By Cindy and Walt
The three of us parked at Hardees where we did every morning including the one before where Jeremy had shot Mr. Bradshaw dead. The blood was gone but a piece of plywood covered the door where Bradshaw had fallen into it.
“You don’t reckon we have been banned do you?” Jeremy asked.
“I hope not. The distance is almost perfect for our race,” I said. Even Jeremy looked at me as if I should be more concerned about what happened. “What? He was going to kill me for screwing his wife,” I replied to his silent question.
“Well I guess that is true, still he is dead,” Alice said.
“Better him than Rose,” Jeremy said and held the plywood paneled door open for me.
“I got breakfast,” I said to them. “But that is all the thanks you get. I will not suck your cock in front of the staff here.”
Just then I saw Joan ask for my order. Just for a millisecond it was her. Then I blinked and it was a young girl who looked nothing like Joan at all. It shook me, but I tried to hide it.
I sat with Jeremy and Alice of course. “So what you got planned for today?” Jeremy asked.
“My plan is to try to finish my drawing course,” I said.
“You don’t think our mutual friend would like to meet with us,” Jeremy asked.
“What happened the last few days had nothing to do with him or my cop friends,” I said.
“You know they would like to hear the details so they can check out security,” Alice said.
“What’s got into you Alice. You are getting down right pushy,” I said.
She laughed then said, “I have always been pushy you just didn’t recognize it. Why don’t we all take a nice drive in the mountains today.”
Just then a young man stood up from his table and walked toward us with his plastic tray. He dumped the contents into the trash can near us even though he passed two others on the way. I was just about to trip him when I looked up and saw that it was Jose. I mean I knew it wasn’t really but my mind sure as hell saw him for a second. He also looked at me with a smirk on his face.
I shifted my gaze to the contents of the tray. It was just sandwich wrappers and a coffee cup with a lit on it. I stood up quickly and bumped him. “I’m so sorry,” I said as I removed the coffee cup from his tray. He saw me take it, then dropped the tray and ran.
“What the fuck,” Jeremy asked.
I ran to the door and threw the cup after him. I fully expected an explosion but nothing happened.
“What was that all about?” Jeremy asked.
“He passed two trash cans to dump his shit in the one beside us. That coffee cup had the lid replaced. Since it doesn’t seem to have been a bomb, let’s go get it and see what was inside.”
I recover the cup and took a look inside. You guessed it coffee. “Son of a bitch,” I said.
“Rose are you alright?” Alice asked.
“Yeah I guess sometimes a cigar is just a coffee cup,” I said.
Then of course a cop came to the door and the manager went outside to talk to him. After a few minutes he came inside.
“Good morning Miss Seabold what was the problem here. The manager thought you might have a problem,” he said.
“No problem just some kid came over and called me puta. I stood up to challenge him and he threw the tray at me. After that shit yesterday I guess I just lost it. I went to the door and threw the coffee cup at him. After I calmed down I went to recover it and put it in the trash.”
The explanation covered all the bases which is why the SBI and now the Church Camp guys loved me. I could think on my feet and cover all kinds of shit.
“Can you describe him for me,” the cop asked.
“I really didn’t get a good look at his face,” I said. “I think he was Latino. That’s all I can say for sure.”
“Well there are a lot of those around these days. If you see him again call us,” he said.
“I will officer and thanks for coming,” I said.
When he had gone Jeremy asked, “Do you think he was Q10?”
“No, I think he was a kid who knew Jose,” I said. I didn’t say he probably got the pictures of me from Jose. He might have thought I was the one Jose was screwing instead of Joan. He probably just wanted a closer look. I didn’t tell the two of them, because I didn’t think it was important that they know. I felt that way since they didn’t know the full story.
“We need to check in with Andrew,” Jeremy said.
“No we don’t. We need to go back to our lives as if this never happened. If you need to talk about it talk to Alice,” I said.
“Who do you talk to?” he asked.
“I have a special cell phone that it connects directly to God. I talk to him,” I said.
“How do I get one of those,” Alice asked.
“I can give you mine but I warn you he never talks back,” I said with a smile.
When I arrived home the download was complete. I copied the file onto to a high memory flash drive. Then I labeled it to make it easier to find among all the other flash drives. I needed the high memory because there were video files attached.
I pulled up a chair and my sketch pad and watched the next lesson in line. There were 14 of them and I had completed only ten. So I watched lesson eleven. I had to admit that Joan did a good job of explaining things. She was also pleasant to look. Probably because she wasn’t beautiful it was easy to see her as an artist.
After the art lesson I took a long shower, then dressed in my most conservative outfit. I had more coffee then I bit the bullet and climbed into the truck. So much had happened in less than a week, it was hard to believe.
The small three bedroom house had half a dozen cars parked outside. Only the truck belonged to Carlos. The others belonged to people doing the same thing as me. Trying to pretend that we had a personal loss when it was all show. Still I felt it was important to show Carlos and Nita that we were with them in some mystical way. I didn’t understand it but it was expected of me.
I did it mostly to stay in the family’s good graces for several reasons not the least of which was intelligence they might pick up without realizing it. The local custom of bringing cash gifts proceeded the Latino population. I dropped my envelope with a hundred dollars and no name into the bowl by the door. Then I walked into the living room where Nita sat on the sofa covered with a knitted throw. She looked as though she hadn’t stop crying in the two days since she found out about Jose.
I stopped in front of her. “Nita I am so sorry about Jose. He was a wonderful boy.”
Her face suddenly turned hard. Then she asked, “Was it you?”
“I’m sorry what?” I asked I really had no idea what she was asking
“Were you the gringo whore who got him killed,” she said quiet but hard.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” I said. I looked around people were staring. “I guess I need to go but first let me say I have no idea what you are talking about and I’m sorry about Jose.” I then turned and walked out of the door. Carlos came to the front of the house as I was about to pull out of his front yard.
“She and I want to know what you know,” he said angrily.
“Carlos if you want to talk after this is over we will but I am not going to let you cause a scene today. Now get your ass away from my truck.” I said it as a warning more than a threat.
What a fucked up mess, I thought. I drove the truck to my house then set about more research on the Internet. It was mid afternoon when I called Jeremy. “You still want to go camping?” I asked.
“Yeah we leave in half an hour they are expecting two of us, but I don’t suppose one more will matter,” he said.
When we got to the checkpoint there was a pickup truck with a sign on the door already parked there. The sign read S&D Courier Service. He passed through then we had the usual leave the truck and walk around the gate then get on the back of a four wheeler and ride to the compound.
The man who met me said hello, but I was not in the mood. “How come we have to leave our truck and some courier gets to drive right in?” I asked.
“Got me lady, you will have to ask the Camp Commandant,” he said with a smile.
“I suppose you are staying for dinner,” Andrew asked.
“Sure what you having,” I asked.
“We are having a really good mac and cheese, meat loaf, and a carrot salad,” Andrew’s assistant explained.
“Well count me in. I never eat lunch so I’m going to be hungry for sure,” I replied.
“Hell, count us all in,” Jeremy said. He did look at Alice who was nodding her head.
“Ok three more for dinner,” he said. “You won’t regret it. The food took a quantum leap forward since your last visit. We are trucking it in from the main kitchen in the Swamp now. Well dinner anyway comes up with the mail.”
“Andrew,” Jeremy said extending his hand. Andrew moved his cane to his left hand and took Jeremy’s hand. Alice rushed up and hugged him. I stood back and smiled at the show. Andrew smiled back.
We proceeded to spend two hours explaining all that happened. “So what do you think,” Jeremy asked.
“It looks to me like your cover is good. If anything else happens send me a message.” He was looking at me when he said it. “You don’t have to wait till you need help you know.”
“I can handle this. Jeremy wanted to bring you up to speed, just in case you need to rescue us,” I said with a laugh.
“I’m not too worried about that,” he said. “By the way Jeremy, nice shooting in that parking lot in the dark. Two shots both in the chest is nice work. Did the cops give you any shit about the pistol?”
“No, you were right about the pistol. They checked the ballistics but they didn’t take it seriously,” Jeremy said.
“Am I missing something here,” I asked.
“Didn’t you? The pistol Jeremy used was a .22 mag Ruger state of the art pistol. It isn’t the kind of gun anyone would mistake for an assassin’s weapon,” Andrew said. “It’s more a snake gun unless the user is a gifted marksman which your friend Jeremy happens to be.”
“Oh really?” I asked.
“Yes, by the way speaking of that I have something for you,” he said. He reached in the drawer and removed three key chains. They didn’t say a thing. Each just had a disk attached. It was an engraving on stainless steel. There was an image of a wet dog standing on a log.
“Oh shit I love it,” Jeremy said.
“Interesting what am I looking at?” I asked.
“That my dear Rose is a Swamp Dog. We all wear or carry one of those. It will identify you to anyone else who works with us.” he said. “Now lets go eat.”
The food was excellent. The mac and cheese was delicious. It must have been made with some exotic cheese sauce. It also had bits of real bacon. The meatloaf wasn’t sliced. It was cut and served with a huge spoon. The carrot and raisin salad was delicious but all of it paled in comparisons to the corn muffins. Those could have been desert anywhere in the world.
“God I might move in here,” I suggested to the table of twenty men. “All you hunks and this food shit makes me think I have died and gone to heaven.”
“I second that,” Alice said.
“Well take out the part about the Hunks and I’ll go along,” Jeremy agreed.
Jeremy didn’t look so soft anymore. Hell didn’t look as old either. He was softer and older than the operations guys, but he looked like he was competent now. It was quite a revelation and quite a change in him.
“Look guys, go back home and stay cool. When we have something for you we will call,” Andrew said.
Before we leave I have a question. Why does a courier truck get to pass through the gate and we have to park our truck and walk in? Aren’t we trusted by now?” I asked.
Yes, I’ll change that when I get back to the office and you won’t have a problem anymore, Andrew said.
Good. Glad we cleared that up, I said.
We were in the car driving home when I said, “Well I hope you feel better.”
“Actually I do and you should as well. Not only did they back us but they didn’t say don’t do it again,” Jeremy said.
“Well you do have a point there,” I agreed. “It is nice to know that if something comes up they won’t be pissed.”
“You know we need to start making some money again,” Jeremy said.
“Jeremy I’m not sure what is going to happen with Carlos. He and Nita seem to feel I might have had something to do with Jose’s death,” I said.
“You didn’t did you?” Alice asked.
“No, it looks like Jose was involved with my friend Joan. Her husband killed him. I’m sure that the cops will tie him to it soon. In the meantime his parents have been told he was fucking some gringo bitch, so they assume it was me,” I said.
“Why would they think that,” Jeremy asked.
“Because Jose was stalking me for a while. He sent some of his friend’s pictures of me that he took with his cell phone,” I replied.
“Naked?” Jeremy asked.
“No, but he sent them to his friends anyway. He sent some of Joan as well but they don’t know Joan. It will just take a few days. I may have to point the cops in the right direction but I don’t think they are that stupid,” I said.
“You have way too much faith in the cops around here,” Alice said.
“Yeah maybe so. If I get hold of a hot cell phone I might give the cops another push in the right direction.”
“Well that’s probably a good idea but be sure it doesn’t come back to bite us,” Jeremy said.
“That’s why I haven’t given them the push yet. I’m hoping they work it out on their own,” I said.
“Well you play this game better than me, so do what you need to do,” Jeremy said.
When we got back to their house, I switched to my own truck in time to get home before bedtime. There was nothing of interest on the computer so I hit a chat room then went to bed. I fell asleep very quickly.
“So you miss me?” the female voice asked me.
“Of course, I told you to be careful but you wouldn’t listen,” I said.
“Being careful is no fun. I learned that from you, so in a way you are responsible for what happened,” she said.
“Don’t try to blame that shit on me I told you to stop the shit with Jose. That’s what got the two of you killed,” I said.
“Well yeah, but it would have gotten you killed as well, if your friend wasn’t so good with that pistol,” whatever it was that looked like Joan said.
“Speaking of Friends have you met my friend Liam yet,” I asked.
“You do know there are a lot of us here?” she asked.
“No I really don’t have any idea how it all works,” I replied.
“Well for one thing this should be scaring the crap out of you but here you are carrying on a conversation with someone from the other side,” she said.
“Well if you find Liam you can ask him about it,” I suggested.
“You should know this only those of us who die too early and violently can come back to set it all right,” she said.
“I think my friend Jeremy did that already,” I said to Joan. Her explanation was coming from my own warped mind I knew. She wasn’t a ghost as a part of the data in my brain that I hadn’t been able to reconcile with what happened. The unfinished business wasn’t hers, it was mine. Of course I had no idea what it was.
I figured all this out while I was sound asleep. I felt Joan walk to my bed and lie down beside me. She kissed me and I kissed her as well. I could feel her hands on my breast and her tongue deep inside my mouth. I knew that I was tapping into a memory for the familiar sensations.
Then I felt her break the kiss to slip down to my hard breasts. No matter what they said the saline augmentation bags did not feel real. They didn’t feel real to me and I knew they couldn’t feel real to Joan. But then it didn’t really matter since she wasn’t real either.
I gasped. That might not be real but it sure felt real to me. I arched my back pushing my breast against her face. I felt her hand trailing down my stomach forcing my muscles to contract as she went. My hips were off the bed and my mind was stimulating me as the alternate Joan moved her hand even lower. She slipped her hand into my panties then pushed them down. She broke the suction on my nipple long enough to pull my panties off.
After my panties were gone I could feel her whole hand massaging my vulva. It was erotic as hell both physically and emotionally. I was so turned on I was twitching uncontrollably. I knew I was on the edge of an orgasm when Joan moved quickly to put her head between my legs and her arms under my butt pulling my body against her mouth so the fluid leaking from me ran right into her mouth.
I couldn’t help it. I came in a rush of lubricant. It poured out of me soaking the cover of the sofa. I didn’t give a thought to the damage I could be doing to it. I just wanted more of those feelings. I reached down to pull her up so that I could kiss her. When she was lying on top of me and ready to kiss me, I woke up.
I was shaken because the feeling had been so real. I might be losing my mind, I thought as I continued to rock to the very real orgasm that rocked my body continually. I knew why it didn’t stop. I was fingering myself because I didn’t want it to stop. I continued rocking on my finger and convulsing gently until it was time to get moving. It had only been a few minutes but I was exhausted in a good way.
I finally felt strong enough to roll off the sofa just minutes before I needed to be dressed. I put a log on the fire then dressed. I did find time to brush my teeth before I had to get on the trike to meet the two of them on the road. They watched me get close to the entrance to the road then they took off for the Plaza. It was a thirty minute non-stop pedaling experience at a nice leisurely rate but it was just over twenty minutes of busting my ass and working up a sweat when we raced.
I had to work my ass off to make up for the head start the two of them enjoyed. I caught Alice first. She was less than two trike lengths behind Jeremy. She had to be cold but she was moving at a good rate. There was less than a mile to go when I managed to get around her. When Jeremy and I slowed to make the sharp right turn into the restaurant Alice slipped past us both. She had changed her angle so that she could squeeze by and pass before we could get any speed at all. Her whole maneuver depended on there not being any traffic coming out the blind drive. Alice had taken a risk and I was happy to pay for her breakfast.
We were seated at the table when it dawned on me to ask, “Did the cops give your pistol back?”
“No the District attorney will have to decide that it was self defense to have it returned. I can get a lawyer but Andrew said not to bother. He knows someone I think,” he said.
“Oh I bet he does,” I said with a laugh. “I think that Church Camp and the Swamp Thing are bigger than we know,” I suggested.
“Oh I have no doubt about that,” Alice said. I was a little surprised I was not used to her voicing an opinion of any kind.
“So you are traveling with nothing?” I asked.
“Well do you really want to know what I have in my coat pocket?” he asked.
“Not see just tell me,” I said.
“I was so impressed with how that .22 mag worked out I went out and bought another one. I bought it from a dealer in the next county. I passed the background check with flying colors. So now I have a South American version of the Ruger. Not quite so high tech but about the same size and weight.”
“You know I have no idea what you just said except you are carrying. In which case I don’t need to worry about it,” I said.
“I know you have a shotgun at home, You really need a gun rack in your truck. You never know when you will need some defense,” Jeremy said.
“I’ll think about it,” I said. “I will have to admit I never even considered that,” I admitted. We never raced home. From the start it had been a leisurely ride into the dawn’s early light. We usually ran our lights on both coming and going. Since February was almost gone, I was hoping to have some additional daylight but alas there didn’t seem to be any. Jeremy who had been leading the return trip allowed me to catch up.
“Look Rose I know things are up in the air now but we need to start on the cabin down in Jones Lake,” he said.
Okay I’ll get back on trying to find a place to get some building material. If I find a place I can see if Carlos is in or out. If he is out then I’m sure Juan will be out as well. Maybe I can find someone else. Either way I learned a lot from them. I think I can supervise a crew,” I informed Jeremy.
“Good then find yourself a building,” he advised me.
When I got into the house I had hot water so I stripped off my clothes and stepped into the bathroom. I noticed that the dirty clothes were piling up. It was time to find another way to get my laundry done if I couldn’t count on Carlos’ aunt or who ever she was to do them.
I stood under the shower and decided, Carlos had been a good worker, a good friend, and generally speaking a hell of a nice guy, but if they were going to judge me guilty without a chance to explain, the grief or no grief fuck ’em.