The night sounds and smells traveling on the air told April that it was truly summer in Mississippi. The traffic, just off the clinic grounds, told her it was highway 90 running there. It was the same as everything else at the clinic. The highway was the old version of highway 90. The one that wound it’s way through town, not the new one that by passed, the bypass. The heat and humidity were worse than any April remembered, but then it seemed to be like that every year.

 

April was 48 years old and for over half of her life, she was either a nurse, or learning how to be a better nurse. First she became an LPN because it was the only school she could afford. Then the US Army offered her a scholarship, if she agreed to serve three years after she graduated.

 

After her RN, and two tours in Afghanistan she saved some cash. The cash, and the proceeds of the new GI bill, she was able to get a masters degree in nursing. She could have done it in three years, but she went to the longer four year NP specialty. She did that for two reasons, she had the tuition money from the army, a part time job with a local urgent care clinic, and finally she had a cop boyfriend who was recently divorced.

 

It worked out really well until someone shot her cop. No it didn’t kill him, but it probably would have been better for her, if the gun thug had been better at his job. instead of killing him, it made him reassess his life’s direction. Of course when he did that his wife and child seemed more important that a piece of ass.

 

So here I am ten years later, and ten pounds heavier, she thought. She found herself still working for the clinic just outside Biloxi Mississippi. It was the clinic where she worked part time while she pursued her NP degree. She had worked at that clinic until the day she received her medical license in the mail.

 

She had more practical experience than any doctor in the area, which the clinic owners loved. They got someone who was trauma triage trained, for the salary of a Nurse practitioner. She had always planned to got to work somewhere else, but she just couldn’t seem to leave her boyfriend Brad. She had started on the night shift, and just stayed with it after Brad had gone home to his wife.

 

April dated several men, most of them were on the fringes of the Clinic’s orbit. Some were cops, some firemen, some military men, mostly they were men who weren’t likely to ask for a commitment. It just seemed to work best that way.

 

“I need some help here,” a black male about thirty said pushing his way through the line. April looked up and saw him almost dragging another black main into the clinic.

 

“Someone call an ambulance I will try to help him till they get here,” April said as one of the RNs on duty helped the man onto a gurney. They quickly rolled him into a cubicle and pulled the curtain.

 

“Don’t you call no one,” the man who brought his friend in said. “Anybody shows up and she dies. He said pointing the gun at April. He followed his friend and the two nurses into the curtained off treatment area.

 

“You can’t be in here,” April said to the man.

 

“I ain’t leaving my boy,” he said pulling a pistol from behind his back.

 

“You need to put that away right now, it makes me nervous, and I have work to do,” April said.

 

“If you don’t fix Bobo, this piece is gonna make you dead. Bobo dies, you die. You understand that bitch?” he asked.

 

“Yeah, I’ll do what I can,” April said as she began to work on the young black man. To the RN she said, “Go get me a GSW tray stat.” She really hoped the gunman would let her out and then tjhat she would run like hell and take everyone else with her.

 

“If you are not back in two minutes, I kill the doc,” the man with the gun said.

 

The RN left the room. “You know if you kill me, he is for sure going to die,” April said that as she began exploring the wound and clamping off the worst bleeders. “He needs a surgeon. I have got him stable enough, so that he has a chance, if you let me call an ambulance. If you don’t he is going to die for sure.”

 

“Save him. He is a tough kid. He can walk out of here if you stop the bleeding,” the young man with the gun said.

 

“No he won’t. He needs a resection of his damaged artery. He is going to die, if not from the blood loss, it will be a blood clot to his brain. Only chance he has is a real hospital.” she repeated.

 

“If he goes to a hospital, we both are going to die,” the kid said. “You sure without a hospital he will die?”

 

“In about ten more minutes all kinds of bad shit is going to start happening. Why don’t you take to the woods out back, and we will get him to the hospital. Don’t go home, or to anyone you think is your friend. You can make it, if you run now.” She said all that as she hung a bag of universal O type plasma. She continued to soak up the blood making it look even worse than it was. She just threw the used swabs on the floor to heighten his sense of horror.

 

The RN came in with more instruments and took a look around at the carnage. The floor of the examining room looked worse than Saturday night in a West Virginia red neck bar, she thought.

 

April waited for the RN to say something stupid, but she kept her head down and pushed the fluids. April continued to clean up blood and make moves like she was doing more, but there was nothing more she could do without lots of blood. The kid needed surgery that she didn’t dare do on her own.

 

“He is crashing,” April said to the RN. She knew it was a lie, but her RN managed to look terrified. “You know the ambulance and the cops are on the way. You need to run, if you are going to have any chance at all.”

 

Without saying a word, it must have all finally struck him because the gun thug turned and ran out the door. April had half expected him to stop and shoot them all on the way out. “Call the paramedics and the police. Tell them we are going to transport a GSW to the ER in Biloxi. He is going to have some tissue damage due to a clamped artery, but that the second choice had been exsanguination,” April said to the RN.

 

After the patient headed for the Biloxi Regional Medical Center, April walked into the shower stall and washed the blood of her body. She wondered about the blood on her soul.

 

“You got a kid with a runny nose waiting to see you,” the RN said from the doorway.

 

“Okay break out the Benedryl,” April said before she followed the RN back into the clinic’s treatment room. The shift ended with a sprained ankle on a seriously drunk teenaged boy. April turned in her paperwork and walked out the clinic door.

 

She pushed her magic button and the car’s horn beeped and the lights flashed. Since the sun had been up for over an hour, she walked to the beep. She got into the ten year old car, then found the two year old mp3 player button. She started the car and player at the same time.

 

She exited the parking lot with the music playing at a mind numbing volume. Louis Armstrong was grinding out the soulful, ‘I went down to Saint James Infirmary’.

 

April 2

 

When April left the parking lot, after her latest near death experience, she drove straight to breakfast at a local mom and pop diner. She spent an hour over breakfast and a quick review of her present life. It was not at all what she had expected at her high school graduation.

 

After she graduated from Loyola in New Orleans with her Masters degree in nursing, she purchased a 1960 style concrete block people warehouse. She was familiar with the building, since she lived there while working at the clinic and attending classes ninety miles away. People called the ugly tourist trap a motel, until it was by passed by the new highway. When that happened, they called it a crime problem. Shortly after that designation became all too common, it went up for sale. Since she had recently made the commitment to stay with the Urgent Care Clinic, she bought it as an investment.

 

Her original intentions had been to move out and buy a house. Like a lot of things in here life, for one reason or another, it just never happened. She hated her time living in the warehouse, as a motel, so when she bought it, she turned two of the rooms into a small apartment for herself. One of the other things she did was to closed the leaky swimming pool, which lowered her insurance rates immediately.

 

Her people warehouse was located just far enough inland not to flood, when the average run of the mill tropical storm surges came along. It was still close enough to the Gulf to get the breeze and the smell of life that came from the Gulf. It was a great location for her, but not so much for tourist.

 

Since she and the manager had a falling out after a few months, April took a sudden change in direction. She began guiding the people warehouse toward an efficiency apartments concept. The move would allow her to employ a clerical type worker to act as manager. The first thing she had to do was clear all the short term room tenants. She had to do that before she could convert their rooms to longer term apartments.

 

After the changes had been underway for couple of months, the place was bringing in enough money to cover most of the cost of its operation and renovations. She had seen the shortfall in income drop to less than zero, even though it was under constant renovations. Even at the beginning of the changes, when there had been a couple of shortfall months, they had never been more than a thousand dollars. All in all, it had quickly become a pretty good investment. She was living rent free and accumulating equity.

 

She made the move to short term lease apartments one at a time, as the even shorter term residents left. She got rid of most of the former single room residents by just waiting for them to leave. The length of a motel room rental usually was a very short period of time. It was limited to the amount of time that an oil rig worker’s family could spend away from home.

 

After a breakfast at Eddie’s Breakfast house on old hwy90, it was only a short drive to her motel and home. When she entered the parking lot of her building. she saw that the kid’s playground was empty, so she wanted to get into bed quickly, before they started to show up. As she drove deeper into the parking lot. she noticed that Viv’s car wasn’t in the space where she normally parked it. April knew that she had to check on her, before she went to bed. If Viv didn’t show for work, the prospective tenant calls would be forwarded to her phone. Those calls about seeing the apartments would come all day on Saturdays. They would surely interfere with her sleep. April wasn’t all that worried since Viv had proved to be reliable. She was more curious than anything else.

 

April parked her car in front of the office while picturing Viv in her mind. Viv was an attractive woman, not more than five years younger than April’s forty eight years. She was attractive in an almost punk way. That in itself was strange for a woman her age, April thought. Even though she had tattoos and terrible taste in clothes, the worst thing had to be her barn red. The color was made popular by bad science fiction movies. April was also pretty sure Viv moonlighted as a hooker. She also thought that it was none of her business.

 

Night shift at an Urgent Care didn’t exactly bring one into contact with the country club types. April first met Viv at the clinic. She treated Viv for a mild skin infection created by a tattoo needle. Fortunately it responded to a topical antibiotic so she never came for the follow up appointment.

 

Two weeksafter that meeting, Viv applied for the apartment manager’s job. It took her several minutes to recognize April, but eventually did. It was the only thing she had going for her. She had hardly any references, but since there was no money for her to embezzle, it wasn’t much of a problem.

 

April said, “Viv, I would say this to anyone applying for an apartment here, and I hope you will as well. We don’t allow any illegal activities in the apartments. That includes things like drugs and prostitution. Do we understand each other?”

 

“I date a lot. Is that going to be a problem?” Viv asked after spending a moment thinking it over.

 

“If you date more than one guy at a time, or more than one a night. Then yeah, we will have a problem,” April explained. “If we agree, I will pay you minimum wage and deduct the rent on the apartment. You will get the manager’s apartment and it comes with a 50% discount.” Mostly Viv seemed to want a place to live, so the small pay wasn’t a problem.

 

“So, do I have to sit in the office all day?” Viv asked.

 

“You have to be in the office to take care of the place, so yes,” April stated.

 

“So, if I’m working weekends, because you do, when do I get time off?” Viv asked.

 

“I need you to work at least Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The rest of the time I can handle,” April said.

 

“Are you going to run a background check on me,” Viv asked.

 

“I am,” April replied.

 

“I don’t have any work history. Most of the job I’ve done were for cash,” Viv said.

 

“Anything criminal?” April asked again.

 

“One prostitution charge, years ago,” Viv said.

 

In fact there were three Prostitution and one domestic assault charge. In Mississippi it was hard to find people who would work part time jobs for the minimum wagesi. At least damn few who didn’t have at least some minor police record. In the end she was the best of a bad lot.

 

Viv arrived just as April prepared to go knock on her door. “Sorry boss lady but my boyfriend wanted one more bang before he left. It is Saturday you know.”

 

April turned to see the pickup leave the parking lot. Oil rig workers usually made up most of the Johns in the Gulf Coast area. Viv had proved to be a reliable employee, so April was hesitant to mention that Viv’s boyfriend had access to a hell of a lot of different cars. He also wore a lot of disguises. April had a feeling that Viv used the term boyfriend in the place of customer. Still she was inclined to ignore it. Yeah she knew Viv was a ticking time bomb, but she was also a lot of fun to have around. The tenants all loved her. April just hoped that they didn’t love her in the physical sense.

 

“You know there is a note in computer every time you log on and off,” April suggested.

 

“Yes Boss lady, you can dock my pay,” she said.

 

“Don’t worry I plan to do just that,” April said. Actually the office computer did keep track of Viv’s sign in and out times. Those were her official work hours for pay purposes. If she signed in late by mistake, she never complained. April knew that Viv had a good deal, and wasn’t planning to fuck it up over ten bucks.

 

“Be sure to turn on your white noise today. The contractor is working on unit eight,” Viv explained.

 

“I will, but they are supposed to be painting and laying new carpet. Michael promised me the real work was complete,” April said.

 

“If I hear so much as one bang of a hammer or one second of a compressor noise, I will be down there in a flash raising hell. I know my job,” Viv said.

 

“Okay, then I’m off to bed,” April replied.

 

April had showered at the clinic, so she fell right into bed, after barely taking time to remove her jeans and bra. She did that woman maneuver to remove her bra while leaving the cut off sweat shirt in place. Then fell into bed.

 

She never wore scrubs while traveling to or from the clinic, too many things could happen. If she were recognized as a nurse, no good could come from it. Nurses never had the kind of luck that normal people have. They were like cops in that respect, if a stranger spoke to her, it almost always meant trouble. She could always count on that, so she changed at work.

 

She was in a deep asleep when she heard the knock on the door. She struggled to remember if she was decent before she opened the door. She finally decided that she was decent, but only barely, since she had worn her panties and sweat shirt to bed.

 

“We got shit falling from the sky,” Viv said in a rush as April opened the door.

 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” April asked.

 

“The woman living in apartment three is dead,” Viv said.

 

“Are you sure she’s dead? What the hell happened?” April asked hurriedly.

 

“You are the big shot nurse. You want to go look and then tell me,” Viv replied.

 

“How do you know she is dead?” April asked sorry she had questioned Viv’s opinion.

 

“I looked in the door and there is a big ass puddle of blood. Trust me I know dead when I see it.”

 

“Did you call 911?” April asked.

 

“Yes the cops are on the way,” Viv said.

 

“Well there goes my sleep today,” April said. “Why did I ever buy this place?”

 

“Don’t ask me, I just work here,” Viv said.

 

“Well go back to the office and pull up her file. Have it ready when the cops ask for it. I’m exhausted I’m going to try to get some sleep, at least an hour or so while they do their CSI shit,” April suggested. When she her head hit the pillow she was almost asleep. It was a trick, sleeping under pressure, one she had learned in Kabul.

 

 

April 3

 

April had been able to put everything else out of her mind to sleep hard until the persistent knocking on the apartment door woke her. She staggered out of bed and to the door. She didn’t care that she was almost naked in her short sweatshirt and bikini panties. By the age of forty eight, she had pretty much lost all her false modesty.

 

“What?” she asked the two police officers almost angrily.

 

“Sorry to bother you miss, but the manager said you owned the apartment where she found the body?” the young black policeman asked.

 

“Yes, I own the whole building. Did she also tell you I worked a twelve hour shift last night and wasn’t here till almost 10am. I heard and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Now can I go back to sleep?” April asked.

 

“Have you ever met the lady,” the woman asked.

 

“Had,” April said. “It is had, if she is deceased, which I assume she is. And I only knew her as a tenant. I told Vivian, the weekend manager, to get the records for you. Those records are all I know about her. Now I’m going to close the door and return to bed. That is unless you plan to arrest me for sleeping.”

 

The two of them didn’t move so April closed the door in their faces. She walked though the archway which connected the two motel rooms. One room was her large bedroom and average sized bath. The second room had been converted to a small living room with kitchen and dining area.

 

The Bedroom had required minimal renovation while the living room required slightly more. Turning the bathroom into a galley kitchen, and the dressing area of the old bedroom, into a small dining area had been only slightly more work. All the apartments were going to be more or less the same.

 

April walked to her small refrigerator for a glass of chemical orange juice. The chemicals in the fake orange juice were probably less toxic than the orange juice grown with fertilizer and pesticides. She drank the fake juice as she swallowed four generic Ibuprofen tablets. Rather than heating coffee, she staggered back to bed.

 

In the summer most folks ran their air conditions wide open. April chose instead to open all the fancy new windows she had installed. Below each of the front thermal pane windows was a high efficiency heat pump. Fitted inside each of her smaller rear windows was a reversible fan. It was possible to create a wind tunnel effect in each room separately from the other. It was a good cooling system most days.

 

Since she was on the second floor with no fire escapes on the rear, the windows back there were fairly secure with just a good lock. At least in the winter months a lock was all that was needed, in the summer a cut off broom handle in each of their tracks secured them.

 

The windows on the front had light weight aluminum decorative faux iron shutters installed. It was possible to open the window, without opening the shutters. All of those features taken together made for a secure, effective ventilation system. Each of the units were going to have the faux iron shutters installed as they were converted to apartments.

 

April increased the air movement in her bedroom, then fell back into bed for even more sleep. She slept with only a light film of moisture accumulating on her skin and soaking into her sweat shirt. All in all she felt very good when she awoke.

 

I’m hungry as hell, but pretty well rested, she thought.

 

A quick look at her clock told her that if she wished an update on the body in the apartment, she would have to leave for the office immediately. Since she didn’t really know the woman in apartment three, she decided that she could wait until the next day for the update. Instead of running to the office, she checked her other email. Since there was nothing, she took a shower and dressed for work. If the truth be known, she showered then dressed for the drive to work.

 

It was no wonder April was hungry, she had slept through the traditional lunch hour. It was either go out, or fix her own lunch at 4pm. April chose to microwave a meal from her tiny chest freezer. She chose a very nice three cheese pasta gourmet dinner. It was really just a mac and cheese TV dinner. She also took a package of fancy rolls from the freezer. From the package she took only one. That she covered with real butter after toasting it in the oven of her almost barbie sized stove.

 

After ten minutes she sat down to eat her very simple, but fancy named frozen dinner. While she ate, she thought about how different things were in the rental units. They had the same heat pumps, but lacked the fancy fan systems. The rentals had the standard apartment sized refrigerators, stoves, and a small low wattage microwave, just like hers. They were not equipped with the small chest freezer That appliances were the smallest size made. She provided them to protect the circuits. Each apartment had it’s own circuit breakers, and with them came the individual power bills. April provided hot water, kitchen appliances. but nothing else. Okay that isn’t quite true the overhead fixtures came with light bulbs.

 

After she finished everything she had to do around the apartment, it was 6pm an hour after the time for Viv to have signed off the computer. April didn’t have time to do anything productive before work. She never did during her work weekend, she knew that and planned for it. For the next three days she was totally in work mode. Nothing would cause her to lose focus. It was the only way she knew how to function. It was also why Viv was so important to her lifestyle.

 

When she had finished her news update from the TV, she drove to the clinic. She arrived a few minutes early. “Jason are you about finished up?” April asked.

 

“Just need to get a patient on the way to Biloxi Regional,” he said. There was a rule at the clinic. A provider saw his or her patient to the end of his or her treatment. A provider was not allowed to hand off a patient to the oncoming provider. It was a liability issue. It also explained why there were three sniffles patients waiting.

 

The providers, at the Urgent Care, classified every ‘non trauma’ patient as a sniffles patient. Actually the first of the three was a skin rash from exposure to the sun. Then there was a referral to the eye clinic at Buloxi Regional. That was for a cataract surgery work up. Last but not least was a real case of the sniffles. April diagnosed the sniffles as summer pollen or grass allergies. First level of treatment was always over the counter drugs. That treatment kept her out of trouble with the government bean counters. Which is all the clinic administrator cared about.

 

Things quieted down after the allergy patient was send home with a hand full of generic over the counter antihistamines. It was 10pm so the cutting and shooting time of day hadn’t arrived. The ‘club violence’ as they called it, once started wouldn’t end till 3am. The providers could either order their delivery dinners before 10pm or after 3am.

 

The night passed with no gun shot wounds and no stabbings, so it was a good night. April left the clinic in her ten year old Jaguar xk8 convertible just after 7am. April had fallen in love with the five year old car, when she finished her classes in the Masters of Nursing program. The Jag became her graduation present to herself. She did wait for her NP certification, and the large salary boost at the urgent care clinic before making the purchase. For the next five years she tooled around in the car. Yes, she was almost fifty and might look a little absurd in the sports car, but she didn’t give a crap what anyone else thought.

 

Hers was probably the oldest car in the restaurant parking lot, even if it did have the most class and get the most attention it was still the oldest. After her breakfast, she drove immediately to the motel office. She still thought of it as a motel even though it was over fifty percent apartments by that time.

 

She was surprised to find Viv’s car parked in front of the office. She walked in to find her still visibly shaken. She was a complete bundle of nerves. “You aren’t on anything are you,” April asked.

 

“Of course not, I’m just nervous. I worry that poor Jessica’s killer might come back,” Viv said.

 

“So her name was Jessica. Do we have any idea what she did for a living,” April asked.

 

“The cops found a paycheck stub from the Diamond Club. She was either a bartender, cocktail waitress, or stripper,” Viv suggested.

 

“Or a little of each,” April suggested.

 

“She had next of kin on her credit application. The one we use to decide whether or not to rent to an applicant. She was married to a guy who works on the BP oil rig,” Viv explained.

 

“So the cops checked him out?” April asked.

 

“They had to call him on the rig. The company should have choppered him in today,” Viv answered.

 

“Well if he comes around let him in. Once the crime scene tape is down that is. I’m sure not going to ask him to pay to clean the place, but get in touch with that cleaning crew tomorrow. You stay with them to be sure nothing disappears.” April suggested.

 

“That cleaning service probably won’t be able to get the blood out of the carpet. Also we probably should wait till her husband comes and removes her stuff. I’m just thinking out loud, but since it was the living room, now would be a good time to put that laminate floor down. You know the stuff you have in your place,” Viv suggested.

 

“If we decide to redecorate, sure. Do give him a chance to clear the place out first. She is paid up till the end of the month, so we need to leave everything till then. That is unless her husband cleans it out before hand.” April said. “Now I’m going to bed. I have to work again tonight.”

 

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday without the police knocking on her door. April slept, showered and ate dinner just the same as she had on Saturday. When she left for work, it was early enough to check out the Diamond Gentleman’s Club. The club was located on a strip of hwy 90 across from the casinos. The casinos were on the beach front side of the highway and the other businesses were on the other side. Even being across from the beach, the real estate rental had to be a bitch. The symbol on the marque type sign for the Diamond Club was an ace of diamonds playing card. The marque also listed the names of the strippers. One of the names was Jessica Rabbit, which might explain the flaming red hair on the body Viv found on the living room floor of apartment three.

 

April was a little surprised that the parking lot was full at 6:30pm. She might have stopped if she weren’t on her way to work. She had always loved a good pole dance. Not really, she just told people that she did.

 

April 4

 

“Since the country lost its faith, Sunday is just another day in the shit,” Jason said.

 

“You mean it wasn’t always just another day?” April asked.

 

“Oh no, once upon a time there was no alcohol sold on Sundays, and no one ever had a domestic issue on Sunday. It just wasn’t done,” Jason replied.

 

“Too bad I missed those days,” April replied finishing her coffee.

 

It was one of those evening when the day shift doctor and the NP had time to chat while they waited for an ambulance to come pick up an injured survivor of a traffic accident on hwy 90. He had a couple of broken bones in his hand and a bump on is head that might be a concussion according the Doctor Jason.

 

Well here is the bus. At least I’m not leaving you with any sniffle patients tonight. You don’t get many of those on Sundays do you?” Jason asked.

 

“Mostly it’s is accident, and domestic violence victims,” April replied. “Speaking of which I have work to do.”

 

The doors opened automatically spilling a half dozen Spanish speaking people into the lobby. They were all trying to speak at once. For the thousandth time April kicked herself for not learning Spanish. “I do hope one of you can speak English and interpret for me?” She asked.

 

It took five minutes before she understood that one of the children had been throwing up all day. Her understanding began when the little boy threw up on her scrubs. That’s when the teenager began to make her understand the gibberish. Since she didn’t have the ability to run tests, she gave the boy’s mother a referral to the ER at Biloxi Regional.

 

In the meantime, she gave the boy an injection of Zofran and had him lie still for a while. If he got better, then he might just be in the vomit comet cycle. If he continued to throw up, he would need to go to the Biloxi ER immediately. Otherwise the mother could decide later what to do. She should know by then that they Urgent Care Clinic couldn’t help with the underlying cause because April didn’t know what it was.

 

Of course she had check for the obvious, easy to spot things and ruled them out. It was possibly something he had eaten, but more tests were needed. She didn’t know how to ask what he had eaten. So she just kept him under observation for a while before she sent him on his way.

 

She checked an illegal alien who was drunk and hit a gravel truck. What the gravel truck was doing out on a Sunday evening, she had no idea. Even though Jason hadn’t agreed. Sunday was still quieter than any other day of the week historically speaking anyway.

 

On a really slow night the staff took naps. On that Sunday night April being the boss, sort of, made the first attempt at a nap. It lasted for thirty minutes, until a patient come into the Clinic. After that patient left, there was time for the other two night shift workers to try to nap.

 

The RN named Priscilla, P for short ,and the CNA named Earl naturally called E gave it a shot. One at a time of course. They napped until a patient came into the lobby.

 

It was E’s job to log them in and announce their symptoms to April. If the clinic wasn’t busy April and P would treat them. Often when they got busy April would begin treatment, then move to a second patient leaving P to continue the treatment and observation of the first patient.

 

In the event of a loud obnoxious drunk, E would often be forced to man handle them. E was a large black man whose job partly was to protect April and P. If it was really raining blood, he could hold a towel on an open wound or observe a patient.

 

That night passed quietly as most Sunday nights did. When 7am came, the three person night shift walked out the door and headed to breakfast. It had become a tradition that they ate breakfast together on Monday morning. April being the highest paid member of the night shift, always paid.

 

When Mordecai and his partner came into Eddie’s, the three from the clinic had finished breakfast and two cups of coffee. It was almost 8am. Mordecai was April’s form cop lover. He was also in her opinion an all round bastard. That, she thought, was Mordecai Abraham Goldburg. Yes Mordecai was a good Jewish cop working ninety miles from New Orleans Louisianan.

 

“I thought I might find you here,” Malicia remarked sitting at the table next to Aprils.

 

“Hello Mordecai, so who is your partner dejour,” April asked.

 

“Play nice April,” P said quietly.

 

“Earl, how you been? Is that brother of your behaving himself?” Mordecai asked.

 

“Yeah he is detective,” E said sullenly. He probably didn’t like to be reminded of his gangsta brother.

 

“I’m Lois,” the much younger female partner replied.

 

“Now that we have the pleasantries out of the way,” Mordecai began.

 

“Those were the pleasantries?” April asked sarcastically.

 

“More than the discussion of Jessica your dead tenant,” Mordecai warned her.

 

“Is this where you read me my rights?” April asked almost angrily. There was still a lot of resentment there she realized.

 

“Well I think me and Earl should be leaving about now,” P said. “E it is your turn to leave the tip.”

 

When the two of them had gone the Junior partner was the first to speak, “The patrol officers thought you might know more than you were sharing.”

 

“Did they really, well as usual the Biloxi cops were wrong. I own the building in which she lived. All her paperwork was made available to the officers on the scene, so this meeting wouldn’t take place.”

 

“Did you know she was a stripper?” Mordecai asked.

 

“No, but that is none of my business. Strippers need a place to live like anybody else. As long as she pays her rent and doesn’t cause any trouble in the apartment, I could care less,” April stated for the record.

 

“We found coke in the apartment,” Mordecai informed her.

 

“Oh, what kind of weight?” April asked.

 

“Not dealer weight,” Mordecai replied while his partner looked at him as if he had screwed up giving out the information.

 

“Next you will be telling me cops don’t do drugs,” April said.

 

“They shouldn’t,” The partner said.

 

“Neither should tenants, but shit happens,” April said.

 

Her husband will be taking care of the apartment today. I thought you might want to know, so you could keep an eye on him.” Mordecai suggested.

 

“I’m going home to crash for a few hours. If he comes during my sleep time Viv can take care of him. Is there anything else?” she asked.

 

“No, anything you want to talk about,” he asked.

 

“Not unless you left your wife,” April said it to be sure their relationship was obvious to his new partner, if it hadn’t been before.

 

“No, we are still happily living together. The girls are finished college now, so we are looking toward retirement.” he suggested.

 

“You might want to move out of town. Surely there are bad guys who don’t like you. Hell Mordecai there are good guys who don’t like you much either. Not to mention old lovers by the dozen,” April commented standing to leave.

 

“If I get shot on a weekend after 7pm, don’t take me to the approved urgent care center. Take me directly to the hospital ER and I’ll pay the penalty,” Mordecai said.

 

“That would most likely be a good idea,” Lois said. “Do you think she was telling the truth?”

 

“About not know what Jessica did in the apartment, sure. April is one cold bitch. She doesn’t cares about anyone but April.”

 

“It appeared her feelings about you were pretty far from cold,” Lois commented.

 

“That was then, this is now,” he said with a smile.

 

“I do like that car,” Lois said looking out the window as April drove away. “Did she have it when you would screwing her?”

 

“She drove a Ford,” Mordecai said waving a waitress over.

 

While Mordecai had breakfast, April drove home to the motel. She stopped at the office to inform Viv that the husband would be coming to make arrangements about Jessica’s things.

 

“Boss lady you don’t seem yourself this morning.” Viv said.

 

“I’m fine, I just saw a ghost at breakfast. Now I’m going to bed and have a nightmare,” April said with gallows humor dripping from her voice.

 

“I will try not to wake you,” Viv said.

 

When she got into bed images of Mordecai ran through her mind. The five foot eleven inch dark man looked much smaller on a hospital gurney. She saw him after the shooting in the hallway as they wheeled him from surgery. Since he was separated, he wore a dog tag around his neck with April’s name and phone number on it. The Admitting nurse had called April while she was in a class at Tulane to notify about Mordecai’s shooting.

 

She made the ninety mile driver to the Biloxi Regional Hospital in just over an hour and a half. That began her weekend bouncing from one emotion to another. He was still in the recovery room when she had to leave for her twelve hour shift at the Urgent Care Clinic. She was just an RN at the time, but it was still impossible to get a replacement on such short notice.

 

“Would you call me when Mordecai is moved to a room?” she asked the recovery nurse. “As a professional courtesy.”

 

“You know I’m not supposed to, right?” the nurse asked.

 

“Yes, I know,” April said.

 

“Okay, I’ll call but nothing else,” the slightly younger RN said.

 

April nodded. She knew that the nurse meant she would not give her an update on his condition, that would be a clear violation of policy.

 

At the clinic, while she worried about Mordecai, She and the semi retired Doctor Jason worked their way through the victims of a one car traffic accident. Mostly it was a lot of blood. April spent the evening on an emotional roller coaster. She heard from the nurse as she was stitching up a gaping wound on a young oil rig worker’s arm. It wasn’t an on the job accident, it was a bar fight.

 

After work the next morning she went to the hospital. When she met with Mordecai he was pretty much drugged so she slept in a chair in his room. Cops with gunshot wounds seemed to rate one of the older private rooms. Most of the rooms in the hospital had been converted to semi-private or four bed wards by that time.

 

When Mordecai’s estranged wife arrived, April thought it was an ideal time to go home for a nap before work. After she left Mordecai and his wife appeared to have somehow reconcile. April was hurt beyond belief by his dumping of her, but worse by far was the fact that he did it by phone. He probably would have done it by Email, if he could have been sure April wouldn’t make a fuss at the hospital with his estranged wife present.

 

After that phone call he made it clear that he wanted to sever all ties with her. “You can be fucking sure that you won’t be hearing from me again, you lying prick,” she shouted into the phone then broke the connection. The rest of the week she got updates from the floor nurses, but he never knew.

 

That morning over breakfast, he had looked much more than five years older. She knew he was fifty three years old give or take a year. She also knew he either had thirty years in or was damn close. She wished he would retire so she never had to see him again even accidentally.

 

Sure she felt that way but she couldn’t help remembering the good times. She went to sleep that night with pressure building in her body. What she felt that it was a physical need, not unlike what she believed a man felt while walking around with an erection. If she still felt the same when she awoke, she would take care of it in the shower, she promised herself.

 

 

April 5

 

After her shower at 4pm, April felt much more relaxed and ready to tackle her domestic chores. First she had to see Viv and get the low down on Jessica Rabbit. No, that wasn’t her real name or maybe it was. She and her husband had listed their previous address as a small town in West Virginia. The lease was signed by her husband Thomas Black.

 

“So Viv,” April began. “Did Mr Black show?”

 

 

“Not yet, but he did call,” Viv said.

 

“Well, if he shows between now and five have him show you his ID before you let him in. He may not stop here, which is fine. We can check the place tomorrow and every day until it is empty,” April stated.

 

“Yes Ma’am. I just love it when you get all Domme,” Viv said.

 

“Sure,” April said. “I’m going to do my laundry and try to get back in the apartment manager mind set. Call me on the cell if Thomas shows before you leave.”

 

 

April spent an hour over the industrial washer and dryer in the motel’s utility room. Back in the day, It was the place where the sheets and other linens were washed. At that time each apartment resident had a key to the laundry room. The residents all shared it on a first come first served basis. Viv had suggested that April remove all the tables from the room, to prevent people from getting too comfortable. She had also suggested the ‘one load per day’ signs. Since April agreed, they hung them around the laundry room immediately. In smaller print the signs informed the residents that the first violation would result in a warning. The a second offense would result in the termination of their lease. Also that the room was monitored by closed circuit TV in order to avoid any disputes.

 

It was the only fair way to operate the free laundry room. Plans were in the works to convert the laundry room to a coin operated laundromat. If or when the existing machines had to be replaced it would happen. The building was in constant state of flux, turmoil was normal in her life. April could only hope the changes were always for the better.

 

April went to dinner after she finished her laundry. Since she was not a big seafood fan, she went to a family steak house. One of those places where the customer went through a line picking up a salad and desert then placing his or her order for the steak of their choice. The steak would be cooked to order then brought to the table by the waitress. It wasn’t fancy, but it was good food at a reasonable price. April didn’t waste money, even though she was making plenty of it. For her everything was about convenience and product quality versus the cost.

 

After dinner she went back to the motel and to her computer terminal. She found a phone message from Thomas Black. He wanted to make an appointment to come by for a chat, and to pick up Jessica’s things. He was staying in the company provided motel room, even though he had an apartment in April’s building.

 

She dialed the number, “Mr. Black this is April Smythe the owner of the apartment you called about. Let me say first that I’m so sorry for your loss.”

 

 

“Thank you, could you tell me what happened?” he asked.

 

“Mr. Black to protect you and me, I need to be sure that you are who you say you are. Could you meet me tomorrow and bring some form of ID. You could also empty out the apartment at that time.” April said.

 

“I don’t want anything from the apartment. I might have a box full of clothes and some pictures otherwise I don’t want anything,” he informed April.

 

“We can talk about that all tomorrow, so what time can you make it?” she asked.

 

“I’ll try to make it around lunch time.” He said.

 

“I close the office from twelve till one for lunch, otherwise I’ll be there all day,” April said.

 

It was a quiet night for April as she made the necessary moves to switch her sleep schedule. They included no naps during the evening, and staying awake until 2am. When she finally did sleep, she slept until 7am. For one used to sleeping for short periods at odd times, it was enough to get her though the day.

 

Thomas Black showed up at 11am, “Miss Smythe, I’m Thomas Black, I decided I want to look through Jess’s things after all.”

 

 

“Good, I would like to get everything taken care of today so I can get a cleaning crew in tomorrow. I’m going to have to keep your cleaning deposit, but I won’t pursue you for the additional cleaning expense.

 

Now I really am curious, since it happened here. I am not going to feel safe till I understand why. You can understand that can’t you?” she asked.

 

“Yes I suppose so. I really don’t have any idea what happened. Jess was tending bar at a club on the strip is all I know. Maybe someone from there followed her home and stabbed her,” Thomas said.

 

He might not have known it, but he gave April information she didn’t have before. For one thing, he didn’t seem to know that she was dancing. April also hadn’t known that Jessica was stabbed. She thought so, but it had been possible that she had been shot and no one heard the noise.

 

“Did the police say whether she had been drugged or not. It occurred to me that someone might have slipped something into her drink.” April knew people wanted to believe certain things and Thomas wanted to believe that Jessica was a simple bartender. To April it appeared likely she was dancing to support a drug habit or something just as nefarious, otherwise he would have known what she had been up to.

 

“That is probably what happened,” he said looking less distressed than he had earlier. “The cops said she had a sedative show up on the blood test. They thought she was abusing prescription drugs, but I think you are right, someone slipped it in her drink. I told her not to take that job, but it was the only job she could find,” Thomas said.

 

“Okay, are you ready to clean out the place?” April asked.

 

“Okay, you are coming with me aren’t you. You know just in case we find something,” Thomas asked before April could suggest the same thing.

 

“Okay, but the cops did a pretty thorough search,” April said leading the way to apartment number three located on the ground floor. There were ten motel rooms on each floor so there would be ten apartments, when it was completed. There would be five upstairs and five downstairs.

 

Number three was right in the middle of the building on the first floor. April used her master key to open the room. Since the cops had kept it all closed up, it smelled pretty bad. There was the smell of blood and feces in the air.

 

Once Thomas entered the room, he turned to run out the door and onto the lawn. It was most likely programmed into our human DNA to react to the smell of death by retching. April never got used to the sound of retching and then there was the smell of death. It made her nauseous. She was able to stop herself from vomiting with a high degree of self control.

 

“You okay,” She asked Thomas when he had finished retching.

 

“Yes, would you clean out her personal items for me. I can’t go in there,” he said.

 

“Tell me what you want, and I’ll bring it to the parking lot outside the office,” April suggested.

 

“Her jewelry box and any picture or letters you find lying about,” Thomas said. “There might be some of my clothes as well.”

 

 

“Okay,” April agreed then went inside the apartment. The smell reminded her of Afghanistan. More exactly, It reminded her of the tent where they had stored the bodies waiting to be embalmed. She sorted through the living room/kitchen first. There was no computer, if jessicam owned one, the cops had taken it. April found a plastic recipe box in a kitchen cabinet. Since it was not a perishable item, she put it to one side to take to Thomas. Then she checked the two supermarket tabloids. There were no marks or papers inside.

 

April moved to the bedroom. The bed had been striped of it’s linens. The cops probably were going to keep them as evidence and hope to match some dna. There were plenty of shoes and skimpy dresses in her closet. At first April thought they were dance costumes, then she realized Jessica Rabbit surely wore no more than parts of a bikini while pole dancing. Jessica must have worn the sexy clothes when she went out. April found a photo of her on the pole. She was torn about delivering it to Thomas Black. In the end she decided to turn it over. She packed all her skimpy dresses and her personal items from the bathroom in a garbage bag. She added some jeans that most likely belonged to Thomas, then left the apartment.

 

“Here you go,” April said to him as she stood by his pickup truck.

 

He sorted through the things and looked totally bewildered. “Shit it looks as though she was a whore,” he said. April chose to ignore it. Thomas walked over and threw the loaded bag from the apartment into the trash can. “You can have what ever is left, I just want to forget all this shit.” Less than a minute later he was pulling out of the parking lot.

 

April went back inside to answer the phone for a half hour before lunch. She had lunch at her apartment where she sat trying to see the inconsistencies. It was how she had been trained to observe the human body and it’s abnormalities.

 

Okay everything pointed to Jessica Rabbit being a party girl. Well everything but the recipe box. That pointed to Jessica the happy home maker. On the way back to the office she passed the trash can Thomas had used to dispose of her memory. From the can she salvaged the black bag.

 

Once inside the office she began to go through it carefully. On the rear of a Chocolate Pie recipe card she found something. She found an email address and the script Bluebird12. She put it aside and continued to check the box. She found three other sites and what appeared to be passwords.

 

April guessed that Jessica was one of those people who didn’t really understand computers, but used them just the same. She probably didn’t use it often and needed a reminder in case she got locked out. April was sure the police had unlocked and followed her online trail.

 

She wasn’t really withholding evidence, since they had the computer. She was sure they knew one hell of a lot more than she would ever be able to find out about Jessica Rabbit.

 

What was she thinking, she asked herself. Was she really going to run some kind of amateur investigation. If she was, why the fuck was she going to do it. That part was simple, to rub Mordecai Goodman’s nose in it of course. “That piece of shit needs to be taken down a notch,” she said to the empty room.

 

April put off looking at Jessica’s Email, and the websites in her recipe box until after her frozen dinner and chemical iced tea had been consumed. After her chemically laced dinner, she moved from the small dinning table to the built in desk on the wall of entertainment devices. Finally April pulled up Jessica’s email account, but only after she checked her own email.

 

It surprised her that Jessica had a generic email, rather than one of those name brand models. From Experience April knew that too many failed attempts to enter the account would lock it. She need not have worried because if opened on the first attempt. It could be that the cop’s plan was to leave it open in order to track her future emails, April thought. She reminded herself again to be careful not to leave any obvious trails on the site. It was possible to leave a trail should she try to delete anything. She didn’t see any problems ahead, as she did not plan to delete anything. Not even Jessica’s negative comments to her husband about April and Viv.

 

As April read Jessica’s Email it was obvious that she and her husband were arguing often. Her first complaint was that although she had access to their joint bank accounts, he had lowered the amount of the automatic deposits.

 

He claimed that the money was going into their retirement account. His defense was that she needed to spend less money, or get a job.

 

Later there were Email by Jessica explaining that she had a job working for a private club on the strip. She even gave him the name of the club in case of emergency. She also explained that she would be using the name Jessica Rabbit as an alias while at work. That was so that he could ask for her by that name should he need to call.

 

Then came a series of Email consisting of her time spent waiting for the apartment approval. Almost all her email was harmless and was addressed to her husband. It all seemed very much like the emails of a normal couple until about two months before her death. At that time she began seriously bitching about the smaller bank account. It was pretty easy to pinpoint the time when the money shortage began.

 

April hadn’t realized that Jessica occupied the second apartment she had converted. Since Jessica told her husband about the noise and confusion in the parking lot while the worker were constantly converting apartments. April was able to use that image to fit the Emails into the time line of what was going on at the motel. Jessica almost never mentioned the club.

 

Thomas hadn’t mentioned to April that he had taken his last leave from the drilling platform at the apartment. Viv would have had more contact with the two of them than April. She might know more about his stay at the apartment.

 

According to an email three weeks before her death, Thomas had taken her to work while on his break from the rig. He obviously stayed to watch her dance, since he commented that he hoped none of his buddies from the rig ever saw her and recognized her as his wife. Her response was that she wore so much make up and with the red hair, her own mother wouldn’t recognize her. Obviously the red hair was new since her employment at the Diamond Club.

 

Now why had he been so quick to tell April that Jessica was a simple bartender, when he knew better. He was on the rig, so he had an air tight alibi. April considered it odd, as she was sure Goodman had. Could it possible be a murder for hire kind of thing.

 

She hadn’t realized how fast time was passing. It was almost midnight before she knew it. April had a problem estimating the passage of time, since her sleep patterns were so erratic.

 

After April removed her jeans and bra she climbed into the bed wearing only her fancy tee shirt and bikini panties. She lay in bed where she realized that her recent visit from Mordecai had her taking stock of herself. She was painfully honest in her evaluation. She was forty eight years old, and twenty pounds above her ideal weight. Actually she was carrying twenty five more pounds than she had carried in Afghanistan. She knew that she needed to lose weight. Because of the long hours in surgery over there, and then the long hours at Urgent Care had done a number on her knees she couldn’t run. She also knew that becoming a yuppie gym rat just wasn’t going to happen, so she would have to just live with her lack of exercise. She also wasn’t having much luck controlling her eating.

 

Shaking her head she continued with her honest appraisal. She had pretty average boobs, she thought. They were 36c on a good day and with a good bra. Even though she never had kids, they sagged some. She could use a natural boob lift. One of those where the tissue was tightened and the cavity filled with her own excess body fat. It was all the thing at the time. She also had the option to just buying better bras.

 

Almost all the excess twenty five pounds was in her hips. She had the saddlebag hips, not a bubble butt that men loved so much. If she dressed well, say for a meeting, or a date she could do some things to mitigate the flaws in her figure.

 

Her hair was another disaster. She had the cursed thin hair gene, which ran in her family. Even though she had it cut in a ragged punk, boy’s style, it was neither classy, nor fashionable. It was just a mess all the time. She had given up on it. She simply washed it with hand soap and towel dried it in the summer months. She saved her blow dryer for December thru February.

 

April fell asleep knowing that her lack of a man had nothing to do with her rather average looks. The depressing truth was it had everything to do with the fact that she valued her independence more than any man’s companionship. Especially a man like that dick head Mordecai Goldman. She just had never been willing to play the game. The one where a woman overlooked a man’s failings and accepted them.

 

April slept quite well even in her mild depression, or maybe because of it. It was 6:30am when she awoke. She was rested and ready for the day. She moved on autopilot as she showered and dressed for the day. She fried up some bacon from the week before and threw in an egg and some cheese. She made herself a hell of a bacon and egg bagel. The southern absorption of the bagel into their menu surprised no one. The Louisiana menu was filled with stolen recipes and adaption of them into something unique to the area.

 

She was finished with breakfast at 8am, so she knew she had time to run to the store for sodas. When she went out to the parking lot to start the Jag, it did nothing. She tried for several minutes with the same lack of success. She could not believe how bad her luck had become lately. She gave up and just bought a single soda from a vending machine. The machine was also left over from the motel days. She gave the concession to Viv, as long as she took care of it. Viv bought the soda, stocked the machine, and collected the money. There was an understanding that when the machine died, it would not be replaced. In the meantime it added a little to Viv’s take home.

 

April thought about that, as she walked across the parking lot. In the office she looked up her mechanic’s number in her online address book, then placed the call.

 

‘Gerard’s,” a heavily accented voice said.

 

“Is Gerard around?” April asked.

 

“He’s pretty busy,” the man’s voice replied.

 

“Tell him it’s the woman who saw him naked a month ago, and he still owes me,” she said with a silent laugh.

 

A few minutes later a voice said, “Cher how the hell are you.”

 

“Hello Gerard, I need your coon ass,” April said.

 

“Oh you missed me?” he asked.

 

“Yeah, but my Jag needs you this morning,” April said.

 

“I though you could do anything Cher. What is that piece of Brit shit up to now?” Gerard asked.

 

“That piece of Brit shit won’t do nothing. It has a new battery and I looked at the terminals. They look okay to me, but what do I know.”

 

“About that Jag you know a lot Cher, but I’m going to send Gerard Junior over with a tow bar. He will pull it back to the shop. I’ll give you a call tonight and let you know what’s what,” he said.

 

“Fair enough. It’s in the parking lot at the Motel,” she said. “The spare key is under the hood.”

 

“We be along shortly Cher,” Gerard said. April was sure he meant it, but it didn’t solve her immediate problem

 

April had always known the day would come when the Jag would no longer be dependable enough for her work. When that happened her options were few, or at least she had always thought.

 

Since it has 125,000 miles on it, the time might be now, she thought.

 

She had been flirting with the idea of purchasing the absolutely most dependable transportation. The lowest tech, and therefor most dependable vehicle, was a bicycle. It was also the cheapest and might even help her with her weight issues.

 

There was nothing to do at the office other than answer the phones, and wait for someone to walk in with a problem, she went on line to research bicycles. God know she was going to have nothing else to do, since she had decided the night before not to research Jessica’s online habits from the office computer. There was no sense making it too easy for Mordecai to bust her.

 

She had nothing else to do but research things on the web. It was either that or watch old tv shows on line, she chose to research bicycles.

 

After she read the news, she went all over the web checking on bicycles. She found brands listed which she had never heard and meant absolutely nothing to her. She found that there were basically three types of bicycles, racing bikes, mountain bikes, and cruisers. Her first decision had to be which one to buy. She was immediately drawn to the beach cruiser, since she lived close to the beach. They were also the most comfortable and least technically advanced, which is what she wanted.

 

She found an online chart, which helped her decide on the size to best fit her body. Then she checked the different brands and frame designs. After that it became a question of availability. She had to have one locally and ideally close enough to ride home from the store.

 

She had spent all morning doing her diligent research. When Viv stopped in around noon, she was still at it. “I didn’t see your car, I thought something was wrong,” Viv commented immediately upon entering the office.

 

“There is, my Jag is sick. Gerard, my mechanic, sent his son over to pull it to his shop,” April explained.

 

“So, if you need to go anywhere let me know. I’ll be happy to give you a lift,” Viv offered. April had always felt that Viv wanted them to be friends. She expected it might make her job even more secure.

 

“Thanks, I might need you to take me to the store to buy a bike, if Gerard is going to have the Jag a while. He keeps telling me that those things are a bear to work on.” April warned her.

 

“If you want a bike, you should go out to New World Pawn Shop. He always has a bunch out front,” Viv suggested.

 

“If you aren’t too busy would you give me lift there now,” April asked.

 

“Sure, just set the calls to forward to your cell,” Viv said.

 

“Yeah, I know,” April said. She knew Viv did that once in a while when she had a personal errand to run.

 

At the New World Pawn shop, April found a, made in china knock off of a name brand, beach cruiser bike. The pawn shop sold it to her brand new for a hundred bucks. The same bike with a different logo was two hundred at least. She really figured the one she had bought was going to be inferior, but she didn’t care.

 

She even rode the beast home. It certainly was better than walking the three miles, but she was passed by a couple of road bikes with skinny tires and even skinnier riders. It really didn’t bother her. Nothing seemed to bother her during her half hour ride.

 

She realized that she should have stopped for lunch while she was out. It didn’t really matter since her original plan had been a peanut butter and jelly sandwich anyway. She admired her bike in the parking lot as she ate her sandwich and drank he chemical tea. An hour later sitting at the computer, she found her muscles stiff. Even so there was no joint pain in her knees. In other words she got a painless workout, even if it was a too short one.

 

As she was prone to do April began to fantasize about all the things she could do with the bike. She also conceded that realistically her plans could amount to nothing.`

 

April spent the afternoon thinking about bicycles and doing research on the things she could buy to make her bicycle more useful. After hours of research, it was finally time to shut the office for the day. She went out to dinner on her new bike since she had not heard from Gerard. That and her pantry and freezer had just about run out of quick things to prepare.

 

April chose a local restaurant, which catered to men and women from the airbase just outside of town. The restaurant was located five miles farther from the beachfront than her motel, but it was worth the bike ride. The food was good, the prices reasonable. Not to mention she got a ten miles worth of exercise.

 

When she returned to the motel she wasn’t even tired. Her body was going to feel that ride later, she was sure. In the meantime her body was feeling pleasurably used for a change. It wasn’t as good as sex, but it wasn’t bad either.

 

After April poured herself a cup of coffee, she moved to her small built in desk. She sat at the computer to type in the first website address. She had known in advance that it was a web cam site from the address. Poledancers.com was the address she typed into the browser. April chose to begin with the website whose address was on the rear of a tuna casserole recipe. When she got to the website she worked her way through the Maze of seemingly endless pop up ads carefully. She wasn’t a computer genus but she knew enough to know that sites like the ones she was visiting, installed all kinds of malicious crap on computers. That knowledge was another reason she chose the home computer for her research. The corruption of the office computer could be seriously problematic. There would be less potential damage to her home computer. There was very little malware written for her version of the Linux operating system. She had come to think of Windows as a death trap on the web.

 

She finally made it over all the walls, under the fences and then through all the hoops. What she found at the end of the trail was a long list of women. The women seemed to be sub contractors, for lack of a better term. Accompanying each name was a picture. Most men probably chose by picture so the list wasn’t in any order. April scanned until she found Jessica.

 

A click on a woman’s picture did indeed link to a free video. The payment was having to sit through screen after screen of advertizements. The advertisers were pretty questionable websites, which no doubt were not free. April finally found a picture of Jessica Rabbit after at least a hundred other listings.

 

Jessica was wearing one of the small tight dresses which her husband had chosen to trash. Since there was no charge, April clicked on Jessica’s image. The pop up screens were relentless. Finally April arrived at a short recorded video of Jessica. In the video she appeared to be stimulating herself sexually. However she was fully dressed, even so it was still mildly erotic. The video also appeared to be shot from different angles and most likely to have been edited. In other words it was not a real web cam video. From the background April could tell it was made in Jessica’s apartment.

 

Jessica lowered the top of the tight dress to expose her very full bikini top. The audio was her voice, since it was synchronized to the video. It was delivered in a clean factual manner, but it was far less than an academy award performance. She didn’t appear drugged, just nervous as if she were doing it for the first time, which she could have been.

 

April had no interest in seeing Jessica masturbate, so she copied the links and moved on. The second website’s address was youngstuff.com. April expected it to be worse than it actually was. She had to search to find Jessica among the supposed teenaged girls. None of them looked like kids exactly, more like young women trying to look sixteen. Jessica for sure didn’t look sixteen, but her introduction video suggested that for five dollars one could see what Jessica and he ‘daddy’ did together. The thought of that seemed disgusting to April, but she felt that she should see it. If for no other reason than to see what Jessica’s so called daddy looked like.

 

April arranged a Paypal blind payment to Jessica’s account. The payment must have cleared quickly because the video was in her email almost instantly. There was a ten minute video of Jessica giving an older man oral sex. She seemed to be enjoying it, and also she seemed to be listening to someone off set directing her. Again the background was her apartment.

 

April couldn’t believe that Jessica was making pornographic tapes right under her nose. Not only that, she wasn’t just shooting web cam video, the quality was much better than web cam junk. April decided that for sure she now had a dog in the fight. She also decided that she for sure would continue looking into it.

 

She decided that, the first thing the next morning she would attempt to identify the older man in the video. She made a copy of one single frame of the video, then printed off a picture of it. “Got ya,” she said looking at the very clean older man about sixty.

 

Identifying him would be quicker, if she gave it to the police. Of course they might easily have a copy already. Then again maybe not, so she might still teach Goldman not to fuck with her.

 

The only odd thing was that Jessica had the punk looking red hair and wore no makeup in the video. She might have been able to pass for a sixteen year old runaway dressed and made up as she was. At least to some horny old men. It was all an illusion anyway. Everyone believed what they wanted to believe and see what they wanted to see, she supposed.

 

She began to concentrate on how they did it. How could they make not one, but several pornographic videos without her having the slightest clue. She knew that they could easily shoot the video and keep it from her. All they had to do was start after 7pm and finish before 7am. Even so someone had to know something, even if they didn’t know they knew.

 

April thought surely Jessica’s neighbors noticed something. She remembered that one of the rooms of her apartment shared a common with an empty motel room. It was empty while they waited for the room on the other side of it to vacate. The finished apartment on the other side of Jessica’s belonged to a piano player and singer, who worked in a casino lounge. He was probably gone or didn’t give a crap what went on next door. April remember that Viv complained about his keyboard music once and threatened to evict his ass. Point was Jessica was in a good spot to keep it hidden, especially since April had paid for extra sound proofing in all the apartments as the were renovated. She wanted to be sure everyone had as least some privacy. She also didn’t want to deal with noise complaints against any of her permanent residents.

 

While she was trying to figure her next move Gerard called, “Sorry Cher, there is big trouble with that foreign shit. It’s going to be a pain in the ass.”

 

“What is it, how much to fix it, and how long,” April asked shortly.

 

“Well it’s a head gasket. Fortunately you drive very little so it didn’t damage anything else. I have a gasket coming in from New Orleans by UPS. It should be here to tomorrow, but I’m going to be up to my ass in work. I’m trying to get my race car ready for Saturday night. So Cher, I can supervise Gerard Junior while he does the work, or you can wait a few days. I am Sorry,” Gerard Senior said.

 

“You turn every bolt on the car yourself. I can hitch rides, till you get it done. So tell me how much?” April asked.

 

“It will be under a thousand dollars, but not much. That piece of shit burns up the man hours,” he said.

 

“Do the best you can, but do it right,” April said hanging up on him. He had to know she was unhappy, but the decision was made.

 

April went back to the video of Jessica and the older man to look for some clue as to who he was. That time she ran the video to the end hoping for something in the credits but there were no credits. After all the illusion was that it was a web cam video. She ran it all the way to the end and found a trailer for Jessica with what was obviously a barely teenage boy. She didn’t buy a copy of it, since there were obviously several people who were going to need to be found. Besides she had a good head shot of the boy from a frame of the trailer.

 

April had one more day in the office, then she would have a day to rest before starting her clinic shift again. So she went to bed filled with questions. As before she slept in the tee shirt she had worn all day and her panties that she had likewise worn all day. Sleeping in her clothes was somehow comforting. It seemed to add some continuity to her life. That thought seemed strange even to her.

 

She was up at 6:30am the next morning. She quickly rolled the bike outside and rode it for an hour before she showered as the last of her bacon cooked. She scramble one of her last three eggs, while the toaster oven made quick work of the bagel. Two days in a row she had made a bagel with egg and bacon. How boring, she thought.

 

She left the bike inside her apartment while she went to the office to answer the phone. She also watched the morning news shows while she did her phone duty. After almost two hours, Mordecai Goldman showed up with his much younger partner Lois.

 

“Mind if we come in,” he asked.

 

“Yes, but you will probably find some reason to force me to cooperate, so come on in,” April said.

 

“Thanks,” Lois said. Mordecai just shook his head.

 

“So what it to be today rubber hose, or deadly charm?” April asked.

 

“Look you are piss at me, I get it. Why don’t you just look at it like you are helping Jessica not me,” Mordecai suggested.

 

“Because she is past help, it will just be helping you and I wouldn’t cross the street to save your ass from a falling building,” April said.

 

“God, you can hold a grudge,” the swarthy looking Lois commented.

 

“You heard his version, want to her mine?” April asked.

 

“No she doesn’t,” Mordecai said.

 

“That should tell you something Lois. Be careful who you invest in,” April said.

 

“Just tell us what happened when her husband came to pick up her shit,” he demanded.

 

“He came, he opened the door to the apartment, which had been closed for a couple of day, and then he threw up. I loaded all her shit up in a cardboard box, which he immediately threw in the trash. Now I’m waiting for a crew from that crime scene cleaner bunch to show up.” April said.

 

“What do you know about porno,” Lois asked.

 

“Why?” April asked as an answer.

 

Lois looked at Mordecai who shook his head.

 

“Just askin’,” Lois said.

 

“I don’t know a thing,” April lied. “So do you want to see her place again?”

 

“Yes please,” Lois said.

 

“Get everything you want out of there because the cleaner will be here this afternoon, and before he comes the thrift store will take everything out. They get the furniture and all her personal items for one flat rate so take what you need,” April advised the two detectives.

 

After they examined the apartment Lois brought the key back. “Please call me, we need to talk,” she said handing April her card.

 

“If you want to talk, you are going to have to take me to dinner. Somewhere nice,” April said.

 

“You gay?” Lois asked.

 

“Not yet,” April replied. Lois left looking confused.

 

If Lois turned out to be cool, April thought, I might just give her a heads up.

 

After the police detectives left, nothing happened all day. Viv didn’t even come around. April had already decided not to share any information with her. April was never completely comfortable with Viv’s lifestyle.

 

When she closed the office on Thursday, it was the end of her apartment manager chore. Well it was the end until the next Tuesday anyway, April thought. She had to shift her mind set into a new gear for her regular job at the clinic. Three straight twelve hour shifts beginning the next evening at 7pm. That thought filled her with a mild dread. Nobody liked those killer shifts.

As she walked back to her apartment she was acutely aware that she still hadn’t bought groceries, so it appeared that she would be eating out yet again. She knew that she had to do something about that. After considering her options all the way back to her apartment, she decided on take out tacos. She could manage that on the bike for sure.

She made the trip to the parking lot filled with food trucks just fine. That parking lot was just outside the main gate of the air base. April found the Mi Amigo taco truck was still on site and the window was open. The ride had been just long enough to get her heart rate up, so the taco truck had proved to be a good choice. The tacos, as she had known all along, were excellent as well.

April found not only was the taco truck in the parking lot, but there were also several other take out choices there. For instance next to the taco truck there was a Korean truck serving some kind of tightly wrapped veggie roll which was then deep fried. The sauce was fishy and hot as hell she knew from past experience. She filed that information away for future use.

After dinner in a family park near the motel, she rode to the grocery store nearest her apartment. April figured she could carry a maximum of two lightly loaded bags on the bike as it was presently configured. She also had a weight limit to deal with. Heavy bags would make steering difficult. With those restrictions in mind there were some hard choices to be made.

Since bacon was a staple in her kitchen, there was nothing going to replace it in the bag. Then she remembered that she was out of jelly. Chemical iced tea mix would have been high on the list, had her brand been available from that particular grocery store. Bagels and Dinner rolls made it into the bag. Even though she kept telling herself she could return later she picked up a few more things, which she felt couldn’t do without. She bought a two roll pack of toilet paper instead of the less expensive four roll giant family size. The second bag she planned to fill with frozen dinners. So she bought her favorite half dozen.

April really wanted a box of canned diet cokes, but there just wasn’t room for them on the soon to be overloaded bike. She bought two of those, almost, cloth shopping bags. She managed to get he load of groceries in them and even had a little room left over.

She walked out the store carrying the two bags, and began to fit them onto the bike. First she stepped through the frame of the heavy cruiser, Then hung one bags on each side of the handlebars. The arrangement make the bike unstable but she did manage to make it home in one piece. It was almost 7:30 when she arrived home.

It was strange to carry only two grocery bags up the stairs to her apartment. Putting away her groceries was done in just seconds, so she was back at work following Jessica’s trail in less than ten minutes of her arrival home.

She looked through the recipe box to be sure there were no more clues hidden inside it. After she came up empty she mused that the person who searched her apartment must have been a man. For a woman the recipe box to be in the refrigerator would have been a glaring error. Ergo since no flags had gone off in the searcher’s head, he had to be a man.

Jessica either only had time to make a few videos, or she wasn’t in high demand. April found a half dozen ‘webcam’ videos on each site. There was even a trailer for one movie length video. The trailer seemed to be scenes from several other videos. April based that assumption on the fact that it featured all the same people as those in her web videos.

April spent her evening printing picture of the men in the videos. There were six who had obviously been to her Jessica’s apartment. April had seen none of them hanging around the place.

April racked her brain but couldn’t remember what, if anything, Viv had said about how Jessica was dressed. It might have been a Webcam shoot gone wrong, April theorized.

She also wanted to know how much a stripper made and why Jessica needed money bad enough to slip into that life. If she wanted to take a look at any of the places where Jessica hung around, she needed to do it that very night. She was facing three long nights at the clinic during which time the case of Jessica Rabbit would advance without her. The problem was when she made that discovery it was already 10pm. She also didn’t have a car.

What she did have was Lois the detective’s card. She dialed the number and Lois picked up the phone. “Detective Rice,” she said in a very businesslike voice.

“This is April, buy me a drink sailor?” she asked.

“Are you coming on to me?” Lois asked with a laugh.

“Maybe or maybe I have something else to share. If you can keep the source of the information secret. I have no idea what kind of slippery slope we are headed down.” April admitted.

“I’ll buy you the drink regardless, but if this is some kind of vendetta, then I’m not interested,” Lois replied.

“Fair enough, we will just go where it takes us,” April said. “That’s all I ask.”

“There is no us, as far as work goes,” Lois said.

“Then save your money,” April replied.

“If you are withholding information in a murder investigation, I can have you arrested,” Lois said humorlessly.

“Good luck with that,” April said.

“Oh shit, I’ll meet you in front of the rental office in twenty minutes.” Lois said.

“At least you don’t drive a cop car on a date,” April said once she was inside the Italian econonbox.

“Is that some kind of compliment, or a veiled complaint,” Lois asked.

“Speaking of veiled, is your being assigned to Mordecai somebody’s idea of a joke?” April asked. “And how did you get named Lois rice?”

“What do you mean?” Lois asked.

“Inside what ethnic soil are your roots buried?” April asked.

“Are you a racist?” Lois asked with good humor.

“Honey, no matter what they told you in school, everyone is a racist,” April informed her.

“Yeah,” she replied then added, “Lebanese two generations back. My mom and dad are still Muslim. The Lois is a bastardized version of fifth century name. Rice is from an ex husband.”

“What are you, Jewish now?” April asked.

“No, I’m not that brave. I’m not a believer in anything at the moment, but that is subject to change.” she said.

“That is an honest answer,” April replied. “Do you know the U2 lounge?”

“Yeah, it’s some kind of military handout. Cheap booze and cheap whores,” Lois commented.

“Good, I see you know the place. We should fit right in. So lets go there to have that drink.” April suggested.

“So what has that got to do with Jessica’s murder,” Lois asked.

“I’m not sure, but I’m looking for someone who might know someone, who might know something. I do hope I’m your protected confidential informant,” April said.

“Yeah, I have you filed and coded to protect us both. But do know you haven’t given me anything.” Lois said.

“We are still talking about the case aren’t we?” April asked.

“Look, let’s get one thing straight. I’m no Les,” Lois said.

“Good, I’m not either yet,” April replied. “Okay I’ll give you something. I know you knew Jessica worked as an exotic dancer at the Diamond Club, Right?”

“Yeah we know that,” Lois replied.

“So is the diamond club connected to drugs and pornography?” April asked.

“Everybody is connected to drugs these days. As to porn, I hadn’t heard of anything.” Lois said.

April doubted that Lois didn’t know porn was involved in the case. They had arrived at the parking lot of the U2 private club before midnight. It was private only in that there was a two dollar charge to join. A hold over from the days of the old ABC laws.

April allowed Lois to pay for her both memberships. Both women walked into the dark noisy club hesitantly. It was natural for the prey to be cautious in the presence of so many predators. Some of them were dressed as clean men both older and very young. So were dressed as bikers but not dangerous looking bikers just play bikers. April could never put her finger on it but she knew the difference when she saw it.

“So why did you ask about the Diamond club, then bring me here?” Lois asked.

“Follow me here. Jessica is left behind in a motel while her husband is working on the rig. She is supposed to find and set up an apartment,” April said asking for verification.

“Yeah that seems to fit what we know,” Lois said.

She moves into my apartment building a couple of months ago. Right in the height of our remodeling. Lots of people coming and going. Even workers in the building at night.” April said.

“Okay, are you taking this somewhere?” Lois asked.

“Look, I know you know that she and her husband were fighting. He cut off her access to most of his paycheck. So she has less money to spend. She just needs a few bucks, so somehow she finds out that the Diamond Club is looking for a bartender. She applies and gets the job.” April stopped and looked at Lois.

“Yeah that fits in with what we know,” Lois agreed.

“Then it’s just a matter of which came first the drugs or the pole dancing. One of them led to the other almost guaranteed,” April said.

“I can’t discuss that,” Lois said.

“Then take me home,” April said.

“Okay, we found drugs in her system. The owners of the Diamond knew nothing of course, except that she danced the pole for tips and a small salary.

“That’s pretty much what I figured,” April said. “So Did you know that Jessica was making pornography?”

“No, but I wouldn’t be surprised everybody is these days. So how is she doing it,” Lois asked.

“I think she was using the renovations to cover the coming and going of the crew. I don’t have any idea how far this goes, but here are the two sites that brokered her videos,” April said. “She made them right in the apartment, but regardless of what they claimed she is not on a webcam. The images are too good.”

“Okay we didn’t know, so I’m glad to have the lead. So tell me why we are here?” Lois asked.

“I think Jessica was making a video the night she was killed. The workers were back working on a renovation and Jessica was high.” April said.

“So you think if we find the Porno maker, we find Jessica’s killer.” Lois asked.

“Yeah something like that,” April replied.

“Do you have any idea where to look for the person who killed Jessica,” Lois asked.

“Why right here of course,” April said smiling at Lois.

Lois looked around then asked, “Who?”

“Got me. I’m a nurse you are the cop,” April said.

“I don’t get it,” Lois said.

“The web cam stuff was just Jessica playing to the cam. Like you said everybody is doing it, so the market is flooded.

Jessica had branched out to hardcore by the time she was killed. Problem was it was still semi amatuer shit. She didn’t have any protections. You find these men,” April said placing the prints on the table. “And the trail will lead to the killer. You might even find a dirty cop along the way.”

“Like I said before, if this is a vendetta count me out,” Lois said.

“Like it or not you are in the jackpot honey. You aren’t the only one wearing a wire.” April took her hand and placed it over her breasts. She was sure Lois felt the lump. Lois didn’t need to know it was just four quarters attached to the inside of her bra. It was a gamble but April didn’t mind throwing the dice now and then.

“Who is on the other end,” she asked.

“Let’s say its federal, and leave it at that,” April said.

“Are they investigating me or Mordecai?” she asked.

“Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage,” April said. “There is our link to the whole thing. She is standing at the end of the bar.”

“Isn’t that your apartment manager,” Lois asked.

“It is indeed,” April admitted.

 

 

April got Viv’s attention by waving as soon as she entered. She invited Viv over with a come hither gesture, then motioned for her to sit.

 

“Viv you remember Detective Rice?” she asked.

 

“Sure,” Viv answered. “Are you two friends?”

 

“Oh I’m not sure just what April and I are,” Lois said.

 

“We are the kind of friends that two women who have screwed the same guy become,” April said. Before Lois could object she went on. “So are you out trolling?”

 

“Came in for a drink. I like men in uniform, even cops,” she said.

 

“How do you feel about corrections officers,” April asked.

 

“Is that supposed to mean something?” Viv asked a bit put off by the comment.

 

“Yeah, you are involved in Jessica’s murder. How deeply, I’m not sure yet. I am going to leave that to Lois to determine. I just know you are involved. It’s the only thing that answers all the questions. The thing that answers the questions usually is the truth. ” April replied.

 

“That makes no sense,” Viv said. “I hardly knew her.”

 

“Oh let me explain what I think happened. When her husband cut off her access to most of his money, Jessica had already moved into our place. His plan likely was to force her to get a job. You are the person that all the tenants love, so of course she cried on your shoulder. My guess is you sent her to the Diamond Club right away. Now that she knows, Lois here is going to lean on the club owner. He is going to roll over on you, because he had nothing to do with anything except maybe providing drugs to her. Giving her drugs is a long way from murder.”
April explained.

 

“I might have provided her a name, and I might even had called to tell the owner to take it easy on her because she was a kid from the country.” Viv said.

 

“Yeah, I bet you did,” April said. “I bet when she came to explain she needed more money, you got her in the webcam and porno business. It had to be you running that end of her life. You are the one who knew my schedule, and even more important the schedule of the construction guys.

 

I have to tell you the cops can do some really good shit with a computer these days. Lois here is having your computer seized as we speak. They are also searching for the murder weapon. I don’t think they will find the weapon cause I don’t believe you stabbed her.

 

I viewed some of the video’s you helped Jessica make. All the male actors stand very straight and all are clean shaven guys. Even on the one of her with what is supposed to be a younger teenager. He is convening at being a sixteen year old nerd, but a real teenager wouldn’t look so clean, unless he was gay, not these days anyway. All the male actors had the same short haircuts, even the Daddy character. Kind of like that older man at the bar. My guess is the video daddy will turn out to be a sergeant in the Air Force.”

 

Vivian stood to leave.

 

“One more step and I arrest you. Right now is your one chance to help yourself,” Lois said. “You know we can prove all that April is suggesting. That kind of leaves you facing the charges alone. You get to take the full ride oh the murder train. Since she was killed while in the commission of a felony, that makes it capitol murder.”

 

“What felony we were making porn for God’s sake. The dumb bitch saw the black guy and refused to suck his dick. Some hillbilly prejudice thing, I guess. How the hell could a nineteen year old who as sucked have a dozen dicks refuse a guy just because he is black. She really was a shit about it as well. She didn’t just refuse, she was high and said a lot of pretty disgusting things. He was wired as well.”

 

“Before you go any further let me tell you that you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney and to have him present during all questioning. If you can not afford one, one will be appointed to you. So, do you understand each of these rights as I have explained them to you.”

 

“Yes,” Viv said.

 

Lois and April could see her head spinning. “Do you wish to talk to me?” Lois asked.

 

“I want to make a deal,” Viv said.

 

“What you got to trade? You know we have the pictures of the guys and we can identify the men involved.” Lois said. “Just more nails in your coffin.

 

April had to admit she had grasped the situation quickly. She also acted as if she had personally come up with April’s theory. Must be a cop thing, April thought remembering Mordecai.

 

“I can give you the name of the killer, testify for you, and I can give you the name of the man who set it all up.” Vivian replied.

 

“Were you there? I need to know what you can testify to, before I go to the DA.” Lois suggested.

 

“Yeah me and the man who set it all up. He also made the video we sold. It is his operation, I just got a cut of anything I brought him. Jessica needed her money up front, so we were the ones getting the proceeds from the sales. Jessica was just an employee,” Vivian said.

 

“So which one of you stabbed her,” Lois asked.

 

“I will give you that when there is an offer in writing for full immunity on anything relating to the porno charges.” Vivian said.

 

“Then there is going to be a night in jail in your immediate future,” Lois said.

 

“One night in jail is no big deal. You know April, I had a feeling it would be you who figured it out, but how did you do it?” Vivian said.

 

“Jessica might have been a dumb country girl, but she left the clue for her husband to find. He just didn’t have the stomach to look for it,” April said all mysterious and shit.

 

Lois used her cell phone to call a patrol car. She tucked Vivian into the back of it before she spoke, “So do you want to go watch me book her?”

 

“What, when I can go home and watch paint dry. No thanks just drop me at the apartment building.” April replied.

 

April awoke the next morning later than usual for a non work day. She had been out late, but not partying. She did feel remarkably pleased with herself for some reason.

 

When her phone rang April was having what seemed like extremely good coffee. She had found herself sitting inside a chrome and glass monstrosity. “April Smythe,” she said.

 

“Detective Lois Rice here. I need you to come down to the station. I’m afraid there are some questions coming your way,” Lois said.

 

“I’m not surprised. I told you Mordecai was a dickhead,” April said.

 

“No comment on the dickhead,” Lois said with a chuckle in her voice. “Just keep your head and play let’s make a deal.”

 

“It’s going to be around noon, unless you want to arrest me, for obstruction.” April said.

 

“No, the dickhead wants to keep it friendly,” Lois said. “Well as friendly as a threat can be.”

 

“Then noon it is. Tell him not to waste my lawyers time,” April said.

 

After her ride, her shower, and her breakfast, April called a realty management company. One of their representatives came to the apartment complex and worked out a one year management contract.

 

Noon found April sitting outside the detective’s office. They kept her waiting almost thirty minutes which was her maximum, before she decided to leave for a late lunch.

 

“Well you couldn’t help yourself could you?” Mordecai said catching her before she left the building. “Follow me.” He lead her into a small interrogation room.

 

 

“Mordecai I want a witness in the room, or you are going to have to restrain me. That I assure you will get nasty,” April said.

 

Mordecai looked up at the two way mirror. “Lois knock on the glass,” he said.

 

There was a polite tapping. “Now, what set you on Vivian’s trail?” Mordecai.

 

“Unlike you when I add two plus two, it comes out four,” April said.

 

“So you found a clue and didn’t share it with the police?” he asked.

 

“What do you think I was doing in the U2 lounge. I was sharing the clue with a cop. One I thought I could trust,” April said looking at the two way mirror. “And that is what my lawyer is going to say. She is also going to say, right or wrong, I didn’t feel I could trust you to do the right thing. That is why I went to the other detective on the case. If you are smart, you will suck it up and move on. If not, internal affairs will be checking your computer.”

 

“One more thing before I deliver this referral to the DA, Vivian is going to name the killer and take the full blame for the operation,” he said.

 

“So, she isn’t going to name the person who had the contacts to sell the shit?” April asked.

 

“That wasn’t part of her deal. The black airman/actor was on drugs that night and he stabbed her. It’s a shame, but there was no conspiracy. Sorry, I know you would he like for there to have been.”

 

“You are a dickhead, you always have been, and you always will be,” April said. “If you have anything else to say to me, call my lawyer. I’ll leave her name with Lois,” April said it as she walked out the door.

 

Lois caught up to her in the parking lot. “I’m sorry that is just how it works,” she said.

 

“Don’t be, I’m a big girl. I know how the system works. That is why I did what I did,” April said.

 

The end.

Aside | Posted on by | 16 Comments

The Investigators Day 19

By Cindy and Walt

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 8 PM news on the real Foxnews channel not the talk shows that were opinions.  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.  Of course now I’m out of 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 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.   She called Wes.

Wes:  So what bone do 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 so 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 5 PM.  

Rose Seabold:  You are trespassing.

Eddie looked up to the top of the ridge.  She was back lit 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 by 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.  (She whistled and two spaniels of some 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 bought the bed with a frame to get it off the floor.  She didn’t get the full bedroom set.  She felt like that might be a little much.  Instead 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 morning.  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 are 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 title 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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 41 Comments

The Investigators Day 18

By Cindy and Walt

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 their 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 very little jewelry and all of it cheap, so there was no rider.

Wes’ 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, Wes was sweeping May’s apartment.  It took him about two minutes 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 Mike’s 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 where 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.  (Through 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 to 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 driveway) 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 actions.  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 bugs were almost routine.  Sure they required court orders, but the paperwork was so routine it was seldom 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 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 our uninvited guests.

May took off her sweater and jeans.  She removed his tee shirt from a dirty laundry pile and slipped it on.  She then did that woman thing, where she removed her bra under the tee shirt.  She skipped 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 every day 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 intentions went right out the window.  The small day bed in his living room was big enough since they were almost joined at the hip all night.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Wes 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 6 AM Wes left his tiny apartment in a neighborhood only a few steps up from the one were Salina lived.  He ran when he hit the empty sidewalk.  Even the street vendors weren’t open at 6 AM.  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 and now.  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 own 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 though 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 10 AM.  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 throes of a 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 scared the Bee Jesus out of him.

He arrived before all of them except 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 our 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 for the trip 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 9 PM.  

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wes began to ask around to find out who was after them.  Mike ran the serial numbers 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 purchased by some branch of the FedPol but they went to a private supplier.  The 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 wiretaps.  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 bodyguards 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 find out when I get my hands on the end user.  I’d bet your ass, 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 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 cannot 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 his receptionist’s office discussing plans for a Senate retreat when they heard the gunshot.

She went into cover up mode.  

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Investigators Day 17

By Cindy and Walt

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 their 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.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 that the owner claimed had been garage stored at his father’s house 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 break, but he should be able to do it.  He could get one of the guys to drive him to the seller’s 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 affect him.  

Since no one was about the office, and everyone was paranoid about the phones, he just left.  He rode the scooter over to take a look.  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 for the sale to 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 and 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.  You still need to stay around your 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.  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’ 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 kill 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.  Now 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.  He 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, we are 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 kidding 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 looking so happy and contented?

May:  When you travel with the boss, you get a lot of sleep.  No bars and home by 9 PM.  Next time I’m taking my car.

Mike waited until Wes came back, then 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, but they may be.  If they are, I have given Lucille almost all the information they will need to 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 so I couldn’t say no.  I did sorta transpose the coordinates of the land Rose purchased.  After she gives you the show and tell, I’ll give you the correct coordinates.  If you are convinced Lucille or her boss are not the ones trying to harm her then 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 3 PM 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 bodyguard 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 lie 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 in 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.

Lucille:  Okay, I’m going back to my office.  Just keep me informed.

Eddie:  You know we have pinned a lot of hope 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 for 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 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 contact you in the near future.

Salina: (into to 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’s situation was known by the team.  She entered it and noticed things out of place.  She picked up her phone and dialed the boss’ number.

May:  Hi honey.  I really need you, could you come over to my place right now?

There was 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 went 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 their 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 non-emergency dispatch and let’s 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.  After you do her’s then 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 find them myself.  My equipment is down on the farm or I’d sweep May’s place.  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.

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The Investigators Day 16

By Cindy and Walt

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. 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 doorway. 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 its 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 statute 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 where it gets 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 overseas, 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 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. It’s just a way to make a buck or two while Church Camp is lying 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 your 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 fully automatic assault weapons stored there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wes managed to limit the personnel to just the DEA 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.

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 instructor 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 were 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 breakthrough 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 others 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 its 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 always had so much on their faces.

After making herself an egg and toast Lucille settled down to review the file Mike had sent. After reading it carefully, she called up the Google Satellite images of three places in the USA. Two of them meant nothing, but one was the plot of land Rose had purchased 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 that 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 every 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 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 an hour in 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 and 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.

 

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The Investigators Weekend 3

By Cindy and Walt

Saturday.

It was 3 AM 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.

Husband: (near panic) Yes I am. Who are you?

Eddie: My name is Eddie and I’m one of your wife’s associates.

Husband: 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 out 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.

Eddie hit the wall after he got inside the house. He didn’t even heat coffee, 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 some part of your body 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 whining.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was 5 AM 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 its 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 5 AM. 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 disease with no cure.

The only thing to do was to eradicate them completely and to do it to all of them at the same time. You couldn’t leave anyone of that culture left. God hates a vacuum. If you left even one member of one gang they would spring up again like weeds. Until the powers that be were willing to do that 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. The 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 was 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 he applied for government subsidized benefits, like 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 knows 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 an 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 someone 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 haven’t had time to decide if you want to be in on this any longer, but unless you do we have a problem that can’t wait, I need your decision 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 seemed to be much of a sports fan to Eddie.

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 if they want 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 3 PM 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 may be afraid that it will just be a matter of time before she decided to talk. At the very least they will be concerned about it.

So we have to consider something she 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 can 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 9 AM 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 furthest to drive. It’s 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 Econobox.

May: Okay.

Eddie: What I’m getting at is that if we want a good night’s sleep we need to arrive by 6 PM. Then we can get a good dinner and be ready for the next day. Or we can eat dinner on the road and try to get in before 9 PM.

May: Look, we are both grownups. Why don’t I spend the night at your place? Then we can leave about seven in the morning. Even driving slow we should get there around 9 PM.

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 and 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, so I would expect no less from him. He may do it 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 gave Mike the credit for it.

It was early evening when Eddie and May started the under 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 mini egg roll kind of thing 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 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 know 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 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 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 disguised it. Don’t go near some other universal truths. Why should you? Preschoolers don’t need to know about serial killers. Keeping them safe is our job.

Her kids learning about right and wrong from a sponge while she chased a band of Mercenaries seemed really strange. They weren’t really a band since 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 went to bed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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. 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 nightgown. 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday

Lucille: (to her sleeping children) Get up you lazy urchins. I have been up for hours 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 iphone 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’s 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 lightweight sweater and jeans. Even though she was a little over weight she looked really good in 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 programmed 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 throes 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 10 AM 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 reinforces it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddie and May stopped for a late lunch on Sunday afternoon somewhere in Virginia. 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 waitresses 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 student.

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 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 while going 75 mph.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 period, then helped her stay clean for the first few months.

Then 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 cannot 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 where the medications were he was almost naked. He was wearing only his briefs. He sat on a stool at the kitchen island while his mother dried the scrapes, 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 and did not irritate 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. She 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 cabin.

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 reasons than 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 on the side of caution. You can’t replace people when 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 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 officially 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 may 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 too serious for a pony.

May: No all the men I knew were too 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 thing 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: May be 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 guy’s 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 kind of guys who believe in Excalibur.

May left her bed and stumbled to where Eddie lay. Then she lay down beside him cuddled against him and fell asleep. Eddie wanted to move her when she was sound asleep but instead managed to pull the coverlet over them both.

She was right. She really shouldn’t drink bourbon, he thought.

 

 

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The Investigators Day 15

By Cindy and Walt

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. They pulled into the parking garage where Eddie’s car was stored at 3 AM.

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’ 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 folks aren’t in the office then 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 your phone battery.

Wes: No problem. 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 and 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 foreign legion 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 deer slugs and buckshot. 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 and 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, then 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 4 AM till 9 AM Wes and Eddie slept in shifts. They also slept within reach of a pump shotgun. It turned out that Eddie had collected three pump shotguns from the old stock auctioned off by the Federal Bureau of Prisons when they rearmed the guards. The guns were both old Winchester 1906 riot 12 gauge pump guns. Wes wanted one of 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. They 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 an 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. (He broke the connection.)

Wes: Well boss all’s well that ends well.

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.

May said that as Mike passed through the bathroom door.

May: 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 don’t trust myself to hold onto them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddie and Mike arrived at the Hole in the Wall at 10:30 AM.

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 babysitting 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, 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 too well for him to be any detective Eddie had ever known.

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 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 online backup. We may have to scrap it all and start over. You do know there are only two people who could have done this.

Lucille: Yeah, somebody in the government or Swamp Dogs. If the Swamp did it, they have gone rogue. It’s not like them to stage an attack on the US government.

Eddie: 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, but 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 around 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 our guys 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, one thing for sure is 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 so 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 in town use. None of that computer encryption shit.

Wes: Okay, we can do that. But you have to explain 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 3 PM. 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?

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’ were much better, but some of the ones from Eddie’s early days were good also. Those were the days before the Unified Law Enforcement Act was passed. The stories were hilarious, Wes agreed.

The cowboy image was more on Wes’ 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 years 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 rifles. They 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 were 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 manufactured 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 pictures of our whiteboards, 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 any way 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 van 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 said she was going back to her apartment. She was willing to take her chances. Mike did likewise.

Lucille: Well, go home and think about it. Be very careful where you go and what you do until Monday.

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 I think I can connect to a murder.

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 lie 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 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 guys on 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 hundred if not thousands of volunteers to choose 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 too 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evening

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 showered Eddie watched the news about a missing airplane. Then they 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. The R.C. had nowhere to send them. It was just chaos there all the time, it seemed, since they began their land grab. The Russians were too heavy handed to control the diverse populations without 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 days, but now 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.

May: Well, if an old man like you thinks it’s too short, it is probably the right length.

Eddie: That’s twice you called your boss an old man. I hope you don’t do that at the D.O.J.

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 she was sort of 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.

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 learning to beat the biological imperative to reproduce. He made friendships, of a sort, but none of them were based on 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 let’s 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 had 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 keep your scrapes covered. Your mom can help you bandage them. Stay out of the shower as well.

Mike: Gotcha 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 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 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 9 PM 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 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 9 PM 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 and Gardens magazine the month before. It was all so decorator plastic. There were very few of her personal belonging on display. Every personal item had to be formal it seemed. There were no snapshots of Lucille and her banker husband. The walls were adorned with posed studio portraits. It was more than a little disconcerting 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 were 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?

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 may be in danger and 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 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: Everyone plays poker.

Lucille: Not my husband. I’ll get the cards and the chips.

They played a few hands before May joined them 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 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 Coffeecake.

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.

 

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