Mermaids Chapter 24, Part 6 and end

I’m sorry, this chapter was long, with a lot going on. Today, Tim goes to the Stock exchange and the Director carries out the plot. Are the mermaids safe?

Tom.

Thursday 1/21, 1932.

Thursday I went over the water main with Harry, the head of the water company. The pipe was installed and while it wouldn’t be entirely covered over until Spring, it was ready to go. The system was filled and we only needed the two pumps that I looked at yesterday. As we were going over things, Harry said, “I’m so glad that you got the water taken care of. That stupid permit was messing up everything that the whole town, with the exception of Jacob wanted.”

“I could see that. The problem is that the clowns down in Washington don’t see the people out here hurting. That was true then and it’s worse now. They get so caught up in their little fights and forget that they are there for a reason. I was glad to get out of there and back into the real world, mostly. But I did some good and made some very good friends.”

“Very good friends, if all those people at the party was any indication.”

“Yes they are. I’m glad that Chrissie set that up and I really should have remembered to tell them about Chrissie, but things happened so fast, her mother wanted the wedding and then my nephew was taken and we had to deal with that. My address book was up here and buried in some other stuff so deep that I was the only person who could find it and I never got the chance to come up and get the books and frankly almost forgot about them.

As far as this goes, I’m glad that I could do this. I didn’t know about the Games last year because I was tied up trying to build my own business across the lake. Frankly I should have come over here, looking for jobs to bid on, if nothing else. Better the things here than fixing another junk seeder.”

“Like my dads?”

“Let me guess, It was good when he got it and it still works, mostly.”

“Yes and yes. And the company that built it is out of that market.”

“I think that I learned a lot of what I know from the only farmer who had a clue. You don’t know what it took to get my dad to get his first tractor. At least I wasn’t here for most of that.”

“Why did you go down to Washington in the first place?”

“My brother. He came back sick from the war and told me some things before he went crazy and I had to kill him to save my life. I wanted to know what happened to do that to him and why some other things happened. My family and I were growing more estranged and so I went down.”

“You seem to have resolved things with the rest of your family.”

“That was my wife. She broke through things and made it so that they didn’t matter.” “So she is not a stupid girl.”

“Not at all. Poor Jacob.”

We grinned at that. Since we were done anyway, I got back into the truck with Charlie and we went back to the office. Cordelia and Lacey were putting up yet another clipping on the bulletin board. They had been doing that all week. “So my wife was in the papers again?”

Lacey laughed. “Yes she was. They seem to like her and the other ladies. Have you talked with her? She probably misses you even though she is having so much fun. You should have gone down and been with her this weekend.”

“I thought about it and almost made the reservation, but Noro wanted me here and there was no real point when she is coming up Monday anyway.”

“Well you’ve been lucky and Jacob seems to be staying home, or at least away from here.”

“I hope that my luck holds.”

The rest of the morning went smoothly with only the usual things and Josh and Noro picked me up for lunch. “Where are the ladies?”

“Shopping,” Josh said. “Mary wants a dress for the events coming up and took Mera with her. Anthony’s birthday is coming up and she wants to do something special too, so they are looking at things for him. Mary thinks that since Mera has experience with two boys, that Mera can help with that.”

“Along with advice on what not to buy,” Noro said, laughing. “I did a lot of not to buy for Josh’s boys.”

“Father, you drove Mera crazy for a while. But at least you didn’t do things on Tom’s scale.”

“What did I do?”

“Very few people have created as much trouble potential as you did.”

“That wasn’t deliberate. Otherwise Tochi would never let me here the end of it.”

Things went on like that through lunch and afterwords I said, “I think that I will leave a bit early. I want to get together with the boys and Boris and see what our strangers are up too. There doesn’t seem to be much happening at the academy and I don’t want to be blindsided when we hit things over here the weekend after next.”

“Do that,” Noro said. “We can handle things here and we are almost at the management twiddling their thumbs and worrying stage anyway. Take a car and head back to the farm. I think that you’re right and there is somebody new playing games.”

As I rode back to the farm in another ride, I wondered that this had all been normal for me for the last few weeks. Would it ever get back to the point where I could just drive myself. I also had a sneaking suspicion that my truck’s days were numbered and that Chrissie was making sure that there was Cadillac in my future.

When I got back to the farm, Boris, some of his deputies and some of the boys were waiting. Boris watched me drive up and when I got out of the car, he said, “since Scott and Lizzie went down to the city this morning, we want to rattle their cage a bit.”

“What are you planning?”

“John Wilson is going to call the office and say that a neighbor called him and said that there was lights and noise in his house. He wants a deputy to check it out.”

I smiled. “On the tapped line? Will Kathy stop talking to her friends about horses long enough for that.”

“Strangely enough her mother had some chores and she had to get off the phone and go home.”

“Chores more important than the office work she wasn’t doing I suppose.”

“Yes.”

“Well let me get changed and get my woods coat. Who’s going with me in my truck.”

“Vince. He’s one of the top members in the 100 mile per hour club.”

I went to my room and got changed, went into the closet and pulled out the coat that Diana had made for me a long time ago that essentially made me invisible in the woods for any distance. It was a bit tight as it was my first coat, made for me when I was sixteen and not the second coat that she had made as a welcome home present when I moved back to the farm.

A smiling Vince joined me in the truck. I asked him, “so what’s the plan?”

“We sit on the road and wait a bit, We’ll cover state route 128 and Boris has other farm trucks and some cars covering the others. Ralph and Ralph junior are covering the woods if they try to get away that way and we haven’t seen a get away car stashed someplace.”

“Did anybody check for a booby trap?”

“Stephie did last night. There wasn’t one. At least not a thermite device. Mary thinks that there is probably another boom, out of dynamite, probably.”

“That will wreck John’s house, but will just scatter their stuff around.”

“When they leave, Mary is going to run through the house and try to disarm the thing. She figures that there will be a timer and she can get to it and shut it down before it goes off.”

“My sister does like to play with booms. Maybe a bit too much.”

“Have you ever seen one of her shots go wrong?”

“Not yet, but there’s always a first time. Especially when it’s somebody else’s boom.”

“Well she knows what she’s doing. Probably better than the guy that made the boom in the first place.” He looked at his watch and picked up the camera he had. “It’s showtime anyway.”

Shortly thereafter a car went by, followed by a truck, then two more cars and a truck. Vince took all their pictures. I started the truck and started to follow. Vince said, “don’t try to close with them. We have cars watching the junctions with this road. We figured that they didn’t know the back roads and farm roads, not that you can use them this time of year, so they will stick to the main roads. So we’re watching them to see if they stop again. If they don’t show up, we know that they stopped in that area and we start to look for them. If we get too close, they might panic. If their smart, they will head right to the county line and keep going. We’re just here to make sure that they don’t turn around and backtrack.”

They didn’t. In fact they headed right to the county line and kept going East. Once we reached the junction and the next car, Vince had me turn around and head back to the Wilson place, which was intact. As we got out of the car, my sister was looking at a box and had a rather offended look on her face. “Tom, come over here and look at this.”

I did and it was a poorly made bomb using dynamite. “They were sloppy, sis. It would have gone boom just fine if you had let it.”

“Probably. Still, work like this is insulting. Tom, you and I must get together and show them how to do this properly.”

“Mary, if we do it properly they won’t be able to learn from their mistakes because because they won’t be around anymore.”

“So we skip the dynamite and use firecrackers like you do. That’s why I want you to help. Actually dynamite is the wrong thing for what they wanted anyway. All it would have done is spread things around.”

Boris came over. “They took the notes they had from the taps. The rest of it is still there, including German books and technical manuals for telephone systems. No Id’s or passports, though. They either took them or they were never here in the first place. Let’s get back to the farm.”

When we got back to the farm Stephie was waiting with Katherine and ‘Nia. “Boris, Katherine has seen traces of men up in the hills. Not recent, but somebody was poking around.”

“Mother didn’t sense anything.”

“They probably weren’t fae. She said that she saw bootprints and nothing that indicated that they were fae. They may have used Hilda and Bill’s lean to to camp, but they were very thorough in cleaning up and Hilda and Bill have been having howls there recently anyway.”

“So Bill and Hilda have a cozy little nook out there,” I said. “It’s probably about a mile or so up the hill, if the howls I’ve heard is any indication. How close is it to the cliff over there?”

The cliff overlooked the farm. It was too far to shoot from. Somebody with binoculars could see what was going on quite easily though.

“Close enough,” Boris said. “If they were careful about fires, we might not notice. We’re short handed and with your show coming up, we weren’t paying as close attention to things here, since everything seemed to be ok. Let’s talk to father.”

We did, but none of us could come up with anything other than what we had. All we knew was that somebody was looking at us, they were some kind of military and they were not fae, at least the people doing the watching and tapping weren’t. Which was a clever thing to do for the other side.

Josh and Noro came in for dinner with Mera and Mary and we chewed things over. Father said, “Whoever is doing this is clever. By using nonfae for this part of the operation, we don’t pick up on the fae or Twisted that we would normally look for.” “I think that I need to talk to Ed. Somebody was looking for Gretchen. I want to know who would be doing that and why they want a look at us.”

“If they are looking at us,” father said, “we should just go along as we normally would, but be prepared for something else. For some reason this whole thing seems rushed, as if they are working on a tight time schedule, without time to prepare. That will force them to make mistakes.”

 

 

 

Tim.

Thursday 1/21, 1932. I was a bit rushed this morning and it wasn’t until I was getting off the subway and heading over to the paper that I was carrying my gun. I had strapped the holster on without even thinking about it. The reason I was rushed was that I had wanted to dig for something and it had taken a bit longer than I expected to find it. When I arrived at the paper I stopped by the darkroom. “Andy could you make two prints of this?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“A present for Vic.”

“Ok, I’ll have them ready. Do you want them on your desk?”

“No, since Roger and John haven’t told me where it is yet. I’ve got to go.”

I went up to Vic’s desk and he was waiting. “Good, you’re here. Let’s go. Were running a bit late. We’ll grab a cab.”

We went down and was we went outside, I said, “Jim apologized last night at Bennies. I think his wife made him do it.”

“Among others. Roger told me. Along with the interesting dinner that you had.”

“Suki rode down in my car. That was an experience.”

“Without guards?”

“Yes. She said that riding with Suzy and I was better than riding in a car full of teenaged girls talking about boys.”

“They will do that.”

We got in the cab and were on our way toward Wall St. Vic asked, “Wasn’t the prince worried about security?”

“Not apparently. Of course anybody taking Suki hostage is asking for trouble. I had my gun with me anyway. Which means that I have to ask you how I deal with it. I put it on by mistake and couldn’t drop it off.”

“Ok, This is a good time to introduce you to the stock exchange police office.”

He showed me a side door into the exchange and there was a little office next to it. “Hi Vic. Starting another one?”

“Hi Frank. Yes, this is Tim Thomas. He did the kidnapping story.”

“Wow! He’s hot stuff then. That was a big story. What can we do for you?”

“The young man needs to check a gun.”

I unstrapped the holster and handed it to him. He took one look at it and took it out of its holster. “Young man, you are either rich enough to not have to put up with Vic here or you have very nice friends. This gun was made for you, wasn’t it?”

“By some relatives. Since I had some close calls, they wanted me to be safe.”

“Very safe. We’ve had some LT customs in here before, but this one is the cleanest and is just the gun without engraving. I’m going to put this in a safe place.”

As we headed to the exchange floor, Vic was smiling at me. “He was very impressed. Did Noro give the gun to you?”

“Among others. Josh, Stacey, Steve, Mike, Al, Nera, Mera, Eltra, Chrissie and Tom. Tom and Larry did the gun for me. They gave it to me because of Dori.”

We arrived at the press section just as the ceremony started for Ayoko to ring the opening bell. The trading started and Chrissie and the other ladies watched from the floor. Of course things started to get weird as traders started to stop by to say hello to Chrissie, starting with the older ones. As I was taking pictures, I said, “they know who she is.”

“Almost certainly.”

If Ayoko was the princess that started things off, Chrissie was the princess and darling of the floor before it was over. She was also wearing one of those hats and making trades for people. As I was taking pictures, I said to Vic, “should she be doing that?”

“It’s not a problem. Noro has a seat on the exchange. Usually there is a proxy, but Chrissie is certainly entitled to make trades if she wants to. Her father has the proxy anyway. She seems to have dived right in.”

She had, having a great time until she had to leave to the cheers of the crowd. Vic and I headed back down to the guard office to pick up my gun. That took a bit longer than I expected as I was bombarded with questions as to how it ran and comparisons to other .38 automatics. They also wanted to know why the trigger guard had been modified. I told them that the trigger guard had been modified so that I could use the gun while wearing a camera mitt if I had to. I finally was able to srap my holster back on and put my coat back on so that we could go to lunch. Vic took me to a place called the exchange buffet where the food was set out and you paid for what you ate on essentially the honor system. Then meal was was fast and the food good, even though you at standing up. Vic paid and we left to grab a cab back to the paper. I dropped off my pictures and picke up my negative and an envelope from Andy. As I did, he asked, “When did you take that. I haven’t seen it before.”

“Just before Thanksgiving.”

“So you could have collected on the bounty easily. Why didn’t you?”

“Noro was offering me a job as freelance. A job that pays very well. I didn’t want to blow it for fast money. Trust me, I’ve been paid for this.”

“Has Noro seen this?”

“Yes. He saw it on Thanksgiving with the rest of his family right there.”

“Has he got you in return? He has a reputation.” “Yes, but that was part of the game. Vic is waiting.”

“He’s going to love those.”

“I hope so.”

I took the envelope over to Vic’s desk. “A present.” I handed him the envelope.

“What is it?”

“Look.”

He pulled one of the prints out. “Thank you, thank you very much. How did you get this?” He had a mile wide grin.

“Well some relatives and friends warned me that Noro would be looking into me, so when he showed up, I was taking a very important picture of pigeons. I caught one.”

“Has he seen this?”

“Yes. In fact he saw it the day after I took it when Steve took it up for Thanksgiving.”

“I’m surprised that he didn’t pay you for the negative.”

“He’s never asked for it. On the other hand, he knows that the picture has gone out to a select group of friends and relatives.”

“Everybody who knows him, at this point, probably. When did you take this”

“When he was offering me a job freelancing for White’s.”

“That explains why you didn’t collect on the bounty with it.”

“That and the rest of the family saying that the picture had more potential for amusement value than it did just for dirty money.”

“They would say that. But I can see that making a quick buck would have been a bit counterproductive in your case.”

“You can’t escape your family and you know what they are like. Just look at Chrissie today.”

“That was amazing and we have to get going for round two. Why didn’t you bring the car today.”

“Yesterday started with Jim and ended with Suki. I thought it was safer to leave it a my place today. I also was in a hurry and knew that I was going to be downtown all day.”

Vic laughed. “That makes sense. We’ll grab a cab again.”

We grabbed another cab and went down to the fish market where several guys saw me and waved. “They know you,” Vic said.

“When we were working on the sharks we weren’t sure if they would look for a new feeding ground and we figured that the fishmarket was a likely target. Sal couldn’t make it in the early morning and I could, so I handed the car cards around.”

We followed the ladies on their tour and they had a great time again and the market people liked it too. Finally it was over. As were were taking the cab back to the paper, I pulled last film pack out of the camera and turned to Vic. “Could you drop these off for me, I need to do some shopping.”

“What for?”

“Something for the assignment you gave me yesterday. I went to the library and found a related book. I want to go to the bookstores and see if I can find a copy.”

“So it’s work and on my assignment. You will show me what you find.”

“Yes. So far it’s pretty ugly. I still need to talk to some people.”

“Well get going. I’m interested to see how you handle this.”

“Extremely carefully. The guy at the center of things is very dangerous.”

“Those are the best stories though. Especially the powerful brought down by their own arrogance and hubris. Go and get the story.”

I headed over to fourth avenue. Thanks to my shopping trip with Tom and the rest, I knew the stores there fairly well and there were two hole in the wall places that specialized in military books. The first said that they hadn’t seen the von Wulf book and when I checked there section on the War it wasn’t there. There was a big book of newspaper photos of the war that I did buy. So I went to the other store where I didn’t see the book on the shelf, but I did see a book on trench engineering, a book on snipers and a book on the sturmtrups that I took to the front. I figured that even if I didn’t find the von Wulf book, I would at least have some background. I asked the store owner and he said, “I thought we had the von Wulf book and I don’t remember selling it, let me check.”

He went back and came back. “You’re right, it isn’t there, let me check one more place.”

He went through a door in back and came back with the book. “I was right, it hadn’t been purchased, but somebody had reserved it, but it was on our red shelf.” “Red shelf.”

“We have a system for people that reserve books that they wish to purchase. Sitting on the green shelf for two weeks means that we consider the book reserved and will not sell it to another customer. If it goes to the yellow shelf we explain to the second customer asking for the book that the book is on reserve and to check back in a week. After three weeks we put the book on the red shelf and if somebody, like you, asks for is, we sell it. You seem to be a little young to be purchasing a book like this. I would have though that you would be looking for a more general book on the recent hostilities. Is this for a class project. I think that the library has a copy.”

“I write for a paper and this is part of an assignment. I found the library copy yesterday and wanted my own copy so that I could reference it when I needed to.” “I see. Then these other books are part of the same assignment. You are probably doing background research at this point.”

“Yes. I just finished a story about the kidnappings, some friends were talking about strange things happening during the war and I needed something for an assignment from my mentor so I decided to follow up. The lady at the library pointed me to the book.”

“Ok, let me ring these up.”

As he was finishing, a man came into the store. He went to the desk and said, “I’m here to pick up my reserve, the von Wulf.”

“I’m sorry sir, but the book has been sold.”

“Sold, why? I placed it on reserve.”

“Sir, my policies on reserves are clear. You have a reserve for two weeks. The book is held for another week and any customer that asks about it is told to check back in a week. At the beginning of the fourth week, I place the book on the red shelf which means that I plan to reshelve the book and anybody who asks for the book may purchase it. In this case the young man here requested the book and purchased it.”

He turned to me. “Young man, would you be willing to sell me the book?”

“This book is for a long term assignment. I can’t give it up until I complete the assignment for my paper and others.”

“What paper?”

“The World.”

“What others?”

“I can’t say. They are people related to things that I cannot talk about.”

“Government issues?”

“I’m not going to say.”

“It’s urgent that I have the book.”

“If it was urgent, then why did you wait four weeks to purchase it? Look, I need to go, my boss is waiting and we have to go over the photos I took today.”

I left the store turned the corner and immediately went discreet until I was a couple of blocks away and in a crowd. If he was trying to tail me, I never saw him and just to be sure, I went in the freight entrance, waved hi, to everybody and went upstairs through the pressroom. I walked over to the Vic’s desk and said, “Success. I found what I was looking for, barely and some other books.”

“Well let’s go over these pictures and you can do the writeup.”

“I’m going to need a typewriter.”

“It’s on your desk, over there. Why don’t we go over and dump your stuff.”

“I have a desk?”

He grinned. “I guess that somebody forgot to tell you.”

We walked over and there was a desk with my name on it. The only things on it were the typewriter and the packet of pictures that I had handed Andy yesterday. I opened the packet, took out the picture of the Director and put the rest back. I put the picture of the Director and it’s negative on the desk until I could find some envelopes. I heard footsteps and John was there. “Welcome to my Team. You don’t seem all that surprised about the desk.”

“Andy dropped the fact that I had a desk yesterday when I was dropping these off. I’ll drop them by Doris on my way out.”

“They’re not for the business section?”

“Pictures of a school trip on a fishing boat. I knew the teacher and Vic and I ran into them at lunch.”

“Was that a teacher or a body guard?” Vic asked. “I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with him.”

“Bodyguard, but teacher too. When you know the both of them, you’ll understand. They were bodyguards but they really like kids and you saw him yesterday.”

“Taking the kids out in the cold on a fishing boat.”

“Well he and his brother want the kids to experience things because these kids were kept in a bubble. So they want the kids out and seeing real life. He probably talked to Angelo and set it up.”

“Well we need to go through the pictures you took to today and you need to type up the story for me to edit and get it ready to go, so let’s get cracking.”

We went through the pictures and Vic said to pick two that were not Ayoko ringing the bell. I picked a picture of Chrissie holding court on the exchange floor and another of the entire group looking a fish in the fish market. Vic took a look at the pictures and said, “interesting choices, why these two?”

“because the story was Chrissie at the exchange and all of them at the fishmarket. Chrissie was the center of attention on the floor and this picture makes that clear. She wasn’t so much at the fishmarket.”

“Ok, do a write up, about 500 words. You have half an hour.”

I got to work, writing up the story. It took almost the entire half hour to get what I wanted and keep it on one page. I handed the story over to Vic. As I was doing that the man in the store came over with Roger. “There he is. Tim, this Commander la Farge, of naval intelligence. Comander, this is Tim Thomas, Our newest reporter in the business section. Tim the commander says that you bought a book under his nose for an assignment. It must be one of Vic’s ideas, because I had no idea why you would be looking at a book on military tactics from an obscure German officer. On the other hand you have your other friends and you may be using the assignment as an excuse to look into something. I’ll leave him with you.”

“Tim I’m hoping that I can convince you to give the book up. At least for a couple of weeks. I’m willing to send it back when we don’t need it.”

“If it were just me, it wouldn’t be a problem. Can you tell me why you waited so long to go buy the book.”

“I was overseas pursuing a matter that was related. My office is in Washington and even though I ported through New York, I went directly down to report to my bosses rather than stopping and picking up the book. Then I came up here to drop some material off here and wanted to pick the book up. You beat me too it.”

He must have scanned my desk, because he suddenly picked the picture that I had taken up off the desk. He turned to me and said, “could I have an enlargement of this picture made?”

“Is this picture related to what you were looking into?”

“Yes. Where and when did you take this photo? Could we go there and talk to the people in this speakeasy?”

“I can take you there, but maybe we should make another stop first. We may need to talk to some people. But I need to finish this first.”

Vic said, “I can do the rewrite, not that it needs much. This seems to be fairly important. Though I will want a writeup about this.”

The Commander frowned. “Will the stop be very long? I need to be at the navy yard soon to drop off my material and speak to some people.”

“That’s perfect actually. The yard is my stop after this one. And the other stop should be quick We would have to wait for the enlargements anyway. Let me make a call and get this downstairs.”

I picked up the phone and called the bureau. “Mary is Mike available?”

“Let me check, Tim.”

“What is it, Tim?”

“Well I took a picture of the Director yesterday and I have man here from naval inltelligence that is interested in it. I want to make sure that everybody is clear about things before I start talking about it. Can we come down for a bit?”

“Do that. Though I don’t have a lot of time. We have a werewolf hunt.” “This may be related, I’ll come right down with the picture.”

I turned to the Commander, “let’s go.”

I put the print in my satchel and picked up the negative and put it back in the envelope. I first dropped the negative off at the darkroom and asked Andy to make three enlargements and then dropped the rest of the school trip pictures off with Doris and we headed down to the bureau. I took the commander inside and Mary looked up as we walked in. “Hi Tim, who is this?”

“This is Commander LaFarge from navy intelligence. He was interested in a picture of the Director that I took yesterday and I wanted to clear the discussion with Mike or the boss before going any further.”

“Mike is waiting. Helmut is out at Sal’s with most of our people. They’re maybe some werewolves in town and since it is just before the full moon, we want to find them.”

We went inside. The commander asked, “did she just say werewolf?”

“Yes. That’s one of the things that they handle in this office.”

We went over to Mike’s desk and he was on the phone, so I waited. When he hung up I said, “Mike, this is Commander LaFarge. He was interested in a photo I shot of the Director yesterday. I wanted to make sure that we clear about things before I started to talk about them. He is also interested in a book I purchased today, but I will talk about that tomorrow at the meeting.”

“Do you have a print of the photo?”

I handed it to him. “So the Director was down at Bennies. Was he meeting with Theresa?”

“No. She came in as Vic and I were eating lunch and I asked. He was there with the other two guys and was walking up the street. From what I could see, he wasn’t very happy with what he was looking at.”

“Commander, you apparently know who the men in the photograph are.”

“Not the man on the right. The man on the left works for somebody that we would really like to get a picture of and if you are really looking for werewolves, he is one, we think. If we can get a bead on the other two men, it would be a big help.”

“Ok, how much do you know about the events of the last two months.”

“Not as much as I would like. That’s why I’m here. I came up to deliver a packet to the N2 here and get an updated briefing. I’ve been spending the last month and some time all in the last three months chasing the character on the right here all over Europe hoping that his boss would come out of the woodwork. Then things blew up here and I was recalled.”

“Tim, did you get an enlargement of this photo yet?”

“I’m having them made.”

“Ok, I think that the commander wants to see Tim Kirk anyway, so take him and talk with him. Tim can update him on things as well as I can. Take the enlargement to Sal’s tonight along with everything that Tim gives you.”

“Ok, will do.”

As we walked back toward the paper the Commander said, “I think that I see why you wouldn’t tell me who the others that you were doing the report for were. Also why you were interested in that book. Somebody mentioned the Colonel, didn’t they?”

“You know about him?”

“More than anybody alive probably, since I’ve been following his tracks for the last three months. Very discreetly, of course.”

“You didn’t have his book.”

“I couldn’t find a copy. When I did, at the store in the city here, I was on my way overseas and didn’t want to have the book in my luggage when it was searched. The naval attaché in Paris got wind of something brewing and sent a message back to my office. I went over and talked with him and other people. A bunch of the Colonel’s people that he used frequently that various people were keeping an eye on, suddenly disappeared. Until I saw this picture we weren’t sure where they went.”

When we arrived at the paper, I went upstairs, picked up the prints from Andy, my satchel from the desk and went back downstairs to where the Commander was waiting. “Let’s take the subway to my place first.”

“Why?”

“I’m going to need my car anyway, so it’s easier to go to my place, pick up the car go to the yard and drive over to the office.”

We did that and I drove back over to the navy yard. The Commander had his ID folder out when I just drove through the gate. He put it back and said, “you must come here often.”

“My girl works here and I’ve done some things for the Admiral.”

We pulled up at headquarters, I grabbed my satchel and we walked in. The petty officer at the desk said, “Tim! Suzy’s wondering where you are. Should I call her?”

“I’ll see her on the way out. Things were busy at work and I’m taking care of something. Is Tim Kirk still here?”

“He’s here. He’s been waiting for some guy from Washington who hasn’t shown up yet.” “That’s me, Chief. I should have called in, but things happened.”

“That’s fine, sir. Tim knows the way.”

I took the Commander up to Tim’s office. Tim stood up and said, “Commander LaFarge, I was wondering if I should have somebody look for you, sir.”

“Sorry, I ran into this character and things happened.”

“I know some if it. Mary called and said that you and he were on the way and that you were bringing the material that I requested on the Colonel. So how did you run into Tim here. As far as I knew Tim was going to be covering the ladies at the Stock Exchange today.” “I was,” I said. “I wanted to find a book for my latest assignment and the Comander was trying to purchase it just after I did. He chased me down at the paper and saw a picture of the Director that I had taken yesterday with another man that he was interested in. I need to take an enlargement out to Sal’s tonight.”

“What book was it?”

“A book by a man named von Wulf,” The commander said. “I put it on reserve but I didn’t get back before the store owner sold it to Tim here.” “The Colonel’s book? I have a copy, Tim. Since I suspect that you want to show it to Steve and Sal, I’ll loan the commander my copy. Commander you wanted me ot brief you on the events here in the last few months, why don’t we get started.”

“Should Tim leave the room?”

“Not unless Suzy is chasing after him. He was in the middle of it and probably knows more than I do.”

“Suzy is Tim’s young lady? What does she do here?”

“She handles the underwater part of ship departure.”

“So she has a tail then? How did Tim discover her?”

I laughed. “She was dancing for the crew of the Pennsylvania and I got a picture when I was shooting the camera dry so that I could reload. She saw me and started to chase me and tease when I was at the market over there next to the navy yard. Then she found me at Bennies when my dad called me down there to discuss some Change issues.”

“Your mother going under I expect.”

“Along with my sister and dad. He had war injuries and could only Change once. At the time he thought that he wouldn’t be coming up top again and was leaving me everything. Things didn’t quite work out that way and as far as I can tell, he just sort of moved right back into what he was doing, without his cover job. At the time though my parents thought that they were leaving me all by myself and then Suzy shows up.”

“Why was she working at the navy yard?” “Her father runs the docking and administration here,” Tim said. “When she Changed, her father was concerned with some sharks that didn’t seem to be acting like sharks and didn’t want her just Swimming around. So he started her here and she started doing various jobs. That’s worked out very well and we have a growing staff of Swimmer girls that do things that have actually improved the yard. You can ask Mike about the details.”

“Were those the sharks in the report?”

“Yes they were,” Tim said. “Since Tim here actually wrote the shark story for the paper, why don’t I let him tell it.”

I did, starting with the first shark fifteen years ago, the kidnapped fae kids the clubhouse, the shark attacks on bonding couples and the attacks on the bowers.

When I was done the commander looked a bit frightened. “My uncle has a tail and lives under sea. Up at the Maine bower. From what you have been saying, all the bowers were at risk.”

“Yes they were,” Tim said. “Even worse, we here at the navy missed the signs until a woman from the Cape came down here with her sister who bonded with somebody and after they closed the deal, started to look into why the water was tainted and the shark attacks. The other side had been very good at keeping the whole thing discreet until a young man closing the deal had a gun on the beach and shot a bunch of the sharks.”

“Who?”

“His name is Tom Benton.”

“That’s typical of him. He always has at least one gun around. I’m guessing that the sharks did not last very long.”

“Most of them didn’t,” I said. “Which is how I got involved. The sharks needed to rebuild their pod, some degenerates were recruited and the sharks started to kidnap fae kids so that they could Feed the Change. I heard the rumors about the kidnappings and decided to look into it. I thought that if I could get the story it would be my break in story at the paper.”

“From what your editor was saying, that worked big time. Is that what paid for your car?”

“No, the car was my dad’s. He can’t use it anymore and this way I have to run errands for him and mom.”

“Suzy and Kathy too,” Tim said, smiling.

“Yes, them too. Along with some other people.”

“So after the sharks were gone, you moved to werewolves. Why?”

“Well the Manager kidnapped Tom’s nephew so that he could get Tom’s sister in law to let herself be raped and create werewolves. Then some other people were talking about things that happened during the war and the Colonel. Since Vic had assigned me to take a rumor I heard and chase it down I decided to go for the werewolf story.”

“Be very careful with that.” “I will be. So far, it’s been just checking the papers and background. The library had a copy of the Colonel’s book and I read part of it. I wanted to have a copy when I started to look into other things so that I can reference it as I go along.”

“Steve and Sal will want to see the book as well,” Tim said. “Steve had a run in with a Colonel from the army yesterday.”

“What happened?” the Commander asked.

“Steve had been getting the runaround at the War Department so he called Miss Vicky at the White House about it.”

“Since thing seem to be normal here, he must have handled it well. Does he know Tom?”

“Steve is his brother in law.”

“Then things probably started to hop over at the war department. We think that Miss Vicky considers Tom her biggest failure since she couldn’t get him settled down even though she and some other ladies really tried and there were some very unhappy girls. Apparently he found somebody.”

“I was covering her at the Stock Exchnge today. She will be in the papers tomorrow.”

“The young lady with the tail that has been with the other young ladies with tails being treated like royalty all week?”

“That’s her. She was treated like royalty of the Stock exchange today. In her case that may be to some extent true, considering who her grandfather is.”

“Who?”

“Noro White.”

The commader whistled. “Somebody set themselves up for a lot of pain by going after those two. Which of Tom’s sister in laws had her kid taken. Theresa doesn’t have the wolf Change, so it must have been Hilda, which was just palin crazy.

Going after Noro’s granddaughter just makes things worse, since it probably brought him back up top.”

“You seem to know about them,” I said.

“When Tom came down to Washington, he was just another junior staffer and we played the government budget battles like we always end up doing, with the brass using their resources to protect their favorite boondoggles, sacred cows and buffalo forts. We in intelligence did our parts, right up until we ran into Tom and suddenly the things we did stopped working very well. Worse we discovered that while we couldn’t tap the Congressman’s phone, he could and did tap ours. Along with other things. I would like to say that that was because of his being fae, but as far as we could tell, he wasn’t using shields or any other abilities. Fortunately he was looking for information about some discreet things that he was looking into and was willing to trade at least some of his secrets for werewolf material. We went looking up at the farm to see if we could find out more and some other things that we know his brother had that we would really like to get our hands on, but Tom won’t even admit that they exist, let alone hand them over. There are also some concerns about Tom, but that’s not something I can talk about.

In any case we are fairly familiar with the family up there. At least we know enough now not to tap the phones or walk into the barn.”

Suzy showed up at the door. With Merlia, my sister and the Admiral and his wife. She looked at us and said, “Commander, since it’s about dinner time, the Admiral wants you to come to dinner with us. Tim, you take me, Kathy and the Commander, Tim you and Merlia are going with the Admiral and his wife. We will be meeting with Steve and Sal at Bennies. My parents have already left with captain Farr and his wife.”

I turned to the commander and said, “Commander, meet my girl, Suzy and my sister, Kathy. Along with the Admiral and his wife.”

“Hello Admiral. What curse inflicted Steve on you again.”

“I needed him. Yes he has his fun and games. But he’s also the best at what he does and we have had a big mess to clean up while you were taking your European vacation. Steve is starting to think that your European friends have shown up here.”

“Tim here has a photograph that he took yesterday and one of them is here. I hope that we can manage to greet him properly.”

“May I see it?”

I handed the picture to the Admiral. He looked at it and said, “I see the Director here. The other two must be from out of town.”

“One of them is the very close associate of the big bad wolf,” the Commander said.

“If they were down there, then we really do need to get going. Steve will want to know. The big bad wolf seems to be sniffing around.”

I rolled Suzy down to the elevator and out to the car. The Commander Followed with my sister and we put the girls in and started down to Bennies. I asked Suzy, was it your idea or the Admiral’s to go down to Bennies.”

“The Admiral’s. I was going to just chase you down and take you for a Swim and dinner at the officer’s club when the Admiral mentioned that Steve and Sal had been down there all day. Mike and Nera are down there too.”

“Why Bennies?”

“Well Steve was down there last night with Haruka and Sal wanted to talk to him about the stuff that he left yesterday, so he went down there with Sillia this morning. Dom had gone on a Swim with Tara and was talking to daddy and George Barnes about the things that they were doing. Mike and Nera came down looking for Sal. They started to get people looking for the wolves and Bennies was a neutral place that everybody knew about and they had used it for a headquarters before, so nobody really thought about going someplace else to set up shop.”

“Who are Dom and Sal?” The Commander asked.

“Sal is the Troubleshooter. Dom is the local boss of the outfit and Sal’s father in law.”

“The Troubleshooter?”

“I guess the story hasn’t hit Europe yet.”

“What story?”

“Gone upscale?”

“Oh that. Yes it has. Especially since the story makes Americans look foolish.”

“Wait a second, how does it make Americans look foolish?”

“The people over there know that cops don’t drive Duesies. So the story is unbelievable.”

“Jimmy didn’t think that cops drive Duesies either and he knew Sal.”

I hoped that Sal brought it down and not the wreck that wasn’t. I was lucky and the Duesie was parked along side the rest of them As I pulled in and found a spot the Commander looked a bit mystified by the line up. We got Suzy and Kathy into their chairs and inside as the Admiral pulled in. Bennies was rather crowded with Tochi, Suki and their family, Chrissie, Sal, Sillia, Mike, Nera, Steve, Haruka, Mike and Stella, along with Cindy, Dom and Tara, along with some other people from the bureau or Steve’s outfit. Steve waved Tim and I over to his table where he was sitting with Sal and Mike, stood and saluted the Admiral. “Sir, unfortunately the werewolves don’t seem to want to come out of hiding. Tim, who is this?”

“Steve, this is Commander LaFarge from Washington. He was bringing up the packet and wanted a brief on the events of the last three months or so. He’s been in Europe chasing werewolves.”

“Has he really? Sit down, We’ve had an uninteresting day.”

“Tim here caught the big bad wolf’s associate here yesterday,” The commander said.”

“Tim, you didn’t say anything about that last night.”

“I didn’t know. I knew about the Director, but not the other two. I figured that a picture of the Director was a good thing, so I took the picture. It was just a coincidence that I spotted the Director. I turned the pictures into the paper and was looking into the big bad wolf at the Associated Press, our paper’s morgue and the library. Which is how I ran into the Commander. The big bad wolf wrote a book.”

“I want to see that,” Steve said. “Sal and Mike will too.”

“I went over to the bookstores to find it and did, which is where I ran into the Commander.”

“Considering how that turned out, I’m actually glad that you went looking for it. I don’t know who the center fellow in your picture is, but having this Director and the Captain in the same picture says that they are up to something, and down here.”

“That’s what we thought,” Steve said. We also thought that they would go after my sister, because of Tom, and today, because if the werewolves are here Saturday their monsters will get out and make it impossible to hide. We know that twelve of them are out there and this character was up there at the academy with the rest of them.”

“What is the academy?”

“Trouble that will be shot,” Sal said. “A Twisted factory and recruiting center for Dark Change. We found one here on Long Island when we were cleaning up after the sharks.”

Scott and Elizabeth came in to the restaurant. “Sorry we’re a bit late. The subway took longer than I expected and Lizzie wanted a cab ride downtown before we came down. She’s hoping that we can get some shopping in before we go back up.”

“Who are they?” the Commander asked.

“Scott Rogers and Elizabeth Martin,” Steve said. “More to the point they are the heirs to the keystone of Jacob’s kingdom. Which is why grandfather sent them down this weekend. They are leaving early in the morning to go onto a fishing boat.”

“Why?”

“So that the Director or Ed’s monster won’t have a clue where they are. We did the same thing with Ed’s wife and kids for the same reason.”

“Be very careful with them. The big bad wolf is looking for his daughter. He was not pleased that his lady let Gretchen leave with her son. The two haven’t seen each other since as far as anybody knows. Of course the estate is surrounded by people looking to collect the big bad wolf’s head.”

“That remind’s me,” I said. Where are Bill and Hilda tonight?”

“Keeping an eye on Ed’s kids. Joe and Moria should have gotten there by now. If the big bad wolf even gets close to those two, the lady and the kids go on Tom’s boat and Bill and Hilda go on a hunt that the big bad wolf will find rather unpleasant. Hilda would just love to put a bullet in the big bad wolf’s head.”

“If the big bad wolf knew what Bill and Hilda do to monsters he wouldn’t even be within a hundred miles of them,” the Commander said, smiling. “I’ve seen, or rather not seen one of their hunts. I did see the body. What about Hilda’s boy?”

Steve laughed. “He’s over in New Jersey today. Or at least off New Jersey. He and his girl are collecting marine life for an aquarium they set up at the school.”

“So he has a tail and a friend.” The Commander smiled. “He’s also a Benton, which means that the bond was high level, especially since he was so young. How old is his friend?” “Thirteen going on twenty is the way I heard it described,” Sal said. “She was born into Change, but that doesn’’t slow her down and she is known and knows everybody on the gold coast. She even has a babysitting service.”

“A mermaid babysits?”

“According to my neighbors, yes. In fact she’s very good at it according to my neighbors and the younger kids like her. Of course the people have other staff to do things like the cooking, but she’s good with kids. She and Andy hooked right up.”

“Andy couldn’t swim.”

I laughed. “Well now he Swims. Tom was a bit put out by that, but Hilda isn’t.”

“You’ve obviously closed the deal with Suzy. How did that happen?”

“Have you seen the kidnapping stories?”

“Not yet. I imagine that they, and a bunch of other things are sitting on my desk in Washington.”

“Well When Sal and I started to chase the sharks, the sharks were stymied because people, especially the fae, pulled their kids off the streets in the neighborhood around the navy yard. Being sharks, they kept coming back to the same feeding ground, but what they got wasn’t kids to feed off of, but instead, paperboys and street kids with cameras tracking their every move. Which was one of the ways that we found the Manager’s place.

As we were closing down on the sharks and Tom was preparing a surprise for them, Tom’s sister in law visits Steve and Haruka at the navy yard with George and her kids. Dori, Steve’s niece wants to buy cookies and George tells her to buy them across the street. She goes instead to a booth of a lady we know who makes cookies to buy them instead.

Meanwhile the sharks get their hands on the car that they have been using and a private investigator that they have compelled and had been using to tail me. I had spotted him, and since I had evidence with me that was going to put the sharks away, went into the navy yard and asked Suzy’s dad for a ride over to the bureau. We are leaving the navy yard when I spot Dori and the private investigator and go after Dori and the sharks grab me and Dori. In order to get us out of the cage that the sharks had put us in Suzy insisted that I close the deal right then and there and Swim out.”

The commander sat there for a minute. Then he said, “Dori is your niece, Steve? Were they out of their minds?”

“At the point that they took Dori we think that the sharks were all thinking like fish,” Steve said. “Other than being the tastiest meal they could imagine they never considered the consequences of their actions. This seems the case for dark fae. They took Andy even after the indentured warned them what would probably happen. They had no clue what Hilda was capable of and what would happen. That’s what frightens me with this thing right now. It looks as if they are going after my sister and her friends including my bonded and even though I and Tochi have taken every step we can to make things secure, the guy out there is going to try something and that will light off a firestorm that he doesn’t understand. My grandfather, now that he knows of their existence has already started to go after the Director and his people, though it looks like Tom, Mike, Sal, me and Bob Vickers have gotten there first.”

Suki came over and said, “Tim, you have been neglecting us tonight, What did you find after you left us at the fishmarket other than you new military friend.”

“A book written by a very evil man.”

“Be wary of those. People like that always think that they are right regardless of how they affect others.” “I’ve already seen the book. That part was obvious. I want to know how he plans what he does and how he operates. I also want to bring him out to the light.”

“Well be careful, though. I know that you are. Do you have your gun? Let me see.”

I opened my jacket to show that I was wearing it.

“If this is a monster, be wary of other monsters.”

“I will.”

She went back and started to talk with Chrissie about her adventures on the Stock Exchange today. Commander LaFarge looked at me and said, “that is one very strange lady. Why did she single you out?”

“She’s been doing that all week. On the other hand I’m getting used to it and if you start to listen to her, she makes sense. She was right about that book. It was scary when I read it. The only reason I bought the copy was so that if I saw something that the colonel was doing I could look in the book and see what he was planning to do.”

“That’s not easy.”

“I know, but do we have a choice? The monster is coming my family. He’s not going to stop with Tom and Chrissie if he gets them. He’s going to go after Eric and Greta, all rest of the people up there, Josh and Noro, along with their family and then it’s mine. You were there in Europe. Did you run into any fae?”

“Some. Very well hidden and very scared, along with their scared neighbors. The old witch hunts that used to chase the fae have been replaced by something much worse.”

“My dad’s parents lost most of their kids to the monsters. Only two are left. Greta lost her entire family. Her son in law Boris, the same. I’ve been interviewing the familes who’s kids were eaten by the sharks and all of them are sure that they have no families left in Europe. I have a sister and a bonded and my parents and grandparents, as well as cousins. I have an oblgation to make sure that the monsters can’t hide anymore. Finally, Sal had to tell a woman that her little girl had been eaten. Well since this character wants to eat more kids, I’m obligated to try to stop him.”

Sal and Steve were looking at me and smiling. I went on. “Anyway, he’s going to be playing with Tom first. You’ve been on the other end of Tom. How do you think that’s going to work out?”

“It’s going to be interesting to watch. The Colonel has had only one really bloody nose that I know of and he is used to outguessing his opposition. On the other hand Tom does subtle and the information battle at a very high level and has the admiration of just about every player in that arena. But I have never seen him at real combat.”

“We have,” Steve said. “Tomorrow we’ll go over what Tom did to the sharks when they tried to take him by surprise. Who gave the Colonel a bloody nose?”

“A major named Al Douglas. I’ve never met the man though. He isn’t in the active army any longer, though.”

Sal had a huge grin on his face. “When you need shoot for the trouble, he’s the right guy to go to.”

“You all know him?”

“Yes,” Steve said. “He actually bonded with my aunt. He also was up at the farm for years for vacations. He was the Firearms Officer for the Federal agencies here in New York until recently.”

“Why is he no longer doing that?”

“He’s the Firearms officer for Northern New England. His boss wanted to shuffle his people around and certain parties wanted his wife where she is.”

“Ok, that makes sense. Have you told him about the Colonel yet? The Colonel has reasons to go after Major Douglas.”

“Not yet. For one thing we still aren’t sure that the Colonel is actually here and two, the Colonel seems to be focused on Tom right now. Things are evolving very fast and I want Al in reserve anyway. If we tell him his first reaction is going to be to go up to the farm. He’s planning to anyway, next week. Also, he has his own channels. I will tell when we are certain. As for going after Al, he can just disappear if he stays where he is. It’s going to be hard to get to him if he’s under sea.”

“That is certainly true.”

“There’s also the fact that unless the colonel has a lot more resources than we’ve seen, he won’t have a clue where Al is, because as of last report he was here in New York. I don’t want to dissuade him from thinking that that is the case and risking my aunt.”

Dinner showed up and Suzy dragged me over to eat with her along with my sister and parents. “The Colonel is scarier than when you don’t know where he is. Look how the Director shrank when you started to know about him. He’s become rather pathetic actually.”

“I would get together with Steve from the Times,” mother said. Talk to Theresa as well. You are planning to go to the meeting tomorrow afternoon aren’t you?”

“I’m bringing my stuff, what I have so far.”

When dinner was over, Steve took the Commander to his hotel and I took Suzy to her pool in the naval yard and went home. If nothing else I wanted the Colonel taken care of so that we could do the important things we really wanted to do.

 

 

Steve.

Thursday 1/21, 1932.

Thursday morning I had a wonderful breakfast with my bonded and the other ladies before Suki came down and picked them up for their adventure at the Stock Exchange. When they left, I was getting ready to go up to the yard when Sal and Roger showed up. They sat do“We called the navy yard and they said that you were down here. We wanted to talk to about the tuff you left yesterday.”

He had a brief case and opened it. “Roger and I were going through the Manager’s material and what we have from the Director looking for safe houses. So far we haven’t found one. The Director hasn’t shown up at his office this week at all. He’s only spent brief times at his apartment. So he’s been doing something else since he got back from upstate.”

Tony came in and sat down. “Hi Steve. I was spreading the pictures of the cars from the academy around. One of the boys thought that he had seen it parked nearby but it didn’t stay very long. None of the cars have shown up anyplace else though.”

Bill and Hilda showed up for breakfast. Andy and Trillia were with them and obviously they wanted something. As they finished breakfast, Hilda was nodding yes and they took Andy and Trillia back to the water and came back in.

“Those two want to head over to the Jersey shore with some friends. They want to gather some shellfish and other sea life for an aquarium that Tony and the kids are building at the school.” “An aquarium?”

“Tony took the kids to the aquarium last week and they liked the idea of having something like that so that the merfolk could show the up top kids what it was like underwater. So they started to build it with some help from the people at the aquarium. So Andy, Trillia and their friends are going over to Sandy Hook and gathering seal life for the aquarium.”

“I think that there’s another kind of hook going on here?”

“Probably. But with the werewolves in the area it won’t hurt if Andy disappears for a bit.”

“Keep an eye out. I keep getting whispers about the Colonel.”

“I was helpless when he had me before. I’m not now. If I even sense him, he’s a dead monster.”

“I suspect that he may know that. Somebody had the Director pay a big chunk of money for that stuff Tom had and took it with him. If he was talking to the Director, he probably talked about you.” “Almost certainly. Frankly I just want him away. But if he thinks that he can just mess around with my family, we will just have to instruct him on how that is just stupid.”

Bill smiled. “I like a sneaky monster. But I’m getting tired of shooting monsters. It’s time that I retire and be Andy’s dad.”

“Based on what the colonel from intelligence said, if you get the Colonel, you will be collecting bounties for a very long time. Apparently the bounties on the man’s head are quite large. You may also be a property owner in some unsual places. With titles to match. I’ve been going through the stuff and the Colonel has quite an enemy’s list already. So what are your plans for the rest of the day?”

“The school. We’ve already visited most of the mothers and made contact. Only one was killed since Sal troubleshot the “house and that may have been a simple car accident. The mothers were very pleased that the kids were safe and that the Director was paying for real educations even though the Director didn’t know that that was what he was doing.”

“Good. Keep an eye on Gretchen. Joe and Moira should show up on Tom’s boat this afternoon. I’m going to send Seaman Lisowski to run the boat if necessary.”

“He’ll like that. He comes over to the school all the time to talk to a tail that comes up from the Sound bower.”

“Haruka will really like the sound of that. I had wondered what he was doing with all those passes. On the other hand, he’s been doing all that extra duty to get the passes. He can handle the boat, which is the important thing. He handled it during the exercise. Of course he “lost” Tom’s boat during the exercise.”

“We’ll keep an eye out. I don’t know what Gretchen thinks about her father, though she really doesn’t like what he did to Ed now that she can talk to me about it. She doesn’t want to give Ed up to the tragedy even when she knows that it’s inevitable at this point and the pain that Ed has suffered because of the things he’s had to do because of his compulsions and the things that happened. She’s had to deal with the pain for a long time.

We need to get back to the school so that Tony and Robert can go back to being teachers and not guards.”

‘I’ll see you for dinner when you pick Andy and Trillia up.”

I had expected to head back the yard, but that didn’t happen as Mike and Nera and more bureau people came in to talk to Sal, Joe had Karl talking to paper boys and Tony’s people came and went. It just became easier to keep things going here than set up someplace else as people came and went. The big disappointment was that we found a big fat nothing. We knew that the werewolves were out there, somewhere, we had their car registrations and pictures of them and the cars. But unless they were where we were watching there was just too much city. By the time Haruka and the rest came into the restaurant, we had packed up and shut things down in frustration.

Dinner was interesting as the Two Tims brought down a man from navy intelligence who had spent the last three months chasing the Colonel and Tim had taken a picture of the Director, another man, and a man that was the Colonel’s second in command here at Bennies. I was a bit irked that Tim hadn’t shown that to me earlier, but he had taken it as a picture of the Director and probably figured that he was just down here to have lunch and was frightened by all the activity. In any case Tim had been down here by happenstance. As dinner wound down and Tim was pulled away by Suzy to eat I turned to the rest of the people at my table and said, “Tim, you, me or Sal need to have somebody down here with a camera taking pictures of everybody that goes in and out. If the Colonel did show up down here, he may come back.”

 

The Director.

Thursday 1/21, 1932.

After the Instructor and I arranged for the truck in the morning, along with compelled drivers, I went to the safe house to wait for the report from the Captain. So far everything had gone well. Which scared the hell out of me. I had seen that picture from the briefing book, of Tom as he was using the gun to walk right through the constructs and the sharks. I knew that whatever happened that gun was going to be pointed at me in the end unless a miracle happened and the Captain actually managed to kill Tom. The problem was that the Captain was experienced in war, but not a discreet war, a war of wits. Tom on the other hand was. That was evident from the material from Washington. More from what was not there rather than what was. Then there was the rest of the family. They had defeated everything that I had sent and that was when they didn’t even know about me. What were they going to do now?

The Captain and his people returned. I watched as they parked the cars and walked into the house. The Captain came up to me and I asked, “how did it go?”

“Smoothly. They left the hotel and walked toward Broadway. Once the street was quiet we were able to use the chemist’s device to render them unconscious and took them to the car, where we transferred them to our rendezvous with the doppelgangers who Took them without difficulties. We dumped the bodies in the river. It should be some time before they are found, if ever.”

The operation was going smoothly. Why did that scare the hell out of me? The instructor came in. He had been looking for constructs because the Board wanted them in case they needed them. “I can’t find any constructs from the places that you told me about.”

“None?”

“Not one jar. Apparently two young men went through all the places and bought every construct that they could get their hands on. One of the places showed me a business card the two young men had given him. Apparently the two young men use the constructs as part of entertainments that they produce and they need a large supply for the shows. Their normal suppliers up in Vermont can no longer meet all their needs and they want a second supplier.”

I wondered who the two could be and then something that Ed had mentioned struck me. The two young men were Bob and Scott and they had sucked up the construct market because they needed them for the same kind of shoots that had happened at Chrissie’s party. With the result that they had a construct monopoly and could afford to ensure that with the limited supply, they would buy any that they could get their hands on.

Boonsri.

Thursday 1/21, 1932.

 

Once the early show was over, I changed to my street clothes and left the theatre. Thursday nights had become our night with Nera for learning choreography and the business for a select group of assistant producers and head dancers. It had started with Sal’s party actually, and me accidently mentioning that Nera was moving down here after she told me at the party. My producer was a bit annoyed that Nera hadn’t invited all her friends to her wedding and set up a welcoming party for Mike and Nera when they moved in. When Nera mentioned that she would be willing to set aside an evening or so a week to teach some of us what she knew, the producers couldn’t push us hard enough to go. So we went and Nera actually was a wonderful hostess and teacher. This was going to be our third session and I almost danced over to the houseboat. That is, until I got there and the boat was closed up and the rest of the students were wondering what had happened. Leona saw me walk up and said, “What could have happened? Did she forget and go out with Mike?”

“They may have had something come up. That happens in his business.”

“With animals? Cows and such?”

“Sometimes. People do strange things with animals and then there’s a mess.”

Just last week a herd of sheep had gotten loose in midtown and it had made the papers. Of course Mike’s business had nothing to do with normal animals. Surrounded by disappointed faces, I said, “I’ll call Mary in the morning and ask what happened. That is if it doesn’t make the papers.”

We turned away from the houseboat and I made my toward the el. I passed two men in uniform and sensed something familiar about them. It wasn’t until I was half a block away that I realized what it was. They were the doppelgangers. But they shouldn’t have Changed because they risked dissolution. They had even told me that they were approaching the limit when they took Andy. I turned to follow them, but they were gone in the crowds. I turned around again and went back in the direction that they had come from. There must be bodies. Since we weren’t that far from the East river, they probably dumped them there. I went back to 45th street and over toward the river. In between the slaughter houses in the river I spotted two whitish shapes. Since nobody else seemed to be around and there was nothing I could do, I went to find a phone booth so that I could call the bureau.”

I found a phone booth, dialed the number and a voice answered, “Agent Edwards, what can I help you with?”

“This is Boonsri, I need to speak to Mary immediately.”

“Mrs. Cianti is not available, If you leave a message, she can get back to you.”

Oh, no. The bureau was busy and this guy was handling the phones. The bureau was probably looking into things about the doppelgangers. In the wrong place probably.

“Ok, I’m at a pay phone at First Avenue and 45th st. There are two bodies in the river that have been replaced by doppelgangers. I don’t know what they are up to, but it must be important, send somebody to look into this as fast as you can. I think that I will report this to the police so that even if the bureau can’t get to the bodies immediately the police can.”

I hung up, called the police and reported the bodies. I waited until a car showed up and pointed to the still floating bodies. Since there wasn’t anything else that I could do, I headed for home. I would call Mary in the morning and tell her the full story.

 

 

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