The smell of pig shit was in the morning air when the ass kissing chick’s partner led me out of the basement, and up to the barn area. Inside the barn, on the ground floor with the motor running, was parked my ugly butterscotch pickup. The farm had sent someone down to drive it up for me. At least I didn’t think they had it flown up. Then again anything was possible with that bunch.
The cart with the three blue plastic barrels had not left my sight, and I was the one who loaded them onto the truck. I borrowed a piece of cheap poly rope to tied them down. I even found a stack of brand new cheap blue plastic tarps on a shelf, just inside the barn’s entrance. I used one of those to cover the bed of the pickup. I tied it down as best I could using the bungee cords I found beside the tarps. All that jiving around took me about ten minutes.
I drove through the three check and choke points to get onto the road out to the interstate highway. The drive from the farm to Aster took as long as the flight up from Miami to the farm. The drive was a bit scary as well. I was driving a beat up old pickup truck with close to 3 million in cash and I didn’t even have a pea shooter. I suppose I could have asked for a better truck and a loaner. I had may doubts as to how far the farm’s co-operation would extend.
It wasn’t quite lunch time when I arrived at the Downtown house, so of course Sylvia wasn’t inside waiting for me. I wrestled the three blue barrels inside and then stacked them in the gun vault all by myself. What once would have been a problem wasn’t even a serious challenge for the new me. There seemed to be several advantages to being the new me. Lugging and toting was one of the big ones for sure.
Once the money was locked away, I stripped off my clothes, then I walked into the bathroom naked. I looked around the mostly mirrored room to see how the body repairs looked. Since it wasn’t a major do over I had a couple of new scars, but they didn’t look out of place. I was most happy to lose the limp from the dry hydraulic joint. My gate was what it had been before I left for the trip south.
It was too late for breakfast at Helen’s and too early for the cloak and dagger, so I took a shower. I enjoyed the feel of hot water running over me even more than I had before my latest time spent in the jungle. The showers on the ship hadn’t been near as nice as the one in my downtown house.
I dressed in very simple white cotton bikini panties from my own stash. Then I pulled on a gray tee shirt that actually fit me correctly. I was a little surprised to find that I could tell the difference in how clothes fit me. I wondered if I had always known or it was part of the tuneup. I just didn’t find it important enough to dwell on. I slipped into a pair of my jeans which also fit me better than those provided by anyone else. The others were either skin tight or baggy. Mine just seemed to feel right.
Even though I didn’t plan to leave the house for a while, I slipped into the upside down shoulder rig for the small .38. To cover the rig I slipped on a big sloppy black sweatshirt. If I had to have the pistol, I could go under the sweatshirt for it. It might cost me a millisecond, but I wasn’t too worried about milliseconds since I was the new me.
“Hey girl,” I said to Sylvia when she entered the rear door almost an hour later.
“Well hello to you, how are you doing?” she asked standing in the kitchen.
“I’m fine but would be better if you made some coffee. I seem to have lost the knack,” I said smiling.
“Bullshit you are just lazy,” she commented.
“Maybe,” I agreed. “Nonetheless would you make coffee please?”
“Since you asked nicely of course.” she said. “Are you ready for your report on how thing went in your absence.”
Since I had left the pickup at the grass airstrip, she would have known nothing of if theft. In which case her report would have to be on the real estate ventures.
”Sure but I need to do one thing first. I‘ll be back before the coffee is finished,” With that said I walked back to the gun vault. It was just a huge walk in closet on the floor plans, but it did have room for my weapons collection and even room for the three blue plastic barrels stacked in the corner. Best of all it had a heavy metal door and a serious lock.
It wasn’t easy but I cut the top off one of the barrels. From it I removed one of the packets of cash. The packet held 1000k in twenty dollar bills. I planned to use it to pay Peter for his research. I also needed him to do one more thing. I dug around in the barrel until I found a packet of hundreds as well. Those were for Jerrod.
Once I was back in the kitchen area, sat at the steel table to drink my coffee. It was good but it would be better in a few hours. Sylvia knew to make a full pot and then start another. Coffee got stronger, there for better the longer it sat.
“So before you start your report, have you wrecked the cruiser?” I asked.
“No, I haven’t even dinged a fender,” she said.
“Good then let’s get the other over with,” I suggested. “First of all let me say something. I am going to let you run the real estate any way you want. We have a bonus arrangement so you have an incentive to make it work. I’ll put up the money and help with the big plans but the rest you should know how to do yourself now,” I suggested.
“That’s pretty much what we had agreed to before this last trip,” Sylvia said.
“Yes it is, so with that in mind what do I need to know?” I asked.
“Do you want to know how much money I moved from the operating account to the mother account?” she asked.
“After all the expenses was there a profit?” I asked.
“Yes,” Sylvia replied.
“Then I don’t really need to know any more. When I find one the auditor will do the books every Quarter and send me a statement. So are you happy with your bonus for the month?” I asked.
“Very satisfied,” she replied.
“And you have paid yourself a salary as we agreed?” I asked.
“Yes I have,” she informed me.
“Then everything is moving along smoothly?” I asked.
“Except that we are going to run out of houses in Hartland Village way too soon,” she informed me.
“So we have to find another project,” I suggested. “Has anybody come up with anything?”
“You friend Kate has two projects she is pitching to us,” she said.
“Her daddy has two projects, which he has Kate trying to pitch to us. Careful, Kate will try anything to sell her project. I mean anything,” I said.
I had brought a brand new smarter than smart phone from the farm. I needed to pick up a burner phone as well at Walmart. I checked my ordinary junk email, while Sylvia looked up some figures she wanted me to hear from the Drugstore condo. I had hoped to be clear of that property, “Someone named Walter with Green County Savings and Loan wants to meet with you. He has something he wants to run past you,” Sylvia said. “Some of them are about the Drugstore Condos I’m sure.”
“Set it up whenever it is good for him, then make me a note.”
“Jennifer is going to bill you for the calls she made to Miami, just in case you needed someone down there,” Sylvia said.
“Hell, pay her . Threatening to use her, usually is more than enough to get me out of trouble. When she actually has to do something , I guess it is payback even if it accomplishes nothing.”
Sylvia seemed to have wrapped it up but something was bothering her. “Is there anything else?” I asked.
“My school is ending in two months. I have to decide what I want to do after. I have been approached about working for the hospital here,” she stated matter of factly.
“Ah I see. So do I need to start thinking about a new executive assistant?” I asked.
“Maxine, I love you dearly, but there is no security with you. Everything you do is on the edge. I think I need the security of working for a large company,” she said.
“Well if that is what you want, I certainly understand. Let me know when you make your final decision.” I was sad to think about losing Sylvia, but I knew that it was a possibility all along.
I walked out the front door of the downtown house and onto the sidewalk. I didn’t tell Sylvia where I was headed. I was hurt to be honest and I had things I needed to do. She really had no business knowing all my business. I dialed Peter’s phone as I walked around the block.
“Peter, let’s pick up some coffee and head out to the lake,” I suggested.
“I can do that,” he said.
“I’ll get the coffee,” I suggested. He just shut down his phone as a response.
The lake was actually the city marina, which was also the water supply. The city’s offices there were inside what looked like an old manor house. It had a large terrace which overlooked the lake. Anyone could use it, all one had to do was find an empty space. At that time of the year there were plenty of them.
I pulled into the drive- thru window at the local McDonald’s between downtown and the marina. I got a cardboard holder with three large coffee cups. I also got a small white bag with an apple pie inside. I paid too much but I could always write it off as a cost of doing business, since it was a business meeting.
I arrived after Peter. “Hello Peter how you doing?” I asked.
“I am fine how are you?” he replied.
“I’m just fine. I bought you an apple pie, I know how you love them. Now don’t leave your trash laying around. While I sat in the parking lot, and before I left the truck, I slipped the $1000 packet of twenty dollar bills inside the white paper bag. Yes I know it was theatrical, but I enjoyed it and so did Peter. It made him feel like he was part of the game.
He looked inside the bag then said. “I think I will save this for later.” With that he folded the bag and slipped the pie and the money into his coat pocket.
“Would you call our mutual friend and send him this message, Where?” I asked.
“Of course, could I use your phone?” he asked.
“Peter, I haven’t had time to pick one up yet?” I suggested.
“Then I will take care of it and call you tonight.” he said. “I need to make a post on a forum’s message board.”
After we parted, I drove to the house Jerrod was supposed to rent from me. I found him sleeping on the floor in the living room. “Damn Jerrod don’t you have a fucking bed?” I asked.
“Not yet, and I got a call I’m going to have company tonight. I was going to see if I could borrow one of your cars to pick up my friends at the airport?” he asked.
“Of course I will work something out. Maybe they can help you shop for furniture.” I suggested.
“Fuck you Maxine. Just give me my money.” he was smiling.
“Let’s walk out back.” I suggested. Once we were outside I said. “This is your payment for the South America job. You do know that if you deposit all that in the back there will be forms to fill in.”
“Yes, I know about your money laws here. Everyone who ever watched TV knows,” He said.
“The other I have ready for you but we have to talk about that. If you rush out to spend that, we might wind up in Jail or dead.
I am going to be meeting with a money man one day this week. I will talk to him about your money as well as mine. That is if you trust me. In the meantime put some of what I gave you into the bank, and I will slip you more of your cash to spend, just not too much at a time please. Anytime you want to hold onto your own money find a safe place for it and I will be happy to deliver it to you. Is that agreeable? “ I asked.
“Perfectly, ” he replied..
“Of course it might be best if the pretty boys didn’t know about any of this,” I suggested.
“Absolutely,” Jerrod agreed. I watched Jerrod walk back into his house and realized that I just didn’t notice his sever limp anymore. Maybe because I had seen what he could do. Whatever the reason I hardly noticed.
I did wonder what he was going to tell the pretty boys.