I awoke in the small bed wrapped in strange blankets and in a small cold room. I was pretty miserable, but I realized that I should be happy to be alive. Even if sitting up was so painful it took at least ten different attempts in different ways to manage it. The bathhouse was a lot like the ones in campgrounds from kiddie camps. There were ten shower heads on the wall and ten sinks on the wall. There were not any doors on the partition around the eight toilets. It was very much a kids camp ground at least in design.
There was no heat in the bathhouse, so I decided to wait until later in the day. Meanwhile I hoped I got invited to use the bathroom in the main house. Hey it could happen, I thought. I figured the odds at about the same as me running into town for breakfast.
I went back to the tiny house and tried to settle in. I managed to get a fire going it was painful but I managed it. Being in the field as a air force policemen helped with those basic camping skills. Now and then we built a real fire at one of the guard posts. Probably wasn’t a good idea but we did it anyway. So the fire in the bucket stove was doable for me. The fire made the tiny house survivable. I would hardly call it livable. I was in constant pain from the damaged rid.
About an hour after I awoke the probably illegal maid came down with a tray she called breakfast. It was some oatmeal kind of gruel and a boiled eggs. It was probably one of the simplest breakfasts I had ever eaten. It was also one of the blandest. Eggs without salt, no matter how they were prepared, were terrible. The same was true of gruel. I had a feeling I was getting a feel for being an 18th century orphans diet.
I wrapped myself in the blankets and lay on the bed. I must have slept some because it didn’t seem like a long time before the maid was back with a bowl of beans and a bowl of greens. There was no meat, but the beans had some kind of sauce that made them pretty good. The greens were just greens. One thing for sure, if it kept up I would be healthier than I had been.
If Barry had expected me to cringe when he came in, he was disappointed. I pulled back some to make him feel safe. “Get up bitch,” he said. So I had a pretty good idea where I stood. “We found out it wasn’t you who tipped off the rip off guys.”
“I told you that last night,” I replied.
“Well you gonna stay here till you healed up some. The Greens said you could move into the big house, if you wanted.” he said.
I fought real hard not to tell him to relay a go ‘fuck yourself’ message. Instead I said, “I’m okay here. I would like some better food though. Looks like they are feeding me from the field hand pots.”
“I’ll relay the message. Oh Karen, I hope there is no hard feelings. It was just my job, I had to do it.” Barry tried to sell it to me.
“Yeah, I could she how much you hated it,” I said.
“Honest, I did not enjoy beating you or Bruce.” he informed me.
“Where is Bruce?” I asked.
“They kept him in the Hospital. We are taking care of him. He won’t talk. He has nowhere else to go.” Barry informed me.
“Ain’t nothing to me if he talks. I just drove a truck and picked up a package. I didn’t assault anybody,” I informed Barry. But once you relax that is all going to change, I thought, but didn’t say it.
“True, we are all going to plead ignorance, for some of us it is true.” he said with a smile.
“That sounds about right.” I agreed.
“Well, I’ll pass on your message about the food,” he said and left. I didn’t want to rush out and give him a beating. I wanted something more subtle for him. Maybe something more permanent, I thought.
I knew I needed the maid to bring food for a few more days, then I needed to get a burn phone and make contact with the state cops. It was about time to get back to work. I had no problem putting the Greens away, even if they were taking care of me. Without their ‘help’ I wouldn’t need taking care of at all.
Dinner that night was late, so I was beginning to think I had pissed them off, and that was fine as well. A nice long prison stay was just the vacation for them and their pet Barry, I decided.
Dinner finally came, it was some Italian dish with pasta and tomato sauce. I really didn’t care for it, but I had to admit it was better than the garbage they fed the farm hands. I got myself ready for bed after dinner, since there wasn’t much else I could do. There was only one electrical outlet in the workers camp. It was in the screened dinning hall.
The more I looked at the place the more I was convinced it had once been a church camp or something like it. The tiny house I was staying in could easily have been a camp cabin designed for four bunk beds. It probably was reconfigured for a couple of families. A few might be empty now, so that furniture could be used to reconfigure it on short notice.
“Hello in the house,” I heard Molly voice say.
“Hello yourself, come on in,” I said through the storm door, which was the only door.
Once Molly was inside she looked around for about half a minute. “Get your shit together.” she said to me. Then she screamed to someone outside. “Get you ass in here and load Karen’s thing in her truck, and get them up to the house. Have them put in the guest house for now. I’ll figure out tomorrow where she is going to stay, but tonight she will be in the guest house.”
She turned to me and said, “Karen I am so sorry. I told them the guest house and I suppose they thought I meant this dump. This is the illegal’s area we also call them guests. At least they gave you the best of the houses.”
“So is the cholera quarantine sign still on the worst of the houses?” I asked.
“At least you haven’t lost your sense of humor,” she said
“Tell me did you find your rat?” I asked.
“Yes it was like you said one of Barry’s scouts,” Molly said.
“How convenient,” I said.
“What does that mean,” she asked.
“Just that Barry almost kills Bruce and would have done the same to me, but you listened. He was in a hurry to find the ‘guilty’ party. In such a hurry he didn’t care if the one he sent down for it was guilty or not. But hey Just my opinion it don’t mean a thing.”
“I think it’s more about him breaking your ribs, than it is about who ratted on us,” she said.
“You might be right,” I said. “It is still convenient that it is one of the people I said and one he can control the narrative. I’ll bet you my bonus for recovering your drugs, that the scout died without you or Todd talking to him. All you have is Barry’s word that he confessed. ”
“Once I get you installed in a decent place, you can we contact those people who are going to come looking for you?” she asked changing the subject.
“Sure it’s some guys I once had a thing with. If they don’t hear from me every month, they are supposed to visit one of those file a sharing sites. That site keeps my last known address and phone number on file. They have the address and number of the motel.” I said.
“So you what send\t your old boy friends a ‘I’m fine’ message and they send back a good to hear from you?” Molly asked.
“Molly, I love you dearly but you had an almost sexual look on your face while Barry worked Bruce over. You had another one when he broke my ribs again. I’m sorry I’ll keep the details of how my people work a little longer, if it’s all the same to you.” I said.
“And if it’s not all the same to me,” she asked.
“Then we will both know where we stand fairly quickly,” I said.
“Just see to it that no one comes looking for you and that you don’t tip anyone off exactly where you are,” she said.
“Sweetie, I’m no fool. I don’t want people looking for me either. I just wanted to make sure you knew that Barry can’t just make me disappear. I do have people who will come looking.” I said. “It was kind of a pact written. Litterally in blood.”
“Just a minor inconvenience,” Molly said.
“That’s true for all of us, but the inconvenience stops for the one who is dead. Then it begins for the ones trying to stay alive. I have been close enough to death that I realize it is a ticking time bomb. One that may be better then the alternative sometimes.”
“How do you contract these people,” she said.
“Email,” I said. “Actually a coded email. It’s an old military trick a variation of your dead drop. Four of us who were in the same unit devised it to keep track of each other. See, the only way you know someone is gone is when they miss a check in. If they don’t miss a check in, you assume they are fine. You give them a certain amount of time before they are late. Then you give them some more before you sent the calvary.”
“So you aren’t going to tell me how you do it are you,” she asked.
“Sure, if you like it’s a one time code when I use it the code becomes useless and the cycle starts all over again with a new code.” She didn’t need to know that it was the cops monitoring the drop.
“That’s pretty tricky, why would an ordinary driver, of an ordinary truck, need such an elaborate system?” the male voice asked from outside the door.
“If the driver of the truck didn’t plan to stay a truck driver, and she had seen enough to know everybody is at least stepping on the line, so why not go ahead and step over it. Truck driving is one of my skills Mr. Green, but I never said it is the only one.” I said.
“I see, so what do you consider your real talent?” Molly asked.
“Mrs. Green, I solve problems. It is what I have done from Afghanistan to Iraq. I was put in those places as a simple air force soldier. The air force doesn’t do anything violent, so no one really suspected me. Things happened problems went away. That’s what I did best.”
“That’s pretty far fetched. How do I know that it is not just a fantasy of yours,” Todd asked.
“You pick a problem, after I heal, and I’ll make it go away, or I’ll go away.” I said. “Oh yes I have one more talent that comes in handy.”
“Oh what is that,” he asked.
“Well I’m good company,” I said.
“So what?” he asked.
“If I had to have someone around to do that Barry character’s job, I would want someone who was good company,” I said with a very large smile.
“So let me get this straight. If I brought you to the house, gave you a nice place to recover, you would send this coded message to your killer friends, and you would show your appreciation in other ways as well?” Todd asked.