The Reason (Book 3 of the Grapevine Trilogy)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The Reason

 

1.Dry Hands

2.Internal Struggle

3.Perseverance

4.Unbridled

5.Flat Water

6.The Greatness of Humanity

7.A loss For Words

8.Down To Business

9.Without Shaking Hands

10.At The Bottom

11.Personal Charm

12.Empty Hope

13.Candles Burning

14.Pearl Handled

15.The Evening Reporter

16.Le Persil

17.Kapu

18.Moonshine

19. Dust and Nails

20. A Face In The Tree

21. Parking lot

22. White Bull

23. Man Imperfect

24. Praying For Forgiveness

25. Wine Glass

26. Hard Work and The Grace of God

27. Stolen Triple

28. Momentum and time will tell

29. Bucket and Scrub Brush

30. Good Luck

31. But I Didn’t

32. Outlaw

33. From A Hook

34. Old Money

35. Tough Gum

36. Heimskur

37. Decisions

38. Nice

39. Anchor and Hope

 

Arianne Sullivan flicked off the seeds that were picked up by the wind landing on her shoulder as she gritted her hands together tossing the last of the bird seeds that were contained in a paper bag.  Last night she held an art exhibit at her new art gallery in Hafnarfjorour, Iceland.  It was the Summer Solstice the same day that the Viking Festival is held in Hafnarfjorour, it went extraordinarily well but she felt like something was missing.  She couldn’t pin point exactly what it was, in a bit of a fog she sat in a chair tossing seeds to the birds that often inhabited the open space near her gallery.  Three years before this time she was held hostage in her residence in America along with her assistant Saidah by members of her mother’s former security team.  Her art collection was stolen and she was left tied up and blindfolded to a chair along side of Saidah.  Fortunately she held her cell phone remembering the dials she called up her former lover and temporary business partner who was also a former police officer.  Craig Chaise saved both Arianne and Saidah from the robbers.  Later she hired Craig as a personal bodyguard and a private investigator to help to look for her stolen art.  It was within that search that they found the thieves to be Ariannes brother in law and her mothers head of security and personal consort.  While it was a reality that was deadly, traumatic, and risky with the help of Craig Chaise they were able to recover Arianne’s art collection that was worth over 100 millions dollars.  In the three years that had passed since then she had minimal contact with Craig sending their daughter Gerda to Hawaii where he resided to visit him during the summer.  

 

Flying around periodically landing several finches pecked at the seeds that rested a short distance from her while a raven surprisingly stopped near the finches taking it’s time looking sideways at Arianne.  She remained still moving slowly putting her hand in the bag that contained the seeds pulling out a bread roll tearing it to pieces.  It was a warm afternoon although gloomy she wore a navy blue peacoat sitting in a chair holding the torn bread roll.  The raven jumped on to the bench top tilting its head looking oddly toward Arianne.  It’s black feathers held a shiny reflection it stood still.  Slowly the raven began to move.  She noticed the contrast between  a raven and a crow.  Surprising Arianne with its braveness within moments of remaining still the raven hopped up on her lap taking it’s time to pick apart and eat most of the bread before it took the last piece flying away with it to a nearby tree.  It was a sobering moment for a numb woman lost in a robotic nutshell she hesitated before deciding to leave the gallery for home.  Arianne had reached her forty third birthday a few weeks before still feeling young.  When she got home she went into her bedroom looked into her mirror noticing that she had a few grey hairs mixed in with her short cropped black hair.  Her figure was slender that hadn’t changed, and perhaps it was the day but she had heavy bags under her eyes and she felt old.  She had a cell phone for business and personal and maybe she was clinging on to the past because she had a home phone with an answering machine.  She notice that there was a message, she pressed the button!  It was Craig Chaise.  “I’ve decided to spend the summer in the east coast.  Gerda will be staying with me here I figured that you might want to know that she’s enjoying herself.  I hope that all is well we haven’t spoken in a while I trust that your alright. Stay strong.” 

 

The past year seemed monotone compared to the years previous with Arianne having minimal contact with her mother along with her sister.  She was content with the solitude seeing that she went 10 years without speaking to both of them.  It was only with the news that she was pregnant with twins did her mother seek to meet with her at her castle in Reykjavik.  It seemed like a clouded bundle of events crumbled into a ball of memory tossed into the trash.  She shook her head trying to clear the fog.  She was a distinguished business woman that had principle and she was a caring parent.  Thats it! She told herself she was going to go back to the states.  It seemed rational considering that she owned an art studio in America that she had been neglecting since the art heist.  Spending time around that area was something that she was avoiding out of fear.  The memories of that time in her life haunted her.  Arianne wasn’t hesitant to act on her decision.  Within a few hours she had travel arrangements made while her assistant packaged her belongings for the upcoming trip.  

 

During the flight Arianne was lost in thought staring out of one of the plane windows.  She hadn’t felt that robotic and void of emotion in a very long time.  Much of her daily routines were just that routines.  There wasn’t much hope or joy or the youthful sense of adventure when doing something new.  She tried to feel but she couldn’t it seemed contrived.  Being pragmatic she new that a change in environment might offer a different perspective.   Several hours later the plane landed where a limousine awaited her arrival.  When she arrived at her house she hesitated for a moment.  It was mid afternoon there was a soft breeze with a mostly sunny sky.  Reaching a hand up she slowly took off her sunglasses that she wore.  Having not stepped inside of the house since the robbery goose bumps ran up her arms she felt a shiver.  It happened suddenly though it seemed like a lifetime ago she remembered the panic attacks and the fear that accompanied having her sense of security taken from her, it happened again.  After a few moments of gathering her composure slowing down her breathing, she walked up to the doorway unlocked the door then walked inside.  The house seemed barren compared to the way that it was, seeing the thick glass floor that seemed like amber with items like fish, bugs, coins, and other items encased inside she recalled it’s installation.  As she walked along she stopped in the hallway leading toward a piano room entering her bedroom recalling all of the art that once covered the walls.  The flight was long she needed rest, that night she barely slept waking with an anxiousness and a feeling of insecurity.  Arianne wasn’t certain that she wanted to remain owner of her new england home.  

 

In the morning Arianne was busy making arrangements to have a portion of her art collection shipped to her New England studio while her assistant Saidah was busy making arrangements for a mid summer art exhibit.  While Arianne loved to involve herself in business and art she loathed getting into the gritty details of the middle class.  That is where Saidah came to good use because she had a strength where Arianne did not have that kind of reserve.  Through the years Arianne was used to outside whispers socially and internal business struggle because she was a believer in separation of powers along with the benefits of being within the elite.  

 

After arraignments were made they decided to have lunch at Open Field country club one of Arianne’s former regular destinations.  While eating lunch with Saidah discussing the details of the upcoming art exhibit a man wearing a gold sports coat with a neatly trimmed goatee ran his fingers around his mustache winking and eye at Arianne pointing to her then smiling he began to walk toward her table.  It was Charles Bassett, Arianne’s former long time boyfriend.  They separated after several years of off and on romance that included Charles having a romantic relationship with Jenny Chaise a deceased woman that was the wife of Arianne’s sometime consort and business associate.  She was a business woman of her own set of rules these kind of things were acceptable to her as a matter of fact it was part of the way of her class.  Within the realm of uncontrollable happenings and several misadventures getting caught up within the infallibility of finding humanity they parted ways.  Arianne stopped eating, “To what do I owe the pleasure of having your acquaintance?”  Arianne asked, a reaction surprising Charles as he smiled grabbing his sports coat giving it a firm tug. He looked behind him then to Arianne jerking his head back sharply, “I was over there with my friends discussing the philosophy of Plato and his influence that it had of Socrates and then I look and see sitting with your assistant.  Luck was a lady and here I am standing in front of your table thinking there’s an opening and with every opening there’s opportunity.  I have a business proposal that I would like to discuss with you.”  Charles waved a hand twittling his fingers.  “I create my own opportunities.”  She said dryly before standing up.  “Saidah please pay the bill and schedule an appointment with Charles.  I will be waiting in the car.”  Arianne waved off Charles as he tried to speak with her.  Saida stood up, “ Now is not the time for a chivalrous rebound.  I will give you this much information, she has been monotone in all interactions.  The fire that made Arianne fierce appears to only be fizzling.”  Saida waited a moment before continuing, “How is Wednesday at noontime?”  Charles smiled waving his hands, “ I’ll be brief before opportunity vanishes!”  He looked to Saidah seriously making eye contact, “ You know”. She gritted her teeth showing them, “I’ll see you Wednesday at noon.”  

 

****

 

Jan broke the hard rake that he was using throwing it to the ground in frustration. “I don’t know how in the heck you expect me to till a goshdarn garden and grade it out with tools that break!”  Jan Walananu walked back and forth muttering to himself and Faith.  He and his daughter were planting a garden they weren’t getting along very well as they worked together.  Just minutes before Jan broke a shovel.  Faith finished filling the wheel barrel full of composted manure walking it over to where the future garden was planned to be.  It was a hot and humid afternoon in Wai Pahu, Hawaii.  Her husband and his business partner owned a Wine and Candle company Dionysus Refined that had two locations 1 in Hawaii and 1 in New England.  They agreed to spend a summer apart from each other in hopes that emptiness would make the heart grow fonder.   Faith emptied the wheel barrel angrily, “What do you want me to do about it?  Your the one that man handles all the tools that mom buys.”  Jan tightened his face motioning that he wanted to back hand Faith, she flinched.  She stopped putting the shovel inside of the wheel barrel, “You know what?”  “What?”  Jan replied “Shoveling dirt is a man’s job planting a garden is better served with a woman’s touch.”  “Your a miserable little wench.  Your stubborn like your mother, that’s the problem.”  Jan muttered angrily Faith looked quickly, “That’s right!” She agreed, “Just like my mother and don’t you forget it.”  “I can see why Craig is spending the summer on the other side of the world.”  Faith stopped tilling the soil looking to her father hurt with his spiteful words.  She reached into her pocket picking up her cell phone.

 

****

Debbie- Sue had a tear in the liner of her pool.  Craig had arrived a week before spending most of his time going on day trips with his children.  He was staying at his house for the summer in the apartment above Debbie- Sue’s dwelling.  While there were questions regarding the absence of Faith, Debbie-Sue thought it was best not to ask questions.  Within a couple of days time Craig had ordered and picked up a new pool liner along with having a truck load of sand delivered then he began to work.  The problem that existed with the job that he was doing was that most of the property was built on ledge rock.  That meant that no matter where Craig dug there were boulders and flat slabs of ledge.  Debbie-Sue wanted a 1 foot dip in the middle of the pool buying a larger pool liner for it to fit.  

 

Below the pool was a short decline before reaching a flat area of grass.  Switching between a shovel, pick axe, and a sledge hammer Craig began digging the one foot dip in the middle of the pool.  He heaved the rocks over the wall of the pool area down the embankment into a pile, he worked hard in the humid heat.  It took a few good days of hard consistent work until finally Craig had dug an area in the middle of the pool putting down a layer of sand then smoothing it out with a pair of trowels.  After the area was smoothed he taped a foam layer of insulation around the outer area of the pool before putting a cotton cloth fitted for the bottom of the pool in the center tucking in the edges underneath the insulation then he started to fit the liner.  After the liner was put on he faceted the filter mounts, inlet, and lights then a truckload of water was delivered.  When it was turned on the satisfaction of hard work providing a good outcome was well needed.  It was a good release to help ease his burdensome mind.  In the past couple of years Craig had bulked up weighing close to 240lbs standing 5ft 10 inches tall he took off his shirt as he began digging into the embankment creating a flat surface in order to build a rock wall with a pile of ledge rock that he dug out of the pool.  While the scars on his forehead faded from being hit with a glass and rock from his wife along with being electrocuted while being spanked on top of the head with power lines; the scars on his abdomen from being stabbed twice by Freyja’s former head of security and personal consort had not.  He thought about that time when Freyja a billionaire business woman was caught by the charms of Djinn a Iranian former special ops soldier turned private security worked in secret to steal her daughter Arianne’s personal art collection worth over 100 million dollars.  There was a personal dislike between the two because they were similar yet very different.  Freyja was the mother of Craig’s daughter Jennifer he worked consistently while thinking of the bundled mess that made him successful his stress propelling him.  Shortly after Debbie-Sue ,Craig’s business partner and mother of his daughter Loretta walked outside handing him a glass of Ice T noticing the scar along with his added muscle. 

 

He stopped working taking the glass of tea noticing Debbie-Sue reach out rubbing the scars on his stomach, “Does it hurt?”  She asked, “No” “Does it bother you?”  “What?”  “Memories” Craig remained silent before speaking, “Deb I’m not haunted by any part of my life Jennifer included.  I regret that Jennifer died in the accident but I am not haunted by any part of myself.”  He took a sip from his Ice T, “Scars build character.  I’m reminded where I was when I received those scars, I was brave and I survived!”  Debbie-Sue noticed that he seemed scarred even with his big words.  She was worried but she couldn’t do anything about it, she left him to work by himself.

 

****

 

Faith held her phone in her hand she wanted to call her husband but she hesitated because of their last argument.  She told him that she hated him, she swore at him, she threw things at him, punched and kicked him.  Out of rage and anger she did these things because they couldn’t reach a middle ground on problems that seemed trivial in retrospect.  Faith needed a break from work deciding to buy lunch for both her and her father.  In a short while Faith arrived at the old diner that she worked at when she met Craig.  She walked into the diner noticing a few familiar faces and one that she never wanted to see again, her ex boyfriend Dom.  She placed her order with the waitress then she took a seat at a booth.  Dom walked up to her taking a seat opposite to her, “ How are you” “Good” she replied, “ How’s the married life?”  She hesitated, “It’s ok you?”  “Busy, I have a son” “Congratulations” she said unenthusiastically, he reached across grabbing her hand holding it.  Faith didn’t move, “You were the one for me” She retracted her hand, “Why would you say that?”  “Because I was surprised to see you and I might never see you again.”  She was quiet.  “Buying lunch for the both of you?”  “No, lunch is for me and my dad.  My husband is spending the summer on the east coast with his kids.”  Dom appeared excited, “I’d never leave you alone like that.”  That was something that she remembered.  Her order was ready, “Hey what do you say to meeting me for lunch tomorrow?”  She was silent he was quick, “  Look I’m just asking for lunch it’ll be good for two old friends to catch up on old times.”  She paid for her order “When?”  “What about here tomorrow at 12:30?”  She nodded her head leaving the diner for her father’s house.

 

****

 

Craig worked diligently stone by stone off setting the layers of rock smacking mosquitoes as they flew on him.  He was blank that’s how he was when he was empty but at least he was working that’s what he told himself.  As he worked he felt like a robot but he didn’t mind because the hard work showed him a physical limitation.  He completed half of the wall deciding to call it a day.  Debbie- Sue had taken the children to her parents house.  Laughing to himself he could imagine Chief Donohue’s response to all of those kids at his house.

 

****

 

Wednesday arrived with Charles Bassett showing up early at Arianne’s art gallery holding a box with lunch in it.  He wore a grey business suit without a tie.  Saidah sat at her desk noticing Charles she continued to write in her scheduling book.  “Uh em” Charles said Saidah pointed with her pen toward a chair, “Sit when Ari is ready she will send for you” He looked to Saidah with contempt biting his lip.  Nearly 20 minutes later Arianne buzzed Saidah, “She will now see you”  Charles walked into Arianne’s office where she was standing behind her desk.  Arianne wore a black wavy dress that had white flowers embroidered on each hip.  Charles leaned in to kiss Arianne she backed away motioning to the seat in front of her desk, “ You remember how things ended.  You wanted to meet not I.”  He played it smoothly smiling waving his hands in a heart shape formation pointing to her.  She looked to him seriously, “  Aw c’mon Arianne you know that there were things between us but I’m not that kind of man that can live away from his home.”  She was quiet, “Anyway I brought you lunch.”  He took out a small soup and a chicken caesar salad grinding his left hand twirling his fingers before smiling, “ Now Arianne you can eat while I’m talking business” She squinted, “What are you involved with?”  “Well it took a little bit of litigation but I won my right to a third of a local chicken farm and I’m looking to open up a franchise of ‘Charlie’s Chicken Restaurants’ part of the agreement is that I will give up my 1/3 ownership of the farm for a 10 year product purchase agreement.  I’m planning on going big to start with 100 locations regionally.”  “That’s very ambitious of you.  Why are you in my office talking about your new business venture?”  He rubbed his goatee, “ Because I don’t think that our meeting was by chance.”  Arianne placed both hands on her desk, “I sell art and I network I am not in the food industry.”  “Do you have money in the bank?”  “Is it your business?”  Charles waved his index finger, “What’s the typical interest on your savings 5-6 percent?  What if I were to guarantee full repayment with a 25 percent interest within 5 years?”  “I don’t need the money” “But I do and after all that we have been through you own me that much” Arianne looked to Charles showing him that she was conducting business not engaging on an old romantic relationship.  “I’m not interested you are in your own dilemma.  If that is all please see yourself to the door.”

 

****

 

Faith held her cell phone looking meanly at her father while he filled the wheel barrel with soil.  Jan looked to Faith as he passed by her emptying the wheel barrel.  As he passed by her he stopped reached over then patted her on the back.  “Why’d you do that for?”  He smiled, “ I was hoping that your face would stay that way.”  She put her cell phone in her pocket walking over to the trays with small plants.  She started with peppers and tomatoes looking at the garden planning on where she wanted to plant the corn.  “No don’t plant them there” Faith looked up, “Let me do what I’m doing.  The peppers never grow big where you plant them it’s because the corn over shadows them and then when it rains heavy they go flat they cover the tomatoes and don’t grow either.  Have some Faith,”  After those words she smiled patted her father on the back giving him a kiss on the cheek.  She walked inside coming back out a moment later holding 2 cans of Diet Coke handing one to him.  He wiped his brow taking off a glove smiling, “Who do you think you are?”  “It’s not a thought!” she put a hand on her hip as she drank her soda, Jan flipped a nearby 5 gallon bucket then he sat down.

 

****

 

Craig drove by The Redneck Reservoir seeing a few familiar vehicles but he wasn’t in the mood for talking even if it was with friends that offer the kind of welcome home that he needed.  He stopped by the town reservoir remembering that swans and ducks would hover around the shore line.  Just as he remembered birds were swimming in the water along with a couple of fisherman.  He walked around tossing bread into the water.  The ducks  swarmed around the floating pieces of bread fighting amongst themselves diving into the water popping back up.  What seemed peculiar to him was a couple of fishermen on a boulder 1/4 of the way into the reservoir with a canoe taunting a woman with 2 young children not that far from Craig.  He tossed the rest of the bread into the water.  The woman walked up to Craig she said, “Spit” Then she walked away with her kids to her car. Craig waved to the fishermen on the rock before he drove away.

 

He drove to Dionysus Refined his candle and wine retail location quickly observing both retail and manufacturing portions.  Before leaving he took a case of assorted candles along with a dozen of assorted wines.  Whether right or not a good binge was what he had planned.  On the road he took a turn leading to the highway.  He drove unconsciously not thinking much as he drove he liked it that way.  Planning on spending the summer on the east coast in a trial separation from his wife Faith, he was without purpose.  Feeling around his throat he felt like a noose was tightening he pulled out a pack of Marlboro Menthol cigarettes lighting one.  He picked up smoking within the past year, of course he knew that it was a bad habit especially considering that he worked hard to live healthily building good things for himself and his family.  Driving on the road smoking a cigarette he felt a little bit of release from the pressure that bound him.  He found himself in the city that he was raised in.  First he figured to drive by Arianne’s art gallery.  He knew that she was in Iceland but it was still open, a change in environment might make a difference he told himself.  The gallery lights were on he drove by parking in the nearby parking lot.  Craig wore green Dickie pants and a blue denim button up shirt, his sleeves were rolled up he wore brown leather Crevo boots hardly artsy clothes but did it matter?  He walked up to the thick glass doors seeing that there were several prospective customers inside with employees working.  As Craig entered the studio a swoosh of air conditioned breeze met him, he took in a deep breath.  Looking at the walls it seemed like a flood of memory rushing to him.  He looked up to the second balcony of the studio remembering “The Bull” hanging from the rafters.  A contribution made by Reg Folues that sold for 1.2 million dollars he nodded his head remembering how impressive it is to make something out of nothing for it to sell for an extraordinary amount of money.  Even more important was the essence of Reg’s self that went into that piece of art using Bull horns collected from his time working at a slaughter house.  Walking along the pieces of art he stopped at a painting loosing himself while observing it he was poked sharply on his shoulder.  Craig turned quickly on instinct it was Saidah.  They had a odd competitiveness between them, “The bee’s do like to swarm around the flowers while working to make honey in the hive.”  Saidah said confidently.  Craig gritted his hands still dry and tense from building the wall, “When the stars fell from the sky did you scoop them up and pour them back into the ocean?”  Saidah hesitated seeming bewildered, “A riddle?”  “My reality”  She shook her head, “ I am the one that carries buckets full of sand, may I fill your glass?”  He gritted his hands rubbing them on this legs, “My glass has been shattered.”  Saidah licked the outside of her teeth before squatting down touching the ground rubbing her hands together, “ I know someone who’s heat can blow you a new glass, I will offer the sand for a fee?”  She was playing a game and during the game she showed personal charm even if he wanted to win.  He stood opposite her holding out both hands, “While you may charge a fee, I charge because I am threatened.”  She smiled, “Bulls are useful they work hard and they also produce many things that allow people like me to charge a fee.”  “Do they sell candles and wine?” “Do candles and wine feed and cloth you?”  “That is my business” Craig replied.  Saidah flicked her nose up, “It appears that you are more committed than I” “Will you leave from this endeavor empty handed?”  “You wish” Saidah finalized then she turned around, “Follow me.”  He let Saidah lead the way toward her desk.  It didn’t occur to him to ask questions.  She sat behind her desk looking to him zipping her lip sitting down quickly writing in her scheduling book.  Craig didn’t speak he crossed his arms looking menacing to her.  She pointed with her pen, “Sit like a good little boy.  When you are needed you will be called.”  The door leading to Arianne’s office opened.  Charles Bassett stood at the entrance, Craig looked to Saidah, “Your having me meet with Charles Bassett?”  Saidah smiled “That’s not funny”.  Charles was surprised to see Craig, “What the fuck is he doing here?”  Behind Charles Bassett was Arianne Sullivan she put her hands in her pocket she smiled.  She walked to the side of Charles putting a finger under her nose, “Now now Charles I agreed to a meeting with you.  Please respect my business decision.”  He looked to Craig pointing a finger to him and then to Arianne, “You know what? The both of you can go Mother Fuck yourselves!”  He grabbed Saidah’s scheduling book tucking it under his arm then he stormed out of the art studio.  Saidah ran after him.

 

Chapter 2 Internal Struggle

 

Faith arrived at the diner at 12:30 the next afternoon hesitant to meet with Dom for lunch. After lunch she planned on going to her parents house to plant some more vegetables in the garden.  She could already imagine that her father was plantings vegetables where he wanted.  “He’s the one that stubborn not me.” She calmed herself she didn’t want to be angry for no reason.   Looking at herself in her rear view mirror she checked for cracks or crowfeet, there were none!  She put on lipstick taking a napkin pucking her lips on it opened up her window then dropped it.  Faith was nearly 30 years old reaching a point in life where she felt her own sense of identity.  She remembered reading that most great poets and writers write their greatest work after the age of 30.  Of course there were exceptions like Mary Shelley and Ernest Hemingway but those were exceptions.  When she started a relationship with her husband Craig she was 23 graduating college a year before that time helping him with business presentations in Hawaii, figuring that her locality was a selling strength.  It proved to be successful.  Craig was 30 years old when he started his business Dionysus Refined along with Debbie-Sue and Faith’s diceased cousin Jennifer.  It could be that she needed her own business venture maybe then they would stop competing and start getting along.  There were things that haunted Craig that he couldn’t conquer on his own.  He picked up smoking cigarettes, often going hiking spending days alone by himself in the woods or on his boat fishing, leaving Faith with the children.  Slowly but surely they were becoming separate people.  If there were a fire that could keep one warm while taking away emotion then it was lit for the both of them.  She waited in front of the diner for 15 minutes before Dom arrived.  They went into the diner together taking a seat opposite to each other.  Dom was now almost completely bald on the top of his head and he had gotten a little bit fatter.  “You know Faith you really look good.”  She waved a hand through her hair, “Thanks, I try to keep myself in good condition.”  She was quiet waiting for the waitress to take their order.  “You know old Billy died a couple of years ago.”  Billy was one of her favorite patrons that she waited on when she worked at the diner before she met Craig.  She nodded her head he was an old man, old people die that wasn’t hard to comprehend.  With a few minutes they ordered their lunch along with drinks.  Faith wasn’t full of conversation or questions.  Dom was bad to her and he was controlling she recalled clearly.  The feelings and the pain that it caused bled like an old wound.  She didn’t hate him however; she resented him.  Maybe he was a different person now but she was married and things had changed.  “I’ll be straight with you Dom, I agreed to having lunch with you but I don’t like you.  Your a very selfish person and you were abusive.  You always made me feel like I was to blame but I wasn’t.”  “Where’s your husband?”  He reached a hand across holding her hand, “I just want to.”  Faith retracted her hand putting money on the table, “Have a nice life.”  Dom stood up blocking Faith, “I didn’t mean to” “I know.  We are bad for each other, I get it.”  She walked out of the diner taking one last look inside remembering herself as she was a waitress many years before.  When she sat in her car Faith reached into the middle console taking one of Craig’s cigarette’s she lit it taking a drag then she put on a pair of sun glasses waiting a moment before she drove out of the parking lot of  the diner.

 

****

 

Saidah ran quickly looking down sprinting on the tip of her toes.  Charles Bassett ran as fast as he could with the scheduling book tucked under his arm.  He was in his late 50’s and physical exertion was not within his array of activities.  He zig zagged across the road nearing a sand lot that was preparing for construction.  “This damn woman doesn’t give up!”  He yelled out loud stopping before a big pile of sand, “Hand me my schedule book” “Or what?”  Saidah reached into her pocket pulling a can of mace spraying it quickly and consistently.  Charles dropped the schedule book covering his eyes.  Saidah pulled the shall that covered her head and neck picking up the scheduling notebook wrapping it not wanting contact with the spray.  Saidah was winded and she was irate, “Charles you disappoint me.  I held you with more esteem than you showed to me.”  She left him rubbing his eyes, as she started walking back to the gallery upset that she would have to make a copy of her schedule book.

 

****

 

For some it was a burden to be under the scrutiny of criticism with the expectation of leading the way.  When Arianne was in control she hadn’t fear of neither.  With the presence of someone that shared an integral part of her being, her spirits appeared lifted, “Did Charles surprise you?”  “Did I surprise you?”  Craig countered “The birds peck at the seeds” Arianne grinded her hands spreading her hands across mimicking the movements when she feeds the birds.  “The stones that built the wall clicked and clacked as they were placed together.”  “It appears that birds of a feather flock together” Arianne said “But they all got killed by the same stone” “Is that what happened to you?” Arianne reached into the front pocket of his button up shirt pulling out the pack of cigarettes that were there.  “By god’s grace I survived” “Apparently, but not without scars.  You may enter my office”.  He walked into Arianne’s office preferring to stand not to sit.  “What are you doing here?” Craig asked. “I was going to ask you the same question.”  “I’m spending the summer with Debbie-Sue, Faith is staying in Hawaii we are having a trial separation.”  “Good!”  If she was waiting for a reaction the stillness of his words and movement spoke volumes.  “Don’t apologize to yourself when things change.  The pressures of life while running a business can cause fraction.”  “What about yourself?”  She shook her head, “Your in my business, I’m not at yours.  You were always a source of strength don’t submit yourself to mechanizations that you are greater than.  I know that you believe in god.  With god there are demons, are you caught within that struggle?”  “I’m not caught it’s more like a piece of metal being dragged by a magnetic force.”  “Well you were always magnetic” “I don’t want to be magnetic, I want to be alone!  As a matter of fact I have a case of wine and a case of candles in my truck, I’m planning on going camping over night in the state park interested?”  Arianne waved a finger she showed discontent, “I don’t go camping ‘that’ is not what I do.”  “Why not?” “Seriously Craig you know me I am not an out doors woman.  I am like a cat that likes to stay snuggled on top of a pile of unfolded clothes.  

 

Arianne walked around her desk, she stood in front of Craig placing her hands on the white flowers located on both sides of her hips.  Craig was seated he smiled, “So your going camping with a case of candles and wine?”  “Unless you have better plans.”  She swayed back and forth, if she had longer hair wrapped into a ponytail it would appear to be dog tail like being wagged.  “It’s been three years since we’ve last seen each other”. “What’s there to talk about?”  Craig was stiff his face was red from working and his face and head felt like it was on fire.  Arianne shrugged her shoulders, “You look miserable” Craig remained seated he crossed his arms, “Good, my reflection is a constant” She made a sour face, “My constant needs change that is why I decided to spend the summer here, I’m also hosting an Art Exhibit”  There relationship involved very personal exchanges, they often delved into deep philosophical conversations, this was a natural for them.  Craig began, “When there is no change nor options that is when there is wear and tear and aging, breaking one’s will causing the need for making another way.”  Arianne stopped she looked to Craig she lifted his chin with her right index finger, “Who took your hope from you?”  He hadn’t given it recognition, he sat silently.  After not thinking sitting still he began, “If I were to tell you that bad people with bad intentions have left handedly worked to do bad things to me would it be crazy to believe?”  Arianne shook her head, “I am the one who was bound and gagged while my art was stolen, that for the record I consider right handed.  In answer to your supposed claim there is a flow of energy that is worked by people that have a certain kind of passive aggressive intention.  There are also those that are left handedly overtly aggressive however; there is often a timeline and their limit is often their supply source.  I don't question your credibility, To be certain after your attackers attack they ball and that means that they are in business of one form or another.  Because you are in business and also because your are predictable in that you have a familiar routine whatever is working against you has overextended itself or something worthy of a shit.”  “But the effect is real is it not?” Craig asked “We are talking about speculation” “What is speculation to some is real to others” “And you didn’t want me to take pills?” Arianne reached into her desk drawers pulling out meds placing them on her desk Craig shook his head no,“So I fight as anyone can fight” He said firmly “I know you - you are solid.  If anything has been worked it is unconditionally bad and it has an end.”  “Meaning?”  “It’s not what I mean it’s what I can do.”  “That is?”  “Change the narrative!  If someone has the power to shit on you causing you stress and unbearable conditions while making money off of you, reducing you down to a breakable toy then they have undervalued you.”  “That is a thing” “And you are not a thing” “Its good that you recognize that” “Good is a relative term” “What is good?”  Craig asked “I don’t know what is good, I do know what is better.”  “And that is?”  “My perspective over who ever it is that has been working against you because eventually the mind matters and to be certain the root of it is money driven by those without a real connection to you.  Do you want them to blow you out of their mind?”  “I prefer my own perspectie and How do you know this?”  Craig crossed his arms like a child having a fit.  “That is the world that I was raised with.” Arianne said softly recognizing the alignment of that kind of upbringing.  Most of the reality to her words he was well familiar with however; the confirmation that was met furthered the bond that he had with Arianne.

 

He felt inhuman like a zombie without a way, “The best sales managers carry a truth with them that can only be reduced down to the value of their products” It was statement because Craig felt like he had reduced to a pile of rubble similar to when explosives are used to collapse buildings.  Arianne reached forward she poked Craig in the chest he lifted his gaze to eye to eye level, “Why did you poke me?”  “Because I’m a person not a computer” “Why would you say that?”  “Are we meeting after years of not to reduce each other?” Craig lifted his hands, “I honestly don’t know, Charles Bassett was just here and if division hasn’t taken place then why did we both flee from where we were?  Fight or flight?”  Arianne figured to play along with Craig’s previous logic, “What is the value of our product?”  Arianne asked seriously reaching forward she plucked the pack of cigarette’s that were in Craig’s front pocket she tossed the cigarettes into the trash.  She began, “There are many things!  I sell things and they have value.  Remember that it was you that once told me that it is the things that money can’t buy are the things you value.”  “Then what we are right now is what is left after we have been broken down?”  “What consists of our construction?  Are we shells of our former selves empty in comparison to our past?”  “I feel like a building that has been burned”  Arianne firmed her posture, “I’d like to give you a second opinion however; I will not lower my standards to camping.”  Craig reached forward to touch Arianne’s hips she backed away from his touch, “Honestly the solitude and a campfire is a form of therapy.”  “You could visit a cemetery.”  “Why would I do that?”  “Just a thought” “Not a bad suggestion, ironic isn’t it?  People die they get a resting place and a plaque with their name on it and then they’re forgotten.”  “You see there is a place for a case of candles as a reminder that not all of the dead are forgotten.”  “Why would I want to go to a cemetery?  I’m perfectly comfortable going camping, I’m not questioning my own process with camping with lighting a fire being alone where I can take a step back and get perspective.”  Arianne changed angles, she stood in front of him then she moved to face him from a side angle.  Sitting down in Arianne’s office chair Craig began to shift to face her, “No stay there!”  “Why?”  “Are you willing to follow my lead?”  “I have before” “Good, then follow my lead and I’ll be honest I have never done it myself so going to a Cemetery is new for me too.”  “What are we doing?”  “We are going to go and buy gardening tools and we are going to spend the next couple of days cleaning as many grave stones as possible.”  To Craig’s logic it was different than camping that much was a fact, “ I don’t question your intent Arianne I’m questioning myself for not thinking of that myself because I think that is a brilliant plan.”  “Where are your children and our daughter?”  “She’s with Debbie-Sue they are staying at Chief Donohue’s house with Debbie-Sue tonight.”  “If we pick up the kids at night would Debbie-Sue agree to watch them in the day time?”  “Most likely”  “Good then follow my lead and we will buy the necessary tools required for the task that lies ahead and then we will make plans for the evening.”  “I will agree to stand beside you, not follow your lead if you agree to sit beside me while we go camping sometime in the future.”  Craig stood up he reached for Arianne’s hand,  “What do you do when you have the realization that you have met the end of something?”  “Visit a cemetery and remind myself that the inhabitants were the ones that met the real end of something.  Isn’t that something new?”  “Role reversal?” Craig asked Arianne as she hooked her arm around Craigs and they left the art studio together.

 

As they left the art studio their next destination was a hardware store, they bought two ice choppers, two dust brooms, back packs, and a wheel barrel.  They stopped at a flower shop, Craig bought a small rose plant,  then they drove to ‘Cimetiere Du Precieux Sang’ Precious Blood Cemetery.  The entrance was met by two cast iron gates that were wide open.  The tarred paths within the entrance split into three different directions.  Craig’s wife Jennifer was buried there.  Grief overtook him momentarily as he walked to her grave.  It was real because it was his wife, a woman that he loved.  He knelt digging into the dirt planting the small rose plant beside Jennifer’s grave.  Craig placed a candle in front of her headstone, he lit it.  After a few moments of silence he walked back toward the entrance.  Arianne gave the instructions, they focused on the grave stones that were buried in the ground covered by grass overgrowth.  They edged the perimeter of grass that covered the face of the stones.  They layed towels to kneel on.  The wheel barrel was placed in between them the excess patches of grass were layered in the wheel barrel to be used to fill dips, holes, and parts where there were no grass.  As they cleaned and dusted off the surface of grave stones the sun glistened showing a reflection of the recognition of the dead that resided there.  At each stone cleared Craig or Ari placed a candle above the grave stone, upon request from Arianne they did not light the candles.  “The Forgotten” Craig called over to Arianne before he uncovered a headstone that was almost fully covered with grass overgrowth.  They worked together cleaning around the headstone. Upon cleaning the surface Craig recognized the name, Vincent P. Brown.  It was the grave site for one of the most important architect’s in the town’s history.  “I know who this is, he died during hurricane Carol in 1938 along with his wife at their beach home roughly 30 miles from here.”  “How do you know that?”  Arianne asked “Most of the historic churches along with many public business structures and schools including a prominent prep school was designed and built by him.”  “Well he must have been a real son of a bitch to have been that forgotten.”  “It does go to show” “Show what?”  “The book Ecclesiastes.”  “Enlighten me with your Revelation” Arianne smiled she winked “King Solomon wrote it” “The man whoring big spender” “Perspective” “Fact” Arianne felt combative, “Fact, the perspective of a chosen by god ruler that saw the rise and fall of nations along with coming to a old man’s conclusion of being forgotten.  The question of having meaning is the point!”  “Do the dead mind being forgotten?”  “Is a cemetery a final resting place?” “Are we here to honor the dead or to remind ourselves that we are still alive?”  “Both!”  “That’s not shit” Craig lifted a patch of grass placing it over an area where the landscape was barren, “No it’s not.”

 

They continued working side by side cleaning grave stones with a wheel barrel in between them placing the excess sod into the wheel barrel.  A classic red Ford pick up truck pulled into the cemetery slowly, it stopped right behind where Craig and Arianne were working they had backpacks open directly behind the both of them.  As the truck engine stopped both Craig and Arianne minded their business, an elderly couple got out of the truck slowly.  The old man was tall with thick arms he wore a green short sleeve button up shirt and he held a wooden cane in one of his hands.  He was mostly bald and gray with a thick mustache his face was firm.  Craig recognized him from when he was a police officer.  With a slight limp the old man made his way to his wife’s side.  Rebecca Cauldron was the retired heiress to Medaglione firearms, her 2 oldest children now ran the family firearms business.  Rebecca was in her early seventies and Percival Cauldron just turned 83, he still worked part time on the 138 acre plot of land that served as a dump along with several satellite locations that serviced many communities within the surrounding area, ‘Le Persil Disposal’.  Rebecca had two children from a previous marriage and two children with Percival.  Their children ran the operations of Le Persil Disposal.  Percival placed two fingers in front of a balled fist, “Who are these squirrels in my garden looking for nuts?”  He pushed up his sun glasses before placing his hands on his hips.  Craig stopped working noticing that he was being watched, he stood up before dusting himself off, Arianne stood up as well.  Rebecca Cauldron had long flowing black hair with silver streaks mixed in, for her age she appeared youthful with a radiant glow having aged well.  “Hello” Arianne was the first to offer a greeting.  “Mr. Cauldron” Craig acknowledged Percival’s prescence.  “The name is Percival!  Thank you for the recognition” “I’m Craig Chaise” Rebecca recognized him, “We both remember Jennifer” Craig felt a lump in his throat, his face firmed, his eyes focused.  Arianne interrupted, “I’m Arianne Sullivan I’m Craig’s business partner.  Percival took off his sunglasses, “Believe it or not we know quite a lot about you.”  Craig looked to Arianne, “Percival Cauldron owns Le Persil, the town dump and there’s a lot of folk lore along with the history of the business.”  “All of it is true” Percival responded looking eye to eye with Arianne.  “If memory serves correct Rebecca is the heiress to Medaglione firearms they supplied almost all of the police departments in the state including mine with firearms and ammunition.  When I was a police officer that is.”  Arianne extended a hand first to Percival she waved a hand through her hair and she smiled confidently.  Percival was hesitant at first he looked serious however; Arianne was slender and sharply attractive and her confidence gave her an attractive presence that brought a smile to his face.  He shook Arianne’s hand softly, “It’s not everyday I meet a socialite of your social status especially while volunteering at a cemetery.”  “Unless its work release from prison” Rebecca countered, she was quick in response and she seemed enamored with Percival’s flirtation.  “No we are not out on work release. I’m here for the summer from Hawaii.  I own a Dionysus Refined location in Hawaii as well as in town.”  Craig answered.  Percival tapped the keys in his pocket, “Rebecca shops there often.”  Arianne walked to Craig’s truck she went into her purse, she walked back with a business card.  “I’m hosting an art exhibit at my studio.  I reside in Reykjavik, Iceland on the back of the card I wrote the time and location, please attend as my personal guests.  Some of the art is rather expensive and I am not trying to sell you anything rather I would like to offer you entrance to an event that may serve as a break from the ordinary.”  “Like cleaning grave stones in a cemetery?” Percival asked sarcastically.  Rebecca knew Percival she reached forward taking the business card.  “There’s a trail of dust and nails that follow me” Rebecca recognized the verse from one of Percival’s songs. As Percival told Craig rather seriously.  Craig stood still he rubbed his hands together he knew of Percival and he had a rather rough relationship with the law though Craig was no longer a police officer.  He looked Percival eye to eye though Percival was much taller, “I was working on the rail line pounding nail by nail, moving the rails with the rest of the gang, it was hell. She was a beautiful sin, I had to find another way.” Craig picked up a ‘Rings of Roses’ candle he handed it to Percival, he passed it to Rebecca.  “A beautiful woman can be a man’s damnation!”  Percival acknowledged those words as fact. “Do you know Reg Folues?”  Craig asked.  “His Father was one of my employees” Arianne picked up an opportunity to break up the tension in such a solemn place, “He sold a couple of pieces of art that made him close to 1 million dollars at my art exhibits”  Percival nodded in recognition remembering that Reg Folues had come into a large sum of money with dealing art.  “We’re old and were not really art socialite kind of people.” Percival remarked “We would be honored to attend” Rebecca countered after Percival.  “You see what marriage does?”  Percival asked Craig sharply motioning to Arianne after noticing that he was wearing a wedding ring and Arianne was not. “If she’s a beautiful sin then perhaps you found your own way” Percival offered.  “We’re here to pay our respects to Percivals father and my ex husband.  As a matter of fact this is where we originally met.”  “While your doing thankless work, we appreciate your honoring of those who are no longer with us.” Percival said kindly reaching forward grabbing Arianne’s hand softly, “We’ll talk again at the art exhibit” Rebecca nudged Percival he smiled before grabbing his cane giving Craig a firm look Rebecca held the candle in front of her, then they walked to the gravesite of their dead relatives.  

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine received a text on her cell phone it was an invitation to an upcoming art exhibit at Arianne Sullivan’s art gallery.  She swayed her long black hair, How did Arianne’s assistant get her cell phone number?  Why would she be invited to her exhibit?  These were questions given their history.  In one hand Michelle Moonshine held a cell phone and in the other hand was a butcher’s breaking knife.  There were few people that caused her defenses to rise and competitive spirit to heighten, Arianne Sullivan was one of those people.  Nearly twenty years had passed since they had spoken.  They were college roommates at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design.  They had a parting of ways after bitter fighting over a client list of Art Contacts.  Michelle stole Arianne’s client list having lunches and dinner’s with them spreading gossip while sharing any ‘dirt’ that she had on Arianne, it was an attempt to blemish her name while convincing them to not conduct business with Arianne.  They fought back and forth for several years with it taking Arianne a long time to rebuild her contacts, she hated Michelle she called her covetous vowing revenge.  Those memories reminded her of what competition was like and it also reminded her of what levels she was willing to stoop to get her way.  Accompanying her heightened sense of competition her body temperature rose.  She was surprised to receive an invitation to Arianne’s art exhibit in America.  Michelle placed down her cell phone walking into the room adjacent to her where a hindquarter of beef hung from a hook attached to the ceiling.  She turned on the radio took a sip from a glass of merlot that she had filled placing it on the meat bench before picking up a hook, then she began to work starting with the elephant ear.

 

A generation ago her father Salvatore Moonshine an executive for a food conglomerate was a business partner with Arianne’s Father.  Salvatore had a differing opinion on a risky investment. Arianne’s parents invested all of their wealth in Coca-Cola stock options during the 1980’s when Coca-Cola changed it’s recipe.  It made no sense to Salvatore who pleaded with them to not be foolish.  When the stock spiked the Sullivan’s multiplied their investment very quickly.  With the changing of economics and resentments over the investment Arianne’s father went into a different business direction.  Always being a daddy’s girl and a tom boy growing up she was very competitive and hands on.  Where Salvatore Moonshine was a skilled butcher Michelle picked up the skill as well.  A skilled woman meat cutter was a rarity even rarer for a woman of the arts.  She started to work loosing herself in thought with the blur of blade and flesh.  While Michelle was aware of some of Arianne’s art accomplishments she wasn’t impressed save for one item that she was personally interested in “The Bull.”  That particular piece of work hung from the middle of an art gallery in Berlin, Germany.  Michelle resided in Elqui Valley, Chile slightly north of the capital city Santiago..

 

She wore a white smock with a white cloth on the meat bench for clean up.  First Michelle started with making small slice marks notating the separation of meat cuts.  She separated the top and bottom rounds along with the eye round.  She kept the tenderloin on the short loin making quick work using a handsaw to cut bone when needed.  There were buckets that she filled with scraps cutting up the knuckle to lean out the fat later to be ground for Hamburg.  She was in the prep room for the kitchen help tying the top loin, bottom round, and eye round for roasts slicing the top round for sandwich steaks, she left the flank to be prepared by the cooks.  Last she heaved the short loin on the bandsaw next to the meat bench, cutting it up for steaks along with cutting up the shank to be used for Ossobuco. The bones she left on the bench to be given as treats for the attack dogs that were security on the property.  Holding her knives and sharpener she washed them in the sink placing them in a cloth sheath.  She took off her gloves.  The rest of the clean up she left for the kitchen help to attend to.  Michelle Moonshine refilled her glass with Merlot taking a sip breathing in deeply feeling relieved.  She felt primal when working with flesh, it brought out a sense of herself that she knew was real.  Walking around the basement kitchen prep room she inspected it for cleanliness.  Besides the mess that she made it appeared to be immaculate.  That satisfied her, she took off her smock tossing it into a basket as she walked outside holding a glass of wine.  It was mid afternoon and the sun shone brightly.  Before her was her backyard that overlooked her plantation.  She ran her hands through her long black hair, it was  one her traits that she was known for, that and her eyes were almost as dark.  To many she was menacing because she was a firm believer in serious strength.  Her hired help called her “The Hawk” because she would often observe from far appearing out of nowhere giving sharp orders then leaving quickly without notice.  Being piercingly brilliant leading without fear and without hesitation she built a reputation that caused both fear and respect.  Overlooking her plantation she felt a familiar presence, “There is a matter” Tomas informed Michelle rubbing his thin mustache licking his lips eying her glass of wine.  “Is it resolved?”  She asked her husband “He’s being held in the barn” “Is she dead?” “No she is in critical condition.”  Tomas hesitated, “How did you find out?”  “Pablo told me.  Let’s go and tend to the matter.”  Michelle walked back into the prep room putting on gloves along with picking up her knives, they walked to the barn.

 

****

 

Charles Bassett arrived at the emergency room of a nearby hospital barely able to see.  Luck was on his side because he was tended to immediately.  “What happened to you” The emergency room physician asked.  “I got sprayed with mace” “I can see that” Charles tilted his head back as the doctor began to flush out his eyes.  “That’s what happened” Within minutes of the emergency room physician flushing out Charles eyes.  He looked around the operating room.  When he was sprayed his lungs burned as he inhaled making breathing heavy.  The heaviness of his breathing started to ease, along with the burning from being sprayed.  Upon further inspection the physician was a blonde woman appearing to be in her forties, she was quite attractive. “I’m starting to feel better doctor, thanks for the help.”  “I hope that you didn’t do something to cause your mishap.”  He sat upright patting his eyes with gauze, “Are you my judge?”  “No, I am your doctor.”  “What about dinner tomorrow night?”  Charles smiled, so did Dr. Katherine, “I’ll respectfully decline.  You should be alright within a 1/2 of an hour.  Do you have driving arrangements?”  “I’ll make them thanks.”  Dr. Katherine left Charles Bassett with an ice pack.

 

****

 

Saidah copied the contents of her scheduling book when a small entourage of security entered the art gallery.  Taking note she observed before walking over from her desk.  Mixed in amongst the security was Freyja, Arianne’s mother a billionaire business woman that owned an empire.  She looked radiant with blindingly natural blonde locks flowing at her sides.  “Madame Freyja I’m surprised to see you here.”  Freyja waved a hand, Saidah annoyed her, “I stooped to a level of curiosity to see what my daughter is up to.  Where is she?”  “Timing” Saidah blurted “What?”  Freyja asked “Arianne is gone on a sabbatical for the evening.”  “Where and with whom? Charles?”  “She is camping with an associate.”  Freyja seemed to slow down thought along with the contents of air in the room making the air too thick to breathe Saida choked, “I don’t know” Freyja believed that Saida was speaking the truth.  “Do not mention my arrival”. Saidah nodded her head looking down.  A moment later Freyja and her security team were gone.

 

****

 

Tomas jogged ahead of Michelle he yelled to Pablo, Michelle’s body guard, “Trae el pedazo de mierda”.  The barn doors opened and two workers dragged out the person in question.  While Michelle spoke Spanish she made it a requirement for all of the hired help to learn English.  The day previous one of Michelle’s farm hands beat up his wife broke her arm and a few ribs along with getting caught stealing nearly four million Chilean pesos roughly five thousand American dollars equivalent.  A year previous he had beaten up his wife getting away with a warning.  This time was different.  He was held with his arms behind his back while his hair was pulled to keep his head up.  “Bring him to his knees” Michelle ordered. Pablo placed the bottom of his foot toward the back of the man’s legs kicking down the prisoner fell to the ground.  Michelle kept her knives sheathed tucked under the crease of her arm.  As the prisoner made eye contact with Michelle he spat in her face. Surprisingly she remained composed, “Rompiste el brazo de tu esposa y varias costillas.” She informed the prisoner she walked back and forth in front of him, “Ella es una puta mentirosa” he yelled struggling to get out of the grip of his captors.  Michelle stopped looking down to him lifting up his chin looking eye to eye with him, “Me robaste dinero”. The prisoner spat in her face, “Tu puta mentirosa también!”  Tomas tried to push Michelle to the side winding back to strike the prisoner, “No! Tomas I will handle it.”  Tomas handed Michelle a handkerchief she wiped her face.  Tomas gave an order for a maid to being out a bucket with warm water, soap and a cloth.  A helicopter flew overhead as a maidservant ran out to with the water bucket Michelle washed her face, “Your brother has arrived” “Nidhogg?”  “Yes” Her demeanor changed, she hadn’t spoken with her half brother Nidhogg in nearly 15 years.  Memory rekindled, after he married Arrianne Sullivan’s sister Sif, Nidhogg resided in Iceland.  They relationship was always civil and there was not a reason why they had not contacted each other.  Why would he visit her now and how did he know where she lived?  She composed herself quickly, “Bring him out to me after he lands”  Michelle had the maidservant retrieve her glass of wine.  The prisoner was held still while she awaited her brother.  Nearly 10 minutes later a tall blonde man with nose length dirty blonde hair walked toward the barn, Michelle held her glass of wine and sheathed knives awaiting him.  There was a woman walking to the side of him she looked to be walking aggressively, Michelle didn’t like female competition.  She greeted her brother, “It has been far - far too long” She hugged her brother kissing him on his cheek.  Nidhogg flicked his head running his fingers through his hair acknowledging Michelle Moonshine’s husband Tomas who in kind ran his fingers along his thin mustache licking his lips he extended his hand, “I am Tomas” Nidhogg didn’t reach, “I do not know you to show you the respect of a handshake” Tomas’s face reddened with embarrassment he looked to the hired help then to his wife.  She placed a hand on Tomas’s shoulder, “Don’t be offended, Nidhogg is nuanced.”  Nidhogg noticed that there was a prisoner, “What has happened?”  “He beat up his wife and he stole five thousand dollars from me.”  Nidhogg’s posture brightened, “What is his punishment?”  Michelle opened up her knife sheath.  “May I offer my services?”  “What do you suggest?”  She asked “Can I keep it?”  Tomas looked peculiarly to Pablo who nodded in return.  “What will you do?”  She asked “I will send him to a place of my choosing where he will become an indentured servant.”  “Peculiar timing, let me think.” Nidhogg motioned to the woman standing on the side of him, “My wife Vega would like to introduce herself to you” “What about Sif?”  “No longer” “Consider him” pointing to the prisoner “A wedding present.  We will have dinner tonight.” After those words she walked aggressively away with her husband Tomas.  Vega gave no response watching the movements of the couple with holding her judgment.

 

****

 

Faith unconsciously drove around knowing that she would end up at her father’s house.  In many ways she lost within herself like she was numb.  No she admitted to herself she wasn’t numb to feeling she was numb to change.  She always told Craig that she didn’t like change, and she meant it.  When she found something that she liked or a person that she loved she held on to it, security was important to her.  It had been nearly two weeks since her and Craig had started a trial separation for the summer.  While she loved Craig she was caught up in a blur where she wasn’t really thinking.  “He’s probably fucking Debbie-Sue” Faith yelled out loud, while it bothered her she wasn’t mad.  In fact during one of their arguments she told him directly, to “fuck other women” because she was off limits.  She moved all of her things into a different bedroom after that argument.  Not too far from their home blasting had begun where there was land clearing that lasted several months.  It was during this time that their relationship started to sour.  Craig complained that he felt full with a distended belly and at times it felt like dry blood bombs were going off inside of him.  He ate very little for weeks at a time and he felt the taste of metal in his mouth while at other times he felt like he had an electric wire in his mouth.  His doctor gave him a clean bill of health she questioned whether he was starting to lose it.  They argued all of the time with very little make up.  A month after the blasting stopped so did all of Craigs medical systems.  Faith stopped at a car wash driving through the machine.  It had been two weeks since Craig left with the kids, she was all alone.  While the kids weren’t hers she had grown attached to them though they were her second cousins because Craig’s deceased first wife Jennifer was her cousin.  Being alone she kind of liked the freedom of not having anyone to amuse or to avoid.  She wondered if Craig was ever going to call her.  Within time she arrived at her fathers house ready to plant more of the garden.

 

Chapter 3 Perseverance

 

Tomas stayed around the barn with Nidhogg’s wife Vega while Michelle and Nidhogg went inside of the mansion.  Pablo “The hand” had the prisoner taken into one of the barn stalls where the bulls were housed.  The order was given that the prisoner would stay there until Nidhogg and Vega would return to their home in Finland.  As chickens roamed around Vega swooped quickly catching a rooster by surprise it screamed in protest as Vega grabbed its feet holding it upside down. Momentarily the rooster quieted spreading its wings out wide.  She walked over to a nearby tree wrapping its feet in a leaf filled branch leaving it there.  On Michelle’s 300 acre property she had a farm along with 2 separate barns for bulls and milking cows.  It was a dusty and dry area, Tomas watched from a distance.  Vega was born and raised in Tehran, Iran she was a dark woman possessed at times.  Being a muscular compact woman while she appeared lithe she was strong and athletic.  She carried a set of beliefs and practices that often required seclusion and time alone for meditation as she stood she did not care if there were observers.  Pablo watched Vega as Tomas began to pace around the barn.  Vega noticed a gas container next to where Pablo was standing.  He was smoking a cigar as she approached him flicking her thumb, “Lighter.”  Pablo reached into his pocket taking out a zippo lighter handing it to Vega, “Gracias” she replied.  For a short while Vega walked into a wooded area she made trips bringing tangled branches and dry weeds forming 2 circles along the graveled area.  Before the bull barn there was an area of sand and gravel where she formed 2 circles of brush, she took off the top of the gas container forming a clockwise circle with gasoline after she poured the gasoline circle she took a few steps outward before pouring another circle around the gasoline circle.  When she completed the circles she walked the container back to the side of Pablo. Sweat trickled from his forehead as he flicked his cigar, he rubbed his goatee put the cigar back in his mouth then he leaned up against the entrance to the bull barn.  Vega pulled the shall that covered her long black hair snapping off of branch from the tree that the rooster dangled from.  She unwrapped the end of the branch before she grabbed the rooster by its feet untangling it from the leaf filled branch.  Carrying the rooster she entered the gas ringed circles stood with the rooster reaching into one of her boots pulling out a small knife, she slit the roosters throat circling counter clockwise placing the rooster in the center of the circle then she ignited the torch.  First she walked to the outer ring touching down quickly backtracking igniting the inner ring trapping herself in the middle with the  rooster.  Holding the burning torch she placed the handle in the innards of the rooster leaving it lit dropping down to her knees spreading her hands throughout the graveled sand, she began to mutter incantations.   A maid saw the flames from the kitchen entry of the mansion, noticing Pablo standing at the entrance of the bull barn, she walked around holding the rosary beaded cross that she hung around her neck. When she reached Pablo she shook with fear as Vega slit the throat of the rooster spilling its blood.  “Bruja” She said clutching Pablo’s arm, Pablo flicked his cigar, “es sólo un pollo”.  The maid cried passionately holding out her cross praying to the saints along with whispering Hail Mary and Our Father.

 

****

 

Reg Folues and Shooter Nelson tended to the chickens at Poultry Provisions.  Shooter Nelsons long blonde free flowing hair fell where he tucked it behind his ears as he picked up a chicken he waved his hand through his hair retucking it behind his ear.  As he was bent over he would give a slight tug followed by a smile almost as if he had bitten a fishing lure.  It really was quite odd but for Reg fun to watch.  Shooter Nelson rubbed his arm he just got a new tattoo of a chicken foot on his right forearm.  Looking at the tattoo on his forearms he smiled shaking his head “yeah” he said out loud to himself.  Reg wasn’t far off “what the fuck” he got along with Shooter alright but sometimes he’d just do things that was too much for him to handle, he pulled out a cigarette from his pack of smokes lighting one up.  The chicken farm had grown with a recent construction bringing the total to 12 barns.  In just a few years Bony Hoggins, Shooter Nelson, and after litigation Charles Bassett owned Poultry Provisions.  They sold eggs, and chicken parts to local distributors and stores along with selling feathers to local tailors.  They ground the dried heads and feet bagging them along with composted chicken manure selling it as fertilizer in their store that was on the property.  Of course they had hired workers along the way to process the chicken and ship the chicken and then they hired store workers.  They made chicken pot pie’s on the property along with chicken salad and chicken soup. Poultry Provisions had a small but consistent retail customer base and their distribution was steadily on the rise.  While Bony Hoggins handled some of the accounts he had a limitation because he had a tendency to be too direct and often brash with the customers.  It took a little while for Reg and Boney along with Shooter to become friends after their previous feud but they became friends and with some talking Reg agreed to work for Poultry Provisions handling customer accounts.  Self admittedly Reg wasn’t a natural salesman often he’d call up Craig listening to his advice and instructions on how to handle customers.  Craig went so far as to look up all of the potential customers creating profiles for each potential account.  He made preliminary phone calls getting the contact information setting up scheduled meetings and in a couple of cases won a few accounts with a competitive price point and locality.  After making the contacts setting up meetings he wrote out a role play with a list of questions and answers for Reg to study.  Being that Dionysus Refined was self sustaining he was happy to oblige to help his friends new business endeavor.  

 

With studying, attending meetings, through trial and error Reg slowly but steadily grew Poultry Provisions customer base.  Boney and Shooter had arguments with Charles Bassett whom was supposed to be their new business consultant however; Charles was a non existent entity within the company.  After a big argument between the three with threatened legal litigation Charles explained his plan that he had in the works.  Eventually it came upon agreement that for a 10 year nearly free product purchase agreement Charles would give up his 1/3 ownership of Poultry Provisions.  What Charles had planned was to open 100 franchised Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants.  Of course with the needed parting of ways with Charles Bassett would leave Poultry Provisions with a business grip because for all their functional capability of running a chicken farm neither Shooter nor Bony were salesmen.  It would appear that Reg Folues saw an opportunity that fell right into his lap.  Currently the agreement was that he would buy the 1/3 ownership of Poultry Provisions after the transition was complete.  The deal was contingent upon Charles Bassett getting the funding that he needed.  The product contract was eagerly sought after by both Bony and Shooter.  

 

It was a hot summer day with two fans in the same barn were down they had to call a service tech to fix them.  Both Reg and Shooter walked around as the movement of the chickens slowed.  A built in feature to the barns was a folding wall with a thick screen covering the opening.  As a worker turned on the opening mechanism sunlight with a soft breeze entered the coop.  Shooter reached down biting his tongue softly tucking his hair as he reached down to pick up a dying chicken.

 

****

 

The sun was hot but bearable after they worked for several hours.  Baked in was the feel, though they did not feel sun burned they felt well weathered.  The tools and empty boxes from the candles were put into the wheel barrel.  Craig emptied the contents into the back of his truck along with the wheel barrel.  Arianne looked over to Craig seemingly satisfied with their volunteer work, “What did you think of the old man and his wife?” Craig slowed down the speed of the vehicle.  “I think that he’s a curmudgeonly son of a bitch!”  “You two butted heads.” Arianne waved her hands through her hair, “He might be an old man but he certainly still has plenty of fight within him.  You two would end up close friends because your both men.  Men that aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty” “What about Rebecca?”  Arianne flicked her nose.  Craig smiled, “You don’t like women” “I’m like you, I compete!”  

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine was an instinctive woman, she believed in her intuition.  Intuition was a form of strength that often led to her decision making.  Feeling was very important to her and when a maid ran into her study room where she was seeming hysterical it made her feel uneasy, “Bruja- Bruja” The maid cried holding her rosary, “ven a ver!”  The maid led the way out of the study room into a parlor area where a double door balcony overlooked the front entrance of the property off to the side was the bulls barn area, “Mira” Rings of flames burned while Vega spread out her arms as she chanted in the middle of the flames.  The sight of Vega practicing witch craft on her property with the paid staff outside watching made Michelle angry.

 

****

 

Jans property in Wai Pai Hu, Hawaii rested on a 3 acre plot of land all of it grass filled with sporadic trees.  “You wonder what gets me, this right here is why!” Jan picked up a tray of pumpkin plants almost throwing them where he wanted them planted, “I want them planted where I want them planted.”  “Where you want what?”  “Selective hearing, your thick headed just like your mother”  Faith shook her head grabbing the pumpkin plants walking away from Jan to an open area placing them down.  She yelled to him, “Why not here? Pumpkins grow better with more room.”  “It’s not tilled” “Your not tilled” “What?”  Jan didn’t like being talked back to he adjusted his hat he grabbed a hoe digging divots where he intended to plant the pumpkin plants.  Faith walked to the side of Jan, “What if I bought a roto tiller and after you get to keep it when I’m done.”  While it was a reasonable offer Jan was in the kind of mood where compromise wasn’t in his vocabulary, “It’s all about getting your way isn’t it?”  She nudged him shaking one of her hips, “Don’t touch me” He said miserable crossing his arms, “Who do you think that I learned it from?”  Jan took a few steps away from her, he pointed a finger in her direction, “I know what your doing” “What?”  “I’m not a fan of bribery” Faith crossed her fingers, “So you agree that planting the pumpkins out there and thereby getting a free roto tiller in the process is a good idea, that and you don’t even have to plant them?”  Jan didn’t like losing arguments, “Why?” He pouted.  Faith reached into her pocket taking out her keys, “I’ll be back in a little while” She kissed Jan on the cheek before she left.

 

****

 

If there was something that Boney Hoggins couldn’t pass up it was a good bargain.  This particular day Boney and Leona Hoggins were yard sailing and flea marketing.  As of late Boney had been working close to 60 hours a week at Poultry Provisions and it was wearing him down like a dog trudging through a swamp. “Quit moping and lets get walking” Leona Hoggins complained as they walked through the flea market.  Having been married for nearly 40 years they were for the most part happily married however; today they were bickering.  “Mr. Kringle” “What’s that Mrs.Kringle?” “Why don’t you buy me flowers like you used to?”  Boney slowed down shaking his head, “What are you expecting? How many hours a mother freaking week have I been working on the farm?”  “Exactly and I’m either to go and work with you or spend time with my sister is that fair?” Boney moped about complaining that his back hurt and then that he was tired.  “The dang dog don’t walk itself” “Obviously” Boney remarked.  “It’s that Charlie Bassett guy isn’t it?”  “What?  Why would you bring him up?”  Boney asked his wife. “You were mumbling ‘Charlie you motherfucker’ shuffling your feet then saying “Charlie you son of a bitch”  “Why didn’t you wake me up?”  “I wanted to hear what you were talking about?”  Boney walked ahead of Leona to a booth that was selling ‘Authentic Animal Apparel’.  A Fox fur hat with head and tail still attached is what caught his eye.  He bought the hat putting it on backwards.  “How do I look?”  “Like a pig turd with a dog on his head” “I like it!”  She laughed “C’mon Mrs. Kringle” “Don’t you c’mon me Mr. Kringle you take your time walking asking me stupid questions then go on ahead of me and buy a stupid fur hat.”  “Would it make you feel better if we went to the Redneck Reservoir and play bingo, it starts in an hour?”  “Maybe” She held Boney’s hand “C’mon Mr. Kringle” “Let’s go Mrs. Kringle”

 

****

 

Charles Bassett was nursing a scotch while sitting at the bar of Open Field golf resort.  His eyes still slightly burned from being maced by Saidah earlier in the day and he was angry as hell with seeing Craig Chaise waiting to talk to Arianne.  “He’s fucking her” Charles swiped a napkin “That motherfucker” he followed those words by drinking his scotch then ordering another one.  A small entourage slowly walked into the entrance of Open Field Gold Resort making their way to the bar area.  Now Charles Bassett was a card carrying member of this golf resort, he knew most of if not all of the members along with many of the frequent guests.  Never in his time had he known or ever seen security accompanying anyone, this certainly peeked his curiosity.  Admittedly he felt haggard however; being that he was a member of a prestigious club he felt entitled to the audience of whomever was deemed so important as to have that kind of security.  Amidst the middle of the security guards was an older woman with a beautiful glow along with the blondest of natural blond hair wrapped tightly into two buns “Freyja” Charles recognized.  He motioned to the bartender and bought a bottle of Dionysus Refined Pinot Grigio.  Yes he hated to admit to himself that he was a consumer of his rivals products.  Charles licked his finger tips slicking his eyebrows as he walked up to where Freyja was seated.  Her security team met Charles he waved his hands out with his palms upward he smiled, “I am well acquainted with Madame Freyja. Can you please tell her that Charles Bassett inquires if she would care to have a bottle of Pinot Grigio?”  The security guard looked meanly to Charles he left for a brief moment walking in front of Charles with an aggressive stance, he grabbed the bottle and the glass roughly.  “Thanks” The security guard said “Its not for you its for” Freyja walked to the side of the security guard. “Her”

 

Freyja took the bottle of Pinot Grigio along with the wine glass from her security guard Charles smiled, “I’m very surprised to see you here.” “Meh” Freyja responded waving her hands motioning for Charles to follow her to her table.  Charles ordered another scotch.  He smiled, “ I was having the darndest of all days sulking at this club that I am a member of when in walks in an imposing entourage and I was thinking this person must be very important.  Then I caught a glimpse of what could only be recognized as being unmistakably you and here we are now.” “Unfortunately” Freyja responded.  Charles motioned to the waitress, she brought a corkscrew opened up the bottle of wine and filled Freyja’s glass.  Charles smiled, “I am a believer in unexpected opportunity.  Why just today I had a meeting with your daughter Arianne regarding a business proposal when lo and behold guess who was waiting to meet with her after me?”  Freyja drank her glass of wine motioning for the waitress to refill her glass.  “Charles I am not in the mood for guessing games.”  “Craig Chaise”  Freyja’s demeanor became more serious, “Was my daughter with him?”  “No she was not” “Perhaps he is here with his wife also to attend Arianne’s upcoming art exhibit.”  “Perhaps” “What are you inferring?”  Charles eased his posture, “I have no inferences, besides I am content with being just friends with Arianne.  More importantly, I have a business proposal.”  “What kind of business proposal?”  “Now just hear me out!” “Go on” “Currently I am a one third owner of Poultry Provisions chicken farm however; I have agreed to a 10 year product purchase price lock in exchange for giving up my one third ownership.”  “Why?” Freyja asked.  “Good question, I’ll follow up with a question of my own.  Do you currently conduct business in the United States?”  “No”. “Would you like to?”  “If the opportunity presents itself” “Good”, I have a business proposal. Now just hear me out.”  Freyja circled with her hands for Charles to get on with his proposal.  “I’m planning on opening 100 Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants regionally.  New England and New York state to be precise.”  Freyja nodded comprehending the scale of business that Charles was about to embark on.  “I am going to ask you a few questions.”  “Can I finish my proposal?”  “No I ask you answer and then you finish your proposal” “Fair enough” “What kind of time line are you working with? You have a product purchasing agreement, while this is nice to have for source pricing what are your finances?  I need more information” Charles meshed his hands together, “I am glad that you asked.  I consider my proposal to be a typical.  A family restaurant is not a-typical but what is - is my roll out plan.  I have 100 locations already set in place.  I have a small team of real estate brokers that have compiled the locations several to be new construction throughout New England and New York State.  Now I could go to a bank and secure a loan however; what I plan to do is to open all of the restaurants at once. I highly doubt that a bank would agree to my business plan and conditions”  “That is interesting and impressive.”  “So you can see why I am so excited about my new endeavor” “No, I can see why Arianne was not interested.”

 

Charles Bassetts shifted in his seat he reached out a hand he was nervous with his business proposal.  “Arianne is not in the food industry, she’s a art business woman as where your deceased husband god rest his soul was a beef industry executive and the both of you made most of your wealth with trading Coca Cola stocks.  If this new business endeavor goes as planned Charley’s Chicken restaurants will expand nationally with 1000 locations within 10 years with the intention of going public.  Now I understand that you have no need for the money however; the adventure and the accomplishment is a worthy fete is it not?”  “It certainly is interesting.  What kind of investment are you seeking?”  “This is where it gets tricky.”  Freyja raised an eyebrow, “Please explain” “Well to open 100 locations at once is a monumental task for an individual.  Franchising is an option however; with you as my backer it is possible.”  Freyja stopped Charles Bassett, “What is the initial investment cost per location?”  “The figures vary from location to location.  The typical range is from $100,000 - $300,000 figuring 10 year leasing and purchasing new construction.”  “Your seeking a 30 million dollar new business loan from me?”  “On the high range”  “What is your starting collateral?”  “I have 10 million dollars along with a 10 year product purchase agreement.”  “Will your product source be put out of business with the influx of consumption?”  “My current partners are constructing additional barns to accommodate to the anticipated need.”  “What are you asking?”  “A 10 year loan”  Freyja hesitated for a moment she took a sip from her glass of wine, “I’ll admit that I am quite surprised to see you here in the first place and even more surprised with your proposal.”  “It is exciting isn’t it?”  “You do realize that I have made 30 million dollars within one month of consecutive art exhibits.”  “That is the initial investment not the profit nor is it the opportunity of having a physical business foot print in the United States.  Owning the real estate is just as important as the business.” Charles said as he meshed his hands.  “What about the menu?”  “I’m glad that you asked because the menu is the actual meat of the business.  The bulk of the business is estimated to be the typical all you can eat family style chicken with salad, shells, cinnamon buns, french fries note that Charley’s Chicken will not be a buffett restaurant chain.  There will be obvious side dishes like mashed potatoes, Cole slaw, macaroni and cheese.  In addition I plan on having different types of fried chicken.”  “Doesn’t KFC do that?”  “Several chains have Fried Chicken, none have family style the way mom and pop restaurants have.  Remember it will be Charley’s Chicken not KFC or Popeyes and the fried chicken is based on a recipe that my grandmother used to use.”  “Seems reasonable the menu isn’t too heavy where it would cause confusion nor clutter.  What about extending the menu?”  “There will be an extended menu and a bar at each location with appetizers but the catch is that the only meat used is chicken.  Chicken salad, chicken pot pie, chicken pop corn, you name it its a possibility.”  “The menu will need to have to have a professional appraisal in order to make 100 locations at once viable.”  “Agreed” Charles replied.  There was a dead silence that in fact quieted the room where they were located. Freyja stared seriously at Charles he began to fidget she looked as serious as stone, “I’m not interested in being the backer for your loan”.  Freyja said dryly she was quiet then she took a sip of wine as Charles face went sour.  “You were friends with Nidhogg and he betrayed Sif’s trust along with his being involved with the knowledge of Arianne’s kidnapping and art theft.”  “Now wait Freyja you know that I was in the United States, I never betrayed your trust.”  “No, I know that.  You remained true to your own trust with the knowledge of my worth.”  “Value” Charles added he slumped Freyja remained firm, “Your not interested” “No” The silence was deafening.  Freyja made no move, she was stone looking like ice to Charles.  Momentarily he started to break down tears welled up around his eyes as he gritted his teeth she grabbed his scotch, “I fucking hate all of you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.”  He moaned like he was in pain.  This in fact amused Freyja, she liked the spectacle picking up her glass of Pinot Grigio, she took a sip, “I told you that I am not interested in financing your business loan.  What I am interested in is being a business partner.  However; I have conditions.”  Charles felt like the fool watching Freyja smile she pointed to her wine glass, she tapped the glass.  “That is understandable” Charles said “I need to see your business plan and I want to visit the chicken farm.”  “That is a natural need not a condition”. “Good, this is my offer, I will invest 20 million dollars, not a loan along with your product purchase agreement and 10 million dollars to be put into Charley Chicken Family Restaurant incorporated fund.”  Charles smiled, “That is great news!” “There are stipulations” “Go on” “The offer was that I invest 20 millions dollars however; I am also putting 10 more million dollars into a separate Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurant trust.  There is a matter of control.”  “What about” Charles gritted his teeth.  “I would like to have a meeting with your real estate team, with you in attendance of course.  It is my preference to want either new construction or renovated locations that we own.  While the location is important the title of ownership is just as important.”  “I agree with that”  “Good now there is the matter of percentages.   With the 20 million dollar invest I want 57% ownership.  Should the other 10 million dollars be needed the percentage will be 67% ownership.”  Charles’s face reddened he tried to maintain his composure, “But that!  What about 51-49%” “Finance your project yourself!  I do not have the business need I only have the business interest.”  “I could seek funding from a bank”. “Then do so” Charles snatched his scotch from the table and he drank it quickly ordering another one motioning to the waitress.  “Alright, I’ll agree to your conditions if there is a provision in our contract for a percentage buyback bringing it to 50/50.”  “I will never agree to that” “51/49” “That could be worked out, I am entering this business agreement because I’m certain of our success.” “What are your plans tomorrow?”  “What are you suggesting?” “Accompany me tomorrow when I visit Poultry Provisions to change over my 1/3 ownership along with finalizing the product purchasing agreement.”  “I will do that” There was a rush of energy that entered the room after the deal was completed and the room became full with conversation and movement.

 

****

 

Faith wasn’t sleeping well at night she felt alone and for her the inertia of the dis-complacency was gnarling her stomach.  Her and Craig hadn’t gotten along for several months, it wasn’t that she didn’t love him, it was that she couldn’t feel.  She was emotionally numb but it didn’t help her to sleep.  If there was something that she learned from Craig was that persistence pays off.  Craig was bold and forward moving that was one of the strengths of their relationship.  After hours of endless thinking she made a decision because she wanted finality, she was going to the east coast.  Her time there would decide if they would remain married.  Of course if she was a normal woman she would have given notice, she figured that if Craig were cheating on her with Debbie-Sue that her un announced arrival would perhaps catch them in the act.  She figured that surprise would be in her favor.  By early the next morning she packed her belongings and her parents dropped her off at the airport.  A few hours later she was headed to New England unsure of what she was going to be met with.  On the flight she finally slept soundly.  She was woken by a flight attendant after the plane had landed.  Faith had a rental vehicle waiting for her and soon enough her luggage was packaged in her car and then she drove.  On the way she stopped at the mall buying herself a pair of sunglasses and meshed workout gloves.  She checked into a hotel that was within a half of an hour driving distance from Dionysus Refined deciding that she would spy on them doing her own private investigation.

 

Faith’s first day she was a shut in staying in her hotel room sleeping soundly without the persistent insomnia that made her over think.  In the morning she was full energy and determination, she drank a coffee while making plans.  There were things that she needed in order to conduct her investigation.  She already had sunglasses and gloves but she needed binoculars and a professional grade camera.  There was a matter of the best way to vent her frustrations should she find that Craig was in fact cheating on her with Debbie-Sue so she planned on finding a place where she could buy hand cuffs because she decided that if Craig was cheating on her with Debbie-Sue that she was going to beat him.  Perhaps she was getting lost in imagination but while she wasn’t out for money she wasn’t leaving her marriage empty handed.  Shortly after she went shopping buying the items that were required in order for her to complete her investigation.  After buying the necessary items she went clothes shopping buying black clothes and black lipstick along with a blond wig.  She wanted to feel the part as much as anything.  Before she changed into her investigational motif she stopped by Dionysus Refined.  Faith arrived surprising the store manager holding a clip board with a check list giving Dionysus Refined a through inspection.  Shortly after she held a business meeting after noticing several things about the operations and unapproved changed that were made.  There was a business difference between Craig and Faith and it was a matter of details.  Craig comprehended the larger business model he got the concepts and where Faith was the store manager of Dionysus Refined in Hawaii.  Faith had a business degree in marketing, she understood what customers looked for specifically what female customers look for when shopping for candles, wine, and other items that Dionysus Refined carried like gourmet chocolates and cheeses.  During the meeting Faith reprimanded the managers that changed the outlay of the interior of the store without her approval.  Perhaps Faith seemed authoritarian and strict but she had what she called “The Dionysus Refined standard” and she was not a happy camper.  While she wasn't an artist she fairly skilled with was drawing, she drew an outline of the interior of the store sketching out the changes that she wanted made.  There was tension between her and the female managers that was similar to the pecking order of chickens in a coop.  During the meeting she asked questions concerning the unapproved changes that were made, then she began to ask questions about Craig.  While the manager and assistant managers did not like being reprimanded they did answer questions about the contact that they had with Craig.  She was informed that he was there a few days before taking a couple cases of wine and candles.  The manager told Faith that he didn’t stay at the store long nor did he have a business meeting like Faith was having.  After the meeting Faith took a couple of candles and bottles of wine before she left the store.  She put on her workout gloves, sunglasses, and blonde wig then she put on her black lipstick and mascara.

 

As she drove she planned her course keeping her professional camera on her lap.  When she approached Debbie-Sue’s house she slowed down parking a short distance away holding up the binoculars keeping her camera nearby should it be needed.  Faith sat holding Binoculars puckering her moist black lipstick covered lips feeling crazy and dumb for doing what she was doing.  Less than an hour later a truck parked in front of Debbie-Sue’s house.  Craig got out of the vehicle along with Arianne Sullivan, “Mother Fucker” Faith screamed with her windows rolled up.  Click click click Faith took several photos in procession.  Craig left the truck doors open as Elvis, Marilyn, Loretta, Gerda, and Jennifer got out of the vehicle.  “So I’m in Hawaii and Ari takes my place?”  Craig, Ari and the children went inside of the house briefly.  A few minutes later Craig, Arianne, and Debbie-Sue walked outside talking for a couple of minutes before Craig and Arianne got into the truck and drove off.  Faith started the car she followed Craig driving a safe distance behind.  She laughed to herself, “It must be a little thing called miscommunication!”  While she tried to with hold judgement she was furious swearing to herself.  Several minutes later she slowed down her vehicle as Craig drove into “Cemetieri Du Preciux Sang.”  She remembered that her cousin Jennifer was buried there.  Faith watched with her binoculars Craig walked to the back of he truck dragging out a wheel barrel placing items inside of it.  There were 2 ice picks, spades, towels, a 12 pack of diet coke with a small cooler, and dusting brooms then Craig went inside of the cab of the truck and pulled out a case of candles.  He got behind the wheel barrel and started to wheel it towards the graves while Arianne walked by his side.  She watched the two of them work for several minutes, “Why the fuck would they be cleaning gravestones?”  Faith was bewildered she took off her workout gloves she started to rub her wedding ring.

 

****

 

In the morning Craig and Arianne had another day planned to volunteer at the cemetery cleaning grave stones.  They dropped off the kids at Debbie-Sues talking to her for a few minutes then they drove to the cemetery.  Craig loaded up the items from the previous day that were in the back of the truck and they walked to where they left off the day before, then they began to clean the graves stones.  Craig and Arianne worked side by side with very little talk for a little over an hour. Craig was the first to talk, “ Don’t turn around and look.  There is a blond lady in a car with a pair of binoculars looking at us.”  Arianne laughed, “That is rediculous! Why would anyone want to watch us cleaning the grave stones?”  “I know what I am going to do, Keep working”. Craig got up slowly walking to his truck turning around walking backward talking to Arianne.  The woman was less than 100 yards from Craig’s truck he decided to go over there and talk to her.  As he started to walk toward the blonde woman with the binoculars she started up her car and began to drive away.  The woman lifted up her hand blocking her face, she was wearing a wedding ring, Craig recognized “Faith”.  He didn’t get it, he walked back to his truck picking up his cell phone, then he called Faith.

 

****

 

Faith’s phone rang as she drove away it was Craig, she felt her stomach drop along with the need to go to the bathroom.  At first she wasn’t sure hot to react, she stopped at a pizza restaurant placed an order thinking of an excuse to tell Craig.  While there she used the rest room to clean off her thick mascara and black lipstick, she took off her blonde wig looked in the mirror and she prepared herself to go to the cemetery and act non- chalant.  She purchased a margarita pizza and a pepperoni pizza along with onion rings, French fries, and 2 bottles of diet coke.  Faith gathered her nerves thinking of a good explanation then she drove to the cemetery.  She got out of the car feeling vulnerable holding two pizza’s and a bag with soda and side orders.  

 

****

 

Craig and Arianne worked side by side after he called Faith without a response.  “Why would Faith be incognito spying on us?”  Arianne asked “I don’t know, we agreed to spend the summer apart but she is jealous and I do have a child with Debbie-Sue, maybe she thought that I was sleeping with her.” “Or me” Arianne chided Craig smiled he stopped working he stood so did she he looked at her lithe attractive figure, “Too Scrawny.”  He turned around to pick up the ice breaker he noticed Faith holding 2 pizza's and a bag with soda.  Craig waited patiently he considered walking over to Faith to meet her half way, but he didn’t.  She walked up to Craig and Arianne “Surprised to see me?”  Faith smiled she leaned in to kiss Craig on the lips, he backed away, “You” Arianne reached an arm across physically stopped Craig, “Don’t Argue, save your grievances for private quarters”  Arianne looked to Faith, “We are volunteering our time cleaning grave stones care to join us?”  Faith smiled, “I brought lunch” “I’m not hungry” Craig muttered “I am” Arianne seconded Faith and Arianne ate lunch while Craig walked to his truck grabbing a glass from the cab of his truck along with a bottle of water.  He poured the water into the glass and kept it on the side of him while he cleaned grave stones.  

 

****

 

Outside of the barn a fire filled circle surrounded Vega as she muttered incantations with the dead rooster laying flayed open at her feet.  Michelle Moonshine walked outside quickly and with purpose as she stormed toward Vega’s area.  Vega rose to her feet abruptly, as she walked out of the circle of fire the flames completely extinguished.  Michelle held a boning knife in her hand, “Vega this is not acceptable” she was visibly angry.  Vega seemed unaffected, “My sources told me different” she dropped the roosters heart at Michelle’s feet.  Vega brushed past Michelle as she walked toward the mansion Nidhogg walked toward Michelle as Vega kissed Nidhogg in passing seeming to approve of his wife. Pablo watched from the barn with Tomas, “No me gustan las brujas (I don’t like witches)” Tomas said angrily.  Pablo remained silent he was a good observer and often reserved judgment, “Me preocuparía más por tu esposa que por la bruja. (I would be more worried with your wife than the witch)” They both observed Michelle impaling her boning knife into the ground on the side of the dead rooster.  She released the security dogs and they ate the rooster carcass then she had a servant fill two five gallon buckets with salt while others scattered the ashes then she created a continuous swirl circle covering the area where Vega held her ceremony.  Nidhogg approached his half sister she ignored him until she was done, “I am unhappy” “There is a purpose sister” “Witchcraft on my property is front of my hired staff is unacceptable” “Many things are unacceptable consider Vega’s practice a tool for learning” “What?” “You will see”. Michelle Moonshine was a reactive woman, not everyone could handle her red blooded intensity.  While it wasn’t in her list of priorities to care if her paid help be offended should she go on a tirade because she paid well and in Chile steady good pay was hard to find, she did respect the Catholic Church.  No Michelle was not an unreasonable woman she was emotional and stubborn and set in her beliefs.  When she knew something then she knew something and once she held a belief it was very hard for anyone Tomas included to tell her different.  Even when she was wrong because of her power it was hard for her to be willing to admit guilt or wrongdoing.  She took a few minutes to gather herself she placed her hand in front of her face she changed picking up her knife walking to her quarters.  It was time to get ready for the evening feast.

 

****

 

Mid morning Charles Bassett was in the company of Freyja they walked onto the grounds of Poultry Provisions chicken farm.  The sun shone in their face as soft new england breezes wafted the scent of freshly cut grass.  It had rained throughout the night the air was cool and cleared of the humidity from the day before.  As they walked toward the feed silo Charles explained the physical outlay and design of the chicken farm almost as if he was a real estate agent.  They walked at a moderate pace Freyja’s security waited outside in the parking lot.  Standing at the silo was Bony Hoggins, Reg Folues, and Shooter Nelson.  Freyja took notice especially of the man with the long free flowing blonde hair; he flicked his hair to the side running his hands through his hair as he smiled.  Charles and Freyja were within 100 feet walking distance.  Freyja pointed wagging her finger, “What is this spectacle?”  Charles smiled, “Why these are my soon to be former business partners.  To be certain they know how to run a chicken farm, you will see for yourself however; can you understand why I wanted to go into business for myself?”  “That one I’m guessing is the one that created “The Bull?”  “Yes that is Reg Folues.”  “That was his greatest life achievement.”  When they reached the co owners and soon to be co owner of Poultry Provisions Freyja’s security team watched intently with anticipation in the not too far distance.  “To whom do we owe the pleasure of meeting with?” Freyja asked Charles Bassett.  Boney reached a hand across extended an invitation to Freyja, Charles looked to Boney, “Boney this is Freyja Sullivan she is a businesswoman from Iceland.  I would like you all to give us a tour of the farm and answer a few questions before we change hands of ownership and finalize the product purchasing agreement.  Shooter looked to Freyja he smiled running his fingers along his mustache he flexed his arm downwards he puckered his lips as if he was saying ooh then he smiled.  She noticed the tattoo of the chickens foot on his forearm Shooter noticed her necognition, “Yeah - it’s a nice tattoo isn’t it?”  “He’s a court jester” Freyja looked to Reg, “You created the bull” Reg tried to sound formal, “Why yes mam, I did create the bull thank you for recognizing my work.  You know just this week I had a visit from Craig Chaise he had your daughter Jennifer with him.”  “Jenny” Shooter muttered under his breath. Both Boney and Reg looked to Shooter, Charles nodded his head, “Shall we begin out tour of the Poultry Provisions facility?”  Freyja called her security team telling them that she would be going for a tour of the facility before conducting a business transaction.

 

****

 

Craig worked diligently while the two women ate pizza and drank soda.  They were conversing he wasn’t happy with Faith’s arrival.  While he was lost with himself he liked his time with Arianne and the way that Faith showed up made him angry.  He stopped working there was more work to be completed but he decided that he was going to call it a day.  Both women were talking while eating, after Craig put the tools in the wheel barrel he walked the wheel barrel to his truck.  As he started to pack the tools in the bed of his truck Arianne caught a glimpse of what he was doing, “Are you pouting?”  Craig ignored her he loaded up his truck the sat in the drivers seat several minutes later Faith put the pizzas and soda in the back of the truck and Arianne got into the truck Faith waited for Craig to roll down the window, “Are you going to ignore me?” Craig looked forward without talking to her.  Faith went to her car.  Arianne knew that Craig was disturbed, “Are you taking me home?”  “Yes” “Can you please stop by your home so I can pick up my daughter and Jennifer?”  “Why Jennifer too?”  “I received a text Freyja is staying in the area for my up comming art exhibit.”  The truck went silent, “You haven’t spoken with Freyja since my kidnapping?”  “No I have only spoken with her assistants.”  Craig picked up Gerda and Jennifer he dropped them off at Ariannes mansion then he went back and picked up Faith from Debbie-Sues.  When Faith got into the truck with Craig they drove  without speaking Faith knew that she made him mad she places a hand over his hand, “Are you happy to see me?”  “Why were you spying on me?”  “I was observing” “Why were you observing incognito?”  “Because I flew here to spend the summer with you and your with a woman that you have a child with and staying with another woman that you have a child with, and I wanted to see what you were doing.”  “I see, I’m not happy, we weren’t getting along.  Arianne thought there was redeeming value with cleaning stones of the forgotten dead.” “Am I forgotten too?”  “The kids will be happy to see you” “Your not?”  “Are you?”  “I want a divorce”

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine had cleaned and dressed in preparing for dinner, she was expecting several guests this evening, the Mayor of Santiago with his wife, a couple of Chilean Artists and Chilean models.  It was just a few hours drive for the Chilean politician but there was an agreed upon political contribution to take place.  There was also the expectation of Nidhogg and Vega, Michelle clenched her jaw she did not like Vega.  Nidhogg’s first wife Sif was similar to Michelle, they both had a genuine symmetry to their likeness for each other, they were business and practical within their status.  She wondered if Sif would be in attendance at Arianne’s art exhibit.  Michelle opened up her jewelry chest selecting a diamond encrusted Lion’s broach pinning it to the top of her dress.  Now she was ready to greet her guests.

 

****

 

Sif stood tall in front of her sister’s mansion spontaneity was not her strongest asset.  Upon her arrival she was hesitant because she had her reservations about coming to America.  The drive from the airport confirmed her inclinations about the degradation of America.  Politics was not the forefront of her ambitions but she felt that the world was more secure with a thriving America.  She rang the doorbell of her sister’s house waiting to be let in.

 

****

 

Freyja was given a tour of the processing warehouse, she watched the conveyer carry the chickens being hung upside down as they were slaughtered, power washed, de-feathered while the meat cutters prepared the chickens for distribution.  Upon inspection she was satisfied with the professionalism of the operations.  Next they were going to the chicken barns to begin the tour of each barn to show Freyja the condition of the interior of each barn and conditions of the chickens that were bred on the farm.  Reg and Boney Hoggins were the tour guides while Shooter commented occasionally, Freyja walked along side of Charles Bassett for the length of the tour.  As they approached the retail store toward the front of the property Charles Bassett’s lawyer was waiting to accompany them to the business office to complete the change of ownership with the finalization of the 10 year product purchasing agreement.  Those two translations were followed up by Reginald Folues providing a bank backed check to Boney Hoggins and Shooter Nelson while signing the ownership deed officially making Reginald Folues one third owner of Poultry Provisions chicken farm.  The new business partners Charles and Freyja left Poultry Provisions satisfied with the outcome of the business transaction that just took place.

 

****

 

Sif waited patiently until her sister Arianne opened up the front door.  Standing on both sides of Arianne was her daughter Gerda and sister Jennifer.  Sif flicked her nose then scowled, “Children” Arianne smiled surprised to see her sister along with seeing her reaction to Gerda and Jennifer, “I’m surprised to see you here” Arianne told her sister, “If you don’t mind I have my luggage packaged” “Your staying with me?”  “Until your art exhibit is completed” “Quite imposing” “Isn’t this the location where Bjorn and Olaf stole your art?”  “It is soon to be for sale” “So I am welcome!” Sif walked outside motioning for the chauffeur to bring in her luggage.

 

****

 

Faith wasn’t in complete shock but she was surprised, “You want a divorce?”  “we’re both unhappy, we argue, and I don’t know how to make it better.”  “So you give up?”  “No! I’m admitting failure - We both deserve to be happy.” “So that is that?” “I’m not claiming innocence, I’m a man that has 5 children with 4 different women than his beautiful wife that he can’t make happy.  Would it be wrong to admit that I have my own faults and thats the reason why we are not happy?  “I’m not perfect either” “I was always willing to try” “And now your not?  So what are you going to do?”  “I’ll give you a million dollars” Faith slapped her thighs, “A million dollars! Great! So I move back with my parents, what about Elvis and Marilyn? And what about us, are we really that bad of a married couple that we can't work it out?”  “No one said that divorce was easy.”  “You told me that marriage is work, so what you quit working because your tired or is it that you want to fuck other women?"  She stopped talking after saying those words.  He realized truth because he knew that he was not an innocent man, he did have feelings for other women.  Though throughout all of their problems in Hawaii there were no other women.  “How was Hawaii?”  “I had lunch with Dom” “You did?”  “That is why I flew here to spend the summer with you because I never want to see him again.”  No both Craig and Faith were unhappily married and Faith wanted to try and while that was new to Craig he wasn't sure that he had the will or fight left.

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine awaited her guests and the Mayor of Santiago with his wife showed up at the same time as the artists and models.  Butlers showed them to the dining room Nidhogg and Vega entered the dining area.  Vega wore a sleeveless gown showing her sleek but feminine figure.  Her hair flowed freely.  Well aware of the sentiment from earlier in the day she played her own hand smiling introducing herself to the guests speaking fluent Spanish, when Michelle passed by Vega - Vega whispered in her ear, “We need to talk in private I have information for you.”  Michelle shook her head, “What? Can’t you see that I have a room full of important guests?”  “It is important” “I’ll give you one minute.”  “That is all that I need” Vega smiled.  The two women walked side by side to the hallway entrance leading to the dining room, “Speak” Michelle ordered Vega, “I am a diviner among many things” “So!” “In the back of the bull barn is there a basement?” “Yes” “Your husband and his muscle have been stocking and smuggling weapons there.  The prisoner from earlier is there if he is still alive”  “How do you know this?”  “I am a diviner.  You have been deceived, I thought that you ought to know.  Now lets go to dinner together and pretend to be friends and when I show you the truth our relationship will have a solid foundation.”  “I think that you are crazy.  Tomas would not do that.”  “And if your wrong?”  Michelle was visibly angry, “Calm down Michelle.  It could be nothing, it could be everything!” Vega said with a syrupy stickiness to her lips.  “If your wrong with your accusation, I will take action.”  Vega smiled, “The mental starburst was targeted I am not wrong.”  The two competing women walked together to the dining room, Michelle was eager to greet the guests.

 

****

 

Sif walked down the hallway that was once decorated with paintings.  She took note of the emptiness as she made her way to the Piano room that led to Arianne’s bedroom.  Arianne soon followed Sif meeting with her in the piano room, “Why is your house so empty?”  “It will soon be for sale”  “Are you haunted?”  Arianne shook her head she smiled, “Why would you say that?”  “It is a natural reaction, you will make a healthy profit when you sell and your next home will suit you better” Sif noticed Arianne’s arms, “You have a nice tan” “Thank you I have been volunteering my time with Craig Chaise at ‘Cemetiere Du Precious Sang’ cleaning grave stones.”  “Craig Chaise” Sif repeated she was silent, “I’m certain that there was a purpose behind your time at the cemetery” “There was” Sif went to her room to unpack her luggage.

 

****

 

Freyja parted ways from Charles Bassett after the business transaction at Poultry Provisions.  She held no fears about her upcoming business endeavor however; she had demands that were to be met.  For starters since all locations were to be opened at the same time, she wanted assistant managers, and store managers to be trained formally.  It was her estimation that the requirement would be to rent rooms at a hotel and hold a two week “Charleys Chicken Family Restaurant Training Seminar” Once the restaurants would be opened and fully functional the hiring of managers and assistant managers would not require classes.  The sky was full of sun and Freyja was ready to relax, she had contacted her assistants in Iceland, they were in the process of contacting Freyja’s lawyers and business consultants.  While she was investing millions she was not concerned about the money she knew that it would have a return.  She rested in the back of a limousine as she was driven to the seaside beach house that she had rented for the summer in Jamestown, Rhode Island.  

 

****

 

Stewart Blythe sat with his feet on his desk contemplating his election in the runoff Mayoral Race.  What he needed was something big to attach himself to, his phone rang.  The bartender from Open Field golf resort called him informing him that Charles Bassett was sitting at the bar drinking scotch talking about his new business endeavor along with the ownership change at Poultry Provisions.  He was informed that a Charley’s Chicken Restaurant would be opened in town so would a distribution warehouse for Charley's Chicken Restaurants.  Steward Blythe folded his tongue against his teeth sucking like a horse cribbing on a board.  He adjusted his bifocal glasses after he hung up the phone he had a pen in-between his index finger and middle finger flipping it quickly back and forth tapping it against the desk.  Stewart knew what he had to do, even though he didn’t have a good relationship with his father he planned on visiting him to ask him for a favor.

 

****

 

Keith Thornhill sat in front of the tire shop that he owned taking a break from a busy day.  When is wife Casey Blythe died nearly a decade prior from a massive heart attack he opened up a tire shop with the insurance money.  Now in the early 1970’s Keith Thornhill was a bad man, he was out on parole and he was mad at being fired from Le Persil Disposal so he took retaliation.  It was supposed by the law that Keith Thornhill had started the great fire Le Persil disposal that claimed the life of career worker Kip Shipman along with getting caught up in a gunfight with with the owner of the disposal Percival Cauldron and his Foreman Jim Buck.  However; no charges were filed nor was there evidence of his guilt though both Percival Cauldron and Jim Buck were injured.  When Percival and Jim found Keith Thornhill there were very real and dangerous consequences to be met.  The luck that fell upon Keith Thornhills lap was his happenstance relationship with Casey Blythe, the newly elected governors daughter.  Of course that didn’t stop Percival and Jim but what did was after Keith married Casey Blythe with her keeping her family name of course, Governor Blythe held a meeting holding contract expansion with guaranteed gains as leverage for ending their blood feud.  At the time that kind of meeting might not have seemed so contentious considering that Le Persil was not in dire need of business, but it worked.  Together Keith Thornhill and Casey Blythe had two children together, Sheila and Stewart Blythe.  Keith Thornhill though in his early 70’s still worked full time.  He was resting on a chair outside after rotating a set of 4 tires on a customers vehicle.  It appeared like a wraith out of hell Percival Cauldron drove by fast in a vintage Red Ford wearing sunglasses.  It had been nearly 40 years since he had seen Percival, “I fucking hate Percival” He yelled out loud, Keith took off his hat wiping the sweat from his brow.  Jim Buck drove by from the opposite direction lifting up a middle finger as he drove by without looking.  That caused alarm though he expected a confrontation with them long before that point.  He went back into his business then his son Stewart drove in to get a new set of tires.  Stewart got out of the car, “What do you want?”  Keith asked his son “Hows it going pop?  Have you been burning the midnight oil?” “That wasn’t my question” “I need 4 new tires with some meat on them.”  One of Keiths workers rolled out 4 tires, “No charge, just change the tires.  What else do you want?”  Stewart Blythe was around the same height as his father 6ft tall but he took after his grandfather, he was thin and mechanical in his movements, he was bald and calculated.  Stewart went to the vending machine he put in several quarters buying a couple of Coke’s he handed one of them to his father.  “As you know I am running for mayor.”  “Seems like the town has had it’s fill of Blythe’s” “That’s why I need your help, I know that your friendly with Boney Hoggins and I want you to set up a meeting with the owners of Poultry Provisions.  I’d like ‘The Evening Reporter’ to do a story on Poultry Provisions and I’d like their endorsement for me as mayor with a photo with me and them and one of my campaign signs in front of their business.  Keith Thornhill huffed as if he was overfull from eating a large meal.  “I don’t know if that will be possible”. “Make it possible unless you want a mayor that will raise your Real Estate taxes to fund unneeded programs.  Also if you help me then I can assure you that all of the municipal vehicles will go to you for their tires.”  Keith Thornhill’s eyes lit up.  “Tell Boney Hoggins that if he endorses me that I will endorse him by proposing and fighting for a economic development program that will offer tax free status for 5 years for existing businesses that expand their businesses.  It might seem like a niche program but for a business like Poultry Provisions it could be lucritive.”  Keith stopped his son, “Stewart I will help you but after this don’t ever make me do anything for you again.”  Stewart smiled Keith then asked, “Why are you friendly with the guys from Le Persil Disposal?”  “I’m not!” Stewart Blythe waved to his father as a worker informed Stewart that the new tires were mounted.  Stewart started his car driving away.  Keith Thornhill put his hands on his hips wondering what the hell just happened.

 

Chapter 4 Unbridled

 

Dinner had begun at Michelle Moonshine’s Mansion the mayor of Santiago and his wife sat across from Nidhogg and Vega Moonshine while the Artisans and models sat across from each other.  Tomas and Michelle sat opposing sides at the ends of the dinner table.  Michelle played off her anger as she smiled the butlers brought in Roasted sirloin strip roast and tenderloin from the hind quarter that she had broken down earlier in the day along with Roasted chicken with chicken gravy, chimichurri steak sauce, Burgundy sauce, and cognac cream steak sauce.  There was mashed potatoes and fresh corn, freshly baked French rolls.  They were served soup and salad first, all of the food and wine was grown and bred on Michelle Moonshines 300 acre plantation.  The pitchers on the table were filled with both red and white wine.  Michelle stood up smiling wearing a white flearing dress with red dahlia’s and a diamond encrusted golden lion broach pinned to the upper right corner of her dress.  The broach sparkled as the light shone on it, holding a glass of Merlot she gave a short toast, “ To my brother Nidhogg and his bride Vega”.  The guests at the table lifted and clinked glasses as they toasted the guests of honor.  Then dinner began.

 

Vega was the most conversive with the mayor of Santiago and his wife she caught their interest when she began to tell stories of Iran and her home with Nidhogg in Finland.  While Nidhogg lost interest in conversation with the mayor of Santiago he had good conversation with the chilean artists.  They seemed to be captivated by Nidhogg’s intense gaze and confident straightforwardness.  Nidhogg spoke with a sharp intelligence having been a scholar throughout his formal education recieving a Doctorate of Literature from Oxford University.   With the complexity of his language he tip toed with word usage weaving a net entangling the small audience with engaging conversation.  Michelle ignored conversation with Tomas though he tried to communicate with her.  He was unsure as to the reason why? He thought that perhaps it was because of the earlier incident with Vega and the hired help.  As dinner progressed the butlers cleaned the tables of food and brought out coffee, cream, and sugar.  Coming to a natural conclusion the mayor and his wife, the artisans, and models left the mansion together.  Michelle was ready to give tours of the property.  “Brother” Michelle began, “Yes sister” “I would like to get to know Vega better, Tomas would like to do the same with you.  We will part ways to be reunited afterward.”

 

****

 

Tomas walked down the hallway leading to the dining room there were many doors on both sides of the hall leading to separate rooms.  Telling the story of the history of the property and the condition that it was in when Michelle had bought it, Tomas tried to tell the most intricate and interesting tale of the work that was done to bring the property to the current condition that it was in.  The 300 acre plantation was nearly fully utilized with cattle both bulls and cows, chickens and endless acres of farmland that provided food for a good portion of not too far off Santiago.  When Michelle purchased the property it was in disrepair having been abandoned for nearly a century.  Then Tomas told the tale of how he met Michelle, he was the captain of the Chilean olympic Futbol team.  They walked into a room that had several pieces of art including a painting that was their father’s.  Nidhogg stopped in front of the painting, “This is Michelle’s favorite painting.” Tomas said Nidhogg was quick in response, “I know our father painted it!” Tomas did not know that detail he never cared for it - it seemed amateurish and now he knew why.  Nidhogg turned to Tomas he stood very close to him breaking his personal space.  Nidhogg stood an inch taller than the 6 ft 2 Tomas he wasn’t smiling, “You have” he paused “Explained to me all of the great achievements of my sister which I agree but the question that I keep asking myself is besides kicking a ball, what do you do better?”  Tomas coughed harshly he looked intensely into Nidhoggs eyes, Excuse me?”  “Exactly! Michelle is not one to rest on her laurels.  I believe that the elite are elite because we are greater”  Tomas raised a finger, “Do not underestimate me” “That is not the question” “Then why are you demeaning me?”  “Insecurity lowers your value” “There are many ways that I am superior.  Is birthright your claim to elitism?”  Nidhogg leaned in he pressed his nose against Tomas’s cheek as he looked forward firmly “EVERYTHING! I do what I want!” Nidhogg growled.  “DEAD!” Tomas said with force. Nidhogg backed away Tomas looked fiercely into Nidhoggs eyes, Nidhogg was not playing coy, “Your Judgement or your capability to follow through?”  Nidhogg asked, “Both” Tomas replied.  After those words Tomas continued to give a tour of the property though Nidhogg walked back to the dinner table filling up a glass of merlot he sat drinking wine while holding a silver handled gun that he kept on his persons.

 

****

 

Michelle and Vega walked together to the bulls barn Pablo was waiting at the entrance.  “Me siento como un hombre afortunado de tener 2 mujeres hermosas aquí tarde en la noche” (I feel like a lucky man to have 2 beautiful women here late at night.) “Pablo por favor vete” (Pablo please leave) “Si Senora” Pablo tipped his hat to both ladies then he walked away from the bull’s barn to the guys house where he resided.  The two women walked through to the back of the barn there was a rug covering the pull string wooden door that led to the basement, “You will have to grovel at my feet besides grain there is nothing there, it’s old and moldy down there.” Michelle stopped as she pulled the rug, the pull string wooden door was now a double door steel doors with a digital lock on the front.  Michelle and Vega walked out of the barn, Michelle became a possessed woman she went inside of the Mansion she flicked the alarm system.  A loud speaker went on outside spotlights lit up.  As trained the security team along with the dogs were rushed outside restrained by leashes Tomas and Pablo rushed outside.  Michelle stood in front of the bull barn when all of the hired staff and security were outside she tried to maintain control over her emotions, “ABRIR LA PUERTA DEL SOTANO”  (Unlock the basement door!)  Pablo looked straight forward he knew that she was going to find out.  Tomas quivered slightly “What?” “Unlock the storage room in the basement” He paced in front of her, “DO” Pablo walked into the barn he entered the code and the doors opened electronically.  Nidhogg walked with Michelle and Vega, Michelle ordered Tomas and Pablo held at gunpoint.  Before the lights were turned on the body of the prisoner from earlier lay on the floor.  He was alive but breathing faintly, the lights were turned on there were shrink wrapped pallets with boxes full of semi automatic rifles and ammunition, grenades, separately there were pallets full of cocaine.  For several years behind the scenes Pablo and Tomas had been smuggling guns and drugs to Mexico.  From their their contacts would smuggle the drugs to America.  Michelle exploded into a rage, storming out of the barn without stopping.  

 

Moments later she was on the balcony of her bedroom window throwing Tomas’s belonging out of the window.  She screamed swearing continually Tomas and Pablo left the premises even with guns pointed at them.  They arrived a short while later with their own hired hands along with cargo trucks, they were allowed through to empty the basement.  Michelle stood on the balcony of her bedroom window while Tomas stood below.  To the side Vega and Nidhogg stood together drinking wine Vega looked to Nidhogg they cheered each other, “Nothing!” Vega toasted as they watched with amusement.

 

“Michelle use some reason!” Tomas pleaded, She lit photographs of them together tossing it off of the balcony, “What is reason without trust?”  “But I love you” “Love is an empty word with what you have done.  I employ and feed I don’t not stock weapons and sell drugs.”  “But there is power!”  “We have power” “You don’t understand” “NO I DO!  You see I am using reason!” Michelle took off her wedding ring she threw it up in the air.  Tomas caught it as it fell, he put it in his pocket, his eyes twitched as he tried to hold eye contact with her.  Nearly an hour later Tomas was in the passenger side of a cargo truck while Michelle Moonstone walked a prized bull by a rope to where Tomas was standing.  As he gave her a final look farewell she took the boning knife that she held in her hand and she slit the bulls throat.  After it fell she began to gut and skin it.  Tomas’s last sight of his wife was with her covered in the prized bulls blood.

 

****

 

“What theres no goddang way I’m putting up a Stewart Blythe for mayor sign in front of Poultry Provisions.” Boney Hoggins spit out the chewing tobacco that he had in his mouth “Even if he is your son, he’s a good for nothing self righteous social climber”  Boney Hoggins walked in front of Poultry Provisions with Keith Thornhill.  They were having a contentious conversation about having ‘The Evening Reporter’ do a story on Poultry Provisions featuring photos of the new barns with plans to build four more.  “You know Boney we have known each other for a long time.” Keith looked into boney’s eyes. Now Keith was fair skin with bloodshot blue eyes with curly dirty blond and grey hair, he took off his had and put it back on.  “No you’ve never asked me for anything nor have I asked you.”  “You know that when Stewart wins he’s going to favor a new program that offers 5 years tax exempt status for new construction.”  Boney looked off to the side, he was listening.  Keith reached forward a hand flicking his fingers out, “Now the program won’t cut your taxes on what you already own, but you are building four more barns and you won’t be taxed on them for five years.”  “And what exactly are you asking for?”  Keith Thornhill pointed to where there dumpster was located deciding to take his own bite at his son.  "A staked sign “Stewart Blythe For Mayor - A breath of fresh air” Also when ‘The Evening Reporter’ does the story on Poultry Provisions have the reporter take a photo of you two shaking hands to be put in the newspaper.”  Boney sighed and wheezed, “C’mon man you know that it will be good for your business” The sound of a truck engines revving could be heard Percival Cauldron drove by followed by Jim Buck.  “It’s getting close isn’t it?” Boney asked Keith “It is!”  Boney adjusted his belt buckle, “Alright, but after this I don’t want any more politicking at Poultry Provisions.”  They shook hands to seal the deal.

 

****

 

 

 

 

“So what do we do now?”  Faith asked Craig “Nothing!  That’s what divorce is!  Usually there’s a lot of fighting over grievances and petty passive aggressive exchanges and if we had children together then it would be a life long family feud. And then there’s the fight over money and possessions, and I won’t give up ownership of Dionysus Refined!”  Faith firmed her fists, “I know what divorce is asshole! You don’t love me?”  Faith asked “I do! And I’m not an asshole Bitch! I’m broken man and I don’t want to make it work.  Marriage shouldn’t be make or break.”  Faith began to get a a little bit hysterical, “So when you had a kid with another woman did I forgive you?”  “You busted open my head with a glass then a rock”  Faith tried not to laugh, “But I did forgive you.  When you go off on your own, Don’t I let you?” “Yes” “Granted we haven’t been getting along for the past year but you got all weirded out and then you spend the summer here” “Now your here” “And you tell me that you want a divorce?”  “What would you do?”  “Exactly what I’m doing” They drove for a while without talking to each other, “Want to go camping?”  Craig asked Faith she punched him in the arm, She impersonated him, “I’ll give you a million dollars, I want a divorce.” She paused momentarily, “And now you want to go camping.  Listen to yourself.”  “Maybe if you wanted to spend time with me and go with me when I want to be adventurous than we wouldn’t be at the point of getting a divorce.”  “What are we going to go camping with?”  “I have a tent, blankets, a case of wine, and candles in the bed of my truck.”  “You also have 2 pizzas, fries, onion rings, and soda.”  “That’s our plan”  “What about mosquitos you know that I hate mosquitos” “I have spray” Faith and Craig drove to the state park to go mountain climbing and camping in the woods together.

 

****

 

Mandy was working at the Redneck Reservoir it was a typical Friday Night with the exception that bands were playing.  It was busy as The Le Persil Boys were set to be the opening act.  The Le Persil Boys consisted of Percival Cauldron and Jim Buck.  Yes they were two elderly men but they could still carry a tune, their songs were stoic and universal they were labeled as the local Outlaws.  Percival played acoustic electric guitar while Jim Buck Played the drums and sang.  Percival began to talk into the microphone, “ Thank you all for coming to see us.  As you know we aint no spring chicken but we still got a lot of ticking to do.  This is a new song called ‘I’m just and old man’” Percival fingerpicked while playing slide guitar Jim Buck slowly began to play the drums, 

 

“I’m just an old man - 

been making my living down on the killing floor - 

I’m an old man

Thanking the lord for another day

I’m an old man - 

Begging like a dog for a little retreat, 

slaving like a bull rubbing my feet - 

I’m an old man- 

down on the killing floor - 

When my truck has had it’s fill and I’m driving up a hill, 

Chugging along,

I’m praying to the lord for the end of the day - 

Cause I’m an old man - 

Just trying to get my way

I’m an old man

Down on the killing floor” 

 

The song went into verse and chorus and after the song was sung the crowd cheered.  Boney Hoggins, Shooter Nelson, Ow Nguyen, and Reg Folues were in attendance sitting at their usual table they applauded to what they knew was a professional performance.

 

****

 

Sif was having a conversation with her sister Arianne, “So sister how did you come into contact with William?”  “He showed up at my office right after Charles did with a business proposal.”  “Where is Charles?”  Arianne handed a printout of the business proposal that was sent to her from Freyja’s assistant. Sif read the memorandum regarding the contingent business endeavor with Charles Bassett.  Sif was not a very expressive woman Arianne filled a glass of Merlot she placed the glass of wine in front of her.  She took a sip of the wine as she read the business proposal.  “It seems plausible.” Sif said “Why would she want anything to do with Charles?”  Arianne complained “Perhaps leverage” Arianne comprehended the reasons that Freyja used, it soured her mood.  “A marriage from hell, this business proposal is not a little deal, it is long term”  Arianne almost yelled Sif smiled, “Marriage from hell is a matter of perspective, and what was your contact with William?” “That’s private” “I see” “Our connection is not sight” Sif comprehended “What is your expectation with your exhibit?” “Networking with different people, I do not have the expectation of selling like when mother has exhibits however; mind you! I could be wrong because some of the art is worthy and there will be important collectors.  For the most part it will be an introduction of my artists to the investors in the area.”  “Mother sells art as a result of much work and cultivation a culmination of the contacts from our resorts.  She seldom holds exhibits only after her artists have created works worthy and or collected works they are ready to be sold.  Her exhibits are investable because they are timely with purpose!  Time does not degrade the pieces that she exhibits, valuable art is like wine.”  “That is a given!  The type of art that I am exhibiting are pieces from struggling, emerging artists who’s value might be taken for granted.  There are several pieces from my artists that have the potential to establish them as artists.  I decided to invite Michelle Moonshine.”  Arianne paused letting silence absorb the environment of the room, “She has accepted my invitation.”  Sif was angered though she showed no emotion.  Her and Michelle had always gotten along extraordinarily well though the thought of Nidhogg made her start to lose her cool.  “Your inciteful!”  Sif motioned to knock over her glass of wine, Arianne caught it before it spilled, “There is purpose!” “I do not doubt that you have purpose but do not forget that others are effected by your cause.”  Sif’s internal reserve of emotion had a tidal wave she hesitated breathing slowly to calm the inertia from the rush of adrenaline.  She took a sip of Merlot tasting the thick woodsiness absorbing the alcohol into her system. “Your art exhibit will be grueling” “The chase is better than the catch” Arianne smiled  “For you” “Your and mothers presence will make the difference” “Is William still married?”  “That is a question” “What is your intent?” “What would be yours?” “That is also a question” Sif reached for a Moment of Life candle she lit it.

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine skinned the slaughtered prized bull as the hired help watched she stopped skinning below the jawline, several servants brought out buckets picking up the organs of the bull without asking.  One of the chef’s wheeled out a mobile hanging rail.  First the chef attached hooks to the space near the shank of both hind quarters legs as a circular wheel was cranked with a ratchet mechanism to hoist the bull upside down.  Within moments the bull was hoisted into the air.  Michelle was lost to conversation she was over whelmed by emotion.  Meat benches and twine were rolled outside and the bandsaw was dollied out to her location with a grinder and power generator for an energy supply.  Nidhogg walked to the side of her, he placed a hand on her shoulder as she heaved the bulls head in front of him for mounting.

 

****

 

Tomas was at a loss, he loved Michelle he was dedicated to her but he was not without purpose.  Before he married Michelle, Tomas was the team captain for the Chilean Olympic Futbol team, from his athletic career he made many important connections.  After several years of smuggling guns and drugs with Pablo he employed a small militia that resided in Concepcion, Chile. He was thinking, sitting in the passenger seat while traveling.  Conception was the base of their operation, there he would buy himself a small village if he had to.  It was decided that he would give Michelle a week to come to her senses if couldn’t win back her affections then he would kill her brother Nidhogg.  That was his plan, he had a plan for revenge.  Tomas stared aimlessly out of the Cargo Truck passenger window as Pablo drove to Concepcion.  

 

****

 

A Journalist from The Evening Reporter met with the owners of Poultry Provisions just as candidate for mayor Steward Blythe arrived to put up a Stewart Blythe for Mayor sign in front of the chicken farm.  Boney Hoggins posed a question to the journalist, “Your going to feature photos of Poultry Provisions?”  The journalist nodded in the affirmative, “That is correct, the story is about how Poultry Provisions came to be what it is today, the recent renovations, and the upcoming planned expansion.  The story will be featured in the front page of Sunday’s edition with a full page of photos and the main story in the middle of section A.  Boney Hoggins walked to the front where the dumpster was located, Stewart Blythe pegged in the campaign sign.  “I would appreciate it if the first photo is of me shaking Stewart Blythe’s hand in front of his campaign sign.”  The journalist shook his head not approving of the request, “The story is about Poultry Provisions not Stewart Blythe’s candidacy for mayor.  If he would like an interview or would like to make a statement on the record he can contact my editor.”  Boney Hoggins walked close to the journalist, “That is my terms and conditions from there you will have full access to the facilities and I also will break the news about a business that will soon be located not to far from the farm.”  There was some arguing back and forth between the journalist and Boney Hoggins, the journalist called his editor then he agreed to take the desired photo.  After the photo was taken Stewart Blythe left the premises and The Evening Reporter journalist was given a tour of Poultry Provisions.  Boney Hoggins also explained the details of Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants with a location to be in town within one years time.

 

****

 

First Craig packed the bags with Wine, Candles, and other items, he strapped a bowie knife to his leg and he pulled out the tent and rolled up blankets, and an airbed that were places in a large nap sack.  Both Craig and Faith put the back packs on then Craig hoisted the nap sack onto his shoulder while Faith put the pizza in a paper bag and they began hiking.  They hiked for close to an hour picking a spot where there was flat grass land.  Faith and Craig gathered sticks and brush for a campfire, then they set up camp.  Craig unrolled the airbed then he flipped the switch, the motor began filling up the bed then he places blankets and pillows on top of it.  Faith pulled out two folding chairs putting them down in front of the prepared unlit campfire.  Toward the edge of the woods Faith noticed several deer as Craig exited the tent she nudged him, Faith had never seen deer in person, “They move so gracefully” “They are majestic animals.” “I wouldn’t want to hunt them” “They’re meat is too dark and lean” “For me they are a sight to see.”  Several hawks circled around it was nearing sunset.  Craig pulled out a JBL speaker pairing it with his cell phone, he connected a battery pack to the speaker to keep it charged, then he lit the campfire.  Faith packed 2 glasses and a corkscrew she opened up a bottle of pinot noir, “So my dad and I planted a garden and we fought throughout planting the garden but I was right I know that every year he plants the same plants in the same place and some grow good and others not so much.”  "Well he is particular and set in his ways.”  There wasn’t much talk for a while, they sat in silence of night in the wilderness in front of a fire.  They could hear a pack of coyotes howl in the distance and then an owl started to hoot.  Faith put more wood into the fire.

 

****

 

Barley Mare wore a green Leprechaun’s hat and thick black glasses as he stepped off a plane that had just landed.  Along his side was Ming Na his wife and 4 of his tricks.  He gritted his teeth and licked his lips he spit out a nail that he had been sucking on letting it fall to the airport hallways floor.  It was a risky trip but you know he believed that without the risk there would be no reward.  It was his hopes on finding American husbands for his four female tricks there was a payoff planned back in Thailand should they marry Americans.  Barley knew exactly where he was planning on staying.  Years before this time Barley was a wanted man moving to Thailand to escape the law after he shot Shooter Nelson in a business deal gone bad.

 

Reg Folues sat in his house with his wife Kwang Mu who became a United States citizen not long after marrying Reg Folues.  She graduated from college with a degree in Biology and she was in her first year of med school.  They were watching lucha libra wrestling together with their pot belly pig BooBoo.  When Reg sold “The Bull” and “Silenus” he didn’t overspend or make big purchases he saved his money and when the time came for him to seek a loan to purchase 1/3 ownership of Poultry Provisions he was in a good position.  A year after meeting Kwang Mu they married.  Boo Boo rested in-between Reg and Kwang Mu when the door bell rang.  Boo Boo was dog like running and snorting then squealing as Kwang Mu answered the door to greet Barley Mare and her aunt Ming Na.  Now Barley Mare was a quirky fellow having served in the Vietnam war, yes he was old but he aged well and he often did out of the ordinary things.  In the past several years he ran a whore house in Pattaya Thailand.  He stood with his wife Ming Na and 4 familiar women whom Kwang Mu knew very well she embraced her aunt having not seen her in several years.  Barley Mare walked in with the women Reginald Folues did a double take almost in disbelief with seeing Barley Mare in his home.  Barley was grizzled and he spoke with a rough gritted voice. He shook hands with Reg Folues.

 

****

 

A couple of days had passed by in the city of Concepcion, Tomas and Pablo resided in a private compound that housed their hired militia.  The guns and drugs were on route to their contacts in Mexico.  Earlier in the morning Tomas had arranged to send Michelle 12 dozen roses of various colors.

 

****

 

In the morning a shipment of 12 dozen roses arrived for Michelle Moonshine the same morning that the butlers packaged all of Tomas’s belongings putting them on pallets to be scheduled for pickup.  She wanted all of his belongings off of her property.  The last couple of days were calming for Michelle.  Her decisions for separation was not based on her emotion though she still felt anger.  While she was domineering she was not a naive woman, Tomas liked control and he was not afraid to shed blood to get it.  Early in the morning several trucks had arrived with pigs.  Carpenters were in the process of building a pig pen.  It was decided that Michelle Moonshine would begin to raise her own pigs for slaughter.  The smoke house was smoking briskets, she was looking forward to making her own cold cuts.  A helicopter flew overhead.  Nidhogg had left the day before promising to return with a small security team.  Vega was left on the plantation while Nidhogg was gone she spent time touring the property.  Michelle and Vega had minimal contact with each other.  As Michelle stood near Tomas’s belongings six men accompanied Nidhogg.  Two of the men stood several inches taller than the six foot three Nidhogg and they both appeared to be well over three hundred pounds.  The six men carried three black trunks with them.  Michelle stood silently, “What is in the trunks?”  “That is a secret” Nidhogg said “I don’t like secrets” “Security equipment” “open up the trunks so I can see for myself” Michelle looked to Nidhoggs security team, “Do they speak English?”  “Yes they do” “Open up the trunks” Michelle ordered Bjorn and Olaf.  They first unlatched the three trunks then they opened up the trunks.  The first trunk was full of weird looking guns, the second trunk was full of drones, the third trunk was full of computers and satellites.  “Your security is well equipped with traditional primitive weapons. Provide a room where I can set up my equipment then I want you to call Tomas and have a conversation.  I can locate him and surveil his phone.  The satellite camera’s are astonishingly clear and magnified.  All of his movements will be easily tracked” Nidhogg explained ,Michelle looked forward, “This is where we differ,  I moved to Elqui Valley because I disagree with the invasiveness of modern technology.  My way is greater because it is more natural and not based on fabrication.”  Nidhogg waved a finger, ”Do not be mistaken this is nothing false about the technology that is used.”  “It is not that the outcomes are not real there is a matter of credibility and of morals.  I believe that technology has exceeded mans limit of humanity. I believe work produces results.  Technology is used as a crutch to supplement weakness and unnatural domination” Nidhogg took the insult in stride, “You have your methods and I have mine.  Will you provide a base for my security team to set up my equipment?”  “This is my property, my methods are man based and they work.  What is the difference between you and Tomas gun and drug smuggling?”  Michelle picked up her cell phone she walked away from Nidhogg she called to make arraignments for her flight to New England she needed a change of scenery.  A couple of weeks out Arianne Sullivan  would be hosting an art exhibit.  The re-introduction to her former life would be welcome.

 

****

 

Nidhogg was provided a room for his security team to set up the equipment there were computers with screens that were in coordination with Finish military satellites, they got visuals of the entire property zooming in and out on the screens.  He called up his sister’s cell phone she answered.  The purpose of his phone call was to track and monitor her phone conversations.  Nidhogg, Vega, and Michelle had lunch together.  Michelle informed the two of them that she would spend a month in the United States and then she would return.  Vega rubbed the scar on her shoulder, “What am I to do if Tomas comes looking for you?”  “I will call him” “No!” Nidhogg ordered her dryly, “It is your intent of getting a divorce?” “I don’t know, Divorce is forbidden by the Catholic Church and selling drugs and smuggling weapons is an act against god and humanity.”  “Have you ever killed anyone?” Vega asked “When my hand is forced that is a reality of owning an empire in Chile” “Will Sif be in attendance at the art exhibit?” Vega asked curiously “Yes she is already there” Nidhogg’s face went flush he gulped his Adams apple went up and down.  “Sif and I have many things to discuss and she may be invited to my home though my plans have not been set in stone."Vega was the most visible with the news that Michelle will be meeting with Sif while in America, she rubbed the scar on her shoulder.  After lunch Michelle hesitated calling Tomas, while she had a temper she was also patient and calculated when needed, she decided that a month away would give her time to make a clear headed decision regarding her marriage.

 

****

 

“Is it the end of something even if it wasn’t fully realized?” Craig asked Faith, “No, that’s a projection” They sat in front of the campfire, they weren’t full of conversation.  The night was crisp, crickets chirped mixed in with the sound of an owl hooting in the night.  Faith wasn’t giving up on a marriage that she wanted to save she stood up in front of Craig not too far from the fire.  She took off her shirt then she unclasped the back of her bra.  The campfire in the back ground contrasted with the contours of her curves showing a dark silhouette as the moon brought soft light to her breasts.  “We could move to our vineyard in California”  Faith tilted her head that was a possibility, she spread Craigs legs standing in between them.  “What about the store?” “We have managers” Craig reached forward placing his hands on her buttocks, “Don’t touch the merchandise” “What?” She took his hands off of her buttocks, “You want a divorce” “I’m hoping that things can change.”  “I like Hawaii” “Remember my first job?" "The meat market?" "Yeah" "What about it?" "There was a day when Rob and Mr. B had a heated argument, I was fifteen years old.  Mr. B was a life long Catholic and Rob had converted to non denominational Born again christianity.  The argument was over what changes a person their internal faith or their environment.  Does the change take place in one’s heart?  Rob’s argument was that if a person isn’t changed internally ie; repenting from one’s sins then they haven’t changed and it wouldn’t matter what their environment was.  Mr. B believed that a change in environment changed the person.  A difference between denominations I guess.”  “I’m not talking about religion, I’m talking about us.”  “I want to have Faith and I was us to move to our vineyard in California.  I think that a change in our environment where it is us Elvis and Marilyn and the workers we can focus more on each other.  I think that it will save our marriage”  “But I like Hawaii, why should I have to move?”  Craig placed his hands back on her buttocks, “What If I could have kids?” “I’d have a dozen children with you and make us formitable.”  “But I like my figure” “Sacrifices!The world needs more of us.” “Why can’t we talk about this at home?”  “At our vineyard it will be like we are right now.”  “I’m a home girl” “And I’m a country bumpkin.  Don't you want to live off the fat of the land?” Craig took off his shirt.  He pulled her close he kissed her they went into the tent for the night.

 

****

 

Barley Mare shook hands with Reg Folues, “What are you doing here?” “I have important business you see these 4 pretty ladies?” He circled his hands the women spun around in a clockwise circle.  “Once these ladies find American husbands I’ll return back to Thailand and make a small fortune.”  “You better be careful you were a wanted man.”  “Fuck them so long as I’m not ratted on I’ll be just fine.”  Barley took the bent nail out of his mouth then put it back in he smiled.  Reg missed his old quirky friend.

 

****

 

Sif accompanied Arianne to her art gallery with Gerda and Jennifer in the morning.  The doors were unlocked Saidah sat at her desk, “Good morning, It’s nice to see you Ms. Moonshine” Saidah welcomed both Arianne and Sif she addressed Sif by her last name.  After her divorce from Nidhogg she decided to keep her married name.  Sif slightly greeted Saidah.  Arianne noticed the crinkled scheduling book and that Saidah copied the information in a new one.  She handed Saidah the Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurant business proposal.  Saidah was animated as she read the proposal.  “I’m full of questions why would Madam Freyja enter a business marriage with Charles Bassett?  Am I going to be repremanded for spraying him with mace yesterday? I am not apologizing!” Arianne stopped Saidah “Charles snatched your scheduling book and ran after I declined his business proposal.  Your my employee no one elses.  I applaud your protective instinct.”  “Your mother is sending her nanny to pick up Jennifer she is staying at a beach house in Jamestown."

 

****

 

For Craig and Faith it was a dreary morning it started to sprinkle as they were making their descent from the mountainous area that they had stayed during the night.  Just as they made their way reaching Craig's truck they were able to get inside right as it started to downpour.  “Interested in breakfast?”  “Yes, the pizza wasn’t doing it for me” Craig put the wipers on then they drove to Phil’s Diner.  They waited in the parking lot for several minutes until the rain let up from the heavy down pouring.  Across the street from Phil’s Diner was the location for the original Dionysus Refined store.  Craig remembered his first wife Jennifer’s reaction when she opened the store with Debbie-Sue.  Faith and Craig went inside of the diner they were sitting at a booth the whirring of the conversation of the busy breakfast restaurant was mesmerizing, they ordered breakfast.  The whirring of the conversation at the busy breakfast cluttered the ears along with the clinking of silverware on plates, Faith was reminded of her former college job in Hawaii.  Faith spoke first, “I’ve been thinking all night Craig, I can’t move to California.  I’ll take vacations spend another two there or here but Hawaii is my home.”  “California will be good for us.  If you want to make our marriage work then you will move with me and the kids.”  The whirring of the conversation overtook the silence between the two of them.  After breakfast he dropped off Faith at her hotel room they would meet up later in the afternoon.  The plan was that she wanted to shop and go around the area alone and then she would check out of the hotel room moving her belongings to the apartment above Debbie-Sue’s.  Craig went home to work out, shower, change and then go to Arianne art studio.

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine wore a yellow dress with red flowers and a white sun hat, she took off her sunglasses as she opened up the doors to Arianne’s art gallery.  No she was not hesitant though Arianne and Michelle had not spoken to each other in nearly 20 years.  As expected the gallery was nearly empty of customers art hung on the walls and sculptures were stationed in the middle though Michelle knew that the art during the exhibition would not be shown until then.  Saidah approached the women wearing luxurious Spanish style clothing “May I help you with something?”  Michelle looked Saidah in the eyes.  They were not fierce or intense as often Michelle could be but the woman that she was speaking with was not naive.  “I have recieved an invitation to Arianne’s art exhibit.”  “Unfortunately miss you are several weeks pre-mature” “I know” Michelle said with a smile, “Is she available?”  “She has a” Sif and Arianne walked out of her office Sif smiled in excited recognition of her former sister in law.  Arianne however; breathed deeply while she invited Michelle to her art exhibit, they haven’t spoken in twenty years for a good reason.  Michelle took the initiative she walked past Saidah her and Sif embraced kissing each other on the cheek Michelle and Arianne did not, by her side was her daughter Gerda.  Michelle dipped down she slowed looking at the little girl she looked astonishingly beautiful she had olive colored skin and her hair was long and black and her eyes were hazel green.  “And what is your name?”  “Gerda” The little girl said, Michelle reached a hand across, she shook hands with the little girl, “Me and your mother were college roommates many years ago.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.”  In the distance Craig walked into the art studio he did not appear to be in a pleasant mood.  Michelle noticed an average height man with slicked black hair and a muscular build.  The most noticeable thing of his wear was not his black dress pants, or short sleeved grey button up dress shirt it was his leather belt and prominent bull belt buckle.  He walked past Michelle greeting Sif by kissing her on the cheek she reached for his forearms gently Michelle observed silently.  Gerda ran to Craig hugging his leg, he picked her up and she noted that the man appeared to be father of Arianne’s daughter.  She noted that he was wearing a wedding ring and Arianne was not.  “Craig” Arianne lifted a hand, “This is Michelle Moonshine she is a longtime friend of ours she owns a small empire in Elqui Valley, Chile.”  Craig was not in a good mood the last name he did recognize.  Michelle was an attractive woman, her Spanish style clothes complimented her curvaceous figure. “What is her relation to Nidhogg?”  “Half sister” Sif interrupted, Craig reached a hand across, “It is a pleasure to meet a beautiful woman such as yourself however; I will be direct! Me and Nidhogg were always adversarial” “Such is the Moonshine way!”  She smiled noticing that Craig appeared to be formidable on his own.  “As a matter of fact Nidhogg is staying on my plantation with his wife Vega.”  “I should have killed her” Sif took Gerda from Craig she stormed off going into Arianne’s office closing her office door behind her.  Michelle did notice the scar on Vega’s shoulder it amused her to find out that Sif was the one to have inflicted the damage.

 

****

 

Craig remembered that time in his life all too well his last memory of Nidhogg was of him wrapped up in hotel sheets nailed to the hotel room wall.  Sif broke him down to his admission of his affair with Vega along with the location of Arianne’s stolen art.  The entrance of Michelle Moonshine caused his defensive instinct to heighten.  He was well aware of the social structure in South American countries.  Michelle Moonshine was tall 5’8 she was thin while curvaceous she had dark olive colored skin she was Nidhogg’s half sister though she had a universal look while she was half english and chilean, she could pass for southern French, spanish, Italian, Greek, Eastern european he knew that she was a serious business woman.  He noticed her hands, she wore a wedding ring, and her hands appeared to be the looked soft yet strong.  It was his guess that she worked with them.  Arianne felt the silent tension in the room after Sif’s very unusual departure.  “Craig is two thirds owner of Dionysus Refined a candle and wine company” Michelle squinted her eyes, “I own a three hundred acre plantation I provide fruits, vegetables, wine, as well as raise and slaughter cattle, poultry, and pork and milk, I employ a portion of the people that live in the surrounding area.”  She was competitive like Nidhogg full of pride. “I am just a man that comes from small means.”  Arianne still had a bitter taste in her mouth from years before.  Craig on the other hand took interest. “If I recall you are a trained butcher” Arianne commented “Why yes I am I’m surprised that you remembered.”  Michelle genuinely appreciated the rememberance, “I’m a butcher or at least I was one, a cop too.” “Political tool!” Michelle chided “I own a 250 acre vineyard with nearly 100 acres used for growing grapes in Northern California, it provides the wine for all of my retail accounts, both of my stores, and wholesale accounts with Sif’s resort - Sif’s Geyser and Freyja’s Lady Of The Lake resort in Reykjavik.  Of course my inventories have a lot of aging to do”. Craig felt pride he puffed out his chest. “I also have a daughter with Freyja.” He touched Michelle softly on the shoulder, “I’ll leave the both of you to converse if you don’t mind while I spend time with my daughter.  I prefer California wine compared to Chilean wine”  Craig left Arianne and Michelle going into Arianne's office where Gerda was seated on Arianne’s desk with her legs dangling and Sif was seated in Arianne’s chair facing her.

 

****

 

Tomas arrived in front of Moonshine Plantation he did not give notice nor did he feel the need to.  He believed that when he explained his purpose that she would eventually come to terms with some kind of agreement.  Michelle’s three hundred acre plantation was surrounded by eight feet black steel barbed wire re inforced fencing.  He stood in front of the closed gates in the distance was Pablo and several hired hands, three trucks altogether.  They did have weapons but not an arsenal compared to what was housed in the basement of the bulls barn.  Tomas noticed security camera’s on both sides of the entrance gate.  At first it looked like a flock of birds then the buzzing began to become prominent.  Small weaponized drones with camera’s attached flew overhead.  One of them had a speaker, “STATE YOUR CLAIM” a German accented voice shouted from the speaker.  Tomas walked back to his truck, “What is this? I am not talking to machines” He walked back to the gate a couple of minutes later, “I am here to pick up the rest of my belongings and to talk with my wife.”  The front gates opened as Nidhogg’s security team arrived at the front gates brandishing obscure looking weapons.  The first two Ogre like men were brutish.  Tomas gave the order for the security team aside from Tomas and Pablo stayed behind.  Olaf pointed his weapon at one of Tomas’s hired hands he pulled the trigger the rest of the hired hands pointed their guns at the large Ogre like man.  Nothing fired from the weapon he smiled and laughed then he pointed the gun down followed by grinning and laughing.  Tomas’s hired hands lowered their weapons except for the one that Olaf had his weapon pointed towards.  The hired hand grabbed his abdomen then ran into the woods quickly. “COME!” Bjorn said to Tomas and Pablo.

 

****

 

Craig opened up the door to Arianne’s office Sif was seated in Arianne’s chair with Freyer was seated on top of the desk.  He closed the door behind him, “Hello William” It had been three years since they last spoken to each other after their brief affair.  He walked over kissing his daughter on the top of her head, “ She was telling me about her brother and sisters and about Hawaii” Gerda was given a coloring book with crayons she sat at a children’s play table Sif placed headphones with music over her ears.  Sif reached forward holding Craig’s hand.  “I trust that time has been good to you” Sif stated, “There has been struggle” “Still married?”  “We have been arguing.  I want to move to my vineyard in California she wants to stay in Hawaii.”  “It’s not about love” Sif reasoned “Longevity and goals.  Has life been pampering you with affection?”  “My life is full of events, Sif’s Geyser has become my own universe” Sif approached Craig’s personal space, she pressed herself against him she ran her fingers along his face rubbing her large breasts against his chest. “There are things unsettled between us” “That is a reality beyond my reach” Sif leaned in kissing him on the lips, “It’s not beyond mine” Craig’s phone rang it was Faith, he took a step backward and answered the phone.

 

****

 

Tomas and Pablo accompanied Bjorn and Olaf toward the mansion without answering several questions that Tomas asked.  They were lead to the dining room where two throne chairs were on the end of the dining room table.  Nidhogg and Vega were seated there were two computer lap tops open facing both Tomas and Pablo.  Nidhogg raised a picket sign, “TYPE” it read “What?” Tomas turned his head to the side, “This is ridiculous, I want to speak with my wife” Vega lifted a picket sign “SILENCE” it read Nidhogg raised his picket sign, “TYPE” Tomas paced the room he was irate.  Pablo reached into his back pocket, he pulled out a small notebook along with a pen.  Tomas printed, “I WANT TO SPEAK WITH MY WIFE! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?” He placed the handwritten note on the table.  It seemed like a world of fiction a slim bald pale man entered into the room with two women they strolled in a surgical preparation table with surgical gloves, gown, mask, and equipment the slim bald man held his hands upward the two women placed the surgical hat, mask, gown, and gloves on the man .  The slim bald man picked up two surgical laparoscopic surgical graspers walking over to the note on the table syncing down on both ends of the note, he lifted the note walking over to Nighogg who read the note.  The slim man walked away from the table with the note where one of the women was waiting with a lighter she ignited the note tossing it into a metal trash can.  Nidhogg motioned to one of the women he whispered in her ear she left the room returning moments later with two picket signs.  Nidhogg raised the picket, “She went on vacation” Vega raised another sign, “For one month unless things change” Tomas could take no more, he and pablo left the mansion.  As they excited the gates the drones flew overhead Tomas gave the order, his hired hands fired their weapons shooting down the drones.  Tomas left the premises driving back to Concepcion.  He was frustrated enough to break his rule of no cell phones, Tomas began to dial.

 

Chapter 5 Flat Water

 

Michelle Moonshine’s phone rang she was standing on the side of Arianne, it was Tomas she was talking to Arianne she looked perturbed as she looked at her phone, “Who is it?”  “My husband” “Answer it” “We’re separated” “By several thousand miles, please give him the respect of a phone call”.  Michelle did not like getting a guilt trip by her former roommate she answered her phone walking toward the back of the art gallery.  “What is it Tomas?” “WHERE ARE YOU?”  “Wouldn’t you like to know” “Nidhogg put up security camera’s and had drones flying around the property.  He used a frequency gun on my workers and would not speak with me, he used hand written signs” “Nidhogg uses alternative methods to reach his goals.”  “Where are you?”  “That is none of your business” “OH YES IT IS” “You smuggle guns and drugs.  How many have you killed?” “And when I am elected President of Chile what will you be?”  “An ex wife of a political tyrant.”  Michelle hung up the phone.  Tomas called back, “WHAT?” Michelle yelled catching the attention of Arianne and Saida.  You will be an adorned first lady.”  She slowed, “I need to think” “About?” Michelle hung up the phone.  She texted Tomas the hotel and room where she was staying.

 

****

 

Lights and alarms went off notification of Michelle’s conversation reached Nidhogg he listened to their conversation while tracking the coordinates of Tomas’s phone.  Concepcion, Chile a couple of hours driving distance away from Michelle’s plantation.  What was of interest to Nidhogg was the political aspirations of Tomas.  While he had no regrets regarding his adversarial stance to Tomas he was recognizant of the potential power that he was dealing with.  

 

****

 

Craig answered the phone it was Faith, “Faith” “Where are you?” “What are you doing?” “I just moved my things into the apartment why?”  “Do you have any dress clothes?”  “Yes” “Wear something nice I’ll pick you up we are going out to dinner with a few guests.”  “When?”  “I’ll pick you up an hour from now.” He hung up the phone.  “I am taking everyone out to dinner Saida included, I’m taking Freyer with me my business partner Debbie-Sue will be watching my children Freyja will be with them.  Craig took off Freyer’s headphones she left the art gallery with her, he made plans with Michelle and Arianne before he drove to drop off his daughter and pick up Faith.

 

Arianne texted her mother inviting her to dinner, she accepted agreeing to meet at Arianne’s art gallery within two hours.  The art studio was closed for the night all of the women would meet up later for dinner

 

****

 

Barley Mare took off his leprechaun hat, “How about calling Boney and Ow lets go to the Redneck Reservoir” Reg seemed a little edgy it threw off Barley Mare, “I own 1/3 of Poultry Provisions with Boney and Shooter Nelson” “Congratulations” There was a knock on the front door Kwang Mu answered it was Shooter Nelson he walked inside, he made eye contact with Barley Mare.  Shooter lunged forward Reg restrained him while Barley had his fists clenched ready to take a swing. “CALM DOWN NOW JUST CALM DOWN” “I’M GONNA KILL THAT MOTHERFUCKER” “NOW JUST HEAR ME OUT!” Shooter stood still shaking with his muscles held tight his long blond hair carried waved like when a mat is shook of dirt.  Reg dropped the miniature baseball bat that Shooter beat him with years before leaving him dead causing him to have his spleen removed along with killing his potbelly pig Yogi.  “Now just hear me out!” Reg was visibly shaken, Barley and Shooter never let up eye contact from one another.  “Shooter remember what you did to me with that baseball bat? And now we’re business partners.”   Shooter nudged the baseball bat, “Where did you find that?” “Thats not the point” “Can I have it?”  Shooter shook his head he looked back to Barley Mare, “That son of a bitch shot me in the stomach and left me for dead.” “What did you do to me?” Reg flicked forward a hand, “Now just listen Barley came from Thailand with compensation for what he done to you as a way to say sorry. I made an agreement without your knowledge because I forgave you and now I want you to forgive Barley and look we are business partners am I looking to go out of business?” “What are you trying to sell?”  Barley has in the next room over 4 beautiful women from Thailand and you get to pick out one of them but the catch is that you have to marry her.”  “What? Why in the hell would I want a wife?” Ming Na called for the women to come into the room they entered and then circled around in front of him.  They were fair skinned asian women all sisters looking similar.  Shooter stood with his thumbs in his front pockets tapping his thighs with four fingers he smiled.  In the past 2 years he had slim pickens with women he worked a lot and he remembered that asian women were loyal and they made for good wives.  He had to admit to himself that he thought that most asian women were ugly but these four were not.  Shooter was no longer a young man and while he still held on to a wild side, he was starting to slow down.  First he walked back and forth in front of the women looked each one up and down, “That one” Shooter picked out the sister with the largest breast she was short and thin, “Her name is Tran” Ming Na informed him.  “Does she speak English?” “Some” Barley Mare reached a hand across Shooter was hesitant he didn’t like Barley.  “I apologize for shooting you and leaving you for dead.  But look at you now you own a business with a man that you did the same thing to.” Shooter left Barley Mare with his hand extended he grabbed Tran by the wrist pulling her toward him, “Deal” Reg looked to Shooter, “You have to marry her, she is to become an American citizen” “Deal” Shooter left with Tran without further conversation.

 

****

 

Charles Bassett sat at the bar of Open Field golf resort reading the newspaper with a story of Poultry Provisions, he read the excerpt from Boney Hoggins letting out the news with Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants. “Just as well” He anticipated that he would be the one to break the news of the upcoming new business but he wasn’t angry.  Stewart Blythe sat down on the side of him, “And hows Stewart Blythe this fine evening?” “I see that you read the story in the Evening Reporter” “Congratulations, Poultry Provisions is endorsing your candidacy for mayor though Bony Hoggins gave you credit for work that you had no part of.”  Stewart Blythe motioned to the bartender he ordered a drink and ordered another for Charles.  “I am going to be elected mayor.” “That’s debatable! Its a close the teachers union has endorsed your opponent and they have been pulling hard for her election” Steward turned to Charles, “If you donate $2500 toward my campaign I can promise you that I will ensure that you will have no problems with permits and stalled clearances.”  Charles didn’t drink he looked to Stewart, “Hard money limits! What’s your angle?” “The election is close the teacher’s union is supporting Donna Lang a $2500 donation toward my campaign would go a long way” Charles looked to Stewart, “I think that you’ll be a competent mayor, the highway department supports your candidacy.  Along with putting a Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurant in town I will also be basing a warehouse and admistration office in town.  The road leading to Poultry Provisions needs to be paved the warehouse is going to be directly across from it and then the restaurant will be not too far down the road.  Within 2 years I will be opening 100 Charley’s Family Restaurants regionally and Poultry Provisions is going to be our supplier for chickens and that means this, the road is going to be very well traveled. It needs to be paved.  My endorsement is the equivalent of a bucket of piss but if you do get elected then come re-election time you will have my endorsement. I hope that you realize the potential of the combined employment opportunity for this town.  Paving should come at the expense of the town not mine.”  Stewart and Charles drank their drinks, “That’s legitimate” “I’ll send a check to your office”

 

****

 

Jed Folues spent his day splitting wood he was unemployed after his company moved to another town in another state.  While he supposed that he could get a job at Poultry Provisions he couldn’t force himself to work for his younger brother Reg.  The revving of two trucks could be heard in the distance getting closer.  Now Jed Folues lived on a scenic road and not much traffic drove by so it was noticeable when there was.  Jed was working toward the barn where he had a pile of logs.  A classic Red Ford pickup truck and a Black Dodge Ram parked in front of his house.  Reg knew who it was that was waiting in front of his house but he didn’t know why.  He walked with his ax in hand Percival Cauldron and Jim Buck stood in front of both vehicles Percival rested his hands on top of his cane, “Percival, Jim” “It’s nice to see you Jed it has been some time” Jim said Percival nodded his head in acknowledgement.  Jed rested his hands on the top of his ax, “Whats the purpose of the visit?” “Well we know that you were a manager at the warehouse that just closed down.” Percival said “Would you be interested in coming to work for Le Persil?”  Jim Buck asked. Jed looked to both men firmly, “I’m not a thug and I’m not a trashman” “Honest work and honest pay” Percival corrected “And what about my dad?” “Lucky six was a loyal man” Jim commented “What did loyalty get him?” Jed asked angrily he gripped his ax.  Percival knew Jed since he was born, Jed was stubborn and headstrong much like Percival he was to the point, “Nobody ever said that life aint hard and the company that you keep is often a reflection of yourself.  I aint asking you to be our friend.  We know that you are capable, we have an open foremen position and I’m sure that the pay is similar to what you were making.  A foreman isn’t a laborer!  Trash stinks, the town will never show you respect, it is unending, but it pays.”  Percival pointed to Jed’s ax, “You can chop down a tree and get free heat, That is what honorable men do.  We’re asking you to work for Le Persil.” Jed was motionless his nostrils flared he looked to both Percival and Jim then he looked back to where he was working, “This is what I will do!  I’m going back there and I’m going to finish splitting my pile. My dad died a young man and Le Persil was not his god!”  Jed raised his ax walked back to his woodpile, he started his Husqvarna 450 he paid no attention to the two men as he cut a couple of logs before splitting them.  Percival and Jim drove away with food for thought.

 

****

 

Freyja arrived with her security team in front of Arianne’s art studio.  A truck parked in the parking lot out of the vehicle was Craig and Faith Chaise.  The last time that Freyja had spoken with Craig was under strenuous circumstances at one time they seemed made for each other, Djinn changed that.  Faith wore a summer dress with flat shoes, it was simple but she wore it well.  She adjusted her sunglasses as she caught a glimpse of Freyja.  They approached the studio Freyja’s security team met them, she had walked into the studio.  Craig pulled out his license showing it to the head of security, they knew who Craig was but they wanted the pleasure of hassling him.  They opened up the door for him and Faith to enter.  Inside of the art studio seemed overwhelming, Craig felt a squeeze almost making breathing unbearable for a moment his teeth began to tingle, Freyja stood in between Sif and Arianne and then there was Saida and Michelle Moonshine.  Arianne took the initiative, “Faith welcome to my art studio let me introduce you to my former college roommate Michelle Moonshine and my assistant Saidah” Faith shook hands with Saidah then Michelle, whom held onto Faith’s hand she had a firm grasp Faith and Michelle stood silently for a moment that seemed too long, “I know you” Faith said “Likewise” Faith walked to Craig’s side.  Freyja stared at Craig while Michelle and Faith were introduced to each other, Craig’s face was red he appeared to be under a lot of pressure.  “William, where are we going?”  Freyja asked “I’m glad that you asked, we are going to a four star restaurant called “The Point” we have reservations for their first of two seatings” Arianne gestured with her hand extended leading the way, “My mother has an extra limousine we will all travel together.”

 

****

 

Tomas boarded a private flight, he had his luggage placed Pablo accompanied him in Pablo’s luggage he carried several hand guns.  There was no intention of using them but the reassurance of security was a necessity.  He was given the location of Michelle’s hotel to Tomas that was a promise that their marriage would survive the exposure of his side business.  Tomas placed a towel over his face and slept while Pablo and one of the air flight attendants had sex in the bathroom.

 

****

 

Nidhogg was discontented, he knew that the ball had moved to New England.  For some reason Craig Chaise came to mind, Nidhogg became irritable like a child needing a nap.  He sat alone on a wall with his feet dangling above the ground.  Flailing his arms and legs he looked both ways frustrated, Vega walked from behind sitting on the side of him, “What is wrong?” “I’ve been robbed” “What of?” “Power” “How so?” “Tomas is traveling to America to be be reunited with my sister” Vega shrugged her shoulders, “So you have power over Moonshine Plantations until Michelle gets back” “That isn’t it” “What is?” “He is going to run for the Chilean Presidency” Vega quieted she comprehended, “Our hand must be limited” “Not Necessarily, it must be intelligent and to the point” Nidhogg stood feeling reinvigorated.

 

****

 

The Point restaurant resided in a New England country setting on a small farm. On the farm was a colonial mansion, the front porch was long and winding wrapping itself around the mansion.  There were rocking chairs on both sides of the entrance door.  Rock walls blockaded the front of the restaurant mansion with a space for the entrance walkway.  The distinguished guests entered the four star restaurant, the air was dry and the guests and hostess all appeared to be as equally British.  As they walked in the colonail mansion the hard oak floors gave creedence to the colonial environment that they entered.  Freyja felt comfort with the New England four star restaurant, she was reminded of her deceased husband.  Craig checked in with the hostess they were seated at their table, the hostess placed complimentary dry bread sticks at their table.  Charles Bassett was seated moments later.  Arianne, Craig, and Saidah shuffled in their seats.  Craig was content with being the only male at dinner until Charles sat down.  “I sent Charles an invitation I hope that you don’t mind” Freyja smiled she liked the visual angst.  Charles’s eyes were drawn to the two other women at the table Faith looked like Jenny, she was attractive.  While he had an ongoing affair with Craig’s dead wife she cared for her, naturally he would be attracted to Faith and then there was Michelle!  She was dark with vulouptuos cleavage wearing spanish style clothing.  Freyja introduced Charles, “Michelle this is Charles Bassett my new business partner, he was a long time boyfriend of my daughter Arianne.” Charles did not want to incite arguments at the table.  Considering the importance of the business venture that lied before him, “So the good news Freyja, I spoke with a friend of mine whom is likely to be elected mayor of the town where Poultry Provisions is located.  I informed him that a warehouse and restaurant will be built in town.”  “Some other time Charles, this night is not meant to be discussing our business.”  “I was informed that my husband Tomas is to be running for the President of Chile in the next election.”  Michelle blurted, Several people from other tables turned around to get a glimpse of the woman whom had made the statement.  “What is his likelihood of getting elected?” Craig asked. “That is a complexed question.  He will be known as the captain of the Chilean Olympic Futbol team, I am known for my Plantation in Elqui Valley, Chile.  While Santiago is the capital, Chile is a vertical nation we are not exactly one people.”  “What is Nidhogg’s role?” Sif asked surprising several people at the table.  Michelle’s face showed anger, “Perhaps his role will be as observer” Craig offered, “That would be nice.  It is my estimation that Tomas will arrive within the next day with his security guard Pablo.  We had a falling out of sorts.”  Arianne remembered the temper that Michelle often lost control of, she thought it best to change subjects, “So Faith, William informed me that you both will be moving to your California Vinyard.”  The waiter brought drinks to the table.  Faith did not smile, “Your information is wrong he might be moving there but I am not.”  Everyone at the table smiled except for Craig.  He knew that Arianne had fished on a statement with loaded bait.  Normally he would have brushed aside such a snipe at a restaurant in the audience of such important people.  Craig looked to Michelle, “Successful marriages last because they have agreeable goals.”  “What are you saying?” Faith asked not caring where she was “Is this the right environment?”  Craig asked “I could give a care.  He wants to have a dozen kids with me and rot on a grape farm.  Hawaii is a tropical paradise” Freyja tapped her wine glass she enjoyed the argument she remained wordless as did Arianne and Sif.  Michelle did not she saw a parallel in her marriage, “Perhaps there is a compromise” Michelle offered. “You are of means why not partition your living quarters” She suggested “Let youthful folly be a causation for lifelong grief” Freyja gave her judgment.  Sif reached under the table holding hands with her sister Arianne.  Craig excused himself to the restroom.

 

****

 

Tomas Caza landed in Providence Green Airport with Pablo in the private plane.  They had a rental vehicle ready.  This was Pablo’s first time in America but Tomas was well travelled, he was unfamiliar with New England and all of the one way roads but he had a satellite map to help him find the hotel where Michelle was staying.  Technically it was illegal for both Pablo and Tomas to drive since they did not have licenses but they wavered caution deciding to follow the directions of their maping device.  When they arrived at the hotel Pablo checked into his own room and concierge handed Tomas Caza a key to Michelle’s room, she had anticipated his arrival.

 

****

 

Dr. Katherine Savant was on a first date with a resident doctor from the hospital where she was an emergency room surgeon.  While her date wasn’t really her type she was willing to go on one date to decide for herself.  The resident doctor chose to bring her to “The Point” restaurant in an attempt to woo her with aristocratical lavishness.  They were served drinks and then salad, while there was conversation it wan’t very appealing to her.  Katherine was several years older well into her 40’s she was distinguished in her career and set in her beliefs.  After her divorce she felt comfort with being herself.  What she desired was a man to be as much of a leader as she.  Admittedly Katherine knew that this would be the only date with the resident doctor.  A man walked into the room looking around it was Craig Chaise, he appeared to be angry and Katherine raised a hand, “Craig” she smiled he looked around until he recognized her it brightened her mood.  “What a funny coincidence” Craig started saying “It has been years, oh this is a resident doctor that I work with Henry this is Craig Chaise, he is the owner of Dionysus Refined the Candle and Wine shop in town” “I’m here with my wife and a couple of close friends” Craig pulled out a business card with his phone number on it, “Give me a call we will have to schedule a dinner” “Nice seeing you” Craig continued his search for a rest room and Katherine made plans in her mind in the next couple of days involving Craig Chaise.

 

****

 

Barley Mare sat as his old table with his wife Ming Na and Reg Folues the three women from Thailand along with Kwang Mu sat at the table to the side of them.  Boney Hoggins walked in with Ow Nguyen they excitedly sat at the table with their friends.  Ow couldn’t help himself but to constantly look over to the other table where the three marriage hopefuls seemed to be thick in conversation with each other and Kwang Mu.  Reg noticed Ow looking at the three women at the other table.  Now Ow worked at Poultry Provisions as a production supervisor.  “You should hire them, Asian women work hard, show up everyday, and they don’t talk back”  “They’re not American, Barley is looking for husbands for them so that they can become American.” “What about me?” Ow asked holding out both hands like a pauper looking for a donation.  Barley Mare took the bent nail that was in his mouth placing it on the table, he drank his glass of beer.  Ming Na refilled it, “The agreement was that the women would get American husbands” Ming Na said to Barley, “I know honey” He looked to Ow, “We already got Shooter to agree to bury the hatchet with me and to marry Tran, one of the women whom he is with now.  Sure if the women had work then we could get them temporary work visa’s but in order for me to get paid all of the women must get married.  Ow if your looking for a good wife now it the time.”  Ow walked over to the table with the women he picked one of them.  Now Ow was not a very attractive man by anyone’s standards but he was American and he had a good paying job.  That left two women before Barley’s obligations were fulfilled.  Of course being the businessman that he was he would have to attend to all of the weddings with his wife Ming Na.  Mandy walked to the tables with the food that was ordered and then she brought several more pitchers of beer.  Sal was the bartender for the night he pointed to the door that Reg paid for after the raid that Barley was involved with.  Barley took the bent nail placed it back in his mouth he lifted up a thumb and gritted his teeth.  He was starting to like his welcoming home he began to tell of the adventures of living in Pattaya Thailand.

 

****

 

It was noticeable to those at the table that Craig’s composure and mood had changed when he returned from the rest room.  Faith wasn’t used to the stuffy etiquette of Sif, Freyja, and Arianne however; Michelle took a liking to Faith they compared notes with Chile and Hawaii.  Faith was inviting Michelle to Hawaii when Craig returned to the table, “What do you think about Michelle and her husband vacationing with us in Hawaii?”  “Why not our vineyard in California?”  “I would be interested in vacationing at your vineyard, after all the grapes that provide the wine for my resort is grown there” Sif blurted.  Faith shook her head she bit her lip.  Craig was quick, “I will offer the invitation to all of my customers at the table.  Seeing the growing, cultivating, and production side of the vineyard might give you a greater appreciation if not then a week of California might give you a different appreciation for Northern California.”  Michelle looked to Faith, “I’ll take you up on spending a week in Hawaii, if you agree to take a week vacation in Chile” Faith liked the offer, “I would like that very much” Craig’s phone buzzed, he received a text it was Katherine Savant  “Dinner tomorrow 7pm my house?”  “Yes” he replied “Who’s that?” Faith asked “Debbie-Sue” Michelle Moonshine received a text from Tomas, “I am unpacking my belongings in your hotelroom” “I’m at dinner we will talk when I return.”  Dinner continued though it was one that several at the table could have done without.

 

****

 

He kept on keeping on because that was something that he knew how to do.  Jed Folues was down and out but he was not defeated, there was a knock on his front door he opened it.  Donna Lang candidate for mayor stood in front of the door.  “Hey stranger” Jed invited Donna in she kissed him on the cheek.  “Sorry to hear about the warehouse closing” Jed was wordless.  A year before this time his wife Claire died from breast cancer.  Both of his children were high school aged.  Donna Lang was a long time friend of Jed’s he was well aware that Donna’s visit was most likely due to Poultry Provisions endorsement of Stewart Blythe.  “Donna what can I do for you?” “I’m going door to door asking for signage space in voters yards.” “You know that I’m not involved in politics” “But you do vote” Jed had hoof clippers and a file in his hand, “I hate to be rude, Are you busy?”  “I was heading home after leaving here.”  “Follow me to the barn.” Jed lead the way he walked to the stalls he had three horses and three mini horses, he planned on clipping their hooves.  “Hold the line please” Jed handed Donna the lead rope. “Help you clip horse hooves” “You want to put a sign in my yard don’t you?”  She laughed, “Your husband would be jealous” “You two never did get along” Jed shook his head no, “Just as well” Donna agreed “Politics is a family killer isn’t it?” “If your running against Stewart Blythe.” “I might be able to help you” “How?” “You know of Dionysus Refined?” “Yes I do” “My friend owns it he’s spending the summer here with his wife, I haven’t spoken to him but perhaps I should.  If I have him over for dinner would you be willing to have dinner with us, my kids will be there.  He’s not a miser I’m sure that he would donate and allow signage on his business property.  What is diagonal from his business?”  “City Hall! When would you be able to schedule the dinner?”  “Can you hand me the hoof pick?” Jed bent over putting the horses hoof in-between his legs, he cleaned the hoof before clipping it. “Less than a weeks time, Craig will want to have dinner with me.  Do you have dogs?”  “Yes, why?” “I’ll put the hoof trimmings in a bag they are hood dog treats.”  “Any luck finding work?” “Percival Cauldron stopped by with Jim Buck offering me a job as a Forman at Le Persil” “What about Poultry Provisions?”  “I won’t work for my brother call it pride and I’m not a trashman.” “Do you know Charles Bassett?”  Jed nodded, “A little, most notably for his relationship with Jenny Chaise.  The owner of Dionysus Refined’s deceased wife” “I remember wasn’t someone killed?”  “Yup, He’s going to be building a warehouse across from Poultry Provisions” “A year from now” Jed handed Donna the file, “I clip you file” “How do I know what to do?” He handed her the file, “File like you would your own fingernails.  Smooth the edges” little shreds resembling parmesan cheese fell to the floor. “I’ll need to wash my hands when I am done” “Of Course” “At dinner I plan on asking Craig if he has any positions at his business that would be suitable for me.” Jed said “You’ll work for him?” “I think that he would like me in a leadership position because he can trust me, he lives in Hawaii” They clipped and filed clipped and filed and within an hour they were done. “Beer or wine?” Jed gave the choice “Can I wash my hands?” “There’s a sink in the room right there, use the pumice soap” Donna walked out to the hall, “I think that I have earned your vote” “Beer or wine?” “Wine at dinner, I’m putting a sign in your front yard” “Thanks for the help Donna.” “Send me a text” Jed watched Donna leave placing her campaign sign in the front of the yard.

 

****

 

Faith waited until they were in the truck.  “Why did Arianne bring up California at dinner?  And why are you talking to her about us?” “6 months in Hawaii and 6 months in California” “Can’t we talk about this later?” They drove without words, the house was empty as Debbie-Sue took the children to the drive ins.  Craig stood in front of Faith in their bedroom, “You got along well with Michelle” “I like her she is straightforward and she’s a leader, she’d be a good Chilean first lady” “Your looking forward to visiting Chile?” “She owns a plantation, how many people do you know that own a plantation?” “True” “So what do you want to do?” Faith put her pajama’s on the bed “I’m not feeling well” “Lay on the bed I’ll give you a massage” “Why?” “Because I want you to feel better and I like touching you” “Well I don’t want to move not even 6 months out of the year” “I see” “You have some thinking to do because I’m done!” “Faith! I’m not perfect but I’m a good husband” “And I’m a good wife” “Then be a good wife and move with me to our vineyard, why not live simply and be happy for a while and maybe then you’ll want to have kids with the help of a gyn” “That’s not what I want” “What do you want?”  “To live where we live and for you to stop setting goals that you can’t reach and dream of dreams that will never happen” That shut Craig up he disagreed with her and it hurt his feelings.  “What if I got Joanna and Jan to move to our vineyard?” “Good luck” she picked up his keys off of the dresser tossing to him, “Go and do something by yourself, I want to be alone” 

 

****

 

Sif Moonshine had some thinking to do rarely did she ever follow her gut feeling.  There was something that was not right and she could not place it.  No she did not like Faith, in her opinion Faith was too common and immature.  Although she had to admit that it caused her some satisfaction to see her and Craig argue during dinner.  Michelle Moonshine unsettled Sif in a different and much deeper way.   She knew Nidhogg he was not a naive man, he was continual and he was not without resources, she knew that Nidhogg was a scheming man.  It was not a thought Sif knew that he would be confrontational with Tomas because that was his nature.  While he had many strengths his weakness was often that he did not know his own limits.  Sif was content with her marriage, she was not a fan of variables.  What discontented her was that she felt a need and Craig Chaise was the need.  Freyja broke her train of thought she nudged Sif. Sitting the limosene Freyja, Sif, Saida, and Arianne were driven to Freyja’s beach house in Jamestown RI, “Is something the matter?”  Freyja asked “I will expect Nidhogg to make an appearance while we are in the area.”

 

****

 

Salvatore Moonshine was an old man, he smoked a cigar sitting at the desk in his study room.  His estate was located in Coventry, England, he was a retired business man having made most of his wealth as an executive of various levels with several food conglomerates.  He read an English business newspaper when his live in nurse brought him a fax, it was from Freyja Sullivan his old deceased business partner’s widow.  From time to time they would trade barbs, they competed from a far like two old goats.  The fax was the business plan for Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants.  He took a puff from his cigar flicking the ashes into an ash tray, “Freyja you bitch, you keep going”. There was a handwritten note that was faxed, “Had dinner with Michelle, Her husband is running for president of Chile.  Have you made amends?”  Salvatore crumpled the note he picked up and knocked down his cane on the hard wood floor.  He breathed in deeply there was a clogged nasal sound that accompanied his breath.  He took another puff from his cigar as he continued to read the newspaper.  The past several years Salvatore had been in declining health, he had heart surgery and while he survived, his health did not improve to the vigor of his youth.  He was however; a very knowledgable and educated man.  It appeared that things had changed

 

****

 

Vega believed in her intuition something was not right she felt it within the earth itself without knowing a why.  She grabbed a pitcher of water from the dinner table she carried it outside tossing it watching it land, “It is flat” Nidhogg stood on the side of her he was silent.  “There is a judgment” She warned “What? Don’t be foolish”  “It is the earth not man that is making its judgment” 

 

Chapter 6 The Greatness of Humanity

 

Before Craig put his keys into the ignition of his truck he sent Katherine Savant a text, “interested in a drink?” A moment later she texted, “Your welcome to swing by” Craig started up his truck he drove to her house.  There was still sunlight it was nearing 8pm the New England summer sky shone the bloodied sun making a promise of the weather to come.  A threshold was met Craig knew that his marriage with Faith was at an end.  He spun the ring on his finger around he knew that if Faith agreed to move to their vineyard that naturally their relationship would thrive.  Observation and refrained judgment often was his closest friends that proved to be loyal to his truest self.  Feeling resolved he drove to the front of Katherine’s house.  She sat on her front porch in a rocking chair wearing a sun dress with noodle straps her pale freckled shoulders and arms led to her blonde hair she smiled as she played a guitar she stopped placing it in-between her legs.  Craig walked to her stairs holding four bottles of wine and two candles.  “You play guitar?” Katherine leaned the guitar against the house, she opened up the screen door, “Believe it, I find that playing guitar or piano helps with finger dexterity” “I play guitar” “Maybe I will have you sing a song” Katherine invited him inside, “So what brings you here tonight” “What happened to your date?”  “Marriage problems” Craig shrugged his shoulders, “Business couldn’t be better” “Red or white?” “Red” “I agree” The sun had set quickly the stars began to poke through the darkness of the nighttime sky.  “Time has been kind to you” Craig complimented Katherine “I’m dedicated to myself and to my profession” “Campfire?” “Why?” Katherine poured them both a glass of wine, “Why not?” “A creature of comfort likes the company of fire” “On a night like this the flames can be telling” “Of what?” “You live in the world of science, I am a believer of nature” “Fair enough, we’ll light a campfire but you will teach me a lesson on fire”

 

Outside Katherine had several lawn chairs stacked near the door.  Craig picked up two chairs carrying them to where there was once an area where fires were lit.  Patches of grass covered the sand that served as the foundation of the area, “Quit lighting campfires?” “I have been busy” Craig walked around collecting sticks he made a small tepee stuffing leaves under it, he lit the fire.  It smoked at first clouding the campfire area then the flames rose to a bright yellow the air was dry he was reminded of Colonial America with this fire.  “The types of fire are often indicators of the energy that is passing by” “Explain” “Tonights fire is dry, thought provoking, I’d read Emily Dickinson or Ernest Hemingway on a night like this because there male/female dominance is likely the most prominent of any that I know.  Meaning to my own psyche they are masters of the mind.  I’d also read most of the old and new testament because god used fire and brimstone, its M.  There are often nights when the kind of fire accompanies fog or when there is a chill and the fire seems alkaline in nature.  The fire is lit but the fire appears thin almost unable to create warmth.  One night sitting outside there was an owl that hooted and gods honest truth a purple mask appeared in the thin waving blue tinged yellow flames.  Other fires there is a silence and in the fire is a stillness that appears like a movie in slow reel.  I could go on in explaining.”  “I find it interesting and borderline superstitious” “I find fire to be settling” 

 

Crackling and small sparks popped from the dry burning wood, “There are many things that are settling, the aftermath of a patient profusely bleeding with a successful outcome leaves everyone in the operating room like the calm after a storm.  It just happened and I want to talk to someone about it.”  “I’d like to listen and learn” “You would be akin to the surgical sales rep that was in the room clinging to the edge of the operating room like a fly on the wall while the circulating nurse and scrub tech assisted me with stopping the bleeding.”  They both sipped their glasses of merlot.  “I’d like to be taught by your experience” “It just happened yesterday, A patient had stomach pain with a distended abdomen. Test were conducted to indicate the cause, though I pretty much knew what it was.  The patient was male in his early fifties a heavy smoker and life long alcoholic.  The patient had blood in his stool and he had trouble defecating.”  I’ve continued my education in general surgery, most of my abdominal surgery cases are done laparoscopically.  Typically I do lap chole’s, lap hernia’s, and most recently laparoscopic colectomy’s.  In that field there are products that change the outcomes, some using a single incision making scarring almost non existent, the is one product that is my favorite.  However; that would be impossible in this case.  I knew that there was the possibility of having open surgery, and to tell you the truth the patient wouldn’t have known the difference besides that the doctor cut him open.  But I do have surgical preference and I pride myself in being a good surgeon.  I figured to use a hand assisted approach.”  “What is that?” “There is a jelly like product that allows me to use one of my hands in the patients abdomen, and what better tool than your hands right? With the use of the hand assist product I can keep the patients abdomen inflated with air and insert a couple plastic tubes called trocars into parts of his abdomen.  Through the trocars I insert a video camera called a scope look around have the scrub tech move the camera around so I can see while I use a grasper, scissor, or energy device to dissect and cauterize tissue.  With a hand assist its still considered laparoscopic surgery.” “What’s the difference?”  “A three inch incision instead of a 9 inch open surgery incision, healing time, pain, meds prescribed, lower chance of future surgical infection and post surgical complications. I called for the product rep to observe the surgery. Mainly because I went to a C.M.E certified cadaver course using the product several months before but I hadn’t used the product since.  Typically I’d prefer my surgeries straight laparoscopic or open.” Craig was starting to talk, “So what happened to the patient?” “I made the surgical incision for the hand port, as expected there was some bleeding the scrub tech placed suction through the device as insufflation was attached putting air into the abdomen to establish pneumoperitoneum making the stomach look like a ball.  It is often that the product reps observant eyes are an extension of mine because I’m focused on the patients anatomy and the surgery itself.  The products function and correct use with features and benefits is the sales reps value to me.  So the patient was insufflated, trocars are in, the scope reveals that the patient is loaded with adhesions and I’m questioning myself whether I can perform the procedure laparoscopically.”  “Scarring?”  “a decade before the patient had an appendectomy, the patient had peritonitis or inflammation of the stomach lining from a burst large intestine.  Parts of the peritoneum formed attaching bonds to the organs it is scarring.  It’s like walking through a living room where normally a tv, couch, chair, coffee table are but added to the room are ropes connected to the wall almost like a web.  Adhesions are surgical barriers it is often the result of trauma and previous surgeries.  Unhealthy living conditions make it more prominent.  The patient has sclerosis of the liver it was swollen.  A healthy liver is kidney bean color this patients liver was swollen passing beyond the ribs.  Dissection revealed the area of blockation and perforation.  It was in the transverse colon, the horizontal part of the large intestine that runs along the upper abdomen near the liver, pancreas, and spleen.  The procedure is a transverse colectomy due to a perforated colon with sepsis.  In plain english, I had to dissect the attachments of the transverse colon so that when I locate and reconnect the intestines they meet.  I’m delicate with my hands, with a minor nick the patient began to bleed profusely, for typical non emergency colectomy’s the patient has a clean colon”  Craig was quiet he listened intently, “I’m listening” “In an instant I took my hand out of the patients abdomen, the sales rep was giving instructions on how to take off the lid of the device, I yelled for the light to be turned on packed the patients abdomen with lap pads then had the scrub tech apply pressure.  I said calmly to everyone in the room ‘Remember what you are trained to do in this kind of situation do not rush compose yourself’ The anesthesiologist adjusted the meds and gas slowing down the patients breathing and heart rate to slow the circulation of blood.  Some surgeons would have immediately cut the patient open however; I did not.  With the device is a circular wound protector with a rigid ring.  Picture a rubber trash can that has a top ring plastic bag and a bottom ring without a cover for the bottom I roll it down like a sock to attach itself to the abdomen.  The device keeps the wound open showing the internal organs without the use of hands for protraction, it also protects the wound from infection, roughly its the diameter of a music cd.  I can move and tug to see openly where I am performing surgery.  The incision was along the midline, the vertical line of the abdomen” “I know where the midline is” “The incision was pre umbilical.  From their the patient bled profusely like an overfill cup dripping off of the operating room bed to the floor.  The sales rep clung to the wall as the circulating nurse paced quickly opening up packages and retrieving others while the scrub tech got the lap pads and followed my instruction.”  “What happened” “Patient anatomy he had week tissue and vessels.”  “I was a meat cutter, I remember when I was making sausage some casings would tear without much force and others where thick” “That is it! The scrub tech held the suction making visibility possible.  I was able to locate and suture the nicked vessel stopping the bleeding the patient had weak tissue so I was extra cautious.  With the stoppage of bleeding I had the nurse call for a blood transfusion and I was able to continue with the procedure. I put the lid back on the hand assist product re-insufflated the abdomen and then I finished the procedure.   I dissected the blocked and perforated colon, extracaporalized  the infected colon making an anastomosis that is cutting the infected intestine and suturing it back together.  At the end of the procedure it was like the calm after a storm.”  “That’s not like a fire” “No it was like hurricane or a war, that was my first case using a laparoscopic approach that had an emergency.  The patient didn’t need a colostomy,”  “Was it successful?”  “Yes, I consider that a win” “The hands of god” “Well if the patient continues to drink and smoke then it will be beyond a surgeons control” “That really does beat all” “Thank you” “Observation is a developed skill.  Did the sales rep’s observation help?”  “He explained how to take off the cap of the product when the emergency began, before the procedure he inservice me on the installation of the product.  It was useful for the scrub tech to listen to the instructions when the bleeding began, because she was frozen with fear.  The presence of the product rep in that situation was important because the extra time with product removal really does make a difference.  In surgery the surgeon is the general”  “The general misconception is the power of observation is not a skill.”  Katherine was lost within her experience she tensed Craig was listening noting that she was Dr. Savant not Katherine her profession took the forefront and then almost like a switch she eased becoming Katherine.  “It’s not about you until it is” Craig said “What do you mean?”  “It means that your profession has absorbed you” “I did go on a date” “With a nerd doctor” “So what are you trying to sell?” Kathrine asked “Truth! There are different kinds of sales, with competition comes realizations.  To a surgeon the surgery itself with the patients vitality is the competition.  The best sales managers carry a truth with them that can only be reduced down to the value of their product.”  “And sales reps are ass kissing, manipulating, spinning, self absorbing, remora’s and wanna be sharks” “You must have had bad sales reps.  There are levels and types of sales.” “Most of the time I don’t make product decisions. Sometimes I do, like with hand assist and single incision because it is a surgical technique that is product dependent and the surgical benefit outweighs the cost”  “That’s why it’s not about you until it is.  About you, because you made the difference.  If you meet a sales rep like me trust them because I keep you human and not a plastic thing, even if the rep is new.  I’m the boy on the rail road tracks, and the one raking leaves with a bucket while everyone else uses a blower, in the country I’m the one shoveling manure in the barn when others drive away”  “I know who you are” Katherine said sharply looking oddly out of the corner of her eye.  “What about during product contractions?” “A surgical environment is not nature, the trade off with specificity is the loss of the natural world.  As a surgeon I accept that.” “Know that with contracts and cutting there can be hurt because of the un naturalness of your world as where in nature there isn’t the reduction because it is true.  However; when you see me cutting trees in the woods, or running daily I can argue otherwise.  I want to move to my vineyard in California.”  Katherine and Craig both exchanged stories of the past couple of years along with the environment in which he has lived.  “Seems like left handed war” Katherine gave her opinion “The vineyard is the perfect place for me to live.  I have competent managers that can run operations for the retail sites.”  “I’ve been busy almost too busy to focus on a private life.” Katherine admitted “Your a beautiful woman” Craig picked up Katherine’s legs putting them on his lap.  “What would your wife say to you doing this?”  Craig shrugged, “We agreed to spend the summer apart from each other and then she showed up here to us fighting in front of important customers and close friends at a four star restaurant and now she doesn’t want to move to California.  That will save our marriage.”  “Seems like business” “No, I love Faith and I know that she loves me but getting along is more than emotion.  Can you understand why I want to live on the vineyard with my wife and kids?”  “And have more kids?”  “Yes” “I see why Faith feels the pressure, she is the baby of the family am I correct?”  “Yes” “She doesn’t want to grow up and your forcing her hand.  Some marriages are made to last.  Don’t feel disappointed, life isn’t perfect.”  Craig added some more wood to the fire, he rubbed Katherine’s legs, “You know this is more of a date than my date earlier” “I appreciate your wisdom and teaching me of a surgeons perspective and experience.  It puts my world into perspective.”  “Many brutes use hammer and nails to drive their perspective home”  “I remember what you told me about glass houses and rocks”. Katherine leaned in she rubbed Craigs forehead along the faint scar, “You healed well” “You did a good job” 

 

****

 

During the night a storm passed over Moonshine Plantation.  Vega stayed up watching out of the window of the bedroom almost as if expecting something to happen.  Nidhogg walked up behind Vega, “Do you feel it?”  She asked “No! Why don’t you come to bed? Its just a passing storm” Vega was still dressed she walked away from the balcony window.  “Where are you going?”  “Out into the property, I will be back in the morning”. Vega searched for lighters and cloth walking into the farmland of the plantation after finding what she needed.  There was a field that had been reaped of the vegetables that was sowed.  It took nearly two hours Vega gathered six large piles of sticks and branches to complete as the wind howled in the field.  She separated the piles forming a circle she wrapped cloth around a thick stick stuffing the rest of the cloth into the piles that she made then she lit the torch.  The wind died down temporarily as she began to ignite the piles.  A sinister presence was prominent there was a chill and a feeling of real death.  After the fires were lit the flames crackled reaching into the night sky, then the wind began to howl carrying the flames into a blur of wind.  Vega stood in the middle of the fire circle the ghosts in the flames circled around her as the wind eddied temporarily connecting the mounds of flames.

 

****

 

Nidhogg slept soundly through the night, never had Vega ever acted so out of the ordinary in absurdity.  He ate breakfast alone while he sent Bjorn and Nidhogg to search for Vega they found her sitting in the middle of a field meditating amongst piles of smoldering ashes.  Bjorn and Olaf parked their Jeep next to Vega she did not move, “Nidhogg is looking for you” Olaf told him she raised a hand flicking them away.  They left her alone, a short while later Nidhogg drove the Jeep to where she was, “What are you doing?” “There was a discharge of ominous energy.  I am making sense of it.”  “I think that you are having a temporary bout of insanity.  Get in the Jeep you should replenish your depleted internal reserve with nourishment.”  “Perhaps later, trust me that I am not acting out of lunacy.”  Nidhogg nodded he drove back to the mansion contemplating his next move.

 

****

 

Salvatore Moonshine had a business meeting in the afternoon first with his business manager then with Jacques Lesperance the principle owner of a medical device startup Lesperance Surgical based out of Woonsocket, RI in the United States.  The meeting with the business manager was to finalize the sale of Salvatore’s two decade long investment in the Euro.  After political struggle with Britain and its involvement in the European Union Salvatore was ready to sell.  In the late nineteen ninety’s when the Euro was sixty cents on the dollar Salvatore had invested heavily in the currency knowing that it would gain value against the dollar.  In 1997 when Britain had handed over control of Hong Kong to China it signified an end of the British Empire as he had known it throughout his life also for Salvatore personally as he moved from Hong Kong to his current residence in Coventry, England.  During 1998 after political tensions rose in the Kashmir region of Pakistan, a disputed area between India and Pakistan, India successfully tested nuclear weapons which was soon followed by Pakistan testing its own nuclear bomb.  That summer there were reports of brown clouds that floated throughout the continent.  With uncertainty of foreign travel Salvator made his decision to stay in England.  He believed that English imperialism in countries like India and Hong Kong made the world a more civilized place.  Two decades later much had changed in the world with the rise of China as a dominant economic and military power.  America had fallen into economic struggle in a global environment.  By design American capitalism made it easy for corporations to move production to foreign nations while selling its goods to America.  Salvatore Moonshine had written unpopularity about Natural Gas Vehicles using Natural Gas CNG a fuel source that America has vast resources of stating that it was his opinion that the options for American revitalization were limited.  He knew that a country’s vital depth was related to its ability to employ its people and manufacture the bulk of its goods.  In Salvatore Moonshine’s youth the food companies that he controlled were predominantly American based.  While he knew that the political tide did not want to take the road less traveled he considered it a civic duty to give his truthful opinion.  America’s beef industry was and is the best quality worldwide, the agriculture workforce had changed with international trade treaties making it easier for food companies to move its resources to South American countries.  Salvatore Moonshine flicked his cigar sitting in the portfolio managers office it landed on the floor.  Jacques Lesperance was invited into the meeting with Salvatore Moonshine, they shook hands as they were introduced to each other.  Salvatore wanted his portfolio manager to witness the meeting so that he would have a better view in order to make a professional suggestion.  Salvatore stood with the help of his cane for balance he cleared his throat, “The American Pharmaceutical and Device bubble burst with the Trump Administrations election.  With the bursted bubble there is a lack of surgical innovation either that or the medical device industry has reached a peak and plateau.  Please convince me otherwise” 

 

Jacques comprehended the current conditions of the medical device climate.  In the past couple of years lawsuits over patent infringements seemed like an elementary classroom full of students throwing paper planes.  The fact was that many of the companies had developed products that were uncannily similar to each other however; none of them compared to The Dante Grasper.  Jacques held both a Dante Grasper in a sealed package and an opened version.  Before he began his presentation he gathered his own opinion of Salvatore Moonshine because for all of his powers of forgiveness he held his own reservations over seeking investment from a Brit and if Salvatore were a red haired Brit it would be inconceivable.  While The Dante Grasper had some penetration into the laparoscopical vaginal hysterectomy market his company was limited due to its inability to get its product on G.P.O contracts.  “Before you present your company how long have you been in business and what is the current sales and marketshare?”  “We have been in business for three years for the procedure that it is indicated we have a 10% marketshare with sales only in the United States of $22,500,000. In the United states there is an estimated 450,000 hysterectomies performed per year, nearly 300,000 done laparoscopically”  “The potential is considerably greater!”  “Yes and with your investment we could expand into international markets with an un estimated exponential growth.”  “Convince me on the value of your product.”

 

Jacques began his presentation he explained the products features and benefits.  When pulled out of the package the Dante Grasper looked like a straight wand with a grasping handle and protruding pegs along its side.  In front of the grasper trigger was a side-to-side switch.  It was made in 12 mm size when it was placed down the laparoscopic trocar into the abdomen located over the vaginal cuff after uterus removal, the switch in front of the grasper would articulate the mouth of the internal suture jaw from straight to side.  With a grasp of the handle the device mouth would open to be placed over the vaginal cuff. The vaginal cuff is the term given to the stoma or open wound after the uterus has been removed during surgery.  With the help of other laparoscopic graspers synching in all of the intended tissue to be sealed the grasper would be squeezed again to close the mouth of the jaw. While grasped the bolt action along the side of the device handle would secure the internal sutures synching it with a ratchet mechanism by pushing a button on the back of the handle then squeezing the grasper. When closed there was a safety on off button above the ratchet mechanism that would be activated to lock the jaw of the device.  While the grasper was locked with another swipe of the bolt action completed the synching and meshing of the sutures. On the front of the device handle another button would be pushed causing a small pop, it would secure the sinched sutures with plastic synches.  The sutures and synch ends were tested to ensure proper security.  Another small knob that was adjacent to the ratcheting mechanism along the device handle would be pulled at the end to finish the seal and cut the secured sutures.  When the cut was completed the push button lock mechanism would be reactivated to unlock the jaw of the device and the grasper would be used to open the mouth of the device.  Removing the device was simple.  When suturing was completed the switch in front of the grasper handle would be pulled back over to swivel the mouth of the device to straighten it out.  After that the handle would be grasped to ensure that the mouth was closed and the device would then be pulled out through the trocar.  It was a device that seemed a little bit complicated in concept but it worked wonderfully during surgery with the help of trained surgical device consultants. 

 

“Is your sales staff adequately trained and suited to observe clinical cases? Plastic synches secure the suture, please explain the quality and surgical durability of these synches.”  “I'm glad that you asked about the suture security clips."  Jacques reached into his product case, he grabbed a small handful of tiny maleable plastic clips.  "The suture security clips are a proprietary plastic blend that are secured into place with the ratchet mechanism, similar to how a laparoscopic stapler secures a vessel with the exception that the clips are securing sutures."  "That is interesting, what about a trained surgical sales staff?" Jacques was confident as he began his answer, "That was one of my first priorities, my Vice President David Rudelle has over 20 years of medical device operating room sales experience.  Currently we do no do business with distributorships because we ship directly and we want to control the proper use of the product.”  “You do not have GPO contract status though your product is proprietary why is that?”  “I believe that it is because we are a fledgeling company that doesn’t have a large percentage of marketshare. The Dante Grasper is our only product”  “Do you believe that my investment could change that?”  Jacques paused for a moment he thought of an adequate response.  “I own my company, I developed this product and I believe its clinical value because it benefits the surgeon and the patient. The product fills a need, improving the surgical process.   I know that you are a business man that has resources and vast influence.  I have done my research and while as far as my knowledge you have not invested in the medical sector there is a reason to invest in Lesperance Surgical and it is because our product is better.”  “What is the main competitor?” “Covidien Endostitch!  The product is a good product it works, however; an inexperienced surgeon can easy tangle the sutures with the product getting caught up in its own threads.  A suture is better than a staple, The Dante Grasper is a suture however; it is a single release suture providing an easy continuous thread with the pull of a trigger, and pull of a lever.  For laparoscopic hysterectomies suturing the stoma is vital because it’s vaginal, it would be dangerous to do otherwise.  If you invest in Lesperance Surgical then I implore you to spend a month at our facility go through the training, observe clinical cases, see the value of the product for yourself!” Salvatore smiled showing his teeth, “Nice” he knocked the bottom of his cane on the floor in his portfolio managers office.  "Would you be open to manufacturing ancellery and commodity products?"  "With proper funding that would be possible" After conferring openly with his portfolio manager Salvatore had come to a verbal agreement with a 40% investment in Lesperance Surgical for an undisclosed sum of money with the agreement that Salvatore Moonshine would handle international sales.  There was a slight back and forth concerning manufacturing of the product.  Jacques would not agree to the product being made out of the United States.  Within a week’s time Salvatore Moonshine would be spending several weeks in America, he prepared his live in Nurse for the business adventure.

 

****

 

Arianne walked beside Sif on the rock cliffs at Beavertail state beach in Jamestown, Rhode Island.  When they were children their father and mother would go out on their boat spending their time together.  Often Sif and Arianne would ride their bikes along the beach and on many occasions they would walk the rock filled cliffs of Beavertail.  They were women now in their early forties Sif held a five gallon bucket looking for collectable items to give to her daughter Gerda.  Well inward along the cliffs there was a u shaped cove with a small beach area in the middle.  Sitting on the rocks fishing was an old man and a young teenage boy.  Sif and Arianne walked toward the path that was overhead leading to the other side where four asian fishermen wearing rice hats fished.  “Lets go back” Sif argued “No lets go beyond” Arianne agreed.  They wore sneakers and pants it had started to rain.  To the asian fishermen the two women appeared like supermodels that were posing for a magazine shoot.  The two women continued walking catching up with each other in a way that they hadn’t done since they were teenagers.  When they reached beach area they began to look for items to collect.  There was a horse crab shell Sif tossed it aside feeling with her fingers Arianne dipped low several clams were clustered close together barely beneath the surface of the sand.  Sif suggested that they look for more clams.  Oddly they started to find clam after clam.  Sif and Arianne collected them putting them in the five gallon bucket.  At points they were waist deep, it was low tide they squatted low digging with their fingers.  Within an hour time Sif’s bucket was full to the brim.  The bucket was heavy both women gripped cupped their fingers under the rim of the bucket.  They began to walk back, As they passed to where the narrow path was they noticed that the asian fishermen were no longer there.  Finally they reached the parking area.  The old man and the young teenager were sitting on the tail gate of the old man’s truck.  The old man looked to be weary resting.  Sif approached the two of them.  “Is everything alright?” Surprising Arianne “Yeh I’m alright, I got tangled in seaweed I nearly drowned, my grandson saved me.  I’m just catching my breath thanks.”  Sif noticed a bag with over a dozen crabs in it, “Interested in a trade?” The young teenager was enamored by the two beautiful women.  The boy reminded Arianne of a young Craig Chaise he had dark brown nose length hair that was parted in the middle.  He waved his hand through his hair.  The old man tried not to laugh with his grandsons reaction to the two women.  “Half bucket of clams for 6 crabs” Sif proposed the trade, The old man looked to the two women, the boy looked to his grandfather, “Yes, I like that deal” the old man looked to the two women, “Alright, but only because my grandson wants to.” The old man placed 6 crabs on the tailgate of the truck he opened up the net that held the crabs, Sif emptied half of the bucket into the net.  The crabs were trying to crawl away Sif picked them up putting them in the bucket.  Before leaving Arianne waved her fingers through the boys hair, “Cute” she said.  The young teenager smiled giddily talking to his grandfather as the women walked carrying the bucket to their vehicle.

 

****

 

Faith went out by herself after she told Craig to leave.  She wasn’t really familiar with the area she picked a pub on her gps.  When she got there she sat at the bar, she bought scratch tickets and played keno.  While scratching the tickets a man sat on the side of her starting small conversation.  She knew the type he was a sports dumbo but Faith didn’t go out to be a good girl.  A short while later she left with the stranger going to his apartment for the night.

 

****

 

Katherine was close to Craig the fire was flickering her legs were on his lap one of the spaghetti straps on her sun dress slipped off of her shoulders her blue eyes sparkled in the fire lit sky as they talked to each other.  Craig shook his head, he looked at his phone, “It’s getting late Katherine I think that I should be heading home Faith will be wondering where I was.”  She was slightly disappointed however; she was a woman of medicine.  They made plans to have another campfire night in a week from this time.  While driving home Craig admitted to himself that Dr. Katherine Savant was an impressive woman and her surgical experience was a story that Craig would never forget.  While the world of surgery was her profession it wasn’t his, with her story being one that enriched his worldly knowledge.  It was late at night when he got home smelling like smoke, he knew that the children would be sleeping, he called for Faith expecting her to be awake but she wasn’t there.  He looked out of the window noticing that her car was gone, he called her only to get the voice mail.

 

Chapter 7 A Loss For Words

 

In the morning Craig woke up to an empty bed, he reached for his cell phone, Faith hadn’t tried to contact him.  No it wasn't odd considering the problems that they have been having.  After he dressed he walked down stairs it was still early in the morning well before the children would be awake.  Knowing his children he knew they would be asleep for several more hours.  Debbie-Sue was sleeping he snuck out of the house with a short list of items to buy at the grocery store.  The morning carried a heavy fog of humidity that made breathing slightly heavy.  When Craig got home he started preparing breakfast.  Homefries were simple enough potatoes, onions, pepper, salt, garlic powder, paprika, butter, cook at a low heat.  Done! Next he took out a flat skillet he turned it to medium opening up the breakfast sausage and bacon.  As the food started to cook Debbie Sue the children woke up sitting at the counter, the children watched Craig cook them breakfast.  He poured them coffee milk and made Debbie-Sue a coffee.  “Where’s Faith?” Debbie-Sue asked, “She wasn’t here when I got home last night and she hasn’t answered any of my calls.”  “Where do you think that she went?”  “No clue, we argued at dinner, she said that she wasn’t feeling well then she told me to go somewhere so I did.”  Debbie-Sue kept her opinion to herself.  She didn’t want to say the wrong thing and talk bad about her in front of the children.  There was a polish church picnic and Craig figured to take the kids to the festival.  Several hours after breakfast there was no word from Faith.  While Craig agreed to take the kids Debbie-Sue left for the day planning to spend the day at the beach.  He called up Faith leaving a message when the ringing went unanswered.

 

The Polish Festival resided on Church owned property.  Craig understood the modern state of Catholicism and even non catholic churches in todays society.  He could pick out the parishioners without questioning they were old and they stuck together.  Not surprisingly the bulk of the crowd were non parishioners.  There was a small section of the fairgrounds dedicated for children.  With a train, spider and teacup rides Craig was more drawn to the miniature horse rides for Loretta and Gerda.  He gave money to Francis Debbie-Sue’s son, Marilyn, and Elvis they were allowed to roam around the festival and play games at the concessions stands or to go on rides.  Craig’s phone rang it was Faith.  “Where are you? Why haven’t you answered my calls?” “I stayed at a hotel last night” “Maybe its for the best” Craig was done arguing.  Faith heard the sound of the Polish Festival, “Give me the address” Craig gave Faith the address of the church.  Less than a minute after he hung up the phone with Faith.  Jed Folues gave him a call asking him to come over for dinner that he had an important person that wanted to meet with him.  After Loretta and Gerda were done with the miniature horse rides he started walking with the two five years olds.  Barely out of the children's section a lanky man wearing a blond wig walked in front of him and his children.  He wore an overcoat with a tear near the pocket he reached his hand into his pocket pulling out a hamburger, “Daddy who’s that?” Loretta asked.  The odd looking wigged man stopped in front of them holding the hamburger that he pulled out of his pocket.  He looked to the children, “Devour you!” He ate the hamburger while Craig kept walking, “Daddy that guy is weird” Loretta said “He’s a clown” Gerda corrected then she laughed, as they walked up to the dough boy stand.

 

****

 

Faith left by mid morning after her night out with a stranger.  When she got home the house was empty, she showered and changed.  She felt numb and dirty without really having remorse there was inertia.  She never had a one night stand and she never cheated on Craig until last night.  Faith had crossed a line of fidelity, Faith called Craig he had brought the children to a Church festival.  That was great! Faith cheats on her husband and now she’s agreed to meet up with him on Church grounds.  While talking to Craig she told him that she stayed at a hotel after their arguing at dinner.  A short time later she arrived at the church festival.  There were many fresh off of the boat Polish people, she felt foreign having lived her whole life in Hawaii, she was brownish tan in comparison to these pale white people.  There were three polish women arguing with each other talking in Polish then switching to english.  One of them grabbed a jar from one of the women taking off the top, “This sauerkraut is garbage” “Mika” the woman that had the jar grabbed from her yelled.  The woman “Mika” shook the container until the contents were scattered on the ground.  “Rotten Cabbage” the woman yelled she looked smugly to Faith briefly.  An old man walked up to the women  pushing a cart full of uncooked hamburgers and hotdogs.  Faith was reminded of her mother and father she started to walk away from them.  She walked a short distance looking that the concession stands watching a small crowd play a weird card like game with a rubber ball and holes with cards.  She walked on from that table a teenager had a cart with a small rubber dumpster behind him he was emptying trash cans with bags in them then replacing the bags. He stopped to talk to a half asian girl wearing a cheerleader outfit.  The teenager looked frustrated as he picked up the cart abruptly as what Faith guessed was the cheerleaders boyfriend much larger than the other teenager wearing a varsity football jacket walked up to his girlfriend pointing and making jokes at the other one.  Faith shook her head, this place seemed way too familiar and uncanny. The teenager emptying the trash can stopped he looked around making eye contact with Faith.  She kept walking around the festival.  She looked but she couldn’t find Craig she stopped as Elvis, Marilyn, and Francis ran up to her.  A strange slender man wearing a blond wig bumped into Faith from behind, “Uh” he whispered into her ear softly he kept walking grabbing a handful of glitter, he held out his palm then he blew.  Green glitter flew into the air covering Faith’s head and hair,  he tucked his blond wig behind his ear, “There was a catch” Faith looked at the odd man, he resembled the man from the night before.  She closed her eyes covered her ears she breathed deeply trying to calm her nerves, her mind was spinning and she wanted it to stop.  Craig reached for her arm grabbing her attention.

 

****

 

Sif and Arianne went back to Freyja’s beach house with a dozen crabs and five gallon bucket half full of clams.  Freyja sat on the front lawn of the house wearing sunglasses shirt and shorts, her four year old daughter Jennifer wore similar clothes with a pair of sun glasses.  Freyja lowered her sunglasses seeing her daughters place a five gallon bucket in between the both of them.  “What is in the bucket?”  “Crabs and Clams” Sif plucked a crab in the bucket placing it in front of Jennifer it started to crawl.  “Get it away from her” Freyja ordered Sif picked up the crab, she explained the crabs anatomy to Jennifer” “Where did you two buy them? Any why are they in a bucket?  “We dug the clams and traded with a fisher and his grandson for the crabs.”  Freyja blocked Jennifers ears, “Shit!” Arianne smiled, “Tasty with butter!”

 

Later the beach house maid cooked the clams and crabs along with a bin of salted butter Sif, Arianne, and Jennifer sat at the dinner table while Freyja prepared to leave.  She was not in the mood for seafood but she was prepared for a business meeting with Charles Bassett.  They were to meet at his office with Charles's lawyer to go over the details of their business contract then to begin to qualify the locations that Charles had already picked for Charley's Chicken Family Restaurants to be located.  Soon it was Sif, Arianne, and Jennifer.  With Freyja gone the women planned to eat dinner then to take Jennifer shopping in Newport.

 

****

 

Before going back to her hotel, Michelle stopped by Dionysus Refined, Faith and Craigs wine and candle store.  Upon entering she was met by the elegant scents of various candles.  Wine bottles were neatly placed in racks separated between red, white and then type.  There was a section of Vintage aged wines.  The professionalism of the out lay of the store appeared almost algarythmic like the bracket of a scientific method.  Within the store was a section of gourmet cheeses and chocolates.  In Chile there weren't stores like this one.  On her plantation she made her own wine and cheese.  She was fair she would be the critic of the quality of Dionysus Refined's products.  She bought several bottles of wine and 2 candles, Rings of Roses and Pearls Before Swine.  After shopping at the wine and candle store she drove to the hotel where she was staying.

 

Michelle Moonshine was greeted by Tomas as she entered her hotel room, “You expected me” Tomas surmised, “Where are your guns and drugs?”  She placed the candles and wine along with cheeses and chocolates on the bed.  “They have been transferred” “Why?”  Michelle opened the top of the Pearls Before Swine Candle, she lit it putting it on the coffee table in the parlor of her suite.  Tomas knew that Michelle was avoiding her, “I am known as an olympic sports figure, I needed and need political power.”  “By SELLING DRUGS AND WEAPONS?" "But!" She stopped him asking quesstions,  "Are they smuggled to America? What of opposition?  What of the American CIA?  What of my plantation and political influence with my business relationships in Santiago?”  There was silence in the room, Michelle took off her blouse, she wore a lace bra.  “What of us?” Tomas asked he stepped up close to Michelle rubbing his fingers softly along the edge of her bra.  “You first” Michelle stood firm.  “It is true that you have built a small empire in Elqui Valley and that your contacts in Santiago are vast but I am a man and I have my own ambitions” “Explain drugs and guns in the bulls barn” “Pablo is American CIA” Michelle walked away from Tomas she paced the room thinking for a moment.  It made sense! Pablo was the had trained Michelle’s security, he was a professional.  “There was opportunity to generate a large flow of money and gain power while supplying pro American militia’s in several South American countries.”  “What about drugs?”  “Mexico” “Did those drugs get smuggled to America?”  “That is likely” “How long have you been smuggling?”  “Five years” Surprisingly Michelle kept her cool. “How much have you saved?”  “Eighty Million American dollars, Pablo has twenty million” “And the CIA will allow Pablo to keep the money” “That is uncertain, when I am elected he will be appointed the head of the Chilean Secret Service.  The campaign starts in less than a year” “I know! Will you be tied to your extra business?”  “No!” “How can you be certain?” “Pablo has made sure” “Can you end your smuggling?” Tomas licked his lips, “It is a necessity and it was a temporary business in order to achieve a greater goal.”  “Your self funding your campaign?”  “Yes it will allow me more freedom from non Chilean special interests.  But I do want to increase trade with America.” “When will you announce your candidacy?”  “Within six months, I will announce my candidacy but I will need you by my side, I promise you that we will win.” Michelle was enraged when she found out about Tomas’s treachery.  Now she was level headed, “We will remain married and Michelle Moonshine owner of Moonshine Plantations in Elqui Valley will be the wife of a Chilean Presidential candidate but you have ruined my trust.  Michelle was cold sleeping on the side of Tomas turning away from him when he reached for her.

 

****

 

With two women secured for marriage Barley Mare felt confident that his business venture would be successful. In the morning Reg had Barley and the women meet him at Poultry Provisions.  Shooter was already there with Tran so was Ow with his future bride.  Barley and Shooter stood on separate sides of the office room.  Boney and Reg stood in the middle of them, “Now suppose something” Boney reached out a hand as he spoke.  Reg continued Boney’s sentence, “Yeah suppose that the women get temporary work visa until they’re married and then that way they have jobs after they are married?”  Ming Na took the initiative.  She pointed to both Boney and Reg, “You, your married to my niece, your alright, but I don’t know about you.  I want equal pay and medical insurance”. “That’s not a problem” Boney said “We will train the women starting in the chicken barns feeding the chickens and tending and collecting the eggs along with caring for the chicks in the hatchery but there is a thing.” Barley gritted his teeth he sucked on the bent nail listening the to proposal, “What’s the thing?”  Barley was wearing a dress shirt and tie he pulled around the collar breathing in deeply because he felt the pressure kicking on.  Reg and Boney didn’t talk there was uncomfortable silence in the room.  “What kind of a catch if you uh will is there?” “I want Ming Na to work in the retail store and you Barley to help us on the administration side for six weeks.”  Now Barley had plans, he wanted to get the women married and then go back to Pattaya, Thailand and continue his new found life.  He knew that it would take time for the women to find husbands but Barley wasn’t looking to make himself public due to the fact that technically he was a wanted man after shooting Shooter, even if Shooter agreed to not press charges, he was still wanted and he wanted to avoid being captured by the authorities.  Barley felt like he was under the gun, “You know while I was stationed in Brazil when I was in the service, I went to a voodoo doctor who told me that if I put chicken shit on top of my head that my hair would grow back, so I listened and you know what?  It never grew back".  Boney Coughed, “Thats why listen to us and not voodoo witch doctors.  You help us, we help you.”  Barley took the bent nail out of his mouth, “Alright pretend there’s an uh pie and the pie is made out of apples and in the pie there is a rotten apple."  Barley pointed to Shooter, "I don’t want him in my apple pie.” Shooter lost control,   “WELL I DON"T WANT HIM WORKING AT MY FUCKING CHICKEN FARM AND JUST FOR THAT I'M CALLING THE POLICE FOR SHOOTING ME AND LEAVING ME FOR DEAD." Ming Na walked to the middle of the room she looked at all three owners of Poultry Provisions, “We will work for Poultry Provisions, my women make good wives and good workers.  Did you not like Tran?”  Shooter smiled, “Yes” “Good! Shooter you will marry Tran and she will be good wife and bare your children.”  Tran shook her head agreeing looking down.  “Barley you will be polite and kind to Shooter.  Barley,  Shooter do you understand?”  “Yes Mam” Shooter said “Yes Dear” Barley begrudgingly agreed.  Reg and Boney shook their heads impressed with Ming Na’s leadership ability.

 

****

 

Salvatore Moonshine packed his luggage, he was ready to begin the business trip to the United States.  He was a calculated man with Salvatore there was not much left to chance some could consider him to be a scrooge.  The business trip to America was procedural he had made the executive decision that Lesperance Surgical produced a product had potential.  It was Salvatores intention of inspecting the manufacturing portion of Lesperance Surgical facilities.  He wanted to get a measure of the production capabilities, it was his plan to expand production capabilities to ancillary and commodity surgical products.  If there was a snag that made the business trip personal it was that Salvator’s daughter Michelle was in New England, Freyja and her daughters were as well.  While Salvatore was not particularly fond of Art nor the Art type he was not against being surprised.  He had recieved an invitation from Freyja to attend. There wasn’t much more of a possible probability that would upset him than a close proximal area of those that were closest to him throughout his life.  He hadn’t come to terms to the acceptance of never having making amends with his daughter.  Salvatore disagreed with her decision to move to her mother’s place of birth.  At the time, Salvatore was caught up in a bitter divorce, he made both Michelle and Nidhogg pick sides.  Naturally, Nidhogg who had no relation to Michelle’s mother sided with his father as a reaction to the family struggle and many nights of arguing Michelle married Tomas and purchased a plantation using up all of her family trust that was allocated to her.  They hadn't spoken since and he was certain that they would cross path's.  Salvatore had no fears, it was common knowledge that men of his stature and means were like fine tuned machines even if he was of lesser health than his prime.  Years later Salvatore had reconcilled with his exwife before her passing.  He earned the status of elitism because he lived it.  Eratic behavior was not a realm that existed in Salvatore’s world.   When he met people that were like him forming bonds was natural however; that was very rare.

 

He opened up his desk he picked up a shilling that was in the drawer.  That was his personal token that he had found on the ground amongst the rubble after the German Blitzkrieg of London during WW2.  There was no forgetting his childhood, the war was very prominent as was the rebuilding process.  The earliest memories that flickered through Salvatores mind was of him playing with his friends amongst the rubble of broken bricks that were once buildings.  Over forty thousand English citizens were killed in the bombings.  Salvatore was raised as a motherless child as his mother died of the pox when he was very young.  His father was a butcher for a slaughterhouse, Salvatore worked as a cleanup boy after school when he was just nine years old.  A black and white cat wrapped itself around his calf.  Salvatore had a liking for cats having owned many cats throughout his life.  In his youth the owner of the slaughterhouse housed several cats it served to kill the rats that would scurry around the old brick warehouse that was cracked with the London bombings.  While cleaning the slaughterouse he would feed the cats and they came to be his pets above anyone elses.  Salvatore recalled the sirens and the fall out shelters and the fear.  He spun his shilling remembering the strictness of his father with him forcing him to study after school and work till late in the nite.  An antique zenith radio rested on his dresser, that music box was his closet friend when he was a child.  Radio programs and broadcasters served as an avenue of escape and inspiration that helped him to deal with wartime trauma as a young boy.  His father taught him how to cut meat himself, by the time he was eighteen he was one of the fastest skilled butchers in the slaughterhouse. After high school he joined the British Royal Navy serving for four years before gaining acceptance to Oxford University.  Yes, Salvatore had earned his keep however; though he was old he had become bored with being sedentary.  He was eager to get back into business.  When he was done packing his belongings he called for his nurse, he was ready to travel to the States.

 

****

 

In Hawaii Jan had planted his garden keeping most of the outlay that he and his daughter Faith had fought over with its initial planting.  Growth started to cover the freshly tilled soil.  He sat on his porch with his wife Joanna they drank Ice T enjoying an afternoon watching chickens roam in the yard, a couple of Roosters fought while chickens ran to the area with their wings out like children in a school yard.  “Get up out of your chair and show me your garden” Joanna told her husband.  Jan stood up slowly he moaned about how his wife gets what she wants when she wants.  “I can see why Faith complained about a crabby father.” Jan muttered under her breath, “I’ll start with the corn!” Jan began, “Now I liked the corn over there but little miss goody two shoes schooled me on how the corn doesn’t grow there and then look over yonder, she bribed me with buying a roto tiller and then planted pumpkin plants out there instead of here.  And then!” Joanna laughed Jan shook his head, “You see she’s stubborn like her mother” “Because she knows how to plant a garden.  Wait you’ll have more vegetables in your garden than ever.  “Want to go fishing?” Jan asked. “With Craig’s boat?”  “Of course, he’s gone for the summer we can have a sea summer to ourselves” “How about tomorrow?”  “That works” Joanna walked in front of him toward the porch.  He stopped her turning her around, “Come here” “What?” Jan kissed her on the lips, “I love you we have lived a good life together.” Joanna thought it odd that he would say that.  “Why would you say that?”  “Because it’s true” They sat backed down on the porch drinking Iced T.  A car parked in front of their house.  “It’s Dom” Jan said “Whats he doing here” Joanna asked Dom walked out holding a dozen roses what remained of his hair was slicked to the side.  Jan got off of his porch he held a self made bolo, “What the hell do you want?” “I’m here to talk to Faith, we had lunch” Jan was defensive, “She’s not here she’s with her husband on the other side of the country” Dom spit on the ground, “I think that your lying” Dom walked up to the porch he reached for the screen door Jan held the bolo with both hands he checked Dom in the chest like a hockey stick Dom was pushed back, “You need to leave before I call the police.  Dom lifted his hands up holding the dozen roses, he dropped the flowers then he grabbed the bolo with both hands, “Who the fuck do you think your hitting huh?” He checked Jan back hard in the chest then he let go of the bolo.  Jan clutched his chest breathing was hard he felt the squeeze in his chest and around his neck along with a tightness of sight.  “C’mon I didn’t hit you that hard.” Joanna rushed inside she called for an ambulance Jan was having a heart attack he reached into his pocket for something the change that was in his pocket fell to the floor and all that he could do was lay down and die.

 

**** 

 

They were at the Polish Festival, Craig reached for Faith she was having a panic attack her eyes were closed and her hands were over her ears.  She was startled like a doe in the headlights and softly touched her arm.  “Faith” “This is too much” Faith said out loud.  A Polka band started playing music off to the side with people dancing to the music.  She was shaking, “What is wrong?”  “Craig we need to talk” “Can we do this at home?” “No” Craig gave the children money to take Gerda and Loretta with them.  The children  walked toward the booths.  “If you have something to say then get it out.  We separated for a reason and then we argue at dinner and you rent a hotel room.”  “I didn’t go to a hotel.”  “What?” “I cheated on you” Craig was motionless, “With whom?” “A stranger that I met at a pub” “I’m at a loss for words” Faith’s phone rang  it was Joanna she answered, “Mom”.  Craig stood bewildered as he watched Faith break down covering her mouth crying hysterically.  She hung up the phone.  “What is wrong?”  “My dad had a heart attack he might not make it”  Craig reached forward for Faith, “I’m sorry” he whispered as she hugged him crying uncontrollably.

 

Chapter 8 Down To Business

 

The weather was dry, sunny, and hot but not overly.  Passing clouds offered reprieve from a wave of warmth that during the peak of the sun could seem like a sizzle.  The Lobbed Logs Barn had a few riding lessons to give this day Patty Medallion was expecting Molly Nicker and Boney Hoggins.  Now Boney had known Patty Medallion for a very long time, but he never rode horses. He had a superstition with horses.  It would seem weird considering the decades that he had been around them but he just liked the company of barn folk.  To put it plain he just wanted to make Leona happy.  However; now he changed his mind and his Friesian was a good horse and he figured that after all of these years that he would learn to ride the dang thing, he had Patty Medallion hold the reigns while he hoisted himself on top of the horse.  He adjusted his stetson as he readied himself.  Jim Buck walked out to the riding ring he stood on the side of Patty, “Grey” Boney tilted his hat calling Jim Buck by his nickname, “Finally learning how to ride?”  “I figured to give it a go” Jim Buck ran his fingers along the horses nostrils the horse was calm putting his lips out looking for a treat.  A bit was in the horses mouth, Jim patted the horse softly on the nose.  He dipped down checking the hooves.  While Jim Buck worked for Le Persil, he was also a Ferrier and the past week he had put a new pair of horse shoes on the horse.  He looked to Boney, “Before you start your lesson, I have a question” “Shoot” Boney replied “Your in business with Reg Folues now aint you?” “That I am” “Are you friendly with his brother Jed?”  “Reg is close to his brother, I don’t have a problem with him if that’s your question.”  “It’s just that Percival and I went over to his house offering him a job as a Foreman with Le Persil and he turned us down.  Now I know that he needs work, his warehouse moved and his wife died last year.”  “Jed’s a prideful man.  If it means anything Reg offered him a supervisor's position with Poultry Provisions he turned that down too.” “I see” “What can you do?  He’s set in his ways”  “Percival and I left with a bad taste in our mouths.  I read the news article on Poultry Provisions, and the big endorsement that you gave to Stewart Blythe.  I didn’t know that you two were friends” Boney started to get sour he didn’t like talking politics with Jim especially since he was already sweating bullets nervous with his first riding lesson.  “I’m not friends with Stewart Blythe” Jim Buck firmed his posture he slowed his speech, “Keith Thornhill has bills to pay, you remember the fire of 72, Remember Kip Shipman?  Why help a man that was bad to those that were good to you?”  Boney looked to Patty, “Excuse me Grey, Patty shall we begin?”  Patty looked to Jim, “Boney would you excuse me for a moment I need to talk to Grey” She walked outside of the riding ring with Jim Buck.  "What?" Jim asked knowing that Patty was angry, "What are you doing?" Patty asked "Boney's a cocksucker and it makes me mad that he'd make a deal with Keith Thornhill.  Did you see the spread in the Evening Reporter?"  "C'mon Grey" "No I'm red right now and it's coming to a boil!" "Grey get the fuck out of the lobster pot" Patty yelled Jim started to yell back "If I'm in the lobster pot then Boney burned his hand when he tried to pull me out of it.  All I'm saying is that Percival wants a reckoning before he shits the bed and I want to see that it happens."  "No Grey your talking shit!  You know that your two old men than can't let the past go."  Jim spit on the ground, "I see where your loyalties are!  Maybe we need to split the corn from the husk.  There's rot in that corn and the only ones that want to eat are Hogs like Boney."  Patty kicked the dirt, "The broken bricks are there because you laid them Jimmy and don't you forget who the fuck your talking to.  I owned this damned barn before I met you and you come strolling in picking fights and disrespecting me."  "That's it!" Jim said softly "What's it?"  "A moment of clarity Patricia.  I forgot that I'm just a trash man and your the owner of a horse farm."   Jim Buck took a moment to collect himself he laughed a little, "You know I was some son of a bitch to think that we had built a good life.  I know what your priorities are and I'm not on the list of the things that you value. Patricia you broke my heart" He started to walk away, Patricia balled her fists, "That's right Jimmy run away like you used to when your momma used to whip you as a boy, your a quitter that's what you do!" Jim Buck kept walking away.  Patty walked inside of the barn she began the riding lesson with Boney Hoggins.  Jim Buck left with the same bitter taste that he left Jed Folues house with.

 

****

 

While they argued Faith packed her belongings Craig did not, “Are you coming home with me?”  “I have a dinner tonight at Jed Folues” "What about dinner with your wife instead of them?"  "Why don't you go with me?" "I can't my flight leaves in two hours" He picked out clothes for dinner, “Why aren’t you coming home with me?” Faith asked, “Jed Folues asked me to go to dinner with him he has an important business contact that he wants me to meet.” Craig looked to Faith, “And you cheated on me with a stranger” “If we're going to get a divorce what does it matter?  You have a kids with women that aren't your wife."  "This is why we separated" "What about my dad?”  “That’s why I will be flying home in the morning”  Faith packed her clothes she waited until Craig got out of the shower.  He dressed himself as Faith carried her luggage to the rental vehicle.  She kissed the children goodbye Craig waited, “I’ll be home by mid afternoon tomorrow.”  Faith moved close to kiss him he turned his head. She left for the airport and Craig drove to have dinner at Jed Folues house.

 

****

 

Donna Lang knocked on the front door of Jed Folues house.  She waited for a while before knocking a second time.  Jed opened up the front door, “Punctual!” Jed complimented Donna Lang she walked inside he breathed in the scent of her perfume.  “I hope that you like spaghetti and meatballs my daughter Bay is cooking dinner.”  “I’m not picky with food.”  The doorbell rang Jed answered Craig Chaise held a case with four bottles of wine and four candles, “It’s been too long” Jed greeted him, they shook hands, “Where’s Faith?” “Her father had a health emergency, she’s flying back to Hawaii, I leave in the morning.” “Why didn’t you go with her?”  Donna asked.  “My presence is only for moral support, I’m taking a flight in the morning.” Craig reached a hand across to Donna, “I’m Craig Chaise, me and Jed have been friends for quite a while.  Though it has been too long since we last spoke.” “I’m Donna Lang a long time friend of Jed’s as well.” Jed took the box with candles, wine, and a bottle cork from him, “She a candidate for mayor” Jed told Craig, Jed’s daughter Bay brought out a tray with meatballs and sauce followed by a bowl of pasta and bread.  Craig picked up the wine cork that Jed took from the box and put on the table.  He opened up a bottle of Chianti, “Who wants wine?” Donna raised a hand he filled up a glass for himself and Donna, Jed drank beer.  Dinner began they ate silently before Donna opened up the conversation, “As you know I’m running for mayor, the election is coming up, it is expected to be a close race.  The Evening reporter just did a full story in the Sunday edition on Poultry Provisions with a photo of Boney Hoggins shaking hands with my opponent Stewart Blythe.  I’m aware that you reside in Hawaii however; I’m well acquainted with Dionysus Refined and I am a city council member.”  Craig put down his fork, “Your asking for a contribution?”  She smiled, “Naturally, If you don’t mind me being straight forward.”  “What’s your political vision?”  Craig asked seriously, Donna didn’t flinch, “Quality education for the students and crime free neighborhoods” “Teachers and Police unions, as a small business owner and parent I do care about those things.  What will you do for small businesses?  I don’t like tax increases and I don’t like businesses moving to another town and another thing longstanding businessness that go out of business is very suspicious and bad for the credibility that creates culture.”  Jed intervened, “Craig I invited you here not for interrogation!  Donna’s a good woman and she’d be a competent mayor.” Craig nodded Jed continued, “I’m supporting her for mayor.  I’ve had it tough, Claire passed away last year, I also got laid off from the warehouse that I was general manager of, they moved operations to a different state.  No one can promise that life will be easy, in the time that you have known me can you say that I am trustworthy?”  Craig thought for a moment, “It’s not words, it's action."  Donna interviened, "Let me suggest this much, I  work hard but I'm not a hard head, I work with the public and I'm not out to kill business,  because I am an activist it's possible that taxes might increase.  As mayor can I promise that businesses wont go out of business?"  Craig took a moment to think of his options, "I care about the quality of people that build a town.  Reckless politicians make selfish decisions that effect generations of citizens.  Quality of culture is more important than a tax increase that can be offset by private sector enrichment.  I’ll offer this; If this is a possibility! You can hold a fundraiser at the warehouse portion of Dionysus Refined.  Most  of my employees live in town, they have families of their own.  I’ll donate baskets with wine, chocolates, and candles.  Dionysus Refined was a win for small business and for my business partner Debbie-Sue Folues and Myself.”  Donna Lang was firm, “That would be a great place for a photo op and I could possibly have the Evening Reporter do a story on Dionysus Refined, will you be available?”  “No but Debbie-Sue will be available and it’s better for you because she lives in town, she’s the chiefs daughter, has two kids in public schools and she’s the boss for the store and warehouse in town.  Now for the baskets.”  “Go on” Donna commented “The baskets sell for $75 they have 3 bottles of wine, 2 candles, and chocolates, the warehouse is at 50% capacity there’s 10 loading docks and can easily fit 1000 people with room.  I will have 100 baskets available however; I will not write you a check.  Donna is that an acceptable offer?”  She shook her head, “That is more than acceptable, I’ll make sure that I have as many people there as possible.”  “What is the limit for individual candidate hard money contributions?” “$2500” “That is what the receipt will read” “Do you have tables and chairs?”  “No” Donna smiled, “That won’t be a problem” She was excited picking up her phone.  “Donna, no wait until you leave” Jed reached a hand across placing it over hers, he looked to Craig, “That’s not the only reason why I asked you over for dinner. I have been out of work for several months, I’ve been offered a supervisors positions with Poultry Provisions and the other day Percival Cauldron and Jim Buck from Le Persil offered me a Foreman position.  I’m not working for Reg, I’m sure that you comprehend why and I’m not working for Le Persil.  My dad worked for Percival, he died before his time and I have respect for myself.  I will work for Dionysus Refined if there are any positions available.”  

 

During the dinner besides Jed’s kids eating when the conversations began food consumption stopped.  “Jed picked out a real business meeting didn’t he?” Donna said jokingly.  Craig cut to the chase, “I have been interviewing for a position.  Dionysus Refined already has store managers, Debbie-Sue manages production and this location is the main producer of candles.  You have solid management and logistic experience.  I am moving to my California vineyard my company is growing the hiring of competent managers is necessary.  You have two high school aged children, if they are looking for after school work I’d hire them part time.  Craig meshed his hands, “Jed would you be interested in a blended position?”  Jed put his hands palms up on the table, “I’m unemployed” “I’m looking for a VP of Sales and Logistics, Travel will be involved.  You have managerial experience you worked logistics when you were in the army and as a warehouse manager.”  “I don’t like to lie”  “You don’t have to lie! The major misconception is that all sales people are liars.  A fact!  If you sell a good product then the sale is based on the quality of the product. Dionysus Refined actually sells good products all made in the United States, the wine is from California and it’s owner operated.  Dionysus Refined is an easy sell our prices are competitive, the candles are unique, and our wines have started to win local awards, plus we are family owned and operated.  With us however; travel will be required with the likelihood that you will be staying in both Hawaii, and New England with the potential of traveling to sales meetings with clients.  International sales is also a possibility.”  “What is the pay?”  Jeds kids finished eating the other three barely ate the table was cleared of food.  Seventy thousand base salary with fifteen percent new growth sales commission.  You will have sales reps working with you, maintenance for current sales accounts is mostly automatic after the initial retail sale.  Travel expenses will be paid and there is an expense account, we provide health, dental and a 401k with room to grow with the company.”  “That’s a good friend Jed” Donna Lang gave her opinion.  “Are you creating a position to help a friend?”  Craig shook his head, “No!  There is a need because I am moving to my vineyard.  The growing and cultivating of our wine makes wine sales possible.”  “What about Debbie-Sue?” “She will welcome you to the Dionysus Refined family, we both respect you.  If your worried about your kids, they can stay at the apartment with Debbie-Sue while your gone.”  Jed talked with his kids momentarily, he sat back down at the table. “I’ll accept the position” Craig reached a hand across Jed shook his hand he smiled.  The business conversations wasn’t over.

 

“This is the state of Dionysus Refined.  Currently Dionysus Refined total gross sales is just over thirteen million dollars.” Jed raised an eyebrow, “That’s a lot of money.  “Retail store sales accounts for 1 million dollars, Hawaii sells a lot of product due to vacationers.  The rest is online sales and wholesale customers.  Yankee Candle sells over 800 million dollars a year in just candles alone.” “What is the wine to candle sale ratio?”  “Good question!”  “At the retail location candle and wine sales are close to even.  Online sales is predominantly candles and with wine being stocked at stores or resorts like Sif’s Geyser in Austria, Lady of the Lake in Iceland, Birds of a Feather in China.  We also sell to a series of businesses in Indonesia and Singapore.  There is opportunity within my company, we have several wine sales associates.  Currently Faith and I manage them, but your role will be to manage both sales and logistics to ensure proper distribution.  Also you will work to catch the big fish Ie: resort and company accounts.  If you were hired by a corporation as a Territory Manager the starting salary is 40k-50k plus commission.  Does the company sell good products that you can believe in?  How strong is the management and support structure?  Are they vamping their own employees?  How stable is the longevity of the salesforce?  Those are real questions.  Dionysus Refined sells good products and we are not publicly traded corporate, we’re family owned and while we aren’t publicly traded or a 100 million dollar business my business bracket is not horizontal in structure.  Meaning while you are not responsible for production of product ie: candles and wine or the retail sales and up keep.  Your responsible for increasing sales of both wine and candles in retail locations.  There will be quota’s to keep and you will be responsible for setting quota’s and maintenance of accounts with our sales reps.  Will the quota’s for the sales reps be aggressive? No we aren’t bonded by stock holders.  In our business structure your direct business superiors are Debbie-Sue and myself.”  “What if I don’t meet the quota that you set?”  “Most of the growth will come from entry into new retail locations, we aren’t in all fifty states and I mentioned all of my international accounts.  When Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants opens it’s 100 locations, we are guaranteed their wine business a quick realistic estimate 100 locations with an average wine sale of $10,000 is $1,000,000 in new business that will happen within 2 years that’s $150,000 commission without starting yet.  However; your sales reps are responsible for meeting their quota and you will be responsible to hiring and firing a competent sales team.  As Dionysus Refined wine and candle grows as a company strong management is essential.”  

 

Jed listened intently with Donna sitting on the side of him.  “Starting pay for a district manager is typically 70-100k with district commission bonuses with a corporation.  Your pay is similar to that.  If you don’t mind me asking what was your salary with the warehouse?”  “63k” “Well it’s a pay and responsibility increase but it is one that you will like much better, medical, dental, 401k, company car, expense accounts, within a few years of earning a healthy salary and commission you will experience the business lifestyle earning and buying deep affords a greater perspective and reality.  I have company and retail profiles, you will have access to all of our accounts and rolling history of customer buying patterns.  Perhaps as ex army you have leverage with D.O.D that could land you military base accounts.”  “What should I expect to earn in the first year?”  “100k-130k with Charley Chicken 230k without working.  From there the prospects get better.  I know that your a worker with strong leadership skills, I believe that perserverance produces results and I remember the question that I asked your in the break room years ago."  "What question?"  "Whether it was better to be feared or loved?" "Respected" Jed replied "That was a lesson!” Jed huffed like a frog croaking in a pond.  “Will I have assistants?”  “That’s why you will have the freedom to travel to and from both locations and to accounts when needed because you will work with both production managers, Debbie-Sue and even myself at my vineyard.  I’m trusting and counting on your leadership and judgment.  That is what a VP of sales and Logistics does.  Our sales reps have cell phones, lap tops, and mileage reimbursement you will be provided with a vehicle and rental vehicles.”  “All because I asked for a job”. “No I started interviewing, I had a head hunter “A recruiter” start the search for me.  Truth be told while you don’t have sales experience you have management experience and I trust your leadership ability.  Now as for the other portion of your responsibilities, Logsitics, you will be responsible for all Dionysus Refined products to accurately arrive at each account."  Jed shook his head, "I'm confident that I can handle all of the responsibilities that the position requires". Donna pointed to Craig, “That’s a CEO” “Yeah, I remember when he was just a college kid working at my warehouse singing at the top of his lungs while selecting orders."After the business hire and political campaign details were planned Craig left, he had things to do before flying to Hawaii.

 

****

 

Smoke filled the area, the wind eddied to and fro.  Percival Cauldron smoked a pig in his backyard, this afternoon there was a company picnic.  Several employees from both Medaglione Firearms and Le Persil Disposal had arrived with their families.  Percival sat with his wife as those in attendance talked and ate, there were hired sketch artists and face painters for the kids.  Jim Buck pulled into the field that was used as parking space.  A jazz band that was hired played in the background.  He walked up to a picnic table Percival was sitting with Rebecca.  “Where’s Patty?” Percival asked,“She has riding lessons Boney Hoggins was there” Percival was quiet Jim Buck sat beside him, “I asked him about his friendship with Stewart Blythe.  He informed me that they aren’t friends, my guess is that he made a deal with Keith Thornhill and when I pressed him he ran to Patty for help.”  Percival adjusted his sun glasses, “Piggies do squeal when their put in the pen, they also smoke when their put on the spit!” “I reminded him of Kip Shipman” Rebecca got out of her chair, “While you two boys talk business, I believe that I will join the others” Rebecca didn't like the ugly side of Percival.  Percival looked to Jim, "What do you know about Donna Lang?"  Jim Buck's face turned grim.

 

****

 

When Craig left Jebs house he picked up his daughter Gerda and talked to Debbie-Sue about Jeb’s hire and of the news with Faith’s father. He called up Arianne she gave him directions to their Beach House in Jamestown, RI.  It was night time when he arrived Gerda was asleep as Craig picked her up out of the passenger side of the vehicle, he carried her inside.  Arianne stood at the entrance she let him inside, “It’s a nice place” Craig commented, “My parents would stay here when we were young.” Arianne informed him “Where’s Freyja?” “Business meeting with Charles Bassett” Arianne pried Gerda from Craig's side she went to her room to put her to bed.  It was Sif and him alone.  “I have to go back to Hawaii, Faith’s father was assaulted he had a heart-attack.”  Sif was expressionless.  “What are your plans for the evening?”  “Packing luggage, relaxing” “Want company?”  Arianne walked to the side of Sif.  “He’s leaving us” Sif pouted. “I know he told me on the phone, but he will be back for the exhibit” They talked for a few more moments, Craig said his farewells then he drove home.  He was restless because of his wife, in the morning he kissed his children goodbye and he drove to the airport.  The first flight he slept through with a short layover at LAX airport in between flights.  When he arrived in Hawaii Faith was there to greet him.  He put the luggage in the vehicle she drove, “Hows Jan?”  “He’s in stable condition. The doctor gave him a pacemaker, he looks awful”. “Why did Dom show up at your father’s house with flowers?” Craig inquired  “We had lunch, I told him that I never wanted to see him again, but he also knew that we separated.”  “So he brings flowers to your father’s house thinking that you were there and fights with your father when he tells him to leave?”  Craig reasoned “He checked him across the chest hard with my father’s BOLO.”  “What’s he being charged with?”  “Felony assault and battery with a lethal weapon against an elderly person.”  For the rest of the ride there wasn’t much conversation.  After Craig unpacked his luggage they visited the hospital, Joanna waited in the lobby for them.  They exchanged embraces before Joanna led the way to Jan’s room. Upon entering the room the vision of Jan was stifling.  He looked like he was hit by a truck.  Craig welled up, he held his breath to stop himself from weeping.  He reached for Jan’s hand, Jan responded faintly his eyes opened slightly.  Craig covered his other hand over Jan’s hand, “Rest, I’m glad that your still with us” The hospital visit was sobering albeit brief.  Joanna, Faith, and Craig had dinner together in the hospital hall.  Craig discussed the possiblity to Jan and Joanna moving to California to reside at the Dionysus Refined Vineyard.  Faith huffed and puffed and pouted while Craig gave his pitch.

 

Chapter 9 Without Shaking Hands

 

For Faith getting back to normal life was easy in Hawaii however; between Craig and Faith relations were icy.  The first week in Hawaii Craig consulted his lawyer in regards to getting a divorce.  During the consulation he was informed that while Faith would be entitled to monetary compensation she would not have claim to ownership of Dionysus Refined.  Craig comprehended that a divorce would not be free but he was satisfied with the information that his lawyer gave him.  There were days when Craig hung around his computer in front of paperwork seeming like a vegatable in a frozen state caught in a repetitive pattern playing scrabble and poker.  There was no one to save him from the dulled blob of existence and Faith was busy staying away from Craig. A month  passed quickly when he arrived in New England it was early May with the weather being unseasonable warm.  Now it was toward the end of June. Jan had gotten home from the hospital a week before but the road to recovery would be longer than the last time.  During the night Craig packed his clothes in preparation for his plane flight home.  He would arrive in New England the day before Arianne’s art exhibit.  Faith walked into the room while Craig was putting his clothes into his luggage, “ Your leaving tomorrow?”  “I have to Arianne’s art exhibit will be the night after I get there and then I have to begin training sessions with Jed Folues.”  Faith was silent, “I thought about it and I met with a lawyer” That caught Craig’s attention, she looked down, “I’m tired of fighting with you and putting off the inevitable.  I think that I want a divorce” There wasn't a surprise though the question was whether there would be a fight. "Please reconsider Faith! Jan would be happy living at my vineyard.”  "But I wont!" She said forcefully.  Joanna stayed with them she listened to them talk outside of their bedroom.  “My parents are Hawaiian let my dad die in peace on the island.”  “We failed!” “Sometimes life’s failure’s are temporary” “What are you asking of me?”  “5 million dollars and the house” “What?”  “You have 8 million in the bank and you own a thriving business.  Unless you want a legal war and I GUARANTEE YOU I’ll get more than 5 million.” Faith clenched her teeth and fist slamming her hands down as she looked intently into Craigs eyes.  He knew that she was no longer the same woman that he loved, he didn’t want a bitter divorce, “I keep my business and your not employed there” “I’ll agree to that” "Divorce is that fickle and easy?" Craig slipped off his wedding ring he placed it on the dresser.  Faith began to cry, "It's not easy its that I don't have the fight anymore" He carried out his luggage he decided to drive himself to the airport without waiting until morning.  Joanna was startled when Craig passed by her she reached for his hand as he walked away, she cried.  The flight from Hawaii to Lax Airport Craig was numb it was predictable.  He and Faith were amicable he knew that if she moved to California with him that it would save their marriage but it wasn’t what she wanted.  When he arrived at Providence Green Airport it was noon, the summer sun was blinding but Craig was internally cold.  He arrived at Debbie-Sue’s in time to have lunch with her and the children.  Debbie-Sue informed him of the work that she had done with Jed, she led the way to the her office after lunch showing him the filing cabinets with every Dionysus Refined account sorted and filed in the drawers.  “I’d like duplicates made for Jed Foles in bins for his home office.  That is very essential for him to physically have.”  “He already has access to Dionysus Refined rolling history with accounts” Craig and Debbie-Sue began arguing yelling at each other like they never have done before, "DEBBIE-SUE HOW DIFFICULT IS IT FOR YOU TO HAVE SOMEONE ANYONE TO GET COPIES MADE, PUT INTO FILES AND BINS FOR JED?"  "SO YOU ARE THE BOSS OF ME NOW?" Debbie-Sue picked up a bin with account files she tossed it across the room "WHAT WAS THAT FOR?" "YOUR GONE FOR A FUCKING MONTH LEAVING ME WITH YOUR KIDS AND YOUR MISERABLE AND BARKING ORDERS. I ALREADY HAVE THE FILES IN BINS"  "JED WILL BE AN ASSET FOR DIONYSUS REFINED SO DON'T ACT LIKE I'M TRYING TO WEIGH YOU DOWN."  "YOU NEED TO GET A DIVORCE, ITS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!" “We are” Craig said lowering his tone.  Debbie-Sue stopped yelling.

 

 

****

 

Salvatore Moonshine walked slowly aided by his cane, his live in nurse wore business attire she accompanied him as Jacques Lesperance stood outside of the brick mill that served as his base of operations in Woonsocket, RI.  The building resembled the old slaughterhouse that he worked at as a youth.  While Rhode Island is the smallest state in the Union it was also the birthplace of the industrial revolution.  Current day Woonsocket was a shadow of its former glory, most of the mills were burned down or converted into apartments while others lay vacant.  Jacques Lesperance had generations of relatives that resided in the city.  While Woonsocket was never a well off community it was prosperous when there was industry.  During WW2 Woonsocket had reached a peak with textiles and manufacturing from bottling companies, tupperware, rubber boots, clothing, etc. There was a strength within the military industrial complex due to World War 2.  While Woonsocket was never a perfect town often serving as a destination for off duty military personal where there were plenty of bars the people were employed, they had large families, neighborhoods habitants were familiar with each other, and a large portion of the residents were religious predominantly Catholic and French.  In fact there were complete sections of the city where French was the spoken language.  If Jacques were Italian then he would be living a similar reality in Johnston or on Federal Hill in Providence.  However; he was one of the few French speakers left in the city of Woonsocket.  Jacques greeted Salvatore “Bonjour” Salvatores face went smug he flicked his nose, “Perhaps if the French had a stronger culture then they wouldn’t be secluded to a run down remnant of a city” Salvatore walked passed him letting himself into the brick building.  Jacques took a moment to compose himself before beginning the tour of the facility.

 

Jacques was accompanied by David Rudelle as they began the tour of the production facility.  “All of our products start out as raw materials” Jacques lifted a bag of different colored plastic beads, “The handles are made from these beads.” There were workers that processed the plastics into laser computer calculated molds creating the handle and triggers used in the device handle.  Salvatore watched the production of the handle components from start to finish.  The computerized calculated precision was not capable without the use of the machinery that Lesperance Surgical used.  “The handles themselves are just components, all of the parts manufactured are assembled in a separate room.”  They walked to the next set of machines, there were rolls of stainless steel and spools of sutures.  “The mouth of and suture needles of the device are made within this station along with the suture thread which is spooled.  The most difficult portion was with creating a jaw and pulley mechanism with enough strength and tension within the shaft to penetrate and properly suture the uteral stoma.”  A handful of employees worked in the manufacturing section with the workers were several engineers.  Jacques, David, Salvatore, and his live in nurse continued the tour, they exited the manufacturing room entering a hallway with see through glass showing the assembly room.  “The assembly room is sterile” Before the components are assembled they are sterilized.  Salvatore took his time watching the workers assemble the components of the device.  There were separate work stations dedicated to assembly of portions of The Dante Grasper. “Do the assembly workers suffer from carpal tunnel?” “We rotate work stations to prevent stress and repetitive fatigue.”  “What about turnover?” “Relatively low, the pay is competitive for the field.  The engineers could possibly earn more from corporations however regionally we have potential.  For assembers without college degrees the pay is better than average.”  “What about production of ancillary products?”  “Some machinery will be needed and then the specs for creating the products.  Commodity products patents can be bought however; we are Lesperance Surgical and we will have our own version of any products that we produce.”  “Naturally” “Meaning that it is possible with your help Mr. Moonshine” “Mr. Lesperance many things are possible with the means for production”  

 

****

 

Nidhogg looked from a far watching his wife Vega dance around the flickering flames of a fire.  The night before when the wind was howling she sat amongst the smolders of piles of tinder until nearly noon.  Nidhogg was not a man of deep emotion he reasoned that whatever was effecting her that she would reach a conclusion to the issue that was causing her internal struggle.  Vega left the fire blazing brightly she walked to where she knew Nidhogg was watching.  “It has travelled” Vega told Nidhogg “What has travelled?”  “Death magic!  There was a cloud that covered this land.”  Nidhogg shook his head, “Are you losing your mind?”  “Just because you were not effected does not mean that it isnt real.” Bjorn and Olaf drove up to where Nidhogg and Vega were they got out of their jeep.  “Dozens of bulls and cows are dead in the field.”  Nidhogg and Vega got into the Jeep Bjorn drove them to the field where there were 80 dead bulls and cows.  The most startling scene was that they were all dead in one line.  “Do you question?”  Vega asked “I have my suspicions of outside interference.” Nidhogg reasoned  “What do you want us to do with the dead cattle?”  Olaf asked Nidhogg looked stone faced to Olaf, “Have them cut up and sell their meat at a discount.”  “What do you want me to tell the workers when they see the dead cattle.”  “Shoot each bull and cow in the head, tell them to question my judgment” “Why” Vega asked “Fear” was Nidhoggs one word response.

 

Word spread quickly of the dead cattle lined up in a row all shot in the head.  Butchers worked diligently having Bjorn and Olaf along with several farm workers move the cattle to the processing room in the basement of the mansion.  It was normal to slaughter 100 cattle within a month however; 80 in one day with a mix of bulls and cows was unprecedented.  There were murmurs that traveled throughout the plantation with the outskirts reaching the city.  Nidhogg was labeled a brute and monster some called him a madman.  Bjorn carried out the dead body of the man that was supposed to be Nidhogg’s indentured servant.  “What do you want me to do with him?”  “Bring him back to his house and burn it down with him in it.” Nidhogg ordered “The murmuring of Michelle Moonshine’s unrelenting brother has spread through the plantation and likely townfolk.  Do not forget that Tomas will be running for presidential office.” Vega councilled “I’m not Tomas” Nidhogg quickly replied, “Don’t forget that your sister owns Moonshine Plantation” “She owns the plantation however; a strange occurrence has happened do you not agree?  Using your own strange behavior as confirmation”. “Without question” “Then do not question my reasoning.  Better for the peasants to hate the king then for them to fear a cursed plantation.  Which once causes greater longterm instability?”  “When your sister returns you will have to answer to her.”  “We aren’t waiting we will be leaving for America tonight.”  “For what purpose?”  Vega questioned, “It is better to be offensive then defensive.  I’m bored with vacationing at a pre historic plantation without the company of the one that I desired to visit.  There is greater promise in America.” “Like Sif?”  “Jealous?” Vega laughed “No; however revenge is possible” “We will avoid her, I received word that my father has started a new business venture, he will be arriving in Rhode Island within days.”  “Does he know that you have re-married?”  Nidhogg shook his head no, he waved a hand through his hair, “You two will meet, he is a pragmatic Englishman” “Finnish and Chilean women?”  “A career executive for multinational corporations has a greater perspective and appreciation for beauty.”  Nidhogg lifted his wife’s hand, “The next time that we return to Moonshine Plantation the people will remember me with a mental fear of my wrath."   That much Vega did not doubt.  A vision of Sif appeared before her she pushed forward shaking herself from Nidhogg’s grasp she stared off into the horizon.

 

A short while later Nidhogg and Vega had their luggage carried to their helicopter they left their security team behind with Bjorn and Olaf in control.  First they flew to Texas then they took a plane to New England.  Getting off of the plane it was just as Nidhogg remembered, he puffed out his chest feeling a measure of superiority to those that he encountered.  Vega kept her hair tightly bundled together, she wore all black with sunglasses to match.  This trip was not one that she wanted to be taking.  The following day was Arianne’s art exhibit, it was Nidhoggs intention of him and Vega showing up as his father’s personal guests.  It was agreed upon to not mention the dead cattle nor what Nidhogg considered to be Vega's foolish supersitions.  They arrived at the hotel where Salvatore Moonshine was staying.  Nidhogg and Vega's room the only other Presidential Suite was exactly opposite to his.  After unpacking their luggage Nidhogg and Vega stood together, Nidhogg knocked on his father’s hotel room door.

 

****

 

Craig sat on the porch that night writing Faith a letter while lost in the numbness of divorce.  He left it outside when he went inside he picked up his guitar and he began to play.  Sometimes he found himself very creative where the music and most of the words flowed together easily.  This was one of those nights.  A capo was attached to the headstock of his guitar, he squeezed the grip moving it to the second fret.  Lifting up his cell phone he flicked through the applications looking for the voice recorder he pressed record.  He started with a d'sus chord on the eighth fret, “How long has it been, how far have you gone from me ee ee.  Sitting on my porch at night with my paper and pen, write you a letter, that I won’t send because I’m blue ooh, I’ve always been true, Cry for Joy, she was a beautiful sin, Oh my darling my lord ooh, Oh like a man - like a man - like man that I wanted to be, why can’t I see, your looking at me heeee, my lord my darling, Oh my Faith all my days my beautiful haze, I can’t see, into your eyes my lord woah, sitting on my porch at night writing a note that I won’t send, again my lord ooh woah, my lord my darling woah.  Craig pressed stop on his voice recorder he tuned the guitar to a drop d tuning putting the capo on the fifth fret. He started with A,B,C bar chords with open string strumming, “Some things don’t stay the way I want, and the change like a chain around my throat, some things don’t stay the way I want, and I’m crying out for my voice, It’s not a matter I’m fighting from within, I’m never had that choice, Some things don’t stay the way I want, and the change like a chain around my throat, I don’t want to be your dog, I’m crying out fighting for my voice, Some things don’t stay the way I want, and the chains tighten around my boat!”  Craig pressed the stop button on the voice recorder, he put down his guitar.  He stayed up drinking glass after glass of Merlot watching the 1960 presidential debates.  While drunk he was punched with the political science ass whipping that was offered by the most important political debates that he would ever take place.  Amongst his drunkenness he texted Faith sending her the two songs.  With the time zone changes it was afternoon in Hawaii.  For a few minutes Craig waited for a response, there was none.  He decided to take a shower it was almost morning and he needed sleep.  When he got out of the bathroom she replied to the songs, “Writing songs for your new girlfriend?  Chain around your boat?  It’s docked in my father’s yard.  Why don’t you come and get it?”  A few minutes later he responded, “Tell Jan to keep the boat and wish him a speedy recovery” Right after Craig texted Faith she responded, “What do you want?”  “You!”  Craig decided that it would be best if he shut off his phone.  It was almost morning when he went to bed, he was nudged merely an hour later when his daughter Loretta woke him up.  He was still drunk but he did his best to appear presentable. Somehow he managed to make breakfast for the children and Debbie-Sue and then we went back to bed sleeping soundly without dream waking by 6pm.  He had enough time to prepare for Arianne’s art exhibit.  When he turned on his phone Faith had not responded, he knew that divorce was the absence of that normalcy.  For the exhibit he wore a black suit with a Maroon turtleneck.  His snakeskin shoes matched his belt and when he slicked back his black hair he saw a flicker in his eyes almost as if he were a snake himself.  Craig hoped for a change in perspective.

 

****

 

Tomas and Michelle prepared for the art exhibit.  The weeks leading up to the event in New England were filled with attempts by Tomas to  try to regain Michelle’s affection but she was stubborn and when she made a decision it was often final.  After Tomas had arrived at her hotel room Michelle did not have contact with Sif nor Arianne.  The art exhibit was supposed to be an event!  She was hoping that it would not end up being a chore.  Tomas wore a black suit with a white shirt and a red bow tie.  Michelle wore a shiny black dress with a flaring bottom with her cleavage showing.  She wore a diamond necklace with an emerald in the middle.  They had Pablo drive them to the exhibit.  Pablo brought a woman that he picked up a week after arriving in the United States with him to keep him company.  As they exited the vehicle there was a short walk to the gallery.  Out of an adjacent vehicle was Nidhogg, Vega, and most notable her father Salvatore Moonshine.  Michelle stood frozen engaged in a staring contest with her father.

 

****

 

Sif prepared for her sisters art exhibit, residing with her sister during her stay in America.  She dressed with the intention of grabbing Craig Chaises attention.  She wore a purple silk dress with a pearl necklace around her neck, her hair was neatly bundled into a swirl with a loch of hair dangling down in front of her face.  She wore toeless strapped designer shoes, she walked with grace and flow, she felt the way that she looked.  Arianne gazed at her sister as she blew kisses to herself in the mirror.  Arianne looked almost contemptuously, “Slut” she spoke dryly, “Jealous” Sif argued back.  Arianne went to her room to prepare for the evening.  Her exhibit was to be full of pieces of art that would sell from between $20,000 - 100,000 she did not have the expectation of selling million dollar pieces of art.  Most of the pieces were from artists that were either up and coming or somewhat forgotten.  There were of course a few exceptional pieces of art featured but it was her intention of re introducing herself to her American collectors.  For this event she waived the normal fee that she would charge for entry into such an event.  Arianne knew herself she knew that she was at her best when there was a theme.  This particular event she had labeled “The Principals Office” Arianne’s assistants would be  dressed in teachers clothing with matching vests and ties while carrying yard sticks with them.  Arianne took on the role of the pupil she wore a green, blue, and white checkered shirt with knee high green stockings, black shoes, and green shirt.  She wore a gold necklace with a crucifix dangling around her neck.  At the gallery, the food servers would be dressed as hall monitors with school desks used as tables where drinks and orderves would be served from.  In the middle of the exhibit a desk was placed where Saidah would be seated dressed as the principal.  At the start of the exhibit the lights of the studio would be turned off.  Two spotlights from the second balcony were to shine down first on Saidah then then Arianne sitting a desk in detention.  There would be a short play before the exhibit would begin.

 

Arianne was dressed and ready for the exhibit, Sif saw her in the prep school uniform, “Desperate” Sif snipped, Arianne blew her a kiss while she ajusted the pin that kept her hair neatly tucked.  “Tonights exhibit is themed.  Every prep school needs a wayward vixen to lure the boys away from from the subject.”  “Whore!” Sif remarked while smiling, “Sometimes salesmanship makes the difference, A shared experience that can be a repeatable process is often powerful.”  “I’m a spectator and moral support” Sif said “With you and mother we are a triangle, is there a question to the point?”  “Shall we?”  Sif motioned toward the door as Freyja had arrived with a limousine to travel.  Arianne, Sif, and Freyja arrived hours early, Saidah was already there with the hired help.  While Arianne prepped the assistants and food servers Sif and Freyja walked around the gallery looking at the art that was for sale.  “Dead Potatoes” was a piece of art that caught her attention.  “Reminds me of Franz Von Stuck” Sif agreed

 

****

 

Percival Cauldron hesitated when it came time to attend the art exhibit that he and Rebecca were invited to.  He didn’t like staying out late and he did not like the thought of being surrounded by socialites that he had nothing in common with.  Rebecca was excited for the event.  Sure Percival and Rebecca Cauldron kept busy at their old age, but in their time together they never attended an art exhibit nor associated themselves with the artistic elite.  Percival wore a black suit with a white dress shirt and black tie, Rebecca wore a black dress with a black bonnet in her hair, “We look like we are attending a funeral” Rebecca commented to Percival, “At least it’s not ours” Percival drove his 1962 Red Ford pickup truck to Arianne’s art studio.

 

****

 

It was time for the event, The Evening Reporter attended the fundraising event at Dionysus Refined.  Candidate for mayor Donna Lang stood in the center of the manufacturing and distribution center of Dionysus Refined.  In attendance for the event were many of the employees of Dionysus Refined.  While it was a fundraiser, candidate Lang had as many members of the teachers union that endorsed her campaign as would agree to attend.  There were roughly 400 people in attendance at the fundraiser.  The attendants gathered around closely as Donna Lang gave a short speech thanking Debbie-Sue Folues for allowing her to host the event at Dionysus Refined.  Donna Lang pitched the company story emphasizing how Dionysus Refined was a small business victory for the town.  She had the employees and their family members raise their hands while they received a standing ovation for their contribution to the community.  Out of the 400 in attendance nearly 100 of those were from Dionysus Refined between employees and their family members.  As they huddled around candidate Lang, Debbie Sue stood on the side of her as the Evening Reporter journalist took photos of them.  Outside of the fundraising event Stewart Blythe had a small group of picketers trudge the side walk in front of Dionysus Refined with posters. "Donna Lang is bad for business" one poster read another "A vote for Donna Lang is a vote for Government Waste", then there were signs that read "Vote for business Vote for Steward Blythe", "Conservative leadership - Vote for Blythe".  As the fundraiser drew to a close the journalist for the Evening Reporter took photos of the Pro- Blythe supporters walking with their posters.  After taking photos the reporter approached Stewart Blythe, “Care to give a statement on the record?”  “What’s the question?” Candidate Blythe asked, “ Councilwoman Lang accused your campaign of rough housing tactics one of her staffers was beat up in an physical altercation she’s complained of signs being stolen and now you are picketing her fundraiser care to respond?”  Stewart Blythe put a campaign sign in front of him, “I categorically deny that my campaign has been anything but straight forward.  The staffer from my campaign that got into a fight was removed from my campaign.  Note that the fight was over a girlfriend that both involved had in common.  As for stolen signs I have no knowledge of any of that.  There are real issues like preventing the federal and state governments from initiating unneeded programs that increase taxes and take power from both our local businesses and the people.  Why am I here tonight?  That is a simple question with a real answer.  Donna Lang saw my endorsement by Poultry Provisions and she pulled strings to get Dionysus Refined to hold this event.  I’m a better candidate, I’m right on the issues, I won’t raise taxes and I’ll stand up to the unions, that is all that I have to say.”  Donna Lang walked up to Stewart Blythe and The Evening Reporter Journalist, “One month from tonight the election will be held, I challenge you Stewart Blythe to a Parking lot debate two weeks from tonight in this here parking lot.”  Donna Lang waited for a response, “Two weeks from tonight, Who will moderate the debate?”  Stewart Blythe responded and asked, “The Evening Reporter will” the Journalist responded, “Two weeks from tonight” Stewart Blythe agreed.  Both candidates walked away from The Evening Reporter Journalist without shaking hands.

 

Chapter 10 At The Bottom

 

It was a perfect evening for the much anticipated night.  The art exhibit was finally going to take place, and though it was special event there was an antagonistical angst that resided in many of the guests before the event began.  As Craig approached Arianne’s art studio he wanted the night to be over and done with.  He parked his car texting Arianne as he arrived.  She messaged him back that Sif would walk out to meet him so they he would have a valet for the exhibit.  Sif walked with fluidity especially considering the shoes that she was wearing.  Her silk dress flowered with the breeze as it passed in periodic gusts.  Given the heat of the day it was a dry welcome.  Before Sif met with Craig a black limousine parked on the side of Craig.  Within a minute after the limo sense parked a black Jaguar parked on the side of the Limousine.  It seemed odd to Sif she did a double take as a silver haired man got out of the limousine brandishing a cane.  He turned to Sif looking sharply to her, he smiled flipping the shilling that he held in his pocket catching it in his hand putting it back into this pocket in one swift motion.  Sif smiled, “Salvatore” she whispered blowing him a kiss that he caught his one of his hands.  Then he turned around catching the eye to eye stare of Michelle Moonshine as they exited the black Jaguar.  On the other side of the Limousine Craig caught sight of the other guests that were to join Salvatore Moonshine, “Nidhogg” Craig murmured clenching his fists, “Vega!” Sif growled Craig pulled her by her wrists close to him he kissed her passionately as Nidhogg and Vega began to lose their composure.  

 

**** 

 

Michelle Moonshine stood on the side of Nidhogg.  Vega and Tomas walked to the back of the vehicle with Pablo.  He offered them both cigarettes, “I Don’t” Vega began “Smoke” Pablo ordered.  Tomas, Vega, and Pablo smoked cigarettes.  “So how did you like our plantation?” Tomas asked Vega, “It is cursed with spirits of ages past”.  She told them of the dead cattle.  Michelle stood facing her father neither spoke.   The battle of stillness was continued while Nidhogg looked over them, focusing on Sif with her silk free flowing purple dress and hair tied neatly into a bun with a loch dangling down her cheek.  Not being one to avoid confrontation he walked to the back of the Jaguar pulling Vega to his side.  He noticed that she was smoking a cigarette.  He pulled it from her mouth he walked in front of Sif and Craig Chaise he threw the cigarette on the ground stepping on it.  Sif had her arms around Craig until Nidhogg and Vega walked toward them.  Though Sif held her composure the was almost unbound with internal rage, “The married man cannot keep his hands off of the left overs”  Nidhogg teased “I’m not a married man” Craig said first then Sif followed up “I am not the left overs” Sif looked to Vega staring at the scar on her shoulder, “I should have taken better aim.”

 

****

 

Salvatore stood still he did not want to speak first.  It was a space in time that seemed almost too long.  There was a stand still moment that reminded Salvatore of being in the freezer of the meat locker at the slaughter house as a child.  Though the night was warm and clear there was a crisp iciness to the feel of the distance between him and his daughter.  Tomas stood near Pablo and his girlfriend smoking cigarettes toward the back of the Jaguar.  Michelle did not expect to see her father at the art exhibit or at all, whelmed with bottled anger and sadness, bitter tears trickled from her eyes, she looked over to her brother knowing the potential for competition.  She wiped her eyes gave one final look to her father, neither spoke words, she left her father standing with his nurse.  As she walked to the side of her brother Nidhogg she heard parts of their conversation, “I am not leftovers” Sif said firmly to Nidhogg.  Michelle hooked herself around Nidhogg’s arm, “My guests certainly do know how to make an impression.”  Michelle tugged, “Shall we attend the event?”  Michelle motioned for Tomas, “I will introduce the both of you to Tomas later” she said to both Craig and Sif.  Tomas, Michelle, began walking Vega lagged behind, she grabbed a glass orb from around her neck she threw it at Sif’s feet then she sped up to walk with her husband.  Craig pulled Sif away he hurried to his truck grabbing a moment of life candle lighting it placing it where Vega’s orb was smashed on the ground.  “What are you?”  “She cursed you, I’m protecting you Leave it lit” Craig and Sif took a step away from the candle. 

 

Salvatore walked slowly aided by his cane as he approached the two of them, he looked peculiarly first to the candle then he looked at the the them looking at him.  A warm breeze nearly blew off his hat as he reached for Sif’s hand, he kissed the top of it, “It has been too long my lovely” Sif gave Salvatore a kiss on the cheek, “I hope that Nidhogg hasn’t ruined your event.” Salvatore said casually,  “He hasn’t” Craig replied, “I wasn’t talking to you” They made eye contact.   “William” Sif motioned “This is Salvatore Moonshine he was my father’s business partner, he is Michelle’s and Nidhogg’s father” Salvatore looked to Craig, “What does the bourgeoisie have in common with the proletariat?” Salvatore asked as he stared intently at Craig looking down to his feet pretending to spit on them.  Craig walked away to his truck he picked up a bottle of wine and a candle he walked back to them.  Craig flipped the question back to Salvatore, Craig handled a bottle of Pinot Noir and a Moment of Life candle to Salvatore’s nurse, “What is a salesman to the history of man?”  Craig posed the question, “Some argue the devil” Salvatore offered in answer, “Dionysus Refined” Craig responded Salvatore looked at the label on both the wine and candle “What did the Dionysus Refine?”  “Himself!  That is the meaning behind the company, the fool matured, the leader matured, Dionysus Refined meaning that Dionysus is no longer the fool” “Did you give me the god?” Salvatore asked.  Sif wedged herself in between both men “Life” Salvatore blurted, “If it is life then William has children both with Arianne and Freyja “Aggressive” Salvatore complained, “When it happened naturally is advantage taken?”  Craig asked following up with, “Perhaps opportunity was given” “It’s not perhaps, your an aggressive salesman you looked for gaps” Salvatore knowingly said, “No, those types are temporary.  Truth exposes the short term, has not America changed the realm of class structure?  I’m American” Sif hooked herself around Salvatore’s arm he tipped his hat to Craig, “Till we meet again” Salvatore walked with Sif and his nurse hooked around both of his arms as he held his cane in front of him.  A moment later Charles Bassett brushed past Craig grunting as he gave recognition.

 

There was a pack of Marlboro Menthol light cigarettes under the drivers seat of Craig’s truck, he remembered that he had put it there.  Craig leaned against the grill of his truck as he lit the cigarette contemplating skipping the art exhibition altogether.  A classic red Ford pickup truck parked next to him followed by a Black Dodge Ram.  He recognized the people in the Red Ford, Percival and Rebecca Cauldron.  Out of the Black Dodge Ram was Jim Buck and Patty Medallion.  Craig was very familiar with the both of them.  Years before Craig’s first wife Jennifer took horse lessons showing at many of the regional and national horse shows.  Nearly a decade had passed since he last housed a horse at the Lobbed Logs Barn that Patty Medallion owned.  He stood alone smoking a cigarette, Patty and Jim were arguing as they were walking, “If you weren’t such a dickhead to Boney the we would be having” Jim Buck noticed Craig he walked past Percival leaving Patty to speak with them.  Craig offered him a cigarette Jim Buck smiled, “ I didn’t know that you moved back home” “Just for the summer” “Where’s Faith?”  “Hawaii” Jim Buck let the lack of words fill the air.  Craig lit Jim Buck’s cigarette.  Patty Medallion noticed Craig Chaise she wore a blue jean dress with a white blouse unusual for her was that her almost fully red fiery hair was tied back tightly into a pony tail.  She kissed Craig on the cheek, “Smoking, Don’t tell me that you’ve turned into a bad boy, How’s the wife and kids?”  “The kids are good” Patty noticed that he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, “It’s probably for the best” Percival and Rebecca walked up to the three of them, “Walking with us?”  Patty asked Craig, “Eventually” As Percival walked by Craig he looked to him, “A trail of dust and nails” Percival said calmly, Craig smoked another cigarette.

 

A score of potential investors walked by Craig he resembled a pouting teenager sulking by himself.  Out of the gallery Freyja walked outside toward Craig.  In the years leading up to this point the one time seemingly perfect match had been out of sorts.  Warm breezes made Freyja’s Red dress flow with the wind though her hair remained perfectly wrapped in a tight swirl.  She walked up to Craig, “Don’t like being the bill that no one will pick up or pay?”  “Is my presence welcomed?  Freyja pondered answering his question she turned around puffed up her hair then she walked away. 

 

****

 

Inside of the art gallery the lights went out,  the crowd in attendance silenced, two spotlights from the second level balcony controlled by two assistants wearing hall monitor uniforms focused toward the middle of the gallery.  Saidah sat at a desk writing in a scheduling book, her hair was dyed gray, she wore a business suit with a tie.  In front of her desk was a students desk with Arianne sitting, there were several books on her desk, she was busy doing homework.  Behind her were a set of chairs with a couple of students sitting on them waiting to be seen by the principal.  The principals office phone rang Saidah answered, “Principal Victoria speaking, Yes, Mrs. Mulligan your daughter is sitting in front of me.”  Principal Victoria paused for a moment as if listening, “Her punishment is in house suspension for a week and detention for two weeks.  As you know she was caught skipping school with one Hank Hannaford Biffs.”  Principal Victoria held the phone away from her ear, “Mrs. Mulligan I understand your frustrations however; I must inform you that your daughter is failing in English, Math, and Science.” Principal Victoria held the phone away from her ear Mrs. Mulligan I completely agree, that is acceptable.”  Principal Victoria hung up the phone, she walked to the front of her desk holding a yard stick.  She walked by the students sitting in the seats lined up behind the students desk that Arianne sat at.  After looking at the watch on her wrist she pointed her yard stick to the three students in the seats, “You can go” the students got up from the seats they left the mid gallery stage.  Principal Victoria patted the yard stick in her hand as she circled around Arianne’s desk, “I spoke with your mother on the telephone.”  Arianne kept her head down, “I informed her that you are in danger of being expelled from The Academy” Arianne lifted up her head, “So!” Principal Victoria circled around Arianne’s desk, “Penelope, I don’t believe that you truly appreciate the benefits that The Academy will afford you” “Who cares, your all a bunch of squares” “Is Hank Biffs a square?” “What’s he got to do with it?”  “He is the quarterback of the football team, let’s say that he fails a couple of classes.  His coach got him out of trouble for getting caught bunking with you.  What’s the future of a high school flunkee?” “Your a rotten woman!  That’s why none of the students like you?” “Good! However; your mother does care about your education.  Although your punishment is two weeks of detention after this week of in house suspension your mother thought it best that your detention be extended for the two months left in the quarter.”  Arianne stood up from her desk Principal Victoria placed a hand on her shoulder sitting her down, “Fear not your misguided but your grades will improve."  Arianne reached for her purse she pulled out a cigarette she began to smoke a cigarette.  Principal Victoria took the cigarette snapping it in half dropping it to the floor stepping on it. “Don’t test my patience” “I don’t need your rules!  Besides everyone knows that your having an affair with the political science teacher” “That’s not true!” “It is! What will your husband think when he finds out?  You know that word gets around and the other students do listen to me.”  Arianne lit another cigarette, “but you know what Principal Victoria, if you help me then I will help you” Principal Victoria slowed down, “That’s not right”  she leaned against Arianne’s desk, “What do I know about right, I’m the one with failing grades”   Scene!

 

****

 

 

The lights to the gallery went on the spotlights were shut off.  While there was the expectation for an applause there was none.  Several guests in attendance coughed and the silence seemed uncomfortable for a lingering moment.  Arianne smiled she began her introduction to her homecoming art exhibit.  She put her hands on her hips shaking them making her school dress sway, “I’m Arianne Sullivan I played the roll of Penelope the student and My assistant Saidah Nadif played the roll of Principal Victoria and while many of you might not have enjoyed our performance there is a reason why we performed it.  I thank each and everyone one of you for attending on this star filled summer night.  My assistant will remain in character at her desk through the event you will notice gifts baskets surrounding her desk.  Tonights art pieces that are featured are comprised by a select group of artists whose work will speak for itself. Now I know what many of you are thinking, What do I care about school?  That’s a good question and there are many more questions that need to be answered.  Tonight’s theme is multifaceted while this is my “Homecoming” art exhibit school room focused, education doesn’t end with the classroom.  With school there is structure, a defined way that things are done.  For some it may seem dogmatic or sterile however; that is just one way to look at it.  Many of the pieces themselves are related to the realm of education and learning, but not all!  In attendance tonight there are art investors, enthusiasts, a Chilean Presidential candidate (there were several gasps many began to look around), A disposal landfill owner (Several coughs), a life long family business partner and conglomerate executive, and then there is family!  My mother the distinguished Freyja Sullivan is here, this is the first time that she has visited the United States in nearly 20 years along side her is my sister Sif whom owns Sif’s Geyser resort in Austria.  I encourage all of you to engage in conversation with them for many important business contacts become endeavors that begin with first contact.  A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the endowment for the arts and handmade gift baskets with locally made and branded Dionysus Refined Candles and Wine along with gourmet chocolates and their new product lines hand made goat milk soap has been donated by Dionysus Refined.  In life there are teachable moments and in death there’s what is left behind.  Some people never learn the most important lessons in life however; in death what do you learn from them?  Our featured piece of art is aptly named ‘Dead Potatoes’ I challenge each and every one of you to see the life in that death.  All of the pieces of art shown tonight are for sale.”

 

****

 

Barley Mare was at a stale mate!  No it wasn’t the work at Poultry Provisions.  In fact he found that he had a knack for customer relations.  Often he’d find himself lost in old war stories with more than a handful of customers.  What Barley Mare was concerned with was two women that was left that he was contracted to have married.  He was itching to get back to Pattaya Thailand where he had a functional business and he didn’t want to chance getting caught by the police while in America.  Reg walked into the office where Barley was talking to Ming Na, “They’re goddamned deadweight” he flicked a notebook across the room, Reg Folues caught it he put it down on the desk.  “What do you want me to do?” Ming Na asked “What can you do?”  Barley swiped an order off of the desk he handed it to Reg, “I walked into to Pantry Finest a couple towns over they do most of their business with Super Value but there willing to give us a try with 90 day billing.”  Reg acknowledged the order, “If you don’t mind me giving you a suggestion” “Go on” Ming Na said, “Both Ow and Shooter are taking two weeks off from work after getting married last week.  Ever think about hanging out at a couple of veterans bars with the women?  There are bound to be lonely men looking for a woman.”  “But my girls are asian and I don’t want them to be abused and face descrimination.”  Ming Na complained “It can’t hurt to try” Barley opined.  “They’re guaranteed work at Poultry Provisions that is stable.  Barley stood up he patted Reg on the shoulder, “Thanks for the tip”

 

****

 

With those in attendance at the art exhibit was Percival Cauldron.  The brief play was entertaining to him and the reaction for those that attended this event was the kind of reaction that he would expect from those kind of people.  Unknown to him he stood on the side of an attractive European Spanish woman and a tall refined looking Spanish man.While he kept his manly hood he tipped his cowboy hat when he made eye contact with the woman.  “And you are” The woman reached a hand forward, “Percival Cauldron” As Percival reached for the Spanish woman’s hand her husband stepped forward physically getting in the way of their meeting, he looked seriously eye to eye with Percival there was a moment of serious silence between them.  “I’m Tomas” he motioned to his wife, “This is my wife Michelle, we are special guests of Arianne.”  Are you familiar with the country of Chile?” Tomas asked he smiled showing his teeth.  Percival reached forward grabbing Michelle’s hand his bowed his head kissing the top of it, “For the lowly like myself do appreciate being in the presence of the lovely such as yourself” He stood up straight he put his cane in front of him looking sternly eye to eye with Tomas.  Michelle stepped forward meaning to ease the tension between the two men, “I own a three hundred acre plantation a few hours north of Santiago, Chile.”  Rebecca silently watched up until this point, “We are just locals enjoying a night out” Tomas spoke looking to Percival, “That is not true, he is not just any man” “Thank you for the compliment" Percival said followed by Rebecca, "I have friends waiting to observe some of the pieces of art, Perhaps we will speak later in the night.”  “Definitely” Tomas finalized.

 

****

 

 A feeling of loss whelmed within Craig as he walked along the pieces of art being exhibited.  While there was excitement there was a lack of the something that made reciprocity and building climactic experiences real.  Looking around he knew that while the art exhibited wasn’t of the caliber that was shown at other exhibits, it wasn’t the art.  He knew that Arianne did not have great expectations for this particular art exhibit.  However; it was a homecomming.  Looking to the side he noticed Percival whom noticed him he lifted a hand running his thumb along the tip of his fingernails as if he was dusting himself from crumbs.  Percival was an exception!  Continuing to walk observing the art he stopped at “Dead Potatoes” he knew the helm and death with the voices talking to him in this piece of art.

 

Chapter 11 Personal Charm

 

Value is a word to many people but not to the art investor that stood to the side of Craig Chaise as he gazed at the piece of art labeled ‘Dead Potatoes’.  Craig looked to the side unaware that he was speaking with an art investor, “If it were possible to reach a sum that was all death and torture somehow surviving being turned inside out in a daily torture procession that is this painting.  It’s not that the mold and aging were the nails in the coffin because they spoke back and forth with one another.  It’s that the continuity of death that was as normal as breathing for them.  The white smudges mixed in with the constant brown are what I recognize as the dead helms.  Are you familiar with the helms?” Craig asked the person standing to the side of him he shook his head, “No I am not” “You should be because they are familiar with you and though they appear to be potatoes they have no reservation with peering into your life taking your memories as if they were their own.  That is part of the absorption that makes “Dead Potatoes” so striking and yet seeming like the mold of the aging of an old photo.  It really does seem old and drastically bleak and the cat scratches in the painting show me the credibility of my assertions.”  Craig stood in front of the painting knowing the darkness in the quick of the painting that was anything but quick.  “Gettysburg is said to still have blood in the soil, I get the impression that blood is somehow involved.  The thing with living through something is that you cannot relive it and often we are a culmination of our experiences, this painting is not positive portrayal of experiences.   A slice of earth tells of its history.  If there is something to note, is that with death there is often renewal, the lack of that renewal is what makes dead potatoes a painting for the dead because the laws of energy says that energy never ceases to exist.  The underworld is familiar to only a few.  I call this piece because while potato leafs pop through the surface of the soil the potato itself grows and multiplies underground.  For many the realm of the under is a mystery and within its complexity is a chaos beyond most.  The realm of beneath the surface of the soil is a wonder of its own is it not?” Craig asked the art investor standing to the side of him. “It’s certainly not the most visual.  Are you a Art Historian?” The investor replied “No, though I have my own inclinations.  There’s a point to be made with the unseen and that is what people like me call Faith” Craig stopped speaking for a moment thinking about his wife whom he was divorcing, she resided in Hawaii and he was in New England two polar sides of the earth.  “This painting I believe to be Germanic art, the realist style and shading is clear enough to comprehend.  One of the most striking aspect of Germanic art is the realness in terms of the physical realm.  Some contend that Germanic art lacks imagination however; I believe that its not imagination rather the arts purpose.  It is possible that the inverted life in complete death could be an object lesson.  Are you familiar with Slaughter House Five?”  The investor coughed, “Fiction?”  “Kurt Vonnegut was a fiction writer that survived the Dresden Bombings, Are you familiar with the Dresden Bombings?”  “It happened long ago a town bombed during war time”. “Dresden was a town in Germany that was blanket bombed during wartime.  They were blanket bombed first by England followed by the Americans, it brought complete destruction!  Remnants made real by bombs of once firm structures.   While Dresden was insignificant in terms of war strategy it was a response to the Germans bombing of London.  Kurt Vonnegut was an American Soldier that was a prisoner of war taking refuge in an underground Slaughterhouse.  In the aftermath of the death he was one of those potatoes.  Using my imagination to make the correlation” The investor adjusted his glasses and flicked his nose, “That certainly is imagination” “So it goes both ways” The investor lifted a bottle of water to his lips taking a sip as he looked to Craig, “Godbless you Mr. Rosewater” Craig finalized he remained silent looking at the painting for a few more moments standing on the side of the art investor “Ernest Hemingway wrote something interesting.  While living in Paris during the 1920’s being an integral part of a group of authors and artists he said that he was impressed by paintings but he did not like them and when he did understand them, they meant nothing to him.”  Craig looked to the art investor he flicked his head toward the painting, “There are many kinds of nothing” Craig walked away while the art investor stared at the painting for a few more moments.

 

****

 

Sif kept her distance from Nidhogg and Vega during the art exhibition there was a whirl that seemed like predestination that much Sif recognized and in that predestination she knew that under new circumstances she could control herself.  In the control of self she could also control her circumstances.  She noted to herself that Vega was the one on watch not Nidhogg who appeared to be glancing in Sif’s direction.  Sif passed by her mother whom was watching Craig Chaise speaking with an art collector at the painting entitled “Dead Potatoes.”  Freyja nudged her daughter, “What do you think that he could say about such a bleak painting?” “What do you think that I could say about the presence of those two” Sif flicked the dangling loch of hair in the direction of Nidhogg and Vega.  Freyja looked the other way to Salvatore Moonshine whom was standing beside Ari and his private nurse he glanced to Sif.  She noticed that he was flipping his prized shilling between his fingers he smiled sharply as they made eye contact.  “Yes Salvatore appears to be on top of his game” Sif said “Medical Device” Freyja asked? “Personal Charm” Sif answered.  Arianne walked by the two of them looking at Craig Chaise speaking with the art investor as she was accompanied by two art investors and one of her artists.

 

****

 

The court date was set for the divorce proceedings Faith arrived with her lawyer.  It was all transactional as she got what she wanted and she knew that Craig would not be there to make it official.  She sat in her seat with her lawyer by her side until she was called up before the judge.  While the case went by quickly she felt like a raw piece of meat as the judge talked about holes that needed to be filled.  It was the preliminary hearing not the actual divorce itself.  When she left the courthouse she waved her hand through her hair finding a piece of chewing gum gnarled in right on the top of her head.  She screamed at the top of her lungs and sped as fast as she could to her mother’s house.  

 

****

 

It was a warm night with breezes and gusts, the dry air was a welcome difference for Ming Na whom was acclimated to the tropical weather of Pattaya, Thailand.  Barley Mare entered the Veterans Club on the night of a fundraiser with Ming Na and the two unmarried women.  Upon entering the Veterans Fundraiser hall Barley recognized a couple of the veterans attending.  While Barley had been living in Thailand for nearly four years, not much had changed in his old place of residence.  Barley lifted up one of his arms stretching it out showing his tattoo spread across the under of his forearm.  “NAM” it read “Nam” was reverberated by the people that read his forearm tattoo.  While looking for a table the epithet, “He shot Shooter” was said plainly in spoken voice.  Ming Na walked toward the direction of the comment, Barley held onto his wife’s hand leading the women to a open table on the opposite side of the Veterans tent.  Mixed in the crowd was Shooter and Ow with their newly married wives.  Shooter lifted his beer with the mention of his name.  The two newly married women were anxious to be reunited with their sisters.

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine strolled about the art exhibit with her husband Tomas.  There was a confident feeling with them as they walked among the American socialites.  Arianne pranced around like a happy firefly dazzling the potential collectors with stories enamouring them with her presence, she stood close to Michelle as her and Tomas looked at a painting.  She reached for Michelle grabbing her by her slender wrists as she spun Michelle around standing before her was Salvatore Moonshine.  They stood face to face wordless for many moments, it appeared that the room was frozen in time.  Tomas reached a hand across breaking the moment between Michelle and Salvatore, “I’m Tomas, Michelle’s husband”.  Salvatore took a moment holding his gaze upon his daughter in one motion he picked up his cane slightly below the metal cap of the end looking eye to eye with Tomas tapping him on the chest.  “The English believe in manners” he looked back to his daughter he pulled out a locket from his pocket he grabbed her hand placing the locket in her hand.  Salvatore tipped his hat to his daughter then he looped his arm around Arianne’s along with his nurses then they continued to observe the art on the walls.  Michelle stood motionless while Tomas looked to her hand that held the locket.  She opened it knowing the photo that was encapsulated within it, her deceased mother. Tears trickled down her cheeks.

 

 

****

 

Percival Cauldron stood toward the back of the Gallery leaving Rebecca to observe the art and socialite environment with Patty Medallion and Jim Buck.  Observing the guests he remembered standing in the prison yard fifty years before being one of the prisoners, “The devils playground knows many forms” Craig Chaise walked near Percival, “What do you think of the art?” “It means nothing to me” Percival responded.  Craig shook his head seeming stunned, “It’s not that I don’t appreciate art.  Dust and nails follow me for a reason and in that reason are the kinds of realities that is art.  All the artist does is interpret their own understanding of it onto a canvas or sculpture.”  “I thought that you didn’t like me.”  Percival tapped his cane on the floor, “I don’t!  But you don’t run from me and in an environment like this I’m prone to communicate with the relatable.  Who else is going to pick the dog’s shit off of the floor?” 

 

Craig considered leaving the art exhibit, he felt the kind of angst that made want to be alone.  Percival saw the conflicting on his face, “You pout like a child” Craig made a face, “Easy for you to say your not going through a divorce and your not paying five million dollars in order to do it.”  Percival glanced over to Craig he smiled slightly, he had to admit a certain satisfaction in seeing a grown man being reduced to the mindset of a child.  “I divorced once.” Percival admitted to Craig, he looked to Percival whom lifted his head acknowledging his wife Rebecca with Jim Buck and Patricia Medallion walk further away from the two men towards the art that hung in the gallery.  “In my youth I married a woman that I loved like hell was on fire” Percival gripped his cane, “Her father was a monster of a man that meant to send me to my grave and though I loved that woman the Korean War drafted a lot of people from my generation and I had a pilots license so I joined the army in the hopes of no being killed and earning his respect.  Fortunately I survived, but it changed me in a way that it had many of my fellow soldiers.   I loved Lucille, she was a beautiful sin and coming back from war I had to find another way and with that way we parted ways.  Truth be told I don’t care what you think, but I can’t forget how I felt and it still hurts when I remember her.  I know what divorce does”  Craig listened intently, Percival shared a personal story regardless of the environment he respected that Percival would be so candid.  “Did you two have children?”  Percival’s got red in the face, he noticed a pack of cigarettes in Craig’s front pocket, he reached for them pulling he opened up the pack taking a couple, then he handed Craig back his cigarettes.  “Some other time” Craig left the art exhibit as Percival stood outside smoking a cigarette.

 

****

 

It was night time, Craig was relieved to be done with the Art Exhibit.  Yes it was highly anticipated however; given the events that made up his life he felt like a prisoner of the things that surrounded him.  Earlier in the day he had made the electronic transfer from his bank account to Faith’s bank account.  There wasn’t much thought or emotion he was in a personal shock he questioned whether his marriage wasn’t doomed from the start.  Craig had five million dollars less in the bank but he would be granted an argument free divorce freeing him to move to his California vineyard with his children.  

 

There was a knock on his apartment back door.  Looking at the clock it was close to midnight, he knew that his children were sleeping.  He answered the door, Sif entered his apartment, “How did you know that I would home?”  “Because you are true to your word”. Craig walked to the kitchen, “Care for a glass of wine?”  “Chardonnay” Craig had bottles of wine lined up on the counter.  He opened up the Chardonnay pouring the both of them a glass of wine.  For a moment he contemplated drinking red wine because he preferred red wine to white wine but he shook off that notion.  “Dionysus Refined was not meant to intend that Dionysus was perfect, it just meant that he matured, refining in his ways.”  Craig said without provocation, “What is consuming your thought?”  Sif put down her purse on the counter,  “I can tell that your troubled and I show up unannounced having not been invited.”  Craig seemed unaffected, “How did you know where I live and that I would be up at this time.  “I have have my ways and I guessed” Sif wore black spandex pants and a similar tight fitting top.  Her curvaceous figure caused Craig to stop momentarily.  “If your troubled then please talk.  Start from your last sentence, about Dionysus Refined”  He began to building up a case for his credibility, “While I attended college I did not attend a prestigious university that would offer me the freedom of a careless ego or lifelong associations.  I worked hard for the little that I earned and I wasn’t born to a family that gave me leverage over others.”   Sif didn’t understand, “Are you mad at me for working hard and being as great as I was destined to?”  “No!  I’m not mad.  Anger doesn’t serve a purpose its that I’m not the same and I’m not lesser.  Faith and I had our divorce finalized today” Sif walked across the apartment inspecting the photographs on the walls she didn’t show remorse.  “Is the stress of division cracking your exterior?  Your not an egg nor are you boiled”  “Is it the exterior that causes divorce?” Craig posed the question  “Many times it is” Sif looked confident not stopping as she inspected his apartment, “I wanted to move to my California Vineyard and she doesn’t have the same goals as me.” She turned to him,  “Perhaps I arrived here for a reason.  Are you expecting a post marital legal war?”  “No, we have agreed to a monetary exchange and I did not attend the court proceedings” “That is abnormal” “It’s a failure, but one without continual fighting is preferable.”  “She’s pretty” “I know, I wanted children with her”  Sif put down her glass of wine, “How are you liking your stay in America with your mother and sister?” Craig asked Sif answered with her teeth almost clenched, “It is painful, I’m full of angst” “You were a queen at the art exhibit” Craig reminded her,  “That is not my concern, it was just an event” “Where is your boyfriend? There must be someone in your life” Sif picked up her wine glass “I have had consorts nothing consistent.  I am particular” “What would your sister think of your coming here after art exhibit that I left early”  “It is not my concern, I obliged to her request, though she was worried and persistently looking for you.”  Sif took a pin out of her hair that held it bundled together.   “How long did it take you to find another after Nidhogg?”  Craig asked her “I had you!” Craig rubbed the faint scar on his forehead their encounter was for a brief period in time but it was adventurous during compromising times.  “I don’t want anyone” Craig said somewhat forcefully, “What?”  Sif was surprised by his response because she didn’t offer herself.  Craig caught the physical cue he stuttered at first,  “I’m a failure!  I’m not a perfect man but when I really try at something and can’t do it then I consider that a failure because I’m capable and men like me don’t fail unless there is something inadequate or wrong.”  Sif refilled her glass of wine, “Someone has shot you when it wasn’t their gun to be tinkering with.”   “What?”  He replied “Just because the construction of your marriage has collapsed doesn’t mean that the foundation wasn’t solid.  There are many men that I know that are selfish and they have power without regard for others and when it comes time for bills they drop them and there are consequences.  You are not of their ilk and yet you torture yourself.  I know that your a soldier and when it is real your instincts are of the ilk of champions.  However as you are right now,  Nidhogg would laugh at you because he would loathe your weakness.” “Just like that?”  Craig said in response.  “What?” “You speak freely about your ex husband like it is water” “No it is thought and thought flows like water when it is being consumed or created.  If it is a matter of emotion then I have come to terms with my emotions and actions when there was hurt I suffered, but I am not Arianne, or Freyja, I move and I move with purpose.”  “Then why are you here right now?”  “Because we have unfinished business” Craig walked across the apartment.  While it was late at night he was not tired, “Arianne recovered her art, Djinn is dead, Nidhogg left with that Arabian woman, you reside in Austria at Sif’s Geyser, what else is there?”  “Is this a matter of fire?”  “I’m dry” Craig responded.  “Follow me” “Where?”  “The basement, I have a work station” Craig lead the way to the basement where his gym was along with the work station.  “I designed several of my product lines here in this basement.  When we were kicked out of our original location after Charles Bassett started a smear war against Jennifer we moved our shop here focusing on online sales while trying to maintain our wholesale business.”  “What are your feelings about Charles”  “Are you speaking about Freyja going into business with him?”  “It was a general question” “Generally speaking we aren’t friends” “Arianne isn’t thrilled with Freyja’s business decision” “What is your opinion?”  “It’s a solid business, it will succeed because Freyja is involved.  I think that business success changes the course of lives.”  “Not personal?”  “What are you expecting? We collectively speaking aren’t town folk.”  “What am I?”  Craig asked “On fire” Sif walked past him browsing the basement.  She flicked on the gym room light she noticed the wedding gown hanging along with the photos of Freyer and Gerda that Arianne had sent to him while she was still pregnant with them.  Outside of the gym room was a hot tub she pointed to it, “Not tonight” Craig told her “Why?”  “Ever sit by a campfire?”  “No” “You will!”  Craig led the way to his apartment he grabbed his guitar then he walked out into the back yard nearly an acre in he collected sticks he lit a fire.  Craig collected two chairs he grabbed the wine glasses and two bottles of chardonnay.  “When I feel like I’m on fire like tonight, often I don’t soak in water I sit by a campfire.”  Craig said while staring forward,“I reside in a country that thrives in the winter."  Sif gave Craig an observation,  "When you have something special to offer and you've spent it or at least a part of it many people don't get that back.  Doing something different can provide another way to find yourself.  That's what I believe, because the real special ones have a type of greatness that is always great even if it is in a different form.”  Sif waved her hands through her hair she looked up at the star filled sky.  “Orion shines brightly!” Sif noted “Orion was not cupid to my Taurean stars” Craig pointed slightly beyond the constellation Orion to the prominant Taurean stars, “I’m Piscean, do you know how to fish?”  “I tend to make mud” “I own a spa resort, I need mud” “Earth and Water mix, but isn't it the service that creates your business?” "Amneties, and we do have dry sauna's". "Isn't that Bullish?" Craig asked "I move with purpose" Sif said as she turned off her cell phone.  Craig gathered wood then he added more wood to the fire. They sat for a few moments silently, "Lava" Sif spoke. Catching Craig's attention he turned his head, "If this is Hawaii and we are in the water then that is Lava" Sif said while smiling.  Craig lifted his glass he smiled as they toasted each other.

 

Chapter 12 Empty Hope

 

Faith was late and she was never late with her monthly.  It had been nearly two months since she had relations with Craig and though she hadn’t received it she thought that it was because of stress.  By most accounts she was considered rich with a five million dollar divorce settlement.  Though the divorce wasn't finalized, it was new to her being single after knowing the security of marriage that in retrospect wasn’t a bad marriage.  But she was late and that caused concern.  She used protection when she cheated on Craig that one time, no she didn’t fear that she was pregnant with a strangers baby, she feared that she was pregnant with her ex husbands baby.  The biggest contention with their marriage was the battle over children.  She had made an appointment with her gyn and the morning of the appointment she waited anxiously after examination, she tested positive.  Faith being shorter than average height for a woman 5’2 stood in the waiting room while her doctor told her the results.  Crying hysterically there were options before her she dared not talk to her parents where her father was still recovering after heart surgery.  For most of the afternoon she drove around aimlessly screaming at herself while driving unsure if she should keep the baby.  What pulled her marriage apart was that she decided that she did not want to have children.  The art exhibition had taken place one week before in New England, she decided that though she was getting a divorce and being millionaire on her own, that she would confront Craig in person and from there she would make her decision.  It was night time when she boarded a plane heading to John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, California before flying to New England.  

 

****

 

The night of the art exhibit was exhausting for Arianne Sullivan. She had diminished expectations for the art exhibit in terms of sales although she was very satisfied with the actual sales including ‘Dead Potatoes’ that sold for three and half million dollars, to the art investor that Craig had spoken with.  What angered and disappointed her was Craig’s early departure from the event.  Dressed in a school girl uniform she thought that she was alluring.  Sadly she drove home alone to find that her sister Sif was not there.  The tension between Salvatore Moonshine and Michelle Moonshine was of note although they did not speak to each other at the event.  It was to the best of her understanding that there was some kind of exchange between the father and daughter,she expected them to come to terms with each other before their vacationing was completed.  There was also the matter of Charles Bassett and his new business venture with her mother.  Unsettled was a polite word to explain her emotions regarding a long term venture that was just beginning to root and then there was the attendance of Percival Cauldron whom she had met with Craig at Cemetieri Du Preciux Sang.  While Percival was an old man he was not naive she felt that she could have use for him with some matters.  She slept uneasily shifting like a boat in rough waters that night.

 

****

 

At Moonshine Plantation in El Qui Valley, Chile Olaf and Bjorn enjoyed their temporary reign over the 300 acre plantation.  This particular day was warm and muggy and they wanted to be back home where the weather was temperate and full of familiarity.  They had begun what the two ogre sized men called spreading their seed, they took many consorts within a short time.  The two men were the head of Nidhogg’s security team, utilizing the state of the art technologic advances toward their advantage.  Both men rode donkey’s surveilling the perimeter of the plantation.  While riding the donkey’s their feet would scrape the ground if they did not keep them in the stirrups.  The workers had begun murmuring angry with the consorting a group of them had begun to vow revenge for the brothers consorting with their women.  The two brothers were in the thick of conversation in their native Icelandic tongue when a group of five farm workers outraged from the previous night when local women agreed to stay with Olaf and Bjorn charged them with with shovels and hoes as they passed them while riding the donkeys.  In comparison tallest of the workers was 5’8 he swung first with a shovel hitting Olaf in the back solidly nearly knocking him off of his donkey.  Olaf was unsure what had happened when another worker hit him with a hoe.  Bjorn jumped off of his donkey attacking the two workers simultaneously Olaf momentarily stunned from the surprise attack reached for a baton that was strapped to his side hopping back on his donkey,  he ordered his donkey to charge the three remaining workers armed with farming tools dodged as Olaf swung with his baton.  Nearby Bjorn swung with his thick arms and large fists connecting with one of his attackers hitting him solidly in the chest, the worker flew several feet landing on the ground hard gasping for breath as the wind was knocked out of him.  The other attacking worker took out a pocket knife swinging wildly trying to slash Bjorn.  Olaf charged by holding his baton hitting the worker in his shoulder collapsing the man as the other three stood frozen in shock.  Bjorn in a furious rage screamed in English and Icelandic, “Cmon be a man!” The three workers rushed to the other two’s side picking them up dragging them away from Olaf and Bjorn whom surprisingly did not attack as the three workers dragged away the two men that had broken bones.  Within a few minutes they rode their donkeys to Moonshine Mansion where they would report the occurrence with Nidhogg.

 

****

 

Percival Cauldron sat at the desk of Le Persil signing checks for his staff.  Outside of the office building there was a strong oder emanating from the summer time stink of trash but inside with air conditioning the environment was rather comforting.  For the most part the 83 year old Percival Cauldron was retired however; he would still work 20 hours a week doing office detail.  The past week he attended an Art Exhibit with his wife along with Jim Buck and his long time girlfriend Patty Medallion.  No he was not a fan of being within the company of up tight socialites nor was he a big fan of art.  What he remembered the most was his conversation with the owner of Dionysus Refined Craig Chaise.  His face firmed, he clenched his fist he felt competitive with the middle aged fellow.  When talking to him he couldn’t forget the he was a cop, Percival was military having served in the Korean War as a helicopter pilot.  Having a different set of experiences and understanding of the way that it was, he loathed the game of cat and mouse.  With greater power comes a greater understanding of responsibility.  He was cautious with Craig Chaise but their conversation brought him to a place that gave him internal grit.  Twenty years before that time he quit smoking cigarettes that night he smoked a cigarette, the first since he quit.  He knew what it was that brought him to that point, his ex wife. Not only his ex wife but her son or should he say his son.  Percival opened up his desk, there was a photograph of her.  She was still alive though they hadn’t spoken in nearly 30 years and he had only seen his son a couple of times.  His ex wife Lucille never admitted that her son was his but he knew and when her husband Jeremiah was killed along with Lucille’s extra marital lover when she got caught he attended the funeral.  At the funeral she stood with her 8 year old son and there was no mistaken identity with looking at the boy because he looked like him when he was that age.  Lucille was a vixenous woman whom would marry and divorce three more times.  To the best of his recollection she was still living but he kept his distance because to this day it hurt to remember her.  On a hot July afternoon he finished signing checks remembering that he signed checks the day that Lucille’s father Jethro died in that very office.  He made a decision, he was going to drive to Lucille’s house and pay her a visit.  Within minutes he was in his 1962 Ford Pickup truck heading for Lucille’s house, if she still lived there.

 

****

 

The star filled sky created a twinkled landscape as Sif and Craig lay on the lawn by the campfire late in the night.  Craig reached for Sif’s hand she grasped his, “Ever the emotional” Sif commented “Our time is our time” There was a period of silence. “What are your plans while in New England?” Craig asked Sif.  She stood up taking off her black spandex attire, “I have plans for tonight, nothing more” A strong warm gust flicked the flames of the campfire, “My kids and business partner are sleeping barely 150 yards from where we are.”  Craig sat up Sif reached forward pulling off Craig’s shirt, “Take them off” She ordered.  “What?”  “You are to join me in the naturalness of our beauty” “Are you here because I’m good looking?” Craig asked “Naturally!  That is one of your strengths” Against his own better judgment he unclothed standing in front of the voluptuous Sif, his reaction was natural she walked past him she started to dance circling around the campfire, “What are you doing?”  “What I please!”  Sif continued to dance around the campfire, “Look at me Craig, I am a goddess why would I not enjoy myself under the stars with the warmth of a fire and the comfort of the summer wind?”  Craig crouched low with his fist held parallel outward.  As Sif danced she circled around him, “Jezebel” he called her, Sif was ready with a response, “Jezebel was misunderstood and misguided, I am not!” The next pass around she picked up her black spandex top she tied an arm around Craig’s throat, “What is this?”  “A binding” “Im going to hell” Craig claimed Sif laughed, “You can pray for forgiveness” Sif leaned in giving him a kiss on the lips and he pulled her to the grass.  “Did you enjoy the art exhibit?” Craig asked Sif, “It made me want revenge” “why?” He asked “Because I remember being hurt” He kissed her on the lips, “Let me help you heal” They enjoyed their time together in front of the fire under the starry night.

 

It was early morning before the fire dwindled down leaving only ash.  After their night together they went to his apartment and showered, he said his farewells as he walked her to her car.  When he lay his head to rest he was tired and he slept soundly with dreaming of a life being married to Sif.

 

For nearly a week he avoided communicating with both Sif and Arianne, though he knew that he left things unfinished with both.  “I’m only a man”was the first line that he wrote in a journal that he had begun to write in daily. His daughters Gerda and Jennifer were with their mothers while he had Elvis and Marilyn along with Debbie-Sue and Loretta.  During the week he oriented Jed Folues with the details of Dionysus Refined accounts in addition he had all of his sales reps flown to a hotel where they would meet Jed Folues as the new VP of Sales and Logistics.  One of the idea’s that made sense that he discussed while with Sif was the training seminar that Freyja had planned for when Charley’s Chicken Restaurants had opened.  Creating sales role play’s wasn’t something that he had considered.  Craig had manuals with company guidelines and procedures printed out as during the two day meeting they would be oriented with an official Dionysus Refined sales and company policy guidelines.  During the meeting they would role-play what a typical Dionysus Refined sale with a retail store or potential alcohol distributor would be like.  Jed mostly observed and in observing he began to judge the sales staff he began to determine the sales reps that he liked the ones that he didn’t along with potential retraining that would be needed.  When it was his time to present to the sales reps in his presentation he stated, “Dionysus Refined wines is not a hard sale, we produce our own grapes make our own wine its good quality but you need to work.  Momentum produces results and while I will be setting quota’s that is new to each of you, if you work then I will work with you to make sure that you are successful.  Something new is that I will be shadowing with every sales rep.  I’m not a nanny but I do want to make sure that you are all successful in growing your territory.”  Through the sales meetings Debbie-Sue and Craig Chaise spoke when needed however; they let Jed Folues lead both of the owners of Dionysus Refined were confident with the capability of Jed Folues as their new VP of Sales and Logistics.  

 

Separation was calming for the nerves of Craig Chaise because when he was alone he was more likely not to do something that he knew could be bad for him.  After the sales seminar on Friday night he worked at Dionysus Refined by himself in the warehouse portion.  Craig was in the process of reorganizing stock with a forklift, he needed a break.  That particular night a crowd was gathered together in the parkinglot of Dionysus Refined as The Evening Reporter hosted a mayoral debate between Stewart Blythe and Donna Lang.  Inside of Dionysus Refined the door to the business was locked and Craig walked to the retail side of the store he picked out a bottle of wine walked to the counter, he heard the key to the door click he turned around and in walked Faith, she locked the door behind her. Craig’s face firmed his face got red as a lump in his throat began to get prominent he gulped then he took a wine bottle cork and opened up a bottle of Reisling. Faith walked up the the opposite side of the counter as he stood on the other side.  He placed the bottle of Reisling on the counter after he opened it.  Faith wore a short sleeve shirt and a pair of black pants, her hair hung down on both sides hovering slightly below her shoulders.  Neither Craig nor Faith spoke for nearly a minute.  “Interested in seeing what I have done with the warehouse?”  Craig began the conversation figuring to deflect from his real feelings.  “No! That is not why I am here. And why are politicians and media in the parkinglot?”  "They're holding a debate" Craig grabbed two wine glasses, “Care for a glass of wine?”  He tried to hide the way that he really felt.  Faith noticed that he was wearing his wedding ring.  “What did you get remarried?” She said bitterly Craig dropped his hand below the counter, “No, were not even divorced yet” Craig poured two glasses of wine though he didn’t drink.  “How is Jan?” Faith opened up her purse, “He’s fine” she said as she huffed she pulled out an ultrasound she placed it on the table, “I’m pregnant”.  Faith expected a reaction however; Craig stood there motionless tears began to well he blinked quickly trying to hold in his emotions.  “Who is the father?” Craig asked, Faith became angry with the question.  “Fuck you! You know who the father of my baby is Asshole!  Why else would I fly all the way the fuck over here to show you an ultrasound of someone else’s baby?”  It was evident that they were getting divorced though the fact that she was there meant that there was opportunity.  Craig walked around the counter he stood in front of Faith reaching forward his arms he embraced her.  She began to get emotional she tried to push him away, “Get your hands off of me, I don’t forgive you for what you’ve done to me!”  “I didn’t want a divorce” Faith freed herself from his grasp.  “I’m here not only to tell you that I’m pregnant” she composed herself, “I’m unsure whether I am going to have an abortion” Craig’s reaction was without thought, “I don’t want you to have an abortion” “I know that you would say that but were getting a divorce for a reason and I don’t want children and now I’m pregnant so realize that this is a big deal.”  Faith started to cry, Craig was a bundle of emotions being in a predicament where he didn’t have what he once had, “Have you told your parents?”  “No I haven’t, my mom wouldn’t agree to me getting an abortion, and my father would die from another heart attack.”  “I don’t agree with you getting an abortion” “You don’t get to decide what I do with my body.   I’m here to tell you that I’m pregnant and that I haven’t decided what I am going to do.  I don't want to be a single mother.”  Faith stuck her claim with her own authority, Craig wasn’t without reason.  Standing before him was the woman that he was married to for nearly a decade and though they fought bitterly toward the end of their marriage leading up to this point, he still loved her and the thought of her killing their unborn child made him feel ill.  He smiled slightly tears trickled down his cheeks, “Care to celebrate?”  He filled two glasses with Reisling he slid a glass of wine across the counter.  “How was Arianne’s art exhibit?”  Faith asked Craig, “I left early” “Why?”  Faith took a sip from the glass of wine, “I left early because I was sick about getting a divorce.  I don’t care about the money, I care about you.” Craig walked back around the counter he walked behind Faith, “What are you doing?” She asked “Stand still” He wrapped his arms around Faith placing his hands on her stomach he sighed then he nuzzled his lips against her neck.  For a moment she placed her hands over his then she lifted his hands from her stomach she walked to the other side of the counter.  She looked to him, “I don’t know If I am going to keep the child, I already went before the judge to begin the divorce.”  Craig placed his wedding ring on the counter, “I wasn’t there, I don’t want to get a divorce and now your pregnant and your here.  So where does that leave me?”  The silence of the two standing at the counter of the retail section of Dionysus Refined made the room seem smaller than it was.

 

Chapter 13 Candles Burning

 

The Evening Reporter had a small stage built in front of Dionysus Refined diagonally across the street from city hall.  During the daytime the temperatures were in the mid 90’s and as the sun set the heat began to subside.  A crowd of nearly 500 voters gathered in the parking lot of Dionysus Refined where foldable seats were lined up in sections.  Both Candidate Donna Lang and Stewart Blythe had arrived for the mayoral debate.  Respectively both candidates networked the with the voters in attendance before they walked up the platform stairs to their individual podiums.  Neither candidate attempted to shake hands with the other.  A Journalist from the Evening reporter had begun the mayoral debate.

 

****

 

Inside of Dionysus Refined Faith stood on the other side of the counter from Craig.  She couldn’t take the tension and she didn’t like the thoughts that were creeping into her consciousness.  To break what it was that connected the two she walked to the front of the store looking out of the front window.  The candidates were giving their opening statements to the voters in attendance.  “Why would they have a political debate in front of the store?”  Faith looked back to see that Craig was staring intently at her, she remembered the look from him.  She was still wanted, “I have an idea” Faith smiled as she said it.  “I don’t own Dionysus Refined you do” “Yup” “Why don’t we walk out with cases of candles light candles with the stick lighters and hand them out to each person attending the debate?”  “What? All of those people already know that we sell candles” “That’s not what the point is” Faith continued to explain her rational “It’s a warm summer night light candles hand them out to the people then we go back inside and shut off the outside spot lights off except for the lights behind the political stage.  That way all is seen in the crowd our the wicks from our candles.  Call it voter sentiment.”  Faith clapped her hands together she really liked her idea.  “What’s that going to accomplish?”  Craig asked sarcastically.  “For one it will make me happy and two do you see the television camera’s from all of those stations?” Faith pointed to the media section “Free Advertising.” She took a bow “Ta da.” Faith waited for Craig’s reaction.  “They're my candles not 'ours'!"  Craig snapped Faith snapped back, "Whatever!  At least I'm helping.""Which candles should we use?”  “Pearls Before Swine” Faith and Craig gathered several cases of candles Craig stacked them up on a hand cart.  They placed full boxes of Pearls Before Swine candles by the side of each row where voters sat.  Craig had ushers help with the process.  He spoke with the editor from The Evening Reporter telling him the plan to shut off the spotlights after the candles were lit, that the spotlights would be turned back on at the end of the debate. Faith, Craig, and the ushers lit candles passing the candles to the voters whom would pass it down to the last person in the isle in orderly procession until ever person sitting had a lit candle.  The lighting of candles caught the attention of the politicians on the stage.  Nearly twenty minutes later Craig and Faith locked the door to Dionysus Refined as Craig walked to the light control box he flicked the switches to the lights in that parking lot leaving the two spotlights behind the political stage on.  A murmur was heard from the attendance, the political debate continued with the sight of several hundred candles burning.

 

****

 

The night of the art exhibit Michelle Moonshine stood face to face with her father Salvatore.  Upon their unspoken encounter her father had given her a locket with a photograph of her mother whom had died many years before.  Michelle was a stubborn prideful woman though her encounter with Salvatore had drained a part of her emotional reserve.  The following afternoon she went shopping where she bought a gold necklace to put the locket on.  After the purchase she had Tomas clasp the necklace around her neck.  Following the art exhibit Michelle kept her distance from her brother Nidhogg and she remained cold to the advances of her husband Tomas.  She visited areas in several states in New England.  It had been nearly 20 years since she moved away and while the landscape was the same, much had changed.  During the week she had done her research on the company that her father had become a vested partner with.  The product that Lesperance Surgical produced “The Dante Grasper” seemed to have potential.  Friday morning had arrived quickly as she had gotten directions to the manufacturing headquarters of the medical device company.  She wore a sundress with blue, purple, and red morning glories decorating the the white sundress staring at the brick building that housed the company she gave her own estimation.  Michelle knew that her father would find commonality with his new company.   Reaching for the door she hesitated for a moment but she was a brave woman and though she winced for the painfulness should her and her father encounter each other she opened up the door and walked inside of the business.  A short hallway lead to a counter where a secretary was typing a few feet away.  As she turned to ask the secretary a question, Salvatore walked out of an office with another gentleman.  They made eye contact!  Michelle took a moment to best gauge her response.  Salvatore stood still holding his cane to the side of him.  “May I help you with something mam?”  Jacques Lesperance asked Michelle.  Looking past Jacques she focused on her father, “Him” She said almost childlike.

 

****

 

Nidhogg looked at the text message on his cell phone from Olaf regarding being attacked while on patrol with his brother.  A week had passed since the art exhibit and besides seeing his ex wife Sif and Craig Chaise, he enjoyed his time in New England, until now.  When he read the text that was sent to him he was in his hotel room.  Nidhogg grabbed the nearby television controller tossing it at the wall shattering it into many pieces.  Vega was in the room adjacent she ran to see what had happened.  “We have to go back to Moonshine Plantation” “What about the private investigator?”  “He had his orders” “What happened?”  “Bjorn and Olaf that is what happened” Vega knew what Nidhogg was talking about.  Nidhogg received a series of photographs from a Private Investigator that he had hired, several of his ex wife Sif dancing nude around a campfire with Craig Chaise nude crouched low.  Then there were photographs with Pablo and Tomas meeting with a group of men that were unfamiliar to Nidhogg.  It appeared that while Tomas and Pablo were in America they were meeting to sell drugs and weapons.  From Moonshine Plantation he would formulate what he would do with the photographs he showed Vega the photographs.  She hissed as she saw the photographs of Sif and Craig Chaise.  They bought their plane tickets and before they left for El Qui Valley, Nidhogg wrote a short note to his father he slipped the note under his hotel room door before they left.

 

****

 

Percival drove for nearly two hours with his truck windows down enjoying the scenery as he remembered driving the same road a very long time ago before he met his wife Rebecca.  No he was not certain that Lucille live in the same house but he was willing to give it a try.  As he approach the neighborhood leading to the street where her house was he parked on the side of the road for a couple of minutes.  He was nerved though he knew the reasons, it was very unlike him.  Gritting his teeth he looked in the mirror and as he put his hands on the steering wheel they shook, “Goddmmit Percy why are you going to see that woman now? Can’t you let old dog’s lie?”  A few minutes passed by he looked in the mirror again, he ran and hands through his mostly bald gray hair, “No Percival you can’t let old dog’s lie because your story is unfinished.  If this will be the last time, then you owe Lucille a farewell. She owes you the truth about your son and you owe yourself the dignity of tieing your own loose ends.”  He breathed in deeply being truthful to himself allowed him the calm that he needed.  The engine to his 1962 Ford sounded like music as he put his foot on the gas.  In a short span of time he slowed down as he approached the house where she lived.  He took his time walking up to the door he licked his fingers running them along his head then he knocked on the door.  A short asian man answered the door, “I’m looking for Lucielle, I’m an old friend of hers.”  Percival knew that she no longer lived there, “She died two years ago, we bought the house from her son” Percival bit his lip he looked to the side, “Goddammit Lucy” “I’m sorry” the short asian man said.  As Percival walked to his truck he began to weep.

 

****

 

Barley Mare felt that the chips were beginning to fall into place, he had entered an agreement where the last of the women married as was agreed in order for him to return to Pattaya, Thailand and get paid a small fortune for his works.  The weddings for the last two women were scheduled for the coming week, the soon to be husbands were old veterans that Barley had known for a long time.  The thing of promise was that all four of the women were guaranteed work at Poultry Provisions chicken farm.  With Ow and Shooter Nelson having married two of the women a few weeks before Ming Na was satisfied that the women were marrying men that would not abuse them or treat them like slaves.  It was a Friday afternoon Barley was sitting in the office of Poultry Provisions when in walked Boney Hoggins and Reg Folues holding fishing poles, “Call it a day, we’re going fishing” That was just what the doctor ordered, without word to his wife Ming Na the three men drove to the reservoir for mid day fishing.

 

****

 

Inside of Dionysus Refined Craig had shut off the spot lights in the parking lot while leaving the two lights behind the political stage on.  Faith watched from the front window.  Initially there was a short pause in the debate in recognition of what at first they thought to be a power outage.  Video camera’s from television stations scanned the crowd noting the lights from the candles.  Craig walked to the side of Faith he had a candle lit he placed it between the both of them on the floor of the store.  She began to film the people in the parking lot and on the stage with her cell phone.  “It really does look spectacular” “That was a clever idea” Craig wanted to say more or plead with her because he felt hurt whelm from within.  She stood on the side of him silently for several minutes, then he made a move he reached for her hand.  Outside in the parking lot the voters cheered and clapped as the political debate reached a crux.  Inside of the store Faith watched intently while Craig kept looking to her like a puppy starved for attention.

 

****

 

It was night time and for several hours Percival had done his fair share of drinking and bad thinking with the news of the death of his ex wife.  Normally he was a rational man but for an old man the wrath of god was the kind that took without return.  Finality was what he needed and that was taken from him, it left him feeling defeated.  He had Jim Buck do some work for him during the afternoon into the night and it was ready to do it or don’t.  He was 83 and the he decided that a day of reckoning had arrived.  Jim Buck and Percival Cauldron traveled together to watch the mayoral debate in the parking lot of Dionysus Refined.  Jim Buck drove his Dodge Ram being the sober of the two they had a plan and it had nothing to do with a political debate.  Jim Buck did his homework, “In the back toward the right” Jim Buck pointed to their target. 

 

****

 

Friday afternoon Freyja Sullivan sat across from Charles Bassett and in between the two of them was a map of New England and New York splayed across Charles Bassetts dining room table.  A lawyer accompanied them along with a business manager, and a real estate agent.  There was a list of 100 locations that Charles had already picked out and then there was a list of 100 locations that Freyja’s business planner had gathered together for her.  The battle between Charles list and Freyja’s lists of business locations had begun.  First they crossed off the overlap eliminating nearly 40 locations off of the locations of contention.  It was a long and tedious battle and while their was some movement with location selection there was a lot of real work that needed to be done.  Charles felt like a man that had lost a large chunk of his man hood.  He sweat profusely using a washcloth to periodically wipe the sweat from his brow.  There was a knock on the front door to his house.  As he answered Sif and Arianne waited to be let in, “What do you want?” Charles said looking only to Arianne, “We came to watch” Charles wiped his brow and he grumbled without further word, he left the door open.

 

****

 

Keith Thornhill stood in the back of the parking lot of Dionysus Refined ready to watch his son Stewart debate for his mayoral candidacy.  A man and a woman started to carry out boxes then the ushers began to help them.   To Keith the debate seemed like a movie, he looked around taking in the scenery.  He looked to his left and low and behold stood Percival Cauldron then he looked to his right and there stood Jim Buck.  “I fucking hate Percival” Keith said angrily.  Percival began to quote the first two verses of the book of Genesis, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.  And the spirit of god was hovering over the face of the waters.  2. Then god said let their be light.” Candles were being lit during this time everyone seated either held candles or had candles lit in front of them.  The spotlights in the parking lot went out showing the hundreds of candles burning.  

 

Chapter 14 Pearl Handled

 

The three men Barley, Boney, and Reg drove together as they went fishing.  Boney parked in the parking lot of the town Reservoir where Shooter Nelson was already fishing.  Several years before this time Barley Mare shot Shooter Nelson in the abdomen over a large amount of knock off purses.  There was a bucket near Shooter he was bent over putting bait on the hook.  The three men walked over to Shooter, “Did you catch anything?” Boney asked, Shooter flicked his head, his hair dangled down to the right he smiled shaking his head showing his teeth, “Nah” but Boney could tell that he was lying.  He looked in the bucket it was half full of water with two bass in it.  “Freaking liar” Shooter stood straight when he saw Barley Mare, “Where’s your gun?  Gonna shoot me again and leave me for dead?” Shooter lunged forward he swung wildly punching Barley two times in the face before both Reg and Boney could restrain him.  A car pulled into the park lot of the reservoir, it was Ow Nguyen with his and Shooter’s new wives.  They got out of the car quickly both women stood in front of Barley shielding him from Shooter they crossed their arms rapidly extending them, “No” almost like they were chanting.  Shooter looked to his new wife, “No?  But he shot me and left me for dead” His wife’s English was a work in progress but she did manage to say, “No” she reached for his hands “For me” Shooter thought about it for a moment then he grabbed his new wife’s hands he looked above her to Barley he nodded, “Alright, for her” He turned around picked up his fishing pole casting it into the water, “That’s what I thought!” Shooter made eye contact with Barley Mare, “Say I won’t”  Both men stared at each other tensely, “Say it” Shooter taunted.  Barley fished at a different part of the reservoir along with Boney and Reg.

 

****

 

Hinn Halim was deep in meditation resting on the balcony of his home in Dubai.  A vision of his aunt Vega came to him along with a very cold sensation in between his eyes.   He was a master of canine’s his three rushed to him at the same time.  There was a connection that much Hinn knew.  When he last spoke with Vega it was with the news that his brother Djinn Halim had been killed when he had stolen a large art collection.  He and his brother for many years were part of a religious sect that served as psy ops in the Iranian military.  Since they parted ways Hinn preferred the company of animals particularly the canine.  For the past decade he resided in Dubai where he was the CEO of several businesses from afar.  Following his intuition he called his aunt, the phone rang.

 

****

 

Vega’s phone rang she did not recognize the phone number she answered, “It’s Hinn” “What is the purpose for the phone call?” “Intuition!  There was a cold persistent tingling sensation where the Hindu’s call the Ajna Chakra” “That is where Djinn was shot” Vega reminded Hinn.  There was a short pause.  “There is a pressing matter that I need to be involved with on your end that much I know.  What are your coordinates?” Hinn calmly asked his aunt.  Though Vega was both Djinn and Hinn’s aunt, she was merely one year older than the both of her newphews. “I am on a private airplane leaving The United States.  I am married” There was a short pause, Vega waited for a response the silence made her question whether Hinn had hung up,“I have been informed” Vega mirrored her nephew waiting several moments, “We encountered the woman that is responsible for killing Djinn” The space between words continued, “My intuition was correct.  There is an unresolved issue that needs to be tended to.”  “I will send you the coordinates of my destination.”  “As you wish” “Till then Hinn” Vega hung up her cell phone contemplating the new part of the puzzle that found a way into her life.  Nidhogg inquired whom had called her, she never told him about Djinn’s twin brother Hinn.  

 

****

 

Charles Bassett paced across the room he poured himself a glass of scotch, “These goddamned women don’t know how to give!” Freyja stood at the head of the table with a map of New England and New York.  Large bulletins contained the lists of locations of Charley’s Chicken Restaurants noting in the maps with color coded plastic pieces to indicate the definitive restaurant locations along with both Charles and Freyja’s picks for locations.  As they itemized each location the real estate agent provided a slide show presentation of the individual locations and if their was a pre existing building the condition of the building.  Arianne and Sif sat at the table, through the debating they provided the chorus almost like they were men at a sports event.  As Charles Bassett lost battles on locations he got irritable and edgy, he poured himself a scotch to calm himself down.  He held the glass pointing to Arianne sweat poured from his brow, “I know what it is” Arianne stood up from the table it was evident that the animosity between the former long time couple carried over into the new business venture, “If you cannot take the pressure of negotiation then you should rethink your new business marriage” Freyja watched the two from the head of the table.  She observed without interrupting.

 

****

 

 

In the parking lot of Dionysus Refined candles flickered before the voters that sat in the folding chairs as the mayoral candidates finished their opening statements.  An Evening Reporter journalist moderated the political debate.  Soft breezes flowed during the night time event thankfully because of the heat.  Toward the back of the parking lot with his cane in front of him, Percival Cauldron stood on one side of Keith Thornhill and Jim Buck stood on the other side as the lights in the parking lot of Dionysus Refined were shut off.  In the summer of 1972 Keith Thornhill was an employee of Le Persil.  Being released from prison after serving  a 10 year prison sentence for armed robbery he was in a bad place when he got fired for getting into an accident with the Mayor’s family heirloom vehicle then lying about it.  1972 was a different time though in retrospect the political tension was comparable to this particular summer.  As things changed so did the people that were involved.  Keith was a far different person but he was bad and he did bad things that Percival never forgot.  That summer Keith Thornhill killed Kip Shipman a long time employee of Le Persil after his gun went off in Percival’s office while fighting with Kip over the combination to Percival’s safe.  Stuffing Kip Shipman's dead body in the middle of a pile of greased up tires upon that largest pile of garbage during a heatwave, he covered Kips dead body with gasoline and lit it.  Those that remember the great fire of 1972 remember that Le Persil burned for weeks and that Kip’s body was never found.  Consequently locally trash site reform took place during that summer.  In front of the office building of Le Persil after the fire began,  there was a gunfight amongst the three that stood in the back of the parking lot of Dionysus Refined.  Percival was shot three times as he bled nearly dying, Jim Buck who was shot in the shoulder saved him.  Years later when Keith married Casey Blythe, Mayor Blythe entered a political arraignment to prevent vengeance for the wrongs that were done during that time.  Ages past and life happened, Keith Thornhill was a different person but Percival had a bad day with the news of the death of his ex wife and he wanted redemption for the hurt that bound his soul.  Keith looked to both sides of him nervously, he stepped forward to get away from the two men.  Percival stuck his Pearl handled 9mm gun to the side of Keith.  “Cmon you won’t shoot me!  We're in a parking lot with 1000 people” Jim Buck stuck two animal tranquilizers into the back of Thornhill, Keith became woozy that’s when Jim hoisted one of his arms around his shoulder and walked to his truck not that far off.  Both men worked quickly for their age putting Keith Thornhill in the bed of the truck, a moment later they rode to Le Persil.

 

As they arrived at Le Persil in front of the business building beyond the entrance gates it was the three men within the seclusion of the 138 acre disposal site.  With Keith Thornhill incapacitated Jim Buck bound his wrists and ankles with duct tape.  Percival drove a backhoe to the tail of the Dodge Ram both men dragged Keith Thornhill forcefully without care off of the tail of the Dodge Ram into the bucket of the backhoe.  Percival had Jim Buck load several 5 gallon containers with gasoline in the bucket of the backhoe.  As the backhoe propelled forward Keith began to awaken.

 

****

 

Throughout the afternoon Rebecca Cauldron kept calling with her cell phone without getting an answer.  It was unlike Percival she feared that something might have happened to him.  She called Jim Buck’s phone without response and when she called Patty Medallion, she said that she hadn’t heard from Jim Buck either.  At nine o’clock at night Rebecca had enough she called her children and they hadn’t talked to their father.  She picked up the keys to her car, though she hated do drive at night she began her search.

 

****

 

“Wake the fuck up” Jim Buck smacked Keith Thornhill in the face.  Keith Thornhill still groggy from the tranquilizers panicked as Percival ripped the duct tape that covered his lips.  The old tire shop owner that was bound began to scream he could not run or fight because both his hands and feet were bound with duct tape and his bones hurt from arthritis.  “Isn’t this the place where Kip Shipman died?  Were you his god?” Percival asked him.  Keith Thornhill kept screaming.  “You shot me three times and Jim Buck once and when you came back years later it was like nothing happened.  You had Casey’s daddy buy you time and you lived a long good life while Jim and I suffered and ate shit, festering over why people like you get to do what you do without a fucking care.  You own a business, you have adult children one of whom is debating for the candidacy of mayor, Kip Shipman died before his time but the fucking Blythe’s don’t care” “Fuck you Percival, I fucking hate you!  You can go to hell and rot.” Percival slowly walked to his backhoe he picked up a bull whip that was near his seat.  Walking to the front of the backhoe at the bottom of a large trash pile he unraveled the bull whip, “This is hell” He reared his arm back flicking his wrist cracking the tip of the whip as it made a clean snap connecting sharply with the unguarded abdomen of Keith Thornhill.  Keith screamed praying for god’s mercy.

 

****

 

The first place that Rebecca went to look for Percival was The Redneck Reservoir.  She walked inside where Sal was the bartender, “Have you seen Percival?”  “No, should I have?”  “He hasn’t answered any of my phone calls, that’s unlike him.”  Sal looked around the establishment, “There is a political debate taking place in the parking lot of Dionysus Refined.  I’d check there” “Thanks” Rebecca exited The Redneck Reservoir she continued her search for her husband.  On the way to Le Persil she drove by Dionysus Refined that was diagonal from City Hall.  She noticed the hundreds of candles lit while the politicians debated on the spotlighted stage.  Rebecca reached for her purse searching for her phone she moved her 22 caliber handgun to the side as she found her phone.  She turned on the interior light looking in the mirror flicking her hair, “You too old for this shit” she turned off the light after looking at her phone.  Percival did not call.  When she drove to the entrance of Le Persil she said a quick prayer that Percival was working unusually late, that he was healthy.  Down the driveway after the entrance was the office building, both Percival’s and Jim trucks were parked.  When she got out of her car she heard a man screaming in the far off distance.  Rebecca pulled out her gun and began to walk toward the direction of the screaming as fast as a mid 70 year old woman could.

 

****

 

Percival cracked the whip several more times, Keith Thornhill screamed and prayed for forgiveness.  After whipping the bound man several more times, Percival stopped.  “Bring the gas to the top of the hill” Jim Buck followed the order he slowly carried the containers full of gasoline to the top of the mountainous trash heap.  As Jim climbed the hill at parts he was up to his knees with stinking steaming composting garbage, he walked  to his bosses side needing a rest after it was done.  “Get up” Percival ordered Keith Thornhill, “Are you going to kill me?”  Percival paced back and forth without the use of his cane, “Do you remember the summer of 1972?”  Keith held his hands together, “ That was a life time ago, I’ve paid my debts” Those weren’t the right words Percival gave him a stiff jab in the face breaking his nose, “BUT NOT TO ME!” Percival unbuttoned his short sleeve orange checkered shirt revealing his scarred abdomen, “I’ve never healed from you and Kip Shipman was cut short before his time” Keith Thornhill fell to his knees he pleaded, “Please Percival I’m begging you don’t kill me, I’m an old man at most I have 5 good years left.”  Percival looked to Jim, “Empty the gas containers except for 1 at the top of the heap” The long silence from Percival while Jim Buck emptied the gas containers was a long period of agony for Keith as he was bound ankle and hands, his words did not work while he pleaded.  Jim Buck stood on the side of Percival whom held his pearl handled 9mm handgun, he raised it pointing it at the bound man Percival began to pray, “Dear lord, I’m just a man I’ve done your will, I’ve been your servant and if vengeance shall be yours then I am but a vessel of your doing.  For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.  May his ashes cover the earth, Whatever Doesn’t Burn.  Amen” Percival held his gun pressed against Keith’s head as he cried praying for Percival’s forgiveness.

 

****

 

Rebecca spotted Percival hovering over a man holding his handgun pressed against the man’s head.  “Stop” she screamed though it was in the distance.  There was no response.  She opened up her purse firing the gun up into the air.  It was like a crackling of lightning with silence of a void to follow.

 

****

 

The warm breeze brought the funk of Le Persil to the nostrils of Percival, he was ready to pull the trigger when he heard a gun go off.  Rebecca held her 22 caliber handgun as she approached the men.  Percival did not pull the trigger but he also did not lower his weapon.  He waited for a few moments, Rebecca yelled at her husband as she entered the area where they were.  Rebecca recognized Keith Thornhill, “Is killing this man going to solve your problems?”  Percival didn't budge, “Lucille died two years ago, I found out this afternoon.”  “So hog tying a man and killing him heals your heart?”  He looked to his wife, “Rebecca Medaglione you wouldn’t understand.”  She turned to Jim Buck, “Your going to be an accessory to murder?”  Jim Buck nodded, “I trust his judgment,” he pointed to the bound man, “He killed Kip Shipman and almost killed Percival.  We gave him 50 years without revenge”  Rebecca shook her head, “Your not god!  You don’t get to make that decision” Percival looked to his wife, “No I am not his god, I’m his devil”  Rebecca reached for Percival’s hand, he did not fire his gun, “If you kill this man then I want a divorce.  Lucille is dead, I am not.  If you are the Devil then I am the God” Percival pulled his gun back he paced back and forth, “Goddamned you woman!  It’s not that simple Rebecca, It’s already done and if we let this man go then Kip died in vain and god’s will would not be done.”  He believed his words as he spoke them.  Jim Buck watched the scene standing still while the stakes were high he was not going to interfere with what was taking place.  Rebecca talked to Keith, “Thornhill you remember me?”  “Yes I do, Please don’t let him kill me” She started to make a deal, “If he lets you go there are to be pre conditions.”  “Anything” “You are to never talk about what has occurred to anyone not even your son.  If he wins the election that will hold especially true or things may change for the both of you.  Do you agree?”  “Yes mam” “You are to live your life like nothing has happened and not seek revenge” Visually Keith agreed, “I won’t I just want to live a few more good years and die in peace” Percival tucked his gun under the belt of his pants, he was an angry man, “Let old dogs lie” Percival gritting his teeth he kicked the dirt and grunted in angry frustration, he was in tears he shook his head no, “Rebecca, you are not the god!  You goddmaned dissapoint me!” He motioned for Jim Buck to get into the backhoe and drove to the office building the two men drove away from Le Persil in their separate trucks leaving Rebecca with the responsibility of cleaning up the mess that was Keith Thornhill.

 

Chapter 15 The Evening Reporter 

 

If Craig held a mask to his face, then it fell off.  There was no mask to disguise the person that that he really is.  It was something that stuck to him like a part that an actor played but couldn't shake off because regardless of the method the gimmik is part of the person.  Inside of Dionysus Refined Faith and Craig watched the mayoral debate take place.  The flames of the candles swayed in the breeze outside creating a memorable environment.  Craig walked behind the retail counter he turned on the satellite radio to the store, he stood to the side of Faith, “At the art exhibit, I was lost.  It was because you weren’t there.”  Faith pretended that she wasn’t listening but she was, “The owner of Le Persil was there, you’d like him and he’d like you better than me, but he talked because were both men and in an environment full of socialites that’s what often happens.  We talked of our divorce and he started to talk about his first wife that he divorced over fifty years before.  He doesn’t smoke but he asked me for a cigarette, he was changed.  It took some time to place it...Regret!”  There was silence between the two.  The debate came to a close outside, both candidates shook hands Craig walked to the control box he turned the spotlights to the parking lot back on.  The people in attendance blew out their candles almost in unison most took their candles with them as they left, some left the candles behind without blowing them out.

 

When he was young he had a tendency to smother women because he wanted to be wanted but he didn't know how.  Social distancing to him meant creating enough space where Faith would have room to want him back, he walked to the warehouse side and started to use a fork lift to reorganize inventory.  At the retail side Faith watched the clean up process, the editor from The Evening Reporter knocked on the front door she answered.  The editor thanked Faith for allowing them to host the political debate in the parking lot of Dionysus Refined.  Faith asked questions regarding the media that attended the event and if there would be reporting and what kind of publication would accompany the mayoral debate.  The Evening Reporter journalist knew that Faith was inquiring about free advertising for Dionysus Refined.  When she felt that the conversation was completed as she closed the door, the editor put his foot in the way,“A small advertising campaign could help summer time sales fully capitalizing on the free advertisement from the press and voters that attended the event.”  The editor proposed.  Though Faith was no longer part of the business she asked, “What are you suggesting?”  “Buy a fullpage in the Sunday Edition of The Evening Reporter for six weeks showing photographs of the candles lit at the debate from different angles.  We will provide the photographs.  I’ll send a sales rep from the paper to discuss the details of the outlay, message, and price of advertising.”  Faith wasn’t the decision maker but she was certain that she could get Craig to do anything that she wanted him to do.  “I’ll talk to my husband about it?”  “How about I send a sales rep to speak with you on Monday?”  “Good enough!  Now do you mind getting your foot out of the door?” Faith locked the door.  They were getting a divorce she still referred to Craig as her husband.  She walked to the warehouse portion to inform Craig about the conversation that she had with The Evening Reporter editor she clasped her hands together with her fingers overhanging the clasping hand.

 

****

 

Nidhogg and Vega’s plane took them to Texas and then to El Qui Valley, Chile.  Bjorn and Olaf had the plantations hired staff lined up to greet the owner of Moonshine Plantations Brother along with his wife.  A housemaid remembered Vega’s ritual as she walked by her she held her crucifix “Bruha” she grumbled.  The married couple strolled in front of the hired staff confidently with a royal swagger inspecting the workers house staff and then they inspected the farm staff.  The two men that were most visual were the ones that Bjorn and Olaf had that altercation with.  Nidhogg asked Bjorn, “Are these the ones that attacked you?”  Bjorn nodded, “They attacked us from behind, there were a dozen of them” Vega spoke out loud, “The men that attacked our security team step forward.”  Three farm workers walked to the side of the two injured farm workers, they looked to the ground.  Nidhogg had a different style of leadership than Vega, he was certain that the dead cattle would stick with all of the hired staff as a reminder that Nidhogg was business.  “Let Me” Vega looked sternly to her husband as she spoke, Nidhogg nodded.  She addressed the entire hired plantation staff, “While we accompanied your employer in the United States our head of security was left in charge.  I know that it is not custom to have complete strangers with the power over all of you but rest assured Ms. Moonshine will return and she is fully aware of our actions. We were informed of an incident that took place in which the men before you attacked Bjorn and Olaf with farm tools from behind while they were surveilling the plantation.  It is evident that two of the men suffered broken bones as a result.  The question is why would workers surprise attack our security when the owner of Moonshine Plantation is on vacation in another country?”  Vega looked to the men waiting for a response.  The men looked to the ground they did not speak.  “I am waiting for an answer”  A helicopter was heard in the distance Vega knew that it was her nephew Hinn.

 

Dust kicked up as the helicopter landed a short distance away from the mansion behind the Bull Barn.  On the side of the bulls barn was the chicken barn, next to the chicken barn was the newly build pig pen with the fencing completed a day before.  The pigs scuttled about scared with the clammer of the noise and wind.  Hinn exited the helicopter with a servant whom stacked Hinn’s luggage beside the helicopter.  Hinn wore a silk business suit with a Keffiyeh covering his head.  Before the pig pen was built the security dog’s kennel was where located where the new pig’s pen was however; with the recent construction the dog’s kennel was moved temporary beside the mansion.  Moonshine Plantation had a dozen guard dogs ranging from German Shepards, Rottweilers, and Pitbulls.  The servant began to work immediately taking trips carrying Hinn’s luggage placing them in front of Vega and Nidhogg.  With a flow and grace Hinn walked almost as if he was dancing, waiting for him was his aunt and her husband.  The hired staff waited patiently while the workers in question continued to look to the ground.  Nidhogg noted that he appeared almost identical to his deceased brother Djinn.  In the past prior to his death Nidhogg and Djinn had worked well together.  As he walked Hinn looked past his aunt and her husband along with the staff waiting patiently.  Hinn’s servant placed another set of luggage on the ground in front of Vega.  Continuing his walk, he stood in front of the dog Kennel.  The steel fence had an entrance door leading to a second door with individual levered cages, the entrance door was locked with a dog trainer standing to the side of it.  “I wish to confer with the canine’s” The dog trainer looked to Hinn oddly, “They are attack dogs that are trained to kill” Hinn smiled he placed his hands on his thighs bowing slightly he placed his right hand on his chest there he circled his hand forward he smiled, “Then I will die!”  The dog trainer looked to Vega and Nidhogg nervously, “Nephew Perhaps” Hinn raised a hand, he looked intently into the eyes of the dogs in the cage, “Open” Nidhogg gestured to the dog trainer for him to unlock the entrance door, the dog trainer obliged to the command.  As the outer door to the dog kennel was unlocked the dog’s began to bark and lunge violently as Hinn walked through the entrance door.  In the short walkway there was a lever that opened the individual cages and then there was the door to their den.  Stopping short from their personal quarters he pulled the lever opening their individual cages.  Upon opening the cages their barked continuously lunging forward at the door some fighting with each other.  To the hired staff they appeared to be in a rabid furor.  “He’s going to get killed”. The dog trainer yelled nervously to Nidhogg, he with held judgment as Hinn sat cross legged in front of the door, he began to meditate for several minutes, he reached forward turning the knob opening the door.  The dogs growled viciously standing tensely for several movements without movement Hinn appeared almost like a snake not blinking he stood and the dogs did not lunge, he snapped his fingers, “Come” In unison the dogs walked forward slowly they stopped barking and growling he walked into the cage, they circled him sniffing him.  “Sit” all twelve security dogs sat, “I am Hinn and you are my familiars” The twelve security dogs began to lick him as he stood in the middle.  He walked to the entrance door turning the handle walking out of the kennel with the security dogs.  The hired help were frightened, Hinn looked to them, “Do not fear, they are my servants.”  As Hinn walked toward Nidhogg and Vega the canniness walked with him, Hinn whistled he raised a hand, the dogs sat in unison they happily panted.  Unsurprisingly the hired staff began to murmur, the maid servant that called Vega a “Bruja” began to pray she held on to her crucifix.  Vega and Nidhogg were enamored with the spectacle.  Hinn removed his Keffiyeh he snapped it out laying it on the ground before him.  The servant opened up a box that contained four golden nails and a golden hammer, first he handed Hinn the nails followed by the hammer.  He tapped in the golden nails on each corner of the Keffiyeh, the servant pulled out a container Hinn opened it spreading the contents over the outlaid Keffiyeah, “What is that?” Vega asked “Clay sand from the Dead Sea”  The servant lifted up a bottomless glass box he encapsulated the Keffiyeh in it.

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine stood in front of the counter making eye contact with her father, “Why are you here?”  Salvatore said plainly, “Dad” He considered the word that his daughter Michelle had just called him, “Many years later now you have a father?  You would have never known that your half English!  Your Chilean living has watered down your eloquence.”  Her face tightened, “Is that how it is?” Salvatore breathed in and out, “I gave you a gift at the exhibit and you snubbed me when I tried to make recompense.”  Michelle’s response was without hesitation, “That is not true, you walked away” “I’m standing here.”  Jacques Lesperance entered into the conversation, “Salvatore why don’t you invite your daughter into my office where you can talk with her there?”  Salvatore would not have it, “If words hurt your ears then you are excused, I hold no secrets.”  Looking to his daughter he took a moment to see her as she stood in front of him, “Why have you come to see me?” Salvatore asked sharply.  Michelle looked at her father she noticed the change in his physical self, “You’ve grown old!” She said in a lower tone.  “You gained weight!” Salvatore replied instinctively.  Michelle became silent, she was always self conscious about her weight, while she filled in she was far from fat, she bit her tongue.  Her father was stubborn, “ My husband Tomas is set to run for the Chilean Presidency be prepared in the case that Chilean Media seeks to interview.  We can provide security if needed.”  Salvatore stood silently for a moment, “I will give that consideration, Anything else?”  “I would like you to visit my 300 acre plantation in El Qui Valley, Chile.  I believe that you would be impressed.”  He coughed, “Traveling is not good for my health.”  “You traveled to get here” Salvatore was silent he looked to his daughter, “All of the years that have passed has dulled the edge of your blade!  The strings that come attached with your visitation are not without merit.  However; I am not waiting with open arms.”  Michelle stammered, “What happens when I am first lady of Chile?”  “I will read the article in the newspaper.”  Salvatore turned to Jacques, “You know during the German Blitzkrieg over London, the bunker that I was staying in shook so violently with dust flying my family feared that it would collapse from the continual shelling.”  As Salvatore talked with Jacques, Michelle’s face began to redden her response was without hesitation, “And mother thought that you were a son of a bitch.  When he’s mad he’ll talk over you like your not even there” Salvatore ignored her, “After the bombing the oranges that were sold had already begun to rot,  the milk had soured, and all of the bread was stale.” Michelle addressed Jacques, “He nit picks” Salvatore spoke to Jacques he pulled out his prized shilling, “I found this coin after the war as a boy working in a slaughter house.  Do you know what a shilling was worth back then?”  Jacques nodded no. “I was a disciplined young lad I learned to save.  There was a little girl that I knew years later, she’d cry when she’d fall off her bike, and cling to her father endlessly, she ask for money and spend spend spend, she was all thumbs. Her father taught her a trade”  He looked to Michelle briefly, “Typical second generation gets lazy, they don’t value the luck of finding a shilling after the war.”  “It’s always the war” Michelle addressed him. Salvatore looked to Jacques,“I was a butcher before I was a businessman, that is rare” Jacques agreed.  Michelle addressed Jacques, “Did you ever see him tie a roast?  He leaves the strings slack and he cuts the steaks along with the grain, he also doesn’t cut the fat!”  Those last words angered Salvatore, “Take those words back!”  “He puts too much salt in the sausage and not enough fennel” Spittle came to his lips, “That is not true!” “Yes it is” She was proud of herself for getting her father to talk to her instead of Jacques, “I married a Chilean woman that never knew how to hold her tongue.” Michelle smiled, she walked around the counter to the side of her father she handed him a note with her phone number and address, “I forgive you for leaving mother” She told him.  Salvatore stood silently for a moment his face was full of heat, he felt the blood rush to his ears and around his throat, he looked to Jacques, "Shall we continue?"

 

****

 

Hinn Halim stood with the security dogs sitting around him, “As you were, I am a mere observer” Vega introduced her nephew to her husband Nidhogg, “Hinn this is Nidhogg my husband” Hinn slightly bowed Nidhogg nodded without extending a hand, “I worked well with Djinn” Hinn made piercing eye contact with him, “Djinn did not work well” “Evidently” Nidhogg sharply replied.  Vega looked to the workers in question, “What is the reason for your insubordination?”  One of the workers spoke out, “They have been ruining our women” Hinn walked past his aunt to the front of where the workers stood, “What has happened?”  He asked his aunt, “The workers that stand in question attacked the head of my security team from behind with farming tools as they were surveilling the plantation.”  Hinn noted Bjorn and Olaf he observed the two wounded workers, “They ruined your women?  In what way?”  Hinn asked as he walked back and forth the security dogs walked with him.  The workers looked down they feared the swarthy looking man that had gained instant control over trained security dogs that were always vicious when any worker approached their cages.  “I require an adequate response” Hinn said calmly.  The worker with the broken shoulder broke his silence, “Those two bully us and ravish our women.”   Hinn paced back and forth the security dogs followed he turned to Bjorn and Olaf.  They noted that he looked identically to Djinn, “All of the women let us” Hinn nodded his head he turned to the workers, “Is your pay sufficient?” The men indicated yes.  “Do these two men appear to be incapable of defending themselves?”  The workers shook their heads no.  Hinn spoke to the entire staff, “The women in question that consorted with the two heads of security step forward.”  Slowly a group of over a dozen women stepped forward.  Olaf and Bjorn smiled proudly while the workers snarled Nidhogg flicked his nose not unhappy with Bjorn and Olaf.  Hinn addressed the entire paid staff, “The history of my homeland is not unfamiliar with barbarians pillaging villages.  I am asking for power of judgment.”  Hinn asked Nidhogg addressing him directly for the first time, “Very Well” Hinn smiled he turned to the workers, “In Persian lands I am the CEO of several corporate entities, would I employ workers that use violence on their superiors to reach a goal?  The answer is no!  It is for this reason that Moonshine Plantation no longer needs your employment."  Hinn scanned the staff while listening for reaction, there was none minus the five men that had lost their jobs.  Addressing those in attendance he spoke loud enough for them to hear, “Should anyone not agree with my judgment you are free to resign from your positions.”  He waited for a few minutes for the recently fired workers to leave for their cottage and pack their belongings.  Walking past Vega the security dogs walked with him, he was with purpose.  Upon command Hinn's servant picked out a box he handed it to Hinn with musical like movement Hinn walked past the helicopter in the the depth of the plantation, his servant carried his luggage to his room as Vega began to follow her nephew to discern the reason for his departure.

 

****

 

The first night of restaurant location planning had dwindled down.  Sif traveled with Freja in her limousine to their Jamestown summer home, Arianne had other plans.  Since the art exhibit Craig had yet to return the messages that she had sent to him.  There was something wrong because she didn’t do anything to upset him, as a matter of fact they had bonded in a very serious way and she wanted to get to the bottom of it.  Her car clock read 10pm, she knew that she was persuing him but on the the other hand they did have many loose ties that needed to tightening.  As she approached his house where he was staying in the upstairs apartment she noticed that the interior light was on.  She walked up the porch stairs and rang the door bell.  Arianne waited for a minute after she rang the doorbell.  Craig answered the door she caught him off guard, she did not hesitate, “You left the art exhibit early, I’ve been calling and texting you for two weeks.  Why have you been avoiding me?”  “I haven’t been avoiding you I have been busy at Dionysus Refined hosting a national sales seminar and orienting Jed Folues my new VP of Sales and Logistics.”  Arianne waited for another minute, “Are you going to invite me inside?”  He opened the door, Faith was sitting at the counter.  Arianne knew that they were officially divorced, she thought it appropriate that she did not ask questions.  She smiled, “Faith how nice to see you!” As she smiled Faith read through the thinly veiled attempt at not being angry.  “Anyone interested in a glass of wine?”  Craig grabbed another wine glasse and the open bottle of Reisling filling the glasses before they answered.  “I don’t know if I should drink.” Faith said she rubbed her stomach.  “Nonsense you should, It would be nice to be re- acquainted” Arianne stated. Craig held a glass of wine “Faith and I were at Dionysus Refined this evening hosting the mayoral debate.”  He looked to Faith, “Tell her what you thought of” Faith told the story starting with a question, “Have you ever watched a political debate?” “From time to time” Arianne said blandly “When Craig held a fundraiser for Candidate Donna Lang while he attended your Art Exhibit,” Arianne coughed “Her opponent Stewart Blythe protested outside of the store, outside she challenged him to a parking lot debate two weeks from that time.  It was tonight, I took a plane from Hawaii when I showed up at the store people had just started to arrive.  I didn’t know what was going on.  Craig told me the whole story, it was starting to get dark and there were five hundred chairs set up.  All of those chairs were filled with about fifty people standing.  Several news stations were there with their camera’s and reporters.  I thought why not light candles and hand them out to the voters attending the event?”  Arianne took a sip from her glass of wine, “I like that!  How did it turn out?”  Craig answered he reached for Faith’s hand covering hers with his.  Faith was surprised though she did not retract her hand, Arianne clenched her jaw.  “Faith was the bright one, she picked out the ‘Pearl Before Swine’ candles, we carried them out and had the debate ushers help us light the candles.  When the Pearl Before Swine candles were all distributed it was a sight to see, I turned off the spotlights leaving the two spotlights on behind the debate stage.”  Faith retracted her hand picking up her cell phone flipping to the video that she took during the event, she showed Arianne the footage, “Did the media film the crowd holding the candles?”  “As a matter of fact yes they did and after the editor from ‘The Evening Reporter’ while thanking us for hosting the debate suggested that we buy advertising to ‘fully utilize the free publicity from the news coverage.’ “ Faith stopped talking she took her first sip of wine, “How is buying newspaper ads going to give a greater impression than television coverage?”  Arianne asked. “The suggestion was a six week Sunday Edition one full page ad buy using photographs from the political debate.”  Craig said though it wasn’t Arianne’s business she gave her opinion, “ What is the purpose? Branding?” “Good Point” Faith commented “Unless you have excess inventory and want to sell a lot of product at a discount then it wouldn’t serve a purpose.  I mean lighting candles in a clever trick because it created the environment and the people get to keep a free quality candle, they might shop at your store but branding during the summer after the Fourth Of July is a salesman desperate attempt to sell an ad.”  To Craig Arianne seemed snotty, “If the price is reasonable I’ll buy the ads even if it’s just branding because promoting the fact that we hosted a political debate strengthens our local bond." “That’s true” Faith agreed, she pushed her glass of wine away from her, “I think that I am going to call it a night.  Craig I will keep in touch.”  Faith waved goodbye to Arianne as she left his apartment.  It was quiet as the sound of Faith’s car driving away became distant.  “Most divorcing couples don’t speak with each other.” Arianne noted “There was a reason” “Care to elaborate?”  “Actually no I don’t!  How has Gerda been?”  “She’s been enjoying herself in Jamestown with her sister Jennifer, Sif, and My mother”. “Arianne” “Craig” “Would you mind if I called it a night?  I haven’t been sleeping well and I have been working long hours.”  “We have unfinished business”  “I know” Craig said abruptly.  “I have a lot on my plate and I can’t do everything at once”  “I will expect a phone call with plans that include me within a week” Arianne took a bottle of wine off of his counter as she left for the night.  After she departed, he left for Faith’s hotel.

 

Chapter 16 Le Persil

 

Rebecca Cauldron walked to her car where she kept a swizz knife in her glove compartment.  At the bottom of a mountain of trash Keith Thornhill sat.  On the top of that pile there was a full 5 gallon container of gas and 25 gallons scattered over it.  The longer that Keith Thornhill waited the more that he complained while he waited for Rebecca to return.  His arthritis ached and his hands and feet were numb from the constriction of the duct tapped binding.  He was a defeated man, he cried for what seemed like an eternity.  Struggling to free himself from the duct taped bindings he screamed, “Get me the fuck out of here” Keith sobbed, “I just want to go home” Finally Rebecca re emerged in front of him she squatted down with the knife portion of the swizz army knife she cut the the thick duct taped bindings leaving the tape removal of on skin and clothing for Keith to remove.  “Why didn’t you drive your car?”  Keith asked “I needed to walk and think it would do you good to do the same”. They walked together slowly to the parking lot where Rebecca had him get in the back seat.  She dropped him off near his vehicle outside of city hall where he had his car parked.

 

****

 

Percival was in a bad way as he drove his Ford.  He had bought a bottle of tequila and he picked up his guitar from his home.  While he drove he did not think or talk he was miserable and even if he was old he wanted to hurt someone.  After driving for a long time he found himself in a place of solace a place that he knew that sooner rather than later he would be buried, “Cemetieri Du Preciux Sang”.  As he walked to his father Pearls gravesite he caught a glimpse of the unlit candles that Craig and Arianne had put there.  Percival went to his truck he found a lighter and he begun to light the candles.  In the dry summer night it was a new moon, besides the candles and streetlights in the far distance the cemetery was nearly black.  Candle by candle he lit creating a flamed light, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” He remembered the verse from the gospel of John.  The internal silence and lack of light within Percival was one that went without redemption.   His father Pearl had transferred ownership of Le Persil the same day that he passed away.  Percival remembered the day like it just had recently happened.  He sat on the grass near his father’s grave with his legs out wide, surprisingly his body didn’t hurt.  Lucille had died two years before and he never knew about it until that afternoon.  The heavy cloud of remorse and a feeling of being cheated for not getting closure with a very important person in his life made him want to drink.  The guitar lay beside him, he picked it up, he began to play.  The headlights of a car could be seen driving to the cemetery but he didn’t care.  Strumming chords he made up a song, he strummed E,D,C, “Sometimes I feel like fading away, like a ship in the sea”  The vehicle that pulled into the cemetery "I'm a wounded man, cut down like a tree" The vehicle was parked on the side of Percival’s truck, he kept playing the guitar, “The woman I love she did me wrong, and the other one’s already dead, I’m an angry man, with bad thoughts in my head” Percival put down his guitar he picked up the bottle of tequila along with a shot glass that he brought with him.  He took a shot. Rebecca walked up to the side of him, she sat down.  Not talking to his wife he sat staring at the light of the candles that he lit in front of the gravestones, “You would have hated yourself if you went through with what you wanted to do” Rebecca said to him.  Percival refilled the shot glass with tequila he drank.  He picked his his guitar Rebecca wanted him to talk to her, “Hog tie a man and slaughter him at the dump?”  She wanted an answer Percival put down his guitar.  “I told you that you wouldn’t understand” Rebecca wanted answers, “He drove himself home he won’t talk, I know that much.” Percival got angry, “I DON”T GIVE A FUCK!” IF A MAN KILLED A LONG TIME LOYAL EMPLOYEE THEN SHOT YOU THREE TIMES AND SHOT YOUR BEST FRIEND WHAT THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO?"  He never yelled at his wife, Rebecca kept her temper down, “I believe In the law Percy you know that!  Medaglione firearms is not a business for the fickle.  Do you think your yelling at some trick that can be flipped for a Buck?”  “FUCK MEDAGLIONE FIREARMS!  You goddamned disappoint me Rebecca because it’s loyalty, that fucking piece of shit killed Kip and in return I want to kill him back, because its not murder, its god’s vengence.  I served in Korea I know how war works.”  “This aint Korea and this isn’t war.  All those years ago with old man Blythe you accepted that contract with the town and the strings that came attached to it, Did you not?”  “Lucille’s dead” Percival finally lowered his tone when speaking with his wife.  “Killing Keith Thornhill makes it better?  Who’s momma raised their son to be like that?”  “It gives credibility and closure for what is deserved” He pointed to his wife, “You stole that from me!”  Rebecca began to laugh, “STEAL! HA HA, Your one to talk Mr. Big Bad ASS trashman with a trail of dust and nails that follows him.  The trash business aint easy boohoo, I drink in cemeteries at night because my wife won’t let me murder a bad man that did me wrong, boo hoo.  You should see yourself you big baby.  I’d swear, but I’m a woman and I won’t lower myself standards regardless of the situation!”  Rebecca reached for the tequila bottle in between Percival’s legs, she didn’t ask she took a swig.  “Don’t you forget that I know all of your secrets, I’ve bared your burdens and your children and when you hurt I felt your pain but go settle old feuds and kill a man I’ll be hot damned if the good lord didn’t use me to get in the way.”  Rebecca stopped talking and when she did she raised a hand she started to cry, “You see God used me tonight and you hate me for it, so big bad ass trash man remember Lucille’s dead but I’m not remember?”  She stood herself up walking a short distance away to her 1st husbands grave, “He’s dead I’m not.  Isn’t this where we met?”  Rebecca walked back to the side of Percival she sat down she dropped the tequila bottle in front of him.  They were quiet for a few minutes staring at the flames of the candles.  “The candles was a thoughtful gift” Rebecca said “FUCK THE CANDLES” Percival yelled Slowly he stood up he took his guitar and bottle of tequila without the aid of his cane, he hobbled to his truck.  “Where are you going?” Rebecca asked “NONE OF YOUR GODDAMNED BUSINESS” Percival answered.

 

****

 

On the way to the hotel where Faith was staying Craig drove the speed limit with the windows down, he passed by Percival Cauldron who was driving fast weaving in an out of the lines in the road.  He looked at the time 12:37 “Isn’t it kind of late for an old man to be driving on the road?” Craig asked himself as he continued to drive.  While he knew the hotel that Faith was staying he didn’t know what room. During the debate when Faith walked into the store besides a few sips of wine, he didn’t have dinner and to the best of his knowledge neither did Faith.  He drove to McDonalds buying food before he arrived at the hotel.  After parking his car on the side of Faith’s rental vehicle he went inside to get her room number.  At first the hotel secretary did not want to give up the location of the room where Faith was staying.  Craig walked outside of the hotel to his truck where he picked up a bottle of wine, a candle, and one of his business cards.  When Craig re- introduced himself it was as the owner of Dionysus Refined he gifted a free candle and a bottle of wine along with his business card, even going so far as to suggest that the hotel put on the new and watch the story on the mayoral debate that took place in the parking lot of his business.  He got the hotel room  number where Faith was staying.  Instead of taking the elevator he took the stairs.  As he knocked on the door he waited.  He knew that she hadn’t been there long because he was not far behind in leaving after her.  Faith looked through the door viewer she saw that it was her ex husband.  She opened the door quickly, “What do you want?” He held up food and soda, “Hungry?” She let him inside of her hotel room, “I was ready to take a shower” Craig smiled, “Please don’t let me stop you”. She walked to the bathroom, “Don’t get too cozy, I’ll eat a meal with you and that is it.” The hotel room television remote control was on the coffee table, he flipped around the stations settling on a replay of the local news.  Watching the news for several minutes there was no mention or reel of the mayoral debate.  Faith emerged from the bathroom with her hair in a ponytail, she wore a 2 piece rabbit pajama outfit.  As she sat down Craig handed Faith her meal along with a happy meal toy that he ordered for her.  The television was on with a replay of the news.  A story about the mayoral debate began.  As the reporter introduced the segment a pan of the voters in attendance was shown with a quick focus on the front of the building showing the sign of the store, Dionysus Refined candles and wine.  The sign at the entrance of the parking lot was shown with the logo of Dionysus Refined.  As the story finished a shot of the voters walking to their vehicles holding the candles was shown.  Faith ate her meal as she watched the news with Craig she was happy with the news coverage of the event.  “That was awesome” Faith said Craig agreed, “I don’t know if that increases sales but it does create an impression.  That increased footprint could possibly bring in new customers, it does create an instant brand for Dionysus Refined.”  “Good! I’m glad that you followed my lead, so you show up at my hotel room to being burgers and fries and watch the news?  What happened to Arianne?” Craig put down the hamburger that he was eating, “Arianne went home, I was hungry I figured you would be too.  You can deny it but I think that your happy to see me.”  

 

Faith opened up her mouth faking that she might vomit showing her chewed hamburger.  Craig laughed, “Denial” They finished eating throwing the wrappers in the bags.  Faith burped she stood up shaking off the crumbs that was on her pajama top, she showed her stomach.  Craig smiled, “I’ve been jogging long distance three times a week.”  “I can tell your face looks slimmer” Craig took off his shirt. “Take off yours we can compare” Faith looked to Craig, “I said that we can have a meal together that is it!  I’m not wearing a bra” “So!  I just want to look at your stomach” He walked up close to his soon to be ex wife he unbuttoned the two lower buttons of her pajama top she looked him in the eyes her eyes googled back and forth he looked to her stomach as he covered it with his hands.  As he felt her stomach, “Happy now?” She asked him, Craig slid his hands up unbuttoning the remaining buttons of her pajama top.  She didn’t stop him, “What’s your plan?” Faith asked.  “I don’t have a plan Ms. Walananu”.  After he unbuttoned her pajama top he put his hands back on her stomach.  Her pajama top covered her breasts showing the line of unbuttoned top where both sides did not meet.  “It’s Faith Chaise, I kept the name” She placed her hands on Craigs chest they stared each other in the eyes.  He was surprised when she leaned in kissing him on the lips.  He stood still, “What do you think that I don’t have needs?”  She told him, “What if I say no?”  Craig asked Faith she started to button up her pajama top, “I guess that I will go to sleep”.  He kissed her passionately, knowing that the more words that were said the more likely it was to ruin the chemistry between the two of them, there was no more talk.  She wrapped her arms and legs around him as he made way to her hotel room bed.  Their issues would have to be discussed some other time.  

 

****

 

Hinn Halim walked with purpose through Moonshine Plantation that was well on its way towards another plentiful year full with vegetables and fruits.  Did he know where he was as he walked into the thick of Moonshine Plantation?  No that is not what guided him to where he was going.  The pull that guided him was something that had no words, he felt a menacing force and a continual tap on the top of his head as if it were a person tapping on the top of a hollow metal object.  Hinn squatted low holding a black silk box with a bow on top that looked like a gift, he placed the box on the ground reaching for the scattered ashes that consisted of the fire pile circle that Vega had made during her time of meditation.  The security dogs tensed their hairs as their back hairs rose, they could sense a presence as well.  Hinn squatted low he grabbed handfuls of the scattered ashes not far behind, Vega watched Hinn stop at her burn piles, Nidhogg stood on the side of her as he followed not far behind her.  “Peculiar” Nidhogg commented his phone buzzed, Nidhogg checked the message, it was his sister Michelle.  “Michelle will be returning to the plantation with Tomas and Pablo tomorrow afternoon.  “What will her reaction be to find out about the dead cattle and fired help and then my nephew Hinn?”  “Better than the discovery of the smuggling of guns and drugs in the bulls barn.”  Vega smiled, “That was precious” “Yes it was” Nidhogg agreed, they returned focus back to Hinn whom was surrounded by security dogs that he now called his familiars. 

 

The presence was one that Hinn was very familiar with having not turned around he knew that he was being watched.  Hinn turned around to see his aunt Vega with her husband talking to each other in the distance.  Gathering his estimation of what brought him to that location he took the top off of the gift box placing the top to the side, the inside of the box was lined with red silk.  Inside of the gift box were several components and items,there was a golden bottle with a golden cork inside of it.  Slowly Hinn lifted the bottle from the box placing it on the ground.  Inside of the box there was sand, Hinn grabbed handfuls of sand he created a spiral circle around the bottle leading to it.  Then he began a slow incantation he reached into the box pulling out two bulbs he threw them down to the ground a puff of Red and Black puffed into the air then he opened the bottle.  In the distance Vega and Nidhogg watched and a weird thing happened.  As Hinn opened the bottle, the black and red puff that the orbs created were somehow sucked into the bottle, Hinn corked the bottle placing it inside of the box then he closed it.  Lastly, he took out a pouch of white powder like substance he scattered the powder over the area.  Placing the bottle back inside of the gift box he placed the top on it.  Carrying the box with the golden bottle he back tracked toward Moonshine Mansion.  As he passed by Vega accompanied by the security dogs he addressed his aunt, “A Wraith” “How did you?” “Death accompanies the kind of wraith that passed!  What form did the death take?”  “80 cattle lined in a row” Vega replied “Toil” Hinn confided.  Nidhogg remained motionless he was not one to get involved in speculation of the unseen.  He knew that there was a more reasonable explanation than ghosts haunting property.

 

****

 

Percival drove while drinking a bottle of tequila, he couldn’t drive away from “Cemetieri Du Preciux Sang” fast enough.  As he sped he swerved in and out of the lanes in the road, but he didn’t care.  He wound up back at Le Persil he drove to the bottom of the trash pile that him and Jim Buck brought Keith Thornhill to.  Percival still had a zippo lighter in his pocket from when he let the candles at the cemetery.  He had drank the last of the bottle of tequila enough to numb the ache in his hips and knees that required him to use a cane when walking.  It was a warm night he was drenched with sweat and the stench from Le Persil slightly burned his nostrils.  He decided to climb to the top of the heap to retrieve the last container of gas.  As he began to trudge up the large trash pile he thought twice as his knees and hip ached with the movement.  Percival was a man possessed having lost the hope of redemption, his will gave him the strength to slowly reach the top of the trash pile.  The empty containers lay at the top of the pile in the middle of a pile of tires that remained there.  He picked up the last container unscrewing the top.  Slowly he began his descend down the trash pile creating a trickle of gas as he reached the bottom.  Percival walked to his truck grabbing a work rag and the empty bottle of tequila he filled up the bottle with gas soaked the rag stuffing the rag in the bottle.  After filling up the bottle of tequila he poured out the rest of what remained in the gas container tossing the empty container on the trash pile.  Percival flicked the zippo lighter while holding the tequila bottle full of gasoline with a rag hanging out of it, “Whatever Doesn’t Burn” Percival said remembering the advice that his father Pearl had given to him.  He tossed the self made molotov cocktail into the spilled puddle of gasoline at the bottom of the trash heap.  As it began to burn Percival got into his truck and drove away.

 

The fire that Percival lit at Le Persil followed it’s way up the trash heap like a snake slithering in the sand, when it reached the top of the pile a large puff mushroomed at once.  Flames began to lick the sky as the fire at Le Persil began to spread.  About an hour later Percival found himself parked in front of his house, the light to the kitchen was on he knew that Rebecca was waiting for him and he didn’t want to speak with her.  He entered in the basement entrance walked into the basement bathroom turned on the shower and walked in with his clothes on.  A while later he walked upstairs with a towel wrapped around him Rebecca was waiting for him.  “Still mad?”  He walked passed her changed into pajamas and went to bed.  Percival slept soundly as Le Persil burned.

 

Chapter 17 Kapu

 

Charles Bassett had money on his mind after the past couple of weeks of business meetings but the negotiations hadn’t gone as he had wanted.  Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants had the potential to validate the goals and aspirations that Charles ever wanted to ascertain. After another long day of business meetings while making progress there was a lion’s share of work still to be done, he couldn’t wait to break ground on the actual building, and ground work of the locations.  To relax he lounged late at night at Open Field golf resort.  Being a member of the golf resort he knew the members, there were two old men one holding a cane.  He had never seen them before though they looked to be of esteem.  He decided to have a waiter sit him at a table beside them and listen to their conversation.  Charles ordered himself a scotch and a club sandwich.  

 

Surrounded by a small group of members Stewart Blythe was the hero of the night after his debate with candidate Donna Lang.  A waiter whispered to the bartender, the bartender listened to what the waiter had told her, it was a little past midnight, the golf club was open until two am, “Le Persil is on fire” she announced to the patrons that were in the lounge of the golf club.  The room went silent except for the old gentleman sitting with a cane resting on his leg, he drew the attention of several members.  He stopped talking with the acknowledgment of catching other people’s attention, “What is Le Persil?”  He asked.  “The Town Dump” The bartender answered.  Salvatore Moonshine looked to the bartender, “Pray for rain” he replied then he continued conversing with his business partner Jacques Lesperance. 

 

The table to the side of the two business men Charles Bassett listened to their conversation.  As Salvatore’s new business partnership with Lesperance surgical progressed he had thoroughly discussed the clinical casses that he observed having completed the clinical education in order to get credentialed to observe surgical cases.  “The world of energy is a very interesting world is it not?” Salvatore asked Jacques “It was more interesting 15 years ago before emerging energy companies were gobbled up by larger corporate entities and later efforts to make energy devices a commodity became established.”  Salvatore took a sip of his vodka and tonic “From what little knowledge that I have gathered I would agree that the energy device market should not be made into a commodity.”  Salvatore noticed the man at the neighboring table listening to their conversation.  “The meat industry is a very different business than medical device, it’s less secretive and not revolved around the realm of the patent, also it’s primary focus is not with performing surgery on human subjects.  With that being said I have more in common with the surgeon than the nurse. The first case that we observed the surgeon pointed out that the patient had chocolate ovaries, what is a chocolate ovary?”  “Blood filled ovary, that’s why the procedure was a total laparoscopic hysterectomy” "What's the difference?" Salvatore asked "In typical cases the uterus is removed along with the cancer as with total hysterectomies the ovaries are removed and the patient will no longer have menstruation." "I see"Salvatore looked to the side noticing that the person sitting at the table next to them was listening to their conversation he picked up his cane he tapped a table leg with it.  Charles Bassett smiled, “I couldn’t help but to overhear your fascinating discussion and I thought it very interesting, very interesting” Charles stood up he pulled out a business card. “I’m a business man as matter of fact I’m in the process along with my business partner going to open 100 family style chicken restaurants all at once regionally.” Charles smiled, Salvatore looked at his business card briefly, “Freyja Sullivan, I have been informed about her new business venture, I was her husbands business partner.”   Charles Bassett picked up his scotch leaving his club sandwich, “May I?” Charles asked “Absolutely” Salvatore said smiling.

 

****

 

Hinn Halim settled into his room at Moonshine Mansion as he entered his temporary quarters, he observed a pile stacked neatly, his luggage and personal items were still in their containers.  Clothes were only part of the luggage that he brought with him to El Qui Valley, Chile.  What unsatisfied Hinn was that his servant had not immediately organized his belongings properly storing his clothing in the hanging closets along with his other items.  Hinn walked to the hallway he pulled out a small whistle he blew into it.  Promptly his servant ran out of his room into the hallway he stood looking forward, “What is your command?”  The servant ased. Hinn was angry he paced back and forth in front of his servant, “Why are my belongings on the floor?”  “I did not think” Hinn stopped his servant he held his wrist limply striking forward like a snake touching his servant quickly on the side of his throat, in one quick motion his servant collapsed.  The servant lay on the floor lifeless, his heart had stopped beating.  Hinn stood above him for nearly a minute before he sat the lifeless body of his servant prostrate.  With fast movements he struck his servant in the back along side of his spine, his servant was revived.  In a paralysis while slowly breathing the servant lay on the ground, “I am going to tour the plantation, when I return my items will be properly stored or the consequences will not be so quick!”  Hinn threatened his servant as he slowly recovered from the ‘Touch Of Death’.  Through a crack from an slightly open door of a guest room, two maidservants watched the altercations between Hinn and his servant.  

 

****

 

Jim Buck woke to knocks on his front door, he answered wearing pajama bottoms without a top.  It was Percival’s son Dick Cauldron “What the reason for the visit Dick?” “Le Persil is burning” Dick Replied. Jim Buck had a good idea what caused the fire.  He invited Dick inside of his house Jim reached for a pack of cigarettes that were on the counter, “How bad is it?”  Jim asked, “It’s uncontrollable" Dick paced back and forth in Jim Buck's kitchen, "So far, acouple of acres where the tires were stored” “Shit” Jim exclaimed he lit his cigarette “How did it start?”  “I watched the surveillance tapes, I was hoping that you would tell me” Dick Cauldron stood firm looking to Jim Buck waiting for an answer.  Jim stood at his counter he smoked his cigarette “Talk to your father” Jim said he filled up the coffee pot with water and coffee, “Dad is still sleeping” Dick replied Jim put his cigarette down in the ash tray, “He needs a good nights sleep but when he wakes you will need to speak with him.”  Jim suggested “Has he gone mad? And why was mom walking out of the middle of Le Persil with Keith Thornhill?”  Jim shook his head, “There was a reckoning that was prevented” To Dick Cauldron none of it made any sense,“What about Le Persil?”  Dick asked.  Now Dick Cauldron was a lot like his father with the exception that he had a mild temperament.  He respected Jim Buck and valued his opinion but he needed answers and cigarettes and coffee wasn't doing the trick,“I was the Forman during the great fire of 1972”  “I know” Dick stated “However bad that the fire gets know that it is manageable” Jim buck said confidently "What are you covering up Jim Buck? What about the press?”  Jim Buck picked his cigarette from the ashtray, “Look Dick its 7am and I'm not the answer guy. Speak to your father you might want him to be the face in the photo.”  Jim Buck offered Dick Cauldron a cup of coffee however; Dick had important business to attend to, he respectfully declined.

 

****

 

Percival Cauldron slept soundly with the knowledge that Le Persil would be burning when he woke up in the morning.  Without knocking on the front door Dick Cauldron walked inside of his parents house.  Rebecca was up drinking coffee reading The Evening Reporter newspaper, “Where’s dad?” Dick asked his mother, “Good morning to you too, What are you doing here this morning?”  Rebecca stood up she went to kiss her son on the cheek, “Le Persil is burning” Rebecca stepped back she sat down taking a sip from her coffee she was surprised, “I watched the surveillance camera’s why were you at Le Persil last night with Keith Thornhill?”  Rebecca took a moment to think.  Percival had woken with the sound of conversation from the kitchen.  He dressed and walked out to speak with his son.  “Dick” Percival acknowledged his son, “Le Persil is burning” Dick told his father “Good” Percival replied, he made himself a coffee sitting a the table opposite to his wife as he son asked his father questions that he wasn’t listening to.

 

****

 

As the clock ticked it was nearing one in the morning at Open Field golf club.  Salvatore rubbed the scar on his left knuckle that he got as a youth when he boned out a half of a ham on a new years eve when trying to work with speed.  That was a memorable event for him because he didn’t know what he was doing when he rushed himself standing back to back with an old butcher.  Experience told him that he would from that point bone full hams and cut them in half after it was boned.  It was a butt end his confusion was with cutting around the H bone he held the boning knife opposite as if he here cutting a steak.  There’s a slight curve as the hip meets the femur with the detachement there is a slight pop as the ball joint of the femure to hip is exposed.There was unsureity with carving around it as he was trying keep the half of a ham in one piece, as he cut down he hit bone he figured to add pressure.  When he added pressure he slipped cutting into his hand free hand splitting his knuckle in half cutting a tendon in his left index finger. He remembered the reaction of the old butcher whom he showed the injury to first.  Remembering the sting and the tightness with blood as his hand would not close. It ached in the cold often he’d rub his scar still feeling a slight divot where he split his knuckle, scar tissue remained there for nearly a decade after.  Surgery was required to repair the flexor and extensor tendon that he damaged and the physical scar faded with time.  Salvatore was slightly buzzed from alcohol consumption and tiredness as the new guest at the table talked about his new business endeavor with Freyja Sullivan.  Most of the words were full of fluff and he was content with having small talk with his night cap.  Jacques Lesperance welcomed the conversation with Charles Bassett as they were fully engaged in exchanging information about both Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants and Lesperance Surgical.  “Uh-Em” Salvatore cleared his throat, “Jacques, I believe that I am ready to call it an evening.”  Slowly he was able to stand up with the assistance of his cane, he lifted up his cane reaching into his pocket pulling out a square piece of white chalk he rubbed the tip of the bottom of the cane into the chalk like a pool stick he drew a circle on the floor and marked an x in the middle.  Charley and Jacques were still in conversation with one another neither noticed.  Without saying farewell he walked out of the golf club where his nurse waited in the parking lot.  As he sat in the back seat his nurse started up the vehicle, “Was your time enjoyable?”  “It reminded me of when I cut my own knuckle!”  “That painful?”  “An object lesson” “What would that lesson be?”  “An old dog learning a new trick needs to take his time while learning.”  “Vodka tonic?” The nurse asked “More than one” During the drive the ride was silent and when Salvatore prepared for bed his nurse had a glass of water and a bottle of aspirin waiting for him.

 

****

 

Faith woke up early in the morning barely daylight in her hotel room bed, Craig had his arms were wrapped around her, she felt warm.  Is this what she wanted? She lifted his arms from around her, she put on a pair of running pants and a tee shirt and sneakers along with her phone and a pair of headphones, she wasn’t an avid jogger but it was her time to run.  Craig slept through the click of the opening and closing of the hotel room door.

 

With her hair in a ponytail Faith began to jog on the left side of the road.  If there was a healthy habit that she picked up from her soon to be ex husband it was jogging.  She agreed that the silent repetitiveness and exertion with the cadence helped her to think clearly.  When she woke up in the morning Craig was sleeping on the side of her and her head began to spin with many thoughts swirling around her at the same time.  She felt claustrophobic and she needed room to breath and think.  Jogging alongside of the road she fell into a steady rhythm.  Some of the cars she recognized as customers of Dionysus Refined primarily because she looked at the license plates and not the drivers of the vehicles as she remained focusing on jogging for a long distance.  There was a fairly sharp hill and she changed her jogging stance appearing like a doe leaping as she began to ascend the steep incline.  Toward the top of the hill she exhaled almost out of breath she slowed her pace, if she were a smoker then her mouth would have been full of phlegm as she exhaled with all of the breath in her lungs, but it was not.  She questioned why Craig would even think of picking up the nasty habit of smoking.  “I don’t want to run out of breath” At the top of hill was a short plateau followed by a slow decline in topography.  Shortly she regained her jogging place and catching her breath within the steady cadence.  Getting back into her jogging rhythm as Faith was focused Craig drove on the side of her, she kept jogging.  She had thinking to do, she needed to sort things out and she didn’t want the pressure of his presence or the persuasiveness of his affection to cloud her judgment.  She continued to jog.  Her mind was blank and she liked it that way her stubborness reminded her that she was her fathers daughter.  While jogging there were several honks from passersby, she was used to the occasional honk but it gave her confidence that she was attractive, although she already knew that.  Some time had passed since Craig drove by her.  In the distance a man was jogging in her direction opposite her on the same side of the road.  ‘No’ she told herself ‘don’t change sides of the road, he can switch sides.’ The man looked to be in good condition and in shape from what she could tell in the distance.  As they got closer to crossing path’s she recognized who it was.  It was her husband.  She didn’t acknowledge him, instead she kept her jogging pace not stopping to talk.

 

****

 

Craig woke up in Faith’s hotel room bed he reached for her to find that there was an empty space.  He got up out of bed, he called out for Faith but there was no response.  When he looked around she was no where to be seen.  There was no note however; he did notice that her cell phone wallet and keys were gone.  He dressed and left the hotel deciding to go home.  Along the way several miles into his drive the sight of a woman jogging with her hair in a pony tail swaying back and forth with the pace of her jogging came into view.  As he drove closer he checked her her skin was golden tan and shapely and pleasant to the eyes, it was Faith.  He slowed down beeping his horn as he rolled down his window.  Rain was drizzling and clouds covered the skyline, Faith looked to him but she kept on jogging quickly looking forward ignoring her soon to be ex husband.  He knew the route that she was jogging, he drove to his house less than a mile from where she was, he changed into jogging clothes and began to jog opposite her in an attempt to run into her.  He jogged nearly 2 miles when she came into view.  He jogged on the same side of the road as her, he wanted a confrontation.  As they neared each other Faith kept jogging passing by him.  Craig turned around jogging with her.  He made no attempt to talk nor did she as they jogged side by side.  They jogged together silently for nearly a mile before Faith broke her silence.  She stopped jogging, Craig stopped he turned to her facing her, “What?” Faith screamed at him, “I woke up and you weren’t there” “So! That’s what divorce is” "It doesn't have to be that way" Craig pleaded  “Kapu” Faith yelled shoving Craig out of the way then she continued to jog.

 

Chapter 18 Moonshine

 

Sif and Arianne drove together from Jamestown, Rhode Island to have lunch with a struggling artist and an author.  Flashes of memories filled the conversation of the two sisters “Remember Rocky Point?”  Arianne asked her sister.  “Don’t be childish” Sif said “It went out of business and it was torn down” Arianne informed her sister.  Sif looked out the window as her sister drove, “Just as well, though their concerts were worthy” “Remember the house of haunted horrors?”  Arianne asked. Sif slightly laughed, “I remember the cranking of the chain as the ride ascended to the second floor, there was no light and then when it started to loop, the mannequins would pop out.”  “Memorable!  What a shame what time does” Arianne stopped talking Sif reached into her purse pulled out a mirror, she looked at her reflection in it.  The sisters drove together pointing out the landmarks and places that they passed by as they traveled together.  "It's fun being a tourist" Arianne told her sister, though Sif was edgy and in a grumpy mood.  It's natural for tourists to stick to the coastal areas of New England being “The Ocean State” Rhode Island Sif and Arianne werent much different in terms of tourism.   Rhode Island has 39 cities and towns, historically the inhabitants of the state are sectionalized for the sisters that quirk was one of the benefits of visiting the state or so that's what they felt.  The older that they got and the more that they experienced most of it separately when they were together it was refreshing to visit places where the people were quirky or nuanced.  It wasn’t irregular for many of the inhabitants of Rhode Island and more specifically the city or town that they lived in to never or rarely traveled out of.  The two sisters were raised in a different socioeconomic stratosphere one of the benefits of being wealthy or even in the business class was the allowance of travel.  The sisters had lunch at The Towers in Narragansett.  The historic granite perching station was built in the latter part of the 1800’s on the side of The United States Life Saving Service buiding the Narragansett Pier Casino served as an attraction for tourists and upper class Rhode Islanders .  With the industrial age as immigration expanded and society modernized, government agencies were formed, the Life Saving Force became The Coast Guard.  The facility was abandoned for a larger headquarters.  After The Towers structure survived several fires and major hurricanes the castle was converted into a banquet facility.  Driving along the beaches of Rhode Island, The Towers sticks out among the beach houses with two towers on both sides of the Narragansett road appearing like a short tunnel for drivers as the connecting arch between the towers spanning across the road.  There was an event at The Towers for local artists and authors Arianne was given an invitation by both the artist and the author and she brought her sister Sif as company.  Of course there are other areas in Rhode Island that are just a beautiful and elegant but in Narraganset there are no other Towers.  Rhode Island not only has a culture of it's own,It has a history that makes Rhode Island as an entity somewhat of an outcast of the New England states dating back to it's origins with Roger Williams being exiled founding the state. There is the old money status class, much of the old money resided in the Southern Counties of Rhode Island inhabiting Newport, Jamestown, Wakefield, Narragansett, Sif and Arianne were part of the old money because of their father.  The sisters lineage on their father’s side could be traced back to Ireland then to Jamestown Rhode Island in the early 1800’s.  They were Icelandic but the benefits of being an old money Sullivan, they never went unnoticed.  Being the smallest state in the union Rhode Island’s beaches are coveted.  Sif and Arianne wanted to have a business lunch in a place that brought them a closer familiarity to home and the invitation was perfectly timed.  As the sisters were seated with the artist and author they ordered drinks and their meal. 

 

“I’m stuck” The author said.  The author was a middle aged woman sort of homely, she wore glasses and had a slight hint of a mustache, as she sipped a tea with lemon in it, Sif couldn’t look at her face without disgust.  “What are you stuck with?” Arianne asked.  “The problem that I’m having with writing my new novel is with giving it a purpose to make the characters interesting and having subjects of substance to talk about." "Like what?" Arianne asked the writer,  "For instance, one of the characters is an ancestor he wrote a letter that was placed in a time capsule dating from the year 1865.  Living in New England right after the end of the Civil War, President Lincoln was assisinated.  Living on a farm the man writing the letter discusses his sentiment with the death of a Wartime President.  But the farmer isn't complexed, he cares about his farm and his family.  Different from the coastal town that we are surrounded by, the notice in geography becomes apparent as their is more farmland where the rail roads meet the iron and stone is a better representation of the industrious people that inhabit the area.  The ancestor is a farmer, tilling the soil on his farm aided by his horses and a cart.  While unknown during wartime he addresses whom ever should find the capsule.  The farmer placed the capsule under his barn.  He was a rail worker in his youth before he became a blacksmith the iron that ran in his veins guided his life.  The property stayed within the family and 150 years later a descendent uncovers it when what remained of the barn is torn down.”  The waiter served steamed clams, there was butter and hot broth that accompanied the steamers.   “I can’t see how you could be stuck, that premise is full of things to write about.”  Arianne commented.  The struggling artist slipped a napkin to Sif it was a rough sketch of her standing nude next to a window.  He was short thin man with greasy hair that he tucked behind his ears.  “Introverted” Sif commented, The artist winced. “I don’t pick up stray cats” Sif told the artist without flinching.  Stunned the artist looked down to his bowl of steamers, the waiter placed the boiled lobsters that they ordered to the side. "I wrote a poem want to hear it?" Sif asked looking directly to the artist.  He looked up to her, "I would" Sif smiled, "A half a smoke and a plastic egg" Sif looked to the writer then she looked back to the artist, "He counted his change but he did not beg, the hobo had stars in his crown he never stopped asking why!" A period of silence followed Sif's poem they began to eat, Sif pushed her plate forward she did not.  Arianne needed to change the pace of the lunch she looked to the artist, "Several of your pieces sold at the art exhibit" "Thankfully" The artist sighed, "That's a good sign, keep on creating because your work sells" The artist brightened up from Sif's dimming down Arianne looked to the author, "So tell me more about the story that you are stuck with". The writer stopped eating, “The descendent is a tax collector who owns cats” Peeking to the side the author she nudged the artist, “Being a tax collector she is methodic, but she is obsessed with labs, and has a penchant for candied liquor.  The problem is with connecting the two”  “Is that the plot?” The Artist asked “She witnesses a murder and it’s work related.  On her property a decayed barn is demolished and there she finds the time capsule” A short period of silence followed as the three ate together while Sif drank wine.  “Is it that the themes are too scattered?” Arianne asked the author ate a couple of steamers drenched in butter, “I’m at a plateau with redundancy, like being up in the air without having feet on the ground.  The lack of substance is evident with the use of language that substance provides.  Meaning that when I’m interested and can teach or have knowledge about something the quality of my work improves.  But the nuanced tax collector is a work in progress”  “Why write it?” Sif snipped. “Sif” Arianne said trying to stop her.  “No!” Sif looked to Arianne then she looked to the author, “The truth may hurt your ego but my advice should be heeded.  I’m not an author, I’m a business woman.  We have nothing in common besides this lunch, business ventures are meant for the well informed.   You would be better off writing children cartoons then writing about a cat lady.  And who really likes a cat lady?  Boring!  Writing about a distant relative that created a time capsule is one thing!  The Civil War interesting!  But the cat lady and her work affairs seems like a completely different novel.  As a book reader if a story is too scattered, I stop reading it!”  Sif looked to the side, she couldn’t look at the author without wanting to shave the mustache off of her face.  “Your wrong” The author protested, “You see there is a recurring theme that connects the past from present, some say that history repeats itself but the capsule is meant to be a lesson.”  Sif lost her patience she clinked her plate with her glass of zinfandel.  “Sister” Arianne said looking to Sif, “She makes me want to pick up a hammer!” “Your the blacksmith!” The author let the words slip from her lips.  Sif stood up from the table she walked outside holding her cell phone she called Craig Chaise.

 

****

 

Faith continued jogging, Craig turned around he caught up to Faith he jogged along the side of her.  No he wasn’t naive he knew that Faith needed her space, but he also wanted what he wanted.  A steady consistent drizzle of rain sprinkled them as the sky was covered with clouds and steam rose from the asphalt road, “Why?” Craig asked Faith looked to him quickly she didn’t answer at first, “You know why!”  “No I don’t” Craig reached for Faith she dodged his grasp, “We fight for a full year, we split, and then you pressure me into moving to California, we agree to get divorced, and now this” She was only half right because she was stubborn and there were things happening to Craig in Hawaii that he needed distance from.  Cars drove by the joggers splashing them with puddles Faith stopped jogging Craig stopped jogging after she stood still, “Craig” she shouted “Faith” He said as he reached for her, she took a step back and as she did a chipmunk ran under the heel of one of her feet, their was a squish and as she lifted her foot the chipmunk began to crawl away unable to move its lower limbs.  It appeared that the chipmunk was paralyzed from the hips down.  “Oh” Faith flailed her arms, she was fond of animals.  The chipmunk had a little brown spot on its nose and if Faith were a chipmunk than she resembled the chipmunk.  Craig took off his shirt he picked up the chipmunk wrapping it in his shirt.  “What do you want me to do with it?”  Craig asked “I’ll buy a cage, that thing won’t be able to use its hind legs” “Why don’t you just kill it?” Craig asked “NO!” Faith grabbed the chipmunk wrapped in Craigs shirt.  She reached a hand across she pushed Craig back, “I need space” She told him “What about dinner?”  Faith shook her head, “How about you don’t call me, I call you!”  “Employment rejection?” Craig asked before he began to jog home.

 

****

 

Tomas was discontented and he knew what it was, the arrival of the newcomer Hinn Halim.  The maidservants rumor spreading had begun and Tomas has caught wind of what had occurred in the hallway outside of Hinn’s personal quarters with his servant.  

In the morning he had placed a phone call with his newly assembled presidential political team campaign manager, Tomas wanted intel on Hinn Halim.  That evening there was to be a party in the ball room of the mansion.  While in America it had appeared that some very questionable events had occurred at Moonshine Plantation, the first of which was the death of 80 cows and bulls and the second was the altercation and firing of 5 long time farm workers.  Something didn’t sit right with Tomas and he was prepared to fully divest himself into his campaign for the Chilean Presidency.  It was his intention to want to begin the inquiry himself, he knew that for the appearance of control the he would merely make suggestions to his wife and he figured that a natural process would take place.  No one had told Michelle of the happenings he found that odd.  In America Pablo and he took care of the business of the product that was hauled out of the basement of the bull barn.  After that transaction the funds available would be enough to privately fund his campaign for the presidency of Chile.  Focusing on the task that lay before him there was the dinner in the ballroom.  There were many political dignitaries as Tomas had not taken his time to assemble a political team.  Before the meals were served there were drinks and cocktails and the guests were networking with one another.  The ballroom was a very large exquisite room with marble floors and pillars, the ceilings were 20 feet high and the balcony doors were open bringing in sunlight where the chandelier light did not penetrate.  In the ball room there were several intricately etched oak wood tables and chairs with plush carpeting under them.  At one table was reserved to Nidhogg, Vega, his security team, and Hinn Halim.  The other three tables were reserved for Tomas’s political team along with many chilean politicians and several members of Chilean media.  Tomas’s campaign manager held a manilla folder in hand, he whispered into Tomas’s ear “Tengo la informacion due usted solicits en Hinn Halim” (I have the information that you requested on Hinn Halim.)  “Pronto” (Fast) Tomas replied satisfied with his campaign manager’s competency.  “Nuestros recursos son extensos” (“Our resources are extensive”) Tomas stood on the side of his campaign manager “Que es el” (“That is him”) Tomas flicked his head as the pair of men observed Hinn Halim from a distance while discussing the contents of the information that was collected on him.

 

****

 

One of the traits of a leader Hinn Halim believed was with the gathering of information before making a judgement, he was often methodical and pin pointed with his calculation.  As the leader of several business entities he was accustomed to working with teams being the puzzle maker putting the right pieces together in order to make the business work and grow.  In his youth he was Iranian military where he and his brother Djinn Halim spent 12 years as part of a special ops team.  Hinn was a believer in discipline and no one could accuse him of being a kind man, though he was pragmatic.  His spacial vision blurred as he unfocused his vision capturing all of the movement in the room, his breathing slowed as he gave awareness to his spacial senses taking in the sounds and movements.  Through his detection he knew that the owner of Moonshine Plantations husband was watching him.  Hinn observed Tomas grab a manilla folder opening it looking at its contents as a short portly man with a thick mustache spoke with him.  Unfortunatly for Hinn, he did not understand Spanish though his English was impeccable and Arabic was his language of birth.   Both men were looking directly at Hinn as they held a discussion.  In the room Michelle Moonshine looked dazzling as her hair was perfect and her red dress showed her figure and cleavage, Hinn saw an opportunity, he snapped out of his spacial haze.  Michelle was making rounds with the guess conversing both in English and in Spanish.  The day prior when they were introduced there was a chemistry between the two of them that caused Hinn a slight moment of elation.  Now Hinn was not a man without charm nor looks as Michelle Moonshine was near to him they made eye contact, she smiled and it seemed genuine. “Nefertiti herself could not eclipse your home and your beauty” Hinn complimented her.  She looked to the side noticing Tomas watching her, “Your control over my security dogs is quite remarkable” Hinn smiled, “There are few chosen that posses my skills that appear like gifts” Michelle seemed taken back by the handsome Arabian man that stood before her.  Hinn noticed Tomas scowl as he conversed with the owner of Moonshine Plantation.  “There is a very serious thing to discuss with you on a separate occasion after tonight” Hinn said as Tomas walked by his wife wrapping his arm around her waist guiding her away from Hinn, she looked back curious with what he wanted to discuss.

 

****

 

Hack and Handy were building a new barn at Poultry Provisions.  “Yeah it’s hotter than a witches tit” Reg yelled to Handy as his brother Hack hoisted a couple of bundles of shingles up onto the roof where his brother Handy was nailing the shingles in with a roofing gun.  The newly shingled sections of the roof sizzled as the temperatures were near 100 degrees with very little wind, but Handy was ready for the temperature and Hack wasn’t much different though it was supposed to rain.  Handy knew that Reg was at times talkative and at the Reservoir it wasn’t so bad because they could drink.  “Hack” Handy called to his brother as he dropped 2 bundles of shingles, “Go keep Reg company I gotta get this roof done” “Want some water?” “No I don’t want no water, I want to fucking work” Handy continued to work.  Now at first when the construction of the barns had taken place there was a dispute, due to a fist fight between Boney Hoggins and Handy Garza at the Redneck Reserver several years before.  Of course the fight would not have taken place without Reg Folues guiding Handy toward that decision after Boney was being a bully.  Admittedly after all the back and forth arguing and eventually swallowing of pride by Handy Garza, Handy and Hack construction got the business of building the barns for Poultry Provisions.  The continued expansion of Poultry Provisions chicken farm helped the Garza brothers to have a steady flow of income and while they were grateful to the owners of Poultry Provisions Handy wasn’t one for socialization, so he let his brother Hack do the talking.  In rapid procession the rattling of roofing nails fired from the roofing gun as it was fired tacking in the shingles that were lined up.  The air compressor buzzed as it started to fill the tank as it lost air pressure with the roofing guns release.  Handy grabbed the towel that hung from his pocket wrapping it over his head as the heat of the sun brought a haze to him as he worked through it’s unforgiving strength.  Boney Hoggins walked to the side of Reg, Handy kept working, though he got Poutlry Provisions construction business he loathed talking to Boney, “Le Persil is on fire” he yelled up to Handy.  Hack, Boney, and Reg were laughing and talking with each other.  Handy continued to work, “So am I” he readied more shingles to be tacked into place. A rumble of thunder was heard crackling across the horizon, a slight sprinkle of rain began to fall.

 

****

 

As Tomas walked with his wife, he informed her about the occurrences that had taken place at Moonshine Plantation while they were in America.  In one of Tomas’s hands he held a manilla folder he opened it showing the contents to her, “Michelle I need to be focused and ready for the Presidential race and I need you to be by my side.” “That is not the question” “What question?” Tomas asked his wife “The question is why you are peering into the details of someone whom you have just met?  Jealous?”  He scowled then he fakely laughed, “My campaign manager wants me to have no intangibles and with Pablo as my head of security he wants me to be secure.”  As Tomas walked with Michelle he told her of the happenings at her Plantation while they were in America.  Naturally she was angered as Tomas knew that she would be.  “Leave me be” Michelle ordered Tomas, “But” Tomas fakely protested “Respect my request” She said firmly “Until later” Tomas said “Until later” he kissed his wife on the lips satisfied with the knowledge that she would handle the matter of the inquiry of occurrences including Vega and Hinn.

 

****

 

The fires at Le Persil raged as a lack of water supply prevented the trash fire from being contained.  Percival stood in front of the office building at the entrance of Le Persil with several reporters from television stations and journalists from newspapers waiting for a statement.  He wore sunglasses and he held his cane in one of his hands, “Sometime yesterday a fire began at Le Persil.  Many of you are aware of the recent railway work with many sections being replaced.  The old oil tar soaked wooden beams were disposed of here at Le Persil.  It is believed that mixed in the trash piles and wood with some sort of flammable chemical ignited with the heat of the sun.  There have not been any injuries or casualties and the fire is 100% containable to the Le Persil disposal site.  However; due to the lack of water supply at the facility it will take some time to put it out.”  Several members of the media raised their hands they asked questions.  Percival raised a hand, “As you can tell I am not a spring chicken, but in the summer of 1972 a fire similar to this one raged at Le Persil for well over a month.  For all of you that don’t know fires at disposal sites happen!  That is a matter of fact.  But I didn’t” Percival coughed.  “But I will assure you that the fire will be put out and besides a little bit of stink and smoke from passing drivers, no lives in the surrounding area will be affected.  Now as for the reaction from town officials, either we will get fined, our contracts will be looked at, or not.  Le Persil will remain open and so will are services, we will fully cooperate with the local government and authorities.  Furthermore all questions for future reference should be addressed to my son Dick Cauldron.  I thank you Kindly.”  After his statement to the press, Percival walked inside of the business office building.”

 

****

 

Barley Mare completed his transaction after the marriage of the final two women.  Ming Na had copies of the marriage certificates make to verify that the four women from Thailand were officially married.  In addition Ming Na had the women set up online accounts to keep in contact with their Mother and Father.  Their father was a thug like businessman in Thailand, to raise funds and political leverage he indentured his daughters to Ming Na and Barley Mare into prostitution to upscale clients only.  Business in Thailand is different than America, it’s not a free country and the set of moral standards for people like Barely Mare and Ming Na have a far different threshold of acceptability.  On Barely Mare’s first date with Ming Na she pretended to be a male hooker but she was a woman, they attended one of the four women’s father’s events in an empty warehouse where drug addicts played Russian roulette for a wad of heroin and cash. Satisfied that their end of the bargain was fulfilled and that the women had secured jobs at Poultry Provisions Chicken Farm, Ming Na and Barley Mare boarded a plane from America to Thailand.  Barely slept dreaming of how he would miss them chickens.  

 

****

 

Craig wasn’t done talking to Faith after he gave up his shirt so that she could wrap the injured chipmunk that she stepped on in it.  She kept jogging when he caught up with her he asked, “What is Kapu?”  Faith didn’t want to talk with him, she kept jogging.  He jogged on the side of her, “I’ll give you your space if you tell me what Kapu is” “You wouldn’t understand” “Try me” “Kapu is Hawaiian tradition and belief, it’s religious something special that only Hawaiians truly understand” “Like husband and wife having children together?”  “Don’t twist this around to me” “No Faith I am not spinning, I am being straight forward.”  “It’s more than kids it’s Hawaiian culture,  you want to take that from me” “I want us to be happy and living on a vineyard can do that for us”  “I told you what Kapu is now leave me alone and Fuck other women” “Faith that's a really shitty thing to say.  And what about our child?”  “If it's shitty then you knocked up a piece of shit, Now let me tend to my chipmunk and I will get back to you when I'm ready to” Craig stopped jogging but Faith didn’t.

Chapter 19 Dust and Nails

 

The nighttime sky was clear of clouds and the full moon appeared brightly giving a dim lit view in the darkness of the night.  Hinn Halim walked out of the ballroom the balcony was made of marble, the spindles of that supported the marble bannister were spiral in shape and as Hinn walked onto the ballroom balcony inside of Moonshine Mansion he felt like he was part of a work of art.  In Persian lands he was not a consumer of Alcohol and although he was not a muslim he followed the traditions of the prevailing religion.  Pre - Muslim is what he considered himself, very close to Zoroastrianism but not quite.  He paced the balcony, with his beliefs and practices he contained what he called gifts from essense of god itself.  There were also costs and responsibilities that were associated with those gifts many of them were in bottles like the one that captured the wraith.  Hinn received a phone call while on the balcony, he looked over the banners to the ground below, it was one of his private contacts.  “The location of Sif Moonshine has been certified, what are your orders?”  “Make it look like an accident”  There was a short paused in between words, “I will call you when it is complete” Hinn hung up the phone eager to tie up the bag of discontent that was associated with his brother Djinn’s death.  For this evening it was Hinn’s intention of making an appearance and perhaps lure Michelle Moonshine to the dog kennel where he could discuss events with her before traveling into the depths of the plantation with his new familiars.

 

****

 

Craig lagged behind as he watched Faith jog away in the drizzling rain.  While each foot step with her pace his heart ached as she furthered in distance. There were often periods of time when words lost its value or that they were so frequently used with a lack of action that made their application seem weak.  He stopped diluting himself, there was a realization to be made along with decisions that would have a finality to them.  Actions more specifically building actions doing something constructive and new was the thing that made new contacts and re establishing old ones have words that were full of meaning.  Craig's thoughts were breaking down his existence into the most base forms that he could.  His truth was broken down to the value of his own self worth and capability to improve.  He jogged home spending time with his kids and near 2 o’clock in the afternoon he had received a phone call from Sif Moonshine.  She was in Narragansett having a late lunch with her sister and two business associates, she was upset, full of angsts and frustration.  Though when she spoke with Craig she was vivacious and catlike wanting him to drive to Narragansett and spend the afternoon with her.  During their conversation there was no mention of Arianne.  Against his clouded mindset and judgment as Debbie-Sue took the kids with her to a friends childs birthday party he drove to coastal Rhode Island to accompany Sif Moonshine.  

 

****

 

Faintheartedness was for the timid and if there was one thing, Freyja was not timid.  At times she would admit that could be tepid, she considered that to be a failing the accompanies age.  She lounged outside.  Freyja thought that things were progressing nicely during her summer visit in America.  Enjoying the first day off from continual business meeting she lounged outside letting the drizzling rain soothe her before the sun made her pale skin sizzle.  While it had been nearly 30 years since the last time that she had conducted business in the United States she was incredibly satisfied with the surprise business venture with Charles Bassett.  Her beach summer house was in Jamestown, Rhode Island while she was private! Circles of socialites that liked to gather and clammer along with gossip and potentially profit from had begun to spread word of Freyja's prominence and new business venture, there were several guests that showed up unannounced.  Freyja had labeled them bees from the Wasps nest.  One of them that briefly visited and Freyja had her housemaid accompanied by a security guard greet them while she sat in a lawn chair with her daughter Jennifer and her granddaughter Gerda having a tea party at a children’s table with an umbrella covering them from the sunlight.  High tide was making waves as they crashed against the rocks.  A passing storm gave a slight reprieve to the weeklong heat wave that made sunbathing near impossible.  Freyja looked over to the two children, one blonde one brunette, they got along like sisters as they both had the same father.  Just five years before this time the children’s father and Freyja had a kind of relationship that seemed like it was meant to last a lifetime.  Events changed the dynamics of their relationship and them as people.  When she thought of Djinn Halim her former consort and head of security she felt pain.  Freyja was a controlled woman and she had given a measure of control and power to Djinn, that left her open toward being deceived and controlled herself to the will of Djinn whom had orchestrated the theft of her daughter Arianne’s art collection.  It was a parallel time that in retrospect appeared like a fantasy. Compared to the present almost self admittedly she had a temporary bout of insanity.  A look over to her daughter Jennifer softened her posture, the angel of her daughters presence dimmed the crow of her past demons.  Freyja reached over picking up a glass of Ice Tea, she took a sip.

 

****

 

Donna Lang knocked on Jed Foles front door the day after the Mayoral debate.  Jed was working on his account profiles ready for his first week as VP of Sales and Logistics.  He answered the front door to see Donna Lang holding two Dunkin coffee’s, he invited her inside.  “I’m surprised to see you here Mrs. Lang, C’mon follow me to my office” Jed lead the way to his home office where his account profiles were lined up like cards spread out near bins that were individualized for each account manager.  “I wanted to thank you for all that you have done for my campaign.”  Donna Lang held out one of the coffee’s, “I bought you a coffee, I hope that you like regular.”  Jed took the coffee from her, “Thanks, I could use a pick me up, paperwork can be tedious.  Last week was sales meetings this week is Logistics” Donna Lang put her coffee on his desk, “What’s the plan?”  Jed clicked the mouse on his computer waking it from it’s sleep, “Well Dionysus Refined is a lot like a well oiled machine that doesn’t have a lot of mileage on it.”  He brought out the overview of Dionysus Refined total sales, current map of business areas, online sales, retail sales, distributors, material suppliers, bottles, wax, labels, wicks, chocolates, every component that Dionysus Refined buys in order to manufacture it’s products, then there were the territory managers and their accounts.  Donna Lang took a quick glance, “But what’s your plan?”  Jed picked up his coffee he took off the lid then he sipped, “Good coffee just enough sugar and cream.”  He put down his coffee, “We had a sales meeting this week, I oriented all of the sales reps, we roll played selling candles and wine to customers.  I observed the reps, the ones that I like and don’t like, my job is to grow the business.  Dionysus Refined is not fully national and certainly not global.  I’m going to spend the coming week with Craig and Debbie-Sue we will be doing video calls to suppliers, and our shipping companies that Dionysus Refined does business with introducing myself as the new contact.  I’m not production but I want to know the staff at both New England and Hawaii locations.  Craig has given me the freedom of both travel and make executive decisions, I’ll be going to Hawaii after this week and from there I will be working with the Territory Managers while making sales calls to potential new customers.  The sales reps have territories, I will be shadowing with them going on sales calls the bins that are scattered about.” Jed pointed to each bin with account profiles, “Each bin is dedicated to each sales rep with all of their accounts. I have print outs of every candle and wine business in each bin as prospective new accounts.  It’s my feeling that Dionysus Refined should be in every one of those businesses.  Realistically I’m looking for Dionysus Refined to expand business into the midwest, south west, and south east” Jed took a break from his presentation, to a large extend it was almost word for word what Craig Chaise had presented to him just a week before.  “So you have a full plate” Donna said, “The beginnings of it.” Jed opined, He then flipped the conversation on to Donna Lang, “The election is less than two weeks away why aren’t you out on the campaign trail?”  Donna picked up a coffee she took a sip and sat in Jed’s office desk chair, “Most of the voters minds are made up, I still have several more events planned.”  “Where’s your husband?”  “Where are your kids?” “At a football game” Jed told her Donna held out her left hand limping her wrist, “What a coincidence so’s my husband” Jed collected his account profiles.  Jed collected the accounts and potential customer profiles, he stacked them like cards before he put them in the individual bins.   He had a secretary type out the store title, location, phone number, and contact person if it was available those were the prospects.  “Have you ever prospected for a sale?” Jed asked Donna.  “No, I am not a salesman” “Your a politician” “It’s not the same thing, politicians have power! Is it sales? Yes, but we don’t play the role of sales with our own money.”  Jed picked up his coffee he took the lid off of the top he sipped his coffee, “Am I playing with my own money?"  Jed reached over he touched Donna Lang's shoulder he smiled so did she,"It was a rhetorical question.  I’m a warehouse manager, I know logistics I’ve done that for years, I’m comfortable with managing workers and though I’m comfortable with my knowledge and potential with Dionysus Refined and our products I’ve never sold to customers” “VP of sales and Logistics is a big title!  You will be managing sales reps they will sell, all you have to do is observe and be there for guidance.”  “I’ll be selling to larger accounts” Jed put his coffee on the desk he left the lid off, “Selling to larger accounts is a different sale that’s where relationships are formed, Isn’t Craig Chaise going to help you with the larger accounts?”  “So your suggesting to rely on the team?”  “That’s by in large what I do” Jed continued to organized the contents of the bins, “I know that with sales its more direct than government business, I don’t like committees they stifle the sales process and progress and often block the sale” Donna Lang moved the mouse on Jed's computer she scanned through the business overview and territories, “When I am elected mayor I will be conferring with department heads, union officials, businessmen, and fellow politicians.”  Looking over to Donna Lang she wore Jeans and peach button up blouse, she long black hair covered her shoulders he had a glimpse of a realization he breathed in deeply with his estimation, “Mayors are executive level.  You’ll find yourself with the onus of making decisions for yourself or you will appear to the voters as weak.”  Donna Lang put her coffee down she stood up, “I’ll advise you to build a team of sales reps that take ownership of the accounts within their territories.  Build a team that you can rely upon and grow together.  There’s a difference between public and private business.  Once you open the door a crack you cannot close it.  That applied to government, does it apply to private?”  Jed did not answer Donna's question, he realized that he started a competition between the two that could lead to an argument because both people present in Jed’s office had an ego to protect.  “There’s also the difference between publicly traded, franchised, and family owned business.  For the sake of my children’s future if your elected don’t sell out my town to publicly traded businesses because of the profitability that is involved and don’t bloat government to a size that the only business that will invest in the town is publicly traded.”  “I still have yet to win the election” “I know but I’m reasoning with you before the power of municipal executive office makes you a different person than the one that I am conferring with today.”  “Likewise” To avoid an uncomfortable silence Jed organized the account files clamping the lids on each bin and then stacking them.  Donna wasn’t so quiet, “Don’t avoid me!” Jed stopped what he was doing.  He looked to Donna Lang, “What do you want? Your running for political office, I helped you out with your campaign, I let you put a sign in my front yard.  Is there anything else that I can help you with?  I got work to do!”  Donna Lang normally wasn’t a very expressive woman, “I’m not your goddamned customer” she hooked his arm, Jed sighed, “Your a married woman and it hasn’t been a year since Claire died.” After a period of silence there was a contemplation Donna Lang didn’t beat around the bush, “My marriage isn’t perfect, my husband has a girlfriend” Jed lifted his hands, “Work has a way of consuming woes” “If I’m elected! So there’s nothing there?”  Jed shook his head, “I don’t know what you want?” “Interested in ordering Chinese?” Donna asked “No, what about Ribs and Cornbread?” “Actually Yes” Jed stopped organizing the bins and then they went to lunch together.

 

****

 

Along the drive to Narragansett the sky cleared but the sun’s heat began to make the daytime weather stick.  Rays of sunshine gleamed off of the hood of Craig’s truck.  As he pulled into the parking lot of The Narragansett Towers, Sif Moonshine was waiting for him.  He got out of the truck as he walked to greet Sif, Arianne walked out of the restaurant with the artist and author.  Craig should have expected encountering Arianne but he did not.  With her hands on her hips, Arianne looked to her sister angrily both because of Craig Chaise and because of the way that she behaved to during the business lunch.  She walked up to Craig she was not happy she extended a hand she shoved Craig in the shoulder,“Fucking my sister?”  Craig shook his head no, “You know that Faith is in the area” Sif walked away so that she didn’t listen to an argument that was making her want to fight.  “Why are you in Narragansett?”  Craig kicked the ground as Arianne dug in both of her fists into her hips, “How about lunch tomorrow?”  “That’s not what I’m talking about” she paced in front of Craig, “That’s not what I’m talking about” she repeated then kicked back at him.  “Faith’s pregnant, I don’t want her to have an abortion she doesn’t know if she wants one and I don’t want to get a divorce.  She told me that she doesn’t want to see me that she’ll call me and then your sister called angrily and here I am.” Craig kicked the ground in front of Arianne he didn’t like her taunt.  “It’ll teach you a lesson being the thing thats tossed aside until she feels like it.” There was a slight hesitation with the words that slipped from Arrianne’s lips she followed it up with, “Doesn’t feel good to be tossed aside like a piece of trash does it?”  Arianne asked “I didn’t trash you” Craig said his arms were folded “No you avoided me when life got a little complicated and my sister was part of that.” “Now I have a VP of Sales and Logistics, that eases a large amount of my burdens.”  Arianne took her fists off of her hips, “I’ll dont want to forgive you because we were having our time." Arianne flailed her arms out wide she pointed at her chest then she calmed, "We aren’t married and I’m not pregnant but we do have a daughter together.  Pick me up tomorrow at noon my house, and you better treat me goddamned nice”  “I’ll do that” Craig looked to the artist and the author, “Pick them up on the street?” Arianne smiled, “They picked me up!” Craig walked to his truck while Sif waited in the passenger seat.  Not far behind a man in a black Cadillac suv gripped his handgun as he followed the target as the truck drove off.

 

****

 

Faith got back to her hotel room with her chipmunk wrapped in the shirt that Craig was wearing.  She didn’t know that the chipmunk or anything was behind her as she took a step back she felt awful for what she had inadvertently done.  It remained in a ball almost fetal like in shock from it’s injury.  A cage was needed and so was food and a waterbottle, she placed the chipmunk in between the pillows on her bed then she left the hotel in search of a pet store where she could buy a cage.  By the time that she reached a pet store it stopped raining, she bought a cage, food and water bottle.  At her hotel room she readied the cage, the chipmunk was still sleeping in the shirt, Faith picked up the chipmunk and inspected the chipmunk.  It was a female and her lower limbs were swollen with balls of fluid collecting around her hips.  She carefully picked up her and placed her inside of the cage wrapped in the shirt.  Time would tell if she would survive eat and drink food.  For Faith the chipmunk held a parallel, she checked her cell phone noticing that she had missed a phone call.  Her father left a message sending photographs showing the pumpkins that had started to grow in the garden that she rototilled.  She noticed a piece of paper on the table she picked it up, Craig wrote her a quote, “Beauty is a short-lived tyranny” Socrates.  She crumbled up the paper.  Faith had an angst she had conflictions Craig wasn’t without solutions so while thinking to do she drove to his house.  At times Faith would have bouts of anger and when it was uncontrollable she'd destroy things.  A strength that Craig shared with her was to harness that destructive energy in a constructive way.  When she got to Craig's apartment, he was gone and so was Debbie-Sue and no kids were around.  She used her key to his apartment, she knew her way around as she opened up his closet, it there just as she remembered a 450 Husqvarna chain saw.  There were protective goggles and leather gloves near. The first thing that she did was sharpen the chain saw blade with an Oregon blade sharpener, it was simple to do and she lined up the rolling stone flat against each tooth of the blade and ground off the burrs sharpening the blade in the process.  After she was done she carried out the chain oil and mixed fuel along with the chain saw.  Craigs New England home had several trees in the three acre property.  She knew that fireplace was used during the winter and that the wood would be used for heat.  There was a dead tree not that far in it had a green dot on it marking it to be cut down.  ‘Good’ she thought to herself.  She primed the Husqvarna and after pulling out the choke she clicked the chain brake forward, she held the starter handle and pulled a few times then pushed in the choke then she grabbed the starter handle and pulled the string starting up the chain saw, it purred as it warmed up.  Clicking back the chain brake the chain began to spin she grabbed the handle and she grasped the throttle the chain spun rapidly she had never cut down a tree before, she began diagonally.

 

As the chainsaw chipped away at the tree it cut rapidly with a freshly sharpened blade, what she forgot that Craig had taught her was that he always took a wedge out of the side of the tree where the tree was estimated to fall.  She didn’t do that and as the tree began to fall it didn’t fall cleanly instead the tree cut halfway and then hovered above the ground swaying.  This angered Faith because she wanted to do something and do it cleanly.  She walked away from the tree for a moment then she revved the chainsaw she cut off the branches and then cut the dangling tree in half and as the half fell to the ground she rested the chain saw while it ran on top of the downed tree.  She took a short video but she also felt a grumble in her stomach, she rushed to the bathroom.

 

****

 

Battling with Arianne he felt defeated, words lost their meaning, he was spread too thin, it was too much, he was prisoner or slave. Or so that is what Craig was starting to believe even with himself.  He didn’t like the feeling that was being controlled like a toy or a subject in a lab experiment because above all he was person and in the least he was an American and America was built upon a constitution that protected it’s citizens from that kind of domination.  At least he was able to work and make money because the lack of that opportunity would give creedance to the reality of oppression.  Maybe he shouldn’t have felt that way but he was angry and felt defeated because of Faith.  Looking to the side of him was Sif who not Faith and her power of seduction was strong.  Sif beckoned him because she had a want and then Arianne also had a want but she held more power over him for many reasons.  It was these kind of people that lead his success as well his limitations, he was reduced to a matter of will because what he wanted was Faith.  Sif’s cell phone rang, a picture of Freyja popped up on the screen.  He reached for his pack of cigarette’s, Sif hated cigarettes, “That’s beneath you” Sif told him, she reached for the cigarettes and tossed them out of the truck window.  Craig felt the squeeze as Sif answered the phone.  

 

****

 

A soft cloud of funk and haze hovered about Le Persil as the workers wore body suits and filtered face masks.  But the workers persisted with trying to mitigate the spreading of the trash fire.  As crinkled wrappers and empty milk jugs were met by the heat of the flames, the melted plastic wrinkled and bubbled sticking to the plows as the caterpillar backhoe plows separated the piles into many smaller piles but besides making the government officials on site happy with complying with their demands it didn’t stop the fire from spreading.  

 

The brief interval of rain that fell gave no reprieve to the smoldering smoke billows and and at times poofs of flames that raged at Le Persil.  The evening reporter posted a story on the front page of the paper and the local television stations ran the coverage of the fire along with the press conference given by Percival Cauldron.  At Le Persil, Dick Cauldron left fire management up to Jim Buck who was accompanied by a group of state and federal officials.  Managing the workers was nearing impossible as the government officials demands were way beyond Jim Buck’s level of acceptability.  Of course Jim Buck knew from the fire of 1972 that the fire would burn for months, his realistic expectation was to make the governmental talking heads happy while localizing the fire to only Le Persil.  Dick Cauldron had met with several town officials including the outgoing mayor.  He had met with both the fire and police chiefs along with the state and federal officials that Jim Buck was working with.  Truth be told Percival didn’t care about the ramifications he felt cheated as he was bitter that he was not able to vindicate the wrongs that were committed those many decades before that time.  After working 20 hours straight Jim Buck showed up at Percival’s house.  Percival was sitting in his back yard at his picnic table reading The Evening Reporter, “How goes the battle Buck?”  “It goes, I reckon that it will burn for  several months” Percival nodded, “Good!  It’ll dwindle down inventory”

 

Chapter 20  A Face In The Tree

 

Sawdust and wood chips covered Faith’s pants as she cut.  The stickiness from her sweat caused by the hard work made her hair that was tied in a pony tail cling to her neck.  She was greatful that Craig wasn't around because she he would cling too, she flicked her hair away swaying her head in the process.  The chainsaw revved.  No the Husqvarna 450 was not light as Faith barely weighed more than 120lbs, but she held her own cutting up the tree into splittable logs.  What she didn’t do was pick up the logs after she cut them.  Brushing off the sawdust and wood chips off of her jeans she couldn’t seem to sweep the grit of the sawdust off because she sweat and the sweat had permeated around her buttocks and waist.  After the dangling tree was cut she decided to cut down another tree that was beside it.  When she walked the crinkle of dry leaves and small sticks breaking was clear as she pulled the choke on the Husqvarna.  There was another tree beside the tree that she had cut down, it was full of leaves along with a spray paint marking for it to be cut down.  Waking to the shed that housed the gardening tools she walked in scanning the tools that were housed there, she picked out a rake and when she walked back to the area when the tree was she raked the leaves into a pile.  Listening to the crinkle of leaves gave her the same irritation as listening to a person chewing food with their mouth open.  The silence of her footsteps eased her mind.  When the chainsaw was off the buzzing of insects sounded like the buzz of a high tension powerline. Now that her muscles were rested she put her foot in the handle of the chainsaw while it was on the ground, she checked the chain brake, it was clicked forward.  The chainsaw was still warm but the blade was not hot from use, she pulled the starter handle the saw started with the first pull.  It idled cleanly without ping, she picked it up clicking back the chain brake.  The consistent hum of the chainsaw was mesmerizing and the task of cutting down the tree released endorphins and strained her muscles, it made her feel masculine.  She looked at the oak tree that she was ready to cut down, this time when she cut she took a wedge out of the side where the tree was intended to fall.  The Husqvarna 450 cut through the tree with the teeth of the rotating blade spitting out dust and chips as it touched bark and then pulp.  Within a couple of minutes the teeth of the blade had cut through the fairy thick tree, it had begun to creak, Faith took a step back on reflex she looked behind her, while it was a freak accident she knew her luck and she did not want to step on another animal.  There was nothing there.  The chainsaw purred while Faith waited a moment.  She didn’t know if the tree would fall and she feared cutting more.  The tree moved slightly and then nothing.  Another minute passed she revved the chainsaw clicked back the chain brake then she cut some more.A moment later the tree fell.  When it fell, it fell quickly and cleanly with a loud thud that shook the ground below and around her.  Faith cheered herself putting down the chainsaw clapping her hands because she cut the tree down professionally.  She pulled her phone out of her pocket taking photographs of her work.  She remembered the process, cut off the branches, and cut the tree into logs.  The one thing that she forgot about was not to touch the blade on the ground as she cut, as she cut through the tree making a log she hit a small boulder with the blade.  Being a novice with tree cutting she knew that she hit a rock but she didn’t know that she had dulled the blade.  With further cutting the saw made little to no progress causing the wood to smoke and char as he she continued cutting.  Faith shut off the chainsaw she poured water from the water bottle that she rested of the tree stump from the previous tree to test it, as the water touched the chainsaw blade it hissed as steam rose.  She carried the chainsaw to her car, plugged in the Oregon chainsaw blade sharpener and sharpened the blade.  Faith felt rugged and alive the grit of the work was what she needed, she had forgotten her woes temporarily.  There was still work to do, she breathed in deeply letting out a hearty exhale she pulled the starter of the chainsaw waking to the downed tree as the engine to the saw hummed and then she cut.

 

The time was lost to her because she was focused on work and she finished cutting the tree into logs,  there was a visual accomplishment.  She gathered the branches putting them into a pile somewhat away from the cut up logs.  The Husqvarna lay on top of one of the tree stumps Faith walked away from the trees.  Faith never walked through the property and the weather was tolerable, she decided to walk around the property.  Further inward into the three acre parcel of wooded property from where she was the cut down trees were,was a still water pond ferns covered the landscape along with Oak, Maple, Birch, and Pine trees that circled around the basin that filled with rain.  A splashing was heard and Faith thought that it might be ducks in the water because ducks were often seen at the town Reservoir that was only a few miles away from the property.  With careful foot placement Faith tip toed toward the pond careful not to step on sticks or dry leaves though if anything would scare wild animals away it would have been the chainsaw and the cutting and falling of the trees.  At first she thought that it was dog swimming or a beaver the animal  swam with fluidity diving down backflipping picking up dirt from the floor of the pond tossing the dirt up then it showed its face with a wide grin.  The head appeared to look like a seal it had a long tail and short legs and feet, it was an Otter!  Hawaii didn’t have river otters she pulled out her phone she recorded a video of the otter swimming and tossing in the water.  A dog barked in the distance startling the otter.  Why was a neighbor's dog in their yard?Faith stepped the to side, the otter saw her and then the otter ran to the opposite side of the pond away from the property.  Waiting a moment the otter did not come back, she walked to the chainsaw picked it up cleaned it off, as she began to bring it back something caught her eye, if felt like a jolt of electricity that grabbed her.  When it grabbed her it startling, there was a slight head squeeze like a vice squeezing her skull she looked to the side with a sudden head jerk placing both of her hands on the side of her head, she noticed something a pine tree with a face on it.  The face was familiar it looked like Barley Mare.  That was very peculiar there was an impulse and the impulse had her starting back up the chain saw, she cut down the tree cutting it into logs separating the Barley Mare head from the others, squaring it out with margins above and below the face in the pine tree.  As she picked up the pine log she had gloves on thankfully because she had gotten sap on her hands.  In the dry head pine sap beaded on the margins of the face log forming like teardrops.  She cleaned off the chainsaw bringing it back to Craig’s closet.  She made another trip to bring the log inside Faith brought out a broom and paper bag collecting a good amount of sawdust, she picked up the face in the log carrying it inside with the bag of shavings.  She placed the log on its side then she opened up the paperbag.  It was unsettling with the unexplained shock and vice as she identified the face the tree and now she felt relief, she opened up the bag with a knife as the bag lay in the middle of the kitchen table, sawdust was spread around the table, inside of the tool drawer was a hammer and nails, she grabbed the hammer and a nail.  In the face of the log there was a hole where a mouth would be, it really was odd for that kind of identifiable specificity to grow in nature.  She took a nail placing it where the mouth was then she began to hammer, at first the nail made penetration then it began to bend.  She stopped hammering inside of the face of the log was a bent nail in the face’s mouth.  Faith exhaled she felt relief, she picked it up and placed it in the middle on top of the table.  Before she left his house she wrote on a piece of paper, “Time crumbles things” Aristotle.  Faith placed the quote in front of the face in the log.

 

****

 

Craig drove with Sif she was unusually quiet he looked to her pouting, “What? Does the cat got your tongue?”  He asked her.  Sif placed her hands scrunched on both of her cheeks, “Meow” Sif clawed forward like she was a cat.  Then Sif sat silently without talking, “Who drank your milk?”  Sif licked the top of her knuckles then she rubbed her hands over her eyes she batted her eyes to Craig.  He looked to her, “I was just with Faith she’s pregnant and she doesn’t know if she wants to keep the baby.”  Sif peered over to Craig coldly, “Things” she opened the truck window pretending to toss something out of the window, then she pressed the button for the window to go back up.  “I’d rather have an abortion than have lunch with a bitch of an author and a scrub of an artist all while my sister treats me like a dog that shits on the carpet.”  Craig nodded looking to Sif he smiled, “Thats about right!” “I know what you are going to say” Sif said starting to break from her obstinate mood, “And what is that?”  Craig asked “That I am an elitist, that what happens to me even on a small scale pales in comparison to everything else that happens to other people, even people that I value like yourself.”  Sif was quiet for a moment she looked to Craig expecting him to say something wise he didn’t talk.  Craig placed a hand over hers, “I didn’t say anything” Sif was miserable and she wasn’t complacent, “Whatever denial!”  Sif stared out of the window.  “Nine lives cats eyes” Sif said quickly Craig looked oddly to at her comment.  They drove for several moments without conversation, “Where are we going?” Craig asked breaking the silence, “Your right!” Sif blurted “Do you think that I’m better looking than her?”  Sif asked Craig shook his head quickly, “Faith?” He asked “NO! Vega!” “Don’t be ridiculous!  And why do you care?” “I’ve been through divorce, it’s painful but it’s not an end.  Just the end between two people that had an unperfect relationship.”  “Then why do you care if your better looking than her?” Sif looked to Craig with contemptuously, “You don’t know how to compliment a bitter woman!”  “Sif your a very beautiful woman!”  “I know!”  He laughed then he relaxed, Sif was being a hard woman and he wanted her to soften he asked her a question, “What was it like for you when you first got divorced?”  Sif breathed in slowly she thought about her past, “At first I felt inertia because we were close” “I remember” “I was angry and I wanted to lash out” “But you didn’t” Sif nodded, “That is not my nature, but there was inertia and on the short term there was the hurt and bad self reflections, and for someone like myself the running away and keeping busy with business and keeping that hurt hidden letting men use me that I would never give a wink to, not eating because I lost my self worth.  So yes Craig I am an elitist, but I am not without reason.  Divorce is and end with two imperfect people, but I won’t change my past because it happened and I wouldn't be the person that I am today without my experiences.”  “What about your future?” Craig asked Sif took a moment to think, “Lets go to Twin River Casino, I want to gamble!” Craig took the next exit to 95 North.  They were soon followed by the man in the black Cadillac SUV.

 

****

 

Nidhogg watched the guests in the ballroom noticing Hinn pacing the balcony and then his sister Michelle accompanying him.  If there was reserved judgment with Nidhogg it was because of Hinn's mastery over the security dogs and then the incident with the mist in the bottle.  Tomas had a crowd of political staffers and Pablo his head of security around him as they listen to him bloviate like adoring students in a classroom.  Nidhogg felt nauseated with the political display, “Why aren’t you drinking your glass of wine?”  Vega asked noticing her husbands discontent, “I expect Chile to produce politicians like him!” Nidhogg pointed while holding his glass of wine, “But the Moonshines deserve a greater level of leadership”. Veg tapped one of her feet on the marble floor, “Give Tomas the opportunity to surprise you with potential, after all he was the captain of the Chilean olympic football team and he helped Michelle build a small empire.” “With drug and gun money” Nidhogg scoffed. He took a sip from his glass of wine, “Tomas knows how to kick a ball, but does he know how to pick up his socks?” Vega nudged Nidhogg drawing his attention from brooding over the burgeoning political candidate and husband of his sister to Vega’s nephew Hinn accompanying Michelle on the balcony.  Hinn softly grabbed Michelle’s hand kissing the top of it then he reached behind her ear, he pulled out a red rose handing it to her, she smiled.  “Opportunity seems to be given” Nidhogg raised an eyebrow while he and Vega observed from afar.

 

****

 

Keith Thornhill closed down his tire shop the night of the incident with Percival Cauldron and Jim Buck, placing a “On Vacation” sign in the window.  For the first couple of days he hurt internally both broken of will and physically.  Up and down his sternum and his rib cage hurt when he breathed deeply large amounts of phlegm built up in his throat, he kept a cup nearby to spit it out.  He kept his breaths shallow.  When Percival and Jim Buck threw him in the bucket of the backhoe his head cracked against the bucket, he had a hematoma and his stomach and back was wrought with skin piercing welts from being whipped, but he was grateful for Rebecca Cauldron because she saved his life.  He was laying on his couch watching television, there was a knock on his front door.  Keith didn’t want company there was a second knock Keith ignored the knock.  The television was shut off as Keith lied low hoping that the visitor would leave, a moment later a third knock was followed by, “Dad!  I know that your home, open up the door” It was Stewart Blythe, begrudgingly and slowly Keith put on a hat and he unlocked and opened the front door to his house.  Stewart Blythe looked to his father as he stormed into his house, “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for a full damned week.  Why haven’t you been answering your phone?”  Keith tucked his right arm behind his head like he was stretching.  “Is there something wrong?”  Stewart asked “I got a cramp in my arm.  I’m on vacation, you can’t just come over and expect me to answer.”  Keith walked to the dining room there was an Evening Reporter there the edition after the Mayoral Debate he lifted it up, “I helped you with Poultry Provision and I gave you free tires, now leave me the fuck alone.”  “Le Persil is on fire” Stewart told his father, Keith Thornhill had a visceral reaction, Stewart noticed the reaction as fear!  “Is there something wrong?”  Keith walked away from his son, “No there aint! NOW GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!” He yelled “We’ll talk after the election is done” Keith lowered his voice, he felt bad yelling at his son faking anger to hide what had happened.  “What if I don’t win?” Stewart asked “Then it’ll serve you right for thinking that a Blythe can just have power handed to him.” When Keith Thornhill turned around Stewart noticed large welts up his father’s neck from above his shirt collar, he reached forward pulling up his father’s untucked shirt getting a good look at the large welts and scab covered back and stomach.  Keith turned around quickly he grabbed his son’s arm.  “Get out of my house” Keith picked up a baseball bat that rested against his couch he raised it, “I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE” Stewart Blythe was not dumb nor was he naive, “What do you know about the fire at Le Persil?”  As Keith Thornhill reared back to swing the bat Stewart grabbed the bat with both hands he twisted quickly pulling the bat from his father’s grasp.  “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING?” Stewart yelled Keith Thornhill broke down, he was a defeated man!  He began to sob, “You don’t understand” Stewart put the bat down as he watched his father weep.  Keith shook uncontrollably Stewart that that he might have a stroke or a heart attack or seizures if he continued to have a fit.  “Come Clean! What have you gotten yourself into?”  Keith Thornhill wiped his nose, “Nothing!”  He wrapped his arms around his stomach he rocked back and forth, “I haven’t gotten myself into nothing.”  Stewart stood in front of his father, “That’s a lie!  Now fess up!  Did you start that fire at Le Persil?”  Stewart stood while his father sat on the couch, he shook his head no, “I don’t know how the fire started”  “But you were there?”  “Earlier in the night” “What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into?”  “Nothing now!  It is done” Stewart Blythe paced across the room, the mayoral race was close enough and this new thing that he didn’t have knowledge of caused him anger and anxiety, “What is done?”  Steward asked his father sternly standing still as he asked waiting for his father to answer him.  At first he didn’t answer Keith was red in the face, he didn’t want to relive what happened the night of the Mayoral Debate.  Keith took his time he didn’t talk for more than a minute, “It was a long time ago, before you were born.”  “What was a long time ago?” Stewart asked like he was talking to a child.  “I was a different person, I was bad a very bad man!” Keith cried “You know that I worked for Le Persil but you don’t know why I got fired or what I did afterwards.” “Percival Cauldron” Stewart said plainly “What did you do?”  “NOTHING! Your grandfather made an agreement with Le Persil that Percival Cauldron signed more than 40 years ago and Percival wanted to end that contract.”  “I’m running for mayor what kind of bomb did you set for me?”  Keith Thornhill took his time he walked to the fridge opened up the door pulling out a bottle of vodka he opened it taking a swig without mixing, “A long time ago I got fired from Le Persil for hitting your grandfathers Model T Ford and I kept driving, it was dumb I agree.”  “You mean my Model T?”  “Yeah it got restored.  So I went to Jim Buck to plead to get by job back but he said that Percival would not take me back, so I went to the Le Persil business office with a gun.  I was gonna rob Percy’s safe and leave town but when I got there this old guy Kip was there.  Apparently he worked for Percival’s father for decades”  “So what happened?”  Keith took another swig, “We fought over the combination to the safe and I accidentally shot and killed him.”  Stewart Blythe’s demeanor changed.  “Thats not the full story” Keith told his son, Stewart didn’t talk.  “I started the fire of 1972 I buried Kip’s body in a pile of old tires and I dowsed him with gasoline and I lit it.  It was during a heat wave just like this one.  When I tried to get away Percival and Jim Buck were there and we had a shoot out.  I shot Percival three times in the stomach and Jim Buck once in the shoulder and then I got away.  Years later I came back to town and I met your mother.  We got married and your grandfather struck an agreement with Percival and it was good up until now.”  “So what happened the night that the fire began?”  “All you need to know is that Rebecca Cauldron save my life and I get to live the rest of my days in peace all I have to do is stay away from Le Persil and Percival Cauldron.”  “But Le Persil is burning!”  “I didn’t do it and I wasn’t there, also I’m not supposed to talk to you or you could be in danger.”  Stewart Blythe slowed down he thought for a moment.  “The Blythe tradition has meaning and a legacy to uphold” “What’s 2 years of not being in office?  Donna Lang with make a bureaucratic mess, she doesn’t know how to handle small business and that is what this town is.  Worse case scenario you lose and win in 2 years.”  That answer didn’t suit Stewart Blythe, “You made a mess and I'm not cleaning it” Stewart didn’t want to talk any further to his father and Keith didn’t want his son at his house in the first place.  Candidate for mayor Blythe left his father’s house troubled with the information that was presented to him.

 

****

 

Pascal Said was a contracted hand that had worked with Hinn Halim for many years.  They established connections when they both served in the Iranian military.  With Hinn’s business ventures there was opportunity for close friends like Pascal because they could be trusted and for close business ties with Hinn, trust was essential.  He followed the Ford F150 that was driven by a muscular man with slicked back black hair and the target that was identified as Sif Moonshine.  With the knowledge that it was Sif Moonshine whom had killed Djinn revenge was both an order and a personal indebtedness to Djinn Halim whom he was well acquainted with.  The Ford F150 pulled into a parking lot that was indentified as Twin River Casino.  Pascal was a patient man, he knew that night time would be better for him to act, he waited patiently in his black Cadillac.  

 

Chapter 21 Parkinglot

 

In the world of business lulls and period of lack lusterless is fought against by advertising and hard work however; this year Charles Bassett had a different perspective.  With his savings mostly invested in his new business venture and the list of things owned limited with the sale of his portion of Poultry Provisions and ownership of Charleys Chicken Family Restaurants held in a LLC he had room to breath.  For Charles the weather was too hot and humid, he spent most of his time at Open Field golf club.  Very seldom did he actually play golf it was the environment that he felt comfort in.  The snag that caught his rear view mirror in the lights was that he had a house and garage that was packed with ‘stuff’.  For several years he promised to have his house and garage cleaned out.  Now that the time was presented to him before he became entrenched in his new business venture with the promise that it would not slow down he decided to hire cleaners to clean, sort, and move, and discard all of his ‘stuff’.  The clean up team worked in coordination with one another.  There were many things that Charles wanted discarded many of the things were worth money and while Charles could have donated and gotten tax write off the point of giving rubbed him the wrong way.  He called up Le Persil disposal he talked to the secretary “Heaven”, her name had Charles testy because he held contempt for hippyisms.  He ordered a 30 yard dumpster it was promised to be delivered that afternoon.  While the dropping off of the dumpster was part of a transaction the meeting of Jim Buck and Charles Bassett was like two bull bucks ready to lock horns.  Less then two hours after the call to rent a dumpster Jim Buck arrived with the 30 yard dumpster. The words to their conversation were shadows to the body movement and posture with a wave of something extra.  Both were men and while Jim Buck was a worker of a different class than Charles Bassett they were of similar persuasion. The dry tension seemed to be part of the weather that predominated the day. After Jim Buck got the signature he drove away Charles set up a lawn chair where he watched the workers collecting all of the items that he wanted discarded.  The weather was nearing ninety and the wind neared non existence Charles had a large umbrella shielding himself from sunlight.  One of his neighbors was working a leafblower walking along the border between Charles Bassetts property and his.  Charles popped an ice cube into his mouth when a familiar vehicle parked in his drive way.  A thin woman with short cropped black hair exited her vehicle she wore sunglasses she took a moment to observe the scenery of the workers cleaning out Charles’s house and garage.  

 

Not too far away Arianne parked her car on the side of Charles Bassetts vehicle.  She took her time getting out of her Jaguar as she stood she brushed herself off tugging on the outer seems of her summer skirt.  She picked up the flowers that lay on the passenger seat noticing the work crew carrying out Charles’s belonging as he sat on the lawn under an umbrella sipping on a drink through a straw.  Arianne was not in a pleasant mood after her lunch in Narragansett, Rhode Island.  The drive home was tiring for her and when she arrived home she received flowers with a note from Charles.  Throughout the negotiations between Freyja and Charles with the locations of the soon to be Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants, when Sif and Arianne attended those meetings the angry tension between the both of them often resulted in arguments or bitter exchanges between Charles and Arianne because neither of them held reserve when it came to blows.  Arianne walked briskly to the umbrella where Charles was lounging, she dropped the flowers at his feet, “What’s the big deal?”  He smiled putting down his drink he held both hands palms side up.  Another vehicle drove into his driveway Charles acknowledged Arianne, “Invite guests?”  He asked, “No!” Arianne replied.  The two of them did not speak as a black BMW with tinted windows parked on the side of both of their vehicles.  The door opened they waited to see who it was.  A black umbrella opened up blocking the view of the person whom had showed up.  The first thing that was seen was a woman’s foot with black dress shoes, she wore a black dress and as she stood she was noticeably pregnant, she waved her long black hair she wore black sunglasses.  “Oh Fuck!” Charles said Arianne smiled widely it was his daughter whom he hadn’t spoken with in nearly 7 years, and she was very pregnant.

 

****

 

Barley Mare began to get settled back into his normal routine in Pattaya, Thailand with his wife Ming Na.  During his morning walk he entered his garden.  In America Barley wasn’t much of a farmer however in Thailand for some odd reason he delighted in growing a garden.  Toward the middle of his garden there was a coy pond with a build in fountain, the fish swam, some large some small, Barley’s garden was his place for relaxation.  His Vietnamese milk melons were in full bloom with large green leaves they resembled the summer squash that was growing beside it with much larger leaves, though they had not begun to flower he took joy in cultivating his garden.  Nearly a week had gone by when the father of the four women whom had gotten married had met with Barley Mare.  During the meeting Barley provided the documentation of their marriages, photographs of each daughters wedding, documentation of their working papers and green cards, and a cell phone with their phone numbers and emails within the data of the phone.   The payment was 50,000 American dollars a descent sum and even more salivating with the exchange conversion.  It was possible for the Thailand businessman to move his daughters to America but there were issues with Chinese mafia and American law that he couldn’t avoid.  Ming Na being a savvy businesswoman respected her husband’s ability to make deals and odd marriages work, it was she that had begun the conversation with her distant cousin that had Barley entering the agreement to have the women married.  With the money Barley and Ming Na were planning to improving their property with the promise of building a barn so that they could house chickens.  Barley pulled out a few blades of grass that made its way into his lettuces, he gritted his teeth and licked his lips with the thought of owning chickens in Pattaya, Thailand.

 

****

 

It seemed like offbeat music with the sound of the slot machines and the clammer of conversation, time passed quickly as Sif played table games along the side of Craig.  Blackjack was a game that Sif felt that she had the best chance of winning because of its statistical simplicity.  On the other hand Craig liked the human element involved with playing poker.  Regrettably there were no tournaments a format that Craig liked the best.  He recalled many years before when he first met his 1st wife Jennifer during a poker tournament at The Redneck Reservoir.  At that time he was young and full of naive optimism, he had a spirit about him that in retrospect he respected, while he didn’t do very well in the Texas Hold’em tournament he met Jennifer and he made an impression while doing his best to woo her.  He was of a different construction and he didn’t have a very successful track record of picking up women, he recalled doing his best impersonations of famous people that he admired.  Fortunately it worked which was a first for him probably due to the fact that he wasn’t ugly.  In Craig's opinion the thing with Texas Hold’em was it's similarity to sales, the human element.  Sif nudged Craig shaking him from the state of unconscious thought that he was in as they played slot games, “Is there something wrong?”  Craig shook his head, “No! Not at all.  I was just remembering a poker tournament that I played in a long time ago, that's how I met Jenny.”  Bing, bing, bing an old man playing nickel slots won a jackpot sitting on the side of Craig.  Sif’s cell phone rang  it was Freyja she didn’t answer.  “I’m ready to leave and I want to you take me somewhere unexpected.”  Sif printed out the balance of the money that she had in the slot machine she walked over to the old man she handed him the ticket without talking, “What is this?”  The old man asked he licked his lips, “Your lucky day” “That’s 300 dollars” “I know” "You know in my world it's punishable to give away money." Sif smirked then she walked away Craig soon followed.  At Twin River Casino there are many restaurants and attractions but after Freyja called and then texted an angry message about her behavior during her business meeting with her sister made her feel belittled she needed to do something different.  As they walked to the parking lot it was nighttime, stars filled the mostly black night because of the new moon.  Call it instinct something seemed off to Craig he couldn’t place it, but he had the feeling that he was being watched.  The lights to a black Cadillac suv were turned on followed by the quick start and revving of the engine as it sped up to the passenger side of Craig’s truck as Sif was opening the door.  God’s grace was with him as he rushed to Sif’s side he grabbed her by her wrist tugging her abruptly pulling her from the swoop of the Cadillac Suv the door to the suv opened with force, a thin Arabian man held a gun pointed in Sif’s direction without word he fired his gun, Craig was in the way the bullet entered his left bicep interior exiting through the other side.  He felt the sting, kicking forward without thought on reflex he kicked the drivers door to the Black Cadillac Suv.  Lodged in between the door the thin Arabian man dropped the gun it fell to the on top of the drivers side Matt next to the brake petal.  The thin Arabian man pushed the door open pulling out a hand knife he begun to slash at Craig as he kicked forward.  This was not what Craig had expected, Sif lay on the ground seeing stars as her head hit the pavement when Craig pulled her.  As the thin Arabian man kicked and slashed kicked and slashed Craig did his best to stay away from the attack he was looking for an opening.  The objective of the Arabian Assassin was to eliminate Sif.  Watching the movements with the cadence of the kicks and slashes Pascal Said observed Craig’s movements like a snake waiting hissing before it struck.  The former policeman was fast that much the thin Arabian man knew he was also stronger physically but he was not as skilled with the field of combat.  The darkness of the sky was accompanied with a blind spot in the lighting within the parking lot of Twin River Casino.  The opening presented itself Sif was in plain view spread out on the tar ground.  Craig grabbed his arm having been shot in the bicep, the bleeding was substantial he still had movement and grip his heart was pounding quickly and so was his breathing.  He mentally told himself to relax as he parried the kicks and slashes of the thin Arabian Man.  Questions as to the reason and purpose of the attacker flooded through Craig’s mind “Djinn” the name came from Craig’s lips.  Expecting a reaction Craig slightly hesitated that was the opening that the assassin was looking for.  The thin Arabian man had a second gun strapped to his leg in one swift motion he pulled out the weapon with mechanical like precision he pointed the gun and fired.  Sif lay face down on the ground seeing stars not knowing exactly what had happened, she felt grit in her mouth she knew that during the fall she broke a tooth as her mouth made contact with the asphalt.  She had begun to roll quickly instinctively to get under Craig’s truck for protection.  A gun went off Sif was hit in the back of her left shoulder, the pain and pop of the gun fire was paralyzing and painful.  Craig dashed forward without care for his own safety kicking forward followed by punching he connected with the thin Arabian man’s Adam’s apple causing the assassin to reach for his throat.  Craig followed the punch with a pull grabbing the mans wrist that held the knife while the assassin fired his gun with the other causing the shots to go wild.  As Craig pulled the assassin toward him he grabbed the knife and stabbed forward connecting with the assassins hamstring he pulled down as he slashed across.  The cut was deep and Craig knew that it was fatal.  As the assassin fell to the ground he grabbed the gun from his failing grasp, Pascal Said muttered a prayer to Baal as he knew that he was dying.  Craig rushed to Sif whom was shot and in shock from her wound.

 

Craig pulled out his cell phone he called for an ambulance he knew that casino security would arrive soon, there weren’t people near them though he expected that there would be.  Against his concern for Sif’s survival he checked the nearly lifeless Arabian assassin’s clothing taking his cell phone and his wallet.  Quickly he rushed to his truck stuffing both items under his drivers seat then he rushed to Sif whom was lying face down on the pavement.  Craig called for Sif she was barely responsive he checked for a pulse, her pulse was strong he inspected the area she had blood loss the point of entry appeared to hit her in the scapula.  He rolled her over onto her back “Sif can you hear me can you breath?”  He noticed that one of her front teeth was broken, her eyes were unfocused moving around then she looked to Craig clearly.  That was a good sign, “I can breathe” she said faintly.  He was relieve for fear that the bullet might have penetrated a lung.  Gamblers leaving the casino began to circle around the scene and then Casino security arrived followed by police and ambulance.  Craig knew what to expect, his arm stung and he lost a considerable amount of blood though he was very coherent.  He sat Sif up he applied pressure to the wound he waited for the emt’s to take Sif and him to the hospital.  

 

****

 

Hinn Halim paced the ballroom balcony as Michelle Moonshine joined him holding a glass of white wine. Facing her he smiled, “Tonight is a blessing for I am in the company of such a beautiful woman as yourself.” Reaching forward Hinn held Michelle’s hand he kissed the top of it then he reached behind her ear pulling out a red long stemmed rose.  “How did you?” Michelle asked Hinn bowed slightly, “A man of the arts never gives up his secrets” Michelle looked into the ballroom she noticed her brother Nidhogg with his wife Vega staring at her and Hinn, a short distance away her husband was surrounded by his political team, she was not going to like the political campaign season and should he win the election she would like the political pressure even less.  Her inclination was to head to the barn and slaughter a bull, she remembered the bull that she slaughtered the night that she found Tomas’s stash of guns and drugs.  Slightly she regretted killing the prized bull.  Hinn pulled her attention away she smiled, “Contemplation often accompanies contempt” That caught her off guard, “By what do you mean?”  “I have experienced much along with being associated with Persian wealth.  We are different from westerners and our customs are different however; I know people and I know power.”  Michelle looked to Hinn the smile was gone from her face.  “My plantation is my power” Hinn disagreed, “Your plantation is your accomplishment.  Does your plantation give you power?  Yes it does.  You have physical ownership, goods to sell, employees, and a position of leadership.  That is your accomplishment.  Being a person of power does not require that the individual be a beacon of ownership.  Moses lead the Jews out of exile owning merely a tunic and staff and yet he held power from god.”  “Are you religious?”  Michelle asked “I am a Zoroastrialist or a form of that religion.  We believe that god is both god and devil there is no separation of powers because from god comes all and in the all there is what most call the devil, and in each person there is the potential but there is no separation.  Within my religion I was bestowed a gift that few possess.  Harnessing gifts is what makes one special.”  “I am a Catholic and my ties to the church are strong, my priest would call you a heretic and one of my maidservants believe that both you and Vega are of the devil!” Hinn was well aware of the adversaries that he had already faced, “If I were naive then I would care about what leaders of other faith’s think!  I find it better to matter than to catch a thought” Tomas walked out to the balcony he stood by his wife’s side.  “Trying to woo my wife?”  Tomas said mostly serious Hinn did not shy away from answering the question, “We were discussing religion, she was informing me of her strong ties with the catholic church.  However; I am from a difference practice but I do have serious business on the plantation, several days ago I trapped a wraith in a bottle.  It killed 80 of your cattle.  Tonight I will be accompanied by your canines I will travel to the depths of your property I have dealings that are pressing.  Would you care to join me?” Hinn asked Tomas.  Tomas looked sharply away before looking intensely to Hinn, “I am not interested in anything that you are a part of.  I am not full of superstition!  Are you aware that I’m running for the Chilean Presidency?”  “I’ll go!” Michelle said Tomas grabbed her by her arm, “You will stay by my side” She pulled her arm away, “This is my plantation it might be superstition but I want to see if there is any merit to his claim of witchery.”  Michelle looked to Vega in the ballroom, “Remember Vega?”  “THEY ARE GYPSIES” Tomas yelled he did not care if Hinn took offense.  “Tonight is important you will stay by my side” He hooked his arm around hers leading her into the ballroom with him leaving Hinn alone.  Shortly he would venture into the depths of the plantation and by morning he was eager to hear back from Pascal Said that his problem had been eliminated.

 

Chapter 22 White Bull

 

The flames spread unyielding to the machinery used to try to keep it at bay.  Cinders rose from the burning waste as caterpillars plowed through to create break zones, but it didn’t stop the fire from spreading.  At first where the fire was located their were piles of old railway ties that were soaked with oil based tar.  They were discarded after the demolition of one of the railways in town and when they burned the fire was so intense that Jim Buck ordered the workers to stay clear of the area.  Now it might not seem like it to many but 138 acres of land is a lot of land and while the fire of 1972 decreased the “inventory” quite substantially that was a long time ago.  On this particular day the weather was over 100 degrees with almost no wind.  The stagnation made the workers feel like their lungs were in paralysis, it was nearly unbearable for the fully uniformed workers, but as the fire persisted so did they.  Dick Cauldron was often known for his cleverness, one of the things that he did was when the workers plowed the waste and moved the ashes and remaining debris they each had 10 lbs of ice by their side held in a plastic lined pillow case.  Many of the workers weren’t pleased when Jim Buck made the decision to create new piles of trash moving all of the trash after it was burned while sorting out some piles putting the glass and metal into recycling.  “That’s what we did in 1972” A couple of workers quit during the meeting when Jim Buck announced his plan.  When others openly argued with his decision he put it like this, “Percy is a particular man and you will all be paid like Heck for putting up with Hell.”  One of the lessons that Jim Buck learned from Percival was not to question his own judgment and when Jim Buck made decisions he made his credibility on his ability to follow through.  It wasn’t that Jim wasn’t reasonable in his own opinion it was that government officials had demands and the Cauldrons didn’t want to face stiff penalties.  It was also an election year and with elections politics along with the heat and a disposal site fire made for pressing times.  During a meeting between Percival, Dick, Jim, and the office workers it was agreed upon that a reorganization and sifting of recycling from the ashes would benefit Le Persil not financially but it would prevent fines, political backlash, and ensure that their contracts would not be compromised plus Le Persil would be modernized and "neatened up".  No the workers were not happy because of the heat and the danger of working with fire, but come payday the extra income in their wallets would simmer down most` of their anger.  

 

Working at the disposal site was a hell, a living hell, one that was unending.  If the heat didn’t get the workers then the humidi did, it was unending.  The weather didn’t help, no the weather made it worse because the unforgiving heat of the sun made a kind of funk from the moisture in the trash that created a hovering cloud and then there was the fire and the smoke from the fire without wind the mix without a mask would be deadly.  The closer the workers got to point Zero as it was called red tinders and grey ash flew up in the air.  If it were a beach the wind gusts would have been a welcome lover whispering sweet nothings but at Le Persil when the winds came back it spread the flames of the me positive.  That was a real.  Jim Buck worked out in the “field” he couldn’t imagine a more complete burning toil of a thing.  Face masks with filters were mandatory for all workers that worked in the field at the disposal site.  After working in the field he doubled the amount of ice cube pillow cases from 1 to 2.

 

****

 

Faith went shopping.  It felt good to spend money after working hard cutting down trees.  While it was hard gratifying work, it was not something that her small framed body could handle on a daily basis.  Before she went shopping she showered having bits of wood chips tangled in her hair.  It took nearly 20 minutes to get all of the wood chips out of her hair, as she combed the wood chips were matted along her scalp she was frustrated.  Toward the twilight of the afternoon she reached the mall looking to buy things to lift her dampened demeanor.  She strolled about finding herself buying a new cell phone at the Apple store.  The Apple Store was nuanced that’s probably why she liked using Apple products.  Oddly in Hawaii Faith never really shopped at malls, she just didn’t without knowing why, so while she was at a mall she gravitated towards Bed Bath and Beyond, and Yankee Candle, it was like an instinct she felt competition because of Dionysus Refined.  Shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond she questioned why Dionysus Refined didn’t sell liquid soaps, because it seemed almost fundamentally simple.  Faith knew Craig and the way that he worked though she didn’t always know the way that he thought, that’s probably why they were getting a divorce.  What she knew about Craig was that he only sold items that Dionysus Refined produced themselves Candles, Wine, Goat soap, and Gourmet Chocolates though the one thing that Dionysus Refined did sell that they didn’t produce was Vintage Wines and most wine stores would be hard pressed to produce any of those wines.  The motto that Craig followed was, “If we cannot make it ourselves then we will not sell it to our customers.”  Faith believed that it limited him.  Shopping at Yankee Candle, Faith clutched her purse she felt a competitiveness rise within.  They produced good products that was how they got to become the candle powerhouse selling nearly 1 billion dollars worth of wax and wick in a jar per year.  That really is an incredible feat Faith admitted though she felt that Dionysus Refined sold quality more unique candles that are better branded.  Being a family business she felt that Dionysus Refined had a stronger selling point because of their personal connection with their customers along with having an actual, that is the absent a sales rep the product speaks for itself.  As she walked by the food court she never got why Craig liked mall Chinese food.  The thought of food, Chinese food never the less sitting in a mall cafeteria made her stomach turn.  People constantly walking by while eating Chinese food with chop sticks made Faith want to vomit she held her breath and walked by quickly.  Her soon to be ex husband always ate Chinese food with chop sticks without having a problem with people continually walking by him, they were not the same.  What would Craig think when he got home to find the Barley Mare tree stump head on his table surrounded by wood chips and the quote from Aristotle?  “Sweet serendipity” Faith told herself.  With hands full of gifts that she bought for herself she left the mall loading up her rental then driving to the hotel where she was staying.

 

****

 

Percival was not a naive man.  When he was young he had an old soul,serving in the Army during the Korean War made him a man.  Ability came to him rather easily, he was naturally good with his hands and grasping concepts the first time without error.  That could have been why he was a helicopter pilot in Korea, the first war to use helicopters in combat.  Percvival drove a caterpillar plow without ice-bags into the debris field.  He had to admit that it was extraordinarily hot but he perservered because that is what he does.  The workers sifted through the rubble, remembering 1972 it was a different time and Le Persil was much different then.  In many ways it was better, regulation was much less and the people were people.  Sure the trash barrels were metal and often the trash wasn’t bagged but with more boots on the ground instead of a robotic arm Le Persil was part of the human element of the disposal community.  He didn’t deny that garbage is a dirty business but his business was based around the human element he didn’t like what machinery was turning the business into.  An oddity so it may seem is that the trash man emptying barrels house by house street by street manually played a role in the community and unlike the robotic arm of today the trash men would dispose of items not in the bin.  With the robotic mechanisms becoming more prevalent by his estimation people were becoming not only less personal with each other but more robotic as well.  It was a culture clash he knew it and it was more than a generation gap.  Rarely did Percival watch television and when he did he’d shut it off when politicians were interviewed.  In his  opinion they were gutless cowards that let the country go to hell.  Percival was strongly American, he believed that Americans were more personal and civil and took more pride and ownership when they were a part of something.  He believed in pinnacles that earning something striving for a goal really did give America meaning.  When America focused on America as an entity the people were more like family that’s the way that it used to be.  The past couple of decades he saw the steady decline in the upkeep of local cities and towns and the youth culture also followed that trend.  Watching television there was no guess as to why.  He was an old man, but Percival was not a defeated old man he still had the fight and the want for more.  Sitting in his industrial D10T Caterpillar plow he observed the workers without conversing.  The workers seeing Percival plow trash in the working field made the workers pick up the pace as if they were a part of a lab experiment being observed in a white room with Percival being the doctor wearing a white lab coat.  Unlike Dick Cauldron whom had a softened demeanor, Percival was feared by many of the workers.  There were stories that were considered tales amongst the workers with many of the stories holding truth in them.  Most of it was show but when it was real he liked it that way.  From his observations work conditions were severe and he knew that the fire would last for months.  He remembered the fire of 1972 then he remembered Kip, he blinked quickly still angry that he was not able to get the revenge that he wanted.  Not thinking he found himself going full throttle with the D10T Caterpillar driving up to the front lines where the fire was raging.  Driving from behind him was Jim Buck in a pick up truck honking his horn waving his hands he got out of the truck running up to Percival, “PERCY WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” Percival shook his head breaking himself from the train of thought that he was in.  He smiled to Jim, “What?  I’m reorganizing!”  He smiled, “Why don’t you take a break, it’s murder out here” “What time is it?” “2:30” Percival nodded he had an appointment at 3pm and the heat really was unbearable.  Jim Buck got back into his truck as Percival backed up the D10T and as he drove to the office building Jim drove to a different part of the disposal site where DEM workers were waiting to meet with him.

 

****

 

Sif was rushed into surgery as soon as the ambulance arrived at the hospital.  The bustling of the emergency room made things seem like a blur, the lights, the nurses scuttling about, doctors giving orders. In his past profession as a police officer Craig remembered the routine but it was different because he was a patient.  Laying on an operating room table an overhead x-ray captured photographs of his arm.  Fortunately the bullet passed through the meat of his bicep without hitting any major vessels.  Dr. Katherine Savant was on duty, initially a different doctor attended to Craig but when she read the medical chart she decided to tend to Craig herself.  She walked into the operating room she inspected the wound without speaking to Craig she injected the wound margins with lidocaine then she packed the entry / exit wounds with cotton.  The wound margins had begun to bruise swelling turning a red, blue, purplish color.  With the entry of the cotton the external bleeding had stopped.  Dr. Savant  left the operating room Craig lay on the operating room bed for several minutes.  A nurse entered the operating room she prepared instruments and sutures Craig laid on his back he didn’t converse with her.  Dr. Savante entered the room Craig was laying on the table with his eyes closed legs spread out wide.  He opened up his eyes “Katherine” he acknowledged her but he did not budge.  She picked up a pair of surgical tongs she inspected the packed gun shot wound starting with the interior, she plucked the cotton from the wound.  Craig watched her work, “How is she doing?”  “She is in surgery I don’t know much else” Before Craig was taken to the hospital as where Sif was rushed to the hospital, the EMT’s wrapped Craig’s arm and he was interviewed by the police he gave his statement of what had happened.  He said that he didn’t know the person that attacked them nor did he have knowledge as to why.  The body of the attacker and his vehicle was handled by the detectives on the scene.  Craig was assured that he would not be charged with  criminal charges.  He kept his keys with him leaving his car locked the attackers wallet and cell phone were under his drivers seat.  Dr. Savant pulled out the cotton that was in the exterior bicep she flushed both sides of the wound moving around tissue and muscle with a pair of graspers, “What happened?” She inquired having knowledge of the police report.  “We were targeted, or at least she was targeted. She’s Arianne’s sister” “I recall” “They had lunch in Narragansett with her sister and two business associates, I spent the morning with Faith she still wants a divorce and she’s pregnant.”  Dr. Savant inserted the suture needle into the interior bicep a little bit further than where she injected lidocaine he winced jerking slightly, “I told you to let me know if you feel anything” “Whatever” Dr. Savant injected more lidocaine, as she sutured she kept him talking, “You were leaving the Casino and a man drove up to your truck got out and starting firing guns and attacking with a knife?”  “He wasn’t targeting me, he was targeting Sif, I was protecting her and I got shot in the process.”  Dr. Savant stopped suturing for a moment she looked to Craig, “Well he’s dead! The police confiscated his vehicle but the odd thing is that he didn’t have a wallet or cell phone on him.”  She continued to suture the muscle of the interior bicep before she started to suture the wound margin.  “After he shot me I kicked his driver’s side door knocking the first gun out of his hand that’s when he attacked with his knife, I said the name Djinn.  Do you remember the story of Djinn?"  Dr. Savant nodded yes, "That was my inclination as the reason why Sif was targeted.  I expected a reaction I hesitated, the attacker did not hesitate he pulled out a second gun and shot Sif it’s my fault”  Dr. Savant nodded no, “He’s former Iranian military, I spoke with police you acted on instinct you saved her life”  The doctor lifted Craig’s arm she had him move to lay on his side resting his elbow on surgical cushion to expose the exterior bicep wound, she began to poke and inspect the wound, “The bullet exited here, you really are lucky that the bullet hit where it did.” Craig shrugged, “I’m not concerned for myself I’m concerned for Sif” The emergency room surgeon inserted the needle with lidocaine deep into the wounded muscle.  “My concern is with you as my patient” “What’s my expectation for recovery?”  Craig asked Katherine made brief eye contact with him, “You were shot at close range with a 9mm gun, it went through” “I’m well aware” “Being shot with a gun is extremely violent” “Katherine I’m not a child” Probably a month, I’ve seen worse stab wounds you were very fortunate.  However; you do work out and you are a physical man, it could take months before you are back to your normal routine.  I expect you to have a ball of scar tissue. In your bicep” Dr. Savant inserted the needle a little off to the side on purpose Craig jumped, “I felt that” “Good” Dr. Savant said “What?” “Just Checking, We were supposed to have dinner, the week after our last.  It takes an event like this for us to meet again” Craig moved his arm while Dr. Savant was suturing, “Arianne said the same thing we are supposed to meet for lunch tomorrow” She stilled his arm, “If I were your employer then I would tell you to pick up the pace, you’ll heal and with respect to your internal struggles because of life and time remain steadfast.  And don’t be a hero whatever has happened don’t get involved.”  Craig began to flip his feet up and down he was anxious, “What if my the safety of myself and my family is in danger” Dr. Savant looked at him fidget, "Keep Still! The police have resources and isn’t Freyja a billionaire?  Let her use her resources”  “Djinn was the head of her security” Katherine remembered Craig’s retelling of the art heist and security fiasco.  She grumbled even for an emergency room surgeon she wasn’t quite experienced in the happenings that happened.

 

****

 

Charles Bassett stood up from the lawn chair he put down his drink, he smiled fakely but Arianne notice that his hand was slightly trembling.  His daughter Lena slowly walked to where the two were, she noticed the workers throwing away boxes and boxes of belongings that Charles no longer wanted.  “Throwing away my inheritance?”  Were the first words that Lena said.  “You looking stunning!” Arianne said Lena pulled her black dress out slightly curtsying she rubbed her stomach.  “It’s been seven years” Charles said to his daughter “I know!  And lucky for you things have changed” She rubbed her stomach, “And in case that you haven’t noticed there will soon be an addition to the family” Now Lena Bassett was a beauty of a woman she stood roughly 5’6 with long black hair and piercingly brilliant green eyes she had the pale milky skin that the blend of Irish, English, and French have to offer.  “Where is the father?” Charles asked Lena picked up her cell phone she texted and a moment later the passenger door to her vehicle opened.  Out of the vehicle was an African American male he was short barely above five feet tall.  Charles nearly choked on his spit, he grumbled, then he began to silently whine he walked away from Arianne and his daughter.  Arianne took delight in the spectacle of Charles Bassetts anguish she walked to the side of him, “What do you think that your doing?” she scolded him in a whisper.  Charles paced in front of his house, “I can’t, I can’t, I just fucking can’t” Charles screamed without caring whom he offended.  He placed a hand on his forehead.  “On the bright side you’ll be a grandfather in a couple of months” Arianne added “And I have my big deal that is about to happen” Arianne placed a hand on his shoulder, “Then you have a lot to look forward to” “My daughter is a big bitch” Charles confided in Arianne, “I remember” Charles walked back to his daughter with Arianne he put on a fake smile he extended a hand, “Hi I’m Charles, Lena’s father it’s a pleasure to meet you, I had to walk away for a moment I got a text from my new business partner.” Arianne smiled she got into the conversation, “Freyja Sullivan my mother is his business partner” she reached over and touched Lena’s stomach, “Your father and my mother are about to embark on a new business venture 100 locations initially Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants.”  “And who is he?” Charles asked Lena, her face was smug she felt one upped by her father that she hadn’t spoken to in seven years.  While short in stature the shorter gentleman held himself with confidence, he had the look of wisdom the kind that a man of class status held.  “The name is Dr. Nicholas O’Henry he smiled, I’m a gynecologist” Arianne begun to laugh but Charles couldn’t have had a more serious demeanor to himself.  “As you can imagine with 100 Franchised restaurant locations opening up all at once throughout New England and New York State I’m extremely busy.  Lena your pregnant, married, and you look like your ready for a funeral.”  “We just attended one.”  Lena admitted to her father.  “So why are you standing in front of me right now” He said more angrily than not.  She had all that she could handle, it was nearly 100 degrees outside, she was very pregnant, under the stress of the death of a friend, and her husband met her father whose she hadn’t spoken to in many years.  She slammed down her umbrella, “I knew that was a bad idea” Lena began to cry catching the attention of the workers who scurried like rats when Charles looked their way.  “C’mon Lena” Charles said to his daughter. “No I know you’re not happy and you don’t have to fake it.  That’s fine you can keep on in your own busy world when my son is born you won’t have to worry about your grandson he will be well taken care of.”  Charles stood still for a moment being honest with himself he was slightly baffled but his first inclination is that he didn’t like her husband.  “Lena you couldn’t have picked a worse time to visit me, are you busy tomorrow?  What about dinner?  We can go to a nice Italian restaurant you, me, and Nicholas” Lena stopped crying, “What do you say?”  She asked her husband.  Nicholas looked seriously to Charles, “That will work” Charles extended a hand to Nicholas, “Welcome to the family, I hope that you can handle our stuff!” Charles flipped his chin pointing to the dumpster.  Nicholas bent down he picked up Lena’s umbrella he held it backwards with the pommel of the handle facing Charles, “Tomorrow night” he smiled “By dad” Lena said she handed her father one of Nicholas’s business cards that contained his cell phone number, “Give us a call” The very pregnant daughter of Charles Bassett walked with her husband to her car.  Lena drove out of the parking lot of Charles Bassett’s house minutes later.  Charles was sweating profusely she paced about his lawn Arianne stood still amused with the event that had occurred.  Next door his neighbor started to pace up and down the perimeter of his property with a leaf blower followed by a lawn mower.   Charles put his sunglasses back on he sat on his lawn chair he took a sip from his drink he looked to Arianne, “That was shit”  Arianne grabbed the bouquet that he left at her house, “Thanks for the flowers”

 

****

 

Political functions was a formality with words of pleasantries for Hinn Halim as he bided his time for the opportune moment for venture into the depths of Moonshine Plantation.  It was a perfect night a full moon without clouds the stars were twinkling drawing eyes toward the skies.  Nearing 10pm Hinn made his final summation of the attendees of the evening event in El Qui Valley, Chile.  Chandeliers reflected sparkles as the lights were dimmed with a jazz band playing, Hinn did not question that Tomas would be a formidable Chilean presidential candidate.  Michelle Moonshine caught his attention as a woman worthy of winning, physically the owner of Moonshine Plantation was stunning.  In the world of leadership Hinn found that real leaders were directional bringing the people that they held power over to a different place from where they were.  The question that Hinn had was whether Tomas and Michelle were heading in the same direction.  Michelle was strong and passionate but she was not of the same foundation as Tomas.  Michelle was a passionate woman, her passion could possibly win Tomas the election in itself.  He noticed Nidhogg staring at him, he was family by marriage and upon his own estimation was someone that would be more credible.  When Hinn had a person in question that he did not know about he would withhold judgment until he had enough information to form an educated opinion.  Precision was the level of his function, he did not like to feel like he was caught in a bubble.   Hinn gave one last glance over the ballroom attendees before making is escape for the evening.  

 

Several minutes later Hinn walked with the hounds toward the bull barn.  He commanded the dogs to sit while he went into the barn.  The lights were easy to find, he flipped the switch knowing that only certain bulls were taken in during the night time while there were hundreds of cattle that roamed about on a portion of the plantation.  Hinn was not a butcher, nor a breeder, but from his estimation he knew the difference between a lean muscular bull and a small or older lesser toned bull.  What he was looking for for a bull for sacrifice, the door to the barn closed behind him it was Michelle Moonshine, she had changed into all purple attire with pants and top.  Hinn stood silently he did not beat around the bush, “I am venturing into the depths of the plantation there are things to be had.”  “Why are you in the bull barn?”  Hinn maintained his seriousness, “I require a bull for what I am going to do” Michelle stood silently for a moment questining herself for contemplating going along with something that would seem like lunacy.  Michelle walked amongst the bulls that were feeding on hay she readied a custom made halter she picked out a white bull fitting the halter on him.  “An albino” Hinn noted “He is a rare find.  I will accompany you” Michelle walked the bull out of the barn.  From the balcony of the ball room Tomas watched Hinn and his wife walk into the depths of the plantation with the canines.  Fire lit up in his eyes as his political team pulled him back into the ballroom.  

 

Chapter 23 Man Imperfect

 

Freyja’s security team surrounded the perimeter of the crime scene at Twin River Casino.  Crowds of gamblers watched the remnants and detective work that was taking place.  The police would not disclose information with the billionaires private security.  Together Freyja and Arianne arrived at the hospital, Sif was in surgery.  The complication with bullet retrieval was due to the fracturing of her left scapula when the bullet penetrated enlarging itself in bone.  Surgeons were in the process of putting in metal plates and screws after removing the bullet.  Freyja and Arianne waited in the visiting room, they were both angered with the lack of information and cooperation from the hospital staff.  They waited as patiently as they could, nearly 1 hour later Faith arrived at the hospital as she entered the visiting room she saw Freyja and Arianne sitting together, she made a face because she did not like them.  She knew that Craig had gotten shot in the arm and that Sif was injured, Craig texted her the information.  Waiting in the visiting room she kept her distance from the Sullivan’s eager to take Craig home.  Debbie-Sue was informed about the event from Faith, she had taken the kids to York Beach Maine for the week.  “Suits her right” Faith said loud enough for the Sullivan’s to hear knowing that Sif had gotten shot in the back.  Faith knew that she told Craig that she wanted distance that he was free, but why was he with Sif so soon especially considering Freyja and Arianne?  "He needs to learn to keep his dick in his pants" Faith said as her hands covered both sides of her brow she stared at the floor.  The Sullivans looked to Faith hearing her last comment.  The Barley Mare head was on the table at Craig’s house littered with wood chips, she ran her fingers through her hair keeping her distance from the Sullivans whom she was avoiding on purpose, she stared at the floor, "Oh don't leave me, don't get an abortion" Faith shook her head back and forth, she could give a care about what the Sullivan's think.  She was a Walananu and Walananu's express their feelings even if it's during unsuitable environments.  The doors to the surgical ward entrance opened Craig walked through the doors with his arm bandaged in a sling.  Freyja and Arianne stood catching his attention Faith joined as they greeted him, the women wanted answers.  

 

****

 

Franz Wilheim Spuk worked in his air conditioned work shed.  It took him several years of many days of wood working labor creating a work and leisure space where he would dwell many days needing a place of comfort for personal competition and creative release.  Having immigrated from Germany 20 years before this time the nearly 76 year old retired college professor was painting.  He was a widower, his wife Virginia passed away from cancer 10 years prior he still lamented her passing.  After her death he became hermit like having very few friends, often not leaving the property to which he resided for weeks at a time he stayed busy with his farm animals and hobbies.  A smudged thumb print of green and brown paint streaked down the side of his dry deep wrinkled along the creases cheeks.  As he painted he was swept up in his work.Astonishingly his work was remarkably professional though he never had intention of selling his work.  His shed was full of his passions and a hermit of a man had meaning through creating passionate work that complimented the things that were effecting his life.  There was the parallel of things created with happenings and the memory of the times that were at hand that could no longer be recreated though they did exist.  Frank believed that the times of instances, important instances where a great amount of personal energy was expanded gave art value.  The god factor was the unseen connection to the something greater that effected the masses was clearly represented in his work.  He attributed many things to the presence of the Holy Ghost.  One of the many things that he appreciate about America as a youth was the belief in freedom and god.  Yes, Frank had become an American citizen holding dual citizenship in both Germany and America, he took pride in his lineal heritage.  His art was a reflection of his heritage with Germanic art that had distinct themes.  Nature provided a strong guideline for his work though many German artists had a tendency to be nuts and bolts he preferred another way.  Franz whom changed his name to Frank following the suggestion from an FBI agent many years before he immigrated to sound more American preferred nature to the world of machinery.  No he was not in denial as to which would prevail in the world of war, though he was a retired college professor and professors need students not machines.   There was an event that occurred a month after his dog died during the wintertime.  Virginia’s nephew Lou visited him on his property as he was clearing an ice patch.  His nephew by marriage was ill having Leukemia though his spirits were optimistic.  With each visit there were memorable things that accompanied the visit, as if there were a drop off  Lou seemed to be changing both in the physical and non physical realm, and Frank Spuk was a dog on a leash.  As he approached Frank in his yard Frank held a chunk of ice simultaneously or so it seemed his neighbors started up their vehicles, he remembered the look.  With the revving of the engines as they started their cars, his nephew Lucien appeared to be reduced to the status of a puppy the look of helplessness followed by a whimper, it truly haunted Frank Spuk many days he thought of his nephew and their last meeting haunted him.  He wished that he could have said a final farewell.  Unfortunately Lucien succumbed to the disease less than a month after that meeting, his nephews inlaws informed Frank Spuk of his death the morning of the occurrance dropping a coffee cup carrier in the driveway as they left.  When it could be avoided machines were not of predominant use though for a man that lived in solitude did it matter?   Being an older gentleman the solemnity of sorrow had become more predominant with its frequency.  Perhaps it was  love of people, teaching the arts in a soviet style communist country at the crux of its oppression that guided his preference.  Most of modern society is not natural he comprehended though with nature there is no lie to continue and often the timely truth can lead or coincide with current events that become the most real and important.  The past week a tree fell in the depths of his property after strong winds.  A dangling branch looking like a fishing line with a person walking wide looking back dangled over his property line from his neighbors property.  Near to the dangling tree was his fishing boat K, “Ride the lightning K” Frank said, K was the nickname that he called his daughter that lived in Dusseldorf with her husband and infant son.  The afternoon that he cut down the tree that dangled when he walked up to the long driveway to collect his mail there was a person walking on the side of the road passing by slowly with the same stride as the dangling tree limb, “Clown” Frank Wilheim Spuk identified what he believed that he saw the oddity of remembering such a clown riding a bicycle reminded him of France.  The painting that he was working on was a blend of both tree and clown as if it were a transformation.  The clown and tree were fused or in the process of fusing, “The walking tree” Frank painted on the back of the canvas labeling his work.   He was expecting company though his friend was late.  Looking at the Swizz cuckoo clock on the wall it was nearly 4pm. Over a half of a year had gone by since he last met with his friend.  This past winter his dog Saber Lang had died, it was a stressful event, he had a mental brink he felt utterly exhausted of spiritual being, later having breakfast with his friend.  Frank opened the door to his work shed, a gust of air conditioned air escaped the tightly built entrance.  Standing 5’10 weighing 170lbs the grey haired blue eyed Franz Wilheim Spuk smiled as he greeted his guest, “Welcome to the meatlocker” he said, his voice carrying a crisp German accent.  Percival Cauldron greeted his friend aided by his cane, sweat dripped from his brow and underarms, “Relief” he declared as he walked up a short incline of stairs.  As Percival walked into the work shed there were paintings and sculptures and wooden furniture from cut up logs and vines hanging on the wall and decorating the shed.  The comfortable air conditioned shed was roomy, a former horse barn, “You certainly have put a lot of work into this” Percival complimented his friend.  Frank smiled he rubbed the dry paint that smudged his cheek, “Adequate surroundings compliments the passions of a hermit” The walls of the shed were covered with sheetrock painted egg shell white, lights dangled from 10 ft high ceilings from silver chains two large ceiling fans circulated the air conditioned air from above.  Frank whose name was Franz actually preferred to be called by his birth name though he really did not mind being called either walked to the fridge that was in the shed he opened the door pulling out a home crafted German beer.  It is well known that Germans consume the most beer per capita of any nation, unlike the norm in Germany Frank Spuk preferred his beer cold not warm.  He handed a bottle to Percival. “Le Persil is on fire” Frank Spuk’s eyes lit up, “To some, a preferred environment” He smiled as the words left his dry lips, he wet them with a sip Frank asked a question,  “May I visit after the fires are extinguished” Percival sat in a wooden rocking chair that Frank brought with him from Germany.  It was one of the remaining items that survived the bombings of Dresden Germany, the origins of his birth. “You can visit Le Persil any time that you please, though it’s just a dump.  Why would you want to go there?”  Frank Spuk picked up a paint brush he placed his beer on a workbench, “To remind me a Dresden” A short pause in-between the words held weight.  One of the things that Percival respected about Franz was his use of the right word at the right time, there was meaning to the well placed words, Percival called it German thinking but he knew that Franz was a very deep and sincere friend. There was an emotion expressed that Percival comprehended. He knew the sentiment, a characteristic that war impresses upon a person regardless of age.  He stood up aided by his cane on the wall a photograph of Frank Spuk’s deceased wife Virginia hung, he studied it for a moment.  Frank acknowledged the photo, “My Virginia was a beautiful sin, my only regret is that we did not have more time together.”  Percival nodded he remembered Virginia, she was his 1st wife Lucille’s cousin.  “I found out this past week that Lucille passed away two years ago.” Frank Spuk stopped painting, “Oh” he looked to the side, “I did not know that she had died” Percival’s face held a serious demeanor, “She was a vixen, we divorced for a reason, but I feel robbed for not being able to close something so meaningful with someone that was special.”  Frank Spuk stood to the side of the much taller Percival, he looked at the photograph of his deceased wife, “My daughter Amelia gave birth to a son this winter” Percival nodded, “I recall, after your dog died”  Frank Spuk smiled he looked to Percival, “That’s right!  Thank you for remembering” He walked back to his painting.  

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine led the white bull into the depths of her plantation walking on the side of Hinn Halim and the canines.  As the walked into the farmland the corn crops grew plentifully though the corn was just starting to grow husks, they walked between the stalks.  Michelle did not know where the destination would be and Hinn was guided by something that she could not see.  The night was a rarity with a full blue moon given that two full moons should occur within the same monthly cycle with stars scattering the sky reminding Michelle of the light reflection that twinkled in the diamond that rested on her ring finger.  Laughing to herself, she was certain that Tomas would be angered by her disappearance, he would possibly go looking for her though the likely hood of finding her on the 300 acre plantation was unlikely.  After the corn crops were lettuce fields, cabbage, tomatoes, and then the fruits.  Together they traveled a considerable distance without words.  Hinn had a sack strapped over his shoulder.  They have reached the apple trees.  The apple orchards were after the oranges leading up to the grape vineyards.  Stopping short of the border between the apples and the grapes Hinn looked up to the sky, gusts of winds began to howl the dogs began to bark and the bull tugged at the reins as Michelle pulled with all of her might, “Here” Hinn placed the sack that was over his shoulder on the grass.

 

****

 

Craig stood up as Dr. Katherine Savant was about to suture the exterior bicep, “I don’t want to lay down I prefer to sit” Dr. Savant ordered the nurse that was assisting her to bring in a chair with an arm rest.  When the nurse brought in the chair Craig took a seat resting his arm.  “Any other demands?”  Dr. Savant asked, “How about you deal with Freyja, Arianne, and Sif?”  Dr. Savant nodded no, “Thankfully that is not something that I will do.”  Craig waited for Dr. Savant to come forth with what she wanted to say as it looked like she wanted to speak candidly with him, “When you make promises that you can’t live up to be honest, I respect honesty even if it is a let down.  Nothing, leaving me hanging, overpromising is in effect lying and because our relationship is built on trust, it means something!”  She sutured muscle and fascia before changing suture and needle then she began to close the wound margin.  “You know that I just got shot" Dr. Savant put in a stitch, "You'll heal" "Do you talk to all of your patients this way?"  She offered no response, "I can promise better communication though I will be very honest with you.  I might not be available for some time and though injured I am going to track down those responsible regardless of the danger.”  “A fools journey” Dr. Savant retorted.  “A necessary quest” She took off her surgical gloves, “If this is the last time that we speak to each other then know that I’m very disappointed in you”   She wrapped his wound then she put his arm in a sling.  Craig was silent he was in shock and maybe he wasn’t thinking clearly.  “Give yourself time to think.  Your acting on emotion, your a father and businessman not a special agent” Katherine gave her advice, Craig might have been trained as a police officer but he was injured and not thinking straight.  There is a difference between police work and military style tracking, she hoped that he would reconsider his course of action.  After she placed his arm in a sling he was allowed to leave the hospital the same night.

 

****

 

The night was soundless eerily so as Hinn placed the sack that was hung over his shoulder on the grass in between two apple trees less than ten feet from where the grape vines began.  Canines sat patiently happily panting and Michelle Moonshine held on to the rope that led the white bull.  Waiting patiently the unaware bull began to eat grass in between the apple trees.  Hinn laid out the blanket that was used as a sack to carry items.  On the blanket were rune drawing and symbols, the cloth was made from silk within the sack were many bottles and various items that appeared to be odd to Michelle Moonshine.  “Heretic” Michelle scorned Hinn she began to walk away with the bull.  Appearing like a ghost Hinn stood in front of Michelle startling her because he was organizing items on the blanket behind her, “Do not be quick to judge” he told her calmly, he guided her back to the blanket.  “Observe your presence will be instrumental.”   “I am a catholic I do not conduct witchcraft” Michelle persisted “In the old testament Baal and Yahweh were synonymous and then they were not.  Why?”  Michelle turned her back to Hinn, “I believe in the holy mother and the teaching of the catholic church”  Hinn reached forward touching her shoulder turning her around to face him, “I believe that I am part of god, my practice lies closely with Zoroastrianism however; we believe in the Bull and the power of the bull.”  “A lesser god” Hinn shook his head, “There is no difference” he walked past her, he began to organize the items that he brought with him.  “A wraith was on your plantation, they do no come alone and they do not leave willingly.  Am I a businessman?” Hinn informed Michelle as he looked to her seriously asking a question.  “You claim to be a businessman”  Lifting a finger he walked several feet from her the canines followed, “Have you ever met a man that has instant mastery over a pack of attack dogs?”  Without hesitation Michelle responded, “No”  He walked back to her, “I did not rise in the business world by providing products and leadership without value.  I believe that you will benefit from the value that I provide, and trust will be built from the results that I produce.  However” Michelle let go of the rope that reigned the white bull.  “What is your however?” Hinn bowed, bent, then dipped to the ornate blanket he organized figurines and bottles and a golden dagger with several stick candles and a chalice,  “Because of the nature of the thing which you will be in the presence of there is a requirement”  The owner of Moonshine plantation ran her hand through her hair it fell on both sides she stood with her legs out wide, “You are on my plantation, there is a bull, what more do you want?”  Hinn stood face to face with her, “Cooperation” he dipped down pulling out matches lighting the candles, he placed four white candles in ornate holders on the edges of the blanket.  There was a deck of tarot cards in a black sack.  Bats flew in the nighttime sky, “Gypsy” Michelle scorned Hinn as she saw him take out the deck of tarot cards.  He did not respond, he walked into the moonlight taking off his clothes baring himself naked in front of the owner of moonshine plantation.  Serious in demeanor he was focused, beginning to seek the inner wisdom and insight as the moon shone on them.  Walking to the side of Michelle she did not know what to expect with a nude man so closely to her she tensed, he grabbed the reigns taking off the halter of the bull.  The white bull ate grass without much thought.  “What are you?” Hinn placed an index finger to the middle of his lips.  He walked to the front of the owner of Moonshine plantation, “Unclothe” he commanded.  She shook her head, “Under no certain terms” Hinn ran his fingers down his torso showing what she could see, “Cooperation, there is a reason” She bit her lip, “If we get caught the ramifications” Hinn smiled, “Naturally!”  

 

As Michelle unclothed she felt shy and vulnerable being in the moonlight in the depths of her plantation with a relative stranger though he was not unpleasant to her senses, he gave no physical cue as if he held those same inclinations.   Hinn clasped Michelle’s hand guiding her toward the blanket he sat crosslegged in the middle of the blanket, “Join me” Slowly she crouched sitting crosslegged in the middle of the ornately etched blanket sitting directly opposite to him.  Picking up several spices he crushed them with a mortar and pestle he struck a match igniting the incense he followed the incense with a bundle of herbs that he lit placing it across the mortar. “Come” Hinn ordered the canines they circled around the two that sat cross legged on the blanket.  Hinn placed his hands out facing upward, “Place yours on top of mine” She joined him slowly, her hands were clammy she was nervous as she placed her hands over his, “Close your eyes and focus” he ordered her as he did the same.  At first she she felt odd and there was nothing except for the sounds of the night.  The smells of the burning incense perfumed the area surrounding the two then a woosh swept the night time sky clouds cast overhead and winds increased howling in the distance could be heard, there were wolves near.  Hinn acknowledge their presence, “Wraiths do not travel alone, the wolves are a product of nature thier instinct lead them” As the wind howled the flames of the candles flickered but they did not go out.  Michelle opened her eyes she began to look around in the shadows of the flames behind the canines she could have sworn that there were witches or maybe she was seeing things a Bard owl began to hoot nearby.  She began to retract her hands he grasped her hands, “Do not move” a shriek was heard not too far off.  A moment later the winds died down Hinn opened up his eyes noting that Michelle had her eyes fixed on him and the surrounding night.  The canines sat surrounding them almost statuesque.  Stillness was noticeable holding a crispness that made movement look like a kung fu movie.  Nearby the white bull ate grass, Hinn looked to the bull “It is time” he said acknowledging the bull.  Michelle shook her head thinking that she was witnessing lunacy.  “There are eyes watching” Hinn told the owner of Moonshine plantation.  As she looked around, she saw shadows of trees that gave the reflection of menacing people she blinked unsure that she was seeing straight.  The white bull perked his up his head he looked to Hinn, “Now my friend” “Witchery” Michelle retracted her hands she wanted to run.  “Do not fear, nor run” She remained cross legged but she retracted her hands as the bull walked up the blanket bowing placing his knees on the ground he lay in the middle of the two resting his head on top of the mortar full of incense.  The reflections of the trees seemed to hover over them in the moonlight as the clouds cleared, the howling in the distance from the wolves penetrated eardrums causing Michelle to cover with goosebumps.  Hinn rubbed the bulls head and neck, he began to speak to the bull as if it were a friend.  “My trusted companion, we have traveled together through the test of time, through your sacrifice we have fed many, clothed the masses, provided goods that create wealth of nations, through your work and sacrifice this land will be cleared of the demons that hover about.” Hinn closed his eyes he began to utter an incantation, there was a hollowness that accompanied his words like an empty womb after birth.  Michelle felt sorrow a hurt and loss as if something had happened to a person that she cared about, but she could not identify the source.  She began to pray the rosary asking for forgivness for being part of a un-sacrosanct ceremony.  Hinn did not stop muttering his own prayer, shrieks howled in the night and the trees creaked and moaned the wind began to gush sweeping through the Plantation.  Hinn stood up he extended a hand to Michelle he aided her with standing.  He walked from between the two apple trees holding a golden dagger and a golden chalice.  The owner of Moonshine plantation stood opposite him then the bull walked in between the two of them, the canines sat patiently while creaking and swaying of trees were unnaturally unnerving.  There was a bottle in one of Hinn’s hands, as he opened it the there was an escape of mist he poured the contents over the top of the bulls head.  “What is that?”  “A concoction” pouring the contents over the top of the white bulls head.  As the liquid oozed over the white bull it began to shutter and convulse, “Poison” Michelle claimed the bull opened its mouth exhaling a visible breath Hinn slit the bulls throat filling the chalice with the bulls blood, it fell to the grass gasping for air as it died.  A gust of wind circled around them, loud crashing accompanied with several trees snapping cracking as they fell.  A herd of deer ran through the plantation barely 100 yards from their location in the grape vineyard.  A small trickled of blood dripped from Hinns nose, he raised his hands to his nostrils, “I have suffered a loss” he began to sob.  Walking back to the blanket he moved the mortar placing a small ceramic tile in the middle of the blanket then he put the chalice on top of it.  “Join me” Michelle paced about, “I do not follow satan” she commanded.   He shook his hands, “I am not satan, I am man imperfect” 

 

****

 

Salvatore Moonshine’s nurse handed him his cell phone with a text from Freyja Sullivan regarding Sif Moonshine.  She was out of surgery in stable condition after being shot in the back while laying face down in the parking lot of Twin River Casino.  He was enjoying a British breakfast tea reading the morning newspaper when he read about the event from the night before.  His first inclination was that his son was involved, however; since his son was divorced from Sif there could be no monetary incentive and for that reason there lacked a clear motive.  Salvatore called for his nurse to contact his son Nidhogg and inform him on the events that happened.  Though ages had gone by since he was a regular within the realm of parenting, he expected Nidhogg to promptly contact him and the quick response would mean the he was not involved.

 

Chapter 24 Praying For Forgiveness

 

Walking in the operating room hall the lights were mesmerizing, the operating room had temperature control, it was running colder than normal and as he walked toward the exits the gossip from the staff in the hallway and at the counter carried itself throughout the area.  Had Craig not been in a haze he would be certain that they were talking about him.  He was bombarded as he walked out of the operating room area into the visitors waiting room with his arm in a sling, still numb he was zoned out and the barrage of the three women wanting answers.  A police officer spoke with him first, Craig had already given full account of the incident.  Twin River Casino security camera’s were provided to the police showing the incident that took place.  Although, he was not being charged with crimes he was informed that he was not allowed to leave the state until federal agents that had arrived completed their investigation.  Listening to the police officer was a formality he paid no attention to the words, he just wanted to get home and sleep.  After the police officer spoke with Craig he walked through the visitors waiting room toward the elevator leading to the first floor where he could get out of the hospital.  The three women followed after him, he closed the door in time as the three women were about to get inside of the elevator.  Craig made it outside of the hospital he didn’t have his vehicle nor did he have a ride home.  Before the women could be seen he jogged across the street to the hospital where there was a convenience store, he used his cell phone ignoring the text and calls that Arianne and Faith had sent to him.  He  called a cab along with buying a pack of cigarettes.  Toward the corner of the store is where he hung until the cab arrived, he had the Taxi driver bring him to the parking lot of Twin River Casino.  The drive to Twin River Casino was one that Craig didn’t mind he was in a half daze going over the events that took place again and again.  For him all roads led to Djinn, he didn’t regret Djinn’s death but he knew that Djinn was an important person within his own surroundings.  As far as he knew Sif was in surgery he prayed that she would survive and he hoped that her scars would not dampen her beauty.  Several minutes passes as time was lost in thought he rested diagonally in the back seat of the cab.  Craig told the cab driver that he would give the cab driver a 100 dollar tip if he could smoke a couple of cigarettes on the way to Twin River Casino. He smoked a couple of cigarettes consecutively running on nerves lost in thought creating plans of what he was going to do.  His injured arm was still numb, he kept a prescription in his front pocket.  All he could think of is getting to the attackers wallet and cell phone and then tracking down and seeking revenge against the people involved.  No he knew that he wasn’t a special agent, but he knew that training is training and in the heat of battle instinct was a very important element. Craig believed that hard work is a back up plan proving itself in situations that don't normally work.  “I have experienced that truth.”  He told himself and with Djinn he would have prevailed without Sif’s intervention had Djinn not used a knife.  There was a parallel and something to learn because though the shoes were somewhat different his fight with Djinn seemed square in object as a lesson.  When the cab arrived at the casino the lights to the parking lot lit up, the area and there were several police cars with their lights on.  The time was 1:30 am he paid for the cab his vehicle was where he parked it, he questioned whether it would have been towed away.  As he made his way to the vehicle one of Freyja’s security team members intercepted him.  Craig unlocked the drivers door started the truck and drove away before he could be stopped.  There was no alternate course for Craig he drove straight home, he didn’t search through the attackers cell phone and wallet until he pulled into his driveway stopping the truck.  As he fished for the wallet of the attacker and the phone he found them where he left them, he turned around to find all three women that he tried to escape at the hospital waiting for him.  He couldn’t get away from them, he jerked his arm quickly causing pain, he avoided the barrage of questioning walking up the stairway unlocking the door to his apartment knowing that Debbie-Sue had taken the children to York Beach, Maine for the week.  Walking into his apartment he wanted to shower, change, and go to sleep, he turned the lights on to the kitchen, a wooden log lay prostrate with a green leprechaun hat surrounded by wood chips greeted him on top of the table. He looked at it again he wasn’t sure that he was seeing what he thought that he saw, it resembled Barely Mare.  How did that get there?   Then the women walked into his apartment without asking permission.  “Why are you avoiding us? We have questions” Freyja commanded. 

 

Craig stopped he was angry, “WHY THE FUCK IS THERE A LOG WITH A FACE ON MY TABLE?”  The women were silent Faith walked up to the Barley Mare head she tapped the top of the hat she pulled out a baby blue Daytona Beach beanie baby bear placing the bear next to it.  “I cut the Barley Mare head from your back yard this afternoon.” Craig nodded no he had his issues but that wasn’t what he wanted to address he reached into this pocket pulling out the wallet and cell phone of the attacker.  “I pulled these off of the attacker before the police arrived I haven’t looked at them.”  Freyja took the wallet and cell phone from him, “Good boy” she paused for a moment, “Now you will tell us what happened” Freyja told Craig.  He walked to his wine rack he selected and opened up a bottle of Merlot, “Your drinking red wine?” Faith asked.  “Yes I am” he answered shivering slightly as he drank a full glass of wine in one gulp, he refilled the glass.  “Sif called me to pick her up in Narragansett after having lunch with Arianne and guests, she didn’t like the people that she had lunch with she told me that she had gotten into an argument with Arianne, she wanted me to pick her up and take her somewhere else.  We agreed to go to Twin River Casino.  When we were leaving, as we walked to my truck this skinny Arabian guy gets out of his Cadillac suv pulling out a gun.  I worked as fast as I could kicking his car door as he pointed his gun at Sif.  She was within arm’s reach I pulled her out of the way, she lost balance and fell.” Freyja interrupted, “You broke her teeth” Craig nodded, “It was the heat of the moment.  That’s how I got shot in the arm then the attacker starts slashing with a knife that he was holding in his other hand.  It happened suddenly and without stop I honestly don’t know how we survived.  I parried the attackers strikes looking for opportunity, my inclination was that somehow Djinn’s death was involved, I said “Djinn” and I hesitated for a moment that’s when the attacker without stopping pulled out a second gun he pointed and fired at Sif.  The next moments were a blur, I know that I fought the knife away from him and killed him with it but I don’t remember exactly what happened.”  Craig stopped talking he drank another glass of wine.  “You took his wallet and cell phone, do the police know that you took those things?”  Arianne asked “No”  Freyja opened up the wallet pulling out the contents, she was on the phone with her security team she didn’t talk details she told them her coordinates.  Craig walked to the counter where the attackers ID was laid out on the counter, he couldn’t read the identity of the assailant.  “He’s Iranian” Faith said not being able to read the arabic writing that was written on his identification however; she could identify the country flag colors.  Craig looked to Freyja, “Am I crazy to think that Djinn’s death was involved?”  “I agree Craig” Arianne confirmed she walked to the wine glass cabinet taking a glass filling it with a glass of Merlot, “Does Djinn have any siblings?”  “A Twin brother” Freyja confided an audible gasp was heard coming from Craig, Freyja continued, “They were both Iranian special forces, according to Djinn he is a prominent businessman.”  Faith paced the room, she was not in a realm where this kind of thing was acceptable.  She was pregnant, divorcing, and now this?  Faith walked to the couch picked up her purse she walked to the side of Craig, “I can’t handle all of this shit” she whispered into his ear.  She took a bottle of Chardonnay and a Moment of Life candle from the cabinet before she left Craig’s apartment heading to the hotel where she was staying.  

 

Not asking permission Freyja had her security team set up a work space to immediately begin to get information about this Pascal Said and those that might be involved in the attack.  From the sources that Freyja’s security team had access to using Icelandic police and military Pascal Said was former Iranian military special ops in the same unit as Djinn Halim and his brother Hinn.  Using lap tops and printers and other devices they quickly begun searching through the database that they had available to them.  Pascal Said was believed to be involved in several murders overseas though on paper he was a legitimate business executive.  His direct boss was identified as Hinn Halim!  Previously Freyja had done her intel on Hinn Halim his reach was till this point completely isolated to within the middle east.  She did not suspect that he would seek retaliation considering the nature of the crimes for which Djinn was caught up with.  After Djinn’s death there was a period of time where Freyja was in a different state of mind and in time she slowly regained what she temporarily lost.  After this time she had a report sent to Hinn.  During the time that Djinn served at Freyja’s head of security she had met Hinn on several occasions, they had gotten along fairly well and she believed that Hinn was of sound mind.  Looking nearly identical Hinn and Djinn had a relationship where they needed few words spoken as they understood each other and worked in unison in a way that Freyja never knew to be paralleled.  Following the report that Freyja had sent to Hinn, she received a letter from Hinn apologizing for his brothers actions.  Though there was a chance that the attacker acted alone she believed that Hinn was most likely involved.  It didn’t make sense to her that Hinn should act now considering that years had gone by without incident.  From this point on Freyja made the promise that her family would be protected from physical harm.  Laptops and printers that were set up in Craig’s dining room printed out profiles of Pascal Said, Hinn Halim, and they're known associates.  The hours were getting late and Craig was injured he decided to take a shower and go to bed.  While Freyja and Arianne were at Craig’s apartment Sif was still in surgery, Freyja left Arianne at the apartment while Freyja and two of her security guards drove to the hospital in the hopes of visiting Sif post surgery.  Craig was ready to shower when Arianne walked into the bathroom without knocking, “I’ll help you” she told him.  Leaving the bathroom she walked to his kitchen grabbing a roll of duct tape, a plastic bag, and a pair of scissors.  When she went into his bedroom that led to the bathroom he was sitting on the bed, she closed the door behind her.  She cut the handles off of the plastic bag along with the bottom she slit the bag into strips she rested Craigs arm on a pillow and she wrapped the plastic bag around his wounded arm taping the top and bottom with duct tape.  He moved slowly from being shot, she turned on the shower and took off her clothes.  Craig remembered cutting himself while working at a meat market, his injury was in his bicep not his hand but it was similar in the respect of movement.  Arianne got into the shower with him she picked up the Old Spice Krakengard liquid body soap pouring a small amount on the bath sponge, “I like the smell” Craig turned around she started to wash him then she hugged him, she placed the side of her cheek against back, “I’m proud of you” Craig turned around, “There’s nothing to be proud of” he was exhausted he just wanted to try to sleep.  After drying Craig didn’t dress he slipped into bed Arianne propped up his arm with pillows and she snuggled on the side of him, “Sif’s out of surgery she’s in stable condition” Arianne read the text that her mother had sent to her.  Craig was comforted to find that Sif was in stable condition.  “What’s a man like Craig Chaise to do with two sisters and a divorcing wife within reach?”  Arianne asked Craig he moaned, “That’s not funny” Arianne smiled as she clung to Craig, “No it’s not funny, it’s life!”  

 

****

 

In the depths of Moonshine Plantation Hinn Halim and Michelle Moonshine sat crosslegged across from each other, four candles remained lit on the corners of the ornate silk blanket that was below them.  In between them was a golden chalice filled with the white bull’s blood.  The wolves howled in the distance, Hinn stood up he faced the direction of the wolves howling he held his arms out wide,  “My friends you may join us” Michelle picked up Hinn’s dagger, she stood up fearing the presence of wolves.  The security dogs tense forming a straight line they waited.  Between the trees the movement of a pack of wolves could be seen approaching, Hinn lifted a hand he called for the security dogs “Sit” he commanded them.  The moon created a night time shadow, the wolves were larger than many of the security dogs but Hinn did not show fear as he stood a short distance ahead of the canines anticipating the wolves to approach.  Hinn squatted low as the wolves growled showing their fangs.  He held out both hands searching the for leader of the pack focusing his gaze on the lead wolf.  When he stood he walked slowly squatting down like he did previously with the security canines after a few minutes of an uneasy standoff several wolves cautiously approached Hinn they began to sniff.  Hinn pet them on their backs, he stood.  One of the wolves was hesitant it bared teeth growling then it lunged at Hinn as he stood, with faster than could be believed reflexes he struck the wolf quickly grasping its throat with one hand, Hinn held the wolf pinned to the ground it gnarled its teeth and writhed for its freedom kicking with its legs but it could not free itself from his grasp.  It began to whelp and cry though Hinn showed no mercy, until it began to loose consciousness and then he let go.  Hinn walked to the canines as he stood by the security dogs “Come” he commanded.  With hesitation the security dogs walked with him the wolves that surrounded the wolf that was regaining consciousness.  “Greet your brothers and sisters” The wolves and security dogs began to sniff each other and though tense and growling they did not bite each other.  “Lick” Hinn commanded, the wolves and canines began to lick each other, as the incapacitated wolf regained its vitality it joined in the licking.  Hinn walked to the white bull that lay dead in between two apple trees, “Feast” in unison the wolves and canines began to feast on the dead white bull.  

 

Hinn walked back to the blanket squatting back down cross legged, “Join me” he opened up a black sack scattering various bones in front of the both of them.  “Are those human bones?”  Hinn nodded yes, “They are runes” Michelle admitted that she was at times brutal but she was a catholic and besides the holy mother the son of god with the Pope and priests as his vessel she knew no other.  “This is unholy” The owner of Moonshine Plantation exclaimed she wanted no part of what she was surrounded by, “There are matters and rules of the reverse that no longer hold truth as you have known it to be”  Hinn reached out a hand for Michelle she clung to her clothes that were bundled in her arms she looked to the wolves and canines eating the flesh of the white bull she picked up the golden dagger.  “They will not harm us, they are my servants” Hinn extended a hand “How did you?” Michelle held the dagger out pointed to him Hinn held his palms upward, “It is a gift from what you know as god, or else I would I have it?” Hinn stood, “Trust!  There is understanding” Hinn re affirmned.  “I am a sinner” Michelle mumbled, “Sin is a relative term” The sound of pack animals feasting on a dead animal was not something that she could trust, Hinn reached forward Michelle slashed across though Hinn was smooth and slick.  He side stepped Michelle placing himself behind her softly he took the dagger from her hands, he whispered into her ear softly sounding like the buzz of a hummingbird flying, “There is no danger” walking to the front of the owner of Moonshine Plantation Hinn held out his hand, “Trust” None of this seemed right she was used to being in control.  It was control and power that she always had but at this moment in the depths of her own property she felt powerless.  Being vulnerable not far from two dozen dogs feasting on a dead bull she reached her hand across.  Hinn smiled widely showing his teeth that seemed to glow like his eyes amid the full moon.  They squatted crosslegged facing each other on the blanket not asking in one swift motion Hinn took the dagger cutting open the palm of his left hand he grabbed Michelle’s left hand doing the same, “Ow” she exclaimed he clasped his hand with hers hovering it over the golden chalice.  Blood trickled from their clasped hands into the the chalice.  Michelle tried to pull her hand away but Hinn was too strong, “Trust” Hinn said but Michelle did not trust what he was doing.  “Your hurting me” then he let go of her hand.  Hinn picked up a nearby bottle he opened it, “Give me your hand” First Hinn showed the hand that he cut with the golden dagger he poured a small amount of the liquid that was in the bottle his open wound foamed and then a small scab formed over his wound seeming to heal at the pace of several weeks within moments.  “Sorcery” “Give” Hinn reached out his hand prostrate she complied, he poured a small amount of the healing liquid on her wound.  It stung and itched as it foamed and then it soothed as a scab covered the wound.  There was an ordinary wine glass Hinn picked it up he poured a small amount of the blood into the glass, and there was a bottle of Merlot he opened the bottle filling the ordinary glass with the mixed blood until it was full to the brim.  Hinn opened up two more bottles pouring a small amount of each into the golden chalice then he mixed the blood and unknown liquids with a crystal stirrer the chalice began to smoke Michelle was silent measuring and forming an opnion of the person that was in front of her.  The swirl of movement was mesmerizing the owner of Moonshine Plantation found herself in a cloud looking down on herself from above.  After stirring the blood he picked up a separate bottle it was not corked, a small funnel was inserted into the top he poured the blood mixture into the bottle and then he sealed it.  Looking to Michelle full of confidence, he handed her the glass of mixed wine and blood, “Sip” he told her.  Michelle shook her head no, she did not want to sip.  She was a butcher and bulls blood did not scare her but she did not drink blood, she shook her head no.  Hinn’s demeanor became serious, “Trust!  While it may seem unpleasant it is important, Please just one sip”  Michelle took her time, she had gone this far alone in the depths of her own plantation, she took the glass from his hands and she sipped.  She shivered it was wretched she spat after swallowing, Hinn Smiled he too took a drink from the chalice, “We are bound by blood and bull” “Sacrilege” Michelle reached for the bottle that Hinn had corked full with the mix of the bull, her, and Hinn’s blood,  “The bottle will not break or open by human hands” Michelle stood up she looked to the side her security dogs were tearing apart the white bull along with the pack of wolves.  She decided that it was time for her to return to her mansion.  Hinn stood up, “We are not finished” Michelle didn’t hide her emotions, “I don’t want to be a part of this” “It is lifelong power but one element is missing” “I don’t want this kind of power”  Hinn stood in front of Michelle, “You fear the unknown.  Have you been harmed beyond a little blood letting and a scar that will heal?”  She didn’t know what to think but she felt that Hinn was trying to sell her something.  “We must consummate” Hinn whispered to her.  She turned away, “I cannot do that to my husband” Hinn softly touched the bare back of the owner of Moonshine Plantation, shivers ran up her spine, “Do you not feel it?”  She looked back to Hinn, “Feel what?”  He moved closer to her, “Connection” Hinn pressed his lips against hers Michelle considered the treachery that Tomas and Pablo had been conducting for several years and although the scenery was not of god she went along with Hinn’s wishes.

 

****

 

Tomas Caza screamed in front of Moonshine Mansion after the guests had gone home after the party in the ball room.  He was furious that his wife could not be found it was a quarter past 1am he and Pablo with the assistance of the paid staff began to search the plantation for Michelle Moonshine.  Nidhogg stood with Vega amused by the spectacle of a husband in search of an object that he called a wife that he could not place.  Under no uncertain terms would Nidhogg involve nor use any of his resources to search for his sister and Vega’s nephew though they were both aware that Hinn had planned to seek out specters in the depths of the plantation.  It wasn’t surprising that Michelle would accompany a new arrival that had intrigue on her own property.  Shortly after Tomas had begun to search for his wife, Nidhogg and Vega turn in to their quarters for the night.

 

****

 

Seemingly surreal the moonlight shone down on the plantation, soft dry breezes traveled through the field, Hinn lay beside Michelle Moonshine she was on her back staring at the stars and full moon.  The wolves and canines had consumed a large section of the white bull Michelle sat up, Hinn ran a ringer up and down her spine softly, “I would build a palace for you and we would own a kingdom” She wrapped her arms around her right knee the curves of her body reflected picturesquely with the moonlight as she lowered her knee her breasts appeared full and plentiful.  She ran her fingers through her hair, “I would never move from my plantation”. Hinn sat up he reached for Michelle’s clothes, “Put them on” Hinn quickly put on his clothes, “What is the matter?”  He put on his pants, “There is a search for you we should journey to the mansion.” Considering everything else that she had witnessed she did not question.  Hinn put out the candle light and discarded them then he gathered the items putting them in the middle of the blanket pulling the blanket by the four corners making a sack heaving it over his shoulder, “Are you ready?”  Hinn asked Michelle she looked him in the eyes, something had changed between the two of them she had feelings and a passion that was instant when she looked into his eyes, she kissed him.  “I’m ready” Hinn looked to the wolves, “Farewell my friends” Hinn motioned to the canines, “Come” The security dogs followed.  The two traveled together for nearly 20 minutes flashlights were seen in the distance, Michelle did not avoid meeting anyone on her property, Tomas included.  One of the farm workers flashed the light on Michelle and Hinn the security dogs followed had the flashlights shone on the security dogs it would reveal that the dogs were covered with the white bulls blood.  “Mrs. Moonshine  is everything alright Tomas was worried with your disappearance he sent a search party looking for you.”  She waved off the worker, “Yes” Hinn kept walking with the security dogs not stopping for conversation with Michelle and the farm worker.  He made it to the dog kennel where he washed off the security dogs putting the hounds in the kennel.  After he closed the door he picked up his sack where he was met by Pablo and Tomas.  Michelle was less that 100 yards away, “You are no longer welcomed here.” Hinn stood silently until Michelle arrived, she stood by the side of Tomas.  “You have been absent” Tomas addressed his wife.  Hinn reached out for Michelle’s hand he lifted her right hand kissing the top of it while making eye contact.  Tomas was angered Pablo stepped forward Hinn nodded, “That would not be wise” He let go of her hand, the security dogs whimpered he turned to them, “Do not fear my friends I will be well” Hinn focused back to Michelle Moonshine, “Mrs. Moonshine you were gracious for allowing me and my servant to take reprieve on your plantation, I will assure you that the wraith that killed your cattle will torment your lands no more.”  Hinn looked to Tomas, “Though I am of a different belief I will quote from the 10th chapter of the book of Job, 'Do you have eyes of flesh? Or do you see as a man sees?  Are your days like the days of a mortal man?  Are your years like the days of a mighty man, that you should seek for my iniquity and search out my sin'.”  Hinn kicked dirt in Tomas’s direction he walked away without further speaking.  Before the sunrise Hinn and his servant left Moonshine Plantation in his private helicopter.  

 

****

 

His head was swirling making sleep nearing impossible Craig woke during dusk full of angst, sweat, and pain unable to sleep he found himself praying to god for forgiveness for being an adulterous man, for following a fools journey he prayed for guidance for gods blessing and protection.  He sat at the desk in the bedroom while Arianne slept his arm throbbed it hurt to move but he felt that he deserved what he got.   He read the Psalms of David he wept as he prayed.  Arianne crept up behind Craig she wrapped her arms around him placing them on his chest, “Don’t torment yourself, If I know anything I know that god forgives his faithful”

 

Chapter 25 Wine Glass

 

The election was one day away.  If there was a last grab it would appear to be scrambling, a show of political distress, and all for naught.  For both sides the election was well campaigned and hard fought.  The summer drought and consecutive heat waves made for a very stifling summer.  With the current mayor stepping down abruptly from office there was a void.  After a receiving a lucrative career offer in South Africa many residents were angered with the mayoral vacancy.  A tense filled political issue was hovering about, it was the battle over installing a sewer system.  The town was a rural town where most of the locals knew each other, the businesses were local, and there was a long history of avoiding inflating government.  The problem was with growth in population as nearby cities lost manufacturing businesses and shifts occurred in demographics rural towns were seeing an increase from what was considered outside migration.  During the runoff mayoral campaign there was also a referendum for a new high school, the presence of a sewer system over septic tanks stunk like a dead skunk in the road.  As where Donna Lang was supportive of the installation of a public sewer system her opponent Stewart Lang was adamantly opposed to the addition of more government structures and added taxes that included his opposition to a new high school.  The argument was as political as politics is, as well as one of need Stewart Blythe argued that, “The basis for these issues is one of freedom, I don’t want to pay for it do you?  What we have works, why change?”  Donna Lang’s response was, “We are building a future for our town.  Who has the vision to prepare us for that future?  Things change are we going to be a remnant of that change like some West Texas town or are we going to welcome the growth with a system that can sustain it? The state and federal government is going to fund a big portion of both high school and sewer system why not?”  The Blythe camp fought fiercely arguing with voters over adding new taxes like water and sewer that currently were privatized with Septic tanks and wells.  The political debate that was held in the parking lot of Dionysus Refined was well attended and reported on by various media outlets.  For the most part the unions supported Donna Lang though the highway department supported Stewart Blythe whom did not support a sewer system but he did propose to float a bond for new roads.  Candidate Blythe had the publicized support of Poultry Provisions and many small businesses within the town.  What was believed to be Stewart Blythe’s strength was his family’s history of leadership within the town and his connection with the local businesses, but he didn’t want change he wanted stability and the ability to be free from the strings attached with Federal funds.   As election day approached both candidates visited their constituents eager to win the mayoral race.

 

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Nidhogg received a text from his father in the morning informing him of what happened with his ex wife Sif.  Concerning her, he was a divorced man that had married a woman that he loved though he was not a very expressive man.  He had a need to have a partner that was a part of him he was content with small gestures and long periods involvement with achievement.  The past was the past he was not one to look back though he did not hate his ex wife.  He immediately texted his father back stating that he was not involved with the hit job that had taken place.  Nidhogg didn’t play coy, he believed that Hinn Halim was responsible.  His cell phone rang it was Freyja Sullivan he answered.  It was an unexpected phone call considering that he was no longer married to her daughter.  Throughout the conversation Nidhogg withheld giving information of his own, he did not discuss Hinn Halim and it was evident that Freyja didn’t know of Vega’s relation to him otherwise she would not have discussed details possibly would not have called, “She’s losing her edge” he thought to himself.  But she did discuss details of Hinn Halim and his employee Pascal Said.  Nidhogg employed Olaf and Bjyorn two of her former security team that were also involved in Ariannes kidnapping and art heist.  In part it made him guilty but not of murder, no he did not want to kill the Sullivan’s.  Nidhogg Moonshine was too smart for his own good to want to end a powerful connection.  The mention of Craig Chaise gave Nidhogg a mixed feeling, he growled stopping Freyja as she spoke.  She laughed slightly Nidhogg nearly hung up the cell phone.  That person that he loathed, born of a low dwelling brought a magnetism of his own that shaped many occurrence including saving Sif’s life from the assassination attempt.  Writhing with discontent over the memory of being trapped in bed linen nailed to a wall, he was never so vulnerable.  Nidhogg wanted time alone away from Vega to contemplate if he was going to take action.  Soon his conversation with the billionaire businesswoman was completed.  His sister was working out in the mansion gym, he accompanied her while she was jogging on the treadmill she didn’t stop jogging, “I have pressing matters, it is imperative that you join me for a walk so that we may hold an important discussion” Michelle walked off of the treadmill taking a towel that was hanging from the handle of the treadmill, she dried herself with the towel. Nidhogg waited outside of the mansion gym, when they began to walk together he waited until they were outside.

 

Walking beside his sister they strolled in front of the dog kennel toward the bulls barn, “What is it that you have to discuss?”  Nidhogg thought before he spoke, “Last night there was an incident.” Michelle laughed she knew what he wanted to discuss with her, “You mean with me and Hinn?”  A thought occurred to him he cast it aside, “No, though I believe Hinn to be the responsible party.”  Michelle began to get angered she did not like anticipation nor did she like to get pulled from her personal time for frivolous conversation. “Nidhogg get to the point!” He nodded, “Last night there was an attempt on Sif’s life.”  Nidhogg paused for a moment leaving a space between his words to let it settle, “She was shot in the back” Michelle froze where she stood the night before there was a moment where she knew something bad had happened but she did not know what. “Sif was accompanied by the same man that she was with at the art exhibit.  While I never liked that lowly aggressive person he saved her life, he was shot in the arm but he killed the attacker.”  Michelle was slow in movement, she thought very highly of Sif even after she and Arianne have begun fueding, “What is her condition?”  Nidhogg placed his hand behind his sister motioning for her to walk as Pablo stared at both from the Mansion.  “She’s in stable condition, her surgery required plates and screws, she broke several of her teeth when she fell to the ground.”  Michelle looked to Nidhogg, “What about the attacker?” Nidhogg lifted a finger to his nose briefly, “That is the thing.  The attacker was identified as Pascal Said former Iranian Military special ops he is employed as an executive under the payroll of a company that Hinn Halim is CEO of.”  The owner of Moonshine Plantation clutched her stomach she turned abruptly she could not believe what she had heard.  She remembered the night before, the sacrifice of the White Bull, the wolves and canines feasting on its corps, the wine and blood, and the joining of the two.  Her heart pounded quickly she felt betrayed, “This is blasphemy” Nidhogg was unsure if he had heard correctly.  Michelle Moonshine walked at almost a jogging pace to the glass lid that was placed over the keffiyeh she picked up the glass covering she placed it aside.  She pulled out the golden nails that were tapped into each corner, she picked up the keffiyeh and the hoop that held it into place, she placed it on top of her head setting the hoop.  She held the golden nails in one of her hands.  Pablo watched from a distance serious in his stance he decided to get Tomas to see what his wife was doing.  Nidhogg observed without talking, “What are you doing?”  Nidhogg asked his sister “I’m going back to America, but I will keep this as a reminder” Michelle was acting odd he had never known her to act foolishly as he was observing, “A reminder of what?”  She looked into her brother’s eyes seeming both hurt and angry, “Why I do not trust men!” Michelle Moonshine pulled the Keffiyeh from her head holding it with the hoop in the hand that was holding the golden nails.  She stormed to her quarters to prepare for her journey back to America.  

 

Tomas exited the mansion with Pablo from a different door that his wife had taken to enter.  Nidhogg stood alone Tomas walked to him, “Where is my wife” Nidhogg looked to Tomas he shook his head smiling showing his teeth, “She is doing what she was doing last night!” Tomas clenched his fists, Pablo joined in the clenching, “Getting lost in the plantation?” Nidhogg nodded no, “No!”  Nidhogg flicked his nose he walked smoothly away from Pablo and Tomas turning around before he left the room, "You lack nuance and your needy!  It's the close battles that you lose with my sister because of your lack of those particular characteristics!” He walked away needing to contemplate what has occurred.

 

****

 

Time zone change often requires acclimation but not for Hinn Halim, when he arrived at his home in Isfahan, Iran he was eager to be about.  Hours after he arrived home he found himself wandering Naqsh-e Jahan Square later standing in the middle of Khaju bridge thinking about Michelle Moonshine.  Hinn was a patient man, he trusted Pascal Said he knew that he would follow through with the order that was given to him.  While standing in the middle of Khaju bridge peering over the birth of the cradle of civilization he received a phone call from the CFO of the telecommunications company that he was CEO of, he was informed of what had occurred in America with Pascal Said.  He hung up his cell phone he thought about his options.  He was dry, angered, aware that Pascal’s cell phone would lead to him.  The night previous he knew that something was awry.  Not being a naive man he knew that he had to be alert, though he questioned the reach of the billionaire businesswoman.  He had met Freyja Sullivan on several occasions, while she was at the time under the grasp of his brother Djinn he did not underestimate her intelligence of potential capability.  What doubted was if she would have much success with penetrating Persian lands.  The sun had set given that Iran Standard Time is many hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time with continuous travel from Chile to Iran.  Hinn decided that it would be best if he secluded himself to his home until he decided what his next course of action would be.  Weaving in and out of people in the Isfahan City Center a shopping center that is one of the biggest malls in the region he was intent on his destination.  As he exited the mall premises the streets were narrow surrounded by ancient stone construction, he was well acquainted with his surroundings. Soon he reached his car he put the key in the ignition and drove.

 

Upon arriving at his property the contrast of landscape was apparent.  It was a gated premises with lush green grass sprayed by a sprinkler system.  Hinn took the small whistle that hung around his neck with a chain, he blew into it.  Quickly a pack of canines ran to his side obediently.  His servant rushed out of the mansion to greet him, Hinn took satisfaction in the prompt obedience.  The servant held several pieces of paper in his hands, “What are you holding?” Hinn asked his servant, “A report of what has occurred” Hinn took the report that his sources had retrieved for him, he walked into his mansion followed by the canines and his servant.  Hinn read the report as he traveled to his quarters.  After reading the report he began to make phone calls to his telecommunications company board members to call for a meeting within hours to discuss current affairs.  The plan was for Hinn to take a short leave of absence from the company.  When the phone calling was complete he began to prepare for the meeting.

 

****

 

By mid afternoon Sif Moonshine woke in her hospital bed, she hurt barely able to move her whole torso was swollen she was full of pain.  She pressed the button for the nurse she needed the pillow to be adjusted.  Freyja squeezed her right hand she lay on her stomach in prone positioning with a prone positioning pillow and an oxygen tank with tubes under her nose aiding her breathing, “Where is Craig” Sif asked Freyja, “He’s at his house, the security team has set up a base in his apartment.  Do you know what happened?”  Sif could not nod her head, “It happened too fast”.

 

****

 

His arm was immobile though he could flex his hand pain free.  In the morning Arianne offered herself to him but he turned down her offer.  As he dressed he had planned on going to the hospital, “Will you be joining me?”  Craig asked as he picked up the keys to his truck off of the desk in his bedroom.  “I have a dinner meeting I need to prepare, Saidah and I will visit her in the morning.”  Craig jingled his keys before he clutched them, “Weren’t we supposed to meet this afternoon?”  Craig asked,  Arianne placed her hands on her hips she blew him a kiss, “Things happened” She stepped forward kissing him on the lips, she tilted her head, “This isn’t right?”  She asked, Craig walked out the bedroom without answering.  He blinked his eyes quickly he couldn’t deny but he could avoid.  Freyja’s security team was eating breakfast as he left.  He arrived at the hospital shortly after eager to see Sif, hoping that her condition was not severe.  He walked to the receptionist asking for the room where Sif Moonshine was staying.  The solid tiled floor of the hospital aided by the air controlled environment reminded Craig why he didn’t like hospitals.  Soon enough he found Sif’s room with a security guard standing post.  When he entered Freyja was seated by her side.  Sif smiled slightly as Craig entered the room.  He pulled up a chair sitting on the side of Freyja, she stood up, “I think that it would be prudent if I made my exit” Freyja picked up her purse then she left the hospital room.  Arrangement were made so that Sif did not have a roommate.  Craig squeezed Sif’s hand he was quiet, “You mothers security set up a base in my apartment.”  There was nothing that Sif could do to respond, she body was swollen from trauma she was immobile able to speak in short sentences she held Craig’s hand.  “You broke my teeth” she said softly.  Craig reached out he ran his fingers through her hair, “It happened so fast it was sudden without warning.  I reacted without thought, I’m sorry that I couldn’t protect you.”  She squeezed Craig’s hand with soft pressure as she did not have and strength in her.  “Djinn’s twin’s brother Hinn was behind what happened.”  She let go of his hand, “You killed him” Craig stood up, “Good” While standing he looked down to Sif laying on her stomach her back was bandaged with the rest of her back being exposed her long black hair lay scattered about on both sides as her face was resting against the specialized pillow.  “How are you feeling?”  She took her time in answering his question, “more pain and immobility than I have ever experienced, you were shot” Sif softly inquired “In the arm the bullet went through, I am fine.  I’m concerned for you.  I couldn’t sleep I feel responsible for not being able to protect you.  I promise you that I will track down Hinn and get revenge” Sif opened her hand as if reaching Craig sat back down he held her hand, “You did all that you could we are alive the attacker is not” Sif pressed the button for the nurse, “I need dilaudid more dilaudid” her voice crackled dryly as she spoke.  The nurse gave her more dilaudid Craig watched the nurse administer the medication.  Sif couldn’t see her own eyes dialate but she felt the medication kick in she was quiet as she lay on her stomach she felt like her body was sinking into a comfortable hole, she began to fall asleep.  Craig remained by her side holding her hand stroking her long silky black hair.  

 

****

 

Charles Bassett waited semi patiently to meet with his daughter, her husband and Arianne Sullivan for dinner.  He was anxious, his palms were sweaty but he was also ready for a fight should it be necessary because his daughter Lena had a way with him that brought out a reason to fight.  Arianne showed up first wearing a red top that exposed her shoulders catching on her arms a green flaring dress bottom and white dress shoes.  Charles was not a connoisseur on clothing he could not identify the proper name for the type of clothing that she wore.  While she looked good because Arianne was a beautiful woman, he thought that he had seen her look better.  He leaned in Arianne expected a kiss on the cheek he aimed for her mouth, she turned her head, “Don’t press it Charles, I’m here as your dinner guest not your consort” Charles smiled, “I was just greeting you” He leaned in again he kissed her on the cheek, “You see, there’s no harm, he placed a hand on her back.   His daughter Lena arrived with her husband Nicholas.  Arianne knew that her role at this dinner was to serve as a mediator between Charles, Lena, and her husband Nicholas.  She kissed Nicholas on the cheek greeting him, he sighed she noted the expression he must have had a measure of anxiety with having dinner with Lena’s father.  Arianne greeted Lena with a kiss on the cheek as she placed her hands on Lena’s bubbled stomach.  Lena wasn’t surprised, she liked Arianne she was very mindful.  

 

Checking in with the hostess seatings were reserved for the party of 4.  The hostess led them to their table, picking out the seating Charles gave direction.  He sat across from Arianne and Lena sat across from Nicholas, the waitress took their order for drinks.  Arianne had not told Charles about the attempt at Twin River Casino involving her sister and Craig Chaise nor did she intend to.  Charles led the conversation he looked to Nicholas he nudged him with the back of his fist then he wiped his nose with one of his fingers, “So tell me Nick how did you meet my daughter?”  Before speaking Nicholas looked nervously then he drank a full glass of water, “Well” Lena interrupted, “We met through mutual acquaintances my friend had a party and Nicholas played the piano he was putting on a show but the thing is - is that he can’t sing.  So he was asking if anyone could sing” Lena reached to the side of her grabbing Arianne’s wrist tightly Arianne knew that Lena was lying, Lena laughed, “But you know how I’m a social butterfly so stupid me I jumped forward like a fish taking the bait and before you know it we were the entertainment for the evening.”  The waitress brought drinks then took orders for appetizers and dinner.  Charles took a sip from the old fashioned that he ordered.  “That’s an interesting story” He kept the drink hovering just below his lips, “You will have to play the piano for me sometime, I’d like to hear the songs that you two played together the night that you met.”  Charles said he looked serious to Nicholas letting his sentiment linger.  Arianne broke the tension, “Lena” “Yes” Lena smiled nervously, “You’re about to be a mother, how does it feel?”  She was glad for the change in conversation narrative, “We’re excited she has a room already decorated with crib and dresser waiting for her arrival.”  Arianne smiled, “So you’re having a girl!” Lena grabbed Nicholas’s hand, “Yes! We’re both very excited” Nicholas had just turned 33 he was a young professional but he knew Charles as he had known many fellow doctors, he doubted that they would ever go beyond being cordial with each other.  Arianne on the other hand was different in a European Aristocratical way, he wasn’t sure if she was putting on an act or if she genuinely liked him. He was certain that time would tell.  Nicholas looked to Charles briefly then to Arianne, he wondered how they ever got to be a couple.  Arianne looked to Lena, “You know Lena it has been a long time since we have spoken.”  Lena took a sip of water with lemon, “Yes it has” Arianne took a sip of Chardonnay, “I have a five year old daughter” Lena looked quickly to her father noting that his face was slightly red, “With my father?”  Arianne knew that Lena would assume that they were still a couple, “No!  With a very good friend of mine he owns Dionysus Refined, a candle and wine store in the town beside the one where my art gallery is.”  Charles interrupted the conversation he placed a hand on the table, “We are no longer seeing each other, but I am business partners with her mother.”  Charles felt the pressure from the dinner and he was serious not jovial how Arianne and Lena wanted to be.  Small talk continued until dinner arrived.  Arianne received a text that her mother’s security team received confirmation of Hinn’s location they were leaving 2 guards behind and meeting up with another team in Iceland.  The plan was that they would form a team and travel to Afghanistan along the border of Iran before crossing the border and traveling to Isfahan to track down Hinn and seek vengeance.  Arianne read the text she lost her appetite and she tightened up in posture.  “Is there something wrong?” Charles asked Arianne she smiled nodding no, “A personal matter that will be tended to”

 

****

The night had a consistent breeze and as Faith reached her hotel room she opened up the windows, she sat on the porch of the hotel room with the candle lit.  She opened up the bottle of wine and unclothed sitting on a deck chair with her feet resting open on the balcony looking at the flames of the candle flicker with the wind, she drank wine rubbing her still flat stomach.  The event that had taken place really did blow Faith’s mind it was better when she didn't think too much.  Sitting on the porch, she didn’t feel awkward being nude, no she felt comfortable with herself.  Yet she did not know what she was going to do.  As of the current situation the divorce was moving forward and she was also pregnant. Faith placed an empty wine glass on top of the flat of the porch rail she left it there she drank from the bottle.  Several fast gulps nearly half of the bottle was consumed, the buzz was kicking in she sat in a daze for a while.  Within a few months her pregnancy would be very noticeable, any kind of weight gain with her was always noticeable, should she not get an abortion, that is.  She was officially in her 30’s, was this what life had to offer?  She didn’t look the worse for wear, no she was confident that she would age gracefully but did she want a child?  Something that would bog her down more than being married to a curmudgeon that tried to hard to love her.  Maybe she was the one with issues, and he wanted to move her parents to a vineyard in California, the gall!  Footage of California Wildfires was on the television recently she secretly hoped that Dionysus Refined Vineyards would burn just to spite Craig.  “You see” she said out loud, “Just the thoughts in itself are grounds for divorce.  At least I have five millions dollars in my bank account.” Faith sat on the porch of her hotel room where she drank the bottle of wine.  Before she went inside she pushed the glass off of the rail.

 

****

 

The benefit of growing old is the experience of seeing the world in different conditions, that was a belief that Salvatore Moonshine had known.  In his youth it was London after war, New York and Boston in early 1960’s, then London again in the middle to late 1960’s if there was a high point of civilization where there was a real thing, then that was it.  West Coast America, had its points though when he visited the Height Ashbury scene during a business trip in the 1960’s he did not like the counter culture.  It wasn’t that he was ultra conservative it was that he wasn’t lost in the thought haze of laziness and mind altering drug abuse, then again he was also over 30.  Culture is a very powerful trend setter he had to admit.  When commercialism began being prominent during the 1970's that was the period in time in which Salvatore Moonshine really began to gain power and wealth.  Yes he took pride in being one of the maker's of Globalism.  Presently he had his fill with America he yearned for the comfort of the familiar London structures and the sensibilities of its people.  Life was predictable with less dramatics than what the current summer provided.  In England there were a set of meetings already planned, several with potential product managers with the promise of producing commodity products in New England after patents were purchased.  Salvatore had a flight planned for the evening however; he needed to tend to a pressing matter and by mid afternoon he had arrived at the hospital where Sif Moonshine was staying.  When he arrived at her room Craig Chaise was sitting in a chair, his arm was wrapped in medical bandages held in a sling.  He stood up to face Salvatore they stood eye to eye, “Young Man” Salvatore addressed him.  Craig looked to Sif, “The nurse just administered pain meds.”  Craig nodded to Salvatore, “Luck and Bravery was on your side” Craig looked down, “Thanks” Salvatore lifted his cane as he sat in down in the seat where Craig was sitting.  "I'd like to philosophize" Salvatore caught Craig's attention he nodded, "I spoke with Freyja she told me about you.”  While Craig wasn’t alarmed he was cautious, “And what did she say?”  Salvatore was held no punches, “Enough to confirm my suspicions of your advantageousness” Craig reached for the keys in his pocked he was ready to leave, “I work hard, but I do it the right way.  There’s a difference”.  Salvatore nodded no,  “It’s not right or wrong, Speaking from the grandiose, although your small business let’s talk history.”  Salvatore took a moment to reflect, “There's a prelude of one era to the next a glimpse of things to come.”  “I’m well aware of how I’ve aged” Craig commented.  Salvatore waved a hand, “When a professor is telling a story it is not about the person in particular, and the educated English rarely write in 1st person. Rudimentary sales, you need to listen in order to sell to a client.”  “I know that”  Salvatore began philosophizing,   “Then shut up!”  Craig took a second take at the old man that was scolding him without reason.  Salvatore waved a finger, “I can site many businesses and people but I want to use a macro perspective and later use your own scope to personalize this conversation.”  Craig was listening though he wondered what he would learn.   “I believe that we are all a part of something greater collectively.  Example; Watch the 1936 Olympics that is a comprehension on film. The events following World War 1 found a world changing with the industrial era.  How many lazies were eradicated and throats cut by the advantageous and more well equipped?  How many false beliefs were shattered and built by the Olympic events?"  “You said that I am aggressive!  Are you talking about the incident?" Craig interrupted Salvatore.  “I said advantageous know the difference and No I was not talking about the incident.  I'm talking about how men like us shape the history of mankind.  As long as people aren't taken out of the equation by weapons of mass destruction, that has happened, the business class picked up the pieces.  The thing with strong individuals with promising potential is that they pay the price of making a difference”  “Didn’t the military do that?”Craig interrupted Salvatore ignored him, “You need to learn why the is remains the is and not was.  Business is often a matter of trends.”  Salvatore lowered his voice as Sif began to murmur,   “A trend is more than others following in your footsteps.  Who sets it is the question, answered within determination by people successful with transitioning because they either adapted or worked hard enough to make it.  That is leadership.  Good or bad!  The unwritten law of the trendsetter and not all trendsetters are leaders.  It is also the rule of history because from one era to the next there is always ramification and reward.”  Craig felt competitive and dry and that kind of feeling usual held action he took Salvatore seriously.   “What are you getting at?  My arm is wrapped in a sling, Sif’s laying on a bed.  My and her business isn’t good enough?”  Salvatore shook his head, “You don’t get it.  Either you're too dumb, lack the potential, or haven’t realized the real power that is involved.  Winemaking and candle making is leisure work for the family bound but you are not of that cloth.  Power is history.   A history in progress!  When London was left as remnants I was there.  If it's living it shits!" The first meeting between Salvatore Moonshine and Craig Chaise they clashed slightly before the art exhibit.  “Palpation?  Why are we having this conversation?" Craig asked Salvatore "You were brave when needed.  The question wasn't intent it was action.  And with this incident it fills me with thought and talking helps to release the tension."  Craig listened to the scrooge like man knowing that while he was imparting wisdom he was not free.  “Your an ancient” Salvatore smiled and nodded, ”You were lucky to survive and with talking to Freyja she's observed you, she’s aware of your growth and change as a person.  Though we are merely leaves falling from trees the seasons are changing.  With passing of era's you show yourself and how you age with experiences and conditions.  That is what makes or breaks a person with potential! The willingness to work for your personal and professional goals is a personal trend as where villains and heroes are formed as well as victims and the oppressed are exposed, thats on an executive level and the habits that are held have their effect.  That holds true whether is personal or business both small and big.  At this point in your career you have experienced corruption and honesty and that they both work with far different results and futures.  It's personal because within your small circle there are real people involved.  Mix in those that won’t like you and work against you because of your race, that is a battle that only line can be abided by.  That being said your physical being is your limitation and machine's are tools of consumption.  Tool being the operative word because they are being used.  But you are young and your instincts earned you a metal in the olympics of survival and the foundation of your survival is the existence and current state of your business.  ”  Craig interrupted, "I am an individual and I know my fate, why are you lecturing me?” Salvatore smiled, "Leaders are individuals and fools and great minds sometimes think alike" Salvatore was quiet he looked forward then Salvatore flicked a hand like shooing away a fly. Before Craig left the room Salvatore stopped him, "Being the boss means that you have power to make or break and control people.  Most people don't think independently" "I know have employees" Salvatore shook his head, "Lead a corporation then tell me about directing people."  Salvatore knocked his cane on the hospital floor, "In a different time we would have competed, I would like to see you in the presence of real competition, it is the competition that sharpens skills and makes great men.  That is value with many bodies in its wake.  Is this talk too big for you?"  Craig nodded no.  "Good! Then remember the words as an expression of an old business man with much on his mind.  You have the potential to build and in the mix you don’t need to be the best even myself within the numbers was merely more than lucky to have opportunity at the right time.  When someone has creeped up from behind with a knife you need to learn how to defend yourself or else you will be another Julius Caesar for Rome wasn’t built in a day.”  “Yet all road’s lead to rome” Salvatore looked to Craig, "I thought that you are French?"  Craig nodded, "I am American in the most patriotic sense, though after war I always wondered why France was used for treaties."  Craig was bothered by the conversation that seemed out of nowhere although the unusual from prominant people had been not unusual for him.  They stared at each other for more than a moment.  "Too many chiefs and not enough indians" Craig said to Salvatore who in return lifted a hand with fingers crossed, "How" That brought a smile to both of their faces.  

 

In a moment it was Salvatore and Sif he observed her current predicament quietly.  He paid attention to every detail of her state of prescence though did not change Salvatore’s demeanor he did feel remorse for his former daughter in law.  Inspecting the wrapped wound on her back, her long black hair hung to one side with her face in a pillow.  Leaning in to Sif’s ear he said plainly, “Now you know how Abraham Lincoln felt” he kissed her on the side of her head.  Salvatore recounted her a story that included how he had met her father.  While she did not respond he was certain that she was listening.

 

Chapter 26 Hard Work and The Grace Of God

 

Jed Folues worked diligently in Hawaii, he met with shipping contacts, he worked with two territory managers that managed wine and candle accounts in the state.  Traveling with each rep for 2 days was not a long time but in the short scope travels he was satisfied with what he saw.  At the physical Dionysus Refined retail location he observed both manufacturing operations and retail operations that Tammy Lynn was manager of.  What they had known of each other was years before when she was in a relationship with Jed’s brother Reg and then Ow Nguyen.  He was in Hawaii, finishing the two weeks that was planned, he was ready to begin working with the territory managers starting with the west coast.  Within one month he had planned to start hiring for the South West Territories that currently had very little business with.  Monday morning he was informed of the attack that happened with Craig Chaise and Sif Moonshine.  While it didn’t change much of the business plans, Jed decided that it would be appropriate to delay working with the sales reps for a week, he traveled back to new england, he visited Craig Tuesday morning, the day of the mayoral election.  Craig opened the door Jed noticed the condition of his arm, Craig invited him inside.  They discussed the events and then the current state of business in Hawaii, Jed discussed his plan to work with the territory managers on the west coast.  Then they discussed the meetings planned to hire territory managers for the new South West Territories and meetings with a dozen distributors in the Mid West and Mid Atlantic regions.  Craig wanted to attend both hiring and meeting with distributors.  

 

****

 

Tuesday night the election after the polls were closed the votes began to be tallied, with Donna Lang leading with 50.8% of the vote.  The voter turnout for the off year election was nearly 60% that was a historical amount for an off year election.  Considering the issues that were on the table the sewer and water system, high school, roads, the mayoral election and the different directions that each leadership would take, held a lot of political weight.  In different parts of the town that was sparsely populated nearly 50,000 residents both political candidates held parties with neither side declaring victory nor conceding defeat.  The hours dragged well into the the early morning and still there was no victor declared.  After all of the votes were counted with a small amount of mail in ballots to be counted Donna Lang was leading by less than 1000 votes.  Toward the morning it was too close to call, neither side called the other.

 

****

 

Freya’s security team met in Reykjavik with another team of Icelandic para military officials where they went over the detail of Hinn Halim’s property in Isfahan, Iran.  The team that was formed consisted of 17 Icelandic former military and police trained security guards.  Each member was well aware of the potential danger that was involved crossing the border of a country that was not friendly traveling to the property of Hinn Halim and executing the order of termination.  The head of security Einar lead the effort giving the presentation using satellite imagining to show the team members the layout of Hinn Halim’s property.  Upon completion of the task there was promised to be a healthy reward and though it was dangerous the team of 17 traveled from Reykjavik to Herat, Afghanistan.  The mood was tense because of the pressure pertaining to traveling from Afghanistan to the center of the nation of Iran.  If the travel was not threatening enough then the action of terminating the life of Hinn Halim added extra pressure.  During the initial flights to Herat there was very little conversation.  Once in Herat, Afghanistan they prepared before they drove in unmarked vehicles driven by Iranian mercenaries.  They were promised to travel safely to Isfahan the cars and drivers would be waiting a safe distance away from Hinn’s property waiting the team of 17’s return.  As they began their travel the team waited patiently traveling in the cars.  As they crossed the border into Iran there was tension as they feared what may occur.  However; the drivers of the vehicles knew the border with specificity and they crossed without interaction from Iranian military.

 

****

 

Morning breeze flowed through Faith’s hotel room, she woke to the smell of freshly cut grass and the hum of lawnmowers as the front lawn of the hotel was being mowed by landscapers.  She put on one of Craig’s long sleeved t shirts and walked out to the porch of the hotel room, she peered over the edge to the pavement below the wine glass that she pushed off of the ledge was no longer there.  She thought for a moment she was ready to go home.  Of course there was a matter between her and Craig.  She knew what he wanted but she needed more time to decide what she wanted on her own terms.  After packing her belongings she loaded them into her rental vehicle and checked out of the hotel.  As she drove to the airport she was about to merge with Route 128 when she took an exit on route 95 turning around against her better judgment she figured to stay with Craig for 2 days, not more!  She would give him that much then she would go home to figure things out on her own. As she drove she sang songs along with the radio with the windows rolled down during the middle of a heat wave.  Did she care?  No!  That was part of the free will that on rare occasions she enjoyed.  It was late afternoon when she showed up at Craig’s house walking up to his apartment with suit cases in hand.  Faith turned the knob without knocking the door it was unlocked and Craig was in the kitchen opening up the fridge he turned around noticing that Faith was holding two suitcases in her hands.  He walked to her grabbing one of them from her, “No it’s ok I got it” Faith told him knowing that he was injured.  She put the suitcases down on the floor, “I’ll be straight forward with you” Craig was quiet.  “I’m staying two days and then I’m going back home to figure things out” Still he didn’t say anything.  Craig pulled off his shirt then she pulled the sling from around his neck followed by pulling off the bandages.  The stitches bullet wounds were surrounded by a swollen mess of purple, blue, and black.  She wasn’t sure of the reason behind that kind of unveiling but she shook her head he was with another woman that wasn’t his wife.  “Good!” Faith blurted.   He didn’t talk waiting for her to talk.  “I might have told you to fuck other women, but I really didn’t mean it.”  There was a moment where they both were quiet.  “We went gambling” Craig said, Faith didn’t hesitate, “BULLSHIT!” He shrugged his shoulders, “A trained assassin tried to kill both Sif and me without notice” Faith left Craig’s apartment she walked down the stairs to her rental car walking back up a minute later holding a wired cage with one of her shoes inside of it.  Sleeping inside was the handicapped chipmunk, “I named her” “She’s still living?” “She survived” Faith’s eyes watered, blood rushed to her face. She walked up to Craig she began to cry, “I named her April, she’s special, she survived for a reason.” Craig lifted Faith’s chin so that she looked him in the eyes she nodded her head, “I’m staying for two days and then I’m going home, I need time to think and I want to know what I want to know for myself.” “Debbie-Sue will be back from Maine tomorrow with the kids” “I don’t care!” Faith shouted then she was quiet, “I’ll be happy to see my kids” Craig blinked his eyes he was emotional tears streamed down his face.  She walked away from him, “I’m going back to Hawaii two days from now and I’m going to figure things out for myself.”  When Craig was at war figuratively speaking he was focused he called it the twenty four where where he was but a body,  a position player in something that required his physical and mental attention.  The day of the incident with Pascal Said he wasn’t Craig he was a soldier during a time of conflict.  There were often times when he was of similar state of mind without anyone involved.  Many of those times he’d light campfires.  It was hard for him to turn off that switch in mentality.  But he was emotional none the less because he loved his wife and he wanted to spend his life with her.“You need to be saved and I’m not sure that I’m strong enough to save you” Faith told him she knew it as she saw it.  “No one ever saves me” Craig told her.  She was quiet because it was true, during their trials in Hawaii when she knew that he was hurt her selfishness was that she never tried to help him get out of the hell that he was in.  “Then how do you survive?”  “Hard work and the grace of god!”

 

It was a moment of bare bones where if there were strings attached then they were cut.  Craig walked to the cabinet he grabbed a moment of life candle he lit it.  “Why’d you do that?”  “Because this is a moment and I want you to remember it.”  Faith walked to the entrance she reached for the shades she closed them then she shut off the lights.  More often than not she was instinctive she got the physical cues, she was of the kind that picked up the real concepts without knowing the details.  Her chipmunk climbed out of her shoe she chirped sounding like a bird calling for a mate there was a water bottle in her cage Faith opened her purse taking out a bag of peanuts she took one out of its shell fitting it between the bars, the chipmunk reached for it crawling away with its front paws unable to use her back legs.  Opening up the front of the cage Faith reached inside trying to pet the chipmunk.  Craig expected the chipmunk to run into its shoe or to a different part of the cage but it kept eating the peanut that Faith had given to her.  “Your deflecting” Craig told her.  “Probably!  But I’m still going home in two days to decide what I’m going to do.” He breathed in deeply he remembered when he worked at a meat market where the owner’s father trained him, “When you cut the fat remember that you can’t add what you take away.  Fat is profit.”  It was a time where he wouldn’t allow himself to be twirled around someone else’s finger.  “Faith” he waited for response, “yes” “Go home”  she was quiet “But I said” He cut her off, “I’m not playing.”  Craig picked up one of her bags and walked it to the door.  “You don’t want me and you don’t want what I want.”  As he spoke those last words she smacked him hard in the face.  She picked up the chipmunk cage opened up the door and walked out of the house.  Craig didn’t wait for her to drive away he opened up the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Johnny Walker Black he filled up a wine glass he took a good swig and he sat at the table.  His mouth was numb from the whiskey and his head was hot with anger.  Twenty minutes later Faith walked back inside with her chipmunk cage, “I’m staying even if your a prick” She walked her bags back inside and sat across from him she took the bottle of whiskey filled up a glass.  He didn’t talk, she looked inside of her purse she pulled out a deck of cards.  She began to deal, “What are we playing?”  Craig asked “Go Fish” 

 

****

 

Percival secluded himself, he wanted time alone absolving himself from self grievances.  At times he felt like a caged animal but when he came to his senses he knew that it was because of all of the stresses. Le Persil was still burning and the weather did not relent.  His teeth hurt, it could have been because of all of the clenching.  Percival was determined not to be a defeated man.  He had received a phone call from Frank W. Spuk, he wanted to visit Le Persil.  Amid the fires that seemed uncontrollable without an adequate water supply it almost seemed like a fools errand but Percival was not a squeamish man and if Frank W. Spuk was willing to take the risk then he was willing to do the favor.  Early in the afternoon Percival drove to Frank Spuk’s house to be greeted with two peacocks flying across his lawn.  The silence of the area was disturbing and when the peacocks cried out into the wilderness theirs calls were something that would cause children nightmares.  Percival showed up at Frank Spuk’s house with his 1962 Red Ford they traveled together to Le Persil.  What was agreed upon between the state and federal officials is that the fire would burn without trucking in water that would only have minimal effect so long as it could be contained.  On the 138 acre parcel of land that was surrounded by more wilderness than not it was judged upon that the fire was contained.  During the drive Frank was quiet like an honor roll student on a bus heading to a museum.  Frank Spuk brought three backpacks with him and he loaded up the back of Percival’s truck with a catapult like device, he didn’t ask questions. Percival pulled into the parking lot of Le Persil as Frank Spuk eagerly awaited entering the premises.

 

Prepared for the endeavor Frank Spuk put on a radiation suited that he had rolled up like a beach towel with a gas mask and protective eye goggles.  Percival noticed his German friend he smirked, “You know that its over 90 degrees” Frank lowered the tailgate of the 62 Ford he pulled out a water bottle from one of the backpacks, he placed a gloved hand on Percival’s shoulder, “I’m very well aware of the current circumstances.”  He waited a moment then he grinned as wide as he could, “Shall we?”  Percival Led the way to the backhoe Frank lugged the three backpacks and catapult device into the bucket of the backhoe.  The funk of Le Persil was visible and so was the smoke that billowed from the fires at Le Persil.  With the gusts of the winds the fires spread originating from one big fire to many fires.  It radiated starting from a point of origin burning outward some like the burning of a cigarette.  As they drove some of the piles were big ash heaps filled with remnants of metal, stone, and glass.  Frank noted that it really did look like a war-zone.  With the moving of the trash piles wide road gaps were created as a way to provide break zones preventing future dump site fires from spreading.  The largest of the fires was merely hundreds of yards ahead a wave of heat could be felt from the billows of flames and smoke, Percival slowed the backhoe, "So what's in the bags?" Frank W. Spuk smiled, "Allegedly a small amount of ordinances smuggled from Germany that may or may not contain very explosive substances" Percival breathed in deeply he put on a pair of sunglasses then he smiled, "Whatever Doesn't Burn" 

 

****

 

In El Qui Valley, Chile Moonshine Plantation was a place of movement with trucks hauling processed meat from the 80 butchered and vacuum sealed and boxed cattle that had died unexpectedly.  Michelle had packed her luggage she was ready to return to America.  Tomas was not allowed to speak with her as she had security guards posted outside of her bedroom quarters.  She knew that he would not allow her to return to America so she did what she thought best for herself, she kept her distance from him with the help of Nidhoggs security.  Olaf and Bjorn sat patiently outside of her bedroom.  When Tomas and Pablo approached the two they stood in front of the door.  “Move out of the way, I want to speak with my wife.” Tomas demanded.  Neither Olaf or Bjorn spoke instead they held out signs written by Michelle herself. “Tomas I don’t want to speak with you” One sign said followed by another sign, “I’ll will return and then we will talk”  Pablo tried to push the two men out of the way without avail.  He reached behind his back pulling out a gun he pointed it at the two men, Bjorn pulled out another sign, “The use of force means that I am not respected and I will divorce you Tomas” Tomas reached across he pulled Pablo’s arm down.  She was well thought, Tomas did not want to let his wife go out of protectiveness though he knew that her friend was injured.  He needed her because the Chilean presidential race was about to begin and a strong candidate needs a strong spouse by his side that is what he believed.  He walked away, he would allow her to leave under the supervision of his contacts in America.  Before going to his temporary quarters he would pay Nidhogg a visit to have choice words for the use of his security.  It was planned for Tomas to attend fundraisers in southern Chile, he didn’t have time to fiddle around with the unwavering emotions of a wife gone wild and he didn’t want to worry about her meddling brother.  As they approached Nidhogg’s quarters Tomas did not slow down, he held a 9mm gun he stormed through the doors, there was no one in the room.  When he turned around there stood Nidhogg with Vega, “May we held you with something?” Vega said patiently.  “I want you out!” Tomas began, “I want you out of my house!  If you don’t leave then I will have your whole team killed!” Tomas did not wait for a response, he meant the words that he spoke and he had the resources to follow through he pointed his gun at the both of them.  Nidhogg knew that his time in the lower standards El Qui Valley Chile was near completion. Nidhogg walked past Tomas calling his bluff followed by Vega he closed and locked the door.

 

 

****

 

 

In Isfahan, Iran Hinn held the meeting informing the board members of his telecommunications company that he would be taking a short sabbatical.  As he surmised there was discontent and he did question whether the company would be more than a puppet without his leadership but he had needs that needed to be tended to.  With Hinn it was not instinct he was man with a dark soul and in his darkness no one survived, that is where he found comfort.  In the 43 years that Hinn had been alive he knew that he had fathered nearly 40 children with nearly as many women.  He was not a good father nor did he care to be one.  In his own words he “was not put on this earth to be a savior” but he succeeded in most things that he was involved with.  Within the confines of his private compound he had a training ground for his canines, a matter of routine was to drill his canines making them run through tunnels climb walls and attack his servant that was protected by padded body armor.  On command the pack of canines ran with precision quickly, too fast for human movement to keep up with they zig zagged the pattern of obstacles, climbed under barbed wire and mud trenches fed by hoses to maintain water, climbed walls with very little tractio,and then there was Hinn’s servant Ishmael. For amusement Hinn twined twenty pounds of camel flesh around his servants legs torso and arms.  Ishmael was not a very masculine man whom showed fright very easily.  He whimpered fearing the bruising that would occur when the canines would clamp down too hard.  With the sight of the first he began to waddle run in the hopes that he would reach a table that was a hundred yards off.  Unfortunately the dogs were too fast, they attacked legs first and though Ishmail tried to keep moving when they lunged at his back they were too vicious and heavy.  With force he was downed.  While he tried to stand up the canines did not relent though a few chewed on bits of camel flesh as they chomped through the twine.  Satisfied with the discipline of his trusted servants he took the whistle that was around his neck and blew into it.  In unison the canines turned around and ran to Hin sitting down in front of him happily panting.  Ishmail lay on the ground a far distance away praying to Ala for the might to be able to rise to his feet.  His arms and legs began to swell from the impact of the dog bites he remained down.

 

****

 

In her dreams Sif saw a glimpse of her own future.  She felt like she was living in a sort of Japanese business woman kind of way where she was dry and emotionless with a sense of honor and purpose.  Sif liked the me and you persona because there was a clear cut path.  The tunnel vision of leadership is what gets things done and in her dream she was building a castle.  There was a heaven where she resided sitting on a throne she touched her wounded shoulder in her sleep it had healed.  She had an assistant fetch her a mirror she wanted to see the scarring.  As she was handed the mirror she took a look, what she found was a tattoo covering her scar, a Dragon with talons holding a glowing orb.  Somehow the tattoo fit covering the upper left section of her back completely.  She felt the grooves and bumps of the scar and scar tissue standing from her chair she peered over the horizon a field was half baron, half plush with trees and meadow.  On the baron side was Nidhogg and Vega, they were flogging servants travelling by chariot and horse.Sif held her hands on her hips why she was satisfied?  As she glanced to the other side Freyja and Arianne were picking apples from trees putting them into baskets while their children picked flowers among the grass. This too pleased Sif and then she looked forward.  In between the two was a man tilling a section of land, half of his body was covered with blisters, half burned and the other half was taught with lean muscle he was bald, unrecognizable at first until he looked up to see eye to eye with her.  He was full of torment, all work without reprieve, surviving continual torture with only his work to save him.  It was Craig he looked more than a moment matching gaze with Sif, then he continued to till like a continuous machine.  Sif woke from her dream she twitched, her body was wrought with pain, her back throbbed. She pressed the button for the nurse.  “Dilaudid” she dryly cried

 

Chapter 27 Stolen Triple

 

Shooter Nelson had a dilemma.  It was a swelter of a day and it wasn't going down.  He kept on trying to flush the toilet but nothing happened!  "Dang it" he flicked his hair to one side of his shoulder as he turned around to take off the back lid of the toilet bowl.  He was working at Poultry Provisions and at the first chicken coop there was a bathroom with toilet and sink.  As he lifted the cover the chain was broke.  Now it was a hot afternoon and several flies were hovering around, Shooter smacked around as they landed on him and you know since he delt it himself he did not smell it.  He got an idea!  There was a stale loaf of bread that he planned on tossing to the chickens on top of the feed bin.  Knowing a quick fix,the twist tie on the loaf would bridge the gap where the chain broke.  When Shooter was dead set with intention he worked quickly.  After he got out of the bathroom he began to make his way to where the stale loaf of bread was.  Wearing flip flops in a chicken silo he walked with purpose.  Chickens ran around and the whir of the large fans circulated air, something caught the tip of his flop or maybe he didn't lift his foot high enough, he stumbled kicking a chicken and then he fell.  Shooter Nelson in all his life never felt such a sudden pain, he grabbed his ankle and then his toe, "Oh God" he yelled his toe throbbed and hurt.  Tears whelled up in his eyes he bit his lip and flicked his hair then he called the office of Poultry Provisions to have them send an ambulance.  His newly married wife ran from the office area to his side.

 

****

 

Not far off Reg Folues walked away from a discussion with Hack and Handy the contractors that were nearly finished with building the exterior of the new Chicken barns.  With all of the working long hard hours he had stopped paying attention to his health, often going days with very little food or appetite.  Somedays late at night he'd drink hard liquor to the quantity that he would often loose count.  Sometimes he'd argue with Debbie-Sue over Loretta and the misery of her would make things all the more worse.  Bitter nights turned into bitter weeks and the consecutive rainless heatwaves made it a blur of a summer.But at least his new partnership at Poultry Provisions was a blessing.  The previous night Reg started feeling a pain in the right lower quadron of his abdomen but he figured that he twisted wrong and sometimes around that area it would hurt from when he had surgery to remove his spleen after Shooter beat him with a mini baseball bat many years before.  It was nearly mid day after the night previous and the pain lingered, he sweat pretty hard, the day was hot and dry and maybe he needed shit good.  Yeah that was something that made sense.  The sound of the sirens came closer to Poultry Provisions and he wanted to get to the source of the problem.  He walked quickly with his hand to his abdomen and as he got to the first barn the ambulance crew had arrived and they opened the door going in.  Reg quickly followed, was that he twisted wrong he could not be certain except for the pain.  Oh the pain! And it worsened and the cold sweat was horrible.  The sound of circular saws, compressors, and nailguns goings off seemed louder than normal as Handy and Hack continued construction.  Reg noticed Shooter sitting on the ground inside of the chicken barn with his legs spread out clutching a leg with his hair drapped in front of his face.  The throbbing within his stomach became unbearable, he felt his head he was running a fever, he knew it.  Then he felt weak and he fell to the ground.  An E.M.T rushed to Reg's side he clutched the lower right side of his abdomen.  "It's his appendix" the E.M.T yelled to his co workers that where putting Shooter Nelson on a stretcher.  It was a blur so he couldn't tell how long and before he lost consciousness  both he and Shooter were rushed to the hospital.

 

****

 

The first game that Faith and Craig played was go fish and then they began to fight.  It was unlike Craig to instigate or to be direct with her and it could have been the whiskey talking but they fought over Hawaii, California, Dionysus Refined, Faith cheating, Craig cheating, the attempt on Craig and Sif’s life, and then the Barely Mare head on the table.  Faith didn’t hold back she swore the most between the two while Craig put up his dukes he insulted her with the intention of hurting her feelings.  When Faith reached her limit she grabbed the chipmunk cage and headed for the door Craig blocked her from leaving, that’s when Faith did what she shouldn’t have done, she punched him several times quickly in his injured un bandaged arm.  The outer wound bled and while the stitches didn’t break they loosened, Faith stopped she started to cry, Craig didn’t talk he got out of the way opening the door for her to leave.  He grabbed the bottle of Johnny Walker Black walked to the sink and poured some of it over his arm.  It stung compounded with the throbbing from the punching he was in a world of pain.  Faith grabbed her head, “What did you expect me to do?”  The fire in his face began to cool and the pain in his arm dulled, he looked brefly to Faith his face was smug then he sat back down at the table he filled up a wine glass with whiskey.  Faith walked outside she paced in the backyard for fifteen minutes when Craig walked outside naked, “What are you doing?” He didn’t talk to her he walked dot where she cut down the trees she followed, he started to collect dried branches, she stood not far off he looked to her, “You made a mess” Faith started to collect dried branches, “I needed to work out my problems” Craig walked to the fire pit area making trips until there was enough wood collected to start a fire.  He brought a lighter with him he lit dried leaves and soon the branches caught fire.  Faith stood while Craig sat, she looked to him, “Loosing weight?”  Craig shrugged, “10 lbs out of anxiety” Craig patted the ground for Faith to sit she walked away from him toward the house while Craig sat by the fire.  She took off her clothes inside of the house walking back outside with a wine glass, Craig’s glass, and the bottle of whiskey she laid on her back slightly behind Craig she stared at the stars peeking through the clouds that passed quickly with the wind.  Faith was nearing three months pregnant a slight hint of pregnancy was noticeable.  With warm gusts of wind Craig sat in front of the fire he was done fighting he came to terms with divorcing Faith.  She nudged him with her foot he ignored her, “I hurt your feelings” Faith sat up she wrapped her arms around him.  “It’s more than that” He was quiet Faith grabbed his glass of whiskey she took a sip, “I’m tired of the struggle I need a woman that wants what I want” Faith didn’t let go of him.  “Is this going to be Love me love me love, and then No I don’t?” Craig lifted his arms to break her grip on him.Faith paused she was slightly drunk from whiskey and she was worn from battle, “Don’t put me on the spot” She let go of him, she laid down a moment later he laid on his uninjured side he laid his head on her stomach.  They were silent as the fire popped and excess moisture fizzed with the sap bubbling out of the ends of the wood that burned.  

 

****

 

Hinn had begun to make preparations.  It was not a time to be idle he felt safety in Isfahan Iran but he wanted finality to what Pascal Said had started.  He had spent the greater part of the day in a place called ‘the dark room’. It was a room without light full of his belongings including a small gym.  Within the familiarity with his surroundings he navigated through the small hall sized room, he lifted weights and then he meditated.  How could he find his way around the room without light or injury?  He was lost in thought through most of the night deep in meditation.  A red alarm began to buzz inside of the dark room.  That meant that there were intruders on Hinn’s property.  While Hinn Halim’s property was gated the exterior perimeter had a sensory field that was triggered by several vehicles approaching his property quickly.  Not wasting time, Hinn exited the dark room he traveled to his quarters, his canines and assistant were waiting for him.  A nearly wall sized television showed the camera’s with the intruders exiting the vehicles.  Changing quickly Hinn sheathed several daggers and orbs while his assistant Ishmael paced the room nervously.   Pride and anger made Hinn want to stay and fight.  According to his count there were 17 intruders he knew the odds but he did not fear.  Ishmael on the other hand fretted and paced, Hinn petted his canines one last time until he sent them to their death.  As the intruders entered the Halim premises Hinn sent the canines in their direction, Hinn and Ishmael exited the other direction toward the helicopter that Hinn arrived with.  The sound of dog barking and gun fire was heard before the helicopter began to fly away.  Ishmael placed a phone call with Isfahan police to inform them of the intruders.

 

****

 

The catapult was cranked back held by a spring mechanism.  Wearing a rubber suit and gas mask working in clockwork procession Frank Spuk heaved each bag into the holder of the catapult.  Percival remained seated in the caterpillar backhoe as Frank set up the catapult nearly twenty feet in front of him.  It seemed archaic resembling a spoon held back by ropes with a spring device held by a lever.  It was amusing for Percival to watch his friend wearing an outlandish yellow rubber suit and a gas mask.  But he had known Frank Spuk to be that kind of individual.  The section that they were in was labeled the dead zone, where the most intense flames raged.  None of the workers were allowed to enter the area due to the dangers involved.  After the backpacks were loaded into the catapult Frank stopped, he looked to Percival he raised up a thumb and in turn Percival did the same.  Frank rubbed his hands together exited with what he was about to do.  He grabbed the lever with both hands and he pulled back with all of his might.  The spring mechanism creaked with the slow pull of the lever, but when it was fully pulled back the catapult exploded with fast movement heaving forward projecting the backpacks with violent force.  As the catapult launched Frank stepped back in time as it projected, the spring did not stop as it should and the device snapped and cracked as it over launched into the dirt sending wood planks and shards flying around the area.  Frank ran like a soldier being shot at he turned around reaching the backhoe in time to see the first backpack land followed by the other two.  What Frank had failed to inform Percival was that in addition to the ordinances was Franks own concoction that made it more powerful.  The backpack bombs exploded showering in a small mushroom like cloud billowing outward sending a swoosh of air.  After the bombs were exploded there was a silence temporarily the fires almost appeared have been deprived of oxygen and where the backpack bombs landed there were craters that were once huge piles.  Percival rubbed his face, he felt like he had when he spent too much time in front of a fire at too close of range.  “Fuck” He said followed by laughing for a brief moment he felt better.  Frank Spuk took off his gloves and mask he clasped his hands together, “Wunderbar” he said slightly jumping. He jogged back to the catapult device lifting a few of its broken remains.  “Leave it there” Percival yelled.  Frank walked back to the backhoe he took off his protective suit and climbed up to sit in the cab of the backhoe with Percival, “What was that?” Percival asked Frank he ran his fingers through his sweat filled head, “Perhaps it might have been a slightly dirty bomb” Percival drove back to the business office.

 

****

 

It took nearly a week for Donna Lang to be declared the winner of the Mayoral election.  Stewart Blythe was not a graceful looser.  No, he did not concede defeat and as promised he had begun to run full page advertising in The Evening Reporter with a negative campaign against Donna Lang’s platform especially with the promise to bring a public sewer system to the forefront.  The inauguration was without hesitation as there wasn’t a mayor since the last one resigned.  Department head changes had begun to take place and city hall was buzzing with activity.  Amongst the shuffle of papers and people Jed Folues had made a brief appearance introducing himself to Mayor Lang’s secretary.  A transition had begun to take place with the new position with Dionysus Refined.  In accordance he bought himself a wardrobe of business suits, for a man that made home crafted beer and prided himself with being a woodsman as first wearing suits seemed odd.  There’s a saying that the clothes makes the man, to Jed it seemed outlandish but as he acclimated to his new position wearing a suit really did make a difference because he felt more formal.  “Can I help you” Mayor Lang’s secretary asked.  Jed read the hand written folded index card with the secretary’s name on it, “Danielle, can you please ask the mayor if she would be willing to speak with Jed Folues for a moment?”  Now the secretary didn’t seem to be very nice.  She was thin and smug, she wore bright red lipstick and her hair was dirty blonde.  Jed smiled because he knew that she wouldn’t like him, or pretty much anyone like him for that matter.  Good for Donna Jed thought, a good secretary should be a  bull when needed.  “Why should I do you a favor?” Jed stood still and Danielle the secretary stood up she stood several inches shorter than the 5’11 Jed Folues but she didn’t back down.  “I know you” Jed didn’t like the tone or the way that the secretary spoke to him with, “Excuse me” Danielle nodded her head, “Yeah that’s right!  Excuse yourself!”  Danielle sat back down she picked up the phone pressing a button to call the mayor she covered the lower portion of the phone as she whispered into the phone.  A moment later the door opened, Mayor Lang stood smiling.  Jed held a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a prisoners of Pompeii candle he placed the candle on the secretaries desk, “Thank you for the assistance” Danielle flicked her nose and pucked her lips followed by her holding a balled fist in one hand.Jed walked forward he held out a hand as he gave Mayor Lang the bottle of wine.  “You look so serious” Mayor Lang said as she took the bottle of wine from Jed Folues.  He stood at the entrance of the mayor’s office entrance, she waved him in but he didn’t budge, “Donna, I wanted to congratulate you on your win.  I’m pressed for time and I won’t be in the area for a couple of months.”  Donna Lang put down the bottle of wine she looked through the gap in Jed Folues arms noticing that her secretary was listening to their conversation.  She reached forward grabbing his hand pulling him inside of her office, she closed the door behind him.  “Now! Mr. Folues” she waited a moment letting the formality settle in.  She placed a hand on her desk, “When a person of authority invites you, you oblige them even if it’s not preferred.”  Jed walked to the side, “I’ll cut the clutter Mayor Lang, my boss was involved in something big and the need for my presence is vital to the growth of our business.”  Newly inaugurated Mayor Lang was aware of the incident, who couldn’t it was a prominent story in the news.  “And how is your boss doing?”  She asked  Jed tapped his fingers lightly against the surface of the glass cabinet that was yet to be be filled in her office, “He’s injured, but my fear is that he will try to seek vengeance himself” Mayor Lang laughed, “That would be foolish” Jed nodded in agreement but he needed to defend his new boss, “Or brave” Jed stood still, “He knows that” Jed walked to the front of Mayor Lang he grabbed her hands holding them in front of him, “I think that things happen for a reason” She looked him in the eyes she nodded, “I agree” Jed let go of one of her hands he tapped the top of it, “The next time that we meet we’ll be able to share stories of how power has changed us” he let go of Donna Langs hand he turned toward the door, “Jed” “Donna” he turned around, “Thank you!” 

 

****

 

The helicopter was up in the air as Ishmael and Hinn flew to one of his many smaller houses, this one was in Shiraz, Iran.  Watching the mansion camera’s on a lap top he watched the footage of his canines being exterminated by the invaders, though as he knew that they would his cannines put up a good fight, mauling two of the invaders before they were exterminated.  The gang of now fifteen rampaged through Hinn’s mansion firing rounds at the helicopter as it escaped from the mansion premises.  As the group of fifteen entered each room they stuck c4 to the walls of each room that they entered.  Hinn rubbed his temples he quaked with anger over all of the items that were contained within his mansion.  Quickly the invaders exited out of the back of the mansion and in moments Hinn watched Isfahan police drive through the gates of the mansion and as they approached the front it exploded.  Hinn cried with anger as the video camera’s went blank, “This has caused me so much money”  He closed his lap top.  For every action there is an equal reaction, that was a principal that in nature existed.  Hinn was not dealing with nature, he was ready to do the extra to make events favor him.

 

****

 

Freyja Sullivan received a phone call from Einar the head of her security team to inform her that Hinn and his assistant had gotten away however; he had sent her footage of his mansion being exploded.  She hung up the phone unsatisfied with the results.  Charles Bassett sat on the side of her this day was the final day of negotiations of selecting the locations for the last of the 100 franchised Charleys Chicken Family Restaurants.  With quickened approval several locations were ready to have ground broken.  At the present moment Freyja’s focus was taken away from the business venture.  Two weeks after the attempt on her daughter’s life she was still in the hospital though her conditions had improved to where she had begun to be able to be mobile.  She had to sleep on her side or prone position as her wound was still healing but she had begun with assistance to get out of bed.  She had no impairment with walking and the mobility helped to both aid with circulation and to brighten her spirits.  Presently Freyja could only think of one thing, Revenge!  

 

****

 

He needed something new, that was how business worked without becoming stale.  It was different this time and in a pattern of second occurrences something was off.  Since he had returned to Pattaya Thailand there was a change in the way that things were before.Though he had gotten paid Barley Mare did not feel like he was at home and the cadence of normality was not regular.  One night while he was sleeping something hit him like a power line, he felt that something rigid had encased him, there was a ringing in his ear and a metal taste in his mouth.  A few days later the buzzing was still there and so was the metal taste.  Ming Na thought that maybe he had caught a bug from the travel from America to Thailand or maybe he caught a virus from one of the many bugs that pestered their property, so that morning pest control had sprayed his property and a doctor had arrived at their house to perform a full body physical.  While the symptoms were atypical the doctor had concluded that Barley Mare had lyme disease.  No, Barley Mare shook his head he did not believe that he had lyme disease he knew his body.  There was a feeling like he was shot by a gun and it made him antsy.  That day he slept with his hands on both sides of his head crawled up in a ball, Ming Na wiped him with a warm wet sponge and sang him songs to calm him during the night.

 

****

 

Boney Hoggins had begun to think!  Now truth be told in the realm of deep thinking Boney Hoggins was not the at the forefront especially when it was time to come up with being creative.  In the past he and his wife Leona used to run the flea market and carnival circuits.  For some time they made a healthy profit and made many friends selling authentic Indian apparel.  He rubbed his overfull stomach and rubbed his handlebar mustache as he finished taking a leak in his yard, “Uh” he said.  Feeling better after his release he looked about his 63 acre property.  Yeah!  He and his wife were well off after winning the lottery but Poultry Provisions had taken on a life of its own that made their well offedness very stable.  Though the political election favored the other candidate, the one that he did promote got him free advertising though now he was left with the dilemma of aditional taxes on his new buildings.  As he turned to go to his house where Leona was waiting to be taken out for a night of entertainment his cell phone buzzed.  Pulling his phone out of his pocket he read the texts about what happened to both Shooter and Reg.  Reg had an appendectomy, Shooter had surgery on his toe and he also fractured his ankle, Boney put his phone in his pocket.  "Goddanged idots" He was angered with the added pressure from his already overworked body.  The past couple of months pushed him to the limits of his aging frame.  He'd never been fatter nor more overworked in all of his life.  The knowledge of the additional work that would be placed on him short term made Boney Fret.  Taking a few steps toward the house he felt a squeeze in his chest and a tightness in his face.  He took a few more steps forward before dropping to the ground, he tried to call out the name, “Leona” but he could not.  Looking out of the entrance to the house Leona held a bottle of bleach as she wanted to tell her husband to quit moping about.  She dropped the bleach and ran to his side, but it was too late.  

 

Chapter 28 Momentum and Time Will Tell

 

Death is an end.  Of all of the involuntary of the processes suicide excluded nothing trumps death.  In the wilderness many species of animals are known to morn their dead.  While god gave man the inheritance of earth he still owns all of the beyond.  Boney Hoggins was a far from perfect man, but he did believe in god and while more often than not he laid his head down at night without prayer, once in a while he prayed.  It is presumed that he when he died, he went to heaven.  At the funeral many people that had known Boney Hoggins were in attendance.  Barley Mare and Ming Na had flown to America stricken with sadness over the loss of a close friend.  Still recovering from what the doctor had diagnosed as Lyme disease the buzzing in Barley's head had gone away and so had the taste of metal though the look on his face that was noticable resembled a man that was struck by lightning.  In the past couple of days he had been dealing with a sharp stabbing sensation in between his shoulder blades, perhaps he slept wrong, or maybe he chased a chicken in the yard and turned the wrong way, he couldn't tell. Things lingered within his stinking thinking and this kind of not sitting right made Barley act odd.  Now in America many that had known Barley knew him to be a bit out of the ordinary, but this was a different kind of funk that he was in.  Barley had given it strong consideration and with that consideration he wasn’t going to return to Thailand.  No he hadn’t discussed it with his wife and things might have technically been foggy with the law though he knew that Shooter Nelson wasn’t going to seek lawful vengeance for what had happened years before in the parking lot of the town reservoir.  All in all there were several hundred people in attendance for Boney Hogins funeral, not surprising for the partner in ownership of Poultry Provisions.  It was drizzling lightly well into the month of September though it was an Indian summer and the heat of the weather made the afternoon weather humid, as clothes stuck to skin and hair clung to faces many itched and fidgeted while clinging to their umbrellas.  Tears streamed down many people’s faces even Mandy the bartender at The Redneck Reservoir shed a few tears.  Reg and Shooter stood on both sides of Leona Hoggins whom took the death of her husband the hardest.  For most of her life he was all that she knew, she held a red Tuttle brick in her hands.  It was something that held a sentimental meaning.  She planned to place the brick near his headstone, in her purse that lay on the ground near her feet were several tuttle bricks worth of brick dust.  "In the end all we are is dust" that's what her grandfather told her as a little girl.  Her mind drifted for a few moments remembered her relationship with the old gypsy of man.  They had a particular kind of relationship, he'd jar candy letting her take off the glass lid sliding her hand into the jar pulling out a few, black licorice was her favorite.  But that was a very long time ago, and now here she was standing before the soon to be grave of the man that she had known closest for nearly forty years.  They did have two children together, both were in their 30's and 40’s.  As a friend Boney Hoggins was one of the warmest that a man could know, as a brother and son Boney was a crab of a man that struggled for independence, lastly as a father he was a bear of a man that carried the emotional burdens from his upbringing.  When his children were young he was role model and his children loved their father, though he was flawed they knew no different, and they overlooked many of the reason why his competitors hated him.  Now it is said that when a child graduates high school and goes to college that they move away from their parents, the same could be said about drop outs, that they fly the coop to maturate or age as they find themselves or not at all.  Eventually if its not beyond the limits of nature they return and the adult selves develops a different kind of relationship with their parents.  Now that's a ball and with Boney he fought bitterly with a stick to hit that ball and as his kids aged and grew into themselves, that is when the battles began.  Boney Hoggins was of the ilk whose feelings got hurt easily, it was directly related to how he was treated as a child.  The burden of his pain was that he was like a injured dog and when he felt that he was cornered he'd lash out.  His daughter Becky owned cats and his son Jerry owned dogs and when Jerry would smack his dog for shitting on the floor it would hide and every time the cat was near it when it got scolded the dog would bite it.  Well that was sort of the dynamics of their family relationship.  Both his son and daughter never liked talking business with their father before Boney and Leona won the lottery, it was because he would do things to make them both mad.  They were well aware of what others would call him, “Short Change Boney” or “Bad Business Boney” they were embarrassed by the ridicule when gossip and rumors murmured from the other concession stands at the carnivals.  At the time it was a blessing with their parents winning the lottery.  The thing with Becky wasn't about the money what she desired more than money was her father's love.  Money changed the family dynamics as money changes circumstances and people, some for the worse.  Both children were given two hundred thousand dollars but that money came with strings attached because Boney never ever gave away anything without letting others know that they were in debt to him.  Jerry and Becky after many arguments and fist fight between Jerry and Boney the Hoggins kids moved to Texas bought a farm together building two houses on the same property.  They stopped talking to their parents after Boney demanded that they give the money back, he was angered that they bought the property in Texas. At the time Becky was pregnant with her first child.  Close to seventeen years had gone by with only a handful of summer visits by Boney and Leona.  Becky Hoggins stood with her four children ranging in ages with her husband and Jerry Hoggins held a bottle of whiskey in hand drinking by himself behind a tree watching everyone from a distance at the funeral.  As Boney was lowered into the his grave Becky walked beside her brother grabbing his hand and walked to Leona’s side, Leona acknowledge them and sobbed all the more holding the Tuttle brick.

 

It was time, she let out a final sigh it was something that she never wanted to admit or let go of, but she had no choice.  Leona Hoggins Knelt down down placing the Tuttle brick parallel barely in front of Boney’s headstone she opened her purse digging her hands into it.  In a plastic bag, dust and remnants from broken bricks were inside of the bag, Leona grabbed handful after handful dropping the broken brick dust over Boney’s coffin just before the graveyard worker began to cover his casket with soil. 

 

****

 

Faith watched from a distance like she was in the shoes of a person that she wouldn't want to stand in the shoes of.  A doe in the headlights she stood, without an umbrella.  As the raindrops fell it was sort of a moment to wash her sins away.  She was quiet without thought with something that seemed so unreal.  She looked to the side and not far off there stood Craig, her sins did not wash away.  Faith felt a grumble in her stomach she shrugged it off.  Boney and Faith had a particular kind of relationship one that including bickering like they were father and daughter.  That kind of love hate made her feel like she was overcomming a phobia when she would encounter Boney, often clenching her hands like she was ready to run through a room in the dark to reach for the switch to turn on the light. She had to muster the nerve.  Faith was afraid of the dark but she recognized the feeling like she needed to be brave and defend herself when talking to Boney, because they usually just didn't agree and Boney wasn't a pushover.  She didn’t know why but she couldn’t cry though she felt remorse for Leona and regretted his passing.  Two hours from this time, Faith had a flight planned.  As the funeral procession ended Craig drove her to the airport.  During the drive there wasn’t much conversation she stared out of the window watching the change in houses from rural Massachusetts to more urban Providence, Rhode Island and eventually Warwick.  The impact from the funeral had a damper on the sentiment of Faith’s departure.  The two didn’t discuss the divorce or the pregnancy.  In the current plans there was not one for Craig to return to Hawaii in the near future.  The one thing that he absolved himself to was giving Faith the space that she needed in order to make the decision for herself, like she wanted.  As was tradition there was a meal after Boney Hoggins funeral.  Most of the attendants of the funeral attended the meal.  After Craig dropped Faith off at T.F Green airport he drove directly to the hospital that Sif was staying.  He hadn’t visited her in nearly two weeks out of respect for Faith whom stayed in New England a week longer than planned after Boney’s death.  Walking with her luggage strolling behind her Faith knew that it was time to go home.  After boarding the plane she sat patiently, time slipped by without notice her mind was full of things, many of them from Boney Hoggins funeral.  The sight of Leona Hoggins with the ground bricks sprinkling them over Boney’s casket stuck with her.  Sitting in a window seat she had plain view of the left wing of the plane and then the topography of the landscapes that the plane was flying over.  The bright lights of the large cities were always very unreal especially as the second flight flew over Las Vegas.  Many hours later it was early morning in Honolulu when the flight landed at Daniel K. Inouye airport.  The silence aboard of the airplane had a feel as if power were shut off at a house with only the noise of the aftermath of a storm.  She could feel the realness of the moment, she hated that feeling, but she was filled with warmth to be back home.  After she picked up her luggage she got the keys to her car that was put into storage while she was gone.  During the flight she did not sleep, she needed a coffee but she did not have cash on her.  The cell phone buzzed Craig left her a message, “Check your purse, I hope that you arrived home safely” Faith opened up her purse to notice that Craig had stuffed some money into it, “That’s timely” she said to herself.   Faith stopped to buy a cup of coffee and a bagel before driving to her house in Waipahu, she was eager to visit her parents after much needed rest.  Driving along the roads she felt comfort with the environment and the familiar trees and houses, she was lost in thought driving through familiarity.  She didn't like New England weather and the tropical humidity of Hawaii rehydrated her finely tanned skin.  Being the daughter of a shipping dock worker Faith was a sea girl, taking pride in being seemingly born with her sea legs, the water was her home.  Flying, well that was a thing that she had to get used to and it was something that her mother was deathly afraid of.  Jan was a man that was content with living on the Island but on the rare occasion that he was sent to different parts of the world during the latter part of his years as a shipping dock foreman he did so with little worry or talk about it.  Saddened with the thought of the potential state of her father’s health she was hopeful that he recovered well.

 

****

 

Over a week had passed since the attack on Hinn’s mansion in Isfahan, Iran.  Patience was a virtue and as much of a trained skill as Hinn plotted and planned what his steps would be.  In the world of Hinn Halim travel was a normalcy.  He had arrived in New England with the intention of taking things into his own able hands.  Once a long time ago he visited the area as part of an acquisition team when his communications company absorbed another company.  Hinn Halim was not a big fan of stepping foot on American soil.  He was proudly Persian and the clash of cultures was a very personal thing to him; however he had a mission and he was intent on completing that mission.  Ishmael had made arrangements with one of Hinn’s many contacts to rent a house in the woods of Springfield, Massachusetts.  Well into the weeks of September Hinn was familiar with the cadence of the circadian rhythm though he ran by a different calendar he knew that American weather changed more frequently than it in Persian lands.  Looking at the sky it was nearing nightime, with the skyline holding a shade of blue, he was reminded of the tarot, "The Moon" he peered into the kitchen a female housemade was inside preparing dinner she was pouring a picher of water, "Star" he knew that there were intangeable workings.  Hinn retrieved a deck of Tarot cards that were held in his family for several generations.  Being that he was believer in an alternate religion the practice of Tarot was regularly used to give him guidance and understanding.  The first night of his stay he sat outside in the dark of the wilderness he laid a silk cloth and splayed the cards and began the reading.  Shortly the night arrived with a light silouette given by the full moon.  Silence surrounded him like a shroud, the house was surrounded by woodland to the acreage that was unknown to him and then there was the cry of coyotes.  Within an earshot the cries could be heard as there was a pack traveling in the woods.  Within the circadian cycle was another full moon, Hinn recalled the last with Michelle Moonshine in the valley of El Qui Valley, Chile.  The imprint that was made during the howling night in El Qui Valleywas a lasting one and though he had known many women that bared his children she stuck out amongst them.  A pulsing within his veins seemed uncontrolled almost as if he could feel her presence beside him.  Without knowing he felt that she was within the region.  Hinn picked up a hawks feather holding it prostrate, he whispered her name and blew the feather.  It traveled off being caught by a quick breeze though the night was dark.   Beyond the sporadic cries from the coyote’s the night remained silent.  The consummation of that night had a lasting effect he recognized the strong binding.  Standing up after a long period of meditation Hinn was motivated and confident with his ability to follow through.  Picking up the whistle from around his neck he blew into it releasing a sharp pitched sound.  Ishmael quickly exited the house waiting for an order from Hinn.  “I will be leaving the premises for a short endeavor, I will return by tomorrow evening.”   As Ishmael went back inside of the house the pack of coyotes approached Hinn, he nodded, “My companions, howl at the moon” Hinn walked to the vehicle started the engine and drove off.

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine walked beside Sif Moonshine with the aide of a walker, she had done this everyday since she had arrived in New England for nearly two weeks.  Last night something strange occured while she was having dinner with Freyja Sullivan.  The voice of Hinn Halim calling her filled her ears along with the vision of him sitting cross legged in a wooded area.  She was frozen for nearly 30 seconds snapping out of the trance while Freyja carried on with a discussion that she had lost track of.  The attempt on Sif’s life had taken place approximately one month before and she was to be discharged from the hospital any day.  In the far distance Craig caught a glimpse of what he recognized as Sif Moonshine but whom she was with he was not sure.  The silhouette of the woman resembled Michelle Moonshine beside her though she returned to Chile after the art exhibit.  In the month since the incident Craig had healed well, the injury was tender but the sutures had been removed.  The scar tissue from the trauma of the penetration of the bullet was a stiff ball within his bicep however; he did start to lift weights while being ginger with the movements.  Surprisingly he was able to lift weights with little pain though his arm was stiff he lifted light and did many stretching excercises.  He walked slowly toward the women he observed from far pleased to see how well Sif Moved, he noted the stiffness in the movement of her upper body.  A person walked before him less than 10 feet from where he stood.  Craig nodded quickly, he thought that he just saw Djinn Halim.  His pulse rose as the man disappeared extraordinarily quickly. An eddy of wind ruffled fallen leaves exactly where the man had just traveled.  “Hinn” was the name of Djinn’s twin brother out of panic Craig ran.  Huffing and puffing as he ran on the tips of his toes the cigarettes that he had smoked gave noticed to his endurance.  The Persian man appeared like a phantasm looking exactly like Djinn.  He remembered Djinn as a doppleganger to him whom tortured him and dominated Freyja changing their relationship.  Instinct is a powerful reaction especially when the man is work ready without fear, that was Craig.  Injured or not he was ready to put his life on the line. As he ran he prayed, “Lord give me strength” Hinn smiled at Craig whom was nearly 30 feet away as Hinn pulled out a dagger from within the vest that he wore.  

 

From across the outer perimeter of the hospital Michelle Moonshine walked side by side with Sif Moonshine as she had done since she visited her after arriving in America.  New England weather had begun to change, she had grown accustomed to the weather in El Qui Valley though Chile as a country has a varying yearly climate due to its geographically vertical borders.  She didn’t voice her concerns nor did she talk to her husband Tomas on the telephone, she was being monitored by his contacts.  Though she couldn’t confirm it she believed that several of them were not far from where she was walking with Sif sitting on a bench less than 100 ft from the hospital entrance.  An injured Sif was something that she had never seen before, her demeanor changed, her physical self changed.  Michelle believed in appearances and first impressions something had taken over Sif that was not herself. There was an acceptance with her that she could only adapt to and overcome, it was her injury and it was a reality that could not be acted out of.  Traveling away from her husband Tomas, there were daily bouts of arguing Michelle knew that it was a sign that the angst associated with a political campaign had begun to build pressure.  While she knew that her presence and ability would ease the pressure that was put upon him, she was not in a rush to return home.  Her conscience was clean of guilt when she thought of her night with Hinn and she always became angry when she recalled unearthing the pallets of cocaine and guns in the bunk of the bulls barn.  Thinking about it she unconsciously tugged too hard at Sif’s side causing Sif to cry out in pain.  Out of the corner of her eye she thought that she saw someone familiar she felt her pulse throbbing quickly in her veins though she had no reason to be nervous or reason to feel the way that she did.  It seemed like a still frame photograph or a slow motion reel, on one side a person was running toward their direction and then she peered over to the other side she made eye contact with Hinn less than 10 feet from their location moving like a panther slick and fast.  Then events seemed like a blur faster than she thought that she could react to.  Hinn reached inside of his vest pulling out a slender dagger, he moved with fluid motion.  “STOP, NO!” Michelle screamed at Hinn as he pounced forward seemlessly preparing to stab, she had no choice nor thought only to react.  On the other side was Craig Chaise running without abandon toward their direction.  

 

From a short distance away Craig ran toward Michelle Moonshine and Sif as Hinn advanced on the women holding a slender dagger.  Weaponless Craig did not slow with stride, blunt force with his momentum would be his weapon.  He had to protect Sif, that was all that he could think of.  Hinn was too close and too fast for Craig to reach the women in time, but he did not stop running.  There was a stab as Sif was barely aware and unable to move quickly enough to avoid.  Michelle jumped forward throwing her body in front of Sif, but Hinn did not stop his stab as it was too late, he impaled Michelle Moonshine with his dagger through the upper portion of her abdomen.  Faintly she muttered, “He knows not what he does” then she collapsed.  Without thought Hinn reached into his vest pulling out an orb he tossed it to the ground a puff of red ink created an thick fog, he ran away as Craig rushed into the mist throwing his arms over Sif.  “I’m fine” she yelled then Craig reached around until he felt Michelle Moonshine’s body, she lay on the ground as blood spilled.  Hospital personnel rushed out of the hospital in full emergency mode to their location dragging Michelle out of the Red Fog rushing her into the operating room.  

 

****

 

 

Hinn Halim moved stealthily with focus he was out of his element he reached his vehicle sitting in the driver’s seat for several minutes recounting the events that should have had no error.  “Momentum and time will tell, Momentum and time will tell” he kept repeating to himself that was the error with his movements.  The meaning behind his words was the repeating of his actions that offered the opportunity for Michelle Moonshine to jump in front of Sif as he lunged with full momentum to finish what Pascal Said had started.  If there was a hope, it was that being close to a hospital perhaps the owner of Moonshine Plantation could survive, “Time will tell” Hinn bowed his head as a cop car drove by him, he picked up a water bottle took a sip of water, then he started the ignition to his vehicle and drove away.

 

Chapter 29 Bucket and Scrub Brush

 

Sitting on a bench wearing sunglasses two chilean secret service agents caught a glimpse of fast movement and then a red mist with a man running away with a dagger in his hand they stood from the bench and ran, one of them to their car and the other following the man holding the dagger.  The running agent followed whom he identified as the man with the dagger as best that he could, but the man holding the dagger was fast almost unnaturally fast.  The man with the dagger held out a hand pressing a button on a car key, he entered a vehicle.  The chilean secret service agent slowed his run to a walk, he continued to inch closer as a police vehicle passed by the back of the car that the man entered, the chilean secret service agent walked so that he would not appear conspicuous.  The agents partner drove to the side of him, as the man with the dagger drove away, they tailed him in the nearby distance.  Within moments one of the agents was on the phone with a hospital worker inquiring about hospital intake movement.

 

****

 

Decision, yes he had made a decision!  He was not leaving empty handed that much he had decided.  Initially Nidhogg had planned to return with his wife Vega to Finland.  Being forty nine years of age he held a vigor with very little deterioration to what is considered “his prime.” Most of his adult life he was married to Sif Sullivan and that was no longer.  Through tumultuous times he remained steadfast to his truest self aided by a second wife that allowed him a measure of freedom that he desired.  Nidhogg was an active man involved with many political dealings even during his brief stay in El Qui Valley, Chile while out of his element he had power.For the first time in his adult life he was not involved in the climate of business.  Monitarily Nidhogg was a well off man should he decide to involve himself in business dealing there was no question as to his ability to be a success.  On Moonshine plantation the scuttling about from his sisters husband Tomas and his political team from his perspective was much like a pack of rats searching for cheese.  He had no desire to be caught up in a trap or to be the cheese which they searched for.  No Tomas was not of the cloth of individual that Nidhogg felt that he could gain from.  Gain was a key word because with Nidhogg by nature the development of relationships for him required that there be something in it for him.  Potential was not and end.  He did not want to meet with Tomas because he did not like him that was his potential for Tomas.  Power is always tempting even if in a different geographically located environment but for that line he did not take the bait.  He considered befriending a political adversary out of spite, but he decided that he would wait and see.  Moonshine Plantation servants loaded Vega and Nidhogg’s luggage on their private jet, his security team and their technology were packed.  Without a farewell and the indentured servant that was promised to him that had died in the bunk of the bulls barn the flight had begun.  Perhaps sometime in the near future he would return to El Qui Valley as it was not without it’s perks.  The death of the 80 cattle and his wife's odd behavior made sure that he would not forget.  He rested mentally going over the vacation in El Qui Valley that was broken when he received a phone call from his father Salvatore.  Peculiar he thought that his father would call him, as he answered the Jet phone, one of the engines of the private jet shut off.  Olaf and Bjorn were piloting the flight, they scrambled as the jet began to descend rapidly.

 

****

 

Faintly holding on to life as she bled freely, she was too weak to lift her limbs to her abdomen to feel from where she bled.  Immediately the hospital staff tended to Michelle Moonshine rushing her into the emergency entrance of the hospital.  Dr. Katherine Savant was called to the operating room as she was on duty,the emergency room had a code the staff was trained and ready to deal with what had to be dealt with.  Dr. Savant and another resident surgeon aided the carting of Michelle Moonshine into the operating room Dr.Bozek looked to Dr. Savant, “We need to open the patient.”  There was not a second left to the decision.  Anesthesia was administered and the emergency surgery began. Outside of the hosptial Craig Chaise stood beside Sif Moonshine covered in red residue in disbelief of what had happened.  “I’m supposed to be released from the hospital today” Sif told Craig he began to walk expecting her to walk with him.  “After I change into my own clothes we will go to the waiting room and wait.”  Craig stood beside Sif, “Do you think that she will survive?”  Sif shook her head her hair covered both sides of her face she looked down, “I don’t know”Seeing two chilean secret servicemen run towards them then one in the direction of Hinn and the other for his vehicle, Craig left Sif alone running to his truck to follow.

 

****

 

Salvatore Moonshine called his son Nidhogg, he was irate as he sat at his desk in London tapping his cain on the floor.  As his call was answered there was a long moment of blank, then yelling in the background followed my a muffled shuffling noise. “Nidhogg, what is this lunacy?” He lost connection.  It was still unclear whether his daughter would survive the surgery that was taking place.  Rarely was Salvatore unsettled but this was one of those rare occasions where he was out of his element.  He was not a man that reached out for help or asked for favors but when he picked up the phone, he made one of those phone calls.  Slowly he stood up with the aid of his cane, he walked to the corner of his office opening up a glass cabinet, searching for the key he found it.  After opening the glass doors he reached inside pulling out a butcher breaking knife and a carving knife to the side of it was a leather apron with slotted sheathes for the knife.  A fire flickered in his eyes as he took in a breath of the familiar leather, memories of a more reprehensible self reminded him that he rise to power was not without bloodshed, as he placed them on his desk, his nurse entered the room with a note from Freyja Sullivan.  Along the side of her she held a leash, she walked in two raccoons placing a plastic container on his desk.  The nurse handed Salvatore the leash.  Both raccoons sniffed around then one of them climbed on Salvatore's lap the other placed its hands on one of his legs.  He unclasped the leash that constrained them, the lid of the plastic container was lifted.  A pack of hot dogs were inside of them, he held one out each for the raccoons to take, "You two are more civil than the animals that I have been dealing with"

 

****

 

As Hinn drove his stick shift Jaguar he noticed that he was being tailed by two Spanish looking men.  The faster he drove, the faster they drove and as they approached the back of his vehicle the tailing car swerved in an attempt to lick the back of the jaguar to turn it around.  Hinn reacted with his foot to the gas petal accelerating to the vehicle at it maximum rate narrowly avoiding a clash of cars.  Unfamiliar with the area he was out of his element but he had a plan.  The next exit on route 95 he took  driving on unfamiliar roads taking turns wherever he could to lose his tail.  Unfortunately they took all the right turns keeping up with Hinn within 20 feet of his car.  Then there was a stretch of farmland.  Quickly Hinn changed lanes and put his foot on the brake, as his jaguar stopped he got out of the vehicle hiding off to the side of the road in a corn field in-between stalks.  The second vehicle sped past the jaguar jacking on its breaks reversing stopping slightly short of the vehicle.  Both men exited their suv hiding behind their doors unloading the clips from their handgun a moment elapsed as they're began to reload their guns, that’s when Hinn began to act.  He ran from in between corn stalks stabbing the driver in his throat with the dagger that he held in hand followed by releasing a hand full acidic powder.  The toss was true causing a quick puff of acidic air around the head of the second guard.  The man coughed violently rubbing his eyes as he ran away, but he was not fast enough.  Catching up with the chilean secret service guard he cut a jagged cut through his abdomen ending with the dagger piercing the mans heart.  “Dog’s put up a better fight” Hinn spit on the body of the man that he had killed, he cleaned the dagger on the chilean secret serviceman clothes. Without passing traffic he dragged both men’s bodies into their vehicle driving the suv into the cornfield.  Working quickly he ran to his bullet riddled Jaguar then he drove to his destination in Springfield, Massachusetts.  His stop in America would end that night.

 

****

 

Michelle Moonshine lay on the operating room table.  In surgery Dr. Katherine Savant opened up the patient’s abdomen vertically along the midline aided by Dr. Henry Bozek.  They worked quickly packing lap pads, using suction while adding pressure to slow and identify what vessels and organs were cut with the stab.  Clamps were used as well as cautery where sutures served better with other areas, but the cautery was quick and efficient to stop the bleeding and manage the patients vitals.  Patient scarring wasn’t the first thing on the surgeons minds, saving the patient was.  Typically metal retractors were used in open abdominal surgery however they used a device called ‘The Alexis wound retractor’ with a rigid hoop on the top and soft hoop on the bottom with a polyurethane sheath connecting the top and bottom that protected the wound margins and tamponades the bleeding it was a simple but efficient product.  The bottom hoop is malleable inserted first catching the inside of the abdominal opening.  When the top hoop is rolled down like a sock the device synchs to the abdomen keeping the wound open with out hand retractors.  The benefit is that the surgeons were able to work without extra hands holding metal retractors while stopping bleeding and protecting the wounds from surgical infection.  They worked quickly as the patient went into shock from the trauma of the wound and surgery.  A blood transfusion was called for as the patient lost a considerable amount of blood.  The brilliance of the hands of god worked with precision as the depth of the puncture of a dagger was challenge to pinpoint because of the depth of its insertion with the angle and force that was used.  Colon and small intestine was severed, when the dagger entered her abdomen with sudden force the top of the blade lifted her pancreas perforating her diaphragm cutting into the inside of her back missing her heart and aortic artery by less than an inch.  It had appeared that only muscle was cut.  Quickly is a cliche in the world of surgery because blood loss is variable depending on the injury and manageableness of it.  Surgical skill and the familiarity through repetition along with comfortableness with working with each other made for a surgical success defined that the surgeons did what they could do.  The patient’s bleeding was stopped, blood was transfused and then the wounds were sutured.  A temporary colostomy was attached to the jejunum.  The patients vitals were weak but stable.  After the surgery Dr. Savant exited the operating room she took off her surgical gown and gloves.  Sudden events happen but none like she had no choice but to deal with.  It was not evident that the patient would survive or not.  Dr. Henry Bozek walked to the waiting room to give the summary of the surgery and patient status.

 

****

 

The jet engines restarted and the flight was stabilized after taking a nearly nosedive, Nidhogg had taken over piloting the jet successfully restarting the engines himself.  Now that the flight had been stabilized he picked up the jet phone and called up his father.  Salvatore answered the phone he did not as the identity of the caller nor did he say the customary “Hello” he asked one of his raccoons took a hotdog from his grasp, “Why did you hang up on me?”  Nidhogg was not a fearful man until it came to his father.  At first he stuttered followed by an audible gulp, “The engines on the jet shut off, I had to commandeer the flight” Salvatore slightly grumbled, “Are you aware of one Hinn Halim?”  Nidhogg paused for a moment, there must have been a very important reason for him to call regarding that individual.  Never admitting his true emotions he was still rattled from the flight engine shutdown, “Hinn is Vega’s nephew, is this phone call regarding the incident with Sif?”  As the words left Nidhogg’s lips, there was the realization that he hadn’t spoken her name since their divorce.  He cast aside any further thought, on the other side of the phone conversation was Salvatore Moonshine, he was not in a pleasant mood, never did he dilly dally.  There might have been compromising relations with his daughter Michelle but none the less he was straight forward, he handed hotdogs to the raccoons that waited beside his feet, “Hinn went to the hospital.  There was another attempt on Sif’s life however; Michelle blocked Sif with her body and was violently stabbed by him in the process.”  Nidhogg coughed and choked slightly, “When?  Is she still living?”  Vega walked into the last part of the conversation she nudged him, “What happened?”  Nidhogg tried to shoo her away but she was not having it.  On the phone Salvatore continued to talk to his son, “I am not aware of the approximate time of the attack but she is in surgery as we speak, I have not hurt word since.”  Nidhogg put a hand over the mouthpiece of the phone, “Hinn appeared at the hospital that Sif is staying, he tried to kill her and stabbed my sister in the stomach when she jumped in front of her, she is in surgery” Vega walked away from Nidhogg as he went back into conversation after informing her what was the matter.  She paced the aisles of the jet, “Hinn!  What did you do?  You Fool”  On the telephone Nidhogg multitasked, “Will you keep me informed?”  He asked his father.  Salvatore paused briefly he handed out the last of the hotdogs then he placed the plastic lid on the container, “I will have my nurse call you, I have made preparations that are pressing to be met” Salvatore hung up the telephone.  The initial destination for the jet was Finland however; the event changed things, so Nidhogg set a new course changing the coordinates for Boston, Massachusetts.  Speaking on the loudspeaker he informed everyone on the jet of the flight change.

 

****

 

As Craig ran to his truck he drove will his foot to the floor.  He had parked a distance away due to cramped parking from hospital construction and when he drove he caught a far glimpse of the chilean secret service agents vehicle take a corner.  Within moments he took the corner and continued to trail in the distance of the speeding vehicles.  It happened that way for nearly and hour and then they took an exit to a rural area and he lost the trail.  Driving lost for nearly 15 minutes he was on a stretch of farmland on the side of a cornfield he was about to lose hope.  A car was parked in the middle of the road and another vehicle sped away he drove quickly up to the vehicle he recognized it as the Chilean Secret Service car he looked around almost in plain sight were the two agents dead in between corn crops.  Knowing the the car the sped off was Hinn’s he pressed his foot to the gas in an attempt to follow, he opened up the glove compartment where his 9mm gun was stored he placed on his lap, he knew that should he catch up with Hinn there would be action.

 

****

 

If there was a devil to the nature of individual brilliance it was that when Percival felt that he was in a situation where he was boxed in he'd try to break the box.  He felt that pressure when he was in the Korean war when the helicopter that he piloted crashed.  Pinned by the metal cabin, he was locked for nearly a day.  It caused a slight case of claustraphobia that still to this day clung to the recesses of his fears. When he was a boy his father was friends with a casket maker.  The casket maker would cut down the trees on his very own property in a neighboring town and mill the wood making boards transporting the boards to the shop that he would later use for the caskets.  Percival's first job was with the casket maker after school he was only 12 years of age as the casket makers apprentice cleaning the shavings off of the floor collecting nails putting them in buckets, wheelbarreling chopped wood for fires, collecting boards, sanding and staining boards that would be finished before the casketmaker would insulate and appolster them.  A saying that stuck with Percival, "There's a trail of dust and nails that follow me" the casket maker would often repeat that saying. The lessons that he learned taught him more than a handful of pearls of wisdom.  Being a disciplined but fair man Percival listened more than he spoke. Now the casketmaker had a cat that lived in the shop.  Percival liked the cat, he was clingy and playful.  One time he took a nap inside one of the caskets and during his nap the casket makers cat somehow knocked over a candle near the casket catching it on fire.  While Percival slept the fire grew when he woke the casket making shop was full of flames and he was trapped.  Luckily the casket maker barged through the doors after leaving to buy supplies saving Percival from the shop inferno but the cat died in the fire.  After the fire the casket maker moved his business to a different town and Percival began to work for his father at Le Persil.  He'd have nightsweats waking up with panic attacks with his legs bundled up in bed sheets having nightmares of burning to death in the casket shop.  As a reminder of that night he'd often start fires, mostly because he wanted to overcome a fear.  The fear and feeling of being trapped had a persistence.  That was the case the night that he started the fire at Le Persil.  He accepted his own actions as well as the consequences to his actions.  He was corruptably human and he hated being boxed in.  The time spent with Frank Spuk was a thing of its own, and he was a worthy friend, but those things if anything spent a measure of his physical reserve and so he needed a time away to retreat and regather his resources.  What he had been avoiding like a bully that kicked his ass was Rebecca Cauldron and when he went home after dropping off Frank Spuk she was waiting for him.  She looked to him, he stared at the wall.  “Rebecca” he tried to walk by her, “Why don’t you look at me?” He shook his head and made a smug look he waved an arm, “I had a long day I need to shower” Rebecca walked to the sink opening up the cabinet she took a bucket with a scrub brush she held it out, “Wash outside!  And if you think that your coming back in then you better have good goddamned apology”  He didn’t ask questions, he was just as mad at her as she was at him.  Why did he take the bucket and brush with him as he drove his 62 Ford pickup truck? That was a question that he did not know the reason for, but he did.  He drove away without washing covered in trash soot from the improvised backpack explosions all the way to the airport.  By morning he found himself in Pinellas, Florida sleeping in a hotel room after showering.  Rebecca called many times but he paid no recognition to those phone calls.  In the morning he would buy clothes and relax, then he would call his wife and send her an offer.

 

Chapter 30 Good Luck

 

Not everyone handles pressure with grace.  A frustrating crack in the outer exterior of one’s temperament often shows their true colors or at least gives a hint of how they react when things go wrong.  That's when errors are made.  Hinn’s ability to remain focused and keep himself calm was a trait that separated him from many of his competitors.  He had called his servant Ishmael to prepare for a rapid exit from the residence of where they were supposed to be staying.  Without explaining his reason he gave the order.  Ever alert he looked in the rear view mirror and side mirrors while driving looking for a tail, he did not see that he was being tailed.  The chance that he was taking with driving in an unfamiliar land was that he took the main roads.  The obvious was that his vehicle was bullet riddled.  Police would easily identify the vehicle as suspect however; the further he drove the closer he was to the residence without police or a tail.  

 

Trailing behind the black bullet riddled Jaguar Craig kept his distance through most of the drive, the traffic was consistent.  Luckily for him blending into traffic remaining unnoticed was possible.  Hinn changed lanes taking a side street after the Fairgrounds, a place that Craig was familiar with having attending many regional horse shows there.  Slowing down the speed of the vehicle he let Hinn get a head start nearly losing Craig as he sped along then he turned into a driveway.  No, Craig was not fully recovered from the gun shot to his bicep but Hinn was a monster that would not stop until someone stopped him.  If there was hesitation then he did not show it, knowing that Hinn was as skilled as Djinn.  He wrote a short letter in the case that he did not survive.  Less than 10 minutes later he drove into the driveway heavy woods covered both sides of the drive leading to a country house.  The lights were on inside of the house, oddly there was no sight of Hinn’s vehicle.  Midway through the driveway he parked his car, sunset had begun to settle.  Blending into the woods he was careful with his foot placement avoiding fallen leaves and sticks that he would brake with only slight weight applied to them.  Slowly he approached the house.  First he semi circled the house, there was no sign of Hinn’s vehicle and from a quick glance there was no sign of anyone inside.  On the opposite side of the house was a driveway leading to a different exit.  “Damn it” Craig mumbled.  While he believed that Hinn was no longer there he was slow in movement walking up to the porch crouching low peering through the windows.  A woman lay on the parlor floor with a pool of blood around her, Craig kicked in the door.  He held out his gun checking the rooms, no one was inside.  Rushing back to the woman he removed the burka that she wore over her face, her throat had been slit.  Frustrated he picked up his cell phone and called the police, his chasing of Hinn had come to and end.  He parked his car closer to the house and waited for the police to show up.

 

****

 

Scenery was a blur, not that he was an admirer of American architecture or culture he was focused on getting out of the country.  The major route 91 to route 291 was the directions that his gps had given him onroute to Westover airport, he drove with determination.  As Hinn reached the airport he stopped the vehicle short not wanting to be conspicuous.  He and Ishmael carried very little luggage with their private plane waiting for them.  With very little questioning Hinn piloted the plane taking off from Westover airport with the destination being Nice Cote D’Azur Airport in the south of France.  Ishmael soon took over piloting the plane while Hinn set up his lap top he began to make preparations and make a few very important phone calls.  He knew that his actions would have blowback because of the people that he injured.  Hinn rubbed his temples he could not believe that his attempts were that incompetent.  Being the CEO of a communications company had a measure of power and with help from one of his IT officials he was hacked into the hospital computer grid, he pulled up the doctor’s notes on Michelle Moonshine.  She had survived emergency surgery.  Hinn was full with a measure of relief, he read the notes noting that his stab was extensive with a note, “The amniotic sac was not punctured, she is several weeks pregnant” He looked through the window of the plane hovering above the clouds, he rubbed his throat the precedent that he had set was not a favorable one but he had to move forward and hopefully in time things would change.  Confident that she would heal although not without a measure of pain and recovery he continued to read the hospital chart.  Lightning and thunder was slightly ahead, there was nothing that he could do but buckle down and prepare for a turbulent flight.

 

****

 

There was too much happening in too soon of a time period, to Freyja Sullivan it was like a game of strategy.  She comprehended that in the game of life, gain is often accompanied by cost.  Hard work mitigated the cost, that was the goal.

 

Mismunur she told herself the Icelandic word for difference that is what she was looking for.  Laws of life had guidelines and in that guideline she knew its workings the Mismunur was the events of the summer.  What didn't add up was with not only with what was done, but the way that it was done.  Events personally effected her.  The realm of business was her frame of mind however; the attacks were not business.  “Savagery” Freyja screamed throwing a bottle of wine through the kitchen window of the summer cottage that she rented.  As it crashed through the window it shattered on the rock wall that was part of the patio leading to the ocean.  Earlier in the afternoon she was driven to the hospital with the expectation of picking up her daughter from the hospital.  Unpleasant as it was recovery for Sif was possible and it was not without hesitation from Freyja.  She already had a young daughter in Jennifer and a miserable in pain Sif would not suit Freyja’s preferability especially considering that Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants had already begun to break ground in several locations across New England and New York State.  At her summer cottage she threw the bottle of wine after an argument with the head of her security team Einar.  He was a prideful man, rather brutish, and at times was thick with his own beliefs about what is.  Often he’d yell to make his point trying to overpower those that he disagreed with him using his physical presence and loudness of voice.  Most times he was right, but his way of communicating needed refinement and on those times that he was wrong, it would take a very good diplomat of a person to be able to persuade him.  During the conversation Freyja was not the diplomat.  The security team had contracted extra personnel for the endeavor to Isfahan Iran.  It was a job with risks but it was a job none the less.  Freyja offered a healthy bounty and a fail safe clause in the form of payment for the families of any fallen team members.  That was the case but still Einar held it personally and he blamed Freyja for it.  Freyja was sympathetic for the two that did not make it but she could not offer the right words to change Einar’s sentiment.  She placed him on leave.  In return for her decision Einar promised to take the rest of the security team with him.  So there was a void and with pressing security concerns she had a need for a new team of security.  The suddenness compounded with everything else put immense pressure on Freyja’s temperament she acted out in a display of outrage in front of her daughter.  Leaving the summer cottage with her daughter the maid was left to clean up the broken glass.  She promised to replace her security team after discharging Sif from the hospital.  Details were lost to her as she was quietly upset while she was driven to the hospital.  Her daughter waited patiently by her side playing with barbie dolls.  Why couldn’t Arianne pick up her sister from the hospital?  She asked herself that question and that question made her even more furious.  Before she knew it the car pulled into the Hospital parking lot and the driver opened up the door for her and her daughter to exit the vehicle.  As she entered the hospital she walked with her daughter to the first floor elevator she pressed the button while waiting a doctor recognized Freyja.  She called out, “Ms. Sullivan” catching the attention of her holding on to her daughter’s hand.  The elevator door opened she walked away from the door as several people exited and entered.  Freyja walked up to the female doctor, she had blonde hair and blue green eyes.  Noticing that Freyja had appeared upset she assumed that she knew of what happened however; a doctor is bound by hippa law’s,  she was to the point with what she could tell her, “Are you here to discharge your daughter Sif?”  Freyja looked directly into the doctor’s eyes, “I am” The doctor reached out a hand Freyja firmly shook it, “I am Dr. Savant, Sif is waiting in the operating room waiting area” Freyja held her tongue though she wanted to ask why her daughter would be waiting in that area.  “Peculiar” Freyja said Dr. Savant began to walk she turned back, “Follow me I will lead you to her and then after she talks to you then I can provide more information” The possibilities and questions fluttered into Freyja’s mind and many words entered into her vocabulary though none were spoken.  She walked holding her daughter Jennifer’s hand Dr. Savant slowed walking on the side of Freyja with Jennifer in-between the two adults.  She looked down to Freyja’s daughter, “You look a lot like your father” the little girl smiled, “You know my daddy?” Freyja looked to Dr. Savant, “You know him?” Dr. Savant nodded in the affirmative, “He owns Dionysus Refined” Freyja's question satisfied Katherine Savant.  When they reached the doors leading to the surgical area there was no further talk until they reached the operating room visitor waiting room.  Sif was standing with the aid of a walker wearing loose fitting clothes she made eyes contact with her mother and then Dr. Savant.  Freyja walked up to Sif, “Why are you waiting here?”  Sif looked to Dr. Savant, “She doesn’t know?”  The Dr. Nodded no, “Im not allowed to provide that kind of information” Sif looked to her mother, “Hinn Halim tried to attack me outside of the hospital, Craig was running to us waving his waving, we were waiting for him and Hinn ran out of nowhere holding a knife, Michelle Moonshine was by my side she tried to stop him and jumped in front of him and she stabbed her.”  Freyja then noticed that Sif was covered with red residue around her scalp, eyes, nose, mouth.  She reached for her hands the creases of her knuckles and fingertips also had that reside.  “Blood? Is Michelle living?”  Sif nodded her head no, “Craig arrived and Hinn ran throwing something at our feet forming some kind of red mist.  Craig pulled Michelle out of the mist as Hospital personnel got there, Dr. Savant was one of her surgeons.”  That was grave news adding more angst to the already pressing pressures that persisted, she took a deep breath then she looked seriously to the Dr, “Now can you let me know what happened or is that too privileged of information to provide?”  Dr. Savant placed a hand on the back of Freyja guiding her to walk away leaving her young daughter with Sif.  They stepped away, “The injuries were severe, so was the bloodloss, she is in critical condition.  The next 48 hours will be the decider into her future”  Freyja paced slightly, “Her husband is running for the Presidency of Chile” Dr. Savant while being a Dr. Had a question of her own, “Do you think that it was a politically motivated attack?”  Freyja nodded her head no, “That is information that I cannot provide, Bull Shit laws” walking back to Sif she grabbed her daughters hands, “Sif it is time to discharge you from the hospital.  I would like the contact information for her husband Tomas, there is a conversation that is needed”  Sif believed that she could provide that information.  Hospital staff aided Sif on her hospital discharge.

 

****

 

Before police arrived Craig searched through the house with the dead maid lying in a pool of blood in the pantry.  Upon inspection the house looked to be what he was guessing pre furnished, he entered a bedroom and noticed 3 yellow glass orbs lines up in a row, he knew that the orbs contained the ink mist that he was still covered with from the hospital.  He picked up the glass orbs walked out of the house placing them in his car then he waiting for the police to arrive.  As they arrived Craig held his hands up with his wallet in of his hands waiting for them to exit their vehicles to identify himself.  They exited their vehicles with guns drawn Craig shouted, “I”m Craig Chaise I placed the phone call, in my hand is my identification the the suspect exited through the other way, there’s a body inside of the house.”  As he spoke police cars entered the other driving entrance blocking both exits.  Upon instruction Craig was asked to sit in the back seat of one of the police cruisers.  He sat in the back seat of the cruiser giving his account of the events that took place starting with the stabbing outside of the hospital along with the chilean secret service agents that were lying next to their vehicle in the cornfield.  Throughout the waiting and interrogation Craig was calm, he was more concerned about the status of Michelle Moonshine than he was with waiting in a police cruiser.  He remembered being a police officer, the closest encounter that would be comparable to this was when Josh Tehero was shot, later dying on his lawn.  It was different as there is a different kind of violence when it is by hand.  Ambulances and detectives had arrived when Craig was driven to the police station.  He knew the due process while his story was being corroborated.  The only thing that he could do was corporate with the authorities and wait for it to be verified knowing that his phone would be full of calls and messages.

 

****

 

Salvatore Moonshine had made plans, shortly he would meet with some individuals that he would come to an agreement with.  He found himself in front of a butchers block with his knives and a hindquarter, he cut the string to a roast that he had tied.  The feeling of his hands on raw beef covered in blood gave him a sense of familiarity and strength.  A more basic self started to shine through where thought wasn’t needed, it was the repetitive act that he had known for a very long time.  He remembered teaching his daughter the trade, he feared for her survival finding himself praying to a god that he didn’t believe in.  The memory of him teaching his daughter the differences of cuts of beef seemed like it wasn’t long ago.  She was a slow learner and while she was stubborn often knicking herself in the process when she did learn she never forgot.  For a girl to learn that trade it was a prideful one.  He remembered taunting her, when she cut herself often minor knicks, she’d moan and cry about the cut he’d remark, “Got a cut piss on it” That was told to him while working at the slaughter house by old meat cutters that lacked the right antiseptics to treat theirs.  Of course she never did and while he was a business executive and their lessons where in his butcher shop like kitchen she learned a trade.  During his thought filled workshop he broke more strings than he tied as he promised to treat the brute that stabbed his daughter like the piece of meat that he was butchering.  His nurse entered the room, “Your guests have arrived” Salvatore continued to work at the butcher block.  A group of men wearing suits and vests entered the room.  Lights dangled from chains they walked on the red tiled floor while the room was dated, it held true to the style of a butcher shop.  A two hindquarters hung on a hooked racks.  Salvatore’s cain rested angled against the block.  He looked briefly to the men he grabbed a white apron that was to the side of him he wiped his hands slightly he held out a hand to greet the men.  “Salvatore” the leader of the group shook his hand, “Arthur Wall” a sandy black and grey hair man shook his hand.  “There is a matter that needs to be dealt with” Salvatore began Arthur nodded, “We have done our research” Salvatore took the roast that he had tied he wrapped it in parchment paper put a tie around it to hold the paper in place and hung it from a looped string.  “I want it dealt with” Arthur placed a finger in front of his mouth, “We have gotten word that his destination is Nice, France” Salvatore motioned to one of Arthur’s men, “Help me with his hind quarter will you?” He handed the gentleman a white apron to wrap around the hindquarter so that he would not get blood on himself, “Place it on the block will you?” Salvatore looked to Arthur, "I want you to work quickly I won’t expect the man in question to stay in France long, also I want him restrained and kept until I can get to him”  Arthur nodded he slipped a piece of paper on the block, “I’ll double the figure if it is done within 24 hours, now pick it up” One of Arthurs men picked up the piece of paper with a figure written on it.  “It has been some time” Arthur began to talk Salvatore raised up a hand holding his steak knife, “We will small talk when it is completed” He looked to the side of him to the man that lifted the hindquarter, “Take the roast on the hook, cook it for dinner or freeze it until you return to London” The man lifted the roast off of the hook holding it by the looped string.  In unison the Wall Boys knocked one of their brogue booted feet against the other releasing clumps of sand.  Salvatore put down his knife looking at the sand on the floor.  He walked to where they stood slighly pushing one of the men out of the way he spread the sand on the floor he looked to Arthur, "Grip" Arthur looked to Salvator, “Till then” Salvatore nodded, “Good luck” 

 

Chapter 31 But I Didn’t

 

He muddled in Pinella’s Florida two days went quickly by before he turned on his cell phone Rebecca had left nearly a dozen voice mail and text messages.  The last one that she left was that she had gone to the authorities to place a missing persons bulletin on him.  Percival pondered many things within that time for all of the years married to that woman the time when it mattered most, she let him down.  When he was lowered into a place where he did not want to be he lost something special.  Grasp as he might it was not reachable, the promise of hope was gone.  A slight glimmer of brilliance dulled settling on remorse for himself. There was not a question if Le Persil was still on fire, those kind of fires aren’t extinguished in a few days.  He replaid the bomb burst that sprung from Frank Spuk's catapault, the wave that followed the bursts was a good analogy of his life poofing before his eyes.  Messages were left on his voice mail from Jim Buck, his son Dick, and Frank Spuk, but most of them were from Rebecca.  Rarely did he smoke a cigar, but he did while sitting on a beach bench on Madeira Beach, finally he called Rebecca.  She picked up the phone after the first ring, “WHERE ARE YOU!” Percival took a puff from his cigar, “Rebecca” he said roughly.  Rebecca began with a short tirade of how she had been going crazy looking for him, calling him, visiting friends, relatives, police.  “YOU STILL HAVEN”T ANSWERED MY QUESTION!” Percival hesitated as an 83 year old man that had the patience of aged time, “I’ve made my decision” A moment of sobriety came to Rebecca she quieted letting a few moments slip by her voice was slightly broken when she began to talk, “What decision are you talking about?”  Percival took another puff from his cigar he watched the boats in the water sail in the distance, “I’m not coming back home, my time at Le Persil is done, New England doesn’t hold a future for me.  You put the nail in the coffin that night at Le Persil” Rebecca was at a loss for words she paced her kitchen placing down the phone on the table she screamed, “YOU NEED TO COME TO YOUR SENSES PERCY!”  She calmed down, “Where are you staying?”  He took his time in answering her question, he took several puffs from his cigar, “Pinella’s Park Florida”.  Over the years Rebecca had many conversations about moving to Florida but she was never serious.  “You can’t be serious Percy” her heart began to palpitate, if he had died she would have been devastated but she would have believed it.  It seemed unreal, did she have a choice?  Was this and end to her marriage after nearly 50 years?  “Percy you never told me” he left the line lingering for close to a minute, “You let me down when I needed you to be loyal to me”  Rebecca waited a moment, "You were going to kill a man" Percival shuffled sand under his boot as he sat on a beach bench, it looked like he uncovered a coin, probably a quarter he thought, he picked it up, 'New England Patriots' he put it in his pocket then he talked to Rebecca, “But I didn’t”  She hung up the phone on him.

 

****

 

The Wall network worked in the undercurrents of society like rats scuttling in London side streets during 'The Great Stink' of 1858 before sewer systems were installed.  Wall boys were easily identified by their gray Walrus hats, the grayness of their headwear even resembled the gray rat.  Beside Arthur Wall’s home was a brick wall with a hole in the middle, it was a remnant from World War 2.  His connection with Salvatore Moonshine was one that he was born into as his father was fairly well acquainted with Salvatore contracting the Wall network when the extra hand was needed.  England was the Walls home turf, with modern integration their network was quite extensive even with the cold exit of England from the European Union.  Several of their contacts went so far as to be working in the hotel where Hinn Halim was supposed to be staying.  The contact in southern France was none other than his very own sister Kerry Wall.  She moved to France after her marriage that was one of business rather than love.  The blonde haired blue eyed shark of a woman was English but she married a Frenchman whose family lived along the France-Italy border, she owned a tailor shop.  Arthur’s contact with his sister was like a mouse bracing for the cold and one in which he had to watch his back, his sister was not the most friendly, even with brothers.  She did have a fine hand and a patient temperament, and that is what made her a shrewd business woman.  Most of the wear of the Wall boys was shipped to London from her tailor shop in Menton, France just east of Nice.  Her family associations gained her a considerable amount of business including referrals from Hotel Aston La Scala the location where Hinn would be staying.  Her large bosoms, high intelligence, and patient aggressiveness were all weapons that she used wisely.  Her brother contacted her with instructions she required payment upfront, the argument on the telephone of payment eventually involved her husband Phillip Paille that’s when Arthur agreed to the demands.  Plans were set in place, the Paille - Wall network had weaved a web with those involved to work in collaboration with the goal of capturing Hinn Halim and his accomplice Ishmael.  

 

**** 

 

In Chile Tomas encompassed himself in the beginnings of his presidential campaign.  His biggest critiques scolded him for not being part of the common Chilean citizen that is why he needed his wife by his side.  That was her strong suit.  Nonetheless he attended fundraiser after fundraiser raising campaign funds more for his party's sake than for himself as he had pre saved money from Drug smugging.  In addition to making agreements with local politicians should he win the Presidential election he had met with many of his smuggling contacts to discuss future plans..  The platform that he began his campaign with was strengthening the Chilean banking system and more free trade with America.  It was his contention that strengthened Chilean banking would translate into a stronger more stable Chilean Peso and expanded free trade with America would lure more companies to invest in the country of Chile.  What he did not support was unionization and he was not a strong proponent of increasing minimum wage, but what he did contend is that a stronger Chilean Peso and with more foreign investment that wages would increase naturally along with negating inflation.  His wife’s strength was her connection with the common Chilean along with the success of her 300 acre farm.  Tomas’s political enemies were the first to attack the name Moonshine Plantation as the word Plantation could denote slavery.  A response in which he saw as an opportunity he began a series of television adds focused on the 300 acre farm.  Workers were briefly interviewed, overhead footage of the lush greenness and productiveness of the plantation were seen.  The quality of the standards that the workers lived in were shown along with italics of Plantation = Farm that is worked by resident labor.  Without shielding the average wage of the labor was posted during the commercial along with the hidden cost of housing the laborers.  His wife’s success was his success and as a result of his Moonshine Plantation advertising campaign he lead in polling in many areas of Chile.  This afternoon he was perturbed that his secret service agents that monitored his wife did not report to him, then he received a phone call he did not know the origin of the phone number.  Tomas answered to the voice of a German accented woman informing him of what had occurred in America.  Next to him was a female staff member that he had been having an affair with for several months.  Hanging up the telephone he had no option but to go to America.  The press would cover the story he did not doubt there was political opportunity but the welfare of the health of his wife did concern him.  By mid afternoon Tomas, Pablo and a small team of chilean secret service agents boarded a flight.  The bodies of the deceased chilean secret service agents had to be accounted for.  Disruption of election plans while very upsetting also held a measure of relief.  Chilean sympathy was on his side.

 

****

 

Arianne had patience when it came to certain things except on the subject of being a caretaker she had none.  She was the mother to her daughter, being a parent was different then catering to someone that moaned in pain every time that she moved.  On purpose she avoided the hospital and when her mother wanted her to discharge her sister she avoided her phone and sending her mother a reply.  The art exhibit that she held during the summer held a mild amount of success slighter more than what she had anticipated.  Leading up to the exhibit she had consistent contact with Craig Chaise the first in several years.  During the art exhibit he had left the event early and he had kept his distance from her.  Their relationship had dynamism  to it though strings weren't attached she expected more out of him.  Her cell phone buzzed she had a message, “There’s been an attack at the hospital, we're waiting in the operating waiting room” It was from her mother.  A shiver went up Arianne’s spine, she began to have a slight anxiety attack.  It had been a long time since the last time that she had an anxiety attack as it came on suddenly she closed her eyes she breathed in slowly telling herself that there is no reason to be afraid, but she was.  In her mind she told herself that it was unfounded fear without knowing what had happened at the hospital.  Her daughter Gerda tugged on her hand catching her attention.  “We have to go” Arianne drove with her daughter to the hospital unsure what had happened but she knew that it was not good.  She drove with speed not paying attention barely stopping at stop signs nearly driving through red lights, luckily no police were there to notice her reckless driving.  Parking in the hospital lot was a problem as there was construction taking place, she was frustrated finding herself fretting in a way that she had never done.  Holding on to her daughters hand she rushed into the parking lot following instructions to go to the operating room waiting area.  Arriving just in time to meet up with her mother, Sif, and her daughter age sister Jennifer.  She looked to Sif, she didn’t get it she appeared unharmed aside from the previous injuries.  “YOU HAVE BEEN HAVING ME PULL MY HAIR OUT, WHY ARE YOU HERE?”  Freyja reached for Gerda’s hand, “Hinn Halim attacked Sif outside of the hospital” A measure of quietness was amongst the three women.  Dr. Savant stood near the door to the entrance of the surgical area.  Sif held on to the walker as she began to tell the story of what had happened, “I was walking with Michelle Moonshine outside of the hospital, in the distance we saw Craig Chaise running toward us waving out his arms.  We thought that was strange until Michelle looked to her side.  From out of nowhere Hinn tried to attack me with a dagger, Michelle screamed NO! And STOP! But he was fast almost too fast to be human and she jumped in front of me”  Sif stopped talking.  She was nervous her hands were shaking and her breathing was heavy.  “Where is Michelle?  Where is Craig?”  Freyja interrupted the conversation, “Arianne, I’m leaving you to discharge your sister.  I’m taking the girls with me for the night” Before Arianne could protest Freyja left with Jennifer and Gerda leaving Sif with Arianne and Dr. Savant in the not too far distance.  “I’m ready to leave this nightmare of a hospital” Sif told her sister.  “You need to answer my questions” Arianne demanded.  “I will on the ride to your house” The answer did not satisfy Arianne, “What about Michelle?”  Dr. Savant listened to the women talk, anyone in the waiting room could not help but to hear the women as they did not keep their voice down.  She walked to the sister’s, “Excuse me!”  Arianne quieted she looked to the blond haired blue/green eyed doctor wearing a white doctors coat with a stethoscope around her kneck, she read the name, Dr. Katherine Savant.  She was aware of the name, “Your friends with Craig Chaise” Arianne affirmed.  Dr. Savant nodded in the affirmative, “Was he injured?”  The doctor nodded no, “I don’t know where Craig is” The guessing game did not help Arianne with her anxiety, “What about Michelle Moonshine?”  Dr. Savant knew that her sister would tell her about the injury and surgery, “She is in serious condition.  The stab wound was severe and so was her surgery”  Arianne looked to her sister, Sif acknowledged the incident, “I will tell you the details on the way home” The seriousness of the incident had everyone in the waiting room on pins and needles, “Will she survive?”  Arianne asked Dr. Savant, “I can’t guarantee outcomes, the next 48 hours will be the deciding factor.  From what I know she is a fighter and she had no previous physical ailments.  I will tell you that if she does survive the healing process will take time as the injuries were quite extensive.”  Arianne looked to Sif, “Does Tomas know?”  Sif lifted a hand from her walker, “Mother is going to make the phone call, Salvatore has already been contacted” Arianne looked down she shook her head, “This is not good” “No it is not.” Both women looked to the man that replied to Arianne’s last words.  Standing less than six feet from Sif was Nidhogg Moonshine alone.

 

****

 

Most of the flight was turbulent.  Lightning bolts like prison bars struck all around the plane as it flew, rain fell like heavy fists against the hood of a car.  Hinn was very familiar with the feeling flying through similar circumstances many times during his time serving in the Iranian military.  Ishmael only knew the arid climate of the middle east, he knew comfort and security there, Hinn had no fear with not being in a comfort zone flying in an empty tin can.  Eventually after his research was sufficient he took over piloting the plane and after many hours he had reached his destination.  “The French Riviera” Hinn breathed in the air deeply.  Many places in the world drew his attention, Nice France was one of them.  A vehicle awaited them Ishmael drove to Hotel Aston La Scala,  Hinn was attentive of the surroundings aware that he needed to be alert.  Several meetings were planned, one was with a local Arabian network, it was his hope that he could come to some sort of agreement on his security should he expand his communications company into France.  Though he may have been on a temporary leave, a businessman is after all still in business.  Ishmael was of a different sort, he was a house keeper and servant, he required more of a domestic side.  It was for this reason that he gave him a several hour leave of absence to explore and find comfort.  In Persian lands Ishmael worked in secret being that he was a homosexual and in Persia it is forbidden.  After Hinn checked into the hotel and Ishmael sorted and organized what little luggage that they had he began his exploration of the French Riviera.  

 

****

 

The Wall Network had done it’s research and like clockwork Hinn and his servant had checked into the Hotel Aston La Scala.  Less than an hour after arrival Hinn’s assistant had left the hotel alone.  In Iran Alcohol is illegal, the first place that Ishmael could think of was a place where alcohol was consumed.  Having done their intel the Wall Network had a vast amount of information on both men though little was known about Ishmael.  Philip Paille played a vital role in the tracking of Hinn’s servant.  Kerry Wall’s tailoring business was somewhat of a front for Philip though he had delicate fingers that gave him the ability to pick up the trade quickly and with skill.  His real strength was with people, particularly with getting people to like and trust him, and when he reached beyond a point of comfortability and borderline trust, he’d pry information that they might not ordinarily give.  Often Philip would talk about selling air as if air were a product that could be sold.  Growing up, Philip was raised in a family that dominated local radio, his father was a radio sales rep so the question of selling air, was more of a tell of his admiration for the world of radio advertising than not!  Ishmael sat at the bar of Moon bar he ordered a drink, lingering about for a while Philip Paille casually sat beside him.  Phillip read the introverted Arabian before making a move to speak with him, he noticed the Arabians thin limbs and delicate fingers, Phillip tapped the bar table lightly.  He ordered a rum with diet coke.  A moment later a customer from his tailor shop approached him unexpectedly.  It ruined his plan to be incognito being outed by a customer before he could implement the plan.  He had already texted several of his ‘people’ to expect him with Hinn’s assistant and now the plan would be ruined.  Phillip made the best of it smiling when he greeted the customer.  The customer complemented him on the quality of suit that he had hand made for him holding out the jacket revealing the vest beneath it, he spun around tipped his hat to Phillip then shook his hand.  Before he left he paid for Phillips drink.  Now Phillip had male pattern baldness but he shaved it low and he kept a neatly trimmed goatee but his personally is what usually drew others to him.  He felt defeated his shoulders slumped, he took a drink from the rum and diet coke.  The man to the side of him spoke in English.  “I didn’t expect anyone to speak English in France” Phillip tipped his head to the side, “It’s not as rare as you think” Ishmael was definitely an introvert but he did initiate a conversation Phillip took the cue.  “In Iran, my homeland my family is in the fabric business.  I know clothing and your suit was sown masterfully.  In my opinion which is of the finest suit makers in Persia, I could not have tailored better.”  That was rather specific and interesting all of its own however; Phillip did have an agenda, “Why are you not in the fabric business? I’m assuming”  Ishmael finished his drink then he ordered another, “My master forbids it!”  He looked down into his glass.  Phillip nearly choked in a half honest way because he was half honestly astonished in a person having a master, “Are you a slave?”  “On temporary reprieve, it was payment for my family’s survival”  The frankness of the man in question indicated that he was not happy with his status.  It did not seem right to Phillip that one man should be a slave to another but he was not a judge, he was a messenger.  Ishmael followed up, “It seems strange to you but it has become normal, my master is a powerful and dare I say magical man” Phillip had heard of reports of Hinn Halim’s mastery over canines he began with a question, “Why don’t you try to escape?”  Ishmael shook his head, “Westerners do not understand and it would be impossible to escape his grasp without compromising the safety of my family”  Phillip had a thought.  “You said that you were in the fabric industry and that you valued my craft with suit making” “Yes I did” Phillip pointed down to the bar table, “I have many suits ready for a client in one of the rooms in the Hotel Aston La Scala.  If you would be willing to give me your professional opinion I would be willing to give you a bottle of whiskey, Unless of course that is not enough”. Phillip left the air quiet not budging until the silence was filled with a response.  Ishmael nervously licked his lips, he still had hours to spare.  “I would be happy to oblige”  Philip paid for his drink and then he lead the way.  He had been informed of Ishmael’s preference but he did not seem gaudy nor overly suggestive.  There was a part of him that questioned the guiltiness of being involved with an individual as dangerous as Hinn.

 

****

 

The Island of Oahu fared much better than the island of Hawaii as Mauna Loa had been spewing lava and ash though smoke had reached WaiPahu where Jan Walananu had decided that it was time to harvest the garden that he had planted with his daughter.   The exception was the pumpkin patch that he had fought with his daughter over it wasn't quite ready for harvest.  He began with picking the tomatoes that he left on the vine on purpose.  In the distance the sound of a familiar vehicle driving became more predominant as it moved closer to his house.  It was his daughter.  The last that he spoke with her she agreed had separated from her husband and in the mix decided to go to New England to spend time with her husband and reconcile, that was at the beginning of the summer.  His wife Joanna had tried to gossip to him about her getting a divorce but he didn’t want to hear such words, he forbid her to talk about things that she didn't know anything about.  He didn't want to believe it either because he liked Criag.  Gossip was never his strongest point and he wanted peace of mind since he had a pacemaker put in after he was assaulted by Faith’s ex boyfriend Dom.  Before she drove to her parents house Faith had talked to her mother telling her that she would be over.  Strolling out of her car like she owned the place she carried two wicker baskets as she walked to the side of her father she kissed him on the cheek.  “Mother told me what you were going to do and I wouldn’t have it without me taking my share of the bounty”  Jan wiped his brow from the heat of the midday sun.  He looked away from his daughter he began to talk to his imaginary friend.  Throughout the years he’d pretend talking to a man named “Harry” it was his way to air grievances without hurting his daughters feelings.  “You know I’d tell her to go and play in the traffic, but the truth is that there aint any.  But you know she's thick headed like her mother, she might fall for it!”  Faith ignored his banter she looked the arrangement of plants that she had fought with her father on planting happy to see that there was nearly triple the amount of vegetable compared to the year previous.  She looked to her father, “You see, I was right”  

 

Chapter 32 Outlaw

“Nah” Shooter Nelson would not have it!  He stamped his feet on the wooden floor, paced the room angrily running his hands through his hair, rubbing his face, then he pointed to Leona Hoggins, “You know that shit aint right” Shooter put his hands in his pockets.  Leona shrugged she didn’t care what Shooter Nelson wanted.  After Boney’s death she didn’t have anything else keeping her from moving to Texas with her children Jerry and Becky but that meant changes!  Leona dreaded changes but she was ready.  She was putting her property up for sale and she was also selling her 1/3 of Poultry Provisions.  Now the sale of Boney’s portion of Poultry Provisions was a big move being that Boney was a very essential part of the business.  Before her was one very unhappy camper, Shooter did not hide his feelings.  Shooter looked up like a child throwing a tantrum, "Godammit Boney why'd you have to die?" he liked working with Boney Hoggins.  That kind of change hurt not only his pride but his sense of longevity and all is well in the world of business.  The people that Leona had agreed to sell it to was the major bone of contention, "uh huh no god dang way" Shooter nodded no, he wanted to fight.  Shooter Nelson shook like he was about to have a seizure.  Reg sat at his desk and next to Leona Hoggins was Barley Mare picking his teeth with a toothpick.  The door to the office opened Ming Na walked in with Shooter Nelson’s wife.  He raised his hands to his head like he was protecting himself from being punched in the face, “This is trickery” Ming Na did not hold back, “Do you like being married to my woman?”  Shooter didn’t acknowledge her question, “Now Leona” Shooter began to browbeat Leona tilting his head, “You really can just sell me Barley’s 1/3 ownership, now be reasonable” he gritted his teeth, "You know me" Try as she might Leona wasn’t budging she was a woman of her word and when she made an agreement she stuck to it.  Especially with a friend like Barley Mare that had been nothing but good to her.  Poultry Provisions as a business had promise because it was growing and though Charley’s Chicken Family Restaurants would be a weight on profits, there would be the biggest customer within one year.  Now the price for 1/3 of the business was over one million dollars, and that price was steep.  Before Barley Mare moved to Thailand he had saved a quarter of a million dollars, in Thailand in the span of 4 years he and Ming Na had saved nearly 300 thousand American dollars including the money for getting the 4 women married.  With that being said Barley lived in America for most of his life, he was a war veteran, and on the books he still owned a house with property.  Upon the death of Boney Hoggins after making her decision, Leona gave Barely Mare a proposition, he didn’t give it a second thought he looked to Reg, “I’m in” Barley gave Leona a hug while Shooter kicked the ground, “I am not a happy god dang camper” He stamped his Nocona cowboy boots on the wooden floor.  Leona lifted a hand up she walked in front of Shooter, “Hush up!” Shooter held a firm grip, “Barley’s been good to us and we trust him, and besides didn’t you get a wife from him?”  Shooter turned his head to the side, “That’s not the point” Barley stood on the side of Leona face to face with Shooter, “Lets have it out because I’m not pulling out of this deal” Shooter looked eye to eye with Barley, “You know my beef!”  He looked to his wife he waved for her to follow him.  “Reg this is how it is?”  Reg nodded to affirm, “Barley will be an asset to the both of us.”  Shooter spit on the floor, “That’s the line, don’t cross it!”  Shooter stormed out of the office of Poultry Provisions pulling his wife by her wrists.

 

In the business office Reg, Barley, Ming Na, and Leona Hoggins were in attendance.  Leona waved her arms, “You know that I don’t care if he’s mad, we all know that Barley will be a good business partner.  What happened in the past is the past and I agreed to sell to Barley and I’m sticking to my guns.  I know that Boney would agree, though he’d want to still own Poultry Provisions himself.”  Barley grinned he nodded in agreement, “So True” 

 

****

 

Bureaucracy is a lot like a clogged toilet and the shit just wouldn’t go down.  All that Craig wanted was a good nights sleep in his own bed.  He was covered in red residue from the mist that Hinn had released with the red orb that he threw and he had Michelle Moonshine’s blood splattered all over his clothes.  What aggravated him more than anything because he was highly critical when he was competitive were cops that were not as good as him.  They made him sit in a jail cell like he was a criminal throughout a portion of the night.  All that Craig could do was go along with the process, he knew it, he had been in their shoes.  Politics was going on, they knew that he was a cop in a neighboring state.  They had taken his deposition, he made the call, the story at the hospital was confirmed along with the two chilean secret service agents and yet he was kept inside of a prison cell.  It was shit that much Craig knew but the police officers outside of his cell laughed.  During the night a female police officer unlocked the door, “You can come out” his shoes were waiting outside of the cell.  Why couldn’t he wear shoes and why was he held in a cell?  “Clean yourself up” the female police officer told him.  She kicked at his bare feet.  “Should I wait on my front porch for you?”  The female police officer smiled, “I’d never show up” Craig had to admit that whatever it was that ruled the world that he was in had him feeling like he was a dog that had taken a shit on the lawn while the sprinklers were on. He was allowed to leave the police station.  During the process his vehicle was searched but not seized, he called a cab to be taken there.  It was an experience being on the other side of the bars and one that he never wanted to experience in the future.  As he walked out of the police station the female police officer held the glass orbs that were found in his truck, “What are these?”  Craig was honest, “I found them on the bed in what I’m guessing was Hinn’s room, they are glass orbs that are filled with some kind of ink that forms mist when the orbs are exploded.  Craig raised his hands showing his still red tinged skin. The female police officer threw one of the yellow orbs in the parking lot releasing the mist.  “Huh” She said looking to Craig, “Is it toxic?”  “I don’t think so, Hinn exploded the red mist ball running through it himself” She flicked her head she tossed him the other two orbs, he caught them with both hands.  

 

Had he still have been a police officer he would have kept the orbs as evidence, but he was not a judge nor did he care to be one.  As the cab driver drove time was a blur.  The familiarity of his vehicle was a welcomming after a short lived hell.  Craig was weary while he drove through sleep deprivation because of stress for nearly a week, in the prison cell it seemed winter because there was no heat and the air condition was running abnormally high.  Some kind of unnaturalness took predominance at the police headquarters.  That was a unique experience Craig believed.  During the night Craig had visions like shapeshifters or some kind of phantom had taken over.  As the police officers walked by they took on forms that was not them or so it seemed.  He still was shaking off the lingering images from something that could have just been hallucinations, he questioned the chemicals that were in the orbs.  Not thinking of himself he drove to the hospital aware with the event there would not only be him at the hospital.  Having encountered Michelle Moonshine during the dinner he was a stranger but he wanted to visit the hospital for his own sense of honor.

 

****

 

Nidhogg walked closer to Sif and Arianne, he addressed the doctor, “I would like a report on the status of my sister”  Dr. Savant guided Nidhogg slightly away from the women where she gave a report on the status on the injury, surgery, and current condition.  Sif was in a perdicament of her own.  For over a month she had been under the rule in a dominated position that was not her nor of her own doing.  She didn’t owe Nidhogg anything and standing on the side of him she was reminded of all of the hurt that she was put through.  After the report on the status on his sister Nidhogg walked back to the side of Sif, he inspected her condition.  “Why are you standing next to me?” Sif asked breaking the conversation between Nidhogg and Dr. Savant.  Nidhogg scoffed, “My sister saved your life when she shouldn’t have and my presence makes you uncomfortable?”  Sif raised her left hand waving it through her hair she made eye contact with him.  Her temperature rose as momentarily her eyes filled with angry tears, “Where is your lapdog?  Or are you going to let her family kill yours?”  Nidhogg twitched as he were a rabbit that had been plucked by a Hawk.  Olaf and Bjorn walked into the waiting room.  The presence of the two ogres of men quieted the waiting, Arianne was the one that was most visibly shaken.  Her pulse quickened she felt the rise of her need to get out of the situation that she was in she wanted to grab a knife and cut the men that had done bad to her.  Sif reached for her sister, her movement was stiff and slow, “It’s time for us to leave”  A man walked into the operating room waiting area Arianne recognized Craig she moved to his side quickly clinging to his uninjured arm.  It took Craig a moment until he saw Nidhogg with Olaf and Bjorn standing next to Sif and Dr. Savant.  Instinct took over as Bjorn and Olaf made eye contact with both men he grabbed the gun that was in holster under his coat as he placed his hand on the gun Dr. Savant walked past the men she approached Craig, “Follow me, I need to speak with you” Hospital security entered the room as Dr. Savant had pressed an emergency button.  

 

Being left alone, across the room Arianne was full with fright hyperventilating she tried to hold her composure but her breath was shallow, seeing Dr. Savant walking out of the waiting room with Craig he looked back softly with his injured arm waving for her to follow.  He knew what she was experiencing he flicked his head, she quickly took the physical cue walking beside Craig and Dr. Savant.  She looked back seeing Sif stand on the side of her ex husband.  It would be uncomfortable for Sif but she was better suited to be in that position than her.  

They walked into the hallway leading to the circulation desk Dr. Savant was direct, “Craig I pulled you aside for a reason.  She looked to Arianne, “I’m assuming that the reason for your hyperventilating is the same” Arianne nodded, “Have you have been tied up and blindfolded beside your assistant while over a hundred million dollars worth of art is stolen?”  Craig followed it up with, “Have you ever tried to stop a burglary and have success with getting the stolen art back while dealing with a woman with an anxiety disorder?”  Dr. Savant tried not to smile at the irony and heavy weight of all things considering including the people in the waiting area of the operating room.  “Then you know that I pulled you aside for a purpose, I’m not the judge but I do believe that whatever the intention of the man in the waiting room it is not for your demise.  I’ll advise you to sidestep them while they pass on by.”  Craig thought otherwise however clumsy the two giant sized oafs were.  Arianne firmed up, the mental transformation was noted by both Craig and Dr. Savant.  She looked to Craig, “I have a heart that hates and if there is a god then god believes in vengeance.”  Arianne requested that Dr. Savant have her and her sister escorted from the hospital immediately.  Bound by the guidelines of medical wishes she walked out to the waiting room and made arraignment with hospital security, moments later the women were escorted to Arianne’s vehicle.  Sif was discharged from the hospital with minimum words spoken with Nidhogg.  Through the commotion Craig decided that whatever Dr. Savant wanted with him would have to wait.  He walked into the waiting room ignoring Nidhogg and staring at Olaf and Bjorn, he opened up his jacket revealing his handgun in its holster then he zipped his jacket.  There was a standoff!  Though both men dwarfed everyone in the room Craig did not back down.  Security re entered the room, Craig left the hospital as Dr. Savant walked past him she talked to him but he did not listen.  

 

****

 

Phillip Paille lead the way with Ishmael following behind him as they approached the hotel room where three men were waiting for their arrival.  Ishmael had no inkling that he was being deceived as Phillip had him mesmerized by stories of his suit crafting and how he came into the tailoring trade.  “It is a skillset that is being decimated by cheap clothing.”  Ishmael could not have agreed with him more.  He put a hand in his pocket pulling out the keys card to open the hotel room door, Phillip opened the door he held it open, “You first my dear friend” Ishmael entered the hotel room Phillip walked in behind him closing the door flipping on the lights.  Before Ishmael could react a man from the side of his inserted a syringe into his arm, as the seconds passed by he was nervous as he began to lose consciousness.  Phillip looked to the three men that were part of the Paille - Wall network, “We need to act quickly” The men laid Ishmael on a carpet that was brought into the hotel room, they rolled up Ishmael inside of the carpet then two of the men carried the carpet out of the hotel with Phillip leading the way and one of the men following.  Several of the hotel workers were in on what was taking place, the carpet was placed inside of a van, the men got into the van they drove to Couture Paille the tailoring company in Menton, France.  The tailor shop was attached to a stone garage that served many purposes.  The men brought the carpet inside of the stone garage they unrolled the carpet Ishmael’s hands were tied along with his feet but his eyes were not covered nor was his mouth.  He kicked and screamed and wiggled like a worm, he threatened and spit and tried to bite as he struggled when the men lifted his arms above his head hanging him by a hook.  His feet dangled with the tips of his toes scraping the floor his wrists burned from rope chafing and his bodyweight.  Ishmael began to sob and pray in Arabic.  Phillip walked back and forth in front of him and then a short big breasted blonde woman walked into the room.  She walked quickly stopping in front of Ishmael she held an envelope opening it taking out several photographs.  “Your Master” Kerry Wall stopped short.  Ishmael gulped as he wept, many thoughts were running through his mind.  She held firm beginning with a question, “Did you know” Ishmael broke into her question, “I don’t know, I do not know anything, my master keeps me held under tight wraps.  I am a caretaker and a house keeper, nothing more.  I do not know about his private affairs, please let me go.  My promise is that I will not tell” Kerry Wall was not a sensitive woman she was judging Ishmael as he spoke.  What she did not doubt was his claim as he stopped her from finishing what information that she had to offer to him.  Instead of asking a question she nodded to the men in the room, she spoke to them each man held a photograph in front of Ishmael.  “Them!”  Ishmael tried to breath but he could not, it was taken away from him as he gasped for air crying dryly for several moments until he broke.  The photographs were of his dead parents and siblings.  “Hinn did this” Ishmael shook his head, “This could not be the truth, he promised their safety” Kerry Wall smacked Ishmael on one of his cheeks, “LOOK AT THEM!  LOOK AT THEM!” She nudged her breast as she bared cleavage Ishmael turned his head to the side he looked at the photographs of his dead relatives.  Crying and praying for his dead relatives he cared no longer, “Kill me! Free me from my burdens” Kerry Wall did not like that answer, “It was Hinn!”  Ishmael shook his head, “No! It was not!  He would not have done such a thing” Getting angered Kerry Wall grabbed one of the photographs she held it up to Ishmael’s face, “Look at the injuries!  Clean cut knife marks.  Look familiar?”  For the first time things began to look clearer to him, the clean cut knife marks were consistent with Hinn’s use with the dagger, as he had seen more than a dozen deaths that Hinn inflicted with his dagger.  A little more than a year ago, Ishmael remembered seeing a piece of silk ribbon something that his sister would use to tie her hair with.  Hinn had a piece that resembled the same piece wrapped around his wrist for several weeks.  “When did this happen?”  Ishmael asked, “It has been confirmed that it took place a year ago” Phillip Paille answered.  Phillip held a knife of his own without asking his wife he reached up for the roped cuffs that hung Ishmael by a hook, he cut them.  Ishmael fell from the hook with his feet still bound.  Phillip held out a hand, “I believe that you may be of use to us?”  Ishmael kept his hands to himself, “I know what you want!  You want to enslave me so that I may design and create the best suits and clothing that you have ever seen” A light appeared somewhere internally as Phillip pondered the statement that was spoken.  Kerry had a different reaction, “No stupid!  We want you to help us with capturing Hinn.  Don’t you want revenge for what he did to your family?”  Ishmael nodded yes, but he was a defeated man for him his family had died a decade before when he entered into Hinn’s servitude.  Still sitting Ishmael gave a warning, “There must not be any species of canine within the area that Hinn is located” Kerry put her hands on her hips, “Why?”  Ishmael stood up from the cement floor finally he made eye contact with his captors, “Because Hinn is a master of dark magic and he has mastery over all canines” Phillip held out one of his hands he opened it show a vial with contents inside, “What is that?”  Ishmael asked Phillip smiled his eyes were twinkling, “A roofie, will you be able to administer it?  We prefer not to have a struggle between yourself and your master” Ishmael was confident that he could comply, “I prepare all of Hinn’s meals, he is very particular with trust.  My family must have their revenge.”  Though Ishmael was angry beyond words his demeanor was that of a man that was broken and without fight.  Kerry Wall issued a warning to Ishmael, “We are trusting that you want freedom and revenge for your family, if you don’t hold up to your end of the bargain, you will die a bloody death and so will Hinn.”  Phillip was more empathetic to the man that stood before him he placed a hand around the back of his neck, “My friend, and I will call you a friend because I don’t believe that we are enemies, When all of this is over I would like to see how skilled you are at suit making”  Those words drew a reaction from Ishmael he smiled briefly looking to Phillip, “I.. I would like that” With Kerry Wall and Phillip Paille satisfied with the verbal agreement the three men drove Ishmael back to the hotel where he would administer the roofie to Hinn and then text the men that would be waiting in a nearby hotel room.  

 

****

 

Father and daughter worked side by side for several moments before Jan began to talk about what was bothering him.  "So you’re a divorced woman!"  His nose was clogged and then began to get runny as he griped with his daughter.  Faith knew that sooner or later she would have to have this talk with her father.  "It's in the process, I'm still not sure.  I stayed with him in New England."   Jan shook his head he didn't agree with his daughter nor could he make eye contact with her.  "I already got paid”  she nudged him, “Five million dollars" Jan dropped the basket that he was putting vegetables into,  he pulled out a handkerchief and blew his nose into it.  "What kind of woman did I raise?" Jan picked the basket off of the ground that he had dropped he walked to a different part of  the garden wanting distance from his daughter.  A few minutes passed, Faith needed to know that her father would forgive her she walked close to him, "We don't want the same things" Jan picked a ripe tomato crushing it with his grip, "So! Do you think that me and your mother agree on everything?"  Faith knew that he would defend Craig, "Dad" she called he didn't stop picking vegetables and he wouldn't acknowledge her.  "He's moving to his vineyard in California, and he wants me to have kids and I err... don't want them."  She rubbed her stomach, she hadn't made the decision if she was going to keep it or not.  "I tell Craig that I'm not moving away from my parents that I'm an Island girl and he says that you and mom should move too and in your health that's not going to happen.  We always fight and I can't make it work" Jan worked while listening to his daughter.  He was not unreasonable but he knew Craig and he knew that he was a good man but he also knew that Faith was a headstrong woman and now she was rich.  What could he do?  "How about me and your mother move to California with Craig and you stay in Hawaii all by yourself?  After all whether you're married to him or not his kids are still my family"He picked vegetables from his garden and walked inside of the house without acknowledging anything that Faith had told him.  No he wasn't angry with Faith but what he needed was to air his thoughts to his wife because he trusted what she had to say.  

 

Chapter 33 From A Hook

 

Winds gusted through the open porch doors as Hinn meditated in the parlor of his executive suite.  Void of thought he kept his mind clear during his reverie.  Several hours before his servant was given leave to excise things that Hinn cared not for nor did he wish to address with him.  Recognizing that that they were there, he let Ishmael leave.  During his time alone he knew that his visit to France would be brief, but he finally felt a semblance of relief.  He focused, trying to picture the night in El Qui Valley with Michelle Moonshine.  A sharp pain struck him in the abdomen, it took a measure of tolerance of pain and steely focus of thought to remain still.  Feeling the pain that he had inflicted upon the owner of Moonshine Plantation he knew that it was part of the bonding from that night.  She was pregnant with his seed, sweat protruded profusely from his pores.  There was not a doubt that she was still alive because he could feel her pulse.  Lost in meditation he was taken out of it when his servant opened the door.  Hinn opened his eyes he remained seated, he did not want to address what may have occurred. “Wash” Ishmael kept his gaze downward, he nodded affirming the command.  Showering and changing he stored the vial in his pocket preparing to follow through with what had to be done.  A normal man might not have held their composure possibly being full of rage, hate, spite, some kind of uncontrollable feeling, but Ishmael was not normal.  The enduring reality that he had been living brought continual stress.  Soldiers facing conditions of continual stress meet those stresses becoming hardened veterans Hinn was one of that type, Ishmael however; reacted much differently because he was dominated without room to breath, so he took the underhanded approach.  He understood Hinn, much like a wife knows a husband.  In knowing the weaknesses in the hardened armor of a hardened well refined and skilled soldier of a businessman the administering of the vial of poison was easy.  The typical consumption after a period of meditation was a cup of black tea with lemon.  Emptying the contents of the vial into the cup of tea, Ishmael stirred the cup hoping that there was no flavor to the liquid.  As Ishmael handed the tea to Hinn, he noticed chafing marks around the wrists of his servant.  Hinn made serious eye contact with Ishmael, he looked to his wrists laughing slightly follow by a smile.  Hinn shook his head the thoughts that entered into his consciousness disgusted him.  Taking the first sip of the tea he did not take notice of the poison that he had ingested.  

 

****

 

One floor below the executive suites Arthur Wall had arrived in France waiting in the hotel room with Phillip Paille and three of his trusted men waiting for the phone call from Hinn’s assistant Ishmael.  Arthur adjusted his glasses he paced the hotel room anxiously awaiting.  Resembling a leprechaun that had drunken a bottle of vinegar he smoked a Marlboro red cigarette.  “My sister told me that you went sweet on the slave” Arthur flicked his cigarette he held out a middle finger as he held the cigarette lit facing down.  Phillip had a differing opinion as often he and Arthur could not agree when it came to a matter of judgment.  Phillip walked slowly to the a window inside of the hotel room, he pried the shades with a finger, “You lack perspective” Phillip turned around, “You are aware that his ‘master’ killed most of his family” Arthur took a drag from his cigarette, he clicked his lips together dryly, “Argh” Arthur roughly barked, “In his homeland he was a tailor and his family was renown within the fabric industry, did you know?”  Pulled out a small bottle of whiskey he put it down on the kitchen counter, “And in Herefordshire my family turned corn and wheat into whiskey and we made a fortune.  Let me ask you this Mr. Paille when you lay your head to sleep in your comfortable French cottage, who’s by your side?”  Phillip came close to Arthur almost too close nearly pressing his lips against Arthur’s cheeks he gripped the front of Arthurs overcoat, “Who’s suit do you wear?”  Arthur showed his teeth he spit on the floor, "How do you sleep at night?" Phillip Paille’s cell phone rang Arthur extinguished his cigarette.

 

****

 

It began to rain.  Laying his head to rest was easy it was the nightmares that followed that were hard.  Tossing and turning it was as if his thoughts were not his own.  Tangled up in his blankets his feet were bound.  Craig was a prisoner of sleep while his mind ran rapidly.  Jennifer appeared riding a horse that he could not recognize, he was walking aimlessly swinging at thin air stumbling as he walked. Riding the pure white Arabian horse they trotted by him several times without stopping.  He breathed in as they passed the distinct smell of freshly oiled leather filled his senses.  Finally she stopped, “Aren’t you going to say hi?”  Her hair flowed with a short gust of wind.  He kept walking unable to speak or stop she reached down touching his shoulder.  A connection was made his body began to shake he stopped.  Though he was sleeping a medical diagnosis was that Craig was in shock.  Jennifer let go of his shoulder finally Craig’s seizure ended he looked up, “I miss you!”  He began to cry in his sleep, “I’m a failure, both in marriage and with protecting my friends.”  Jennifer prodded her horse into a gallop, she passed by him several more times.  Then she disappeared.  Craig walked while weeping.  The ground under his feet changed into piles of sand.  The sun glared down, there was no wind, the lack of it was stifling.  As he walked he felt constriction in his chest his tears dried, he slowed down his breathing and took off the shirt that he was wearing covering his face and head as he walked aimlessly.  An Oasis was not far off, though he was dreaming he prayed that it was not a mirage.  A man sat in a lawn chair surrounded by camels.  As he approached the man with a pack of camels sitting in a lawn chair he walked past him dousing himself in the water.  When he stood up from his emersion into water there was none and the man that stood before him was none other than Djinn Halim.  Craig felt his injured arm he noticing that it was no longer injured, his reflexes were fluid, he swung as hard and fast as he could.  Djinn disappeared then reappeared a few feet away.  “You do not understand the laws of division” His words did not make sense and though Djinn spoke in Arabic he could decipher the words.  “Sif killed you and I would have as well” Djinn waved a finger, “As I recall I held the upper hand”  What was Craig facing?  He was speaking to a deadman as if he were still living.  “Your brother needs to be stopped” Djinn looked down to his feet, he wore Khussa’s with the tip of the shoe being made of gold, “We are one” after his words Djinn disappeared and the sand turned to water.  Craig stood knee deep in the low tide ocean on a beach of the island of Oahu, Hawaii.  None of what was happening made sense but it didn’t need to he kept moving almost as if he were on a conveyer belt.  He felt a tap on his shoulder from behind, he turned around it was Faith.  He leaned in to kiss her on the lips, she was the woman that he loved and he wanted to stay married to her.  “I don’t want a divorce” he whispered to her as he leaned in to give her a kiss she placed a finger in front of him.  To the side of her was Boney Hoggins digging for clams.  Craig began to cry again saddened with Boney’s recent death.  Boney stopped digging he turned around taking a moment to relieve himself in the water then he walked over to Craig, Faith swam a good distance away from the two men.  Boney addressed Craig, “Don’t be sad” How could he not be sad? “Everything in my life is changing” Boney nodded, “That’s when you got to be a man.  Just because you lose some good people and bad does what it can don’t mean that the lord don’t have use for you” Craig looked to Faith she smiled then she turned into a dolphin and swam away.  When he looked back to Boney he shook Craig’s hand then he turned into a crab and scuttled back and forth.  “Why!” Craig yelled again and again waking himself yelling the question.  He was full of sweat and he feet were tangled in his blankets, when he looked to the clock it was nearly two in the afternoon.

 

****

 

With knowing someone’s routine regardless of the resting place Ishmael knew the regularities of the mechanics concerning Hinn.  What he had expected was for Hinn to consume the laced tea and then loose consciousness.  It seemed inhuman, after consumption Hinn carried on with his normal routine showing no sign of fatigue or reaction to what he had consumed.  Working out nearly two hours Hinn showered and then he went to his quarters for the night.  Ishmael did not sleep he waited for nearly 1/2 hour then he crept into his masters quarters, he slowly crept up to him.  A measure of courage was needed for what he was about to attempt for he knew that he would be severely beaten.  “Psst… Psst”  Ishmael began.  Hinn did not wake.  As a trained soldier Hinn was a notoriously light sleeper.  “Psst… Psst” There was still no reaction.  Trembling Ishmael’s hands were shaking violently as he reached forward he nudged Hinn’s chin.  Holding his breath he quaked with edgy nerves.  There was no reaction.  He then took both hands and shook Hinn.  There was no reaction.  Ishmael was forbid to own a computer or cell phone, his options were limited.  He used the hotel room phone and called up Phillip Paille.  A few minutes passed Ishmael was in a state of panic pacing the hotel fearing that Hinn would wake and then the ramifications for his actions.  Thinking about his family did not cause a brave bout of anger or vengeance it made him fear all the more should Hinn wake.  Phillip Paille entered the hotel room followed by 4 British men.  The man that went by the name Arthur instructed the men to confine Hinn they brought in a carpet like they did with him.  Handcuffs were placed around Hinn’s hands and feet and duct tape was wrapped around his mouth.  During this process he woke from his slumber his eyes bulged but he could not scream nor get out as he was rolled up into the carpet and carried out of the hotel room.  Salvatore Moonshine had arranged for a private flight.  Ishmael was left in the hotel room, Phillip Paille stayed behind.  

 

Knowing people along with himself he knew that Ishmael would need several moments to gather his wits.  “What am I going to do? What am I going to do?” Ishmael covered his head he was full of fret.  Phillip placed a hand on Ishmael’s shoulder, “You are no longer a slave” Ishmael nodded no, “You do no know Hinn.  I will not believe it until he is dead and still my family is dead, the resources that I have I do not know if I will be able to retrieve them.”  Phillip was confident that Hinn Halim would not escape the confines nor survive what Salvatore Moonshine had made preparations for.  Words would not work, that much Phillip Paille knew.  Anticipation of what needed to be confirmed was a waiting game.  Phillip thought of something, “How about I put you to work?”  Ishmael nodded he was ready, “Do you need your house cleaned and dinners prepared?”  Phillip nodded no, “I want you to construct me suits.  There is an order that I have been pushing off due to sudden obligations, you could be of assistance, besides I would like to judge the skill of your craft.”  Ishmael nodded without smiling, he was a shell of himself acting and talking out of instinct and repetition, “I used to have many contacts in the Persian fabric industry, Hinn trusts no other to make his clothing for him.”  Phillip made eye contact with Ishmael, “Hinn is no more.  You can stay with my wife and I until his termination has been confirmed.  There is real suit craft to be made and you will be paid for your work.”  Ishmael gathered his belongings he placed them near the entrance to the hotel suite, “I am not concerned about payment, it is my safety and future that I am concerned about.”  Phillip Paille understood his concerns.

 

****

 

Several men from the Wall Network dwelled in the slaughter house of Salvatore Moonshine’s youth.  As he entered the slaughterhouse memories of his youth filled his mind.  The building had been empty for more than twenty five years, dilapidation was the most prominent thing to notice.  Parts of the brick outer exterior had caved in along a window along with a tressel that lead to a storehouse that was once used for dry goods.  A generator was brought in, as it ran lights were lit giving a dim light to the damp slaughterhouse.  For Salvatore it felt like home.  He had been informed when the capture of the heathen that had done the deadly thing to his daughter had taken place.  Satisfied that he had not to wait long before his arrival he motioned to his nurse standing on the side of him she held his apron and butcher knives.  As the men carried out a rolled up carpet unrolling it revealing the cuffed and gagged Hinn Halim they over muscled his fight hanging him upside down  from a hook.  He dangled by chained cuffs that dug into his skin.  

 

****

 

Jim Buck couldn’t understand it he spent long hours at Le Persil plowing burned piles of trash remnants.  Why would Percival all of a sudden move to Florida?  He was at a loss for words and so was his son Dick Cauldron.  Then there was Patty Medallion!  She was being a bitch again.  Since his argument with Boney Hoggins they hadn’t been getting along.  Nope no matter how hard he tried she just wouldn’t be nice.  Like a dog that didn’t like people.  Friday night he was done for the day at the limit of his ability to be a believable leader in the garbage industry during a fire.  He felt the toll and his spirits were dampened by the missing link, it was Percival.  He showered and shaved then he showed up at Patricia’s house holding a dozen roses.  She answered the door, she was wearing a flowered dress with dress shoes and hair dolled up.  Jim Buck was not dressed for the type of occasion but he did have flowers.  “She was a beautiful sin, but I had to find another way” Jim Buck quoted a song that he wrote.  Patricia recognized the song she walked passed him out of the door closing it in front of him.  He was haggard he turned around, “I’m holding flowers” Patricia stopped she turned around, “I’m leaving, what do you want?” Jim Buck was quiet for a moment,  “It’s been months, are you ever going to talk to me?”  She put her hands on her hips, “What do you want?” She puckered her lips and twinkle from the outdoor lights sparkled off of the clip in her hair.  “Percival’s in Pinella’s Park Florida he’s not coming back.”  Patricia nodded, “Everything has an end” Jim Buck didn’t like her attitude he took out a cigarette and lit it, “So is this our end?”  Patricia looked to the flowers in his hands, “You know Jim Buck you have some goddamned nerve being a prick to me giving me orders when you want something and then out of the blue you show up holding flowers when I’m ready for a night out with the girls.”  Patty Medallion began to do her impersonation of Jim Buck being an oaf, “Now Patty be nice to me because I want something until after I’m done doing it” Jim Buck flicked his cigarette, “That’s not it Patricia!”  Patricia turned her head to the side quickly, “Nothing! Jim that’s what I feel. Nothing!” She yelled.  “That’s not true Patricia” Patty Medallion reached forward she tore the flowers from Jim Bucks hands she threw them on the ground and stepped on them, “Boney Hoggins will never come back from the dead and when I see you all I can think about is how you bullied him and now he’s dead. And then you bully me and I’m up to here with your bull shit”  Patty Medallion held an invisible line above her head.  Jim Buck dropped his cigarette then he stepped on it, “Patricia, I’m a dedicated man, I’m loyal, and when I have a cause I’m like a dog of war.  I’ve been dedicated to you and I ain’t got loyalty in return.”  Patricia turned she began walking to her car Jim Buck ran up to her she shook him free.  He slowed down like he was ashamed, “I comprehend pass!” She turned to face him before she entered her car, “Or manure leaving a horses ass” Patricia started up her car then she drove away. It didn’t take much thought beyond everything that surrounded him.  He loaded up his truck, he made a decision he would go to Pinella’s Park to keep his boss company.  

 

****

 

Percival sulked in Pinella’s Park Florida moping feeling bad for himself while not reaching out to those that cared about him except for Jim Buck, but Jim Buck was more of an extension of himself than not.  After he talked on the phone with Rebecca he picked up a coin that was at his feet.  It rested on top of kitchen table in his hotel room.  Many years ago he lived in Largo where he smuggled guns to Cuba for several years.  Eventually he got caught with a small amount of firearms and spent two years in prison but all of the feelings that he had about the place that he was in was still the same.  In the night time Percival had a vast assortment of liquor on the table.  Earlier in the day he went to an asian owned liquor store, the clerk was a woman that seemed rather attractive for an asian woman.  His grievances from war were resolved but the politics remained.  The woman clerk turned back and front and her husband coughed several times while he was being rung out.  “Cough my asshole?” Percival asked the husband, the store went silent the seriousness of his leaving was met with silence.  If he were younger he might have gone back and broken the man’s legs or knocked out his teeth, just out of principle.  The funny thing that Percival found humorous was what could be found with an 83 year old man, why disrespect him with a cough?  If he were at home that would not have happened.  Come night time Percival sat at his kitchen table mixing drinks twiddling the patriot coin between his fingers.  There was a knock on his door.  Old men have a different kind of motivation then they would in their youth so he figured to not answer the door.  Since he didn’t expect company nor did he have a need and he had paid his bill in advance he didn’t answer.  The door unlocked and then it opened, now Percival might be old but he was not without reaction.  By his side was his pearl handled gun, he picked it up pointing it to the door.  Jim Buck opened up the door he walked through holding a bottle of bourbon dragging a suitcase behind him.  Jim held up his hands, “Percy it’s me” Percival put his gun on the table, “I expected you tomorrow” Jim Buck rolled in his suit case, “Patty’s been a bitch so I took a flight as soon as I could.”  Percival began to shuffle a deck of cards that were on the table, “Take a seat” Jim Buck brought in his belongings he took a seat at the table and they began to place a game.  The plan for the two old men the following day was to go to Showtime Speedway in Clearwater.  Though they had no skin in the game they were sure that they could get into the pits.

 

****

 

Following his own rules on how to handle stress, Craig knew that he needed achievement.  He drove to Lowes and bought a chainsaw milling guide.  Sure as shit his arm was throbbing but there were several maple trees that Faith had cut down during the summer and he had an idea.  When he got back to the apartment Debbie-Sue was outside with the kids.  One thing that Craig was good at was shielding his children from the ugliness that he either did or experiences.  Deciding that it was best if he didn't explain himself or tell her what had happened he had his kids help him gather the 2x4 boards that he would use to make rails that would guide the chainsaw mill for the first cut.  In the past he had seen video's on people cutting their own boards to make furniture or lumber with.  It seemed simple, the sun was fairly bright with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees.  At the store he bought a new chain for the chainsaw, ripping chains are best used for milling, mainly because the teeth of the chain are angled at 10 degrees instead of 45 degrees that is used for general tree cutting.  Looking through the fiberglass cover that was framed with stainless steel a handle was on the far end.  Craig's injured arm luckily was the side that was used to rev the chainsaw and his uninjured side he held the handle using force to help the chainsaw cut through the wood.  After fastening the wooden rail guide he set the depth of the mill guide fastened it and began to cut.  Sawdust flew out of the sides of the downed tree Elvis, Marilyn, and Loretta stood behind him watching Craig work.  As he made progress he placed wedges into the sides of the tree that he was slicing to prevent pinching.  Debbie-Sue yelled Craig stopped leaving the chainsaw dangling idling as he kissed his children goodbye, he continued to work, he looked back in time to see Debbie-Sue driving away.  Working alone there was a sense of relief.  After he finished the first cut was completed he slid off the slab of wood to the side and unfastened the rail guide, then readjusted the depth of the chainsaw milling guide.  The idea was that he would make a table and while it took close to one half of an hour to cut two and a half inch boards the continual hum and pile of sawdust collecting made him feel somewhat better.

 

Chapter 34 Old Money

 

He dangled from a chain ended by a hook, cuffs dug into his skin being a disciplined soldier he focused on a thought, he did not complain.  Salvatore approached Hinn holding his cane as he stood in front of him they made eye contact though Hinn was upside down.  “You know what you did” Hinn did not speak.  Arthur Wall walked up to the two of them he pushed the confined Hinn causing him to sway as his body swung it was met by Arthur’s brogue boot against Hinn’s nose causing it to break, blood spattered  dripping on the floor Salvatore remained motionless, he leaned against his cane.  Hinn knew that his perdicanent would be his end, he was without option, “Sif killed my brother, your daughter was not the target” Salvatore picked up his cane he swung it connecting solidly with the side of Hinn’s head, “No one asked you to speak” Hinn hung without words, blood rushed to his head, his nose was broken and he was in considerable pain.  Salvatore flicked a hand for his nurse to give him his butcher apron.  He hooped it around his neck and his nurse tied it around his waist.  Anticipation filled the slaughter house, the sound of the power generator revved and the dimly lit lights flickered Salvatore sharpened the blades against the handled stone in preparation for what he was going to do.  Out of desperation of necessity Hinn gave an admission, “Michelle is pregnant with my child!”  That caught Salvatore’s attention.  He was not sure if he had heard correctly, “What was that?” Salvatore slowly crouched low nearly meeting with Hinn eye to eye, “Your daughter is pregnant with my child” Salvatore stood up he looked to Arthur, “Flip him” Several men grabbed Hinn taking him off of the hook flipping him upright.  Pressure released from his head as the pain of pressure transferred from Hinn’s ankles to his wrist.  Salvatore wanted to look eye to eye with the man that he was facing.  Hinn wore silk pajama’s as he was sleeping when he was abducted.  The back doors of the Slaughterhouse opened two men walked in with three pit bulls each restrained by leashes.  Hinn felt their presence forming an instant connection, “Attack” Hinn gave the order.  The Pitt bull snarled and growled at the two men that owned them.  As the two men pulled on the leashes familiar with their pets, it was not enough to stop the six dogs from attacking the two men in unison biting the jugular’s and faces of their owners.  In the slaughterhouse were ten men in total including the two that had walked in with the pit bulls.  “Didn’t I tell you no dogs?”  Arthur yelled.  With leashes still attached the pit bulls left the bodies of their owners running toward the old man that stood in front of Hinn.  As they neared they lept in unison “Shoot Them” Arthur commanded knowing that if the dogs attacked him it would be his own end, Salvatore held his knife stabbing one of the Pit bulls in the ribs as it bit his arm.  Another was about to attack Salvatore’s nurse grabbed the leash of the Pitt bull that neared him, it attacked her instead.  As it bit her face Arthur shot the pit bull in the back.  In orderly procession several guns went off the six pit bulls were dead along with two of Arthur’s men.  Salvatore had been bit in the arm, it throbbed from the clamping pressure but no bones were broken nor did he bleed.  His nurse on the other hand had been bit on one side of her cheek it was open part of it clean from her face.  Salvatore held his calm unsurprisingly, “Get her to a hospital” he picked up his boning knife he looked to Hinn, “I will not forgive what she and my daughter will not forget” Following his words keeping eye contact with Hinn whom did not speak he plunged the tip of the boning knife into the throat of Hinn and tore upward.  Blood flowed freely Hinn gasped for air and bubbled formed from his throat and then he was dead.  

 

A moment later Salvatore walked to the two men Arthur walked to the side of Salvatore smoking a cigarette.  Having not smoked a cigarette in Forty One years Salvatore asked for a cigarette.  “These two men that did not follow orders did they have children?”  Arthur pointed to the first, “He did not but the other one had two”  Salvatore’s hands were covered in blood.  “Sorry about the nurse” Arthur confided Salvatore nodded he took a drag from the cigarette, “Nellie’s a tough bitch she’ll be fine.” He dropped the cigarette then he walked back to Hinn whom was dead on the hook.  Angered with the quick death that he did not deserve Salvatore picked up his boning knife cleaned the blade on his apron, took it off, then wrapped his knives in the apron.  “I will pay you the agreed upon price, but I want those two families to be compensated a greater share.  I want photographs of the body and I need one of your men to drive me home.”  Salvatore gave one last look at the slaughterhouse that filled so many of his childhood memories before he exited the building.  It began to rain as he stood outside breathing in fresh air feeling much better about getting vengeance.

 

****

 

The engine to the Husqvarna 450 purred as it idled Craig refilled the bar and chain oil along with the mixed gas and two stroke oil.  In total he had cut six fifteen feet long boards that were each two and a half inches thick.  They were scarred heavily as milling with a chainsaw does.  Typically milled boards are spaced and left to dry in a shed or under a pitched tarp but while he had the fight to do something to show he decided to process the milled boards.He shut off the chain saw and walked to the shed.  Fetching a tape measure, skill saw, 2x4’s and screw-gun with screws he made a couple of saw horses.  If there was the difficult part it was with transporting the fifteen feet two and a half inch boards.  The wood was maple not as heavy as oak but the wood was still of considerable weight.  He knew that he would cut the milled boards down eventually.  Craig made the cuts to the studs making an A connected by boards both high and low.  When the sawhorses were complete he set them up in front of the house then he walked back to the milled boards and brought a wheel barrel with him.  Yes, he knew that he was doing things the hard way but he didn’t care.  He was a stubborn man that was set on accomplishing a goal.  Tilting milled board by board on top of the wheel barrel he let the weight of each board teeter the wheel barrel just enough where it would roll without being stopped by its metal legs and when the destination was reached he dropped them.  After the first board he stopped checking his arm, it was tight and the scar tissue ball was stiff but he was without pain, so he continued.  Out of breath and strength he had to stop and take a rest after he was done.  It had been two days since his last cigarette and he had promised himself that he would stop smoking, like most cigarette smokers he broke his promise.  Walking to his car he pulled out a pack of Marlboro Menthol Lights from the console along with a lighter.  He lit a cigarette and smoked as he made way to his shed fetching a wood planer, belt sander, palm sander, and table saw.  Pride filled work while labor intensive had the intention of being made to last.  It took most of the strength that he had in him to lift one side of the two and half inch plank placing it on top of the sawhorse then the other side.  Looking at the milled board resting on two sawhorses tree bark covered both sides and the flat of the wood held chainsaw markings. His injured arm throbbed from fighting the weight of the board eventually getting it up on the sawhorse, one side at a time.  He lit another cigarette then he plugged in the extension chord into the electric wood planer he set it to three sixty forths of an inch, then he started to plane the heavy scarring that had taken place when he milled the wood with the chain saw.  Wood chips flew scattering over the green lawn that needed mowing, with each pass of the wood planer the wood became more smooth and the semblance of a wood board started to take shape.  As it became smooth with many passes of the wood planer the scarring that remained resembled skin as if it had been burned by a lighter leaving an impression of its transgressor.  The remaining blemishes along with fully smoothing the boards would be left up to the belt and palm sander.  The bark of the wood that was still on both sides and well over a foot wide would be cut off by a circular saw later.  Even with out the bark he was impressed that Faith had cut down such a large tree.  Caught up in his work he hadn’t heard or seen a car park in front of the house.  Of course he was in the back yard and when a slim woman with short black cropped hair walked up to him from behind he turned around only based on instinct rather than actually seeing or hearing anything.  Craig left the wood planer on top of the board and he took off the goggles that he wore.  “What are you doing?” Arianne asked him.  “Making a table” She nodded, “From a tree?”  Craig breathed in, “Where’s Sif?”  She noticed Craig’s cigarettes on a nearby picnic table.  Now the last time that she saw him smoking cigarette she tossed out the pack.  She remembered reprimanding him this time she took out a cigarette and placed it in her mouth, “Got a light?” Craig didn’t ask questions he flicked the lighter and lit her cigarette, “I deserve a cigarette after putting up with all of Sif’s whining” Craig smiled, “Michelle Moonshine’s current state doesn’t bother you?”  Arianne nodded no, “She cost me a lot of money and ruined my reputation with many important contacts that took me many years to get over.  I don’t wish her dead but I don’t feel remorse.”  Arianne walked to the wood noting the progress that he had made with the first board, he was currently working on his second.  “Country tables can sell for 2-4 grand if they are made well” Craig nodded in recognition it wasn’t the money he wanted the achievement.  “The boards will sit under a tarp through the winter to dry and then I will finish, but I need to keep my mind still.”  Arianne walked close to Craig she took a moment to analyze him she took off the baseball cap with the insignia reading Rhode Island College off of his head, “I can see that your dry” he took the hat from her hands, “I water myself down with my own sweat” Arianne put out the cigarette that she lit after she smoked it half way, “You know how to survive.”  Craig wore a new pair of Dan Post Scoop cowboy boots he pointed to them, “I prefer the west” Arianne lifted up her hands, “Horse dick it is” Craig walked around her, “And when I met you how was it?” Arianne laughed, “I’ve seen you” He lifted a hand, “And?” She looked him in the eyes, “Bigger than a horse” She walked up to him, “You get me” he told her.  “It’s the matter not the mind” she leaned in to kiss him he turned his head.  “Upon our conception I’ve always been about the matter” Opening up the gates to the back yard was Debbie-Sue with Craigs children.  The kids ran ahead of Debbie-Sue to see what their father had been working on along with greeting Arianne.  As Debbie-Sue walked up to the adults Arianne looked to Craig, “Tomorrow lunch my house at noon, Sif will be relieved to see someone that she’s not related to” Arianne made eye contact with Debbie-Sue she did not greet her however; she did reach into her pocket she had a small bundle of mixed ten and twenty dollar bills, “Children” she caught their attention she tossed up the money scattering it on the lawn.  As the kids scrambled to pick up the money Craig watched Debbie-Sue’s angry reaction as Arianne drove away.  

 

****

 

Nidhogg found himself in a very unfamiliar place after speaking with his ex wife Sif.  No he was not complacent.  The discontentedness in his demeanor grew as he waited by his sister’s side.  She was in a condition that she might not come out of.   Olaf and Bjorn were not allowed in this area, Nidhogg held on to his sister’s hand.  He promised revenge.  The door to Sif’s hospital room opened as he turned around there stood Tomas.  Tears filled Tomas' eyes as he immediately knelt by his wife’s side.  Nidhogg stood, regardless of the consequences standing by the side of her husband gave him a feeling of disgust.  If he were stuck in mud, Nidhogg would offer a foot to keep him down instead of a hand to help him up.  Nidhogg exited the room without acknowledging him, Pablo stood outside of the room alongside of Olaf and Bjorn catching the attention of all that they passed by he left the hospital.  Admittedly he was in a fog, he recognized his current state being very keen with analyzing himself.  He was scheduled to meet with his wife Vega at a Spanish restaurant.  When he arrived at the hotel he stayed in sending Olaf and Bjorn in his place.  Spending time by himself he felt comfort, the lack of thought was welcoming.  Vega was not pleasant when she returned to the hotel room and Nidhogg did not pander to her anguish.  Sleeping on the couch did not displease him, the space helped him to sleep without having to pretend that he was not without angst.  Soundly he slept well into the morning hours as Vega tossed and turned, storming throughout the hotel room passive aggressively trying to wake Nidhogg from his slumber, it didn’t work.

 

For someone who cherished moderate temperatures and dry living, he acclimated to the heat of the summer.  Being one to act slowly when his clear judgement was needed Nidhogg decided to visit the beach.  The previous day he sat by his sister’s side until her husband arrived.  Because he needed clarity he kept his distance from Vega whom felt that he might blame her for her nephews actions.  He sat on a beach wearing a suit without a jacket he held a pad and pen.  What he liked about New England was old money.  What is meant by old money is the people that were established in the area that have had generations that have ‘had’.  Some of their status comes with having a formal education knowing proper words and etiquettes, with them he felt at home.  It was the standards of the people that created the class of individuals that made their consistency.  While the have to's had the means others of their likeness followed the same rules, it was the predictability and sembiance that formed the commonality.  Sketching roughly on the note pad Nidhogg made little progress.  No there was not a purpose for him to be doing this thing, a very untypical action for a man that always held a purpose.  Several swimmers were in the water and beach goers were scattered throughout Scarborough beach but he felt alone and he liked it that way, all up until an old eastern European looking man wearing 1960’s style clothing holding a tarnished looking newspaper and an index card sat beside him.  Without speaking or making notice of Nidhogg the man rested his hand holding the newspaper inbetween the two of them briefly.  He opened up the newspaper Nidhogg caught the headline, it was a Providence Journal from 1968.  The old man moaned he flicked the newspaper, “God damned amateurs”  Nidhogg caught the hint of a German accent.  “East German” Nidhogg spoke in English.  “West Scandinavian” the man with the newspaper replied noting Nidhogg’s accent.  He was very familiar with the Russian, East German relationship as well as his own involvment with political and business affairs throughout Eastern Europe “Are you KGB or BND?” Nidhogg asked finding it conspicuous that an East German would sit on the side of him.  The man laughed showing the metal fillings in his teeth, “No young man, I was a college professor in Dresden.  However; I am retired.” He pointed to the newspaper, “Now imagine being a college professor in East Germany under Russian rule, visiting America amidst their own cultural revolution including the assassination of its leaders.”  Nidhogg looked at his notepad he had lost track of where he was.  Oddly he did not mind the conversation, “God damned amateurs” Nidhogg recited.  The old man pointed to Nidhogg, “Exactly! I believe in a national security that protects its leaders even local leaders, I kept the newspaper to remind me of that anguish.” He stood up from the bench, “Pardon my intrusion, I was reliving my past” the old man smiled.  Nidhogg stared at the man that walked away after the short conversation.  The old man dropped something on the bench Nidhogg picked it up, it was an index card with the word, “Falcon” written on it.  His cell phone rang it was his father he answered, “Father” Salvatore took his time to speak, “It is completed” Nidhogg exhaled a long sight of relief, “Was there a struggle?  Is the line safe to speak openly?”  Salvatore answered directly, “Yes the line is safe.  Hinn possessed canines, they killed two of Arthur Wall’s men and bit my nurse in the face, I cut his throat.  There was however; a revelation” Nidhogg did not speak especially since the matters were serious.  “Your sister is pregnant with his child” Nidhogg dropped his cell phone on top of his note pad, he picked it back up, “Tomas must never know that it is not his” On the other line Salvatore lit up a cigar his nurse walked into the room she wore a patch over her face to cover the stitches that she had received from the dog attack.  “If she survives” Salvatore told his son catching the interest of his nurse. “I have business matters that needs to be tended to notify me should your sister’s condition change.”  As Nidhogg got off of the phone with his fa