For my part of the agreement with Lucas, I agreed not to speak badly of his company. I further agreed not to enter into any competitive business for that same five year period. I signed immediately after Lucas and we even shook hands.
Once Lucas was gone Jen asked, “Have you ever heard of Blackswamp Security company?”
“Of course, no one who ever served in Iraq or even Afghanistan could have avoided hearing of them.” I replied.
“So what is your opinion of them.” Jen asked.
“It’s complicated.” I replied. Jen just kept staring at me until I went on. “I think that they are sometimes cowboys. I also think that they do a job, we don’t want to do. I would stand on the line beside most of the ones I met, but I don’t think I’d get drunk with any of them.” I waited for her to go on when she didn’t I asked. “So why the questions?”
“The new ownership is branching out. They want to contact you about working for them.” She could tell immediately from my head shaking that it wasn’t going to happen. “Hold on now, it is not out of country stuff.”
“You are kidding they aren’t putting together a private army here?” I asked.
“You have seen what happens in Mexico?” Jen asked.
“And that is what happens when people have their own army,” I suggested.
“It isn’t like that,” she insisted.
“Why are you shilling for Swamp Thing?” I asked.
“I’m not shilling for anyone. A friend called and ask me to approach you about listing with an agency.” she replied.
“What the fuck are you talking about Jen?” I asked.
“Try to follow this Max.” she seemed irritated. “A former employee of Black Swamp started a new business to operate here. They are going to specialize in high risk assignments. High risk, high pay assignments,” she corrected herself. “Very low profile workers for high profile clients.”
“I don’t get it,” I admitted.
“This is the example he gave me.” Jen suggested. “Gangster Rap star is going on tour. There are creditable threats against his life. This bad ass rap star wants to stay alive, so he is out looking for hard core security that doesn’t scream, I’m really a chicken shit.”
“Well hardcore ‘Swamp Thing’ can manage, but with those guys standing around nobody is going to think he isn’t scared. They all have thousand mile stares. You don’t mistake them for thugs.” I replied.
“Yeah, my friend isn’t stupid. What they are looking for are people with a proven record. Names they can put in their file cabinet for the day when they need a middle aged lady, who can, and more important, will pull the trigger.”
“So he is opening an employment agency for assassins?” I asked.
“Not assassins, I would never allow you into that. But jobs like the one you did for the guy in the kidnap situation. Even something like the rescue of your own people.” she said.
“Jen on a job by job basis, I will discuss it with them, not on a standing job offer,” I replied.
“I know, you are retired,” she said with a laugh.
“You laugh, but I plan to really be retired. I have banged around over a year without really being retired, now I’m going to be.”
“Right and when you get bored enough you will be on the phone to me trying to find something to do.” she said honestly.
“Yeah there is some truth in that,” I admitted.
“Some you know it’s the truth. You can’t stand being bored. Now that Davenport is off the radar, soon you will be climbing the walls until another super villain comes along.”
“Bullshit, none of our villains are super. They are mostly just thugs.” I said.
“Don’t tell Reverend Archer that. He sees Davenport as a super villain, since he stole his idea and used it for evil.”
“Ah he took the plan to the dark side, shame on him.” I replied. “So is that all Jen.”
“Your contracts and applications are ready, Girl Friday has them all ready for you. Did you want me to contact the housing authority?”
“No thanks, I might take vouchers, but I don’t want them having a veto vote. If it’s my money in the game, I get to make the rules not them.”
“Then be careful taking their vouchers. They come with with all kinds of hidden strings.” Jen said.
“True, I never knew anything the Fed got into that have more rules than needed by a factor of ten.” I suggested.
When I got back home, I sat at my keyboard and wrote the house rules. In addition to those in the contract. The additional rules were about conduct and behavior. The rules in the contract were more about cost and expenses involved in being a tenant, and what you got for your money. Of course there were rules in the contract about what you got, if you didn’t pay your rent. Mostly it was bullshit, but I figured it was necessary bullshit.
I called Amos realty and Insurance company. Fred Amos and I went to high school together. I didn’t know what the deal was with him at that moment, but he had been a class a womanizer back in the day. “Amos Realty,” the young female voice said.
“Hello, this is Maxine Stone, I would like to speak with Fred Amos please.”
“Regarding what,” she asked.
“Regarding herpes the bastard gave me,” I replied indignantly.
The bitch didn’t even answer, she just put me on hold. “I heard you were back in town. My God Maxine, did you have to traumatize my receptionist. I have a hard enough time keeping one as it is.”
“You should tell her not to ask women why they wish to speak to men,” I said with a laugh. “Fred how you been?”
“I have been married and divorced four times, how about you?” he asked.
“Two divorces, and I buried one. It looks like life has not been good to either of us.”
“No it doesn’t. I heard you were back in town. Rumor has it you just finished a motel renovation. Is that why you have me on the phone this afternoon.”
“Well lets say I had to have someone who knows something about this shit come look. You were my choice, since I had heard you took over after your dad passed. I was real sorry to hear that.”
“Thank Max, he would have liked you. That’s why you never met him.” He said with a bright sound in his voice. Mom was his gate keeper and she was strict.” He paused a moment lost in his own thoughts I assumed. Then he added, how about I send my daughter over. She is taking over that kind of thing for me. I will tell her we are old friends and to just give you an idea what they are worth, not try to get an exclusive listing.”
“Good, I’m going to handle the management myself. I’m going to live in one of the units.”
“Okay, I’ll tell Katie to go easy on you. I expect she can get over today. You are going to be around aren’t you?”
“Unless somebody comes along to make me a better offer and no one has in weeks. But if she isn’t here by eight, I will probably be at the cop out for a while.”
“Is that place still open. I thought they got shut down years ago.” he said.
“Probably not, it is full of cops and nurses every night,” I said.
“Well be nice to Katie, but not too nice,” he hung up before I thought to ask for an explanation of that last remark.
It was 3PM and I had nothing planned for the afternoon, so I was stuck in the apartment waiting for Katie Amos. I wasn’t too bored, since I had weeks worth of TV shows I hadn’t seen. I just tuned them in on line and began to watch. I am most likely one of those ignorant rednecks that the media snobs love to rant about. I like TV shows that are popular, not the antique roadshow kind of thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like old stuff and the guys who go hunting for it. I just don’t care for the womanwho looks pissed, when she finds that her mother’s diamond isn’t worth what she thought. Yes it is a subtle difference, but I like Pawn Stars better than Antique Road Show. At least there they aren’t trying to pretend that the value is secondary.
All that is to say I was watching some cheap minor cable network show, when Kate Amos showed up. It was one of those that the critics pan, but has a huge audience. I saw her give me one of those looks people save for redneck trailer trash, and that was okay as long as she told me what I wanted to know.
“Hi Maxine, I’m Kate. I think yo u are expecting me.” she said trying to fake a warm smile. She was obviously a women with a lot of intelligence. She knew when to fake emotions which she did not feel. Too bad she wasn’t better at it, I thought.
“Yes Kate, he did say he thought you might be able to make it by. It’s nice to meet you.” I said.
“I can’t believe you told the receptionist that daddy gave you herpes?” She tried a humorous smile that time.
“Well somebody did,” I smiled I hoped she could read that it was a joke, but I didn’t really care. “So are you ready to take a look at the units?” I asked.
“Yes of course,” she said obviously happy that she had finished trying to be friendly to me. She kept giving me strange looks, but I put it down to the, ‘Your daddy gave me herpes’ thing. It would be hard for most little girls to laugh that off.
“Good God,” she said when we entered Unit number 1 of my little apartment building. “I kept wondering where I had seen you before. I should have known from the name.”
“I’m not sure who you think I am,” I admitted.
“You are the one who went on the cross country bike trip with Marty.”
“I am guilty of that yes,” I replied.
“You made a bunch of TV commercials for him didn’t you. He has a couple of websites of nothing but you. Even some shot like a reality show.”
“You know an awful lot about me.” I suggested.
“Well you are a local girl, who makes a lot of news.” she stated strongly.
“Some for good reasons, some not so good. That latest stuff on the net is not real even though they think it is.”
“Oh I can tell which parts are real and which they are exaggerating.” She paused to take a look around. “Well let’s get to it.” she said.
I doubt that I got any special treatment, but she was very professional. We discussed the heating system and the air conditioning units. She liked the renovations and the Spanish ambiance, but she went nuts over the security features.
“Some people will rent this place for the security alone. I can see my dad putting me here as my first apartment. It won’t hurt that you live here as well. I have been remembering even more about you. The Russian you shot comes to mind,” Kate added.
“Kate, that just happened, I didn’t choose that course.” She didn’t need to know that was a complete lie. I had known all along that the Russian might well die and I was prepared for it.
“Well, I am sure my dad would feel much better knowing I was living with you, even if it wasn’t in the same rooms.” she said it with a smile that might have passed for sincere.
“That’s a nice thing to say, thank you.” I replied.
“Now I’m going home to work these figure up and I will have you a price based on an honest assessment not a guess. Where will you be at about nine tonight?”
“I had planned to go to the Cop Out club for a drink this evening. You could give me a call on my cell.” I suggested.
“Or I could deliver the report, and you could buy me a drink as payment.” she suggested.
“Or that,” I said in agreement.