109 The thing is…
On Wednesday morning I packed the cell phone along on my morning ride with Cheryl. It was probably not a good thing that I had begun to think of the morning ride and Cheryl as part and parcel of the same thing. But there she was knocking on my door at 7;30AM again. Breakfast was again filled with guys leering at her boobs, while I smiled inwardly. I have no idea why I found it so satisfying, I mean she wasn’t really with me in a romantic sense. Even so. I felt almost like a proud parent.
The walk went off without any problems at all. We passed by a gas station on the way home. I noticed Gas prices were going up again. I made a note to fill up the cruiser and my gas can before they got any higher.
The motors on our bikes were about the size of a weed eater, but were of much better quality. They required a 50:1 mix of gas and oil. Fortunately they packaged oil in the right size bottle for one gallon cans of gas. I had a two and a half gallon tank and a one gallon tank. When I got down to less than half the big can, I transfered it into the smaller can. At that point, I put two gallons in the big can along with two of the little bottles of oil. It was a pain for about thirty seconds, then it was over for a month or more.
I got the gasoline ready for the next month before my phone rang around noon. Mike was at the airport in Tryon. The airport was actually between Aster and Tryon. It wasn’t there because Aster was a big suppler of air traverlers, but because the land had been cheap, when they built it.
“So I suppose you want me to pick you up?” I asked.
“Actually no, I just wanted to give you a heads up. We should be there in about twenty minutes or so.” Mike said.
“We who is we?” I asked. There was a too long pause.
“He said to tell you that it was Irish,” Mike said. “Now I have to go. The bags are coming out.” I knew that he really said it, so I wouldn’t ask more questions.
I never had lunch before three, so I just made more coffee. Since I drank coffee all day long, the pot was always on. While I waited for the two new men in my life to show, I reran the security camera files. Nothing happened over night and that was a good thing.
My phone played the Mag7 theme again, but I caught it pretty quickly that time. “We are five minutes out. We just wanted to let you know.”
“It’s too cold to stand bye the gate, but I’ll keep an eye out for you. What are you driving?” I asked,
“A black Cadillac SUV,” Mike said.
“Of course you are, the ride of choice for thugs and cops,” I said it with a laugh. I kept an eye on the parking lot camera until they arrived. Once the Caddy was in the parking lot, I walked to the gate. I carried Mike’s card key and door key in hand. His unit was the one on the right hand corner of the building.
“Well hello strangers,” I said as a greeting. “What bring you to my part of the world,” I asked jokingly.
“I’m just a tourist,” Irish said. “This one is going to be staying a while.”
“Oh goody, he makes it a full house. Well, when you get settled in, come on down to number three. I have coffee on.”
“I’m going with you, I don’t do bellhop,” Irish said.
“When you get your stuff in the first unit, number 6, come on down to unit three. We will be waiting.” I said to Mike. I knew that he wouldn’t have much in the way of luggage, but he would most likely want a few minutes to look around his new temporary home.
“God I missed you,” Irish lied as he closed the door behind us.
“Bullshit,” I said.
“Well, I did think about you once or twice,” he corrected himself.
“That’s more like it, but this is business,” I said. “I never mix the two.”
“Yeah, that’s what the bosses like about you.” Martin said.
“So you are going to be code name Irish?” I asked with a laugh.
“Yeah they like it at the office for some reason. It’s all part of this new image shit that we are trying to achieve.”
“I still don’t understand that. How the hell are we going to fit into that black bag shit, if we are on TV.”
“Executive Security Service is about protection, not black bag shit, as you call it.” he said.
“Oh come now, You aren’t going to try to tell me that your boss is suddenly above a little industrial espionage. Because if you do, I’m gonna laugh in your face.” I said.
“Our operation isn’t going to be doing anything like that. You and I are heading up the non profit operations. Heading up hell we are the feel good ops department. If we can figure out a way to make the bad guys pay the freight, then we will be heros. If not, Swamp Thing just writes it off as a cost of doing business. Of course we have an almost zero budget.”
“Of course,” I agreed.
“Look before Mike gets here, I need to tell you something,” Irish said. “But first how much do you know about Johnathan Hunter and Cheryl?”
“Not much to be honest. I think she is his girl toy, but I don’t see him around much. She and I have breakfast together these days, but that’s about all I know.”
“You didn’t do a background check on them?” Irish asked.
“I did it on Johnathan. It started out that Johnathan was going to rent the apartment. Then it all got moved to her name. I figure that her last name wasn’t really Hunter, but I didn’t care. His credit check told me he had the money to keep a sweetie on the side, so it all seemed harmless. Just an old married goat with a lamb in the woods. Why?”
“First of all Cheryl is Johnathan’s Daughter. He was working in a machine shop, when she was born. He came up with some gadget and it was about to pay off big, when she graduated high school. Just a week after she graduated, she got his shotgun from the closet.
Then she put it into her new, to her car, the one she got for a graduation present, and drove to the house of he senior prom date. There she proceeded to kill him and his father, then she calmly drove to the police station.”
“Wow, my Cheryl did that I’m in shock,” and I was too.
“Back then Johnathan wasn’t rich, but he got her the best lawyer he could afford. Cheryl wouldn’t cooperate, so it wouldn’t have mattered who her shyster was. She got twenty five to life. She refused to allow her dad’s lawyers to put her up for parole. Somewhere along the way she got that institutional mind set. She did eighteen years before they put her on the street. Since Cheryl’s mother died while she was in the joint, she moved in with Johnathan and his new wife.
“Since she is here, I guess the step mommy’s kiss was cold, like the saying goes?” I asked.
“I guess. Anyway he set her up with a trust, to get her started. It pays her living expenses for a few years. She also has stock in his company which pays dividends. She isn’t wealthy but she doesn’t have to work, if she doesn’t want to. Of course this is going to be her lifestyle if she doesn’t work.”
“And what’s wrong with this lifestyle?” I asked.
“No offense but it is only one small step above her old prison life. She feels right at home here, I’m sure.” Irish said.
“So Cheryl killed two guys on graduation day. I have to admit, I’m impressed.” I said.
“Not exactly graduation day, but almost,” Irish said. “We need to keep in mind that she has done a lot of time, she is going to be a wild card.”
“It sure as hell explains a lot of things. She loves the bike, because she doesn’t have a driver’s license, but she knows how to ride a bike from her childhood. She had never been inside a Hardee’s, because they don’t have them in prison. Well at least not yet.” I said smiling.
“Just be careful the chick is a stone killer. It might have been years ago, but she will pull a trigger.” Irish said.
“Oh yes and we certainly don’t want someone around here who has killed people.” I said it with a chuckle.
“Not unless they have been vetted, and are on the payroll anyway,” he said lightly in agreement.
I instantly made the decision that the information would not effect my relationship with Cheryl. I had no room to judge. When you get right down to it, whats a couple of twenty year old murders among friends.
I was still working it out in my head when Mike came knocking. When we were all seated at the old reception desk with coffee Irish began, “Here is how this is going to work filming wise. Mike you can film anything you want, when we are not working. I have no say in that, and I don’t want any. That is between you and Max.”
“Same as before as far as I’m concerned. Careful with the microphones though, those are the most likely thing to get me killed.” I said.
Mike nodded. “I have some new toys,” he said.
“Now when we are working our decisions on shooting are final. If we think a wire is too dangerous, or a camera in place is, then there will be questions. I don’t plan on either of us getting killed for TV coverage. You do understand?” Irish wanted to make sure there were no misunderstandings later. He probably thought Mike was wired. I was positive that he was.
“I understand,” Mike said aloud. He knew that at least I didn’t trust him, and he should know that Irish probably didn’t either.
“The video has to be from hiding. If we know where the action is going to be, we will give you a heads up. If not, you will have to follow us and do the best you can from a distance. Now Mike, let me warn you. If some of these people spot you, Max and I might be able to talk our way out of it, but you are dead. I might have to shoot you myself to protect our cover. You do understand that you need to be very careful. If you aren’t 100% sure it’s safe, don’t do it.”
“I understand,” he said again for the record. “Like I said before, I have some new toys that will help.”
“Fortunately for us, most of these cases will be with very low tech opposition. We will have more technology at our disposal than they will. Our budget is very small, but the existing equipment in the company warehouse is available. We just can’t spend any new money, unless we create it ourselves.”
“If that is all, could one of you give me a lift to the car rental place here in town?” Mike asked.
“I can drop you there on my way out of town. I have to get back to the office, we are sifting through our files. We are looking for just the right case for our first little adventure,” Irish informed us.
“After I get the car, I will be headed out to UPS. They are holding boxes of my equipment there. I should be ready to wire your place for video tomorrow,” Mike suggested.
“Okay, so I have the rest of today off. After that I’m going to be on TV 24/7?” I asked to verify the plan.
“Oh yes and in every room in your apartment except the bathroom. I will start monitoring you for sound as well.” Mike admitted.
“Mike, my neighbor Cheryl and I ride to breakfast every morning on our bikes. You might need to figure out something for that. You can meet us at the restaurant and then at the mall where we walk if you like, or we can get you a bike if you have the budget for it.”
“Since that is a non security item, I can film it piece meal. Just set up and let you ride by a couple of places then get you arriving at the restaurant. Just a few shots of the two of you inside should be fine.”
“You haven’t seen Cheryl in her riding outfit yet,” I said smiling.