Every morning I checked on Helen’s progress at the building. I even called her the second morning. I suggested she park a breakfast wagon on the site, until they had it up and running. She and Jack liked the idea. There was a truck in the parking lot the next morning.
I bought an adult egg on a bagel sandwich from the truck that very morning. Even so I rode to the mall, where it was warm, to eat it. It wasn’t Kosher to sit in their food court with Helen’s sandwich, but I just couldn’t eat in the cold. I got asked by two different groups where I got the bagel sandwich. I explained about Helen. One group knew about her breakfast wagons, and the other was thrilled to hear about her. At least I hoped my enthusiasm was contagious.
Four days later the wagon was gone and the site was open. There was a big menu sign in the parking lot. The sign, in big red letters, had the phone number at the bottom. The note beside it read, call or text your order. We will gladly bring it to your car. It’s temporarily, and it’s our answer to the drive through. I have no idea who thought that up, but it was brilliant. Everybody has a cell phone these days. People could also walk inside and have breakfast in a warm building. Jack had built half a dozen picnic table, which were spread around the old showroom floor. I personally loved the whole thing. I found it just plain country charming.
The first morning they were open, I shared a table with two cops and a paramedic. The cops were on duty, and the paramedic was on his way home. The coffee was almost as good as my own, since it was made in small batches with real coffee. Helen didn’t use restaurant blend, which I swear is made from the sweepings off the coffee warehouse floor.
The walls were cheap plywood paneling, and it should have been dark and depressing as hell in the restaurant. It would have, had it not been for the colorful posters everywhere. I had to admit that they gave the place a lot of character.
Breakfast still came in a brown bag, and customers still ordered by numbers, but even Helen’s brown bags, beat most of the fancy restaurants for taste. The cops at my table talked about everything, but the Burris incident and I was glad.
After breakfast I went to the mall and walked my three miles. I noticed on the ride from Helen’s to the mall that it seemed a bit warmer. I could tell that it was getting close to the end of winter. It have been getting a little warmer almost every day.
I really did miss Cheryl on my morning walk. One of the camera people followed me to the mall now and then, but they sat on one of the benches and filmed me coming and going. They also tried to catch me speaking to the other old folks. Cheryl had walked beside me and we had talked about nothing important, but she was company.
Helen’s place had been open a week, which was two weeks after I suggested the building, when she and Jack switched from the traditional breakfast wagon paper bag delivery, to trays in the sit down place. None of us had yet figured out what to call it. Since they had invested in trays, I figured the place must be making money, so I stopped worrying about losing it.
Cheryl showed up at the restaurant or whatever it was, at the beginning of the second week. Everything was mostly precooked at their industrial kitchen, but they had begun cooking some things on site. Cheryl had taught them how to cook eggs in the microwave. In my opinion that were better than the eggs cooked in grease. At least they were in my opinion. So she could cook a complete breakfast sandwich in the microwave, and do it on site. The crunchy potato fritter had to be done in a deep fryer, so that was done at the industrial kitchen. I frankly didn’t care how they did it. I trusted Helen to be sure the food was excellent, or not to serve it.
My new morning schedule began with breakfast at Helen’s. Usually with Cheryl or some cop friend. It was a whole different group of people, who hung out at Helen’s. More working blue collar types, who I loved being around anyway. I had enjoyed the older folks at Hardee’s, and I even enjoyed the young families, but Helen fed what were really my kind of folks.
After breakfast I would head to the mall to walk three miles. Three miles isnt a lot but its about an hour’s worth of moving around. I needed that to stay, if not in good shape, at least a little more flexable. I also enjoyed the people who walked there. We were mostly middle aged to older. Most were trying to lose weight or maintain.
My mall inspiration was Tiny Dancer. I made up little fictional biographies for all the walkers. In my mind she would have been a professional dancer when young. One of the major city’s ballet companies. After her dance career ended, as they all must, in my fantasy she became a dance teacher somewhere. In the end she had her own studio of dance. When she retired, she came to the mall every morning.
In reality she used the second story handrail as a studio bar for her warm up exercises. After her warm up she walked the mall. She walked it at a much quicker pace than me. She just tuned everything else out and chugged along.
Tiny dancer had a hundred berets for sure. She also had lots of fuzzy sweaters and tight pants. The pants were all black, but the sweaters were colors not found in rainbows for sure. Needless to say, I loved Tiny Danced. I even wished that she was my mom. I know that’s just silly, but she was gorgeous even at seventy.
I was in the mall walking, when the phone played the first few bars of the Magnificent Seven theme song. I answer quickly because the stupid song embarrassed me. “Hello,” I said into it without checking the caller ID.
“Morning slut,” Jennifer said.
“Not lately, I haven’t had the chance. What’s up now?” I asked. She could have been calling about the pirate hunt, the local cops thing or even something totally different.
“R2D2 called. He has this dates worked out and his pickup and delivery dates for the humanitarian supplies, which he is going to deliver thanks to you.”
“So, that is back on?” I asked. It had been almost a month. I was beginning to think about other things.
“Never off, just in preparation. Get me the list of tools and I will forward it along. There will be a crew of four all friends of the captain,” she said.
“So I assume that means five able bodied men to add to my security force. Does he know that Mike and Gwen will be coming along?”
“Oh yes, some of them are bringing girlfriends. It’s going to be one big party.” Jen said.
“Oh wonderful, drunks with guns, just what I need.” I said.
“You can handle them. They are just men for God’s sake. Now the girlfriends and wives might be a problem.” she did laugh as she said it.
“So are you going to tell the kids?” I asked.
“Oh yes, R2D2’s people are going to call later today with the travel plans. You should expect to leave by the end of the weak.”
“Jen that’s three days from now. They drag ass around a month, then want me to be ready on three days notice. That just stupid.” I said.
“Hey for what they are paying, you should just pack your bag and head on out right now, if they wanted.” she said.
“I’ll get you a list of tools this afternoon.” I said. I hung up a little irritated with R2D2 and my friend Jen. She should have told them hell no, we want more time. I mean, I wasn’t doing anything, but it was a control issue.
When I got home from the mall I reheated coffee in the microwave, then began my list. I knew I wanted a 12 guage riot type shotgun. It could be automatic or pump as long as it had a decent shell capacity before reloading. The shotgun was just in case the bad guys got on board our ship. If I had to clear them from the decks, there was nothing like a short barrel shotgun with buck shot to empty a room.
I needed a reasonably good sniper rifle for engaging the bad guys at longer distances. If someone popped up with an RPG, I wanted to neutralize him quickly. I chose the Russian SDV 7.62 rifle. I expected that it would be easy to find in Europe. Since it could fire semi automatic it would do nicely to clear the deck of a small boat at a 1,000 feet. I was pretty sure one of the friends/security officers would have a .50 cal. Somebody always had more gun than they needed.
I ordered a Glock 20 pistol, what the hell it wasn’t my money. The Glock would do for some serious close up fighting where the shotgun couldn’t be used easily. I also ordered a .38 cal derringer. I didn’t have a preference as to brand. A derringer is no more than two pieces of pipe with a hammer. I didn’t think it mattered what brand I put against a man’s scull, when I pulled the trigger.
I shouldn’t have, but I decided to assume the captain, being an ex super soldier, knew enough to get some kind of light tank weapon. The old faithful M72 law rocket launcher came to mind as the easies to secure and use on a small ship. I decided what the fuck, I put half a dozen of them on the order as well. As an after thought I ordered night vision devices of some kind. I checked it over and knew that I was forgetting something, but decided I could pick up the something along the way.
I called in the list to Jen’s receptionist. She had a message for me from Jen. “Boss said to tell you to keep your phone on, the travel information would be along as soon as R2D2 made the arrangements.
I took that a little less seriously, since the phone didn’t ring at all for the rest of the day. I stayed home, since I wasn’t ready for another night out with Kate and Cheryl. They had way too good of a time at the Cop Out, while I sat taking shop with Blevins and Mickey.
The next morning I was in the shower, when the music from my cell phone began. My body and my hair was covered with soap, so I had to suffer through the whole song. Whoever the caller was didn’t mind that is was 7AM, and that I might have been asleep.
When I dried off and had on bikini panties and a thermal shirt, I did that call back thing. It was Mike who answer the phone. “What the fuck are you doing calling me this time of the morning. I might have been asleep.”
“Oh yeah with the shower running. Oh by the way, I love the ring tone on your phone. Now I know how you see yourself,” He was about to piss me off.
“Okay, so you could hear the water running, and I didn’t do that music. My partner in the old business did. So what do you want?” I asked.
“I’m going to breakfast with you today, so you want a ride.” he asked.
“Hell no I don’t want a ride. I go on the bike, you know that.” I said. “Are you on drugs this early in the day?”
“No drugs, but okay, I’ll meet you there,” he said hanging up on me.
When I got to the restaurant, I noticed Mike’s rental car and Jack’s pickup. There were also a couple of other cars, which could have belonged to other people I knew. I went in a little worried and I should have been as it turned out. There was indeed a group of my friends standing around the dining room.
“Well Max we have a surprise for you. The show is close to being ready to hit the air. The network had some promotional materials. This seemed like just the place to hang the one for Aster. So, Meet Maxine,” he said it as hestepped away from the wall that he had been blocking.”’
I had a hard time believing my eyes. There on the wall behind the unofficial cop’s picnic table hung a huge, and I mean huge, poster of me. I looked younger, with better hair, real cleavage, and I was holding the antique Winchester shotgun.
“Well that ain’t me for sure, but thanks. It is a hell of a nice gesture.” I said tearing up.
“Come on I have your favorite meal ready,” Cheryl said. Yes I was ready to cry, but I carried on. Big girls don’t cry, I thought.