Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dead Mann Installment #5


It would have been nice to have a street market in Greece or any of a dozen other cites he could think of for their wide variety of foods served in stalls and stands out of carts and from roving vendors. Some spoken comments and he could have a sample of this or that and move on for a while eating of several different flavors and never having to buy anything till later. He’d come back to chat with those that gave him samples and become fast friends and build on that. But most of the condo splashed Gulf coast was not that way, nothing homey and open air about it. He scanned the sidewalk and hoped for a bit of pocket change and thought of sitting down with his tin cup and cane and quoting from Lear. He did spy a few nice restaurants with nice dressed people coming and going at the just after dark dinner hour. He picked a Western styled façade and stepped inside.

Cold air greeted him and he smiled. At least American’s did do one thing right, chill the heat right off you as you first step inside. He smiled at the quizzical look he was getting from the two well dressed Hostesses.

“Pardon me! I am wondering if you know where I might find a Phone, a Pay Phone will do I suppose?” He said in his best Irish lilt sounding like he was trying to get his American just right to allow them to understand him through his otherwise heavy accent.

The taller older brunette with her hair in a formal pulled back bun. Came forward and smiled at him. She did not say a word as her eyes took him in and noticed his bare feet and the burnt edge of the life-ring he let them see. She stopped and gapped for a moment and settled herself enough to speak.

“My word Sir whatever happened to you?” She asked.

“I fear my Skiff sank in a burning blaze a few hours ago and I only managed to save this life-ring. I need to call my broker and let him know the boat is a total loss. All I have to my name is this towel a stranger gave me, and my wits. I don’t mean to put one off on you. But I am famished and need to see if John Clingman is home, or at least his answer-bot, and get on my way to a decent bit of victuals.” Richard said with a heavy sigh and a sad smile. Hoping the ladies were charmed enough to at least let him use the house phone or help him find a pay phone inside the cool restaurant. Anything else would have to be coaxed out of them later, though he thought he’d be able to at least have a few rolls and glass of water.

“Certainly sir, here use our phone. Press nine to dial out.” She said as she handed him a Black phone.

He never did like the kinds that you could not see the numbers and hear at the same time. He dialed a 1-800 number by heart, sped through the calling card number and the other international number and waited for the answer. He turned away from the ladies and paced one step sideways and stopped. The phone was picked up.

“Yes?” The voice on the other end asked.

“I have moved.” Richard said.

“Queen’s Knight takes bishop.” The voice said.

“Rook takes pawn, check.” Richard said. Breathing easier, now that the whole simple contact process was still in place. He waited for the transfer.

“Richard!?” The deep tones of Uncle Carlos sounded on the phone, odd and pleasing, Richard sighed.

“The boat sank, all hands on board were lost. You should prepare for the worst.” Richard kept his voice calm while his mind raced and boiled. Did they still have time to keep Uncle Carlos safe? What was the Black King thinking in this big game of hunt and kill. It was an accident and nothing to worry about, we will find out later, but for now all the hounds are running toward Carlos to take him out of play as well.

“I understand, I castle.” The phone went dead as the line was severed.

In Chess you can not castle while under Check, but in the context of emergency and counter measure anything was possible.

Richard turned and frowned at the ladies as he closed the phone back together and handed it to the head hostess.

“Well that went better than I expected. I have full coverage through my Lloyds but he has full replacement costs figured in as well. Well thank you for the use of the phone Dear Ladies. I must be off to find something to eat.” Richard bowed and turned to go back out the door.
“Pardon me Sir.” The young lady to whom he gave the phone back to, called to him.

He turned and opened his eyes wide and bowed his head and smiled.

“Yes?” Formal Irish layered into his words giving them a royal spark.

She stepped forward and said. “May we offer you the meal you are looking for?”

“Sadly Dear Lady, I have no funds or cards to pay for such a meal.” Richard sighed, frowning to show he would have dearly loved to stay and eat with them but could not.

“On the house. You need to have something before you go on, we would be glad to be of service.” She smiled a smile as if to say please.

“I can not deny that steak is one of my favorite meals. But are you positively sure you will not get into trouble?”

A smile flashed across her lips. The girl behind her laughed a bit then was quiet.

“I am sure. Please come this way.” She led him not into the main dinning room but into a side one likely set as an overflow one or for parties. She offered him a chair at a small table with a view out of a bay of windows looking out over a night lit beach and patio themed outdoor eating area filled with customers and waiters moving around about it.
She handed him a menu.

“Order anything you want. What size are your feet, Sir?” She asked looking down at his feet trying to puzzle out the answer for herself.

“Dear Lady, my name is Richard Theodore Conner. My sandal size is 11 extra wide. If you have it I will take the biggest Ribeye you have rare and a Large glass of water.” Richard said this with a flourish hoping that he would at least get the large water soon.

“But you don’t need to get me the footwear, I can go barefoot.”

“Well even if you could, state regulations do not allow it. Going to the all you can eat salad bar would draw attention to you anyway. Walking outside at night you never know what you might step on, and having your feet torn open is not something you would want to have happen on top of everything else.” She smiled sweetly and left to get his order.

Better than snacking in a Greek market, a full meal of a nice rare Ribeye steak. His mouth watered just thinking about it.

What would happen now? Richard could only think of a handful of times in the past eighteen years when the Emergency levels had been such that the Mann’s or Uncle Carlos had had to go to ground. Usually it had been their own mistakes or some government crackdown while they were in an out of the way country. Not an attack on them from the outside, this was new, though not unplanned for they were in a highly risky business.

Richard’s mind threatened to crash here and now. ‘All hands lost.’ He heard himself say. I am Dead Mann. I am not here. I am a memory on a wave. Rage filled him and his heart raced and he lost all sense of time and space as he pushed backwards in his mind hunting for the moments before breaking the water’s surface. What had happened?

“Excuse me?” A soft voice said.

He looked up and another lady with a brown skirt and plain white blouse, blonde hair and nice worried smile was looking at him, holding a pair of sandals in her hands as an offering to a deity.

“Pardon me Dear Lady, I was off day dreaming. Ah, Sandals!” Richard said in the same Irish lilt he would be using in most of his stay here in Florida. Richard was not English but had been to Ireland many times while visiting friends and doing work.

“Miss Rogers said you needed some so I got you these, I hope they fit. My Bobby didn’t like them, I was gonna return them to the store. Here try them on.” She said as she offered them again just like she would to a Greek god.

Richard smiled and took the pair. They connected with a fast release clip but were adjustable with a Velcro strap, while the instep had the same Velcro strap for adjustment. He looked closely at the soles to check on a name and could not find the telltale sign of the Greek Stamp. A cheap version of his favorite sandal he thought. He adjusted them and slipped them on both feet and smiled to himself, Just like Home.

“Why thank You.” Richard said as he moved to get up and test them. He took two steps toward the windows and turned to face the lady.

“They are a prefect fit!” As he spread his hands to show himself and his new footwear to the young lady, he watched as Miss Rogers came back into the room and smiled at him. He returned the smile with as much warmth and feeling of happiness as he could muster. She moved well, was clearly in charge around here, acting the part now that she had more than just regular diners to deal with tonight.

“I am glad we could find you something without going out of house. Mary was about to return those to Wal-Mart later this evening after work. While you are standing, I’ll show you where the bathrooms are and how to get to the salad bar.” She motioned to him by smiling and standing aside with a little bow and waving her left arm in a flourish back the way they had both come.

Richard took the time to notice her more as he stepped in close behind her. Mary took up the rear on their little train back out and around the corner toward the main dining area. He liked looking at her neck, short hairs had been fine tuned and her bun had been altered from when he first saw her. Pulled in tighter, stray hairs gathered and set back in place. Trying to impress or just a timely opportunity to readjust? The blouse hid the shoulder straps of her bra but he could see it on the side with the sway of her stride, she was not overly endowed so there was no indention where the sides passed under her arms. He could smell foods and hear the clink of dinner ware but also smell her aroma and hear the fabric of her outfit swish in front of him he was walking that close. Some of the other patrons looked up as they passed, most were smiling large toward Miss Rogers, then smiling the same way to her charge as he passed them. Though some of them had a quick change of expression if they had time to notice his still slightly beach bum appearance most of them just kept on smiling as if this was an everyday occurrence.

Miss Rogers paused to show him the amplely leaden salad bar, with a flourish all its own and not saying a word kept on going toward the side of the main room and toward some discrete alcoves. He noticed that she moved with ease and grace now and was hoping to get to know her better when she stopped yet again and had moved to the side to let him pass.

“Here you go Mr. Conner, please help yourself to our salad bar when you are ready and I’ll see you in a bit with your steak when it is ready.” She smiled and looked at him taking in his details as he had hers only seconds before.

“Thank You again Dear Lady. A good freshen up is just what the doctor ordered.” He said with one last long look at her as she stared back at him. He smiled with more warmth and turned to the restrooms.

Nice wooden doors covered in warm but light green paint and heavy handles. The whole feel of the restaurant was of a forest glade with ample light and none of that German dark forest look so over played in the steakhouses of much of the western world. The inside of the bathroom shocked him. There was an attendant. Who smiled, when he looked up at Richard.

“Don’t see many of us now do you?” The older white man said with humor in his voice. “Mr. Rogers grew up in the old school and wants his place to have the feel of the finest places in the world, and how they used to look.”

“I can see that. I almost need a long hot shower, but just a spot of splashing will have to do.” Richard said as he looked in the wall mirror at his clothes and then his face.

His sea blue eyes stared back at him and the salt had gathered at the far corners of them. His ruffled brown blonde hair was long enough to be just touching his shoulders but not hanging over his eyes when he needed to look at something. He watched his smile fringe happy times and none of the day’s darker times. His dad’s good looks, his mother told him countless times, and his mom’s cat like grace his father would intone right after if he was in earshot of the comment. It had become his look. His self aware image of himself. Implanted over the years from the time he first remembered anything at all in the verbal realm.

Breaking his thought, he took a warm wash clothe and ran the water till it was hot, it did not take long at all. Washing his hands in the surprisingly very hot water. He commented on this.

“Yes Mr. Rogers likes the hot water hot and the cold water cold, so be careful not to shock yourself when you do the cool down after your wash.” The attendant said. His nametag said Harold.

First splashing the hot water was like diving into a hot tub and then it felt refreshing after he noticed the salt taste dripping off his lips. A three or more hour soaking in salt water he might need a few more baths to get it all out of him, Richard smiled at the thought of a long cold shower to take the pains out of his muscles. His mother always smiled when his showers were just like hers and so unlike his father’s scolding steam baths. Richard felt the empty coming around the edges again threatening to take him and whisk him to a place he had never been. Soon, he told himself, soon the mourning could be totally private and painfully aware.

He stripped off his shirt and wondered if they could wash it and dry it fast enough, but instead just shook it out into the corner. Harold did not say a thing, but watched with bright eyes everything that Richard did. With a bit of fast sponge bathing his chest and getting the salt out of his chest hair he air dried while he looked over the seams of his shirt hunting for tears. None, that was good, finding his only shirt in the world to be okay after its ordeal. He put it back on and tucked it in, fixed the collar ran his fingers through his hair and smiled at himself. About back to normal, a few pounds of rare beef and he would be his good old self.

“There now. A jigger of Glen Effishthen and I’ll be right as rain.” His Irish got so heavy he barely understood himself.

He smiled at Harold and gave a deep bow.

“You look like you just came down for dinner Sir. Enjoy your steak. If you need a place to stay let Betsy know up front at the door, she was with Miss Rogers when you came in. She is my grand-niece. Loosing your boat is not something that happens to you everyday. Harold’s the name.” He said as he stuck out his hand and waited for Richard.

Shock and Awe. This was a tightly run ship. Miss Rogers had been busy. Not only a pair of sandals but an offer for a place to stay. Nothing like what the Hobo was warning him of coming off the beach. Then on the beach he was just another bum, not much of an Irish accent and just a smart mouth. Here he had impressed them. Impressed them a lot it seemed.

“Thank You kind Sir. I will have to consider it I am afraid. Everything is in the drink and nary a way to get more. Now off for a salad and see if I can eat a whole Heifer.” Richard took the hand and shook it with glee in his eyes and strength is his grip.

Another man came in just then noticed the hand shaking and smiled, and turned to find a stall.

Richard took his leave then.

The Salad bar was several meals in itself, he could have had veggies and fruits from several different countries and regions and never even gotten into the mixed salads and spreads and cheeses or breads. Bread and Water my eye he thought. This was a fine example of style and panache all rolled into one fine dining experience. He just wanted a big juicy steak, but he got grape tomatoes and a half dozen of his favorite olives and cubes of feta cheese with a few slabs of nicely paper lined Brie, and leaves of spring lettuce.

Making his way back to the room he noticed a lot of happy smiles and nods as he walked among the tables. He noticed again the spacing for several to walk without bumping into others.

He was on his second piece of Brie and Oil Cured Olive crisp wrap. When Miss Rogers came in carrying a tray with the sizzling sounds of fresh hot steak.

She sat before him the largest steak he had ever seen outside of a butcher shop. It took up all of the plate it seemed till he looked closer and saw some bits of the plate edge near one side and juice pooling there.

She placed on the table a bowl of steaming onions and mushrooms and a large baked potato and bowls of sour cream and butter. The extra large steak came with a healthy and sharp looking steak knife he would be proud to call his own.

“My God Woman, are ye trying to feed the King!” Richard’s heavy Irish spilled out of him in awe at this feast.

Miss Rogers finished placing all of the plates and bowls. She smiled at him and said with a flare all her own.

“For a man who drags himself out of the sea and looks like an Irish Prince come to beg for bread and water. I thought you should have a King’s meal!” She said with a mischievous Irish lilt to her voice, and bowed her head.

“Aye Lass. I will thoroughly enjoy eating this fine steer and all the trimmings.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dead Mann installment #4


Flames were covering the upper decks as Richard tried to get over to see in the port of the lounge and he saw his mother adding up her line scores on the gin game she likely just won. He knocked on the window and yelled to them to get out. His father turned and smiled and waved Richard forward. He mouthed, ‘Come on in we can play hearts.” Richard watched the flames turn the settee to ashes and the cards were burning on the tabletop. He wanted to go in there, but could not find the hatchway. His head seemed to be moving and his mind struggled to find a reason why. He bolted awake and grabbed the life-ring as it slipped up out from under his head.

A gasp and yelp reached his ears. He turned to find an older man backing up in the loose sand with wild eyes.

“I thought you were dead, honest!” The man said as he stepped back one more step and stopped, a full six feet from Richard as he still laid there.

“It’s okay. I just took a long swim and had to rest. Thanks for waking me, I did not like that dream anyway.” Richard said with a smile on his face. As he thought that all in all it was really true, he needed no nightmares to make the day any harder.
“With all your clothes on?” The man looked sideways at Richard and made a, ‘Yeah right!’ frown on his face very noticeable even in the light of late dusk.

“Okay, I needed a bath and to wash my clothes at once, seemed the best way.” Richard shrugged.

“Heh! Yeah I know how that can be. You got to watch it around here. They petrol, about this time of night looking, for us bums and riff raff picking the beach clean of leftovers. You must be new around these parts!”

Richard laughed, and sat up to stretch and get a lay of the land around him. “As a matter of fact I am, just arrived on the evening tide.”

The man winced and looked around just to be looking elsewhere as his face changed to doubt and suspicion.

Slowly Richard got up and stretched his back and legs and picked up the life-ring turning the letters toward himself and bending to get the towel. Shaking it out he saw a set of keys fall to the ground with some shells. He bent to pick the shells up and palmed the keys, looking at the shells he blew off one and smelled another. Sure that the other man had not noticed he stuck one shell in his pocket and threw the other out to where the water was receding.

“So anyways nice meeting you and Good Night.” Richard said, as he turned to the north to walk toward the condos.

“Ah! You don’t want to go that way!” The man said.

“I am afraid yes I do.” Richard said.

“Your night in jail. They don’t cotton to bums near those timeshares. Get yourself a nice set of dry duds and you might pass for a Weeker, but not like you are looking.”

Richard looked at his pants, three hours of seawater and they were just about as nice of a set of beach bums clothes as he could have hoped for, his shirt was almost as nice looking.

“They look fine for what I am. Beach Bum on the run, hired for one night only.” Richard intoned in his best Irish lilt.
“Man you sure think you are funny! I don’t think you are, but you can do whatever you like. I am out of here.” With that he turned and walked up toward the sand dunes and a bit south.

“Bye, bye good luck, have fun and God Bless!” Richard called to the departing Hobo.

Making sure he had not missed anything else from the towel. Richard walked on toward the condos. Even though he was not heading toward them really. Giving the impression that he did not care and would go on anyway no matter the risk was exactly what he wanted the other to think.

The beach in this whole section was a long and wide and flat stretch of white sand found to be great for sunbathers as well as for swimmers. Surprising that this was the kind of beach that made just such a place the prefect playground for thousands of others the world over. Richard could be anywhere in the world. But here he was not a citizen, here he was just another lost homeless person like the hobo or some such person that wanted a good find in his life-ring just minutes ago. He paused as if to stretch again and while moving his arms in motions to loosen them from the swim in, he looked back and the other was still below the plant line but far up the beach heading the other direction. At least that was just as it had seemed and not anything that could have been deadly. New world indeed, another fun filled paradise complete with all the lost souls too. He had been to many such places over the course of his travels.

Where to go was the question at hand. He could not get to close to the condos just yet. His only possessions were the Life-ring, the beach towel and set of keys he had picked up. He dug them out and looked at them. A car key one of the ones with a chip in it, marked any number of current models, but he thought it was not an American make. A house key, a lock box key and several that looked like suitcase keys, and one he could not puzzle out. He wondered had he just taken some swimmer’s towel from them? He looked at his watch. No! He had been asleep to long for this to have been, another swimmer’s towel. Another tiny mystery, one he would more easily find an answer to than his own.

Just the sort of items a late night swimmer would have he could pass for anyone, except for the lack of shoes, an easy explanation and a funny one to boot. Don’t you just hate it when you come back to your towel and someone has taken your shoes and walked off with them? Kids these days and parents that don’t make an effort to correct them, what a great bit of line this will make. The bits of logic that solves the puzzles of others and makes you fit in anywhere just another person. Not a man that just watched his only home blow up and sink and his parents blink away from his life in a hot flash. He smiled. It was a sad and mad and crazy smile all rolled into one and he wondered what someone would think seeing it. He wondered for a brief moment how he could smile and knew what had been was not funny but ironic. His parents had instilled in him over the years the ironies of life at times. After all they did live on the fringes, world-class beach bums and vagabonds Robinhoods all. Swiss passports, neutral the world over, they could travel almost anywhere. He could get another, or change his name if he had too, but somehow even now slipping out of the living into the dead he was still ‘Little Richard’ child spy.

Where to go?

Think he told himself there are needs right now as his stomach gurgled loud and with fierce animal hunger. He plodded up to the nearest condo’s beach wall and found the path to the public parking lot for the beach. Several cars of all makes and models, none of them looked like they fit the car key on his ring. He walked on up to the road beyond, a wide road with light traffic on it. There were several large houses and what looked like a few hotels set off the street further up toward the north. Then the food district a little beyond that. That was where he walked. Food was needed living off the land was taking on a whole new meaning just about now.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dead Mann Installment #3


First things first find shelter. Where would he be coming ashore? How far had they been from The Cape? Coming back south from the job in Maine with the port call to get in a bit of sight seeing. They passed it earlier going out to beyond the 10-mile limit, dad wanted to stay clear of the NASA set limits. Richard tried to envision the charts and coastline in his head as he slowed his pace. Have to keep moving but need to make sure you can finish the race, steady pace he told himself don’t let the fear get the better of thinking. You can mourn when you get to shore when you find the nearest city when you find shelter. Florida the play land of the rich, of the big attractions and NASA he did not know that much about it. Just the travel folders and the smiling families with kids and parents and the family pet all in an RV heading for the vacation of the year. East and south of The Cape, was the Disney Complex, shores full of beach resorts and time share condos full of people you only saw once a year. The day was drifting toward mid afternoon, he paused to get another sight of shore. Grey line had gotten closer and had shapes he took a second longer look and decided they must be condos on the shoreline. When he got closer he wanted to stray away from them and come ashore without people high up being able to spy him swimming in form out here. In his case a bit of paranoia was going to help keep him alive just that much longer.

He scrolled through ways of blending in, besides being a wet bruised beach bum what other things could he be, single man looking for fun and frolic on the beach in a beautiful land filled with milk and honey, and tanned girls. Never having a problem with girls or women turning away as he walked by he had his father’s charming features and his mother’s cat like grace. Tinges of pain shot through his mind almost stopping his steady pace. Alone. He had to think of being alone. They taught him it could happen. They tried to teach him how to handle it to prepare for just this sort of thing. You can’t ever really prepare till it happens. He calmed his heart rate let the warm saltwater wash itself from his face. Find the warm glow of them in his mind and know they were safe where they were, finally safe. Go on gain back the pace you had lost he told himself push just a little harder to draw the pain into action. He wondered who would need a porch swept, a hedge trimmed, a smile offered and hand lent to help carry one extra bag of cement to a job site. Money was easy to make. You never had to be a beggar. Though if begging was called for tin cups were easy to get and easy to use and methods abounded on stirring people to give to the blind beggar who could quote Shakespeare ala Arthur Conan Doyle. Getting in touch with the secure contact lines of Uncle Carlos’s network, were another story. If he had been a target as well they might not be in place and Richard would have to puzzle out the dozen optional plans that might fall into place if such was the case. It would be better to come ashore in the later hours of evening but Richard should not stay out to long, though he knew he could. It was the middle of October the night would get cold fast and coming out of the water at night would be an additional hardship he should avoid if possible. He paused and pulled the life-ring in close and pulled up to look at the shore. Closer now he could see the gaps in the condos and the sun’s rays turning the western skies the banded red of night time clouds heading east. He would steer just a few second’s south and avoid the bulk of the buildings and hopefully come ashore on a public beach out of sight of any of them. Palm Bay was near here his mind clicked at charts he had looked at just minutes before leaving the bridge.

He was going to ask if they wanted to stop somewhere below Melbourne Beach for that night cap his mother had been joking about since the last stop. The condos should be the edges of that small town on the outer banks of the Intracoastal Waterway. Dozens of small towns dotted this coast both on the Waterway and on the Atlantic sand bars. He would be able to find a job, a place to live and blend into the world that he was thrown into like one more grain of sand on the beach. Of all this he was sure, it was the other things that would nag at him until he could get answers.

Another look at the beach told him the area he was headed for was pretty much empty. School was in session and the condos had older folks in them night was getting cooler and the sands would be his for the taking. His pace quickened as he thought of cool night air pulling the fatigue out of him and setting him on getting food and a nice drink of sweet water.
He felt the tug of the surf and the swells were lifting him up in a gentle crest as he got closer to the white sandy beach. The lights of some of the buildings were blinking now and he could hear the surf noise.

A trough pulled him down and he felt sand particles rush past him and knew it was soon just a few more laps and land fall. Then the bottom was a rush past him as he dunked his head to look. He paused to let his feet dangle and the bottom sand slide over his feet and soon he treaded out of the surf more tired than he thought he would feel but glad for it too.

He walked up out of the wet edges of the higher waves till he was on dry sand and thanked the forgetful beach-goers for leaving their towel right there on the sand. He sat down and with a deep sigh laid his head back on the life-ring still strapped to him and fell asleep.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dead Mann, Installment #2


During any steady task the mind begins to wander. Richard thought of the yacht’s name. Maid Marian, mom had been a maid when dad first met her in that little Swiss town. Dad was already a Robinhood stealing back from the criminals what they had taken from someone else, restoring lost treasures or bits of history to the people. Dad asked only 10% of the value of the items in return for getting them back. In most cases the Police could not catch anyone, or the Police could not be involved, old cases long forgotten in the high crime regions of the world. Justice was rarely served, but the rightful owners got back what was taken. Criminals had learned to hate dad, and later dad and mom who worked so well as a team. Richard had been helping for as long as he could remember with odd jobs and spying and was trained in things no school would teach long before he’d first started school.

The yacht was home base as no land could be, traveling the world helping this person or that one anywhere. Richard’s mind paused as his left leg began the burn for over use and strain, or something else. He stopped, pulled the ring in close to rest, reached down and felt his leg tender to the touch where the skin had been bruised. Must have been the explosion that sent him flying over the port railing as he went back to check the engines. He pushed himself up out of the water to get a better look toward land, dim gray black line still far away but at least within sight.

Swim Richard he told himself get moving. There had been no boats in sight or on radar just before he left the bridge. Had his escape been noticed? Escape from an accident? The yacht was in ship shape, and no alarms had gone off from a fuel leak, or gases in the engine room. Two days ago all three of them had been off the boat, though it had been locked down and the security systems seemed fine when they got back aboard. Could someone have gotten on board and planted explosives enough to kill them very fast and very sure? It would be possible. Lots of things were possible, even it being an accident. But accidents like this had rarely occurred or so Richard thought now. Best to be safe and treat it as an intentional act. The Mann family died today. No press no photos not one word to the world, just gone. Then it hit him a new fear. Uncle Carlos where would he be right now, who knows, but Richard had to find him. Had to warn him and make sure he was safe.

Not really his uncle, more like a mentor and brother to them all. Uncle Carlos had been helping dad before dad ever met mom.

Dead Mann, Installment #1

Dead Mann


Burning bits of the boat rained down on the water as
Richard broke the surface gasping for air. His first thought was, where were his parents. He Looked toward the boat none of the upper decks were there just ribs and flames. The Helo pad was missing and a gash to the waterline just in front of the engine room had the boat listing and it would sink fast. He struggled to remember where his parents would have been as he swam toward the boat.


How had he gotten this far away? What could have happened? No answers just more questions and the fear of knowing they were dead. If they were dead then he should be too. Fear turned to rage and anger what or who could have done this?

The current was drifting him away from the wreckage, now almost gone below the waves. He swam harder and got close enough to feel the heat of the last flames as they hissed away to the depths.

His parents were both excellent swimmers and were strong and healthy. He yelled and cried for them knowing he would get no answers. The years of training took over finally and he turned to find the sun and get a bearing on the shore. Eight miles was not that far to swim part of his mind thought as he searched for drifting parts of the boat.

He found a life-ring scorched on one side taking the ‘Mai’ out of Maid Marian, leaving Bride of Robinhood untouched as it circled the bottom half of the ring. He pulled the strap over his head and left arm and starting swimming for shore.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Price we pay

Odd things happened with the text, so just look over those, and read.

Post your comments.

Curiosity Pays

As Joe sat there, the rattling in the overhead air vent was setting his mind spinning. What if there were cameras in there? They were in the halls, offices and even in the Big Boss's office. Jim Donoven had said that the bathrooms were the only safe place from their prying eyes.

But the clattering, it had to be a camera cord knocking against the metal air duct. He could see it now sitting up there staring at him, with it's uncaring eye pointed at him, looking down on him as he sat here in the fourth floor men's restroom.

His body had closed down all functions as soon as he started to think about the camera. There it is staring down at Joe Westhorse. No not Joe, but Joseph like his mother would call him. He never did like Joe, but here at work it had stuck, and like most nicknames, you just can't get rid of them.

There it is staring down at Joseph Westhorse not letting him have any privacy, none at all. He wondered if they even let the President sit on the pot without a camera staring down at her. Though looking at that bit of disk would be very interesting. She was the prettiest female President they had had in over 100 years. Her name was Whitehorse.

He wondered if her family had the same legends about her name as his did about his name. Westhorse his father told him long ago, was the name they gave a young Indian lad who would later become Joe's Great-Great-Great Grandfather. They gave it to him because his first horse headed West the first time the lad got on him. Joe never believed that tale. He knew that the last Native American had died some 100 years before his Great times 3 Grandfather was even born.

Joe's mind came back to the here and now, when he heard a rather loud clank, in the air vent above his head. First he shrugged it off, but the idea had stuck. There was a camera up there, and he had to find out one way or the other. He stood up and pulled up his pants, touched the seal and smirked at the thought that these pants were brand new. He wondered if they knew that as well. He got one foot on the rim of the toilet seat, and using his hand gripped the top of the stall's wall and pulled himself up into a standing position. He could see that the air vent did not have any dust on it, had to dust them to get a clear view of the target. He looked closer and thought he saw the glint of the camera eye. His hands reached toward the vent, only to stop. They were watching him find their camera. Never mind, he had to find out.

He reached upward again, and seeing that the vent had nothing affixing it to the ceiling he pushed up on the center of it. It moved upwards at his gentle pushing. He felt it slid sideways. He looked into the dark hole he had made in the ceiling. All he saw was the open air vent and dark dull metal walls. Nothing else was there. He felt a little ashamed that he had wasted so much company time looking for eyes where there were none. He pulled the grate back over the hole and slowly got down off the toilet rim. He sighed deeply and sat back down to compose himself and after a minute got up and left the stall. He washed his hands in the sonic sink and walked toward the door, with just one last longing look at the air vent over the stall. He opened the door to the bathroom and was about to enter the hall.

Arms grabbed him and pulled him forcibly out into the hall, twisting him around and forcing him against the wall next to the bathroom door. They tied his hands and arms with a tight tie of some kind. The only sound he heard was a man's voice whispering to him.

"We can't have people like you nosing around, it's a crime you know. Curiosity has been Illegal for two days now. You'll be the first to die for breaking the LAW."

The only thing Joe heard from then on was the rushing of wind through his hair as he rode the Indian pony, or was it the rush of air through the vent on the ceiling.

Charles E. Owens Jr. (1997)Revised 2006