By Cindy and Walt
I sat in front of the church alone with the heater running on my pickup truck waiting for Carlos, his brother Juan and of course Jose. I dreaded running into Jose, but it was going to be necessary to maintain my cover. My first rule was to maintain the cover at all cost. I had been willing to do whatever it took, so I could work a day with the punk kid.
Carlos and Juan showed up first. I stepped out of the warm truck to greet them. “Is everybody ready?” I asked.
“Jose is coming in a couple of hours,” Carlos said.
“Okay then where do we begin?” I asked.
“We are going to start by taking the shingles off the roof, then we will take the roof apart. It’s like taking a puzzle apart,” He said. “Juan and I are going to start shoveling off the shingles. Why don’t you load them into my truck? I know where to get rid of them”
“Okay, but it’s going to take more than one truck load,” I suggested.
“Maybe not, I have the sides up on it. It will hold twice as much that way,” he said.
What he meant by sides were two pieces of plywood which raised the bed sides height up another two feet. Carlos backed the truck into the left side yard. Then he and Juan climbed up his extension ladder and began to remove the roofing material with two coal shovels. I had never seen a coal shovel before, but it was definitely the way to go about removing the shingles.
I wasn’t able to keep up with them until Jose arrived on his Moped. With both of us working as hard as we could we managed to stay pretty much even with the two of them. The shingles from one side filled the bed of the truck right up to the top of the extension on the sides. We had the truck full around eleven. The two men working on the roof had one side stripped.
“Hey, why don’t we stop for a break so you can empty the truck. We can start again when you return,” I shouted up to Carlos.
“Good plan,” he said. “While Juan and I are gone, you two can start taking the pews outside and cover them with a tarp.
“That’s what I thought as well,” I said.
I had been very careful not to use my injured arm, even so my ribs hurt from the bending. I took a second pill, since it had been a full four hours since the last one. Fortunately the pews were small and lightweight. We had them all removed before the two men returned at noon.
I was so tired and doped that I was stumbling around like a drunk. Jose and I were back to loading the truck from noon till about three. It was pretty much full again when they finished the roof. I went to sit in my truck while Jose cleaned up the shingles we had missed.
Carlos came down from the roof to tell me that he and Juan were going to start taking the roof sheeting off.
“There is no way we can finish it tonight, but we can get some of it done. If you will take the ladder home with you tonight and bring it back tomorrow, we can work on the roof till 5 PM. I can take the roofing home with me and dump it on the way in tomorrow,” he suggested.
“That sounds very efficient,” I admitted.
“You and Jose can pull nails from the sheeting as it comes off the roof. You have to be careful it doesn’t hit you. Get them all out and put them in a bucket so we don’t get any flat tires,” he insisted.
When he climbed back on the roof, the two of them were making excellent progress. Since they didn’t stop to remove the nails they could fly along. Jose and I fell farther and farther behind. In those two hours Carlos and Juan almost finish removing the sheeting from one side.
I kept my eye on the clock because I needed to take a pill and stop working. I was in terrible pain. “Hey it’s five o’clock and quitting time,” I said. When the two of them came down, I handed each a $100 dollar bill. I handed Jose two twenty dollar bills. I had agreed to pay him $7 dollars an hour but he arrived late and worked only six hours.
“Thank you all for a good days work. I’ll bring your ladder and be here at 8:30. Is that about right?” I asked.
“Perfect,” Carlos replied.
The men loaded the ladder for me since I was stumbling tired. They pulled out of the drive ahead of me.
When I got home, I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After the sandwich and a can of coke, I fell into bed exhausted. I was forced from my bed by the need to use the lady’s room twice. Both times I added a log to the fire.
I slept until 6 AM the next morning. I started the water heating and drank coffee while I waited. I had to make the coffee, since I hadn’t been able to make any the night before. The coffee was done in time for me to carry it with me into the outer bathroom. I stripped naked and entered the shower. I washed the stink off my body but left my hair a greasy mess.
I finished the coffee while dressing in even warmer clothes than I had the day before. I dressed in layers, so that I could remove the layers as I heated up from the exertion. Then I got in the truck and went to breakfast at Helen’s.
“Was that you I saw taking apart that old black Baptist church?” one of the guys I had seen in there often asked.
“Yeah that’s me with a hammer and pry bar, and I looked real good doing it,” I said.
“Yes you did,” he agreed. We all had a good laugh. The atmosphere in the place changed. It seemed that almost everyone had a comment on the project.
“You seemed to be going to a lot of trouble to save that lumber. What you got planned for it?” a completely different man asked.
“Well I been watching all those mountain men and modern pioneer shows on TV, so I thought I would build some really basic cabins. You know Mountain Man meets microwave dinners,” I said. Everyone broke into the waves of laughter.
“What are you going to do with that stack of church pews.” The woman of an older couple asked.
I’m going to use a couple of them in the houses I think. I suppose I’ll sell some of them, if anyone is interested,” I explained.
That was pretty much the end of the conversation. When I left the restaurant I was a little surprised that the couple who had asked about the church pews followed me outside. “Could we take a look at those pews,” the man asked.
“If there are any left. We had no way to lock them up,” I said.
I drove to the site of the church and to my surprise the tarp still covered the pews. The couple looked at the wooden benches for a few minutes. The man asked, “Would you take a hundred bucks for two of them?”
“No, I’m afraid I couldn’t do that. I wanted a hundred each, but I will meet you in the middle,” I suggested.
“One fifty is fine,” the wife said. “We do get our pick of the litter?”
“Okay, but you pick one and I pick one. I promise I won’t give you the worst of them,” I agreed.
They picked what they thought was the best. I didn’t really know that much about pews or how I would ever use them in the cabin, so I just picked one with a moderate amount of wear. The old man and I were about to try loading them when Jose showed up on his motor scooter. I looked and he was right on time.
He jumped right in and helped me load the truck with the two pews. The older couple drove away after assuring me their kids lived nearby and would unload the two pews.
“So let’s get back to pulling nails,” I suggested.
“Senorita Rose, I want you to know that I realize what a bad thing I did taking your picture without telling you. I am truly sorry for that,” he said.
I noticed he stayed away from any mention of Joan. I did the same when I said, “Well just get them all deleted from your friends files and we will start over.”
“Thank you. My mother and father would kill me if they find out,” he said.
“Not kill, but they would be very disappointed for sure,” I said. While we talked we had been removing the nails from the roof sheeting. The nails went into plastic coffee cans and the lumber we stacked carefully in the gravel parking lot of the church.
When Carlos and Juan arrived with an empty pickup truck, they began on the small amount of sheeting left on each side of the church. “Do you know why we left that sheeting?” he asked.
“I do not have a clue,” I said.
“So that if the wind blew last night there would be something to hold the roof together. Remember it is like a puzzle,” Carlos informed me. After explaining he and Juan set to work removing the last of the sheeting.
As the day before, Jose and I could not keep up. We carefully moved the sheeting out of the way, since there were nails stuck through each piece. Since the other two men had moved down to work on the roof from ground level, they were an unnecessary hazard. Well they were working from a step ladder and the larger ladder which I had brought to the site in my truck from the day before. Before they finished with the roof structure they began to remove the interior paneling.
“The paneling isn’t plywood at all Senorita. It is tongue and groove paneling.”
How this church could afford that is beyond me. It isn’t finished though. It was just rubbed with some kind of oil. They carefully removed it all. Of the almost fifty very wide tongue and groove boards only about five were damaged at all and the damage was minor. It took all morning to get them removed, but I insisted the two men be careful, no matter how long it took.
With the paneling gone, the two of them could reach the roof structure and begin dismantling it. During the afternoon they carefully pulled the roof down. The lumber from the roof structure was massive. At least to me it was. Juan and Carlos would take a long, wide, thick piece of the structure down and carry it carefully to the parking lot. It was quite an operation, but the top of the roof was gone leaving only the posts buried in the wall for another day. It was five and I handed out the day’s pay just in case they decided not to return on Monday.
I went home with a quick side trip to the Plaza for Pizza. I sat by the cold stove as it came to life after my efforts. I had a canned diet coke and a slice of pizza in my hand when the sound a car in the rear parking area alerted me that I had company. I turned to look out the glass doors. I was a little panicked at first. It was two of the men who had replaced the Sheriff’s Deputies standing on my deck.
I turned on the cameras before I answered the door. “Hello there,” I said from the inside of my almost warm house. “Come on in out of the cold.”
“Thanks Miss Seabold. You are Rose Seabold?” one of them asked.
“Yes I am what seems to be the trouble?” I asked.
“No trouble,” he said while staring at my chest which was covered with a tight thermal tee shirt. “We noticed you had a bunch of church pews. You might know that we are working out of the old Sheriff’s office in the Courthouse over in County Seat. The Sergeant said to come see you about a donation of two church pews.”
“I see and if I don’t feel like donating?” I asked?
“You could find them missing,” he said.
“Did you know that the church had those pews marked on the underside. It was a small Black Country Church. Things were not so secure out there. They were marked so they could be identified if they got stolen. That is what we are talking about isn’t it?” I asked. At that moment I wished I was back under the SBI umbrella. “So let me get this straight your sergeant approved this solicitation of a bribe.”
“We prefer to think of it as a gift,” he said.
“So you really are telling me, not to bother reporting your theft of my pews,” I said.
“Lady, do you really need it spelled out?” the older one asked.
“Sure why don’t you spell it out, so I know exactly where I stand. I don’t want to make any mistakes,” I said.
“Okay, you don’t want us looking into your life,” he said.
“I see,” I said. I should have been really worried but I wasn’t for some reason. “If you want the benches take them. I don’t want any trouble with the police.”
“That’s better,” he said with his eyes on my breast. “Well we will be going, but we will see you again I’m sure.”
They left the room and my property. I went to the loft and retrieved the pump gun. I carried it down the stairs to place it in an old fashioned wardrobe with a lock. The antique piece of furniture was tucked away behind the stairs. I was way too calm I thought. I sat down at my desk with the pizza and coke to review the images. The cameras weren’t framed perfectly, but I knew better than to edit them. As soon as I transferred them to one of the flash drives from the case of flash drives in my desk, I sent a coded email to arrange a dead drop. Ironic that it would probably have been in the park across from their office ordinarily. I requested a different location due to the sensitivity of the information.
It just so happened that it was Sunday before I finished with my computer searches. Since Carlos needed family time, I arranged the dead drop for 10 AM. The Hardee’s at the Plaza was good for a drop. It was busy enough so that no one would be interested in the table across from them. The young female redhead slipped into the seat across from me.
“Damn this place is a mad house,” she said.
“The before church crowd is having breakfast,” I said. She nodded then stayed in her seat while I stood to leave. Mixed in with my trash I left on the table was a coffee cup with the drive wrapped in a plastic sandwich baggie inside.
When I got home, I finally took the time to test ride the trike. It did much better than I expected. For one thing to my surprise it weighed no more than the cruiser bike I had before. I went to the church and found two more of my pew’s missing. It’s what I had expected. Before I left home I had loaded the hammer and pry bar into the basket of the trike. So when I arrived there I began pulling nails. I saw the rural patrol car drive by twice in two hours. I had no idea why he came by so frequently, but it made me nervous.
When I got caught up pulling nails and stacking lumber, I rode the trike home. It was an amazing piece of design. It was light, stable and easy to pedal. It also allowed great pedal control with the six gears. Even with the gearing I was still in the mountains, so it gave me a good workout. I decided that it was probably the best money I had spent lately.
I rode the trike around all afternoon getting home just a little before dark. I hadn’t bothered to answer my phone, since I had it on vibrate and the whole trike vibrated. I found I had two messages. One was from Andrew at Church Camp. A voice message from him was very unusual. The message was ‘sorry wrong number’. It was our code for check your mail there is an urgent message.
The second was a message from the rural police officer who had been at my house. He was inviting me out to dinner. I chose not to return that call. I knew exactly what that was man code for. I got immediately into the truck so that I could drive to the grocery store. I bought a few things and a Today tabloid. The brand of tabloid changed every week.
When I arrived home I immediately decoded the message. ‘How do you feel about working these guys to see how deep this goes. You can work them or we can put Mission on their ass to do an open investigation independent of you of course.”
I sent the coded version of, ‘I would rather not be involved in the investigation in order to save my cover ID. I know you can change my cover, but I really like it here. Mission needs to work it in the open if possible. I have a dinner invitation from the one who stared at my boobs, but I’m not going to respond to it. I hope he goes away, if not I guess I lose a perfectly good ID’.
Now was the time to see what kind of problem solving they could work out at Church Camp. I chose to take a nap before dinner.
Two hours later I woke up and went to the computer. I didn’t have an answer from Andrew, so I did more research, then went into an adult chat room. I had my dinner while I chatted. For dinner I ate a bowl of instant oatmeal with some raisins I kept around. It was barely adequate, but it was filling enough. Best of all it was quick and easy to prepare.
Before bedtime Carlos called, “Juan can not make it to work on the church tomorrow. Jose and I will be there, if that was okay.”
“Sure, I have been wanting to help with the actual demolition instead of pulling nails,” I said.
“Okay then you and I will begin at eight and Jose will come over about ten. He has something to do as well,” Carlos informed me.
“Sounds fine to me,” I said.
The rural cop thing bothered me all night. I decided that I needed more guns. I would never be able to reach the shotgun downstairs, if I were sleeping upstairs. Then again there was no rush, I did not intend to go back to the sleeping loft for a while, so it was a moot point at the time.
After only one bathroom visit and a couple of almost waking up in pain moments, I really did wake up. It was 6 AM and I felt like I had time to take the trike to the Plaza. It was a pretty good ride. I didn’t have to rotate my shoulder at all and the pedaling didn’t cause my ribs to be painful. Well no more painful than usual anyway.
The motor patrol cops didn’t show so I felt pretty much like a paranoid bitch. Still even paranoids have things to fear in the world as it was at that time. Instead of dwelling on it, I drove home to replace some of the clothes before going out to meet Carlos.
When I pulled into the church parking lot, I found a rural patrol car all ready in the lot. It was a sergeant who climbed out to greet me. “Miss Seabold, there seems to have been a terrible misunderstanding,” he said.
“Oh what kind of misunderstanding?” I asked.
“One of my patrolmen overheard me discussing your church pews with my uncle, who bought one from you,” he said.
“Two,” I answered.
“What?” he asked.
“The man and his wife bought two pews,” I said smiling.
“Okay two. My man thought I wanted one for the squad room. Why he took it on himself to try to procure one is beyond me,” the sergeant said.
“Let me assure you Sergeant, he knew exactly what he was doing. He specifically said he was acting on orders from you. So you do whatever damage control you want, but you stay the fuck away from me and mine,” I demanded.
“I had the same orders from the headquarters of the State Bureau of Investigation. They are also mounting a full investigation into my squad,” he said.
“Then tell me why you are here, unless it is your intention to intimidate me. If that is your purpose let me assure you that it would be a very bad idea,” I said.
“I was also told that. I came here to tell you that you will not be harassed in any way. If you will please give me a chance to put it right before you call your friends in the headquarters command,” he said. “Give me a chance and I will make it right.”
“You can make it right be staying the fuck away from me,” I said. My real anger was with those I had trusted at Church Camp and Mission of course. Church Camp could not have threatened the Sergeant’s job. It was clearly what had happened. Mission or Morris had started an investigation. They most likely did not have the video file. If they did the Sergeant wouldn’t even have tried to manage the mess he was in.
“Well I know I can’t intimidate you, and I know that if anything happens to you, it will be my job. That was made very clear to me, so you won’t be seeing any of us, unless you call,” he said.
“And I’m sure if I do call you will stop for coffee before you respond. Thanks but I’ll try to handle any problem myself. Now I have work to do,” I said.
He saw Carlos pull into the parking lot. Carlos remained in the car. I saw the light in the Sergeant’s eyes. “Don’t even think of harassing my workers. I swear if you do I will be on the phone to my friends in a second,” I said.
“You don’t get to do whatever you want,” he said.
“Why not? You obviously have been doing whatever you want. I am through with this, but I suggest you spend your time covering your tracks Sergeant.” After I finished the speech I walked to Carlos’ truck.
“Okay, Carlos let’s get started on those walls,” I said.
It turned out that even though I took a fair amount of pain killers, they didn’t work all that well. Swinging a hammer is different from pulling a nail. The shock of the hammer blow gave me some real pain. When Jose showed up I had him work with his dad while I carried the lumber outside as best I could. Turned out that Jose and I equaled about 1.2 of Juan.
I went home tired and sore as the bitch I was that night. I took a hot shower about an hour after I returned, then took more pills and went right to bed. The next day Juan showed up and I was very grateful. Jose and I returned to removing nails and stacking the lumber. At the end of that day all the walls were down. I had no use for the asbestos siding on the outside of the church, so we loaded it onto Carlos’s truck at the end of that day.