“So you brought Christmas dinner for the whole area,” Helen suggested.
“The Preacher got this done, I just went along to grease the wheels. You know make sure everything came off smooth.” I said smiling.
“If you went along, it might have gone smooth, but it wouldn’t have, if you weren’t there. That’s why we all call you when we are in trouble. You always know what to do and even more important, you will actually do it.” Helen said.
“Easy Helen, it’s just me good ole Maxine,” I replied.
“I know exactly who I’m talking about. I heard that young bully stole your car?” It was a question and I knew it.
“Yes, I bought a pickup truck to replace it. I decided, I finally wanted to be able to carry my bicycle and a loaf of bread at the same time.” I said it with a laugh.
“I wonder how you will change that poor pickup. You do have a habit of remaking everything. Even the people in your life, but then usually it is for the better.” she said.
“Just usually,” I asked.
“I’ll have to think some before I go back on a vague answer,” she smile. You brought me a hundred turkeys, the least I can do is give you a bowl of soup.”
I knew better than to argue with Helen, so I left her kitchen with a huge plastic container of soup. Most of that would be headed to Sylvia’s.
I drove the preachers big truck back to the mission where my pickup waited. I had dropped the regular driver at his home as we entered town. Once I parked the truck in the mission parking lot, I left the keys with the person who stayed up all night watching over the mission. That night it was a very large black man.
“These are the keys to your truck, be sure they get to the people who need them,” I said.
“Yes Ma’am, I will do that fo sure,” he said.
“Thank you sir, I have to run now it’s after 1AM,” I said.
“It sho nugh is Ma’am. You dat woman the preacher calls when there is real trouble, ain’t you?” he asked.
“I guess I’m one of them,” I said.
“There are so many things going on in this ministry, I don’t know how the Reverend knows what is happening at any one time,” he said.
“Is there something you need to tell me?” I asked patiently. I was in no real hurry to get home and shut down.
“Well Ma’am, we got a man who takes advantage of the women in the mission.”
“Oh really, does he belong to the mission as well?” I asked.
“Yes Ma’am he’s one of the Deacons,” the old man said.
“Well that’s not good. Would you like to tell me who it is?”
“Miss Maxine, he is a dangerous man,” the old man said.
“You are afraid of him?” I asked.
“Ma’am it is hard for me to admit that. But yes Ma’am I am. He is a bad man.”
“Tell me his name and where to find him. Maybe I can help.”
“Bristol Peace, ain’t no fittin’ name for him,” he said.
“Where do I find Mr. Peace?” I asked.
“He lives in a little blue house behind the mission. You can’t miss it.” he said.
Here was my problem. If you want to terrorize someone do it in the middle of the night. Everything seems more dangerous in the middle of the night. But I only had the old man’s word that this Peace was leaning on the women of the mission for some reason. I needed to satisfy myself that it was true, then do something to solve the problem, without bringing too much shit down on the mission. They did good work, even if it was making the Preacher rich in the process. It was more cop work than ops work, which the farm expected me to be doing. Unless they stopped me, I would take a look at Bristol Peace the very next day.
I went home put the soup in the restaurant type refrigerator, then sat down in my comfortable chair to recharge and research Bristol Peace. He had a different name, if he was the bad guy the old man thought he was. Lots of people changed their names when they converted.
I didn’t expect that the Preacher had his real name, so it was up to me to find out. Some of the shit built into my new improved super duper body would come in handy. I could hit his fingers with an ultraviolet light and record a scan of them.
Or maybe I could just call Blevins to see if he was known to the cops in town. So I waited until 8AM to call Blevins. I needed to recharge anyway so it was no real inconvenience.
I called Blevins at home. “Come by the Sit Down on the way to work and I’ll buy. I have something I need to ask before you retire,” I said.
“I can’t believe you would call asking for a favor during my last week,” he said playfully. Sure I’ll be there and damn right you will pay and make a big deal of it as well.” he said
“So you ever heard of a guy at the mission named Bristol Peace?” I asked once I was sitting across from him.
“What has that sack of shit done now?” Blevins asked with a mouth only half full off bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit.
“I did a little Christmas job for the Preacher last night and the old man playing CQ told me he was one bad dude. He was afraid of him, but he told me he was messin’ with the women. Now I have not had a chance to ask, so I only have his word for it. I tried to find his record but that name is clean.”
“Only because the name is less than a year old. He has been on the radar but we can’t pin anything on him.”
“So what you looking at him for?” I asked.
Burglary, there are also some questions about assaults, but nobody will press charges. Damn stupid Preacher believes everyone is innocent till proven guilty,” Blevins said.
“Yeah, I know. Someone has to protect him from himself.” I tried not to let Blevins know that I found both of them humorous in opposite directions.
“So if that name is less than a year old. what was the old one?” I asked.
“I don’t remember his real name. He hasn’t come up in homicide or gangs. He didn’t have any big time priors under his old name either. We can’t prove anything at the moment under either name, so what are you going to do?” he asked.
“Have a talk with him of course,” I said.
“If you kill him, for God’s sake clean up well,” he said.
“I always have,” I said smiling. “So have you thought any more about coming to work for me after you pull the plug.”
“If you have a job where my expertise can help, call me. But punching a clock, even yours, is not in my plan.” he said.
After breakfast I had all the fluids in the truck changed. One of the taillight bulbs was dead so I replaced it. After all the shucking and jiving with the car I drove over to see the preacher.
When I finally got in I said, “Preacher I got your Turkeys home all safe and sound.”
“Helen left word on the message machine. I am so glad that you didn’t have trouble.” he said.
“You mean you are glad that I didn’t kill anyone. It was touch and go there for a second, but it all ended fine,” I said.
“We do appreciate it and I would have called to thank you. It wasn’t necessary that you drive over here.”
“Actually it was Preacher. I heard a rumor that you have a man on the staff that is dangerous. I thought I would warn you.” I said.
“Everyone is responsible for reporting dangerous people who slip through the cracks. It isn’t necessary for you to do this Maxine. The person with first hand knowledge should be here. I don’t make decisions based on rumors.”
“Preacher, I’m giving you first chance to take care of this crap. If you don’t and it is true, then I will take care of it. This is my town to and I have a lot of help here, so clean up your people or I will. One more thing preacher only three people know I am looking into this man. The man who told me and he wont talk. Blevins, you know him, and you. If Bristol Peace finds out and makes trouble, its on you more than likely. So remember that, if you decide that you have to talk to him.
I left the preacher and drove the Nissan back to Aster. When I got home, I was glad to find Sylvia already at work. She seemed to be happily working on some kind of graph.
“What you working on Sylvia,” I asked.
“I love charts. I’m making a chart for the former use of the the Park Place building.” she said.
“Do a good job. If we get it, I will have the chart framed and put it on the wall.” I suggested. “In the meantime call Vlad the terrible. Tell him I need a few words with him. See if he will meet me down in the club. He can even pick the time.” I said.
I didn’t have a plan for Bristol. I figured I would go talk to some people and see what I could learn. I wasn’t a cop, but I was pretty well known with the less desirable elements of town. If there were any rumors, I would hear them soon enough.
“Vlad said ten minutes,” Sylvia suggested.
I cleaned up my body, then took a walk across the street. I always felt nervous, when I took that walk. I refused to avoid it, but I did remember. Once inside the building I went down to the basement. I had about a ten minute wait before Vlad showed up.
“Well Maxine, why are you calling me?” he asked.
“Good to see you to,” I said with a smile. “I did a little job for the mission last night. When I got back, I heard a rumor. One of the Deacons is messin’ with the women. I’m not sure what messin’ with the women is. I thought me and you might spend a couple of hours this evening finding out.”
“Not a problem. Anya will want to come along I’m sure,” He said.
“Of course she will,” I said in agreement.
“You know tomorrow is Christmas Eve?” he asked.
“I heard a rumor. Let’s make this our Christmas present to the mission.” I suggested. I never mentioned the preacher. Vlad hated him, but he did approve of the work he did. Vlad would also help me most anytime I asked, Anya, not so much.
“Shall we make it 8PM? It will be plenty dark then. This kind of thing always seems more real in the dark.” Vlad suggested.
“Fair enough then 8PM it is. Dress warm, it is going to be cold and windy. You might even need a hood and sky mask.” I said smiling.
“Not all night I hope,” Vlad said grinning. “So what are we hunting for tonight?”
“I’m not sure, I think tonight will just be asking a few questions,” I suggested. If we find anything, the questioning might get a little, shall we say messy.”
“Sure, we can say that,” Vlad said happy as a schoolboy at recess.