When I got my car home, I called Blevins. “Blevins I wanted to give you a heads up. Just in case I started a turf war by accident.”
“What the fuck have you done now,” he whispered into the phone.
“Some punk with a Latino accent pulled a piece on me. I took it away from him, that’s all.” I replied.
“Are you sure?” he said.
“I might have broken his leg while I was doing it. I’m sure he is not going to be happy about it. I didn’t kill him though.” I said.
“You might wish you had one day,” Blevins said. “What did you do with the piece.”
“It’s in my gun vault, just in case I need a piece with somebody else’s prints on it,” I said only half kidding. “I’m kidding, but if the kid wants to file a report, I’ll turn it over.”
“If you turn it over now, we might match it so something open. If we put him away, it might prevent some future crime.” Blevins said.
“It might also prove nothing and I would lose my hold over the him. Let’s do it my way for now.” I suggested.
“Hey you called on my cell phone, not the station’s phone, so there is no tape of this call,” he said.
“I knew that,” I said with a laugh. I also knew he probably recorded all his cell phone calls and save one now and then.
“So what are you doing today, so I know where to look for the bodies?” he asked.
“I would never leave them just laying around, you know that. But for your information Jen and I are going shopping in about an hour. I’m going to buy a fancy dress for the Emmy Awards Banquet and Ceremony.”
“That is so not like you,” Blevins said.
“Hell, a woman never gets a chance to wear one of those dresses. I wanted to do it once in my life.” I didn’t tell him that I was doing it just as much to placate the farm boys, as I had begun to think of them in the plural sense.
After I broke the connection, I took a cup of coffee to the second floor and sat by the front window so that I could see the town traffic move along. I could also see directly into the windows of the second floor Drugstore Condo. Vlad and Anya seemed to be having lunch by their front window. The beauty of their space was that there were almost no interior walls. The front could be a sitting room, a dining room or even a bedrooms. It was just a matter of taste.
“The other windows were empty. Too bad none of them wanted to put on a show for me. I actually had seen Leon and the dancer screwing once. Fifty or sixty year olds doing the deed is not all that appealing. I wish I had learned to use that age regressive software they installed at the farm. I could have seen the younger versions of them going at it.
The sound of Mag 7 came from across the room, so I was forced to abandon my seat by the window and go find it I found it inside the small inexpensive antique leather purse. The one I sued to transport things from the car to the house. I also used it to transport things inside the bicycle basket.
“Hello Jen,” I said. I knew it was her, since her picture was on the screen.
“I’m leaving the office. If you haven’t already take a quick shower and change your drawers. We will be standing around in them, while being fitted, I’m sure.” she said.
“Shit, why the hell did I let you talk me into this?” I asked.
“Because I know more than you do about this kind of thing,” she said.
“Only because you read the trashy magazines,” I said. After Jen hung up I did jump in the shower just in case I had picked up any dirt while disarming the gang banger. I also wanted to wash off any film I had picked up, which might leave a print. I just never knew when shit would happen to me.
I was just as much a shit magnet as a robo slut as I had been as a human slut. I think it had to do with my not looking like a bad ass. I looked like an easy victim on first glance. I guess I gave the same impression as the homeless man asleep in the stairwell. What I turned out to be, when you woke me, was more the psycho homeless man with a box opener.
I thought all that, while I took the quick wash off. When finished, I put on clean underwear and even clean jeans. I found a top that was going to be easy to get off. I wasn’t dressed like a stripper, but I did dress with stripping in mind.
Jen actually beeper her horn when she pulled into the small back alley parking lot. “I am not your high school date,” I said when I got into her big fancy German tank of a car.
“The hell you ain’t honey,” she said laughing.
“Okay, maybe your date, but this ain’t high school.” I said.
“I notice you are carrying a purse. I very seldom see you carrying a purse.” she commented.
“I thought a shoulder holster might put off our designer,” I suggested.
“Being with you without easy access to a weapon is like being in a car with a sign on it, ‘Hit Me’,” she said. “I’m a little concerned.” She did laugh.
“We go places all the time where nothing happens,” I said.
“Yes, but it’s because you are always ready for it. It is like, if you don’t carry a Kleenex your nose is going to run. If you pick a sore, it is not going to heal. We are asking for trouble, I’m just saying.”
“Go to hell,” I said taking the .38 out of the purse and laying it in my lap. “There feel better?”
“Actually, I do.” There was no humor in her voice.
“I’ll put it in my waist band, when we get out of the car. I’ll return it to the purse when we get inside. Is that okay with you?” I asked sarcastically.
“It will have to do,” Jen said. “The Admiral always said, ‘If you want to live a long time, stick to Maxine like the tail on a dog. I take his advice very seriously.”
“I’m flattered, but he didn’t mean that for a trip to a dress designer.” I said.
“Right, you go into a convenience store for a bag of chips. There is a guy inside who has been waiting there for twenty minutes. He has been waiting for you to show up before he robs the place. That’s what he really meant.” she informed me.
“I think we are safe at the office of a dress designer,” I said.
“Sweetie, if she has an ex husband who wants to whip her ass, it will be this afternoon. You can bet you ass on it.” Jen giggled, but she was serious I could tell. She was also probably right in her thinking.
In spite of Jen’s dire predictions it went smoothly. The woman had a computer and kept throwing ideas on the screen until Jen approved. Other than letting her measure me naked, I could have stayed home.
What they came up with was a halter top dress. It was to have very thin halter straps. It was open enough to show the belly scar from the Afghan IED, and the knife scar on my chest, which I received in the paking of the dinner. There was a slit on the right side which showed the big scar on my calf from the pirate bullet. A couple of smaller scars with the smaller pin hole scars from staples used to hold the cuts together also adorned my back. I was going to look a lot like the bride of Frankenstein, in a sexy red dress. There was definitely going to be some shock value in that image. I would also be wearing the expensive blond wig forced on my by Gwen and Mike’s TV show’s fashion designer.
Jen was going to be in a green dress, not quite as bold as mine, but damn close. It was Emerald green, which was going to be knock out with her red hair. It wasn’t quite that red naturally. She paid a fortune to make it appear as though it was.
I choked when I got the estimate for the dress. “Don’t worry sweetie, It’s the cost of doing business,” Jennifer said to me.
“Jen five grand for two dresses it ridiculous,” I said.
“It only happens once in a lifetime,” she said to me. “We also need them in a rush.”
Life settled into a quiet routine. For the next two weeks and a few days nothing much happened. I had to drive back to Tryon for a fitting of the dress. I felt naked in the dress but the designer assured me that I was fine. She even provided some stick on things that covered my nipples. Just in case of accidents.
Jen and half the town was obsessed with the Emmy thing. There were pools and bets all over the place. I agreed that Jen and I would allow the local TV people to get a preview of the dresses, but they could not show the tape until the night of the awards. It was a much bigger deal to everyone else, than it was to me.
Two days before we left for Los Angeles, I got a call from a gentleman who spoke with a Latino accent. “We need to have a sit down,” he said.
“Shit, your timing really sucks,” I suggested. “I have other things on my mind.”
“You want a fucking war,” he asked.
“If it comes to that you better get a fucking army in here,” I said angrily.
“Yeah, I know you got all the bad asses in town, but we can still hurt you some first.” he said. “There ain’t no need for it to come to that.”
“At least you have done your homework. Meet me on the veranda of the Marina at 3PM today.” I said.
“I won’t be alone,” he said.
“Neither will I, you just won’t see mine.” I knew that I could count on Vlad and Anya even on short notice. I also needed Leon since he was the sailor. I called and made the arrangements. Nobody wanted shit to happen, so they all agreed. Anya and Vlad would handle the sniper rifles and Leon would sail the rented boat on the lake in site of the veranda.
When I walked onto the veranda of the marina office, I was scared shitless. It was exactly as I would have been back when I was in the old body. I stepped through the door and saw the three of them standing by the rail. I carried a small pair of folding binoculars.
“Take a look out on the lake,” I said handing them to the guy who was obviously in charge. I also noted with satisfaction that one of them was on crutches. I didn’t recognize him, since they look alike to me, young, strong and mean as hell.
“Nice,” the one in charge said. “I suppose if you signal, or get killed, we will all die as well.” he said.
“And your family, friends, and pets,” I added.
“You are convincing for sure,” he said.
“It’s because I’m telling you the truth. These people were trained by the most ruthless men in the world. I just want you to know the rules of the game,” I said quietly.
“So where is the compromise here?” he asked.
“Junkies are always going to be junkies, so there is a business that needs to be done. Junkies will always be criminals, so there will be crime. It’s why we have cops. What there will not be is drug dealing near schools or parks where kids play. There will not be murders inside Aster. Take your shit to Tryon or some other shithole. This town is going to be clean, because we are here. We came here to retire not go to war every week. If we go to war, we will burn the town to the ground, rather than let you have it.”
“That’s pretty much what I heard.” he said. “As for Paco, are you done with him?”
“I am, if he learned to keep it inin his pants,” I said.
“I think you taught him not to play gangster, if not I will.” He saw how I looked at him. “I will take him to Tryon first.”
“Good,” I walked off the veranda leaving them to wait till I drove away before they left. Sure, he could have had me followed and killed somewhere else. He had to know that it would never end, if he did that. He also had to know that he would personally answer for any gang activity inside Aster. I expected he would be making agreements with any others operating in or around Aster.