The flight after the job seemed even longer than the one going to the job. I was dreading the confrontation with the Deacon. I figured that I couldn’t have fucked up too bad, since they didn’t hit me with the big bang. Because of that I began to think, not only were there degrees of sin with these clowns, but with the kind of investment they had in me, possibly the only death sentence was for being found out.
Maybe the only way they were allowed to eliminate me was if I let myself get captured by the really bad guys. If the local cops got me for something minor, I could fake it long enough to get the farmer’s field hands in to spring me, even if Jennifer couldn’t.
If that were the case, why hadn’t they told me that when I raised hell about the Irishman and not hanging around waiting for a cop. I really wanted to know the protocol for getting terminated.
Then of course they likely didn’t want me to know. If I thought that I would get boom boomed, if I got arrested, then I was less likely to get my ass arrested. Making it less likely that they would have to come spring me somehow. These guys were full of mind games and that scenario did make perfect sense.
So this mission didn’t go exactly as planned, but maybe it was close enough. Maybe I was being treated as a human agent would have been treated. I brought some things to the game a human could never bring. Also some things an Eve couldn’t bring to the party. I was a one of a kind asset and I’m sure we were all learning what I would be capable of doing.
Testing me was probably why they had me screw both dominant and submissive men, then go out and wipe out a family. They were either looking for what I did best, or trying to find my limits. From the hit they should have learned that I was smart and if I came upon a moral issue, I tried to find a compromise. The real question might be, what would I do, if I couldn’t find a compromise.
I at least had several hours to prepare myself for my meeting with the Deacon. I wasn’t so much working on a defense, as I was trying to find the best way to defend myself. Yes it was a subtle difference. I decided that to defend myself I needed to at least have an idea of the thinking back on the farm.
We stopped at the concrete strip in Texas for gas. I was surprised that no one met us. Since neither Eve nor I needed to stretch our legs or any other girlie thing, we stayed in the plane. I expected that the next stop would be for gas then on to the farm, but I was wrong. The next stop was the grass runway outside Aster. The cross roads with a name closest to the strip was called Trenton, so the strip had a sign which read Trenton Airstrip.
My guess was that while I was headed home, Eve would be headed to the farm for a complete download. Since she had been seen clearly on the tape, they would most likely do a nip and tuck to change her appearance. I had worn the mask because unlike Eve, I had to look the same, when I got back as I had when I left.
Even in the early morning light, before the sun was high in the sky, my old pick up truck was ugly as original sin. It was part of the reason I loved it already. It looked a lot like my soul these days, if I had one. If I ever had one, it never looked all that good I’m sure.
When I got back to Aster, I sat my ass on the second floor sofa. Inside my Townhouse there were sofas on both floors. The first floor ones were arranged for conversation. The ones on the second floor faced the window over the street.
So that morning I sat my ass down with a killer strong cup of coffee, plugged my ass in and meditated while I charged. The MP3 player on steroids played the music my dad had loved. The player was loaded with the sound track from the movie ‘The Big Chill’ along with the sound track from a popular TV show or two. I had a few best of the sixties albums.
When I heard that music I could almost see my dad behind the wheel of his beat up old pickup. Him driving, me riding shotgun, on the way to one of the junk yards outside of town. My dad was a mechanic for one of the local mills. He kept their machines running. The job title down there was loom fixer.
After his shift in the mill, he worked on the other mill hand’s junkers. He kept them running with junk yard parts. It was how he made enough money, so that we weren’t the poorest of the poor in the village.
Before I had started the charging, I ran a diagnostics program and found that my power supply was in good shape and my circuits were all running cool and true. Then I started the charger, cranked up the tunes as the kids say, and let my mind drift to all the plots and subplots in my life at that moment.
The smarter than smart phone rang but I let it go to message. I had no interest in talking to anyone. The intentional loss of communications with the farm had been a test. I was still undergoing evaluations and that was as it should be. I would do the same thing. Hell, I was evaluating Sylvia as a real estate partner. Why would I not expect the farm to do the same with me?
I looked at the calendar on my smart phone and found that it was Wednesday. Geese all that in only four days. I knew it was true. Even worse the actual time of the gunfight was only fifteen minutes. So much could change in such a mall amount of time, was my only thought. I had seen it happen all my life but it always amazed me.
A day long gunfight might happen in a real war, but in the kind of things I seemed to get into, it was just quick, nasty, and people died. I had no idea which was worse. There were probably a lot more dead people in a day long battle, but how many did any one person account for. I had killed more in that half hour than the average soldier killed in day long battle, I was sure.
I was trying to reason it all out logically when the back door rattled. I looked at the online image of the rear door in time to see Sylvia open it. Since she had a key, I didn’t rush down the stairs.
I did go down to meet her. I didn’t quite know how to greet someone who had seen me making it with both men and women. Of course, Sylvia was the only one who had ever just watched.
“You are back was it a good trip?” she asked.
“Everything seemed to work out, but I won’t know until the customer evaluates the outcome,” I suggested.
“And what exactly were you doing?” Sylvia asked.
“Creative problem solving, nothing very exciting,” I replied to her question, then I went on. “So tell me what has happened here. I left you with lots of things on the Cusp,”
“Good news and bad news,” she said.
“It always is,” I replied.
“Well the good news is I found something to do with the meeting room in the Drugstore Condominiums during the week. Leon’s Girl friend, the one you call Tiny Dancer, really is a dancer. She is going to open a dance studio. She must have left the TV on the reality channel after your show. There is a reality show called Dance Moms that follows you.”
“Well help her get started, she probably isn’t going to have a ton of money until it starts going well,” I suggested.
“I’m so glad to hear you say that. I thought I would give it to her rent free at first, then raise the rent as she gets students, if that’s okay?” Sylvia asked.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” I agreed.
“Now Jennifer wrote her own lease for the Condo, but she didn’t balk at the price. She is a little concerned about security, but I told her to look who her neighbors were. That and the cops drive by the building every ten minutes. She just laughed and said that she was more concerned about Bob and nothing could be done about him.” Sylvia informed me with a laugh.
I didn’t comment, but I didn’t laugh either. “So when is she moving in?”
“This weekend, the last I heard,” Sylvia said. “Now for the not so good news. I could barely get the preacher’s man to drop his price at all. I met with the designer and we couldn’t seem to find anything significant to cut.”
“Okay you are probably right, but we will go over the plans and see what is what. How about the office?” I asked.
“The lot is for sale and is a bit expensive, I thought. It doesn’t matter because the city counsel will not allow modular buildings in the downtown area.”
“We own the storage units so we have to do something with them. Call Jennifer and ask her what loophole she can find, so that we can use them?”
Now let’s look at those plans for the houses. I spent an hour going over the plans and the changes Sylvia had worked out. She pretty much made only cosmetic changes. In other words she played it safe.
“Okay set a meeting with the foreman and the designer this afternoon. We pay them enough so that they should be here with bells on. But first dial up Archer for me.”
I sat quietly at the stainless steel dining table while Sylvia dialed the number then handed me the Smarter than smart phone. It rang a couple of times before Archer came on the line. “Reverend, it’s me Maxine. We need to work something out on the mill village renovations. If your people don’t get creative I’m going to bid those houses off one at a time to the Russian builders.”
“Maxine, you know the profit from the Laboring Few goes to the ministry,” he said.
“I know that and I know that the ‘Few’s’ workers are deserving and need the work, but so do the Russians. So it’s a matter of who needs the work the most. We have a history, so I would like to keep it in the family, so to speak. But this is business. I am going to have Sylvia set up a meeting with your people this afternoon. Tell them they need to being some fresh ideas to the table.”
“Alright Maxine, but do not open this project up for bids without giving us a chance,” he said.
“Reverend this is your chance, we have been dicking around with this for months,” I said it with a smile but he knew that I was seriously ready to jump ship.
No sooner had I broken the connection than Jennifer called me. “Maxine, I want you to know that I am moving in on Saturday. I have already had a meeting with that cute Leon and Vladimir, the terrible, and their girlfriends. Vlad said for me to insist that you put a panic button with a horn that rang outside my apartment. He said I should do it, so that he and Leon, as well as the cops, can come running, if Bob gives me shit.”
“Call someone to do it Jen, and have them bill me. But please tone it down, so that it doesn’t fuck up the look of the place.”
“I’m looking forward to living close to you again. I understand from the boys that there is a club in the basement. We should be able to have so much fun now that Bob is history,” she advised me.
“Now listen bitch in exchange for that horn, you find me a loophole for my storage unit office,” I said with a laugh.
“Consider it done,” she said and then the phone was dead.