Sylvia the insurance lady
I was about ready to run the throttle up to see what the bird would do, but first I checked in with Wilson. “Hey Wilson, I’m on the strip and ready to go up.”
“Damn it, be careful please. Do you know how much time you have to fly,” Wilson asked.
“No but I have enough gas to go 150 miles. I think that give me about two hours if I don’t have a head wind,” I replied. “I’ll give you a call when I’m up there so answer your cell phone.”
“Like I said be careful,” Wilson said.
“Later,” I said ringing off. I stepped hard on the drum brakes on the front wheel and revved up the engine. I ran it up smoothly and felt the pressure against the brakes. That was the first time I was sure the prop was engaged. I revved it as far as I could then released the brakes. The little plane began to move within a few feet and it had some lift. I kept going up with the engine till it reached full throttle. The air speed was at the point where the small plane tried to be airborne. I pulled back on the joystick and the nose lifted.
The small lightweight plane shot into the air. I had a great deal of runway left and that felt good. I turned the plane and flew over the town of New Wales then over Jefferson Island. It was beautiful up there in the morning light. I saw the ocean and drifted out over it just a quarter mile or so. I wasn’t ready to get lost. I was still feeling my way along.
“Hey Wilson,” I said into the cell phone.
“Are you up,” he asked.
“Oh yes, and it gorgeous up here. I may never come down,” I said.
“Sure you will. You may not do so willingly, but you are coming down,” he said.
“Yeah, I’m going to do a few touch and goes, then I’ll land it,” I said.
“Be careful and tell me when you are through playing,” he said.
“Yes daddy dear,” I said with a laugh. I went in for landings and pulled up again several times. By the fifth time I had a real good feel for putting the bird on the ground. When I went in to land it for real, it was a breeze. I had to stop it at about the end of the field. There was a cheer from the builders. I suppose because my landing safely meant they would be paid.
Once the prop stopped rotating I killed the engine and it went right to sleep like a good bird. I went through my shut down list which really wasn’t long at all. I folded the wings back and then used the mower to tow it to a corner of the field. I put the tarp on the plane and walked back to my truck.
In looking at the hanger I determined they had about two more days work. But they were making progress. It made me happy to see them working away at the roof. It was going to look like a carport till they got the siding and doors on probably sometime within the next two days.
I drove the candy colored truck back to the barge/house in time to go to lunch with Wilson. “So what you thinking about Randy Ralph?” Wilson asked.
“If I am right about his connection to Brian, I figure we catch his ass on film. If we can do that we can threaten to turn it over the local cops. It give us some leverage, if there is anything they can give us,” I said. “But that won’t give us the rapist”
“How about if they convince us they aren’t the rapist, we turn them in just because we can?” Wilson asked.
“You know Wilson, I like the way you think,” I said. “We should go mark his car now. I’ll bet it is in the parking lot of the trucking company. I also bet you can get a DMV record for me.”
“Yes I can do that, but how about I also put a tracker on his boat trailer. I have an ID ready as a DMV inspector. I can walk up to check the license plate on the trailer and plant the tag on it at the same time that you do the truck in the parking lot,” he said.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” I replied. “But Wilson, you aren’t doing this to prove anything to me are you. You know as far as I’m concerned you are irreplaceable. I will not be having you risking your life and limb just to prove something to me,” I said.
“No Sylvia, I just want to get out and do some harmless routine chores. I’m not happy sitting in the lab all day, every day. I am getting the computers setup so that I can hit the main one with one of your burners. I can ride along and do the same things as I can in the office,” he suggested.
I didn’t say no because I wouldn’t have to say no. He was a grown man and when he saw how boring the shit I did was, he would beg to go back to the relative excitement of his office. “Sure you can ride along anytime you like. Hell you can even drive, except that you can’t check your computer while you drive,” I said.
“Not yet I couldn’t, but I’m getting there.” he said looking up from his computer. “By the way, he drives a new Ford 350 super duty truck. I would bet it’s really a beauty. The tax value on the mother is $55,000. I can give you the plate, but not the color.”
“Sure I can use the plate,” I said. Wilson gave me the plate and I copied it into the notebook I carried. I saw the look of total disdain on his face, when he saw the paper notebook.
Wilson went to the cabinet, which was built into the wall, from it he took two GPS markers. They were equipped with a magnetic back which would stick on most any metal surface.
I had to first find the truck. I was amazed how many Ford trucks there were in that parking lot. It looked as though the freight handlers all drove trucks, and most of them were Fords. Since Wilson had no access to the color, I could do nothing but walk up and down the line comparing license plate numbers. I had a story ready, but hoped I wouldn’t need it. It would cause a problem for me. Of course I did.
“Hey what you doing?” a man asked as I walked down a long aisle with a couple of Pickup trucks at the far end.
“And who are you?” I asked.
“I’m Allen Thorn the warehouse manager,” he said.
“Ah, I’m Sylvia Porter of Porter and Wilson insurance investigators. One of our client’s customer’s claims a truck came out of your parking lot last week and ran him off the road. The damages to his car are over five thousand dollars. If I can find the truck, his insurance and my client will duke it out. If it’s vague, who knows who the insurance company will go after. Since your gate is not locked I came in to take a look around.”
“So you don’t know who it is,” he restated what I had told him.
“I have no idea. I have two more rows to check then I’m off one way or another,” I said. “So how about it? You can walk with me, if you like.” I certainly hoped he didn’t want to walk along.
“No thanks but I will warn you, we have CCTV of the parking lot,” he said.
“Good we my get a court order for it on the day in question,” I said to support the cover story. He walked away and I found the truck. I made a big show of cleaning the license plate. I slipped the marker behind the plate, then moved on to clean another plate. I actually had cleaned four plates even before the manager came out just in case. It proved to have been a good idea.
When I returned to the marina’s office, I found Wilson waiting for me. Of course he beat me back, all he had to do was walk up and put the tracker on the frame somewhere. I had to search almost every inch of a large parking lot to mark Ralph’s truck.
“So did you get your truck?” Wilson asked.
“Yes I got it. It took me at least an hour. I didn’t get it without the warehouse manager coming out to ask me, what the fuck I was doing on his property. I turn on the tracker and it should be pinging,” I said.
“It is pinging, but it hasn’t moved. I thought you might have dropped it,” Wilson said with a good natured smile.
“You want to record the movements while we go out to dinner?” I asked. “Or stay here and watch the screen that does nothing.”
“Does nothing? We have Brian’s phone clone information, we have the apartment of Randy Ralph bugged and both his truck and trailer GPS marked and his cell phone locator on. There is tons of information coming in, but I can give it a break for dinner. How about that fish house you showed me when I arrived?” he asked.
“You mean Captain Jack’s Seafood?” I asked he nodded, “Sure why not. I like his shrimp.”
“When we pulled into the restaurant parking lot Wilson said, “Wait a second.” Then he fiddled with a laptop computer for a few minutes and said, “here we go.” I got my relay working. So the trackers haven’t moved. But Randy Ralph is about twenty miles out and coming home. We should have audio by the time we finish dinner.”
“Cool what have you gotten from the Clone,” I asked.
“Brian is talking to a man about a boat. It looks like Brian keeps files of people and what kind of boats in which they are interested,” Wilson informed me.
“Wilson, check his financial records again when we get home. I’m going to bet he is running boat ads in some kind of well read paper. He can’t use Craig’s list, since they would tag him as a broker pretty quickly,” I said.
“I bet he isn’t that smart. He is most likely got an Ebay account or some such,” Wilson said.
“Not if someone called him to place an order. He is running a broker account somewhere. The buyers most likely know the boat is stolen,” I said. “Come on lets go in and eat.”
Dinner was actually very good. I had the tiny almost cocktail size shrimp. They were of course deep fried. “You do know that fried is the only way seafood should be cooked. Deep fried or pan fried at the very least. All this baked and broiled crap is for wimps,” I said. When I saw Wilson look up from his broiled platter I added, “I’m sorry but that is just my opinion.”
“You are entitled to your opinion Sylvia, no matter how wrong it is,” he said.
“I got an order of deep fried hush puppies to go. When we arrived home I sat in the office while Wilson monitored all our toys. While he monitored I ate hush puppies dipped in Texas Pete and well salted ketchup. I could feel my arteries harden. Fortunately I expected to die in a shoot out with someone as yet unknown to me.
Edited by Walt