By Cindy and Walt
The few minutes turned into an hour and a half, during which time I drank two cups of coffee. The coffee was as bad as I remembered it from my earlier stay at the Camp. I watched recorded TV shows, since I remembered how their computer system worked. The cabin was a rubber stamp of the one I stayed in last time, but it wasn’t the same one.
I wondered why I hadn’t been taken to the admin building. Then it dawned on me that I was being held in isolation while they checked me out. I hoped the visit wouldn’t get back to the Controller until after we talked. Then if they felt like I needed reporting, so be it.
I was half way through a comedy movie that was only about six months old, when the Camp Commandant came limping into the room. He was walking with the aid of a metal walker on wheels. I had a feeling there were at least two shotgun shells hidden in the frame of the walker.
“Well Rose what a pleasant surprise,” the Commandant said.
“Thanks, I’ve missed you too,” I lied.
“Now that you two have that bullshit out of the way, lay it out for him,” Liam said from over my shoulder.
“So what can I do for you?” he asked.
“To be honest sir, I really don’t know. Under the cover identity I have begun meeting people. If they seem questionable I have been having my Control Officer check them out. Before I went into deep cover last time I met an ex con named Rachael Rankin. She seemed to have either guessed or known that I had been inside before,” I explained.
“I suppose there are certain traits that one ex con would recognize in another,” the commandant said.
“Since I couldn’t admit it, I just ignored it,” I said. “I took Rachael Rankin to a swingers party before I knew I was leaving for the assignment. I was having Control check out the people who hosted the party as well as Rachael. I really didn’t have any real reason to be suspicious, I was just being careful,” I said.
“That seems the best course of action, when there is the least doubt,” he agreed.
“Control could add nothing to my information base, so I just forgot it till the assignment was complete. When I got back home I attempted to contact the Rachael Rankin woman and found that she had left town abruptly, just after I went deep undercover. When I asked around no one seemed to know why she left or where she went. They did say her Parole Officer had looked for her. I have no idea if that is true or not.
According to my Controller she is not in the system and there are no pickup orders out for her. I did find out she has been involved with a low life name Marcus Black,” I suggested.
“What do you know about Marcus Black?” the Commandant asked.
“Little or nothing,” I said. “He has a rap sheet filled with petty crimes of opportunity. He doesn’t sound like a criminal mastermind or anything.”
“So what do you think Rachael’s involvement was?” he asked.
“Possibly a boy/girl relationship which would give me no problems at all. She might have been steering Marcus to people in the area for something less than legal,” I suggested.
“Like what,” he asked.
“The main thing that ties people to burglaries, other then fingerprints, is their relationship with the victim. If Rachael were steering Marcus to the victims there would be no trail back to him,” I suggested.
“Okay, but why would she disappear suddenly,” the Commandant asked.
“Maybe a falling out between thieves or maybe she was scouting at the party I invited her to attend. If the intended victim is not such a nice guy, she could have left a trail or something. It could be that the hosts were capable of disappearing her,” I suggested.
“Well that’s lousy grammar but a definite possibility,” he admitted. “So why not turn it over to the Controller?”
“I have and they seem reluctant to do anything, but round up the usual suspects,” I suggested.
“So you plan to run your own investigation. Might I remind you that you are not an investigator, you are at best just an operative. There is a huge difference in the skill set needed,” he informed me.
“So you are telling me I am wasting my time coming here?” I asked.
“Not at all, what I’m telling you is that neither you nor anyone here at Church Camp is qualified to run such an investigation.” He paused a long moment then his phone rang.
“Yes ma’am,” he said into the phone. Then he placed it on the table.
“Can you hear me well enough Rose,” the phone asked.
“Yes, who are you?” I asked.
“I’m someone who is qualified to run such an investigation. But there are some strings to it. If I help you figure this one out, no matter what the outcome, you will owe me. My debt is more than what you owe to those SBI clowns,” the voice said. “I might have to call on you for a favor and I would expect as much discretion as I am going to show you. Is that acceptable?”
I had no idea what I was getting into. I did know that the people at Church Camp were the real pros. All the other people I worked for were the blind leading the blind. “One for one,” I said.
“One for one is agreeable. So the first thing you need is a time like. When did you last see her?” the voice asked.
“I last saw her at 3 AM on the Saturday before I left for the deep cover job,” I replied.
“Did anyone else you trust see her after,” the voice asked.
“Yes Helen her employer said the Parole Officer came by to talk to her on that Sunday. According to Helen, Rachael talked to him and then left. She gave no explanation. She just didn’t show up for work the next day,” I explained. “It might not have even been her Parole Officer. Since I didn’t talk to him I don’t have any idea what the Controller asked.”
“I can most likely find that out for you. If it wasn’t the Parole Officer, you will need to know who it was, since it sounds like he spooked her. Why don’t you ask your party host how she left things with them, since you say she saw them alone,” the telephone voice asked
“Since they are still not cleared in a background check, I was going to hold off till I knew more,” I explained.
“You may not be a trained investigator, but you are a world class liar, so find a convincing lie to tell the hosts of that party. You might even have to bite the bullet and tell a half truth,” the voice suggested. “Then you need to deal with this Marcus Black, but questioning him won’t do any good. He also doesn’t sound like the computer type, so you may have to work him for his information. That is where your training is, isn’t it?” the voice asked.
“Yes it is,” I agreed.
“First there is one other thing on which we need to agree. None of our people can help you openly. If you want information from a source we can hack easily we can help. We can guide you in the direction to move, but I can not put people in the field for you. I am sorry.”
“I wanted some advice and some technical support nothing more,” I said.
“What kind of technical support?” she asked.
“I am probably going to need to clone Marcus’s phone at the very least,” I said.
“Get the real one not the burner, if you want to clone it. You are going to need to put the Wilson Pickup Device within five feet of it with both phones turned on and activated. They will need to be in position for two minutes,” she said.
“Where do I get this Wilson Pickup Device,” I asked.
“The Camp Commander will give it to you on the way out. After you have the clone turn the device off and take it to the post office of that day,” the voice said.
“How will I know where to make the dead drop?” I asked.
“We will have a phone number for you to call when you are ready, do not use it for anything else. We have a first rate recovery man and he will get the information from the phone to me. I will get what you need to you, if there is anything,” she promised. There were other details but mostly I left Church Camp with a plan and a feeling that someone believed in me. It was a first for me.
“When you go around the gate be careful to stay on the path. When you get in your truck back it at least a hundred yards before you turn it around,” the four wheel driver explained. I listened carefully since it was dark out. I followed his directions exactly and got back to the road fine.
The drive back home was uneventful. It was also filled with trying to understand what had happened. The woman on the phone made it sound as though Church Camp was only a part of the operation. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but for the moment I didn’t need to know. They had agreed to help me find out what was going on. For now that seemed good enough.
The phone lady knew her shit. At least that’s what I thought, but then I didn’t know shit. I hadn’t even thought to check Rachael’s place. In looking back that would seem to be the first thing to do. To make sure she was missing and to find out if there were any hints in her house. I checked my email and found a message from the Geek. Either he had a line to Church Camp or he read minds. The draft email had Rachael Rankin’s home address. He advised it was also the home address of Anna Rankin Thomas. Since it was too late to go there when I got the email, I made a note to go first thing the next day.
It was after 9 PM when my current burn phone rang. “Hello,” I said carefully.
“Is this rose?” the woman’s voice asked.
“Yes it is how may I help you?” I asked. I wasn’t sure who it was so I didn’t guess.
“This is Professor Bradshaw, I have decided to take you up on the modeling offer,” she said.
“You offered, I agreed provisionally. So when?” I asked.
“That will be a bit difficult,” Bradshaw admitted. “Since you insist that I paint you with both of us naked, I can’t do it at the school’s studio. I obviously can’t do it at my home. I don’t think the baby would mind but my husband might.”
“We could invite him to watch,” I suggested.
“Maybe later, if I just do sketches and pencil drawings the kit is pretty portable,” Joan said.
“Tell you what, you can do one session at my place, then you are going to have to come up with somewhere else,” I said.
“Fair enough, after one session I will know, if I want more or not,” Bradshaw said not realizing how that sounded.
“Yes, I am pretty sure you will know,” I said bursting into laughter.
She laughed as well. “You are incorrigible,” she said.
“I have heard that before. So when do you want your first session?” I asked.
“Tomorrow would be good before I lose my nerve,” she said.
“Well do you want directions to my home?” I asked.
“Of course,” she said.
“Do you have GPS,” I asked.
“Of course,” she replied.
“Then enter 2023 Roaring Gap Rd. and it should bring you right to my door. It’s a small Spanish designed building,” I informed her. “What time?”
I don’t have any classes tomorrow afternoon I was hoping around 1 PM.”
“I’m sure I can arrange it,” I said.
I went to bed and spent some quality time with my memory of Professor Joan Bradshaw. When I finished I was completely relaxed and ready to sleep. I vaguely remember thinking I had lots to do the next day, but I didn’t lie awake worrying. I just slipped into the arms of Morpheus.
The next morning I went back to Helen’s even though I hadn’t accomplished much. Before I ordered breakfast, I went into the kitchen. There was a black man helping Helen prep for the upcoming day. He seemed to enjoy showing off his knife skills. I expected that mine might be equal to his, but I wasn’t interested in play show me yours.
“Helen, we need to talk,” I said.
“No we don’t,” she said angrily.
“I have no leverage, but I would think you would want to help Rachael,” I said while keeping on eye on her kitchen helper.
“What are you talking about?” She asked.
“I don’t know if you know it, but the man who came to see her was not her Parole Officer. She has not had her parole vacated or even threatened with it,” I stated.
“That’s who she said it was and I just figured she went on the run to stay on the outside,” she said.
“So you knew about Marcus Black?” I asked.
“Yes I knew,” Helen said.
“I found her address, so who was she living with?” I already knew it was her sister. I just wanted to see if Helen was going to lie to me.
“She was staying with her sister and her family. Her sister just had a baby. Rachael was helping where she could,” she said.
“Any idea why her sister didn’t report her missing, if she is?” I asked.
“I have no idea.” Helen said it obviously ending our conversation. “You know you don’t have to do this.”
“Actually I do,” I said. “It’s personal. I would have thought it would be for you as well. If you don’t want to get involved, I would still expect that you would at least tell me everything you knew.”
“Why, it won’t bring her back, if she is gone for good,” Helen said.
I chose not to engage her any farther in arguments. “So who else lived with Rachael and her sister,” I asked trying to widen my thinking.
“Her brother in law. Look I don’t really know anything. I’m just trying to stay out of Rachel’s shit,” she said.
“Okay, well thanks for the information,” I said and turned to go. When I sat down in the dining room I knew that I was having my last meal in Helen’s, no matter what the outcome of my search. She was suppose to be Rachael’s friend and she just wanted to stay out of her shit.
Even if I didn’t care for Helen at the moment, I did enjoy the food. I knew that I would miss it. Hell, I might even miss the Goth waitress chick. She had sort of grown on me, along with the working class men who ate there on their way to the early morning shift at the dog food plant.
After breakfast I went home and then went through all the steps to prepare for a shower. It didn’t take as long as usual, since I had turned the gas ring on before I left for my morning ride. I was able to take the shower immediately upon returning.
For a change I had been sharp enough first thing in the morning to plan ahead. I had panties and a bra piled on the small table beside the hot water heater that looked like a giant coffeepot. If I had not tried to avoid using an automatic hot water heater, my life would have been simplified. The antique hotel coffee pot / space ship looking thing had been designed to be uses on top of my wood stove, but it proved to be just too much trouble. That is why it sat in the outer of the two bathrooms with a gas burner in its guts. Yes I could have bought a regular heater for a couple of hundred buck but it would never have had the class of that thing.
The inner bathroom was one giant shower. I probably would have stood in the shower after I washed to masturbate, if I had no plans except to pose nude for Joan Bradshaw, but I planned to check out Rachael Rankin’s house. That would likely require Rose the bitch, not Rose the sex kitten.
I still soaked up all the hot water until it was gone. I also kept my hands where they belonged. It was a waste of a perfectly good hot shower, but that is life. Sometimes my real life interfered with my fantasy life.
When I left the country store, I was headed to the house occupied by Rachael’s sister and her sister’s husband. It was a short drive, since everything in Farmer’s Grove area was a short drive. It was barely 9 AM when I pulled into the all to common gravel drive. It seemed that I was the only person in the area willing to pay for concrete. I couldn’t blame them, it had been expensive to remove all he old concrete parking lot and replace it with just the strip down the side.
The driveway held an older model Hyundai. The car was a faded red plaint job. It looked a lot like the one I had left a few short days before. That one probably hit some secondary market to hide its previous owner.
I parked my pickup truck behind the faded red car. I was not sure blocking it was such a good idea, since it was possible someone might be leaving for work. Still it had to be done. The only other place to park would have been in the yard. I really hated when people parked on my grass, so I tried to avoid it whenever possible.
I went to the door and knocked, since there was no doorbell. At least I couldn’t find one. After a long two minutes of waiting I heard a woman’s voice come through the door.
“Yes?” she asked.
“Hello, my name is Rose Seabold and I’m looking for Rachael Rankin,” I said though the door.
“Rachael isn’t here,” she said.
“Oh, well I have a job for her. Helen told me she had left the Cross Roads Diner and I need a good employee,” I explained.
“I’m Sorry Rose, I don’t know how to get in touch with her. She just left a few weeks ago.
“I see. Has she called to let you know she is okay?” I asked.
“No, I haven’t heard from her at all,” the sister said.
“Did she say where she was going?” I asked.
“No she just said she had something to do and left with that friend of hers from Roaring Gap,” she informed me.
“Do you know who the friend was. Maybe she will know where Rachael is now,” I suggested.
“No it was a man. I think she called him Mark or something like that,” she said.
“Well if she comes back tell her I’m looking for her. One more thing I know about her past. Could you tell me if her Parole Officer has been by looking for her?”
“No, I met him when Rach first got out, but I haven’t seen him lately. Is she in trouble,” she asked.
“I doubt it. I was just wondering if he might know where she is living now. Anyway thanks for your help.”
We said a few more things and I slipped into my pick up and backed to the road. I said aloud to no one, “That woman has the quietest new born I ever heard of. She talked to me at the door for several minutes and the child was no where to be seen or heard. That was indeed remarkable but it wasn’t any of my business. Maybe kids napped more than I remembered. I couldn’t say that I had been around many children since I had become an adult
The other feeling I had was that Rachael had become a throwaway person. It was the only reason I could think of that would account for no one raising an alarm about her disappearance.
I shifted my thinking to what next. It looked as though all roads led to Marcus Black. I could manage a visit just as soon as I heard from the Controller.
I was back in the Country Store by 9:30, so the visit had been short. I had to wonder why her own sister would not have been concerned enough to call the cops about Rachael. Well that would sort itself out, I figured.
When I entered the house I spent about an hour cleaning the place. During the cleaning I had been careful to replace the throw rug carefully over the trap door into the grease pit. When Carlos had installed hardwood flooring in the great room, he also covered the grease pit turning it into a hidden storeroom.
I had time to not only clean but change into something a little sexier than cargo pants and baggy black tee shirt. In my case, on that day, sexier was the exchange of my cargo pants for a pair of tight fitting jeans. I had personally cut them off because they had a mustard stain on top of the paint splatters. The paint came from my attempt to paint the shelves in the galley kitchen before I left on my last trip. If I tried to be a do it yourselfer again, I would need to consider a day of shopping at the goodwill store.
I removed my bra and exchanged the black tee for another tee with an opening but no collar. When left unbutton, which I did for Joan, it was quite sexy. It didn’t hurt that it was white and very clingy. It outlined the shape of my body and also the shape of my expensive store bought breasts. Yes I made fun of my body by fisher, but I also loved the effect it had on others. That was probably why I rode the bike and skipped lunch most days.
I sat at my kitchen counter drinking black coffee and trying to decide on my next move with the Rachael thing. I decided that the Controller had better come up with the word on Marcus Black and his associates before the day was over, or I was headed for that club where he hung out without a plan.
My phone rang a few minutes before I expected Joan. I had to figure she had chickened out. “Hello,” I said.
“Rose, do you know who this is?” the middle aged female voice asked.
“Yes the phone sex lady. So what you wearing,” I asked with a laugh.
“A set of very unflattering fatigues,” she said. “You are going to receive a package UPS. Go ahead and sign for it. There will be a CD in the package. It explains everything else in the package, watch it then destroy the CD.”
“I got it,” I said.
“Good, this may turn out to be a good thing you are doing, or it may turn to crap, but at least you are doing something,” the voice said then was gone.
I had only a few minutes to think about the call and the package before Joan arrived. I went to the door to greet a very nervous Professor Joan Bradshaw. “Well hello, I wasn’t at all sure you would show,” I said.
“Neither was I,” she replied. I noticed that she had a plastic tool box in her hand, presumably with her sketching kit inside.
“So how do you want me?” I asked with a leer.
“Sitting by the window, I think,” she said. “I’m going to start with just a face and hands sketch. That won’t require that either of us be nude.”
“You are the boss, just remember whatever I have to take off, you have to take off also,” I said it with that leer again.
“I remember and you remember that I agreed to that. But let’s see how well I can draw you,” she suggested.
“As always that is totally reasonable,” I said pulling my one desk chair over to the window.
“Sit on it backwards,” Joan demanded.
“Do you mean cowboy style,” I said throwing my leg over the seat and propping my self up on the back of the chair.
“Yes that will do fine,” she said staring at my breasts.
“Are you sure you don’t want me topless. You seem to be interested in my breasts,” I said.
“Oh hell, why not,” she said removing her blouse and heavy duty bra. Her breasts immediately sagged dramatically. They were also heavy with milk, I was sure.