Monk had been waiting maybe five minutes when I pulled into the parking lot. He waited till I dismounted the bike before he opened his door. Then he walked over to me. “Come on in they have great coffee at 8AM, I assume it is just as good at 5AM.,” He said.
“You do know that 5AM isn’t the middle of the night?” I asked.
“Who says it isn’t?” he asked.
I went to a booth away from the two truck drivers by the door. I waited till he came back with the coffee before I started the conversation again. “So Monk what brings you out at 6AM?” I asked.
“The cops in Dobson want to tie me to the warehouse,” he explained.
“Monk the only way your name would come up, is if you were trying to make moves on the distribution network Miami had in place. If you are doing that, then the cops are the least of your worries,” I said. “The cops can’t prove anything and want it to just go away, I think. So my advice is start now, and then continue forever to say, ‘I know nothing’. It never happened. If you have a problem with your people fix it. That’s pretty much what we agreed.”
“My people are solid, they have just never done anything like that before. I don’t know, if they are going to keep quiet.” he said.
“Monk, if I have to call in a cleaning crew they are going to want to clean everything. You do understand what I mean?” I asked.
He looked sick when he nodded his head. “I just needed to talk to someone,” he said.
“Sit down with Miami and work out a peace that leaves the weed business open territory. You do that and this all just goes away. If you don’t make peace with them, then you have a war on your hands. One I will not help you with, if that’s why you are here.”
“I just wanted to know where I stood,” he said.
“Monk you always knew where you stood. You asked for this, I was going to walk away and let Miami work it out, but you wanted to try to manage it. So now you are going to have to manage it,” I said. “If you give me and my friends up to Miami as part of any deal, you will die, your wife will die, your children will die, your mother will die. Your father, aunts, uncles, and everyone you love will also die as well. That probably includes your dog, if you have one. We are not some drug cartel. You bought into a game far worse than you could have imagined.”
“I won’t give you up, I promise,” he said.
“Good luck,” I said. After he left I sat alone thinking. I wanted to finish my ride but I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea. I reasoned that he would gain nothing by killing me, but I would gain some piece of mind, if I killed him. That just wasn’t a good enough reason to take his life. I decided it would have to just play itself out. I knew I had best not tell The Brit about this meeting, or we might have another body for the reservoir.
After my ride I stopped for coffee and a biscuit and I checked my security cameras and tapes before I went home. I had checked my still house, and the mash was just beginning to work, so I felt pretty good. Five or six more days and I would be cooking again. Between now and then I had to reinstall the still which should take all of an hour. One more day and I would begin asecond batch of mash. It would be constant cook form then on till I decided to take a break, when I could just not make more mash. As long as there was mash there was work to do.
A few days later the phone rang while I was working on the computer. I was buying things for the business on line. The calling number was blocked, so I pretty much knew who it was. “Hello,” I said with a deep sadness in my voice.
“You know who this is?” the voice asked.
“Not really, but how is the weather where you are?” I asked.
“75 degrees and lots of sun,” the voice said.
“That’s nice. It’s a little chilly here today. I doubt you would like the weather here,” I said.
“I do business in many places, with many kinds of weather,” the voice said.
“My father always said, before you go into business find out what the real cost of the business will be. Sometimes the business is not worth the investment,” I said.
“Your father was a wise man. Is your business worth what the investment is going to be?” he asked.
“It is to me, but I would suggest you take a look at your own business. I have no interest in your business. I do not care who manages the business, so long as they leave me alone. If I have to take an interest in the management, it would not be a good thing.” I said
“I see, then you do not have a dog in the fight, so to speak?” he asked.
“I do not,” I replied. “I would suggest you be very careful, that there is no collateral damage.”
“That seems like very good advice. I understand you like to ride your bike early in the morning, that is good exercise.” he said.
“I also like to carry a couple of hand grenades, they make for a peaceful mind.” It was a bluff, and he would be almost sure of it. It was the doubt that I had planned to plant in his mind. “Also there were some concerns that the original incident might be business, but I understand that it was personal, so that has been settled?” I said.
“Absolutely, I am not sure what has happened, but I assure you it will be history soon.” the voice said. “Sylvia I would love to take you to dinner some night.”
“I’m afraid that we would have to be two different people,” I said.
“Yes we would,” the phone went dead. Trying to save Monk would have been useless. Only Monk could say himself. If he was smart, he would end up working for the voice on the phone. If not, I would say a prayer for him.
I found a real peace in brewing my moonshine. It was slightly illegal but not really enough to cause me to be a leper, if anyone found out. Hell it was tradition in these hills. There was a kind of modern day Robinhood image attached to moonshiners. Plus I could spend all that time while it cooked playing on the Internet, or watching TV, so I had plenty of spare time. I also needed a road trip to make some legal money to hide the income I was accumulating.
First thing it was time to make some decision about riding the bike. Since Monk’s visit I had stopped riding in the early morning. I knew that I was not really any safer at noon then I was at 5AM. I would be no safer in a gym than on a bike. In other words, if they wanted me, they could get to me. The trick was to make it too costly to get me.
I told The Brit about it and two days later he told me not to worry. A message had been sent to Miami for me. Eight heavily armed men in body armor made a video explaining what would happen, if I died mysteriously. Problem solved in The Brit’s mind anyway. He was probably right, everyone knew about the gang at the clubhouse, that just ceased to exist.
There was also a story about Freddie Vasquez’s first and last day in the general population at central prison. Shanked in the heart, as a present to me. What message that sent, I never asked. I had zero interest in the drug business.
It was after Thanksgiving dinner at the pub when The Brit, Jeremy, and I decided to go on a road trip. Thanksgiving dinner was turkey, dressing, green beans and yams for dinner. There was also a table filled with pies and cakes. It was a traditional Thanksgiving as much as Jeremy and I could make it. We were the only truly Americans to celebrate the traditional American holiday.
Since there was so much food we invited Tomas and his family, all the way down to the dog. A few of the special customers were invited as well. The ones with no family of their own.
We were all sitting around talking about what we could do to top this. I said. “Road trip.” Jeremy heard auction and went crazy with lustful desire. The Brit was more than willing, he was hopeful that he and Jeremy could learn the ropes.
“I never did it myself, but I saw a guy who drove a pick up with a big trailer. He would stay out till it was full, then go home and empty it.” I explained.
“The SUV can pull a hell of a load,” The Brit declared. “So we need to find a trailer to rent.”
“No you don’t You ain’t forgot about Jerry have you,” I said. “He has four or five. We just have to find one he will rent us for a weekend.” That’s how we ended up on the first day of December driving this huge SUV and trailer down the mountain road headed for a storage locker complex in the town of Sparta. It was a mountain town so small there was only one storage locker facility in town. I couldn’t figure if it was stupid or brilliant to have the auction at 2pm on a Friday afternoon. Whatever the turnout was light which was good for us. There were three units which wasn’t good. More would have been much better.
We spent the whole weekend crisscrossing the western part of the state. We stopped in four town and went to an auction in each. They were storage lockers, unclaimed freight, and damaged freight as well. We had the trailer full on Monday afternoon.
I made a hell of a lot of money on my share. The Brit didn’t do nearly as well but he more than broke even. I took all the jewelry from all the containers and Jeremy and The Brit took everything else. They did fine, they just didn’t pad the sales like I did.
Just as we left town I had put a barrel of mash on, so that it would be ready when we got back and it was. I was cooking it while I took care of my Internet auctions. I had a lot of straw buyers to help get more money in the coffers. It was an eloquent scheme. I could use the one weekends auctions to add several thousand dollars to my bank account. Anything of any real value I gave to Jeremy and The Brit.
In true form Jeremy loved it. Between the auctions where we bought the items, and the on line auction where we sold them, he seemed to have loved the trip. He also loved playing lord of the manor at the pub. He hardly ever worked on his art except to make drawing for gifts. I had two of them and loved them. He made beautiful morning mountain scenes.
We did the trip three more times before Christmas. We were all in a hell of a good mood after the last one. I was back getting the box house and the Still house ready to cook till spring. During that time I also ran into Monk. He was with two of his motorcycle buddies at the lounge in the parking lot of the motel. He approached me. “Sylvia I wanted you to know I didn’t want to give you up, but they were going to cut off my hands.”
“How long did you hold out?” I asked.
“I’m not near as bad as I thought,” he said.
“None of us are, you seem to have landed on your feet,” I said. “Looking back at his buddies.
“Yes I run an enforcement crew for the man in Florida,” Monk said.
“I think he and I have an understanding, but know this Monk, I’m one hard bitch to kill. Trust me I am worse than you think I am.” I said.
“Word is to leave you alone and make sure everyone else does as well,” he said.
“Words change, so remember what I said,” I suggested.