By Cindy and Walt
I wondered again where the unknown assailants would be most likely to hit. If I were doing it, I might make the attack while ‘The Girls’ were on shore. I would only do it if I had some kind of support. I would need more manpower than just myself for sure. The Paki husband would be the most likely to manage some help from the Muslin community. But I couldn’t count the Russian couple totally out of the picture. I doubted that either could mount an operation as quickly as it would have taken to make a successful snatch. With the Swamp’s gun thugs riding shotgun, they were going to need a minimum of a two to one advantage in order to be successful. That would be a planning and logistical nightmare to set up in two or three days.
I pretty much forgot about ‘The Girls’ for the time being. A lone fanatic attack was the most likely, considering that time was on the side of the protectors. Arnold seldom left his cabin, so ‘The Girls’ were obviously the easier target. All this planning was for the slight chance someone would try.
The fanatic assault that was the most likely scenario made Liam’s advice wrong.
“The devil you say,” the voice in my head replied. “I would grab them both kill or torture one of them inside the first couple of minutes. I would do that to prove I wasn’t a pussy. Then I would demand money and transport out of there. I would make the demands with no delays allowed. Make you pukes improvise and not give you time to make a rescue plan.”
“There will be two armed men with the women and two more outside the door watching the crowd. An IED in the crowd to either kill or distract the two crowd watchers and a quick assault on the guards who will not be wearing protection. I don’t mean condoms either. It would be SOP in the heat and not wanting to draw attention to themselves.”
“Now I have two dead inside and two dead or wounded outside. If not injured or busy with the outside threat I could do it alone, but any of the others you know about would need one more man. My money is on the Paki husband and the Marxist puke.”
“How do I tell them that you told me what is going to happen?” I asked in a whisper.
“You don’t. You get your ass on shore and stop it,” Liam said.
I left the boat and found ‘The Girls’ shopping. I tagged along when they went into a small jewelry shop. The shop specialized in native stones in silver settings. I kept an eye out for the two men. I assumed that the gun thugs did as well.
The first thing was an explosion outside just as Liam had predicted. Then they came down the stairs from the living area above the shop. I have no idea how they knew that ‘The Girls’ would enter there. They shot the two bodyguards first. One was a clean head shot the other was shot twice, once by each man. When they spoke I realized they were the Paki and Russian. The Russian was the better shot. He was most likely trained by the Russian Army at the very least.
They tried to expel all of us tourist from the popular shop. The Paki was herding us out while the Russian held his gun on ‘The Girls’. The Russian was correct to assume that the rest of us had no value to the Swamp Thugs. He couldn’t bargain with us at all.
I did note that he was young. I wondered if he was idealist or working for the money. It didn’t matter. When the Paki got close trying to push me out, I waited till he had the pistol pointed in the wrong direction, then I quickly turned and drove the pencil into his chest, twice before he even tried to react. He went down in a heap as he vomited blood.
I was surprised when I heard two shots ring out. First I thought the Russian was executing me. But I saw him crumble into a pile. There was blood everywhere. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see it on the Grand Daughter of Arnold Dovecheck. I rushed to make sure she was okay. While I checked on ‘The girls’, Moe stood behind the counter with his pistol pointed toward the door. He obviously planned to defend us all. Well at least as much as he could with what he had available.
Fortunately no one came into the shop while we regrouped. “Call your grandfather tell him you are okay,” I said to the younger of the two. Her mother was a wreck. Moe call Shemp tell him to get a fucking detail over here.”
“They are on the way,” Moe said.
“Where is Curly?” I asked.
“She was outside watching the door,” he said his voice shaky.
“You keep it together I’ll go check on her.” I stopped along the way to pull the fake #2 Pencil from the Paki’s chest. When I got outside I found Curly. I actually found most of Curly. Some of her, as well as some of one of the Swamp Dogs would never be found. Their souls were for sure gone, as well as parts of their bodies. One of the Swamp Dogs was missing an arm. I rushed over to tie a tourniquet on the stump. He wasn’t conscious so I had to tie it off with the pencil to keep it tight.
Well that pencil had taken a life and maybe it would save a life. It was a good day for Porter’s ceramic dagger. I stayed with the Swamp Thug since there was nothing I could do inside.
“You done good,” the voice in my head said.
“Bullshit, I was just adequate. Good would have been to be sure who it was on the hunt for ‘The Girls’, and killed them both before they could pull this off,” I mumbled.
“Don’t beat yourself up. People who sign up for this life know it might be a short one,” Liam said as if it would help.
I found myself a basket case sitting in the blood soaked street crying. I had the thug’s tourniquet in place and was trying to hold his guts inside his body when the help started to arrive.
I looked up and saw something that truly surprised me. Both of ‘The Girls’ were knee deep in blood helping the injured. It seemed that rich people were human after all, I thought.
They took us first to the hospital where an interpreter and a local cop took our initial statements. I babbled like an idiot to stall the interview. I wanted to talk to someone from the American government, or better still some one from the Executive Protection Service or the Swamp. I hoped Moe knew to do the same since they wouldn’t allow us to speak to each other.
“Miss Seabold. I need to ask you some questions,” the older American in a suit said. “The locals do not know who you are, so we have a short time to get this done.”
“So much blood, everywhere I looked there was blood,” I answered with a far away look.
“Cut the crap,” the American said. “I’m from the US government and we are here to help you.”
It was hard to believe that the government could swing into action that quickly. Then I remember that Homeland Security was already on the ground. Where they were when the shit went rank, I had no fucking idea.
“Sorry for you loss,” I said to him. Then went back to the far away look. Screw him. That ‘we are here to help’ was just so much bullshit. The dead and injured all belonged to us as far as I could tell.
After at least four hours sitting in the police station in bloody clothes, the local cops let me take a shower and dress in some clothes someone had brought from the boat. Once I didn’t look like a monster, they transferred me to the hospital under guard, of course. I was still playing at a break down.
Moe had to explain the gun so he was in a tougher position than me. He could throw me under the bus as a part of a plea deal. I wanted to know all of the shit before I went on the record. It is hard to fake being crazy over a period of time. I was fortunate to have Liam. He kept me entertained so I could keep up the pretense. We held regular conversations, but he wasn’t any help in figuring out what was going on. So I sat around running games in my mind. Even if I didn’t have the capacity to understand my situation, I figured they would tell me.
After five days in the hospital I was transferred to a concrete block prison. I was still playing crazy five months later when a doctor and a lawyer type came into the warden’s office. “Miss Seabold we know who you are and what you were doing. We are going to take you to the consulate, where the conditions are more conducive to your recovery,” the lawyer type said. The doctor did a quick listen to my heart,
By that time all I could do was nod. I was in very bad shape. I had been abused and starved for five months. I would have gone along with anyone at that point.
I followed him outside and into the large black car. The car drove around in what seemed like circles, then it pulled to a stop in front of a long, wide dirt road. The lawyer type got out of the car and made a call on his cell phone. He stood looking down what I realized wasn’t a dirt road. It was in fact a dirt runway.
We waited about ten minutes before the small black airplane made a very rough landing. Since the pilot got out of the plane, then walked to us, I guessed that it was considered a successful landing.
“Miss Seabold your plane is boarding now,” the pilot said. I allowed him to lead me to the small craft. I consciously decided to continue the mental breakdown act until I was sure the destination wasn’t Gitmo.
We stopped once for fuel and a bathroom break in some small jungle airport then set down in what could have been anywhere in the world except maybe the Arctic Circle. I mean there were trees and the weather was nice, so I assumed it was somewhere reasonably near the equator.
“Since you haven’t said a word since we left the Island paradise, I’m not sure how you feel about it. Regardless we are home.” The pilot said pointing at the car driving toward the plane. “Those are Americans.”
I still didn’t speak. There were all kinds of Americans. I was sure there were plenty who would like to see my slutty ass in jail, or worse.
“Well as I live and breathe it’s Rose Seabold. This meeting has been a long time coming,” the man said.
“Sorry for your wife’s loss,” I said smiling at him.
“You can cut the crazy act, I’m not buying it,” he said.
“Oh I’m sorry, I don’t have anything for sale now. Call me in the spring, I might have some houses for you then,” I said smiling like an idiot.
“Just get in the car,” he said. I did as he demanded. With a little luck I would find a place to make a stand. First I wanted to know who they were. We rode a half hour or so in silence. Finally we came to stop in front of a chrome and glass hotel.
I hadn’t been given the opportunity to change, so I am sure that I looked worse than the maids. I wore a gray prison shift and canvas shoes. Fortunately we went directly to the elevator. I really didn’t want to talk to anyone.
My keeper pushed the button for the very top floor. When I got off the elevator less that a minute later, I had to wait for the keeper to take me to the room. We were on the tenth floor and the room overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. He stayed outside the door as I went in.
It was a terrible waste of resources, if they were planning to use it as a platform from which to toss me into the Atlantic. “So they did get you out?” Jeremy asked when he entered the room.
“Sorry for your loss,” I said and looked over the balcony’s rail.
“You can drop the act now. You are safe here,” he said.
“I’m not safe anywhere,” I said. “Homeland Security knows who I am.”
“They also know you are one of the good guys,” Jeremy said.
“Oh am I really?” I asked.
“Well right now you are, who knows about yesterday or tomorrow?” he asked.
“That’s what I mean. They can find me easily now if they decide I’m not one of the good guys. Is the Alabama ID compromised?” I asked.
“No, the trail on you ended in the mountains back home. You did a damn good job of covering your tracks. If you hadn’t contacted Sylvia, we would never have found you,” Jeremy said.
“So next time I have to skip the support and do it all on my own. It’s nice to know who my friends are,” I said. “No one.”
“Bullshit, Sylvia knew where you were, and she didn’t track you down. She thought you might be ready for a change. You did come willingly, so stop feeling sorry for yourself. It is unbecoming.”
“You are right what’s done is done. I have no choice but to move on from here. It’s no longer maintaining a cover, so I can be useful. It’s now about hiding my identity. My money is going to be at risk, if they find me. I have to go even deeper into hiding.
“Or you can come back to Church Camp and out smart them,” he suggested.
“They are the government. The only hope I have is to stay off their radar,” I suggested.
“You don’t understand how it works do you. You have some very powerful friends, and not just in Swamp Dog. There are Senators who owe you favors, there are government officials we can put in jail, if we want. There are millionaires who owe their Kid’s and Grandkid’s lives to you. With that kind of juice, we can stop their investigations cold,” Jeremy explained.
“Jeremy, the thing I loved about you and Alice was you were free thinkers. You have suddenly become a true believer. You are one of the dangerous ones now,” I said.
“Yes I am a believer. You and Swamp Dog saved me and Alice. We were drowning in a river of boredom. It might have taken a year or ten years but we were going to kill someone in our world of kinky shit. This gave us an outlet for our need of thrills and danger. You know damn well it’s how they roped you back into the fold,” he suggested.
“I’m through. That’s all there is to it. Right now show me the shower and find me some clothes,” I demanded even though I had no power to demand anything.
I stepped into the shower stall that shared a room with a fancy bathtub and sink. I had been two days since my last shower when they released me. By the time I stepped under the water, it had been three days and god alone knew how many miles away since my last shower.
I was going to have a full checkup before I left on my trip home, Jeremy informed me. I knew I had parasites and a couple of poorly healed abrasions which were going to need treatment. The island police evidently believed that a little pain would bring me out of my mental illness.
“Well we made it home old girl,” the voice in my head said. “I had my doubts at times.”
“Yeah, we made it home, now what?” I asked. “This isn’t home. It’s a fucking motel and I’m not even sure what country we are in.”
The water poured over the skin ulcers and stung like a bitch. I knew for sure I was going to need a round of antibiotics. I had been raped so many times I was bound to have some STD or other.
“Let’s get to a clinic and start treatment,” I said to Liam.
“You are a mess,” the female doctor said. “There is nothing life threatening, but you are a mess.”
“I pretty much knew that. So you are going to fix me?”
“Yes, but some things I can’t do without more extensive procedures. I’m not part of the HHS medical system, so I can’t get MRIs and shit. I practice modern medicine, but with less than a full tool kit.
“That’s okay, I knew who you were when I came here,” I explained.
“Yes, I get a few people like you now and then. So I’m going to give you a powerful antibiotic from the high end of medical science, and a shampoo for lice from the low end. You do know you are sterile?” she asked.
“I didn’t know it before, how long have I been?” I asked.
“It’s probably pretty recent. Maybe in the last few months. It might be reversible. You would need those fancy tests to find out and it would take you several months to get on the list. Then you would have to work your way up it. For now just know the birth control pills are no longer necessary,” she said.
“There is some good to everything,” I said with a sick smile. “Could you have a nurse shave my head with those electric clippers. I would like to end the lice problem once and for all.”
I stayed in the fancy hotel with the fancy bathroom until the round of meds was complete. The lice were gone in a single treatment, but it took a couple of weeks for the skin ulcers to clear up.
I had my last visit with the doctor who said, “You heal well. You must have good genes.”
“Thanks, I’m glad something works as it should,” I said. “I pretended to be insane for a while. Now I’m wondering if it is a defense mechanism I can’t do without.”
“Take six months, go into therapy and lay on a beach somewhere. You are still ten percent underweight, so drink a lot of milkshakes,” she said.
“That’s advice from my childhood. I would have expected some special supplement,” I said.
“Okay I’ll write you prescription, but it won’t work any better or taste half as good,” she said with a smile. When the doctor pronounced me fit enough to travel, I began having visitors. The first one was Andrew of course.
“So you are doing okay now?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m healthy enough,” I said.
“Are you going to work for me again?” he asked. “Jeremy said he didn’t think you would.”
“I gave it a lot of thought and decided I was going to retire. I have always danced on the point of the dagger. Now that Homeland Security knows who I am, it would just be a matter of time till I was back inside. I don’t want to go back to prison. Especially not after my time in the island prison,” I said.
“I have to admit, I’m not surprised. The time you were being held in that jail without charges was unforgivable. I want you to know we had meetings about a rescue operation. We decided against it only because it would have made things worse, if we failed. Instead we called in a lot of favors to get you released.”
“If you ever get tired of patting yourself on the back, let me know,” I said angrily.
“You are right of course. I should have taken you out before the locals got to the hospital. We just didn’t have the assets to get it done. It would only have made it worse for you, but we should have tried.”
“Well Andrew I forgive you, if that is what you need to hear,” I said.
The voice in my head said, “Like hell you do. I always knew he was too weak to handle the boss job.”
“You should have told me,” I demanded of the voice.
“Told you what?” Andrew asked.
“Nothing, I think I’m ready to go home,” I said.
“Some people want to visit you. I don’t think you want them in Mossberg, so hang around another week anyway,” Andrew said. “This place isn’t so bad is it?”
“Am I going to get a bill?” I asked.
“No bill,” he said.
I was having breakfast the next day when two of Sylvia’s gun thugs came in without knocking. I was in a long white gown with jelly on my face most likely. Arnold Dovecheck push past the two thugs then spoke to me “Miss Seabold, do you know who I am?”
“Of course I do. I’m glad to see you are well,” I said. “I am also sorry it took me so long to figure the plot out. Only an hour earlier and I wouldn’t have scared the shit out of your Daughter and Granddaughter.”
“You saved them, that’s what is important. You and that kid you call Moe also gave them a new respect for life,” he said.
“I suppose that is a good thing,” I replied.
“It is indeed a good thing. You should know that everyday for the last five months my Granddaughter asked me if you were still in jail. I am glad you are finally back here safe,” Arnold said.
“Do I have you to thank for it?” I asked.
“I would love to say yes, but I’m afraid there was a lot more to it than I could have arranged. We kept your name in the news, but I couldn’t make direct contact with the government there. So you don’t have me to thank for it,” Arnold confessed. “Still I am thrilled. You should expect to hear from my Daughter and her Daughter sometime today.”
“That isn’t necessary,” I said meaning it.
“I think it is more for my granddaughter than for you,” he said. “She feels a kind of connection to you. I don’t really know why.”
“I will try to let her down gently. Right now I am probably bigger than life. When she realizes I’m just an employee doing a job, it might be a shock,” I explained.
The girls came one at a time later that day. The mother was first. “I came to say thank you for not letting us fall into the hands of those people. Who knows what would have happened to us?” she asked.
“Surely they told you what the plan was,” I said.
“Yes to lure my father away from his protection. But what would have happened to us isn’t clear,” she said.
“Try not to think about that,” I suggested. “Just be happy Moe was there.”
“Yes, we are so grateful to you both. Moe, as you call him got the two of us away before the army came. You were still there when we left. I understand that you stayed with the injured man until they arrested you. You could have gotten away you know.”
“Trust me I have wished often that I had done just that. If I had to do it over, I would have,” I said. Especially since the man I tried to help died anyway, I thought.
“Do you need anything?” she asked.
“Nothing you can manage, but I do thank you for wanting to do something,” I said.
“If you think of anything, ever, just call me,” she passed a card to me.
“I’ll remember,” I said. When she stood to leave I stood as well and walked to the door with her. She hugged me in the most stilted and uncomfortable show of fake emotion I had ever experience.
Two hours later there was a knock on the door. I opened it to allow a much more casual and much younger Dovecheck to enter. “God you look like hell,” she said then broke into laughter. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to say that.”
“It’s okay I have mirrors in this place. I realize I’m not at my most attractive these days,” I agreed.
“I still shouldn’t have said that. It’s just that I remember you as you were that day in the jewelry store. When you turned and stabbed that man twice with that fake pencil,” she said.
“The real hero was the man we called Moe. If he hadn’t had the balls to shoot that Russian I would be dead,” I replied.
“What is truly remarkable is that you stabbed that man knowing the second one would kill you,” she said.
“Well there was enough chaos going on that I figured to get away with it,” I said.
“The one you call Moe said the only way he could have made that shot was because you created a counter diversion. The bomb was a diversion, but the death of his partner focused his attention on you. That was what allowed Moe to shoot him. I watched it all and you both are so hot,” she said.
“Ah shucks,” I said with a smile. “I think we have some cokes in the Mini bar would you like one. I have a feeling your Grandfather is paying,” I said.
“Why do you think that,” she asked.
“These digs are way too fancy for a company called Swamp Dog,” I replied. She laughed.