Mermaid, Chapter 22, Part 4 and end

Here’s the end of chapter 22. Chapter 23 and beyond should come up quick.

Tim goes to a bookstore and chases after a shark. Tom and the rest take the train back to the farm and more.

Tim.

Saturday 1/02

I went into the city early Saturday to meet with Doris and the paper’s book editor, Ron Wilson. We were going to meet up at a bookstore on fourth Avenue with Tom and he was going to do a signing and shopping tour for the kids at the wedding. I walked into Doris’s office and she was there with Ron, who I had seen around but hadn’t been introduced to yet. As I walked in, Doris was talking to Ron and when she saw me, said, “Hi Tim. This is Ron from our books section. Ron this is our future business reporter and star stringer this year.” He stood up to shake my hand, “Hi Tim, I know we’ve passed each other in the hall from time to time, but I’m glad to meet you at last. I read the stuff you did over the kidnappings and it was good work. In fact you may be hearing from some publishers about a book deal about the kidnapping mystery, that part that you can tell. So how did you meet our new bestselling author.”

“Over the kidnapping of the Fed’s kid. It turns out that the cases were connected and the kid’s mom was Tom’s sister in law. Taking the kid was stupid and Tom printed those books up to give to Andy and his other nephews, the ones that hadn’t already made copies for themselves.” “I gave a copy to my son. It’s one of those rare things that’s just on the right side of dangerous.” “Tom made it up in his battles with his sister when they were younger. So he was a kid when he came up with the stuff.” “Doris says that the things he’s doing now, when he isn’t running the games work are amazing.” “Well he did a nickelodean sort of puppet show in a couple of days for the Troubleshooter and it was. But I don’t think that the Troubleshoooter will let it out of his house.” “Tom did another show up at Lake Placid and I think that his brother and the rest of the family has plans for it,” Doris said. “There was some talk of renting a storefront on the street up there during the games so that White’s could show off what they did and Tom’s brother could shop his custom guns to a bigger audience. The show was going to go into the window.”

“Let me guess, the show involved that Martin character and his antics that you put in the stuff you sent. That stuff had the whole building laughing. Especially those who had met the two boys.” “It did, and it was hilarious. The fun part is that Jacob can’t touch it because Tom had the kids from his sister’s school work on it. So wrecking it wouldn’t be hurting Tom, but the kids.” “Ouch. If it sits there, everybody sees it and Mr. Martin looks like a fool and if he breaks it, Mr. Martin looks like the biggest jerk around.”

“Then there’s the fact that since most of Mr. Martin’s daughters, nieces and daughters in laws know Tom’s sister and showed up for his party, they have already seen it and they already knew about the boys, and Tom. So if Jacob breaks the show, he has to deal with a big bunch of unhappy relatives. Tim, I think that you and Ron need to be going.”

We did, and when we arrived at the bookstore, Tom and Chrissie hadn’t arrived, but the kids were starting to show up. It shouldn’t have been a surprise but, Tony and some of Tochi’s people were there waiting. I walked over to Tony and said, “so some of the kids came down?”

“Andy and Gregor brought a bunch of troublemakers just so that Tom would have some support. We came in on the train. Tochi’s kids tied up with them when we got here. They’re inside already.” “Did Andy bring Trillia?” “No, though she wanted to come. We don’t have a big enough car for everybody that wanted to come and Sal is getting ready for the big show this afternoon so that we couldn’t borrow his. In fact we are loaning him our big car so that he can get set up.”

Some people from the publishers showed up and I went over to where they were talking to Ron to hand over the packet of pictures that Chrissie and I had taken and Stacey had asked me to handle. The publisher’s people had looked for me at the paper Wednesday, but I had been at the Sound bower with Suzy shopping for some things to put on the wall of my place. Suzy and Sal said that I would probably want visitors at some point and that we should fill up the space. I didn’t want the only thing in the room to attract attention to be the little statue of Suzy dancing. The statue that was five pounds of gold and pearl. So Suzy and I had done some shopping and I had some things for my wall in addition to the thing I had coming down from the Cape.

The paper had sent the contact to White’s and they had talked to Bill, who put them in contact with Stacey at Sal’s and Stacey and Chrissie had made the arrangements for the pictures and for me to handle that part of that. Stacey had also had the people at White’s make up the prints and had handed them to me at Sal’s when Suzy and I Swam in yesterday.

Ron saw me walk over and said, “here he is now. Tim, this Laurie Stover and Isaac Charles. Laurie is Tom’s editor and Isaac is from the publicity department. They were trying to get a hold of you and Roger sent them to White’s since you did that stuff for them and Stacey at White’s set them up.”

“I was out on Wednesday shopping for my new place with my girl. She wants to decorate. Stacey talked to me and Chrissie and I got a packet set up with the pictures from both of us. Here it is.”

I handed the packet over and Isaac took it. Laurie said, “You are rather notorious in your own right. Have you started to do a long write up of the kidnapping story?” “Not yet. I’ve been busy and my girl wants me to take a break.” “If you do, my crime guy will be very interested. MY advice though is if you do the write up, get an agent and have them shop it around. I think that the bidding will be intense.”

“I’ll think about it.”

Princess Suki had come up behind us and said, “Tim, don’t rush into writing up the story. Enjoy your time off while you have it. Not that Suzy will let you forget that. I think that Chrissie and Stacey are here.” The publisher people were looking a little croggled at Suki. But then that was not a surprise. All night at the wedding yesterday she had had that effect on people. On the other hand she obviously liked Tom and Chrissie and took good care of ther husband. She seemed to enjoy it. She was also right as a car from White’s showed up. This time it wasn’t one of Noro’s special Cadillacs. Just a plain old Cadillac, painted black. The driver got the chair out for Chrissie and Stacey came over as he was putting Chrissie in the chair. “Hi Tim! I see that you met up with Isaac already. Did you hand the pictures over?”

“Yes I did.” “Good. Isaac, the check for those goes to the newsletter. Tim was freelancing for us when he took them and we’ll handle the details.”

“That works for us, Stacey. It’s good to see you again. Is Mr.White going to show up?”

“And steal Tom’s show? I don’t think so. At least not right now when Tom is being his front upstate. Also Tom is almost as sneaky as he is and is better connected, if you can believe it.” “So you know Isaac?” I said.

“He’s done a thing or two for me. He’s also lived up at the Cape when grandfather was still up top. I think that he got his start in publicity from the things he learned from grandfather.” “I’m just glad he didn’t decide to show up and play the games he’s been playing in town lately,” Isaac said.

“As far as I know he hasn’t been playing that many games here in town,” I said. Other than hiring me and some other paperboys and street kids and dealing with some other things that he dragged me into before I started looking into the kidnapping story.”

Chrissie was talking to Suki and rolled over. “Stacey, why don’t we all go inside. Its about time for Tom to show up and I don’t want him to get scared away.”

With Tony helping, we got the kids lined up and about the time that we had things ready, Tom showed up and got out of a cab. The bookstore had a table setup and for the next hour, Tom signed books, admired the things that kids had made and talked to parents about safety. Then he took us all on his usual tour with me taking pictures as the kids asked questions. Andy and the rest of the kids from the school sort of kept to the background I sidled over to ask why. “We’ll have other chances with Uncle Tom. These other kids won’t. We want Uncle Tom to want to come back.” Finally the whole thing was over and Stacey and Chrissie took Tom away in the car. I joined up with Ron and he asked, “How come you didn’t go with them? I sensed that you could have.” “Well I didn’t want to make it too obvious and I want to hand you the pictures so that you can take them back to the paper. Then I’ll catch the train out with Tony and the rest of the kids.” “That girl you mentioned?”

“Yes, and she gets bothered when I go too far from the plan.”

I shot the camera dry and handed the three filmpacks that I had taken to Ron. “Here’s the pictures. Tony is waving at me, so I need to get going.”

He was and I went over and we all got on the subway back to Penn Station so we could take the train out to Long Island. I thought about something as I was sitting next to him. “Tony how come most people don’t seem to pay much attention to the way you look?”

“People see what they want to see. Most people see me just as a big guy in a suit. The people who do see me as I am either don’t care or know enough to not give me any trouble about it. Most fae will see me as I am, but they either don’t care or don’t want to mess with me if I’m not going to mess with them. Then there are the people who are my friends and they know me and don’t really look at me other than as me. Helmut is better at that and very few people see him as anything other than a big man. But you don’t see either Helmut or I as anything but who we are. You’re good at that.” “That may be why I saw Suzy as what she was when she was dancing for those boys on that battleship. Of course that led to interesting consequences. But those would have happened anyway.”

“That’s true. I don’t think that your family would ever be considered normal.”

“I’m sure of that.”

“They’re fun though. A lot of fun. You all have a real talent for driving the idiots crazy too.” “Actually I’m not surprised that the idiots want to kill us. The surprising thing is that we let them get away with so much for so long.” “You all didn’t know. The idiots were idiots, but they were sneaky idiots and until Tom shared everything you all didn’t know what was going on. Now you do.” “So now we can deal with the problems.”

“You will. I feel sorry for the Director and his bosses over there. At least I’m on the side that doesn’t see kids as food now.”

We arrived at the train station and Sal was waiting with the Duesie and the car. Tony said as we got off. “I have to get the kids home. Have a nice lunch and make sure some idiots can’t put the bite on more kids.”

He went with the kids and I got into the Duesie with Sal. “How did it go?”

“A bunch of kids showed up and Tom impressed everybody. The paper has some good pictures and so do the publishing people. So everything went well.”

“Good. When we get down to Bennies we can talk some more. Tonight you get to be the snoopy reporter snooping on a shady mob deal.” “That’s the cover?”

“It will work. The Amboy people and Jimmy are having a meeting for real with Jimmy’s people as a get aquainted thing anyway. So there will be cars when the sharks take a look see. You take some pictures of the meeting from the outside and some pictures of me and if anybody asks, I was talking to some clients that needed some trouble shot. Which it will be.” “Maybe we should just keep things out of the papers.” “This is too big. Somebody will report something. So instead we give people what they think is going on. The bureau has quite a bit of practice with handling things like this. The warehouse for instance. What are you going to do while we are gone?”

“I don’t know. I suspect that other people will have plans for me. Mike and driving, Suzy and shooting, my grandparents will probably want a long chat with me about the sharks and the other things that I have been involved in now that they can talk to me.” “Do talk to them. Horse trade for how they do things. They are top level snoops and if you are going to be snooping, I would want to know how they operate.” “What will Suzy say about that?” “What do you think?”

“She’ll love it, but tease me about it mercilessly.”

“I think that you’re right about that. As for driving, use the wreck. For as long as it lasts. The Detective can get another wreck and if you break it, nobody will cry very much.”

“That’s an idea. In fact if I break it, I will be doing the Detective a favor.”

We arrived a Bennies and Sal parked the car and went over to the other car to get Sillia while I got Suzy. Helmut and Alex, along with Bill and the tactical team were there already. So were Josh, Mera, Noro, Mike, Nera and both Marys. Mike had a list and what we were all going to be doing and we talked about that until Tom, Chrissie and Stacey showed up and we had lunch. Dom and Tara joined us for lunch but they were not going with us to New Jersey because Dom didn’t want to be seen stepping in Vinnie’s toes. After lunch we all headed toward New Jersey. I was riding in with Mike and once we were over in New Jersey he dropped me off at the NY and Long Branch Station so that I could take the train to the hotel. That way I wouldn’t be showing up with everybody else if anybody was looking. When I got off the train and started toward the hotel a car stopped in front of me. “Tim! You here for the same reason I am?”

It was the guy who’s camera I shielded, Steve from the Times. “What are you here for?”

“I had a tip that the guys we were chasing in Philly might be going to be poking their nose up here.” “Where did you get the car?”

“The White bounty. I was going to buy mom a house upstate, but she insisted that I get a car too. She’s doing better anyway. I’ve got a girl now too. How’s your girl doing?” “We’re doing fine” “Well, get in out of the weather.”

I did and he started to drive down the street. We drove past the hotel and as we did he stopped as another car went past and then pulled in behind the other car. “The tip was on the money. We’ve seen that car before. They ran off when they spotted us when we went to talk people in the area that kids had been taken. There had been a couple of kidnappings like the ones in Brooklyn recently.” “I hadn’t heard. I’m chasing the Troubleshooter again today. There’s some sort of trouble he’s going to shoot.” “Considering these characters, I think I know what trouble is going to get shot.” The car ahead pulled over a few miles south of the hotel and a guy got off and walked towad the beach. I grabbed a picture as we drove past. It was one of the guys that had been up at Montauk. I turned to Steve and said, “This character has shown up before. He’s one of the Philly gang.”

“I know. We caught him a couple of times scouting out kids. They couldn’t get close and once we had a picture, we, the Feds and the navy spread the word around.”

The guy in the car didn’t seem to notice that we were tailing him as we followed him down to Atlantic City and we watched as he parked the car and got onto a fishing boat. I took several pictures of the boat as it left the pier and then I turned to Steve and said, “we should get back. People are going to wonder where I went.” “Your girl, along with her brother?”

“Those two definitely. You already know some of the others.” “Mike, Mary, and Mike’s scary boss. Mike’s lady with the tail too, probably.” “Those are the ones. Along with some family members that I didn’t know I had.” We drove back north along the coast and easily beat the boat back to the hotel. The hotel parking lot had a bunch of cars in it and I walked in with Steve to check in with Mike. Suzy was there as we walked in and said, “Tim, where did you go?”

“Steve offered me a lift and we caught the boss shark and one of his people in a car. The boss left one of his people and we followed the boss to Atlantic city where he got on that boat we knew about. He’s on his way back.” “Did you get pictures of the boat?” Mike asked.

“Yes I did. The boss too.”

Mary came over and said to Steve, “I see you got the tip I sent. How is your mother?” “Yes I did, Ma’m. My mother is better and really likes the new place. She insisted that I get a car though.”

Noro saw us and came over. “So this is the young man who collected on my bounty. Well good work, young man. Mary has said good things about you as well.” I introduced Steve around to everybody and he was rather boggled by the fact that I knew Al, Sal and Jimmy. “How did you get connected with these characters?” “Suzy and a battleship. Along with the kidnappings over in Brooklyn and the people that took the kids.” “They were bad and this crowd we are dealing with tonight is worse. They spread the kidnappings around and until you started to look nobody really understood what was happening. They also took the people with tails off the beach. The people with tails have wised up about that now.” “How did you find out about them?”

“They came to us when they realized that we knew something about what was going on. Not that the tails were that big a surprise after the warehouse. My girl has a tail like Suzy. She latched onto me and hasn’t let go. She hasn’t dragged me under yet. We’re going to Cape May late next Spring.” “Suzy and I weren’t going to rush it either, but events and the sharks sort of forced the issue. Does your mom know?” “Yes, and my girl and mom have met already. Along with her mom. Cindy made sure that that was locked down right away.”

“Well it sounds like things have worked out for you.”

“Other than the fact that I’m going to have to get a place here in Jersey on the beach, yes. But we’re working that out and I’ve been looking. Cindy’s parents have a place, but it’s too far from New York.” “Talk to Morris when we get over to the Amboy bower’s up top place. He might have some ideas.”

Steve was waving at me to come over to where he was talking to Helmut and Mike, so I brought Steve over to where they had a radio set up. Steve said as we walked over,“Tim, Mike said that you and this guy saw the boat.” “This is Steve from the Times. He handled the warehouse for Helmut and got Noro’s picture at Grand Central.” “So you shielded his camera. Mike says that Mary sent him a tip.”

“She did. I also had a tip that the character that we were fairly sure was the boss of the sharks was coming up here.” “A tip from who?”

“My new family. They have tails and when we came down to look into the kidnappings they got in touch with us to share what we had. We had a suspicion about these characters and their boat, but nothing concrete yet. The navy people also discreetly gave us their picture. We’ve been working with the navy, the bower and the cops to tail these characters and we stopped a couple of kidnappings. The problem was that the sharks pulled back and moved the boat.”

Mike asked, “Steve, your dad was killed in the war, do you know how he died.”

“One of his buddies came to mom and told us. His unit was hit with sturmtrups and animals. At least they looked like wolves. The wounded were put in special units when they recovered. They all were killed later in the war. My dad was wounded and put in one of those special units. He was killed later.”

Mike and Steve looked knowingly at each other. Sal came over and said, Steve, I have the towels ready and I think that we should get wet and sink them.” They left and Steve asked, “towels?” “When you close the deal, a girl with a tail dumps hormones into the water through her skin to keep the guy interested. That’s how the sharks track the couples. A bunch of couples closed the deal up on Long Island and their moms gave us some towels that they used. The sharks will think that there are a bunch of couples here and attack. They are going to get a surprise. I want to get some pictures outside.”

I went and took some pictures of the outside of the hotel and the cars in front, especially Sal’s. Then I went back through the hotel to get a picture of the boats off shore. As I waited there in the cold, the fishing boat I had seen in Atlantic City showed up and suddenly there was a noise from the water and what looked like blood. The boats charged in and Steve’s people started to throw grenades overboard. There were shark fins appearing on the surface and Steve’s people shooting them with shotguns. I looked along the beach and two naked people, a man and a woman tried to make it out of the water. Bill’s people shot the woman and the man went back into the water as the woman Changed and couldn’t make it back so she died on the beach. Except for the cleanup it was over and Steve and Helmut’s people started to collect the bodies and transfer them to a coroner’s van that they had set up. I took some pictures of the shrouded bodies. We never did find the body of the leader. After the clean up we went over to Morris’s for dinner and I introduced Steve to Morris. When dinner was over, I agreed to get together with Steve and his girl at Bennies later in the week and then we went back over to Sal’s. On the trip back I was in the car with Suzy, Mike and Stella and Suzy said, “Tim, you shouldn’t have run off like that.” “I didn’t have much choice. The shark boss showed up while I was in Steve’s car and he wanted to follow him. He never spotted us anyway. I had my gun with me.” I had actually. Suzy had insisted that I wear it this morning and I hadn’t even thought about it. Of course I had only fired it on the range twice yesterday. I had other alternatives if I needed them too.

“You should have let people know.” “We didn’t have a chance. By the time we could, the guy was on the boat and we were already on our way back. I’m sorry, Suzy. Things happened so fast and we really couldn’t stop in case the boss and his people didn’t take the bait. I wanted a picture of the boat so that whatever they did, we would have the picture and the boat. It turned out that the picture wasn’t needed but at the time, Steve and I just wanted to keep track of the guy and see what he did.” “Suzy is right and you should have checked in,” Mike said. On the other hand Mike slipped up and we didn’t let you know that he had somebody outside watching. They saw you get in the car with Steve and sit there and then suddenly drive off after that other car. So we had a pretty good idea that you were chasing something down.” “The guy never even seem to pick up that we were tailing him. There isn’t a lot of traffic out here this time of year and we tracked him all the way down to Atlantic City. There were a couple of times where he and us were the only two cars on the road.”

“Steve turned out to be more interesting than we realized,” Stella said. “I think that I will talk to his mother and see if she knows any other fae that we don’t know about. Nera and I want to start a file on the fae in the area so that we see when things like the Manager show up. I’ve told Mrs. Macdougal and your mother, Tim about it already. Theresa offered to talk to Sarah at her office, but hasn’t gotten back to us yet.”

Having something like that would make it easier to track things like fae kids being taken. If we had known about that right from the start the sharks would never have been able to do what they did.

When we arrived at Sal’s, Sal had gotten there first and had obviously been talking to my grandmother when he got there because when I rolled Suzy into the house, I could see that I was in trouble already. She grabbed me and sat me down with Suzy. “Tim, Sal says that you chased after the shark boss without reporting in.” “We didn’t have a chance and Steve had the car and was driving. He knew the car and who the guy was.” “So what happened? We will want some juicy details for the Director later.” Suzy and I told her about my chase down after the shark boss and what happened after. When we were done Suzy said, “Theresa, teach Tim to be a real good snoop. If he won’t stop, the only thing we can do is make sure that he is the best snoop he can be.” “We can do that. In fact it will help us. We want to be able to use him as a resource anyway. I hope you don’t mind, Tim.” “I would be in real trouble if I did. Not just with you, but with mom, dad, Meria and Sal and Sillia too, probably. Along with Noro and Josh.” “Where are they, by the way?” “Josh and Mera are getting wet tonight, Suzy said. “Along with Tom and Chrissie. Noro is up at the Waldorf with Mary packing and having a last session with Lou and his people before they go up again tomorrow. Josh, Tom, Mera and Chrissie are coming up top early tomorrow to catch the train with Tochi and Suki and their kids back to Vermont. They told me their plans when I asked Tom what his plans were for the rest of the weekend.” “Eli and I would love to go up with them, but Eli needs to do the dog and pony show for the Director and I need to talk to some of our other clients and hand in some reports from the stuff we got from Chrissie’s party. Which will make them very jealous.” “Will it? Suzy asked.

“Definitely, especially since we were at Sal’s wedding too. I don’t think that Sillia and Chrissie know what they did to themselves. At least Sal has the house here and Mary and Chrissie have the inn in Vermont, so parties are not going to be a real issue.” “The family has a hotel on the Cape too,” I added. “So they won’t be. What was Noro like back in the day?”

“Well you can see just looking at this house. He likes to have people around so he can play his games. It was sad when he stopped because his wife was killed.” “Theresa, since I’m going to be off the paper until the middle of the month I think that I will look into filling the holes that we don’t know about the sharks and write up a report for you, Noro and Mike.” “Do that and we will pay you for it. We can sell that to the Director now that the sharks are gone.”

Suzy said, “Theresa, I’m starting to itch, so I’m dragging Tim to the pool for the night. Tim, take me to our room.”

Theresa laughed as I rolled her out of the parlor and over to our room. When we went in, Suzy undressed and dropped into the pool. “Now Tim, you Change and get in here right now!”

I did and she made it a very nice evening.

Tom.

Sunday 01/03

Chrissie and Mera kept Josh and I under last night and grabbed us for a long Swim early in the morning before we boarded our train at Sunnyside yard. Since Tochi was renting the Pullman car and we had to make the same discreet arrangements as before, boarding the car at Sunnyside and transferring the car to the train to Vermont at New Rochelle was easier than trying to work everything through Grand Central. Noro and Mary left from Grand Central and joined us when we tied on. The rest of the trip was straight up to Burlington and getting picked up at the station. Of course I didn’t have time to look at the scenery as Josh and Noro dragged me into Noro’s compartment to catch up on business all morning and went through my trips into the city over the weekend and how I handled the New Jersey thing and the rest of it. I had a suspicion that Josh and Noro expected that my talking to the press would not be the last time I was dumped in front to be the cover for the company. Noro said, “You did good work with the press over in New Jersey, especially in know what not to say. That’s a rare talent. Stacey told me that you were the same way on your little thing yesterday.” “That turned out to be not so little.” ‘No it didn’t,” Josh said. “You built a good relationship with a lot of people. These days that can be important. I can’t do it very well because I am too well known and have been around for a long time. Noro is even worse. So it’s a good thing that the company has a fresh face and rising star to front for the family when it’s necessary.”

“The New Jersey thing was a surprise. What would you have done if I hadn’t been able to be there?” “Sent one of our regular representitives,” Josh said. “I prefer to be in the background, especially in things that touch on outfit business. I don’t want to be seen as being too connected. You won’t be because you aren’t.”

“I’m not, but Chrissie is.”

“I know, but nobody would believe that. They just see the silly girl being friendly and never see the steel underneath. She has never really had to use the steel and she doesn’t wave it around. It helped that she’s been under sea, though I was a bit surprised lately just how well connected she still was up top. That explains why her mother couldn’t find her so often the last few years.”

Chrissie poked her nose into the compartment and said, “That’s enough business for now. It’s almost lunch and I want to get together with Tom and Tochi about next week. Suki and I have agreed that they need to get some time at the inn skiing and away from the games at some point. Bob, Scott and Lizzie also need to know what your plans are.” We went out to the lounge at the back of the car and let Suki convince us to take Thursday afternoon off for skiing at the inn. Then it was lunch. After lunch we had another thing that we had to deal with. Scott had passed the pictures of the Academy around Friday and we needed to make plans to deal with it. I wanted to deal with the pestholes that Ed had shown Scott before the games so that one of them wouldn’t get tripped by accident. Hilda had also said that there was something like the Twisted factory that Sal had busted in the area over there someplace and Bill, Boris and some fae that knew what was going on but had never been able to find it. I turned to Bob and Scott and said, “Do you think that you can get some days away from school?” “I can do some pushing,” Noro said. “We do want you for work in any case. If they can give us a couple of days a week for you, it will be a big help.” “We can talk to the principal,” Bob said. “At this point we have both been accepted to college and the games are important to the entire area, so I suspect that he will let us skip. At least for a couple of days a week. The phone company wants us too. They need to get work done and they are short of people too. We will talk to the principal after school on Monday and see what he says.” “I will call first thing Monday,” Noro said. “We really do need you for things and you were a big help last week. This would only be until the games and a bit after when we clean up. So you won’t be missing that much class.”

“So we will plan to take a close look at the academy on Wednesday and Thursday, I said. “I’ll contact Ron at the building inspector’s and get the plans for the academy and get the plans for the ski trails together. The ski club hasn’t asked for much, and I haven’t really wanted to commit to anything, but we are ahead on a bunch of things and now might be the time to do them a favor or two.” “That’s a good idea,” Josh said.

“How does Ed fit into this?” Scott asked. “This might attract his attention.”

“We want to be careful,” I said. “I don’t want to trip anything off. On the other hand Ed probably won’t push very much and attract attention. If he shows up, talk with him and if he wants you to go away from someplace, do that and we will come back discreetly later. Tell him that we need him to help persuade Gretchen. We will need a discreet line of communication with him anyway about that.”

Eli, Theresa, mother and Hilda had talked with Gretchen before they left and she was more than a little reluctant to leave with her kids. Hilda and mother hadn’t wanted to push and wanted Ed to talk with her again. The problem was going to be finding Ed and that wasn’t going to be easy if he didn’t want to find us. So if he turned up, that was a good thing.

Our little meeting was broken up by Stephie bringing her kids in and the two boys wanting advice on some things that they were going to spring on the other kids at school next week. They had some interesting ideas and we talked about them. Katherine had been talking with Tochi’s daughter and they had been chatting about me and Washington and both of them wanted to get the whole story from Tochi and I with Chrissie and mother backing them up and all the pictures from the party, so Tochi and I explained things and told stories to everybody until the train arrived after what seemed to be a very short trip at the station in Burlington and we got off into the waiting cars and drove over to George’s for dinner. Then we drove over to the farm and the inn for the night.

Tim

Sunday, 01/03, 1932.

After we gave Tom and the others a send off going North at the train yard, we turned right around and gave Sal, Sillia, Tim Kirk and Merlia a send off going in the other direction. They were taking the train down to Virginia to meet up with the folks at the Virginia bower and then continuing South, Sal and Sillia for their honeymoon on an island in Florida and Tim and Merlia looking for contacts and bowers for the navy to let them know what had happened here. With them gone I was going to be at loose ends. Or at least that was what I thought until Suzy and I got back to Sal’s and there were Theresa and Eli waiting for us. “Tim, dear. We thought that we would take you and Suzy over to our building and introduce you around. It might be important and this is a good time.”

Eli drove us over to their building and there were Steve and Joe waiting for us with Haruka and Moira. Theresa said, “Since you all were here, I thought that I would introduce you around and show you off. I will catch Chrissie, Tom, Stacey and George when they come down, but I wanted to catch you, Joe and Steve before you went up to the Cape tomorrow since it was likely that you wouldn’t be back very soon. Now that we have you all, we want to meet our missing grandchildren.” “That might be dangerous,” Steve said. “You don’t know us at all and we grew up with our other grandparent and his influence.” “I’ve been with Noro for the past couple of weeks. I think that I will survive and Eli and I aren’t slouches either.” “Joe and I want you to teach us that trick you do of phasing outside our Change.” “What will you trade for it?”

Joe smiled. “How about the story of growing up with dad and mom, along with grandfather.”

“I think that’s more than a fair trade, but will we have time for it all?”

“We can get started and then you have an excuse to come up to the Cape. We’ll introduce you around and everybody else can add their bits to the story. Especially John and Ray, along with my uncles. You’ve met my aunts already.” “Yes I have. Why don’t I introduce you around, especially to Sarah, who will want all the stories about the party and last weekend.” She took us around and introduced us to George the doorman and Sarah and the other people that worked for them in the building. Then we had a sitdown in the office with Sarah asking questions about the things that went on and what Tom and Chrissie, along with Sal and Sillia had been up to. Sarah was rather annoyed that she hadn’t managed to get to Chrissie’s party, but we all had to say that we hadn’t been invited either. I told her to get in contact with Mary and Stacey and network with them because they were the ones that seemed to be in on the parties. She said that she was in contact with Mary already and trying to make contact with Stacey and set up a lunch but that it hadn’t worked out this weekend and Stacey was going back up to the Cape today on the train. Joe said, “She doesn’t want Dori too near the water so, she didn’t want to use the yacht this time of year again. Since mother and father weren’t going to be on the yacht and be able to be grandma and grandpa, she decided to take the train back. She’s also picking up some pieces that people wrote for her in Boston for editing when they get there.”

“Dori seemed to know about Change, is Allen drownproofed?” I asked because Suzy and I hadn’t managed to when Stacey and George were here.

“As far as I know, no,” Joe said. “But George doesn’t say and I hadn’t talked to Stacey very much recently up until the current mess. I suspect not because of the Swimmer issues when Allen starts school.” “That happened to my brother after he fell into the drydock,” Suzy said. “He had to avoid swim classes until he entered the Academy.” “They have a special setup for us,” Steve said. We can’t participate in regular swimming sports, but they don’t let us off easy. I’m just glad that they haven’t talked to Aunt Nera yet.” “Why?” Suzy asked.

“Because her training can be brutal. You haven’t had the full impact yet, but Joe and I did after she and mother ganged up on us after we started to play games with Aunt Nera. That’s one reason that Joe stays out of the bower. I’m going to be out of luck because Haruka is already talking to Aunt Nera about training for ‘her boys’.”

“Along with Mabel, mom and Ella,” Suzy said. “Tim, you and I are on the hook too, along with my dad, your dad and all the other Swimmers at the yard. Steve, I suspect that the Academy will find out about Nera’s training program all too soon.”

“Why would my dad be on the hook?” I frowned at the idea and my tail was feeling sore already. “He’s not in the navy and works down at Bennies.”

“Because your mom talked to Nera too and dragooned him into the training when they go to Sal’s. She wants your dad dancing for our wedding.”

“Why does she push so hard?” Sarah asked. “It’s not as if she has to.” “The dancing shows,” Joe said. “They work very hard at them to make it worth people paying big bucks for the tickets and Aunt Nera has been doing them for a long time. Aunt Nera recruited us to keep us out of trouble after we found out about them. Of course that gave us an in with her because she didn’t want mom, and especially dad finding out about them.” “Why not?” Theresa asked.

“Family fun and games, mostly. That and the fact that Aunt Nera liked to play the mermaid that doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on with those terrible landers, especially people like dad. Some of that was jealousy, but most of it was seeing just how long she could get away with it before dad noticed and called her on it. If dad had found out that she was working with landers for the shows, that would have made Aunt Nera look rather foolish. Dad never paid very much attention to Aunt Nera and never picked up on the dancing shows until she bonded with Mike and the rest that happened and the beans got spilled. Now that she and Mike are moving down here, things are going to get interesting.”

“Why?”

“Well, keep your eyes open and you will probably be able to get some hot tickets. Some of the people that are regulars at the dancing shows are big time Broadway producers and it won’t be the first time that Aunt Nera has done some discreet consultation that she definitely doesn’t want dad to know about. So she is willing to make arrangements to ensure that we don’t spill the beans. That was a big help when I started to date Moira.”

“Dating that you didn’t tell mother about,” Steve said. “Or dad for that matter.” “They were tied up with Tom and Chrissie and Moira and I were getting to know one another without all the circus that was going on around those two. So we decided to more or less keep it discreet until dad and mom visited. Moira told mom when they showed up, finally. I had been trying to get mom to come up, but she wanted me to go down and I didn’t want to take four hours out of our busy season to visit.”

“Four hours?” Theresa asked.

“That’s how long it takes to Swim out to the bower and back,” Joe answered. Plus whatever time I spend there and I know that if I go down there, somebody will have some little job they want me to do or something I need to take back up top and take care of. Between dad, mom, grandfather and my uncles, getting in and out of the bower fast just doesn’t happen. This time of year it isn’t so bad, but during the busy season at the yard, I don’t have time to deal with the yard, the boats, the business office and the bower all at the same time. If I go down to the bower, I can expect that it’s an entire day sucked up one way or another. So I wanted mom to come up for lunch to meet with Moira and she wouldn’t do that during the summer. It didn’t help that dad was spending all his time on the water and she didn’t have to come up. Until Moira Changed, she couldn’t visit the bower anyway.”

“I had known Mera when I was younger,” Moira said. “But when Joe and I started to bond, she had been under sea and Chrissie visited, but Mera never did. Of course the circus surrounding Tom and everybody trying to get him and Chrissie together made it easy for Joe and I to sort of keep in the background and we weren’t sure at that point how my Change would develop.” “What are you two doing about a wedding,” Sarah asked.

“Not pushing. I expect that my father and Noro will cook something up, smaller than Chrissie’s, I hope. We’ll have it before the summer anyway. Father and Joe will probably close the deal on the yard about the same time.”

“I doubt that you will get off easy now that people know that you all can party like that. Especially if Chrissie gets involved,” Sarah said. “We’re hoping that Tom will keep her distracted for most of the next six months or so,” Moira said. Certainly the Olympics are a good first step.” “Tom is a bit scary,” Joe added. “Steve and I are going to have to work with him a bit and feel him out. He could be worse than grandfather once he gets going.”

“Was your grandfather all fun and games when you moved up to the Cape?” Theresa asked. “He sure seems that way now.”

“Quite a bit.” Steve grinned. “Especially when we showed up after grandfather dragged dad off the barge. Though that was mother wanting a bigger place and Stacey mostly. She also wanted us to go to school and that wasn’t going to be easy on a barge. So grandfather pulled and mom pushed. Our uncle’s kids were already more or less grown up and I think that grandfather wanted to patch things up with mother and dad. Of course dad played his games and insisted that he work the boat as well as handling the other business. Then once mother went to work for fisheries, grandfather sort of looked after us when we weren’t on the boat.

Of course until grandmother died he was involved both in the business and the community. Even grandmother was, especially with helping families that had lost somebody at sea and having bower folk help with storms and wrecks, saving lives. Which was a big help when that trawler showed up and started trawling through gardens.”

“That was when your mother started at fisheries,” Eli asked. That seemed like a strange relationship to us.” “Well mom went over there to find out what had gone wrong with some very longstanding agreements and tighten up enforcement and George essentially handed the job to her,” Joe said. “He knew who she was and there had been stories about her going back a long time. Of course he knew grandfather, dad and John so it wasn’t that big a deal. He wasn’t really all that surprised when she showed up and was as pissed as she was. So he put her where she could do the most good. Giving her the job also meant that he had a big time ally when it came to pushing if he needed it. As well as having the Peacekeeper in his back pocket and monster insurance. Of course that was when mom learned how to play government, which was a whole new playground for her. George was rather annoyed when she went under sea full time. He wants her back to take over now that she’s spending time up top again.” “Do you think that she will go back?”

“I don’t know,” Steve said. “I think that she was getting bored down there in the bower and now that we are all bonded she won’t have much to occupy herself with. She’s been having a lot of fun these last few weeks and we’ve all been scared by the stuff going on, so I think that she will. On the other hand, dad is going to need her to keep the family things straight. We will have to see how things play out with the Director and the rest.”

“There’s that story that’s been going around forever about your dad and the Necromancer, Sarah asked. “How did that happen? Theresa saw some of it and that made your dad’s reputation.” “That was when I was a kid and Joe hadn’t been born yet,” Steve said. “I was five and we were living on the barge. So we start to hear stories about people getting very sick and then people dissolving after they rob freight barges. This went on for a month or so before our barge was close to where it was happening. Mom knows what zombies are because of her brother and wants dad to look into it after one of their friends has a kid taken. There’s this guy from the mob, we thought, making the gangs and dad goes to talk to the guy. The guy is a Necromancer, of course and tries to Turn dad. Dad hadn’t really been expecting trouble and only had his boat knife. When the guy can’t Turn dad he panics and goes into Change. Dad knifes the thing, essentially cuts his head off, ties a weight to the body and sinks it to make sure that he doesn’t catch any backsplash from the mob. Turns out that the character had been muscling in on the mob’s business and they were very happy that dad resolved things. As a result of that dad made all sorts of friends on and off the water. Joe came along a bit after that, I fell into the drink when I was seven and dad and mom had to explain certain things to me. I tossed Joe into the water when he was five, something he has never forgiven me for and when Stacey came along, mom told us we couldn’t do that to Stacey and we moved up to the Cape. Of course grandfather had been poking around from time to time, but the barge moved so much that he couldn’t keep track of us until he really needed to and brought grandmother down and she talked to mother. Stacey had just been born and things were tight and mom decided that she wanted a real house and Joe and I to go to school.”

“That was when we started to get a look at Josh,” Theresa said. “The Director hired us to find out why his Necromancer disappeared. That was one of the first times he hired us. We had passed some things to him before, but this was the first time that he had asked us to look into something. We did and found that the reason the Necromancer had disappeared was that he had been submerged. Eli actually went down and found the body, what was left of it.”

“I didn’t think that you were mer,” Steve said.

“We’re not, but mer are not the only sea Change and we do Swim. The delphines have been tied to the mer forever. The only thing now is that we may be the only two left and our children are both mer and our grandchildren are too. Perhaps we could somehow encourage Allen to inherit the Delphine Change, or your children when you have them. I suspect that a lot of Changes have been lost since the dark destroyed so much.”

“Why did you involve yourself with them?”

“To be able to see what they were doing and set them up for destruction. At that point our entire family had seemingly been destroyed. We had lost Joe and the rest and had had to leave Josh at the orphanage to protect him. Also we thought that they would find your father. They did, but he destroyed them when they did.” “He does that. Mom hates that. So do a lot of other people. In the thing with Ed last weekend just about all my bosses did not want him chasing after Ed under any circumstances. Fortunately Stelios managed to keep a lid on it and Tom took things over and told my father to stay out of it essentially.”

“He did that very well. Of course he discovered Ed in the first place and Ed came to him to explain what happened. That’s not unusual with werewolves and other involuntary Twists. The victims don’t like their monsters and fight them. We did some checking with Bill and the other Sheriffs and Ed must keep himself far back in the woods and away from people on the full moon to make sure that he doesn’t hurt anybody because we couldn’t find any cases for a very long time that could be connected to him. Mike couldn’t either and he has been tracking these things and werewolves for a long time.

The big problem will be convincing Gretchen, Ed’s bonded that Ed wants her away from him. It was obvious that she knew what was going to happen and wanted to be near him. She loves him very much and hates the monster and their shared tragedy. Stephie and Hilda are taking her in hand and teaching her to shoot when Stephie gets back. Her kids already know how to shoot if their performance at the boys’ shoot was any indication.”

“They were there?” I asked. “I would think that the mother would want them kept away from things like that.”

“Nope, all three of them showed up at the shoot. Bruce, the eldest, was the most forward, with Chrissie especially, but all three were there with the rest of the kids. Bruce didn’t make it to Tom’s class, but he had chores at home and other things going on.”

“We’re going to have to make sure that we make the next shoot, Joe,” Steve said. “Our new relatives and our sister outdid themselves.”

Joe smiled. “We are going to have to talk to mother about the fact that they put that party together so fast, so that we couldn’t go. Not that that was a big surprise and we will have chances, but still, they could have set it up for after the games.”

“Chrissie is the only one that I know that can use a party as a weapon and pull it off,” Eli said. “We watched her and when she was over there in Lake Placid she was just the foolish young girl being ditzy and yet when the whole thing came together, there were a hundred or so of the most influential people around having a whale of a time. Along with Jacob having everything taken away from him and being hauled away crying almost.”

“That’s Chrissie,” Joe said. “She hasn’t had to do that to anybody lately and everybody around where we live knows better than to mess with her. But she is her mother’s daughter and she knows how to use clout and has a bunch if she needs it.” “Tom’s little address book didn’t hurt,” Theresa said. “That was rather amazing when we saw it. Sarah, when we speculated about Tom’s network, we had no idea what he was up to down in Washington and other places. You will need to talk to Stacey about that. Though she will be discreet about some of it because she and Mary agreed to that.”

“Chrissie could have come up with an impressive guest list all on her own,” Steve said. “There was probably some crossover, like the Coolidges, and she has been in Aunt Nera’s shows and worked the office just before her Change and even after it, though dad and mom don’t know about that. So she knows all sorts of show people.” “How come they weren’t invited to the party?” “Aunt Nera probably didn’t want to wave those connections around in front of mother. Now that Aunt is going to be living here, she and Chrissie will set something up, probably to introduce Tom to those people.”

“I think that they will be lining up for that,” Theresa said. “After the boys little thing at the parade and the book, they will be wanting to connect with him. Poor Tom doesn’t know that he’s going to be very busy once he finishes the Director. Well, why don’t we show you all how to pull the phase trick and then we all take Sarah to Bennies for lunch.”

Eli and Theresa showed us how to use our shields to create a phantom Change and we all practiced with the door before heading down to Bennies. After lunch, Suzy had Eli drop us off at the school where she insisted that we leave our clothes, get wet and then return and spend the afternoon shooting on the range. Tony was there and the range tyrant wasn’t so I asked Tony where Andy was. “With Trillia, Swimming across the Sound and back. They will be back soon.”

“She’s working him pretty hard.” “Nera went over the program with them. She set it up and made certain that Trillia wouldn’t overstress Andy. She has a lot of experience with training including dealing with Changed kids.” “Steve and Joe, probably,” Suzy said. “They were saying how tough she was.”

“Probably. She didn’t say when she was talking to Trillia and scheduling things out and setting things up.”

“I got the feeling that she took Joe and Steve in hand after they started to play games with her and Mera put her foot down,” I said.

“Shouldn’t that be slapping their fins?” Suzy asked.

“I think that Mera had legs at that point. She didn’t have a tail again until Stacey went under sea.”

“We can ask Nera, she just came over.”

She had, actually. Mike was rolling her over“Hi, Suzy. Dragging Tim to practice?” “Yes I am. I want him to be able to defend himself. Especially of he’s going to go charging after strange characters like he did Saturday.” “We were in a car, Suzy. Steve was driving and we were being careful.”

“Still you should learn to shoot. Nera, we were discussing your training programs and Tony said that you had experience with kids new to their Change. We were also talking to Steve and Joe and they mentioned your training programs. Were they the Changed kids?”

“Some of them. Those two needed to be worn out and Mera agreed to the training. Of course they also were part of the dancing shows that they probably told you about to make some money. I’ve been talking to Haruka about getting Steve on a training program with his people. They also need to practice shooting more if the encounter with Ed is any indication. Though Roger did hit Ed. In any case Trillia and Andy came to me for advice on how much Swimming he should be doing and we set something up. I also told both them what they should look out for and what can happen if you Change too quickly after a long Swim or other strenuous activity. When we are finished shooting I will go over that with you, Tim as well.”

We started to practice and Suzy and Nera insisted that I practice in Change as well as Mike. After about an hour Al and Eltra came over to see how I was improving, which I was. He also started me in on firing my pistol and a 1911 that had been modified for merfolk. My shooting was terrible, but getting better. Nera made us look ridiculous and commented that she had had to miss to not get on the boys ‘buy your own construct list’.

“Whats’s that?” Suzy asked.

“The boys want to make the shoots fun and they want the constructs to last long enough that everybody has a good chance to shoot them. If somebody like Chrissie just shoots them, it isn’t much fun for anybody else and they have a policy now for family members and probably some others who will make the list of they slip up, who are too good shots that they have to buy their own constructs if they want to go to the shoots and fire their guns. Both Tom and Chrissie managed to put themselves in that category mostly because Chrissie showed off after Bill opened his mouth and Tom because he took a construct out at very long range with a rifle and a single shot and did the same thing competing with Chrissie and pistols.”

Bill and Hilda came out from the house with Andy and Trillia and Bill said, “I shouldn’t have opened my mouth about lucky shots. On the other hand, Chrissie did take the shot and did know what could happen if she did. Tom would have been on the list anyway regardless. He doesn’t like to miss when he shoots. The only reason he missed the first shot he took was he was thst out of practice and his rifle was cold.” “My shooting is terrible,” I said. “Nera is so much better than I am and she hasn’t been shooting that long.” “True,” Nera said. “But I have been working and training my body for a very long time. Control just comes naturally to me now. Learning to dance will help you learn to control you body better both in and out of Change. Suzy, we will get together and set up training for you and Tim that you can both practice in the navy yard. Tim, I think that you will be amazed how quickly you improve once you start to learn to control yourself. Tim, why don’t we plan to get you on the boys little list by the time they come down for Josh’s shoot at the Cape in May.” “Are you on the list, Al?”

“No, but that is because I was helping Larry setup at the shoot when I was there. I didn’t get a chance to shoot myself. Mike and I agreed to help because we both wanted to see what the boys did from the inside and we already knew that Hilda and Stephie had started the list. Mike wanted to see how Bill’s training worked because he thought that the bureau might need to run everybody through it and some people with the FBI too.” “He’s doing that. Suzy and I went through that already.”

“I know,” Mike said. “We pushed because you have this habit of getting deeper than you should. That’s because of what you are and the best thing we can do is make sure that you are prepared for the challenges.”

We packed things down on the range under the supervision of the range tyrant.Then we went inside and Mike and Tony set up a program through the week for driver training. Including at some point wrecking the wreck. “We will be doing Sal a favor,” Mike said, grinning. “George at the office is working with his brother to make another one anyway if we need it. The Detective was actually a good cover, especially since he could be in the papers and nobody would pay attention to a woebegone cop beyond the obvious. At least most people won’t.”

Suzy had finished talking to Nera and rolled over with a clipboard. “I have things set up for the next week. We’ll leave this here and starting right now, we start on our program. Next weekend we will be going on another Swim down the island and staying at the hotel and then coming back. Mike, Nera wants you to go too with her unless a big case comes up.”

Suzy dragged me off and Nera dragged Mike and the ladies forced us to push hard as we Swam around the islands in the Sound. Then we had to have a slow Swim before we went over and joined Mike and Stella for dinner at Sal’s place. After that Suzy and I shared the pool and bed.

 

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