By Cindy and Walt
It was Eddie’s usual 6 AM start on the day when he finally crawled from his warm bed. It was also an awful time of the day to do anything that wasn’t part of his routine. He did his morning things half expecting to see the Home Depot winterizing team to show up. Since they didn’t, Eddie got his morning off to a proper start.
He stopped at the plaza at Bishop’s Crossing for a very quick biscuit. He had a small thermos of coffee since he didn’t care for the restaurant’s coffee. Most all of them were the same standard dishwater blend. He ate his breakfast in his car to save time. That particular morning was going to be all about time. He needed to be in the office earlier than his team.
His thermos was empty by the time he arrived at the office. He poured a cup of the office coffee, which was just a couple of notches better than the restaurant swill. Then he put the day old coffee into the microwave oven to heat.
With that cup of coffee in hand, he stood looking at the storyboard. They had posted the very poor surveillance picture shot by a camera outside a jewelry store beside the hotel. The camera caught her reflection in the store’s window. Naturally the definition was terrible.
Eddie had of course seen the picture during the original investigation. At that time it had been an only half hearted investigation, one which ended too soon. Since the investigation was heating up, Eddie expected it to be ended sooner rather than later. Still there was the chance that without any teeth, he might at least find out what happened.
He had to admit the driver’s license picture of Iris Martin was similar. Mostly it was the perfection that was similar. She was too perfect to be a call girl or a country girl. She obviously had corrective surgery, so who paid for it. Certainly not the evil mercenaries, as they liked to bill themselves.
If he ever got her talking he wanted to ask her that. Who had created Rose Seabold? That might be the real question worthy of an answer.
Wes and Mike arrived just before eight. It was obvious that Mike was looking forward to his road trip. He was lugging a large black backpack.
Eddie: After you got the kitchen sink in that bag, did you have room for your laptop?
Mike: Do you think I over packed? Wes kidded me all the way in.
Eddie: You would be fine for a six month hitchhiking tour of the back roads.
Mike: I can cut it down some. It’s mostly electronic shit that is redundant.
Wes: You are going by car and that Ford has a full sized trunk. You will be fine. Just make a note of what you really need to carry next time.
Eddie: Yeah it is your first road trip. You will figure it out. If you don’t it will be your last road trip.
Wes, speaking of road trips, gather all the information on Mossberg you can find, particularly information on the one who calls himself Bart. Look into all you can find on the life and times of one Iris Martin, Rose Seabold and half a dozen other aliases I’m sure.
Wes: I got ya boss so when are we leaving.
Eddie: I am going to try to make reservations for tomorrow. That is if May has a credit card for us. We can fly down there using the vouchers, but we can’t survive without that card. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to pay for the Senator’s witch hunt. I do have faith that May can weasel the cards out of Lucille. I’m not sure what information she will have to trade for them, but she will get the cards.
Salina arrived next she looked tired. Mike also noted that she smiled at Wes.
Wes: A word boss.
Wes was already headed to the door. He held the stairwell door for Eddie.
Eddie (after they were outside the building): What is it Wes?
Wes: I went into Salina’s house when I drove her home yesterday. She is running a free clinic from her apartment in a housing project. She has junkies and illegal immigrants coming and going all the time. Gang bangers get their gunshots and knife wounds tended to by her. A lot of the shit she does is really, really close to the line. We ought to do something for her. She is not even shielded by the medical confidentiality laws.
Eddie: Yeah she is a convicted felon with her license revoked.
Wes: Yeah but she is doing good things.
Eddie: We don’t make the laws. Stay close. If she needs anything, we will try to work it out. You aren’t screwing her are you?
Wes: Of course not.
Eddie: Okay we need to fly out of here tomorrow. I have no idea when we will return.
Wes: I have nothing on my dance card, so it’s not a problem.
Eddie got the call from his installer about 10 AM.
Installer: We be ready soon Mr. Alexander.
Eddie: So what time do you want me home? Is noon too early?
Installer: We should be ready then. If gone, we go lunch, but be back soon. (The answer had been in broken English)
Salina and Wes spent time with the files from Mike’s latest download. There were a lot of secret smiles. Eddie had believed him when Wes said he wasn’t screwing Salina, but he also knew from the looks that it was just a matter of time. Eddie waited until 11:30AM before he advised the others of his lunch plan.
Eddie: I have to go to the house to meet some people. It isn’t case related so if anything comes up call me on the cell.
The two of them nodded as he walked outside. Eddie realized that it hadn’t been necessary to specify his cell phone, since he hadn’t had a land telephone line installed. It just didn’t seem necessary. He stopped on the way home at the Bag-o-Burgers for a couple of the small burgers. They were probably 50% fat but he loved them anyway.
The men were sitting around the yard drinking water from plastic bottles. That told Eddie that they were most likely ready for him. They had probably already been to lunch. He was glad since it meant they would stay at the work till they were finished.
Eddie could see the new windows and the two new storm doors that had been installed and looked good. He could also see some of the siding they had removed to force cellulose insulation into the wall cavities. They seemed to be complete except for the overhead insulation.
Eddie: You ready to start inside?
He obviously spoke the best English of them all. Their language skills or lack thereof didn’t matter at all to Eddie. He showed them the access to the attic and walked away while they jibber jabbered. Finally they brought in the machine and began to blow the attic full of insulation.
It took them only an hour or so to finish the job. Eddie was back at his desk by 2 PM.
Eddie: Did I miss anything?
Salina: Nothing at all. Our sweet young couple didn’t even call from their mountain vacation. (Eddie glared at her) Come on Boss Wes is hoping they’d become an item.
Eddie: I am going to ignore that remark. Let’s get our ducks in a row for the trip tomorrow. Salina, call the airport taxi service and get us a ride. We probably need a pick up at the office before 10 AM.
Wes: What are we going to do about firearms?
Eddie: We are going to behave in a manner which will not require us to find a need for a firearm. And if someone draws down on us, I expect you to take it away from him and stuff it up his ass.
Wes: Yeah you can expect that, but I’m not Bruce Lee and life is not a movie. I’m way too old for that shit.
Eddie: Then maybe we should get Lucille. She’s the youngest we have left since Mike and May are gone.
Wes: I think we can struggle without her.
May: What the hell are you doing?
She and Michael were in the restaurant attached to a three star motel. She would not have been in the restaurant, if there wasn’t a requirement that staff stay within a per diem rate when traveling. That rate did not allow for really expensive motels or restaurant. It did cover three star motels and their restaurants.
Mike: I’m eating my french fries.
May: You are covering them with ranch salad dressing.
Mike: I like ranch dressing on french fries. You want to try one?
May: That’s disgusting. (Pause) So where is this place where you haven’t made the reservation located?
Mike: It is the only place we can stay in Farmer’s Grove. It’s a bed a breakfast three miles from the downtown. From here it’s about fifty miles. It is winter and it’s a small bed and breakfast downtown. I’m sure they will have room for us.
May: There is a downtown in that place?
Mike: A small one. There is a branch Post Office that has been closed and a couple of small town retail things.
May: So how far is this County Seat place from Farmer’s Grove?
Mike: County Seat is twelve miles east of Farmer’s Grove.
May: After you finish those disgusting french fries, let’s finish our drive.
May was very attractive in the slightly stocky way. She wasn’t fat or even chubby. She was simply thick here and there. Mike of course thought she was beautiful. He felt she was even prettier than the pictures of Rose Seabold, who everyone agreed was a knock out. Seabold was almost mythical, while May sat right across the table from him.
Mike: Okay I’m finished. If we leave now we should make it to Farmer’s Grove in an hour or so.
May: Maybe you should make reservations for us before we get back on the road.
Mike: Okay I will. (he punched at the screen on his smart phone, then smiled) It’s done.
May: Well I hate B&Bs, but it’s the only game in town, so I guess we have no choice.
Eddie sat in the office being very bored. When 5 PM finally came the three of them left the office together. Eddie wasn’t at all surprised to know Wes was driving our resident former nurse home.
Wes: You wanna stop for dinner somewhere?
Salina: Sure. The sick, lame, and lazy can wait.
Wes: I promise we will go somewhere fast. How about one of those sandwich food trucks over at Union Station? There is usually a steak and cheese truck over there.
Salina: You can afford to eat at a gourmet food truck?
Wes: No but I’m trying to impress you.
Salina: Don’t try to impress me. Let’s just go to the sandwich shop on 13th. They are inexpensive and the food is good.
Wes: Would you rather have wine or beer with your sandwich?
Salina: I would rather have a soda and so would you. (It was obvious that she saw Wes as someone who needed taking care of) At least you should have coke if you are going to help me.
Wes: I have no idea how to help with your calling.
Salina: Some how I don’t think you will throw up at the sight of blood. So you can be trained.
Wes: Sure, but the sight of blood gives me really bad dreams.
Salina: Not tonight.
May (standing at a Victorian reproduction desk): What do you mean you only have one room. I know I saw him send the message to make the reservations.
Wife and co owner of the Inn: His message said, party of two, not two rooms. We don’t have another room. You can drive to Williamston or College Hill they both have motels.
Mike: (consulting his Iphone) The closest motel is twenty five miles.
May: Wonderful. I’m tired and I need a bath. I am also hungry. Can we at least get a second bed?
Wife: There is a sofa that makes a pretty good bed with the back cushions removed.
May (to Mike): You screwed up, you get the day bed.
They each signed the register so that the owners would know who to notify when she murdered and dismembered him.
There was hardly enough room for their clothes in the closet. Actually there was no room for his. There was hardly enough room for her clothes. Eddie thought Wes had over packed, he took a picture of the closet packed with her clothes. The Iphone shot would show them what over packing really looked like.
Dinner was at the Family Steak Pit half way to College Hill. The food was good but the ambiance was non-existent, according to May.
Eddie found that the Kerosene heater he had used on weekends when he visited the cabin was quite warm that night. It was a small tenant farmer’s house but he thought of it as a cabin. Even with the new insulation he left the bedroom doors closed. The new insulation and the semi shut down house made it almost pleasant inside. He was even able to turn the heater setting down.
He did the usual things, watched the news and a couple of the TV shows on line. Eddie was sure the house was going to be quite warm when he got the wall furnace installed. He decided to go to bed early and leave the packing for morning. Of them all he was the first to go to sleep.
In the community of Farmer’s grove May and Mike were in their room after dinner. It was only 8:30 and Mike didn’t want to go to sleep. May tried to go to sleep, but she just lay there staring into the darkness. The room was lit only by the changing level and color on the screen of Mike’s tablet. He had the sound muted but the colors danced.
May: Why don’t you shut that thing off and go to bed.
Mike: I am way too excited about tomorrow. I have never questioned anyone.
May: Neither have I. Where should we go first?
Mike: While you were taking a shower I interviewed the owner’s wife. She gave me a name and address. Someone named Jeremy and his sister Alice Littlejohn. Apparently she returned home this summer after the Congressional Investigation began. They were supposed to be great friends of Rose. After her husband came back in the room she walked away. It seemed she had let the cat out of the bag.
May: Where had she been? Alice I mean.
Mike: Apparently England.
May: So what are you doing now?
Mike: I’m logged into a chat room. I found it mentioned in a report someone at the Swamp Dog compound wrote. I think Rose Seabold or Sylvia visited it or maybe both. They might have used it to communicate without having it overheard. It’s a pretty anonymous place.
May: (rising from the bed) Let me see.
Mike (Changing the screen quickly): That’s probably not a good idea. It’s an adult chat room. It gets pretty dirty at times.
May: I have heard of them. I know that if I sign in as a woman, I will get a lot more information than you can as a man. It’s like ten to one men in there.
Mike: Yes I know but I’m not sure you can handle it.
May: You have no idea what I can handle.
After the last of Salina’s patients left she sat in the kitchen. She drank a cup of coffee while looking up at a bottle of Irish whiskey sitting on the counter.
Wes: Tell me something, how come you drink when it is why you are in so much shit. It is obvious that you are in control of it now, so what happened?
Salina: You mean how can I take one or two and stop. An addict is always an addict according to folklore.
Wes: Yes that is what I always heard. And I have a little experience with alcohol addiction.
Salina: I never had the addictive personality disorder. The cops where amazed that, when I went cold turkey in jail. Not that I cleaned up in jail but that I didn’t go back to it when I got out. Once I kicked it I was able to make rational decisions. Once I had that ability, I decided not to go back. I never even went to a meeting.
Wes: I guess I haven’t gotten that far yet.
Salina: You aren’t an alcoholic, but you are a habitual drunk. You are going to keep running from your demons till they get tired of chasing you.
Salina who was somewhere between mildly attractive to slightly unattractive managed to project sex when she wanted to. She thought about it, then decided she wanted to. With that in mind she excused herself while she went to change.
When she returned she was wearing a heavy pink robe. It wasn’t sexy till she opened it and revealed there was nothing but Salina under it. Wes could have seen that it was after midnight, if he could take his eyes off the scars on her body.