“Maxine. we need to meet.” The voice on the cell phone belonged to Vlad.
“I’m at the house. It’s going to take me twenty minutes to meet you anywhere.” I explained.
“I am at your gate now.”
“Alright, I’ll turn off the alarm. Do you need me to come unlock the gate?”
“No, I can get it open,” He informed me.
“I thought so,” I agreed.
I had time to pour a cup of coffee before Vlad showed up. I put the shotgun under the bedspread before I let him in. He didn’t need to see the shotgun within easy reach. Or to know that I sat at the table looking out the window as he drove up. Since he was the only one , other than a couple of my friends, who knew where I lived, I was very careful.
“Hello Maxine,” Vlad was very formal and I was just as glad. The job was the job, the other was what it was no more.
“Hello Vlad, what have you heard?”
“Our target will be in Harlan county Kentucky next Thursday. He will be leaving York City about 10am and then drive all the way to Harlan county. They tell me it will take him twelve hours to do the driving..”
“Do you know exactly where the meeting is going to be.?” I asked.
“No easy rides this trip. We will never figure out this one in time, but you can be in place to collect the information for the next ambush. That is if you are still in.”
“I’m in. When do you want to leave?
“When can you leave.”
“I can make a call and leave now, but we don’t have a plan.” I informed him.
“We will make a plan as we drive to Kentucky. Make your call.”
I called Jen and told her to pay whoever needed paying, but to stop all work until I returned. I had Vlad swing by the office where I put a container into his trunk, a container of tools. “Being a gun collector has it’s moments,” I explained.
As we left town on the interstate highway I asked, “There are less than 50k people in Harlan County, why are the Russians messin with them.”
“You should know better than me, but I will tell you what they told us at the task force meetings. The Russians did not want to build a business, they wanted to just take over businesses. So they looked for distribution networks that aren’t heavily defended. Right now the people of Harlan and being seduced. Before they know it they will be working for the Russians or dead.”
“Ah I see so they play rough?’ I asked.
“They play very rough Maxine. You must be very careful. Never lower your guard, not even around your own people. By now Ivan and his friends will own many of the criminals.”
“And criminal’s families are stupid.” I said adding to the general shared information.
“Pretty much,” he agreed.
“So what’s this plan of ours,? I asked being more than a little sarcastic.
“We are picking up a trailer in Kingsport Tenn.”
“Oh, are going to pretend to by Ricky and Lucy?”
“Who?” he asked.
“Never mind, what about you and your accent. You can’t hide the whole time that we are there.”
“No, I’m going to be your husbaand.” He handed me a wedding band, then went on. “It seems to me we want to make a good impression, so I thought we could be missionaries.”
“Don’t you think when Ivan shows up dead on their doorstep, the cops will look at all the strangers who were here.”
“You would think so, but alas they will just vanish into thin air.”
“Maybe you can vanish, but I can’t. I live here.”
“No, no you don’t vanish Maxine, Sister Maybell vanishes.”
“Did you pick that name?”
“No I heard it and liked it.” he replied curiously.
“I don’t,” I said.
“Then you pick one,” he demanded.
“Martha, just Sister Martha.” I replied.
“You will have to clean up your act some.” He did smile as he said it.
“If I clean up my act, we will never find out anything.” I laughed.
“Okay, then at least be more discreet in your seductions.”
“I promise I will try,” I laughed. You have to admit, Vlad to lecturing me had an ironic twist to it. Even though there was a meet on for that very. night we didn’t rush. It was just the excuse for making the break. We needed a lot more information, if we were going to get our chore taken care of and then get away clean. The murder part was difficult enough but the surviving it would be the real accomplishment.
Vlad would likely be taking off on an airplane within days of the hit. Me, I had to live through it. I planned to be very, very careful. I could always walk away at anytime. I wasn’t sure, but I might have to kill Vald to do it. If it came down to me doing time or killing Vlad, then it might take me a minute to decide. Vlad and I swung into a camping trailer dealership where he arranged a camper for us.
I was beginning to have real doubts about Vald. He had way too many resources for a simple Moscow cop. He was up to something, but I had no idea what. Still he suited my purpose unless of course he was lying to me. If that was the case, I might kill him myself. His story had an undercurrent of truth. People did kill for revenge. So it was possible that the brother was biding his time to come for me. Whether he was or not, he was most likely going to get a shock.
The completion of the drive to Harlan County was boring and our arrival was the worst. Mostly because I expected a greeting of some kind. Oh well.
Since I was the licensed drive, I drove the rented SUV and camper. I pulled it into the front of the the small convenience store. I would have a fine old time general store with just little more age on it. Still it was the place to ask for information around Harlan Kentucky.
We had stopped along the way at an Office Depot just outside Nashville. I quickly designed some flier’s for an old fashion revival. I asked the beat down looking woman in the convenience store where we could park the camper.
“Old man has a Trailer Park about a mile out of town. Just keep doing out this road you won’t be able to miss it.” she said.
About how far before I have gone too far. I always miss them,” I said smiling.
“About a mile I said, two miles and you missed it,” she replied also smiling,
The trailer park was very green with shit growing everywhere but then so was every other piece of neglected property. Out little space was under a big pine tree but it still had low green shit growing everywhere. I ignored it as I parked the trailer. I had a hell of a time backing that thing. I have backed big trucks but I never had to back them into small spaces. usually when I backed one it was to get it off the road.
When we were settled it, Vlad hooked the water and sewer up himself. I was highly impressed. Not many men, I knew, could do that. Well most of the ones I used to know could, these days probably none of them could.
Vlad had warned me against being over armed, so I had left most of the real weapons back home. There was no way I would leave home without at least on pistol. I wanted a rifle as well but that got a Russian veto. According to Vlad we couldn’t guard the weapons unless we carried them on us. Anything left in the trailer was likely to be stolen. I chose the perfectly suitable but not at all valuable FIE 9mm automatic. I took it off a teenager in a base housing area. He suggested that if I would forget it, he would to.
I held it in my locker for two months with the paperwork ready to go. After the First month it was already too late to turn in without answering a lot of questions. I had his name, so I really didn’t think he would complain, but I tried to play it safe. He never opened his mouth at all.
Whenever I needed a gun that might end up in the swamp, that particular 9mil came to mind. I had asked if Vlad needed me to pick up a pistol for him, but he refused. I noticed on day one of our little adventure that he had a very ugly Russian automatic with extra tools. Also a short round tube was located in his shoulder holster. It could only be one of two things. Neither of which was standard issue from the factory. It could be a flash suppressor which was useful if you planned to kill a couple of guys from ambush, or it could be a silencer. You can imagine how those are used.
By the time we left the trailer, all tooled up, for dinner I was sure that I was in over my head. I just wondered if I dared to demand an explanation. I decided to put that off a while.
At the local cafe, I preached a little gospel. I never said I was any good at it but I danced a little and shook my butt. Then Vlad and I passed out flyiers. I told everyone we were looking for a place to hold services.
If that didn’t work we might need to resort to torture. It was messy and dangerous but no matter what the politicians say, it usually works.
After dinner we were approached by a older man and woman. “We own a building that used to be a small loan complany. If you would like to hold services there it would make us proud.”
“That sounds just fine. We couldn’t pay you are first, but I would pay what we can when we can,” I said doing my poor baby act.
“That’s find just try to help people while you are here,” he demanded then disappeared. I set up shop the next day. There were benches in one of the other vacant buildings. It had been a union hall. The man there loaned me the benches as a gesture of good will, “Just in case.” he said.
So I began to preach. Having been raised as a baptist by a very zealous woman, made faking it very, very easy. The hallelujahs and amens filled the air. It was enough to melt your heart. Well sorta.
The way the drug thing worked is Ivan brought the fake drugs to Harlan where he met the man who distributed the drugs all over the area. Why Harlan. because Harlan had a history of distributing illegal things. First it was moonshine, then weed, then fake perscription drugs, for the junkie in denial. These days Ivan dealt with the grandsons of the first family of junk in Harlan and therefore a lot of the south. The man’s name was Jasper Dawson. “Don’t let the cutesy name fool you. Jasper is a stone killer.” Vlad infomed me.
The beauty of your plan is we kill Ivan and frame Jasper. He probably won’t go to jail but the Russian mob may decide to hit him.”
“Or Us,” I suggested as an after thought.
“That to.’ Vlad said grinning. He is enjoying this shit, I thought. “You never know who gangsters will decide to kill. It’s quite shocking actually,” Vlad said.