When I awoke the next morning, I got the trike first thing and took off for the airfield. Once I got to the field I rolled the canary out and took off. I flew the bird an hour north following the shore line, then made a long sweeping turn and headed back south. It took me a little longer to get home, since I was faced with a headwind.
Once I was over the field I saw the red car. I had never seen it before, but I was not at all concerned, just curious. I landed the canary and rolled it to the end of the field I used the prop and rudder to get it fairly close to the mower before I killed the Honda Engine. I hooked the mower to the canary and towed it to the hangar. I was busy folding the wings when the man from the red Buick came walking up.
Miss Porter?” he asked.
“Yes that’s me. What can I do for you?” I asked.
“My name is Russell Jostling and I have a plane stored out at the grass strip a few miles north of here,” he said.
“Yes I’m familiar with it,” I said.
“Well I would like to bring it down here. Your strip is a lot closer to home than where it is now,” Jostling said.
“To be honest right now, if the strip gets damaged there is only me, or Mother Nature to blame. I kind of like it that way,” I said. “I don’t have any insurance, and no liability to worry about.”
“Hell I will wave all that legal mumbo jumbo, and sign a commitment to repair any damage I do to the place,” he said. “I’ll even but up a bond.”
“It’s a really short strip. Your plane would have to be a STOL,” I said.
“Not to worry mine is, and I have ten years experience. I have assessed your strip completely,” he suggested.
I really don’t want a bunch of planes tied down on the strip,” I said.
“I’ll have a hanger like yours built, using my own money. On completion I’ll sign it over as part of a five year rental agreement. I will also acknowledge that there are no services or liability included in the agreement,” he said.
“Jostling are you a lawyer?” I asked.
“As a matter of fact, not exactly. I’m a Judge,” he said.
“Well hell yeah, you never know when I might need a friendly judge,” I said.
“This is strictly business,” he said.
“Of course it is,” I replied to the tall, straight, and very thin man in his early sixties. “Tell your hanger builder that if he makes rutting in my runway we will have his ass out here filling them with a fucking teaspoon.”
“I will have it written in the sales contract,” the judge said with a laugh.
He helped me roll out the trike and tow the plane into the hanger, then lock the doors. I allowed him to follow me out to the road and then watch me switch on the electric motor and roll harmlessly down the road at about eight miles an hour. I would pedal a while then turn the motor back on and roll along resting.
“Hey you’re back,” Wilson commented.
“Yes I am here. I didn’t expect you to be stirring so soon,” I said.
“I got a couple of hours sleep while the programs ran through the search parameters. I think I have a winner for you,” Wilson said.
“Wow that was fast work. So what do you have?” I asked.
“The dispatcher, one Joan Tiger, is in hock up to her ass. Suddenly she pays off her car loan after the first hijacking. It was about $8,000 and she also caught up her electric, telephone, and gas bills which were well past due. Then last month she paid off her daughter’s braces,” Wilson informed me.
“Is there anyway to account for the money legitimately?” I asked.
“I looked, nothing I can find,” Wilson said.
“Did you run all the others to be sure there is nothing on them?” I asked.
“I did and they all have the same amount of money before and after the hijacking and the same amount of debt. I think they are clean,” he said. “The question is what are we going to do about it?”
“Well we aren’t going to tell anyone, because what we know was illegally obtained. That and it proves nothing. We need to clone her phone for sure. I guess that means I visit the office tomorrow to see Nate,” I said with a smile.
“Now be careful you really don’t need to get involved with a man his age,” Wilson said. I wasn’t sure what to think about that comment. I was on my way to Nate’s office when I decided to call first. I didn’t want to go there if Joan wasn’t working. I needed to stand beside her phone to clone it.
The plan was that I would call Wilson before I went inside. He would wait five minutes then call her number. That number was part of her personnel folder information provided by Nate. When the phone rang, I would stand beside her. If her phone was turned off as I thought it would be, I would plant a bug on her somehow. The phone was the best solution but the bug was a pretty good second one. In some ways it was a better one. We could get conversations going on while the phone was turned off, and people who were near the bug as well.
“Nate is Joan Tiger working now,” I asked.
“Yes she is. Is she the one tipping off the hijackers,” he asked.
“I really have no idea, but she fits the profile as do some others. I just want to put a bug in her office. If she is there I will say hello in a friendly way. We can tell her I’m applying for a job driving.”
“Okay come on down,” he said.
“Actually I’m pulling in the lot right now. I’ll be there in a few minutes,” I said into the phone.
I immediately called Wilson. “Wilson call the Tiger Lady,” I demanded.
The phone rang right on time. She put it in her desk drawer and ignored it. It didn’t matter. It was turned on so I cloned it. I also dropped the listening device, molded inside a rubber cockroach, on the floor and kicked it under her desk. After I held a short conversation with Nate in which I told him to give me some advanced notice when he had a high value shipment going out, I headed back to the barge.
When I walked into the office on the dock Wilson said, “We have a very good audio feed. I expect the cell phone will prove to be superior to the bug though. She will most likely go into a different area to make the call to her accomplices in which case the desk bug will be useless.”
“Okay, so you are just showing off your technology now. I am going to laugh my ass off, if she uses her desk phone to set up the next hijacking.
Unlike her name Joan Tiger Lady led a very dull life. She was a divorced woman with one daughter twelve years old. She didn’t seem to have a steady boyfriend. Her job was one small step above a minimum wage, so she was in hock up to her eyeballs. Well she was before the first hijacking. She was getting her debt under control but it was going to cost her in the end. But I was getting ahead of myself I knew. It might not even be her.
“So how about we set her bugs up on my smartass phone and go fishing,” Wilson said.
“Okay but first call the Real Estate Agent for the Railroad Hotel. Make an offer of 175k on the hotel,” I said. “It’s time to start playing dirty.”
“Okay, but he is gonna know it is me,” Wilson said.
“Not if you tell him you are representing Rita,” I said. “She was with me during the tour. Tell him you are her investment counselor, and she wants you to make that bid.”
Wilson put the offer in and I pulled the boat closer to the barge so we could scramble on board. Wilson not only put the offer in but he also harvested some of his worms from the farm. We left with a Styrofoam cup filled with dirt and those squirmy creatures.
Again I caught nothing large enough to cook and I really was happy about it. Wilson did teach me how to handle the fish I did catch. I learned how not to get stabbed by the dorsal fins. Only because one of those little bastards brought blood. Wilson, damn his soul, thought that was hilarious. Sometimes I had to be reminded that I had one hand about 60% of what it should be. Even so I could take a fish off the hook with it. Well I could if the fish cooperated.
Wilson and I spent the evening talking about fishing. He tried to give me some pointers but we really ended up laughing more than we did anything productive. It was kind of the silly version of the scene in jaws where the guys compare scars. It was like Wilson said, “I got a paper cut once.” then I told him about my club hand.
We finally went to bed, different beds. It was a little disturbing. I lay awake tossing and turning for an hour or so. It wasn’t sexual. I had no idea what was going through my head. I had a desire to lay naked against him and feel his penis against my skin, but not really inside me, just close. It was how I understood closeness with a father figure.
I slept pretty well that night. The next day was marked by a good ride to the grassy knoll. It wasn’t really but I had to call it something, then a good flight. I really did enjoy the canary. I was glad I had bought it.
Not only that but the trike provided the calorie burning and joint movement I needed, without the pounding my knees took when I ran. My joints ached some mornings when I first started to move around. I blamed that on too much running earlier.
I spent the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing. Wilson continued to run employees of Nate’s business but we came up with nothing on any of them with the exception of Tiger lady.
On the third day when I returned from my flight I found that I had a missed call on the cell phone. I returned the call from the Realtor.
“We have an offer for the railroad hotel property. I think you should probably submit an offer of your own, if you do not wish to let it get away from you,” he suggested.
“Oh is it a serious offer? One that you are considering?” I asked.
“We have to take all offers to the owner. I have no idea what they consider a reasonable offer,” he replied.
“Okay write up an offer at 200 thousand and bring it by my office at the marina. You bring it and I’ll sign it. Call first we have a job cooking that may take me out of the office,” I said.
“How about 5% as earnest money?” he asked.
“Write in the contract that I get an answer in 48 hours or my check is returned. If you do that I’ll give you a check for ten grand,” I replied.
“I think we can deal like that,” he said.“ I can type up the offer and be there in 30 minutes.”
“Sure come on over I should be home by then,” I said. I immediately began the trike ride back to the marina.
Edited by Walt