Friday, March 9, 2012
New York City
The Fund for Down Syndrome
Meredith walked into her small office and set her bag down. Her morning commute had been tough and she desperately needed coffee. She was at her desk switching from commuting shoes to nice navy blue sling-backs when her boss’ assistant ran in. Breathlessly, the woman demanded, “Meredith, where have you been?!”
She started to respond when the assistant cut her off. “No time! We need to get to the big office -- NOW!”
Meredith got up, longing to stop at the break room for coffee, but the assistant gave her an "eye" over the shoulder. They hurried into her boss’ office, where two lawyers stood glaring at her. One attorney was a handsome woman Meredith knew had been a tennis champion in a former life, the other a man who was a senior partner in his firm and a serous benefactor of The Fund.
Her boss, another formidable woman, spoke first. “Meredith, you know our lawyers. They're kind enough to do pro bono work for us, and suddenly we're faced with a huge problem for them. Meredith, they want to …” she removed her glasses, cleaned them as she paused in thought, and then resumed speaking. Before she could start the senior partner interrupted her.
“Meredith, we want to know why, over the weekend, a wire for $2.17 billion -- billion, with a B -- came into our accounts addressed to YOU.”
Meredith collapsed into a chair in front of her boss' desk. Her head spun as she tried to grasp the vastness of the sum. $2.17 Billion dollars – Holy crap!
“Who is it from?” she asked in her daze.
“That’s just it.” The woman lawyer responded. “It doesn’t say. It just says …” she pulled a paper from a folder. “It only says: ‘Thanks for helping kids like Moira.’”
Her boss peered over the desk and asked “Do you know who sent this to us, Meredith?”
Meredith sat still for a long while, then looked up and smiled. “No, but I sure as hell wish I did!”
Posted by Jake at 11:41 AM
& a Beginning
Funter Bay, Alaska
I sat in the cramped cabin of the Super Cub Angus had rented for our final leg.
I looked over Angus’ shoulder. It’s simply amazing what he can do. He flies with the grace of a prima ballerina. We ducked through mist and mountains and glided down an alleyway of water through the Isles.
Dark Fir and pine lined the way. I could smell them in a wet musky way mixed with the salt air. Snow lined the peaks and decorated the land. Our reflection on the water below followed us in a soft fashion.
He spied our destination and pointed with one hand as he made his base leg. We side-slipped down a pebble-strewn beach. He flared the plane a few feet above the deck until he saw clear ground and then we bounced on the rock and then rumbled a few hundred feet.
He kicked the engine off with a fan of his massive hand and turned over his shoulder and shouted, “We’d be here Lad.”
I sat for a moment in the surreal quiet of the secluded bay. A light glowed from a cabin at the end of the bay. Dusk seemed perpetual. A few stars shone on the horizon.
I opened the door and near fell out, my bandaged arm still pinned to my side. Angus slipped from his seat and helped me down. He patted my good shoulder and nodded his head for me to go down the beach. I looked at him, his craggy face and lop sided grin. Tears wet his face.
“Ye earned it Lad. Aye, and more.”
I turned and walked towards the cabin where a door opened. A large blur burst down the cobbles and slammed into me.
I got back up amongst play growls, slobber and Tonka’s prancing. He nipped at my legs urging me forward. Then he ran back to Angus and jumped into the large mans arms.
That’s a sight.
I turned back to the cabin and saw Deb standing atop the low rise with Moira at her side. Then Moira ran to me as I looked at Deb. Deb stood with her hand over mouth and her shoulders shook a little, she attempted a smile but cried anyway.
Moira grabbed and clung to me. Deb came and enclosed me in her arms and smiled through her tears.
Posted by Jake at 11:12 AM
Gulfstream G5 over North America
I groaned and woke up. Angus strolled over to me and sat down.
“Where are we?” I asked. looking around the cabin.
“My guess is somewhere over Montana.”
“How did … what the ...” I tried sitting up too fast and got dizzy.
He looked sheepish. “You're post concussive, Jake. It seems that sintered bullet hit you in the back and jammed you rather hard into the glass wall.”
“If I were a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier I’d shove my foot …”
“I know. I know. I’m very sorry.”
I stared out the window for a few minutes. Clouds passed, the sun peeked in and out, the engines droned. Finally, something dawned on me.
“If you’re back here, who’s flying this damn thing?”
He laughed. “Hopefully, the auto pilot.”
“Where are we going?”
“If your friend Dolores' information is correct, we’re flying you home, lad.”
“Home? We're way west. What are you talking about?” I sat bolt upright, setting off another wave of pain and vertigo.
“We're headed to the ones ye love.”
Posted by Jake at 11:04 AM
The van lurched forward. Dolores turned to face us from her front passenger seat. On the left – damned weird.
“Here’s the key, Angus.” She flipped a small, jangling bunch to him.
“Thank you, my dear.”
“What the …” I started.
“You do have the briefcase, don’t you?” Dolores inquired, still ogling, but all business.
“Do you two …?” I tried again.
“Yes, right here. Our agreement stands?” He asked, sorting through the keys with his cuffed hands.
“With one wrinkle I’m afraid.”
“WAIT A DAMN MINUTE! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?”
“Bit touchy, isn’t he?” Dolores observed.
“I’m afraid he took a rather nasty blow to the head back there.” Angus laughed.
That's when I noticed it was Roberts driving. He was wearing a blue nylon jacket same as the rest of them but there was no mistaking him; he was the same limo driver Angus had introduced me to this morning. I looked from Roberts to Dolores to Angus. They all smiled, waiting for me to get it.
“You mean you …” I looked at them with a raised eyebrow.
“When did you two …” I paused. Then it came to me. “The iPhone.”
“I told you he’s not too dumb.” Dolores confirmed to Angus. “Yes, boyfriend, it was the iPhone. My number was in its memory. Angus used it.” She was gloating. Positively gloating.
“What’s the wrinkle?” asked Angus as he finished undoing his cuffs and started in on mine.
“We want the hard drive.” Dolores had that adamant tone I knew all too well.
“That still doesn’t answer my questions, damnit!” I rubbed my wrists. “Thank you,” I proffered to Angus.
“You're welcome.” He nodded as my cuffs fell to the floor.
“And no, thank you,” He informed Dolores in reference to the hard drive.
“I don’t want to come across as pushy," she replied silkily, "but we insist.”
“Dolores, as much as I’d like to oblige you, and I really would,” he winked at her, “I must insist that I have the information on that disk.”
“Is anyone even paying attention to me?” I demanded.
“There's always the matter of Walters,” She responded with her Cheshire grin to Angus.
“Consider that a favor.” he replied smugly.
“Others might not see it that way.”
“Others, dear lady, would see me responding in self defense. He fired at us first.” The man looked like the proverbial cat digesting a canary.
“Now I'm confused.” Dolores said.
Angus sighed with a smile. “After you and I established this meeting…”
“How the hell did you two do that?”
“Text messages.” They answered together with some irritation.
Angus glared at me then continued his thought. “While winging our way here I began to think through the rather messy issue that Walters could pose to your government if he were to be brought to trial. I’ve also grown rather fond of this young man.” He nodded at me. “And I thought that much good would come from Mr. Walters’ early demise from both Jake's and the United States' government's point of view.”
“But you gave him the pistol!” I blurted.
“You gave him a pistol?” Dolores yelled.
“Yes, but more importantly I gave him but one bullet for it.”
“How in God’s name did you know he’d try to shoot me instead of offing himself?” I think my voice was more shrill than Dolores'.
“You didn’t?” Dolores and I both yelled at the same time.
“No. It didn't matter.” He waited for us to respond, but neither of us could. We both sat with slack jaws, trying to understand.
Angus seemed a tad disappointed but continued. “The bullet was a special sintered construction. If used point blank, let’s say by a suicidal man to his temple, then it would blow a nice hole in his head. But fired at anything further than 10 feet away and the bullet would be non-lethal. And, most importantly, no ballistics lab in the world can trace it.”
Dolores and I sat, stunned -- each taking it all in. Then I spoke. “So if Walters took you up on your offer of an honorable out, he’d be dead by his own hand. But if he decided to shoot me in the back you'd be able to respond by shooting him – thus justifiable force in self defense.”
“Something like that,” Angus conceded.
“Don’t you think you could have given me a head’s up?”
“Oh no. I thought you were much more convincing this way.” He laughed and Dolores tried to hide her matching smirk.
“Well, at least you've had a lot of experience with these kinds of rounds in your career, right?” I said.
“Afraid not. This was my first experience using such.” Subject concluded, he turned to talk with Dolores.
“I have an idea on how both parties can be satisfied going forward on this hard drive issue.”
First experience. That son of a …
I’d have gotten angrier but exhaustion caught me first. Their words became a drone to me and though I should have told them to shove this stuff up their collective asses – truth be known, I quickly fell fast asleep.
Posted by Jake at 11:00 AM
“Damnit, that hurt!” I groaned.
“I’m sorry, I didn't mean to shove ye that hard.”
I looked up to see Angus astride me, his pistol still pointed at Walters. I looked over at the receptionist, whose mouth was wide open in shock.
Angus lowered his pistol and asked her “Would ye be so kind as to call the authorities?”
That woke her. She screamed and ran from the room.
“Quite.” Angus sighed. He walked over to Walters' prone body and checked for a pulse.
Angus holstered his weapon and replied, “Yes, he’ll be room temperature soon.”
He walked back to me. I saw him checking the room ceiling’s and corners. He’s looking for a security camera. He knelt down beside me with his back to the one he spotted.
I asked, “Did you …”
He raised his eyebrow. “Me? What?” The slightest nod of his head at the camera shushed me.
I heard sirens wailing and fast approaching. Their howl reminded me that my head really hurt. I stood and leaned against the glass wall. I almost dropped the briefcase as I steadied myself with one hand and held my head with the other. Angus took the briefcase from me and with his other hand reached to support me.
Cars and vans with flashing lights filled the courtyard. A legion of blue-jacketed souls swarmed toward us with guns drawn. Angus whispered in my ear, “Be patient.”
The blue jackets flooded the lobby and my heart dropped as I spied a familiar blond head marching my way. I should have known …
“You son of a bitch!” WHAM! Dolores punched me in my right shoulder.
“Ow! Damnit! I think you popped my stitches!” I cried, wincing.
“Poor baby. Book their asses or whatever the hell you people do here!” Dolores barked. Then she spied Angus.
A blue jacket smushed me up against the glass as I spoke. “Dolores, I’d like to introduce you to my good friend Angus MacFadden. Angus, Dolores of FBI fame.”
“Very nice to meet you.” I expected her to bark again. Instead, she cooed. Really? Wow.
“Throw them both into my van. I want to question them.” Eww! Bark and bat your eyes at the same time?
“NOW, damn it!” The blue jackets jumped as if they'd been hit in the ass by a cattle prod.
They marched us out the door and to a van. I felt Dolores' hand in my back shove me forward as I hit my forehead on the sill. “OW!”
“Oh, yeah. Watch your head,” she snarled, voice dripping sarcasm.
Posted by Jake at 10:32 AM
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
We leaped from the limo and ran up the stairs two at a time. We burst through the door and up to a high-paneled reception desk. A stately woman with glasses hanging from her neck by a gold chain welcomed us without batting an eye at our unseemly haste. “Good morning, sirs. May I be of assistance?”
Angus flashed an ID at her. “Kindly announce Mr. Jake MacGregor to Mr. Walters.”
Her reticence showed. So Angus moved his ID an inch closer to her nose. She slowly lifted her glasses to her eyes, read the ID, then nodded.
She picked up the telephone, pushed a series of buttons and paused. “Someone to see you, sir.”
Walters' voice growled back with such force that we could hear it from her handset. “Who the hell is it?”
“A Jake MacGregor for you, sir.”
Long seconds passed as she listened to the silent handset.
“Let him in.” Walters' growl came through, though much quieter.
She nodded, as she started to reply, “Yes, sir…” But her voice spoke to no one; we could hear the dial tone. She replaced the handset, lowered her glasses, then stood and escorted us to double mahogany doors. She opened the one of them and held it for us. “Sir.”
“Thank ye, Ma'm.” Angus said in a quiet way as we entered.
Walters sat at an enormous conference table. In front of him lay a leather brief case. I walked the length of the table never letting Walters' stare break my own.
“Jake …” he looked past me to Angus.
“Angus MacFadden, late of her Majesty’s Special Air Service.”
We sat down. I couldn't take my eyes off his. You son of a bitch! You ruined my life, killed, had killed, stole, kidnapped and embezzled … for what, more money?
Angus coughed and brought me back to the moment. I glanced at Walter’s briefcase. I was sure it held everything dear to him.
I looked at Walters, then back to his briefcase. “I’ll be taking this when I go.”
Walters glared at me, then Angus, and back to me. He started to say something but Angus interrupted.
“He will.” Angus confirmed. His tone said it all.
Something inside Walters gave way as he broke his gaze, looked down and exhaled deeply.
“Ye’ll be needing this.” Angus spoke again. I turned in my seat toward him. What the hell…?
Angus removed a pistol from within his coat. Then he removed the suppressor from another pocket and screwed it onto the pistol. He dropped the mag, thumbed out a single bullet and placed the pistol and bullet in front of Walters.
If anyone else did this but Angus I’d …
Walters starred at us with the realization of what Angus intended written on his face. He shook his head, but Angus' stare told him what the other choice was.
Angus' stare won -- Walters slowly nodded agreement.
Angus turned to me. I shrugged, stood up and took the briefcase. We walked out of the room leaving Walters to his fate.
We passed through the mahogany doors of the conference room, past the receptionist and toward the lobby door. The front of the building was mirrored glass. Three paces from the door I saw Walters' reflection, just as Angus did.
Walters aimed the pistol at my back and fired. The receptionist screamed. A huge force hit me and knocked me into the glass.
Damn, I doubt my health insurance covers this.
Posted by Jake at 12:56 PM
“So, what will you do when we get there?” asked Angus.
Funny, I was wondering the same thing.
“Rip his craw out and crow over his corpse?” Not much conviction there.
“Then what?” He replied with a weather eye on me.
“I hadn't gotten that far in my thinking.” I shrugged.
“And you’re not much help.” Lame, but it was all I had.
“Do you want my help?” He was asking if I wanted to do this solo.
“I …” I paused. What do I want?
“We are here, sir.” Roberts said as he slowed the car.
Angus nodded and looked directly at me and nodded.
“Ah hell.” Was all I came up with.
“Exactly.” He replied.
Posted by Jake at 12:48 PM
The Germans were punctual in arriving, meticulous in completing the paperwork, and abrupt in their departure.
All of which suited him fine -- because they left $2.17 billion behind. Billion. Capital B.
Walters breathed in the moment and reflected on how he beat the system: All those years laboring in the pits of bureaucracy, the indignity of being better, but because he was black not having a chance – any chance.
Never again! Now I matter. I have money and with that money -- power.
Walters looked at the wire transfer instructions. At his request the Germans had given him an encrypted password that would send his money into any account he directed with a click of a mouse. He slipped the instructions into his calfskin case and basked in the radiance of his wealth.
He nodded his head to himself. Never again.
Then the receptionist announced “Someone to see you, sir.”
Posted by Jake at 12:40 PM
Funter Bay, Alaska
His body had been placed into a black zippered bag. Deb stared in revulsion as the object went past her and out the door.
“As a doctor I’ve seen hundreds of dead bodies, but none left me feeling as cold as …” she didn't finish.
The sheriff looked at her, closed his notepad, hesitated, and then placed a hand on her shoulder. “You did well.”
“I don’t feel like it.”
“You never do.”
“Are you going to file a report?”
“Will they arrest …” her question hung in the air.
His face was lined from years on the job - his eyes hooded by overgrown eyebrows. With them he looked her straight in the eye. “Not on my watch.”
She nodded and wrapped her arms tight across her chest. Quietly, she replied. “Thank you.”
“If it helps” he continued his direct gaze “I’d have done the same thing.”
Deb didn't respond. The weight of it all hung on her.
He continued, “I’m sorry we can't stay longer but …” he looked out the window at the approaching sunset, and then began gathering his equipment to leave.
“I understand.” A shiver coursed over her.
“You going to be okay?” He paused in the doorway.
Deb shrugged her shoulders.
Posted by Jake at 12:36 PM
Monday, March 5, 2012
”So, where was I? Oh yes. That is why Bermuda has so many reinsurance operations.”
“Pinkey, that is fascinating but can we get to the point?” Angus gave him the look.
“Quite. I had thought, with what you are paying me, you would want the full …”
I could see Pinkey’s feelings were hurt by Angus' abrupt interruption. But like Angus I wanted to get on with it and didn't need the full history of reinsurance in Bermuda.
So I chimed in. “Pinkey, I really appreciate you seeing us on such short notice. And I’d love to hear more about this some day but, well … I’m really anxious to find this guy, stop him from getting away with murder, and by the way kick his ass if you know what I mean.”
Pinkey looked at me, then to Angus who shrugged, then back to me. “Ah, well, yes. As it happens I stay well abreast of who is buying what from whom …” Angus interrupted “You mean you get inside information so you can front-run stock trades.”
Pinkey brushed an imaginary crumb from his shirt, paused an extra moment for effect, then continued with a cold glare thrown towards Angus.
“Before I was so rudely interrupted I was saying that I had heard about this Walters fellow, you are looking for, was selling his reinsurance firm to a German consortium two days ago …”
“WAS?” Angus and I both asked at the same time.
“Don’t get your knicker’s in a bind gentlemen. The transaction was rescheduled.”
We both sat back. Angus asked, “So when is it to take place, Pinkey”
“Let’s see. Ahh, yes.” He glanced at his Patek Philippe watch. “In about eight minutes.”
Angus and I leaped up, nearly knocked over the table in our haste and were on our way out the door. Pinkey chased us, shouting, “Wait! Wait! You’ll need the address, old boy!…”
Posted by Jake at 5:23 PM
Pinkey opened the door and let us into his home. He was dressed in linen pants, a polo shirt and a sweater tied loosely over his shoulders. His blond hair was brushed straight back from his tanned face. Large white teeth gleamed as he grasped Angus' hand. “Do come in, old boy.”
We walked through a palatial great-room toward the veranda where he had breakfast waiting. A beautiful library lay to our left with thousands of books. Was that a Monet on the wall? Thief or no, Pinkey was doing well.
We sat down beneath a vine-covered trellis next to a well-stocked sideboard. There were trays with kippers, sausages, and eggs, and baskets overflowing with pastries. He invited us with a wave of his manicured hand. “Gentlemen, please help yourselves.”
My head was killing me so I asked, “Do you have any ibuprofen? And Diet Coke?”
To his credit he didn't even blink. “Of course. Let me see what I can do.”
Angus laid into the food like a convict. My head hurt too much to eat, so I sat and stared out at the other seaside villas. Thankfully the shade from the trellis kept the sun from my eyes as my pulse throbbed in my temple.
“Will this do?” asked Pinkey. My heart jumped in my throat. He had stealt up behind me. I spun and spied a tray with three Diet Cokes with lime and a bucket of ice. A small bowl held 4 ibuprofen and two Tylenol.
“I’d kiss you if my head didn't hurt so bad.” I laughed and poured the much-needed caffeine over ice.
“I’d prefer you not, lest the wife catch on!” he chortled. “She’s my fourth and I don’t think I can afford a number five.”
Angus glanced back to the house with a questioning eye. Pinkey caught the look and responded “Don’t worry Angus, she is visiting her mother in Atlanta.”
“That explains the Diet Coke.” I said as I took the final two ibuprofen.
“Quite. Though I have gotten rather fond of them myself – especially the lime ones.” He laughed.
The caffeine kicked in and my temples began to relax. Angus wiped his face with a linen napkin and sat back. “I’m sorry to be so rude, Pinkey, but we must get to business. Tell me what you know about this Walters fellow.”
Pinkey hesitated, but Angus interrupted, “Yes, and of course, the usual fees apply.”
Pinkey smiled at first, then sat up and looked at us both with a more solemn face. “Where to begin?”
Posted by Jake at 5:10 PM
Fibromyalgia reminds me how mortal I am. I am exhausted. Pain shoots through my legs and my head is killing me. I hurt in places I don't even have.
Yet every fiber in my body was aching to kick in Walters' door and rip his spine from his worthless carcass.
The early morning air was heavy with salt. The sun’s sliver of orange shimmered above the eastern horizon, making me wish I had sunglasses. Yet, there we were riding in the back of a Bentley like it was just another day.
Angus seemed oblivious to the exquisite details of the car. I, however, couldn't restrain myself and kept touching the burled wood inlay, the fine leather and the cashmere headliner. This is how real money travels. Angus wrote a note as he talked on the phone.
“Yes, thank you, Pinkey. Yes, yes, we’ll definitely need to get that round of golf in. And again, so sorry to wake you. We should be there in half an hour.” He hung up the car-phone, sat back and stroked his stubbled chin.
“Roberts, would you be so kind as to carry us to …” Angus patted his pockets, looking for the card he had just written the information on. “Where the bloody hell did …” he stopped, held up the note card. “Ah, yes, quite. Roberts, please take us here.” Angus handed the note card over the seat to the driver.
He’s tired, too.
Then he looked at me. “Roberts is very discreet, Jake. Served with me in the regiment in Angola.” The driver’s head nodded in agreement. Angus continued, “As you heard, I asked one of my bankers – another contact from the regiment - if he knew anything about Walters. He did not wish to say much over the telephone but I suspect Old Pinkey has his ear to the ground and will have some solid leads.”
“Yes, he puts on the Lord.” Angus sighed as he turned to face me. He poured tea, yet again, from a beautiful silver set nestled astride a built-in cabinet. I’d give anything for a Big-Gulp about now.
“Pinkey came from before the mast … our way of saying he came up from the ranks. I think he had been a petty thief and was given the choice of service or serving time.” Angus shrugged as if it didn't matter to him. “The man, however, has a rapier-like mind of which SAS took extreme advantage.”
Angus blew on his cup then continued. “Much later in my career I stumbled across Pinkey at our embassy in Belize. Saville Row suit and very different accent.” He settled his cup onto the tray. “MI6 had picked him up and polished him to the nines. Nice job, too.”
“Since then I have used Pinkey as a banker on many an ‘off-shore’ transaction.” He looked out the window at coral and turquoise estates. With a wry smile he finished.
“In essence, he’s still a thief.”
Posted by Jake at 4:56 PM
Funter Bay, Alaska
Deb sat with Tonka’s head in her lap and Moira against her side. Neither dog nor child wanted to be more than an inch away from her since the shooting.
One of his cropped ears had been nicked by a bullet from Rogers' gun. “It makes you look brave old boy,” Deborah said aloud. Her clothes were spotted with his blood.
Tonka’s tail whumped slowly with the praise. Moira’s mouth fell as she nodded in her sleep in seeming agreement.
Peering out the window, Deb watched the sun’s slow rise.
They should be here soon.
After that horrible night, Deb had walked the length of the bay to Bob’s neighbor. She had carried Moira the entire way while Tonka walked by her side, leash in his mouth.
The neighbor, though surprised to see them at that time of night, had welcomed them in, put on a pot of coffee and listened to every word as Deb recounted the details between sobs. The neighbor, a tall, slim woman with white hair, nodded, added more wood to the stove and finally spoke. “Never trusted anyone in the guv’mint. You use my phone when you feel up to it.”
With that the neighbor lady had shrugged and gone back upstairs to bed.
Deb had finished her cup of coffee, then settled Moira and Tonka together so she could get up. It was hard to bring herself to do what she had to do. She held the handset of the corded wall phone with her thumb on the receiver, summoning her nerve. She had sighed , then dialed. “Yes, Officer, I want to report a break-in and shooting.”
Now she sat in Bob’s kitchen, Tonka and Moira astride, waiting to see what their fate would be. The distant sound of a helicopter vibrated the air.
Posted by Jake at 4:52 PM
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Gulfstream G5 over the Atlantic
“Are you the wealthiest man in the UK?”
“No, lad, not even close.” He stared out the cockpit window, then back to the flat panel displays indicating our flight parameters.
I started to laugh, but then he continued.
“No, there's that Branson fellow. Bloody rich, that one.” He sipped tea from a china cup, which looked absurdly delicate in his big paw. “And of course the Royals. No telling how much fooking money those Germans have. No, I’d say …” he looked up in thought. “I’d say I am about seventh or so.”
I choked a bit on my own tea and was sorry I asked. I felt sheepish.
Then I looked over at him and realized it wasn’t all that important to him. He described his wealth as someone would their stamp collection or their Labrador.
In fact, if he had a Labrador I think he’d value it more than he did his wealth.
“Why do ye ask?”
“The plane.” I waved around at the opulent G5. I didn't know how much they cost but I knew they were the finest private plane money could buy.
“Nice, that.” He responded with a smile.
We flew awhile with the moon following us above and its reflection on the ocean below. The autopilot made small corrections, the Rolls Royce engines hummed, and we drank tea.
Then he began again. “My Mother was quite industrious. Her family, my Scottish side, all turned their backs on her when she became pregnant with me during the war. Unthinkable, that, being involved with someone lowborn - much less a man of color.”
He poured himself more tea from a silver thermos. Then he continued.
“My father was recovering from his wounds in Alexandria - the same wounds that earned him the Victoria Cross. She was a nurse doing her part.” He took a sip. “He was later killed at Monte Cassino before I was born and …” he tailed off.
Time flew with us; Angus lost in his thoughts and I in mine. The plane seemed to hypnotize us, drawing us each back into the recesses of our minds. Then he picked up where he’d stopped.
“Damned bright she was. Saw that the world was going to use a lot of oil after the war and that much of it would flow past Alexandria. I’ll never know how she got started but the old girl did well. One by one she purchased oil tankers, and …” he waved at the plane. “Made a ruddy fortune.”
An alarm chimed and the plane began to descend. He set his cup down.
“Buckle in would you? We’ll be in Bermuda in 30 minutes.”
Posted by Jake at 1:21 PM
Lisbon, Portela Airport
We passed the Castelo de São Jorge on the way to the airport. It was an ancient Moorish Castle that dominated the landscape. I love all things historical and wished I could tour the place with Deb and Moira.
Deb and Moira!
My heart suddenly ached for my little girl and the woman I … I love. I looked out the window of the car and thought about them, hoping they were okay, wondering where they would be. Small signs of economic distress looked back: abandoned cars fully picked over; stray dogs; trash piled up but ransacked.
Angus' voice brought me back to the moment as he talked on his cell.
“Aye, I dinnae care what the cost. I want the bugger fully fueled by the time we get there.” I saw him glance at the dashboard clock. “Fifteen minutes out, so ye’d better be getting on it.” He clicked off with a snort.
We drove in silence for a bit. Then he spoke. “Have you any idea where we’d be finding this man?”
“I uhm, …” find Walters? I saw Angus glance at me quickly.
“I know it’s been a bit of a rush, lad. If it's any comfort to ye I feel like I've been caught in a mixer, too.” He half laughed as he swerved to avoid a slowing truck.
“Yeah. A mixer. That’d about describe it.” I thought back over the past months: Susan’s death. Rogers. FinCEN. Walters. Maine. The ship.
We slowed to a stop as an accident came into view. A produce truck had dropped cabbages all over and people were scrambling from cars on both sides of the road to grab them. Angus looked around nervously.
I watched him, then looked at his phone resting in the center console - an iPhone.
“Can I use your phone for a moment?”
“Of course ye can.”
I scanned the menu, scrolled by swiping my fingers – there. I found the feature I’d read about. “Thank God.”
“What?” asked Angus.
“Nothing. No, not nothing. Something. Something cool. Something big.”
“Would ye make some sense?” he demanded as we started moving again. The cabbages were all gone.
I turned in my seat and faced him. “Do you trust me?”
He nodded his large head slowly. “Aye, I do.”
I dialed the number from memory.
“Hello?” The familiar southern girl drawl answered.
Angus jerked the wheel and stared at me.
“Jake, what the FUCK? You drop off the edge of the goddamned world and suddenly call me from … ” she paused “… a god damn iPhone in Lisbon Portugal? What the…”
Angus must have heard her rant because he began to smirk even though I could tell he was trying not to.
I cut her off. “Listen, girlfriend. It’s nice hearing your voice too. I haven’t got much time to reminisce …”
“REMINISCE?! YOU SON OF …”
I could hear her angry breathing, but she didn't hang up.
“Dolores, I’ll explain later. Promise. But I really, really need a favor. Its important.” I paused. I could hear her breathing.
“It will help me keep Moira safe.”
“Don’t think for one second I’d help you, you rat bastard! But for Moira I’d …”
“Great. Can you use your ‘super-powers’ and track someone’s iPhone using the ‘Find my Phone’ app if they haven't okayed us using it?”
“Hell, that’s all? Piece of cake!”
I gave her Walters’ number and waited. Faster than I’d like she gave me his location.
“Thanks, Do!” Then I hung up on her before she could ask what I was doing. There’d be hell to pay when I saw her next.
I looked down at Angus phone, went back to that same feature and disabled it. For good measure I turned the phone off.
Angus glanced over at me and tried not to smile.
“She sounds lovely.”
Posted by Jake at 1:13 PM