“Good to see you too Helen.” The Brit turned to me. “Sylvia meet Helen now play nice and when we get in the car we will talk.” he said.
“Hello Sylvia nice to meet you, I hope.” she said with resignation in her voice.
“Me to,” was all I could manage.
Helen had a much nicer travel bag than I. Once we had it and her in the car. we began driving into the country. “Hey Brit, You promised we would stop at a hardware store,” I said.
“I did better than that,” he said handing me a plastic bag. “If these won’t do, I’ll take you anywhere you like.”
The bag was filled with box openers and even a metal handle utility knife. I left it in the bag, while I looked at the others. One of them was the six inch long, inch wide blade, which meant it was for large boxes. I put it in the pocket of my cargo pants. A further search provided a much smaller version of the same snap off blade utility knife, but with a thiner narrower handle. It would be much easier to conceal, if it came to that.
I threw the rest of the blades out on the side of the road. I looked out the back glass until the car behind us drove past the spot. “You are pretty damn strange,” Mikey Spillman said.
“You don’t have to mention that again. This ain’t a marriage Mickey,” I said slightly worried that he took caution as quirky.
“So Brit, whats your story?” I asked.
“Sorry love, unless you have permission from the boss to interrogate me, I would prefer to just live in the moment.” he said.
“Just making conversation,” I said. Of course I wasn’t. I wanted to know, if I needed to watch my back, when he was behind me. “You did say we would talk in the car.”
“You will know everything you need to know,when we got to the F.O.B.” he said.
“Forward Operating Base,” Mickey explained. I had a feeling it was more for Helen more than me.
In the darkness of the car I could make out Helen, but really couldn’t tell much. So I relied on my memories from the airport. She certainly didn’t look like a warrior, not that she appeared particularly soft. Her body was indeed soft, but there was something in her eyes. It along with her soft body told me she might kill me, but she wouldn’t chase me through the wood to do it. “What happened to your hand,” she asked while I was still musing.
‘Splinters,” I said.
“Shrapnel damage can be terrible,” she said.
“It was wood splinters not metal,” I said. “Metal would have taken the hand off as much as I got hit with.”
“Yes it probably would have. You must have had a good surgeon to save it,” she said.
“I had two operations on it within the first 24hours. I expect that is why I have as much movement as I do.” I said.
“The first one probably was a battlefield butcher, and the second a first class plastic surgeon,” she guessed.
“ER in a small local hospital. then a big time hospital, when they had me stable and could chopper me out I’m told.” I said.
“You were very lucky,” she said.
“I was a little lucky. If I had been very lucky, I would have been standing somewhere else.” I said.
“Right you are,” she said.
“You are a specialist too?” I asked. “A contractor like me?”
“I am a consultant,” she said with a laugh. “Actually a retired trauma nurse.”
The driver of the car, The Brit, spoke again, “Okay since you now know about Helen, here Helen.” he said handing her a plastic bag. The bag contained a small .38 revolver like mine at home, but mine didn’t have the scars where the serial number had been ground off it.
Helen took it flipped the cylinder out very professionally. I noticed that it was loaded with five rounds. I would bet my ass they were hollow points. I noticed that she wore surgical gloves, when she handled the pistol. She dropped it into the large purse she carried with her. She perhaps felt my questioning look, anyway she explained, “If five shots won’t do it. I’m not going to have time to reload.”
“So this isn’t your first rodeo,” I said.
“Sorry I don’t know all your American Slang yet. I’m fresh off the boat as it were,” she said in the accent again.
“Right,” I said. I guessed from that exchange, that she had been either a missionary, or a field hospital nurse in someplace hot and sandy. Everyone who went to movies, or watched American TV, knew what ‘it isn’t my first rodeo meant’.
We traveled on to a old house a few miles out past the New Orleans city limits. It was early in the morning, I had tried to sleep all night on the plane, but I was still dead tired. The nurse and I were sharing a room. I finally got a good look at her.
She was fortyish with badly bleached hair. She wasn’t tall, nor was she short. She was really kind of average in every way. I did wonder why we needed a nurse, since we hadn’t needed one before.
“You have about an hour,” The Brit said. “So do what you can.
Fuck him, I thought. I was going to run the whole fucking hour. I quickly dressed and took off alone. I carried the smaller box opener in the pocket of the sweat suit. I ran out to the main road then ran another twenty minutes away from town. Then I ran back to the house. I had been gone 58 minutes. When I entered the bedroom assigned to me and removed the knit cap, I was proud that I was back in under and hour. Even so I had still managed to work up a good sweat.
The Brit came in before I could shower and said, “Let’s go to the meeting.” Then he turned to me and said, “Don’t ever do that again.”
“Fuck you,” I said angrily. “I’m a contractor fire me, if you don’t like it.”
“If it were up to me, I would,” he said angrily.
“If you can’t fire me Brit, don’t sit near me and you won’t even notice.” I snapped at him.
We met in the living room where a coffee pot had been set up on an old rickety table. There was almost no furniture in the old house. The whole farm was owned by someone friendly to Swamp Thing Domestic, aka Swamp Dog.
“Good to see you two here. You are the last pieces of the picture. Sorry Sylvie the coffee is fresh, This is why we gathered here.” Karl handed out pictures. The picture was of a black girl, no more than twenty if that. She was in a school uniform. “Her name Holly, because she was born on Christmas Eve. She is seventeen years old. She is holed up with a street gang. Needless to say her father wants her back. and we are going to rescue her.”
“If her father can afford to hire Swamp Dog, he has some bucks, surely the local police would do it for less,” I said.
“Good point,” Karl said. “He is afraid the publicity would ruin the rest of her life.”
“He is a fucking politician and he is afraid she will spoil his chances of stay in office?” I guessed.
“Not quite, but close. He is a player in town. He is afraid that if gets out that he can’t take care of his little girl, the sharks will start to circle.”
“So we have to do this without making waves? That’s almost in possible.” Mickey said.
“Oh no we can make all the waves we want, as long as we get her and get away. No one knows she is missing, so when she shows up only the gang will know.” Karl said.
“You aren’t suggesting we wipe them out are you?” I asked. “That’s murder. Maybe you are an assassin, but I’m not.”
“I know who you are Sylvia. This is a street gang and they are some of the worst of the worst. But we are not going in to assassinate any one. We get the girl and get out. Anyone who gets in out way is fair game. Anyone who tries to take her back is fair game. Is that better,” Karl asked.
“Slightly,” I replied.
“We know where the gang is. We go in like swat on steroids. If she is there, we come back here and Helen takes care of her. If she isn’t, we find out where she is. We need to make sure no one warns anyone we are coming.”
What he was advocating was the closest thing to murder, I ever heard. I sure as hell didn’t like it and Karl knew it.
“We have a giant size roll of duct tape. Anyone left gets rolled up in that shit and left locked in a bathroom or something. We will only need a few minutes to find her. Now memorize that face, she is not to be harmed. Also memorize that floor plan it was difficult to obtain. Everybody rest, we are going at eight tonight. One more thing, no one gets left behind, no one,” he said. I knew that was more for operational security than a humanitarian gesture. The second, no one, meant bodies as well as living operatives came back with us.
Best I could figure there were four of us shooters and probably a surveillance team as well. Karl was a hell of a sniper for sure, I hoped he was as good at a swat type mission.
Helen was busy turning our room into an emergency surgery. She looked at me and smiled, “Just in case.”
“Glad to have you with us,” I said. But it was more about Holly than us, I expected. My guess was she was on drugs and Helen was aboard to deal with her withdrawal. It didn’t matter why she was with us. As I had told her, I was just glad she was. I knew what a difference quick treatment had made to me. Meatball surgery was better than no surgery.
I took a nap helped by a couple of benadryl tablets. I knew I would sleep for about six hours before I woke up. Any more than that I would be dopey and any less I would still be sleepy. Either way I would have time to come back to normal before we moved.
I awoke terribly hungry about 4PM. “Do we have anything here to eat?” I asked Helen.
“Cold pizza,” she replied.
“Why the fuck is it always day old pizza on these fucking jobs,” I asked.
Helen just looked at me and smiled. I knew then she had been on a lot more of these raids than I had. “If you put in your request, I imagine they can get you something different for tonight,” she suggested.
“How about some Louisiana po boy sandwiches,” I suggested.
“That would be a new thing to me,” she said.
I ate cold pizza and watched TV on the small screen TV. They had a satellite disk sitting out back on a tripod like a video camera would be. “Damn you guys travel first class,” I said but I thought it was because we were going to be here a while and would need to communicate with the Swamp.
Karl came over and motioned for me to join him in the bathroom. Somehow I knew it wasn’t for a quick blowjob. “Sylvie there is going to be a guard on the street. We need to get him out of the way very quietly.”
“So you want him to think he is going to get a free blow job, then when we are alone, you want me to cut his throat?” I asked.
“If you don’t, we can’t hit the door with any surprise,” he said. “There is no where I can fire from without being seen.