By Cindy and Walt
NOTE: Beginning next week we will publish a chapter every Monday and Thursday. This will give Cindy some flexibility in her writing and should help readers when to expect the next chapter.
Undercover Rose 12
The background came back on Jeremy and Alice Littlejohn. It was on the computer when I returned from my morning ride. I read it while I heated water for my shower. The new on demand hot water heater arraignment took about as long as it took me to make and drink a cup of coffee. That morning I read the report while the coffee brewed. I hadn’t finished it so I poured a cup and continued.
What I found out was a bit of a mystery. Jeremy and Alice Littlejohn moved to the Farmer’s Grove community eight years before I showed up there. That was as far back as The Geek could trace them.
They both applied and received a driver’s license during the same week that they bought their house. There was a closing on the house with a lawyer, but The Geek couldn’t get any information from the lawyer. That wasn’t unusual. Lawyers hid behind that confidentiality bullshit like it was a brick wall and someone was shooting at them. But since I had been behind that wall with my lawyer, I was glad of it.
The note that accompanied the report stated that The Geek could not find anything on the two of them before they arrived in Farmer’s Grove. It was like they just didn’t exist before they showed up here. I didn’t either, but there was a difference. I had a fake background and they had none at all. That made me think that they arranged there own move to Farmers Grove. If Witness Protection sent them, they still would have had some kind of background. It might have been cloudy like mine, but there would have been something.
My guess was that I would get their back story Friday night at dinner. I knew that I would have to wait two more days, but I could do that for sure. With that more or less put on hold, I went to the shower. I got myself wet then soaped my ass. I was covered in lather when I turned the hot water on again. After I rinsed, I just stood under the shower head and ran the tank as low as I could before the pump shut off.
I filled the tank which sat on the opposite side of the wall from the shower, but I didn’t turn on the gas. I didn’t plan on doing any housework on that Wednesday. What I planned to do was run around the Internet watching TV and hanging out in adult chat room until I got a better offer from someone. It didn’t come on Wednesday.
“Hey Miss Rose,” Carlos said on Thursday. I had finished my shower, so I was sitting on the deck at the rear of the country store drinking more coffee at the time. It was a cool morning as they all were, so I was in shorts, a tee and a long sleeve shirt over the tee. The long sleeve shirt would be gone by noon.
“I thought you were finished?” I asked.
“My wife told me to come invite you to a picnic Saturday,” Carlos said.
“What is a Mexican picnic like?” I asked.
“Lots of good beer and good food. You really do need to come,” he said.
“Alright, if I’m not doing anything else on Saturday,” I said. “I never know when an emergency will come up.” It was a fact since the last job had given me less than a day’s notice.
“Of course,” he said. “So how are you spending your time?”
“I’m really not doing anything except hanging around resting for the next time someone needs a security analyst.” It was my cover and it was a really good one.
“You need a hobby. Why don’t you take up fishing or something? Maybe be a baker. I could see you putting a big kitchen in the living room,” he said with a laugh.
“Actually, of the two, fishing appeals most to me,” I said. I had gone fishing with my dad when I was young. I had enjoyed it, but never gave it a thought as an adult. “Is there a good place near here?”
“You could start out with the Mineral Springs Reservoir. It is as good a place as any and the campground has a fishing area. You could start out fishing from the bank. There is also the private pond where we are having the picnic on Saturday. I’m sure the kids will be fishing you could join them,” Carlos suggested.
“I just might do that,” I replied. “Assuming I can find the place. What time should I be there?”
“Ten in the morning. We will probably serve lunch between eleven and noon. There will be lots of food and beer. We ask for donations, because there is so much expense,” he said.
“Fair enough, so give me directions to the place,” I said.
“Of course the place we are using is off highway nine. There will be tent shelters on the shore for picnics,” he said.
“Oh like one of those tents the funeral homes uses over the grave,” I asked.
“Not a funeral home tent, but the same type cover yes. We have two just so the cooks don’t get sunstroke,” he informed me. “The tables under the tents are only twenty feet from the pond, so we can watch the kids while they play or fish. There will be lots of kids, so you come prepared to be stared at. The younger children will stare at your blond hair and the teenagers and men will stare at your boobs,” he explained. “Probably the women as well.”
“Well that’s why I bought them,” I said. I knew there was no need telling him how I wound up with the no sag 36D boob job. Okay there was a slight sag by that time, but a good bra hid that fact.
Carlos left after a few more words. He left me to drink more coffee and consider the merits of going to Roaring Gap Plaza to visit the Walmart store. The big benefit was that I could have lunch there. I almost never ate lunch so it would be a treat.
I sucked it up and drove the truck to the Plaza. There were actually three plazas along the access road. The first was the Home depot with two free standing restaurants in the parking lot. I stopped there because I wanted Pizza. Since I had started eating at home I had no pizza at all. It was because all the frozen ones I had ever tried were a lot like eating the box with tomato sauce, not even good sauce either.
The place I chose had a pizza buffet. I chose it because I couldn’t decide what kind of pizza to order so I got a sampling of them all. I did skip the salad since I could make at home. The restaurant made a pizza with a chocolate topping. It was a great desert.
After the lunch I drove to the next plaza to visit Walmart. It had four or five other stores attached but I zeroed in on the Walmart. When I got inside the store I took a buggy since I decided that I might as well do my grocery shopping as well as look for fishing stuff.
I bought two bananas and thought how sad it was to shop for one. Then I bought a small jar of peanut butter since I was almost out. My bread box was almost empty so I bought another loaf. I was tempted to buy more jelly but I had limited room in the refrigerator. It was better for me to buy most of the things that needed to be refrigerated at the dollar stores. They had smaller containers so I might have to shop more often but I could get a variety of things in the dorm sized refrigerator.
I didn’t have a storage problem for canned goods. All that old shelf space from which the gas station office had as a country store was coming in handy. I put several cans of veggies on those shelves and even a can of corned beef hash and one of beef stew. I had bought a can of hash before, but only because I had read the history of the concoction. It was so interesting that I had to try it. It came from World One, as a way to prevent food poisoning due to rancid beef.
When I got to the frozen food section, I filled up on frozen dinners. I had plenty of room in the small freezer for them. I must have bought a month’s supply of full meals and even a few deserts. I bought some chemical ice tea mix, since it was easy to mix and had no calories. It also didn’t taste much like good iced tea. Then again it was better than some of the restaurant ice tea I paid much more to drink.
Finally I went to the sporting good section. I saw the same clerk who had sold me the Remington shotgun waiting on a customer. I waited because I wanted to ask him a question or two.
“May I help you,” the clerk asked.
“Yes, I’m going to a picnic Saturday where there will be fishing. Unfortunately I have nothing to fish with and I haven’t done it in ten years,” I said.
“Okay then let me ask you a few questions. First of all how is the shotgun I sold you?” he asked.
“It’s fine. I’m surprised you remember me,” I said.
“Surely you are kidding. I seldom get an unaccompanied woman in this department. I never got one as good looking as you,” he said. He waited a few seconds. I guess it was to see if I would respond. When I didn’t he went on. “So where will you be fishing?”
“They tell me it’s a private pond and I have no idea what it looks like or what kind of fish are there,” I said.
“Well are you squeamish?” he asked.
I thought of the two men I had murdered and sent to a watery grave less than a month before. “I don’t think so,” I replied.
“Then the best all around bait is live. If you go to most ponds you can catch fish with worms and do okay. Have you ever used a spinning rod?” he asked.
“Sure about a lifetime ago,” I said. “I think I would rather have a fishing pole to begin with.”
“That’s a pretty good choice for a starter kit. I can hook you up with a pole and line in one package,” he told me. He led me to a display of fiberglass poles. “Just pick one out.” He was smiling and looking at my ass while I looked at the poles.
“So how do I decide?” I asked. “I mean what am I looking for?”
“Probably in your case a shorter one would be good. Maybe this nine foot one would do as a starter. It is also the least expensive one I have. It comes in three pieces each one is about three and a half feet long.”
I tried it and found that it was easy for me to handle. I just didn’t like the idea of putting it together and taking it apart. “How about something easier to assemble. I’m afraid the joints will be too hard for me to handle.”
“Well I got one about the same size that telescopes,” he suggested picking up one in a plastic wrapper.
I tried and found it much easier to handle. “Yes I think I like this one. Does it come with the line and stuff?” I asked.
“No ma’am but that is pretty easy. I have a kit over here. The kit has ten hooks in various sizes, ten weights, and ten plastic bobbers. It’s a mix and match thing. There is also a few swivels and a very small roll of 10 pound line. You should build your line before you get to the pond I think. There is a holder on the end of pole so build it with a swivel and you can remove it for storage,” he said.
“So okay how long should the line be?” I asked.
“It should be a little bit longer than the pole but not much. Maybe a foot or so,” he suggested. I nodded, then put everything in the buggy. I even added five bucks worth of worms. It looked as though I was going fishing, I thought.
When I got to the register I put the almost fifty dollars on my card. I was surprised at how little the fishing junk cost me.
I was home in time for Judge Judy. Yes I know, typical woman. I just love all the couples that break up and someone is left with the apartment lease, or some such nonsense. Maybe I loved the men who swore he has no money to pay his child support, because he had a bad day at the track.
When Judge Judy gave up for the day, I went to my fridge and found nothing. I mean literally the damn thing was empty even after I got back from grocery shopping. Everything I bought either went into the freezer or on the shelves.
First I had to decide what to cook, then do it. That seemed like a lot of trouble, but I opened a can of pinto beans. I heated them in the microwave until they were boiling. While they were boiling I got a couple of frozen muffins from the freezer. I had found that they did much better in my tiny toaster oven.
While the muffins were heating, I made a trade, beans for a large container of frozen gourmet mac and cheese. The whole thing, including reheating the beans after the mac and cheese was done, took only thirty minutes.
I ate alone using the plastic containers right from the microwave oven for dishes. That cut my dish washing to a minimum. It also gave me something else to do. Take the trash to the clearing by the side of the road, where the dumpster was.
It was a sad meal of course but I enjoyed it. I even enjoyed the alone time. There was nothing like prison to make one appreciate being alone. There was also nothing like pretending to be someone else to make one appreciate not having to pretend to be anyone for a while. Not having to pretend meant being alone because even in Farmer’s grove I was pretending to be someone else.
I could go mad trying to deal with my lack of identity, if I allowed myself to dwell on it. I had chosen to be a chameleon. It wasn’t a hard choice, give up my identity or rot in prison. I was still in prison, but the decor was better and my guards were fewer and in general nicer. The other inmates in this prison seemed to be more concerned with staying alive, than in fucking me up.
When I awoke under the country store’s roof, I knew it was raining. There were no leaks, but there was still that outside rain noise. The gable ends of the building were wood siding and even though Carlos had insulated and paneled the walls of my sleeping loft, I could still hear the rain. I expected that it was mostly from the metal awning over the hayloft type door space in the middle of the sleeping loft, and directly over my bed. In reality the door was an illusion. It was actually a sliding glass window in a wood frame. The window panes were solid colored pieces of Lexan. It had an interior storm window for the winter, but at that moment it wasn’t on the window. The air, which seeped in, was cool and damp but not cold. The whole thing would pop out with a good kick allowing me to climb onto the decorative balcony. Where I would lower a metal ladder, then climb down to safely.
The panes of Lexan were the same color as the trim on the eaves, the door, and window trim. It was a blue somewhere between baby blue and midnight blue. The body of the house had finally been complete allowing me to have the trim painted. The stucco was colored a sand color that was a part of the material and should never need painting. The place looked fantastic on the outside and the inside. I had a total of just over twenty thousand dollars in the renovation and was really pleased with it all, so far.
The furnishings were sparse but it was still a work in progress. My bed had to be a twin so that it could be moved into the loft without the use of a forklift. The storage shelves were all either open or the clear shoe boxes on the shelves.
I thought all that while I was lying in bed. I would have jumped up and taken the bike out, except that it was raining hard at that moment. The bike was in a large storage shed Carlos had built onto the rear of the house. It was mostly to house the propane tank and to store wood but I found room for my bike there. He was after me to add a propane burner to the fancy wood stove, but I resisted.
I drifted off to sleep, since I couldn’t ride, and I wasn’t hungry enough to go out in the rain. I slept for about two more hours. By 8 AM I was forced from the warm bed by my need to urinate. As I walked through the cool damp kitchen I gave some more thought to the gas ring for the wood stove.
I sat on the toilet and gave it even more thought. I decided that I really enjoyed laying the fire. I could always come into the bathroom where there was an electric ceramic heater. It came on automatically when the light switch was on. Well I could turn it off at the heater during the summer. The wall plug where it was plugged in was connected to the overhead light switch, so it was convenient.
Carlos had convinced me to give up some of the shelf space to allow the wood stove to be mounted against the interior concrete block wall which supported most of the upstairs floor. There was a vent in the ceiling of the office, which supplied heat to the loft. The double insulated metal stove pipe was vented through the attic portion of the loft. There wasn’t much usable space in the edges of the roof gable. So it didn’t take up too much space in the sleeping area. Carlos wanted to build a frame around it but I refused. I liked the way it looked and I knew from Church Camp a lot of heat went up the chimney. So I decided to let the heat radiate into the room.
There was a sort of exhaust fan over the door of the galley kitchen, formerly the office area. The fan blew air from the wood stove to heat the otherwise unheated living room. It wasn’t a perfect arrangement, but it was a quirky as the part I was playing in Farmers Grove.
I went to breakfast in my pickup truck. I wasn’t required to go to Helen’s, since I had to drive anyway, so I chose to drive to the plaza to have a waffle for breakfast. Hell I felt guilty for not riding the bike. I figured I might as well go for broke, and have a half cup of sugar in the form of a waffle with blueberry syrup.
After the brunch while still flying on my sugar high, I went into the town of Roaring Gap. I was just planning to sight see more than anything else. The buildings in the downtown were mostly offices. There were some businesses but nothing jumped out at me, so I kept driving. On the way out of town I took the road to County Seat just for somewhere to go.
How it got the name County Seat was simple, it had the County Courthouse. The new State Police Headquarters was located in the basement of the building and the top two floors were courtrooms. All the Judges were appointed by the state, since the first of the year. It was decided that they would be less likely to be corrupt, if they were monitored by the State Judicial Review Board instead of currying favor to get reelected. The State felt that local elections were too easy to corrupt, so they just did away with elected Judges. The lawmakers who had the approval were elected by the people, so that should satisfy everyone, according to the State Supreme Court.
I only knew that because the local TV station had a story almost everyday about the State taking over the local law enforcement duties from the counties. The State Police and State Bureau of Investigation claimed they could do a better job and do it cheaper. There seemed to be some differences of opinion on that subject. I personally didn’t have any opinion at all. One cop was the same as another to me, and I had no interest in politics.
“This place looks like a ghost town,” I said to the old man in the park across from the Courthouse. It had a few more buildings than Roaring Gap but most of them looked empty.
“Yeah, it’s Friday and the Judges try to wind up Court before Friday. Most of the cases are drunk drivers and maybe a bar assault. They can be handled before noon on Friday most weeks. Most of the trials only last a few hours, not like on TV,” he explained.
“Isn’t there something besides the Courthouse to bring people into town,” I asked.
“The Farmers Exchange down the street and a couple of bank branches, some lawyers and a real estate office but not much else,” he said.
“Well it doesn’t sound like there is anything I need here,” I said.
“No but a pretty young thing like you could probably find something to get into, if you really tried,” he replied.
“Well I don’t farm, and I don’t want to buy any real estate, so I guess I’m just out of luck,” I said.
“Well I guess I am too, cause I’m retired and I don’t need none of that shit either. I just came down to pay my taxes, but thought I would rest here in the park before I went home,” he said. “I got classes tonight at the community center.”
“Oh really what kind of class?” I asked interested.
“It’s one of those computer self help things. There is no real structure to it. I go just to learn things to keep my mind working. I really take the classes on line. It’s one of those interactive things. First you need to go out to the community center or the community college to sign up. The teaching instructor takes your money and gives you all the passwords,” he said.
“If you are interested you can come out and meet with the instructor before class. She comes out a half hour early to have conference time. Mostly we just socialize for the whole time. They call that Community Outreach to help people who need computer skills. She is just there to give us old guys individual help. You know if you have questions from the classes that week. She is out there two days a week for an hour and a half.”
“That really sounds like fun. What kind of courses do they have?” I asked.
“Mostly it is self help crap,” he said. “But that is okay since we have all the time in the world. Some of it is job training oriented. Some of them even require on campus lab work. That is like the cooking and baking courses.”
“Oh, so I can go online and find a list of the courses?” I asked.
“Yes, just to go to the Foothills Community College site then look under the self help category. You should be able to find it there,” he said.
“Good, thanks. By the way my name is Rose Seabold,” I said.
“Martin Lewis they call me Marty,” the almost seventy year old man informed me. He extended his limp hand and I took it.
I stood leaving Marty and the park behind. I had a plan for the afternoon. I was going to check out the Foothills Community College website. If I could take the courses online, I could figure a way to take the course, even if I was on the job somewhere. I wasn’t really looking for a job or anything I was just bored but then so was the old man.
By the time I drove the pickup truck into my driveway, I had driven almost forty miles of mountain roads in a big loop. The driveway had once been just a large concrete area with gas pumps in the front and on one side of the country store. It had all been badly overgrown by the time I took over the country store.
Thanks to Molly, the goat, the weeds were gone. I had spent some serious dollars having a friend of Carlos dig up the concrete to make a driveway lined with plants. That went a long way to change the country store into a residential looking building. Sure it was still a work in progress, but we had come a long way with it.
I went inside to put the coffee on, and then to check out the Foothills Community College website. While the coffee cooked, I put the flash drives into the computer. The gold colored drive was small and held the operating system and the random access memory. The blue one was the one that held eight gigabytes of memory. It was the permanent storage.
I put them in the wireless computer which I used with my home wifi system connected to the phone company. I was on the home page of the site when the coffee finished cooking off. So while I checked out my choices I drank two cups of coffee.
Since I was taking the course just for fun and to pass my down time, I choose ‘Drawing with Charcoal.’ I had not done any drawing in years, but I had once enjoyed it. Since people seldom enjoy doing things, at which they are really bad, it stood to reason that I was pretty good with a number two pencil. I had never tried charcoal, but I thought I might be able to handle it.
I went on to the sign up page to registered. Since it was a self enrichment course there was no pre qualifications. It was just a matter of giving the school a hell of a lot of information and a payment of $100. I gave them the Rose Seabold identity, and an ATM card payment for the course.
I downloaded the course material list and completed the first lesson before it was time to dress for dinner with Jeremy and Alice.