Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Retro Diary: Part V



Retro Diary, Part V

 This is a serial mystery thriller. Look for a new installment every Wednesday! Enjoy.   








 

 

Chapters 17-20












Chapter 17

That Green Eye Woman




"It was him, I'm sure! It was him!" Marcia Landon muttered to herself as she dug through her ancient boxes of even more ancient DVDs and VHS tapes. She yanked two DVD cases out of the pile and yelled,
"Ah ha! Here he is, and so am I!" She took them to her desk and set the cases aside. Then she turned to her computer and continued her research on Kevin  Ap-Rhys. Her heart was racing with memories of him and hopes that they would one day be together. She was about to give up on him and to move on with her life, but she had a problem.
“I have no identity of my own. I need to find out who I am and to stop mooning over a kid on a DVD. A blond haired blue eyed beauty who probably has three blond ex-wives and a herd of children. Now he’s shot up, wrapped up and at least a year away from being able to get around like he used to..”
She found a few pages, mostly news reports about Kevin’s FBI exploits. There was a page for his security firm, ApSec.
“I have more information about his firm from my own contracts and brochures. They charge plenty, but they are serious people. There's not much else here... Wait! So how is a Brit an American FBI agent? He almost got killed. He is a man who lives with danger... He’s secret agent man!" She smiled without mirth. The pickings were pretty slim on the legitimate web.
She put one of the DVDs into her player and watched as a very young Kevin lectured about horses and equestrian style. The horse kept nudging him. He had a rich, deep voice for a 15 year old boy. He also had a calm self possession that was like a drug. Young girls went for that, a hope of love with a strong, powerful princeling.
"Gahh!” She muttered, “The International Exchange Video Program! We were in shock at that boy. That snotty group... the one that followed Bethany around... they were so sure that one of them would because they were all so blond and special... Oh hell, I still have a crush on him. I didn't see a wedding ring... he is still beautiful..."
A ring tone disrupted her mental ramblings over an unapproachable boy who was now an unapproachable man. “Yes, he’s an unapproachable man,” she muttered before she took the call.
"Ms. Landon here. You are Sir William... Oh! Would you be another Ap-Rhys? Cousin? I see. He wants to see me? How is that? Well, I am just figuring that out myself! It is an amazing coincidence. I could be there. Will you be there, too? Very good. I will see you then... The other cousin? Yes, a man with Red hair named Brendan... Oh, I see. You should report that, Sir William. I know that reporters try to sneak in.
 By the way, did you know that the Director of Lectures at the International Conference was trying to get in touch with you? If I give you his phone number, will you call him, please?" She finished the call and sat back, completely flustered.
"Well that's it. My privacy is out of the question. I am sure those folk are digging into my past, present and future right now. They would never let unknown brown skinned people into their business without checking us for criminal activity. But I am the same with..."
She stopped to think about any skeletons that might be in her closet.
"Oh shoot! I don't need any FBI agents nosing around when the Western Enterprise institute is still under investigation. They better not try to bother me about stealing $24 million. That was on someone else’s watch!"
She launched her web browser and spent the next hour in a place where few hackers were allowed to go. It was not long before her stomach took on an empty feeling. The results confirmed her worst fears.
"FBI SA Kevin Ap Rhys. He is a real hot shot. He’s the new Sherlock Holmes, they say. He has my name listed in a file of possible suspects who hacked into the Western Enterprise Institute's computers. Someone stole $24 million and released the non profit agency's worst secrets. That’s fine with me because they also shut down a right wing group..."
She was not directly involved with the crime, but she knew several people who could have done it.
"Well, I wasn’t there. I am at the International Institute now. It is a much better place. The FBI won't be interested in me."
As most romantically inclined women tend to do, she had it all wrong. Kevin Ap-Rhys was more than interested in her. He, too harbored a lifelong crush on an unapproachable girl. He was also positive that Marcia Landon was one of the masterminds behind the robbery and records leak. Kevin Ap-Rhys was like a pit bull when he had a suspicion or a question. He would not let go until he wore a person out.
“Right now, he is unable to do anything about it.” Marcia muttered.






Chapter 18

Franklin Marsh, Attorney at Law




Franklin Marsh was stuck in a half blind stupor. He tried to roll over and go back to sleep but his phone rang, ending all hopes of calming down enough to doze off. Every muscle in his body was either burning with exhaustion or hurting like a son of a..
"Yeah, Franklin Marsh here. Sir William! Hello! You're here? Yes, I'm fine. I just woke up. You’re here, safe and sound. Have you seen him? Yes? He's been out since last night and I haven't been able to talk to him yet. He did? He wanted more? That's a good sign. He eats like an animal. Yes, I will be over just before I leave for Taylor County. I still have loose ends to tie up over there."
Franklin ended his call and sat on the side of his giant, custom made bed. At 6 feet, four inches, he was used to hotel and motel room beds that were not up to the job of holding his bulk. When he bought his house, he talked a cousin into making his oversized bed and found a mattress warehouse that had custom made oversized mattresses.
 He made every effort to decide what to do next and settled on a hot shower, a shave and some food. Then he reviewed his messages and read the emails from his tracking team. Some were following Honey Barton around Taylor County while others dug into her background. Franklin had left Taylor County with a feeling that Honey Barton was more deeply involved than anyone knew. After reading some of her background information, he was more sure than ever.
“I have plenty of time to develop a plan before I hit the ground in Taylor County. First, a tour of the Sheriff's ranch because there is every indication that something went down on a remote part  part of that... what is it?  It’s a thousand acre property! Those large ranches have areas that go unchecked for weeks or months at a time.”
He booted up his computer and spent an hour researching Honey Barton and her clan.
"It's clear that she is doing her third cousin, Larry Barton, but she had another cousin who looked a lot like Percival. That cousin is on the slab in the Coroner’s office. Larry is missing. The real Percival Windsor is alive and at large.”
He mumbled to himself, rubbing his chin as he did when he was in deeply involved with a complicated problem.
Honey was seen visiting several properties in the area. She removed a large suitcase from one of them and took it to her house. That was the last update from the tracking team. Since then, Honey has not left her house or made any calls. The cousin must have been managing the properties, but how do we know that those are Percival’s properties?”
He checked the property records, but there were complications. None of the properties could be tied directly to Percival Windsor.
“Let’s say her cousin who looked like Percival managed the properties for Percival, who is still at large. I need to know if Honey knew Percival. That is the key to this whole thing.
What compelled her to go to all of those properties and to remove that suitcase from one of them? Did she know about Chief Henderson? Was everyone connected or did other people... outsiders have a hand in all of this?
Is the cousin on the run or is he dead? Dad always thought the Bay Dropper serial killer had a connection to Taylor County. Kevin thought he’d catch the Bay Dropper on Friday night. He’s the freakiest serial murderer in history and we did kill him, but now we have Percival Windsor on the loose. Percival is mostly a white collar criminal, but he did kill that girl in Utah.”
"Let’s see. I have the warrant for Honey’s house. Maybe some answers will show up there. Now that the Bay Dropper, Honey’s cousin is out of the way and Larry is missing, we should be able to catch Percival." He continued to mutter to himself as he tried to put some order to his thoughts.
Now Franklin was agitated. He could not wait until evening because Kevin was one of the few people he saw in color. Franklin bore a deep depression after losing his wife and two babies. They were at Windows on the World restaurant in New York on 911. He did not realize it, but since that horrible day, he saw the world and all of its people in shades of grey, black and white.
“Kevin seems to be carrying an extra life with him. Perhaps it’s my life he’s carrying. Now I have to carry him for a while. I don’t care how long it takes, either. Forget Taylor County for now. I will pull myself together and be there for him.”
He sauntered into the hospital room just as Dr. Yap was changing Kevin’s bandage.
“My heart just sinks into my knees looking at that wound!” Franklin felt a physical pain when he saw the giant, star shaped wound. He whispered to Dr. Yap. “They really opened him up! I can even see the marks where they pinned his flesh to keep his whole back open. My God, will he ever be able to do his martial arts again?”
"Ahh, Franklin!" Dr. Yap whispered back.
"You got some rest, I see. Let's take a look at you while you're here. You should see the wound now. As it heals, you will feel a lot better about it. These are beautiful incisions and they should be small lines on his back... if we can keep his shoulder immobile, that is."
Dr. Yap finished Kevin’s bandage and then checked Franklin's heart and blood pressure. He continued to talk.
"Kevin has more African ancestry than you do, Franklin, so he is going to have a scar to brag about. We have very good treatments to keep the disfigurement to a minimum. Kevin is a good patient because he is sleeping a lot right now, as he should. If we can get the infection under control, he will only need two or three arthroscopic surgeries. He needs a couple of bone grafts and some muscle repairs."
"That wound looks so bad, doctor,” Franklin was still whispering. “Kevin is an incredible athlete and he can’t live without his independence. Will he be ever able to do martial arts again? He lives for his martial arts!"
"Don’t be upset, Franklin. He will be better than before because I  plan to sneak in there and work on two of his old injuries. One of them worse than this one and he has refused the surgery. He has no choice now."
"Hey, Kevin, you hear that?" Kevin was awake now. Franklin buttoned his shirt and retied his tie. He sat in the guest chair and looked closely at friend.
"Yeah. Thank for soups and smoothies. Good foo, man."
"Well, I knew that you would balk at hospital food, especially lying on your belly like that. Dr. Yap says you will be sitting up in a couple of weeks. We will bring some solid food then. You like that?"
"Yeah. You goin' back, you?"
"Yes, but you don't worry about a thing. We took care of all of the crazies and I have some loose ends to tie off. The rest of it will be for the County and City to handle."
"Good. I have other case I wah workin’. That Western Ennerprize Insitoot. Beautiful green eye woman in that. I saw her when..."
Franklin had to laugh. "Are you going after that beautiful 'green eye' woman, Kevin? You sure know how to pick a case and a woman. But you're out of business right now, do you hear? You need to stay high on drugs and allow people to take care of you for a week or so. Can you do that?"
"I must. Don Padre will beat me with stick..." Kevin was asleep before he could finish his thought. Franklin watched him sleep for a while and left to find William.
"He eats like a glutton but there isn't an ounce of fat on him. So how long will you stay, William?"
"I will be here for as long as it takes, Franklin. Kevin travels all the way to Cornwall whenever anyone needs him. This is his turn now. Marianne is comin to help, so we will just make the best of it.
You and I shall visit and I have been told that the International Institute wants me for their lecture series, can you believe that? They say a young women who just started with them made a convincing case on my behalf... very strange since I only applied last week.”
“You and Kevin and your women! You two lucky devils.”
“ Did Kevin ever talk about a green eyed woman? He says he knew her when she was a little girl. He keeps bringing her up because he saw a woman volunteer with green eyes when the team brought him in.”
"He just told me that the woman is involved in a case he's been working on. If this is not the drugs talking, we have a real San Francisco style mystery, William!"
"Well, I love a good mystery, especially when it involves a beautiful, 'green eye' woman!"
"Actually, I have another beautiful woman to track down in Taylor County. I must round her up. She is mixed up in that mess, I just know it.”
 Franklin assured William that he would be back in two days and left for Oakland Airport where an FBI charter was waiting to take him back to Taylor County. As soon as he was settled into his seat, he called Don Padre,
"I might as well do his as soon as possible. I need to end this strangeness for good."
Franklin was wrong to think that the strangeness would ever end. The events that occurred in Taylor County would stay with Franklin for the rest of his days.





Chapter 19

Always Passing, Never Meeting




William finally saw Kevin’s beautiful green eyed woman. His limousine had just turned into the International Institute’s parking structure when he saw a woman with green eyes. She was a golden brown African American woman who wore her dark honey knaps and curls in a neat bun that hugged the back of her neck.
“Her hair is just like Kevin’s and Franklin’s. Knaps and curls.” He thought.
She was tall, about 5' 10" and had the trim body of a swimmer who does at least four miles a week. She had full, beautifully shaped lips and a cute little nose that was in perfect proportion to the rest of her oval face. Her skin and makeup were flawless. She had to be a regular at Neiman Marcus, because William’s wife was admiring the same frock in the luxury store’s catalog. Suddenly, William’s car made a sharp turn and she was gone.
"If this is Kevin’s green eye woman, he is finished in the woman shopping business. If he is going after her in an FBI investigation, he has a formidable foe: her beauty!” His driver opened the passenger door. Sir William grabbed his portfolio and retrieved his directions to the “Friday Follies” offices. After a lengthy walk, he found the office right where he was greeted by a chirpy young man.
"Yes! We are very excited about having you speak at the Friday Follies. Please have a seat and I will explain the situation.” After he prepared a pot of tea and some cookies for his guest, the young man said,
“Ms McGillicuddy invented the Friday Follies. She wasn’t here a month before she convinced us to give her an entire day of lectures during next year’s International Conference. We had a problem with Fridays, when the conference breaks down into meetings and negotiations between bureaucrats. Many participants were complaining that they had nothing to do.
Ms. Landon suggested a lecture series for up and coming young leaders who need an opportunity to give their first important lectures. She knew about you from your work in indigenous culture preservation and insisted that you would be our best speaker.”
“That’s it?” William was shocked. “I received a letter and applied simply because I will take any opportunity to spread the word. I had no idea that it would be such a major event.”
“It is major now. Word got around about the Follies and there is enormous competition for a spot on the roster. We turn people away every day! Now you know that it is a great surprise and honor to have you with us.”
“I came to take care of a sick cousin for a couple of weeks and I had a message to contact Ms... uhm McGillicudy.”
“Well, she left some materials for you. Right now, our ‘program’ consists of a training and practice series for participants who need help. You and the more advanced speakers do not need to participate in that, but we would love to have you sit in on some of the sessions as an expert. The problem is, we have some terrible speakers, and Mrs. McGillicuddy wanted them to have a good start.”
“That would give me something to do, I admit. I would be glad to sit in on some sessions.”
“Very good. Here is the acceptance package for your review. Ms. McGillicuddy had to visit some people in the hospital. After that, she is going to Boston for three days. Perhaps you will meet our little whirlwind when she returns.”
“Why does she use the goofy name?”
“She insisted on her privacy and she was right. If outsiders knew who she was, she would not have a moment’s peace! She is in graduate school, works here, volunteers at the hospital and invents software. She also has several other businesses and projects.”
“She sounds like a very busy woman! ”
“She survives by being a very private woman, Sir William.” The director embellished his statement with a firm look.
          William gathered his coat and materials and made his way out of the offices. He told his driver, “Let us see how Kevin is doing. I should also run into
Franklin before he goes back to Taylor County.”
Marcia was at the hospital, looking into Kevin’s gray eyes. She took a warm, damp towel an gently wiped his curls and knaps.
“Well, well, Sir Kevin Ap-Rhys! I hear you’ve been looking for a ‘green eye’ woman. Will I do? I am glad to see you’re awake and high as a kite.”
“You are Marcia! I ‘member you from school when we were children, all of us 15 years old.”
“What, what?” Dr. Yap asked. He was delighted that Kevin had found someone from his past. He had been living in a strange city and needed friends. When he wanted to, Kevin could attract friends and acquaintances like flies, but was also capable of being overly solitary.
“Yes, Dr. Yap. Kevin and I participated in a video cultural exchange program. We were filmed doing our favorite activities. Wait until you see Kevin... such a cutie. All the girls in my class were permanently drawn into the Kevinverse! Please... enjoy these and excuse me while I check on some of the other patients. We have two on this ward today. I’ll be back."
She set up a portable DVD player and started Kevin's video from the menu. Then she left the room. Kevin was quite aware that she left her own video  last. "Thoughtful,” he muttered. “She knew that I would enjoy seeing this. I have not seen this for years..."
Marcia returned a half hour later, slipped into Kevin's room and stood for a few seconds. She walked over, sat in the visitor's chair and put her face where he could look into her eyes.
Kevin gave a slight smile. "I knew I knew you, girl. You play violin still? Sorry... I a bit under the inference now."
"Yes! I kept copies of all the videos. The player and videos are for you to keep. I added some movies and music videos for when you are feeling better."
"You with that Wessern Ennerprise Institute. You do anything bad, girl?"
Marcia laughed. "Oh no you don't, Junior G-Man Kevin! You will get a lot better before you get to interrogate this wanted woman!"
She laughed again, this time so lightly that Kevin could not help but to smile with her. "You have nothing on me, that's for sure. I haven't volunteered there for months. I'm with the International Institute now."
"You good? You're beautiful. It is not that institute. It is thah stealth net, green eye girl."
Her heart skipped several beats and the light grew dim. She managed to recover and think,
"What the heck is stealth net? I’ll have to Google that one. Anyway, you are beautiful, too, Sir Kevin. But that’s because your fever is giving you the prettiest blush on your cheeks! You just be a good patient and don't even think of work until you are much, much better. I’ll try to find out about stealth net and I will tell your employee, Daniel all I know about Western Enterprise. He’s my security and he will tell you when you are allowed to work. Do we have a deal?"
"Ugh... I feel awful.” Kevin was starting to have distress. “Yes. You have me at a disadvantage. You have a deal."
She blew off protocol and gave him a light kiss on his damp forehead. She laid a gentle hand on his cheek and said, "Go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day, Sherlock."
She left the room and checked her watch. She and Daniel would have to move fast to get to her car. As she was leaving the hospital, William was walking in. He stopped, froze and stared at her. She did not see William because Daniel opened her car door. She got in as gracefully as a movie star.
William shook his head and muttered to himself all the way to Kevin’s room. “I cannot believe this woman who comes and goes like a ghost!” His confusion doubled when he learned that she had just been visiting with Kevin. Kevin was gazing at a portable video player and listening to someone playing “Clare de Lune” on the violin.
"Thank Ms. Landon for this, Sir William,” Dr. Yap said. Those two knew each other from their cultural exchange videos! They were only fifteen years old at the time. She gave Kevin a player with copies of their videos. He’s watching hers now.”
The three men crowded in to watch the videos. William surreptitiously wiped away a few tears as he saw his little cousin being nudged by his favorite horse, Kefilte. After fifteen minutes, Kevin’s video ended and Marcia’s began.
“Hello, I am Marcia Landon. I play the violin and I will be performing Clare de Lune, accompanied by my teacher, Mr. Luce.” She started to play and the room filled with sound.
 “I always wondered why he loved "Clair de Lune" so much, Dr. Yap! She is a brilliant violinist... or is it fiddler?"
An hour later, Marcia was busy failing to notice the red headed FBI agent who stomped back and forth on the tarmac, frustrated beyond belief. He assumed that she would be flying commercial and planned to accost her in the airport. Marcia Landon never flew commercial and she never flew alone. Daniel, her security, did notice the man. He did not like who he saw.
 It was Brendan O’Donnell, the disgraced and troublesome agent who should have been in exile in Utah.




Chapter 20
We Do Concerts, Not Recitals





"He's after me in a big way!" Marcia Landon’s stomach kept turning over every time the thought of Kevin came up. The bumpy takeoff from San Francisco did not help matters.
“Kevin Ap Rhys thinks I know something about “stealth net”. I can’t find anything about any stealth net. He will probably torment me about something I have never heard of. Then again, perhaps it’s the morphine. That stuff will give you some very cool fantasies.”
“Wait,” She yelled aloud, causing Daniel to jump an inch or two, “When I went to see your boss and some other patients, a red headed man tried to get into Agent Kevin’s room claiming that he was his cousin. I told his cousin... Sir William. That man is not a real cousin, is he?”
“No, Ma’am. Kevin only has two first cousins, Sir William and William’s wife, Marianne.” Daniel did not mention his rage over Brendan O’Donnell. He phoned Don Padre as soon as he saw the red headed creep.
“Well, I promised your Jr. G-Man boss that I would talk to you about Western Enterprise. We have the plane to ourselves, so let’s begin.”
“If you will allow me to get my notebook, ma’am.” Daniel chuckled.
“Are you ready yet? Yes? Alright... uhm... First of all, I refused to do anything related to computers at that Western Enterprise Institute. The only reason I volunteered there was to study organizational behavior for a course in school. You want behavior? In an organization? The Western Enterprise Institute had all kinds of behavior going on."
"It's that red headed FBI agent and your boss, Kevin Aprizz... wait... he is your boss, isn’t he?"
"Yes he is, ma'am. It's 'Ohp Rizz', by the way.” Daniel did not miss the fact that Marcia Landon had done her research in advance. If she had an agenda, he would have to let it play out. He had never been this involved in her personal affairs until recently.
“Well how can he also be in the FBI... and a foreigner at that?”
“He is an FBI reserve agent and a naturalized citizen, Ma’am. I will tell you this. He’s an FBI legend. If he is after you, you are already busted!"
“Bullshit!” Marcia laughed dryly. “He hasn’t met my lawyers yet. ‘Paper covers rock’ when my lawyers mix it up with someone!”
Daniel had to laugh at that. "I was just kidding ma'am. You are in a difficult position because you have a degree in computer science from Harvard and you design software. The Western Enterprise Institute's computers were hacked. Someone stole $24 million and released the organization's dirty details to the internet underground."
"Well, right now, I am just a student at CAL trying to get my degrees in forensic sociology. The computer degree was for Dad. He wanted that. For me, the computer science is just a tool that makes me wealthy. The work is not something I wanted as a career. Who stole that money from the Western Enterprise Institute? Where did it go?"
Daniel stared at her. “She deliberately kept herself in the dark at the Western Enterprise Institute. Marcia Landon is the least talented liar I have ever known. She knows that true ignorance and lack of access to computer systems are the best protection against being accused of hacking. So, she deliberately kept herself out of contact with computers when she was at the Western Enterprise Institute. That does not look good for Sir Kevin’s case.” Aloud, he said,
"The money was never recovered, Ma'am, and the FBI wants it. The problem is that none of the IT personnel will talk to the FBI. The agents moved quickly on the institute after the hackers released the files, but they covered their tracks well."
"Well, I have good... what do you call it... air tight alibis?"
"And just how do you have air tight alibis, Ma'am?" Daniel could not help giving away a slight smile.
"Oh... going all bad cop on me are you? OK, let’s see. First of all, the people at Western Enterprise did not know that I had a computer science degree and my records prior to age 21 are sealed by the court.”
“But the records were not sealed when you got your degree...”
“Yes they were! I was only twenty years old when I graduated, Daniel. I started college at sixteen... Anyway, we are going off-topic.”
She stopped talking while the attendant served them tea and pastries. Then she resumed talking,
“I never allowed them to give me a password or access to any of their computers, either. After that, I was only eligible for low skilled, manual office work like filing, supply runs and working the copiers.”
“Why did you do that?”
“Two reasons. You cannot observe much from inside a computer room. I learned that in college. We were always out of the loop on school gossip and we got people’s body language all wrong. Pure nerds we were. Anyway, at Western Enterprise, I saw and heard some things that disturbed me. I am still new to working in a large office and I was so naive that I didn't even know why I was disturbed. There was typical bad behavior like gossip, drugs, bullying, racism, sexism... but everyone assured me that all workplaces are like that.”
“You could have had your own office. You could have done much higher level work, Ma'am." Daniel stared at her hard.
"You must lay low when you are observing human behavior, Daniel. You know that from your own undercover work, you big spook. My school project called for me to observe, not to intrude, draw attention to myself or influence the way things worked. If I had tried to be Ms High and Mighty, I would have been shut out. As it was, I was a nobody. I fit in with everyone and people talked a lot of open talk... they did a lot of open behavior too.”
“So they talked about the thefts?”
“No. Everyone I had any connection to was in shock when it happened. I didn’t even know most of the computer personnel. What happened to the employees was sad. Wait. I did get groped by a clown once. He lured me to an isolated spot and grabbed my ass. I kicked his cojones up into his sinuses.”
“When was that, Ma’am?” This made Daniel upset to begin with because he was Ms. Landon’s personal security when she was at Western Enterprise.
“That was before I hired your firm. I was afraid he would try to retaliate, but someone shot him dead about two weeks later. He was acting up in a bar down in SOMA."
"You never told me about that!"
"I didn't think I needed to. You are always in my business, so come on Daniel! Anyway, we are off topic again. I left when I had observed enough to finish my project. I had already applied for a volunteer position with the International Institute... I do love that place! It is like night and day."
"Ma'am, should you be telling me all of this? Don't you want a lawyer if the FBI is after you?"
"Daniel, you are the FBI as far as I'm concerned. I know you will pass every word on to your boss, and I encourage you to do so. That poor thing is just like me. He will not rest until he gets his answers. If you don’t find out where that money went, I will. No one accuses me of stealing without a fight, that is for sure. So, your boss may as well have this much of the story to check out while he refuses to cooperate with his doctor... who is that... Dr. Yam?"
"Dr. Yap. And you are terrible. You could have volunteered to talk to the FBI."
"I am not terrible! I would have been a patsy who could easily be set up. Where are we now? I’m still a patsy who could easily be set up. You, on the other hand, are responsible for my security and safety and you used to work for Don Padre.”
She stopped. Daniel was giving her such a look!
“Don’t look at me like that!” she yelled. “I already talked to Don Padre about Western Enterprise. If I had done anything wrong, he would have handed me to your boss and I would be under the jail right now!”
Daniel was gaping at her.
“How... how do you know Don Padre, Ma’am?” Daniel was shocked. “Who is this woman?” he asked himself.
“He’s my godfather and I am his personal brown skinned Mafia princess, my man. Is he about to allow me to commit crimes of any type, Daniel?"
"No Ma'am! Never!"
“Good. Now you know what my life is like! We are almost done here, so allow me to finish this business before I fall asleep.” She asked for a pillow and a blanket.
“I was ready to leave Western Enterprise when the office staff all went to an impromptu lunch. They included the computer jocks. The IT guys started  talking about something called "Rope a Goat" or something like that. I looked at the people at our table... there were about twenty of us in a banquet room at Empress of Taiwan.
I could see a few people smirking and nodding their heads as if they knew what the IT guys were talking about. I knew better than to ask a direct question about "Rope a Goat" and pretended to be more interested in other gossip. After I went home and got online, I realized that they were talking about "Rothen Groat", which was clearly a name for something, maybe a place."
"Sounds like a German name. A groat is an animal?"
“I looked it up. Groat is a kind of coarse ground grain, like grits. But Rothen Groat is a big ranch in Idaho, Daniel. A German immigrant named Rothen was awarded the first land grant. The original clan are long gone but the land retains the name. The ranch is owned by a big, cult tea party racist right wing freaky deaky enclave. It's practically a self contained town. But guess what?”
“What, ma’am?”
“The code jockeys and other staff actually were saying it two ways. Sometimes they said “Rothen Groat” and other times they said "Rope a Groat"! It was a play on words and they were doing something on the sly! After I did my research I developed a strong suspicion they were talking about sabotaging a racist conspiracy at "Rothen Groat" and it did not sound good."
"Was I your security that day?"
"No. It was my last day there. Brian was my security."
"You left rather quietly."
"Yes. That was... months ago. I spoke with Don Padre before the thievery even happened."
"I see. You say you like working at the International Institute."
"Oh yes. I love that place. Unlike the first place, I wanted a real job, and now I get to do the Friday Follies.”
“That happened awfully fast, Ms. Landon. How?”
“Well it started very small, Daniel. It was just supposed to be a few speakers and that is a very simple program to put on. I’ve done those many times. Now it’s still a few speakers, but the publicity has blown up into a monster. That is over my head, so I’m learning as I go along.”
 “That’s it, Daniel, I haven't got the first clue about anything else. I spend my time in Berkeley, with my folks and business and at the International Institute now.”
Daniel started to get up.
“Wait! I did run into one of the code jockeys about a month ago. He's dead now."
"Oh! How did he die?" Daniel sat back in his seat.
"I don't know. His body washed up in Emeryville and the news identified him a week ago. The Bay Dropper got him, according to the news! There was a news blackout on Western Enterprise, but it’s going to heat up again, after this.
The code jockey was a nice man. His name was Janus... Janus Pauling. He was from Amsterdam. I'll bet the police wrote it off as a drug deal gone wrong. Janus was a major pothead and dealer when he was at Western Enterprise. He had some doggone good spliff, too."
"You did... wait...” Daniel had to laugh. “I haven't heard it called 'spliff' since the 80s! You did spliff when you were a baby?"
"Hell yes. It helps my glaucoma!"
“You don’t have glaucoma, Ma’am!”
Marcia thought, "I am lost here. Daniel is working me like we are in an interrogation room! I thought it was a little hinky that an empty private jet with a direct flight to Boston just happened to be available. Don Padre is behind this, I know."
Aloud, she said, "No, but it's my plausible cover story." She started having thoughts and avoided eye contact. "Daniel is hot when he zeroes in on a subject. I am lousy at this because I start to think about a man’s hotness. I never noticed that he has the sexiest little dimple in his cheek when he gets intense with a person. He’s got something under that suit, too. I’ve seen him in his swim trunks and, DANG! It’s still a little strange, having a big, good looking, nicely dressed, good smelling man around all of the time. This just isn't how I get to roll!"
The jet was over Denver before they finished their "conversation". Daniel was an expert interrogator who made Marcia think of details that she, like any other average person, never thought to record. Marcia was forced to refer to her smart phone calendar on more than a few occasions before she realized that, while she was good at observing behavior and other details, she was not good at observing details that are important to investigators.
"You taught me something here, Daniel."
"What would that be, Ma'am?"
"Well, Daniel, forensic science calls for observation that is not like social science observation. We are supposed to follow the principles of scientific observation. Now I see that I need to observe people and situations from a new perspective. For example, the investigating FBI agent also owns the firm that provides my own security! That's a conflict of interest from hell. You knew that Don Padre is in on this. He recommended Ap-Sec. He's behind this luxurious, yet somehow empty private jet. You know that man has supernatural powers, don't you?"
"Wow. Uhm. Yes. He is an Italian DeMedici, after all!" Again, Daniel had to laugh. "He tried to recruit me back into the FBI, but I'd like to keep my soul to myself for a while."
"Well, Daniel, we both need to get some sleep. Kissie is ten and Jason is thirteen. Those two will be hopping around like monkeys when we arrive."
Daniel was overwhelmed. Marcia had just handed Sir Kevin plenty to obsess over as soon as he was well enough to obsess over things. Kevin would not be interested in her statement. He would dig into the poor woman's background until he got to China. He would get nowhere because Ms Landon's court records were sealed up tight and she never talked about her past. Worse, Don Padre insisted that Kevin was not to know about his personal relationship with Ms. Landon.
"The FBI should only intrude so far into a personal life. Their godmother, on the other hand, is a meddling witch. If those two kids are to make a go of it, it will be without my interference!" He said this to Daniel when Kevin was being carried into UC Medical Center's ICU and saw Marcia.
"Yes sir." Daniel chuckled. He knew that Don Padre would meddle whenever he pleased! Daniel waited for Marcia to fall asleep and then moved to an empty sofa to write his interview summary. Then he asked the attendant for a blanket and dozed off to have nightmares about Agent Brendan O'Donnell.






To be continued... 

Part VI is here!




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