Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's never too late to Wordzzle

This is week 32 of Raven's Wordzzle Challenge.

This may be my last entry for a while. We're moving next week, will be on the road for two or three weeks and then will need time to settle in.

If you are unfamiliar with Wordzzling then please go to the Raven's Nest and our fabulous hostess will tell you all about it. In addition you can read her stories, other writer's stories and get on her Mr. Linky if you contribute an entry.

Should you decide to stay here you'll be reading a continuing story about intrigue, romance, politics, the environment and MURDER. I warn you now; it's not for the weak of heart.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: exacerbate, leotard, path, tomato, Jungle Book, vagabond, parade, limber, storage, Maharajah
And for the Mini Challenge: crocodile, special, sleep, droll, turn around

This week's episode: McCool on the range

McCool felt bad about leaving Jean behind in Hickory to finish packing, but circumstances, timing and his new job as consultant to FBI profiler and serial crimes specialist Sgt Johnson required his presence in DC right now. As if to exacerbate the situation, the note from the mysterious yet familiar sounding informant had set a time table and specific instructions as to how and when to make contact. To accomplish this McCool had to make DC by nightfall.

He wondered about the driving directions as to how he would enter the city. It made him more than a little nervous to think he might be walking into a trap or being set up for something yet more devious and violent than the "Alley Cat murders he was helping investigate. Another thing bothered him. Why his instructions had went so far as to tell him what kind of rental car to bring and when to pick it up. All of these concerns had been gone over with Sgt Johnson and they had settled on using a small high tech GPS locater as a backup should Thomas be unable to communicate by phone.

While FBI response might not be as limber and agile as he wished, he knew they would make every effort to watch his back.

Because he was coming up from the south he was forced to take the beltway north into Maryland and circle around to pick up I-95 north of DC. Then his instructions gave him an exit and a location to wait to be contacted. This part would be the most crucial. What path he was ordered to take from there would impact his back up and their ability to turn around assets as needed to keep him under surveillance.

I-95 was busy and packed as usual on a Friday night. Most of the traffic was leaving DC on the way up, but once he hit the beltway he was in a parade of commuters headed home for the weekend. McCool checked in with Johnson when he entered I-95 north off the beltway. The next exit was the one he was to take and he let the Sgt know his progress. They would not communicate further till after the interview and hopefully detainment of the informant.

Noting that special attention needed to be paid to his surroundings now, McCool made the last turn and pulled into the parking lot of the storage facility listed on his instructions. His cell phone rang 5 minutes later and the caller instructed him to get out of the mustang and walk toward the front door of the building. He did so with the careless air of a vagabond troubadour and never looked back at the car. "If we can pull this off I will become the Maharajah of Mad risk takers" he thought to himself. "Or maybe the idiot amateur who took the big sleep for mixing in things beyond him" his inner voice chided.

McCool shook off that thought like a vaudevillian shook off a poorly thrown tomato and continued walking to the front door. A small note attached to the door told him to ring once and enter. This he did. As he entered the structure his vision went instantaneously black and he lost consciousness.

Sgt Johnson waited thirty minutes to hear back from McCool before he ordered a team into the storage facility. The first two in came stumbling back out and vomited. That meant a hazmat team had to be brought up and that took another 20 minutes. By the time the building was cleared to enter there was no sign of McCool or his informer. It would take the forensics team 3 hours to find the hidden door and tunnel leading to the other buildings. From what the team could tell McCool had been spirited away on some sort of rolling cart, perhaps motorized, and could be miles away by now.

In actuality McCool was many miles away. Claude had used a John Deere Gator to carry Thomas's inert form the two miles to his van and then casually driven past the police as he exited the area within minutes of taking McCool down. He knew that the various tunnels would leave the investigators looking for him in a maze more like something from the jungle book than modern streets and roads. He was sure enough of his plan and resulting escape to give the police a droll smile as he rolled by them in the van.

Claude was smart enough and his tradecraft good enough, that he did not bring McCool to the warehouses used before in previous interrogations. This would not be an interrogation anyway, he would instead be giving McCool and therefore the FBI much needed information concerning the "Alley Cat Murders".

The trick would be to get McCool to convince Johnson to stop pursuing him.

Claude would use both carrot and stick to accomplish this goal. There would be no crocodile tears from Claude if McCool failed to go along. Instead his own statements and the truth of them would determine his fate.

"Wake up now Thomas" a voice whispered from the darkness, "Wake up." McCool didn't immediately respond. He had enough of his wits about him to pretend to be more out of it than he was while he took stock of his situation. From what he felt and the little he could see he knew his guess had been right. What felt like tight metallic leotards surrounded the lower half of his body. He knew that couldn't be good. Well, he might as well acknowledge their onetime friendship.

"I thought it might be you Claude" he finally answered. "And I considered that in my preparations for our meeting" Claude responded. "How's your sight and your hearing?" he continued. "I can see your outline and hear you OK" McCool answered. "Good, you're going to be seeing some things that may astonish or at least greatly surprise you in the next couple of hours, I want you able to appreciate and understand their meaning."

What McCool saw and heard was frightening and very enlightening. He learned of Armistead's involvement and the possible involvement of more officials in the Bush DOJ. Then the operative's comments and answers blew the lid off. Whatever McCool had felt about the current administration before was nothing to what he realized it was now. As to the current conditions of the malefactors who were shown on the videos, he had no doubt. He knew Claude or his reputation well enough to know there would be know way of confirming this with them.

"So it seems you had nothing to do with the "Alley Cat Murders" Claude" he said into the dark after the last video ended. "Why go through all this to tell us?"

"Good, Claude thought to himself" he sees it. To Thomas he said, "You were always one of the more sharp ones in the movement McCool." "I admired that about you." "You never bought into hype and you thought out your position and actions." 'You'll need to do that again today if you are to survive" he finished.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wordzzle Challenge #31 - Are you ready to Wordzzle?

This week's 10-word challenge: budget, news, outer space, gargantuan, brass band, Purple Rose of Cairo, polar bears, insight, innovations, mute

And for the mini challenge: investments, purring, death penalty, mercury, convalescent home

Please stop by the Raven's Nest and check out the guidelines, the Mr. Linky with links to all the other stories and of course Raven's weekly offerings.

If you decide to stay here and read, well; I warned you. Oh, I haven't warned you yet have I? This blog carries the continuing story of Sgt Johnson an FBI profiler, Thomas McCool a modern day renaissance man and Claude Debaucherrie alleged eco-terrorists. There you've been warned.

This weeks episode: Evidence

Justine hung on to Claude's taut frame with delight as they cruised up Hwy 1. The smooth purring of the modified Harley's engine, the wind in her hair and the feeling of freedom that came with riding a motorcycle made her feel as good as she ever had about herself and the chances for her future.

The B & B they stopped at in Silver Springs, Maryland was an old Victorian that would have been far beyond her budget without Claude. Why the owners had named it the Purple Rose of Cairo was something she wanted to find out. After leading them past pictures of Polar Bears, gargantuan trees in the tropical rain forests of Brazil, photos of Mercury, Venus and Mars, the owner showed them their room. The juxtaposition of the Victorian home and photos of outer space was both charming and intriguing.

Justine was unable to ask about the name, but gained some insight into the personalities of the owners from the pictures on the walls, the decor (decidedly eclectic) and the hand printed information pamphlet in their room. At one time the house had been a convalescent home for civil war soldiers. There was a picture of bluecoats coming home and being greeted by a brass band.

Later the home had been purchased by a wealthy merchant whose investments included buying into the Edison Company in its infancy.

Claude told Justine he would be gone all day and some of the evening on business. He left her with money for shopping, directions to the bus stop (just at the corner) and directions to the Silver Springs mall. This new mall was famous for it's innovations in shopping luxury and convenience. Each store provided delivery in the local area, a shuttle back home if needed, and free refreshments and a complimentary lunch for shoppers who spent at least $250 in the mall. Claude gave Justine $500 and told her to have a ball. As he kissed her goodbye and got on the bike she wondered how she had gotten so lucky.

The operative was wondering just the opposite. She found herself bound, naked and hooked up to an IV. From the information obtained from Armistead Brewster Claude had set up a meeting by text message. This fatal flaw in the operative's tradecraft would cost her everything she held dear, including her life. Debaucherrie had no sympathy for those who opposed him and especially not these amateurs who sought to frame him for these ridiculous murders.

The operative's name was Glenda McGerring. She had worked in the DOJ as a political appointee during the first G W Bush administration. She had been noticed by an underling of "K" and found herself with the opportunity to do more for her party and country as a civilian than a public servant. In addition, the monetary rewards were many times more than her government pay.

It didn't really matter to her that she had subverted justice, caused innocent people to be imprisoned, injured or killed. She knew she was doing this for her country.

Claude was surprised at how easy the information was gotten from Glenda. She was truly a novice and barely competent. Still, she had overseen several murders, the theft of evidence from a DOJ warehouse, the planting of said evidence at a crime scene and handled underlings in 3 separate government departments. What her party lacked in expertise they made up in volume. Her network was extensive. It took Claude several hours to get it from her; not due to her resistance, but due to the sheer volume of information.

He had returned to her apartment in the Watergate towers, retrieved her laptop, blackberry, the contents of her wall safe and various other items before he completed the first days questioning. He left her that evening hooked up to an IV with fluid, some protein, and a sedative in a slow steady drip. It wouldn't do to have her in bad shape for the following day's interrogation. Secondly, he needed at least 24 hours for all drugs to clear her system before he put her behind the wheel of her Beemer. She would make the evening news with her spectacular accident on the Beltway. She would also remain mute concerning her revelations about "K"s operations.

While in the eyes of some her crimes may not have deserved a death penalty, it was the only way for Claude to assure himself that she would trouble him no more. At last he had enough evidence to present to McCool. It was imperative that he was successful in getting the FBI off his back. His plans could not move forward with them after him. The odds of being located were too great. Time was running out and he needed them looking at the real perpetrators and not thinking about him. Once his plan was in motion it would be too late for any of them to stop him.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wordzzle 30 - In the 60s they said you couldn't trust anyone over 30!

This Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: spam, problematic, flower girl, splurge, milk, orphanage, lyrics, politics, ice cream cone (looks like 9 to me) so we'll use cone alone as well

And for the Mini Challenge: drag race, poppy seed, swinging from a star, John Denver, diagram

Maybe this will be the last wordzzle we can trust, all after will be over thirty.
Anyway........... Go by Raven's Nest and find out what this is all about if you don't know.

Each week a great group of writers puts their considerable wits to work on using up the wordzzle words. It's always entertaining and often brilliant. In my case I'm stuck in a rut on this stupid serial.

If you need background go back a few posts and there's a list of all the stories from start to finish.

This Weeks edition: Complications

Inspector Generale' Michele Gerard Dupononitee looked through his e-mails. He deleted spam and forwarded jokes and such to his friends. The one with the picture of the flower girl peeking up the bride's dress (and of course it being France she was wearing no pants) was pretty good. He would send it to a couple of close friends. He would also have to e-mail the sender and remind him that the official e-mails for the French Intelligence service were not to be used for this purpose anymore. It had become problematic with more and more women in the ranks; even here in Paris the ugly visage of political correctness had surfaced.

One had to know how to play politics as well as be a good investigator these days. He stopped long enough to take the last bite of his poppy seed bagel and down the last of the office's atrocious coffee. Why the most important intelligence gathering agency in Europe couldn't splurge on a decent coffee pot perplexed and simultaneously vexed him. What was happening to his country when food took a back seat to efficiency?

The next e-mail surprised him. If was from a special branch of the United States Department of Justice. It mentioned that a French citizen named Claude Debaucherrie was implicated in a series of murders in the states. "Merde" muttered Michele. He did not want to open up the can of worms that was Claude Debaucherrie. Still, it would have to be followed up. He would send it down the line and let some flunky poke around in files. So much of Debaucherrie's record had been expunged that it would take weeks to find out they knew nothing. Such was the way of these things.

In Miami Sgt Johnson was preparing to pack up and head back to DC to meet McCool. He wanted Thomas to make the rendezvous with the mysterious note sender. McCool had promised to take him out to the drags in Maryland while they were there. Growing up in an orphanage, Johnson had not had a father to give him a love of cars and speed. His friend McCool provided that now. The drag race would be a diversion from the case and time the two could spend as just friends.

He listened to the oldies station in his hotel room, as Peter, Paul and Mary sang "Leaving on a Jet Plane". "I wonder how many people know that John Denver actually wrote the lyrics to that song?" he asked himself. One of the things that made him a good investigator he guessed was paying attention to little details like that.

Johnson missed the more emotional element of the song entirely though, as he was almost always leaving for somewhere, somewhere that Zan wasn't most of the time. At some point his friends might have to draw him a diagram in order to get him to understand what he needed to do with Zan. McCool would just say "Marry her dumbass, who else will take you?"

His cell buzzed, it was the local special agent downstairs to take him to the airport. He walked to the elevator, went down two floors, around the "caution wet floor cone" and out the front door to the waiting sedan. His flight left in just under an hour.

Claude looked at Justine as she licked her ice cream cone. Such a small thing had made her so happy. The milk he'd used to make her homemade ice cream had been fresh and unpasteurized, just the way he would have had it in France. She was delighted by the tart, rich and oh so wonderful flavor of his mocha chocolate ice cream. "What kind of pimp, biker dude made homemade ice cream?" she wondered to herself. She felt as though she were swinging from a star at times with him. Other times, the ones where his darker side showed, she wondered if she might survive the experience.

Something was definitely going on with him. This sudden trip to DC and his wanting her to go with him. That was all new, and exciting too. "What would he do next" she thought to herself. As long as he kept wanting her, that was enough for now.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

29 and Counting; Wordzzle Wonders

This week's ten word challenge is: invincible, falling leaves, two-year-old, fusion, grizzly bear, Jamaica, delivery, popsicle stick, caviar, lap-top
And for the Mini Challenge: toad stool, liquid lunch, counting sheep, manacles, Jurassic Park

Please drop by the Raven's Nest, check in with Raven, read her stories, make a comment, get on her Mister Linky if you wrote a story and then cruise the other offerings.

Here we just do the mega, cause I'm lazy. The story continues from week to week and the characters use the week's wordzzle words.

This weeks offering: The note

Things were happening fast in the McCool household. As soon as Thomas and Jean got back from a few days in Jamaica their house sold. Just like that they were homeless. Both had tired of the eastern life style and their two-year-old house had proven too big for just the two of them.

In the day's mail was a special delivery letter addressed to Thomas. Inside was a short note from someone claiming to have information about the "Alley Cat Murders". How anyone would have known he was consulting on the case was another matter. Jean came into the kitchen waving a popsicle stick and asked if McCool would care to share a strawberry popsicle. He demurred and countered that since the house was sold perhaps they should celebrate with a liquid lunch.

McCool cracked open his laptop and e-mailed Sgt Johnson about the note. It specifically asked for McCool and McCool alone. Why was that he wondered? At his age he no longer felt invincible and had serious concerns when dealing with violent criminals and their cronies.

"Champagne and caviar might tempt me" Jean murmured after a bit. "What's that you're mumbling?" he asked sharply. "Nothing you old grizzly bear" she retorted. "Sorry baby, I didn't mean to snap at you" Thomas apologized. "It's just the case and the house selling and jet lag from the trip make for a frustrating fusion of things I can't control.“
“Are you going to tell me about the letter?" she inquired. "It's from someone who says they have info on the case" he replied.

Thomas glanced out the breakfast nook window at the early falling leaves and said a thank you to God that he wouldn't have to rake them this year. At times the property had felt like Jurassic Park in a similarly primeval way. He'd spent days chopping vines and kudzu back to open up the woods. At one point he'd found a toad stool in his little wood the size of a paint can. The thing was enormous and probably poisonous too he had thought.

"And what does the letter say dear?" Jean insisted. "Don't make me put the manacles on you again Mrs. Noseyheimer" he joked. "You know I shouldn't discuss the case with civilians." "Shove it McCool, what's it say?" She shot back.

"Just that instead of counting sheep to put ourselves to sleep, we ought to be counting bogus clues; that's all" he finally answered.
"Well that could be a very interesting interview then couldn't it?" Jean stated happily.

"Not necessarily" McCool replied. "Not if it's from who I think it's from" he said softly.