It took them three days to complete everything I wanted, but they did it all very professionally. When I handed them the $1,250 cash money from the dry well full of cash, we both understood there would be no record of the transaction.
He left happy with his money and I was happy with the gate that set twenty feet from the entrance of the driveway. The gate was not attached to any fences. It opened from a switch mounted on a wall inside the house, or from a garage opener in my truck.
There was also a sign on the gate in very clear English.
…Call (my phone number) for entry, or push (a button on the gatepost) to speak to me (on intercom).
… Do not try to drive around this gate. You will do irreparable damage to your tires, and possibly your vehicle
… And you will be subject to being fired upon by the property owner.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
The damage to tires was real. There were spike strips like the police use in a high speed chase. Basically it was nails buried in a concrete strip, sharp side up. There were hundreds of them lining the driveway.
On the two original gateposts there were three trip light beams set at different heights along the posts. There were two web TV cameras both top mounted and pointed toward the road. There was one on the old posts at the road pointed toward the gate.
I slept well for the first time the next night. I also gave myself three more days to heal. All the scrapes had stopped seeping and some were completely scabbed over. I had to rub those with a moisturizer, since they were uncomfortable just from the pulling the scab as it shrank the skin.
The point was that I was getting better. I was driving more because it was less uncomfortable. The one scrape that didn’t want to heal quickly was the one on my face. Probably due to the constant movement as I smiled, talked, or showed my anger. It might leave a wicked scar I had been warned. I might want to see a plastic surgeon Molly suggested. I ignored her suggestion. I wasn’t about to become a model, so I doubted it would be an issue. It wasn’t like a burn or anything.
I was watching TV on my computer trying to catch up when the phone rang. “Well Brit hold on I’ll open the gate. I opened the web page with the camera feeds on it. I watched the large SUV pass through the gate and up the drive.
“That is some security system. Are you serious about tire damage?” he asked.
“Would you say that four inch spikes of different thickness embedded in a ten inch wide concrete strip was serious?” I asked.
“You’re fucking A I would,” he said laughing. “Nothing like a brush with death to make one a bit more careful.”
“That is true. So what brings you out here?”
“Well Jeremy and I want to go on a buying trip this weekend. We were wondering if you were up to managing the bar. Tomas and his wife will do the work, I just need you to kind of sit around and make sure they don’t have any trouble with the locals. You are to call the sheriff if there is trouble. Understand?” he asked.
“Of course I do. I’m not in shape to do any fighting and you know I never had any trouble at the pub. Hell I’ll go upstairs and sleep probably it is so quiet in there,” I replied.
“Good then come on down some time Friday and just sleep here over the weekend,” he suggested.
“Fair enough,” I agreed. It was a part of what made my life a hell of a ride. One minute I’m bored to tears, the next I’m flying off my bike and being hunted by hitmen in the early morning. Half hour later I’m walking into a fast food restaurant covered in blood only part of which is mine.
Seven days later I’m being asked to manage my best friend’s pub. Then a week from now I will be all healed up and bored shitless again. God life was grand.
The weekend went by without indecent. Things went as Jeremy and The Brit no doubt planned. I wasn’t alone most of the weekend and I ate good food from Juanita’s kitchen. I hated being manipulated, but I had to admit it was what I needed at that moment.
When the weekend ended, I was stronger and I had a weekend free of stress. I was more peaceful in my mind. I didn’t mind getting back in my fortress, but I did a little like one of those old men, who sat in an old chair with a shotgun guarding his home. I was a bit paranoid, but as they say, sometimes they really are after you.
By Wednesday of that next week I was watching pornography on the web. I really had become one of those really pathetic creatures. I was reluctant to go out in public. I knew the way I was living was not healthy, so I decided I would start going out more. I went to the pub at night, I knew that was reasonably safe. I went to breakfast at Hardee’s, but I varied the times. It was a small concession to security. I drove the truck down there. I hadn’t replaced the bicycle and wasn’t sure I wanted to. I was sure I wanted to workout in the mornings. I could always join a gym, I thought.
I also thought about the first time someone tried to ambush me. It was also during my early morning run, when I first moved to County Seat. Maybe I needed to rethink my timing and nothing more. By going out in the middle of the night I was giving them a lonely and empty place to take a shot at me. If I had been riding at 9 AM rather than 5 AM would the attack have been the same. They might have run me off the road but they would have been more likely to keep going and not come back for me. The assassins on that Sunday morning years ago had chosen to attack me in the deserted downtown early in the morning.
So at the very least I needed to move the timing of my run, ride, or whatever I chose to do. I also needed to vary where I did it. I would always have to start from my house, so that was going to be a problem. But they might have a problem staking me out with the rotating camera head on the old gatepost. I could swing it around and check the road for cars. Damn I felt sometimes like I was getting really weird, but I really did enjoy the whole thing. It was better in my opinion to be fully alive and struggle than to be half alive and not struggle.
I drove over to the gym in Dobson, where I had picked up the water bottles. I got through the door and knew I should turn around and run. I would have, but I was greeted by a young blond woman. I just couldn’t be rude to a cardboard cutout of Olivia Newton John. She was such a Barbie, in a designer workout suit, that I was shocked. I wanted to run away but I stayed and listened to the sales pitch. I said I would think about it and left. I knew that gym wasn’t for me.
I was concerned about security and working out and then it hit me. It was what the church camp had. There was a controlled entrance. A few well placed electronic traps would alert the people inside the compound of any intruder. The occupants of the compound would have secure running trails, biking, and boating. They weren’t planning an Ops Training Center. Colonel Martin and his Board of Directors were planning the ultimate safe house. If Melody’s culinary school worked out, they would have gourmet meals as well. Son of a bitch how stupid I had been. They could house the security detail, the control room and there would still be room for a half dozen occupants. It was just fucking brilliant.
I began to wonder how much of the intelligence work in the future would be sublet to people like Swamp Dog. Hell I even wondered how much was already being sublet. The swamp would probably remain for overseas work and the mountain would be headquarters for in country operations. It was all just too damn elegant not to be true.
I knew I wasn’t going to the safe house to work or live, so I still needed a secure workout place. I was driving myself crazy trying to think of something and nothing would come to me.
Each of the high schools in the county had a running track. They discouraged the use of it by non-students. Since it had been a long time since I could pass as a high school girl, I had to look elsewhere.
That’s when I discovered peewee football. Well it was a softball field and a peewee football field as well. So it looked as though I was back to running. The field had a cleared space around the fence so I walked it with a stopwatch. I knew I walked at three miles an hour so I walked one hour and counted the laps to get an idea of the distance. Five laps was three miles more or less. So I figured I would start with five laps when I felt just a little better. The field was a couple of blocks from the County Seat Elementary School. It was also the home of the church and industrial softball leagues. They usually didn’t play on weekday mornings but if they did we probably wouldn’t bother each other unless they had a hot dog stand.
During the next week Liam called me as he was passing through town. I didn’t confront him with my suspicions. I just told him how sorry I was that I hadn’t been up to showing him a good time, and to thank him for the work he had done in identifying my enemy.
Then I went back to healing as best I could. On the next Friday Molly gave me permission to run, if I took it easy. She didn’t have to worry on that count. I took one of the sterile water bottles I had left over and filled it with real tap water. Then I carried it to the Ranger and headed to the ball field. It was 9 AM on Saturday morning, when I parked the truck there. It was the only vehicle in sight. I liked that.
I started to run and I made the first three laps easily but the next two were run several yards, then stop and gasp for air. The fifth lap was more walking than running. Nonetheless I stuck to it and was proud of myself for it.
On the drive home after the run I passed a sign for a boxing match. The sign was in what had to be the most rundown boxing venue I had ever seen. I walked in and saw several kids in sweat suits. Not that designer shit from Dobson, but plain gray pants and sweatshirts. They were working the bags and shadow boxing.
The guys were all Black or Chicano. If I were normal, I would be scared to be in there alone. But I wasn’t normal or scared.
“What you want woman?” one of the boxers asked stepping away from the heavy bag hanging from the ceiling on a chain. I realized when he stopped punching that he was an old man.
“I want to learn to do that,” I said.
“You want to learn to box?” the old man asked.
“Not to be a professional boxer, just enough to feel a little more secure, if I have to fight,” I said.
“Can you make a fist,” he said looking at my crippled hand.
“If you let me hold something in it,” I said.
“You hold anything in it, it will break your fingers,” he said.
“She can hold my dick,” one of the black boxers said.
“Cut it off and I will,” I replied. “That’s the only way.”
Edited by Walt