By Cindy and Walt
May: You know I hate this Café.
Mike: It’s where the breakfast voucher is accepted. You got to relax and just go with the flow. You fight the flow you will wear yourself out and still not get anywhere.
May: It that more of Wes’ bullshit Zen.
Mike: When you hitchhike on the waves of contentment, you get to the same place refreshed and ready to fight the good fight. It is Wes’ own version of Zen. So let’s go inside and just go with it.
May: What an ass.
Once inside they were assaulted with the smell of burning pig flesh and bird embryos.
Waitress: I see the lawyer and the bitch boy are back. What y’all want this morning?
Mike: Two specials and some information. What the hell is the Village, some kind of resort community?
Waitress laughing: Not hardly honey. It’s some kind of hippy nostalgia place out on the back road to College Hill. It you drive out there, you will see a sign that says festival park, follow those signs to the office of sorts. You will recognize it for what it is.
May: These eggs are much better than those cooking in my egg cooker, but I bet I have lost a few months off my life eating here.
Mike: All lost years come off the end of your natural life. Do you really want to be in a hospital bed hooked to tubes for a few more months? Or would you rather have good eggs now.
May: Shit that actually makes sense. That’s one scary thought. It means the government is fucking with us with all these health warnings.
Mike: Yeah, the trick is to eat so that you can enjoy the good years. I have not done that, but now I am trying to do it. You know I miss my bicycle. Wes has me riding every day before work. It clears my mind just like he said it would. It, along with the shower after, and the white pill helps me think. The pills do nothing on their own. I have tried.
May: You seem to have made a lot changes in just two weeks.
Mike: Time is not measured by the passing of daylight. It is measured by what we overcome on our journey, and by the distance we travel.
May: You know it’s a good thing I wasn’t issued a weapon for this trip. I think I would shoot you.
Mike: You do not want to do that it would only add to the burden your soul must carry on its journey to the light. (He knew that he was fucking with her and he enjoyed it.)
May: That’s it. One more of those little wisdoms and I’m going to stab you with this butter knife.
They finished their breakfast in silence. The waitress had hovered to listen to Mike/Wes’ philosophy.
Waitress handing them their receipt and taking the voucher: You talk real nice. What your real name?
Mike: Michael, but Mike is ok.
Waitress: If you can get away from the lawyer bitch, call me. (She wrote her number on the receipt.)
May: (once they were outside) Shit, how often does that happen?
Mike: Er, never. And you wondered why I think so much of Wes.
May: Getting laid isn’t everything.
Mike: Getting me laid may be the only thing worthwhile we do today.
May: You may never get laid by anything other than a skanky crack whore.
Mike: (with good humor) Killer of dreams, thy name is May May.
May: Bitch boy.
Salina had a bowl of oatmeal then went to the office to check on the others. She was determined to keep them safe. It was what she had always done, keep people safe.
Eddie and Wes went to breakfast at the Dairy Queen. They had an ID picture of Rose Seabold from her pot business application. They began with the waitress behind the counter.
Eddie: Do you know this woman.
The shift manager pushed by her to look at the picture.
Shift manager: We all started here a few weeks ago, and I ain’t never seen her. Sorry, now you are holding up the line.
Wes looked upset but Eddie shook his head.
Eddie: How about two of your big bacon egg and cheese sandwiches and two coffees?
The bacon egg and cheese came on a sour dough role.
Wes: No wonder this was her favorite breakfast place. That is a really good sandwich.
Eddie: Too much bread.
Eddie picked at his with a plastic fork taken from the coffee bar. They were quite the odd couple. Eddie picking at his sandwich as if he was having high tea at the White House, while Wes tore into his like a stray dog.
Wes: So we going to the tea plant next?
Eddie: It would be the next logical stop. Maybe her buddy Bart can help us locate her.
Wes: Oh I’m sure he can. The real question is will he? They are all connected but we have to find the threads. I don’t think they are going to hand them to us.
Eddie: Stop with that Zen shit, just say it.
Wes: You know what I meant. The common thread is Swamp Dog and the first rule of Swamp Dog is?
Eddie: The first rule of Swamp Dog, is never talk about Swamp Dog no matter how insignificant the question seems.
Wes: Right, the Evil Mercenary. He stands alone on the scorched battleground asking help from no one, and giving free help to no one.
Eddie: You don’t believe that shit do you.
Wes: (With a shrug) Don’t matter what I believe. It only matters what they believe.
They left the restaurant and drove to the downtown of Mossberg. They parked the rental car across from the factory. It was impossible not to notice that the whole block had been restored. It had the look of old New York style condominiums.
Wes: I’ll bet you ten bucks Rose has a hand in those.
Eddie: No bet, I read the file about her real estate developments as well as you.
The only empty parking space in that block of Main Street was in front of a fenced in, very small private park at the very end of the block. It had probably been a parking lot for the original retail stores predating the condos.
After entering the unsecured front door they found Bart inside the plant mixing ingredients for his special herb tea. He was wearing a white lab coat and one of those silly looking hairnets.
Eddie: Bart my name is Eddie. I work for the Senate Committee investigating Swamp Dog. I would like to ask you some questions.
Bart: Yeah I thought so. I got a call from the manager of the DQ and one from the owner of the fish camp.
Wes: Nothing goes unnoticed in a small town.
Bart: Some things do. They didn’t tell me about you. So are you that guy.
Wes: It’s not me.
Eddie: (confused) You two know each other.
Bart: No I thought he was someone else. So what do you want to know?
Eddie: Well are you, or have you ever been an employee of Swamp Dog.
Bart: (without any hesitation) I make herbal tea, nothing more.
Eddie: I have it on good authority that you worked for the Swamp Dog at one time.
Bart: I make herbal tea, nothing more.
Eddie: Then before you made Herbal tea.
Bart: We have reached the point where I must talk with my lawyer before I say anything else.
Eddie: I believe your girlfriend is the lawyer for Swamp Dog. She your lawyer too?
Bart: Sorry I’m going to answer no more questions without consulting with my lawyer.
Eddie: Just one more question. Where is Rose Seabold?
Bart: I have no idea.
Eddie: We are going to find her. You could make it easier on yourself.
Bart: I make herbal tea, nothing else.
Eddie: From what I hear you froze Iris Martin out of her own plant. If I were you I would be worried.
Bart: I make herbal tea, nothing else.
The two of them left. They crossed the street and looked at the plate glass windows on the renovated building. They each had a name from the building’s past. They both realized what a great view of Main Street those buildings had.
Eddie: How did he know you.
Wes: He doesn’t know me. Trust me he has never met me, nor I him. He was just reminding me that we are all connected. Some in different ways, but we are all connected.
Eddie: Guys with your background have always been a mystery to me. I just need to know, can I trust you?
Wes: My background is why I was chosen. Yours is also why you were chosen. Just like Bart back there knows. We are all connected. Some connections are stronger than others.
Eddie: You are driving me nuts with all this Zen shit.
Wes: That is just part of our connection. His question was really, ‘Are you the guy who is going to burn it all down’?
Eddie: You mean his good life?
Wes: That’s the one.
Eddie: Let’s go find her connection to the catfish pot farm. I know there is a contract on file that gives her a third of the profits from a very profitable pot farm. She doesn’t even have to work for them. Sounds like a motive to make her disappear. At the least we can follow that money.
Wes: As I understand it those profits are capped at a total of five million dollars. She is allowing two guys, who had nothing, to buy a five million dollar farm. They are buying it using only the profits from operating the farm. They have a damn nice income while they are buying the place. I wouldn’t mind a deal like that.
Eddie: I read that report on the farm, but there has to be more to it. Those two are PTSD sufferers from the Swamp Dog. She was rehabilitating them, then she up and decides to turn the farm over to them. I just don’t buy it. Now she has disappeared. So either she was planning to split with the money all along, or they disappeared her.
Wes: She hasn’t touched any of the money from those accounts according to Mike. But there is one thing. You never know something, till you know what you don’t know.
Wes said it getting all mystical again.
Eddie: (frustrated) What the fuck does that mean?
Wes: She is good at disappearing, so we wont know how she did it till she surfaces again, or until we figure out where she went. She just dropped off the world a few months ago. Hell we aren’t even sure when she went missing.
Eddie: So how did she do it and where did she go?
Wes: The where should be first, since the how is probably not traceable. She has spent half her life doing things without leaving a trail. Every operative has a stash of money and ID’s just for that purpose. Even when you go under completely you have to surface somewhere, sometime. Somewhere there is a new lady in town.
Eddie: Fucking A. We need a profile to figure out where she might go. We need some new eyes on her background.
Wes: There are a lot of holes in her life. Ever wonder why there are no tall tales about what she has done. Those are all part of the persona most of these people try to project. Bigger than life stuff.
Wes: So she has none of that. Nobody knows all of what she has done or even what she is at the moment. Either that or they were so involved in it that to tell her story would be a confession. The truth like the sun shines on the flower and the weed equally.
Eddie: I sorta know what that means. I can’t tell about you, or I will be going to jail along with you. Right?
Wes: Exactly. She is that gal.
Eddie: What gal?
Wes: The one who doesn’t give a shit what you think about her. She doesn’t need to promote herself, or to have anyone else promote her. You are going to need a confidential informant inside the organization you think she was working for. I have no idea what you can promise them, since we don’t have any idea what she did, or for whom she was working at the time.
Eddie: I would find a victim to talk, but I’m afraid they are all dead.
Wes: There is always collateral damage. We need Mike to go back through the files again. This time let the profiler guide him. Don’t need a cop or a field man, certainly not the DOJ lawyer or the political operative. You need someone who understands her.
Eddie: Where do I find this profiler. The FBI profilers are great at predicting what a loony tune is going to do next. Rose is no loony and she isn’t going to do anything. She is on the lamb.
Wes: I’ll bet you a week’s pay Salina can do it.
Eddie: She is a junky nurse.
Wes: And I’m an old drunk. Who gives a shit? If she can do what we need, then what have we got to lose? If she can’t, we will know soon enough.
Eddie: I’ll think about it. In the meantime let’s go look at a hydroponic pot farm.
There was a knock on May and Mike’s door after breakfast while they are preparing for the day. Since they weren’t expecting anyone Mike carefully cracked the door. The crack grew very quickly as the tall straight gray haired man leaned into the door.
Intruder: Who the fuck are you working for? Don’t give me that DOJ shit. I have nothing to do with them and they have nothing to do with me. The local alcohol cops maybe, but DOJ not a fucking chance.
May: I am with the DOJ.
Intruder: I didn’t ask that, I asked who you are working for.
Mike: When in doubt, the truth works pretty well.
May looked at him angrily. She apparently expected the computer nerd to defend her from the man who looked like a soldier. That automatically and the fact that he was a friend of Sylvia Porters made him dangerous. Too dangerous for Mike to handle and he knew it.
May: If you are going to kill anyone start with him, he is driving me nuts. We are investigators for the Senate Select Committee investigating Swamp Dog. Are you the one they call The Brit?
Brit: I am, but I got nothing to say. You two need to just move along there is nothing to see here.
He showed that he could still do a respectable about face and march off.
May: Was that a get out of town by sunset message?
Mike: Maybe not sunset, but definitely a get out of town.
At that point Mike called Wes. He explained what had happened then listened for a long time.
Mike: Wes said to pack the car and do what interviews we could, but not to come back here again. Preferably make the interviews on the way out of town.
May: I have to admit I like his advice better all the time.
The two of them checked out of the B&B, then loaded the car. They were gone well before the noon check out time. May found the Village just as promised. In the office they found a well past middle aged woman with a nice body for a woman so old. She also had a pleasant smile and beautiful gray hair.
May: We are interested in the village, we heard a lot about it.
Ruby the agent: Oh? What have you heard?
Mike: That it is a good place for an artist to live. People are very understanding.
Ruby: Yes we are. We have everything from a tattoo artist to a high end jewelry maker in our community. We have our own festival park for shows. The park also has a retired circus tent. We use it for winter shows mostly. Tourist come for the crafts in the summer. In the winter they drive over from ‘The Snow Devil’s ski resort to shop.
Mike: All the houses look kind of small.
Ruby: Yes they do. The houses were originally built by the Mill for the worker’s families to stay. The rental houses in the artist community are all three bedroom one bath homes. The houses that were for sale have all been bought now. A lot of successful people with ancestors who worked in the mill bought them for retirement cottages. Some of those have garages and room additions. Like I said there are no houses for sale at the moment and our artist community is full. You are welcome to fill out an application though.
May: So who renovated these houses.
Ruby: A local who no longer is involved with the Village. She sold it to the current owner. Carlos will be at his office I expect. It is up on the mountain.
May and Mike didn’t know that the office used by Carlos had once been a sample cabin. Rose had built it as a sample for a project Jeremy was involved in. If they had been able to get all the history on Rose, they would have been able to trace it back to Jeremy. Since they couldn’t get a complete history on Rose they would never know.
Even though they had a hard time believing it, Carlos hid behind his poor English skills. What ever May or Mike asked he just shook his head and replied, no English. They left in frustration and began the long drive back to Washington with their tales between their legs.