“Don’t you guys think that is going to look a little strange,” I asked.
It might if there was no cover story to go along with it. You were each chosen for your ability to fit the cover. You Sylvia will be a chaperon. The British chic will be an exchange student from England. The island chick will be a cook on the volunteer housekeeping staff. The three guys are going to be contract laborers from all over the country. So let’s get started. Your Biographies were written especially for you. So read them and memorize them. Plane leaves early. I will bring some lock boxes tomorrow in case you have any weapons,” the Sergeant Major suggested.
The biography for me was just who I was, but avoided the details that would have made me sound dangerous. I was instead the Sheriff who got accused of a crime, then had the charges dismissed and got an apology. I was doing all kinds of odd jobs till I found one I could really get into. Gee it was very real. According to the file I had been hired by the college to help keep the girls out of trouble. So I had a reason to be with them.
The Brit Chick was going to be one of them and the Island Girl would be mingling with the housekeeping staff. Of course there was no house, it would be strictly a tent city down there. The three guys were going to be contract labor for the digging equipment. I was going to be leading the team and I knew why. Vera Cruz was back in the discussion again, I was sure.
Well win or lose I was in it now. I had agreed and I never walked away from a job. I had no intention of doing so at that moment. There was going to be some hardship involved in doing this one for sure. Maybe the ten girls would prove to be cooperative though I doubted it.
Still my immediate problem was getting to Mexico with some ability to protect our girls in route. The pistols were out of the question as were knives. What wasn’t were things any passenger might carry. It was a lot about being willing to do what was necessary. Most likely the danger would only manifest itself after we got to the dig site.
The huge airport terminals were too busy for a kidnap, which is what I really feared. A random shooting in the terminal was a possibility, but the least likely of all. The itinerary showed a bus ride to the interior. That was a real danger that it might be hijacked. That was high on my list of possibilities. I needed to find a better way to get them to the site. To do that I needed to be in Mexico.
I shared the cabin with all the members of the team. We all shared a drink or two then went to sleep. It was bound to be a long day coming up. I knew it would be for me. I almost always awoke by 6 AM.
I overslept the next morning it was 6:30 when I awoke. I dressed in long pants, sweat shirt and jogging shoes for my run down the trails of the Swamp. I didn’t remember where the trails went, but I knew they all eventually led back to the compound. It was 7:45 AM when I made it back to the compound, so I just called it a run and went to breakfast.
Mary Ellen’s friend had a young man helping in the kitchen, but she was the cook. She rushed out and hugged me. “God it is good to see you. They told me you were coming, I hoped I would have a chance to thank you. Introducing me to your friends saved my life. I am a kickass Chef now,” she said.
“Then you need to sign up for Top Chef,” I suggested. I bet the Colonel could get you a shot at it.”
“That is a thought, but I need a few more years experience,” she confided in me.
“Anytime you want you would have the perfect background story. I cook for a band of gypsy mercenaries,” I said it with a laugh. I took my really well prepared breakfast to the table by the window. I was seated only a few minutes when the Sergeant Major came to seat himself at the table without asking.
“Have a seat Sergeant Major,” I said.
“Thanks I will,” he replied. “So where do you see the danger.”
“Everywhere to differing degrees,” I replied.
“Good answer. On a scale of one to ten where to do see the first one over five?” he asked.
“Mexico City airport terminal about a five. Not from kidnappers but more than likely just random violence,” I replied.
“Next?” he asked.
“The airport bus to the hotel. High risk of kidnap. We have all the kids in one spot and a vehicle to use as a get away ride,” I suggested.
“So what do you suggest?” he said.
“Break them into cab lots with the high value targets in the cab with me,” I said.
“We have to transport sixteen people,” he replied.
“One of us and two students in five cabs. The numbers work,” I said. “Since the idea is to scare the bad guys off that might do it right away. If not, we can at least give them a rude surprise. We need to also hide their identities, so they aren’t sure which cab has the higher value targets,” I suggested.
“Okay we can do that. I think those are reasonable changes,” he said. “Thanks.”
“No problem, we still have the same problem the next morning the charter bus into the countryside is a death trap,” I said.
“That can’t be helped,” he replied.
“Okay make the bus for twice as many people. With enough room so we can carry our luggage inside not on the roof,” I said.
“Why,” he asked.
“We will have our tools inside should be need them. We can use all the kid’s luggage if we have to barricade ourselves inside while we wait for the police to come. I hope you explained to everyone that we don’t fire warning shots,” I said.
“They all know that we mean business,” he said. He waited a long time then said to me, “I still have no idea why you are here. I can’t figure why you are doing it. You don’t need the money. I also can’t figure why the Colonel called you.”
“Everyone needs money,” I said. “You will have to ask the Colonel why he called me in.”
I went back to the cabin for my clean clothes, then to the bathhouse for a shower. I planned on a long shower and a thorough scrubbing of my hair. It was likely to be the last real shower I would get for a while, I reminded myself. When I went into the bathhouse the Brit Chick with the bright red hair and the piercings was already there and naked.
She had much better boobs than her combat fatigues showed. I guess I stared a little because she spread her legs, looked me in the eye and asked, “You like?”
“What’s not to like,” I said as I went to a shower stall beside hers. There was a concrete floor with drains in it. The shower stalls were just shower heads mounted on the wall. They each had a short modesty partition on either side of it. There were no curtains on them. I supposed it was to get people used to living communally. It also meant there was nowhere to hide from an ambush in the bathhouse.
The Brit Chick should have been dressed before I finished my shower, but she screwed around so she could watch me shower. It didn’t embarrass me. It just excited me more than I would have liked to admit. I think she knew that we were in a no place for that, so she just turned and walked away without a word.
After I dressed it was time to prepare for the trip. I took one of the 6 inch orange spikes from by bag. I had refined the sharpened spike so that it looked like a pencil by that time. It wouldn’t show up in a metal detector and it looked like a pencil when placed in the tray of a busy TSA agent.
I had no idea what the others were carrying, but I hoped they had something. We left at 9 AM for the airport. It was an hour drive to the airport in Capitol City. It was also an hour’s wait at the gate. We rode to the airport in the crew van. It had seating for nine even though we were only six. Well seven if you counted the driver, and why wouldn’t you.
I got through the check at the gate without a problem. We flew to Trenton New Jersey and arrived in time for lunch. The next plane for Mexico City left at 9 AM the next morning. When we arrived at the airport at 8 AM we still hadn’t met the girls. I recognized them right away. All ten of them arrived at the gate at the same time. It had to be them. Since I was their designated adult, I introduced myself. I didn’t even try to remember their names.
“I’m Jenn. I have got everything organized and we are ready to go,” one of the tall girls said. The other girls nodded.
“That is good. So you are the designated leader? That’s just fine with me. I can tell you what’s going on and you can pass it along to the others,” I said. She looked at me as if to say, but I know more than you do bitch. She seemed to realize it wouldn’t be a good idea to express those sentiments, so she didn’t.
They cleared the security station then we all went to the gate to await boarding. I took the time to introduce them to Brit Chick. She was the only one the girls noticed anyway. They didn’t notice the guys or the Island Chick. After we all loaded onto the plane, it was time to just settle down for the long flight. We were in the air five hours and it was through time zones so we arrived after 1 PM. It took another hour to clear customs and get our bags. “Jenn, you are going to have to go to the hotel two girls to a cab. There will be a security guard in each cab. Trust me this is the safest way to travel here,” I said.
“I don’t know that I can trust you,” she said.
“You had to have been told who your chaperon really was,” I commented.
“Yes my dad explained,” she said.
“Good, just go along and we will try hard not to intrude,” I said.
“Well, we are all here to have fun, but I know Mexico is a dangerous place,” she said. “I should, my dad told me enough times.”
“Well he was right to do that. This is a very dangerous place. The odds are less that you will have a problem here than they would be in some places were the gangsters are more open, but believe me they are still exist,” I explained.
“So these men and women are bodyguards,” she asked.
“Yes, we are all part of the team to be sure you are safe,” I said.
“So are we still going to spend the night in the hotel,” she asked.
“Yes you are, but we need to set some ground rules. We can discuss this when we get to the hotel.” The last of the group cleared customs so we went to the baggage claims area. Then we went outside and got into the random waiting taxis. The bad guys could not have known who they were getting, so I was satisfied with the randomness of the whole thing. No it wasn’t much, but it was all I could do short of a helicopter to the hotel’s roof.
Edited by Walt