Not one, but two people walked toward me from out of the crowd. Well that seemed to answer my question about what Swamp Dog wanted me to do with the SUV. One of them should have my flight information for heading home.
“Hello my name is Hanna. Colonel Marten sent me.” A very fit looking woman with very red hair said to me. “Sorry to meet you under these conditions.”
“Don’t worry about it I was the one ready to go,” I said.
“Good for you,” the guy following her said. “You have a ticket waiting for you at the American Airline desk. It should be there now.”
“Then you collect your bags and I’ll collect the ticket. If the boss had told me there were two of you on the way, I would have had my bags and be ready to go now. You are going to drive me back, right?”
“Our instructions are to wait while you pack, then drive you on any errand you need to do, so that you can make your 6PM flight out.” the woman said,
“Fair enough,” I agreed searching my special wallet for the credit card. I handed it to Hanna. I was standing at the ticket counter, when I realized I had no idea who the tall handsome man, with the two facial scars might be. He hadn’t introduced himself.
“I’m Sylvia Porter, Do you have a ticket for me to Charlotte N. C.?” I asked the clerk.
“No ma’am, we have ticket for you but it’s to Raleigh N.C.” She said.
“That must be a mistake. It should have been to Charlotte,” I said.
“So you don’t want this ticket to Raleigh. It was prepaid,” she demanded expecting that to make a difference.
” Okay, I’ll take it,” I agreed. The only reason I would be going to Raleigh was to visit the Swamp Dog Compound.
I found Hanna and her scarred friend waiting for me in the baggage pick up area. Upon seeing me she asked, “Would you mind, if I drive. I find it best just to jump right in.”
“Not at all,” I said handing her the keys.
“We left a SUV just like this in the long term parking area of the Raleigh Durham airport. There is a GPS and a map in the glove box marked with the route to the compound.” Hanna said.
“I do hope they are not planning to have me disappear in the swamp,” I said smiling.
“No, they are not. At least not before they interrogate you,” she said.
“Breakout the water board,” I said.
“I don’t think you are in any trouble. Now is there anything I should know?” she asked.
“Nothing much, I think I have broke Soda’s personal security team. You shouldn’t have any trouble from them. I would caution you to keep in mind they are all carrying weapons, even if they are mostly for show. If they pull them to shoot a bad guy, I would personally get behind something,” I explained.
“I’ll keep that in mind. How is this woman Joan to work with?” Hanna asked.
“She never gave me any problem, except I would keep your friend there on a short leash, she is a barracuda,” I explained. “She will probably hit on you as well. She likes to have something to use for leverage on all the hired help.”
I had Hanna stop at the UPS store, so I could pick up the packing supplies to ship the .38 Detective special to county seat. When we reached the motel, she took my room for her self, then booked one for the friend who never spoke. That became my nickname for him, The man who never speaks, seemed to be as goad a name for him as any.
I sat packing the pistol waiting for some idea of what was going on. When I finished I came right out and asked Hanna, “Where am I headed next? I need to know so I know where to send this,” I said.
“I have no idea. Is there anyone who will hold it for you,” she asked.
“Yeah, I guess there is,” I said.
I quickly called Mary Ellen. “Hi honey, I want to send you a package and have you hold it for me. Don’t open it Mary Ellen, but you can have a dope dog sniff it, if it makes you more comfortable.”
“I’m find too, how are you,” she said humorlessly. “Of course I will hold it for you.”
“So, I think I will be home soon, but I’m not sure,” I said honestly. “UPS should be delivering a package from china for me to the apartment. I didn’t think of using you as a package drop until just this minute. I don’t want this on laying on the porch till I can get back.”
“I get it. Don’t worry I’ll keep it handy for you.” she said. “When you come home you are going to owe me. It isn’t much to do, but I will hold it over you till you pay up.”
“You know I’m good for it,” I said then rang off. When the call was finished I put Mary Ellen’s store address and my name on the box. I convinced Hanna to let me stop and get a burger on the way to the ups store and then to the airport. I didn’t want to depend on finding anything open when I got into Raleigh at 8PM. Well at least not anything on the route laid out for me on the map in the dash of a strange SUV. I knew from my game warden days how sparse restaurant were in the backwater areas in that part of the country.
Since I was flying out, I had to trash my box openers. That was one detour along the way to the compound I would make come hell or high water. I didn’t like the idea of flying naked. I couldn’t even take the stun gun so I had packed it along with the .38.
Now Hanna said to me. “If you are ready to travel, just give me your Glock and I will take it off your hands.”
“I think before I surrender my weapon I want to verify it with the home office.” she nodded her agreement. She had no choice, I was armed and she wasn’t.
I called Swamp Dog and was told that it was procedure in such a situation. It was the easiest way to get a weapon in the operative’s hands. So I handed over the weapon. I had not bothered to ask the person who gave me that information why I was being routed through the swamp. Surely they weren’t that concerned over a couple of hundred bucks. Anyway I was going to know soon enough. Hanna had to rush to get me to the UPS store, and then the airport on time. I left slightly over $15 to get the pistol to Mary Ellen’s Shop, but it was worth it. From the UPS store we drove straight to the airport with no other stops. At the airport Hanna put the baggage charge on the company card. I was really going to miss that card.
I kept the box openers until I reached the lobby, where passengers waited to go through screening. I went to the trashcan there and emptied my pockets. I actually had two different box openers. Either would make anyone who did a snatch and grab on the poor defenseless woman, sorry they had chosen me.
What I hadn’t told Hanna, the puppet master, was that I had taken a plastic knife fork and spoon set from the fast food take out restaurant. It wasn’t a box opener, but I could slash with the knife and stab with the fork and gouge an eye out with the spoon. I wrapped them in the French fry box to hide them from the scanner.
I went through the line to security with the cardboard wrapped utensils in the much larger wallet. The one I carried when I traveled was a zipper type wallet. The TSA agent opened the carry on bag, like everything else I owned it was special. The bag, when empty, folded to the size of a large sandwich. When in used it expanded to the size of a large purse, complete with shoulder strap. I had it cluttered with stuff a typical women would carry in her purse. Since I normally carry all the shit I need in my pants pockets, it was a chore to find enough to fill the purse. I especially packed things to confuse the TSA. Of all the junk I packed the only thing I really needed was the tee shirt, extra panties. and the zipper wallet. I only needed the wallet for the dining utensils, credit card and other ID. It also held a small amount of cash.
As I expected I went right through TSA and onto the plane. I took the wallet out of the travel bag before I put it in the overhead. Since I chose to wear the green camouflage cargo pants, there was plenty of room for the wallet. The plane ride to Raleigh N.C. was just a little over an hour. When I left the plane, I got my bag and then began looking for the SUV in the long term parking area.
I went from row to row beeping the horn till I was standing right beside it and beeped it one more time to be sure. When I was I got into the car and turned on the GPS. I also glanced at the map. I pushed the spot on the screen’s menu marked compound. The GPS started giving me directions. Since I had never been there, I followed the directions like a complete dolt. I did stop to buy a chocolate milk shake at a drive in restaurant on the outskirts of Rockford which was a big enough town to have a restaurant with a drive thru open till midnight. By that time I had left the main road and was driving down a state road. The road seemed to be about a thousand years old. It ran right through the downtown of some places, so small that downtown wasn’t even applicable.
I still had no idea why I was going to the compound. Even so I was happy to be driving by myself through the early evening. It seemed strange to be driving without weapons though.
I turned onto a county road where I felt the Swamp Thing compound must surely be. Swamp Thing was the larger entity of Swamp Dog. At least that is what I had been told.
The GPS had me turn down a sandy drive. “Your destination is one mile on the right,” the female voice of the GPS unit informed me. The guard on the gate looking more like an army ranger than a civilian rent a cop.
“What can I do for you Ma’am?” the very attractive man on the gate asked.
“I guess, I need to see Colonel Martin,” I said.
“Please stay in your car. An escort will be with you in a few minutes,” the guard said.
I pulled into what would have been a parking lot, if anyone parked there. After five minutes I was about to go back to the gate, when another SUV pulled into spot beside me. Another young hunky man got of the passenger side of the newly arrived SUV. He walked around it and then got into the passenger seat of my SUV.
“Good Evening Ma’am Colonel Marting has left for the day. He asked that we put you up tonight and he will join you for breakfast at 0700.” the hung informed me.
“Very well,” I said not too worried. A little worried for sure. Everyone but me was armed, so there was reason to worry. The escort rode with me into the compound. He had me park beside an all wood version of a small mobile home The sign read Guest House Five. There were two more on the right of the wooden trailer, and on more on the left. I didn’t understand or care that the numbering system made no sense to me. I just went in and found no food in the refrigerator or in the cabinets. I guessed that I would go to bed hungry. It wouldn’t be the first time.