Sheriff Porter 112
We were out of Bolivian air space in a matter of minutes, but we had to overfly Brazil. It was scary, even though we were not challenged. It was the middle of the night, so I counted on the duty pilots of the Brazilian Air Force being asleep. We landed at the Caracas airport shortly before dawn.
While the ground crew gassed the PBY, we had breakfast in the main terminal. When we finished, we climbed clumsily back into the plane and left. The no name pilot gave me a lesson on flying the clumsy bird, while we completed the flight home. I suppose not being challenged was proof that we had gotten away clean. We were less than a half hour from the Texas coast when the radio came to life.
The speaker of the on board radio advised us to land immediately. The no name pilot asked if the tower had any preference where he landed. They spoke a lot of flight jargon, which went way too fast for me to follow. I did understand when they told us to land on the student pilot airstrip at Laughlin Air Force base.
The fighter planes shadowed us all the way there. It wasn’t a long flight from the point of contact to where they forced us down. We were over land at least half the time. We landed without incident. A pickup truck with the Air Police insignia led the way to a deserted taxiway.
“Looks like we been busted captain,” I said.
“Maybe, maybe not. Get any weapons put away and get the flight log up to date while we wait,” he said.
I did the best I could to clean up the plane and our flight record. “I hope they are looking for an excuse to pass us forward, and not a reason to detain us,” I said.
We sat on that isolated parking area for a quarter of an hour. I spent the time wiping our fingerprints off every surface in the plane, twice. If I had bleach I would have been wiping the plane down with that as well.
It was then that I realized what I had to do. “Captain you need to walk about 50 feet away from this plane. Do it now and do it quickly,” I said.
“Are you out of your mind,” he asked.
“If you stay where you are you are going to be toast.” I used a pry bar from the tool kit to smash the radio so he couldn’t call for help. I walked ten feet from the plane, then fired an emergency signal flare into the plane’s cargo hatch. Once the plane was burning pretty well, I stepped back a little farther and fired a second one into the general area of the fuel tanks.
I was probably a better shot with a real pistol than a flare gun, but it did work. The plane went up in flames, then it exploded. Just as soon as they took us into custody I asked for a lawyer and kept quiet. I was wondering if I would regret not having killed the no name pilot. He worked for the Colonel and Martin trusted him, so I had to trust him as well.
If he talked, I was fucked. I would probably be one of the richest women in the supermax prison. Then again there was probably a Helmsly type somewhere in the system. I wondered if I would finally get enough sleep, if I went inside.
My cell phone rang. “I’m watching you real time. You did exactly the right thing. That call came from the Air Forces Border Enforcement Command. They thought you were smuggling in aliens or dope,” Colonel Martin suggested.
“Thanks for the info. I have to go we are about to have company,” I replied.
“What the hell happened,” a military policeman asked. Since I had once done his job, I knew how to twist it.
“That son of bitch caught fire,” I said. I sure hoped the only cctv camera in sight was on a satellite. “You know you are going to have to pay to have this removed. The air force takes no responsibility for the fire.”
“Well, you guys did force us down. It is my understanding your border enforcement group forced us down,” I said.
“Yes you fit the profile for a smuggler. We will have to sift through the wreckage for evidence.”
“Suit yourself,” I said. “Just show me your warrant and we will be good to go.”
“You mean we need a warrant to sift through the wreckage?” The AP asked.
“Yep, I have played by the rules, and you should as well,” I said.
“Let me call my commanding officer,” he suggested.
I just nodded. He walked away to make his call. The pilot with no name just looked at me without any emotion.
“The CO said to help you arrange for a salvage,” he said. “He also said not to bother with the search but for your information we don’t need a warrant to search wreckage.” I just nodded.
The pilot with no name and I spent the night in the Guest House on base. It was very nice room just like a motel. The Air Force was nice enough to let us stay free. I slept all day. It was hard for me to remember what exactly had happened over the last three days. I was pretty worn out.
The salvage company arrived with a couple of trucks and some cutting torches. The guys made quick work of the jobs or so I was told. I didn’t even wake up during that time. I wanted to go down and get the M4 out of the ashes but I couldn’t go to the site without arousing suspicion.
The neat thing was the second day a big black SUV arrived to give us a ride home. The drive from Texas took almost twenty hours. I managed to sleep in the back seat while the pilot with no name shared the front seat with the driver. I didn’t recognize him, but he recognized me.
“Sheriff Porter is there anything I can do for you?” he asked.
“Not right now, but I like coffee and lots of it. Anytime you stop do it where they have coffee,” I said.
“Yes ma’am, does it have to be that designer coffee?” he asked.
“I don’t want designer anything. I just want coffee,” I replied.
I felt like I had caught up on my sleep, while we waited for the junk that once was a PBY to be cleared away from the strip at Laughlin AFB Texas.
“They really wanted to hold you for questioning, but one of the lawyers, either yours, or one from the Swamp, convinced them that it was a really bad idea,” the driver commented when I was all slept out. “How they did it, I’m not quite sure.”
I knew Rita was a scrapper who would not shirk from causing a real stink. Then there was the Swamp’s lawyer, who had a lot of political connections. Not to mention the Senator who owed me a favor personally. At that point we were headed back home, and it was a toss up.
When we arrived at the Capitol City Airport long term parking area, the no name pilot left the car. While he was taking out his bag he said, “I want you to know I still think you are crazy, but what you did might well have kept me out of jail, so thanks.”
“Not a problem, I didn’t do it for you. I actually did it in spite of you,” I said with a laugh. After we dropped the pilot with no name at the long term parking, the driver made a call. I presumed it was to the swamp to advise them he was heading home with me in tow.
I really hadn’t taken time to assess my feelings about Liam. We had both let other things overshadow the ‘us’ of our relationship. I still loved The Brit more than any human being on the planet. That however had never stopped me from loving other people. I just could never be in love with them. Only women understand that concept, I decided.
The driver spoke to me only once on the drive to the swamp where I could recover my truck. “Did you really set fire to an airplane?” he asked.
“I was looking at a flare gun and it went off. It was a total accident. You know women can’t be trusted with thing that go bang,” I said taking that particular lie for it’s first walk.
He figured I didn’t want to talk, so he didn’t try again. He was right I didn’t want to talk. I still hadn’t decided how I felt about Liam, but his death had finally gotten real. I also didn’t have any idea how Andrew was doing with his wounds. I really was kind of in limbo.
I was sipping coffee from a thermos. I bought it at one of the convenience stores along the way home from Texas. It held three cups of coffee. It didn’t add too much taste to the coffee so I was content.
We finally turned off into the swamp. Every light in the compound was burning. It didn’t look like anyone was sleeping. I wondered it the drug lord had decided to go to war with the Swamp Dog. Now that would be something to see. One Swamp Dog sniper vs twenty spray and pray gang bangers. I would pay for a seat at that show. It was likely if there was a war brewing I wouldn’t need to pay for a seat.
When the car pulled up in front of the dining hall/office building the Colonel came out. “I’m terribly sorry about Liam. I know you two were close. He told me once there were three things he loved, the Royal Marines, Swamp Dog and you. I knew for sure he had good taste at that time. You need to come in and join the wake we are having.”
“I really don’t want to share my Liam with you guys, but I will come in and have a drink to him,” I said.
I said thank you so many times to so many people who shared their memories of Liam. I was growing sick of it all. Those people were doing it for themselves, or I would have told them all to shut the fuck up. Liam was past caring what they thought of him. They needed to know that they would have a party like this one, when it was their turn to cross over, I decided.
I didn’t feel that I needed it. I would just as soon it be over, when it was over. However I didn’t dare say that to the people assembled in the dining hall. Most of them were in the Swamp’s idea of fatigues, but some were in suits and ties. They were for the most part former Swamp Dogs gone on to bigger and better things. Some like me were still doing contact work for the Swamp. Once a Swamp Dog always a Swamp Dog should be their motto. There was something about it that required a certain type individual to join them, and it didn’t just go away.
I got drunk with the others and ended up in a lower bunk in the girlie girl’s cabin. The bunk didn’t have any sheets but someone had found me a pillow and blanket.
“You want to run with me?” one of the girlie girls asked.
“What time is it?” I asked her before committing to running.
“It’s a little late to start running, but you were pretty drunk. A three mile run is good for a hangover.” she said.
“So how late is late?” I asked again.
“6 AM, the sun is going to rise any minute,” she said.
“Give me a minute to find something to wear,” I said as I went to the truck parked outside. I was almost naked but it was pretty dark still. The best I could come up with was a pair of cut off baggy camo shorts, and a red tee shirt.
Edited by Walt