Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chapter Thirty-Two

Inn by the Sea
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
5:37 AM

I woke early and padded downstairs.  Large folio prints by James J. Audubon lined the stair well of the Inn. I smelt coffee but prayed they had Diet Coke.
I looked ridiculous in the loaned pajamas -- Irish flannel with L.L. Bean tags -- it was better than emerging in my birthday suit.  Just.
Still, I felt like an indulgent tourist.  The FBI spared no expense. 
Probably why we’re going broke as a country.
The past many days felt like someone else’s memory.  Last night’s conversation with Dolores played through my mind so that I barely slept.
From day one.
“May I help you, Sir?”
I jumped.  A young red-headed staff woman in kahkis and corporate fleece had snuck up on me.
“Um, sure. Do you have any Diet Coke?”
“I’d be happy to check for you, Sir.” 
Wow, great service here.
A large Audubon crane of some variety stared back at me from the wall behind the front desk.
Dolores thinks Walters set me up from day one. 
“Your Coke, Sir.”
“Holy crap!” I jumped again.  “They should put a bell on you guys!”  I smiled and felt in my pajama pocket for my wallet to tip her.  She smiled, “That’s okay, Sir. It's my pleasure.”
My heart raced from her rapid appearances.  I’m damned jumpy. 
I sipped my drink and felt the caffeine do its work.  It relaxed me.
I returned to my room, entered, and closed the door softly.  I put the near empty drink glass on the bathroom sink.  My reflection from the mirror looked back and grimaced.  A greenish bruise streaked my face from the tourist jab. 
I made a face at the mirror, which did the same, and went back to my thoughts as I shed the Irish Linen.  I changed into my street clothes and inspected the torn burqa.  The hidden contents remained my secret from Dolores or anyone else in the FBI.
They didn't ask, I didn't tell.
I reopened the first envelope and  examined a bill of lading. It was for a shipment of frozen pork from a facility in Suffolk, Virginia, to Portugal.
What the hell is that about?
Then I reopened the second, larger envelope and withdrew its contents. I counted it again.
$50,000 in one hundred dollar bills.
What once had been a small transaction to me, as a financial advisor, now seemed the world.
Dolores’ crew had looked everywhere else but on me – including my truck.  They discovered it was bugged.
Had to be that asshole Rogers.   
I sat on my bed, opened my wallet, and gazed once again on the photo of Moira, Tonka and Deb.  I regarded the money, then the bill of lading. 
I picked up the phone, thought on it, and then dialed.
I heard her voice.  It sounded small.  “Deborah?  You okay?”
I heard her loose it.  I had never heard this in her.  “Oh Jake, they killed Daddy, they killed Daddy looking for Moira!”
My breath left me.  I sat stunned.  I could barely hear.
“Oh Deb, I am so … I am … oh my God.”   
They had killed Swede –- looking for Moira.
“He was the finest man I ever knew Deb.”  I gathered myself.
She continued crying. At first I could hear the engine of her vehicle in the background, then she must have pulled over to the roadside. She spoke to Moira or Tonka. Then, her voice breaking, she described what had happened last night.
At times she seemed to gain control, then she would relapse.  Her emotions seesawed. 
What to say?
She let go, words, grief, tears poured out.  I listened.
In a clear moment she said something that baffled me.  “Jake, why does Moira keep reciting, ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes?”
“I don't know Deb.  Why, what do you think?”
“It worries me Jake.”  She sniffed.  “The stress seems to make Moira keep uttering the same nursery-phrase over and over and over.  She has not stopped since, since …” Deb could not talk for the tears.  I heard her take the phone away, heard Tonka's low woof in the background. 
She talked and cried. I listened.
When a decent time passed I spoke. “Deb, I need you to do the following. I want you to buy a TracFone, no … buy several.  Buy several air time cards, too.  Then I want you to find a bookstore.  I know this sounds crazy, Deb, but I need you to do this.  Find two copies of a book by my favorite author.” 
I told her the author’s name and described the crazy looking cover.  Then I asked her to send some of what she purchased, and a few items from my metal box to me.  “Send it to the man in the wheelchair.” Despite her shock, Deb wrote down what I asked her to do and repeated it back to me.  Deborah was so numb she merely mumbled a goodbye and said she needed to get going. 
In all the confusion I didn't get to talk to Moira.
The morning sun began to peak through the bedroom windows.  More FBI agents would be over to debrief me in a few hours.   I looked at my wallet, their photo, then to the cash, and finally the paper.
The bill of lading: it said Shoulders Hill, Suffolk, Virginia, to Toes, Portugal.
Shoulders.  Toes.
I had just been to the Portland Head Light. 
What the …
I called Deb back.  “Deb?  Listen, this sounds crazy, but instead of sending all that stuff to …” would the FBI listen in?  Aw screw it.  “instead of Mr. Spiers, send it to the following facility in Shoulders Hill, Virginia.  Ready to write?  Good, okay it is …” I relayed the address from the cold storage facility.
I threw my scant belongings into a plastic laundry bag from the hotel, looked at the burqa and tossed it on the bed.
Head.  Shoulders.  Toes.
I rushed out the room, down the stairs, and out the hotel. 
I need to finish this.

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