We were in the truck headed back when Wilson said, “Well I will be damned.”
“What?” I asked.
“It’s the ideal thing for us,” he said.
“So what is it?” I asked.
“It’s a little floating platform in the water. It’s got molded places for motors and seats. Pull over next spot and take a look,” Wilson demanded.
What he showed me was a kind of a floating fishing platform from Wal-Mart, of all places. It would support Wilson and me but not a lot more. I wasn’t planning to carry anyone else, or even a lot of fishing tackle. Wilson wanted to fish, so we were going to fish. Since I had the plane it would be Wilson’s toy.
“Well they say it will fit in the back of a truck. That it will take a lot of abuse, and best of all it under five hundred bucks. So we can buy this, a trolling motor, plus all the rods and shit we need for under a grand. So get on the phone and see if they have one in stock at the Ellisboro store,” I demanded.
After the call Wilson said, “They don’t have one in stock, but we can order it and get free delivery to the store. We can unpack it in the parking lot, if it’s okay we can just load it up on the truck and bring it home.”
“Okay order it and get an electric trolling motor and a couple of paddles. When we go there we can pick up the fishing poles and other crap,” I said.
With that settled, Wilson put his energy back into the Bed and Breakfast. I looked at it as a chance to get The Brit and Jeremy down for a visit. He could see how things were in New Wales, and we could pick his brain about the hotel bar business. If I played my cards right I could use it as an excuse for further trips. It was a total win, win situation. I just had to wait until Wilson got the numbers together, so he wouldn’t know the real reason for my enthusiasm.
While I waited I checked the email. I had one from the Colonel. It was about a bodyguard gig for some college girls in New Jersey. They’re going on an archaeological dig for a short time in Mexico. Since I had been there before, the Colonel thought of me. He asked if I was interested in joining a team to guard them.
I hit reply and gave it some thought before I wrote the reply. Mexico was a dangerous place, and the rich American girls were prime kidnap material, so it made sense to hire the bodyguards. Why the Swamp Dog was another question. Most likely one of the girls was a Politician’s daughter.
I wrote, ‘Sure I’m getting a little bored here. When do we start?’
One of the reasons the Colonel like to use me was I was willing to leave on a moment’s notice. He played everything close to his vest till he was ready to go then he assembled the team and got us underway. The less we knew, and the shorter the amount of time we held the information, the less likely that there would be a breach of security. The Colonel was known for his tight security.
‘Start driving to the Swamp right now. I will assemble the rest of the team and you will leave from here for New Jersey,’ the reply said. I assumed I would be spending the night in the swamp.
‘How long will it really be?’ I wrote back.
You are going to be in the jungle for a while so pack accordingly. We will have tools waiting for you in Mexico.
I’ll be on the way within the hour, I wrote back. It was 7 PM so I could be in the swamp by 10 PM at the latest. First I had to tell Wilson I was headed to Mexico, and I might be out of touch for a while.
“Wilson you are going to love this, I am going to be gone for a few weeks. I am leaving you with 50k just in case something comes along that can’t wait till I get back. Use you own discretion and I will back you up right or wrong,” I promised.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“I’m going to Mexico,” I said.
“What are you going to do down there?” he asked.
“I’m going to watch over a bunch of college kids. You go ahead and take over collecting the boat and the other crap from Wal-Mart. I am sure they will help you load it onto the truck. You can probably get someone in the marina to help take it off the truck or you could just wait till I get back. I’m going to take the Honda up to meet my boss. I’m driving it only because I want you to have the truck for the boat,” I explained.
“I still have my little car in case I need to go some where I’m not comfortable driving the truck especially if I can’t get the boat off loaded till you get back,” he said.
“Very well do what you have to do,” I said. After I spoke to Wilson I took the half duffel into the bedroom and put all my clean underwear in it. I also put in all my clean green tee shirts and all my baggy pants. Of course I loaded in the plastic package of boot socks which had never been opened. The package contained a half dozen white socks. I was careful not to load any weapons.
Before I pulled the parka over my head I slipped on the upside down shoulder holster. After the parka was in place. I added the .22 mag pistol with the six round cylinder and filed barrel. I liked to have a little bit of home with me when I visited the swamp. I would have to leave it either there or at the airport, but I wanted it for the drive at least. I pulled out of the parking lot at 7:30 PM. I drove the hundred miles west into the heart of the great dismal swamp. I pulled onto the unmarked road which led to the camp.
It had a lot in common with the church camp, except it was a lot more primitive. The heat in the cabins was a small ceramic wood stove in each. They would burn very little wood and that wood gave off a small amount of heat. It was enough to keep the 5 gallon bottle of water on the dispenser from freezing. The only two buildings with a real heating system was the shower room and the dining room/administrative offices. Fortunately for me it was summer.
The Charge of Quarters assigned me to the team cabin. We were on lock down which made sense. I handed over my cell phone to him. I had expected that they would take my computer as well, so I left it at the barge. I went into the cabin only long enough to drop my duffel. It appeared that I was the first of the team to arrive. It made sense I was the closet to the swamp geographically, I expected.
I went to the shower before I was side tracked by any other team member’s arrival. I washed my longer than normal hair. It was an inch and a half at least. I dressed in bikini panties the green tailored cargo pants and the green tee shirt. I had brought a couple of the over shirts from the sheriff’s uniform so I wore one of those over the .22 Mag. I rightly assumed all the team members would be packing iron.
The first to arrive was a very punk looking woman, at least I thought she was a woman. If she wasn’t she was a tranny with her boob pumped up. She had a gruff but feminine voice with a British accent.
“You Porter?” she asked.
“Yes, who are you?” I asked.
“Why hell, I’m The Brit chick,” she said.
“Ah okay,” I replied. I guess you and I will be the only women on the team?”
“Beats me the Colonel doesn’t confide in me. Some Sergeant Major from special boats told me about you,” she said.
“I see, well I promise I’m not anywhere near like they told you,” I said.
“They told me you would say that, so I guess that makes the rest of it true,” she said.
“I was wrong about the only two chicks. A blond woman a bit older than me, which made her a little long in the tooth for special operations, came next. Hell I was a bit too old as well. This kind of operation was for kids or old men.
“So, I’m Sylvia who are you?” I asked when she entered.
“I’m the Island Chick,” she said.
I nodded. “That is the Brit chick,” I said.
“Of course she is,” the Island Chick said in a heavily accented and disapproving voice.
“I certainly hope you speak Spanish,” I said to Island Chick.
“It’s my native language,” she said.
“So are you our interpreter?” I asked.
“That is to be my primary purpose, but I can defend myself as well,” she replied.
“Would that be the Falkland Islands,” the Brit Chick asked.
“As a matter of fact no,” she said. Then turned her attention to me. “Do you have any details yet.”
“Not many. Most likely when the team is assembled there will be a meeting,” I said.
It was another half hour or so before the three men who were going to accompany us to Mexico arrived. Along with them came the new Sergeant Major. I had never met him, so I had to be introduced.
“Nice to meet you Ian. It seemed the Colonel has a preference for Sergeant Majors from the British Army,” I said.
“I’m from New Zealand,” he said.
“Sorry, you all look alike to me,” I said. He really didn’t see the humor. The British chick got it and laughed.
“Sylvia, try to act like a lady,” he said. “I do realize that might be a performance worthy of an academy award, if you pull it off.”
“Oh my now my feelings are hurt,” I said.
“Okay enough of the levity, we have work to do. These three men are from the USA so they have to have names. Massachusetts here is number one on our hit parade. Number two is this gentleman from Virginia and last but not least this is Gator from Louisiana.”
I nodded to each as he was introduced. The three of them were mid twenties cookie cutter ranger types, short hair and muscles everywhere. With my club hand and slight too old body I must have looked like a crippled old lady. Then the most remarkable thing happened.
“Now that you all have met Sylvia, she will be in charge. If you don’t do as she says, she has my permission to kick your lazy asses.” He turned to me and asked, “That okay with you?”
“I guess, but I have no idea what the job is,” I said in reply.
“I am going to brief you all at the same time. If you have any questions anyone, ask. Something that bothers you about this should bother everyone else,” The sergeant major said.
“Let’s get started. Tomorrow at 11 AM you will board a plane to Trenton NJ. There you will meet some college students from St. Peter’s University. They will be going to an archaeological dig site in Mexico. It is the site of a battle between the Spanish Conquistadors and the local Indians. It was discovered the first time about a hundred years ago and rediscovered two years ago. There is an international dig team there. St. Peters has ten students.”
I interrupted, “You mean ten students and six bodyguards?” I asked.
“Exactly,” he said.
Edited by Walt