“He is a little paranoid, so we are going to use code names and speak in riddles,” Jen said with a smile.
“Oh great a paranoid ex super soldier type, and you think I need to be involved in this. Jesus Jen do you have a life insurance policy on me that I don’t know about?” I said it with a small laugh.
“No, but you need to keep working, or you will wind up with a crack pipe in your mouth, and some dude with god chains banging you.”
“Alright what do we call this super soldier?” I asked.
“Just call him Alex, that’s the only name I have.” Jen said.
“Jen if all you have is a code name, where did he get your name?” I asked. “Please tell me this isn’t a Swamp Thing job.”
“Okay, I won’t tell you,” she said laughing. “Look this thing is borderline illegal, I know that. Swamp thing was contacted, because they offer security for ships going through those waters. They also know this guy from Iraq. They highly recommended you to keep them out of jail. None of them want to do a 20year bit in a Somali prison.”
“So he knows enough about me to listen when I speak?” I asked.
“Yes he knows enough. Whether he listens or not is something else. Today’s phone call should tell us something about him.” Jen said.
“Then lets get on with it,” I suggested.
Jen pushed one button then the speaker phone make some really weird noises. It also rang a few times before a man’s computer voice said, “Good morning Jennifer, is our mutual friend with you?”
“Yes she is.” Jennifer answered.
“Good morning guardian angel,” the mechanical voice said.
“Good morning Mechanical Voice,” I said. “I think I will call you R2D2.”
“That is acceptable. So, has Jennifer filled you in on my little plan.”
“Yes but it is not a good time for your vacation. It probably never will be. If you insist on going forward, I would like to make a few suggestions .”
“Good, I am always happy to hear new things,” R2D2 said.
“Wonderful, I was thinking you might want to combine some business with the pleasure. It would be a really good thing to take on some cargo. Some charitable delivery would go a long way to create good will for you.
“That is an excellent idea. Give my life a little purpose,” the voice agreed.
“I thought the same thing, plus give you a few brownie points in heaven. You should also hire your friends as crew. It would save on expenses and give you all a chance to get together. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind doubling as security guards for the charitable cargo as well. Get them under contract, just in case anyone wants to check them out at some point.
“So you are saying, everyone on board should be engaged in the delivery and providing security for the cargo?” R2d2 asked.
“Exactly, it will give them a good feeling to be involved in a humanitarian act, like delivering aid to the poor.” I suggested.
“Yes, I can see that. It would go a long way, if god forbid, we have trouble. It would define everyone’s position. Those are excellent ideas, You have already been a big help, so now the big questions is should I send you an invitation?”
“A contract to provide security for the adventure would be a better thing to send me. A clear list of my duties and responsibilities in writing would be nice. You do know that I usually travel with a TV crew. That has to be taken into consideration.”
“Yes I know, but I think we can work it out. Especially with these new ideas of yours. My friend down on the coast said you were good, and you are. Jennifer send me the papers and we are go as far as I’m concerned.”
“You do know I won’t be able to travel with tools, so you will have to provide those,” I said. I wanted him to know exactly what he was, and what he was not, getting for his 10K.
“Send me a list of things you would like and I will have them waiting,” he stated in his robotic voice.
“Fair enough,” I replied.
“I’ll be in touch with your representative in Crete,” Jen said then they swapped goodbyes.
“So what do you think?” Jen asked.
“Like you said, he sounds agreeable, but what he really does may be a different thing all together. I wonder how long it will take for him to get organized?”
“Not long I expect. He has a lot of clout and Greece needs his money. I expect the Greek government to be very helpful.”
“Everyone should be helpful, it is in their own long term interest to go along. It is also in their best interest not to take such a close look at whatever happens.”
“I can’t say what they will do, but it’s possible that the bad guys will just disappear. If that happens there won’t be any need for cover. Well there will be, if they have radios and report who you are and what goes down. There are so many bleeding hearts anything can happen in a situation like this. It’s better to have a good cover, why risk it all on the good will of politicians,” Jen said.
“Well let me know what happens, I’ll try to stay available for a couple of days,” I suggested.
“Good, I’m sure we will know something very soon. By the way, what is the deal with your tenants?”
“Which ones,” I asked.
“Let’s start with Cheryl, what is she doing working for Helen. Her father will take care of her every need. He is riding on a horse called guilt.” Jennifer observed.
“I think she wants to do things for herself. She strikes me as a strong personality.” I suggested.
“Well, you be careful, I think she knows how to take care of herself. In addition she could probably take care of you as well.”
She won’t be the first to try for sure.” I suggested. “I need to get moving, I want to see Helen and Jack about setting up a fixed location for their catering. Someplace with a warm dining room.”
“That’s a good idea for people like you, but for me, the stop on the side of the road is fine.”
“Damn you are so smart Jen,” I said laughing. “The location has to have a drive thru window.”
“Oh yes a drive thru window, so people like me won’t have to chase her down.”
“Anyway, I have to get moving,” I said as I stood and headed to the door.
“Max, seriously watch out for Cheryl. I know she was a model prisoner, but she was still institutionalized a lot of years.”
“I know sweetie and she has taken other lovers, so we aren’t all that wrapped up in each other.” I said.
“But you are still friends?” Jen asked.
“Yes we are still friends,” I admitted.
“Good, she can take your mind off things, since this gig might take weeks to come through.” she said.
“That’s fine, I can usually find something to get into all by myself.” I admitted.
“Good the kids tell me the filming has slowed down, but the editing is still behind.” Jen informed me.
“They are the ones hyping a show that isn’t ready to run yet. The smart thing would have been to wait till they had it in the can.”
“I think they wanted to cash in while the Internet show was still hot.” Jen said.
“Well then they dug their own hole. I had nothing to do with it. I never promised them anything.”
After I left Jen’s office, I called Helen from the cruiser. “Helen,” I said when she answered. “Cheryl said you had looked at the old used car lot on main street. So what do you think?” I asked.
“Maxine, we like it. Jack is talking to the Realtor this afternoon. If they can work out a short term lease with the right to guaranteed extensions and an option to buy, we are going to take it. Jack has figured out how we can test it for 90days without doing anything much to it. If it works out, we can renovate it to fit our needs. It has that kind of potential. I know you really did a lot of looking for us, and honey we do appreciate it.”
“The only thanks I want is a warm place where I can sit down to have a sausage and spiced egg bagel.” Helen did serve the only adult eggs on a bagel I had ever eaten. Thats what I called them, adult style eggs. They had some kind of chili sauce in the scrambled eggs.
“If we get the place, I promise I will lay in an extra supply of the egg spices,” Helen promised.
“Fair enough, “ I said. Now I want you to let me know the minute you open.” I said.
“If we do, you will be the first to know. Bye the way Cheryl is one terrific worker. I am so glad you sent her to me.” Helen said.
I knew that I hadn’t sent her anywhere, but I didn’t want to screw things up for Cheryl. So I said, “Good, but treat her like any other employee, not my friend.” I said.
“No problem, we treat everyone one of our employees the same.” Helen said.
“That’s good to hear,” I admitted.
An hour later I was driving into the downtown, when I saw the blue lights in my rear view mirror. “What the fuck,” I said aloud to the empty car.
“Would you step out of the car please?” the young police officer said.
“Oh course, now before you lose your cool and do something stupid, I have a pistol under my jacket. I also have a carry permit and it is licensed.” I said. I watched to see what his reaction would be.
“Step out of the car,” he said again. I did as he said. I also kept my mouth shut. “Face the car and hands behind your head.” he demanded.
“What exactly did I do?” I asked.
“You ran a stop sign back there,” he said. “Since you are armed, I’m not taking any chances.”
“Would you do me a favor and call your sergeant?” I asked.
“Why would I do that?” he asked.
“Because as a citizen, I have asked to see your supervisor.” I said. I didn’t tell him that Mike was parked across the street videoing him or that I was wearing a wire. He was going to find out, when he faced me in court, if he didn’t stop the badge heavy shit pretty damn soon.
Instead of calling the sergeant, he said, “I want to see your driver’s license and registration.”
“Do I get to put my hands down, or do I have to do it with my teeth?” I asked.
“On second thought,” he didn’t finish the sentence he hooked me up instead.
“You are seriously putting cuffs on me for allegedly running a stop sign?” I asked.
“No, it’s because you are armed,” he said. “It for my own safety.”
“If you asked, I would have gladly given you the pistol. This is really unnecessary,” I said.
“I’m the one who decides what is necessary,” he replied.
“Whatever,” I said.
“Now I’m going to call the sergeant.” he said.
“Better late than never,” I said. It took about five minutes for the sergeant to arrive. It was cold standing in the street, but it was doable.
When the police car pulled up, I had to smile. The patrol sergeant was one of the officers who had participated in the raid on the Menendez brother’s warehouse to save my ass. I couldn’t remember his name until I saw it on his name tag.
“What the hell?” he asked. I did the best I could to shrug my shoulders, It isn’t all that easy with your hands cuffed behind your back.
“She is armed and she gave me attitude,” the young man said. I just smiled.
The sergeant noticed the smile and said, “Well Ms Stone, how about it?”
“Do you see that silver Ford across the street. Mike wave at the nice officer.” Mike waved from the driver’s seat of the Ford. “Serge I am wired and Mike has a video camera. You should probably give your officer a chance to change his story before I call Jen.”
“Oh shit, Officer Burris, tell me you weren’t being badge heavy again.” the sergeant demanded.
“I felt threatened,” he said weakly.
“By the way sergeant, I told him I was armed and he hasn’t taken the weapon yet. If I wanted to I could have shot him a half dozen times.”
“You are shitting me,” he said lifting my coat. He didn’t bother to take the .38 revolver with the concealed hammer. I had only recently had it returned by the GBI. What he did do was take the cuffs off me.
“Ms Stone why are you wired? Are you running a sting on the police?” the sergeant asked.
“No, they are making one of those reality shows for TV. They follow me around with hidden cameras. It was not my plan, but your man here is going to be on TV, I expect. There is nothing I can do about it. The TV network owns the images not me personally.
“Son, you are truly fucked,” he said softly.