We had given Jerome three days to think it over, and make a plan. Jerrod finished out the week just to keep an eye on Jerome. I continued to stand by outside the project, just because it was no inconvenience. I could crank up the truck and run it an hour to charge my power pack. Other wise sitting in one place was no different than sitting another.
Presumably during the days Jerrod slept while I banged around my housing development. In those three days two of the remodels were finished. Our houses were all pre-sold so there were people there to gawk when the contractor handed me the key. I just handed it to the home owner. The ceremony wasn’t fancy, but it was something to mark the day.
I was happy to be doing it. On Friday I was attending and participating in one of those ceremonies, when my phone rang. The call was from Jerrod.
“Maxine, it seems Jerome got the message. He gave away all his furniture and packed everything into his car. He is about to drive away, should I give him an attaboy?” Jerrod asked at the end of his statement.
“No, let him go quietly, I’m going to make a call,” I said.
I did make a call to Althea. Your package is leaving right now,” I said. “You need to take steps, I presume.”
“I’ll get right on it,” she informed me.
“So now what?” Jerrod asked when he reached me a half hour later.
“Now we go into retirement until something else happens. It’s like that most of the time sitting on the shelf. It’s why I dabble in Real Estate,” I informed him.
“I don’t have any money, but I want to live in Aster. Can you help me?” he asked.
“Do you miss it?” I asked.
“There is nothing good to miss about the life, but yes I miss the adrenaline rush,” he said.
“I thought so.” I smiled at him then said, “Tell you what I have one house that really is going to be small. It was a kind of meeting house at the end of the street. It is just one room, but you can make do I’m sure, after all you are a legionnaire.”
“Let’s go see it,” he suggested.
“Sylvia take a clipboard. k Go show Jerrod that house at the end of the street. Write down what it needs to make it livable and then see that it gets done.” I said it smiling.
“What kind of rent do you want? My pension is very small, I can’t afford much,” he said.
“Oh I was thinking about a barter system. We will call the rent $400 a month. Then when you help me we will deduct that from the rent balance. You will have your pension free and clear plus anything else you can make between jobs for me.”
“That sounds like a pretty good deal,” he said.
“Oh course it does,” I replied.
“Oh by the way there was a cleaning crew headed into the project unit Jerome vacated. They almost passed him on the way out they were in such a hurry. They must have just been waiting for him to leave,” Jerrod said.
“I know. They were waiting on a wire like vultures. But it is done now and we are clear.” I’m glad that it is over and no body got hurt.” I looked at Jerrod and he had a quizzical look on his face. “Okay nobody on our side got hurt.”
“That’s better. Okay I’m off to see the house.” With those words Sylvia and Jerrod left.
I had a feeling that the farm waited until they were gone before they messaged me even though no one else could hear. I’m sure they wanted my undivided attention.
Maxine we have a situation. I realize you just finished with something for yourself, but this can’t wait. The message said.
What kind of problem do you have now, that just can’t wait? I asked wordlessly.
We have a kidnapped American. He wasn’t hiking in a jungle somewhere he was grabbed from a hotel a block from the embassy, the message said.
Do you know who has him? I asked.
Religious zealots, who else, the message came back.
You are going to have to be able to find them. If you do that maybe me and an Eve can get him out, I suggested.
We kind of had your new friend in mind, the message said. Speaking French might be helpful.
Come on I speak French almost as good as he does. If he gets killed, it will be a French body. That’s what you really want isn’t it? I asked.
Of course not, but if you have to leave someone behind, it wouldn’t hurt if it were a Frenchman.
I don’t leave people behind… I sent that message along to rock his cradle
Right, well you haven’t left anyone yet, but your career has just begun.
Alright, if you pay him, I’ll take him, I said playfully.
Fair enough, you leave tomorrow morning. Bring clean underwear, otherwise I will have everything for you both, the case officer said. My guess was that I was talking to the Deacon.
And where exactly do I go? I asked.
Why to the airstrip of course. Take the French boy with you, he said.
If he wants to go, I said. If not you are going to have to find me another partner.
That won’t be hard. Everybody wants to work with you and they don’t even know who you are. I find that terribly amusing, he said.
“Oh do you now? Instead of being amused you should try to learn something,” I suggested.
Okay, enough of this nonsense. Just get yourself ready to go and be at the strip tomorrow at 2pm with Jerrod.
It was simply a matter of waiting for Sylvia and Jerrod to return. It would be a waste to go looking for them. There was no telling what Sylvia would be trying to pull on Jerrod. I wasn’t at all sure that she knew that it was a waste of her time.
They were gone a little over an hour. When they returned I asked Jerrod, “So Jerrod, you said you would like some more odd jobs. I have one I can offer you, but I’m not sure you want to get involved. It’s a rescue operation.”
Sylvia was on the phone and couldn’t hear. “Are you going to be in charge?” he asked.
“I am once we get on the ground. During the preparation phase some others are going to be running the show. They are involved in this mess on a daily basis. You and I just come in to clean up their mess.”
He understood that Sylvia wasn’t involved in that part of my operation. “So what’s the deal?”
“An American citizen got grabbed by a South American group of religious zealots. That is the best I can figure so far. Sometimes the information isn’t quite accurate and we have to do the best we can.”
“That’s the same everywhere. It was like that in Chad,” Jerrod said.
“Well we will do the best we can no matter what the situation. So are you in or out?”
“What’s the pay,” he asked.
“$8,000 for less than ten days work,” I replied. I pulled that number out of my ass, but I knew the farm would honor it.
“Hell yeah, I’m in,” he said.
“We leave tomorrow at 1pm sharp. Be here with some spare clothes for the jungle,” I suggested.
“Absolutely, and I want the house. How about half the money in rent credits and half in cash?” he asked.
“That sounds perfectly reasonable to me,” I said. “Just be back here tomorrow before 1PM. When you get here be prepared to do what you guys in the legion are supposed to do.” I said.
“What is that?” he asked.
“Fight to the death,” I replied laughing.
“Oh no, we fight till the other guy is dead,” Jerrod said.
I spent my afternoon and early evening sitting by my window wondering where all the people I had known were and what they were doing at that moment. Since I couldn’t reach any of them, I called Jennifer instead. “So Jennifer what the hell are you doing tonight?” I asked.
“I am having one of the courthouse gang in for dinner. After that who knows,” she said.
“Hell, everybody who knows you knows,” I suggested.
“You are so cruel,” she said with a hearty laugh.
“Well get on to your plans I guess I will go to dinner and then to bed early,” I said.
“Why don’t you let me call you a man and then you come to dinner with us,” she suggested.
“Thanks but I’ll choose my own men honey,” I said with a smile in my voice.
“Suit yourself,” she said.
I sat in one place drinking strong coffee until 8PM. It was then that I decided if I was going to go play killer, I should at least have some fun on my last night. It was just a matter of where to go. At eight most anywhere would be in full swing, not that full swing was much at the Aster clubs. Still it was a chance to spend my last night in town with people. I should do that at least.
I made my decision to go to the Cop Out club. The club was located downtown which meant I could walk to it, but I tended to avoid walking in the downtown. I was far too big a target. Since that was the case I went out the rear door and started the maroon cruiser. I drove it the four blocks to the Cop Out Club. Once inside I noticed that there were more medical people than cops. Trust me it is hard not to tell medical staff from cops.
I had a seat at a table near the jukebox. Since it gave me a good view of the dance floor. I liked the location. I had arrived late and the dancing had begun in earnest. I managed to get one beer delivered before a hospital worker invited me to dance. I learned that he was an Xray Technion. It was nice to know even though I wasn’t likely to ever need his services.
He tried to monopolize me but I told him I wanted to socialize more. He left in a huff but I really didn’t care. After I had danced with a dozen med techs I finally got rescued by a cop.
“You look like you are ready to run away. Don’t do that,” he said.
“Thanks, I really was about to leave. Medical technologist are okay, but I really prefer someone a little more exciting. A cop is good,” I said smiling.
“You are Maxine Stone,” he said. “I know you or at least I have seen you on TV.
“That show was just something we did for TV,” I said.
“You mean it’s fake,” he said.
“No it was all filmed with one camera as it happened. We didn’t go back and reshoot anything. Just that it’s a little embarrassing the way they edited it. It wasn’t really like that. There was a lot of time when nothing happened.”
“Yeah, it’s that way where I work as well. Lots of boredom then a few minutes of terror,” he said.
“Exactly,” I agreed.
“Would you like to dance?” he asked me.
“Sure, I would love to dance,” I said in agreement.
The jukebox played something slow and we danced. Slow dancing to me is standing close together and letting the guy feel you up. Which of course he did quite well.
“I live just a few blocks from here would you look to come to my place for coffee?” I asked.
“I wish I could, but I’m married. I need to get home.”