Mermaid, Chapter 25, part 2

People react to the Colonel’s plot as they chase the truck with the mermaid’s inside. Where is it going? Chrissie’s crab?

Tim.

Friday 1/22, 1932.

Vic and I were spending another day on the trading floor. It was going to be the Curb Exchage this time. It was called that because it had started as traders just trading on the curb on Wall St. Things were fancier now, but Vic said that that was a bit of an illusion. It had only been ten years since the traders had moved off the street into their fancy building and trading floor. As we were going around the trading floor, Vic was listening to things and said, “Tim, you know the Japanese prince, don’t you?” “Tochi? Why?”

“Something must have happened involving him. There’s a lot of buzz going around about him just now. That and White’s. But White’s is on the big board. A lot of sell orders have been going out for Japanese issues and some people seem to be pulling out.”

“That’s strange. Noro and Tochi get along fine. Josh does too. Tom has known Tochi for years. It would take lot to break up that relationship.”

Somebody must have heard me and made some calls because suddenly buy orders were flying on the same issues that had just been going into the dumps. Vic smiled and said, “Oops. You have to watch what you say here. Not that that was a bad thing. It’s lunch time so, let’s eat.”

We went to a place that seemed like a dive until you saw the prices. The place’s main deal seemed to be that the lunches got to you quick and it was inside. The sandwiches were actually good, though. I said to Vic, “You did that on purpose.” “Yes I did, for various reasons. One is that you needed to understand that you have to watch what you say on the trading floor. If they did not know that you were my apprentice that little thing could have gotten you banned. I also knew that you knew all the people involved and poking the nervous nellies a bit might make them think. Of course the nervous nellies we really want to poke aren’t on the trading floor.” A trader came by. “Hi, Vic. You taking another newbie through the floors?”

“Hi, Don. This is Tim Thomas, our newest member on the business page. Fresh from the front page.” “The kidnappings, right? That was quite a story. How did you end up on the business beat rather than the crime beat?” “Relatives and connections,” I said. “Mr. White is sort of a relative and I have some other connections that I know.”

“So you know the old coot. What is he up too, other than making people jump up at Lake Placid.”

‘Getting his granddaughter hitched and enjoying life. He told me that playing around in the business at this point was only going to hurt him and since his wife died, he doesn’t want the frustration. The only reason he took over up there was that the clown upstate managed to insult the entire family and he wanted a platform for fun and games.” “Ouch. Of course that may change with the granddaughter being kidnapped in the Japanese Prince’s car this morning.” “Is that what happened?” Vic asked.

“Apparently. The details haven’t made the wires yet, but the news has been all over town and the Capital. The street is rather nervous about what Mr. White might do about it. That’s why Japanese issues were taking a hit.”

My heart sank. The Colonel had done it. He must have been that third guy in the picture and seen what Steve had set up. So he went with the doppelgangers and replaced two of Tochi’s people. But Tom wouldn’t blame Tochi for that and I needed to see if I could mitigate some of the collateral damage that the Colonel probably wanted. I had been reading his book and he was big on dissention and confusion and the benefits of creating confusion in what his opponents thought about each other. With that in mind, I said, “I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Tom and Chrissie are tight with the prince and his wife and Tom isn’t going to blame the prince for something that somebody else did or let anybody else do that either.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Since Chrissie is my cousin, yes. As far as Noro playing his fun and games, I haven’t talked to him in the last couple of weeks, but whatever it is won’t involve Tochi more than he is already.”

“That’s good to know. I’ll discreetly let some people know. And to go long on some Japanese issues that just took a dive.”

He left. Vic said, “You handled that well. Maybe you told him a bit much. You’ll have to learn to keep your connections to youself. Now Don and anybody he tells knows that you are related to Noro, and Josh, as well.”

It had been a risk, but I figured that Noro wouldn’t mind and the stakes were high. It wasn’t that big a secret that I knew Noro in any case. I couldn’t tell Vic that I hadn’t done that as an accident so I went with; “I didn’t even know that until Sal’s wedding.”

“Another relationship that you should be discreet about. Though the fact that you are going out with the Troubleshooter’s sister is already common knowledge. As much as I would like to have you for the afternoon, I think that you need to get over to the paper. I think that you will be heading uptown shortly after that.”

“I have this feeling that you are right.” With that in mind I went outside and grabbed a cab up to newspaper row. On the way up, I made a stop. As I walked in, Mary said, “Tim, I’m glad you stopped in. Roger is looking for you, by the way. None of the messengers he sent down could find you at the exchange.” “Vic took me to the Curb Exchange today. So what’s going on with Tochi?”

“The doppelgangers took two if his people last night and used them to take Chrissie, Haruka and the Ningyo. We got a report from a boy that the ladies were transferred to a truck with a tank in it for transferring live fish upstate. The company is reporting the truck and the drivers missing.” “Were they taken by the doppelgangers?”

“Not our two. They were found with the prince’s car, dissolved. There did not seem to be any weapon used to kill them. At least there were no bullets in the seats behind them.”

“Have you told Tom yet?”

“Yes. I called the farm and Greta was going to call him.”

“Should I call Suzy?”

“I already called the navy yard. Suzy and Mike are going up the river, but they don’t think that the people responsible will use the river. Call them after you get back.”

“Ok, I’m on my way.”

I walked over to the paper and into the newsroom. George said, “Good, you’re here. Roger wants to talk to you while I call a cab in. Then he wants you at the Waldorf ASAP.” I went back to the office and knocked. “In!”

Roger was there, on the phone. “He just walked in.”

“They want you uptown. I want you uptown. I want to know what kind of fool would kidnap Chrissie. Josh kills things and people if he thinks it necessary, especially if they go after other people’s kids. What he will do somebody that messes with his own kids I don’t even want to think about. Then there’s Noro. The Exchange is already going bananas. That’s before Noro has actually said anything. Go uptown and find out what happened. Then get me a story I can sell. You know what to leave out. Get going!”

“Yes boss!”

I turned around went downstairs to get a stack of film for the camera and turn in my Wall St. stuff from the morning and then out front to wait for the cab. Sal showed up in the Duesie first. “I was just at the office. Let’s go uptown. Suzy was rather annoyed that you left your gun at the navy yard this morning.”

He handed it to me. “Why did you leave it?”

As I took off my jacket so that I could strap the holster on I said, “I was going to be on the exchange floor all morning and they have a strict “no guns” policy. I had it with me yesterday and when I checked it in at the guard post at the NY Stock exchange the guards there couldn’t keep their mitts off it. They wanted to know how it shot and would have dragged me to the nearest range to see how it did. It was going to be more trouble than it was worth, so I left it checked in at the navy yard.”

“I told Suzy that too. Even as a cop, I couldn’t take a gun on the floor. Apparently there have been incidents in the past. As for the guards, that happens when you have one of Tom’s pieces. Talk to Mary about setting you up with a locker for guns at the building.”

Going uptown, Sal seemed to hit all the traffic cops waving traffic in our direction. Then I noticed that as we went up the cops were abrupty stopping traffic crossing us to let us pass. “They know you.”

“They seem to, don’t they?”

We pulled up to the curb in front of the Waldorf which was filled with cop cars and what appeared to be fed cars, with the exception of a spot that a cop just waved us into. We walked into the hotel and George was there. “Sal you got him. Good. Let’s go upstairs.”

As we went into the elevator, there seemed to be a lot of press types being held back. I said to George, “I hope that you have a good story that you can tell them about me or I’m in real trouble. You didn’t even warn me that I should be discreet.”

“Don’t worry about that. I took care of it. They saw somebody coming in, but things were fuzzy and they won’t figure out who you were. Being bonded has advantages.”

George had run into a tail at the Christmas party. The mother was ecstatic and talking to Stella and Tara about weddings. They were planning to close the deal on the beach in April at that hotel over in Patchogue. Suzy and I had had a nice date there last weekend and made some nice memories.

“So, what happened, other than a jittery market?”

“Last night, two of Tochi’s people went to a show and came back with different personalities. They were supposed to take Suki down and meet with Chrissie and the other ladies at Bennies for clothes shopping before going up to the Olympics on Monday. The two people told their chief that Suki was ill and went ahead on their own. Suki came looking for them and when she couldn’t find them, talked to Tochi and the lieutenant and discovered that they had already left. She called down to Bennies to tell the ladies to wait but the ladies had already gotten into the car. Then the call came in that the guards’ bodies had been found. We found the car, with the dissolved doppelgangers inside and one of the street kids saw the transfer and wired it in to Mary. We sent people down and they talked to the kid, who identified the mermaids and the truck. We went to the company and they had already reported the truck missing when it hadn’t come in to make a pickup for a run upstate.”

“How did the kid know who Chrissie was.” “That part was easy. He saw her picture in the paper. As for the mermaid part, he was rather surprised, but said that he wanted to meet her for real sometime.”

“So what do you all want me for?”

“Other than being a discreet connection to the press? You know everybody and since you are family and the only one without a tail available right now, you have to be the face of the family.”

“Hilda and Bill are still at the school. Steve is at the navy yard.”

“Hilda is a Fed and trying to maintain a low profile. The Andy thing is bad enough, but at least that wasn’t something as big as the Ventor kidnapping back in March. Taking Chrissie, even without the rest is bigger than the Ventor thing simply because Noro is her grandfather. Steve is navy and covert operations. I don’t think that the Admiral will want him in the public eye if we can avoid it. He’s also probably busy getting his people together.

You mentioned the jittery markets. Selling Japanese stocks probably.”

“Yes. I actually calmed that down thanks to Vic’s maneuvering. I’m going to have to learn to keep my mouth shut on the Street.”

The elevator doors opened and there was a crowd of cops and Feds in the hall. We went into a room where Nera, of all people seemed to be managing things. George said, “Nera, I got him. I don’t think that the rest of the press boys noticed.” “Great, George. Tim, did George explain what we want from you?” ‘I think so, Nera. I’m not sure why it has to me, though.”

“I can’t do it because I might need to be in the background. Mike has to be the Fed in Charge. Steve is covert operations and we don’t want him in the public eye for the other side to be looking at anyway. Al, Eltra, Stacey, George, Altris and Ilutra are all up at the Cape. Eli and Theresa will not want to come out in the open and I can agree with that, because they operate best when being discreet and an obvious connection with us might hurt us in the long run when we need a connection. Josh and Mera are up at the farm and likely to stay there. Tom, ditto, at least until somebody contacts him. Father is also there and can’t really leave. We need somebody who is family and has been a bit visible lately who can be visible with Tochi on this so that a united front is presented. Otherwise Tochi might be blamed for being responsible for this and lose face. Also we need somebody we can trust to be inside as a press representative. That’s you.”

“Nera, how do you know this stuff? You’ve spent your entire life in the bower?”

“A lady has her secrets. Actually, I’ve been around for a very long time, Tim and while the names of things change, people don’t. That may be why I went on my “dirty lander” thing for so long. Not that there weren’t people just as bad under sea. Then for the rest of it, it’s all choreography and business. I have been doing those things also for a very long time. If you think that this is hard, try juggling thirty fast moving Swimmers in three dimensions both above and below the water in a small area and ensuring that nobody gets hurt while dealing with a front and money issues at the same time. You’ve seen the dancing that I’ve been teaching you all. Consider that we also have dancers that work at it, that we have to run a new show every year and be entertaining enough that people will want to come back. That means that we have to work at performing on the edge, where mistakes can get you hurt just like acrobats have to. What Mike will need from me will be easy compared to that. I have already been contacted discreetly by several Broadway producers for consultation. Don’t let Josh and Mera know about that, please.”

I smiled, “Can Suzy and I get tickets?”

“I’m sure that something can be arranged.”

“Ok, Nera, I can do what you need. What about Suzy?”

“If we need her, we can bring her in. You’re young enough that not having a girl around will not be an issue. Though I suspect that most of the people who will know who you are will know about Suzy already.” “Why did the other side do this? After the way we hit them and the fact that they have to know that pissing Tom, Josh, Mera and Noro off has consequences doing this is just stupid.” “I don’t know, Tim. We’ve all been watching these people for some time now and they keep doing these things. Talk to Eli and ask. See if Eli can get you an interview with the Director, maybe.”

“Now THAT would be a scoop.” Suki came into the room. “Good. You are here. Do you have your gun? Let me see.”

I opened my jacket. “Good. Watch out for nasty people on the street. Or people that nasty people took over. Sal, have you taught him about zombies yet?” “Suki, I don’t think that we will be seeing any zombies any time soon,” Sal said. “The only Necromancers that we knew about are dead.”

“That you knew about. The things that took my friends were things that we didn’t know about. I’m not talking about the doppelgangers, though you boys were a bit sloppy about those. I’m talking about the things that stole that truck and killed the doppelgangers. I hope that you have that boy that saw the transfer in a safe place.”

“We put him in the school.”

“Good. With Bill and Hilda there, along with Tony and Robert, anything trying to take a kid out of there is asking for trouble. In any case, you boys need to be alert for the things like zombies that you don’t expect. Let the other side be the people dealing with the unexepected. Taking Chrissie to get to Tom was just plain stupid. Tim, come with me.”

I shrugged and followed her. She was strange. “So what do you want from me?”

“To make you a bit more comfortable. What’s going to happen next is going to be rough. The other side is going to play hardball to try to put Tom in a position where they think that they can kill him. They may even kill Haruka, thinking she has no status, which would also be stupid because the entire navy would probably go after them for that.”

“Is Haruka that important?” “By herself, no. As a part of the navy, yes. She is part of the navy family and the seafolk part of that family. You’ve seen how they respond to Suzy. The navy people were already annoyed about that lieutenant that Edward killed. The lieutenant was a soldier and death is part of their nasty business. Haruka is a soldier’s wife and the thing the soldiers need to help them deal with their burdens Haruka represents the woman worth dying for and their failure to protect her, both on an individual and an organizational level. So she is very important. She’s also a mer princess and an important connection for the bower in Hawaii. To all the bowers actually. A connection that the navy wants very much. Even more important than that is that she is part of the navy family. Watch how Mabel, Stella and Ella behave.”

“I’m still new to this. I was thrown into the deep end with no warning.” “By a mermaid and a battleship, I know. Do you think that I wasn’t? My parents and Tochi’s parents made the arrangements and there he was. We had never even met and suddenly we were getting married. Fortunately he has turned out to be a less than useless husband most of the time and perfectly loveable all the time.”

“You’re strange, lady.”

“I know. Isn’t it fun. You can get away with so much if people think you are strange. They may even listen to you and gain some insight and wisdom if they don’t think that you are being serious. All my sisters and brothers work so hard to be what others expect of them. I work hard to be what people don’t expect. My brothers and sisters have been unhappy and miserable, living lives governed by others. I am happy living my life governing myself and my not so useless husband and the fun friends we’ve acquired over the years.”

We walked into the suite where the prince was living. Tochi looked at me and said, “Suki, what were you doing to him?” “Nothing at all. He’s just been talking with me.” “Tim, I have to warn you that talking with my wife can have sanity consequences.”

“Not so useless husband, do not start spreading tales. I haven’t driven anybody insane in at least two weeks.”

“You’ve been with Chrissie for the last two weeks when you weren’t with me. Also I’m sure that there were some random people, like those sergeants at the Statue of Liberty that you drove almost insane.”

“Well they don’t count. After all, if they can’t deal with a lady like me from time to time, they won’t be able to do their jobs. In any case there were mermaids in the water even if they couldn’t see them.” “Tochi, do I want to know what happened at the Statue of Liberty?” I asked.

“No you don’t.”

“All I was doing was asking them to speak up for Chrissie and the rest. I’m sure that there were others that would want them to speak louder as well.”

I was beginning to see the picture here. The sergeant had been going around the base of the statue like they usually do and Suki had been in the crowd, along with the ladies in the water being discreet. Suki had wanted the sergeant to speak up for the “mermaids in the water” that the sergeant either didn’t believe in, or didn’t want the crowd to think about. In any case the poor sergeant had probably been driven crazy. Or maybe not. The statue gig was a place for old soldiers to have their last few years before they retired. The sergeants were all career army and had been through wars and seen everything. Also the Amboy bower wasn’t that far away and the merfolk probably came by the Statue from time to time. I would have to ask Jonney about that when I got the chance.

Mike came in and said, “A toll taker at the George Washington Bridge saw the truck. So it’s either heading into New Jersey or upstate.”

“How long can a mermaid stay alive in a truck like that?”

“Nera has never heard of somebody doing something like this. Nor has Mary. We are in new territory here. The one thing I do know is that if there is a source of air, they should survive if they are awake. So water depletion shouldn’t kill them.”

Nera rolled herself in. “I think the question you are asking is how far can they go?”

“That’s what I was thinking. That and what will they have to do if they have to stop someplace.”

“Well Tom and Chrissie managed to get to Vermont and back using a washtub at that hotel in white River Junction. But Chrissie was riding in the truck and not in a tank. I’ll have to ask Altris or George how far they have shipped live fish. Mike, I think it’s time that we put together an official statement and give it to the press and then close this dog and pony show down. We’re not going to find that truck unless by accident until it stops moving. The Director hasn’t shown up to make demands and until he does, we are only going to be spinning our wheels.”

“Who’s going to deliver it?” Mike asked.

“Tim, I think, since he has been the representive of the press and can represent the family.”

“Ok, let’s get that done and get you wet. We can all poke into things in the morning, but once the truck was out of the city for several hours, even when we find it, it will probably be empty.”

Tochi and Mike put together the official statement and I took it down to the rest of the press people down there. I read it off and then answered the questions about Tochi and what happened ending with the inevitable, “Tim, how did you get upstairs?”

“Family. The victim is a cousin.”

“You came in with the Troubleshooter. Is he involved?”

“There is trouble that will get shot yes. Look for some big booms coming.”

Mike rescued me and took me out the car where Nera was waiting. I turned to Mike and asked, “How much do the sergeants at the Statue of Liberty know about the fae?”

“You know, I have no idea. Why do you ask?” “Well Suki was annoying them about mermaids in the water and I was wondering if they were laughing at her antics and trying to keep things discreet or just thought that she was crazy.”

“That would be good to know. If they do know, Nera, how about we see about you staging some mermaid dancing for some select after hours visitors.”

Nera smiled and said, “the water is little shallow there, but I’m sure that we can arrange something. I imagine that after dealing with Suki, they deserve it.”

Mike dropped me off at the navy yard before heading up to the houseboat that he and Nera had. I walked over to Stella’s office to pick up my car where I had left it this morning when Suzy and I had gone for a Swim. “Tim! Mike and Suzy are not back yet. I’m guessing that you had a busy day.” “Yes. Not as busy as we wanted.”

“Well, these people just made a very bad mistake. They took a navy wife, her sister in law and their guests.”

“George is looking for the biggest hammer he can find,” Mabel said. “The Chief of Naval Operations is looking to go to war on somebody. CincAnt has alerted all stations. In any case Helmut has whatever he wants from the navy.”

Suki had been dead on about the reaction of the navy people. “Where’s Steve?”

“With Joe and putting things together for his people. They are going up to Newport and the Cape to meet with them tomorrow. They were going to go up to Vermont and do some cleanup with the army next weekend.”

“I suspect that that’s still happening.”

“They need to do the cleanup before the games, regardless. So, yes. I don’t think that the people who took Haruka and the rest know what we had planned. George has put a call out to Parris Island and some marines are getting some winter training in upstate New York next weekend. The sergeants thought that was a great idea.” I had heard about those guys from some friends who’s dads had been in the marines in the past. They were just the kind of guys who would think that playing around in three foot snow and the woods would be a nice vacation for their boys. On the other hand they could get sent to some frozen hellhole with people shooting at them on a moment’s notice and being ready for that helped the men make it back.

Mike rolled Suzy into the office. She said,“Tim! What a day! Where did you end up?”

“The Waldorf. I’m probably going to be stuck there again, more or less just waiting. The truck got away.” “We know. We were looking for it along the river and it never came close. They weren’t using a boat that we could find. There were also no reports of any boats stolen. Why don’t we go over to Sal’s and get wet. There’s nothing we can do now, anyway.”

As we drove off, I said, “I did learn one thing and do one good thing at the market this morning. I learned to keep my mouth shut and I helped some Japanese companies avoid having a very bad day.” “How?”

“By mentioning that Noro and the prince would probably not get into a fight over this. Unfortunately I also mentioned that I was related to Noro and Josh.”

“People will figure that out anyway. Just like they already know that you and Sal are connected.” “I know. George shielded me past a bunch of reporters going into the Waldorf and they still knew that I had been with Sal and were asking questions about him. I told them that Sal had been consulting and that there was trouble that was going to get shot.”

Sal’s place was abuzz with activity. The compelled had taken all the stuff that Tim Kirk had brought in and the rest of what we had and had had Feds check out every address that they could find for activity. They had also obtained a picture of the truck and sent it to every police department in the area. The New York and New Jersey state police had both been notified and had people looking out for the truck. Sal came up behind me and said, “this is the grunt work behind something like this. This is what saps resources and time. But as often as not the grunt work gets the work done without the clever insights. We also got a break. Sarla sent us the entry papers for the Yugoslav Olympic team.” “So? The teams have been coming over.” “Yugoslavia isn’t sending a team. Tom talked about that. They are alpine skiers mostly and the alpine world championships are not part of the Olympics so they are not coming. It’s also expensive and they can’t afford it. As far as we know these people never showed up at the Olympics in any case. So we have Id’s on our werewolves. We connected them to the pictures taken in customs and the pictures taken up at the academy.” “Well, Tim why don’t we get down to the pool and get wet before dinner,” Suzy said. “I’m starting to itch.”

I rolled her down to the pool house and took her dress as she handed it to me and then undressed and sat on the edge of the pool to Change. As we Swam out of the pool and out toward the bower I said, “Nera was rather interesting today. She dropped right into managing the operation as if she had been doing it for years. When I asked how she knew how to do things like that she said it was easier than managing one of her dancing shows.”

“Well she does that very well.” “Not the beginner shows she’s been doing with you all, but the shows that they run up at the Cape, which must be spectacular. Apparently they push harder and run things like a circus without a net to keep the audiences coming back. She’s already had Broadway producers contacting her for consultations. We may be getting tickets as long as we don’t tell Josh and Mera.”

“Why not?”

“Probably because it would expose Nera to being accused as a hypocrite for the way that she dealt with Josh and Mera’s bonding and saying that she knew nothing about the land while running those shows and doing the choreography work. I think I will talk to our theatre people at the paper and drop her name, just to see what happens.”

“That will be interesting, either way.”

Trillia Swam toward us. “So how did Chrissie get taken? We were talking to the kid who saw the ladies get put in a truck. They were all knocked out when he saw them.”

“Tochi and Nera said that the doppelgangers that we hadn’t tracked down took two of Tochi’s people and drove off to pick up the mermaids and left Suki at the hotel. They got to Bennies and picked them up right before Suki called down and met with the truck.”

“Did you find the truck yet?”

“It went across the bridge into New Jersey. Sal has people looking for it. The problem is that every truck is just like every other truck on the road when they are moving and nobody pays attention to them.”

“Well we all got together and are making up a bunch of stuff to send with Andy upstate to make the people that did this miserable. Maybe we can’t shoot the people that did this, but we can let them know that we care. Of course if they come back we can shoot them. Still Tony and Robert said that doing fun stuff might actually be worse than shooting them right off. At least it will make their lives harder. I need to get home, bye now.”

She Swam off toward the bower. As we continued our Swim, Suzy said, “should we check the kid out?”

“In the morning. I think that he has been “checked out” enough today already.”

“I think that you are right about that . Let’s Swim around the island and get back. I imagine that Sillia wants us for dinner.”

We did and when we got back to the house, Sillia was calling dinner. Eli and Theresa had shown up and talked around about things and afterwords Eli and Theresa pigeonholed me. Theresa nailed me with, “Tim dear, tell us what happened at the hotel. You missed the meeting today.”

I was in trouble. That is if I didn’t cough up. I had only known she was my grandmother for a few weeks and I knew that already. “Sal took me up and I talked to Nera and Suki. Nera was running the show for Mike and Suki was being Suki. Nera talked about choreography and Suki wanted me to watch out for zombies. She also made sure that I was carrying my gun. Mostly we were waiting for information about the truck.” “Was the prince worried about what Noro or Tom might do to him?”

“Not one bit. You’ve seen them together. Suki was worried about what might happen to Tom if they killed Chrissie and what the navy would do if they killed Haruka. She was right on the money about that. Suki seems to do that to people. She’ll sound strange until you think about it and then it makes sense.”

I thought about what Theresa said and what she probably really wanted. “Are you talking about the rumors that were going around about Noro and Tochi this morning?”

“You heard about those?”

“I was on the floor of the Curb Exchange and Vic used them to educate me on why I should keep my mouth shut. I did squelch the rumors a bit.”

“And at the hotel?”

“Mostly we were just waiting until the news came in that the truck had crossed the bridge. Then Nera broke things up because without information, standing around was pointless. They were waiting for something from the Director making demands.”

“We don’t think that the Director was involved. The more we looked at it, the more it looked like something that the Colonel was up to”

“Do you have his picture?”

“No we don’t. We never really tried. Why do you ask? Scott had some that they took from the blind. We also have the picture that you took.”

“Have you found out about the transfer yet?”

“The witness? We talked to Albert about him at our little get together. We haven’t talked to him directly yet. We wanted to wait until everybody else did.” “Could you arrange a meet with the Director. With me in the room?” “You want to get his picture.” “Yes. At least a close up. I got him when he was down at Bennies with his buddies the other day. I would also like to know why he did something so stupid. The navy wants to go to war with somebody over Haruka, Tochi is going to be really upset if the Ningyo are hurt and is worried what the princess’s parents will do and everybody is worried about what Tom is going to do, followed right after by Josh and Noro.”

“What do you think that Tom is going to do?” Eli asked.

“I asked Suki and Mike about that. He’ll play things the way he always does. There will be gags and noisemakers along with real guns and whittling the away the other side in ways that are not obvious. He’ll mess with their communications and set them up. In the meantime he will find the ladies and either get them out or make sure that they can protect themselves. Then the other side has the hammer dropped on them.” “That’s what we think as well. He had the hammer being set up for next weekend anyway. I don’t think that he will do very much until he’s ready to use it unless they attack. Trying to attack the farm without creating a lot of noise is going to be impossible. Also he is probably talking to people already at the highest levels. That is if they didn’t find out through channels and call him. If Miss Vicky hasn’t called him already I will be remarkably surprised.”

“I’m a bit surprised that you are not already on your way up there.” “We don’t want to be a distraction,” Theresa said. “Down here and far away, we can have a certain degree of emotional detachment. Though I am tempted to introduce you to the Director and say that further communications between us go through you so that we don’t kill him on the spot and mess up Sissy’s floor.”

What do we say about the Colonel?”

“We don’t bring him up if the Director doesn’t. If he doesn’t then it’s possible that the Colonel, or somebody that works for him forced the director to forget that he had seen him. In any case, we don’t bring him up and spill the beans. You missed our little meeting today, but the Colonel likes diversions and everybody at the meeting thought that the Colonel was trying to distract Tom.”

“The Director was asking you about how the Rockaway bower and the Manager went down. Would he be willing to exchange information for information. He tells me things like how the sharks found out about Vinnie and Noro’s wife and I tell him everything about how the Rockaway bower went down from an insider’s point of view. I’ll even bring my notes.”

“We can offer a trade on that basis. We can explain that you want to fill in all the details of the story one way or another and that straight up money doesn’t interest you as much as having the full story does. That’s actually true and in the long run, the more you know the more you can get paid.”

“If he were smart, he would want to know everything he can about how Tom operates before things got any further. As far as I know, the Manager never sent any reports and certainly never called when things went down until afterwords. Tom tapped the phones and before it was over, had taken over the telegraph office. He’s going to do that again. The kids are already starting to make gags and if they had access to Al’s shop, they would be making noisemakers. He will also infiltrate and provide weapons and explosives. Any soldiers and Twisted will be baited and quietly destroyed in such a way that the target won’t realize that he is being bled. If Bob and Scott have constructs they may get used. When it’s over the opposition will be left defenseless and stunned.”

“That’s what I saw with the Manager,” Theresa said. “The interesting thing is that Tom left the children in the school until it was almost over.”

“He knew that he could and there was no sense bringing them out and risking everything in a Twisted battle even though he was certain that he would win the battle. We planned to get the kids out before Sal’s party when the manager had gone down, but the bureau didn’t have all the mother’s permissions. By the time they did, the Manager had called in more Twisted and mob types. Sal troubleshot the mobsters and Tom used the noisemakers to draw the Twisted out where they could be destroyed.”

“Why did they wait for the permissions?” “Because the bureau is supposed to be clandestine and the noise that a public court fight would have made would have not helped things. Again, Hilda had taken steps and Andy was in a building with guns in it. If it weren’t for the Twisted, the kids could have walked out through the fence anytime they wanted anyway. There were enough holes in it.”

Eli frowned. “Tom made sure that the Manager’s house could not self destruct. He must have encountered that before.”

“I think he had, or the bureau had. In any case the warehouse was such a spectacular case that looking for one was inevitable. As well as looking for suicide compulsions. I do know one thing. Giving Tom time to get rolling was a mistake. If you can hit him by surprise you might actually get him. That actually almost happened on the island. Doing something like this is putting him on the inside track when he will be faster than you are anyway.

Suzy looked over the book she was reading and said, “since you all are just going over old news, Tim you and I should get to bed.”

“In the pool or the Sound?” “The pool, I think. We can be nice and cozy.”

Eli and Theresa laughed as I rolled her to our room. It was nice and cozy.

Tom.

Saturday 1/23, 1932.

I hadn’t slept well the previous night and after a quick breakfast I met with Don, my Uncle Vincent’s second son. Don was about my age and lived up the road. He was good in the woods and mother had recruited him to be my bodyguard when I took the truck over the lake. Apparently Director Hoover had talked to her too. “We’re leaving early. I would have expected you to wait for a report.”

“I can read the report when I get back or tomorrow. At this point the other side has to contact me. The longer I am away, the harder that will be and the more time I have to prepare.”

We drove down to the ferry and crossed over the lake. When we reached the shed at the the trail head and stashed the truck beside the boy’s truck and car I pulled our skis off the rack as Don started to unload our boots, rifles, backpacks and one rather large thing. “Why the BAR?”

“Dan wanted another one when the werewolves showed up. That way we can have firepower pointed at two places rather than one and the guy changing a magazine can be covered.”

“I like how he thinks. To bad we couldn’t bring in one of the fifties.”

“Too heavy. It takes eight people to pack it in or preferably a couple of horses. Trying to have that much stuff and being discreet is just not happening. The army has mounts on trucks and we might play with that to get one that can move fast and get where we need it. We only have two of them anyway. If we need another BAR, Larry keeps a couple of those receivers that you made up ready to go and can build one in a couple of days. We can also borrow one from Boris if we need it faster than that.”

“Well I think that Bill will be happy if we don’t make a lot of noise.” “I’m sure of that. On the other hand we don’t want some people getting killed because we wanted to keep things quiet.”

We strapped on our skis and started down the trail. After about an hour’s hard work we arrived at the stash where the boys kept their ski gear and some back up supplies, unstrapped the skis and changed our boots. As we left the trail and headed up the deer path under the trees we could see other skiers on the trail heading the other way from the clubhouse. We went discreet so that they did not see us. “I can’t tell you what a relief it is that you can do that and the rest of it, Tom,” Don said. “Trying to hide things and keep you in the dark was getting dicey. Especially when you came back and we had the Twisted come back too.”

“I actually helped you there. If I hadn’t been sitting in my little bubble for a year and a half, you wouldn’t have been able to hide certain things. Monster shoots, for instance. When I checked the paper, I expected a discreet ad in the classified, not a half page ad with commentary and scorecards. Press coverage of the shoots as a regular thing was something that I never picked up on.”

“The shoots have grown. Bob and Scott have probably reached the limit though unless they can convince the construct guy to make more. He’s been fairly adamant about that or about telling the boys how to make them for themselves. They are looking for another source and just about every construct seller in the region just waits for their checks now.”

“I know. I’ve talked with him as well. He has his reasons and Mera backs him up. At least the guy didn’t seem to get upset when they told him what they did with all the constructs they buy. Sal is happy that he doesn’t have to deal with constructs showing up and attacking people.”

We reached the blind and Dan waved us in. Once we were inside we dropped our packs and guns Dan came in and said, “Good, you brought one. I don’t think we will need it, but it’s good to have it.”

The BAR that was already there was set up on its bipod covering the road and the academy we overlooked. I asked Bob, where are our furry friends?”

“Most of them seem to be out. They haven’t returned yet. There were eight going through their exercises this morning.”

Tony was looking through one of the big scopes and said, “Bob I think that you will want a picture of this.”

We looked out and there was a truck pulling into the driveway of the academy. Bob got behind the scope that had a camera mounted on it and started to take pictures. Tony said, “what is a truck of fish doing here?”

“Let me see.” I looked through the scope. The truck belonged to an outfit that transported live fish for restaurants. It had a New York City phone number on the sides of the truck. More than a bit frustratingly the truck moved behind the building as three cars loaded with werewolves showed up and followed it. After a bit the truck left again with one of the cars with two werewolves inside following it. After about half an hour the two came back. Then Jacob showed up. His car was there for four hours before he left again. I turned to Bob, “he’s probably not going to use the phone here or at home, you did tap the line at the business office, didn’t you?”

“Uncle Tom, we didn’t tap any lines. On the other hand this strange radio somehow receives phone conversations on all Jacob’s phones.”

After about half an hour, the radio started to make dialing noises and Brian started to count the clicks and stopped. “He’s calling the business office.”

He was, and he asked whoever was there to call Cahoon’s and ask for Chrissie’s crab in enough for a week. Then he hung up and called two of his grandsons to meet him at a place. After the phone hung up I said, “That wasn’t too obvious. On the other hand Chrissie’s crab is on the menu there and it is good. I’ll have Josh make sure that Matt packs enough for everybody, except the werewolves. I expect that they will have problems eating after we shoot them. I think that Don and I better head back and tell father and Josh that they delivered Chrissie as expected. Hand me the film and I will have George develop it.”

Bob rewound the camera and handed me the film. Don and I retraced our way back down the trail and reached the truck. After we packed the truck and started off, Don said, “You know, if we had had people on the road we could have had ended it right there. Those cars were full of people, we had two machine guns and rifles and they had no cover or sentries. On the other hand listening to Jacob ask for Chrissie’s crab made it worth it. What do you think that he called the boys in to do?”

“Let’s stop by the office. It’s closed today already, but maybe we can check on something.” We pulled up to the office and I unlocked the door. Chrissie had me put her chair in a nook right beside the door. It wasn’t there. I looked for the other three that were for any other merfolk using the office and they were gone as well. “Somebody seems to have taken Chrissie’s chair.”

Don smiled and said, “They must think that she will need it. Should we report the theft?”

“Let’s let it be discovered on Monday. We don’t want to give the game away too early.”

We started down toward the ferry and crossed over and drove home. When we arrived, we went straight into the living room and said, “Jacob ordered Chrissie’s crab from Cahoons.”

“That wasn’t too obvious.” Josh smiled. “Anything else?”

“An interesting truck arrived. We have pictures.”

He handed me a facsimile photo. “This truck?”

“Yes, actually. We didn’t see them unload though. Jacob showed up immediately afterwords and left later. After he left the academy, he went home and called the business office to ask for some seafood from Cahoon’s to be shipped up. Then he called his boys to run an errand and when we checked the office, the wheelchairs for merfolk had all been taken.”

“For some prank at a school probably,” Noro said.

Mother came in to call dinner and I said, “Mother, Jacob just ordered some Chrissie’s crab from the market on the Cape.”

“Did he? I never thought that he was a great lover of seafood. I will have to ask Helen if she knows how to prepare it properly. It’s Chrissie’s favorite and I am sure that Jacob is trying to make some amends. So where are they having it delivered?”

“The academy. They are having a lot of seafood delivered there. We caught a truck delivering mermaid this morning. From New York, actually. Bob took pictures.”

“Of Chrissie?” “No,unfortunately. Just the truck. There were some interesting characters as well.”

“Well let’s eat while you tell me all about it.”

 

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