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Archive for July, 2012

Vince arrived at the building that housed the same expensive, dark restaurant that he and LaGrande had eaten in. He had a more than vague hope that the evening would end much as that one did. He was early and a bit nervous. He checked around the street to see if he could spot his various shadows. He could not, but he assumed they were there. Somehow tonight that comforted him.

As he rode up in the elevator he tried to piece together what he wanted out of Isabella tonight beside sex. He gave up before arriving at the the restaurant floor, admitting to himself that he hadn’t the slightest idea what he was doing. He was ok with that.

He asked the maitre’d to be seated at a table in the darkened corner of the dining room, barely visible to the other diners. Although it was a little too near the doors to the kitchen, he felt that its remoteness was more romantic. He waited fidgeting with his tie, the napkin and the utensils. He ordered a glass of 2004 Cakebread Chardonnay and waited some more, sipping the wine instead of playing with the place settings. He began to sweat.
At exactly the precise moment they agreed upon, Isabella emerged from the elevator and swept across the floor toward him. She was wearing a bias cut shimmering silver mini dress. It looked like someone had taken a bolt of the material and draped it from one shoulder, under the other arm leaving that shoulder bare and back to where it began. The lower edge of the strip of fabric dipped to mid-thigh on the same side as the bare shoulder and swept upward passing no more than two inches bellow her crotch before continuing half way up the opposite hip then dropping down again to barely cover her rump and returning to the partially covered thigh. It was ever so slightly loose across her waist, but low and tight like spandex across her mostly exposed and bulging breasts and her ample hips. She carried a smallish purse in the same fabric on a strap slung over one shoulder. Her stiletto heels were the same color of the double strand of black pearls that gleamed darkly from around her neck. She looked like nothing else than the most beautiful bar girl imaginable inhabiting the dives of Bangkok.

As she neared her table Vince got an enormous boner forcing him to rise from his seat only part way and shake her hand slightly bent over. Embarrased he quickly sat down again. She took the seat opposite him, a slight smile on her face but the same calm expressionless eyes as always.

As she settled in, never taking her eyes from his, she said, “Just what the fuck do you think you are doing.”

Editor’s note: This was written as a serial in a publication called “This and that…” . The story skipped a post and the Author explained: “Now I know you are wondering what has Isabella’s shorts all in a knot and eager to know if Vince scores, but I am afraid this edition of ‘This and that…’ has gotten too long so you will just have to wait a few days.”

Vince’s smile evaporated. “What do you mean,” he responded, beginning to feel the anger rising within him from her challenge as well as the almost certain knowledge that he knew the answer?

“Agreeing to talk to the US Attorney for one thing.”

“Why should that bother you? They’re your people and both you and Russell know I do not know anything significant.”

Don’t be coy,” she responded moving her eyes from his and toward the waiter approaching the table. “You wanted to stir things up.

“You do not know what you’re doing,” she added just before the waiter arrived and asked her if she would like something to drink.
.
She declined. He asked if they were ready to order. She stared at him for a surprisingly long time before answering him and responded for both of them that they were not. She continued staring at his back as he receded into the kitchen then turned back to Vince and continued, “And if I know about it, so does everyone else.”

“Ha,” he exclaimed smugly, “you think there is a leak in the US Attorney’s Office?”

She shook her head, “No in yours.”

“Bullshit, unless they were listening in on my telephone call there couldn’t be, not about this. I don’t think Ike would say anything.”

“There is little that goes on in your office that we do not know about, and if we do, then someone else can also. Your office has been bugged and not only by the US government at least not the agencies that we are aware of. Now let’s look at our menu and order before the waiter get’s even more nervous than he is already, shall we?”

“You bugged my office? What right do you have to do that,” he demanded as he glanced through the menu of only two pages with limited expensive options descried more like one would describe a piece of art rather than food?

“Someone else did too? How do you know,” he asked trying not to plead?

“More than one we guess,” she responded putting down the Menu.

The waiter suddenly appeared at the table. Vince wondered for a moment how he knew so quickly they were ready to order .

They ordered. She asked for some sparkling mineral water to accompany her meal. He chose a glass of Kendal-Jackson Cabernet that he always liked that he noticed they were serving by the glass this evening. As the waiter turned to return to the kitchen with their order Isabella noted her place setting was missing her salad fork and asked him to bring her a replacement.

After he left, Vince feeling uncomfortable with how the conversation was going decided to lighten things up and asked, “If you are my body-guard where is your gun? You look great, but it doesn’t look like you can hide a gun somewhere under that outfit and the purse looks to small.”

“The purse is a gun,” she responded glancing down at it shimmering on the table by he right hand.

“Oh, a James Bond thing,” he tried to joke. It sounded lame even to him.

She grimaced and pulled the purse closer to her as though she feared that Vince would pick it up and play with it.

“Damn it Isabella, did you expect me to stand idly by and do nothing,” he asked?

“No,” she responded curtly, “but I expected you would think about the others you may have put in danger’”

That silenced him. He really hadn’t thought of anyone else. Now he wondered if Ike or Fat Al were at risk; or anyone else. Still he was not convinced that this was much more than government security paranoia.

Nevertheless, he blurted out, “I apologize, I did not think about that. It was inconceivable to me that my office would be bugged.”

“What else didn’t you think of,” she said sarcastically?

“I did not think I would find myself as attracted to you as I am,” he let slip and immediately regretted it.

Her eyes widened and she gazed at him until the door to the kitchen opened disgorging a waiter pushing a small food cart and her eyes slid over to study him.

She returned to look at him again.

“You do not know what you’re, talking about.”

“I know what I felt since the first time you walked into my office,” he responded.

“No, it is impossible,” she said while lowering her eyes and gripping her purse.

“Why, is there someone else? Is it because you are supposed to be my body-guard or we are on opposite sides,” he said raising his voice slightly in exasperation?

“No” she said in almost a whisper.

The waiter and cart arrived by their table and she turned to watch the waiter approach with the salad fork in his hand. Vince ignored the server and stared at her trying to think of a follow-up to his question.

The waiter placed the salad fork down on the table at the top of Isabella’s plate opposite her and turned, took a few steps over to the serving cart and bent down to retrieve something. Isabella stared at the fork for a moment then picked it up.

With mild curiosity, Vince watched Isabella pick up the salad fork. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the waiter bend down to retrieve something from the serving cart, straighten up and begin to turn around.

Suddenly, with what seemed to Vince like a single fluid motion, Isabella grabbed her purse in one hand, slid out of the booth, exploded towards the waiter and plunged the fork into his eye. As the waiter spasmed from her assault, he pulled the trigger of the gun emerging in his hand. An explosion assaulted Vince’s ears deafening him. The bullet pounded into the back of the booth a foot or two above Vince’s head. A fountain of blood shot out from the waiter’s eye spraying Isabella as she grabbed the falling man in what looked like a lovers embrace. Another discharge of fire and smoke erupted from the shadows near the kitchen, the hapless waiter-assassin Isabella was using as a shield jerked as the bullet struck him. She fired her own gun and the shadow lurched back, struck the wall and slid to the floor.

A long wail emerged from Vince’s mouth as he pressed himself into the back or the booth desperately trying to escape the violence erupting around him. The scene before him disappeared into a pinpoint of light as if a camera lens suddenly closed. He felt his sphincter and bladder give way and the wetness run down his legs. He could hear no sound except his own wailing while his consciousness like the light shrunk to only admit a flood of shame over his incontinence.

Suddenly, he felt a powerful tug on his arm. At first he feared he was under direct attack and desperately tried to escape further into the booth. A sharp pain from a slap to his face jolted him. The light appeared turned on again. It was Isabella. She seemed to be yelling something at him. He felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude with her being there, that quickly faded into embarrassment once more. Her surprisingly strong grip and tug extracted him from the booth. She pulled and pushed him across the room toward the kitchen. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he mumbled over and over again.

Isabella dragged Vince across the dining room toward the doors leading into the kitchen. She thrust him against the wall, hard, pushed open one door with her foot, and with her gun pointed straight up toward the ceiling just like in the movies, gingerly peered inside. The shock of the impact from her shoving him into the wall hastened the return of Vince’s senses. Along with that came the realization of the precariousness of his situation. Before he could act on this dawning awareness and probably panic again, she grabbed his arm, pulled him through the door, pushed him ahead of her and yelled, “Go, go, go, go!”

With the return of his reason, Vince’s male pride also swarmed into his consciousness, almost overwhelming it. He felt furious at her shouting and pushing him around. But before he could react, she shouted “down” and spun around to get off two shots back at the door they just passed through.

That was enough. Vince, wounded pride forgotten, replaced by self-preservation, hunched over bending himself almost in half, scrambled toward the door at the back in the kitchen, as fast as that contorted posture allowed. He stumbled through the door and on to the stairwell landing. Isabella, followed on his heels, shouting, “downstairs, go!” Vince flew down the stairs, lost his footing and clumsily fell against the wall.

Isabella grabbed his arm again and by alternating pushing and shoving him managed to drive them both down the next two flights.

On the third landing they hesitated. He to catch his breath and she to check into the stairwell below and above her. Above the door appeared to open. She fired another couple of shot. The door slammed shut again. Leaning back against the wall, she extracted a magazine from her magic purse, ejected the now empty one and slammed in the new.

Then they were off again down the stairs until they arrived at the bottom, a small alcove with two doors. One marked with the word “Lobby” in large red letters, the other obviously leading to the alley at the side of the building.

“Which one,” Vince shouted reduced once again to near hysterics as he heard the thud from the footfalls of their pursuers racing down the stairs above them?

Authors note: Since it is yearʼs end and I am experimenting with this format, we will leave Vince, until next year, trembling in the stairwell, in mortal danger and on the verge of shitting his pants again

Alas, poor Vince, he will have to remain trembling in that stairwell for a few more days

Realizing that escape through the lobby might put innocent people at risk, Isabella chose the door to the alley. Pushing on the pressure lock with her back she swung into a crouch as she followed the door into the alley. She saw no one. Motioning for Vince to follow, she began to run toward the street. She had only gone a few feet when a car screeched to a halt blocking their way. Isabella dropped to one knee, gun outstretched prepared to fire. Vince trying to stop slipped and fell onto his already damp backside uttering the unnecessary and redundant expletive, “shit.”

Before Isabella could fire the vehicle’s window descended revealing a smiling face waving at them.

“Ray!” exclaimed Isabella. She stood up and reached down to pull Vince to his feet. They ran to the car. She opened the rear door, pushed Vince in and followed.

Ray, carefully avoiding bringing additional attention to them by screeching the tires in a cinematic escape, drove carefully toward Market Street.

“Where to? Everyone OK? How you doing boss?” he asked in quick succession.

Vince, seething with resentment from his embarrassment and Isabella’s manhandling, just glared.

“Were ok. Drive to my place. I have security there. Thereʼs probably none at Vince’s apartment,” Isabella responded.

“I need to change,” Vince interjected.

“I’m sure you can do it at my place and it is safer there.”

They could hear the police sirens as they converged at the hotel. It reminded Vince of the law firm shooting at the high-rise nearby. He had lost several friends there. It also took the cops a long time to get there then he thought bleakly.

They arrived at the plush high-rise condo hotel in which Isabella lived.

“Hold on to me as we cross the lobby, as though we are a little drunk,” Isabella directed. “It will help disguise why we look the way we do,” she added while wiping as much of the blood off her face with the tissues Ray handed to he when they entered the car.

Vince remained sullenly silent, but has he got out of the vehicle he, hesitated turned to Ray and said with the hint of a smile, “How come I seem to run into you everywhere?”

Arm and arm, Vince and Isabella rushed from the car across the sidewalk, past the casually saluting doorman and into the buildings. Another police vehicle soon followed by an ambulance, their lights and sirens blaring raced past the building toward the sirens and flickering lights in the distance.

They quickly crossed the lobby. Got into an empty elevator. Isabella produced from somewhere a plastic key card and swiped it past a flashing red light. The elevator rose, stopped and its doors opened on to a small lobby with four doors ranged along the wall opposite. There was a small round table in the center of the lobby supporting a large vase containing freshly cut flowers. On the wall a large oval mirror hung in the center between the doors and on each of the side walls was hung above two small low dark wood cabinets a large abstract painting in red, black and yellow.

Just to the right of the oval table stood a man and a woman, both casually dressed in jeans and tee shirts and both armed with small pistols in holsters hung at their waist.

“Carlos,” said Isabella upon exiting the elevator, “check downstairs.”

The man nodded, picked a jacket off a coat tree standing next to the door on the right and walked into the elevator.

To the woman, Isabella said as she continued toward the door to the farthest left, “Lina, please something warm. Your relaxing drink will do,” “ Stronger for him,” she added with a smile, nodding over her shoulder at Vince who was following her across the lobby.

She again swiped the card and opened the door. They passed through a small vestibule with doors one each side and then through a short hallway into a large room with floor to ceiling glass along one wall. The furniture, in balloon like plump modern was mostly a few dashes of grey and brown less than blazing white.

The windows faced east across downtown towards the Bay. Even at this height the flashing lights of the prowl cars and emergency vehicles could be seen far below.

Isabella threw herself down on one of the overstuffed sofaʼs, kicked off her shoes, observed for a moment Vince standing there clearly undecided and uncomfortable and said, “OK you can take off those clothes now.”

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It was late, Meg had spent a few hours at private investigator Fat Al’s offices reviewing with him the chaotic and seemingly unconnected information he had assembled about Red Star, The Brethren, Vincent Biondi, Sam Coign and Coign’s his law firm. She was sure something in that mess of documents could help her clear up the cause of Stephanie Coign’s death. Later they had dinner together at a little restaurant near the office where they swapped cop stories.  A call from Ray interrupted them: Vince Biondi and someone else were involved in a shootout at a posh hotel in downtown.

They drove down to see for themselves. Fat Al’s retired cop badge and her uniform got them past the police lines. Fat Al spoke with a few of his old colleagues in homicide. It seems the police believed that it was a gangland shooting of some sort. Three people were dead. The hotel’s restaurant staff and four diners had been herded into the large freezer in the kitchen by five armed men. The three dead bodies had been identified as some of the intruders.

Apparently their target had been some other diner or diners among whom were a middle-aged man and a quite beautiful woman seated by the maitre’d before he was hustled off into the freezer by the gunman. He told the police that he had recognized the man because he had eaten there a few weeks ago with a striking tall hawk nosed woman.

Unfortunately, when they checked they found the reservation book page had been torn out. Al was sure the police investigators would go through the prior reservation lists to try to identify the diner. Meg and he both agreed was probably Vince. It would take them a few days to identify him Al guessed.

After about an hour she decided there was nothing more to learn there. She got back into her cruiser and began the drive back to Half Moon Bay and home.

She approached the incline that rose to pass along the edge of the cliff called Devil’s Slide, where Stephanie’s automobile, like so many others, had slid off the road and crashed into the rocks and surf below. She now was convinced Stephanie’s death was not an accident. She also was sure that somehow it was connected to tonight’s events at the restaurant. Stephanie had begged Vince to meet with her. She said she wanted to share with him some information about her husband’s death. But, she died the night before they could meet. Now someone had tried to kill Vince, or was it the woman he was with? why?

Preoccupied with her thoughts, her car climbed the hill and entered the narrow winding and often impassable road that traversed Devil’s Slide itself. The fog had begun to creep across the road making it slick and the looming curves hard to see. But she had driven this road many times before and knew it like the back of her hand. She chuckled and wondered where that expression came from. Did anyone really know the back or their hand all that well. She raised her hand to look at it and glanced into her rear view mirror. She saw a car following her closely, too closely. Stupid for someone to follow a police patrol car that closely; just looking for a ticket she thought. Then she noticed the car speed up and felt the impact as it plowed into her rear bumper. Her vehicle skidded and went out of control.

Meg had not spent the greater part of her non-working, waking hours taking innumerable high performance driving courses for no reason. It was her hobby. So, she calling upon that expertise, quickly manipulated brake and steering wheel to regain control of her vehicle, even on the crumbling unstable verge along the unbarricaded edge of the cliff and soon found herself behind her attacker. She speeded up, drove to the outside close to the cliff-face and began to pass him. As she came abreast of the other driver, she could see him glance at her and hunch over the steering wheel. She guessed he intended to try to drive her against the escarpment that rose up alongside the road. Before he could act, she floored her cruiser’s accelerator to speed up. As the nose of her vehicle edged past his, she sharply pulled on her steering wheel, turning her wheels so it appeared the nose of her car would cross in front of his bumper and crash into him, forcing him toward the cliff edge. It was a bluff as she almost immediately righted the car again. As she expected her bluff worked. He panicked, swung he steering wheel hard to the right to try to avoid contact, broke into an uncontrolled skid and tumbled over the cliff edge and on to the rocks far below.

Meg slowed to a stop then backed up to where the other car left the road. She carefully parked on the shoulder, put on her blinking emergency lights, calmly reported the accident on her two-way. Then she got out opened the trunk, took out some emergency flares and reflectors and laid them out for about twenty feet along the edge of the road where the other car had gone over.

She then for the first time looked over the edge down to the tangled hunk of metal far below wondering why it had not burst in flame and muttered “Fuck you, asshole,” and slowly began the climb down the precipice to the wreckage.

By the time she arrived she could hear the sirens of the police cars and ambulances from Pacifica to the north and Half Moon Bay to the south as they converged at the crash site.

The gas tank of the overturned automobile had ruptured. Escaping gasoline dripped on to the rocks and ran off into the surf a little way below. She was relieved it had not ignited.

The driver’s door had sprung open from the impact and the driver appeared still alive and moaning softly. She gingerly extracted him and dragged and carried him far enough from the wreck to be safe from any explosion.

He was in bad shape. He was bleeding from a nasty head room and both his legs and one of his arms appeared broken. She figured several ribs also and his lungs punctured since he was spitting up blood. He did not look to her as though he would make it until the medical team arrived.

He was conscious though. She knelt leaned in close to him and said, “I will try to help keep you alive until the emergency team get’s here, but first tell me who sent you?”

His pain wracked eyes hardened and he responded in a whisper through the blood, “Go to hell you fucking Dyke.”

“Wrong answer cock-sucker.”

She grabbed him by his shirt, dragged him back to the wreck and threw him back in, took out a plain Zippo lighter, stepped back a few steps, flicked on the flame and tossed it into a puddle of the leaked gasoline. She quickly retreated a safe distance and the gas flamed up and upon reaching the tank exploded.

She stood for a moment watching the flames devour the automobile then looked up. The emergency vehicles had arrived and the first of the medics were beginning their descent. She turned and began to climb to meet them.

Meg climbed the cliff face toward the road above while the wreck below still blazed. For a moment she wondered if killing a potential witness would make finding Stephanie’s killer more difficult. She dismissed that figuring he would have been dead anyway before he could be questioned and the automobile probably was a rental so it most likely had nothing helpful in it. Whatever there is to be gotten, she was confident the technical people will be able to extract it even from the burned scraps. Besides she thought, whoever killed Steph and tried to kill her made a big mistake, they got her pissed her off.

As she passed the emergency rescue team on the way down, she told them she was unable to get the driver out of the vehicle before it exploded and thought he was probably dead. She said she would send a technical investigation team down to sift through the wreckage.

Arriving at the top, she saw that no one from the Sheriff’s office had arrived yet. She recognized, Mike Williams of the Pacifica PD who seemed in charge. She told him the same story she told the emergency rescue team and added that she believed that the automobile and driver may have been connected to a previous incident being investigated by the sheriff’s office. She promised to send a technical investigation team to assist the Pacifica group. She agreed to call Mike tomorrow and coördinate the investigation. As they walked back to her cruiser, Mike joked about the crushed bumper when he saw it.

“Yeah,” she said laconically, “got to get that fixed.” She then got into the car radioed her office to bring them up to date and get things rolling. Picking up her cell phone she called Ray.

She told him everything that happened including with the lighter. He remained silent.

She then said, “Ray, I want to talk to everyone on your list starting with that fucking minister in Blackhawk. About 10 AM OK with you? Can you get it started?”

Ray agreed but insisted he come along on the interviews. She assented. Then following some discussion about coördination she put down the phone, started the car and drove to her home in Half Moon Bay.

She did not go directly into her house but walked the block or so to the beach, sat on a driftwood log watching the foam of the waves shimmer in the moonlight. She allowed the roar of the breakers drown out all thought. After a while she got up, took a deep breath, returned to her home, went in and slept deeply and unperturbed.

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“Ha,” squealed the Isabella character. “Hitting on the dyke. You must really be hard up.”

“Bisexual,” responded the Vince character softly while staring into the make-up mirror.

“Huh!”

“Bisexual, she is bisexual,” he repeated.

“Whatever,” she laughed.

“Tonight,” he said with a smile looking at her through the mirror.

“What’s tonight?”

“Our date is tonight. I am sure we get it on.”

“You wish,” she responded. “I’m your bodyguard, remember.”

“I see he killed off David. Good thing, I never liked the guy,”she continued. “When do you think he will get around to offing us?”

“We do not know if he is dead. We only know he did not cross the street. He could have been picked up by someone or have changed his mind about his dinner appointment or lying wounded in the gutter. He could show up again, like Charlie Bowman.”

“That seems stupid,” she opined and pouted.

 

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David Kitchen exited the building in the Embarcadero office complex in which his firm had its offices. The slab sided towers loomed above him. It was about 7 PM and evening was shading into night. He headed toward Kokkari, a nearby Greek restaurant frequented by the San Francisco downtown buisness and political set. There he would dine with Charlie Bowman and bring him up to date on what had been going on at the office since he had managed to lose himself in the wild woods of Main.

The summertime fogs that prompted a now deceased local gossip columnist to term it as the “Cool grey City of Love,” had not been evident much this past decade, perhaps due to global warming, leaving the sky clear but still heavy with moisture. The wet air rising off the water surrounding the City on three sides made the City’s lights sparkle like the far off stars.

As he headed toward his dinner appointment he wondered what had possessed him to want to tell Vince of all people about Red Star and everything else. He had always prided himself on never taking a precipitous action that would put him at a disadvantage. His whole career depended on it; carefully maneuvering clients, partners and even wives in doing what was best for David. Now he panicked and put himself in jeopardy. He regretted his decision to inform Vince but relieved it was not to happen until tomorrow. He will tell Vince some other story a fantasy that would leave the fool even more confused. Yes, that’s what he would do. No need to tell Charlie about this.

He crossed the darkened mini park that stood between his office building and a group of rent controlled apartments that separated him from the restaurant. Looking up into the blackening trees he wondered about the parrots, the one time pets of a number of City residents who had escaped their confinement or been released by their captors weary of the drudgery of upkeep. They banded together as a flock as parrots do in the wild and took up residence on nearby Telegraph Hill. There was even a book written and a documentary made about them.

Feral Parrots in San Francisco

Feral Parrots in San Francisco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During certain times of the year in the late afternoons the flock would leave their Telegraph Hill rookery and gather at the top of one of the trees setting up a raucous chatter for whatever reason Parrots did that. Ugly squawking, he always thought.

He recalled that before the earthquake that brought down the Embarcadero Freeway there was a pedestrian bridge connecting the little park to the mezzanine parks that encircled the development nearby. Under that bridge a homeless man lived. Every morning as he and Vince would walk by he would accost them by asking for a dollar in return for him telling them a joke. They would pay and usually, as he remembered them, the jokes were quite amusing. Vince referred to the man as, “The Troll under the Bridge.” He wondered now about what happened to the Troll.

He exited the park and stood for a moment on the sidewalk looking back at his office building. Its lights shone with the ragged edges that the far-sighted observe when not fitted without corrective lenses. “Perhaps its time for me to get my eyes examined,” he thought.

He then turned stepped off the curb to cross the street. He never reached the other side.

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Meg stood next to her patrol car in a turn out on Highway near Half Moon Bay Harbor looking out over the vast, grey and brooding Pacific Ocean. Meg was in an unusually contemplative mood. She liked men. She also liked women. She liked Ray. He was all man. He also was all woman. She liked that about him. She didn’t understand why. That’s why she was standing here looking at the boring ocean and trying to sort out her emotions. She soon gave up. Contemplation was not Meg’s strength. She was a woman of action. And the action she craved now was to get her iron pumped and steroid enhanced hands around the neck of whoever killed Stephanie. She now was convinced Stephanie was murdered. So was Ray.

She got back into her automobile and drove to the coffee shop in the harbor. As she sat at one of the tables stirring her coffee Paul Grossmacher, the director of the Harbor District entered the place. Grossmacher was a kindly older gentleman who ran the District for as long as she remembered. She liked him. He had a dry sense of humor that she enjoyed, always listened sympathetically when she talked even when she just rambled on and he flirted outrageously with her.

He sat at her table ordered a cafe-latte and a poppy-seed bagel and inquired, “Meg, why so pensive, trying to solve some great mystery or are you just recalling some special pleasure you enjoyed last night?”

She laughed, “A little bit of both.”

“Ah, and is the mystery professional or personal?”

“A little bit of both.”

“Maybe I could help. I read a lot of mysteries.”

She laughed again. “No, I do not think so.”

“Why don’t you get everyone in the room and sweat them? Isn’t that what the detectives do?”

“Well, no,” she responded. “I have no witnesses and only one person who could know something, but I spoke with him and he doesn’t seem to. There is no family.”

“Why not try him again? Maybe he remembered something he forgot when you grilled him.”

“We don’t grill people. Besides, I really don’t think he knows anything.”

They talked for a while more. She finished her coffee, got up and went out the door back to her cruiser. As she stood by the car door she thought that maybe there was something to Paul’s suggestion. Maybe I will go up to San Francisco and interview him in his office. It couldn’t hurt. I might even see Ray again.

So she took out Ray’s business card, called the office and asked to speak to Vincent Biondi.

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Meg was naked, her steroid enhanced, chiseled body poised kneeling above him on the bed.

Outside the room the surf at Half Mood Bay rumbled, drowning out the sounds of automobiles on Highway One located about a hundred yards behind her home.

She lowered her head and with her tongue, gently explored Jack’s one eye. Ray moaned slightly and drew in his breath, She slowly licked the head and then Jack’s eye again. Then, placing her lips lightly on the tip of his penis, she gradually drew it into her mouth until her lips slid over the corona and lingered in the sulcus while she flicked her tongue again over the glans, then she proceeded down the shaft of his cock. He moaned again, his muscles going rigid as he entwined his fingers in her hair pulling it violently out and down while he thrust up forcing his cock deep into her mouth.

She loved the silky smoothness of the skin of his member, soft like velvet with the iron-hard prick beneath. She liked the pain as he pulled on her hair. She liked the ache in her sphincter where an hour or so before he brutalized it, thrusting deep within her. For the entire night they had gone without break from bed to shower to floor in an unending symphony of brutality and passion.

His moans grew louder as he drew her faster and deeper on him until with a sudden thrust the hot, bitter, salty brew sprayed into her mouth as he spasmed and then relaxed, his fingers falling from her hair.

As his breathing slowed and his erection wilted, she moved up and across his body bestowing light kisses on his body as she passed until she lay alongside him, her head nestled in the crook of his arm with her lips pressed against his neck.

She lay there a few moments, thinking first of Ray and the languid ache in her that he brought on, then drifting off to confront the disturbing specter of Stephanie. Stephanie, her beautiful porcelain white skinned Stephanie. The night she died she had called Meg. Told her she couldn’t spend the night alone in that house and she was coming over the hill to spend it in Meg’s arms. She sounded upset, as she should be, not because of her asshole husband Sam’s death but because of its violence. But she never arrived. Then Meg got the call about the crash at Devil’s Slide.

When she arrived at the site, she found out it was Steph. The idiot medical examiner claimed it was an accident or suicide. Meg knew that it could not be. Devil’s slide was not on the route from Steph’s home to Meg’s place. Ray also expressed doubts about the official reported cause of Stephanie’s death.

She felt his breathing slow. He was drifting off into sleep.

“Not yet,” she whispered. “Once more for me.”

He smiled and with his eyes still closed he pulled her up towards him. She straddled his head with her knees. Her hands she pressed against the wall behind the bed. He gently ran his tongue along the sides of her clitoris and labia. She could feel her wetness. Her muscles tightened. He held her cheeks tightly. A finger fluttered around her aching asshole, prying it open and slipping the tip in and out. Suddenly he withdrew his tongue and sucked her steroid swollen clit into his mouth hard while plunging his finger deep into her ass. She felt the rush of blood and warmth spread throughout her body. Her muscles tightened until she became as rigid as a granite statue. As the flood of ecstasy swept from the fringes her body and plunged toward her cunt, she raised her face up toward the ceiling and let out a deep guttural scream.

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North of the Tehachapi Mountains in California’s coastal range resembles a washboard dipped into the Pacific Ocean washtub. The western face of first ridge dip’s down on to a narrow strip of land before falling away into the ocean. Except for foraging for fish and mollusks during certain periods of the years, native Americans tended to avoid settling here. The Spanish and later Mexican settlers as well as the early Anglos avoided it also except for a few fishing communities and lumber ports. Not so the modern Californians, they huddle together on this slight, cold and foggy strip of land in numbers far greater than the land can support ostensibly for the perceived benefits of the view of the somber grey Pacific Ocean and the bracing weather.

From Humboldt County on the north through to the mountains of the Big Sur, a large valley lies just inland of the first ridge, a semi arid paradise, cool in the summers from the brisk breezes off the ocean flooding into the valley through the gaps in the ridges, and warm in the winter due to the moderating waters of the ocean and the blocking, by the valley’s western ridges, of the frigid winter winds sweeping down from the Sierras and across the great Central Valley. Here lies the Bay of San Francisco, eastern Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties to the North and to the South eastern San Mateo County, Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley and San Jose and it continues south until it disappears into the Salinas River Valley watershed.

In prehistoric times gigantic mammals roamed the area we call California and this happy valley until driven into extinction by the immigrant homo-sapiens from the North-eastern Asia. These immigrants, later referred to as indigenous Americans or Indians, then settled down into a relatively low impact semi-paradiasical existence until the Spanish arrived with their Missions, horses and cattle. The Missions, through overwork and disease, quickly cleansed the valley of the earlier settlers, while the huge herds of free range horses and cattle irrevocably altered the fauna. Here modern Californians chose to live in great numbers even though the valley lacked the resources to support them.

Following the denuding of the hills and valleys of this part of the coastal range by the imported ruminants, great hoards of a practically useless shiny yellow metal called gold was discovered in the Sierra foothills. This useless metal was highly desired by the light-skinned people living east of the Sierra, far more valuable to them then glass beads and seashells were to the native Peoples. So valuable in fact that unlike the native people’s pursuit of valuable feathers and baubles they were willing to kill who ever stood in their way to posses it. As a result vast numbers of these pale skinned immigrants flooded into California across the seemingly almost impassable mountains and by boat across the infinite sea. They came from the boondocks, farms and slums of East Coast America and Europe with greed on their minds and mayhem in their hearts. In quick succession these newcomers tore down the hills to get at the gold, eliminated the remainder of the indians and took the land from the Mexican successors to the Spanish settlers.

Many of them settled in Yerba Buena (later San Francisco) where they disembarked and the surrounding area of this coastal valley. As a result of the depredations by the miners in the foothills the great bay and delta turned brown and changed from deep clear waters, tule and salt marshes to vast mud flats.

In order to provide homes, buildings and energy for these new immigrants and even more wealth for those most advantaged by the mines, the great coastal redwood forests were cut down. Also, to provide water, transportation and supplies to these new immigrants water was brought in great pipelines from the Sierra’s where it was plentiful to the coastal valley where it was not and ribbons of roads and rails spread out along the bay and the valley.

Eventually development of these most recent immigrants covered the land and crowded the shores of the greatly diminished bay, leaving less room for the new wealthy and fortunate to live as they believed their good fortune entitled them.

The next valley in the coastal range to the East of the San Francisco Bay valley remained largely the preserve large ranchos and the tiny towns servicing them except for in the passes that provided transportation corridors from the Bay to the Central Valley and beyond.

About 30 years ago real-estate developers realized that there was a market for large so-called planned unit developments surrounding golf courses instead of natural open space, and decided these large ranchos in this until then rural valley would work just fine. So one day, on the eastern ridge or this valley an exclusive community centered on a golf course was built made up mostly of homes built to 3 or 4 standard designs except for on the highest points on the ridge. Here huge custom-built villas were built for the very wealthy.

In one of these custom-built homes located along the 17th fairway of the golf course, three men knelt, praying.

If one of the golfers playing along the 17th fairway looked up at the house above them they would be able to see through the sliding french doors that looked over the fairway the three kneeling men.

The oldest of the three men, bony and balding with liver spots showing through his wispy grey hair was outfitted in the garish clashing colors of the golfer, in this case a bright red polo shirt and violent yellow short pants. The tallest of the men looked to be in his mid thirties. He was quite tall and slender looking with the taut wiry muscles of a professional athlete. He was dressed in a deep blue Brioni jacket, white silk tee-shirt and dark pants. The third a man in his late forties or early fifties was dressed as though he had just returned to camp from hiking through the woods, canvas jacket, red and black checked Pendleton shirt and tan canvas pants tucked into a pair of hiking boots.

The old man was speaking his prayer:

“It is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must use strength to win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less. Jesus give us the strength of your power to achieve your kingdom on earth at this time so that we the elect can bring forth the end of times and share in your sovereignty forever. Amen.”

“Amen,” the other two mumbled. Then they all rose up off their knees and sat down. The oldster on an overstuffed arm-chair with a brown and yellow floral pattern. The other two sat on opposite ends of the large dark brown sofa situated at right angles to the chair.

After a few moments of silence, the wife of the older man quietly entered the room as though she were entering a church. The woman was quite thin, had greying brown hair and wore a relatively shapeless grey dress. She came in with a tray holding three tall glasses filled with ice and lemonade and set it on the low table in front of the men.

“Thank you my dear,” said the oldster.

“Yes, thank you Mrs Boone,” said the Brioni dressed man rising as she entered.

“Oh, please don’t get up for me. I know you all have important things to discuss. I thought you could use some refreshment.”

The third man neither rose nor said anything.

After Mrs. Boone left the room the older man said, “Charles, thank you for flying all this way to meet with us.”

“No problem Reverend Michael,” the outdoorsman responded. “I believe this meeting is now necessary. Anyway, thank you for the use of your jet. I will be returning to Alaska right after this meeting. I think it’s time I reappear from out of the wilderness.”

“What’s your story for the press,” asked the younger man?

“I will tell them I slipped and fell and struck my head and had a touch of amnesia and that I luckily found that cabin with enough provisions for me to nurse myself back to health and recover my wits.”

“Do you think that will work?”

“Yes, my disappearance I am afraid was not of much interest to the press so I think they will be satisfied with that especially when I also thank God for bestowing his divine providence on me.”

“Gods providence moves all things,” intoned Reverend Michael.

“I’d also like thank you Harry for taking time out from your duties as a Guardians of the Disciples to join us today. Your work is essential to rooting our the cancer of liberals and progressives that is killing our nation. Their lethal ideological radiation is poisoning us and our children and must be stopped.”

He glanced from one to the other then looked down for a moment then raised his head and continued, “This demonic which hunt by the liberals in congress and the administration must not interfere with our plans to pave the way for the second coming. We must stop them and even resort to violence if necessary. I know that you understand that and know what needs to be done.”

“Yes we do,” said Harry. “I and the other Guardians have worked hard to prepare ourselves for the struggle.”

“I know you have,” Reverend Michael responded.

He then shook his head slowly and continued, “God is displeased with America for its pride and arrogance, for killing 40 million unborn babies, for the universality of profanity and for other forms of immorality. We need to accept the truth that this nation will suffer in many ways for departing from the principles of righteousness. ‘The wages of sin is death,’ as it says in Romans 6, both for individuals and for entire cultures.”

He then slowly rose from his chair and said to them, “You both know what needs to be done. I will leave you to you planning.”

He stopped and smiled and said, “Congressman Reffo and Congressman Cantor are waiting for me at the first tee. Sadly one is member of the Catholic Church, ‘The Great Whore,’ ‘apostate church,’ and the other a Jew, one of those no longer spiritually alive whom God sent Hitler to hunt down in preparation for the second coming. But, they support much of our mission. Perhaps some-day God will see fit for them to see his light and leave their cult systems and join us.”

He then walked toward the door and when he reached it he turned and said with a serious expression on his face, “You know, of course, that golf is the devils own game.”

They all chuckled as he turned, opened the door, hesitated a moment and looking back over his shoulder said to the two men, “I also think it is time we rid ourselves of that abomination.” He then went out and closed the door.

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