Mermaid, Chapter 19, Part 2

Spirit encounters a meeting and Tom has Jacob issues while conducting delicate negotiations. Who ends up getting thrown out of the office

Spirit.

Monday 12/21

I had been hoping to get together with Doris when I spotted the two men from the bureau entering the restaurant and phased through the wall and stood there to see if I could figure out what they were up to. A bit later they were joined by a man in a sheriff’s uniform who had a Russian accent which meant that it was Boris. They sat down together and ordered. Shortly thereafter seven men came in and didn’t order because they were waiting for somebody. I had almost decided to leave when Noro, Josh, Tom, a woman and a man walked in and sat down with the group that had come in before. Then the deal making, or at least Josh telling them what the deal was started. The group that had come in were apparently the key members of the committee responsible for the Olympics and they were apparently in trouble. Josh had one of the men that had come in earlier hand him some documents and I heard for the first time how the peacekeeper made deals. The committee ended up handing Josh the Olympics to fix and left and Josh ended by telling me to stop hiding. I quickly phased back through the wall and left. As I did I felt a touch of resonance from Josh and no real hostility. On the other hand, seeing Josh deal with those people was more than a little scary.

I decided to go back across the lake and try again later. So I got in my hired car and took the ferry across the lake to continue looking around. I went to the fae hangouts I knew about and asked if anything had changed, but other than the same general feeling that Noro picked up on, there wasn’t anything to go on. The Manager’s calling on every Twisted he could get his hands on and their sudden demise had actually made the region safer than it had been a couple of weeks earlier.  Still with a king like Jacob in charge, the local fae were nervous and the Olympics could be a fiasco if dark fae and twisted entered the picture. As it was getting late I returned to Burlington and this time Doris was at her hotel and I took her to the restaurant that I had been to earlier. Those steaks had smelled wonderful and I wanted one. We sat down and I suggested the steaks. Doris said, “Your day was rather exciting if what Bill says is true.”

“Well, it was me and I did get caught, something that rarely happens.” “Josh resonated with you and started looking. So what happened?”

“Noro, or Josh rather, is taking over the Olympics. He wanted to get paid, apparently and was rather annoyed about the delays and overruns.” “The delays were pretty obvious when I was there on Saturday. Did Josh have more?” “A lot more. I would never try to put one over on him because he had somebody bring in all the information so that it was right there. The committee came in completely unprepared and when Noro was reluctant, started to resort to threats, to which, Noro called on Josh and Josh took them to pieces.  All through dealing with the Manager, Josh had apparently been keeping an eye on the problems because the bills weren’t being paid.  He was pissed that it had become his problem and since it had become his problem, he was going to resolve it his way. What is this about Tom and connections?”

“Well he brought out his address book. At least one of them. Apparently they had an arrangement where Stacey and the bureau would have charge of his network and be discreet about the contacts. Then she took one look at this book and it was mind blowing. I saw it too and if everything in it true and several of us checked the numbers we knew and they checked then his network is much bigger than we expected.”

“If Stacey was supposed to keep the network, then how come she was waving this book around.”

“This was Tom’s office desk book in Washington. His public book, not the one where he kept his discreet contacts. Stacey was rather scared to look at that book after seeing this one.”

“So who was in the book?”

“Everybody who is anybody. Tom was apparently popular with the embassy crowd, sold custom guns to heads of state and had to deal just about everybody in government as part of his job.  Tom’s family is starting an inn and if Tom has an after Olympics party and he may, it will be the party to go to even if he doesn’t get the booze from his father in law.”

“Theresa and I were discussing his network and thinking that it was amazing. If this is true, that network goes way beyond what we thought it was.”

“Well we were going through the stuff from his office in Washington. The top item in the box was a signed picture from the White House of Tom with President and Mrs. Coolidge wishing him well in his new life. There was an invitation to the Imperial palace in Tokyo, in silk. It was a work of art in itself and somebody had had it framed.  He uses a knife from a Samurai as a letter opener and it’s probably well over 200 years old. He has the matching swords. There was more amazing stuff in the box and there was another box.”

“We never actually looked at what he was when he was in Washington. We paid attention and not that much attention, to what he was doing. That may have been a mistake.”

“Well you have an opportunity to see him in action in something where the dark is not obvious or has a connection with him. You can see what he does. They won’t be spending very long here, at first as they are planning to go back to the Cape after Christmas, take the yacht to Sal’s wedding and go back. After that, I don’t know.”

“Will Tom be taking the train back?”

“Probably not. He drove up.”

“Why?”

“To pick up his niece Katherine’s Christmas present, a beautiful four year old chestnut mare trained for the ring. The horse is Stephie’s horse’s granddaughter.”

“That sounds like a wonderful gift.”

“With some stipulations. The girl has to spend all the time that the horse needs.”

“That sounds like Tom. So what happened with the king? Stories about that are all over the place.”

“Jacob said that Bob and Scott are “such good boys.””

“I take it that they are not.”

“The usual terms that come up are the demon Murphy’s apprentices or chaos personified.”

“How did the boys find out about what Jacob said?” “They were in the room, bussing the tables.”

“Oops. So what did they do?”

“Ran a bunch of gags and water magic over the Christmas parade and created a new ending for the skating show. The ending was much better and magical, but it ended up with Scott making off with Jacob’s granddaughter. Of course by that point, Jacob had moved on to bigger targets to insult.”

I think I can guess, after that meeting. Josh and Tom. Noro too.”

“He said that Chrissie was a “stupid girl” and accused Scott of kidnapping to Josh and Tom. He followed that up by trying to have the owner of a restaurant that he likes kick Noro and his company’s Christmas party out.”

“That explains why Josh said that if he even saw the man he would pull all his people and that the Olympics would be dry as a bone.”

“Of course, Chrissie is going to get her licks in too and Tom is going to be there and take every opportunity to rub Jacob’s nose in how pathetic he is. He’s also planning some sort of Christmas present for Jacob, but he may not have time for it. On the other hand, he has access to essentially unlimited resources and he works very fast. The kids at the farm are all expecting something spectacular and he probably will not want to disappoint them. He’s been giving classes on how to use tools safely and they are very popular.”

“So what are the rest up to?”

“Mailing wedding announcements to famous people. We did about 100 today and they are going out with tomorrow’s mail. Mermaids playing in the snow and I wish I could send the pictures of that to the paper, but I don’t think that Roger would print them anyway. Chrissie did take some but that’s for family. Quite a few, actually.”

“So tomorrow’s going to be an important day for somebody.”

“Probably.”

Tom.

Tuesday 12/22

Tuesday morning, Josh had us all go over the updated schedule and point out the hot spots. Then we drove over to Lake Placid. Chrissie and I went over to the Committee offices to get the bathroom issue resolved. When I started to work my way through the problem it wasn’t the bathrooms themselves. They were ready to go. It was water. The city wouldn’t certify the facilities without water and they didn’t have it. They had started a water main but, there was a problem preventing them from finishing it.  Along with some bureaucratic foot dragging from an unlikely source, the Bureau of Indian Affairs. By the time I got through all the people involved, who were as pissed as I was, we had a quite a little group including the chief of the local Mohawk Indians who’s tribe was the cause of the problem, but not responsible for it. Back when the Olympics had been proposed the town had planned to put in a larger water main, which happened to cross the Indian reservation for about 100 feet. So they put in for a permit and even dug the trench for the pipe which was right beside the trench. The rest of the pipe was already finished. I found a table in an unused office and got everybody together to resolve the issue. The chief said, “it’s like this for every improvement. We had a road that took two years to get the permits. But we need the water, the town does and we do. We keep trying to get to somebody over at Indian affairs and we can’t find the right person.”

“I need to make a call.”

I went over to the desk and dialed a number that I had hoped I wouldn’t have had to use, but had expected to at some point. I just hadn’t realized that it would take less than an hour. The phone rang and Terry picked up. “Hi Terry, it’s Tom.”

“Hi, Tom! You haven’t called us in a long time. The boss is in a dull meeting, I think I can interrupt him if it’s good news.” “It is good news and we put the letter in the mail this morning. I got married two weeks ago.”

“Wonderful Tom! Did you include a picture of you and your wife?”

“I did.”

“So what can we do for you today Tom?”

“I think that I need to speak to Miss Victoria. There’s a number I need at the Indian affairs office. I’m here at Lake Placid because my family has dragged me into dealing with some issues here at the Olympics and there is a permit issue.”

“I’ll put you through. It was so good to hear that you found somebody at last.”

“Tom, what are you doing in my office!” I covered the mouthpiece.

“Jacob, we will talk about this in a minute. I have a very important call right now.”

Vicky picked up the phone. “Tom! Terry says that you found a girl and got married. That’s wonderful! I hope pictures are on the way.”

“Yes they are, miss Victoria. We sent them out this morning. I have to apologize for not getting the announcements out earlier, but we had some issues with a nephew being kidnapped just before the wedding and we had to deal with that.”

“Do you need me to call the Director?”

“No, he was very helpful already and the mother is a Federal officer up here in Vermont. The boy is ok and causing trouble again.”

“So what can I do for you today? You really should call more often and visit from time to time. Bring your wife the next time you are in town.”

“I will, miss Victoria. I need a contact at the Indian affairs office. There is a permit holdup and it could hurt the Olympics. I was delegated to this by my wife’s grandfather, who’s company is a major contractor here and we need to get this resolved.”

“I can deal with that. You should be on your honeymoon. What is the permit number?”

I gave it to her. Somebody was about to have their lives turned to hell. I had made a mistake and gotten on the wrong end of Vicky once. I would never do that again. In fact, I should have called her anyway. “Thank you, Miss Victoria.”

“Think nothing of it.”

She hung up but the line didn’t go dead. Terry said, “Tom, the President wants to offer Congratulations.”

“Hello, Tom. I understand that congratulations are in order.”

“Yes Mr. President, thank you. We sent out announcements but some things interrupted just before the wedding and we couldn’t do them, so we sent them out this week. You should see it later in the week, with a picture of Chrissie and I.”

“That’s wonderful, Tom. I have to go now, but we will look forward to the announcement. Bye.”

“Good by Mr. President.”

He hung up. I turned around to Jacob who was looking rather croggled. “Who did you just call?”

“The White House, why?”

“So the President offered you congratulations?”

“Yes, he just did. I sort of expected that Terry would tell him that I got married once she transferred the call.”

I turned to the rest. “Go ahead and finish the water main. The permit will be here by the end of the day.”

They smiled and left.

“Well get out of my office!”

“Why? You won’t be using it. In fact, didn’t the committee tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“That if my father in law even sees your ugly face, he will pull all of White’s people and furthermore there will be no liquor shipments to the Olympics.”

“He can’t do that.”

“Chrissie, what happened when there were liquor wars down in Massachusetts?”

“Daddy shut them all down. Nobody ships without daddy’s say so.”

“Jacob, I know that you don’t think I’m much of anything, but trust me on this, keep being the jerk you’ve been since I came back up and you won’t believe the crap that will come falling down on you. My father in law is pissed at you already and with even just a little push, he will come down on you like a ton of bricks. You just saw me get off the phone with the President. Do I need to call the top mob boss and tell him that the Peacekeeper wants Lake Placid dry for a week or so? I could do that, right here, right now.”

“Well, get out of my office!”

“I was just going to leave but you just changed my mind.”

I got up and went to the door. “Mr. Dreir!”

“Yes, Tom?”

“I want Mr. Martin’s things out of my office in ten minutes.”

“I can’t do that!”

“Bob!”

“Yeah Tom!”

“I want Jacob’s crap out of my office. Find some people and dump it on the street.”

“I’ll do that.”

Jacob screamed “You can’t do that!”

“Actually I can. Believe it or not, I’m doing you a favor. If Josh had come in here, there would have been hell to pay. So go home and stay there. Send a truck down for your stuff. After the games are over, you can have the office back.”

“Scott, have somebody escort Mr. Martin out.”

“I can do that.”

Scott came over and Jacob said, “ One step closer and I will call the sheriff and have you thrown out! In fact I will do it now!”

“Mr. Drier, what are the terms of the contract with White’s?”

“That the committee will abide by all decisions made by Mr. White or by the people he delegates.”

“Have I been delegated by Mr.White?”

“He told us that you had been delegated by him.”

“How long does the committee have a lease on the building.”

“Through the end of February.”

“Ok, so through the end of February, Mr. Martin is banned from this building under any circumstances. I want you to call Sheriff Jacobs and have him send a deputy.”

Scott said, “He doesn’t need to.” He held up a badge. “Boris and Bill thought that these might be useful. Mr. Martin, sir. I need to request that you leave.”

Scott pushed Jacob out of the building while Bob and crew hauled in some boxes and hauled his stuff out. As they hauled the stuff out, Josh and Noro came out of the corner that they had been hiding in the whole time. It was a good thing Jacob had been so focused on me that he hadn’t heard them laugh themselves silly. Josh said, “You were gentler than I expected.”

“The call to the President was a nice touch,” Noro said.

“That was real and I will probably be using it again, if not some of my other connections. That water main couldn’t wait and those idiots in Indian affairs would have sat on the permit for who knows how long. We should see it by the end of the day, if not sooner. Never underestimate the power of a good office mom.”

“I notice that you didn’t straight up ask her for what you really wanted.”

“If I had done that I would be giving orders. When I first arrived in Washington, I made that mistake. She forgave me after a while when I apologized. But doing it like I did, she’s pleased to do me a favor and somebody is going to catch holy hell for messing something up like the games that has national prestige at stake. Also she is pleased as punch that one of her boys found somebody.”

“So what are you going to do with the office now that you have it?”

“I have no idea. If Jacob hadn’t made such a jackass of himself, I was about to leave. All I wanted was the table so that we could get the water main issue resolved. Thomas, did the committee tell him what could happen if Josh saw him?”

He was smiling. “Yes we did. We were very blunt about how upset Mr. Claytor was and what he would do if Jacob came down here. We weren’t absolutely sure about the liquor though.”

“You should have been,” Josh said. “Jacob was only one call from having the entire games dry. If he pulls anything, Tom, make a call to Big Jim and tell him to arrange that no shipments reach his house through the games.”

Chrissie said, “I have an idea.”

She rolled over to the phone and made a call. “Bill is sending somebody over with your boxes, Tom. I will decorate the office for you.”

Now I was going to have something I was trying to avoid. A big fancy office, complete with a pretty office manager that I couldn’t even fire, because she was my wife.

The permit showed up two hours later from Western Union. By then I was dealing with another unpleasant aspect of my job, labor relations. “Vincent Tonelli and I’ll get right to the point. “a grand a week and you won’t have any problems.”

As he was talking, I was dialing. “Jim, Tom here. An associate of yours is telling me about problems. Oh, you want to talk to him. Here he is.”

I handed him the phone “yes? No Mr. Messimo, there are no problems here. Yes Mr. Messimo. I’ll tell him.” He had a rather frightened face as he handed me the phone. “Mr. Benton, you will never have any problems from me, no sir.”

“Good, because I have a lot of problems and might need a problem solver. Do you want to earn that 1000 bucks?”

He smiled at me. “You know, Mr. Benton. I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

“Well, look around. There’s plenty of overtime and see that list over there? The top part is the stuff I need to get done. The bottom part is the things I would like to do if I can get the top part done. There’s a third list that isn’t there because we don’t think that it’s possible. For every item that you can bring up from the second list to the first list I’ll give your people that grand as a bonus. For every item that we get from that third list, your people get five grand. I’m not adverse to paying. But I’m stuck here and I need results. My grandfather and father in laws were handed this mess and I get to deal with the crap. I got this office by dealing with the biggest jerk around, the guy who had it up to this morning. Don’t be that guy and we will get along just fine.”

“You know, I should have known that anybody who could kick Jacob out of his own office was no lightweight. On the other hand it looks like you will be a pleasure to work for, Mr. Benton.”

“Call me Tom. Mr. Benton is my dad, who just showed up.”

“I’m Vinnie and Mr. Benton, you are lucky to have this guy as your son”

He left. Chrissie giggled from the corner where Vinnie hadn’t even noticed her. Father said, “Bill was going to send the stuff over, but when he said that you had driven Jacob from his own office, I had to see.”

“Father, I didn’t even want the office. I just needed a table so that we could get the water main issue resolved. But Jacob started to throw his weight around and I was afraid that Josh would show up and raise holy hell if Jacob was around so I threw him out. Josh saw the whole thing. The stupid part is that Jacob started to throw his weight around after I had just hung up with the President. And he knew who I had been talking to.”

“I think it had to do with his sense of self worth. You just called the White House as if it was no big deal, didn’t you?” “Yes, it wasn’t that big a deal, for me. I needed something and knew where to get it. I also called Big Jim to help resolve some labor issues.  There will be some other people I call or see.”

“But Jacob knew he could never just do that, but he thought he could push you around. He was wrong.  Well I am proud of what you just did. Why don’t we find Josh and Noro and take Greta and Chrissie over to Antonio’s for lunch.”

Josh and Noro were at the White’s office and we all got in one of Noro’s cars and went over to Antonio’s. Mike and Al were already there along with Hilda and Athena. Al said, “The word around town is that you kicked Jacob out of his own office.” “MY office now. I didn’t even want it, but now I have it.  If Jacob had just kept his mouth shut, or been in any way reasonable, I was already leaving.  But he kept throwing his weight around, after I had just gotten off the phone with the President, and I was concerned that Josh would show up and things would really get screwed up. It turned out that Josh and Noro had been in the back watching the whole thing and laughing themselves silly.” “Josh, was it as good as a trouble shooter?”

“Not quite, but it was up there. Jacob wasn’t even supposed to be in the building, let alone an office. I made that very clear when Mary and I came over and picked up the schedule yesterday. A schedule that Tom pushed way ahead with one phone call. That water main was the biggest sticky we had and I was afraid that we would have to just go ahead with it and worry about the permit later. The city wasn’t going to certify the bathrooms and the kitchens without a water supply and when I checked with White’s to see if I could get some pumps, they didn’t have any available and it was a ten week lead time, which we don’t have. There was also the issue of providing electricity to the pumps and the cost of the pumps and the electricity. Trying to route the pipe around the Indian reservation was out of the question because of terrain. It would have required an extra mile of pipe. I was going to call Mera and see what she could do, but Tom dealt with it before I could. Still it was amazing. There was Tom, on the line with the White House and Jacob saunters in and blows a gasket when he sees people in the office. Then Tom says, “Jacob, we can talk about this in a minute, I’m on a very important call.” Then the President is on the other end, just to offer Tom congratulations. He hangs up and rips Jacob to pieces and has him tossed out. The irony is that he has Bob and Scott do the tossing.” “I knew they would,” I said.  “The rest of the people in that office would balk because they are used to giving in to Jacob. Bob and Scott wouldn’t. The badge was a bit of a surprise, though I suppose that it shouldn’t have been as we’ve all been deputized for years in case we are needed.”

“So what are you doing for a follow up?” Al said.

“Nothing today. Chrissie and I need to get back to the farm. There are still more wedding announcements to do and Stephie is bringing the kids again.”

“Tomorrow, Tom, I will be redecorating the office so you can be on the job sites in the morning.”

Chrissie and I drove back with father and mother and Chrissie went into the pool to get wet for a bit, while I went over to the shop where Stephie and James were already starting with the kids. Stephie asked, “so how did it go?”

“It’s off to a good start. We got the water issues resolved and the bathrooms will be good to go and the kitchens can be made ready. I made a call to the White House and put myself in very good water with the office mom, which is always a good thing and straightened up labor relations. I also kicked Jacob out of his office for his own good.”

“Why did you kick Jacob out of his office? Other than the fact that he is a jackass.” “Well I had just dialed the White House to talk to the office mom about the water issue and Jacob comes in and starts screaming. So I deal with the water issue, the President chimes in to offer congratulations and after I hang up, there is Jacob being Jacob. I make the point that if he runs into Josh, the Olympics could be shut down and dry, but he keeps screaming and I figured that if I didn’t do something, that the whole thing could be a disaster and had Jacob thrown out of the building so that he couldn’t do any harm. It turns out that Josh and Noro were in the back, being discreet and laughing their heads off while Scott flashes a badge after Jacob is screaming about calling the sheriff and tosses Jacob out. The last thing I wanted, a big fancy office. Now I have it. There is a suit in my future, probably by the end tomorrow, I just know it.”

“We were looking at those pictures from your office yesterday. You look good in a suit.”

“Well I just hope that Chrissie doesn’t find my office stuff from Pratt. I hate to think what the office going to look like when she’s done. Let’s get started.”

I was going to teach the kids how to use measuring tools and keep things square today, as well has how to read drawings and some sketching. I also showed them how to run the lathe. After we were done and the bus took most of the kids home, James said, “This has been an interesting experience. They are moving forward amazingly quickly.”

“Well I’m just covering the basics and scratching the surface. I’m also not asking for results at this point. I just want them to have fun. I’m also trying to teach them to get past the frustration levels that stall things up. I had too many of those. I overcame them because I had to do something to surprise Stephie and her stuffy friends and I couldn’t just keep running the same gags over and over.”

“Well those things had to be good for something,” Stephie said. “As for this, will you still be able to do this and Lake Placid too?”

“I think so. To me this is as important. This is fun and the stuff over there isn’t very. A lady said that I should be on my honeymoon and being here, with family, for Christmas, is part of that. Cleaning up Jacob’s mess isn’t. It needs to be done, but it wasn’t what I had planned, at all. I came up here to get Bob and Scott going on the guns, have fun with the kids and maybe get some skiing in.”

It was time for the kids to go and we closed up the shop and went over to the house for dinner. Noro’s cars drove up with the rest of the people from over there at the Olympics. Hilda and Athena were right behind them. We all went in and joined the ladies in the living room. Nera said, “Chrissie says that you kicked Jacob out of his office. Was it fun?”

“Not really. But Josh was around, Jacob was making a nuisance of himself while I was on the phone with a very important lady at the White house doing some delicate negotiations and talking to the President. So I had to get rid of Jacob before he did irrevocable harm to the games. Having to deal with Jacob while I talking to the White House office mom was not something I really wanted to do. I was hoping that she didn’t pick up on how much of a jackass he is and get offended. She wants see Chrissie, so that went well. ”

“The White House office mom? I can see your point. Is she as good as Mary?”

“Probably better. Certainly in a position to do somebody a world of hurt if you get on her bad side. I did once and I will never do that again. I should have called her earlier, but we were rather busy. I’m sure that she will be talking to Mary sooner rather than later about me. I got the water issue at the games taken care of and that’s the important thing. As well as making sure that I stayed on miss Victoria’s good side. That is a very important thing.”

 

Stacey said, “I’ve started to go through the scary books and they really aren’t all that scary, but there were some more people that we should send announcements too. I gave mother a list. A lot of the contacts will want to be discreet and they won’t want contacts from you for things like wedding announcements. Still, Jacob was a true fool to piss you off.”

We had dinner and made plans for the next day. At least we had gotten off to a good start.

Ghost.

Tuesday 12/22

Eli had sent a telegram saying that I should go up, so I caught the morning train to Lake Placid. On the trip I was able to go through the material from the briefing the day before and write up a synopsis for the Director and copy for Roger. Since Tim had been watching me I felt that I needed to send actual copy in case he was looking for my byline. He had been looking for me on the train and while I had been discreet, it was dicey and only the fact that he was new to his abilities allowed me to remain hidden. He had obviously picked up on our resonance but didn’t know what it was.

The raid had been interesting and seeing Sal in action was a lot of fun. Getting those kids out from that place and not seeing the place go up in flames and suicide was interesting as well. The bureau had obviously acquired new abilities and was making good use of them. The fact that the troubleshooter was used as the public face of the bureau was interesting as well. The house tour beforehand made it clear that the house had, indeed more or less become the bureau’s headquarters and that the compelled were now working for the bureau. I wasn’t going to tell the director that, at least not at first. Sal’s wife Sillia was a wonderful woman and they were a very good team. As for Tim, he was very good at getting pictures and working with the bureau as well as the paper.

The train arrived at Lake Placid in the growing darkness, Eli was there and hugged me. As we went to the car, I asked, “So how are things going?”

“Having close calls with Josh and the dark is here, but hiding deep.” “Close calls with Josh?”

“I was looking for Doris in Burlington and two guys from the bureau show up and walk into a restaurant. I phased through the wall to see if I could hear what they were saying and a guy in a sheriff’s uniform shows up and joins them. A bit later a bunch of guys show up and them Noro, Josh, Tom, some guy who must have been Eric and a lady show up and they start talking to the other guys. The other guys were responsible for the Olympic games and were trying to make Noro the patsy to take the fall when the games go South.  Instead Josh calls one of the bureau guys over, has him hand over a stack of documents, proceeds to read the Olympic guys the riot act and takes the games away from them.”

“Where was Jacob?” “Not there. Apparently he can’t go near this place and Boris was there to arrest him if he tried.”

“So what happened then?”

“Well I must have resonated with Josh, because he sensed me. He called out to me and I phased through the wall and left.”

“Was Josh hostile?”

“Not to me. That committee got the full Josh and it was fun to watch. The committee was a bunch of fools and I had to stand there and smell the steaks in that place. Doris and I went back later.”

“So what happened today?”

“Tom threw Jacob out of Jacob’s office. The story was all over town as the office had been filled with the local Indian chief, the mayor, the contractor for the new water main, the county commissioner, and the building inspector. They were using Jacob’s office for a meeting. Tom was trying to get the water issue resolved for the bathrooms and food concessions.”

“Did he?”

“And how. He just walks over to the desk and dials the White House. The reason the water main wasn’t finished was that it required a permit from Indian Affairs. Tom talks to somebody, the President offers him congratulations on getting married and two hours later the permit shows up.”

“So where was Jacob?”

“He walked into the office as Tom was making the call. Tom says that he is making an important call and tells Jacob to wait while does. When he put the phone down, he turns around and Jacob start’s screaming at him to get out of his office. Tom opens the door and has Bob toss Jacob’s stuff out of HIS office and Scott, who has a deputy’s badge escort Jacob out of the building.”

“Why did he do that?”

“Well yesterday, Josh told the committee that if he even saw Jacob’s face, he would pull his people and then proceed to make sure that the Olympics were dry.”

“That would have gone over well.”

“Anyway, I think that Tom was concerned that Jacob would just tear the whole thing down out of perverse idiocy and wanted to make sure that Jacob couldn’t hang around and ruin things just by being Jacob. Also, Jacob was acting like an idiot right after Tom had just finished making a call to the White House.”

“So what else did you do?”

“Dodged a cat and a wolf as they sniffed around. Hilda and Athena were driving around looking into things when they weren’t running errands for Josh or Noro. Mike and Al were too. Mike and Al were the two people in the restaurant. I didn’t recognize them at first, but Doris told me who they were later. So be on your toes.”

“So Josh resonated with you. That means that he is some kind of relative. If he resonates with me, we will know. I think that Doris is right and Josh is indeed our son.”

“So what do we do about it?”

“You said that he wasn’t actively hostile. So we can sit and talk with him. But I think that I want to do it at Sal’s wedding unless some reason comes up.”

“Well I do know one thing. Whatever we thought about Tom and his network, it’s going to be bigger and deeper than we thought. According to Doris, they started to go through his desk book from Washington and none of them were quite sure that it was real. Of course Tom just casually calls the White House this morning and two hours later a permit that they had been trying to get for over a year just shows up. The committee asked why Tom was there and Josh said that he was there because they might need his clout.”

“So where is Doris?”

“Back over here. She was going to go back down into the city, but decided to stay and watch. She thinks that things are going to be fun for a while.”

Hilda.

Tuesday 12/22.

While Noro, Josh and the rest were taking over the Olympic Games, Athena and I had a little talk with George and he went over every bit of the sordid tale surrounding his launching the constructs. We also went around and did some checking, but the doppelgangers were, of course long gone except for the graves behind the house they had been staying in. Boonsri had apparently not seduced George because he had already bonded with Hazel at that point.  Athena had actually gotten the story about George’s antics with Bob and Scott from me and she had passed it on as part of the overall goings on. As for the construct source, he wasn’t the type to ask too many questions.  The interesting about the visit was the fact that Bob and Scott were the big buyers of constructs in our area, which when we thought about it, made sense. They were the only ones who needed a steady supply and actually profited from using them. Using a construct for the things the dark wanted, attacking people and causing panic, didn’t require a constant supply of them as the construct shoots did. It was possible that Bob and Scott, in the course of a year, went through as many constructs as all the dark fae in the region, combined.

In any case, George had been slowly dragged along with some of his friends and relatives into things that were not the best way to go. They were too loose with compulsions to get things they wanted and because most of them did not have to work they didn’t understand those who did. A lot of this was Jacob’s and his family’s fault. So George was primed when he had been humiliated by Bob and Scott and his friends had advocated revenge. The doppelgangers had infiltrated themselves in the group and convinced George that if he launched constructs that Bob and Scott would be blamed.  The insidious thing was that the doppelgangers had been working on George’s little clique for some time and taking Andy had had more preparation than any of us realized.  The manager, or his boss was planning to try to indenture me even before Tom and the sharks had their little encounter on the island.

After Athena and I had our talk with George, we did some looking around and discreetly visited Lake Placid to see if we could get a whiff of Josh’s watcher. We got traces, but nothing definite and Noro recruited us to run errands for the Olympics after an entertaining lunch where Josh and Noro were laughing at how Tom had thrown Jacob out of his own office this morning. After lunch we took some stuff over to Vinnie, who Tom had recruited that morning. As we were handing thing over, Vinnie said, “Mrs. Benton your brother in law is amazing. I go in to do a little shake down and as I’m talking, he dials the biggest boss around. Then he turns around and offers me an even better deal than I was asking for. Frankly after Jacob, having him around is a ray of sunshine.”

That was typical of everybody we talked to. Everybody knew about Jacob and his getting thrown out of his office and there wasn’t anybody that didn’t think that it was about time.

After some errands and some more discreet looking around and catching a whiff of our mystery watcher, we went home in time for dinner.

Tim

Tuesday 12/22.

I got up early from my new place and ran into some of my new neighbors wondering who I was and where did Sal go. I explained that my fiancé was Sal’s sister and that Sal had moved to be with his girl in a new place. Sal’s neighbors hadn’t realized that the troubleshooter was Sal and I wasn’t going to tell them.

They asked what I did and I said that I was a junior reporter at the World and had just completed the kidnapping story. Being cops and firemen they took me to breakfast to get the inside dirt and I gave them some that didn’t have the weird and the strange in it. They were glad to know that the last little girl was ok. They also let me know that they would send me stuff , which wouldn’t hurt me one bit. They asked me what my next story was and I told them that my editor had told me that I couldn’t send any copy in until the new year unless there was a Martian invasion so I was doing some freelancing.

After breakfast I went over to the navy yard where Suzy insisted that I Swim with her around the old wreck they were pumping out as she fluttered around keeping an eye on the things happening underwater. We did that until lunch and after lunch I went over to the coffee company to get some photographs and most importantly, talk to George Buckley. I went over to George’s office and said “Mr. Buckley I’m Sorry.” “What for.”

“For not getting Joe out of the fix he was in when I had the chance.”

“Doris explained about compulsions and what really happened. You had no way of knowing what would happen. You didn’t kill Joe, those degenerates did.  Some of this is weird and strange to me, but if you work some beats that happens.”

“I knew that Joe was under compulsions and we could have removed them. I couldn’t but I was with people who could. We didn’t remove them for reasons that right now, seem rather frivolous. That was a mistake.” “I don’t think that mattered. The degenerates would have had to kill Joe anyway once they took him. They did kill two of my detectives right after using them to do the same things that they were doing with Joe. I don’t think Joe would have wanted to live with himself if that little girl had been eaten.

Leonard called to apologize for hiring Joe in the first place. But Joe was in a risky business and knew the risks. Leonard had perfectly valid reasons to want you looked into and after he talked to you told Joe to drop looking into you.  But he had used Joe in the past and the degenerates knew about him. Once they took him, they were going to try to kill them at some point and building a case takes time. Before the girl, Detective del Vecchio and his friend couldn’t just go and walk right straight in and arrest them.  Anymore than I could back at the beginning of this thing.  I talked to Roger and we both agreed that you did a good job with the story. You worked hard, traced that story, talked to people that are not easy to talk to and followed leads to see where they went. You made solid contacts and you delivered good copy.  In this business people die sometimes. Sometimes they are the people on your side. It could very well have been you. The degenerates had you in that car too and I suspect that they had unpleasant plans for you as well.  Take the life you have and learn from your mistake.  I would learn how to remove compulsions if you can and go from there.”

I thought of that as I toured the plant, took my pictures and waved at the barge kids who were happy to see me. I took a bag of coffee with me as I went back to the navy yard to meet with Suzy. As I walked into the office, Stella said, “Tim, we are meeting with Mike’s parents and your mother’s parents at the bower tonight. We are going to try to convince them to come up to Bennies, but that may be difficult.”

“Why?”

“Well they have been under sea for some time and don’t really feel connected to the world up top. Then there were the recent attacks. Realistically, Mike’s parents should have come to our place during that fiasco, but we were over at the navy yard and had no way of contacting them until it was over. Now that Sal has bonded and Joe is up top, we can fix some of that. Frankly I want Mike’s parents to come up to Bennies from time to time and talk or even use the phone to call from time to time.”

“Well they will have to come up. For the pictures that go with everything we did. Especially my stuff. I can’t take all those pictures down below and between the kidnapping stuff, the party and the wedding there is a lot of stuff they should see.” “Oh, yes. And the mermaid dancing pictures as well. That is a wonderful idea. Let’s get the pictures together before we go down Bennies and the bower.”

Mike came in and said, “Are we ready to go?”

“Mike, dear, we need to stop at Tim’s place and home before going down to Bennies.”

“What for?”

“We need to pick up the pictures of the party, the wedding and some other things to bait your parents and Maria’s into Bennies.” “They will have to come up to see them won’t they? I hadn’t thought about that. Well, let’s go then.”

After rolling my sister, Stella and Suzy into the car, we drove out and stopped by my place and picked up my albums and the party pictures and then went to Mike’s house for the wedding pictures as my set hand not yet arrived in the mail. Chrissie had apparently been distracted by something up in Vermont and not finished mailing them out. Cindy was there, so we picked her up too. We dropped the pictures and Cindy off at Bennies and then took Stella and Suzy over to the warehouse so that we could get wet and Swim out to the bower.

When we arrived at the bower Meria was at the border with my parents and four merfolk that I didn’t know. Mother said, “Tim, these are my parents, Brianial and Tvalia.”

Tvalia came over and hugged me. “We are so pleased to meet you at last. Katherine has been with us, but you could not see you because you were up top. Now we can. We want to hear all about your adventures from you now that you are here.”

“That won’t be easy. There was a lot that has happened. So much has changed and Changed.” “Well how did you discover Suzy here?”

“Over a battleship and some lost kids. I was tracking some kidnappings looking for a story to break into the papers as a reporter. After taking a picture, I went over to the water and there was Suzy making a big splash next to a battleship.”

“It wasn’t that big, Suzy said. “Yours are bigger, now that you have them.”

“That’s not true. I can’t jump as high.”

“Suzy these are my parents, Donello and Valia,” Mike said. “You haven’t met because they were down here and you haven’t been since your Change. Mother, father, my other daughter is up at Bennies. We want to invite you all up top for dinner.”

“We haven’t been up top. How will be discreet?” Donello said. “Mike you know that. You even grew up below.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much for tonight and Bennies, or for Sal’s wedding where you are all expected to attend. Things have changed and hiding has proven not to work in many ways. We nearly had a disaster and if the worst had happened then there is a good chance that we could have lost you.” “I don’t have any problems up top, really,” dad said. “At least nothing other than the usual problems that go with dealing with a business. Donello, Brianal at least you can Change. I can’t, and at first I thought that would force me down below full time.  It hasn’t turned out that way.  My daughter works in the navy yard with other mermaids.  Why don’t you come up and see for yourselves what really happened. You can see Tim’s work as well, the work that we can’t bring down. Tim, I hope you know just how proud of you, your mother and I are. You have had to deal with all sorts of changes and travails and you have faced them fearlessly.”

“Tim, you have done so well in spite of the fact that you were left alone and we are sorry,” mother said. “Mother why don’t we celebrate Tim’s bonding and see what he has done? I am in Bennies frequently and I’ve have never been concerned about trying to hide what I was. Come up top and experience a bit of the wider world. One of the best things I have done is to be part of that world even if it was an all too brief time. I haven’t separated from that world because my children are still part of that world. That is a good thing because we have learned to our sorrow that just because we may wish to separate from the world, it may not want to separate from us. Let’s go up.”

My parents and Mike and Stella along with help from Meria managed to cajole and push the reluctant grandparents up to the dock and into Bennies. Once we all sat down and nobody paid any attention to the fact that some of us didn’t even bother to Change, then everybody started to enjoy themselves. Suzy and I went through our adventures and dealings with the manger and the sharks. Cindy showed her pictures of the various merfolk on the cruise and it was impossible to tell whether Suzy or I had the bigger splash because we were together for the most part, so after dinner we went down to the dock again and they forced us to leap and make splashes. Mine were bigger, but “Suzy, you were cheating, you’ve had more practice.”

“We can fix that. You come down to the yard every day and we Swim and you practice. So that way you don’t splash as much.”

With that we went back to our places and bed.

 

 

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