cuts. The deck was going to be eight by twelve feet, give or take a few inches. His plan was to build the deck right on top of the existing concrete block steps' The were low enough to allow for it. After a bowl of dry cereal, Eddie began to work. He snapped his line to keep the deck level then began to build. He knew that it would be dark at least before he finished. He might finish in the dark or do it later. It would depend on how far he got on it during the daylight hours. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------------- Lucille: Breakfast is done so what are you going to do for the rest of the day. Husband: I need to go to the office for a while today. There is some banking loan papers to review. Lucille: Don't lie to me. Just tell me you are going to go out and how long you plan to be. You have a cell phone, if I need you. So answer the damn thing. After her shower Lucille was dressed for the day. She asked the boys what they wanted to do. Park was their first choice. Lucille had other ideas. She knew everything about her team. Well maybe not everything but a lot. Lucille: How about we go for a drive in the country instead. Both kids were excited to get away from their usual routine. It seemed to Lucille to be a perfect chance to talk to Steady Eddie alone. _________________________________________________________- After Mike rode his bicycle and showered he took the aspirin, then went back into the house. His mother was still in her room, but passed out on the bed naked. He looked at her several minutes, then closed the door. In the garage he rolled the scooter into the drive and started it. He used his smart phone to access his hack. The one he had installed months before. It allowed him to send a fake signal to the monitoring service, and to shut down his ankle bracelets GPS. He could probably work out a way to remove it, but he chose not two. He was after all working with a couple of cops. Well one retired cop and one DOJ attorney. They did have eyes and would have noticed the absence of the anklet. It was only the second ride he had made on the scooter, so he was still getting used to it. He stayed away from the few heavily used areas on a Sunday morning. He found the out of the way restaurant before shutting down the scooter. Once inside he saw a table with eleven male and females gathered around it. Of of the occupants had motorcycle helmets on the floor beside their chairs. As always he was amazed by the shit you could find on line. Mike: Mind if I join you? Bearded older man: Not at all brother, what you got. Mike gave him the specifications. The bearded man gave the specs on his scooter followed by all the others. They almost all were riding some version of the same Chinese scooter he had. There were a couple of Tomas and Vespa but just one of each. He would never have considered meeting strangers for coffee before he met Wes. It amazed even Mike that one man could make that much difference in his life. After his hamburger roll with an egg and cheese stuffing, Mike went along with the group on a ride around town. He felt that it was a great way to spend a Sunday. Out seeing new sights and new sites. He smiled a lot. He realized the men of the club tended to be older. The woman were as well, but not quite as old as the men . He supposed women in there sixties didn't like the idea of a scooter. Mike decided he would look for a club with younger members. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------- May called a young woman she had spend a night with recently. May: Helen how is it going? Helen: I'm fine, who is calling? Mel: It's Melody, you know Mel from the Pines. A couple of weeks ago. Helen: Oh yeah the lawyer. How have you been. Mel: Just over worked, how about you. Helen: I've been working a lot as well. I moved into a new apartment and it's hard to find time to do everything that needs doing. Mel: Well if you need some help, I'm not too bad with a paint brush. Helen: Well that's nice of you to volunteer, but I don't think my partner would approve. Mel: Oh one of those. I get it. Helen: I could ask. She might enjoy the company. Mel: No Thanks, I'm not good as a third wheel. Helen: Shame I love tricycles. Hey I got to go we have a call. Mel: What do you do? Helen: Firefighter The line went dead leaving Mel to ponder that. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- Lucille showed up at Eddie's former tenant farmer's house with the kids shortly after stopping at McDonald's. The kids brought their own happy meals. The three of them walked around the house to the rear where the sound of an electric saw could be heard. Lucille: I recruited some help for you. I also brought lunch, since I figured you would forget to eat. Eddie had no idea what was going on, but he didn't mind the two boys being in his yard. Eddie liked kids and usually they liked him. Eddie. I was about to take a break for lunch anyway. While I eat lunch we can build a couple of cars for the boys. What do you think guy you want to build your own cars. Lucille: Really? What kid could refuse to build his own car. Eddie: Of course I was thinking how cool it would be to build a car with nothing but scraps and our imagination. He left Lucille and the boys to go into the house and find his hole saw. The one he had used to install door knobs on the new security doors. He had installed them himself almost immediately after he first bought the mini farm. The saws cut a two inch disk from the door. That Sunday he used them to cut four disk out of a piece of scrap 1x6. The disk had a hole in them dead center where the pilot hole had been drilled by the saw. Eddie found some deck scrapes he used to make the body and roof of the car. Then he nailed the wheels on loosely. In the thirty minutes it took for the kids to eat there meals Eddie had make two wooden cars. They were pretty rough but the two boy loved them. For the next two hours he worked on the deck while Lucille and the boys got in the way. He had to find jobs for them to keep them out of the way. He did it as many times as possible. Lucille: (closing the rear door) They will sleep well tonight they are exhausted. Eddie: Did you want anything, or just looking for a place to go outside of the DC madness. Lucille: It can wait. I'll try to get by the office one day. We can go sit on the dirty steps and you can tell me where we really are. Eddie: I look forward to it. And bring the boys back anytime. After this assignment I will have goats they can play with. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------- Salina: Wes I need some time alone. What have we had this weekend is wonderful, but I need time to think. Wes: Sure I understand. Take all the time you need, but remember I will be here when you decide. Because of that conversation each member of the team slept alone and frustrated that Sunday night. Day 11 Eddie: Okay where are we? May: Not much farther than we were before the road trips. Mike: I don't know, the waitress told me that after Porter was removed as Sheriff, she sued the shit out of the state police and won. They had arrested her as an excuse to take over the country law enforcement. That Rita chick claimed false imprisonment and defamation of character. The settlement was never announced but it was said to be several millions of dollars. She also said, that after the arrest and before she dropped out of sight she was involved with a private church camp. No one could figure out why. After that she just dropped out of sight for a while. Then she began dropping into the cafe now and then. The speculation was that she was visiting the church camp, since no one knew where she was staying. Eddie: Mike find out all there is available on that camp. Especially directions to get there, since someone is soon going to pay them a visit. We didn't come up with anything new on Rose, but we got a plan. You guys are better off not knowing what the plan is. May: I have an idea about that. Eddie: Oh? May: Yes Sir. If we could find who made the request for her release, we might have a second avenue to pursue in out effort to find her. Eddie: Excellent thinking. Mike get on that as well. Seems like you are going to be a busy hacker. He smiled and Mike smiled back. Mike genuinely like Eddie. Wes: I would suggest that you be careful on that scooter, we need you in one piece. Everyone nodded their agreement. That show of support really meant a lot to the kid, who still lived in his mother's basement. Mike: The waitress also mentions that Sylvia had told her, she was living in a small town on the coast. Eddie: Did you check it out yet. Mike: Not yet I haven't had a chance. I plan to search all the counties around there for any purchases of real estate by her or anyone with a similar name. Unlike Rose, she is not known to have used any alias. Eddie: add that to your other searches. If we find her on the coast someone needs to go see what the locals say. Maybe the Swamp Dog hasn't gotten to them yet. Salina: Mike did a search on Rose's medical condition. He found where she saw a private doctor for sever weight loss. It wasn't cancer, but it would have appeared that way to anyone not knowing the diagnosis. What she really had was an extreme case of malnutrition and an active parasitic event, both consistent with her time in the island prison. She also had signs of abuse and probably torture. Eddie: Lets not start empathizing with her, she is a murder suspect. Wes: It's hard not to empathize with her. She was protecting her employers. The same ones who did not send anyone for her, and yet she didn't betray them. Like her or not, you have to admire that kind of loyalty. Eddie: Are you telling me you can't be objective? If you are, I can and will replace you. Wes looked at him his eyes glaring. Instead of speaking, Wes stood and walked from the room. Wes: (Standing in the stairwell) Fucking cop, (spit) Eddie: (to the group) Anything else? Mike: I got into the security footage of KMX. Those cameras can be disabled and I can replace the footage with a loop of prerecorded data. Eddie: Good we are making progress people. Eddie returned to his desk to work as did everyone else. Lucille called about half an hour later. Lucille: I have some information for you. It seems you hit a nerve somewhere. The politicians are circling the wagons. There are two senator asking what authority you have to be asking questions. I explained you were working for the committee. Then they explained that they were on the committee and they had authorized no such investigation. It got a little contentious. Eddie: So are we shut down. You know I have plenty of work left on my retirement home. Lucille: No way Edward, we need you sifting through this crap and hope a strong wind does not come alone and create a shit storm. On a happier note the boys slept with those cars on their bedside table. I couldn't get them to put the cars away in their toy box. Eddie: You can bring them back any time Lucille. Next time give me some warning and I will build them a dump truck. Lucille: So, were to next Edward? Eddie: Not on the phone too many ears. How about dinner after work today. Lucille: Is this just an excuse to take me to dinner in a cheap restaurant? Eddie: Who said I'm taking you. Lucille: Hey, I bought last time. Eddie: Okay, but you are going to have to be a cheap date, unless you can get me a raise. Lucille: Burger King by the airport at 6PM? Eddie: That will work. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------ Wes: Guess what Boss. Eddie: You are pregnant? Wes: No it's better than that. Church Camp is the name of a satellite of Swamp Dog. Mike is running down the history, but a friend of mine told me the company used it as a long term safe house for some of it's assets. May: Guess what else, the DOJ used it to hide our high profile witnesses. The Witness protections guys are going to call me back. They won't tell who they stashed there, but they will give me an outline of how it all worked. Eddie: Things are starting to move. That's a good thing. Get us a new white board. We need to separate the investigations. Wes: You are wrong. Somehow it is all connected. Church Camp had to be running the domestic operations. Rose's contact was with Church Camp not Swamp Dog. That is why it was hard to establish. She didn't work for the Dog she worked for the Church. A totally different shadow organization on paper. ____________________________________________________________ With that information they all knew to start looking in a different direction. Mike: Guess what I found, Church Camp Inc. is on a list of business doing business with the CIA, Homeland Security, NSA, The US Marshal's service and even the Federal Police. Eddie: Well now there is a shock. It would be kind of hard to trust the results of an investigation run by FedPol since that are doing business with the people they are investigating. Eddie didn't say it, but he was sure the senator who hired him could have saved them two weeks by mentioning that small fact. Eddie had wondered all along how the senator got the money approved to hire his own team of investigators. Now he knew. Eddie: Good work Mike. Now find out what kinds of things they were doing for the various government offices. Mike: On it boss. Mike: From now on nothing leaves this office? Right. That goes for all of you, no more updates for people who aren't at the morning meetings. This shit has now gotten serious. If we implicate Rose Seabold in the Murder of the drug dealer, Church Camp will be guilty of a conspiracy at least guilty by implication. Then it will be just a matter of who gave the order and why. So starting now it is all top secret. Wes: To get the details of how it works, you need someone from Church Camp or someone from management of Swamp Dog to talk. Eddie: That's what the Committee wants from us. The want the name of a witness. Most likely the less he knows about current plans the better. Wes: So their thinking is, we want to know just enough to damage the other side, but not ourselves. May: Closed door hearings with just enough leaks to embarrass the opposition party. So do we walk away? Eddie: You certainly can walk away at any time. As far as I'm concerned it will always be a no harm no foul move. Salina: If we stay and work are we going to keep quiet about what we find. Eddie: I'm not going to sanction the killing of any of you. Short of that, how do I keep you from talking? Now get back to work, find out what you can. I bet you there are hundreds of people in the this town who knew things, they didn't know they knew. So, find enough of them and we can build a picture. If we build enough pictures they will be a cartoon strip. So start reaching out. Mike: Boss a word please. (Once they were outside) Who do I reach out to? Eddie: Try to get into the National Crime Data Base. Look for someone involved in a violent crime, who also has a tie to Swamp Dog or Church Camp. Any of the other security contractors, for that matter, might be a link as well. What we need is leverage over someone with knowledge about the operation of Swamp Dog, or Church Camp. So find me a former employee awaiting trial or all ready inside so we can play let's make a deal. Mike: We really need to get the IRS records for this. If I can find out who they paid money to, then we can track them all down. Some of them might fit your search grid. Eddie: If we ask them nice they are going to fuck with us. So you tell me Mike. Mike: I just wanted you to know that if I disappear, who you should be looking at. I don't want to go in so deep that I get caught. I'll just get into their archive back about five years. That is probably less protected than the active ones. Eddie: Do what you can and I'll take the heat for it. But we really need a break here. Wes: Church camp has a strange history from what little I could get this morning. It was a real church summer camp. Then it's sponsor church lost most of the congregation, so it was it was on the market for a couple of years before Swamp Dog Enterprises bought it. I think Sylvia Porter was still a Sheriff when it went up for sale. They went into operation to fill a need their Government contacts had. The various agencies needed more than one safe house with good security. The Church Camp could do that. From the beginning the safe houses financed a place to plan, train, and launch Domestic operations. They trained employees to be body guards, and even taught military style domestic drug raids, using civilian operatives. The commanders came and went until a drug raid that went bad. The deputy commander of the Swamp Trainer cadre was leading it for some reason. He was injured. I'm not sure exactly how it happened but it was pretty bad. He was put in charge of the Camp as soon as he was able to manage it from a wheel chair. He hasn't been called by the committee yet because they haven't make the connection. The CIA hope they can bury the connection to save the safe house program. That program has been operating on a very limited scale since the home office came under investigation. Eddie: Wes can you find out if the Swamp Dog is still operating off shore. Wes: I already know that their security contractors are still in the field. I don't think their strike teams are still working, but they surely found other employers. Those were the smallest number of men and women. Eddie: Are any of the domestic operatives still working. Wes: Best I can tell they have shut it all down. They maybe working freelance though. Eddie: They probably have come in contact with the law since they lack the Swamp Dog clout. Mike is looking for some of them now. If we find them we have to find a way to flip them. Wes: Some of them will talk, if we can keep them out of jail and don't ask them to testify in front of the open hearing. There were no further breaks on day eleven. Just more probing with no results. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------- Lucille chewing on a fat french fry: So what do you know that you haven't told me. Eddie: I know I should be home finishing my deck. The thing is not going to build itself. Lucille: Yet here you are choking on that artery hardening whopper. I should probably have chosen a vegan restaurant. Eddie: If you had you would be dining alone. I have to eat sometime that's why I agreed. Lucille: Yes you do. So what are you working on. Eddie: Truth is we are trying to find an informant. You know cops. We need someone to flip to gain information. Lucille: Are you holding back on me? Eddie: No matter how good or bad I am, I'm always holding back something. Lucille: Then at least tell me you are making progress. Eddie: We are making progress. Lucille: So give me something I can pass on. Eddie thought about it and decided that it was time to test how well his side could keep a secret. Eddie: Not to be shared with the press? Lucille: Okay just something for internal use. Just to let the boss know you aren't playing cards on his dime. Eddie: We think we have found the domestic operation that is tied to Swamp Dog. It's called Church Camp. That's all I can give you now. Eddie knew if she leaked it hell would come to his team. Every law enforcement command and intelligence agency seemed to have used Church Camp. It might even shake something loose. If there was a leak, he would know it sooner, rather than later. He would also find out who really had the juice. Lucille: What an innocuous name. So what exactly did they do for the Government? Eddie: I'm not sure what, if anything they did. They were a domestic operation which might have been pursuing body guard, drug raids and hostage rescue type operations. They might have been training government and freelance operatives as well at that camp. It got real quiet while Lucille thought about the information she had been given. Eddie could not read her reaction to the disclosure he had made. Lucille: So you want to buy me a drink? Eddie: I would love to, but I really have to get home to get to bed early. I want to be able to finish the deck during the week. Maybe we can do a whole team meeting in a bar. It would likely be good for moral. You know no husbands wives or girl friends just team members getting to know each other. Lucille: Sure that would be better. I hardly know anything about some of them. (Eddie looked at her as if she was lying.) Nothing on a personal level. I know whats in the background file, but it leaves out most of the important personal stuff. Eddie: Yeah the personal stuff is good to know. Lucille: So tell me something about you. Something I won't find in the files. (she wasn't ready to give up on Eddie just yet) Eddie: I always wanted to go gold mining. Lucille: You are kidding. Like those shows on TV. Eddie: No not like that. Just me and a tiny bit of equipment. Living off the land and sluice mining the streams I come across. Lucille: So what's stopping you. Eddie: This investigation. When it is done, the house will be done, then I might mount a mining expedition. Now you tell me something I don't know about you. Something not in any file. Lucille: Something as silly as gold mining with a gold pan? Eddie: Silly, embarrassing, or just plain weird. Lucille: I was a NCAA class one rower champion in college. I still sleep in the jersey I wore to the awards ceremony. Eddie: Okay but that doesn't fit the criteria. There is nothing strange in that. Lucille: You don't find a woman, in my position, sleeping in a twenty year old sports team jersey strange. Eddie: That depends on where the hole are. (he smiled) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------- May went to a thrift shop after work. She search through their bike rack. Eventually she found a bike with almost no wear on the tires. It had just a small amount of surface rust. The bike was an old ten speed racing style bike. The other racing style bikes were eighteen speed or more and they were more modern ones that showed some wear. Since the thrift store was in the neighborhood she roll the bike home after a stop at a convenience store to pump up the tires. She found the building manager before he left for the day. For ten bucks he oiled and adjusted the gears and the brakes. Since there was no daylight left she parked the bike in her living room. She was determined to wake up early enough to try riding it the next day. Since she had recognized Mike's magic pills as common aspirin, she checked her medicine cabinet. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------- Salina had dinner on the way home to her apartment. There were two different families waiting for her when she arrived home. She had already decided that she missed Wes and was willing to take a gamble on him. After she treated the two kids for common colds, she called Wes who rushed over. _________________________________________________ Mike spent his evening listening to his mom moan and groan again. He had to admit that in addition to being strange, it was also erotic. Michael got off to the sound, then felt guilty for having done so. Day 12 Mike was on his bike in the suburbs where the most dangerous thing he faced so early in the morning was falling asleep. May on the other hand rode her bike through the streets of DC. Those streets could turn from the quaint redeveloped downtown neighborhoods to slums in two blocks. Two blocks went by very quickly on the bicycle, which she had bought only the day before. May pedaled about eight blocks from her chic downtown apartment, then found herself in a more dangerous part of town. She looped around and headed back downtown to the safer downtown. Along the way she saw signs posted on the side of the road for a park. The signs showed a cartoon picture of a bike and two old folks walking hand in hand. So the park had a bike and nature trail. That should be more fun, she thought. Mike rode to the shopping plaza, but he didn't feel that he had done enough so he continued on. He made a right turn at the next intersection which took him into an industrial area. It was filled with buildings which ranged from a city block, to several city blocks in length. It was industrial only in the sense that the building were large. They didn't make anything they were mostly warehouses filled with foreign made consumer goods. The availability of the airport and a good highway transport system made for access easy. Therefore it was a distribution hub for several online virtual stores. Mike knew those operations needed only a warehouse and web page to make millions of dollars in sales each year. His combination made for a long ride with almost no car traffic, and very little truck traffic at 6AM. When Mike felt tired he turned and headed for the drive in restaurant. May got tired of circling the downtown. She also noted the up tick in traffic, so she headed back to her neighborhood. She swore that tomorrow she would ride straight to the park for the nature trail ride. Once home she showered, dressed, and then retrieved her car. All done in time to find a drive thru restaurant on the way to the hole in the wall. Even with the stop, she was only five minutes late. Those few minutes made a difference only when the boss was on a tear. At the DOJ five minutes late was actually early, since everyone tended to be late. Mike stopped in the middle of his ride to work, so he pulled up on the scooter just a couple of minutes before May. If it was late, it was by maybe fifteen minutes. May found that when she got out of the car her legs had gotten sore. That's why the aspirin was part of the regime Wes had laid out for Mike. She vowed not to forget it again, as she walked to the office from the car with what was almost a limp. Her muscles were tightening quickly. Eddie had arrived fifteen minute before Mike or May and thirty minutes before Wes and Salina. Lucille never did show up at the Hole In The Wall Hq. He make a point of looking at his watch when Wes arrived. One of the reasons they called him steady Eddie was that he knew how to pick his battles. With the exception of May and Lucille, none of his people considered this a career move. It was just a little extra money at first. Then it became a puzzle for him and the others as well. They were collecting more and more pieces, so he decided their tardiness thing would be a non issue. He could ignore it as long as it didn't get worse. He would try to curtail it with a little meeting. Eddie: Gather round people. I have decided that we will continue working on verifying Wes's information and adding to it. We need to know more about the two compounds occupied by the Swamp Dog people. The church camp is worth at least a phone call, so who best to make it? Wes: I could make a call and get a contact name and number, so maybe I should call. I'm not sure my source will let me use his name for the intro, but even so I can get some kind of reaction. Eddie: Or we could work a sting. May: My guess is they will vette anyone we try to put in there very well. They aren't on the ropes enough for us to get that kind of cooperation from state or DOJ, certainly not the CIA. Eddie: I expect the FEDPOL are going to be the same. So if we can't go in undercover, we will just have to depend on our brilliant interrogation skills. May: How does that go, 'you talk to me or I water board you'. Eddie: I expect you have great skills. You probably belong with the national division of the Federal Police. You would do fine, they are mostly politicians these days. It would be a lot like working for the DOJ. May: Have I just been insulted? Eddie: Do you feel insulted? Wes: Boss, we got a problem. Eddie: Oh really? Wes: Yeah a Detective supervisor Austin is on his way over. Salina tried to tell him he had to have an appointment, but he said and I quote,'Fuck that.' So I took that to mean he was on his way over. Eddie: Yeah I would think that was his meaning as well. I expect this first words after asking my name will be, 'What the hell do you think you are doing?' Want to bet a hundred bucks on it. Wes: Are you trying to set me up? Eddie: Yeah I worked with the guy once upon a time. He has no imagination. He likely won't remember me. Wes: Well he is here. so lets go see what he says. Austin: (After the introductions) So what's going on here Edward? Eddie: Well Wes is that close enough? Wes: Yeah, but we didn't make a bet. Austin: What are you two talking about? Eddie: Nothing Important, So what can we do for you? Austin: You can tell me what you are investigating, and on whose authority? Eddie: Austin calm down, you are going to bust a gut. Austin: You want to talk here or come down to the office. Eddie: If you want to do the interview there, I think you will need to take me into custody. I am not compelled to go to your office unless you state a reason, then take me into custody for some particular reason. It doesn't appear that you have that in mind, so this interview is terminated. Austin: Do you really want to air our dirty laundry here? Eddie: I really don't give a rat's ass about your dirt laundry, and mine I do in a public laundromat these days. Austin: Expect a call from your boss. Eddie: I always do. (Said to Austin's departing backside) After he had gone Eddie took a Deep breath and tired to pretend nothing had happened. Of course he wasn't all that imaginative either. He couldn't forget any of it. Someone was trying to get involved in his investigation. Eddie was glad he hadn't ordered the wall furnace for his tenant farm house. He was renovating it on a 'pay as you go' basis. He could pay for the under a thousand dollar furnace without the job, but it would put a cramp in the other renovations for a while. The kerosene heater worked fine for now and since the winter was almost over, the purchase could wait until the fall of next year. In that time the job should have ended, or at least sorted itself out. Eddie: Wes a word please. (once outside Eddie continued) We need to do the black bag thing sooner rather than later. Me, you, and Mike are the only ones to know exactly when we are going to do it. We need to do it untraceable. That means no phone conversations of any kind mentioning it. Wes: I know the kid has been accessing the computers here from home. Let's give him a burner phone for the code word. He said that he had breached the security and planted a Trojan. Now it just a matter of sending a string of code to set it off. Once that is done he will do the loop thing for exactly one hour then get the hell out. Boss could do this by trying to hide it from everyone, or we could make sure everyone knew and they had a self interest in keeping it quiet. Like I don't give a crap about you, but I'm keeping quiet to stay out of jail myself. Eddie: So you really think May would go along with that. She would want to get warrants and go in with ten cops and let all Rose's friend know, so they could warn her. We best go in alone, beside most cons get convicted when an accessory flips. Wes: I was just asking. Eddie: Do I need to worry about you flipping. Wes: I already told, you that you could trust me. Eddie: That was before you were spending all your time with Salina. Wes: Nothing has changed. Eddie: Then we need to work out the details and get on the road. Wes: Simple Church Camp is on the way. We check into a motel in that next town over. Go out poking around at the camp, being sure we get noticed. Then leave that same after noon, drive straight to Mossberg, do our Watergate thing, then drive back to check out and head home. Eddie: That's a lot of driving for forty eight hours without sleep. Wes: What, you never slept in a moving vehicle, so when do we go? Eddie: Did you drive in. Wes: Yes. Eddie: Have Salina drive your car home. We will take the company sedan on our road trip. You brief Mike at lunch and we will leave right after. Wes: Then let's do it. If you really want to fuck with their minds. We can stop at that little town were Mike stayed Check into a motel with no CCTV and then drive through the evening hit the apartment and drive back by morning. Eddie: Okay lets go for it. We can leave right now. Eddie and Wes went back inside to tell the other that they had decided to hit the Church Camp as soon as possible. That meant a long drive down to the small town where May had stayed while Mike was getting laid. Eddie: Keep it quiet this is not to be discussed with anyone. Wes and I plan at the very least to be in position to hit them first thing in the morning. So we are going to leave here immediately and check into a motel. Done there this evening. Eddie decided to leave his car in the parking garage where the 'Hole in the Wall' had been built. Which meant he and Mike could take the government boat. Somehow Wes was able to sleep all the way to the first stop for gas. They filled the tank and then filled the car with snacks on the company credit card. After all that they continued to drive until they arrived in College Hill. Even though Wes, on his turn driving, had a heavy foot the drive still took eight hours. The motel check in took thirty minutes out of their highway drive time. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------- At five O'clock Salina left the office in Mike's beat up old SUV. She parked it in the parking lot for her housing project. Mike had told her not to worry. He had said that if it was vandalized, he had good insurance. He in fact had none at all. She saw a couple of people from other projects after dinner. Then at nine there was a gang member with a gunshot wound. His name is Marcus, one the men who helped him in said. Salina: Marcus you need to go to the clinic this is a bad wound. Marcus: Just fix it punta. Salina: (to his friend) get him out of here, or I call the police. I am not going to risk my ass to help him and get no respect for it. Friend: You better play nice or you gonna die in the street, cause we ain't taking you to no doctor. Marcus: Okay, please help me. Salina: There is a price to pay this time. Friend: How much? Salina: You make sure no one bother that red Suv with Virginia plates in the parking lot. It's gonna be out there a few days maybe. Marcus: You got it now fix me please. Salina began work. She knew he was already high on something. Whether he got high before or after he got shot was immaterial to her. She was going to probe for the bullet which was located in the fleshy part of his shoulder. It was no doubt a small caliber hand gun wound. She had seen enough large caliber assault rifle wounds to be sure that the one in Marcus wasn't shit. She found it, removed it, packed the wound with Antiseptic ointment from the dollar store, then stitched and bandaged the wound. Salina: Keep it dry and change the dressing everyday, but don't wash it. Dab it with peroxide. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------- May: Come on Lucille you know if they find out, Wes most likely will make me disappear. He scares the crap out of me. Lucille: Where the fuck did they go. May: Church Camp to try to find out what they are up to these days. Lucille: Okay that's a logical move, since I'm sure they don't return calls. (pause while she thought) May do you have a favorite Chinese restaurant? May: Sure China Palace on 14th street, why? Lucille: Unless you have other plans, I thought I would call in an order and have you pick it up. You could come over and meet my family. May: I'm sorry Lucille I am exhausted. My plan is to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then take a long bath, before bed. Lucille: And what do you plan to do during that long bath? Never mind don't answer that. Lucille broke the connection. She would have packed the kids in the car and drove to Eddie's house, except for the fact that he wasn't there. He was out working for her and the Senator. Lucille: The things I give up for this job. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---- Mike went home and found his mother dressed and cooking dinner. It was some kind of fancy stew with a red wine gravy. It really smelled delicious, he thought. Mike: So who is your dinner guest? Mom: Why you are sweetie. I thought since I have been so selfish lately, I would cook tonight. Make something special. Mike: Okay. Yes he was suspicious. His mother wanted him to believe that she had suddenly turned over a new leaf. He doubted it, but he would play along to see how it worked out. One thing he had learned at his new job was patience. He had learned that, if you try to force an issue, you seldom got the result you were after. Mike: So how long before dinner is ready? Mom: It should be about an hour. You don't mind the wait do you? Mike: Of course not mom, I would have to wait longer, if I ordered pizza delivery. Mike couldn't help the dig. His mother had to know, that he knew, what she was doing and with whom she did it with. Mom: Yes pizza delivery. I do enjoy the pizza delivered to the house. It makes it so much more convenient. Don't you agree? Mike: I suppose it does. Mike knew that his mother was flirting with him. It didn't surprise him as much as it should have. She started drinking right after work and was pretty well feeling no pain by the time dinner was done. He had no idea how to handle it. He had enjoyed seeing her and it had turned him on, but even if he wanted to have sex with his mother, it was the wrong night. He had work to do that could mean the difference between being a heroic team player, or having to bail his team out of jail. Mom would have to wait, if that truly was what she had in mind.. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------- Wes: Hello baby how are things at home? Salina: Things are fine at my home. I have no idea about your home. I had a visit from the homeland sixers tonight. Wes: Are you okay? Salina: I made a small repair to one of their speakers, but I'm fine. I managed to negotiate protection for your piece of shit car though. (Salina laughs) Wes: You are the best honey. I got to go we are just pulling into the motel. They were about to pull into the town of College Hill. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ----------- The motel was an old mom and pop place which had been converted to middle eastern motel. Those were the types with only one CCTV camera. It was in the lobby and trained on the front desk. The two men had a good meal in the restaurant across the street. They paid with the company credit card, then filled the tank also with the company card. When they left the convenience store with the CCTV looking at them, they did not return to the motel. Instead they drove an additional eight hours toward the town of Mossberg Ala. Midnight found them one hour out, but closing fast. Day 13 It was 1AM when they arrived in Mossberg Ala. Wes made the call from his burner phone to the one he left with Mike. Wes: Rabbit. Just as he had been directed, Mike hung up the phone without saying a word. The two men gave him fifteen minutes before going to the rear door. If all went well, they had forty five minute of their hour left. While they waited for the fifteen minutes they alloted for Mike to do his work, they chatted. Eddie: Let's do it. I'm going to pretend that I am Moshe Abraham. Wes: Who the fuck is Moshe Abraham. Eddie: No idea. it's a name we gave a burglar. One we never could catch. He never left anything behind, not one single clue in his ten year career. Wes: Then why the name? Eddie: Why not. Actually we figured he was a spy, and who has the best spies. Wes: Mossad, hence Moshe? Eddie: Exactly. (looked at his watch) Time to go to work. They went to the rear door, where Wes picked the pick proof lock in about a minute. Once they entered the door, they found a private staircase to the third floor. Just as the blueprint Mike had secured from the county planning board had on it. It hadn't suggested that it was narrow and steep with only one landing. I didn't appear to be an after thought, if it had been Eddie expected that it would have been built on the outside of the building like a fire escape. With all the security devices turned off, it was a simple matter to pick the upstairs lock, then put on the rubber gloves and begin their search. The modern search included booting her computer with a flash drive which a clone program. Wes booted the computer to the flash drive and it began copying the contends of Rose's computer bit by byte. Meanwhile Eddie walked around looking at her decorations and furniture. Like Eddie, Rose was a minimalist, he discovered. For a millionaire he was surprised by her spartan digs. Everything was functional, but none of the furnishing screamed money. He found absolutely nothing out of place. He did find that it all seemed to be just too clean. She wasn't planning to come back. She kept the place just in case, but she had already moved on. He had very little hope for the computer since she had done such a professional job of leaving the apartment sanitized. Rose had simply disappeared again. There was no telling when or where she would reappear. Hell they didn't even know who she would be when she did reappear. Presumably she had cash, as well as access to accounts they knew nothing about. Eddie and Wes left the apartment with ten minutes to spare. They had walked almost a quarter of a mile to her apartment, so they had to retrace their foot steps. They had not said a single word since they left their observation spot outside her small private park. As they passed it, Wes took another glance into the spot quickly to make sure they had not left anything which might later identify them. When they reached the car, they drove away very carefully. The apartment should seem as though no one had been inside it. The didn't want to get a ticket at that moment, which could later come back to bite them on the ass. Wes knew that all her friends were pro's. They might well have left their own version of the string over the door trick. If so they would know someone had been inside, but there was nothing they could do about it. He also knew that driving the speed limits was a good idea, since one day they might be asked about their where abouts on this night. When he and Eddie lied, he didn't want any evidence to prove they were lying. At 8:45 they sat down to breakfast at a small diner in College Hill. The food was heavy on animal fat and grease, but it was also very good. Eddie's eyes were gritty from lack of sleep. He had slept some on the two four hour drives to and from Mossberg to College Hill. Wes had insisted on driving and he didn't object. His reasoning was that Wes had slept some on the way down from DC. Sunrise had revived them both, but it could only do so much. They had a plan and since they were a little sleep deprived and dopey, they knew it was best to stick to it exactly. Eddie downloaded an image mike had provided for them. He glued it to the screen of his phone to use as wallpaper till they got to the camp. After breakfast they returned to the motel to shower and dress for the day. There was no time for a run or even a walk, so they were out the door by ten and at the gate of Church Camp by 11AM. There was a large warning sign on the gate. STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE SOUND YOUR HORN SOMEONE WILL COME TO GREET YOU. Eddie: Not very friendly are they? Wes: I will bet you there is a siren on that gate. If we went to touch it there would be a high piercing sound. Most likely those metal strips are revolving tire spikes. The strips ran from side to side on the dirt road. They were about ten inches wide and level with the road. Wes: I would go with punji stakes on the sides of the road to discourage walking around the gate. Eddie: Simple but effective. Especially since land mines are discourage these days. Wes: Don't be surprised to find non lethal mines. Probably a little sniper harassing fire as well. Take a look in the tree over there. That's a camera with a .177 pellet barrel attached. That's only what is visible. Odds are pretty good they could get a team up here before a force could clear the area. Eddie: I bet they have scaled back till the congressional things clear up. They are not going to want an incident now. Let's try to use that against them. Wes: Take a look. Wes pointing down the road leading from the camp to the gate. From that road a rusty pick up truck emerged. The gate lifted and the truck pulled up to greet them. From the truck emerged a fat man of at least sixty. He walked toward their sedan. Fat man: Howdy what can I do for you. Camp don't open till June, water is too cold to swim till then. Eddie: Ah so is the owner or manager here. We are looking for a place to send the kids this summer. Fat man: You two got kids? Wes: My wife and I have a 12 year old daughter. My brother here has ten year old twin. Fat man: Okay but the camp manager isn't here. He will be coming up in May. I'm just the caretaker. Eddie: I see well how about we come in and take a look around. Fat man: Sorry I got my orders don't let nobody in. It's an insurance thing they tell me. Eddie: Okay, whatever you say. By the way, is Andrew still the camp commandant. Fat man: Don't know nobody named Andrew. The camp manager's is Sarah Jenkins. Eddie: Well how about giving us her number. I'm sure if we called, she would let us tour the place. We drove a long way to see it. Fat man: Wish I could, but that's not how it works. They get their campers from church groups. So wouldn't do you no good to tour it. Miss Sarah don't want to be bothered. Wes: Take a look at this. (Showing him his phone) The image is your parking lot. It was made by a Russian Satellite this morning. You see all the cars in your parking lot. The place doesn't look deserted to me. Fat man: I think you need to go. If you want to come in and look around get yourself a search warrant. Eddie: (Talking into the phone) May you want to fax the local rural police a search warrant for the Camp. Yeah we will block the entrance to the road until the police arrive. Put on the search warrant that we will be searching for weapons. Wes: So? Eddie: May said it would take about thirty minutes for the local cops to get here with the warrant. Meantime we need to leave, we can go back to the road and block this driveway to be sure nobody and nothing leaves. Fat man: You guys cops. Eddie: Senate researchers, we are just here to count beans for the IRS special committee. Fat Man: Wait here I'll be right back. Call your friend ask her to hold off on the search warrant till I get back. Eddie: (Into the phone) May hold off on that warrant. (Turning his attention) Well Wes, do you think this will fly. Wes: Who knows. It would be nice not to be bothered with dealing with the proceeds of a search warrant. The truck returned followed by to two black Cadillac SUVs. Tall man with a limp: What's this all about? Eddie: You must be Andrew. Andrew: I am. I seems you know more than I do. Eddie: My friends call me Eddie and this is Wes. We are investigators for the chair of the Senate Committee investigating the so called American Foreign Legion. Andrew: What does that have to do with me. Eddie: You either are the new head of Swamp Dog Enterprises, or you are still the commandant of Church Camp Inc. Andrew: At the moment there is no Church Camp. We have shut down everything on the advice of counsel. If you want to come in to look around bring me your warrant. If conversation will do, maybe we can talk and defuse this situation. Eddie: Let's go the talking route first. Andrew: I hoped we might be able to do this like gentlemen. Our attorney is on the way. She will get here tomorrow morning, if you come back then, I will give you as many answers as she allows. They will most likely be the same ones I will give to the Committee, if they figure out what to ask me. However until Rita gets here I got nothing to say. Eddie: Call me when you do. Eddie and Wes retreated first to talk to local businessmen, then for an early dinner, finally to their motel. A early bedtime was called for, they both agreed. They definitely weren't as young as they once were Wes decided as well. Eddie: I'm going to take a look at this flash drive before I go to bed. Wes: I wouldn't do that. If you plug it into your machine the wrong way, it will clone your hard drive as well. Eddie: I don't have anything worth reading on the computer, however you do have a point. No sense confusing Mike when he gets it back. In that case I'm going to turn in. Wes: I'm going to power walk early in the morning, you want to go? Eddie: You operative types start way to early for me. Unlike my life back in DC, I won't need an hour's prep time before work tomorrow, I do not plan to be awake before eight. Wes: Whatever They parted for their respective rooms. ------------------------------------------------------- Back in DC Salina was the first to arrive for work. She drove Wes's car into the office because it would be safer in the abandoned parking structure, than it would be in the parking lot outside her housing project. She had the coffee on before the rest of the office staff arrived for work. Mike was first to arrive. He was bundled up to look like the Pillsbury dough boy. The first thing he did was to remove his helmet, then came his dear hunter thermal Jump suit. After those item he removed a Sweatshirt with the name 'Georgetown' on it. He was left standing in jeans and another sweat shirt with Born to Ride on it logo. Salina: Obviously you came to work on the scooter? Mike: That thing is always a blast, but sometimes it's a blast of cold air. I can only imagine what it's like in a snow storm. Salina: White hell comes to mind. She was smiling her motherly smile. She was less than twice Mikes twenty two years old, but she still felt motherly sometimes. She, unlike his real mother, would like to see him become a man, not stay a geek boy forever. Certainly not living in his mother's basement till he was forty. Partly the feeling came from them both being Wes's friends. Mostly it was her need for redemption by saving others. Of course she didn't realize either motive. May came in next. She also said good morning. She had a brief conversation with Mike. Then she poured herself a coffee. May: (To Salina) Have you heard from our missing members. Salina: Not yet, but it's early I expect them any time. Anytime turned out to be almost lunch time. Eddie called and asked for May. He ran the warrant scam passed her. She of course had no idea what he was talking about, but went along. An hour later Wes called to inform Salina that he and the boss were going to talk to some people, then call it an early night. At the same time he updated her on the plans for the next day. Salina: (To the others) The interview is set, but don't expect too much. The CC's Lawyer is driving down. May: You mean the infamous Rita, who has weaved her way though out this case like the master manipulator she is. Mike: More like a black widow spider's web. Salina: Her husband it very much alive, but she is black. I wouldn't say that around her, if I were you. But yes she does represent the CC, Swamp Dog, and Bart's Tea company. May: I should be there for that interview. I should have insisted. Salina: I think Wes and the Boss can handle it. By the way they said for us all to continue on with what we are doing. I'm going to keep calling unaffiliated doctors and clinics. May, I might need you to pressure some of them. You can flex some of that girl muscle you are dying to use. They exchanged sarcastic looks. Salina was determined to be a team player and try to resurrect her life. However it was hard with the yuppie May always around to remind her how low she had sunk. Mike like a good geek buried his head in his computer. Salina used Wes's car to go for a take out lunch at the closest Chinese restaurant. It wasn't on May's Yuppie list, but the food was good and inexpensive. Since it catered to the Chinese immigrants, it was on Salina's list and she did go out for it. The afternoon passed till five while the men in College Hill slept and the office ran along without accomplishing much. Then the day came to an official end. Salina spent the evening waiting for a call from Wes that never came, since he slept until well past midnight. Mike lay awake listening to his mom moaning. For some reason she suddenly had become extremely slutty. He had no idea why. He thought she probably didn't either. May went out to the neighborhood bar for a glass of wine and some friendly conversation, which turned out to be just noise. She spoke to a couple of men but decided that if they weren't bi, they were definitely wimps at the very least. By 9PM she had enough and walked home alone. When she arrived, there was a message on her phone. Lucille: You need to check in dear. May: (into the phone) Sorry Lucille I had a personal matter to attend to. Eddie and Wes have an interview with the commander of Church Camp tomorrow. They called me to run a game on the commandant to try and force him to agree to it. It must have worked, they called back to say they were staying at least until tomorrow. Lucille: Very good you are doing an excellent job. When she hung up Lucille poured herself another glass of wine and checked on the boys. They both asleep in the bottom bunk of the bunk beds they had insisted upon. She had a least talked them out of the 'Transformer beds' in favor of a classical rustic cabin type bed. One day they could be separated to make a bed for each of them, should they demand to have separate rooms. She went into her own empty bedroom and decided that for a while at least, maybe the second guest room should be used by her banker husband. It was the room designated for one of the boys later. Since he was determined to lead an alternative lifestyle, the least she could do was look the other way. She had decided to actually encourage him to the point where he wanted to leave her. That was in response to the prenuptial agreement he had forced her to sign. In general it read that she got less, if she moved out or sought the divorce. If he did, she got her full community property. She had signed the agreement because she was young and naive. He had insisted because he knew he wasn't going to change. It was a way to coerce her into keeping up appearances. Those appearances helped him to rise in the super conservative world of international banking. Day 14 morning Eddie found he couldn't sleep past 3AM. He rolled around the bed half asleep from 3AM until 5AM, then finally gave up. The motel was so cheap he heard the water run in Wes's room when he flushed the toilet. Eddie dressed in everything he had brought with him then went outside in time to catch Wes before his walk. Eddie: So let get on with it. Wes: Right, you want to lead and set the pace. Eddie: You set it, I'll keep up. Wes: Good luck with that old man. Eddie: This coming from a man with a hangover. Wes: Not hangover for the last four days. I have been on the wagon and suffering with sobriety the whole time. They walked five miles more or less. Three out and two back to a restaurant on their route. When they stopped for breakfast Wes ate a biscuit and jelly washed down with orange juice and coffee, lots of coffee. While Eddie had the country breakfast special. Lots and lots of burned animal fat and scrambled eggs. He was able to swap the grits for hash browns potatoes since he had never developed the taste for corn stew. Eddie: So how did I do? Wes: You did fine for an old man. I expect Salina will be able to do better, if we ever wake up in time to walk before work. Eddie: (Nodding) So how you think today is going to go. Wes: I respectfully refuse to answer on advice of counsel. Eddie: Maybe or maybe not. If we can ask the right questions, we might learn something even from that. Get him to talk about harmless stuff. Then when we hit him with something we know the answer to if he refuses, we try something harmless again. Keep going back and forth then slip in something we aren't sure of and see how he answers it. Wes: Like: is today Thursday, oh by the by do you operate a safe house for spies? Eddie: Exactly. Oh by the way where is Rose Seabold at the moment. Wes: So what should we do till Andrew calls us. Eddie: We should make their lives miserable. At least as miserable as we can. First of all we assume that there is not going to be any new information from them. So why not put a rock in their boots. Wes: Okay how do we do that? Eddie: Why we start another line of investigation. We talk to anyone who knew Sylvia Porter over in County Seat. Get our own biography started. Then when Andrew calls, we will be too busy to hold the meeting today. Explain we are sorry, but when they didn't call we began a new line of investigation. We couldn't possibly get to them till 6 or 7PM. Maybe tomorrow would be better after all. Wes: I like it, put them on the defense and try to tie Rita up for another day. The least we can do is to let her know where the real power is located. Eddie: If you are going to play power games, it is best to know how much you have. So let's find out how much we have. Let's head over to the courthouse. The former clerks and judges haven't been forced into the federal system, so let's try them. At 11AM they were talking to a local judge. Judge: She was one of the best sheriffs we every had. She was absolutely incorruptible. She didn't care a whit about money, so she couldn't be bribed. I generally hated her guts, when she came before me, but I would loved to have been her friend outside of court. Just then the phone rang. It was Andrew. As Eddie had explained to Wes, he stonewalled Andrew. Eddie: Sure let me know what you want to do before five. Wes: Even I knew you were gaming him. Eddie: I hope he realizes we are playing at whose is biggest and Rita explains that ours is. Sure he knows, but Rita can't prove it, so they have a decision to make. Eddie and Wes continued to interview people who had known Sylvia. One of them was the Brit's friend Jeromy. He told the stories about how he and Sylvia had gone to craft shows and the like, while she was between jobs. Everything about Sylvia seemed larger than life. Eddie knew better. If he had enough time the dirt would begin to roll out. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------- Day fourteen started for Salina with a scrambled egg and cheese sandwich make in her own kitchen. She then showered and dressed for work, which seemed more like a break from her real job. The people of the projects depended on her to tell them how to manage their health care. While keeping in mind a trip to the clinic could be a ticket home for some, and jail for others. She advised them on the least dangerous option. She made it out the door with no last minute emergencies, so she was at work early for a change. Once she parked Wes's car, and before she opened the office door, she saw the tiny bit of Kleenex on the ground. It was the 'tell' which Wes had insisted upon. Eddie then stressed the need to do it to everyone of them. The last person out had to place the Kleenex bit on top of the door. There was no way it could have fallen on it's own or stayed in place, if the door had been opened. If it had been opened by one of them, they would have known to replace it. First she had to be double sure that none of the others had returned to the office after hours. She was almost 100% sure they had not since Eddie and Wes had stayed in College Hill. No one else cared enough to return to the office. She went inside to start the coffee. She decided to wait for the men to at least finish their interviews in County Seat and the Church Camp to share the news. The remaining three of them at the 'Hole In The Wall' office were in very little danger she decided. Every soldier knew what a threat assessment meant and knew how to do it. The only one of them who wouldn't be screwed, if caught with a weapon was May. The thought of May with a weapon was as terrifying as the thought of someone invading their space. She decided she had to ask, even if it created speculation among the others. She needed to know who was the last one out and if they had remembered to set the 'tell'. She sat down with her fresh brewed coffee and began to work on Sylvia's medical records which arrived late the day before. All she could find of any significance was the mention of injuries from altercations over the years. They were nothing like those sustained by Rose Seabold. She did find mention of an over twenty year old injury sustained before she was a Sheriff. She had been injured during a drug raid by friendly fire. A tree beside her exploded from a high velocity riffle round fired by a SBI agent. The splinters moving at a high rate of speed had shredded her hand. The damage was something similar to being shot in the hand with bird shot. The splinters had damaged skin, muscles, and nerves. They had also bruised bones. In other words her hand was a mess. The emergency room doctors treated her for blood loss and shock, then forwarded her to a trauma specialist who stabilized her hand. There followed months of surgery to reconstruct the hand rather than remove it. She ended up with a club hand but it was a working hand. It just didn't work a hundred percent. The thing Salina found most interesting in the reports referred to her as Wildlife Enforcement Officer Porter. She must have been a game warden. She decided to recommend to Wes that he have Mike check on her official files for a background in Wildlife Enforcement. She made that decision before Mike showed up. He was extremely late. Since she wasn't his keeper she put it down to when the cats away the mice will play ect. May arrived first looking less dull than usual. Anything would be an improvement over the usual drag ass May. She was like a zombie most mornings. Which led Salina to believe she was sleeping poorly. May: Good morning Salina. Salina: (Skeptical) Good morning what have you been up to so early. Obviously it was someone special to make you all smiles. May: Well it wasn't sex this morning. It was a ride down the bike trial in a neighborhood park, which connects with a deserted stretch of railroad bed. It was absolutely beautiful. I rode over ten miles. Where is Mike this morning. Salina: God you are so enthusiastic it's disgusting. As you can see Mike isn't here yet. The two women put their heads down and continued to read the files Mike had provided. It was grueling work and no fun at all. It was almost ten when Mike came limping through the door. May: What in the world? Mike: Some asshole ran me off the road. I was on my way home after breakfast and he ran a stop sign right in front of me. I took to the curb to avoid him. I got tossed off the bike. My knee is bruised and my arm and shoulder is scraped pretty good. Salina: Did you go to the ER. Mike: I don't think it's that bad. Salina: (In disgust) Oh fuck it, let's see. Mike tried but couldn't get the leg of his jeans over the knee. It was the same with the shirt. May: You have to go to the ER. Mike: I have no insurance. If I go there, I will be in hock for the rest of my life not to mention the IRS will find me. Right now I have no contact with them. If I check in the hospital, they will be all over me for not paying taxes for a couple of years. I had hoped to put them off till next year. Salina: Yeah the National Health Care Act ties all the support agencies together. Everybody knows everything. That is why the people I see don't go to the ER either. May: Then you have to do something. Salina: Get your ass to the closest drugstore get some gauze pads lots of them and some tape not that skin sensitive shit, some real tape. Then a big bottle of peroxide and two tubes of antibiotic ointment. Also get some ice packs. I'll try to get a look but for god's sake hurry. (After May left) Salina: You are lucky I carry such a large purse. I have a small amount of supplies in there. So lets get you undressed. Can you get your jean off, or do I need to cut them off? Mike: I can get them off I think, but it is really painful to bend down for my shoes. Salina: Please don't tell me you rode that scooter to work in this cold dressed like you are. Mike: Yeah and it was pretty cold, but actually it felt better out there, than in here, pain wise. From her purse Salina removed some pills. Salina: You allergic to anything? Mike: Manual labor. (he smiled sickly) Salina: Take this. She handed him a pill and a cup of tap water. Mike: What is it. Salina: Don't worry it's not a narcotic. It's a super version of Ibuprofen. It won't kill all the pain, but it will help. Now take these Tylenol tablets. Mike: You sure that its safe. Salina: Not safe enough to take everyday, but safer than riding a bike in DC obviously. Mike: Yeah looks like it. He got his pants down without screaming. Salina used non sterile water to clean the grit out of the scrape. Her real concern was the swelling. Salina: You got a nasty scrap that is going to be painful as hell, but that knee should be x rayed. It could be damaged. Mike: You don't look upset enough for it to be serious. Salina: (smiling) It's messy, but not as messy as a belly wound from an AK47. Mike: (trying to smile) That's good to know. Salina had Mike down to his shorts by the time May returned. Mike still had a pretty good sized paunch. He didn't tell them that he had lost eleven pounds in the two weeks he has worked with the group. His exercise and a controlled access to food accounted for the weight loss. The controlled access was mostly due to being out of the house working. Some of it was his reluctance to go upstairs and confront his mom and her lover dejour. That was an issue going onto the back burner for a while for sure. May came rushing in after almost thirty minutes. Salina used the peroxide to clean the wounds a second time. Then she coated them with antibiotic ointment and bandaged them. Salina: It looks worse than it is, but he is going to have some discomfort. He should be home where he can lay down. Mike: No I want to work. I don't want to be home. May: Well you don't need to put these clothes on again. They are bloody. Call your Mom and have her bring some clothes. Salina: also have her check her medicine cabinet for any left over prescription pain killing drugs. You know like vicodin, codeine, or anything of that type. Mike: She's at work I'm sure. I'll call her. She doesn't know about the fall. I don't want to worry her. May: Mike you don't have any choice, you have to call her or I'm going to take you home. Mike made the call while May and Salina tried to decide how to handle him. May: Should we force him to go home? Salina: He won't be any better off at home alone than he is here. He is going to need a ride home tonight, but I can handle that. Once he is home, I assume his mother will take care of him. He probably doesn't need to be going up and down the stairs there twenty times a day. But otherwise he should be able to do anything he wants, but I doubt he will want to do very much. May: Well I got stairs at my place or I'd take him. (There was a questioning look from Salina.) Okay maybe not. Salina: He is off the phone let's go talk to him. (After she walked over to Mike) You need a blanket? Mike: I am getting cold. Salina: I don't have a blanket, but at least put your pants and coat on. You can change them out after your mom shows up with clean clothes. This is not the best time to ask, but who was the last person to leave the office last night. Mike: Why did I leave it unlocked? Salina: No, I was wondering if you remember to set the Kleenex. Mike: To be honest I can't say that I have a memory either way, why? Salina: The paper was on the floor outside when I came to work this morning. I'm sure that it was there before I touched the door. May: We need to contact someone about that. Mike's accident may not have been an accident. Mike: It was an accident trust me the guy never even looked. It wasn't like he planned it. He was just a jerk. May: Bullshit, ask Eddie, there are no coincidences. Salina: Of course there are. Everything is not a coincidence though. Some things are planned to look like random events. When the boys call in, we will discuss it with them. What we will not do is to discuss this with Lucille. May: It's noon already have you heard from them. Salina: No but it's okay they are running games on the staff at the camp, remember the call for you to obtain a search warrant then to cancel it. They are just winging it down there. They will call later to let us know when to expect their return. In the meantime we need to keep going as if none of this were real. May: it's noon where the fuck is Mike's mother. You can bet I would be here in a minute, if it was my kid. Salina: Spoken like a true woman. One who has no kids. (she laughed) A few minutes later a thin woman in her early forties appeared at the gate. Mike buzzed her in. Mike: Mom is here. May went into the parking garage to meet her. When she opened the door May was surprised to find that the woman looked only a little older than she. She was very attractive. It was hard to believe she was Mike's mother. May: Hi my name is May I work with Mike. Mom: (not overly concerned) How is he? May: Pretty banged up, but he isn't too bad. Fortunately we have an army medic here. She patched him up. Come on I'll let you see for yourself. Mom: Sure lead the way. May was surprised at her lack of concern. When they entered the room and the woman saw Mike for the first time she did look a little concerned but the look vanished quickly. She gave the pill bottles to Salina. Then went to Mike. Mom: How are you Michael. Mike: I think I got a bruised knee and some scrapes but I seem to be holding up well. Salina cleaned me up and I finally got warm. Mom: Good. Salina: You got a ballsy kid there. He walked home from the accident, then got on his scooter and came here. He was in a lot of pain and did all that. The kid is not just a Geek and wimp. He has real balls. Mom: I'm not surprised every mother thinks her child is special. May: Well yours is. Salina removed a pill from one of the bottle Mikes mother had brought. Salina: Take this. Mike: Are you sure it's safe on top of all those other pills. Salina: Trust me I'm a professional. Day 14 afternoon. Eddie: (Into phone) We should be finished by 5:30 or we can do it in the morning. (pause) Okay then 5:30 it is. Wes: Well we sure showed them. Now we can drive all night to get home. Eddie: Lets just see how it plays out. Right or wrong it's done now. You know this interview stuff is all a big staged game show. It's all part of the set decorations. The two of them spent the afternoon running down old employees of the Sheriff's office. On a suggestion from a deputy they tried the gym run by the daughter of Sylvia's old school boxing coach. Daughter: My name is Ang and I knowed her yeah. Her with that skinny ass worked out here. She brought some other chubby white bitch now and then, but she was here every day. I can remember the day she took on a regional Golden Gloves finalist in that ring right over there. They still talk about it around here. Wes: How did she do? Ang: How do you think she did. She get her ass whupped. My pops he had to step in and stop it. The crazy bitch just wouldn't stay down. The other fighters they didn't smart mouth her after that. She shore was a bloody mess face all cut up and bruised ribs. She didn't come around for a week, but she was back after that and worked just as hard as before. She had to hold a piece of wooden broom handle in her glove to make a fist. Pop said she would have broke her hand other wise. She didn't have no grip, he said. That was one tough skinny blond bitch though. Eddie: Anybody else around here remember her. Ang: No, its been ten years or move since she hung out here. What we get here is fighter wanna be's and soft little high school boys. They want to stay out of the gang banger life. Like my father before me, I try to make them men first, then boxers. Eddie: You get any cops in? Ang: None old enough to remember Sylvia. Now and then some black cop will come in to work out. We don't have no fancy upscale gyms here. Wes. Maybe you should try to get the housewives to come in a couple of days a week. If you advertised it right, I bet you could get some in. Ang: Thanks but I'm doin' okay. Eddie looked around at the patrons. Then he looked at Wes. Eddie: Well thank for your help. Wes (in the car) Should we drop a dime on her. You know she is dealing, at the very least, in some of those new human growth hormones. Eddie: Not unless you saw some young kids hangin' out there. I didn't see any, and I don't work for the Feds any more. Wes: True and I never was a narc. You want me to call the office? Eddie: Call your girlfriend and tell her we will both be into the office tomorrow, but it might be late. Wes: (nodded then spoke into the phone) Hello Salina what is happening back there. (listened then) Is he okay. (Listened again) Are you sure it was there last night. Okay let me talk to the boss and I'll get back to you be careful in the mean time. You know where the shotgun is? Okay. Eddie: What the hell is going on back there. Wes: Two things both could be serious. Let me try to get the time sequence right. Someone may or may not have broken into office last night. Mike got run off the road on his bicycle this morning. Eddie: Is he okay? Wes: Salina patched up. Some scrapes and he might have bruised his knee. He is, like a lot of her patients, living off the grid. He is afraid to go to the hospital for xrays. He is in pain and may not be functioning at a hundred percent. Eddie: Someone may have broken in for an update on the investigation and they may be stalking our people. Is that how you paranoid CIA field men would see this? Wes: Yeah. Eddie: Since it is a possibility tell them to lock themselves in there until I get Lucille to get them some protection. Wes made the first call, then Eddie got on the phone. He told the story to Lucille stressing that it might possibly be nothing. Eddie: Even so I want the whole fucking team in a safe house till me and Wes get back tomorrow. One officer guarding them all, will be cheaper than one for each at their homes. It is also safer than rushing through a weapons permit for each of them. You got them into this shit now protect them. If you have any questions remember who we are dealing with here. Wes: No officer for Salina that will make her a target in the hood. Eddie: Just get Salina home for her clothes with an undercover officer in tow, then to the safe house for night. Wes will take care of her after that. Now get Mike checked out at a walk in clinic with an xray machine. Have the Senate's budget cover it and treat him as an identity protected witness. Wes and I are going to see the church camp people this after noon. We will bring all this shit up with them. That you can fucking count on. Lucille: Eddie listen to me. If they are stalking you this could be the break we need. Do not tip them off that we are onto them. Eddie: Okay. If they kill us at the Church Camp it will the the excuse you need to raid it for sure. So I'll call you when we are out safe. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------- Mike was in a lot of pain but he managed to concentrate. He couldn't find anything amiss with the computers, but if it was a professional breakin he wouldn't expect to find it that easily. Since Salina had told him about the tell, he hadn't backed up any data to his cloud account. He hadn't even gone on line since he assumed that his data was all compromised. The he knew was a bad thing, but if he had a Trojan it would be a worse thing. Since Wes had called back with the she decisions Salina was expecting the cop just not six of them at the gate. There three cars and two officers to a car. Two of them were marked cars and one was not. They identified themselves at the front gate for the CCTV before entering the garage. One of the cops came inside the office to motion them outside with a gesture for silence. He was wearing a polo shirt with the police insignia on the chest. Man in the polo shirt to May: I'm Marco. I am going back inside to sweep the place and search for evidence of an intrusion. You are finished for the day. I want you to go back in and get your things. Keep it quiet okay and tell the others. It took five minutes to evacuate everyone to the parking garage area. The uniformed police took charge of May and Mike. Salina: I can't stay away overnight. The people in the projects need me. Undercover cops. I'm sorry but tonight they are going to have to do without their angel. Your man will be back tomorrow, but tonight you are going to have to go into protective custody. Do you need anything from home. Salina: Clothes and my kit for Mike. UC: Okay then we do it like this. You drive your car, plain clothes officer will follow behind. The officer will pass your parking lot. I will already be in place. You stay in the car so he can cover you till you spot me. When you see me go in your building. Get out of the car and walk quickly to the building. Nobody will pay attention to me hanging out in the entrance to your building. I'll follow behind, when you open your door, I will slip inside. Got it? Salina: Seems like a lot of trouble just because of a kid fell off his bike. UC: Could be, but you never know. They tell me a senator is taking a special interest in you, so I'm going to be your best buddy for a while. Salina: You got a name best buddy. UC: Yeah, but they call me Jasper. We will move when the tech guy finished his sweep. ------------------------------------------------------------ Eddie answered the phone just before they went into the interview. Eddie: Hello Lucille, what you got. Lucille: I'm only going to tell you all this because you have friends in low places and can dig it all out anyway. Eddie: Fine, just spill it. Lucille: The tech people found bugs inside the office and in the stairway. Eddie: Were they all yours? Don't bother to lie cause I know you had me bugged. Lucille: No not all of them. The ones in the stairs were ours, but the new ones in the office didn't belong to any government agency that I can find. That does not mean the CIA or NSA didn't do it. Eddie: It could have been the Fed's Intel unit as well. Everybody is bugging people these days. Could they tell how long hey had been in place. Lucille: Looks like our team got to them on day one. The bigger issue is your computer network was compromised. Mike doesn't think it spread, since he told the tech officer he felt like shit from the accident and didn't download any new material. The cloud backup only connects when he calls it. We think the Trojan they installed is confined to your in house network. Wes: How is Mike. Eddie: How much damage did the kid have. Lucille: Looks like just a bruise and the doc said Salina was doing a good job on his scrapes, so he was released. He might have also injured a rib or two. They don't show up on the xray though. The knee is just a deep bruise. Eddie: Good. (to Wes) Looks like he is okay. (back to the phone) Is everyone in the safe house? Lucille: Yes all present and accounted for. All their cell phones are off the grid, so don't try to call. I'll call you, if anything changes. Eddie: Fair enough you can relay anything I need to tell them. I have a pad with me I'll use it to set up a new email to night for messages, if you need to send me new information. Lucille: We are considering everything compromised. Any business goes to heat when you get back. Eddie: Wes and I will be black till we are back in DC. Lucille: Be careful you maybe going into the lions den down there. Eddie: Gee, I hadn't thought of that. Lucille: Asshole She broke the connection and smiled. She had chosen the right crew for sure. From the medic who treated Mike, to the man who put the Kleenex tell on the door. She had the best people in place. People who didn't trust anyone not even her. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------- When Wes and Eddie showed up at the gate, they were met not by the caretaker with the shotgun rack in his rusty old pickup, but by a middle aged black woman with just a bit of gray in her hair. There were two men by her side who were holding shotguns. Eddie: You know those guys aren't going to do you much good if a Fed Police swat team come in. Rita: I never show all my cards till the dealin's done. My clients have a lot of people who would do them harm. They come in all shapes and sizes. Eddie: Then I assume you know when to fold them and walk away. Rita: Not till I see your hand. So you want to come in and look around. I will be happy to accompany you. Eddie: Good, now that you have had time to sanitize the place, there won't be any need to go over the place in detail. I would like to see the safe houses. Rita: Sorry they are occupied. You know you can't visit them. You can visit the staff area and the offices, but not the safe house area. Eddie. Fair enough. She might or might not have realized that she had just verified a large part of Wes's information. The Church Camp did indeed operate safe houses for the government. Rita showed them a village of ten cabins which had been renovated years before so that they could be occupied year round. There were sealed shutter that covered the half screen upper walls. Those were bolted down for the winter at the time of Eddie's visit. The large dining hall and administrative building had the same kind of shutters. Andrew: Welcome to Church Camp. I do hope this conversation stay friendly. Rita is here just to make sure I don't say anything that is inaccurate or confidential. Eddie: Oh sure I understand it's going to be ask me anything and as long as I can answer yes or no, I will. I'm just not going to volunteer any information. Is that about it? Andrew: Unless you brought your own water board, that's about it. Wes: Well I'm sure we could improvise, if you volunteer? Rita: Andrew most certainly does not volunteer to be tortured. Wes: Shame. Eddie: Let's try to get back to the friendly interview. So with that in mind was Sylvia Porter ever employed by the Church Camp? Rita: Just to be accurate define employed. Eddie: Was she ever on staff or an operative of the Church Camp? Edward: No. Eddie: Was she ever a contract employee. Rita and Edward whispered. Eddie knew that he was onto something at that point. Edward: No Eddie: Keeping in mind that your tax records can be subpoenaed by the select committee, did she ever do work for you as an independent contractor. Rita: Several years ago Sylvia performed contract work for Church Camp while she waited for the outcome of a law suit against the State Bureau of Investigation. Once that suit was settled she did other work on a purely contract status. She was never an employee of Church Camp. Eddie: When did she become an employee of Swamp Dog. Rite: That is outside the scope of my clients first hand knowledge. Eddie: When did you first learn that she was the director of the entity known as Swamp Dog. Rita and Andrew had another whispered conference. Rita: We will concede that Sylvia was director of the Swamp Dog enterprise from the time that the state government made the unconstitutional take over of law enforcement in the rural areas, until her death last year. Eddie: So she led swamp dog for about fifteen years. Edward: Fifteen years while the government ran amok. Eddie: And during that time what was Church Camp's mission. Another conference was held before anyone answered. Rita: Church Camp did not commit any illegal operations at any time. Church camp has provided services to the US government during their time of domestic reorganization. They also provided private security to wealth or controversial clients. All of those actions were carried out within the exiting laws at the time of the operations. Eddie: Would you provide us with a list of operations. Edward: Absolutely not. Get your fucking subpoena and I will burn the place to the ground before I give you shit. Rita: I think this is meeting has ended. Eddie: One more question. Do either of you know where Rose Seabold is at this time. We know she worked for Church Camp. Rita: I have no idea. Andrew shook his head. They didn't realize but they had verified that Rose had indeed worked for the Church Camp. Wes: Would any of the staff know her whereabouts. Andrew: I'll ask around and get back with you. Now I think you should leave. -------------------------------------------------------- Wes: (Into the phone) It's 7PM. We are heading home. I know you aren't there but you will get this sometime. See you soon. Eddie: Are you crazy you know we will be back before she can reactivate her phone. Wes: I promised I would call, so I called. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------- Salina: So May, May you want to talk about anything? May: (Laughing) The angel with dirty hands wants to talk to the sinner? Salina: Okay forget it. I'll just watch 'here comes Honey Boo Boo' or 'the Kardashians' on the TV. May: You know that is extortion. Salina: I had no idea. May: Okay so what's with you and Wes. Salina: Wes gets me, that's all. He also has a 12 inch penis. May: Holy shit, you are kidding. Salina: Yeah, he don't get me at all. Salina walked from the kitchen into the living room where Mike sat. Salina: Mike do not forget to take your pills. They are there in the saucer. Take them now, so they will be working at midnight. Whenever you decide to go to sleep. If you wake up in pain during the night, call me. May: You want to share a room? Salina: I'm sure Mike isn't up to it and I know you weren't talking to me yuppie princess. May: Sarcasm does not become you Angel. Salina: Where did you get that shit. May: From the undercover cop. That's what they call you in the hood isn't it. Salina: Nobody ever called me that. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Day15 Morning and afternoon Eddie: Damn, at the next exit with a truck stop, I have to pull over. I really need coffee. Wes: Yeah, I need coffee and to take over driving. You drive like an old lady. It's after midnight, at this rate we won't get home till Saturday. Eddie: Screw you Wes. I will let you drive though. I'm pretty sleepy. The second half of the drive took less time than the first half, since Wes drove quite a bit faster than Eddie. At 3AM they pulled into the parking garage where Eddie's car was stored. Wes: So do you want to drive me home or let me borrow the company wheels? Wes had said it as the rolled up the ramps to the third floor. When they arrived at the office, they found Wes's car parked there. Eddie: Looks as though you won't need the ride after all. Wes: I guess the protection team took Salina to the safe house. Eddie: Yes it does. Wait till tomorrow, if the other's aren't in the office call Lucille. She will know what is going on by then. (pause) And Wes watch your back. We are the only two the bad guys can find right now. Pull you phone battery. Wes: You are kidding me right, I pulled it before we left the mountains. Eddie: You should have told me. I'm going to pull mine now. They will know we are back because I showed up on their gps. You know there is nothing we can do for the others. Why don't I pull my battery, then you and I go to my place. Wes: You know they can find us. They are bound to know where you live. Eddie: Yeah they may kill us, but unlike Mike we can make them pay. Wes: Ever since I have been working for you, I have been wondering. Which of us were the real bad asses the Swamp Dog or us. Eddie: So that is a yes? Wes: Bet your ass it is. Eddie: I got a couple of shotguns at the house. They come complete with some dear slugs and buck shot. I bet we can make a mess of some of them at least. Wes: Then forget about pulling the phone battery. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike walked down the hall to Salina's room leaned against the door. Mike: Salina. Salina: (opening the door) You okay Mike? Mike: My knee and my ribs hurt so bad that I don't even notice the scrapes. Salina: hold on a minute. She went back in her room to collect a vicodin and a benadryl tablet. She returned to the door a moment later. Salina: Take these and go back to bed. They should ease the pain and help you sleep. Mike: Thank you, you really are an angel. Salina: Hardly now go back to bed. ---------------------------------------------------- From 4AM till 9AM Wes and Eddie slept in shifts. The also slept within reach of a pump shotgun. It turned out that when the Federal Bureau of Prisons rearmed their guards Eddie had collected three pump shotguns from the old stock auction. The guns were all old winchester 1906 riot 12 gauge pump guns. Wes wanted one them bad, but didn't even bother to ask. He knew they were not for sale. No gun man in his right mind would sell a gun like it. Especially with the provenance those shotguns had. The were absolutely irreplaceable. Since they were literally loaded for bear, no one came of course. Eddie: Well we were wrong, nobody wanted us. Wes: (Smiling) These guys may be smarter than we thought. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Eddie (into his phone) Lucille what's the word on the others? Lucille: They are fine. I got a call from the protection unit a few minutes ago. One of them just walked through the door with a bag of Egg Mcmuffins and a dozen donuts. They should be at the office in a hour or so. There is a bit of a line for the shower I would expect. My guess is May will take the longest. Eddie: Good Wes is here with me. We will head that way in a bit. When you stop by the office we have a lot to discuss. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Wes: Well boss all's well that ends will. Eddie: You know better. This hasn't ended, it's only taken a left turn. Wes: Couldn't have said it better myself. --------------------------------------------------- May: Jesus Christ Mike did something die inside you. (Mike passed her as he exited through the bathroom door.) God how the hell am I supposed to take a shower with that smell. Salina: Cut him some slack those meds do strange things to people. Speaking of that, I want you to hold onto them for me. I can't afford to be searched with them on me. I also don't trust myself to hold onto them. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ - Eddie and Mike arrived at the Hole in the Wall at 10:30AM. Eddie: I guess we are the first to arrive. Wes: No there is a security detail inside. Eddie: What makes you think that. Wes: Because it's what I would do. They know we are coming by the CCTV so maybe they won't shoot us. The two of them opened the door and were greeted by two police officers in uniform and very much on guard. Middle aged slightly paunchy police officer: Deputy Superintendent, I'm patrol Sergeant Norris. Eddie: I'm just Eddie now Sergeant. Do you know who broke into the place? Norris: Not yet. The Detectives assigned to the case are on their way. Wes: Damn Boss we got a patrol sergeant baby sitting us and a Detective on the way to brief us, I had no idea we had this much juice. Norris: Would you like for me to contact the safe house and have the others shuttled over? Eddie: Let's wait for the Detectives, then we can start our day with a threat assessment. Wes: If they are not safe here, then the others can work from home. Eddie: That isn't your call Wes. It isn't even my call. Wes: Yeah, I'm never gonna get used to working for big brother. The all seeing, but never seen entity. Eddie: I'm more used to that kind of thing, but I do miss the chain. Lucille being a cut out makes me nervous I admit. The door opens and a man in a suit, which fit way to well for him to be any detective Eddie had even known, came through it. Man in suit: Detective Rose. (extending his hand to Eddie and Wes) Eddie: So what you got? Rose: Not a lot. No forensics to amount to anything. Lots of prints but I doubt any are the bad guys. This was your classic black bag gone wrong. That bit of Kleenex saved your asses. Eddie: No Wes saved our asses. How about the gate CCTV. Rose: 3:10 AM a black SUV with no tags pulls through the gate. They knew the gate code. They must have known the camera wasn't being monitored at night. They left through that same gate, with their hoods on, again at 4:22 AM. They didn't appear to be armed. They seemed to want an 'in and out' black bag with no muss no fuss. Eddie: So you found microphones and something in our computer network. Did you find anything else? Rose: No sir. I hope you backed up your files, because those computer hard drives are never going to be trustworthy again. Eddie: Mike will know the answer to that, but don't even bring that shit back in here. We will either close down, or they will bring in new computers and communications systems. Wes: Good call. Eddie: (desk phone rings) Hello Lucille. Lucille: What's going on. Eddie: I got cops here now briefing me. Some DI named Rose is here now. Do you want to talk to him. Lucille: I have a DCI on the way to our office to brief the Senator. Is Mike around. Eddie: No and I haven't talked to him. I don't know what the bad guys got or what they did to our on line back up. We may have to scrap it all and start over. You do know there are only two people who could have ordered this . Lucille: Yeah, somebody in the government or Swamp Dogs. It the Swamp did it, they have gone rogue. It's not like them to stage an attack on the US government. Eddie: It's not like them to get caught they were always rogue. How badly I don't know, but I'm getting the sense that they made their own rules. It seems they answered to no one, but they have extremely loyal people, unlike us. Lucille: Find their cracks. Eddie: We are looking. You check your own house, or should I begin investigating the CIA. Lucille: Of course not. Eddie: I hear even at this time of year Cuba is hot. (Puts down the phone) Wes: Do you think the others are in any danger. Eddie: Of course they are, how much I don't know. Mike could have been a warning, but we can't ignore it. He never signed up for that kind of thing. We can't protect them all round the clock. So there is a decision to make. Wes: Are you thinking about closing it down? Eddie: That's an option for sure. So is adding another layer of protection for the office. Wes: What cops? Eddie: I had Church Camp in mind. (both men laughed) Wes: We could teach all our people to shoot. Eddie: Can you really see Mike with a Glock? Wes: You have a point, he would be just as likely to shoot Salina or one of us. Eddie: Well for one thing we for sure add more cameras. None of them work alone in the office ever again. We can't ride together any more. I'll have to take one of the others. Wes: Mike is not up to riding a lot of hours in a car at the moment. How about if we have to check on anything I take Salina. She was an Army Medic, she should know how to shoot a shotgun at least. Eddie: Okay but not one of my antiques. We go to Lucille and tell her we want weapons. If she says no, we go to Walmart and buy a couple of cheap shotguns for the office and the cars. Wes: You got a handgun. Eddie: Sure but I don't want to carry it. Of course if I'm going to be responsible for May, I might rethink that. So we go with Mike as information and communications director. We are going to need a secure communications network. I know the NSA will be listening, so we need to use the burn phone system and a secure code for our emails and out of town use. None of that computer encryption shit. Wes: Okay we can do that. But you have to explain to everyone how dangerous this might be, and give them the chance to quit. Eddie: Yeah. You be thinking about what you want to do. I'm going to call Lucille and get the meeting set. Eddie: (on the phone) Lucille we need a meeting with everyone even you here in the office. You are the one who can communicate with the safe house. It's almost time for lunch, so how about this afternoon. I'm on the regular phone, so let me know. Eddie and Wes went out to eat. They finished and were back in the office before Lucille called. Lucille: Meetings at 3PM. I figure we can talk to them, and then give them the weekend to decide what they want to do. Eddie: You know there are going to be some serious changes no matter what they decide. Lucille: You gonna be everybody's uncle Eddie? Eddie: Lucille, we all go home every night, you understand. We do whatever it takes to get them all home safe. Lucille: Are you willing to make them killers like you and Wes. All of them? Eddie: We all go home safe after work, no matter what it takes. If not I bail right now. Lucille: I'll let you know what the boss thinks at four. I'm going to have to move the meeting back. With nothing to do for two hours Eddie and Wes swapped stories. Wes's were much better, but some of the ones from Eddie's early days were pretty good. Those were days before the Unified Law Enforcement Act was passed. The stories from those days were hilarious, Wes agreed. The cowboy image was more on Wes's side, but there were a few reckless moments in Eddie's career as well. Wes: So tell me, how and why did you get hold of so many antique weapons. Eddie: It was part of the Unformed Law Enforcement Act that a weapon manufactured more than a hundred year ago could be bought and sold without license or tracing number engraved on them as long as they aren't fully automatic. Wes: So that takes care of the Shotguns, but there were several racks of other weapons in your spare bedroom. Eddie: I got a couple of 1903 Springfield Arsenal rifles which were are also classified antiques. Wes: Where did you find them? Eddie: Believe it or not rural police departments had them in their arsenals. also The Federal Bureau of Prisons had a few that had been retired for years but had never been sold. That stash of weapons is my retirement plan. Wes: So what else do you have hidden away back there? Eddie: A couple of 1911 Colt .45 pistols. When the stock of Antique weapons ran out, I got a class c dealer's license. Wes: You mean the baby dealer's license. Eddie: Under the used weapons registration law, I can buy and sell sporting weapons manufactured within the last hundred years, if they were manufactured more than fifty years, and are not military surplus. In other words I have to have a provenance on the weapons. Bureau of Prisons does not count as Military surplus, even if the rifle was manufacture under an army style contract. Wes: Huh. Eddie: I have two .30 cal carbines manufacture and stamped US Bureau of Prisons. Wes: So if you bring out a handgun, is it going to be a hundred years old. Eddie: Of course not. Probably the old .38 Detective special revolver. Wes: A fucking wheel gun, that is really old school. Just then Lucille wandered in, followed quickly by the troops. Eddie: So what did the esteemed senator say. Lucille: See for yourself. She handed Wes and Eddie each a badge and identification card. Lucille: Welcome to the Federal Investigative Task Force specializing in Senate investigations. The others stay on the Senator's payroll as researchers. You two have permits to travel armed anywhere in the United States. Eddie: So guys here is the deal. We had a break in here. You all knew that. Thanks to Salina's good eyes, I don't think any of our sources were compromised. I am sure they took picture of our white boards, so they know where we are headed. Mike got run off the road and thank god he wasn't killed. I think that if they wanted to do more than send a message, they would have come back and run over him a few times. That's the good news. The bad news is they might next time. You all know that Salina, Mike and Wes are all friends. Wes has volunteered to drive them both into work and take them home. However if he is not available, you may call Lucille and she will arrange a secure ride for you to the office. When you are not working, I suggest that you be extra careful and vigilant. If you feel the need to go anywhere, call Lucille. If you in anyway feel ill at ease, call Lucille, Wes, or me. This sounds serious because it is. Finally, if anyone feels that they would rather not continue due to the danger, I will understand. Please take the weekend and be sure you wish to continue. Then call Lucille who will contact me or Wes about giving you a ride to work on Monday. From now on no one works in the office alone for any reason. Now go back to the safe house in the police fan and give this some thought. Wes: Salina it isn't necessary for you to go back to the safe house. The street gangs where you live have guaranteed your safety. That left Mike and May in the safe house for the weekend. May: I don't care what anyone says I'm not going back to that safe house. I am going back to my apartment. I'm willing to take my chances. Mike: I feel the same. Besides my mom is alone in a house that might be invaded by people looking for me. Lucille: Well go home and think about it. Be very careful where you go and what you do until Monday. I will order an increase in police patrols of your neighborhoods. Lucille waited until everyone left except Eddie. Then she started on him. Lucille: Tell me what you think is going to happen. What do you think is going to be the end game. Eddie: I think we can't find anything on the Swamp Dog. They worked out of the country and out of our jurisdiction. Unless we are invited in, there is nothing we can do. I'm sure they counted on that. Lucille: So we are wasting our time and money investigating this. Eddie: Not necessarily. You are going to need to do an end run, if you want to bring them before the bar. Prove that Church Camp was a domestic arm of Swamp Dog and that they broke the law. If we can do that we might have them. Lucille: Is that what you believe? Eddie: Yes finding Rose Seabold is the key. She is the only one of them all, who I think I can connect to a murder. Even that isn't a slam dunk. Steady Eddie Day 15 evening Lucille: How about you bring May to my house and I'll fix dinner for us all. Of course you will have to deal with my husband and the kids. Eddie: Ask May. I'm going to be her driver for this evening. If she is willing I will be more than happy to have a home cooked meal. Lucille: I did not promise you home cooking. (turning her attention to May) Would you like to have dinner with my family tonight. It might be a chance for us to clear the air. May: Dinner's fine, confession is not fine. Lucille: (Concerned look) Then come at seven. Eddie: Maybe you should let the police follow you home and check your house. Just as a precaution. Lucille: They can follow me home, but I have the greatest deterrent of all, two small children. No one in his right mind would lay in wait inside a house filled with kids. Eddie did not tell her there was a way to handle that. A truly evil assassin would just kill everyone one and sit waiting in the puddle of blood for Lucille to return home. Eddie did not tell her, but he exchanged looks with the sergeant in charge of the security detail. May: I have decided that if I get horny, I'm going to screw one of the security detail. Otherwise I'm staying home with the door bolted. Eddie: Good call. If you have to screw someone, make it a cop. There would be hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers to chose from. May: Is that some kind of a cop compliment? Eddie: It's a fact. Compliments sometimes are and sometimes they are exaggerations this one was fact. Lucille left for her home. She had already checked out of the senator's office for the day. The security detail left with her, leaving Eddie and May alone. Eddie: So where do you want to wait till seven. May: I guess my place you live to far away. She gave him a coy smile which she could tell embarrassed him. He was about to explain why he wasn't interested when she laughed. He knew then that it was part of the running joke from earlier. Eddie: I hadn't noticed your wicked humor before. I'm not sure I can deal with it. May: No one here has seen it. I have to keep it under control or word would get around that I'm an evil slut. Eddie: I don't think you are evil at all. May laughed quietly. It was hard to believe that Eddie hadn't known what he left her with. ------------------------------------------- May: I'm going to take a shower, make yourself at home. (May disappeared down the hall. Eddie: I think I'll watch the news on TV. While May shower Eddie watched the news about a missing airplane. Then the story switched to a story about the new Russian Confederation. They were still trying to consolidate their power after the last land grab. Eddie thought it served them right, if they lost control to all those different ethnic groups. The US had their diversity due to immigration, so we could always send ours packing. On the other hand the R.C. had nowhere to send them. Since they began their land grab, it was just chaos there all the time it seemed. The Russians were too heavy handed to control the diverse populations without violence large scale violence. Some things never change, he thought. May: (after 15 min) So what do you think? She was wearing a short black dress with a halter top. It accentuated her slightly thick body, but all women did that in those days. Women had tried to hide their curves in the old day, but at that time they flaunted them. Eddie: I think you are going to be mighty cold in that outfit. I also think it would be a bad idea to sit across from any man. Also it's a good thing you aren't trying to carry a concealed weapon. May: Well if an old man, like you, thinks it's too short, it is probably the right length. You don't like the tight dresses? You do know they are in style now? Eddie: That's twice you called your boss and Old man. I hope you don't do that at the D.O.J. It could definitely limit your promotional opportunities. May: No, him I give a blow job now and then. Again she laughed. That's what made Eddie suspect that she was all talk. He figured, from having seen her interact with the people around her, that she was an unhappy bisexual female. Not surprising since it was all the crazy at the time. Women and men were losing their sexual identities. Eddie knew it and even understood it, but thought it was just more shit they had to deal with. Like the dress it was just in style at the moment. Eddie was known to be asexual. He had long ago lost the need for any human contact. He was quite happy to be home working on his house or cleaning his weapons. People thought it had come about because he had lost a lover, or something equally dramatic. What really happened is he found peace when he learned to beat the biological imperative to reproduce. He made friendships, of a sort, but none of them were based in the need to spread his seed through the known world. He was way past that, or at least that is what he told himself. May: So lets go. We don't want to keep the real boss waiting. Eddie: The real boss is not going to be there. Just his underling and us. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------ Wes had dropped Mike off at home. At that time Salina gave him back the pills his mother and the doctor has made available to him.' Salina: You probably need to stay out of the basement for a few days. Try wearing that running suit instead of jeans. They are softer but will still keep your scrapes covered. Your mom can help you bandage them. Stay out of the shower as well. Mike: Got ya and thanks Salina. You really are an angel. Salina: Not hardly Mike, but I'm glad I fooled you. Mike walked into the house. Since he didn't call first his mom wasn't home. She probably stopped after work for a drink, or a man, he thought. She probably wasn't going to like the change in their status. It was past due, so he wasn't worried about the next step. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- Wes and Salina went back to her place in the project. They were there much less than an hour when people started to show up. At one point in the evening there was a line in the hallway. It was a good thing that none of the Gangs had any business with her. It was very possible that Wes would have gone postal on them. He frankly needed to kill someone. Wes had thought he was past that feeling, but he realized that he wasn't and probably never would be. His destiny was to either die in battle, or in a death chamber somewhere. He honestly liked to kill people. He kept it to evil people. It was indisputable that there was an endless supply of them. It was too bad he hadn't known about the Swamp Dog earlier. Salina insisted on skipping dinner to help the people at her door. Wes went outside to make a call on his cell phone. While out there he noticed the black kid in gang colors hanging out across from Salina's building. He walked up to the kid standing in the chilled night air. Wes: You wanna come in? Kid: What? Wes: It's kind of chilly out here. Do you want to come in where it's warm. It's okay. Kid: No man, if Red comes by and I'm not on guard out here, he will be pissed. Wes: Okay kid. You got a name. Kid: Moms calls me Leroy. Wes: Well Leroy, tell Red that the angel's cracker said thanks. You look out for yourself. There may be trouble here in the next few days. The kid nodded as Wes made a phone call, then walked back inside the building. Even after five years he still wanted a cigarette. He had quit smoking after a heart attack. He quit only because he promised someone special that he would. Even so now and then he had the urge. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------ It was 9PM when Mike's mother showed up at home drunk and alone. Mike: So where you been? Mom: Out trying to have some fun. You should try it. Besides when did you become the parent here? This is still my house. Mike: Actually it isn't. I checked and I am on the deed. Dad's Will left the house to both of us jointly. He really wasn't sure he could trust your motherly instincts. You know all these years I just tried to avoid any confrontation with you, but now I need some things to change. I am not going to back to living in the dungeon. Salina tells me I should not be walking up and down those stairs till my ribs heal, so I'm going to stay in the guest room. And while I am recovering up here, you will not bring men home. If you want to have affairs, fine, but don't do it in MY house. Mom: Who the fuck do you think you are. Mike: I'm your son. Mom: You owe me some respect, I gave you life. Mike: And you owe me some respect. We are forced to live together, so we are going to need some new rules. Tomorrow when you are sober we will decide where we go from here. Now go to bed. Mom: It's only 9PM and I need another drink. Mike: You have had enough to drink. Go to bed or I will tie your ass up and throw you in bed. I have had a rough couple of days and I'm not up for dealing with a fucking drunk, even if she is my mother. ---------------------------------------------------------- Eddie found Lucille's three story townhouse to be very uninviting. It was like everything had been on the pages of Better Homes magazine the month before. It was all done in decorator plastic. There were very few, if any, personal belonging on display. Every personal item had to be very formal it seemed. There were no snapshots of Lucille and her banker husband. The walls were adorned with posed studio portraits even of the kids. It was more than a little disconcerting, especially to Eddie who was so open and natural it disgusted most folks. On the other hand May loved it all. She walked around admiring everything. May went her own way and Eddie was just as happy that she did. He really was uncomfortable around her. She brought back old memories of a time in his life when he was like her. A man on the rise and consumed by the politics of sex and career advancement. Fortunately he had survived it and risen in the ranks. She might do so as well, but for every Eddie, there was a hundred retired patrolmen or detective sergeants. Eddie found the children playing alone in their playroom. He was thrilled to see the rough wooden cars sitting on a shelf with all the fancy toys. Eddie: Hello you two. The kids came running to him. Even the little one who almost never spoke tried to say Uncle Eddie. It was heart warming. The older one showed him around the playroom. He picked up and handed Eddie several of the toys. He handed Eddie a Book. It was cat in the hat. Eddie: You want me to read to you. (child nodded) I'm not very good but I will try. The older child nodded his head vigorously. The younger one did as well. The little one was most likely only mimicking his brother. Eddie had no idea why, but he found himself sitting on the floor back against the toy box reading the story. He got lost in the children's excitement. So much in fact that he failed to notice Lucille and May standing in the doorway. May looked bored, but Lucille looked pleased with herself. Eddie didn't like the looks on either of them, but for different reasons. Lucille: Dinner is ready. I'm afraid it is nothing special. Dinner proved to be very good. Of course not even Lucille could fuck up a steak. The baked potato might have been a disaster had May not jumped in to help. The kids got something resembling a burger and fries. It only appeared to be a burger, because Lucille's children ate very little meat. Chicken and dairy prevented it from being a vegetarian diet, but beef and pork were off limits. Lucille: I'm sorry my husband had to go to a meeting. It happens often with him. Eddie knew, and May suspected, that there were no banker's meetings on a Friday date night. Lucille's husband was either avoiding her friends, or he was out with his own. Either way it was fine with Eddie. May however would have enjoyed meeting Lucille's husband. She would definitely have tried to charm him. He was an attractive man in all the pictures hanging on the wall at least. After dinner and after the kids were put to bed the three adults were sharing a glass of wine, when Eddie raised the question of the five hundred pound elephant in the room. Eddie: So May where do you intend to sleep tonight. I would feel much better if you didn't stay alone in your apartment. Do you have someone you can call. May burst into tears and ran from the room. Eddie: to (Lucille) What did I say? It was a fair question. Lucille: Men are such idiots. That question at a time like this reminds a woman that there is no one in her life she can trust. Eddie: Then maybe she should stay with you. Lucille: You bastard. Eddie: What now? Lucille: You just reminded me that with my life maybe in danger, my husband can't be bothered. That is another stupid thing to say. Eddie: Okay, I'll stay here till I get a chance to talk to your husband. I can bunk on the sofa. Lucille: To be honest I will feel better if you did stay. If he were here my husband wouldn't be much help in an emergency. Eddie: Unless it's happened before, you can't be sure of that. When he gets here, if he seems competent enough to phone 911, I'm going to go home. So find May a bed for the night and I'll see you Monday morning. Lucille: Do you play poker? Eddie: Every one plays poker. Lucille: Not my husband. I'll get the cards and the chips. They played a few hands before May joined them dressed in just her almost nonexistent black dress. She sat across from Eddie but fortunately there was a table blocking his view. Eddie: I'm glad we are playing for money and not clothes. May had almost nothing to bet with. May: Maybe we should play strip poker. I have a feeling the boss here would win for sure. He is such a gentleman he is almost prissy. Lucille: He may be a gentleman, but he is definitely not prissy. He is completely remodeling a house in the country. May: Oh how wonderful, we will all have a weekend place. Eddie: The hell you say. I bought that place five years ago. It was my get away till I pulled the plug, now I'm trying to make it full time livable. All that work and money was not spent for you to drop in with your latest boyfriend. May: Why not I'll bring the beer and not the boyfriend. Eddie: You have had too much to drink May. Trust me you would be disappointed. I'm twenty years older than you at least. Lucille: You aren't twenty years older than me. Ten maybe. Eddie: Fifteen at least. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Salina: God Wes. Wes: What you didn't enjoy it? Salina: Of course I enjoyed it. That is probably the best meal I ever had in this shitty apartment. Wes: The chef at Mike's Irish Cantina owes me. I do have to admit it was delicious. I have no idea what the names are, so I just told him to fix what he would fix for his own girlfriend. Salina: It was delicious for sure. I had no idea you could fuse Irish and Latin cooking. (pause) What did you do for him? Wes: I just brought his daughter home. Salina: Were you a cop or something. Wes: It was sorta like that. Let's try that Irish Coffee cake. Salina: Alright dodge the question. So you can pretend to be the strong silent type. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Mike was up at midnight on his Ipad knockoff trying to find something interesting to do. He couldn't do much with just a Pad device. He wanted to get back on the computer at work and try to find out who his hacker was. He roamed around a couple of adult chat sites and even a few porno sites while he tried to drink the beer. He would rather have had a joint, but he promised Wes and the Boss that he would stay away from the pot till the job was completed. Mom: Michael can I get you anything? Mike: No Mom I'm fine. Mom: Could we talk? Mike: Sure what's the problem. Mom: You are right about respect. I have been disrespectful and I am truly sorry. Going forward I promise I will try to find a way we can both be happy, since we are going to share this house. Mike: Good but for right now we have to be careful. The people who ran me off the road could be back to finish the job. I do not want you to be hurt, so please be careful who you go out with. Mom: I promise no more strangers in the house. Weekend3.1 Saturday. It was 3AM when Lucille's front door opened. The very clean looking younger middle-aged young man entered. He probably came close to heart attack when Eddie spoke to him from behind the .38 cal wheel gun. Eddie: Now I'm going to assume you are Lucille's husband, so I'm not going to just shoot you then ask who you are. Husband: (near panic) Yes I am, who are you. Eddie: My name is Eddie and I'm one of your wife's associates. Husband: (contemptuous) She seems to have sunk to an even new low. Eddie: Shut the fuck up before I mess up that pretty face. (Playing thug) Now there are some very bad people, who might be targeting my team. I don't like that one fucking bit. You can either stay here and protect your wife, or I am going to have her and your kids moved to a safe house. At the same time I will hold a press conference to explain why this is necessary. I doubt that kind of publicity will be good for an international banker. You want to show strength, not how irresponsible you are. The choice is yours. Now go be your wife's protector like you promised when you married her. Eddie picked up the rest of his shit and walked though the front door. He walked to his car never giving May a second thought. He was absolutely sure that Lucille wouldn't shrink from her responsibility for May's safety. He drove until 4:30 AM. It was a bitch staying awake. He had been sleep deprived since his foray into Mossberg two days before. Hell he still had the flash drive with the clone program, and the camera's memory card of what they had seen inside the apartment type condo, inside a plastic case in his pants pocket. Eddie hit the wall after he got inside the house. He didn't even heat house at all, he just hit the sofa with a coverlet wrapped around him and crashed. -------------------------------------------------- Lucille woke when her husband came to bed. She didn't speak, she just turned away from him. Husband: Who was the thug in the living room? One of you misfits. She had once described her team as social misfits and world class fuck ups. She regretted having described them that way, but it was too late to go back. Lucille: Did he have a talk with you? Husband: Did you put him up to it? Lucille: Actually I didn't. If I were going to do that, I would have had Wes do it. He would probably have broken one or more of your parts not needed to approve loans to petty dictators. Husband: Which of the Neanderthals are you screwing? Lucille: None yet. Now I'm going to sleep, so you can stop your whining. ------------------------------------------------------------------ It was 5AM when Wes left the projects to run. He carried only a spring loaded lock knife for protection. It was all he felt he needed against men who wanted to posture more than they wanted to kill. He ran along at a slow pace while he looked the project over. It wasn't as bad as some of the slums he had seen around the world. It was probably just as dangerous in it's own way. The Gangs had a death grip and were squeezing the life out of the young people. Not all of course but a significant number. It was depressing enough to want a drink at 5AM. He didn't stop by his car for the bottle of Vodka in the truck under the spare tire, but he sure as hell wanted to. The gang culture was like the warlord culture of the middle east and Africa. They were like a spreading disease with no cure. The only thing to do was to eradicate them completely. It would be necessary to do it to all of them at the same time. You couldn't leave a single one of those from that culture. God hates a vacuum. If you left even one member of one gang, they would simply spring up again like weeds. Until the powers that be were willing to get thier hands dirty, there was no hope for the poor trying to raise kids in that environment. Wes turned back to Salina's home feeling helpless as he always did when confronted with social problems. He was much better at eliminating a purely military problem. Again he thought that it was too bad he had to hunt Swamp Dog when he felt so akin to them. Salina awoke when Wes returned. She pulled his sweat soaked body back to the bed. They made love yet again. She loved the feel of him as well as the smell of him. What he loved about her was hard to explain. One of the things her lack of planning. She never mentioned tomorrow in any planning context at all. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike had awakened in the middle of the night to the sensation of pain. He struggled from the bed and into the hall bathroom where he found the pills from his doctor at the free clinic. He was registered there under a generic false identity used by the Department of Justice. With it he had been able to get painkillers without being in the system. Not being in the system saved him the hassle of paying a penalty for not registering with the IRS. The penalty was in lieu of proving he had income or assets. Mike was not one of the traditional working poor, he was one of the ever growing working poor who worked off the books. Almost untraceable until they applied for government subsidized benefits, like the National Health Services treatment. With the pills ingested he tried to return to sleep. He was prevented by his need to work out the problem of his being hacked and what they had or didn't have. He began to review the contents of his files. The hacker knew what progress they had made. Whoever he was, he also knew Rose Seabold was a target of their investigation. It was more important than ever that they find her. She could be a target of the hacker group as well. Not to investigate her, but to silence her. Mike finally did drift off to sleep. --------------------------------------------------------------------- May slept better than she had in years. The bed was a dream and those sheets were to die for. She carried the dress she had worn the night before down the hall to knock on Lucille's door. May: (in a exaggerated whisper) Lucille could I borrow something to wear home. I also need a ride. I am so sorry to ask. Husband: So you are one of Lucille's misfits. I have to admit you are better looking than the one who put a gun in my face. I'm considering filing a police report about that. May took an instant dislike to him. Misfit my ass, she thought. May: If I were you, I'd think twice about that. First of all your wife was in danger, and I'm with the DOJ. We can find out where your cell phone was last night, while the man with the gun was protecting the two of us. The papers love shit like that. Now give me one of your tee shirts to wear over this dress or I'm going to scream sexual assault. Then May did the most unbelievable thing. She scratched Lucille's husband. Husband: (In surprise) What did you do that for? May: DNA evidence. Lucille came out of the room holding a tee shirt. She was also smiling, since she knew that having a woman verbally abuse him after Eddie had done the same the night before, was driving her husband crazy. Lucille: Would you mind waiting? There is a Saturday tradition in this house, I always make pancakes and those little sausages on Saturdays. May: Do you have blueberry syrup? Lucille: No but I have strawberry. May: Count me in. ---------------------------------------------------------- It was afternoon when Mike finally got moving. Even so, when he called Eddie he woke him Eddie: What the hell do you want Mike? You are supposed to be mending. Mike: I had a thought last night. If some one cloned or hacked my computer memory they found the file on the drug dealer killing. Eddie: So? Mike: They also found all the files on Rose Seabold and all the files from the killing in detail. They are not going to have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Eddie, along with every other lawman of his generation, had heard that phrase but he doubted that Mike knew the origin of it. Eddie: Shit. Mike: Yeah. Eddie: Should I come by to pick you up, or can you ride that scooter to the office. Mike: I'll meet you there in an hour, if that is okay. I just woke up and I haven't eaten yet. Eddie: Sure it will take me a while to get there as well. I need to find May and see if she is still with us. I am assuming you are going to see this through. Mike: Oh yes. Eddie: Good then I'll see you in an hour. -------------------------------------------------------------- Eddie: (Speaking into the cell phone) May I know you Probably haven't had time to decide about staying with the team or not we have a problem that can't wait, I need your decision right now. May: Lucille just dropped me at home. Give me a half hour to dress then I'll pick up my car and be on the way. Eddie: So I can count on you to be here in less than an hour? May: Yes you can. Eddie's next call was to Wes and Salina who were still in the apartment watching some sports show. Eddie knew it only because it played in the background. Most likely it was to cover the sex noises. Neither had seemed to be much of a sports fan to him. The final call was to Lucille. Eddie: You might want to come to the office. We have some new information to explore. Lucille: Oh and you couldn't have explained all this last night? Eddie: We sent them all home to decide whether to quit, remember? I rushed the deadline, but they are all in, so you need to decide how far in you are. Lucille: What the hell are you talking about? Eddie: Come down in about forty five minutes and we will see if we wish to redefine the mission. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------ They were all present at 3PM so Eddie began. Eddie: Michael pointed out to me that whoever broke into the office should be able to figure out quickly that we are trying to connect Rose Seabold to the Swamp Dog. They maybe be afraid that it will just be a matter of time before she decides to talk. At the very least they will be concerned about it. So we have to consider something we did may cause her life to be in danger. Consequently we need to pull out all the stops and make every effort to find her right away. Since everyone seemed to agree, Eddie presented the plan. We are going to have to divide into two groups. One group needs to go talk to the people in Mossberg again and the other to the people at church camp. We have already decided that we are going to change the groups. May and I will go to Mossberg and Wes and Salina to church camp. Each team will take a burner phone to use for all communications. I want both teams in place at the same time. If I can get Bart to give us something you two will need to follow up at church camp. We need to find her before who ever broke in here finds her. Lucille: What about Mike. When you four poke the bear, he might run to Mike to slow you down. I will find an office in the house office building for him. I can even get a capitol police officer to drive him to work and back. Eddie: If we all leave in the morning, Mike won't need to be in place until Monday. Can you find him an office by then. Lucille: I will be by his house Monday morning to give him a lift to his new temporary office. (Lucille gave Eddie a smile) Mike and I will have a grand old time while you four are gone. Eddie: Well try not to have too good of a time or to spoil him please. He has work to do while we are gone. (Eddie handed Mike the flash drive.) So sometime in the morning we all leave for our respected assignments so that we can be on site at 9AM without excuse. May: Wes the only place to stay in County Seat is a crappy little bed and breakfast. If you don't want to sleep with the local bug population, you might try commuting to college hill. Wes: Thanks I don't think you are going to like the accommodations in Mossberg any better. Eddie (Pulling May aside) May we have the furtherest to drive. Its a good ten to sixteen hours on the road if I drive. I have no idea how long it will take you to drive. I'm sending Wes and Salina in the company car, so you and I will be squeezed into my econo-box. May: Okay? Eddie: What I'm getting at is that if we want a good night's sleep we need to arrive by 6PM. Then we can get a good dinner and be ready for the next day. Or we can eat dinner on the rode and try to get in before 9PM. May: Look we are both grown ups. Why don't I spend the night at your place. Then we can leave at seven in the morning. Even driving slow we should get there in around 9PM. Eddie: Okay but it's not very comfortable in my house I'm still doing home improvements on it. (turning to Mike) Stay by this burner phone. Sometime Monday we might want you to try hacking the church camp. In the meantime check Rose's computer for information, but I have no hope for it. Mike: There is always hope, as long as she didn't toss the hard drive. Since everyone knows the files can sometimes be recovered that is happening more an more. Eddie: Just do what you can and put a Trojan or worm on the church camp computer. Just be ready to monitor them somehow. I don't care how you do it. Mike: I can't do that. What I can do is have it ready to implant as soon as you give me the word. They have a sweep of the files every four hours at least. Eddie: How do you know that: Mike: They have a legend in the dark arts on the payroll, so I would expect no less from him. He may do even more. Eddie: Then do what you can. (To May) You want time to do anything else or will you be ready to go after the meeting. May: Once we go by my apartment for clothes. I'm ready to leave for your house. Eddie: I have to stop at a laundry before we leave town but that's all. I dropped some off on the way into town this afternoon. May: I feel better knowing we have a plan to fight back. I don't have any idea why that would be. Wes: Most likely because no one wants to be a victim. I totally agree, and I'm glad the boss give Mike the credit for it. It was early evening when Eddie and May started the thirty minute drive to his tenant farm. Eddie stopped at the highway plaza for a slightly later than usual dinner. They had Chinese. It didn't look a thing like traditional Chinese. It looked more like wild rice with beef stew. There were a few Chinese vegetables and a some mini egg roll kind of things on the side. May: I ate way too much, but it was delicious. Should we stop and get a bottle of wine. Eddie: I'll stop for you, but I don't really want a drink tonight. May: Well I do. If your place is as rough as everyone says, I'm going to need it. Eddie: Oh who has told you about my place. May: It's not a secret is it. Lucille said there was a lot you had to do yet. Eddie: We had a conference down here once, she brought her kids. May: Yeah that's what I thought. I need something to soften the blow of sleeping on the floor. Eddie: Fair enough but there are no wine stores out this far. I can get you into a really nice convenience store. There are so many bedroom communities on this road, I'm sure they have wine. Probably not what you want, but wine of some kind. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------------- Wes: We only have a five or six hour drive. We won't have to leave too early. We could go on a picnic around a country road, if we left early. Salina: I can't afford to be gone any longer than the job requires. You know that. The people here depend on me. Wes: That's why I left the decision up to you. I really don't know what is best. It could be that no one ever comes to you on Sunday. Salina: They do come to me on Sundays. The people who work or who get cut on Saturday night come in. I know there isn't a lot of time for us, but you did know what my life was like. Wes: Yes I knew and I have tried to accommodate it, since I have no life of my own. The poor and the wretched I can tolerate, but the bangers, with them I am having a hard time. Let them bleed out on the street. They make these people's lives worse, not better. Salina: Wes I am like a band-aid on a cancer. Sometimes I feel useless, and yes when I save one of these freaks, I feel I have let the community down. I know the community would be better off without them, but I can't do that. That is for the others, mine is to save what life I can. Usually it is just an aspirin, but it is something. Wes: You know that one day you will get caught up in the crossfire. Salina: Maybe but at least I met you before that happens. -------------------------------------------------------------- Lucille went home to play with her kids and watch Sponge Bob on TV with them. The TV show taught simple little moral truths that people could accept no matter what their big beliefs were. It was the beauty of mass marketing. Preach some universal truths, no matter how you have to disguised it. Don't go near the other universal truths. Why should you? Preschoolers don't need to know about serial killers. Keeping them safe is our job as parents. Her kids were learning about right and wrong from a sponge, while she chased a band of Mercenaries. That just seemed really strange. They weren't really a band, the thought, they didn't play music. Maybe they were really a tribe. Like one of those desert tribes. Hell they could even be a gaggle, a Rose by any other name was still a killer, kind of thing. She knew then it was time to cut back on the wine till the kids were in bed at least. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------ Mike went home to have dinner with his mother. He decided he would go into his basement lair to study Rose's computer records. His mom was antsy so he told her she should call her friend and go out. No sense in both of then staying home on a Saturday night. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------ Weekend3.2 Eddie: So this is it. Not much but it's all mine, there isn't even a mortgage on it. May: (As she looked around) There is only one bed? Eddie: Yeah but you can have it. It won't be the first time I slept on the floor. May: Hey I know my reputation as the team slut. You don't have to sleep on the floor. if you can control yourself. Eddie: To be honest I think I would rather sleep on the floor. You strike me as being impossible to resist and extremely high maintenance. May: Well yeah I guess that is true. Eddie: (smiling) I hope you brought something to sleep in. May: That's why we stopped at my place after dinner. Well to get clothes in general, but yes I brought my night gown. You think I am high maintenance because I had you stop for my clothes. Eddie: And for dinner and for wine on the way down. May: Okay, but trust me I'm worth it. Eddie: Not to me. May: We will see about that. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Lucille: (to her sleeping children) Get up you lazy urchins. I have been up for hour slaving over a hot skillet making bacon and scrambled eggs with cheese. So let's get a move on and brush your teeth. She turned then walked away. She had a few more minutes to wait in the kitchen before she could go back in the room to get them dressed. Raising kids was a chore, but she did enjoy moments with them. Like those Sunday morning breakfasts. She also enjoyed the days spent in the park with them. Yes she did spend time on her I phone sending and receiving messages, but she was outdoors so it was better than being in the office. She and the kids left their father sleeping. He had a strenuous night before after all, she thought. She longed to be in the country with Eddie or anyone else for that matter. Alas Eddie would be on his way to Mossberg by that time. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------- Eddie: Come on May you have been in the bathroom for an hour. It time we got moving. May: You shouldn't be bitching, I did let you go first. She opened the door and walked past him still wearing his white tee shirt. Even though she swore she had her night clothes, she had to borrow a tee so as not to sleep nude. That would have been extremely hard for Eddie to ignore. Eddie: Will you get a move on please. I want to be in Mossberg by morning. May: It's only a twelve to fourteen hour drive, we don't have to be in such a hurry. Eddie: May the way you dawdle, we will be two hours over breakfast. Then there is lunch and dinner along the way, we will be lucky to get five hours sleep tonight. May: If I didn't consider good manners and careful attention to grooming as a positive, I would be hurt. Instead, I'm just going to mark it up to your lack of a proper upbringing. Fortunately she was smiling. She was also pulling on a light weight sweater and jeans. Even though she was a little over weight she looked really good in the that outfit. She was built to be a regular girl, not a clothes horse. She was not fat by any means but she was not a size 0 either. May: Your car is not large enough for my suitcase. Eddie: We got it here in the car. May: Yes but it filled the whole trunk where will your clothes go. Eddie: I'm wearing them. (he smiled) This small back pack has enough clothes for me. Most important thing to pack when traveling is the company credit card. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Wes and Salina slept late, it was well after nine when they dressed for the day. Salina: (standing outside the bathroom) Why don't you go to the store. I need some sausages and I can't leave the apartment till noon. That's what Lucille programed into the machine. Wes: She could have had them drop that thing entirely. Salina: You know better, it's court ordered. Now go to the store. I will give you a list. Wes: tell you what, I will drive out to the real supermarket to do your shopping. Why don't you make a real list. Salina agreed and made a longer list for him to take. He was glad to get away from her neighborhood. The scenery was much better in the parking lot of the suburban food lion, than the neighborhood bodega. After Wes returned, they put away the groceries, then ate a quick lunch. They were on the road in the government car in less than an hour. They expected to be in County Seat before dark. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------ Even though Mike had heard his mother in the throws of lust, it hadn't bothered him near as much as it had previously. Maybe he was growing up or maybe the novelty of it had worn off. Either way for 10AM on a Sunday morning, he was in a good place. The scrapes hurt, but they also were drying up a little so they were on the mend. His mom cleaned them for him after breakfast. She also re-bandaged the wounds as well as making sure he took the right pills and in the right dosages. Mike was surprised that she actually seemed to have a look of pride for him that Sunday morning. Mom: Maybe when you get that ankle thing off, we can go out for dinner and dancing. I love to dance. Mike: I'm not a very good dancer. Mom: I'm sure I can teach you easily, after all you are my son. ------------------------------------------------------------- Lucille: Okay you two march yourselves into your room and clean. I want all those toys in your toy chest. And all your clothes in the hamper. Do it now chop chop. To the boys it was a game they played on Sunday afternoon before dinner. She pretended to be a drill sergeant, then ended up doing most of the straightening of their room herself. It didn't matter that they got lost in the cleaning. It mattered only that they try and that she reinforce it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------- Eddie and May stopped for a late lunch on Sunday afternoon somewhere in Tennessee. One superhighway interchange was very much like another. They even had pretty much the same restaurants. The signs were often different but the food was pretty much the same. The waitress were a bit different as they got farther south. They went from college student with a smattering of single moms to more single moms with a smattering of college students. May could see herself in their waitress. That would have been her she thought, if she hadn't had the abortion. It was a scary thought. She almost brought it up for discussion, but decided she didn't know enough about Eddie to trust that his reaction would have been supportive. Eddie allowed May to drive his car after the late lunch. It was a mark of acceptance, even though she didn't recognize it as such. Eddie was comfortable with her competence in some things, if not all things. It was obvious that he wouldn't hand her a sniper rifle and expect that she would shoot the right people. He also wouldn't ask Wes to defend him in court. ?Every task was tailored to the individual's abilities. That's why they called it management. While they drove Eddie learned way too much about May. He learned all about her parents, and her friends at law school. He even learned about her sex life until he finally objected. Eddie: Hold it May. I didn't want to know about your childhood, but it did pass the time. I didn't care how law school went for you, but it passed the time. I don't give a damn about the DOJ, but it seems harmless. However trust me, I do not want to hear about your sex life. Things got quiet in the car for a few miles then May started again. May: I know I talk too much and I'm sorry, but somehow you remind me of my dad only better. Eddie: So you talk about this shit with your dad? May: Well he knows I've had sex, but probably not that I have given blow jobs. Eddie: Not to the president I hope. May: No, a senator once, but no other politician. Eddie: Great. May missed the sarcasm. So she began to explain how she came to have the Senators cock for desert one night. Eddie was considering opening the car door and stepping out onto the highway from his car going 75mph. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------- While Eddie listened to May Prattle, Wes and Salina tried to find things to talk about. At least things that didn't make them depressed. Wes knew that Salina had seen terrible things in Iraq and that she used drugs to escape and to cope. That habit followed her home and robbed her of her life. She had seen and done things that only a junky could understand. Wes understood even though his addiction was more complicated, it was still an addiction. They talked about Salina's brother and sister and her mother and father. They lived in Maryland. Not even Salina was sure how she wound up in DC. Somehow it is where she got arrested for beating a man during a robbery that had gone bad. Because of her military background she caught a break. The VA took her in to do her cold turkey treatment, then they helped her stay clean for the first few months. When she went on a call with an ambulance and she felt it again. She felt like she had a purpose in life. A local priest got her probation with the ankle bracelet and helped her start the underground aid station. It didn't take long to get her accepted in the community. Wes and Salina stopped for dinner and sat at a booth in a casual restaurant. Salina: You have no idea how I love American backyard food. Hamburgers and baked beans comes to mind. Wes: French Fries and hot dogs? Salina: Yes those too, I even love barbecued chicken. Wes: That is one too far for me. Rubber chicken I can not manage to get down. I do love barbecued pork ribs though. Salina: God yes and that crap you Americanos call beer. Wes: Hey it is beer. Just not very good beer. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Mike very carefully took a shower for the first time Sunday night. He was careful that the water didn't soften the scabs on his scrapes. He was also careful not to touch them. He mostly washed his body and skipped his extremities. He felt that was a pretty safe move. When he went into the kitchen were the medications were he was was almost naked. He was wearing only his briefs. He sat on a stool at the kitchen island while his mother dried the scraps, applied antibiotic ointment, then bandaged them. The two of them formed some kind of additional bond in the process. He wasn't sure what it was and he didn't want to explore it. Mike: I should go get dressed. Mom: Yes you should this is very unsettling. Mike: Yes I know. Mike stood and went to his room where he slipped on the loose running suit. He was able to sit around in it, because it was warm and soft. It in no way irritated his scrapes. Since his joint pains were also dissipating, he was pretty sure he would be up to taking care of himself soon. He probably would feel better when he and his mother returned to their 'two strangers living in the same house' status. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------- Lillian put the kids to bed then walked into her bedroom and contemplated the empty bed. She took a hard look at that bed, then decided that she was tired of sleeping alone. With that decision made, she needed to decide what she was comfortable doing about it. She knew how much trouble she would be causing, but she also knew how much trouble her husband was causing her. At least she wasn't thinking about killing him. Well not just yet. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------------- Eddie: I suppose we should drive over to Williamston to find a motel. I don't suppose you would like to experience the night in a fisherman's cabins. May: You stayed there is it worse than your place. Eddie: Well it is certainly no better than my house. May: In that case my vote goes to the Williamston Motel. Eddie: Very well. Twenty minutes later they were in the parking lot. Eddie: What? May: Can we get one room with two beds? Eddie: Are you fearful about being here? May: Yes and no. I mean, I'm not really concerned about someone coming to rape and murder me in my sleep. Then again all these people we are dealing with have killed other people for probably for a lot less reason that what we are doing.. Eddie: Okay fair enough, we will share a room. Clerk: Good evening, would you like a room? Eddie: Yes we would like a room with two full sized beds please. Clerk: Of course sir. Eddie and the clerk agree on a price then Eddie and May went to their room. The room wasn't anything fancy, but it was what Eddie had requested. Eddie: So May is it satisfactory? May: Absolutely. I know you think it is seriously silly, but I can't get over how seriously dangerous these men are. Eddie: I don't blame you, but we haven't really been threatened ourselves. You know even the thing with Mike could have been just an accident. May: If you really believed that you would never have had the office swept. You knew someone was beginning to fight back. Eddie: Frankly I always err or the side of caution. You can't replace people when they are gone, they are gone. But I wasn't surprised to find the office bugged either. May: I think that being cautious is a good approach. Would you mind if we went out and bought some wine. Eddie: You can, but I have a bottle of Beam's Select, there is an ice machine and a coke machine, so I'm good to go. If you like bourbon, we can share. May: Do you have a big bottle of Beam? Eddie: Big enough. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ --- Salina: You know it's okay if you want to have a drink. I know you haven't quit. Wes: Actually I have. Not the official, carved in the wall kind of quit, but I haven't had a drink in a while. Salina: Well if you feel you want one, you absolutely can have it. Wes: Thanks honey. Salina: I realize that sounded a little strange, but you know what I meant. Wes: Yeah I know. Now you listen to me. If we have to go into that Church Camp place someone my die. Are you going to be able to do that. Salina: If we need to cut anyone's throat, you are going to have to do it. I can defend myself and you, but not commit a murder. Don't matter what you call it. Wes: That's fair enough. Let go to bed. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- May: When I was little, I wanted a pony. Eddie: Hell half the kids in America wanted a pony at one time or another. May: No, I mean I really wanted a pony. I prolly would have done anything for a pony. Eddie: Well I certainly hope you didn't have to do any anything to serious for a pony. May: No all the men I knew were to honest to lie. If one of them had told me he had a pony he could give me, I would have done anything. I do mean anything. Eddie: Like I said it's a good think nobody took you up on that. May: Yeah it was. It got really quiet a minute, then May looked up into Eddie's eyes. May: I got date raped in college and I never reported it. Eddie: You work for the DOJ. Track him down and arrest him. May: Can't do it. It will make me look vulnerable. If I do that no one will ever trust me again. Eddie: Maybe some truth to that. So what do you need to do? Explain what happened. May: The reason I didn't come forward was I went to the guys apartment to have sex with him. He took my clothes off and got me into bed. It wasn't my first time and I had enough bourbon to drink that I thought I was in love. After him there were his two roommates. This is the first time I drank bourbon since. I guess I blamed the bourbon for the rape somehow. Eddie: Well you are safe this time. May: And if that is not what I want? Eddie: Honey Mike is more your age than I am. May: I know, but I feel safe with you. Eddie: You can feel safe. I will take care of you. There are no strings attached to the service. It's just what guys like me do. We are the kinds of guys who believe in Excalibur. May left her bed and stumbled to were Eddie lay. Then she lay down beside him cuddled against him and feel asleep. Eddie wanted to move her when she was sound asleep but instead managed to pulled the coverlet over them both. She was right. She really shouldn't drink bourbon, he thought. Day 16 Eddie and May went to breakfast at the diner across the street from the tea factory. They sat drinking coffee until Bart opened the front door. He walked onto the sidewalk first thing as was his habit. He looked west toward the river and east down the main street. That street became an old county secondary road just outside of town, then it eventually merged with a state secondary highway. It did finally intersect with an interstate highway after a few miles. Eddie: Well let's go see how persuasive I can be, shall we? May: You know I am a lawyer, maybe I should try to persuade him. I might seem less threatening. Eddie: Let's just see how it goes. If you come up with a compelling reason for Bart to talk, feel free to break in. Otherwise, I will take the lead. May: Fair enough. Eddie and May walked across the small paved main street. Then they stepped up to the door way. Eddie hadn't noticed on the first trip, but the floor of the Tea factory was above grade by a couple of feet. He supposed it was in case the river overran it's banks. In the old days the factory had been a farmer cooperative exchange. If the river reached over the foundations there would have been a lot of merchandise ruined. They opened the door and went inside. Eddie remembered the way to Bart's office, so they didn't bother to call out. They just went on back. Bart (looking up concerned): What can I do for you two, so early on a Monday morning? Eddie: It's really what you can do for Rose Seabold, I think. Bart: Well there is nothing I wouldn't do for Rose, so name it. Eddie: While we were here last time someone broke into our office back in D.C. They cloned our computer and planted bugs all over the place. They also ran our computer whiz off the road and put him out of commission over the weekend. Bart: I'm sorry to hear that, but I had nothing to do with it. Eddie: I didn't think you did, but here is the problem. They got all my investigative files from the murder of a mid level drug dealer in D.C. a couple of years ago. Now that particular murder was a professional assassination. It was done a while ago, but as you might or might not know, there is no statue of limitations on murder. Especially a murder for hire. Bart: Very interesting, but I still have no idea why this is of interest to me. Eddie: Well, I became convinced that Swamp Dog, who by the way we have no jurisdiction over for their work outside the country, is operating a domestic clandestine service from a place called Church Camp. Now you did a job for Church Camp once. That job also involving Rose Seabold, who I like a lot for the Drug Dealer assassination. Bart: I have no idea what you are talking about. May: Let me explain. It's really Investigation for Dummies. Who ever got in to clone our computer has the file on the murder. They also have a surveillance picture of the suspect. Which alone means nothing. We had all that several years ago. Here is were it get sticky. You see also on that computer were files of one Iris Martin aka Rose Seabold and her history. Well at least as much as we could piece together. Eddie: Now we want to talk to Rose maybe make her a deal to fill in the blanks. I am pretty sure the people who broke into our computer want to be sure she doesn't talk to us. They will likely go as far as ending her life to prevent her from bringing down a big time politician. The people who broke in may have been from Church Camp. I certainly hope not, since it means there is an assassin cleaning up after them. It also means you are a target. I have to admit that isn't very likely. May: We are willing to offer you protective custody and even witness protection relocation, if you talk. You would also nullify the damage Rose could do, so they would most likely lose interest in her. Eddie: So what do you say. Bart: I can't help you. I also can't hurt Church Camp. That one trip to the Caribbean was my only job. We have already been cleared in that fiasco. Before that job I did work some protective details over seas, but nothing ever happened. So I have nothing to say. May: Okay then help us save Rose's life. You left her to rot once, don't do her dirt again. May's choice of words surprised Eddie. She said exactly the right thing, but he just didn't think she had that kind of understanding. Bart: (Bristling) I would go protect her myself, if I knew where she was living. If she doesn't want to be found, you will probably never find her. Eddie: You better hope we find her first. Unlike us, Swamp Dog or whoever is looking for her, doesn't have her well being in mind. They want to shut her up, of that I am sure I am sure. May: Any ideas where we can look? Bart: She disappeared for a couple of months before she disappeared for good. It corresponded with a wilderness survival course that the PT instructor at Church Camp ran. It is not supposed to be affiliated with the camp. Just a way to make a buck or two while Church Camp is laying low. I thought at the time that she might have been there. Rose's specialty is reinventing herself. Eddie: We will check it out. Keep you head down and don't do business over the phone. I'm not sure that it is Swamp Dog after her. It might be some shadow government operation. No matter who it is, we don't need to feed them information. Bart: Government outfit like you? May: Not like us, but you have the idea. On the sidewalk out front Eddie sent the coded message to Wes that ordered him to raid Church Camp. He also advised him to find the PT instructor called Killer. While Eddie did that, May arranged for a search warrant. They were supposedly looking for unregistered machine guns. She had creditable evidence from a confidential informant that there were full automatic assault weapons stored there. ------------------------------------------------- Wes managed to limit the personnel to just the ATF regional officers and the rural police's swat detachment. Of course everyone wanted to be in on the raid, so it took some effort but they managed keep it quiet. Once inside the compound the hastily arranged raiders began searching everything in sight. Even the safe houses were not exempt. The residents were allowed to hide their faces. Wes: So you are the one they call killer? Killer: It's just a nickname it means nothing. Wes: Bullshit you are the hand to hand combat and fitness instruction for this training facility. I'm not a cop, so don't worry I have only one interest in being here. That is to locate and save Rose Seabold. Killer: What do you mean? Wes explained about the investigation and where it stood when the computers had been breached. Killer understood the ramifications instantly. Wes: Someone wants to cover up the Church Camp involvement, or make sure the name of the person who protected the Assassin never comes to light. Either way Rose Seabold is expendable under their plan. I and my friends intend to stop that. She might even get immunity, if we can get to her and she talks. Either way we want to save her life. Killer: I honestly can't help you and I'm glad that I can't. I would be tempted to help, if I could. I like Rose, I always did. Wes: I get the feeling she was about ready to reinvent herself when she came here. So what can you tell me about that. Killer: She wasn't all that much a traditionalist. If she went to live in the woods, she didn't plan on building a log cabin herself. She just didn't have the skills or the bulk to do that. She might have been able to bluff it before her time in that island prison, but not after. She wasn't frail or anything, but she couldn't manhandle a ten inch tree either. Wes: Thanks. Killer: For what I didn't do anything. Wes: (Into the burner phone) Mike go over Rose's computer files again look for any searches that appear off the wall. Hell pull all her searches. Mike: Eddie called a couple of hours ago with the same information. She was doing research, but it might not have been on her computer or she destroyed the trail. Wes: Keep looking. Salina says to keep those wounds clean and dry. Salina: What should we do till Eddie and May finish their interviews? Wes: Let's go talk to Rose's contractor. It was late in the afternoon when they pulled into the parking lot of Carlos and son construction and development company. Since it was late in the afternoon there were a lot of pickup trucks in the lot. Wes: Is one of you guys Carlos or the son? Middle aged South American looking man answered. Carlos: Carlos would be me there is no son. Can I help you? Wes: We are looking for Rose Seabold. I think you were an employee of hers at one time. Carlos: I was an employee and a partner and finally I owned some of the property that we developed together. Salina began conversing with him in Spanish. Wes caught a word every now and then, but never got them all. He gave up trying to stay in the conversation. He began looking around the small office instead. When there was a break he jumped in the conversation. Wes: I have seen an awful lot of small houses. Is that what you specialize in? Carlos: Rose specialized in them. I just went along. These days I build anything that I feel will turn a profit. Salina went back to Spanish and Carlos became more vocal. Salina: Wes we should go. Carlos needs to get back to work. Wes: Sure. Well nice to have met you. Wes put through a call to Lucille. His plan was to check into the B&B for a second night when the call was complete. Lucille: You can stay the night and come back in the morning, or you can drive all night. If it was me I would stay another night. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------- Lucille: (to Eddie) Mike found something in the public records, but it took the super computer at George Washington University to do it. Don't ask me how he got in there. Just get back tomorrow sometime. Why don't you and May spend the night and drive back in the morning when you are fresh. Eddie: I think we will start back and stop along the way. There is nothing else here for us. Lucille: That's fine, drive carefully. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------- Mike had gotten into the George Washington University research computer lab thanks to an online friend's backdoor. It took the super computer fifteen minutes to research all the real estate transactions for the spring of the last year, around the time of Rose's survival course. By checking all of her known aliases Mike found her purchase of slightly over a hundred acres of restricted wilderness land. That was the big news he was saving until Eddie, Wes, and the two ladies returned. Nobody wanted that information in the public domain. He had to assume that no communications was secure. The information Eddie and Wes secured limited the time and pretty much told him what Rose was looking for. So his information wasn't a break through as much as a slow march forward. Mom: (Calling from her office) Honey what do you want for dinner. I think I will cook. Mike: I'm kind of celebrating, Do you remember those hamburger pies you made when I was a child? Mom: Sure would you like those tonight. It means we will be eating a little late. Mike: Later is fine. I just had my childhood years on my mind for some reason. Mom: Then I'll stop by the store to buy the ingredients. Mike took the time to do more research on Rose's new location. He prepared a complete package for Lucille. It was one she could distribute to the other or not as she wished. Remembering the events of the last week, he put the file on a flash drive, then took his scooter to the Capitol Bike Courier service. It wasn't his money so why not hire someone to deliver the drive. Fortunately for his scraped legs the courier service had it's office in a shopping plaza near his house. Besides all that, he had begun to promote bicycles since his change in life styles. ----------------------------------------------------------- Lucille received the flash drive before she left the office for the day. She carried it home with her to review. When she arrived the nanny was giving the kids their favorite pasta with tomato sauce. Lucille always wondered if any of it got inside their mouths, since they had so much was always on their faces. After making herself an egg with toast Lucille settled down to review the file Mike had sent. After reading it carefully she called up the Google Satellite imagines of three places in the USA. Two of them meant nothing, but one was the plot of land Rose had purchases the year before. Lucille saw the fire road cutting across the front of the property. She searched hard but didn't see anything that looked like a dwelling on the property. She was sure that Rose was living there, but she had gone to a lot of trouble to conceal her presence there. Only because Lucille knew Rose's habits, did she know where to look. Because she knew her habits, she saw the break in the trees. There was a very rough trail leading into what looked like a thicket. The Satellite image was refreshed ever couple of days, so there wasn't always smoke visible from space. Most likely Rose made an effort to burn seasoned wood, which would emit less smoke. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------ Eddie and May were driving back to DC . They had actually done well since by nine they were down to approximately five hours left on the drive home. May: If we stop now we can be home by noon tomorrow. Eddie: How about one more hour, then we stop outside Roanoke Va. That should give us an easier drive tomorrow. May: Oh alright I'll drive tomorrow though. You drive like an old lady. Eddie pulled the car into a Super 8 motel just outside Roanoke. May: Can we share a room again. I feel safer that way. Eddie: I kind of doubt that there will be any problems, but since I never thought Mike would have a problem either, we certainly can do that. May: Besides you don't really mind sleeping in the same room with a woman half your age do you? Eddie: What man in his right mind would object to that? It's going to be a kind of late, but I'm sure we can find a place for you to get a sleep outfit. May: Do you mind if I wear your tee shirt again. I can wear the same one I wore last night. Eddie: Okay but no alcohol tonight. I want to be sharp tomorrow. Since they called us home, they have to have something. There was a restaurant in the parking lot, so after they checked in Eddie made a coffee run. He sat drinking his while May was in the bathroom. He enjoyed the time away from her never ending chatter. He drank his coffee and enjoyed the silence. Then May came out. She filled his tee shirt beautifully. There were even dark spots where her nipples were barely concealed. When she saw him stare her nipple got hard making them impossible not to notice. May blushed. Hell Eddie probably blushed as well. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------- Eddie slept with May but not the same way that Wes Slept with Salina. Lucille slept in the same bed with her husband but they didn't sleep touching. Mike slept in the same house with his mother. But while she slept he began working on the data he had compiled. He was determined to have it better organized for Wes. Mike was still in pain but he found that he could work through it. He had people all around him, who wouldn't let that kind of shit stop them He realized that he was developing into someone he liked. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---- Eddie was surprised when May slipped into bed with him after less than and hour in the second bed. May: Sorry but I just can't sleep alone in a strange bed. I know I'm safe with you. Eddie: May I can't guarantee how safe you are going to be, but you are more than welcome to share the bed. I promise I will try to resist my baser urges. Now go to sleep. Eddie slept with an erection which pleased May. She truly was an evil girl, Eddie thought. Day 17 For Eddie the day began with a shower while May continued to sleep through the sound of running water. She also slept through the sound of his rummaging around his back pack for clean clothes. Eddie: If we hope to get home by noon, you are going to have to vacate the bed and occupy the bathroom. You aren't exactly a model of efficiency are you now? May (eyes still closed) No, but the results are worth it. Eddie: You got me there. I don't dare dispute that. But you still have to begin. I am going to walk across to the restaurant for coffee. You can join me when you are ready. May: You are not going to be the gentleman and bring coffee back for me? Eddie: May honey, I can drink three cups, before you finish in the shower. May: I like that. Eddie: What? May: The May Honey. Eddie: (obviously embarrassed)That was a fatherly honey. May: Boss, I'm just pulling your chain. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Wes and Salina began there day in an only slightly different manner. Salina was up and dressed without a shower. She and Wes began a power walk since the neighborhood with the downtown B&B was much safer than her neighborhood at home. They returned showered, dressed, and made it into the restaurant just about the same time May entered the restaurant in the parking lot of the motel 8. Wes and Salina had a few more miles to navigate in order to get home, but Wes was a much faster driver. They both ate slowly but efficiently. They were ready to leave in well under an hour. --------------------------------------------------------------------- In the meantime Mike was awake and walking around the garage. He saw his new scooter, his mothers mid size sedan, and his bike with the bent front wheel. He knew the old adage was true. He knew he had to get back on after his fall, but he was not going to get back on that bike. He had until noon, so he was going shopping for a new bike. After he ate breakfast with his mother he rode the scooter to work. When he arrived he logged his personal tablet into the office wifi, then began researching Craig's List for a bicycle. What he looked for was one either close to his house in the suburbs or a bike close to the office. The one he found was a 12 speed road bike which the owner claimed had been garage stored at his father's house since college, well over ten years. When his parents had demanded he clean out his personal items, he carried the bike to his downtown apartment. It finally became obvious he would never ride it again. Mike was up to riding his old bike ten miles, so he figured he could get the bike from downtown to his house about fifteen miles away. He might have to stop for a coke brake, but he should be able to do it. He could get one of the guys to drive him to the sellers apartment after work. His best guess was two hours to get it home the fifteen miles. That was with a lot of stop and go. He also had no idea how his injuries would effect him. He rode the scooter over to take a look. Since no one was about the office, and everyone was paranoid about the phones, he just left. The bike was nothing special but clean and it was for sale. It also had the advantage of being in the right area, so Mike bought it. The owner was in such a tizzy that the sale go through he put the bike in his suv and followed Mike to his house. Mike rolled it into the garage, paid the man, then rode his scooter back to work. Even after all that shucking and jiving he got back to work before anyone arrived from their road trips. Lucille had called with a message for him to return the call. Mike: Lucille what can I do for you. Lucille: Where were you. We have agents in the field, you should be at your desk. You are our relay point. Mike: Lucille they are both on the road driving. No one trusts our network so they are out of contact. Lucille: Yeah I get that, still you need to stay around you desk in case of an emergency. Mike: I had the ghost cell phone with me. I wasn't out of touch. It is what we all are using to communicate. Lucille: This is not up for discussion, be at your desk from 8:30 till 5:00. Do you understand? Mike: Yes Ma'am, I get it. Lucille: Good have them call me when they are all assembled. We need to have a meeting. By the way that was good work you did on compiling a probable location for Rose Seabold. Mike: I'm almost 100% sure she is there. Lucille: Just so you know that information is very sensitive. After what happened to you, you should realize that her life could be in danger. We need to get to her and get her into protective custody before the bad guys do. Mike: Looked at his computer and had a fleeting thought. What if we are the bad guys? He had no idea what his information was going to be used for. He hadn't even considered that the information might go to the wrong people previously. Shit he needed to talk to Wes badly. He spent the small amount of morning left worrying about what he had done. He realized then that the NSA had computers that could have done the same things he had done, if they had been looking. If it were a race they would have already won. The only explanation was that the NSA was not on the case. So was it the legendary Wilson, the hacker for Swamp Dog. He wouldn't need to hack her would he? More questions without answers. Mike needed to talk to Wes, and maybe even the boss to decide on his next move. He put his personal tablet online using the office wifi. He figured it was okay since all he wanted was to play a game. He played a combat game which most likely would have turned Wes's stomach. Well not that so much as it most likely would have infuriated him. At the sound of a car in the parking deck he killed the game. Mike didn't killed the connection to the net. He went instead to the weather channel's forecast. The warming and sunshine was all over the screen when Wes and Salina entered the office. Mike: Welcome home you two. Salina: Thank you Mike drop your pants. Mike: I didn't realize you cared. It had been a gamble. Wes would either smile or knock hell out of him. We was doubly happy to see Wes smile. He was happy to see Salina Smile as well, but to a lesser degree. She smiled because Mike had changed so much in the last month. One could see his confidence grow with the start of every new day. Wes: We have a message for you from the waitress at the cafe. She said to tell you she misses you and you are still the best she ever had. Mike: You are kidding right? Salina: Yes he is kidding. We told her our friend Mike said hello. She asked who. So I had to say the chubby geek with the Yankee accent. She replied, 'oh him.' (Mike looked crush so she went on). Geese Mike I was joking again. She said to say hi for her and she hoped you would come again soon. Wes: I think she has some new tricks to teach you. Mike: Okay that's enough. Salina: I wasn't kidding about dropping your pants. I want to see how that knee looks. (After she cleaned and redressed it.) Not bad but you probably would heal faster if you stayed off that scooter. Mike: So you are saying I shouldn't ride that new bike I bought. Salina: Let your feelings guide you, but a few days off both of them couldn't hurt. Wes took the company car out to McDonalds to load up on salads and chicken nuggets. Since they have pretty good coffee, he also loaded up on that as well. While he was gone Eddie and May came in. May had a very happy and contented look. Mike was sure it didn't mean that she had sex with the boss, so he wondered who she did have sex with, or what else could make her glow. Eddie: Mike how is the leg? Mike: It's doing fine boss. I even bought another bike. Eddie: Take it easy, we don't want a repeat of the last accident. Mike: Right boss. (then to May) Why are you so looking so happy and contented. May: When you travel with the boss, you get a lot of sleep. No bars and home by 9PM. Next time I'm taking my car. Mike waited until Wes came back, then they had the pre-Lucille meeting. Mike: I followed all the leads you guys gave me and I found her. At least everything points to her. Eddie: That's great so why do you look so worried. Do you think she is going to fight. Mike: I would hate to think that the people who ran me off the road are the ones who are really pulling our strings. If they are, I have given Lucille almost all the information they will need find her. Wes: What do you mean almost all. Mike: She demanded that I give her all the information and she is your boss, boss. I couldn't say no. I did sorta transposed the coordinates of the land Rose purchased. After she gives you the show and tell, I'll give you the new coordinates. If you are convinced Lucille or her boss are not ones trying to harm her. I trust your judgment more than mine. Eddie: Okay give me fifteen minutes to think, then call her and tell her we are ready for the lecture. While we wait for her, lets all check our wills. Eddie's last word should have warned them. He was seriously thinking of double crossing the committee. If there was even a hint that Rose might be in danger, he would personally help put her ass in the wind, yet again. Mike called Lucille since he had been instructed to do so. He just didn't do it as soon as the field people showed up. The briefing began at 3PM with Lucille standing in front of the five of them. Lucille: Here is what we know. Iris Martin bought 115 acres of wilderness in Maine's interior great northern woods. I checked the satellite view of the property and can't tell she has done anything with it. She may or may not be living there. It's pretty wild for a woman alone. What she didn't say was that the view was of the wrong piece of property. The reason she didn't mention it was she didn't know it. Lucille: So now the question is, what do we do next? Eddie: What makes you assume she is alone? Lucille: If she is living with anyone it would be the first time. Eddie: True, but it is also the first time she was gone not just under the radar, but off the grid as well. Lucille: It is a total change in her operational methodology. Wes: We haven't tied her to any wrong doing. All we have is that she was a body guard once for Church Camp. Eddie: Mike have we been able to come up with her connections with the police back in the day. Mike: When the coppers went all national, they destroyed a lot of the local files. It looks like the undercover files of the state and local cops were among them. Nobody was sure what would happen to those files, so they trashed them to protect people like Rose, who were no longer active. Eddie: Then I suggest that Wes and I go talk to Rose. Wes: It isn't likely that she will lay down and spread her legs, but it is possible. Lucille: We don't have any leverage and it doesn't look like we ever will. We should probably wait, but I doubt we will ever have enough to force her to talk, or enough for an arrest warrant. So okay go talk to her. Wes how long will it take to mount a rescue mission? Wes: Rescue mission? Lucille: Sure I'm worried about her safety aren't you? Wes: Now that you mention it, I guess we should make sure she is doing okay. I suppose anything could happen to her. I'll get started organizing the rescue mission. Eddie: We are not going into there with a rescue, or an extraction team. There is no creditable evidence that she has done anything illegal or dangerous. Rose Seabold or Iris Martin, she is not a terrorist. Lucille: I can agree with that, so tell me what you think we should do. Wes: Okay the boss and I will come up with a cover story. As long it is just the two of us we can at least get an interview with her. Eddie: You know we have penned a lot of hopes onto the investigation of Rose Seabold. She might actually have done nothing other than that gig in the Caribbean. We don't have anyone who says different and we have no hard evidence of anything. Wes: Maybe we can flip her. Eddie: You don't believe that? Wes: Of course not. So when do we leave? Eddie: Nothing to be gained by stalling. We might as well get Mike to make the plane reservations. Mike: So to what destination do you want me to book the flight. Eddie: You are the one who knows where she is. Mike: So do I correct the record I gave Lucille. Eddie: Let's just let that one slip through the cracks for now. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Salina went back to the the projects to check on her neighbors. When she got to her apartment there was a note tacked on the door. Elderly lady: Miss Salina the manager of the building came looking for you. He told Rosa that you were being forced to move. If you move what will we do. The note read: The United States Department of Public Health has investigated and is ordering that you cease and desist providing any medical treatment whatsoever on these premises. A copy of this notification is being provided to your parole officer. Expect him to contract you in the near future. Salina: (into her phone) Wes what the fuck is going on. (She read him the note) Wes: I don't know, but I am sure as hell going to find out. You do what you have to as far as the people go. I will do something. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------- May went back to her apartment before Salina situation was known by the team. She entered it and noticed things out of place. She picked up her phone and dialed the bosses number. May: Hi honey I really need you, could you come over to my place right now. There was an urgency in her voice that convinced Eddie to do it. It took him fifteen minutes to get to her house. When he knocked on the door she pushed past him and down the flight of stairs to the street. May: Someone searched my apartment while we were gone. I feel so violated. Eddie: How obvious was the search? May: What? Eddie: Did it look as though they were trying to find something or simply leaving you a message. Tossing your place is an easy way of letting you know that you are vulnerable. May: If that were there intention it worked. Eddie: If a pro were searching, they would have been in and out without a trace. So obviously they wanted you to know. If they wanted you to know, we need to play along. Call police nonemergency dispatch and lets get a report made. May: Nothing was taken. Eddie: Sure there was, slip that necklace between the cushions of the sofa and report it as taken. I'll make a call and have your place swept for bugs, both audio and video. They might just want some cheap porno. (into his burner cell) Wes I need you to bring your bug sweeper to Mays place and after you do her do everyone's place. Wes: We got more problems. The public health department shut Salina's clinic down, and they reported her to her parole officer. It's going to be midnight before I can get there with sweeper. I'll call Mike to advise him I'm on the way tonight. Eddie: I'll call Lucille and tell her to get a Fed Police crew to sweep her house. You just do May and Mikes places. Wes: What about your place. Eddie: Unless they have some really sophisticated shit, I can fine them myself. My equipment is down on the farm or I'd sweep May. I'm going to take her to my place. You want me to have her leave a key under the mat? Wes: Are you shittin' me? Eddie: Okay no key. The cops are going to go over it first, so make sure they are gone before you go in. Eddie and May stayed until the cops left, then drove the over half hour to his mini farm. \ The Investigator day 18 Midnight found Eddie and May twenty minutes away from Eddie's tenant farm house. They left May's apartment almost immediately after the police finished there on scene investigation. Since they couldn't find any forced entry and since May could only show a few things out of place, the cops didn't seem to take it seriously. They did agree to make a report for the insurance company on the necklace. They weren't told that May didn't have any insurance to cover the jewelry. She had a very little jewelry and all of it cheap, so there was no rider. Wes's sweep would tell the tale definitively. The only reason to break into May's apartment would be to plant a bug. Well they might do it just to rattle her, which they had done. She would be even more rattled, if Wes found bugs. While Eddie and May were on the way to Eddie's place, Was was sweeping May's apartment. It took him about two minute to find the first bug. The guy who planted the bug hadn't been all that creative. There were wireless bugs in the light fixtures and switches. He didn't seem to have a lot of hope, since he only put one in each of the two rooms. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------- Wes went from May's place to Mikes home. He called before he arrived to have Mike waiting for him in the drive. Wes: Mike it looks as though they planted two bugs in May's place. I have no idea about your place, but I need to sweep it anyway. Mike: Sure Wes, whatever you think. Mike led Wes inside. Wes started in the basement. From it he pulled two bugs, then went upstairs. Wes found one in each of the common rooms. Wes: Mike I should check your mom's room. Mike: I'll get her out. (though the door) Mom you need to put a robe on and come out here. Wes needs to sweep your room for recording devices. Once Mike's mother came out wearing a grandma's robe, Wes went inside her bedroom to sweep. He found a bug in the desk phone and one in the light switch inside her bathroom. Wes also checked the obvious places for a video camera and came up with it in the heating vent. Wes: Mike come on outside. (In the drive) I have no idea how long you have been on tape, but you both have. I hope you didn't do too much work from home, since you were pretty much being overheard even in the shower. You don't sing in the shower do you? Mike: I hope not. Mike realized that he might have been the source of the leak, if the bad guys found Rose, it could be his fault. It was a sobering thought. Wes: Well be careful what you say around home. I'm going to have to talk to Salina's Parole Officer tomorrow, so don't expect me in until noon. Tell the boss for me. I don't want to have any discussion on it. Mike: Sure Wes, you don't think the boss would try to stop you? Wes: I'm sure he won't, since I'm not going to tell him. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ----------------- Lucille finally got to bed around midnight. She had been trying to decide what her damage control plan should look like. This was the second time she had been burglarized. He must have come when the nanny was at the park. How they avoided the security system she didn't know for sure, but her own team had proved that it was possible no matter how good it was. The world had gotten impossibly complicated since she began the job. Back then no one bothered to bug ordinary people. That kind of thing was saved for criminals. Today bug were routine almost. Sure they required court orders, but the paperwork was so routine it was seldom even scanned by the judge. If his clerk put it in front of him, he signed it. She intended to go to the wall with the invasion of her family's privacy. When her office opened, she intended to file a complaint with the Assistant Deputy Director of the FedPol. He was a few steps high up the ladder than Eddie had been. She intended to get the senator to sign off on it since it was his investigation they were spying on. She couldn't even guess who they might be. There could be any number of people in the Swamp Dog's Pocket. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- When Eddie and May arrived at his home the place was chilled. He quickly lit a fire in the Kerosene heater. He also moved the ceramic electric heater from the bathroom to the kitchen. It started putting out heat immediately as did the Kerosene heater. Within ten minutes they were able to remove their coats. May: I see we are back to one tiny bed. I'm beginning to like that. Eddie: Don't get too used to it. Your place will be clean today, plus Wes and I are headed to Maine to find Rose Seabold. May: I should go with you. Eddie: If Rose shoots me, you couldn't pack my ass out. (Laugh) May: I could call 911 as well as Wes, and I know the law. Eddie: I will feel better if I'm not shepherding you around the woods. No offense, but I could easily get you killed. Wes is in his element there. May: Then take us both. I really don't want to be alone right now. Eddie: I'll think about it and let you know tomorrow before we go. Now we need to get to bed. You take the sofa bed, I'll sleep on the floor. He placed his finger to his mouth so that she wouldn't answer. Then he went to one of the back rooms for his magic box. He pulled two bugs from the house. One from the kitchen and one from the living room. He dropped them into a glass of water. Eddie: So much for out uninvited guests. May took off her sweater and jeans. She removed his tee shirt from a dirty laundry pile, then slipped it on. She then did that woman thing, where she removed her bra under the tee shit. She slipped off happily into the bathroom with her makeup bag to do her evening things. Eddie knew that she was flirting. She could have taken the tee shirt into the bathroom to change. She had done it to elicit a response and of course human nature being what it was, she got one. May: Boss we have slept in the same bed before and nothing happened. I think we can manage it again. Eddie: May I don't think so. You know what kind of trouble you could get into. You are the only one still in the government. The rest of us might get a slap on the hand, but you could damage your career, if you let anything happen. May: I'm a lawyer. Don't you think I know all that. Eddie: I'm sure you do, but it's not everyday I am put in this position. May: Boss the only question is do you want to sleep with me or not. May moved close as she said it, then wrapped her hand around his very visible erection. She also tilted her head back to be kissed. Eddie didn't disappoint her. As a matter of fact all his good intention went right out the window. The small day bed in his living room was big enough, since the were almost joined at the hip all night. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ----------- When he returned from Mike's house Salina forced him out. She wanted to be alone to try to think things through. She also had to deal with the many people who stopped by to ask her if it was true. When she answered they wanted to know what they were going to do without her. At 6AM Wes left his tiny apartment in a neighborhood only a few hundred yards from Salina lived. He ran when he hit the empty sidewalk. Even the street vendors weren't open at 6AM. Wes had been able to sleep only because he knew how to sleep in the middle of a war zone. After his long, exhausting run, Wes drove to her parking lot. He waited there until she came outside. When she emerged from the building she was dressed in her best clothes. He drove her to her appointment with the parole officer. When he parked the car, she tried to talk him out of going inside. Wes: I'm going in, that is just how it is. I think we should have asked May to come along as well. Salina: It wouldn't have helped. Wes: It couldn't have hurt. Salina: I called Lucille last night, since I knew she would be awake. She said she would send someone. Lucille hadn't sent anyone. When the receptionist showed Salina into the PO's office there sat Lucille. PO: Salina your boss has been talking to me. She has convinced me that it would adversely affect her on going senate investigation to have your parole revoked. You must understand that I can not allow you to continue operating an unlicensed medical clinic. Even thought it is according to everyone I spoke to a non profit operation, it is still illegal. Salina: I understand. PO: Will you give me your word that you will no longer treat patients in your apartment. Salina: You have my word. PO: I think we can consider our business finished. I will remind you that the Public Health Department investigator will check back on you for sure. Lucille: I think I can handle them. I want to thank you for your cooperation. Once outside the conversation started in earnest. Wes: What the fuck just happened. Lucille: What happened was that you were smart enough to stay out of it. This was a bureaucratic exercise in whose is bigger. For now mine is. Now you two get to work. Eddie will be biting nails. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ----- Truth was that Eddie and May came to work in separate cars at 10AM. Eddie was prepared to explain that he and May had an interview with one of his confidential informants over breakfast. He had in fact driven her to her apartment to change before taking her to breakfast. They arrived over an hour late because it took him that long to get her off him. He was his usual reserved self, even in the throws of the sexual encounter, while she was a clinging animal. He couldn't truthfully say that he hadn't enjoyed it at the time, but in the light of day it scare the B. Jesus out of him. Since he arrived before all of them, save Mike. When he asked, Mike explained why the others were late. Eddie was about to make some calls when the three of them came into the room. Lucille: (motioned to the stairwell) Eddie we have a problem. Eddie: More than usual? Lucille: Someone is harassing us. I think they are trying to divert out attention. They already know, what they want to know. Eddie: And what might that be. Lucille: The location of Rose Seabold. We led them right to her and off the book, so none of us have any standing to object, if she disappears. It's such a nice box they put us in. Eddie: If that is the case, I quit. Lucille: I don't blame you a bit. I wish I could go with you, but we have to make it look as if nothing has changed. We still have no idea what is really going on. Eddie: Good, try to keep them home, if you can find out who they are. Lucille: I can't defuse it that's why I'm telling you. I will take care of the team after you leave. None of them are going to be in the shit, I promise. Eddie: I hope you can keep that promise. Lucille went back inside to keep the team occupied while Eddie drove home to pack then to Maine. He had satellite photos of the real piece of dirt belonging to Rose Seabold. He checked into a cheap motel in New England, before his burner phone rang at 9PM. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Wes began to ask around to find out who was after them. Mike ran the serial number of the equipment. That led him down a twisted path. From the manufacturer they went to a distributor. Wes would have expected them to have been purchases by some branch of the FedPol but they went to a private supplier. His sales were mostly to sleezy private investigators, but he had no records on those wireless mics. He showed no records of sales on line, so it was a matter of going to see him. Wes and May took the company car on the drive south. May: So you think this place delivered the equipment to Swamp Dog? Wes: I can't find anyone who thinks Swamp Dog does domestic wire taps. There is nothing to be gained by it. May: Could be they want to find Rose first. Wes: Even their domestic people seem to be body guards and the like. They don't have the infrastructure to do listening posts and follow people around. May: Do you think they farmed it out? Wes: I don't know, but I'm going to when I get my hands on the end user. I'd bet your ass, that the end user also put the Public Heath dept on Salina. May: Ah Salina, so some of this is personal. Wes. Yeah it is very personal. You know the boss is headed for Maine. He won't get there today. He is going to be staying in a motel just like we are. You might want to call him and let him know that you are out with me and I'll take care of you. May: What does that mean? Wes: It's means, he shouldn't worry about anyone coming to harm you. He might worry, since we didn't stop investigating. He should not worry about anything else either. I am not going to betray Salina. Enough people have done that. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------- Eddie: Hello. May: Lucille said I couldn't ask where you were. So did you leave a key to the farmhouse hidden somewhere? Eddie: Why? May: Because I'm going down there to decorate tomorrow and I don't want to break the door to get inside. Eddie: There is a key under the deck steps. What do you plan to use for money? May: I am going to give you my bank account number. You are going to move a thousand dollars into my account and I am going to spend it all on furniture. The rest of the shit we need you can do when you get home. I will not live in a house with a kerosene heater. Eddie: You do realize you haven't been asked. May: It's not like I am asking you to marry me. I mean I still have the taste of your semen in my mouth, I think a full sized bed is a small price to ask. Eddie: Okay, as long as it's not permanent. You know I might want to become a womanizer. May: Oh I don't think you are going to want anyone else. I could hear those noises I managed to get from you. I think I have you pussy whipped. Eddie: Enough about that I have to get to sleep. I have a full day of driving tomorrow. Give me the numbers and I'll send the money. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------- Lucille: I know what you have done Senator. Senator: What do you mean? Lucille: I know you tried to intimidate my people and I know that whoever you hired is extremely clumsy at it. You aren't usually a clumsy man so what is going on here. Senator: The committee was demanding an investigation by outside people. So I had you put together a team of misfits and I approved of them. They turned out to be better than I expected. I had to cover how someone else could know where to find her. So I hired a Private Eye in Richmond to come up and plant the bugs. He did not monitor the devices. Lucille: Bullshit... You may not have authorized it, but those were working bugs. If he did listen then there is someone else in the loop who knows. You should leave the cloak and dagger shit to those of us who understand it. Senator: So you know who ordered and paid for the hit. Lucille: I do now. Senator: What are we going to do. Lucille: I have a man going up there to bring Rose in. He is an excellent investigator. He is going to figure this out, if not tomorrow then the day after. Senator: What are we going to do? I can not let her flip. Lucille: If she was going to flip, she would have done it already. The only new thing in the equation is someone is trying to kill her. That is on you. You can call it off and take your lumps, or you can kill a lot of innocent people to cover it up. Senator: I can't go to prison. Lucille: Are you prepared to have everyone killed. It's going to unravel even if you do. It really has gone too far already. Lucille walked around his desk and opened the top drawer. She pulled on a pair of rubber gloves and removed a box from the drawer. She sat it on the desk in front of the Senator then left the office. She was in the office with his receptionist discussing plans for a senate retreat when they heard the gunshot. She went into cover up mode. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------- Day 19 Eddie learned about the senator from a report on the TV. The TV was in a cheap motel just off the interstate headed into New England. It was the 8PM news on the real Fox News channel, not the talk shows that where opinion. So he was sorta in the loop when his burner phone rang at nine. Eddie: Hello Lucille: Have you heard the news? Eddie: Yeah, it was on the news. I assume it was connected to our investigation. Lucille: Surprise of all surprises a politician did the right thing. Oh course now I'm out of a job. Eddie: You won't go hungry. I trust you know where enough bodies are buried to find a soft landing. Lucille: Yeah me and the kids could never downsize to a share croppers house. Eddie: I know, that's why I didn't ask. Lucille: So are you going looking for her? Eddie: Yes Lucille: You going to bring her back? Eddie: Only if she wants to come. If not, I'm going to help her put it in the wind. Lucille: Good for you. I figured we can keep the hounds at bay for a couple of more days at the very least. Eddie: I'll probably won't need more than that. Lucille: To make Rose into someone else? I'll bet she can be out of there in an hour. Anyway I can't promise you that you will receive a hero's welcome when you return. Eddie: Damn no parade, bummer. Once they hung up Eddie checked his rifle case again and then returned his .38 chief's special wheel gun to the lock box before turning in. He awoke early on the nineteenth work day of the investigation. since he never could sleep well in strange beds waking early was easy. He walked to the restaurant near the motel for breakfast and carry out coffee. Then he walked back for a shower. He skipped shaving as he often did since he retired. He dressed in his new uniform of khaki work pants and a faded blue work shirt. They were both still winter weight, as the weather wouldn't be warm till after lunch. He had a four hour drive, but that should put him at the edge of the national reserve. Rose's one hundred and fifteen acres touched on Maine's share of the Appalachian trail. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ----------- Back in DC Lucille was closing down the office. She explained to Salina that she would intercede to keep her out of jail, but her clinic days were over. However she felt sure that the catholic mission, only a few blocks from the project, could use some volunteer services. She could even direct her former clients to it. How she made a living was totally up to her. The church wouldn't be able to pay her. Salina: I'll figure something out. Thank you. A few minutes later Lucille spoke with Michael. Lucille: Mike I'm sorry we are shutting down this operation. I'm sorry but I'm going to be out of work in a couple of weeks myself. If you need a reference of any kind let me know. Mike: I'm thinking about trying my hand as a researcher. Can I count on you for a good reference. Lucille: Absolutely. Mike: Where is May? Lucille: She is taking a few days off then she is going back to the DOJ. She is the only one whose life is the same today as it was a month ago. Mike: I doubt it. I think everyone changed some. Lucille: You know, you are probably right. Lucille wondered if she would have tried to cover up the senator's crimes, if she had not met her group of misfits. Wes: So what bone to you have for me. Lucille: You are the luckiest of us all. You got the brass ring. (looking at Salina) Wes: You are absolutely right. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---- Eddie drove until it was time for lunch. He stopped in a roadside local fast food joint. He took his burgers and went to sit in the parking lot. He checked his voice mail on his real cell phone. There was a message from May. She was busy spending his money it seemed. He thought about her. She was young and attractive what she wanted with him was hard to imagine. He decided to just let it play itself out. After the burgers he sat in the econobox while he charted his course to Rose Seabold's camp. The hike would have him either in her house, in a tent somewhere lost on her acreage, or in a hole in the ground. Thirty minutes later he left everything of any value locked in the trunk of his little car. He walked in carrying a sleeping bag, a bag of trail provisions, his chief's special and a .30 carbine of Korean War vintage. He walked two hours until almost 5PM. Rose Seabold: You are trespassing. Eddie looked up to the top of the ridge. She was back lite by the afternoon sun. Eddie: You must be Rose Seabold. Can I assume you have a couple of loads of buck shot for my ass, if you don't like my answers. Rose: You may indeed. Eddie: Okay, what you want to know? Rose: Who are you and what are you doing here. Eddie: Until yesterday I was an investigator for the Senate Select Committee for the investigation of the so called American Foreign Legion. Rose: Swamp Dog? Eddie: Right, the senate can't go after them for their work overseas, so they are investigating their domestic work. In my investigations your name came up. Needless to say finding you wasn't easy. Rose: So you are here to take me back? Eddie: Not really. If you want to testify, I will do my best to see you get there safe. But someone is trying to hijack my investigation. I came to warn you that they may be on their way here. As far as I'm concerned, you can take my phones and I'll stay here till you make your arrangements and put your ass in the wind. While she thought about it, he looked at her. She was very unattractive. Her skin was like leather and her hair was just like his cropped short and no doubt done herself. Her clothes were dirty and looked as though they would be smelly. Rose: Let's go to my place while I try to decide what to do with you. (She whistled and two spaniels of come kind came running.) Lady, Tramp now y'all behave don't chew his arms off, he is not a chew toy. Don't worry stranger they don't have any teeth. They have turned into damn fine squirrel dogs though. Eddie: Good to know. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- What should have been day 19 of the investigation turned out to be the last day. After the team dissolved they went their separate ways. Wes and Salina went to her apartment to clear out her things. She and Wes had decided to share expenses. By the end of day they had her meager belongings installed in his sparsely furnished apartment. On that sunny afternoon Mike went for a ride on his scooter. He found himself back at the 'hole in the wall office'. He was feeling a bit lost. He really didn't know where else to go so he went home. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- May had a full sized bed delivered to the home belonging to Eddie. She didn't get the full bedroom set. She felt like that might be a little much. What she did get was the bed with a frame to get it off the floor. Instead of the bedroom suite, she bought two shoe box shelf sets. One for each of them. She didn't disturb his cardboard boxes, but the units would be ready when he returned to empty them. May tried several times to reach him but he wasn't answering his cell. She knew that it could be for many different reasons. ---------------------------------------------------------------- Rose: Okay I'm going to leave first thing in the mornings. I need to borrow your car just in case the people looking for me are as smart as your man. Eddie: Do you think it's Swamp Dog? Rose: If it was Swamp Dog, I would already be dead. It could be the government, a pissed off client, or someone whose toes I stepped on while doing the job. Eddie: Yeah, but they had access to my team. That worries me. Rose: That is your problem. Mine is to get lost again. Eddie: I'm going to forget you are traveling with two Springer Spaniels. Rose: Lady and Tramp are Brittany Spaniels. They are smaller. Still I thank you for not telling on me. They would be hard to keep with me, if those looking knew about them. Eddie: I know you always travel with just what you can carry, just so there are no leads. So you going to give me the keys to your car. I'll drive it home just so they follow a false trail. Rose: If we are going to do that, let's just go into town tomorrow and change the tittle and I'll just disappear. Give me an open title to your car and I'll get it filled out later. Eddie: When you trade it? Rose: You are pretty good. There is one more thing you can do for me.................. The end. Tweet
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