The Fibbies set up shop in the card salon, which pretty much ended any thoughts of fun I might have had during the wait for my turn in the barrel. Oh well at least I was confident in Jerrod’s ability to keep a secret. Hell, he had made it all his life being gay without anyone knowing. We also had a good cover story set up.
Jerrod had agreed to tell a cover story that I fabricated which was close to the truth. More importantly he agreed to stick to it and then ask for counsel immediately if questioned. The story was that he worked for me as my bodyguard. He only knew that we had gone to South America to search for a missing American. I had told him nothing else and nothing else really came up. We went down to search for him, we found him and we sent him home. That was pretty much the end of the story. What happened at the Monastery had nothing to do with the pirate raid on the cruise ship, so he refused to answer any questions about it.
If asked, I had agree to pay him $5k for the job and $10k if we came under fire. He expected to get his $10k upon return to Aster where we both lived. The story was close enough to the truth, as far as he knew it, that it was indistinguishable from the truth in his mind. Well except for the casino heist part that was.
As for me I would most likely make it up as I went along. I had the kind of memory that could not be tripped up. Still I had to cover all bases and I had to refuse the polygraph as well as any other little tests they came up with. I didn’t even want to be interviewed by the Fibbies at all, but I felt confident.
As I said earlier, it was my plan to give a statement and immediately invoke my right to counsel. The trick then was to just shut the fuck up, period. I also knew to eat or drink nothiing until they figured out what to do with me.
I also planned to go home and trash my fancy computer. At least the hard drive after I had Peter sweep it. Just to get any and all the important stuff off it before the fatal crash.
Sylvia could enter all the legit business data onto a new one by hand. It was also time to change all the email accounts, even though little information had passed through email. Even less of it could be used by the Fibbies to do me any harm.
I had managed to stay out of the Fed’s clutches up to that point, but I always knew that it was just a matter of time. It would be nice to say that the farm would take care of it with just an inter agency memo, but such was not the case. Some of the things I had done since my retirement for the United States Air Force were for entities not covered by the farm. I had absolutely no intention of bringing the Fibbies down on Swamp Thing.
The only choice I had was to just muddy the waters and refuse to cooperate further. I had muddied the waters for sure, now it was just a matter of no cooperation, while it seemed as though I was cooperating. Of course I also had to stand on my constitutional rights just like every other two bit punk I had ever met.
Well hell at least Jennifer was about to have some real fun. She might even get to assemble her little think tank of lawyers. The ones she called the Hell’s Angels. Probably because they all knew how to ride motorcycles from their college days. They flew in and out of the Tryon International Airport now and then, when one of her clients needed a specialist. Unfortunately I was usually the client. She told me to think of them as brain surgeons and transplant specialists. Guys she called in for a specific case, then sent back to their wives, when she had used them up.
We were probably going to need them, if this turned into piracy on the high seas, I thought with a grin. Jennifer would be in seventh heaven for sure. Even if she only had to find someone in Miami to drive down and tell the Fibbies, “Let my person of interest go.”
Of course none of that might happen. They might listen to me and send me on my way without any further questions. Then too I might marry in the spring. That seemed pretty unlikely as well. I mean most guys love their computers to view porn, or play online poker, but I don’t think many want to sleep with it. Okay I was feeling sorry for myself when the Fibby chick came for me. Actually she came for everyone in my section of cabins. That included Jerrod, so we walked up the stairs to the main deck together. All or us wore expressions of dread. Even those people who still didn’t have a clue, looked as though they were headed to a funeral.
We sat in the folding chairs of the salon while we waited for our turn in the barrel. Jerrod and I chatted about Dancer and Leon back in Aster.
“So Maxine, have you called Leon or Dancer?” he asked.
“No, why do you ask?” I replied.
“Just wondering how her dance studio is going,” he commented.
“I had forgotten all about that. I should have called. Surely we are getting reception now,” I said as I flipped my newly purchased burn phone open. Before the Fibby chaperon could stop me, I dialed Leon’s number.
“Hello there Dancer,” I said when she answered.
“It has to be you Maxine no one else calls me that. What in the world are you up to?”
“Jerrod and I are trapped on that cruise ship in Miami. We are in line now for the FBI exit interview, I think. Two questions for you,” I said.
“Go right ahead,” Dancer said.
“How is the dance studio thing working out for you?” I asked.
“Too early to tell yet. So what is the other one?” she asked me.
“Would you call Jennifer and tell her that I might need one of her Angels to come get me out of the clutches of the FBI. Maybe not, but just let her know, so she can give it some thought. Would you do that for me.”
“Of course, should I call Sylvia as well?” she asked.
“I wouldn’t worry her. I only called you, because I knew that you wouldn’t worry at all.” I said with a light tone in my voice.
“You are quite right. If there is anyone who can take care of herself it is you. So if that is all, I have to go. I am walking at the mall.”
“Well have a good sweat,” I said.
“I am a lady Maxine, I do not sweat,” she informed me in her condescending tone. I didn’t even respond, I just cut the connection.
Jerrod smiled, since he knew we were covered. We continued to chit chat while we waited. “So Jerrod are you going home for a visit at least?” I asked I’m sure he knew we were being filmed by the ships security system at the least.
“Actually nothing there for me any more. My family has all passed on to the other side.” he said.
“I’m sorry to hear that. You are young to have lost them all,” I said.
“My parents died from a flu epidemic and my brother and sisters are all communists now. We have nothing to say to each other.” he said.
“Ah okay, well you are more than welcome to join our little family in Aster,” I informed him.
“Yes that was my plan, I am thinking now I might like to start a sports club.”he informed me,
“You mean a gym kind of thing?” I asked.
“More than just a place for ladies to work off their extra pounds. I think a real sports club like we have in Europe.”
“That’s pretty ambitious,” I suggested. “How big an area do you need for something like that?”
“You would need lots of open space for sure. Enough for at least an indoor running track.” he said.
“I might find you a track and a place for machines, but no way I can get you an indoor soccer field.” In the back of my mind Heartland Mill’s old building was rolling around. It was big enough for a damn nice running track and plenty of room for stair masters and those weight things, but I had no idea what else would fit inside it. I just couldn’t believe that enough people in a small rural town would be interested. Then to Heartland wasn’t in the growth alley between Aster and Tryon. I was ready to give up on it. but I put it in the back of my mind to cook off instead of dismissing it entirely.
“Simon Jerrod,” one of the hall monitors called out.
“Good luck Simon and tell it like it is,” I suggested knowing he wouldn’t.
“Maxine Stone,” A different hall monitor called out a moment later.
“That’s me,” I said as I stood and walked to one of the smaller rooms at the rear of the salon.
When I walked in the slightly chubby man in the relatively inexpensive suits looked up and motioned me to the chair. “It is customary for a gentleman to stand when I lady enters the room,” I suggested as I continued to stand.
He finally took the hint and stood. Once he did that, I took the seat. I did all that just to let him know, that if it was going to be adversarial from the start, I did not choose to be intimidated by his position.
“Ms Stone would you mind explaining how you came to be on this ship?” he asked.
“It is a mini vacation arranged by a client. I am sure that in your background check the fact that I am a licensed private investigator came up.” I smiled when I said it. “I was in South America on business. When the business ended, the client arranged this trip for me and my associate as a bonus as it were.”
“Who was the client?” he asked.
“I’m sorry you will have to ask my attorney that question. I will only answer it, if counsel advises me that I must. However there is quite a bit of CNN footage of me and Mr. Jerrod on file from that time period I believe. Public record should do to corroborate my story.”
“Very well, what do you know about the robbery at the casino?” he asked.
“Of course I heard the explosions and the machine gun fire night before last. I have satellite radio and yesterday late in the evening I heard there had been a pirate attack. That is all I know about it. I did walk by the casino yesterday while on my morning walk. I noticed the crime scene tape on the casino door, and the Coast Guard officers standing watch. Now that is all I know. Would you care to tell me exactly what happened?” I asked.
“You know I’m not going to do that,” he said.
“In that case I wish to consult with an attorney before I answer any more questions.” I said.
“I haven’t read you your rights or even hinted that you were a suspect in this. Why do you feel you need an attorney?” he asked.
“I have been questioned by law enforcement officers before and my attorney assures me I always need an attorney. She says to tell the authorities all that I know which is pertinent to their investigation, then invoke my right to counsel. I have now done both. Are we finished?” I asked.
“Write down your address and phone number before you leave,” he demanded.
“Agent, if you don’t know that already then you are the worst FBI agent in history.” With that I stood and walked from the room. I found Jerrod standing outside. Judging from his smile and quick release all had gone as planned.
I expected to hear from the FBI again but I really didn’t care. It was up to them to prove a negative as far as I was concerned. I would have felt better if Jack and Michael were sleeping with the fish, They would soon be Jerrod’s problem and his alone once I had delivered to the two of them in Aster.
Jerrod and I shared a cab to the airport. I dropped him at the commercial terminal, where he had a ticket waiting. After he was gone, I had the cab deliver me to the general aviation area where a pig shit airlines plane would pick me up for the flight to the Virginia Pig Farm. The cover for the base really was a pig farm operation. Probably a pretty good way to dispose of questionable agents as well.