I had no idea how the Ivan hit would play out. I had a feeling the Russians would be the problem, not the law dogs. With a little luck no one would ever come looking for me. That being the case, I left the short term parking at the DC airport, then headed for home. I stopped along the way for a good night’s sleep.
“Hello what can I get you,” the waitress in the pancake house asked the next morning.
“To be honest the sausage, egg and cheese sandwich on pancakes looks good to me.” I said it smiling at the young waitress. Funny how much more attractive the waitresses on the interstate highway’s rest stops were, than those in the small towns along the way.
After my breakfast I drove straight home. Well straight except for a late lunch at a roadside McDonald’s. When I arrived I almost drove to the cabin, then I realized that I didn’t live there any more. My things were all in a storage locker or still in Ed’s office.
Since I wasn’t sure exactly what to do, I called Jen at her office. “Hey shyster, where does a girl take a load off around these parts?” I asked.
“Well Fanny, you still have your key to my house don’t you?” she asked.
“Of course, but I was thinking more of my own place,” I admitted.
“As usual I have no idea what you have been up to, but you have only been gone a week. You told me to have Archer’s men finish what they were working on and pay them off.”
“Okay so where are they on the conversion?” I asked.
“The structural changes have been make, and the entrances are secured with new doors. They are ready to begin work inside just as soon as you give them the go ahead and make your choices for the finishes.”
“I’ll call Archer in the morning and get this all started again.” I replied. “Now I am tired, so I think I will check into a motel.”
“Why don’t you come stay with me a few days. It is going to take them a week or more to get your place ready.” Jen asked.
“I appreciate it hon, but I think I will just stay somewhere simple. Somewhere without the residual drama that seems to go along with anyplace I have stayed before.
“Well you will need your personal things. They are stored at my house,” Jen informed me.
“I have the things I took with me, I can wear those for a day or two. However, yes I do need to pick up some things. I also need to get into a place where I can feel at home.”
“I can’t wait to see you as a landlord. If a resident makes too much noise, you might just shoot them.” Jen said it with a laugh, even if she was half serious. My interpersonal relationship skills could use some work, I would have been happy to admit that.
“You know you are going to hurt my feelings staying in a motel.” Jen said.
“Jen better that than getting a hellfire missile in your front door.” I said.
“Wow you have really pissed some serious people off this time haven’t you?”
“I’m not sure but potentially yes.” I replied.
“Okay, but if you let anything happen to you, I’m going to kill you,” Jen said more seriously than I would have liked.”
“Not to worry Jenny Mae, I plan to live a very long time.” I replied.
“I do believe that is everyone’s plan. We just cant all manage it.” Jen said. “Call me before you come over for your things and we will have a dinner party. I have been looking for an excuse.”
After I rang off I went looking for a place to crash temporarily. Somewhere not too easy to find or access would have been nice. What I had to settle for was an old two story thirty unit motel on the edge of town. It was old enough so as not to be on any of the reservation services list. The weekly rate wasn’t too awful, so I took it for a week. I was pretty sure the “Few” would be at least that long.
The motel had fallen to one of those ‘english barely spoken here’ type motels. Since I wasn’t hiding, but also didn’t want to be too easy to find, it seemed ideal. The room I took was on the ground floor, there was no rear entrance or exit. Hell the bathroom window would have been a squeeze and I’m not sure even with a squeeze I would get out of it. I planned to set up my own surveillance cameras of the parking lot and stairway. I could use part of the load left over from the cabin. They had been stored at Ed’s office since I left town..
“I knew you would be back,” Ed said when I went to retrieve the cameras. “Lucas said you might not be. He said that since you sold the business, you were going to make some changes. I knew leaving me wouldn’t be one of them.” Ed said it happily. I was glad that he was glad to see me.
“No Ed, I’m not leaving you. At least it is not in my plans. I came by to pick up a few things I have stored here. If that is okay?” I asked.
“You don’t have to ask. My door is always open to you. If I’m not here, call my cell I’ll come meet you. You could always take your key back and solve both our problems.”
“Ed if anything turns up missing, I don’t want to have a key to answer for.” I said it thinking Gwen would probably name me a person of interest. I almost laughed.
“So Maxine, what are you going to do now? You do not do well when you are bored,” Ed suggested.
“Ed, first I’m going to secure a place to live, then I guess I’ll start looking for something to do.”
“Did you ever think about the bail bond business. My son Jeff has zero interest,” Ed said.
“Ed, Jeff is a doctor, he probably couldn’t take the cut in pay.” I laughed along with Ed.
“Yeah, but it’s a shame to have built this and not have anyone to leave it to.” Ed suggested.
“Why not Gwen,” I said with a laugh.
“Those two are a joke. If it weren’t for the time that you, me, and Lucas spent here, I would ask them to move. That girl makes me very concerned for Luke. He is a good kid, but I’m afraid he is in over his head with that one.” Ed suggested.
“He’s a grown man Ed, at least thats what those two will tell you.” I shook my head. Ed did the same.
“So how about it, do you want the bond business. I can teach you what little you need to know in a week.”
“I appreciate it Ed, but no thanks. I really don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I doubt that it will be anything near the criminal justice system.” I suggested.
“That’s a shame both of those. You would be something writing bonds, and as far as the law goes, you had a lot of fun over the years in and around it.” he said.
“I guess it’s time to stop playing cowboys and killers,” I observed.
Ed saw me take the Mossburg pump shotgun from the lock room. “So time to stop playing cowboys and killers huh?” he asked.
“If they will let me, yes it is. Just in case the killers don’t think so, a girl has to be ready doesn’t she?” I asked.
“Oh yes, and god help the killer who doesn’t know that you will always be prepared.”
“True,” I agreed. I left the office with the Mossburg, a box of buck shot containing six shells, and a box containing two surveillance cameras and cables.
I had watched Lucas work on the cameras from time to time, so I had an idea how to go about rigging them. It took me about ten times longer than it would have taken Lucas but in the end I had them working.
I had one of them inside my front window and aimed at the parking lot. I would catch all the cars and people coming and going. I had moved my cruiser to the far end of the parking lot. I used it as a platform for the other camera. It was trained in on the building in front of my room. Why all the precautions you might ask, then again knowing I had a hand it hitting a Russian mobster, would you really wonder?
I managed to get everything dialed in my 7PM. I was having a Subway meatball sandwich, and a handful of Barbecue Corn Chips a half hour later, when my cell phone rang. “Hello,” I said.
Maxine this is Lucas, how are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m just fine Lucas how are you?” I asked.
“I am doing great. Gwen and I are giving some thought to selling ‘At Your Service.’” he said.
“Lucas you have had it less than a month. You don’t even have it close to being paid for.”
“Well we thought maybe you would buy it back?” he suggested.
“I will give you what you paid me so far, but that’s all I’m willing to do. I also expect that Jen will have a lot to say about you trying to sell it to anyone else.” I was really beginning to lose my patience with Lucas.
“To be honest it is worth a lot more than we have paid you so far. We have an offer.”
“Let me get this straight, you are going to take a business I gave you at a sweetheart deal and try to make a big profit even before you finish paying for it?”
“You have to understand Maxine. It’s not personal.”
“Lucas I never thought I would say this to you, but it is personal. You and me are finished talk to Jennifer from now on.”
“Don’t be like that,” Lucas said.
“Lucas hon, I don’t know how else to be. If you want your cash back, I can do that. If you want to make a profit on something I did for you as a gift, get bent.”
“Well Gwen wants to go back to Boston and into TV, so I guess it’s what we should do.”
“Then you do what you want to do, but forget making a huge profit on the business. If you try that, Jen will cut you to pieces. That much I guarantee,” I said.
“I don’t understand why you are being like this. It’s because you hate Gwen isn’t it?”
“Probably,” I replied and hung up on him. I could have tried to make some plans but why bother, I thought. This shit is just children’s play time. Since Lucas can qualify for the Boston PD that’s what he should do. Most likely it is what he will do. Gwen can make TV about that. I shook my head as I finished the sandwich.
I looked at the TV for about an hour, then the phone rang to interrupt me again. I expected it to be Jen or Lucas. Hell it might have been any of the usual suspects as far as that is concerned. I had no idea it would be Blevins.
“Vladamir is headed home isn’t he?” Blevins asked.
“Yes he is, so is everything alright?” I asked.
“Well the mob is after Vlad, but from what I hear they are going to leave you alone,” Blevins said.
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Ivan made some threats against you. It seems that some of the people who know you explained that a threat was as good as an attempt.” Blevins said.
“Who could have told them that?” I asked.
“Vlad and Annya both. Plus the Reds blew your cover with the kid. You best not go back to Harlan County unless you are well armed.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I replied. “When did all this happen?”
“The kid, Jasper, called the Russians to deliver their money today. They had a long talk.”
“So everybody knows they were played?” I asked.
“So says the Feds. The playees are not happy about it.”
“So do I need to go into witness protection?”
“Not unless you want to,” he replied.
“Good then I’ll stay home.”