By Cindy and Walt
“Yes, I have no choice. Our shipment will be smaller than usual. It might go unnoticed, but it might not. Since that business with Hannah is hot on their minds, if they suspect me of running dope out the back door, there will be hell to pay. Hell in the form of some cop or government inspector here every other day. So dear God please let’s do this by the book.
Make sure that all the firearms we own are moved to one of the truck cabs and covered with a blanket. Then lock the doors. I’m also going to call Rita just in case. Get cracking because the time stamp on this tape is going to tell them how long we stalled. The camera is going to show us running all over hell. I didn’t think of that, when I bought into this system. That camera is going to catch you putting the guns in the truck,” I explained.
“Not really,” he said taking off at a dead run.
I just have to trust him, I thought. I called the cops before I called Rita. “Hey Slut, I have a problem,” I said.
“So what is it this time whore? Did your psycho Merc kill a waitress?” she asked.
“No, someone broke in while we were out and stole some of my plants. Since the Hannah thing, I’m afraid these lazy ass cops will try to drop it on her,” I said.
“Record everything and call me if it goes south for either of you,” Rita said. “And thanks for the heads up.”
“Thanks for being around when we need you,” I said feeling strange being nice to her.
“You might be a whore but you are a stand up whore,” she said. “Now hang up before I get all misty.”
The patrol car rolled up while Steve and I stood in the parking lot. It took ten minutes before the patrol officer fully understood what happened. When he did, he called in the detective on call.
It took the detective on duty twenty eight minutes to roll into the parking lot. By then we had the original officer, and his sergeant in the lot. I sent Steve to make sure the pot didn’t keep walking out the back door.
“The woman who got out of the police car wasn’t classically attractive. Unlike TV, most female cops were not beautiful. They became cops because they weren’t super model material. She managed to keep her weight within the thirty pounds of perfect the cops required. Her broad butt betrayed that it was a fight.
“So you are the infamous Iris Martin/Rose Seabold, entrepreneur and shady lady,” the Detective said.
“Well you know who I am, who are you?” I asked.
“I’m Detective First Grade Ellen Ames and I don’t give a fuck how connected you are,” she said.
“How long have you been planning that little speech?” I asked.
“All the way over. Actually ever since the Captain called to tell me how connected you are,” she said.
“You are right not to care,” I agreed. “That protection is all in the paper pusher’s mind. Nobody protects me but me.”
“Good, so tell me what happened,” she demanded.
I told her everything except for the guns hidden under the blanket in my truck. “Can we search the farm for evidence,” she asked.
“I’ll tell you what. These guys didn’t even try to destroy the CCTV, so you can search anywhere they went. If you want to go farther you are going to need a warrant. Of yeah, I am recording this conversation for my lawyer,” I said.
“So much for cooperation,” she said. “You will call if you find Semen soaked panties in your dresser drawer?”
“Sure, you will be the first to know, if I don’t recognize the smell or taste of it,” I said. I was being just as nasty as the detective had been.
“Who is the soldier?” she asked changing the subject.
“He is replacing Hannah,” I said.
“And Hannah was the teenager who skimmed pot from you?” Detective Ames asked.
“I see someone briefed you. Yes she was, but it wasn’t anything like this,” I explained.
“No but she could have told someone else how to beat the alarms,” Ames said.
“She could have since all they did was somehow avoid the pressure sensors in the road. Steve and I think they used our electric tractor to haul one bundle of plants to the gate and then hand them around it,” I said.
“You base this on what,” Ames asked.
“The CCTV footage,” I replied. “Would you mind getting on with doing what you have to do. We would like to get some sleep so that we can get back to work tomorrow.”
“Well let’s see that CCTV footage,” Ames said.
I ran it for her and then turned it off when I got to the long blank space until we arrived. I stopped it but Ames demanded I show her the rest of it. There was the spot where we walked around with shotgun and kicked things. Then there was a glare for just a few minutes before the cop car showed up.
The crime scene van showed up to process the shed for fingerprints, DNA and lots of crime scene photography. When they left Ames said, “I called the district commander. He said you two could pretend nothing happened and go back to work. We are going to have a talk with Hannah,” she said. “Odds are we can solve this before end of shift.”
“I sure hope so,” I said. “I am going to need a copy of your report to use for the USDA report of crop loss. I have to explain anything out of the ordinary.”
After they all left I told Steve to get some sleep. “Tomorrow is just another day in paradise,” I suggested.
“No problem. I am dead tired and want to be ready for anything that comes tomorrow,” he replied.
“Steve we are going to breakfast, then we are going to finish pulling the plants. After all that, if we have any time we are going to groom the plants and package the leaves. We are going to sort the leaves into one bin, the seeds in another, and finally the stems and stalks into a third bin. It is unlikely we can finish all that in one day so we will have to complete it then get everything packaged and ready to sell later,” I explained.
“I’ve been thinking Rose, what you really need here is a junkyard dog,” Steve said.
“Or a hundred junkyard Chihuahuas,” I said with a laugh.
“Well if we were always here the Chihuahuas would work. I don’t think they would scare anybody off though,” Steve said.
“Okay we will run it around at breakfast,” I suggested. “For now let’s get to sleep.”
I hadn’t seen much of Dark Daddy since I bought the farm, but I didn’t mind. I had lots of casual friends on the adult sites. Of course none of them knew who I really was. I also didn’t know who they were. Sometimes someone let something slip. Like the hard core bad guy who turned out to be a tax preparer. Or the bad ass thug who I found out was a dentist. After those two revelations I gave up judging them by anything other than who I wanted them to be.
I began to talk to a fellow name Joshua. He claimed to be an immigrant Israeli. I guess that he might be Venezuelan instead, but I didn’t pursue it. I chatted with him that night until I had a gently orgasm, then went to bed.
Five AM came early the next day. I really wanted to move past the missing pot so I didn’t bring it up. I managed to get as far as the Dairy Queen and even to the table where Bart waited before it entered the conversation.
“So, do you know who got the pot?” Bart asked.
“My bet is one of Hannah’s so called friends. Some one pumped her for information and I mean that literally,” I said.
“Yeah sex can make you talk in your sleep,” Bart said. “So what are we going to do?”
“We are going to leave it up to the cops,” I said.
“Sure you are,” Bart said.
“I am serious. If we go running around like some avenging angel, someone is going to wind up calling the cops on us. I need to keep a low profile,” I explained. “Steve and I are thinking a little more low tech security system.”
“Oh yeah what is that?” Bart asked Steve.
“Junkyard dog,” he said.
“I like it,” Bart replied.
“More just noise and a bit of protection,” I suggested. “We are not going to have some killer dog running around there. We just want something noisy.”
“Don’t worry we will find just the right dog,” Steve said.
“First things first, we need to finish the harvest,” I suggested.
“First we have to fuel up, then we can begin our day,” Steve said.
“That’s my thinking too,” Bart agreed.
“Let’s get started then,” I said as I finished my coffee. Then I stood and left the two of them sitting there.
“Sorry Bart old man, I need to go look after Rose,” Steve said standing to leave. He didn’t even hear what Bart’s answer was.
While Steve pulled the plants I loaded and tied them into bundles. I then used the electric tow motor to drive the bundles to the shed. Once I had them in the shed, I unloaded the trailer then returned for more.
“You hungry?” I asked Steve.
“Not at all, I want to get this house empty before we stop to eat,” Steve said as if it were his plan we would follow. Since it was what I wanted as well, we worked on till the house was empty.
“Okay it’s 4 PM and the house is empty. Let’s get the last of it unloaded then go eat. I think it needs to be something good for everyone,” I said.
“It’s just me and you right?” he asked.
“Let’s invite Hannah, we need to chat,” I suggested.
“Suits me, how about we go for pizza in that case?” Steve asked. It was the first time he had stated a preference.
“Sure pizza is fine,” I suggested. “Any place in particular? There are a couple in Williamston.”
“Any of the places in Williamston have a buffet?” he asked.
“Pizza Village,” I said. “So let me call Hannah.”
“Hey Iris, they got me waiting to talk to a detective about your missing weed. I promise I had nothing to do with it,” she said in a rush.
“I know honey, I called to invite you out for pizza. Is the detective available,” I asked.
“Ames,” the very cold voice came over the phone.”
“So Ames, you going to water board her or starve her?” I asked.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Ames asked.
“I called to invite her for pizza at the Village. You want to spring her or come with her?” I asked.
“I’ve got some questions for you. If you are buying, it might be a good time to ask you,” she said.
“I’m buying, if you wait till after the pizza to ask your questions, then you are invited,” I said.
Thirty minutes later found me pulling the truck into the parking lot of the Pizza Village. It must have begun life as some kind of seafood restaurant. It was nothing I could put my finger on. It just had a coastal feel about its design.
Steve and I were the first ones to arrive. I picked a large table by the large window that overlooked the parking lot. All the places that overlooked the Alabama River came with a huge price tag to match the view.
“Tell me something Rose, I heard Hannah and a couple of other people call you Iris. What with that?” Steve asked.
“When I came here, I was on the run from me. I had a spare set of papers that made me Iris Martin. So I built this life as Iris Martin,” I said.
“Someday I’m going to find out what all shit you were into,” Steve said.
“Be a waste of time, it would bore the hell out of you,” I said. Just then Hannah and Detective Ellen Ames walked into the place accompanied by Rita, her lawyer.
“Well if it isn’t the guest of honor. I see you brought your keeper and your shyster. Welcome each and everyone of you,” I said. “I had no idea I was going to buy dinner for such a diverse crowd. You all do know each other?”
“Cut the crap Rose,” Rita said. “So this is a pizza buffet Mossberg style?”
“I think it a pizza buffet period. It might not be up to New York standards, but it’s fine for us country folks,” I said in the place’s defense.
“You can drop the redneck act,” Ellen Ames said. “You have a Senator and the Governor suggesting we tread easy around you.”
“You can tread anyway you want, I have nothing to hide,” I said. Except my whole life, I thought.
The waitress came and we all decided the buffet looked pretty harmless, so we went for it. I came back with a lightweight plastic plate filled with slices of pizza. I seated myself before the questions began.
“How come a woman worth over a million bucks drives a five year old faded Ford Ranger,” Detective Ellen asked.
“Because, who in their right mind would car jack that thing,” I asked. “It ain’t the loss of the truck. It’s the thought of not being able to leave where I am, whenever I want.”
“You know it’s kind of scary, but that makes perfect sense,” Rita said.
“What made you decide to go into the legal pot business, were you in the illegal business first?” Detective Ellen asked.
Rita looked at her hard but I went on to answer. “Actually it was a couple of guy I was screwing when the Feds legalized it that gave me the idea. One of them was buying pot from the back door of a grower. And the other was a biochemistry grad student. The pieces just fell together after that.”
“What I want to know is were they any good?” Rita asked.
“Fair,” I replied.
“Which one was the gypsy?” Detective Ellen asked just to prove she was on top of it.
“Which one do you think?” I asked.
“Rita, I believe your husband is one of the people who buys pot from Rose,” Detective Ellen asked.
“Yes, he buys directly from Rose. The plant waste is not regulated, so he can buy direct and avoid the middle man, the all intrusive government, I think you call it. I’m sorry you would call it the boss.”
“Yes, I work for the all intrusive government,” she said.
“My, isn’t this fun?” I asked.
“It’s a blast,” Steve said grinning. He sat close to Hannah as if protecting her.
“Detective Ames, do you have a back up sitting over by the door?” Steve spoke to her for the first time since she arrived.
“No why,” she said not turning to look.
“I would bet a very important body part that he is carrying,” Steve replied.
“What is it about me, I can’t go anywhere without someone pulling a gun,” I let that slip.
Ellen looked at me curiously. “I think you are being paranoid,” she said to Steve but meant it for me as well.
“He is on the cell phone,” Steve said.
“Are you carrying?” I asked Steve.
“In the truck,” he answered sheepishly.
“You Detective Ellen?” I asked.
“Of course,” she replied.
“Then let’s hope it’s paranoia,” I said. I opened my purse and pulled out the ceramic pencil. I never leave home without it.
“Who would stick up this place,” Rita asked.
“More important, do you know him Hannah,” Detective Ellen asked. She had been watching Hannah.
“No,” Hannah said quietly.
“I have a harvested crop in the shed. It’s worth a quarter of a million dollars on the black market. They want to make sure Steve and I stay put. That’s most likely what all this is,” I said.
“Then we need to get home to give them a surprise,” Steve said.
“I got this,” Detective Ellen said. She sent a text then continued to eat. At leave five minutes later the thug by the door stood up and left not even bothering to pay his check.
“I think it’s against the law to skip out on a check,” I said. The thug by the door walked right into the arms of the cops. The people inside continued to eat their dinner having no idea what had happened.
“The Detective is going to miss her dinner,” I said.
“You have to be kidding. She will be back. A good cop never gets cold, wet, or hungry,” Rita said. “You know you two missed your calling. You should have been cops.”
I put the pencil back into the little pocket of my purse. Sometimes I was glad that I carried a purse, even though it was a pain to remember what to do with it. Which is why I seldom carried a purse except when I went out.
“Did you eat all the pizza, or is there some left for me?” The detective asked.
“Steve saved you some,” I said.
“Good thanks Steve, and not just for the Pizza,” Ellen said.
“Not a problem,” Steve said. What he didn’t say is that we could have handled it, but not so pleasantly as the cops. People would have died. Hopefully it would have been the right ones.
“I guess all’s well that ends well,” I said.
“You know they will seize the pot as evidence,” Rita suggested. “Maybe they won’t seize it all.”
“Not a problem, as long as we get it back sometime,” I said.
“I think I can get them to buy into the sample thing. Photograph and weight it and then take a sample. They have no secure storage area for it and I’ll make a lot of noise about police liability,” Rita said. She was talking to me but made sure Ellen heard her.
Ellen didn’t appear to be listening at all. “You know this pizza isn’t bad for a redneck joint,” Ellen commented smiling sweetly at Rita.
“Well if everyone is finished I will pay the check so that we can go. Do you need a ride back to the substation?” I asked Hannah.
“I can take care of that,” Ellen said. “After all I have to go back there anyway.”
“I think maybe I’ll drive her back,” Rita suggested.
“Call me,” I said to Rita.
“If I can,” she replied.
Steve and I went back to the Catfish Farm. What we found was a compound bathed in light and cop cars everywhere. From the sergeant on duty I found that the bad guys had cut the power to the whole compound before they went through the gate. They didn’t care about anything but the siren blaring. They figure the time spent verifying the call and the response time would give them time to load a truck with pot and go.
Somehow they knew the pot was ready to go and the location of it. The first break in, where we lost the single bundle was a dress rehearsal. The bad guys had been practicing for the real thing. They had plans to take it all from the beginning.
They simply waited till the harvest was complete. Then once Steve and I left, they set the wheels in motion. It really was an elegant plan. If Steve hadn’t spotted the man with a gun or Ellen hadn’t been with us, they probably would have gotten away with it.
“You know these were just kids, one night it’s going to be an invasion,” Steve suggested.
“I’m not so sure of that,” I said. We never have the million buck harvest at any given harvest. Why rip us off when there is a lot more money in one of the illegal operations. And they don’t call the cops.”
“Let me give you some good reasons why us,” Steve said. Unlike the cartel we don’t have an army protecting us. Our product isn’t constantly on the move. So with us they know where to find us. The cops handle this and they will do a little time. If these had been drug lords there would have been no police. Just a death penalty.”
“Surely you are not advocating the death sentence for burglary?” I asked.
“No, I’m telling you why you are going to be hit even though there isn’t as much profit in the rip off. There is enough for the smaller risk,” Steve replied.
“Well if we kill one of these jerks, we will be the one in jail,” I said.
“If we get caught,” Steve said. I wondered if he knew my reputation.
“For now let’s get a couple of bad ass dogs and a ten foot fence with a few strands of electric barb wire on top. All this other high tech shit goes out the door tomorrow,” I said.
“What about Hannah,” he said.
“Leave it to the cops. They can add two and two and once in a while come up with four,” I said.
“Even a blind squirrel,” Steve said. “By the way I’m impressed with how well you can think like a criminal. Were you ever a criminal?”
“I’m going to rest on my Fifth Amendment rights,” I said.
I saw in his eyes that he wanted to make some wise ass comment but decided not to. “I think riding shotgun on the delivery is a good idea, even if you are the driver,” Steve said.
“Well tomorrow we have to finish the harvest. They left us most of the pot. It will be a smaller than the usual sale. I can explain the lower yield so that maybe the USDA inspectors won’t hang around,” I explained.
I was up and out the door by 5:15 AM the next morning. I didn’t know whether to expect Steve or not. I was on the trike when I saw him come out of his camper. Before I knew it he was on the bike and pedaling like mad to keep up.
When we got to the restaurant, I noticed the black trike was missing. It was my guess that Rita had him up all night talking about the break in on the Catfish Farm. Imagine my surprise when not only was Bart inside the Dairy Queen waiting me but Rita as well.
I was seated with Bart and Rita when Steve walked into the restaurant. He ordered then made his way over carrying the cafeteria tray to the table. I barely had time to say more than good morning before he showed. “So you can almost keep up with me,” I said with a laugh.
“Just a matter of time before you struggle to stay up with me,” Steve said.
“In your dreams,” I said.