The Investigators Day 14

By Cindy and Walt

Morning

Eddie found he couldn’t sleep past 3 AM.  He rolled around the bed half asleep from 3 AM until 5 AM, then finally gave up.  The motel was so cheap he heard the water run in Wes’ room when he flushed the toilet.  Eddie dressed then went outside in time to catch Wes before his walk.

Eddie:  So let get on to it.

Wes: Right, you want to lead and set the pace.

Eddie:  You set it, I’ll keep up.

Wes:  Good luck with that one old man.

Eddie:  This coming from a man with a hangover.

Wes:  No hangover for the last four days.  I have been on the wagon and suffering with sobriety the whole time.

They walked five miles more or less.  Three out and two back stopping at a restaurant on their route.  When they stopped for breakfast Wes ate a biscuit and jelly washed down with orange juice and coffee, lots of coffee.  While Eddie had the country breakfast special, lots and lots of burned animal fat and scrambled eggs.  He was able to swap the grits for hash brown potatoes since he had never developed the taste for grits.

Eddie: So how did I do?

Wes:  You did fine for an old man.  I expect Salina will be able to do better if we ever wake up in time to walk before work.

Eddie: (Nodding)  So how do you think today is going to go?

Wes: I respectfully refuse to answer on advice of counsel.

Eddie:  Maybe or maybe not.  If we can ask the right questions, we might learn something even from that.  Get him to talk about harmless stuff.  Then when we hit him with something we know.  If he refuses, we try something harmless again.  Keep going back and forth, then slip in something we aren’t sure of and see how he answers it.

Wes:  Questions like today is Thursday, oh and do you operate a safe house for spies?

Eddie: Exactly.  Or oh by the way where is Rose Seabold at the moment.

Wes:  So what should we do till Andrew calls us.

Eddie:  We should make their lives miserable, at least as miserable as we can.  First of all we assume that there is not going to be any new information from them.  So why not put a rock in their boots.

Wes:  Okay, how do we do that?

Eddie:  Why we start another line of investigation.  We talk to anyone who knew Sylvia Porter over in County Seat.  Get our own biography started.  Then when Andrew calls, we will be too busy to hold the meeting today.  Explain we are sorry but when they didn’t call we began a new line of investigation.  We couldn’t possibly get to them till 6 or 7 PM.  Maybe tomorrow would be better after all.

Wes: I like it, put them on the defense and try to tie Rita up for another day.  The least we can do is to let her know where the real power is located.

Eddie:  If you are going to play power games, it is best to know how much you have.  So let’s find out how much we have.  Let’s head over to the Courthouse.  The former Clerks and Judges haven’t been forced by this nationalization yet, so let’s try them.

At 11 AM they were talking to a local Judge.

Judge:  She was one of the best Sheriffs we ever had.  She was absolutely incorruptible.  She didn’t care a whit about money, so she couldn’t be bribed.  I generally hated her guts when she came before me, but I would love to have been her friend outside of court.

Just then the phone rang.  It was Andrew.  As Eddie had explained to Wes, he stonewalled Andrew.

Eddie:  Sure, let me know what you want to do before five.

Wes:  Even I knew you were gaming him.

Eddie:  I hope he realizes we are playing at whose is bigger and Rita explains that ours is.  Sure he knows, but Rita can’t prove it, so they have a decision to make.

Eddie and Wes continued to interview people who had known Sylvia.  One of them was The Brit’s friend Jeremy.  He told the stories about how he and Sylvia had gone to craft shows and the like, while she was between jobs.

Everything about Sylvia seemed larger than life.  Eddie knew better.  If he had enough time the dirt would begin to roll out.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Day fourteen started for Salina with a scrambled egg and cheese sandwich made in her own kitchen.  She then showered and dressed for work, which seemed more like a break from her real job.  The people of the projects depended on her to tell them how to manage their health care.  While keeping in mind a trip to the clinic could be a ticket home for some, and jail for others.  She advised them on the least dangerous option.

She made it out the door with no last minute emergencies, so she was at work early for a change.  Once she parked Wes’ car, and before she opened the office door, she saw the tiny bit of Kleenex on the ground.  It was the ‘tell’ which Wes had insisted upon.  Eddie then stressed the need to do it by every one of them.  

The last person out had to place the Kleenex bait on top of the door.  There was no way it could have fallen on its own or stayed in place, if the door had been opened.  If it had been opened by one of them, they would have known to replace it.  First she had to be doubly sure that none of the others had returned to the office after hours.  She was almost 100% sure they had not since Eddie and Wes had stayed in College Hill.  No one else cared enough to return to the office.

She went inside to start the coffee.  She decided to wait for the men to at least finish their interviews in County Seat and the Church Camp to share the news.  The remaining three of them at the ‘Hole In The Wall’ office were in very little danger she decided.  Every soldier knew what a threat assessment meant and knew how to do it.  The only one of them who wouldn’t be screwed if caught with a weapon was May.  The thought of May with a weapon was as terrifying as the thought of someone invading their space.  She decided she had to ask even if it created speculation among the others.  She needed to know who was the last one out and if they remembered to set the ‘tell’.  She sat down with her fresh brewed coffee and began to work on Sylvia’s medical records which arrived late the day before.

All she could find of any significance was the mention of injuries from altercations over the years.  They were nothing like those sustained by Rose Seabold.  She did find mention of an over twenty year old injury sustained before she was a Sheriff.  She had been injured during a drug raid by friendly fire.  A tree beside her exploded from a high velocity rifle round fired by an SBI agent.  The splinters moving at a high rate of speed had shredded her hand.  The damage was something similar to being shot in the hand with birdshot.  The splinters had damaged skin, muscles, and nerves.  They had also bruised bones.  In other words her hand was a mess.  

The emergency room doctors treated her for blood loss and shock, then sent her to a trauma specialist who treated her hand.  There followed months of surgery to reconstruct the hand rather than remove it.  She ended up with a club hand, but it was a working hand.  It just didn’t work a hundred percent.

The thing Salina found most interesting is the reports referred to her as Wildlife Enforcement Officer Porter.  She must have been a Game Warden.  She decided to recommend to Wes that he have Mike check on her official files for a background in Wildlife Enforcement.

She made that decision before Mike showed up.  He was extremely late.  Since she wasn’t his keeper she put it down to when the cats away the mice will play etc.

May arrived first looking less dull than usual.  Anything would be an improvement over the usual drag ass May.  She was like a zombie most mornings, which led Salina to believe she was sleeping poorly.  

May:  Good morning Salina.

Salina: (Skeptical) Good morning.  What have you been up to so early?  Obviously it was someone special to make you all smiles.

May:  Well, it wasn’t sex this morning.  It was a ride down the bike trail in a neighborhood park, which connects with a deserted stretch of a railroad bed.  It was absolutely beautiful.  I rode over ten miles.  Where is Mike this morning?

Salina:  God you are so enthusiastic it’s disgusting.  As you can see Mike isn’t here yet.

The two women put their heads down and continued to read the files Mike had provided.  It was grueling work and no fun at all.  It was almost ten when Mike came limping through the door.

May:  What in the world?

Mike:  Some asshole ran me off the road.  I was on my way home after breakfast and he ran a stop sign right in front of me.  I took to the curb to avoid him.  I got tossed off the bike.  My knee is bruised and my arm and shoulder is scraped pretty good.

Salina:  Did you go to the ER?

Mike:  I don’t think it’s that bad.

Salina:  (In disgust) Oh fuck it, let’s see.

Mike tried but couldn’t get the leg of his jeans over the knee.  It was the same with the shirt.  

May:  You have to go to the ER.

Mike:  I have no insurance.  If I go there, I will be in hock for the rest of my life, not to mention the IRS will find me.  Right now I have no contact with them.  If I check into the hospital, they will be all over me for not paying taxes for a couple of years.  I had hoped to put them off till next year.

Salina:  Yeah the National Health Care Act ties all the support agencies together.  Everybody knows everything.  That is why the people I see don’t go to the ER.  

May:  Then you have to do something.

Salina (to May):  Get your ass to the closest drugstore, get a lot of gauze pads and some tape, not that skin sensitive shit some real tape.  Also get a big bottle of peroxide and two tubes of antibiotic ointment and some ice packs.  Meanwhile I’ll try to get a look, but for god’s sake hurry.

(After May left)

Salina:  You are lucky I carry such a large purse.  I have a small amount of supplies in there.  So let’s get you undressed.  Can you get your jeans off, or do I need to cut them off?

Mike:  I can get them off I think, but it is really painful to bend down for my shoes.

Salina:  Please don’t tell me you rode that scooter to work in this cold dressed like you are.

Mike:  Yeah, and it was pretty cold, but actually I felt better out there than in here pain wise.

From her purse Salina removed some pills.  

Salina:  You allergic to anything?

Mike:  Manual labor. (He smiled sickly)

Salina:  Take this.

She handed him a pill and a cup of tap water.  

Mike:  What is it?

Salina:  Don’t worry, it’s not a narcotic.  It’s a super version of Ibuprofen.  It won’t kill all the pain, but it will help.  Now take these Tylenol tablets.  

Mike:  You sure that it’s safe?

Salina:  Not safe enough to take every day, but safer than riding a bike in DC obviously.

Mike:  Yeah, looks like it.

He got his pants down without screaming.  Salina used non-sterile water to clean the grit out of the scrape.  Her real concern was the swelling.

Salina:  You got a nasty scrape that is going to be painful as hell, but that knee should be x-rayed.  It could be damaged.

Mike:  You don’t look upset enough for it to be serious.

Salina:  (smiling)  It’s messy, but not as messy as a belly wound from an AK-47.

Mike:  (trying to smile)  That’s good to know.

Salina had Mike down to his shorts by the time May returned.  Mike still had a pretty good size paunch.  He didn’t tell them that he had lost eleven pounds in the two weeks he has worked with the group.  His exercise and a controlled access to food accounted for the weight loss.  

The controlled access was mostly due to being out of the house working.  Some of it was his reluctance to go upstairs and confront his mom and her lover dejour.  That was an issue going onto the back burner for a while for sure.

May came rushing in after almost thirty minutes.  Salina used the peroxide to clean the wounds a second time.  Then she coated them with antibiotic ointment and bandaged them.

Salina:  It looks worse than it is, but he is going to have some discomfort.  He should be home where he can lie down.

Mike:  No, I want to work.  I don’t want to be home.  

May:  Well you don’t need to put these clothes on again.  They are bloody.  Call your Mom and have her bring some clothes.

Salina:  Also have her check her medicine cabinet for any leftover prescription pain killing drugs.  You know like Vicodin, Codeine, or anything of that type.  

Mike:  She’s at work I’m sure.  I’ll call her.  She doesn’t know about the fall.  I don’t want to worry her.

May:  Mike you don’t have any choice.  You have to call her or I’m going to take you home.

Mike made the call while May and Salina tried to decide how to handle him.

May:  Should we force him to go home?

Salina:  He won’t be any better off at home alone than he is here.  He is going to need a ride home tonight, but I can handle that.  Once he is home I assume his mother will take care of him.  He probably doesn’t need to be going up and down the stairs there twenty times a day.  But otherwise he should be able to do anything he wants, but I doubt he will want to do very much.

May:  Well I got stairs at my place or I’d take him.  (There was a questioning look from Salina.)  Okay, maybe not.  

Salina:  He is off the phone.  Let’s go talk to him.  (After she walked over to Mike)  You need a blanket?

Mike:  I am getting cold.  

Salina:  I don’t have a blanket but at least put your pants and coat on.  You can change them out after your mom shows up with clean clothes.

This is not the best time to ask, but who was the last person to leave the office last night.

Mike:  Why did I leave it unlocked?

Salina:  No, I was wondering if you remember to set the Kleenex.

Mike:  To be honest, I can’t say that I have a memory either way, why?

Salina:  The paper was on the floor outside when I came to work this morning.  I’m sure that it was there before I touched the door.

May:  We need to contact someone about that.  Mike’s accident may not have been an accident.

Mike:   It was an accident.  Trust me the guy never even looked.  It wasn’t like he planned it.  He was just a jerk.

May:  Bullshit.  Ask Eddie, there are no coincidences.

Salina:  Of course there are.  Everything is not a coincidence though.  Some things are planned to look like random events.  When the boys call in we will discuss it with them.  What we will not do is to discuss this with Lucille.

May:  It’s noon already have you heard from them.

Salina:  No, but it’s okay.  They are running games on the Staff at the Camp.  Remember the call for you to obtain a search warrant then to cancel it?  They are just winging it down there.  They will call later to let us know when to expect their return.  In the meantime, we need to keep going as if none of this was real.

May:  It’s noon, where the fuck is Mike’s mother?  You can bet I would be here in a minute if it was my kid.

Salina:  Spoken like a true woman who has no kids.  (She laughed)

A few minutes later a thin woman in her early forties appeared at the gate.   Mike buzzed her in.  

Mike:  Mom is here.

May went into the parking garage to meet her.  When she opened the door May was surprised to find that the woman looked only a little older than she did.  She was very attractive.  It was hard to believe she was Mike’s mother.  

May:  Hi, my name is May.  I work with Mike.  

Mom:  (not overly concerned) How is he?

May: Pretty banged up, but he isn’t too bad.  Fortunately we have an army medic here, who patched him up.  Come on I’ll let you see for yourself.

Mom:  Sure, lead the way.

May was surprised at her lack of concern.  When they entered the room and the woman saw Mike for the first time she did look a little concerned but the look vanished quickly.  She gave the pill bottles to Salina then went to Mike.

Mom:  How are you Michael?

Mike:  I think I got a bruised knee and some scrapes but I seem to be holding up well.  Salina cleaned me up and I finally got warm.

Mom:  Good.

Salina:  You got a ballsy kid there.  He walked home from the accident, then got on his scooter and came here.  He was in a lot of pain and did all that.  The kid is not just a geek and wimp.  He has real balls.

Mom:  I’m not surprised.  Every mother thinks her child is special.

May:  Well yours is.

Salina removed a pill from one of the bottles Mike’s mother had brought.

Salina:  Take this.

Mike:  Are you sure it’s safe on top of all those other pills.

Salina:  Trust me, I’m a professional.

Afternoon

Eddie:  (Into phone)  We should be finished by 5:30 or we can do it in the morning.  (pause)  Okay then 5:30 it is.

Wes:  Well, we sure showed them.  Now we can drive all night to get home.

Eddie:  Let’s just see how it plays out.  Right or wrong, it’s done now.  You know this interview stuff is all a big staged game show.  It’s all part of the set decorations.

The two of them spent the afternoon running down old employees of the Sheriff’s office.  On a suggestion from a deputy they tried the gym run by the daughter of Sylvia’s old school boxing coach.

Daughter:  My name is Ang and I knowed her yeah.  Her with that skinny ass worked out here.  She brought some other chubby white bitch now and then, but she was here every day.  I can remember the day she took on a regional Golden Gloves finalist in that ring right over there.  They still talk about it around here.

Wes:  How did she do?

Ang:  How do you think she did?  She get her ass whupped.  My pops he had to step in and stop it.  The crazy bitch just wouldn’t stay down.  The other fighters they didn’t smart mouth her after that.  She shore was a bloody mess face all cut up and bruised ribs.  She didn’t come around for a week, but she was back after that and worked just as hard as before.  She had to hold a piece of wooden broom handle in her glove to make a fist.  Pop said she would have broke her hand otherwise.  She didn’t have no grip, she said.  That was one tough skinny blond bitch though.

Eddie:  Anybody else around here remember her?

Ang:  No, it’s been ten years or more since she hung out here.  What we get here is fighter wanna bees and soft little high school boys.  They want to stay out of the gang banger life.  Like my father before me, I try to make them men first, then boxers.

Eddie:  You get any cops in?

Ang:  None old enough to remember Sylvia.  Now and then some black cop will come in to work out.  We don’t have no fancy upscale gyms here.

Wes:  Maybe you should try to get the housewives to come in a couple of days a week.  If you advertised it right, I bet you could get some in.

Ang:  Thanks but I’m doin’ okay.

Eddie looked around at the patrons.  Then he looked at Wes.

Eddie:  Well thanks for your help.

Wes:  (in the car)  Should we drop a dime on her?  You know she is dealing, at the very least, in some of those new human growth hormones.

Eddie:  Not unless you saw some young kids hangin’ out there.  I didn’t see any, and I don’t work for the Feds any more.

Wes:  True and I never was a narc.  You want me to call the office?

Eddie:  Call your girlfriend and tell her we will both be in the office tomorrow, but it might be late.

Wes: (nodded, then spoke into the phone)  Hello Salina.  What is happening back there? (Listened then)  Is he okay?  (Listened again)  Are you sure it was there last night?  Okay, let me talk to the boss and I’ll get back to you.  Be careful in the meantime.  You know where the shotgun is?  Okay.

Eddie:  What the hell is going on back there?

Wes:  Two things both could be serious.  Let me try to get the time sequence right.  Someone may or may not have broken into the office last night.  Mike got run off the road on his bicycle this morning.

Eddie:  Is he okay?

Wes:  Salina patched him up.  Some scrapes and he might have bruised his knee.  He is like a lot of her patients, living off the grid.  He is afraid to go to the hospital for x-rays.  He is in pain and may not be functioning at a hundred percent.

Eddie:  Someone may have broken in for an update on the investigation and they may be stalking our people.  Is that how you paranoid CIA field men would see this?

Wes:  Yeah.

Eddie:  Since it is a possibility tell them to lock themselves in there until I get Lucille to get them some protection.  

Wes made the first call, then Eddie got on the phone.  He told the story to Lucille stressing that it might possibly be nothing.

Eddie:  Even so I want the whole fucking team in a safe house till me and Wes get back tomorrow.  One officer guarding them all will be cheaper than one for each at their homes.  It is also safer than rushing through a weapons permit for each of them.  You got them into this shit now protect them.  If you have any questions remember who we are dealing with here.  

Wes:  No officer for Salina.  That will make her a target in the hood.

Eddie:  Just get Salina home for her clothes with an undercover officer in tow, then to the safe house for the night.  Wes will take care of her after that.  Now get Mike checked out at a walk in clinic with an x-ray machine.  Have the Senate’s budget cover it and treat him as an identity protected witness.

Wes and I are going to see the Church Camp people this afternoon.  We will bring all this shit up with them.  That you can fucking count on.

Lucille:  Eddie listen to me.  If they are stalking you, this could be the break we need.  Do not tip them off that we are onto them.

Eddie:  Okay.  If they kill us at the Church Camp it will be the excuse you need to raid it for sure.  So I’ll call you when we are out safe.  

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mike was in a lot of pain, but he managed to concentrate.  He couldn’t find anything amiss with the computers, but if it was a professional break in he wouldn’t expect to find it that easily.

Since Salina had told him about the ‘tell’, he hadn’t backed up any data to his cloud account.  He hadn’t even gone online since he assumed that his data was all compromised.  That he knew was a bad thing, but if he had a Trojan it would be a worse thing.  

Since Wes had called back with the decisions Salina was expecting a cop just not six of them at the gate.  There were three cars and two officers to a car.  Two of them were marked cars and one was not.  They identified themselves at the front gate for the CCTV before entering the garage.

One of the cops came in the office to motion them outside with a gesture for silence.  He was wearing a polo shirt with the police insignia on the chest.

Man in the polo shirt to May:  I’m Marco.  I am going back inside to sweep the place and search for evidence of an intrusion.  You are finished for the day.  I want you to go back in and get your things.  Keep it quiet okay, and tell the others.

It took five minutes to evacuate everyone to the parking garage area.  The uniformed police took charge of May and Mike.  

Salina:  I can’t stay away overnight.  The people in the projects need me.

Undercover cops.  I’m sorry, but tonight they are going to have to do without their angel.  Your man will be back tomorrow, but tonight you are going to have to go into protective custody.  Do you need anything from home?

Salina:  Clothes and my kit for Mike.

UC:  Okay then we do it like this.  You drive your car, a plain clothes officer will follow behind.  The officer will pass your parking lot.  I will already be in place.  You stay in the car so he can cover you till you spot me.  When you see me go in your building get out of the car and walk quickly to the building.  Nobody will pay attention to me hanging out in the entrance to your building.  I’ll follow behind, when you open your door, I will slip inside.  Got it?

Salina:  Seems like a lot of trouble just because of a kid fell off his bike.

UC:  Could be, but you never know.  They tell me a Senator is taking a special interest in you, so I’m going to be your best buddy for a while.

Salina:  You got a name best buddy.

UC:  Yeah, they call me Jasper.  We will move when the tech guy finishes his sweep.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddie answered the phone just before they went into the interview.

Eddie:  Hello Lucille, what you got.

Lucille:  I’m only going to tell you all this because you have friends in low places and can dig it all out anyway.

Eddie:  Fine, just spill it.

Lucille:  The tech people found bugs inside the office and in the stairway.

Eddie:  Were they all yours?  Don’t bother to lie cause I know you had me bugged.

Lucille:  No, not all of them.  The ones in the stairwell were ours, but the new ones in the office didn’t belong to any government agency that I can find.  That does not mean the CIA or NSA didn’t do it.

Eddie:  It could have been the Fed’s Intel unit as well.  Everybody is bugging people these days.  Could they tell how long they had been in place?

Lucille:  Looks like our team got to them on day one.  The bigger issue is your computer network was compromised.  Mike doesn’t think it spread, since he told the tech officer he felt like shit from the accident and didn’t download any new material.  The cloud backup only connects when he calls it.  We think the Trojan they installed is confined to your in house network.

Wes:  How is Mike?

Eddie:  How much damage did the kid have?

Lucille:  Looks like just a bruise and the doc said Salina was doing a good job on his scrapes, so he was released.  He might have also injured a rib or two.  They don’t show up on the x-ray though.  The knee is just a deep bruise.

Eddie:  Good.  (To Wes)  Looks like he is okay.  (Back to the phone)  Is everyone in the safe house?

Lucille:  Yes, all present and accounted for.  All their cell phones are off the grid, so don’t try to call.  I’ll call you, if anything changes.

Eddie:  Fair enough.  You can relay anything I need to tell them.  I have a pad with me.  I’ll use it to set up a new email tonight for messages if you need to send me new information.

Lucille:  We are considering everything compromised.  Any business goes to heat when you get back.

Eddie:  Wes and I will be black till we are back in DC.

Lucille:  Be careful you maybe going into the lion’s den down there.

Eddie:  Gee, I hadn’t thought of that.

Lucille:  Asshole

She broke the connection and smiled.  She had chosen the right crew for sure, from the medic who treated Mike, to the man who put the Kleenex ‘tell’ on the door.  She had the best people in place, people who didn’t trust anyone not even her.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Wes and Eddie showed up at the gate, they were met not by the caretaker with the shotgun rack in his rusty old pickup, but by a middle aged black woman with just a bit of gray in her hair.  There were two men by her side who were holding shotguns.

Eddie: You know those guys aren’t going to do you much good if a Fed Police swat team comes in.

Rita:  I never show all my cards till the dealin’s done.  My clients have a lot of people who would do them harm.  They come in all shapes and sizes.

Eddie:  Then I assume you know when to fold them and walk away.

Rita:  Not till I see your hand.  So you want to come in and look around.  I will be happy to accompany you.

Eddie:  Good, now that you have had time to sanitize the place, there won’t be any need to go over the place in detail.  I would like to see the safe houses.

Rita:  Sorry they are occupied.  You know you can’t visit them.  You can visit the staff area and the offices, but not the safe house area.

Eddie:  Fair enough.

She might or might not have realized that she had just verified a large part of Wes’ information.  The Church Camp did indeed operate safe houses for the government.

Rita showed them a village of ten cabins which had been renovated years before so that they could be occupied year round.  There were sealed shutters that covered the half screen upper walls.  Those were bolted down for the winter at the time of Eddie’s visit.  The large dining hall and administrative building had the same kind of shutters.

Andrew:  Welcome to Church Camp.  I do hope this conversation stays friendly.  Rita is here just to make sure I don’t say anything that is inaccurate or confidential.

Eddie:  Oh sure I understand it’s going to be ask me anything and as long as I can answer yes or no, I will.  I’m just not going to volunteer any information.  Is that about it?

Andrew:  Unless you brought your own waterboard, that’s about it.

Wes:  Well I’m sure we could improvise, if you volunteer?

Rita:  Andrew most certainly does not volunteer to be tortured.

Wes:  Shame.

Eddie:  Let’s try to get back to the friendly interview.  So with that in mind was Sylvia Porter ever employed by the Church Camp?

Rita:  Just to be accurate define employed.

Eddie:  Was she ever on staff or an operative of the Church Camp?

Andrew:  No.

Eddie:  Was she ever a contract employee.  

Rita and Andrew whispered.  Eddie knew that he was onto something at that point.

Andrew:  No

Eddie:  Keeping in mind that your tax records can be subpoenaed by the Select Committee, did she ever do work for you as an independent contractor?

Rita:  Several years ago Sylvia performed contract work for Church Camp while she waited for the outcome of a lawsuit against the State Bureau of Investigation.  Once that suit was settled she did other work on a purely contract status.  She was never an employee of Church Camp.

Eddie:  When did she become an employee of Swamp Dog?

Rita:  That is outside the scope of my clients first hand knowledge.

Eddie:  When did you first learn that she was the Director of the entity known as Swamp Dog?

Rita and Andrew had another whispered conference.

Rita:  We will concede that Sylvia was Director of the Swamp Dog enterprise from the time that the State Government made the unconstitutional take over by law enforcement in the rural areas, until her death last year.

Eddie:  So she led Swamp Dog for about fifteen years?

Andrew:  Fifteen years while the government ran amok.  

Eddie:  And during that time what was Church Camp’s mission?

Another conference was held before anyone answered.

Rita:  Church Camp did not commit any illegal operations at any time.  Church Camp has provided services to the US government during their time of domestic reorganization.  They also provided private security to wealthy or controversial clients.  All of those actions were carried out within the existing laws at the time of the operations.

Eddie:  Would you provide us with a list of operations?

Andrew:  Absolutely not.  Get your fucking subpoena and I will burn the place to the ground before I give you shit.

Rita:  I think this meeting has ended.

Eddie:  One more question.  Do either of you know where Rose Seabold is at this time?  We know she worked for Church Camp.

Rita:  I have no idea.  

Andrew shook his head.

They didn’t realize, but they had verified that Rose had indeed worked for the Church Camp.

Wes:  Would any of the staff know her whereabouts?

Andrew:  I’ll ask around and get back with you.  Now I think you should leave.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wes:  (Into the phone)  It’s 7 PM.  We are heading home.  I know you aren’t there, but you will get this sometime.  See you soon.

Eddie:  Are you crazy you know we will be back before she can reactivate her phone.

Wes:  I promised I would call, so I called.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Salina:  So May, you want to talk about anything?

May: (Laughing) The angel with dirty hands wants to talk to the sinner?

Salina:  Okay, forget it.  I’ll just watch ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ or ‘The Kardashians’ on the TV.

May:  You know that is extortion.

Salina:  I had no idea.

May:  Okay, so what’s with you and Wes?

Salina:  Wes gets me, that’s all.  He also has a 12 inch penis.

May:  Holy shit, are you kidding?

Salina:  Yeah, he don’t get me at all.  

Salina walked from the kitchen into the living room where Mike sat.

Salina:  Mike do not forget to take your pills.  They are there in the saucer.  Take them now, so they will be working at midnight or whenever you decide to go to sleep.  If you wake up in pain during the night, call me.

May:  You want to share a room?

Salina:  I’m sure Mike isn’t up to it and I know you weren’t talking to me yuppie princess.  

May:  Sarcasm does not become you Angel.

Salina:  Where did you get that shit?

May:  From the undercover cop.  That’s what they call you in the hood isn’t it?

Salina:  Nobody ever called me that.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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The Investigators Day 13

By Cindy and Walt

It was 1 AM when they arrived in Mossberg Ala.  Wes made the call from his burner to the one he left with Mike.  

Wes:  Rabbit.

Just as he had been directed, Mike hung up the phone without saying a word.  The two men gave him fifteen minutes before going to the rear door.  If all went well, they had forty five minutes of their hour left.  While they waited for the fifteen minutes they allotted for Mike to do his work, they chatted.

Eddie:  Let’s do it.  I’m going to pretend that I am Moshe Abraham.

Wes:  Who the fuck was Moshe Abraham.

Eddie:  No idea.  It’s a name we gave a burglar, one who we never could catch.  He never left anything behind, not one single clue in his ten year career.

Wes:  Then why the name?

Eddie:  Why not.  Actually, we figured he was a spy, and who has the best spies.  

Wes: Mossad, hence Moshe?

Eddie:  Exactly.  (Looked at his watch) Time to go to work.

They went to the rear door, where Wes picked the pick proof lock in about a minute.  Once they entered the door, they found a private staircase to the third floor.  Just as the blueprint Mike had secured from the county planning board had on it.  It hadn’t suggested that it was narrow and steep with only one landing.  It didn’t appear to be an after thought.  If it had been, Eddie expected that it would have been built on the outside of the building like a fire escape.  

With all the security devices turned off, it was a simple matter to pick the upstairs lock, then put on the rubber gloves and begin their search.  The modern search included booting her computer with a flash drive which was all a clone program.  Wes booted the computer to the flash drive and it began copying the contents of Rose’s computer.

Meanwhile, Eddie walked around looking at her decorations and furniture.  Like Eddie, Rose was a minimalist he discovered.  For a millionaire he was surprised by her spartan digs.  Everything was functional, but none of the furnishing screamed money.  He found absolutely nothing out of place.  He did find that it all seemed to be just too clean.  She wasn’t planning to come back.  She kept the place just in case, but she had already moved on.  He had very little hope for the computer since she had done such a professional job of leaving the apartment sanitized.  Rose had simply disappeared again.  There was no telling when or where she would reappear.  Hell, they didn’t even know who she would be when she did reappear.  Presumably she had cash, as well as access to accounts they knew nothing about.

Wes took another glance into the room quickly to make sure they had not left anything which might later identify them.  Eddie and Wes left the apartment with ten minutes to spare.  They had walked almost a quarter of a mile to her apartment, so they had to retrace their footsteps.  They had not said a single word since they left their observation spot outside her small private park.

When they reached the car, they drove away very carefully.  The apartment should seem as though no one had been inside it.  They didn’t want to get a ticket at that moment which could later come back to bite them on the ass.  

Wes knew that all her friends were pro’s and they might well have left their own version of the string over the door trick.  If so they would know someone had been inside, but there was nothing they could do about it.  He also knew that driving the speed limits was a good idea since one day they might be asked about their whereabouts on this night.  When he and Eddie lied, he didn’t want any evidence to prove they were lying.

At 8:45 they sat down to breakfast at a small diner in College Hill.  The food was heavy on the fat and grease but it was also very good.  Eddie’s eyes were gritty from lack of sleep.  He had slept some on the eight hour drive from Mossberg to College Hill, since Wes had insisted on driving.  His reasoning was that he had slept some on the way down from DC.

Sunrise had revived them both, but it could only do so much.  They had a plan and since they were a little sleep deprived and dopey, they knew it was best to stick to it exactly.  Eddie downloaded an image Mike had provided for them.  He glued it to the screen of his phone to use as wallpaper till they got to the camp.

After breakfast they returned to the motel to shower and dress for the day.  There was no time for a run or even a walk, so they were out the door by ten and at the gate of Church Camp by 11 AM.  There was a large warning sign on the gate.

                                                               STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE
                                                                  SOUND YOUR HORN
                                                     SOMEONE WILL COME TO GREET YOU.

Eddie: Not very friendly are they?

Wes:  I will bet you there is a siren on that gate.  If we went to touch it there would be a high piercing sound.  Most likely those metal strips are revolving tire spikes.

The strips ran from side to side on the dirt road.  They were about ten inches wide and level with the road.  

Wes:  I would go with punji stakes on the sides of the road to discourage walking around the gate.

Eddie:  Simple but effective.  Especially since land mines are discourage these days.

Wes:  Don’t be surprised to find non lethal mines.  Probably a little sniper harassing fire as well.  Take a look at the tree over there.  That’s a camera with a .177 pellet barrel attached.  That’s only what is visible.  Odds are pretty good they could get a team up here before a force could clear the area.  

Eddie:  I bet they have scaled back till the congressional things clear up.  They are not going to want an incident now.  Let’s try to use that against them.

Wes:  Take a look.

Wes was pointing down the road leading from the Camp to the gate.  Coming up the road was a rusty pick up truck.  The gate lifted and the truck pulled up to greet them.  From the truck emerged a fat man of at least sixty.  He walked toward their sedan.

Fat man:  Howdy.  What can I do for you?  Camp don’t open till June, water is too cold to swim till then.

Eddie:  Ah so.  Is the Owner or Manager here?  We are looking for a place to send the kids this summer.

Fat man:  You two got kids?

Wes:  My wife and I have a 12 year old daughter.  My brother here has ten year old twins.

Fat man:  Okay but the Camp Manager isn’t here.  He will be coming up in May.  I’m just the caretaker.

Eddie:  I see well how about we come in and take a look around.

Fat man:  Sorry, I got my orders, don’t let nobody in.  It’s an insurance thing they tell me.

Eddie:  Okay, whatever you say.  By the way, is Andrew still the Camp Commandant?

Fat man:  Don’t know nobody named Andrew.  The Camp Manager’s is Sarah Jenkins.  

Eddie:  Well how about giving us her number.  I’m sure if we called she would let us tour the place.  We drove a long way to see it.

Fat man:  Wish I could, but it’s not how it works.  They get their campers from church groups so wouldn’t do you no good to tour it.  Miss Sarah don’t want to be bothered.

Wes:  Take a look at this.  (Showing him his phone)  The image is your parking lot.  It was made by a Russian Satellite this morning.  You see all the cars in your parking lot.  The place doesn’t look deserted to me.

Fat man:  I think you need to go.  If you want to come in and look around get yourself a search warrant.

Eddie:  (Talking into the phone) May you want to fax the local rural police a search warrant for the Camp.  Yeah, we will block the entrance to the road until the police arrive.  Put on the search warrant that we will be searching for weapons.

Wes:  So?

Eddie:  May said it would take about thirty minutes for the local cops to get here with the warrant.  Meantime we need to leave, we can go back to the road and block this driveway to be sure nobody and nothing leaves.

Fat man:  You guys cops.

Eddie:  Senate Researchers, we are just here to count beans for the IRS Special Committee.

Fat Man:  Wait here, I’ll be right back.  Call your friend ask her to hold off on the search warrant till I get back.

Eddie: (Into the phone)  May, hold off on that warrant.  (Turning his attention) Well Wes, do you think this will fly.

Wes:  Who knows.  It would be nice not to be bothered with dealing with the process of a search warrant.

The truck returned, followed by two black Cadillac SUVs.

Tall man with a limp:  What’s this all about?

Eddie:  You must be Andrew.

Andrew:  I am. It seems you know more than I do.

Eddie:  My friends call me Eddie and this is Wes.  We are investigators for the Chairman of the Senate Committee investigating the so called American Foreign Legion.

Andrew:  What does that have to do with me?

Eddie:  You either are the new head of Swamp Dog Enterprises, or you are still the Commandant of Church Camp Inc.

Andrew:  At the moment there is no Church Camp.  We have shut down everything on the advice of counsel.  If you want to come in to look around bring me your warrant.  If conversation will do, maybe we can talk and defuse this situation.  

Eddie:  Let’s go the talking route first.

Andrew:  I hoped we might be able to do this like gentlemen.  Our attorney is on the way.  She will get here tomorrow morning, if you come back then, I will give you as much as she allows.  They will most likely be the same ones I will give to the Committee, if they figure out what to ask me.  However, until Rita gets here I got nothing to say.

Eddie:  Call me when you do.

Eddie and Wes retreated first to talk to local businessmen then for an early dinner, finally to their motel.  An early bedtime was called, they both agreed.  They definitely weren’t as young as they once were.

Eddie:  I’m going to take a look at this flash drive before I go to bed.

Wes:  I wouldn’t do that.  If you plug it into your machine the wrong way, it will clone your hard drive as well.

Eddie:  I don’t have anything worth reading on the computer, however you do have a point.  No sense confusing Mike when he gets it back.  In that case I’m going to turn in.  

Wes:  I’m going to power walk early in the morning, you want to go?

Eddie:  You operative types start way too early for me.  Unlike my life back in DC, I won’t need an hour’s prep time before work tomorrow.  I do not plan to be awake before eight.

Wes:  Whatever

They parted for their respective rooms.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Back in DC Salina was the first to arrive for work.  She drove Wes’ car into the office because it would be safer in the abandoned parking structure, than it would be in the parking lot outside her housing project.  She had the coffee on before the rest of the office staff arrived for work.

Mike was first to arrive.  He was bundled up to look like the Pillsbury doughboy.   The first thing he did was to remove his helmet, then came his deer hunter thermal Jump suit, then he removed a sweatshirt with the name ‘Georgetown’ on it.   He was left standing in jeans and another sweatshirt with Born to Ride on it.

Salina:  Obviously you came to work on the scooter?

Mike:  That thing is always a blast, but sometimes it’s a blast of cold air.  I can only imagine what it’s like in a snow storm.

Salina:  White hell comes to mind.

She was smiling her motherly smile.  She was less than twice Mike’s twenty two years, but she still felt motherly sometimes.  She, unlike his real mother, would like to see him become a man, not stay a geek boy forever, certainly not living in his mother’s basement till he was forty.   Partly the feeling came from them both being Wes’ friends.  Mostly it was her need for redemption by saving others.  Of course she didn’t realize either motive.

May came in next and said good morning.  She had a brief conversation with Mike.  Then she poured herself a coffee.

May: (To Salina) Have you heard from our missing members?

Salina:  Not yet, but it’s early.  I expect them any time.

Anytime turned out to be almost lunch time.  Eddie called and asked for May.  He ran the warrant scam passed her.  She of course had no idea what he was talking about, but went along.

An hour later Wes called to inform Salina that he and the boss were going to talk to some people, then call it an early night.  At the same time he updated her on the plans for the next day.

Salina:  (To the others)  The interview is set, but don’t expect too much.  The CC’s Lawyer is driving down.

May:  You mean the infamous Rita, who has weaved her way though this case like the master manipulator she is?

Mike:  More like a black widow spider’s web.

Salina:  Her husband it very much alive, but she is black.  I wouldn’t say that around her, if I were you.  But yes, she does represent the CC, Swamp Dog, and Bart’s Tea Company.

May:  I should be there for that interview.  I should have insisted.

Salina:  I think Wes and the Boss can handle it.  By the way they said for us all to continue on with what we are doing.  I’m going to keep calling unaffiliated doctors and clinics.  May, I might need you to pressure some of them.  You can flex some of that girl muscle you are dying to use.

They exchanged sarcastic looks.  Salina was determined to be a team player and try to resurrect her life.  However, it was hard with the yuppie May always around to remind her how low she had sunk.

Mike, like a good geek, buried his head in his computer.  Salina used Wes’ car to go for a take out lunch at the closest Chinese Restaurant.  It wasn’t on May’s Yuppie list, but the food was good and inexpensive.  Since it catered to the Chinese immigrants, it was on Salina’s list and she did go out for it.

The afternoon passed till five while the men in College Hill slept and the office ran along without accomplishing much.  Then the day came to an official end.

Salina spent the evening waiting for a call from Wes that never came, since he slept until well past midnight.

Mike lay awake listening to his mom moaning.  For some reason she suddenly had become extremely slutty.  He had no idea why.  He thought she probably didn’t either.

May went out to the neighborhood bar for a glass of wine and some friendly conversation which turned out to be just noise.  She spoke to a couple of men, but decided that if they weren’t Bi, they were definitely wimps at the very least.   By 9 PM she had enough and walked home alone.  When she arrived, there was a message on her phone from Lucille that I need to check in.

May: (into the phone)  Sorry Lucille I had a personal matter to attend to.  Eddie and Wes have an interview with the Commander of Church Camp tomorrow.  They called me to run a game on him to try and force him to agree to it.  It must have worked.  They called back to say they were staying at least until tomorrow.

Lucille:  Very good.  You are doing an excellent job.

When she hung up Lucille poured herself another glass of wine and checked on the boys.  They both asleep in the bottom of the bunk beds they had insisted upon.  She had at least talked them out of the ‘Transformer beds” in favor of a classical rustic cabin type bed.  One day they could be separated to make a bed for each of them to have in his own room.

She went into her own bedroom and decided that, for a while at least maybe, the second guest room, the one designated for one of the boys later, should be used by her banker husband.

Since he was determined to lead an alternative lifestyle, the least she could do was look the other way.  She had decided to actually encourage him to the point where he wanted to leave her.  That was in response to the prenuptial agreement.  

In general, it read that she got less, if she moved out or sought the divorce.  If he did, she got her full community property.  She had signed the agreement because she was young and naive.   He had insisted because he knew he wasn’t going to change.  It was a way to coerce her into keeping up appearances.  Those appearances helped him to rise in the super conservative world of international banking.

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The Investigators Day 12

By Cindy and Walt

Mike was on his bike in the suburbs where the most dangerous thing he faces so early in the morning was falling asleep.  May, on the other hand, rode her bike through the streets of DC.  Those streets could turn from the quaint redeveloped downtown neighborhoods to slums in two blocks.   Two blocks went by very quickly on the bicycle that she bought only the day before.

May pedaled about eight blocks from her chic downtown apartment, then found herself in a more dangerous part of town.  She looped around and headed back to the safer downtown.  On the way she saw signs posted on the side of the road for a park.  The signs showed a cartoon picture of a bike and two old folks walking hand in hand.  So the park had a bike and nature trail, noting it should be more fun, she thought.

Mike rode to the shopping plaza, but he didn’t feel that he had done enough so he continued on.  He made a right turn at the next intersection, which took him into an industrial area.  It was filled with buildings which ranged from a city block, to several city blocks in length.  
It was industrial only in the sense that the buildings were large.  They were mostly warehouses filled with foreign made consumer goods.  The availability of the airport and a good highway transportation system made for easy access.  Therefore, it was a distribution hub for several online virtual stores.  Mike knew those operations needed only a warehouse and web page to make millions of dollars in sales each year.

His combination made for a long ride with almost no car traffic and very little truck traffic at 6 AM.  When Mike felt tired he turned and headed for the drive in restaurant.

May got tired of circling the downtown area.  She also noted the uptick in traffic so she headed back to her neighborhood.  She swore that tomorrow she would ride straight to the park for the nature trail ride.  

Once home, she showered, dressed, and then retrieved her car.  All done in time to find a drive thru restaurant on the way to the Hole In The Wall.  Even with the stop, she was only five minutes late.  The few minutes made a difference only when the boss was on a tear.  At the DOJ five minutes late was actually early, since everyone tended to be late.

Mike stopped in the middle of his ride to work, so he pulled up on the scooter just a couple of minutes before May.  If it was late, it was by maybe two minutes.  

May found that when she got out of the car her legs had gotten sore.  That’s why the aspirin was part of the regime Wes had laid out for Mike.  She vowed not to forget it again, as she walked to the office from the car with what was almost a limp.  Her muscles were tightening quickly.

Eddie had arrived fifteen minutes before Mike and May and thirty minutes before Wes and Salina.  Lucille never did show up at the Hole In The Wall Hq.  He made a point of looking at his watch when Wes arrived.  

One of the reasons they called him Steady Eddie was that he knew how to pick his battles.  With the exception of May and Lucille, none of his people considered this a career move.  It was just a little extra money at first.  Then it became a puzzle for him and the others as well.  They were collecting more and more pieces, so he decided their tardiness thing would be a non-issue.  He could ignore it as long as it didn’t get worse.  He would try to curtail it with a little meeting.

Eddie:  Gather round people.  I have decided that we will continue working on verifying Wes’ information and adding to it.  We need to know more about the two compounds occupied by the Swamp Dog people.  The Church Camp is worth at least a phone call, so who is best to make it?

Wes:  I could make a call and get a contact name and number so maybe I should call.  I’m not sure my source will let me use his name for the intro, but even so I can get some kind of reaction.

Eddie: Or we could work a sting.

May:  My guess is they will closely vette anyone we try to put in there.  They aren’t on the ropes enough for us to get that kind of cooperation from state or DOJ, certainly not the CIA.

Eddie:  I expect the FED Police are going to be the same.  So if we can’t go in undercover, we will just have to depend on our brilliant interrogation skills.

May:  How does that go, ‘you talk to me’ or I water board you.

Eddie:  I expect you have great skills.  You probably belong with the National Division of the Federal Police.  You would do fine.  They are mostly politicians these days.  It would be a lot like working for the DOJ.

May:  Have I just been insulted?

Eddie:  Do you feel insulted?

Wes:  Boss, we got a problem.

Eddie: Oh really?

Wes:  Yeah a Detective Supervisor Austin is on his way over.  Salina tried to tell him he had to have an appointment, but he said and I quote, ’Fuck that.’  So I took that to mean he was on his way over.

Eddie:  Yeah, I would think that was his meaning as well.  I expect his first words after asking my name will be, ‘What the hell do you think you are doing?’  Want to bet a hundred bucks on it.

Wes:  Are you trying to set me up?

Eddie:  Yeah, I worked with the guy once upon a time.  He has no imagination.  He likely won’t remember me.

Wes:  Well, he is here. So let’s go see what he says.

Austin:  (After the introductions)  So what’s going on here Edward?

Eddie:  Well Wes, is that close enough?

Wes:  Yeah, but we didn’t make a bet.

Austin:  What are you two talking about?

Eddie:  Nothing Important,  So what can we do for you?

Austin:  You can tell me what you are investigating and on whose authority?

Eddie:  Austin calm down, you are going to bust a gut.

Austin:  You want to talk here or come down to the office.

Eddie:  If you want to do the interview there, I think you will need to take me into custody.  I am not compelled to go to your office unless you state a reason, then take me into custody for some particular reason.  It doesn’t appear that you have that in mind, so this interview is terminated.

Austin:  Do you really want to air our dirty laundry here?

Eddie:   I really don’t give a rat’s ass about your dirty laundry, and mine I do in a public Laundromat these days.

Austin:  Expect a call from your boss.  

Eddie:  I always do.  (Said to Austin’s departing backside)

After he had gone Eddie took a Deep breath and tried to pretend nothing had happened.  Of course he wasn’t all that imaginative either.   He couldn’t forget any of it.  Someone was trying to get involved in his investigation.  

Eddie was glad he hadn’t ordered the wall furnace for his tenant house.  He was renovating it on a ‘pay as you go’ basis.  He could pay for the under a thousand dollar furnace without the job, but it would put a cramp in the other renovations for a while.  The kerosene heater worked fine for now and the winter was almost over, so the purchase could wait until fall of next year.  In that time the job should have ended or at least sorted itself out.

Eddie:  Wes, a word please.  (Once outside Eddie continued)  We need to do the black bag thing sooner rather than later.  Me, you, and Mike are the only ones to know exactly when we are going to do it.  We need to make it untraceable.  That means no phone conversations of any kind mentioning it.  

Wes:  I know the kid has been accessing the computers here from home.  Let’s give him a burner phone for the code word.  He said that he had breached the security and planted a Trojan.  Now it’s just a matter of sending a string of code to set it off.  Once that is done, he will do the loop thing for exactly one hour, then get the hell out.

We could do this boss by trying to hide it from everyone, or we could make sure everyone they all knew and had a self interest in keeping it quiet.  Like I don’t give a crap about you, but I’m keeping quiet to stay out of jail myself.

Eddie:  So you really think May would go along with this?  She would want to get warrants and go in with ten cops and let all of Rose’s friends know so they can warn her.  We best go in alone.  Besides, most cons get convicted when an accessory flips.

Wes:  I was just asking.

Eddie:   Do I need to worry about you flipping?

Wes:  I already told, you that you could trust me.

Eddie: That was before you were spending all your time with Salina.

Wes:  Nothing has changed.

Eddie:  Then we need to work out the details and get on the road.

Wes:  Simple.  Church Camp is on the way.  We check into a motel in that next town over.  Go out poking around at the camp, being sure we get noticed.  Then leave that same afternoon, drive straight to Mossberg, do our Watergate thing, then drive back to check out and head home.

Eddie:  That’s a lot of driving for one forty eight hours without sleep.

Wes:  What, you never slept in a moving vehicle, so when do we go.  

Eddie:  Did you drive in.

Wes:  Yes.

Eddie:  Have Salina drive your car home.  We will take the company sedan on our road trip.  You brief Mike at lunch and we will leave right after.

Wes:  Then let’s do it.  If you really want to fuck with their minds, we can stop at that little town where Mike stayed.  We’ll check into a motel with no CCTV and then drive through the evening, hit the apartment and drive back by morning.

Eddie:  Okay, let’s go for it.  We can leave right now.

Eddie and Wes went back inside to tell the others they had decided to hit the Church Camp as soon as possible.  That meant a long drive down to the small town where May had stayed while Mike was getting laid.  Keep it quiet this is not to be discussed with anyone.

Eddie:  Wes and I plan at the very least to be in position to hit them first thing in the morning.  So we are going to leave here immediately and check into a motel.

Eddie decided to leave his car in the parking garage where the ‘Hole in the Wall’ had been built.  Which means he and Mike could take the government boat.  Somehow Wes was able to sleep all the way to the first stop for gas.  They filled the tank and filled the car with snacks on the company credit card.  Then continued to drive until they got to College Hill.  Even though Wes, on his turn driving had a heavy foot, the drive still took eight hours.  The check in took thirty minutes out of their highway drive time.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At five O’clock Salina left the office in Mike’s beat up old SUV.  She parked it in the parking lot for her housing project.  Mike had told her not to worry.  He has said that if it was vandalized, he had good insurance.  He in fact had none.

She saw a couple of people from other projects after dinner.  Then at nine there was a gang member with a gunshot wound.  His name was Marcus one the men helping him in said.

Salina:  Marcus you need to go to the clinic this is a bad wound.

Marcus:  Just fix it puta.

Salina:  (to his friend)  Get him out of here, or I’ll call the police.  I am not going to risk my ass to help him and get no respect for it.

Friend:  You better play nice or you gonna die in the street, cause we ain’t taking you to no doctor.

Marcus:  Okay, please help me.

Salina: There is a price to pay this time.

Friend:  How much?

Salina:  You make sure no one bothers that red SUV with Virginia plates in the parking lot.  It’s gonna be out there a few days maybe.

Marcus:  You got it now fix me please.

Salina began work.  She knew he was already high on something.  Whether he got high before or after he got shot was immaterial to her.  She was going to probe for the bullet which was located in the fleshy part of the arm.  It was no doubt a small caliber handgun wound.  She had seen enough large caliber assault rifle wounds to know the one in Marcus wasn’t shit.

She found it, removed it, packed the wound with Antiseptic ointment from the dollar store, then stitched and bandaged the wound.

Salina:  Keep it dry and change the dressing every day, but don’t wash it.  Dab it with peroxide.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May:  Come on Lucille you know if they find out, Wes most likely will make me disappear.  He scares the crap out of me.

Lucille:  Where the fuck did they go.

May:  Church Camp to try to find out what they are up to there these days.

Lucille:  Okay, that’s a logical move, since I’m sure they don’t return calls.  (Pause while she thought)  May do you have a favorite Chinese restaurant?

May:  Sure, China Palace on 14th street, why?

Lucille:  Unless you have other plans, I thought I would call in an order and have you pick it up.  You could come over and meet my family.

May:  I’m sorry Lucille I am exhausted.  My plan is to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then take a long bath, before bed.

Lucille:  And what do you plan to do during that long bath?   Never mind, don’t answer that.  

Lucille broke the connection.  She would have packed the kids in the car and drove to Eddie’s house, except for the fact that he wasn’t there.  He was out working for her and the Senator.  

Lucille:  The things I give up for this job.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mike went home and found his mother dressed and cooking dinner.  It was some kind of fancy stew with a red wine gravy.  It really smelled delicious, he thought.

Mike:  So who is your dinner guest?

Mom:  Why you are sweetie.  I thought since I have been so selfish lately, I would cook tonight.  Make something special.

Mike:  Okay.

Yes, he was suspicious.  His mother wanted him to believe that she had suddenly turned over a new leaf.  He doubted it, but he would play along to see how it worked out.  One thing he had learned at his new job was patience.  He had learned that if you try to force an issue, you seldom got the result you were after.

Mike:  So how long before dinner is ready?

Mom:  It should be about an hour.  You don’t mind the wait do you?

Mike:  Of course not mom, I would have to wait longer, if I ordered pizza delivery.

Mike couldn’t help the dig.  His mother had to know that he knew what she had done and with whom she had done it.

Mom:  Yes, pizza delivery.  I do enjoy the pizza delivered to the house.  It makes it so much more convenient.  Don’t you agree?

Mike:  I suppose it does.

Mike knew that his mother was flirting with him.  It didn’t surprise him as much as it should have.  She started drinking right after work and was pretty well feeling no pain by the time dinner was done.  He had no idea how to handle it.  He had enjoyed seeing her and it had turned him on but even if he wanted to have sex with his mother, it was the wrong night.  He had work to do that could mean the difference between being a heroic team player, or having to bail his team out of jail.  Mom would have to wait if that truly was what she had in mind.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wes:  Hello baby how are things at home?

Salina:  Things are fine at my home.  I have no idea about your home.  I had a visit from the Homeland Sixers tonight.

Wes:  Are you okay?

Salina:  I did a small repair to one of their speakers, but I’m fine.  I managed to negotiate protection for your piece of shit car though.  (Salina laughs)

Wes:  You are the best honey.  I got to go we are just pulling into the motel.

They were about to pull into the town of College Hill.

                                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The motel was an old mom and pop place which had been converted to Middle Eastern motel.  Those were the types with only one CCTV camera.  It was in the lobby and trained on the front desk.  

The two men had a good meal in the restaurant across the street.  They paid with the company credit card, then filled the tank also with the company card.  When they left the convenience store with the CCTV looking at them, they did not return to the motel.  Instead they drove an additional eight hours toward the town of Mossberg Ala.  Midnight found them one hour out, but closing fast.

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The Investigators Day 11

By Cindy and Walt

 

Monday

Eddie: Okay, where are we?

May: Not much farther than we were before the road trips.

Mike: I know the waitress told me that after Porter was removed as Sheriff, she sued the shit out of the State Police and won. They had arrested her as an excuse to take over the County Law Enforcement. That Rita chick claimed false imprisonment and defamation of character. The settlement was never announced but was said to be several millions of dollars.

Then before she dropped out of sight she was involved with a private Church Camp. No one could figure out why. After that, she just dropped out of sight for a while. Then she began dropping into the Cafe now and then. The speculation was that she was visiting the Church Camp, since no one knew where she was staying.

Eddie: Mike find out all there is available on that camp, especially directions to get there, since someone is soon going to pay them a visit. We didn’t come up with anything new on Rose, but we got a plan. You guys are better off not knowing what the plan is.

May: I have an idea about that.

Eddie: Oh?

May: Yes Sir. If we could find who made the request for her release, we might have a second avenue to pursue in our effort to find her.

Eddie: Excellent thinking Mike, get on that as well. Seems like you are going to be a busy hacker. (He smiled and Mike smiled back.)

Wes: Mike, I would suggest that you be careful on that scooter, we need you in one piece.

Everyone nodded their agreement. That show of support really meant a lot to the kid, who still lived in his mother’s basement.

Mike: The waitress also mentioned that Sylvia had told her, she was living in a small town on the coast.

Eddie: Did you check it out yet.

Mike: Not yet. I haven’t had a chance, but I plan to search all the counties around there for any purchases of real estate by anyone with a similar name. Unlike Rose, she is not known to have used any alias.

Eddie: Add that to your other searches. If we find her on the coast someone needs to go see what the locals say. Maybe the Swamp Dog hasn’t gotten to them yet.

Salina: Mike did a search on Rose’s medical condition. He found where she saw a private doctor for severe weight loss. It wasn’t cancer, but it would have appeared that way to anyone not knowing the diagnosis.

What she really had was an extreme case of malnutrition and an active parasitic event, both consistent with her time in the island prison. She also had signs of abuse and probably torture.

Eddie: Let’s not start empathizing with her, she is a murder suspect.

Wes: It’s hard not to empathize with her. She was protecting her employers. The same ones who did not send anyone for her, and yet she didn’t betray them. Like her or not, you have to admire that kind of loyalty.

Eddie: Are you telling me you can’t be objective? If you are, I can and will replace you.

Wes looked at him, his eyes glaring. Instead of speaking, Wes stood and walked from the room.

Wes: (Standing in the stairwell) Fucking cop. (spit)

Eddie: (to the group) Anything else?

Mike: I got into the security footage of KMX. Those cameras can be disabled and I can replace the footage with a loop of prerecorded data.

Eddie: Good we are making progress people.

Eddie returned to his desk along with everyone else. Lucille called about half an hour later.

Lucille: I have some information for you. It seems you hit a nerve somewhere. The politicians are circling the wagons. There are two Senators asking what authority you have to be asking questions. I explained you were working for the committee. Then they explained that they were on the Committee and they had authorized no such investigation. It got a little contentious.

Eddie: So are we shut down. You know I have plenty of work left on my retirement home.

Lucille: No way Edward, we need you sifting through this crap and hope a strong wind does not come along and create a shit storm. On a happier note, the boys slept with those cars on their bedside table. I couldn’t get them to put the cars away in their toy box.

Eddie: You can bring them back anytime Lucille. Next time give me some warning and I will build them a dump truck.

Lucille: So, where to next Edward?

Eddie: Not on the phone too many ears. How about dinner after work today?

Lucille: Is this just an excuse to take me to dinner in a cheap restaurant?

Eddie: Who said I’m taking you.

Lucille: Hey, I bought last time.

Eddie: Okay, but you are going to have to be a cheap date, unless you can get me a raise.

Lucille: Burger King by the airport at 6 PM?

Eddie: That will work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wes: Guess what Boss.

Eddie: You are pregnant?

Wes: No, it’s better than that. Church Camp was the name of a satellite of Swamp Dog. Mike is running down the history, but a friend of mine told me the company used it as a long term safe house for some of its assets.

May: Guess what else, the DOJ used it to hide out high profile witnesses. The Witness Protections guys are going to call me back. They won’t tell who they stashed there, but they will give me an outline of how it all worked.

Eddie: Things are starting to move. That’s a good thing. Get us a new whiteboard. We need to separate the investigations.

Wes: You are wrong. Somehow it is all connected. Church Camp had to be running the domestic operations. Rose’s contact was with Church Camp not Swamp Dog. That is why it was hard to establish. She didn’t work for the Dog. She worked for the Church, a totally different shadow organization on paper.

With that information they all knew to look in a different direction.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mike: Guess what I found, Church Camp Inc. In a list of businesses doing business with the CIA, Homeland Security, NSA, The US Marshal’s service and even the Federal Police.

Eddie: Well now, there is a shock. It would be kind of hard to trust the results of an investigation run by people doing business with the people they are investigating.

Eddie didn’t say it, but he was sure the Senator who hired him could have saved them two weeks by mentioning that small fact. Eddie had wondered all along how the Senator got the money approved to hire his own team of investigators. Now he knew.

Eddie: Good work Mike. Now find out what kind of things they were doing for the various government offices.

Mike: On it boss.

Mike: From now on nothing leaves this office, right? That goes for all of you, no more updates for people who aren’t at the morning meetings. This shit has now gotten serious. If we implicate Rose Seabold in the murder of the Drug Dealer, Church Camp will be guilty of a conspiracy at least guilty by implication. Then it will be just a matter of who gave the order and why. So starting now it is all top secret.

Wes: To get the details of how it works, you need someone from Church Camp or someone from Management of Swamp Dog to talk.

Eddie: That’s what the Committee wants from us. They want the name of a witness. Most likely the less he knows about current plans the better.

Wes: So their thinking is we want to know just enough to damage the others, but not ourselves.

May: Closed door hearings with just enough leaked to embarrass the opposition party. So do we walk away?

Eddie: You certainly can walk away at any time. As far as I’m concerned it will always be a no harm no foul move.

Salina: If we stay and work are we going to keep quiet about what we find?

Eddie: I’m not going to sanction the killing of any of you. Short of that, how do I keep you from talking? Now get back to work, find out what you can. I bet you there are hundreds of people in this town who knew things they didn’t know they knew. So, find enough of them and we can build a picture. If we build enough pictures they will be a cartoon strip. So start reaching out.

Mike: Boss a word please. (Once they were outside) Who do I reach out to?

Eddie: Try to get into the National Crime Database. Look for someone involved in a violent crime who also has a tie to Swamp Dog or Church Camp. Any of the other security contractors for that matter might be a link as well. What we need is leverage over someone with knowledge about the operation of Swamp Dog or Church Camp. So find me a former employee awaiting trial or already inside so we can play let’s make a deal.

Mike: We really need to get the IRS records for this. If I can find out who they paid money to, then we can track them all down. Some of them might fit your search grid.

Eddie: If we ask them nice they are going to fuck with us. So you tell me Mike.

Mike: I just wanted you to know that if I disappear, who you should be looking at. I don’t want to go in so deep that I get caught. I’ll just get into their archive back about five years. That is probably less protected than the active ones.

Eddie: Do what you can and I’ll take the heat for it, but we really need a break here.

Wes: Church Camp has a strange history from what little I could get this morning. It was a real Church Summer Camp. Then its sponsor church lost most of the congregation, so it was put up for sale for a couple of years before Swamp Dog Enterprises bought it.

I think Sylvia Porter was still a Sheriff when it went up for sale. They went into operation to fill a need their Government contacts had. The various agencies needed more than one safe house with good security. The Church Camp could do that. From the beginning the safe houses financed a place to plan, train, and launch Domestic operations.

They trained employees to be bodyguards, and even taught military style domestic drug raids, using civilian operatives. The commanders came and went until a drug raid that went bad. The Deputy Commander of the Swamp Trainer Cadre was leading it for some reason. He was injured. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but it was pretty bad.

He was put in charge of the Camp as soon as he was able to manage it from a wheelchair. He hasn’t been called by the Committee yet because they haven’t made the connection. The CIA hopes they can bury the connection to save the safe house program. That program has been operating on a very limited scale since the home office came under investigation.

Eddie: Wes can you find out if the Swamp Dog is still operating off shore.

Wes: I already know that their security contractors are still in the field. I don’t think their strike teams are still working, but they surely found other employers. Those were the smallest number of men and women.

Eddie: Are any of the domestic operatives still working.

Wes: Best I can tell they have shut it all down. They may be working freelance though.

Eddie: They probably have come in contact with the law since they lack the Swamp Dog clout. Mike is looking for some of them now. If we find them, we have to find a way to flip them.

Wes: Some of them will talk, if we can keep them out of jail and don’t ask them to testify in front of the open hearing.

There were no further breaks on day eleven, just more probing with no results.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lucille (chewing on a fat french fry): So what do you know that you haven’t told me?”

Eddie: I know I should be home finishing my deck. The thing is not going to build itself.

Lucille: Yet here you are choking on that artery hardening Whopper. I should probably have chosen a vegan restaurant.

Eddie: If you had you would be dining alone. I have to eat sometime that’s why I agreed.

Lucille: Yes you do. So what are you working on?

Eddie: Truth is we are trying to find an informant. You know cops. We need someone to flip to gain information.

Lucille: Are you holding back on me?

Eddie: No matter how good or bad I am, I’m always holding back something.

Lucille: Then at least tell me you are making progress.

Eddie: We are making progress.

Lucille: So give me something I can pass on.

Eddie thought about it and decided that it was time to test how well his side could keep a secret.

Eddie: Not to be shared with the press?

Lucille: Okay, just something for internal use. Just to let the boss know you aren’t playing cards on his dime.

Eddie: We think we have found the domestic operation that is tied to Swamp Dog. It’s called Church Camp. That’s all I can give you now.

Eddie knew if she leaked it hell would come to his team. Every law enforcement command and intelligence agency seemed to have used Church Camp. It might even shake something loose. If there was a leak, he would know it sooner, rather than later. He would also find out who really had the juice.

Lucille: What an innocuous name. So they did what for the Government?

Eddie: I’m not sure what, if anything they did. They were a domestic operation which might have been pursuing bodyguard, drug raids and hostage rescue type operations. They might have been training government and freelance operatives as well at that camp.

It got real quiet while Lucille thought about the information she had been given. Eddie could not read her reaction to the disclosure he had made.

Lucille: So you want to buy me a drink?

Eddie: I would love to, but I really have to get home and get to bed early. I want to be able to finish the deck during the week. Maybe we can do a whole team meeting in a bar. It would likely be good for morale. You know no husbands, wives or girlfriends just team members getting to know each other.

Lucille: Sure, that would be better. I hardly know anything about some of them. (Eddie looked at her as if she was lying.) Nothing on a personal level. I know what’s in the background file, but it leaves out most of the important personal stuff.

Eddie: Yeah the personal stuff is good to know.

Lucille: So tell me something about you. Something I won’t find in the files. (she wasn’t ready to give up on Eddie just yet)

Eddie: I always wanted to go gold mining.

Lucille: You are kidding. Like those shows on TV.

Eddie: No not like that. Just me and a tiny bit of equipment, living off the land and sluice mining the streams I come across.

Lucille: So what’s stopping you.

Eddie: This investigation. When it is done, the house will be done, then I might mount a mining expedition. Now you tell me something I don’t know about you. Something not in any file.

Lucille: Something as silly as gold mining with a gold pan?

Eddie: Silly, embarrassing, or just plain weird.

Lucille: I was an NCAA class one rower champion in college. I still sleep in the jersey I wore to the awards ceremony.

Eddie: Okay, but that doesn’t fit the criteria. There is nothing strange in that.

Lucille: You don’t find a woman in my position sleeping in a twenty year old team jersey strange?

Eddie: That depends on where the holes are. (he smiled)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May went to a thrift shop after work. She searched through their bike rack. She found a bike with almost no wear on the tires. It had just a small amount of surface rust. It was an old ten speed racing style bike. The other racing style bikes were eighteen speed or more and they were more modern ones.

Since the thrift store was in the neighborhood she rolled the bike home after a stop at a convenience store to pump up the tires. She found the building manager before he left for the day. For ten bucks he oiled and adjusted the gears and the brakes.

Since there was no daylight left she parked the bike in her living room. She was determined to wake up early enough to try riding it the next day. Since she had recognized Mike’s magic pills as common aspirin, she checked her medicine cabinet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Salina had dinner on the way home to her apartment. There were two different families waiting for her when she arrived home. She had already decided that she missed Wes and was willing to take a gamble on him. After she treated the two kids for common colds, she called Wes who rushed over.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mike spent his evening listening to his mom moan and groan again. He had to admit that in addition to being strange, it was also erotic. Michael masturbated to the sound, then felt guilty about having done so.

 

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The Investigators Weekend 2

By Cindy and Walt

Saturday

Mike awoke that Saturday with nothing on his plate.  He couldn’t go into the office because of some stupid rule about over time.  They could track his logging on and off the computer.  The door lock also had a tracker on it.  He could access the computer from home, but the requests from the others were all filled for the time being.

He wanted to work on the puzzle, but it wouldn’t be fair to force the others.  So he went up to see if his mother’s companion had gone.  He really didn’t want to see the man who forced his mother to moan, whine, and scream obscenities.  

Mike:  My God, didn’t she know mothers didn’t do that kind of thing. (mumbling to no one)

In the kitchen he found a note….  Gone out to breakfast.   

Mike:  Simple and to the point.  Time for me to ride the bike.

He got on his boyhood bicycle and rode it to a diner in the closest shopping center.  Every shopping center in the burbs had some kind of small restaurant.  The one he chose was 70% take out, but they did have a few booths.  Since he was on a bicycle he ate at the booth.  

After his dry eggs and burned bacon, he sat at the booth using the restaurant’s WiFi.  He checked out the sites he used most often.  Most of them bored him almost to tears.  That is until he got to his online bank account.  He found that unbeknown to him someone had made a $1500 dollar deposit in his account.  He assumed it was his pay for two weeks as a government contractor.  Of course it could have been from his previous business.  He occasionally got commission payments on the account.  He had never before found one so large in the account.  He decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth.  

In the same plaza, where he ate breakfast, there was a moped store.  Actually, it was a pawn shop which had branched out to selling a few scooters.  

Salesman:  That’s a real beauty.  50cc, 4stroke, top speed forty miles an hour.  A really nice ride for the money.  It’s the next logical move up from the bicycle.

Mike:  The bike is more about exercise than transportation.  I just came by to look since I was here having breakfast.

Salesman:  I can make you a great deal.  Gas it up and you can ride it home.  I’ll even hold the bike for you till you come back for it.

Mike:  What is the great deal?

Salesman:  Normally this model is $999, but I’ll fill the gas tank and give it to you for $899.  I might be able to get it financed for you, but then it will be $999.

Mike:  Let me get the name and other specifications and I’ll research this model.  If it is what you say it is, I’ll catch a ride over to pick up one.

Salesman:  Right, is there anything I can do?

Mike:  Not for the next four or five hours.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wes woke up in Salina’s bed.  Unfortunately Salina wasn’t in it.  She was sitting in the kitchen at the table with a cup of coffee.  Wes joined her with no shoes or socks and in his tee shirt.

Salina:  You look comfortable.

Wes:  I am comfortable.  How are you this morning?

Salina:  Making a list for the grocery store.  It seems the Government made a deposit into my account last night.

Wes:  I guess I should check my account when I get home.

Salina:  Oh, you are going home?

Wes:  Eventually yes, maybe not today though.  Of course I need to go take a shower.  

He needed to do it with the smell of death off his body, but he didn’t say that to Salina.  She didn’t need to know what happened when he last had to run out for a bit.

Salina:  So go take your shower and I’ll be back by noon I’m sure.

Wes:  I need to check on some things around the house.  How about we meet back here at three.  Maybe we can go somewhere?

Salina:  Not till you convince Lucille I can be trusted.  She has control of the ankle thing.  At least I think she does.

Wes:  Okay, we will still do something, I just don’t know what.

When he got home Wes downloaded five movies.  They were the newest ones on the premium service.  He put them all on flash drives so that he could take his laptop to Salina’s house.  His plan was to use his computer /TV connection gizmo.  He carried that along as well.  Of course he had to remove it from his own TV first.

He left his house planning to return to Salina’s all clean and sweet smelling.  His plan also called for him to stop for a deli sandwich tray from the Jewish Deli on the same block as his slightly better than slum apartment.  He always visited it when he needed fancy take out to impress a woman.  He hadn’t done that in a very long time.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May:  (Into the phone) Hello.

Lucille:  It’s me.  Are you busy this afternoon?

May:  I was going to wash my hair and do my laundry, so no not at all.

Lucille:  I am taking my kids to the Lincoln Park this afternoon.  Could you meet me at the playground area?  I can bring coffee and donuts and you can bring me a real update, since all I get is ‘nothing to report’ reports from Steady Eddie.

May:  Sure, I take my coffee black.  I like donut fillings and I don’t care much what they are filled with.

Lucille:  Good shall we say 3 PM?

May:  Sure, I’ll throw my laundry in the car and do it after we meet.

Lucille:  Don’t you have a laundry room in your apartment?

May:  No the apartment has one for everyone but it’s all closed off.  It’s also pretty creepy.  I always go to one of those suds and brew places.  I have a drink while the clothes wash.

Lucille:  I have never been to one of those.  Maybe I’ll stop by and buy you a drink for my next update?

May:  Sure, why not.  But for today it’s Lincoln Park by the swings at 3 PM.

Lucille:  That’s right.  The kids have already been promised.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While May and Lucille were having their phone conversation Eddie was at the Outdoor Mart.  He had found online that they had a two burner propane stove for less than a hundred bucks.  That would give him his burners to complete his kitchen appliance set up.

Eddie:  Hey there.  How about some help over here?

Salesgirl:  Just a minute.  

The bottle redhead was talking into a cell phone.  Eddie waited a couple of more minutes then he decided, fuck it.  He walked to the next aisle over and asked a man at least seventy for some help.  

Old Man:  Sure, let me get someone in that department.

Eddie:  If you are going to call the redhead, don’t bother.  She is too busy on the phone with her boyfriend.

Old Man:  How about I get the department manager?

Eddie:  That would be fine.

Five minutes later a kid about fifteen showed up.  Eddie explained what he needed and the kid found a complete table top cook setup.  Burners line valves and all.  Eddie went to the register to pay.

Redhead:  Hey mister, why couldn’t you wait five minutes for me to finish that call.

Eddie:  Because my time is probably just as important to me as yours is to you.  The difference is you are being paid for your time, and I’m the one doing the paying.  So technically I’m paying you to ignore me and I really don’t like that at all.  Now get the fuck out of my way.

Eddie pushed past her.  A black woman rang it up, he paid with his debit card, then went to his car.   

White is driving home, he drove by a flea market, so he stopped to check out a couple of used furniture dealers.  

Eddie:  Hey there.  I like this chest.  Do you have a ruler?  I need to measure it and I didn’t bring mine.  

He took a scrap of paper from his wallet and compared it to the chest.  He carefully measured it.  

Eddie:  Sorry it’s too short by five inches.  It’s wide enough and deep enough, but it’s five inches too short.

Very old Gray haired lady:  Too bad.  People once used a can of veggies under the legs to raise them up.

Eddie:  That’s an excellent idea.  Not a can of veggies, but a couple of two by fours will lift it high enough.  How much do you want for it?

Old Lady:  Since you got to do all that, how about twenty dollars?

Eddie:  Fifteen would be better.  (haggling was expected)

Old Lady:  Done.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mike:  So mom where is your married politician tonight?

Mom:  Oh, he is home with his family.  I guess I’ll see him next weekend.  He might even call a few times during the week.  That’s how this is most likely going to play out.

Mike:  You have done this before?

Mom:  Since your dad moved out there have been a few times.  It’s always the same.  They find a younger woman and they just move on.  I’m usually their first affair.  Of course I am a little older now, so I don’t have quite as many options.

Mike:  Why do you do it?

Mom:  I like sex, of course.

Mike:  Hell, mom, everybody likes sex, but we don’t chose inappropriate lovers.

Mom:  Have you finally found yourself a woman?  Maybe you will move out of the basement now.

Mike: I found a woman, but I still can’t afford to live anywhere else.  Also, she is about five hundred miles away.

Mom:  I don’t believe that.  The woman sure, but about you moving out it was never about money, it was always about being alone.

Mike:  I guess you are right.  I like living here with you.  It’s comfortable and I can wash your car so it’s not all bad.

Mom:  No it’s not all bad.  When you were a teenage boy did you even fantasize about me?  I mean it wouldn’t have been unusual, or even shameful, it’s just a fact most boys do.  I’m not too bad looking and you have seen me at my best and worst.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wes and Salina were only interrupted three times during their movie night.  Two of the interruptions were patients and one was a cop canvassing the neighborhood.  

Cop:  Ma’am, we are going door to door asking, if anyone knows this man?

He showed her a mug shot picture.

Salina:  Of course that is Raphael, he is some kind of representative for the owner, I think.  At least when I see him he tells me he is taking care of the place.  Has something happened to him?

Cop:  Why do you ask that?

Salina:  When cops ask about someone in this neighborhood, he is either dead or he killed someone.

Cop:  We found his body this morning.  We just got around to organizing the door to door.

Salina:  I really don’t know anything about it.  He was here last night asking me if I needed anything.  That was about 9 PM.  

Cop:  How about you, sir.

Wes:  I’m just visiting Salina here.  We work together.  I never met the man.

Cop:  Call me, if you think of anything.  (He gave Salina a card)

After the cop left Wes made a sandwich on a Hoagie roll.  He opened a beer and looked up to see Salina staring down at him.

Wes:  What?

Salina:  How dangerous are you?

Wes:  Honey, I’m a pussy cat.

Salina:  More like a Tiger.

Wes knew that a secret shared, is no longer a secret.  It didn’t matter how much you trusted the person.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddie spent the afternoon trying to fit the dresser into the space beside the sink.  He had decided that the space should be his cook area.  The chest of drawers would make a fine replacement for a base cabinet.  He was able to fit the two gas burners beside the microwave, but not the toaster oven.  He changed his mind.  Instead of the microwave he placed the toaster oven beside the cook top.  He used those items less than the microwave so he planned to place the microwave and the Mr. Coffee clone on the other side of the sink when he found another dresser.

Eddie:  Hello.

Voice on phone:  What are you finding out?

Eddie:  Well, today I found out that kids have no respect for anyone.  I have no idea how this country is going to operate when they are the majority.  The last generation fucked it up bad enough.

Voice:  You know that’s not what I mean.

Eddie:  To be honest we can’t get anyone to talk at all.  Not even a casual interview.  They just clam up and refuse to discuss anything.

Voice:  So what are you going to do next?

Eddie:  We are going to try to follow the evidence.  Whatever we can pull out of the stew.

Voice:  Stay at it Eddie.  I know you are fighting the good fight.

Eddie:  Did you have anything to do with selecting the team?

Voice:  Do you want to change the members?

Eddie:  No I just want to know if whoever chose them couldn’t have found competent people without all the baggage.

Voice:  Eddie people in their right minds would never go near this investigation.

Eddie:  Yeah, I guess you are right.  There aren’t likely to be any winners.

Voice:  Keep me informed.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May was on time for her meeting.  She saw Lucille by the playground equipment.  She allowed the children to play on the large climb and slide village.  May expected to see Lucille in a different light.  Instead, she was reminded even more that Lucille was a political animal and seemed to have no human emotions.  She was almost robotic with a computer for a brain.

Lucille:  Here is your coffee and donut as promised.  So what does the team know now that it didn’t last time we talked?

May:  They know maybe even less than before.  We have some theories and leads, but none of it can be proved and shouldn’t be in the public domain.  I would rather not be the source of conjecture, that we later have to clarify or take back.

Lucille:  So this is all a waste of taxpayer money?

May:  Surely you knew that was likely, since people all over capitol hill are looking into all this.  There may just be nothing to find.  If you think the things they have done need reigning in, you may have to find a way to do it which doesn’t require a smoking gun.

Lucille:  Do you know anything at all which we don’t.

May:  It’s pretty much accepted that one of their contractors was involved in some killings in the Caribbean, but they were ruled self defense.  One of those contractors might have been involved in the murder of a Drug distributor in this country.  We know she was working for a second contractor at the time of the Caribbean incident.  There were sketch ties to Swamp Dog.  She was imprisoned there.  She was later released, but we haven’t pursued how that happened.  Someone with Juice might have interceded for her.  That might be a place we could look next.  That person might be an opening to the congressional connection.

May had realized that as she spoke.  She knew it was a lead they should follow.  The boss might not know what the investigation was about, but May did.  Which was why she was being asked to narc on the others.

Lucille:  Keep me in the loop.  (Louder and to her children)  Come on kids time to go.

May went home to call Mike and arrange a meeting.  She decided to make the meeting with Mike for the next day.  She needed some release.  So instead of Mike, she called a man from DOJ, one who had nothing to do with her career.  He could neither help her, nor toss a monkey wrench into the works when she proved to be not as loving as she seemed on the surface.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lucille went home.  She, her husband and the kids had a cook out.  They grilled hamburgers for the kids and steaks for themselves.

Lucille’s husband:  We should have called some friends over.

Lucille:  We don’t have those kinds of friends.  Beside what would we talk about, who you were screwing these days?

Husband:  I was thinking we could talk about how much more important your job is than mine.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mike slept alone in his basement wondering why his mother seemed to be flirting with him all of a sudden.  She was attractive, even at forty four.  She kept her figure and dressed well.  Since she worked in the clerical office of the FBI she had been instrumental in keeping him out of jail.  The ankle monitor was a great improvement over gang rape in prison.

He just wondered why she was so flirty at the moment.  He gave up on the idea and decided it was his imagination.  Since the waitress in County Seat, he had begun to see everything in a sexual light.

He climbed the stairs to look at the scooter in his garage.  It was bright orange and didn’t look quite so cutesy as his other choices.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wes had spent the day with Salina so spending the night was expected so he did.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddie went to bed with his unfinished kitchen cabinet on his mind.  He had the name of a handy man he could get to install the upper cabinets.  Which left him only the conversion of the base units.  It would be an eclectic mismatched mess of a kitchen, but it would suit him.

Sunday

Wes woke up to find Salina in the bed beside him.  He reached over to hug her, when he did she turned away, but press her backside against him.  He wiggled into her even closer, then tried to go back to sleep.

Salina knew whose penis was pressing against her and she didn’t mind at all.  She had felt him inside her only a few hours earlier.  She was surprised how tentative he was with her.  Almost as if she was the one with the power.  She knew he was a very dangerous man, but he seemed almost childlike the night before.

Salina:  You know I’m not going to break, if you want to do things to me.

Wes:  What is it you are saying to me?

Salina:  I guess I’m saying I want to please you no matter what it takes.  I want you to let go and do whatever makes you happiest.

Wes:  Just being here makes me happy.  It also makes me happy to see you happy.

Salina:  You know that is not what I mean.  I hated what I did for Raphael, but I also got excited by it as well.  Then I hated that I hated it.  Do you understand?

Wes:  Yes I do.  Sex is like killing.  You hate it the first few times, then one day you don’t hate it.  You are good at it, and you are proud of that.  Next, you are ashamed of it because you are supposed to be.  Later you are ashamed, because you let someone outside the circle convince you that you are defective.  Defective because you don’t feel remorse for doing a job that needs doing.

Salina:  Yes, I understand that.

Salina turned toward him with tears in her eyes, then slithered down in the bed, pulled the sheet off of Wes.  Without warning she took his soft penis in her mouth and began to nurse on it.  She did it exactly as she had for Raphael and she enjoyed it just as she did with Raphael.  She even enjoyed it when she had to suck the semen from him.  He had not fully recovered from the late night they had shared.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From his basement bedroom Mike heard his mother moaning and grunting.  The politician must be back, he thought.

He climbed the stairs that led to the kitchen.  He continued to hear her moaning and grunting.  He could see that the door to her room was open.  He knew it was wrong and he also knew it would scar him for life to see her, but he couldn’t help it.  

The congressman must have come after midnight since the two of them had shared take out pizza and a bottle of wine just before then.  He was sure that she had flirted with him, and he probably flirted with her as well.

When he could see in the room, he saw that the man, who was choking his mother with his penis, wasn’t the congressman.  She was sucking on the penis belonging to the Pizza delivery man.  Actually, he was just a boy.  He was possibly even younger than Mike.  

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May woke up alone and depressed about it.  She had been alone in the mornings too often lately.  She had trolled the bars the night before, but couldn’t find anyone who was the least bit interesting to her.  She knew for a fact that the men and women were the same ones or at least the same types who frequented the bars.  Those were the ones who stayed over, then took her to some trendy restaurant for breakfast.  Kissed her on the cheek, then disappeared with an ‘I’ll call you’.  Half the time they didn’t even have her number when they promised to call.

She was alone in her bed, which she hated, but she hated more that it bothered her to be alone in her bed.  She wasn’t even sure why it bothered her.  Sure, her body often screamed for release, but that was not the case that Sunday morning.  

That Sunday morning she was pissed that she felt the need for someone else to make her complete.  It was a realization she came to only because she was investigating two women who had not needed anyone else to make them complete.  She envied them.  They seemed to have lived in the world, but not been a part of it.  Almost like they were some kind of new super humans.  

Not a super human because they could fly, Rose seemed super human because she could live almost a year in Devil’s Island, as she began to think of it, come back and not be any different from the experience.  They had obviously tortured her, but she didn’t come back a killer, she had been a killer when she went there.  It didn’t change her.  She had always been who she was after her return.  May couldn’t wrap her head around it all.  She wondered what she would do if she met Rose Seabold in a bar.  Better still, what would Rose Seabold do?

May decided to walk to breakfast.  It was only five blocks to the neighborhood Sandwich Shoppe.  She got up, almost took a shower, then decided to wait till she returned.  She wore three layers of clothes when she left her apartment for the five block walk.  She began at a blistering double time pace.  Instead of the walk she could have gone to the gym, where she had a membership, but the walk suddenly made more sense.

Along the way she passed real people doing real things.  It was a kaleidoscope of sights.  There were joggers in their matching running suits from her neighborhood, and immigrants standing in the doorways watching the people go by.  The immigrants were dressed in colorful, if unfamiliar, clothes.

May:  Why the fuck have I never noticed all this life before?  Shit, life is all around me, I just never looked.

She felt like a small rowboat in the sea of humanity.  She knew that it was silly to wax philosophical about a five block quick march to breakfast.  It was simply a morning of discoveries.

She went into the Sandwich Shoppe.  She sat at the counter for the very first time.  She perched on a stool near an older man in a blue worker’s uniform.

Waitress:  What can I get you?

May:  I’ll have what he is having and the coffee black.

Waitress:  You not having your coffee with all that latte stuff in it?  

The waitress asked not because she knew May, but because she knew the type.

May:  No, I want it truck driver style.

She couldn’t remember where she heard it, but she was sure that it was in County Seat, probably from the waitress there.  The one Mike, the little shit, had fucked.  She laughed at that thought.  Someone was in possession of a shorted out brain that not only was she acting like a bimbo, but also thinking like one.

The food came and it was excellent.  It sure as hell wasn’t healthy, but it was better tasting than her usual egg white omelet.

After breakfast she power walked back to her apartment and took a shower.  After she dressed for the remainder of her Sunday she felt terrific.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lucille woke up with her whole family in bed with her.  The kids knowing it was Sunday had slipped into the bed.  Her husband as usual came home in the middle of the night.  He was still sleeping when she awoke.

As was her Sunday tradition, she slipped into the ratty old College Jersey.  It was one she wore for her winter rowing matches.  She rowed from the number one position in her four woman Scull.  That jersey she wore over sloppy athletic sweat pants.  It was probably her outfit of choice to remind her of her glory days, or some such nonsense.

It was also comfortable for her cooking chore.  It really wasn’t much of a chore.  She opened a packet of premix for pancakes and a pack of chocolate sprinkles.  Her main work was to mix an egg and 3/4 cup of milk with the pancake batter, then pour it into the pan.  When they were done on one side, she flipped them and added multi colored chocolate sprinkles.  

All that was taking place while the coffee was cooking.  She saved one cup of the coffee from the night before to drink while the new coffee brewed.  Something she had started to do since working on the new project.  The people in the office, who arrived before the new coffee was started by Salina, drank a cup of the reheated coffee straight from the microwave.  After she tried it once she found it tasted strong and awful, but it was what she needed first thing in the morning.

After breakfast her two sons dressed for the day, then she took them back to their room and redressed them.  That too was a Sunday tradition.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddie was awake and out of bed before any of the others.  He had things to do, even if it was Sunday.  His renovation of the tenant farm house had all kinds of problems.  He had been determined to fix them all himself, until the job came along.  Even so there were some jobs that he hadn’t deemed urgent, so he was planning to do them as he found the time.  The rear deck was one of them.

The rear deck was not a repair job.  It was a complete build from the ground up.  He looked out the rear door and found the eight posts he had set the day before still standing tall.  He had dug the holes for the treated six by six posts in the afternoon of the day before.  He also poured the cement into the holes to secure them.  The cement really hadn’t been necessary, but he did it anyway.

The posts were eight feet long with roughly three feet set into the holes.  That left them five feet above the ground.  They could be trimmed later with a few saw cuts.  The deck was going to be eight by twelve feet, give or take a few inches.

His plan was to build the deck right on top of the existing concrete block steps.  They were low enough to allow for it.  After a bowl of dry cereal, Eddie began to work.  He snapped his line to keep the deck level, then began to build.  He knew that it would be dark at least before he finished.  He might finish in the dark or do it later.  It would depend on how far he got on it during the daylight hours.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lucille:  Breakfast is done so what are you going to do for the rest of the day.

Husband:  I need to go to the office for a while today.  There are some bank loan papers to review.

Lucille:  Don’t lie to me.  Just tell me you are going to go out and how long you plan to be.  You have a cell phone, if I need you.  So answer the damn thing.

After her shower Lucille was dressed for the day.  She asked the boys what they wanted to do.  Park was their first choice.  Lucille had other ideas.  She knew everything about her team.  Well, maybe not everything but a lot.

Lucille:  How about we go for a drive in the country instead.

Both kids were excited to get away from their usual routine.  It seemed to Lucille to be a perfect chance to talk to Steady Eddie alone.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After Mike rode his bicycle and showered, he took the aspirin, then went back into the house.  His mother was still in her room, but passed out on the bed naked.  He looked at her several minutes, then closed the door.  

In the garage he rolled the scooter into the drive and started it.  He used his smart phone to access his hack.  The one he had installed months before.  It allowed him to send a fake signal to the monitoring service, and to shut down his ankle bracelets GPS.  He could probably work out a way to remove it, but he chose not to.  He was, after all, working with a couple of cops.  Well, one retired cop and one DOJ attorney.  They did have eyes and would have noticed the absence of the anklet.

It was only the second ride he had made on the scooter, so he was still getting used to it.  He stayed away from the few heavily used areas on a Sunday morning.  He found the out of the way restaurant before shutting down the scooter.  Once inside, he saw a table with eleven males and females gathered around it.  Some of the occupants had motorcycle helmets on the floor beside their chairs.  As always, he was amazed by the shit you could find online.   

Mike:  Mind if I join you?

Bearded older man:  Not at all brother, what you got?

Mike gave him the specifications.  The bearded man gave the specs on his scooter followed by all the others.  They almost all were riding some version of the same Chinese scooter he had.  There were a couple of Tomas and Vespas but just one of each.  

He would never have considered meeting strangers for coffee before he met Wes.  It amazed even Mike that one man could make that much difference in his life.

After his hamburger roll with an egg and cheese stuffing, Mike went along with the group on a ride around town.  He felt that it was a great way to spend a Sunday, out seeing new sights and new sites.  He smiled a lot.  He realized the men of the club tended to be older.  The woman was as well, but not quite as old as the men.  He supposed women in their sixties didn’t like the idea of a scooter.  Mike decided he would look for a club with younger members.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May called a young woman she had spent a night with recently.

May:  Helen how is it going?  

Helen:  I’m fine, who is calling?

Mel:  It’s Melody, you know me from the Pines a couple of weeks ago.

Helen:  Oh yeah the lawyer.  How have you been?

Mel:  Just over worked.  How about you?

Helen:  I’ve been working a lot as well.  I moved into a new apartment and it’s hard to find time to do everything that needs doing.

Mel:  Well, if you need some help I’m not too bad with a paint brush.

Helen:  Well, that’s nice of you to volunteer, but I don’t think my partner would approve.

Mel:  Oh, one of those.  I get it.

Helen:  I could ask.  She might enjoy the company.

Mel:  No Thanks, I’m not good as a third wheel.

Helen:  Shame, I love tricycles.  Hey, I got to go we have a call.

Mel:  What do you do?

Helen:  Firefighter

The line went dead leaving Mel to ponder that.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lucille showed up at Eddie’s former tenant farmer house with the kids shortly after stopping at McDonald’s.  The kids brought their own happy meals.  The three of them walked around the house to the rear where the sound of an electric saw could be heard.

Lucille:  I recruited some help for you.  I also brought lunch, since I figured you would forget to eat.

Eddie had no idea what was going on, but he didn’t mind the two boys being in his yard.  Eddie liked kids and usually they liked him.

Eddie:  I was about to take a break for lunch anyway.  While I eat lunch we can build a couple of cars for the boys.  What do you think guys, you want to build your own cars?

Lucille:  Really?  What kid could refuse to build his own car?

Eddie:  Of course I was thinking how cool it would be to build a car with nothing but scraps and our imagination.

He left Lucille and the boys to go into the house and find his hole saw.  The one he had used to install doorknobs on the new security doors.  He had installed them himself almost immediately after he first bought the mini farm.

The saws cut a two inch disk from the door.  That Sunday he used them to cut four disks out of a piece of scrap 1×6.  The disk had a hole in them dead center where the pilot hole had been drilled by the saw.  Eddie found some deck scraps he used to make the body and roof of the car.  Then he nailed the wheels on loosely.  In the thirty minutes it took for the kids to eat their meals Eddie had made two wooden cars.  They were pretty rough but the two boys loved them.

For the next two hours he worked on the deck while Lucille and the boys got in the way.  He had to find jobs for them to keep them out of the way.  He did it as many times as possible.

Lucille:  (closing the rear door)  They will sleep well tonight they are exhausted.

Eddie:  Did you want anything, or just looking for a place to go outside of the DC madness.

Lucille:  It can wait.  I’ll try to get by the office one day.  We can go sit on the dirty steps and you can tell me where we really are.

Eddie:  I look forward to it.  And bring the boys back anytime.  After this assignment I will have goats they can play with.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Salina:  Wes I need some time alone.  What we have had this weekend is wonderful, but I need time to think.

Wes:  Sure, I understand.  Take all the time you need, but remember I will be here when you decide.

Because of that conversation each member of the team slept alone and frustrated that Sunday night.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Investigators Day 10

By Cindy and Walt

May:  We are almost home.  You are not my ideal travel companion.

Mike:  Ever since I got back from my interview of the waitress, you have treated me like shit.  What’s up with that.

May:  Are you trying to say that I am jealous?

Mike:  Maybe, something is wrong for sure.  

May:  If I was going to be jealous, it might be because she chose you instead of me to confide in.

Mike:  Don’t blame me because she saw me as more sympathetic.

May:  Fuck you Mike.  I’m plenty sympathetic.

Mike:  If you say so.

May was very upset Mike had reminded her yet again that she had little empathy toward others.  She didn’t like that about herself.  It was, however, true.  What she hated most was her inability to fake it.  She didn’t like that people could read her that easily.

She would have liked the black girl to take her home and do sick disgusting things to her.  Then spill her guts.  She and Mike had time to stop at the office after having driven the work car all day.

Salina:  So how was the trip.

May: Mike got himself laid, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Salina:  Details Michael.  I have been stuck here doing nothing fun while you guys have been out playing.

Mike:  A gentleman does not kiss and tell.

May:  A gentleman does not screw for information.

Mike and Salina together:  Huh?

Salina:  Boss man is all hot for some information, if you can get it quick.  He want to know what Security Company does the surveillance on Rose’s home in Mossberg, and he wants to know what private doctors or clinics she has been to since her return home,

Michael shook his head then went to the white board and wrote under Sylvia’s name, jewelry maker and lived at the coast and gave the dates.  Those dates were the time between her being the County Sheriff and going to Swamp Dog as director.

Then he sat at this desk to find a payment from her bank’s automatic payments to a security company.  Since he had her account number it was easy to find her CCTV feed monitoring company.  He wasn’t sure what the boss wanted, but he made notes.

One of the CCTV cameras covered the front stairs, one covered the rear stairs and one inside the house.  The one on the rear stairs faced outside, so it shot not only anyone coming and going but also anyone hanging around outside.

He switched to her medical issues.  By finding the dates of her stay in hell, he was able to narrow down the times of interest.  Since they were legitimate expenses, she had paid for the treatments using the clean expense accounts.  Those accounts were online and open to review by the banking commission.  Thus they were open to the review of hackers like Mike.

His next move was to get her records from the clinic and send then on to Salina’s computer.

Mike:  So what was she being treated for?

Salina:  To keep it short Malnutrition, vitamin deficiency and three different treatments for parasites.

Mike:  She had worms?

Salina:  Like every thing else we know about her, she had giant worms.  She had an STD and scarring in her vagina and rectum consistent with sexual violence.

In other words Rose was a pretty broken flower.  How she functioned at all is a wonder to me.

May:  Don’t start falling in love with her, she is likely to have committed murder among other crimes.

Salina:  (Angrily)  I’m not the one who swings that way.  The woman may be all that you say, but it doesn’t change the suffering she endured on that island.

She did not add bitch but the implication was plain.

Mike took the sensible stand with self preservation in mind he remained absolutely quiet.

Since they came by air Eddie and Wes made it to the office, but not before the others had gone for the day.

Eddie:  I guess we might as will go home and meet back here in Monday morning.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May was still miffed as she drove into the parking garage where she stored her car.  Since there was not nearly enough ‘on street’ parking to meet the demand of the tenants in her building she used the garage.  If she chose to circle the block instead she would likely have spent more in gasoline than she could save by not paying the parking garage charge.  

In truth she could do away with the car entirely and save even more money.  Having a car in DC was status, so suffering the disadvantages for that went along with the status.

Her apartment seemed cold when she entered.  It was in fact cold due to those government mandated thermostats in all new buildings.  Those thermostats turned the heat down to the lowest temperature possible, while still maintaining the safety of the other systems.  In other words it was forty five degrees in the apartment.  The up side to the thermostats was that there was no up side.

If May spent the night with a friend, the apartment was icy upon her return.  It took less than an hour to climb back to a comfortable temp.  The moment she left the apartment the thermostat was reset to forty five.

The apartment was so well insulated, also by government mandate, that the temperature took a long time to fall to that point.  Usually it was in the low sixties after a day’s work.  After the three day trip, it was at the forty five degree mark and had been for days.  Which meant she would have to sit in the kitchen under the vent to feel warmth even after the hour passed.

May kept her coat on while she called for Pizza delivery.  She removed a bottle of wine from the cabinet, then returned to sit under the heat vent.  She had heard during a DOJ briefing that Pizza delivery was a dangerous move.  Several of the delivery men had either attacked women, or checked the place out for future crimes.  Worst of all she felt obligated to tip them for doing it.  

She made the conscious decision to stay in.  Having made that decision she changed into her frumpy but warm gown and robe.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Salina was home in the project eating an orange that one of the patients had brought her as payment.  It was a good orange even if it did have lots of fibers and seeds.  It tasted much different from the synthetic orange juice she usually bought in the stores.

When the knock came at the door she went expecting it to be one of the patients or maybe Wes.  It was neither it was Raphael.

Raphael:  I came to collect the rent.

Salina:  You are early.

Raphael:  There is no early.  You know it is just whenever I want it, or when you need to be brought back into line.  There is a rumor about a gringo.  It is time to reinforce your connection to me.  You do remember who allows you to stay here and take care of these sheep.

Salina:  Yes I remember who allows me to stay.

Raphael:  Not just allows you.  You are under my protection as long as you stay in line.  Now pay for your protection.

Salina knelt in front of Raphael the half black and half South American giant of a man’s penis into her mouth.  He was a large muscular man but had only an average sized penis.  Nonetheless she made love to it as well as she had to Wes’ penis.  She felt a connection to Wes but only a need to survive as a motive for doing Raphael.  Even so after a while she got into it and began to enjoy the feeling of his penis in her mouth.  She, however, did not enjoy when he tried to drown her with his semen.

As usual the power he exerted over her was an aphrodisiac and he came quickly.

Raphael:  God you do that better than anyone.  That’s why I will never let you go.

He zipped his pants, then left.  On his way down the narrow stairs he literally bumped into Wes.

Raphael:  Watch where you going gringo.

He also smiled since he knew Wes’ girlfriend had just given him a blowjob.  Not just a blowjob but in his mind a great blowjob.  He was sure she did it so well because she loved his power.

Wes gave him a hard look then shrugged and walked away.  He walked up the stairs slowly and listened to the sound of Raphael walk away.

When he reached her door it was ajar and there was the sound of retching.  He went inside before speaking.

Wes:  Hey you okay?

When she came out Salina’s face was flushed.  Her hair was a mess and there were stains on her blouse.

Wes:  What happened to you?

Salina:  Nothing,

Wes:  Bullshit.  What happened?

Salina:  Nothing that hasn’t happened a hundred times before.  Nothing that won’t happen again.  So just forget it and go.

Wes:  Just tell me this, was it that man I passed on the stairs?

Salina:  Yes Raphael.  He manages the building.  He keeps the thugs away from the people who come to see me.

Wes:  You should move.

Salina:  I can’t move they have no one else.

Wes:  Does he own the building or work for the owner?

Salina:  No I don’t think so.  I think he just does business here.  With the local gangs maybe.  People who do business in these buildings pay him for protection.

Wes:  I thought the gangs had declared this neutral ground.

Salina:  In my case the protection is from Raphael himself.

Wes:  I see.  Clean up.  I’m going to take you out, if there is no one here when I return.

Wes went back down the stairs.  He had no weapons, so it would be a fair fight, of that he was sure.  Raphael depended on his bulk and willingness to injure people to intimidate them.  

Wes did a quick mental assessment as he had been trained to do.  For instance he knew there were damn few CCTV cameras that worked in the project.  Most had been destroyed by the gangs.  Gang bangers didn’t like being watched.

So Wes wasn’t worried about being filmed.  That night he didn’t particularly want to be watched.  Salina had been forced to tell him where to find Raphael.  Wes waited for him to come outside the filthy little convenience store which catered to the project’s residents.

Wes:  Hey man you want to buy some weed?

Raphael:  Who are you man?  Oh you that whore Salina’s gringo.  She tell you about me Gringo?

Wes:  Yeah that’s me I thought you and me should talk.  How about you ain’t afraid of a skinny ass gringo are you?

Raphael:  Okay we talk but not here on the street man.  Follow me, I know a quiet place where nobody will disturb us.

Raphael led him to a dark alley between two of the buildings.  It was obvious he planned a beat down or worse.  When they were deep in the alley Raphael removed a knife from his pocket and attempted to turn toward Wes.  As he came around Wes jabbed him in the throat with stiff fingers.  As Raphael gasped for air Wes removed his belt made a loop from it, then flipped the loop over Raphael’s head.  He held him upright as he kicked his legs from under him.  When Raphael was helpless on the ground, he put his right foot on Raphael’s back then used the belt to choke the life from him.

Wes looked at the lifeless body then removed the belt from around Raphael’s neck calmly and replaced it around his waist.  He then returned to Salina’s apartment.

The two of them went to dinner at an oriental restaurant on the edge of the project.  Salina didn’t ask what Wes had done, and he didn’t brag about it.  When they returned they walked by the alley.  Wes was glad there was no activity around it.

Wes was counting on the likelihood that who ever found the body first would remove the wallet and money.  Before the cops were called most likely all his jewelry and his cell phone would be missing as well.

Wes spent the night in Salina’s arms.  She felt safe and loved for the first time in a long time.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday night, 7 PM

Mike:  Mother I’m home.

It took his mother five minutes before she joined him in the kitchen.  His first thought was that it was early for her to be dressed for bed.  Then he realized she had been in bed for a totally different reason.  Like Salina her face was flushed and her hair was a mess.  Unlike Salina she was smiling.  

Mike:  Okay where is his car.

Mom:  In the garage.  He is spending the night and we didn’t want the neighbors talking.  

Mike:  Why would anyone care that you are fucking some guy.  If I’m okay with it, why should they care?

Mom:  Please watch your language.  The reason he is parked in the garage is that his car has government license plates.

Mike:  Jesus mom not a politician.  You know they are all married and only looking for a piece on the side.

Mom:  Maybe that’s all I’m looking for.  Now take your sandwich and stay in the basement.  We will talk more tomorrow.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddie didn’t arrive home until 7:30 PM.  He chose to make coffee before doing anything else.  It was cold, since when he left he shut down the kerosene heater.  He had also drained the water from the pipes.  Not only did he drain the water from the toilet tank he poured a couple of ounces of rubbing alcohol in the bowl.  He hadn’t needed it, but the alcohol was cheap and a new toilet wasn’t.

He was forced to listen to the pipes bang and clank while they flushed the air out through the faucet.  At the same time there was the noise of the toilet tank filling.

He had the coffee on before he started the kerosene heater.  He, like May, had to sit near the heater to stay warm.  May’s situation just went to show the new energy saving technology was really a step back a hundred years or more.  It made one wonder how many other things were really a step backwards.

The trip out of town had been a more or less disaster, so he was exhausted.  He made sure the house was warm and the heater was safe, before he went into the kitchen.  He drank the coffee he had made in the Mr Coffee knock off, while he contemplated the empty space left by the previous owner when he removed the range.  

Eddie was comfortable with the small appliances he had used in the studio apartment for years.  In the apartment he had also used a gas cook top.  He felt he might miss that, so he decided to go online to look for a cook top only.  He didn’t feel that he needed an oven as much as he need storage space.

His sink in the house was one of those old double porcelain things.  There were spaces for counters on each end of it even with its attached dish drainer space.  He thought he would put a cabinet at one end to hold the microwave and toaster oven.  On the other end he could easily fit a couple of gas cook burners.  

After his coffee and with those decision made, he lay on the sofa bed.  It had been salvaged from his apartment.  Once he lay down he quickly went to sleep.

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lucille put her kids to sleep then had a drink.  She was sick and tired of her husband coming in late leaving her to manage the house alone.  They had agreed to manage things together, even if it was all they did together.  

She hated sleeping alone but managing an affair in addition to her job and her so called home life would just be too much.  If she had a sitter or it wasn’t the nanny’s night out she would go to a bar and troll for men.  Someone who wasn’t so clean cut.  Maybe she could find a man who just wanted to use her mercilessly.  She had never tried it but felt as though she might like it.  

Instead she had another drink then placed a call to May.  It was her intention to leave her a message.  She certainly never expected to speak with her.

May:  Hello Lucille.  

Lucille:  Are you home?

May:  Yes, what the hell are you doing home?  Are there no Washington parties for you to attend?

Lucille:  It’s the nanny’s night off and my husband had a bank meeting.

May:  A banker’s meeting on Friday night?  Why don’t you get a sitter and go have a meeting of your own.

Lucille:  Afraid it isn’t my style.

May:  Too bad I was about to volunteer to babysit no sense in both of us being alone.  One of us might as well have some fun.

Lucille:  I would expect the someone to be you.  After all it would be easier for you to get a date than me.  What is it they say a bi woman has twice as many chances to meet someone.

May:  Boss you realize that is a sexist comment.  I might have to use it to blackmail you.

Lucille was a little concerned for a second then realized that May was joking.

So ended Friday.

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The Investigators Day 9 Part 2

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.

Eddie:  What?

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.

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