Done…

Rimworld- Militia Up is live on Kindle!

Due to changes in the way Amazon is doing the print version, that’s going to be at least a week behind the Kindle version.

I’ve roofpread it until I’m cross eyed, so any errors are on me. I don’t have a link yet, but here’s the cover!  As always, kudos to Tina for turning my bumbling attempts at artwork into a real cover!!!

Click the cover to go to the Amazon link!

The blurb-

It was supposed to be a simple contract for a couple of months of security services off world, but the devil’s in the details.

Tight Bridge Technologies hired Ethan Fargo and his militia to guard their power stations on the planet Endine against mob unrest and sabotage. When they arrive, they find the planetary authorities don’t want outsiders around to uncover their dirty secrets, and the Galactic Patrol’s not interested in providing backup. They all but order him to stop making waves, kicking asses, and taking names. The harder Fargo works to keep his people safe, the more troubles he finds. Dragoons and pirates are stalking the outer system, while the planet itself is a snakepit of treachery, tyranny, rebellion, and corruption. Everyone wants him to fail, while taking the blame.

They made one mistake: they underestimated Ethan Fargo. After the mob kills two of his Ghorkas, and kidnap his lady,  he’s out for blood, and to hell with anything in his way…

And Rimworld- Into the Green will be on sale through next week, hopefully starting on Saturday for $0.99!

Thanks for sticking by me, and I hope you enjoy the novel! As always, HONEST reviews are appreciated! And if you catch errors, feel free to email me, and I’ll get ’em corrected!

Special thanks to those Alpha and Beta readers who really helped get this ready to go to print! You know who you are!!!

TBT…

For us old farts…

The christmas trees ‘we’ grew up with…

And who remembers trying to ‘assemble’ these things! Sigh… 

These got assembled and then we ‘disassembled’ multiple times.

My mother was always griping about us eating the decorations… LOL

And remember Toys for Tots, they provide toys for kids that otherwise wouldn’t get any. It’s a great cause, and one I support every year!

Posted in TBT

Cooking…

Since I’m the only one that isn’t ‘down’ with something, I volunteered to cook last night…

Note to self- NEVER volunteer, you know better…

Now, what to fix? Uh… er… food?

Quick and easy, and easily divisible by three… Been meaning to try King Ranch Chicken, yeah, yeah, that’s it… And black-eyed peas!

Scramble around the grocery store get the ingredients, come home and chop, cut, do chicken, etc. And found a package of ‘tins’ for hot food with covers at the store, threw them in the cart too!

This is one of three little baking tins, came out of the oven just about the time LawDog showed up, and he agreed to deliver for Peter and Dot. Yea!!!  JimJim got the leftovers… LOL

I’m sure glad it tastes better than it looks! 🙂

If you’re curious, here’s the recipe- With my mods in italics

1 large onion, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups chopped cooked chicken (Doubled to 4 cups)

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomato and green chiles (Plus one medium can mild Hatch Chiles)

1 teaspoon chili powder (Doubled to 2 tsp)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper (Doubled to 1/2 tsp)

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided (Doubled to 4 cups)

How to Make It

Step 1- Sauté onion and bell pepper in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 7 ingredients; remove from heat.

Step 2- Tear tortillas into 1-inch pieces; layer one-third of tortilla pieces in bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with one-third of chicken mixture and 2/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice.

Step 3- Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes.

Step 4- Enjoy!

Note- It was still pretty mild, to my taste, YMMV… 🙂

Thank you!!!

Thank you to all who gave to the ex-wife’s Go Fund Me, HERE. They didn’t get their goal, but y’all helped to get it to where it is.

She sent a very nice thank you card I’d like to share with y’all.

Y’all are great, and I truly appreciate your stepping up. Thank you!

Christmas cutbacks…

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.

Streamlining was appropriate in view of the reality that the North Pole no longer dominates the season’s gift distribution business. Home Shopping channels and online sales have diminished Santa’s market share and they could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO’s annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated and should take up the slack with no discernible loss of service. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has been cited and received unfavorable press.

I am pleased to inform you and yours that Rudolph’s role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph’s nose got that way not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph “a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load” was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa’s helpers and taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under executive stress.

As a further restructuring, today’s global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps.

Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” subsidiary:

-The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

-The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

-The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French.

-The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

-The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order.

-The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be a good one.

-The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement.

-As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching.

-Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

-Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing the group with ten out-of-work police officers. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed officers this year.

-Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.

-We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

-Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorneys association seeking expansion to include the legal profession (“thirteen lawyers-a- litigating”), action is pending.

-Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if ‘seven dwarfs’ is a) the right number and b) changed to ‘the seven vertically challenged folk’.

 

A Sea Story…

SAR in the Atlantic…

In 22 years of Naval Aviation, this was one of my most memorable flights.

Normally these stories start off- It was a dark and stormy night… This one doesn’t… It was the typical Bermuda day. Nice onshore breeze, sunshine and a few clouds over the base. Off to the north was a hurricane running out to sea from the States.

Preflight and briefings were normal, no real ops expected since there were no “players” in the box. The crew secured around 1030 for a boring 24 hour ready one. A couple of us went to the club to get an early lunch, and the Ordy went to the Commissary to restock the chow box, since we were scheduled for a CTF/checkride coming off the alert.

About 1300 that all changed as beepers started going off- We jumped in the van and hauled to the ASW Operations Center, with three of us bailing out, while the rest of the crew continued to the aircraft. As we walked in the door, the watch officer came out of Ops and told us we had a SAR and he had notified maintenance to load the SAR kit (two rafts and an equipment package tied together). We walked back into Ops to hear one of our pilot training flights coming over the radio saying they had an EPIRB pointing North but they couldn’t get to it as the weather was too bad and they had no radar operator onboard.

We grabbed the comm gear, briefing package and a couple of charts, and caught a ride to the hangar; after getting our flight gear out of the hangar, we threw it on and walked out to the aircraft. The fuel truck was just being unhooked as flight engineer and second mech finished pulling the plugs and covers off the engines and pitot static system.

We climbed aboard, checked the SAR kit, loaded the comm gear and got a quick systems check- All stations were up, so we briefed, started engines, and taxied out. I was talking to the pilot trainer asking for their location and found they were only 10 miles North of the field. We lifted off around 1350, and immediately got into light chop.

We turned Northwest circling as we climbed to try to get a rough triangulation with the other aircraft, but both bearings were roughly North, so we turned and put the needle on the nose. Radar immediately called major cells and feeder bands directly ahead of us, and no real holes, so we decided to stay low and try to minimize the penetration.

About 5 minutes later we took multiple lightning strikes on the nose (bout half blinded the pilots and FE’s, a real Oh SHIT! moment in the airplane), and knocked out all the radios, radar, inertial systems and the computer. Oh yeah, we also were immediately in moderate turbulence, heavy rain and almost constant lightning…
We managed to get a couple of radios back on line, but the inertials were down for the count, too rough to even attempt an alignment, and we were bouncing too badly to have the in-flight tech attempt to bring the computer back on line. The forward radar wouldn’t cycle, but the aft came back up.

I reported back to the ASWOC that we had taken a lightning strike and were evaluating our status, only to be told by the ASWOC we were it, the ready two had gone down with a fuel leak and they were recalling the pilot trainer as the ready two…
We held a crew meeting on ICS, and figured what the hell; we were still flying, had comms and we could DR nav, so we would continue.

Called the ASWOC back, they told us the Coasties had launched out of Elizabeth City, but were 1-2 hours out. I passed we would press and continue the mission… What the hell, we’d been flying P-3’s into hurricanes for years, so the odds were a dissipating hurricane couldn’t hurt us much more that we already were, and we were a lot better off than whomever was under the EPIRB. We continued North after getting a TACAN fix off Bermuda and backing it up with the aft radar. Turbulence was continuing to be moderate to severe so we continued to try different altitudes and a few orbits to use the aft radar to pick holes (there weren’t any, just more feeder bands).

Finally about 90 miles out of Bermuda, we got reversal on the needle, indicating we had passed the EPIRB. Radar had nothing, so we did a mark from 10000 feet and went to call home- No joy… Oh great! Now what is going on, just static, meanwhile we are descending in an orbit to try to see what was on the water. Finally, we got comms with Jacksonville on HF, ironically perfectly clear. They were not aware of what we were doing, so it took a few minutes to get that worked out. At this point, we were descending through 1000 feet, with zilch visibility, moderate turbulence, but abating.

Passing 400 feet we break out of the clouds and the flight station eases the descent planning to level at 300 feet, the IFT calls that he thought he saw something red at 8 o’clock and there were BIG effing waves down there… It was so rough we decided not to have anyone up, and we would not drop the SAR kit unless there were people in the water, as I was afraid we would drop both the SAR kit and a crewman if we weren’t careful, since the procedure included opening the main cabin door and two people working at the door with only Gunner’s belts to keep them in the aircraft.

Flight cranked the aircraft around and stabilized at 200 feet, everybody manned the windows and we spotted a square red raft about a half mile off the port wing. We guesstimated the mark, spit a buoy and came back around one more time. The second pass, a hand came out of the raft and gave us a three count and a thumbs up. Meanwhile, I’m talking with Bermuda via Jax on a phone relay (imagine saying Over after every sentence), trying to coordinate a possible rescue. They wanted the exact range to Bermuda, so we climbed back to 10000 feet and got a fix of about 90 miles out at 010 True. The radar operator located a small contact about 10 miles away, and we descended again to locate the contact and see if the ship could come rescue the people in the raft…

We broke out at 200 feet and found a US Navy Research Ship, maintaining headway only. They told us they were taking 40 foot waves, had 60 knots of wind, gusting to 80 knots and could not attempt a rescue and they were almost in extremis themselves. We climbed back into the cloud deck and headed back to our buoy, hoping the raft would still be fairly close to it. As we were bouncing along, I continued to talk to Bermuda and the flight station came on ICS and said they had the Coast Guard C-130 inbound. I told flight to coordinate with them and get them into the area.

Bermuda came up with an option of launching the rescue helo, but it was limited to 100 nm range and would need steers to get to the raft. We went back down and relocated the raft, and determined it was drifting away from the buoy pretty quickly. We went down the drift line and placed another buoy and a smoke, coordinated air to air with the Coasties, and got them down to 300 feet and in trail with us staying at 200 feet.

Once they had the scene, we turned back toward Bermuda and told them to launch the helo, and we would meet them VFR just before the first feeder band. About 20 minutes later, we popped out of the feeder bands at 2000 feet to see the UH-1 (Huey) heading toward us and low. Flight indicated they had comms and had told the helo to stay 200 and below. We descended to 300 and slowed to 180 knots; started S-turning to allow the helo to follow us back out. We were getting bounced around pretty good, in and out of rain bands and talking to both the helo and Coastie C-130. The Coasties were telling us the raft was continuing to drift, they estimated it was 015 at 95nm, I told them 30 minutes for us to get back on scene with the helo in tow.

The helo aircraft commander (HAC) was telling us they were getting beaten up pretty good, and again stated 100nm max limit to attempt the rescue. As we passed 95nm, the HAC called again and asked how far. Flight said 7 miles to the C-130 which was orbiting the raft. The HAC came back with a standby…

Meanwhile, I’m still talking to Bermuda, giving them updates and trying to get a plot to figure out where we actually are. The HAC comes on and says he has the C-130 in sight, and estimates we are at 103nm from Bermuda; he thinks he has three to four minutes to attempt a rescue. We immediately climb to 10000 feet and get a fix, and in fact we are 104nm from Bermuda. The HAC comes on again and says he has the raft in sight one person in the water, he will low hover and only deploy the horse collar, no basket.

We start another descent, as the HAC calls one in the helo, collar out again another person in the water; I report to Bermuda via Jax as we continue to descend. The HAC reports second person in the helo, third and last person in the water and he wants a steer as this will be a drag recovery.

Flight clears the Coast Guard C-130 to the East and asked them to check on the research ship before they went home; we continue to descend, and I report three saved to Bermuda, and that both the we and helo are enroute. Now we just have to find the helo again…

We descend to 300 feet and pop out about two miles behind the helo. As we pass overhead, we tell them 85nm 187 to Bermuda. The HAC comes back thinking he will have enough gas, but it’s going to be close… We S-turn in front of the helo until he tells us they have Bermuda in the TACAN and he’s running on fumes. We climb and give the helo the priority for landing.

We land about 15 minutes later, as we taxi in, the HAC calls to tell us he flamed out one engine while he was air taxiing back to his hangar. As we pull into the parking spot, the linesman is directing us and shaking his head simultaneously…

We throw the ladder down and walk off the aircraft at 1800, it was a LONG four hours…

Remember the lightning strike? Well, as it turns out there were multiple strikes on the nose radome, at least three holes, the strikes burned the arrestor material off the radome, softened it , and collapsed the radome over the antenna, locking it in position, that explained why the forward radar wouldn’t work. We were also missing the tail cone from the MAD system in the tail section. The lightning strikes burned the bolts off and blew the foot long tail cone off somewhere over the Atlantic. To add insult to injury, all of the static wicks on the aircraft were burned off, and the lightning arrestor in the cabin was melted.

The rest of the story- The next morning we received a call from Base Ops, they wanted the crew at Ops to meet the folks we had assisted in saving. We loaded up and went over and met both the rescuees and the helo crew. The HAC told me they had just installed a new collapsible fuel bladder in the Huey, otherwise they would never have been able to make the rescue and when he landed he was showing less than 300lbs of fuel remaining!

To this day I remember the comment from one of the rescuees, he said, “I knew when I saw the P-3 we were saved.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him how close they came to NOT being saved… It turned out the three guys were ferrying a 65 foot Nautor Swan sailboat from Gibraltar to Annapolis and got caught by a rogue wave. The wave knocked the mast over, causing severe leaks and the sinking. All three were ex-Royal Navy, and one was an ex-rescue swimmer; that is what allowed them to be saved in three minutes!

They had all been through training and knew all the procedures! I understand the helo pilot was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the rescue. For us, it was just another ready one, albeit with a twist…

Ironically, in the 22 years I flew and participated in SARs, this was the ONLY time I ever met the folks we rescued after the rescue.

What’s old…

Is new again…

First it was Kef, and now… drum roll…

P-8s are going back into, wait for it, Adak! Sigh…

WASHINGTON: The Navy may begin deploying submarine-hunting P-8 Poseidon aircraft to a small airstrip hundreds of miles off the Alaskan coast, signaling a new emphasis on keeping watch over Russian and Chinese moves in the Arctic.

Full article, HERE.

Word of advice folks, make DAMN sure you carry your foul weather gear with you, and remember to bump up your on top requirements, since your alternate is 2 hours away!

And while you’re there, touch up the paint on the det emblems, please? And don’t forget to add your own!

The Grey Man snippet…

The usual caveats, and comments/corrections welcome. 🙂

A Weird One

Aaron came in as the sun was setting, dropped his gun belt on the hat rack in the office and groaned. “Oh my aching ass,” as he rubbed his back and butt. He gave Jesse a peck on the cheek and added, “I need to hit the head. Sorry I’m running late.”

Jesse smiled. “It’s been one of those days anyway.”

“Oh?”

“Sold eleven guns today, and everyone that didn’t have a CHL got pended. Don’t know what the hell was going on with NICS, but there was a lot of grumbling, and some unhappy folks. How was your little ride down to Hondo? Worth the time?”

“Dunno, I need to talk to John, this dude was truly squirrely, but obviously scared shitless. I gotta go piss.”

Jesse pushed him. “Go, I’m not cleaning the floors again today.”

Aaron laughed as he headed down the hall, picking up Jace on the way, and tickling him. The high pitched giggles made Jesse smile as she walked into the kitchen. Kaya was hanging onto Boo Boo, and tottering along with her as she walked patiently toward the back door. “You want out, Boo Boo?”

Yogi, hearing the word out, came charging around the corner, and Kaya giggled as she tried to grab onto him. He didn’t slow down, and Kaya’s giggles turned to cries as she landed on her butt, causing both Boo Boo and Yogi to turn around and start licking her. Jesse shook her head,
opened the back door and sternly said, “Out you two mangy mutts. Out!”

Yogi pranced to the door, jumping down the steps and barking as he took off after something, but Boo Boo slunk to the door, thinking her mama was mad at her. Then she looked back and took off after Yogi. Jesse swung the door closed and sighed. “Some days…”

“Some days, what,” the old man asked from the door.

Jesse jumped. “Dammit Papa, stop sneaking up on me!”

The old man put his hand on his chest. “Moi? Sneak up on you?”

Jesse grumped, “Yes, you! It’s… just been a long day. Lots of pended gun sales, grumpy people, and school getting ready to be out for the summer. How are the new hands working out?”

“They know cattle, and we moved the cows today with no problem. Felipe isn’t sure what they want to do, but his sister apparently can’t support them until he can find something, so I think they will stay at least for a few months. Thankfully the truck was a fairly easy fix, and not too expensive. He wanted me to take all of it out of their first check, but I wasn’t going to leave them with nothing for two weeks.”

“How is Ernesto handling it?”

The old man shrugged. “He seems happy to have the help, and they’ve come to an agreement on what to watch on TV. Apparently Cruz and Ernesto outvoted Felipe,” he said with a smile.

Aaron came in. “Who got outvoted?”

The old man told him, and he laughed. “Figures. Kids these days…”

Jesse blew the hair out of her eyes as she pulled the meatloaf out of the oven. “Matt, Felicia, and the kids should be here in a minute. Aaron, can you whip the potatoes while I make gravy?”

Aaron laughed. “I get to beat things? Sure!”

Matt came in the back door carrying Esmerelda, followed by Felicia and Matt, junior. “Who are you beating up this time?”

Jace echoed him, “Daddy beat somebody up?”

“No, I didn’t beat anybody up, I get to beat the potatoes.”

Felicia took the hand mixer away from him. “Shoo. Go sit. The last time you tried to do this, we were scraping potatoes off the cabinets for a week.”

Jesse laughed. “You can get the tea, Aaron. And put the kids in their chairs. And get out of our hair.”

Aaron said dolefully, “Yes, dear.” He pulled the tea out of the fridge and poured the glasses and sippy cups as Matt got the kids in their chairs, while the old man leaned against the door frame smiling.

Once everyone was finally seated, the old man said a short prayer and they dug in. Jesse finally said, “So you went down to what, Hondo today?”

Aaron nodded. “Yep, Torres Unit.” He turned to the old man. “Remember that kid we picked up on the stolen car and he ended up getting one to three? Juan Ortega?”

“Sorta. That was the one that had paperwork saying he was delivering the car, right?”

“Yeah, that’s him. But this is where it gets interesting. He’s scared shitless down there.”

The old man cocked his head, “Really? Did he say why?”

“He claims the cartel boys down there want to talk to his daddy. And he gave me a name, after he told me how the cartel boys keep serving him café au lait every morning.”

The old man made a come on gesture. “The name?”

“Apparently his dad was the number three in the Gulf Cartel under Osiel Cárdenas, he says his dad’s real name is Eduardo Sanchez, and his real name is Juan Eduardo Sanchez Ortega.”

“Bullshit. Sanchez was killed years ago,” the old man shook his head, “He went down in two thousand three, right after we got Cárdenas.”

Aaron shook his head, “Not according to him. His dad came across the border and set up in Rio Grande City, then moved to Oklahoma City in two thousand six. He claims something scared his dad, and his dad told his mother and he they needed to disappear. She moved them to San Antonio in oh six, when he was twelve. He claims he hasn’t seen or talked to his dad since then, but they still get a check every month. One interesting point, he claims the reason for the café au lait is that his dad is part black and part Mexican. He said that’s something not many people know.”

“Hang on,” the old man got up and disappeared into the office as Jesse and Felicia herded the kids off to bed. He came back a couple of minutes later, holding a dog eared manila folder about two inches thick. Flopping it down on the table, he continued, “You didn’t see this,” as he flipped through the folder. He finally came up with what he was looking for, and slid a photograph across the table. “Look familiar?”

Aaron looked at it and slid it to Matt. “Definitely a family resemblance.”

Matt chimed in, “John, gotta remember, intel is only as good as the information at hand. Fluid situations tend to get details confused at best, and fucked up at worst. And it sounds like that was pretty fluid.”

The old man snorted. “You don’t know the half of it. DEA, FBI, everybody and their brothers were up our asses down here. And most of that was taking place in Starr County, down around McAllen, so all we were getting was second and third hand.” Slapping the file in front of him. “This is my private file from my DEA days, updated when I could get reports out of the Rangers or Bucky. So what the hell does this kid want?”

Aaron leaned back. “He wants out of there. He says he’s willing to give us the entire car theft ring, at least from LA to New Orleans. And what he knows about how they are moving cars. He also gave me two names there. Apparently there is a Brit ex-pat running the New Orleans end, named Stephen Hines, and the west coast/LA end by a Wong Pi.”

Matt said, “Damn. He’s pretty serious then!”

Aaron nodded. “He thinks they will kill him if he doesn’t cough up his dad’s info, but he was crying when he told me he doesn’t know how to contact his dad. Bottom line, get him out, and he rolls. So my question is, where do I go from here?”

The old man leaned forward. “You believe him?”

Aaron played with his coffee cup, and finally looked up. “I think I do. But I’m not sure…”

The old man cut him off. “Hang on.” He pulled out his wheel book, flipped through it, then pulled out his phone and dialed a number. After a few seconds, he said, “Rene, John Cronin. Got a question for you.” He paused. “You guys still trying to run that high end stolen car ring to ground down there?” A longer pause. “Does the name Hines ring a bell? Ex-pat Brit?”

The old man held the phone away from his ear, and Aaron and Matt could hear the man on the other end at high volume and not happy. Ironically, the old man was grinning as he put the phone back to his ear. “How about Wong Pi in LA?” More loud noises were heard, and he said, “Tell you what Rene, run that down and give me a call back tomorrow on this number. There is a possible CI that is willing to roll ‘em all up just to get out of where he is now.” Another pause. “Okay, I’ll expect to hear from you in the morning.” He hung up and laughed. “That’s gonna be interesting.”

Matt and Aaron both looked at him. “Who was that,” Aaron asked.

“Rene Lacoste, he’s the SAC down in New Orleans. Apparently he does recognize the name, maybe both names.”

“So, do we turn him over to the Fibbies?”

“Oh hell no. Talk to the sheriff tomorrow morning, tell him what you’ve got, and that you want to pull him back here for questioning after we hear back from Rene. Then when he says okay, go to Mrs. Randall and get her to do the legal mumbo jumbo to pull him back, say something like a witness to lawsuit over something that happened in the jail. She can do that in a couple of hours.”

“Then what?”

“Have a transport officer ready to go Friday morning, and go get him. I’m betting you’ll have a Fibbie sitting in your office Monday morning, salivating over wanting to talk to this guy.”

 

***

The old man was enjoying another cup of coffee as he ruffed Yogi’s fur when his cell phone rang. He pulled it out and hit speaker. “Cronin.”

“John, its Rene. Got a minute?”

“Shoot.”

“I pulsed our folks that are working the car theft ring, and they are definitely interested in talking to this CI you’ve got. When can I get somebody with him? And how the hell did you get in the middle of this?”

The old man laughed. “You remember Jesse, right?”

“Yeah, your… granddaughter. Didn’t she marry a Marine?”

“She did, and he was medically retired. He came on with the sheriff’s office a few years ago, and he’s now the investigator. But we talk pretty much every day.”

“Ah… the bulb glows dimly now. So you reached out to me because?”

This CI brought up a name out of the past as his cred. Aaron had no way to know if the name was real, but I could confirm it. Then giving the two names he did, prompted me to believe he might be the real deal.”

“Yeah, those two names are on our radar too. Hines especially. He’s a slick one, got his fingers in a lot of pies around NOLA and Houston, but nothing we could definitely trace directly back to him.”

“One of those, huh?”

“Yep. I’ll have somebody in your… old office Monday morning, probably around eleven.”

“I’ll let Aaron know. Good talking to you as always Rene.”

Lacoste laughed, “Damn you John, you keep stirring the shit, even when you’re gone. But if this does what it might to break that ring, somebody will get major atta boy out of it.”

“That’ll be Aaron, not me.”

“Whatever, take care of yourself, John.” The buzz of a dialtone came through the speaker as Lacoste hung up and the old man laughed as he dialed Aaron’s office.

When Aaron answered, he said, “The Fibbies will have somebody in your office Monday morning, so go get him.” He hung up and leaned back in the chair, Another good deed done.

***

Monday dawned clear and cold, as Aaron drove slowly into the office, I don’t know how this is going to go, but my ass is sure hanging out to dry if it doesn’t go well. And I kinda put John’s reputation on the line too. Not sure I like that, but I wouldn’t have known about Sanchez, nor who to call. I really need to go back and read those old case files…

The sheriff called him into his office as soon as he got in the door. Aaron walked down the hall and knocked. “You wanted to see me, Sheriff?”

“Come in, Aaron,” Aaron dropped into a chair in front of the desk. “Everything ready to go with Ortega?”

“Yes, sir. Mrs. Randall had it set up real nice, and transport brought him back Friday afternoon. They put him in Ad Seg over the weekend, so he’s had no interaction with any other prisoners, and the word put out was he was pulled back for questioning in a pending case.”

“Where are you going to do the questioning?”

“I figured the conference room. That way we can get audio recordings.”

“Not sure that’s legal. The Fibbies do something called a three-oh-two memo. But what they don’t know…”

Aaron smiled, “Gotcha, sheriff.”

“Get out of here, I’ve got work to do. Don’t give ‘em too much rope.”

Aaron got up, “I’m planning on sitting in on it. Guarding the prisoner, dontcha know.”

Two hours later, Aaron was heading back to his office when Lisa stepped out of dispatch. “Lieutenant, there’s an FBI guy wanting to see you.”

“Where is he?”

“At the front desk.”

“Okay, I’ll go get him.” Aaron walked up front and saw a small man with glasses and advanced male pattern baldness sitting in one of the chairs, a briefcase next to his foot. “Are you the Fi… FBI agent?”

The man got up, slipped a badge holder out of his jacket and said, “Jason Osborne. FBI office out of New Orleans. I’m here…”

Aaron interrupted. “Come on back, Mr. Osborne. You need a cup of coffee?”

“I’d cheerfully kill for one. We left at zero five hundred on the shuttle this morning. They are planning to pick me up at fifteen hundred on the way back.”

Aaron led him through the door and down to the kitchen. “That sucks. Here ya go. It’s not great coffee, but it’s drinkable.”

Osborne sniffed the pot, sighed, and said, “I’ve had worse,” as he poured a cup of black coffee.

Aaron pointed down the hall. “My office is right down here, I’ll call from there to have the prisoner brought up. I figured we could interview him in the conference room, that way the other prisoners aren’t aware of what’s going on.”

They walked into Aaron’s office and he gestured to a chair as he flopped into his and picked up the phone, dialed the jail, and asked them to bring Ortega to the conference room. Osborne chuckled, “Jarhead, huh? Eighty-five forty-one by chance?

Aaron bristled. “Yeah, why?”

“You saw some shit, I take it?”

Aaron cocked his head. “Yeah, what’s it to you?”

“I was Army for my sins. Eleven Bravo with an ASI B four on top of that. First ID, all the way to Baghdad. I’m Jason.”

“Aaron. First ID, that had to suck. And you’ll pardon me if I say you don’t look like a sniper.”

“Army wasn’t as picky as the Corps is,” he said as he sipped his coffee. “But I did find out you can get a sunburn through your BDUs.”

Aaron winced, “Ouch. You guys were remoted out a lot, weren’t you?”

“Yep, a lot of that.” He picked up his briefcase, “So, who’s this CI?”

Aaron riffled through the files on his desk and said, “Juan Ortega, he’s doing one to three in Torres, scared shitless they’re going to kill him.” He slid the evidence envelope across the desk, “Here’s what he had on him, including the contract to deliver the car.”

Osborne quickly perused the evidence, looked at the contract a second time, and said, “Interesting. Haven’t seen one of these.” He read it. “Pick up in El Paso, deliver to Charity in New Orleans for Doctor Curole? What was he going to do, drop it in the parking lot?”

Aaron replied, “He said he was supposed to park it, go in and give the key to the ER desk, that doctor was supposedly working when he was to deliver it.”

“Did y’all follow up on that?”

“Yes, but there was no Doctor Curole on the list for Charity Hospital, or at least not one we could find. And none listed in Louisiana period.”

“Why’d y’all pick him up?”

Aaron chuckled. “He got tagged for speeding. The plate came back to a different car. The VIN came back stolen in Los Angeles.”

Aaron’s phone rang and he picked it up. “Okay, we’ll be right there.” He hung up and got up. “Ortega is in the conference room, shall we?”

“Can we stop for coffee on the way? I need a refill. You going to sit in?”

Aaron nodded, “I’ll be the guard. That way the jailer doesn’t have tales to tell.”

“Okay. I’d prefer to interview him alone, but under the circumstances…”

***

Four hours later, Juan Ortega was returned to the jail and Osborne and Aaron were once again in his office.

Osborne looked over his glasses. “If this proves out…” He shook his head. “I can’t believe how much Ortega knows about the internals of both ends of the operation, and the fact that he’s been doing this for… six years. Having an actual address to surveil at the port may help us break this thing wide open! And tying Pi and Hines together through those email addresses… I don’t know how we missed that.”

“Shit happens when you’re shooting in the dark. You want us to ship him back to Torres?”

“Can you hold him a couple of more days? I need to bump this up the chain and try to correlate some of the info he’s given me. If we can, we’ll want him.”

Aaron nodded, “We probably can, I’ll need to run it by the sheriff first.” Aaron cocked his head, “What would y’all do with him? Protective custody?”

Osborne smiled. “That’s not something we can talk about.”

Aaron rolled his eyes. “Really? Is this if you tell me, you gotta kill me shit?”

Osborne sighed, “Actually pretty damn close, Aaron. If we do that, I won’t even know where he is.” His phone beeped and he looked down, then looked sheepishly at Aaron, “Uh, could I get a ride to the airport? The shuttle just landed and they want to know where I am.”

Aaron shook his head, “I swear, you guys do match your reputations. Since I’m a good Marine, I’ll take care of the Army one more time.” He got up and headed for the door, waving Osborne ahead of him. On the way out, he stuck his head in dispatch. “Lisa, I’m going to run our guest back to the airport, then go to the house.”

On the way to the airport, they compared war stories from their respective times in service, and Aaron invited him back to shoot at the ranch. He watched Osborne get on the shuttle flight, and remembered he was going to call the sheriff about holding Ortega a couple of extra days. He pulled out his cell with a sigh, and started dialing the office.

Y’all have a good weekend!!!

Sigh…

I used to think I was just a regular guy, but . . .

I was born white, which now, whether I like it or not, makes me a racist.

I am a fiscal and moral conservative, which by today’s standards, makes me a fascist.

I am heterosexual, which according to gay folks, now makes me a homophobic.

I am a Christian, which now labels me as an infidel.

I believe in the 2nd Amendment, which now makes me a member of the vast gun lobby.

I am older than 60, which makes me a bit less than I used to be.

I think and I reason, therefore I doubt much that the main stream media tells me, which must make me a reactionary.

I am proud of my heritage and our inclusive American culture, which makes me a xenophobe.

I value my safety and that of my family and I appreciate the police and the legal system, which makes me a right-wing extremist.

I believe in hard work, fair play, and fair compensation according to each individual’s merits, which today makes me an anti-socialist.

I believe in the defense and protection of the homeland for and by all citizens, which now makes me a militant.

Recently, a sick old woman called me and my friends a “basket of deplorables”.

I need to thank all my friends for sticking with me through these abrupt, new found challenges in my life and my thinking!

I just can’t imagine or understand what’s happened to me so quickly!

Funny . . . it’s all taken place over just the last 7 or 8 years!

And if all this wasn’t enough to deal with.

I’m now afraid to go into either restroom!

 

Random….

Stuff…

Go read the folks on the sidebar, I’ll be over here watching the whale go by…

But I DO have a question…

And a comment…

🙂