By 6PM I had parted with most of the 30K and was headed to the swamp to see exactly what I had bought. Getting into the swamp was a lot easier than getting into my small compound. Well it seemed easier. There were all kinds of observation devices, and more than one dead fall along the way. The swamp’s idea of a dead fall was a 1/2 pound of Semtex swinging on a cable from a roadside tree onto your car. Slightly more lethal than a bitch with a over and under shotgun waiting for you at the house.
In the case of the swamp they pretty much knew who I was, before I got to the end of the two mile drive way. It dumped me into the parking lot of the administration building. The driveway just ended, It was pretty much the only paved road on the property. The ATVs were the only mechanized means of transportation. I wasn’t sure if that had been the case during my only other visit to the swamp compound. It was shortly after my release from the hospital, so I was still suffering emotion injuries.
In the parking lot I saw the big ass Budget Rental Truck. The rear loading door was up and several of the crates were open. By the time I made it out of my car Colonel Martin and Liam were standing in the parking lot. I could tell Colonel Martin was trying to decide how he should greet me.
I walked to him and shook his hand very masculine I thought. I could be girlie, but I could also pull off butch. The situation called for butch. Martin handed me a bank transfer for 25K. The voucher said it was for two cases of electronic devices from the embassy at Tripoli. My bet was that there was some other hardware involved. However I took the money for the two cases. I had no idea what was inside the other nine crates.
“So can I go into the truck to see what the fuck I bought?” I asked.
“By all means we would prefer you have dinner with us and stay the night. You can leave in the morning for home,” he suggested.
“That sounds like fun,” I said thinking of Liam and Andrew.
“On that note I have warned both The Sergeant Major and The Post Commandant that you are not to be disturbed.” Martin said.
“I see, I suppose they told everyone else?” I asked.
“They have indeed.” he said. “So you can go check out your truck. I will send someone for you when we begin serving dinner.”
I nodded and moved to the back of the truck. The men had repacked the crates. One of the crates the right size to hold whatever the Swamp had been looking for. It had not contained whatever they wanted. I did contained laptop computers of an unknown brand. There were probably a hundred of them. The three other crates held boxes of Chinese dinnerware. One of the cases held cutlery. Mostly there were things that would make me a small profit. Then I came to a crate of 9“ tablets from china they were most likely knock offs, but I could sell them anyway. I needed to get the items back to County Seat where I could check the electronics and see if anyone wanted the crates of cutlery and dinnerware. In the mountain environment the crate of blankets would sell pretty well, I thought.
“Well I’ll be damned. Hello Melody how are you?” I asked.
“I am going good Sylvia. Meeting these guys has been a life saver for me. I get up at 5AM and start breakfast. Then I go to Sandhills Community College. I’m taking culinary arts. I’m going to be a real fancy chef one day. Right now I just cook for these guys. Breakfast and dinner they fend for themselves for lunch.” she said.
Fend for themselves meant they didn’t eat at all. If they had anything it might be peanut butter crackers. I didn’t say anything since it was dinner time. “Do you have any idea where I should sit?” I asked since I was the first one to arrive.
“They told me you were going to eat at the Colonel’s table,” she said.
“Melody are you clean,” I asked.
“I have been clean for over two years,” she said. “Here no one is on drugs and they keep me clean and straight.”
“Well sounds like you are on the right track,” I said taking a seat at the Colonel’s table. I drank coffee for several minutes until the men started filtering in. There were about twenty men and to my surprise five women. The women looked like combat vets from a Eastern European state, or maybe middle eastern state like Israel.
I smiled at them as they passed. Then the colonel entered the room and everyone stood, so I did as well. When in Rome, I thought.
When he reached his chair, the Sergeant Major said, “Seats.” The men and women were seated and a couple of there brothers in arms served them and us dinner.
“I thought you had Melody for this?” I asked.
“We do, but she needs help now and then. Also the troops need to know who the boss is now and again,” Liam said.
“By the way this pasta with meat sauce is quite good. So you have KP to remind them?” I asked.
“When there is a need, if not that there is always the march through the swamp. It’s a long difficult trail,” he explained. “And Melody has proved to be quite a good cook. Also she seems to be an asset in dealing with the new females we are recruiting these days.”
“I can imagine she is quite the little asset. I know it is changing the subject, but what about my car. How are we going to get it back to the mountains?” I asked the Colonel.
“Truth is we are using this as a opportunity to take some photos of the church camp. We need to make a layout for it.” he said.
“Why do you want a mountain camp? This one seems to pretty much fill your needs?” I asked.
“We need to train men to operate in any environment,” he explained.
“Bullshit,” I said.
“We do have plans for it, but we need to prepare it first. Of course we also need to buy it,” he said with a smile.
“Well I’m going to bed early tonight. After I check one of the computers I bought,” I said.
“Well good luck to you. We do have WIFI you can use,” Colonel Martin said with a smile. “And feel free to visit us anytime.”
“Thanks, but I liked things they way there were without Swamp Dog’s presence in my life,” I said.
“How do you know, since the Soda Pop thing, we have never really been out of your life,” he said smiling again. “Don’t reckon we will be again either.”
“Whatever,” I said walking out to the truck and picking up one of the computers and one of the tablet knock offs. I expected somewhere in the cargo there had been smart phone knock offs as well. Those would most likely work and be easy to sell as well. I looked but couldn’t find chargers for the the electronics.
When I got to the cabin I tried the computer. It didn’t even turn on. I checked for the battery pack and found that instead of a battery pack it had a battery compartment. I went back to the truck in search of batteries for the devices. I found several packs of rechargeable batteries and some universal chargers. I was amazed at what I found.
I went back inside and hooked up a charger and filled it with batteries even though the computer needed only half the chargers capacity. Since I had the computer on the way to being ready to test, I tried the 9“ tablet. There were batteries in the tablets but they used a removable and rechargeable battery as well.
I got the tablet to could on and light up. They like the computer had been in sealed bags so I expected them to work. The tablets had basic applications, though I had no idea what they all did. I had never used a tablet, so it was pretty much all Greek to me. I knew it powered up, so my nerd Jeremy would know how good it was.
Finally the computer was ready to go. It came up but did not have an operating system. I looked all through the box and found nothing. I had loaded a computer with a self contained operating system once. The system was a Linux system.
Since I never went anywhere without my trusty computer, I did some basic research and found a operating system I could use to test the hardware. I downloaded the newest version of Linux Puppy to a thumb drive. That is also when I was grateful for the time I spent on line in the company of nerds. I didn’t just get off with them, I also learned a thing or two.
I hadn’t learned enough, so I went to a chatroom that wasn’t about sex, but was about computers. I found a guy who helped me install the Puppy Linux system on the laptop. The system took right off and worked quite well. The temp system allowed me to find out all about the hardware and to even get to the Internet.
It was way after midnight when I tried to go to sleep. When I turned out the light someone slipped into the cabin. I knew the person was too short for Liam, so I wrapped my hand around the Derringer.
“Sylvia, don’t be afraid,” the voice said.
“Oh I’m not afraid. I spent some time in the Middle East and you have the wrong accent, so you must be one of the Eastern European chick,” I suggested.
“They call me Nicki. I am born in the Yugoslavia… now Serbia,” she said.
“Okay Nicki you obviously know my name, So what can I do for you that you needed to wait for the cover of darkness?” I asked.
“I want to know about these men here are they trustworthy?” she asked.
“Very interesting question. What makes you think you could trust anything I say?” I asked.
“You stand up to them. Is that permitted?” she asked.
“Probably not in your case. I was hired to be a body guard for a rock singer one summer a few years ago. Nobody quite knew what to expect. I have a feeling they don’t know what to expect with you ladies. So you can’t judge your experience by mine.” I replied.
“You can tell if they are honorable men,” she said seriously.
“No man is completely honorable it isn’t in their nature. They will say and do whatever is necessary to get the outcome they want. That said the men I have worked for and with here are much better then men in general. When they give you their word they mean it. When the screw you they screw you and forget all about you like any other man. When you work with them, you have to expect the outcome to be different from what they think it will be. They piss me off almost everything time I have dealings with them, but I seem to come back for more or let them walk in and out of my life without any rules to be honest. So If I don’t set any rules how can I expect them to honor any rules society sets for them.
Wish I could be more help,” I said.
“I guess it is the language, I didn’t understand most of that,” she said.
“Well to sum it up, I would trust them with my life and I have on more than one occasion,” I said.