By Cindy and Walt
I spent four more months living quietly on the bayou. Well it was quiet after I got the reputation of being crazy. I took a shot at a dirty blue pickup. Well he did try to run me and the trike off the road. I didn’t really try to hit the truck with the duck shot. It might have looked to him as if I did. It was a little drastic but from that morning on trucks gave me a wide birth. Nor did anyone curse at me. It seemed that news indeed traveled fast on the bayou.
That is most likely why, after all those quiet months, I was surprised when the dirty yellow pickup passed me. The driver slowed then threw a package with a trailing red ribbon out the window. The package was obviously for me. It was also obvious that it was not a bomb.
What it was, was a heavily padded sealed envelope with the red ribbon attached. Inside the envelope was an old style USB flash drive. When I left Mossberg I left my old computers behind. I couldn’t use it on the bayou. Of course I hadn’t known that when I left it. I purchased new devices with Internet access through the Wireless Cell System. The new devices all featured mini USB ports but none of the old fashioned full size USB ports. I did however have two mini USB to full size USB adapters. It just took me a few minutes to get to them.
I was in the cabin when I plugged the USB flash drive into the adapter attached to the larger tablet. The drive had only one file, but that file had other files embedded into it. I opened the file to the sound of music. It was pretty good music, but I couldn’t place it. Then there were credits. “WELCOME TO THE WORLDS OF GRACE ALLEN-IRIS MARTIN-ROSE SEABOLD” produced and directed by the all new Directorate Eleven Productions.
The video image, which played in the background, began with an aerial image of the three greenhouses. Then it switched to an image of the three story apartment building in Mossberg. The music was a little less dramatic when it showed images of Steve, Sterlin and Miss Sadie’s nephew walking between the houses. Then of course there was Bart getting into his truck.
By that time, since they had obviously found me, I was expecting the next sequence. There I was on my trike riding down the road. Other shots were of my cabin and me on the water.
The final sequence was of a large man in a very nice suit. He was very much the politician type. “Miss Seabold or Miss Allen whatever you are calling yourself, my agents will meet you in New Iberia in the park beside the library at noon today. Wait for us at the grotto. Be on time please.
The grotto mentioned, and shown on the video, was a knock off of the famous one in France. Everybody in the area knew where it was located.
There was the implied threat that whoever sent the video knew and could harm my former associates. I was more curious than worried. I felt that this thing had something to do with those congressional hearings. I also knew that no matter who they were, or what they knew, I was not going to testify. I could always relocate my friends.
I had enough time to stop for coffee at the Mcdonald’s in the Walmart parking lot before I went to the grotto. I was in the truck so I was close to my shotgun but I didn’t take it from the truck, so I didn’t have it with me. If they were coming armed, I had to expect that they would be in a better position to fire the first shot than I would. Considering the quality of the film, I was pretty sure they were people who could put a buck or two into things. That being the case if they wanted me dead I would be dead already.
I sat quietly while I finished my coffee. I had been there ten minutes when an attractive blond woman approached me. When she got close I realized she was much younger looking from a distance.
Blond: You came alone?
Me: My guess is you know I came alone, since you didn‘t give me enough time to bring in a team. Even if I had one, which I don‘t.
Her: Good, you don’t need anyone to know about this meeting.
Me: You mean you don’t need anyone to know. I have an extra coffee that isn’t too cold yet, would you like it?
Her: No thanks, I never drink or eat unless I know where it had been.
Me: So you are careful, that is probably a good thing in your line of work. Exactly what is it you do?
Her: Me, I’m nobody special. The group I represent is the interesting one. Directorate Eleven is very similar to the group you worked for once upon a time.
Me: Really? And what group would that be?
Her: It seems to be called a lot of things these days. Most importantly it is going the way of the Dinosaur.
Me: Honey, everywhere I previously worked fits that description.
Her: Well, the one I’m thinking of has been in the news lately.
Me: So are you government connected.
Her: That you will have to take up with the boss. I’m not authorized to do anything but approach you with a job offer.
I removed my cell phone from my pocket. I took her picture.
Her: Why did you do that.
Me: In case one of my friends stubs his toe. I want to know who to kill. That video was a veiled threat. So this one isn’t. I will use that picture to work my way up the food chain. We do understand each other, Right?
Her: Fine do you want the job or not.
Me: I don’t need your money and I’m out of the business. But I am curious why me and did you use drones or Satellites to shoot the video.
Her: Sorry I can’t answer either of those. You will have to go to the interview to get your answers. I was authorized to suggest that you had been on vacation long enough. There are people who think you should be ready to work again. Also if we could find you a lot of other people could as well, if they wanted to use all the assets we did.
Me: So where and when is the interview?
Her: This was part one of your interview and you passed.
Me: Oh how did I do that.
Her: You took my picture.
I waited for her to explain. She never did.
Me: I see.
I understood that by threatening to take any attack on my friends personally, I had passed some kind of loyalty test. Then to figure a way to mount a counter attack with no time to plan probably seemed impressive to the higher ups. Those were the ones who really had the answers to my questions.
Her: Yes I think you do. So do you wish to go forward?
Me: What happens if I say no after the next interview?
Her: Nothing. We just say goodbye and hope you forget all about us. We will of course monitor you to be sure you forget all about us.
Me: So you have access to electronic communication monitoring?
Her: We have access your friend can only dream of having. His name is Wilson is it not?
Me: Among others.
I didn’t blink an eye, even though I had been a little surprised.
Her: He was considered the best at helping people get lost. At least until the New York incident. How easy it is to lose your business, when your reputation is damaged. Then, if you lose the muscle behind your business, you are no more than a two bit hacker, no matter how good you are.
Me: So you know about Wilson. If you are taking over from the Swamp, you would. If you are a competitor of theirs, you are wasting your time on me. I’m out and I’m staying out.
Her: We are betting you are just about ready for a team of your own, but again you have to go to New Orleans to get the details.
Me: New Orleans is a big town.
Her: Hotel Saint Marie’s Dining room at 3 PM tomorrow. He will recognize you. Do you want to know how we found you?
Me: The trike.
Her: Very good. You are right of course. We monitored that type of trike and we knew you liked Walmart so when there was one sold on the gulf coast it might as well have had your signature all over it.
Me: You sure wasted a lot of computer power monitoring all those sales.
Her: They tell me you are worth the trouble.
Me: As usual THEY are wrong.
I watched the pretty young thing, from a distance, walk away. It was hard to believe I had once been that beautiful. I was so jaded by that time that I wondered if the Directorate had paid for her body. I thought about checking with Wilson or Andrew about who these people really were, but decided to meet with them first.
Whether I decided to take their offer not, the swamp house was compromised. It looked as if it would be necessary to disappear again. If I did, I would be on my own, of course. If Wilson hadn’t been bought off, he was sloppy. Either way he had been compromised beyond rehabilitating.
I could have gotten home in time for dinner. Instead I chucked the cold rice and beans idea I had planned. Instead I started the truck and drove from the grotto to the Iberia Family Steak House. I went for the sirloin and baked potato with a sour dough roll. It was greasy, but I had been eating fried fish for months so I didn’t expect it to disrupt my digestion process.
After dinner I stopped by Walmart for a leather, or faux leather if you will, blazer. I also picked up a new long sleeved white tee shirt. It seemed to be what all the female cops on TV had worn that season. I had plenty of skinny, faded blue jeans to match up to it. Some were even free from grease stains not that it mattered to me.
After shopping I drove home to relax. As I entered an adult chat room, I noted that I instantly reverted to the old me. I instinctively knew that I needed help to relax enough to sleep.
It took me half an hour to find someone compatible, then another thirty minutes to get turned on enough to masturbate while someone typed to me. It was a mind fuck I know, but it was also much more erotic than porn. I slept pretty good that night.
When I awoke at 7 AM, I had to decide how I wished to spend my time till noon. Since my fifty gallon water tank was almost empty, I decided I would refill it before I dressed for my 3 PM meeting in New Orleans.
Refilling the tank was a process. First I had to put the short sterile hose I used solely for that purpose into the rear of the SUV. I also added the fifty gallon transfer tank into the rear of the SUV. After all that was done I had to drive to the water station. It was a free fill up which the government ran for those of us transporting water for home use. Actually running the water into the tank took only a few minutes.
I drove it back to the cabin with the front wheels of the SUV light on the road. The fifty gallons of water had the SUV tilted up in the front and down in the back. Once back at the cabin I rigged the small pump to lift the water to the water tank. Since the tank was a ridged plastic above ground tank, it tended to have a certain amount of crap on the outside. Every time I refilled it I added a sanitizer to the water. I had a feeling it was no more than chlorine bleach, but I still bought it in a bottle marked as government approved.
The water didn’t go into the top it went into the bottom through a valve I had to open by hand. That way the water compressed the air in the tank. It added pressure to help push the water with more force than gravity alone would have provided.
I finished the process, including removal of the tank from the SUV, before noon. Since it was lunch time, I rushed my shower and my dressing routine, so that I would have time for lunch. The plan was to stop at one of the many restaurants along highway ninety as I drove east to New Orleans.
I stopped in Morgan City for a Louisiana Po’boy sandwich and a diet coke. The messy sandwich required that I pay a visit to the bathroom. Not for the usual reason but for a good face scrub. It wasn’t necessary that I check my make up, since I wore only lipstick and a little eyeliner.
I walked into the Saint Marie’s dining room well after 3 PM. I had to wait outside to be sure that I was uncomfortably late. It was a good tactic unless it was my meeting, then I would have been early to get the best seat in the house. My early trade craft training, from the old SBI, had stayed with me.
There was a man on the sunny side of middle age waiting in a chair. He played with an electronic tablet of some kind. He tried to be cool, but he was too clean and his demeanor was all wrong for the Big Easy. The real give away though was the image of me on the screen of his tablet.
Since I saw it first I decided to turn the tables on him. So I walked up on him as he looked down to verify my face one more time.
Me: You my lunch date or somebody’s bodyguard, or maybe my Indian guide?
Him: I’m here to drive you to the meeting.
Me: That’s nice, but I agreed to a meeting here hon. I did not agree to a warehouse where a black bag might easily be slipped over my head. If it’s all the same to you, go get your boss and I’ll be right over there.
I pointed to a table near a window. I walked away from him and into the dining room. When I pointed out the table to the hostess, she objected for a second till I explained that a gentleman would be joining me. I also slipped her twenty bucks.
I sat at the table against the wall, but near a window. The table offered a view out the window without being in a direct line of fire. More trade craft but from the Church Camp. If the clean looking agent left the restaurant, he did not go to the parking lot across the street. My assumption was that he placed a call to his boss. The boss most likely would be pissed but he would either show up momentarily, or he would simply call the whole thing off. The hostess would most likely bring me the message.
When I saw her walking my way, I knew which one it was. It appeared I was in for a game of whose is bigger. Since I didn’t have one, I was bound to lose.
Hostess: I have a message, if you are Grace?
Me: I’m Grace and let me guess the client is not going to show. His wife came into town unexpectedly.
She seemed flustered when she said, “The message is, he will reschedule.”
Me: I doubt that.
I got up and left without tipping her again. A young black man, about twenty, on the street corner handed me a cell phone. Now that is much better, I thought. It rang when I got into the SUV.
Me: Hello there.
Mystery Voice: There are GPS coordinates programmed into the phone. Follow them to the location of the meeting. You can drive by and if it is not satisfactory, you can leave.
Me: Let me warn you I don’t give a crap who you are. If anyone grabs me, someone is going to die. Now is that clear.
I followed the directions on the phone till I came to a warehouse area. The directions got specific enough to take me to a small convenience store on the corner. It was still boarded up from the hurricane. I could easily imagine its parking lot was a floating emporium for all kinds of shit.
The youngish man from the restaurant slid into the truck. I looked at him again. He was definitely crowding middle age. I had parked facing the store with the boarded up windows.
Me: Take your gun out and drop it on the floor.
Him: If I don’t?
Me: Look carefully. I have my seat belt on and the car is running. It is also in drive. You do not have your seat belt on, and the car is in drive. When I crash into that window, you go through the windshield and I survive. Then I explain what a terrible accident, but you had a gun.
Then I smiled and revved the engine.
Me: Two fingers of your left hand please.
Him: You don’t trust me. You should I’m a government agent.
Me: Honey there are more criminals, and bigger thieves in the government than anywhere else. So what is the plan B.
Him: I don’t suppose you would like to go to that warehouse now?
Me: Who said the government never listens.
Voice coming from the shutdown phone on the dash: Miss Allen, follow the new directions to the park six blocks away. It will be filled with people who dislike authority even more than you.
Me: One more trick and people are going to start dying and you can explain it anyway you want.
The drive was through a lot of hurricane damaged houses. Ray Nagin stole most of the money Bush approved to rebuild the city. There was going to be a rebirth of the City which would likely drive many of the poor families from the town. They would probably wind up in a ghetto farther from the downtown in a place that would not be an embarrassment to the new order. There were warehouse style apartments already built for them in some of the neighboring towns.
The criminal elements hadn’t been totally displaced at the time of my visit. It was true only because the new building planners hadn’t gotten around to putting pressure on the politicians at that point.
That was why the park was filled with single mothers and drug dealers. Some of them were likely to be single mothers who dealt drugs as well. There was also an older man who picked up his phone as the agent and I exited my SUV.
Me: A black man meeting with a white couple in a thug park, who would think that is suspicious.
Black Agent: This park is a bazaar for drugs. No one pays any attention to where the customers come from. Not even the local police.
Me: So the nanny State Police are no better than the old ones.
Black Agent: All police suffer from a built in recruiting problem. They recruit from the human race.
Me: You and I know that is bullshit. You can bring in honest cops anytime you want and clean this shit up. You can bring in army rangers you recruit as Feds and come down here like the wrath of god, if you want.
BA: Maybe that’s why we are having this meeting.
Me: God, I hope you don’t think that I want any part of a rat squad.
BA: You think I want anyone to know you are a part of this solution? Don’t be crazy. Beside we are just here because I wanted you to see what’s going on with the Federal Police. It’s a new force that we couldn’t build it from the ground up. We had to take what was in place on the ground so to speak.
Me: What’s that got to do with me.
BA: I’m going to clean it up. I would like to recruit the right people to do it. Now like you said, I can get all the army ranger types I want, but they can’t do shit without intelligence. I need someone who can come into town and get the information. I have been told you are the best.
Me: I’m retired. I don’t need the money or the aggravation.
BA: You can choose your own team. You won’t have to worry about anything you are doing being misunderstood as illegal.
Me: Yeah, I would have your word that I would not be prosecuted for any crimes I committed while working. But then there is that kilo of coke that mysteriously winds up in my SUV. Who the fuck do you think you are talking to some college kid? Do me a favor and fuck off now. While you’re at it tell that agent to take that shit he left in my car out.
BA: Jerry, go clean Grace’s car.
The agent who rode up with me walked back to the jeep. He removed something from the pocket of the front door.
BA: We could swear we just found it.
Me: You could.
BA: Except you are wearing a wire.
Me: The cell phone that broadcasts when it is turned off, that cuts both ways.
I showed him my cell phone. Okay it was a bluff but he bought it.
BA: Yeah you are good. The recording proves nothing unless we find something in your car.
Me: That’s right.
BA: Where is the recorder?
Me: I have been worked over by the fucking best and I didn’t break. Given enough time I would, but there is a message for my lawyer. You know the one representing that bunch in DC. The ones they are calling the American Foreign legion. The message is telling her where the recording is and who is holding me. I think I can hold out till she gets someone here. Help of one kind or another would quickly arrive.
BA: So this is check but it isn’t mate.
Me: It’s not about some fucking game Super Agent. This is about my life and how I want to live it.
BA: Alright go back to your cabin in the swamp.
Me: That is the plan. Just some advice, don’t try to clean up the dirty cops with more dirty cops.
I walked to my SUV and drove it to the first used car lot I came to on highway ninety. I traded down to a pickup truck. I probably lost a couple of grand on the trade, but the Dodge pickup truck was clean. It had also been washed.
I made sure to get a paper temporary tag, since I didn’t want the old tag from the jeep on it. I did any and everything I could to make it hard to trace me.
Since the Feds knew where I was, there was no longer any reason to stay away from Mossberg. I stopped by to put a cover on my boat and to empty the water tank that I had filled that very morning. I would have locked the cabin except there was no lock. I also felt that if anyone wanted to break in a lock wouldn’t help.