Mermaid, Chapter 23, Part 3.

We meet the Ningyo at last, get the first glimpses of the big bad and Tim gets a car.

The Director.

Friday 1/08, 1932.

As I expected, my end of the year report had not been well received. That was probably why my check was never sent this week. After going to the office to find out what happened to it, I had received the message at my office. I had not been recalled, but the Masters were sending a Board to consider my actions and they were arriving today with two Necromancers, a Chemist and an Instructor.

I was waiting at the base of the pier when they left customs with their bags. I had hired two cabs to take us the hotel that I had arranged. After they settled into the suite, the five of them all sat around a table to discuss the events that occurred at the end of the year with me. The Head said in French, “When the Masters received your report in September things seemed to be doing well. What changed?”

“I’m not sure. The Amboy bower was near collapse and the Rockaway bower looked as if it was going in the same direction. I had given the Manager direct control of the Rockaway operation. Then in late October, the warehouse where we were producing the chemicals to destroy the Rockaway bower was raided and destroyed, taking the Chemist with it. The Manager set his shark pod on a target that we had been trying to eliminate for some time because he was dangerous to our project and the target destroyed almost the entire pod. When the Manager attempted to rebuild his werewolf pack by indenturing the target’s sister in law, the target took out the Manager. Since that time the bureau has become far more effective, took out the Amboy operation in two days and destroyed the primary shark pod shortly thereafter.”

“What happened to your Necromancer?”

“They were conducting an ambush against the target and he was destroyed.” “And the other Necromancer?”

“The Manager sent him against the target and the target destroyed him some time ago.”

“Tell us more about the target that seems to be so hard to destroy.”

“His name is Tom Benton. He is a son of the king of the Vermont Fae kingdom, a very strong kingdom. He recently bonded with the granddaughter of the Cape bower, another very strong kingdom. I first told the Manager to destroy him when he shot his werewolf brother and I suspected that he was sensitive to werewolves. I was attempting to protect our resources across the lake from detection.” “The werewolves were not supposed to be in Vermont, what happened?”

“For whatever reason, the compulsions failed and the brother went there, rather than coming down here. It may have had to do with the fact that the werewolf was the heir to the kingdom and still attached to the keystone. The werewolf that you sent earlier also has that issue and it is hard to get him to leave his kingdom for very long. He also lost his pack, which is why the Manager took the brother’s bonded.”

Another of the board members asked, “This bureau, how much do they know about your operations? I trust that you have been discreet?”

“Yes. As much as possible. Things have been more difficult once we started to attack the communities. Also Mr. Benton’s contact with his brother led him into looking into our operations and collecting information about the operations. I’ve started an operation with some traitors to discover what he knows.”

I opened my briefcase and handed them the summary and the first installment of the material.

“Draft records and incident reports. He seems to have started by looking into the records of units that were heavily fae selected. Does he know about your operations to make that happen?”

“I don’t know. But several of those self destructed as they were being investigated. I suspect that he has a pretty good idea of how things worked at this point. We’ll know more when I have the whole set of documents.” “Can you expedite?” “I can try. It may be very expensive.”

“Pay what they ask. We have people coming in the next few days and they will need to know what is at risk.”

“I will consult my source.”

“See if they can discover more about how the Rockaway operation went down and the Manager was removed from the game.”

The Head said, “Find out as much about Mr. Benton as you can. He seems to be the key to this. We need to find out more so that we can deal with him.”

“I think that the best course at this point would be to avoid tangling with Mr. Benton again,” I said. “When I first saw him, I only saw a simple young man straight off the farm. Yet he managed to collect just about everything about my operation and destroy, apparently without much effort, everything we’ve sent against him. I will also point out that he is an unattached royal fae and may be on the trail of sacrifice. We also do not know just where his resources begin and end. He is related to two strong fae kingdoms and has ties to the highest levels of government and business. I have been told this by associates who have seen these connections themselves. For that matter, a check of the recent news will bear that out.

I have also been told that “dealing” with Mr. Benton will be worse than leaving him alone. For that matter Mr. Benton is related to the two strongest fae families in the region who are both very well established, influential in their communities and have access to a large amount of resources both legal and illegal. Angering them at this point is inadvisable.” “If we cannot deal with one young man, we will not be able to proceed. Go and consult your sources. We will need a discreet headquarters. It will be easy to travel to Lake Placid without attracting attention and the academy should be an adequate discreet headquarters. We will work from there, far away from the bureau and the city.”

I left the room rather frightened. It would have been better if they had killed me. I suspected that they would bring in another werewolf pack or more sharks. Possibly even some harpies, perhaps. In any case they would probably not bring people of the kind that could deal with an army of fae with guns. I couldn’t tell them about the pictures from Tom’s little party a couple of weeks ago. The party that made the front page because of its guest list. The party with not one, but two large machine guns for a charity shoot. Along with the rows of people there shooting constructs. Or the fact that none of my associates could even find any construct jars, not that they would do them much good at this point. Certainly they wouldn’t be effective against the Benton farm other than to give them things to play with. That is if they could get close to the place in the first place. I sent a message to Spirit and to Edward. One would be receiving lot of money and the other a headache we did not need.

 

Scott.

Friday 1/08, 1932.

Friday, Bob and I were wiring phones. Since we were in the area, we decided to see if Ronny had the construct jars yet. We wanted to make sure that we got all of them even though we had found the extra thirty we needed at two places in the city. So we walked into Ronny’s and when he saw us, he said, “the Creator wants ot meet with you. I told him what you said about the Feds and he knew who you were anyway.” “Good, when and where?” I asked.

“Here, on Monday. One o’clock.”

“We can do that,” I said. We were juggling the schedule and going to school Thursday and Friday next week.

“Ronny, have you heard anything about the academy?” Bob asked. “Scott went by the place and there was a lot more going on than you would think for a place that was a wreck.” “Not since it was abandoned. The Martins get nasty if you go near the place, talking about private property and all sorts of crap.”

“They tried that on us when we were skiing up one of the club’s trails. Uncle Tom was looking into inprovements for the ski club before he went back down to the city and the bully boys tried to chase us off. Good luck with that. What a bunch of jerks.”

“I won’t argue with that. My girls certainly won’t. I would ban them if they weren’t my landlord. I wish that Jacob would put his foot down and try to shape the kids up, but he doesn’t do that and the rest of us pay the price. At least you boys and the rest of your family can chase them out.”

“That hasn’t been fun and it’s a pain. Do you have the jars? We need to go.”

“The Creator was wondering what you were doing with all those constructs you buy. He wants to see pictures of the last shoot, the ones that haven’t already been in the paper.”

“We can do that. We’ll bring an album. We had one made up for a friend as a wedding present, so doing another one is going to be easy.”

“Well here are your jars.”

“Ok, Ronny, we’ll see you.”

We got back in the phone company truck that we were using today and on to the next service call, which was Jacob’s house. We had thought that we would have to get Tom to tell us how one of his gadgets worked, but Jacob made a call about problems on Wednesday and since nobody else wanted to deal with the call, we took it. When we got to the house, Helen was there, but Jacob wasn’t. “Hello, boys. I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised. I hope that you aren’t planning anything like the parade here.” “No, Mrs. Martin. We’re just helping Paul at the phone company out today.”

“How did you get out of school?” “Noro asked our principal for some days so that we could help with the Games and Paul asked both Mr. Jones and Noro for us for a day a week and maybe two until the Games so that he can keep ahead of the new lines and the service calls. So what is the problem?”

“The business line is dead. The house line is fine, but the business line went dead yesterday.”

“I think that I know what happened,” I said. “We’ll get right on it. They were installing new lines yesterday for the press at the Games and they disconnected one too many. We’ll get right on it.”

We checked the line and it was indeed, dead. So we headed back out and to the junction box that they had been working on yesterday. We reconnected the line, added the tap and Tom’s little gadget to boost the signal and returned to check the line, which worked, so we had Helen sign the work order and we were off to the next service call. When were done for the day, we put the truck into the phone company lot, handed in the work orders and went home.

Tim.

Monday, 1/03 -Friday, 1/08, 1932.

This week had been interesting but unexciting. Mornings I went around talking to the people I hadn’t talked to filling in the detail bits about the sharks. Jimmy gave me the names of the other guys that had been with Vinnie and I talked to them and some of the other cops from the first round of the kidnappings. I also went through everything that we had from the Manager and the sharks’ clubhouses. Afternoons it was lunch with Suzy at work, Swimming in the basin and docks and then out to the school for shooting practice and learning to drive. Tony was teaching me to drive with Suzy laughing in the back seat as I was working through learning how to use the clutch and shift. Mike had had to go out to Buffalo to check on a suspected vampire and Tony offered to teach me how to drive. We didn’t even use the wreck because it turned out that I did, indeed own a car, or at least the business did. When we went down with Mike and Nera for lunch at Bennies on Monday and Mike mentioned teaching me to to drive dad rolled back to the office, came back with the keys and said, “Tim, I think that this is yours now. I won’t need it. I can use Karl and the cab if I need to get someplace on land.”

“How long have you had a car?”

“From about the same time you went on your own. I was dealing with the businesses and my night job and things were getting tight, time wise. Rather than dealing with the stares on the subway and more importantly, I needed the time, I got the car. It was also a big help bringing your mother and sister over to the bower.”

I had never thought to ask how they had gotten to Bennies from the apartment.

“Where is it now?” Mike asked.

“In the garage up the street.”

“The same garage that Sal was using?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, I’ll send somebody down to pick it up. The wreck will still probably get wrecked in the end, but this way Tim won’t have to worry about a car.” “Why would I worry about a car?”

“For Suzy and your work. I think that you would have needed a car soon enough.”

So I had my own car, even though it was registered to the business. Mike sent Roger and Bill over and they picked it up that afternoon and parked it in Sal’s garage. Then the Helmut called from the office and Mike took a team up to Buffalo to check out the vampire. The car turned out to be a nice Parkard sedan that was very easy to drive. As we started, Tony said, “at least this car has sychros that work. You would have been grinding the gears on the wreck for the next two days. This way you can concentrate on the driving part before learning how to double clutch and other advanced things. We’ll use the wreck for that.”

After the first few hours, I got used to using the clutch and shifting became second nature. Suzy’s mom had heard about the car from Suzy and invited Suzy, Tony and I over for dinner Thursday night so that I could impress the neighbors. Suzy had had Kathy with her when I went to pick her up, so she came too. I must have been going just a bit fast when I passed Officer O’Brian and he pulled me over. Of course there may have been other motives as he walked up, saw me, Suzy and Tony and said, “Hi, Tim. Tony teaching you to drive?”

“Hi, Officer O’ Brian. Yes he is.”

“Well you were going a little fast. Take it easy. Especially with Suzy in the car as your back seat driver. When do you take your test so that I can warn everybody?”

“Tuesday, week after next.”

“Nice car. Is it yours?”

“I inherited it from my dad. He doesn’t need it and wanted me to have it. I think that he thinks that I won’t be reckless with a nice car and will drive safely, especially with Suzy in the back seat.” “That makes sense and you were doing ok except for being a bit fast, as I said. You weren’t going that fast, so I’ll let you go this time. But be careful. Bye.”

He went back to his motorcycle and we drove off. “He knew you, Tony.” “I’ve been through here with the idiots and chasing after the idiots when they screwed up. So I looked into the cops around here and talk to them from time to time. It pays to know where they are and who you can go to.”

We reached the house and pulled into the garage. Cindy was ecstatic and I had to promise to give her a ride once I had my license. The dinner was as good as it usually was and after, Stella said, “Suzy and I were talking to Doris the other day and she wants you to go with Tom, Chrissie and the Japanese mermaids for the cruise. So we changed your date at the hotel. Since you will have your car by then, that will work out better anyway.

“I was looking forward to the Swim, but I can see your point.” “I didn’t think that you would mind,” Suzy said. “We’ll still get a long Swim and you can take pictures and tour with the ladies. We will also get another chance to visit the Cape bower and visit the Maine bower and meet the people there. We also get to meet the princess and her aunt.”

“Along with dealing with Suki. She’s strange.”

“Not that strange once you start listening. She just watches people and finds things out. She very good when you listen. Just be aware that what she talks about might not be obvious at first. So we go to Bennies for lunch with Steve, Cindy and their parents and we go for a Swim to the Rockaway bower and then meet up with Tom and the Japanese mermaids.”

That would work out because I had just about all the pieces to the shark puzzle except what had happened to Vella, Noro’s friend that he had wanted to me to look into when I talked with him about closing things up with the sharks before he left. I had checked the house on the Rockway island that she had lived in and she didn’t live there anymore and had been gone for three years or so. Her son couldn’t be found either. He would be eighteen now. I did check the IDs that we had found on the Manager’s Twisted and his name turned up, which told me what had happened to Vella, though there was no way to be sure. I wanted to check with Meria before handing the writeup to Theresa. After dinner I drove us back to the school and Suzy and I Swam over to Sal’s. As we arrived, so did the yacht again. As we rolled out of the pool, Joe and Moira were heading toward the house and I said to Joe, “the yacht has been getting a lot of use.” “That’s a good thing. I keep a log of any problems we encounter and so far, they haven’t been significant. I have drydock time for it in March, so I want to know what sort of things I will be dealing with other than the usual barnacles and rust. So far nothing serious has shown up. I was worried a bit about the shaft and propeller balance and vibration, but that hasn’t been a problem. The boats has also been very seaworthy and I haven’t had any problems with sprung seams or leaking.”

“What will the princess and her aunt think about the fact that the yacht is a bit ragged around the edges?” Suzy asked.

“I asked Tochi and he said that they probably would not even notice and more than likely will be spending most of their time in the water with the rest of us. They have other things on their mind, not least of which is waving their tails in as many bowers as possible. Especially the aunt. She’s tired of waiting for Mr. Right to show up on his own. Considering mother and her waiting for dad, I can understand that.”

When we went inside the house Nera and Mike were in the parlor. I asked Mike, “so how did it go?”

“False alarm, I think. It turned out to be a crazy watching too many vampire movies and using a fork to kill people. I realized that it couldn’t be a real vampire when I couldn’t sense any taint on the victims and the autopsies had too much blood still in the bodies. Also none of the victims or their families seemed to be fae. I did make some connections with the fae communities and the fae kingdom west of Rochester though, so the trip wasn’t a total waste of time. The king there wants to meet Sal for a discreet discussion about being on retainer. I told him that I would tell Sal when I got back. If there was a real vampire, it skedaddled after the crazy started killing people.

How is driving going and is that car out front,yours?”

“Dad gave it to me. Driving is going fine and I was pulled over by officer O’brian today on my way to Mike’s from the Navy yard. He wanted to say hi to Suzy, Tony and I and touch base, because he didn’t give me a ticket. I wasn’t going that fast anyway because a back seat mermaid warned me about the speed trap there. I already knew about it anyway and just wasn’t watching the speed as closely as I should have been.”

“That takes a bit of practice. You’ll get used to it. You do have to watch a bit with a car like that or it can get away from you. You just need more practice. At least learning to drive will be easier in that than the wreck. We will take you out in the wreck at some point though and teach you how to drive a bad car. And how to skid as well.”

“Well the car was a surprise. I never knew that dad had one, let alone one like that. We never had a car when I was living at home. I can understand why he got the car, though. So what brings you out here?”

“Mike and I are going up to the bower this weekend while Josh and Mera are not there so that I can discreetly deal with some things and bring some things down here.” Nera grinned. “Al is handing my library back and I want to sneak it down while my sister and Josh aren’t looking. I also want the stuff from my office and I definitely don’t want Mera finding out about the office.”

“Doesn’t Josh have to know,” Suzy asked. “I thought that he was in charge of all that.”

“This was my separate business, the dancing shows and some other things. Altris and Millie handled the up top stuff when I couldn’t and I’ve had the office for a very long time, one way or another.

While it would have been nice to have a romance with Mike last summer when he showed up the first time, I’m glad that I don’t have to move things right in the middle of our busy season. Now if I can just get my two assistants to bond and grow up, that will be a huge headache I don’t have to deal with. Mike, if you see any nice high fae men next summer, send them to the Cape. There are two ladies that really need somebody real in their lives.”

Suzy and I went to bed and Mike picked us up in the morning to take Suzy to the Navy yard and drop me off at the subway. I went into Manhattan, chased down some odds and ends and then went over to my place and typed up the parts I didn’t have already for the report. Then I went over to Eli and Theresa’s building to drop off the report on my way down to Bennies. I said hi to George and walked into the office. Sarah and Theresa were gossiping out front when I walked in and Sarah looked up and said, “so how has your week been, Tim?”

‘I’ve been learning to drive and chasing down the last little bits of the shark story. There’s one piece I will probably never have for sure, but I think that I have the rest of it. Could you make some copies? I want a copy for Mike and the bureau and the admiral and the navy.”

“We can do that.” Theresa was going through the report and said, “no pictures?” “I’ll make up prints for a packet for all the people getting a report with Steve after I get back from my little cruise.” “Your little cruise? As far as we knew, you and Suzy were having a date for her birthday up at that hotel on Long island.” “Suzy changed the plans because Doris and Chrissie wanted me on the yacht for the trip as photographer and reporter. So our date was pushed back.”

“That works out better for you anyway. I understand that you have a car now.” “Did dad tell you?”

“No, your mother did. When Mike and Nera told your parents that you were going to be learning to drive they decided that you should have the car, since you were going to be in the business and doing your job as well. It will also help them because you can take Kathy to and from Bennies and the navy yard as well as Suzy. In any case, for what you are going to be doing for the paper, the bureau, the bower and us, a car is probably a necessity.

So why don’t Sarah and I take you down to Bennies so that we can meet your friend and his parents. I think that making more connections might be important.”

So Theresa and Sara drove down us down to Bennies. As we were driving down, Sarah asked, “Has Athena or Hilda mentioned Mr. Taylor yet?”

“The Director? I haven’t seen Athena this week, but Hilda mentioned him. I told Vinnie, but Mary already had. We have his office address and his apartment. The boys also tried to get a picture, but he’s cagy and Mary didn’t want the boys being too obvious that they were keeping an eye on him. Mike was going to look into it, but he got dragged up to Buffalo for a wild vampire chase.”

“What happened there? I haven’t talked to Mary about that yet.” “The ‘vampire’ turned out to be a crazy with a fork and too many vampire movies. Mike turned it over to the FBI and local police and came home. He did make some connections up there.”

Mike and Stella brought Suzy and Kathy in and Suzy sat down with me and Mike, Stella and Kathy sat down with my parents. Mike and my dad started to talk about some business matters while Stell and my mom started to talk about Suzy and I, so I turned my attention elsewhere until Steve brought in a mermaid and a woman who mus be his mom. Suzy and I introduced Theresa and Sarah to Steve and Cindy, as well as his mom, who came down with them. Steve and Cindy told us about the Philly bower and what had happened with the sharks. I had promised him a copy of my report and told him that I was going to make up packets for various people when I got back from the cruise.

Of course that led to the question of what cruise and I explained about the Japanese mermaids, the princess who was coming with them, along with Tochi and Suki. I said to Steve, “If you encounter her, watch your step. She’s very strange.”

Mother heard me and said, “Tim, you just have to listen to her. She gets less strange if you do. I like her very much. She loves her husband and is very empathetic. She also talks to just about everybody and listens. So don’t take her lightly. She also likes to act the way she does to pop the stuffing out of the stuffed shirts.”

“I haven’t met Suki yet.” Sarah looked at Theresa thoughtfully. “Theresa, you have, what do you think?” “Well she loves Tochi and her kids, knocks Tom around to keep him from going down the wrong path and she’s good at talking to everybody. I will note that both she and Tochi have had the people working for them for a very long time and I haven’t seen a one that didn’t like them both immensely. That says everything that I can think about them. Also, Suki knows a lot of fae lore and fae people and doesn’t treat them any differently than anybody else.”

“Is she fun?”

“Very. We’ll have to arrange for you to meet her and you will see for yourself.”

“I can’t wait.”

Steve asked, “did you hear hear the latest about that Martin character? I was up in the newsroom at the Times this morning and one of our guys had been dragged around all week as that Martin character accused Tom of labor racketeering, bilking the Olympics or using them to launder money for the company’s mob connection and Chrissie of being a mermaid. The guy already knew that one was true because he had worked in Boston. The rest of the stuff turned out to be bilge crap stemming from some labor agreements that Tom had set up to expedite things and some of Josh’s connections. As far as the guy said, those connections came from the fact that Josh wouldn’t let wars start up over territory and the business and that everybody benefitted from that. That Martin character also implicated Sal in things, but as far as I know, Sal has never been near the Olympics.”

“He hasn’t,” Stella said. “The last two months, he’s been taking care of the Rockaway bower, dealing with the sharks and the kidnappings, dealing with the Amboy bower and going on his honeymoon. He talked about taking Sillia upstate but they closed the deal on Long Island.”

“Mr. Martin was saying that Tom was mob connected because he knew Sal.” “He met Sal when Sal and Sillia went over to the Cape after they closed the deal and Tom had shot most of the sharks. Sal was looking into the sharks because of the attacks here. As for Sal working for the outfit, he and his friend Vinnie used to get together and cleanup of certain kinds of businesses and that was what he was doing again. Perhaps more importantly, he was preventing a mob war triggered by dark fae as part of their effort to ruin the bower. As for Tom being mob connected, except for some people he knows, he doesn’t deal with the outfit at all.”

“If you are looking at Tom and connections, it’s easier to say who he doesn’t have a connection with than who he does,” Theresa said. “When Jacob really pissed Tom off a couple of weeks ago, he was going to have his connections point things at Jacob and it would not have been pleasant for Jacob.”

“What did Jacob do to really piss off Tom?” Steve asked.

“Two of his grandsons caused his meeting with us to be broken up by compelling people so that they left the restaurant we were eating in. Jacob was setting things up for one of those private meetings that he has. Tom beat the boys up and they tried to kill him with a rockslide. Which led to the things he’s planning right now. But at the time he was very upset and was planning to have all sorts of things drop on Jacob’s head. It was obvious that he was fairly sure that the things would have dropped on Jacob’s head if he made the calls. He calmed down and decided not to light off a fae war, but it was a close thing.”

“That was before his little party, wasn’t it? The one where all those important people showed up.” “That was Chrissie’s idea. She wanted to invite the people that hadn’t been invited to Tom’s wedding to a second reception. So she sent invitations with wedding notices and you saw what happened.”

“Why weren’t they invited to the wedding, other than the obvious tail issues?” “Because Tom never said anything about his friends like Tochi that he had had in Washington. His mother was rather annoyed about that. Tom is like that. He just doesn’t think about how important the people he knows are and when Mera made the wedding up, he didn’t make sure that Mera had his address book. It didn’t help matters that the book was hidden away at the farm and Tom was too busy with other things to collect it.”

“The other things being the sharks and the boy that was taken.” “That was my son, Andy.” Hilda said. “The Manger took him, thinking that I could be forced to produce the werewolf Twist. That was rather stupid for a bunch of reasons, but Tom was occupied with resolving that and not able to sneak up to the farm and collect the book. There’s also the fact that he was in bond fuzz and forgot about the book in the first place. When he was up at the farm, he and Chrissie were involved in each other and thinking about other things.”

“So I think I see the picture now. Mr. Martin insults Chrissie at the parade and pisses her off, along with her father and grandfather, Chrissie finds Tom’s address book and sets up that party to make Mr. Martin look small and uses connections that Tom doesn’t have but she does. My buddy at the Times talked about those too.

Tim, how did you get involved with this? Steve asked. “As far as I know, you were on the street selling papers and taking your photographs, like I did a bit earlier.”

“That’s about right. I had my new camera and wanted a story, so I started to got over to Brooklyn after the first couple of kidnappings started. At that point there was a kidnapping about every couple of days for about a week or so, so it was a hot story. The barge people wouldn’t talk to me, so I poked around other spots like the coffee company and the market taking pictures. Jimmy at the market hit it off with me and told me about the car. I got a picture of the car and a bit later, a picture of Suzy dancing. Then I got a close up picture of the car and Suzy made sure that I would be looking for her by making me drop my camera in the drink.” “Didn’t the paper give you another one? My paper would have, if I had handed copy in. They have a stack of Kodaks and beat up Graflexes for that.”

“It never came up. By the time I needed another camera, I was handing in the story about the kidnappings and the paper was making me a full time stringer. Suzy retrieved my camera anyway and we met down here at Bennies the same night, with Sal, Suzy and Sal’s parents, my parents, who were telling me about certain things, and some other people. Sal and I talked to Jimmy and started in on nailing the sharks the next day. So I never needed a camera. There was a few scary hours, but that was it. Of course my parents and Suzy had turned my life sideways.”

“It was a good, sideways, wasn’t it, Tim?”

“Definitely.”

I kissed her to prove that.

Steve’s mother, Clara wanted to talk with Hilda about the dirty dozens and the werewolves which turned out to be an interesting conversation and both Theresa and I started to take notes as the ladies talked. A bunch of people had mentioned talking to Hilda about her experiences, but none of us had had a good reason to bring up what would be a painful subject and none of us wanted to piss Hilda and by extension, Stephie off. But Clara wanted to know more and since she had lost her her bonded, she had good reasond to dicsuss the subject. I figured that there was a story here and maybe another big one. It wouldn’t be that hard to start on it either, because I had access to Tom’s stuff for a start. Things got very interesting when Clara mentioned somebody named “the Colonel.”

“Him!” Hilda answered. “He was always in the shadows. Behind the scenes, pulling the strings. Brad collected everything he could and kept a diary about him and other things. It was quite a box when I was separated from Brad. I would have thought it was at the farm, but I could never find it. It must be well hidden, if it’s there. He was responsible for taking high fae girls and putting them with werewolves to force their Change and then letting them be raped to create more werewolves. Brad was taken, but he bonded with me, unfortunately after he was Turned and recovered by the Colonel in Russia. I didn’t see the dirty dozens close up, just what Brad and the others went through on our trip west. A slow trip filled with blood until Boris and Mike rescued Andy and I and got us away. When I arrived at the farm, I told Stephie about the diary, but we’ve never been able to find it. It was probably lost, since Tom didn’t bring it out with the rest.”

Clara gave Hilda the names and the addresses she knew of her husband Leonard’s buddies and officers. I made notes about them and I made a note to talk to Tim Kirk about this Colonel character. Mike too.

When lunch was over, Mike took Suzy and I over to the school for shooting practice and driving lessons. After Tony and I got back from driving around town, I though about something and went into the kitchen where Albert was making dinner for everybody. “Tim! What brings you back here? Other than seeing if you and Suzy can stay for dinner, which is never a problem.” “Steve’s mom brought something up at lunch and I thought that you might have some leads. What do you know about the Colonel?”

“Did Hilda bring him up? I would be a bit careful asking too many questions indiscreetly about him.”

“Steve’s mom asked Hilda about him. Apparently some people told her about him and she wanted to know more about what went on. Hilda seems to think that Brad had quite a bit on him, but she’s never been able to find what he had up there at the farm.”

“That may be why the Manager went after Tom so hard. We ran into quite a bit about him and knowing too much could be dangerous. Fortunately he’s over in Europe at last report.” “I think that I’m in this deep enough already. I will be discreet about this, but the werewolves keep coming up and they might show up.”

“Ok, Mary and I will tell you what we know when you have enough to know the landscape and what you need to take you further along.”

“Eli and Theresa will probably be asking questions too.” “They know how to be discreet. I will tell them what I know, but they will probably want your stuff first anyway.”

“What if Tom wants something?”

“Then we give him everything we have. If Tom sees something about the Colonel that takes him off destroying the Director, it will be very dangerous indeed. Go along now and go for a Swim with Suzy. I imagine that she is waiting.”

She was. Worse, so was Suki, Haruka and the two Japanese mermaids, along with Tochi, his kids, and princess Ayoko, his sister. Suki said, “Tim, we want you to go with us for dinner. Make sure that you have your camera with you. I see a new car out front. Is that yours?”

I grabbed the satchel and rolled Suzy out to the car. “Yes it is. It was my father’s. he gave it to me when he found out that I was learning to drive.”

“It looks like a responsible car, not a car that somebody irresponsible drives. So people will see you as a responsible man. That was clever of Joe. I will tell him and Maria that when we get down to Bennies.”

Suki somehow ended up in the same car that I did even though Tochi ended up with his kids in one of the other cars. She poked me all the way down to Bennies and all through dinner, much to the amusment of everybody who had shown up. When dinner was over and we were on our way to Sal’s she was in the car with us again and said, “Tim you seem to be going on the right path. But you need to be careful and responsible. You have people depending on you now, so be careful.”

She was strange, but Suzy was nodding to what Suki was saying. When were in the pool I asked Suzy, “you didn’t seem to think that she was as strange as I did. Why not?”

“Because she is right. You took more than a few chances with the sharks. Be more careful when you chase after the werewolves.” “There aren’t any werewolves, except Ed.”

“Along with that Colonel character. And whatever he has.” “That Colonel character isn’t here.” “No, and I hope that he stays away, but be careful about who you talk to about him. Don’t go looking for the Director to talk to him about werewolves.” “I don’t think so. I will look at the papers from the war, though.”

Chrissie.

Saturday 1/09- Thursday 1/14, 1932.

We came back down to New York on Friday with Tochi, Suki and their kids to meet the Ningyo’s Misaki and Nanami. While Misako was like my mother had been, over two hundred years old stuck on twenty, Nanami was 23 and looking to not get in the same boat. Both of them had been born into Change and never spent any time up top. They were looking to change that a bit. As well as finding a bond that was fun and wonderful.

My Japanese had started out with some lessons with Tom, Tochi, Suki and Sumitomo over the last two weeks. Fortunately for me, merfolk speech was not exactly an up top language and once we communicate underwater we pick up the related up top languages very quickly.

They had arrived on a ship from Japan on Thursday. The ship had had a salt water pool in first class and the pool had been closed for a good part of the journey. Not that the ladies spent too much time in the pool anyway, even though they did not have a tank bed in their cabin on the outward voyage.

When they arrived, Tochi’s people whisked them out to Sal’s with Tochi’s sister, Ayoko being taken to the Waldorf where she would be staying with Suki and Tochi’s kids. When Nanami and Misako arrived, Sal and Sillia offered to put them up and that was the plan. When we arrived Friday night from Vermont it was dinner time and Bennies. Misaki turned to Tochi when we met at Bennies and she met Tom, “Tochi sama, how come you didn’t bring him to Japan with you?”

“I tried. He has the proof in his office. But he went up to Connecticut to chase his burden instead.”

She looked at Tom a bit sadly. “I can see the burden. Who laid it upon him?”

“His brother. He had to shoot him because his brother had been Twisted in the war.”

“Well then he found Chrissie and he has fought to defeat those responsible for his burden. A truly wonderful man.”

I liked Misaki already. Suki was looking at Tim as if she was some sort of predetor and he was the prey. “So Tim, what have you been up too. You didn’t have anything in the paper all week. I checked.”

“Suki, I was writing a report about the sharks for some people, learning to drive and practicing my shooting. Suzy and Nera also have an exercise program for me.”

“Those are all good things. So you are off the hook for not having anything in the paper this week. A paper with only one person writing is boring anyway. You need more than one pair of eyes or points of view.”

“I also start my apprentiship the week after next and my boss wants me to take some time off and be with Suzy and my family as well as the rest of my friends.”

Suki kept after poor Tim all through dinner until Tochi told her to stop for the time being. Maria and Joe wanted to know how Tim was doing with the driving lessons he was taking from Tony all week and Suzy said that he had been pulled over already and that was all Joe’s fault because Joe gave Tim that nice car. Suki wanted to know what that was about and Suzy told her about how Joe had given Tim the car after he found out about Tim learning to drive so that Tim didn’t learn in a wreck. Suki said that Tim might be better off learing on a car that he didn’t care about, but that he would probably take better care of himself when he cared abou the car.

Dinner ended after still more fun and games. With Haruka translating and Meria pushing, we all made the decision to stay at Bennies and the Rockaway bower for our tour of the city next week.

 

Afterwords we all headed back to Sal’s and the yacht so that we could get going on the cruise. This week Joe was taking us on a tour with the yacht around the Island. Suzy recruited Tim to be the photographer for the tour so they were with us as well when we departed Saturday morning and toured down the East River to the Amboy bower for a visit, and then along the South Shore of Long Island.

Mike and Aunt Nera joined us for the trip up to the bower so that Aunt Nera could arrange to move some things she had and her office while daddy was still up at Lake Placid. As we were heading down the South coast in the wind and snow, I said to Aunt Nera, “Why don’t you just tell daddy and mom. They won’t give you too much trouble.”

“That’s the thing, they won’t. but I would feel terrible about it, especially the dirty lander thing and not knowing anything about up to while having the office and doing all the consulting. On the other hand, if they find out about the office on their own, they can take full advantage and have some fun with it. Which will make me feel better. Since I deserve it any way.”

Saturday was a good day as the Amboy bower was rcovering and we met up with Mike, Stella and some other people from the navy working to straighten up the gardens with people from the bower. Many of the people that had scattered in the face of the attack had returned and were starting to rebuild.

The trip along the South shore was exhilarating as we Swam in the strormy seas and danced for Suzy and Tim with the camera. Misako and Namami spent the afternoon with Aunt Nera and Haruka discussing danging and running a dacning show. They also pigeonholed Tom to get him to show themhow he ran projections. Late Sunday we rounded Montauk point and headed toward the harbor where we arrived as the skies finally cleared and found cozy spots for the night.

Tom left from The Cape for the farm and Lake Placid on Monday on the train. Aunt Nera and Mike took the tender into the harbor with Tom and once they finished getting things moved, came back out and joined us at the bower with Al and Eltra. Joe and Moira crewed the tender and Joe made a quick stop at the yard on his way out. When Mike and Nera arrived at the bower, Nera put some more of her things aboard the yacht for the trip back. As she did, she said, “I left some more things down there and told Altris that he can give my bower to one of his granddaughters until I need it again, which is going to be a fairly long time. I also shared some things out that I think I have outgrown somewhat. We need to do something sneaky to get Cally down to the bureau and some of the other places. She seems determined to stay in her rut. But that is a project for another day.”

Cally was an unbounded land fae who was Nera’s land partner in the dance shows. She was dedicated to them, but was constantly fighting with Nera’s head dancer,

We stopped at the Cape bower after Tom left to visit and afterwords headed up through the canal for a trip to Boston where we met up with Suki, Tochi and Ayoko and Tochi’s kids along with Doris. By that point most of the merfolk were fluent in Japanese, so that’s what we spoke as Uncle Altris took us around to see the sights. We must have made quite an unusual crowd, but nobody seemed to notice as we were all heavily wrapped up in coats against the cold. After Boston, we traveled up to the Maine bower and after a nice dinner with Matt and Tillia and a bower tour, we turned South, straight into a storm. The yacht weathered the storm and we headed back through the canal, visited Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard before heading up the Sound to Sal’s.

The trip back was much calmer, but Suzy made Tim Swim almost constantly and as we approached Montauk, Trillia and Andy showed up. “This is his first long Swim and I thought that we could catch you and take the yacht back if we need to.”

Actually, Andy looked to be in good shape and had one of the travel packs that my brother had made up, so regardless of what happened, they wouldn’t go hungry. They flipped aboard and Andy handed the travel pack to a crewman and the Trillia made Andy get right back in with us in the water. I asked Andy, “Does your mother know where you were going?”

“She knows that we are either meeting up with you, going to the Cape bower or Wyanadote and having somebody pick us up. We weren’t sure how tired I would be when we got out here and mom called Hilda and made a reaservation just in case. So we are fine. This is just like the camping trips that Jimmy and I do at home, pretty much.”

We all Swam in the Sound until lunch, when we leapt aboard the yacht for the lunch that Moira and the crew prepared for us and then it was back in the water until we arrived at the house.

 

Sarla.

Monday 1/11, 1932.

It had been a slow day until Donna came up to my desk. “Sarla, you’ve handled Yugoslavian entries before, haven’t you?”

“Yes, why?”

“We just got a stack of them that are arriving on the Olympic. We’re swamped, can you help us out?”

“Yes.”

“While you’re doing that, tell the latest about all your strange friends. A bit of gossip will make this go much faster.”

She was right, it would. So I told them the latest from Tom, Chrissie, Sal and the rest of all my very strange and wonderful friends. As we piled through the entries I noticed something. “The Yugoslav Olympic team?”

“We’ve had a few of those come through. The games are here at Lake Placid.” “I know. But Yugoslavia wasn’t participating as far as I knew.”

“Well, flag it for State. As far as I know, misrepresenting yourself as a phony Olympic team is at the college prank level. Still, somebody might want to keep an eye on these characters.”

I quietly made reflex copies of the entries. The bureau might be interested in a bunch of young men for the most part, all coming together and not being what they said they were. Especially if they were connected with the Black Hand, the people who had compelled that young man and used him to light off the war.

Ghost.

Monday 1/11, 1932.

When the message came in for the Director on Saturday asking how much it would take to deliver everything that was in Tom’s files. Since I didn’t think that he would go for it I replied with 100 thousand dollars. When the message came back to meet at Bennies, I called Hilda. “you’re not going to believe this. The Director just agreed to pay 100 thousand dollars for all of Tom’s files.” “That’s a lot of money. Does he have it?” “He must. Though paying that much money may cripple him. He can’t have many revenue sources left after Tom and Sal took out the Manager and the sharks. Roger never did track down that company and the “dividend check” never showed up.”

“Well I don’t think that Athena will turn the money down. We can use it to build the school up.”

“Now there’s a good cause for that money. Of course draining the Director dry is always a good thing. The only thing that I don’t understand is why he is asking for all of it at once. He’s never acted quite this way. Frankly dealing with that much cash attracts attention. I honestly didn’t think that he would pay.”

“We can handle the attention on our end, but the Director is probably not going to like the exposure.”

“I know. That’s why I didn’t think that he would bite. Something has changed.”

“When you meet, maybe you will get some hints. In any case we better get the package ready. It’s a good thing that Chrissie brought back the pictures of the bonfire that father burned Tom’s boxes with.”

“That must have been fun. Of course the real fun is that we get to put one over on the Director. I hope that you can be there. In the background if nothing else.”

“So when is the meeting?”

“The Director was in a rush, so Wednesday.”

“Good. Bill and I are tracking down another mother tomorrow.”

“How has that been going?”

“Remarkably well for the students in the schools. The former residents are sure that their parents have both been killed before they were sent to the ‘house.’ Every one that we tracked down so far bears that out, poor kids. So when we get the schools we save the parents too. ”

“The Director may have money problems for other reasons. That missing dividend check has led to some interesting places. We’ll talk Wednesday, bye.”

I hung up and went to Sarah’s desk. “So what did you find out about our mysterious Mr. Taylor today?”

“Well, he left his office and joined up with some people at a hotel and they went to Grand Central where he saw them off. Mary and Vinnie had some paper boys on him and we have pictures coming when Mary gets them. The Director hasn’t picked up on the fact that the paper boys are tracking him. He also never got his check as far as Roger can discover and the company that was issuing the checks has apparently gone up in smoke. Roger did find some payments to the Manager from the same source before the Manager took over Roger’s house and accounts.”

Tom.

Monday, 1/11, 1932

Monday I took the train back up to Lake Placid. It wasn’t going to be as fun without Chrissie, but Chrissie had her work as well and building the relationship with the Japanese mermaids was important. I was going to be up here at lake Placid and Josh and Mera were going back to the Cape on Friday so that Mera could get some sea and Josh could handle the business. Not that I escaped the business entirely as Altris met me at the diner for breakfast with a packet of things that he went over with me for Josh. When we were done, Altris said, “I know it was important for the company, but I wish that Josh had done some planning before taking the Games over.” “We didn’t have much time to make a decision. If things had gone for another week the Games would have been a fiasco and egg on everybody’s faces. Look at it this way, you aren’t putting up with the daily Jacob.”

“That’s true. What did he get up to this week?”

“Accusing me of mob connections and labor racketeering, of stealing the Games for profit and Chrissie of being a mermaid in front of the press. You can ask Tochi, Suki and Chrissie about that when you go on your tour later.”

“I will, I will. Accusing Chrissie of being a mermaid probably won’t work very well with the New England press. Most of the reporters already know and know her for that matter.” “I found that out, which made things entertaining. A reporter from the Post squelched that pretty hard.” “Louis? That’s not a surprise. He has a cousin with a tail and a tail chasing him, so that is one place he doesn’t want to go.”

“He’s fae?” “Low fae, but that just means that the tail works harder. Gail is one of Nera’s dancers and has Louis wrapped around her fingers. She’s working on Louis’s mother. He’s doomed and doesn’t know it yet.”

Steve came over and joined us. “I just wanted to give you a heads up about Philly. The navy and the bower are closing things down next weekend.” “Will that involve you?”

“My people in New York are on call, but we’re still getting ready for your show in two weeks. The War and Navy Departments want that shut down and there are rumbles about something going on up there.” Is that something that Al and Eltra should be concered with?” Altris asked.

“I’ll talk with Aunt Eltra after breakfast. They don’t have anything specific and they had me send up Roger to Chrissie’s part as a precaution and to get a look around. I should have gone up with them, but the admiral wanted me keeping an eye on the sharks.”

As Helen brought breakfast over for us, the kids came over and wanted to know where Chrissie was. “On the boat, visiting the bower with some ladies from Japan. They are catching the train after lunch and going to Boston with some friends of mine. Then they are going back on the boat.” “The ladies from Japan are mermaids aren’t they?”

“Yes, but let’s not tell everybody. We are taking them up to the Olympics so that the laids can cheer a relative as he skis. We don’t want to confuse people about mermaids so far away from the ocean.”

“When are you and Chrissie coming back to live here?”

“After the Games are over. Noro was recruited to make sure that the Games were ready and he recruited me.” I suspected that Noro was in trouble. Jacob certainly was, as he had been front and center in the controversies surrounding the Games and in the papers. The kids did not look happy about me having to work at the Games and Chrissie being up there all the time as well. They said good bye and left for school.

After breakfast, Altris took me over to the train station so that I could catch the morning train to Boston and make the connection for the train to Vermont. The trip was uneventful and Noro was waiting for me with the car when I arrived. As we were driving off I said, “You’re in trouble.” “Why?”

“Helen’s kids. They were rather upset that Chrissie and I hadn’t set up and started to live on the Cape yet. I told them that you had recruited me for the Olynpics.”

“I’m Ok then. I can blame Jacob and will.”

“I think that that will work. They knew about Jacob already. Altris gave me a packet for you and Josh, I’ll hand it over when we get to the farm. Where is Josh?”

“Went back with Mera already He’s taking the day off tomorrow. He and Mera are enjoying the slopes and the pool tomorrow after they get together with you. I forced Josh to. He’s been pushing hard since you left. Mera has been going over too. We’re getting closer though and we are done with everything on the first list with the exception of getting the water main finished, the pumps are on order to finish that and we should get delivery the week before the Games and all the facilities are about ready. It’s just grandstands and seating now.”

“Good, I can take time with Steve to take care of our other problem. He’s coming up Thursday with General Vickers and we are getting together with Boris and setting up a plan to take all the pestholes out. We’ll go around discreetly and go over everything.”

“How was the trip?” “Fun so far. The ladies seem to be having a great time. Tim and Suzy are with them. Enjoy the roads in New York while you can. Tim has a car.”

“How did that happen?”

“His dad had a car that he used for the business. When he went under sea, he didn’t need it, so he gave it to Tim when he heard that Tim was learning to drive. It’s a three year old Packard.”

“That will be good for him and Suzy to get around in. That was shrewd of Joe too. Tim will probably want to take care of the car and will drive more carefully.” “Not that carefully. He’s been pulled over once already by Officer O’Brian.” “That was probably checking Tim and the car out.”

“Well, yes it was.”

“Who’s teaching him to drive?” “Tony. Mike was going to do it, but was called up on a wild vampire hunt. Turned out that it was a crazy with a taste for vampire lore and a fork. Any Jacobs today?”

“No, not a trace. He didn’t even seem to be sniffing around for other things to hit you with. Josh did check into some things on Friday and clear some compulsions in the local outfit people.”

“Well, I can do without my daily Jacobs for a week or so. That way I can actually get things done.”

“Even with your daily Jacobs you have gotten a lot of things done and been a big surprise to us.”

“Well I’m trying. So what’s happening on the Academy front?” “We’ll let Bob and Scott tell you about that. Josh and I have been more or less staying out of it because it’s your, Steve’s and Roger’s show, along with General Vickers and Helmut. Bob and Scott met with the construct source and apparently he’s old fae and a real character. He wants to meet with you.”

“Just so long as he doesn’t make a Jacob construct, that will be fine.”

When we arrived at the farm, I handed the packet over and we had dinner. After dinner we went over the packet and I went to bed. I missed Chrissie already.

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How NOT To Run A Railroad

 

Or “is the Metro on fire? Nicki calls it a study in suck.

A Study in Suck

She then reference this page, which indicates problems significantly larger than suck. Actually if fires are a constant problem it’s gone way beyond “suck”

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Building The Second Ave Subway

The Second Ave is the largest and longest awaited expansion of the NY Subway in the last 50 years.  In fact a proposed expansion of the Subway onto 2nd Ave has been a part of NY Subway planning  for over a Century.  At last  phase 1 is almost completed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Avenue_Subway

A wonderful gallery of pictures in the tunnels.

http://jalopnik.com/these-photos-of-nycs-subway-project-are-astonishing-513446087

More from business insider.

http://www.businessinsider.com/new-photos-mta-progress-of-2nd-second-ave-subway-nyc-mta-2013-12

Some pics on flikr.

Looking Uptown

Some Albums from the MTA.

SAS_9719
Second Avenue Subway Update: 72nd Street Station
Second Avenue Subway Update: First Work Train Ride
Second Avenue Subway Update: February 27, 2015

 

Second Avenue Subway Update: January and February 2015

 

More here.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/albums

A drone takes a trip.

And more video from WCBS.

And the NY Times.

A video from the MTA.

The Second Ave sagas blog.

http://www.secondavesagas.com/

MTA’s info page.

http://web.mta.info/capital/sas_alt.html

In spite of all the complaints it’s important to remember that these are huge projects under very trying conditions and severe constraints.  And they seem to be doing well.

 

How NOT To Run A Railroad

I’ve been riding train my entire life.  I’ve been riding subways and Commuter trains since I was seven.  I’ve talked to a LOT of railroaders over the years. This is NOT how it’s done.

http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/capitalcomment/transportation/why-does-metro-suck-dangerous-accidents-escalator-outages.php

The fact is that management at Metro has LET this happen.  Frankly, they should have taken steps in the ROCC decades ago, especially about the extra tricks the people were doing.  Operating a railroad takes attention to what’s going on and you aren’t attentive when you work a double trick all the time.  As for the operator/controller spats, that’s just inexcusable as is the ROCC staff never leaving the building and seeing the railroad.  Frankly things are going to get worse before they get better.