By Cindy and Walt
May: (into phone as she drove she gave Eddie the complete rundown) So boss we are headed back home. All we got is stonewalled.
Eddie: Turn your ass around and get back there. From what you just told me you haven’t exhausted all the possibilities. Move your headquarters to Williamston or somewhere else, but get back to that town.
May: What more can we do?
Eddie: What makes you think that waitress wanted to screw Mike. She may have wanted to talk to him outside the restaurant. Now have Mike call her and set up a meeting for tonight. Have him take her out and wine and dine her without you. He will figure out what he needs to do. Tell him that he has my permission to sleep with her if that’s what it takes.
May: I think this is a mistake and that it is dangerous, but if Mike is willing I’ll go along.
Eddie: Ask him if he wants to talk to Wes about it.
Obviously he didn’t since May cut the connection. Eddie had been about to drive off from the Main Street of Mossberg. Wes obviously wanted to speak.
Wes: You are the boss, but you know if that Brit guy was an operative for the Swamp, he could be dangerous.
Eddie: He’s a bar owner. He isn’t looking for any trouble. He just wanted to scare those kids off, I hope.
Wes: Well it’s done and we couldn’t drive there in time to cover his ass anyway. God knows that May won’t be any help if he gets in trouble. Let’s hope if he does, it’s just a beat down.
Eddie: Best case is they slip in and out unnoticed.
Wes: If he survives this, we are going to have to get him some training.
Eddie: If he survives this he won’t need any more training. When this ends we all go our separate ways. Maybe Lucille will send us a card at Christmas.
Wes: Start this cramped up piece of shit car and let’s go to work.
Fifteen minutes later they were at the gates to the catfish farm. Eddie blew his horn and waited.
Wes: You see those cameras and the dogs. If you wanted to go in that compound uninvited you would need an armored vehicle at least to crash the gates.
Eddie: If these two really were Swamp Dog alumni, there is a chance there is some heavy duty shit underground that would turn an armored car into an armored oven.
Wes: Yeah that’s what I would do. Here they come.
What they thought were two men was actually a man and woman. Dressed as she was, and with her body type, it had been hard to tell. They stopped on their side of the fence. The man was carrying something that looked like an M-16 with a grenade launcher mounted under it. Most likely under the AR-15 semi automatic was a 12 gauge shotgun
Eddie: We are federal inspectors, we need to look over your operation.
Male farmer: (To his companion) Cover me.
He stepped into the space between the walk gates then emerged through the second gate. When he emerged on the outside the wire, the dogs started to bark again. The man said something to them in a foreign language.
Male farmer: Let’s see your paperwork.
Eddie: Okay we are investigators for a Senate Committee checking on Swamp Dog. But we can have inspectors here in a couple of hours.
Male farmer: Then you need to do that, because you are not coming in and you are not talking to anyone here. Now you have yourself a good day, and you might, as long as you don’t try crashing the gate behind me.
He turned his attention to Wes.
Male Farmer: What you doing traveling with the cop? You’re that guy aren’t you?
Wes: No I’m not that guy. But you should talk to us. It would make my life easier and in the long run yours as well. We can get a squad of ATF in here just by dropping a dime.
Male Farmer: Do you think they would be the first ones in here to inspect? We have the arms we need to protect our crops, but nothing illegal, so bring it on.
He turned and walked away. They were back in the car and headed back to the fish camp when the conversation continued.
Wes: That went well. You charmed them as usual.
Eddie: What is this ‘are you the one” shit.
Wes: It means different things different times. In this case it meant the traitor to be killed on sight.
Eddie: I’m going to ask you again. Were you ever a part of the Swamp Rats.
Wes: No, but they were players in the same world as some of the CIA people. I recognize them when I see them, and they do as well. In some of the nastier places of the world, CIA operatives have told the bad guys where to find the contractors in order to save their asses. So the contractors are on the look out for those informants.
Eddie: How do they recognize you as CIA.
Wes: There are ways. That’s all you need to know.
Eddie and Wes sat in the small almost warm room of the fish camp to discuss their next move.
Eddie: There were three mail boxes for the building where Rose/Iris lived. Do you reckon she keeps the condo in case she wants to come home?
Wes: Since we are talking millionaire here, she could afford it. Wish we had Mike here. We might could find if she had a contractor or cleaning service.
Eddie: Why would she need one? She has Bart living two doors down and the boys from the farm to do anything he can’t. My guess is that if we went to the door they would know it before we could get through the triple lock door lock. I would guess that it would not be the Federal Rural Police Officers who would put a gun in our face,
Wes: I would agree. We could cut the power but then they probably have battery backups on the cameras. But I bet you they are monitored by a company not by Bart or the Farmers. The company monitors are never gone to dinner or to piss.
Eddie: So what we try to get a warrant then go search it?
Wes: I was thinking, have Mike find the monitoring company and cut their power.
Eddie: We don’t have those kinds of resources. How about Mike sends them a phony message that says we have to shut them down for some kind of service and then we slip in.
Wes: We could just get him to loop the feeds so they look the same as they did the two hours before. Then we go up the back stairs and spend some quality time picking locks and looking around.
Eddie: For that to work he would have to be back in DC, and we would have to stay here.
Wes: So tomorrow night?
Eddie: Next week. We want time to do this right. Your plan is the one we will use only we won’t be at the fish camp when we pull the pin on it.
Wes: Yeah, best to do a drop in raid. I expect I can get us a nice little black box to use.
Eddie: Good for you. Now let’s find something to occupy us while we wait for Mike to talk to the waitress.
Wes: We could go to a movie.
Eddie: Even if I do sleep in the same room with you this is not a date.
Wes: Jesus you smiled, I don’t believe it.
Eddie: Don’t tell anyone, it might ruin my relationship with the others. (after a pause) How do you think she spent her time?
Wes: Nobody will talk to us so she could have been a stripper at night for all we know.
Eddie: Her finances don’t show her ever having a real job. She could do anything she wanted. She sure as hell had the money. But what is there to do for entertainment in a town this size.
Wes: You know that’s a harmless question. We might get an answer to that one.
They went back to the Dairy Queen drive in restaurant to have a burger for dinner. When they sat down next to an older couple Wes was the first to speak.
Wes: Excuse me folks we are kind of stuck in Mossberg for a couple of days. Our truck broke down. Is there anything to do here.
Old man in overalls: Not unless you like to watch a fire burn in the fireplace.
Wes: We are staying at the fish camp, there are no fireplaces and it ain’t the season for fireflies.
The couple joined Wes and Eddie in the laugh.
Old woman: Well they are having a social at the Grange tomorrow night. They have coffee all day long for us old folks.
Eddie: I think Wes had a little more action than a coffee club in mind.
Old Woman: You mean a younger crowd? Stop by anyway sometimes we have young mothers stop in so their kids can play together.
Eddie decided to risk it.
Eddie: We used to make deliveries to the tea factory downtown. There was a really nice looking woman who ran it. You wouldn’t know if she still owns it would you?
Old Woman: No she sold out to some other strangers. I hear she got real sick, Cancer. Haven’t seen her in a while. I hope she didn’t have it come back on her.
Wes: (After they left) That’s the problem with gossip. Lots of time it’s just plain wrong.
Eddie: Yeah but you know who might know more? The people who work at the Grange. We should ride by.
Wes: We can do that but most likely it is closed this time of night.
Eddie: I bet there is a lounge in a motel in the next town over. She might have gone there. We can at least show her picture around.
So an hour later they walked into the lounge at the Howard Johnson’s motel. Nobody recognized Iris. It was the same at every motel lounge in town.
Wes: You know maybe she likes it down and dirty. We should try a biker bar.
Eddie: Might as well try a strip joint then. Probably a booby bar somewhere in town.
Wes: Hold on, the kid is on the line. (into the phone) What’s up grasshopper? (after listening for a few minutes) Okay head on back to DC in the morning. Yes I’m sure Eddie won’t call you back again.
Wes: Well the kid says he got a lot of personal shit on Rose/Iris but that’s all. He said, when she lived there she worked on oil rigs. Some kind of security shit, you know on the rig a month or more at a time.
Eddie: Bullshit that was her cover.
Wes: Fuck it’s all a cover. She was going deep undercover. Places she couldn’t even come home for a visit.
Eddie: Something always bothered me. Her ID’s weren’t bought online, they were real. Maybe not the last ones, but the first ones were for sure.
Wes: She was a fucking undercover cop. No telling how much shit she did for the Feds before she went to the dark side.
Eddie: Ask yourself who would she have worked for back then. She started during the transition. She would have to have been with the State Police, not some half ass locals to have been in that deep.
Wes: I don’t know about any of that shit. I was out playing war games, when you were playing cops and robbers.
Eddie: More like cops and dope dealers. We need to get Mike back to the computers.
Wes: Let him have the night off. (he laughed gently)
Eddie: Okay but they head home in the morning.
Eddie: Lets go to that Grange in the morning, then see if we want to try to get home,
Wes: I’m going to call Salina. I’m curious about that cancer story. (he dialed the cell phone) Hello Salina, tell me something. Why would an otherwise stable woman tell people she had cancer? She did say it was in remission.
Salina: Are you talking about Rose?
Wes: Yes she told some locals that she had cancer, but that it was in remission.
Salina: If it was after her imprisonment, she might have lost a lot of weight and looked sickly. She might have even had some medical issues. I can only imagine the hellish conditions she endured.
Eddie: She is smart. Cancer treatment would explain her being gone for so long and her obvious weight loss,
Wes: Could she have had issues which would require treatment?
Salina: Of course. When Michael gets back I will have him check for any medical treatments she might have had two years ago.
Eddie: He is going to be one busy boy.
Wes: It will be good for him. Keep his mind off the waitress.
Eddie: Would it work for you.
Wes: Not a chance.
Eddie: You realize that you called Salina at home. That is not something you would do with a coworker is it?
Wes: That is none of your business.
They were on the way to a biker club when they had that conversation. The bar had been a large convenience store previously. It just had that look. The owners had just blacked out the door and window and reopened it. There was a counter that ran along all the walls and a bar made from rough cut two by eight unfinished lumber.
Eddie: Hey bartender you ever seen this girl?
Bartender: (without even looking) no never seen her before.
Eddie: Come here. Now you listen close you made me for a cop what you didn’t make me for is a Deputy Chief Inspector.
Bartender: Is that supposed to impress me?
Eddie: It should since first of all the office knows where I am every minute and there is a swat team within five minutes of this place right now. I can call them in to keep all you boys in place while they check for guns and dope. If we find any we can and will close this fucking place for about a hundred years. Now do you know her?
Bartender: She has been in a few times but not for a year or more. We through?
Eddie: Yeah we are.
Wes: Shit that was pretty bad ass.
Eddie: I have my moments. Now let’s leave before someone calls my bluff.
Wes: You were bluffing? (laugh)
The two of them stopped for breakfast at midnight after checking a few more clubs. Wes was pretty much at home in the rough biker bars and strip joints but Eddie was not at all comfortable in those surroundings. Even when he played bad cop he was nervous.
Eddie: I don’t know what she would have been doing in those grungy little clubs where we went last.
Wes: It’s called fun Boss. You should try it sometime.
Yeah right, Eddie thought. He said nothing.
He would have called May when he was back at fish camp if it weren’t so late. He could find out tomorrow whether she had stayed in College Hill that night. He didn’t care. He just wanted Mike back at his computer as soon as possible.
The heat at fish camp was minimal at best, but it was as good as his sharecroppers cabin had been before the insulation. Even though he had only slept in the house once since. He knew it would be better than the fish camp.
Eddie: You know Wes, Mike is going to be the key to breaking this. It will be something he pulls up, or something we can pick up at her apartment. Either way he is probably going to provide the information that beaks it.
Wes: If we do break it.
Eddie: Yeah that too. There is nothing we can do here, so I’m going to make a plane reservation for tomorrow.
Wes: I’m not like these guys around here. Even though we have some things in common, swamp life is not one of them.
Eddie: I hadn’t thought of it, but this could be Swamp Dog West. There seem to be plenty of them here.
Wes: You know we may never be able to tie her to the Swamp. Even if we tie her to the drug killing, we don’t have anything to tie her to the organization.
Eddie: What is it they say ‘Miles to go before we sleep’.
Wes: Yeah but not tonight.
Mike met the waitress name Lucy after work. He drove and she directed him to a nice restaurant in College Hill. The restaurant was located not more than a couple of miles from the motel where he and May were spending the night.
Lucy asked about Mike and he sounded like a nerd for sure but she didn’t seem to mind. After he learned about her and she about him it was time to get serious.
Lucy: Mike you been with many girls?
Mike: Truth is none.
Lucy: I be your first. I kinda like that.
Mike: Could I ask you about Sylvia Porter first.
Lucy: Let me just tell you all I know before we waste the whole night.
Lucy knew a lot more than she thought. Most likely it was because Mike knew so little.
Mike: I got to thank you for talking to me. I will really impress the others that I could get this much information.
Lucy: Sweetie I expect you to pay for the information.
Mike: Would you like to get a bottle of wine and go back to my room and watch TV?
Lucy: Well it all sounds good except the TV.