I drove up to the Church Camp Christmas day. It was a couple of years ago, so we weren’t all one big happy family. I parked my truck in the parking lot a half mile from the camp and walked in. I walked under the watchful eye of the CCTV cameras all along the road.
I expected to see the other contractors there as well as the permanent party of the Church Camp. Since I was invited for Christmas Dinner, maybe we were going to get a decent meal, I thought. Usually the food was good, but it came up from the swamp and then it was reheated. It was missing the human element.
I stopped at one of the VIP cabins on the way to the Dining Hall. The cabin had a sign which read Welcome Center. I had no idea what that was all about, but I stopped. I opened the door then stepped in quickly to keep the small amount of heat inside.
“Well hello Hagar,” the man behind the desk said.
I recognized him as the cripple camp commander Andrew. “Hello Andrew. You know I have been a contractor for the Swamp for three years and this is the first Christmas dinner I have ever been invited to join.”
“It’s the first time we ever had a Christmas dinner. We decided that since the swamp had their own chef, we would have a special dinner here,” Andrew suggested. “It isn’t often people come here to do something like this for us. You should be here since you were part of it.”
“I assume you got paid for what we did,” I suggested.
“You got paid did you not?” Andrew asked.
“If I hadn’t, you would have heard about it before now,” I said. “I’m not really a Christmas kind of person.”
“Then why bother coming?” Andrew asked.
“I came to see what the word was on our friend,” I said. “No one will tell me anything on the Internet or by phone these days.”
“You know we can’t have the information compromised,” Andrew said.
“That’s the only reason I’m here Andrew. If you tell me what I need to know, I will be gone.” I said.
“Hagar, you know there was no way to bring her back. It was a death trap. The best thing is to let it play itself out. They tell me they are close. Give us time to work on it a different way.” Andrew said.
“I’m not a patient man. I fucked up and I want to fix it. The only reason I haven’t so far is circumstances. Give me the intelligence and I’ll bring her home,” I said.
“Hagar, the government uses us. They tolerated us being on their soil, because we don’t create publicity. If any of this got out, it would be a firestorm. She knew the risks.” Andrew said.
“She also expected us to take care of her. It was my fucking operation and I didn’t see it coming. She saw it, but I didn’t. I want her ass back on U.S. soil now. There is a man who will finance the rescue. All we need is to know where to go.”
“Out of the question. We are close to getting it done by other means. The government there is shaky something like that might just topple it. She needs to stay where she is till we can get her released, not kidnapped.” Andrew said.
“Bull shit when did we ever care about the consequences. We just do what has to be done. Then we fucking clean up after,” I said.
“Not this time. There is a new president. He wants a kind gentler American. If we go against him, we could lose everything,” Andrew said.
“Get her back by spring Andrew or I will get her back, or bring her body home,” I said. “And you can tell Sylvia I said that as well.”
“I will,” Andrew said. “Now go to the dining hall. They are about to start.”
I went into the dining room. Men I had never seen and who looked to clean cut to be part of the swap cadre stood around with glasses of wine and cigars. There wasn’t a lot of celebrating. I wasn’t celebrating for sure. Six months earlier I had lost almost my whole team.
Andrew had one of his contingent captured by the locals. I came to Church Camp on Christmas day hoping they were planning a rescue, and that I could be part of it. I did not come to drink wine or eat fucking turkey.
Out of the blue that skinny bitch Silvia Porter came in the room. She looked around until she spotted me. She walked up to me and said, “Three months and if she isn’t back, I’ll go with you.” She turned and walked away without a further word. She poured herself a glass of wine and Said, “Vive la mort, vive la guerre, vive la Légion Etrangère”. Drank the glass down and left the room.
The others didn’t know what to make of it, but I did.