A case of the flu probably saved my life from going in the wrong direction, but it definitely save Queen BeeBee’s live for real. I still think Andrew brought the flu with him from the Great dismal swamp. When he left, within a week I had about every minor ailment that traditionally goes with the flu. The worst thing was that County Seat became a pest house.
The county board of health declared it an emergency. The board of health began looking for a place to set up a pest house. Okay that is what they would have called it in 1917, when the Spanish Influenza decimated the slums of the USA. I don’t know what cute name they gave the latest strain, but it was causing real problems for those who were uninsured. Some of them were unable to afford the expensive meds that actually worked. There were some over the counter medicines that gave some relief for the symptoms, but those didn’t cure anything.
The county found a benefactor for their clinic in one BeeBee Queen. It was hard to believe that BeeBee had been born in Warren County. She had moved on and up over the years, but had never lost her connection with the poor people of Warren County evidently.
When I heard, I began to doubt whether BeeBee met out criteria at all. We also had a second problem with out requirements. To increase the likelihood that we would get away with it, our paths had to never have crossed. Frankly there were way too may candidates to risk going after a person in our circle of acquaintances. BeeBee became one of mine when we met.
BeeBee Queen walked into The Brit’s Pub bold as brass. I was sitting at the bar and I recognized her from the picture on my computer. I would have known she was someone special even without the picture. She looked like she was expensively dressed, if nothing else.
“You are new here aren’t you?” She asked Jeremy.
“Yes I am. My friend and I came here several months ago,” Jeremy answered,
“I’m Betty Bell Queen, my friends call me Bee Bee,” she said.
“It’s nice to meet you Betty. What brings you to County Seat?” He asked.
“I’m setting up a flu clinic. It’s only temporary you know a few beds a couple of nurses and a few drugs just to help the poor survive this outbreak,” He said.
“That is commendable,” Jeremy said. “Isn’t it Sylvia?”
“Yes it is,” I replied after taking a sip of my beer. I didn’t want to rush into any conversation with BeeBee. I also still felt like shit, drugs or no drugs.
“Hardly, just something I could do.” She said.
“Do you live here,” I allowed Jeremy to ask questions to which I already knew the answer.
“No dear, I live in Metropolis. I was born here, so I came in to see how my money was being spent.” Then she turned to me. “I heard the young man call you Sylvia and with that hand, that would probably make you Sylvia Porter.”
“It would indeed. I already had the flu, but thanks for the aid you are providing to the county.” I was trying hard not to like her, but I wasn’t sure yet just how I was doing at it. You have to remember, all my other friends were killers. So I guess I couldn’t hold a few dead husbands against her. The truth was no matter how I felt about her, I wouldn’t be the one to kill her. It was just a matter of our rules about the selection of victims. They were based on the highest probability of our not even coming up in an investigation.
“I’m certainly glad you came through it alright. We probably won’t be operating the clinic more than a month or so. Just long enough for me to get a belly full of Warren County,” she said.
“I’m surprised that it would take you so long,” I said with a smile.
“You don’t have to live here Sylvia, so why do you?” she asked.
“To be honest I like Warren County. I guess I’m just a simple country girl at heart,” I said.
“Nothing wrong with that,” she said.
“Now you want to tell me how you knew who I was,” I asked.
“I have enough money to hire a security company. They do a threat assessment, before I make a trip like this. They want to know who they should observe and how carefully.”
“There is no reason for them to watch me. I don’t even put on a good show, when I take off my clothes.” I said.
“I would definitely have to agree with that. I have this really good stylist, who works wonders for me,” She said. I noticed Jeremy was enjoying the conversation a little too much.
“I think I do better, by not trying to do well at all,” I said.
“My security couldn’t decide, who was the most dangerous. You or the pub’s owner Allen.” BeeBee said.
“So you decided to walk into the Bears den?” I ask.
“I have always found it to be the most productive,” she said.
“Well I can’t disagree with that. So you came to warn me that you have a really bad ass security team?” I asked.
“Not really warn you. It is more of an advice kind of visit,” she said.
“I have to admit you are probably going to get the last word this time. And since I don’t expect to ever see you in Warren County after the current epidemic, you will get the last word period.” I said.
“Oh I really wish this didn’t have to end with us being less than friendly,” she said.
“I’m not sure I want to be your friend BeeBee. I think that would probably be something that would cause my insurance rates to go up.” I said with a smile.
“I wonder how being, not my friend will effect them?” She asked.
“Well it’s only fair I warn you. I have a pretty bad ass security team of my own,” I said.
“So I hear.” she said.
“Mine would never quit, even if I die. As a matter of fact they would get even more intense, if I were to die,” I said. I was just being honest, “It’s one of the perks of screwing some really bad men,” I said.
“Jeremy, go see if The Brit is up coming down, or having company,” I suggested. “I’ll pretend to be the bartender for you.”
A minute or so later The Brit came down looking a little pale. He was obviously battling his own demons. “Sorry to get you off your death bed,” I said with a smile.
“So what is so important?” he asked.
“BeeBee Queen came to visit,” I explained.
“What the fuck is that all about?” he asked.
“To be honest, I think she found out we had her targeted.” I said.
“Why do you think that,” The Brit asked.
“She hinted at it. She had her security team investigate us,” I reported.
“That report must have been a fun read. Even the parts and only adequate investigator could find would be interesting. Does it go deeper than something we did tripped a computer trap switch.” The Brit asked.
“To be honest that is my guess,” I replied. “We need to call the nerd and have him back track to see if he did something like that. I would rather not think we have a leak.”
“I agree,” The Brit said. “I feel like shit, I’m going to have to take a hit of speed, or go back to bed. I feel like shit.”
“Go back to bed. You know as well as I do you don’t think clearly on speed. I’m almost finished with mine flu symptoms, so I will move in here till all this is over.” I explained. “For Jeremy.”
“Take care of him,” The Brit said.
“Just like he was my little sister,” I said.
“Fair enough,” The Brit replied. “Call me if you need me.”
“You better believe it. Sleep with that old Walther,” I suggested.
“Don’t worry I will,” he said, In my mind I put the odds of BeeBee sending her crew for us at less than fifty percent. If she counted on isolating me from weapons by catching me out, she was in for a shock. Actually her crew was in for a shock. I knew where The Brit kept his spares. Business was almost non existent due to the outbreak of the flu, but I stayed open anyway. It was my way of choosing the battlefield. That was always an advantage. I had the five rounds in the .22 mag. Then I would be going to the pump assault shotgun.
The Brit and I had each bought two since the last job. I never wanted the thugs to be the only onces decently armed in a showdown. Okay that was propaganda as well. I like that version of the truth better. To make a long story short I knew where the assault shotguns were and I got them both.
“Go back to sleep Brit. It will be a turkey shoot if they come.” I said.
“Yeah we might be the turkeys,” he suggested.
“Anything is possible, if you only believe.” I said with a smile.
When Tomas and The Brit build the bar from 2×8 framing lumber, I thought it was terrible over kill. As I stood behind that bar drinking coffee I changed my mind. I sent Nita home right after BeeBee left the pub, so Jeremy and I were the only ones left down stairs. I explained to him and asked if he wanted to leave. I didn’t have anywhere safe to send him but he could go down the street a couple of doors and sit in the sheriff’s office. That might work. To his credit he chose to stay. BeeBee had enough money and enough connections to make even the sheriff’s office not completely safe.
It was pretty close to midnight when they came. There should have been more of them, if they came from Bee Bee, but there were only two. I couldn’t exactly define them. I didn’t think they were a raiding party send by BeeBee but they were out of towner’s for sure.
Then I recognized one of them. I hadn’t call them. I sure as hell didn’t want them to know what I was up to day or nights. Agent Mission came first, followed by Morris. They didn’t come in guns blazing which was a good thing in my opinion. It was a fine line I was going to be walking in accepting help while not giving away anything. I wasn’t even sure it was possible. But it did beat waging war on my own.
“What in the world brings you two here?” I asked mission.
“Almost all the deputies are sick. Hard to be on patrol, when you are in he bath room all the time,” she said.
“I don’t need any more images, I have a pretty good idea. I had it myself. I was early on in the outbreak.” I said.
“Everybody told you this shit might be bad, why didn’t you get your shots?” Morris asked.
“Morris some of these people weighed the possibility they might get the flu, against the certainty that their kids were hungry. Flu shots lost out. So now they are paying. Just for the hell of it, the deputies were required to take the shot and half of them are out sick.”
“Yeah, must have been too late,” Morris said.
“Yeah it wasn’t the most effective vaccine,” I agreed. “So what brings you to the pub?”
“Frankly we need a temp space to hold briefings. We would like to have them here. It’s big enough and your business isn’t going to be worth a crap for a while anyway,” Mission said. “And you are across the street from the courthouse.”
“Sure you can use the downstairs, but the upstairs is Allen and Jeremy’s home,” I said without asking Alen’s permission.