It is almost impossible for me to sleep in the bed with someone else. If I have had a lot to drink, and find myself sexually beat down, I can manage a few hours. That being the case, I was not at all surprised to find myself instantly awake, when Martin left the bed in the middle of the night.
I played dead to see what he would do. The first thing he did was try to toss the apartment. No doubt looking for information. In his business information is power. That much I had learned about the black bag boys over the years. The had to have a constant stream of information or they went mad. It was like their drug of choice.
“That would go much easier with coffee. Give me a minute to pee and I’ll make some. I might even be able to tell you where to look to save you some time.” I didn’t move a muscle when I said it. I might as well still be asleep as far as anyone looking would think.
“You aren’t spy grade material, but you are damn good for what you are,” Martin said.
“All that just because I will do a threesome with you and your new girlfriend?” I asked. “Or is it because I offered you coffee while you toss my place.”
“It is because you are a world class trouble shooter. Whether it is calling the cops at the right time, or shooting a Russian in the face, you know what is the most efficient thing to do.” Martin said it as I slipped from the bed.
I expected that I would wake Kate, when I went to rummage through the stack of cardboard boxes for a long tee shirt to slip into. I was using the boxes in place of a dresser at that moment. Kate was obviously much better at sleeping in strange beds, than I was having strangers sleep in mine. I didn’t shower before I put the coffee on, but I did brush my teeth. I had really bad breath and a terrible taste in my mouth. I even took time to run a brush through my thin stringy hair. Without a butt load of moose, it just lay like paint on my scalp.
“So did you find anything interesting?” I asked when I returned from the shower.
“I found that you own this place outright and that you don’t need money. I even know a couple of things you don’t?”
“Oh and what might that be?” I asked
“I know where your friend Mosby is.” he said.
“That, my friend, is information of no value whatsoever.” I replied.
“But, I also know what she is going to be up to next.” Martin was smug, thinking I would care no doubt.
“Not interested,” I replied.
“Are you sure, it involves you,” he said with a huge grin.
“If it involves me hon, I will find out eventually.” I said.
“Why wait?” he asked.
“Oh alright, what does the little nymph have in store for me next?” I asked.
“She is part of the group trying to sell their little show to a cable TV network.” he said.
“That is going to be a problem, since i am not about to sign on for that,” I replied.
“Swamp Thing, as you call it, would like for you to do the show,” he said.
“What makes you think I care what Swamp Thing wants?” I asked.
“Come on Max, your life is like about people and situations like us. You go along being an average citizen for a couple of months, then you find shit to get into.” he demanded
“Come on that’s crap,” I said “I’m one of those people to whom things just happen.”
“ Max, listen to me and try to be objective, okay?” he asked. We were sitting at the old registration desk drinking coffee as he tried to give me, his take on me.
“Sure, but let me see how you explain the kid trying to hold up the convenience store. How was that me looking for trouble?” I asked.
“Sure, first of all you had a pistol. I know it wasn’t for that exact occasion, and I know that it’s legal, but nobody else in this town would have strapped on a pistol to go out for pizza. You were more than just in the right place at the right time. You were prepared for something like that because you wanted it to happen.”
“What crap,” I said, but there was something in what he said.
“Even with the pistol, you could have just let it happen. Then gone home to your pizza or whatever it was. But no, not you, you have to take the thug down.” Martin explained.
“I explained that to the cops,” I replied.
“And they knew it was bullshit as well. The after action bullshit, to justify the action.” Martin actually laughed quietly. “You aren’t talking to the plumber on the grand jury here Maxine.”
“Everything you do that gets you into trouble, you could have walked away from and still had a nice life. No sweetie you need your terror fix, just like the rest of us.”
“Even if that is true, what’s in the TV show for Swamp Thing?” I asked.
“The same as for Marty, the bike peddler, positive exposure. The kinds of people we want to work for might not watch Maxine the super hero, but their wives and girlfriends might.”
“Okay, I think it is bullshit, but even so, why should I do it?” I asked.
“You wanted the option to turn down jobs. The ones you thought weren’t worthy of your ideals, well this is it. The kinds of jobs you want to do, are the kinds that will clean up the company’s image. It’s a true win/win. We give you the chance to run around playing a real life Charlie’s angel, In exchange you say good things about us, plus you get paid twice for it. What more could an out of work operative want?” he asked laughing.
“I will think about it, if they come calling.” I replied.
“Try to see it honestly, not through your rose colored glasses,” Martin suggested. He stood to leave, since those appeared to be his final words on the subject. “One more thing, you helped turn Kate because it was a rush pure and simple. You don’t really need more of a reason that that.”
He turned to the door and I was glad to see him go. He was hitting a little too close to home. “I’ll call,” was his parting shot.
I did give it some thought as he walked to the gate. I couldn’t help but see the humor possible in the show. We could call it the gun thug slut, I thought. Once I was sure the gate was closed and locked behind Martin, I went back to bed. The sun hadn’t even risen yet, I thought.
I slept better with the extra room in the bed. It also didn’t hurt that Kate was harmless compared to Martin. She did snore a bit, but I could deal with that. I only dozed in bits and pieces, but it was something.
“I wish you weren’t so damn small,” Kate voice cut through my bit of sleep.
“Huh?” I replied.
“I said, I wish you weren’t so small. I sure would like a shower and some clean clothes.” Kate said not at all friendly.
“Sorry, you could always leave some clean panties here,” I said with a smile, because I knew it would start a firestorm.
“What the hell makes you think I will ever be back here?” she asked.
“Oh, it was just a suggestion. If not that, then put a pair of panties in your purse. Wrap them in a little plastic bag, if you don’t want people to know you what you are.” What I didn’t say was, “Honey, if you are going to be a slut, get used to it, or be inventive.”
“Will you give me a ride home?” she asked being a little nicer, but it was very little.
“Since I have clean clothes, you are going to have to wait until I take a shower and dress. After that sure, I will take you anywhere you want to go.”
That’s exactly how it went down. After my shower I filled the Delta coffee cup, and off I went to take the fallen princess home. She did not say anther word to me, not even thank you for the ride. Kate, I decided at the moment the cruiser’s door slammed, was not going to be a lifelong friend.
I would have taken Kate to breakfast with me, if she had been about half pleasant. Since she wasn’t, I rode to the Hardee’s for my breakfast alone. At almost 10AM it was a different crowd, but still they seemed to know each other. It was a bit of a shock for me to see that.
I had thought that it was one group, at one time of day, but it seemed as though the whole breakfast meal had its regulars. I knew that it had to do with price for the older ones, and I supposed that it was true for the young families as well. The children at 10AM were all younger than school age. A couple of hash-browns and a bit of egg off mom’s biscuit was enough for them, I supposed. I was still trying to figure it all out, when I finished my meal and left.
Since I had the Swamp Thing’s offer, after breakfast I went by Ed’s office to pick up my tools. Ed was at his desk as he usually was around lunchtime. “Hey big guy,” I said to him. “How are things working out with the forced labor?”
“You mean Lucas? He threw himself into the work once that Gwen person left.”
“She has gone already?” I asked.
“Yes, but Lucas said she would be back soon. She and Mike have kind of deal cooking.”
“Ah, lots of people have things cooking these days. I came to pick up my tools,” I suggested.
“This doesn’t mean you are going to stop coming to see me does it?” he asked.
“Of course not,” I replied. “It does mean, I need to go buy a gun safe though. I guess for now, I’ll put them under the bed.” Might as well spread a little disinformation, I thought.
“There is no hurry, you can leave them here,” Ed suggested.
“I know, but I feel better with them within reach,” I admitted.
“Yes, with your lifestyle, I can see that,” he agreed.
I loaded up the guns, ammunition, and vests rather quickly. It was going to make for a big pile at the apartment. Fortunately I had a lot of empty space, since the rooms were large and I hadn’t filled them with furniture as of yet.
At the apartment I made several trips from the cruiser to the apartment just to get all the equipment inside. Once I got it inside and on the bed, I realized that when I got it organized, it wouldn’t be so much. I had two trench length shotguns, an assault rifle made in china, a .22 magnum sniper rifle, and several pistols of various caliber. Lots of ammunition, two stun-guns, two vests. One of them was the replacement for the one damaged in the Russian shootout. All in all, it was not that much.
I had the plan in the back of my mind from the first day that I bought the apartment building. It came as no shock to me that I was ready. First of all you have to remember that my bedroom had once been an old style motel room. As such it was wider than a normal bedroom, and it was much longer. The length was for the bathroom at the rear.
The bathroom was small with only a tiny tub and shower along with a toilet of course. Just outside the small bathroom was an open area. That little dressing area was about four feet by ten feet. The wall nearest to the bathroom had a vanity with sink and mirror for dressing and makeup. There was counter space that took up about four of those ten feet to the common wall shared with my living room and kitchen area, The original use of the space, from the end of the counter to the wall, was for a clothes bar and other storage for the guest.
In the final plans the space got turned into a much larger closet. The vanity became part of the bathroom, but the concrete block wall at the end of the vanity remained. To make a long story short there was a tiny space two feet wide and four feet long at the rear of the new, but less sturdy, closet. I had the Laboring Few turn it into dead space simply by placing the clothes bar two and a half feet from the rear wall. A lightweight false wall made it my hidden compartment to store the tools of my trade. It would require a lot of work to gain access to the space, but that was the idea.
Once everything was inside the hidden storage space, I settled in for a day of pure relaxation. I began it with a nap.