I arrived in the early afternoon at the Portland International Jetport. I was there to meet up with my old compadre “Quip” the former Chief of Operations including Logistics and Weapons Systems. He got his nick name when he was a lowly equipment supervisor. He worked his way up through the ranks and along the way his timely interventions saved my ass more than once.
I was more than delighted that he chose to meet me and set me up for the investigation. I guess that means I still rate.
“Agent 66.” He greeted me shaking my hand.
“Quip old boy you still look like you’re in grade school. How do you do it.?”
“Good clean living I guess,”
“Is that a toupee?”
“This? Its mine, I can do better than this.” He pointed to my beard, “And you?”
“Grey Away. And a little plastic surgery.” I admitted.
We took a quick ride to TWO LIGHTS STATE PARK. The light houses there are less dramatic than nearby Cape Elizabeth, but you do get amazing and dramatic views there of the craggy rocky coastline which seems to extend forever.
Quip pulled a big black suitcase out the trunk and we headed for an isolated section of the park that was basically hidden from view. That was when I realized that Quip had been there before.
Quip handed me a black 9mm Beretta M9 pistol.
“What’s this? No Walther PPK?” I asked displeased.
“What?” Oh, very funny,”
“Where’s my M1911?”
“The M1911 was replaced as the standard U.S. agent sidearm.”
“Really, not completely phased out I hope.” I argued.
“Hold tight and count to 10.”
I followed his directions and the handle of the gun sent a powerful electric shock through my hand. “What the heck was that?””
“Now the gun is yours and will only fire if it recognizes your unique hand pattern imprint.”
“Talk about hands on technology, but it’s still no M1911.”
“I figured you would protest. I sure this will make up for it.” He handed me a sight for sore eyes.
“I saved it from the junk heap just for you,”
“This is the original.”
“Yes, you might say the design was years ahead of its time. Why in heaven they gave it to you is still a mystery.”
“No one else wanted to test it.”
“Well now they’d die to have one. The newer models constantly break down.”
“Everything still works?”
“Still has a powerful electromagnet that can even deflect a bullet. However, the electromagnet capability now contains a universal radio directional finder.”
“That’s GPS, you can even bounce it off any satellite that recognizes the footprint.”
I put the wristwatch on and it immediately started beeping and a small metal probe emerge from it. “Hey, does that mean it still recognizes me?”
“Now that is amazing.”
“Well you can’t have her back now.”
Quip was about to explain the different features but there was no need.
“The question is, can it tell the time.”
“You’re going to need one of these.” Quip tried to hand me a cell phone.
“No thanks. I’m no cell phone person. I’m a dinosaur.”
“Take it. I’m sure you’ll like this one. It also Contains a Grappling Hook and explosive charges and inside the back compartment is a flash light that is also a laser beam cutter and yes it can send and receive phone calls.”
“Oh, yeah, I got one for you.” I gave him the oversized yellow fountain pen.
“Where in the world did you get this?”
“Tom Hughes had it along with an exploding laptop.” Quip examined the doohickey and I could tell he was intrigued. “Can you get it to work for me?”
Me as Special advisor representing high level ups. I guess they were doing what they frequently do; cover their collective asses.
“Daniel McAllister.” Habiba said surprising me. “I’ve so wanted to work with you.” She realized her reaction was a bit much as Vernon rolled his eyes at her.
“You’re just in time for the briefing. Vernon said. “There’s coffee and donuts on the back table.”
“Can you tell he’s a relative of mine.”
“Carmichael, you know.” We glared at each other.
Carmichael flicked his remote and the wall lit up. “The main suspect in the sale of more than 130 women as sex slaves is a former KGB, we believe his name is Gen. Alexander Sorokin. He is included on the FBI list of most wanted.”
“Well that explained my involvement.” I said recognizing the image of a greying but distinguish looking man. “The head of the NATO has had this guy on his shit list for years.
Habiba joined in, “Per investigations, we think Sorokin is the head of the international criminal group involved in the sale of women abroad. He has connections with plenty of resources and a willingness to use them.” She handed me a file to look over, “We are convinced they are moving the operation to America.”
“Agent McAllister has seen the file on the prime suspect.” Carmichael said with a snarl, “his government people took over the second they heard this General was involved.”
“Well that does not discount his contribution to the bureau.” Vernon said in my defense. “He’s presently retired.”
“Still I’ve worked with him before.” Carmichael stepped right up to me. “Our procedures do not apply to him. Security briefings have no meaning for him, unless they connect with something with which he can personally identify.”
Habiba stood up to him. “Our attempts at finding answers has been blocked repeatedly. Mr. McAllister can tell us things we can’t get our hands on.”
Vernon’s calm voice, “So, his cooperation is welcome.”
“Thanks, cus. Sorokin is said to be with Hamas who are not happy that most of the women ended up in Israel.” No one laughed.
“Get on with it.”
“As for Tom Hughes’ relationship with members of these illegal activity breaking from his role as an operative for the government. There seems to be a perceived need for him to prove himself that he could never satisfy. His problem was he wanted to be a bigshot. He was always looking to move higher. Looks like his ambition got him killed. Our best bet is to follow the money trail.”
“Your briefings very impressive, and you did it without notes.” Her eyes never looked at mine. “Agent Tibbs said you were brilliant, but very grumpy at times.”
“Oh, he did, did he.”
“Mr. McAllister, can I speak with you for a moment. I’m glad you’re on the case with us. We welcome your familiarity with the proceedings.”
“I just do it to piss Carmichael off. Still I appreciate your kind words.”
“Maybe we can go for coffee when we have a free moment.”
DOESN’T SHE SEE HOW OLD I AM? “Coffee? Not a drink?”
“I don’t drink.”
“You are 21?”
“Yes, am well past 21.” DAMN SHE’S CUTE, “By the way I kept this for you.” She pulled out the huge yellow pen/transmitter. “We ran tests on it. Very high-tech stuff.” She handed it to me. “It seems to still be working but out of range.”
I located Ronald “DICK” Tracy Looking out at the bay. He saw me coming but said nothing as he continued his observation.
“It figures you’d want to meet here.”
“She’s a beautiful piece of architecture.”
“Have you been here before?”
“Oh yeah.” He turned toward me and offered his hand.
“My first time.” I shook his hand, but it was more a formality then friendly. “It’s a great place to do some heavy thinking.”
“For more than 275 years, a fort like this has protected the approaches to the Piscataqua River at the southern gateway to Kittery. Fort McClary, was named for New Hampshire native Major Andrew McClary, who died at the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Bunker Hill. Look around, it demonstrates how military architecture and technology had changed over the centuries.”
We walked into the main bunker which was lit from sunlight coming in through stone vents.
“The buildings on the site are from different periods. This shows how it was upgraded and modified to meet new defensive needs. The fort was manned during five wars: The Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I. Yet like most other Maine forts, it saw little conflict.”
“Thanks for the tour.”
“I seem to remember you never being on time.”
“When you’re busy saving the world it’s hard to be punctual.”
“I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor.”
“As irrelevant as it is.”
Ron’s face looked taunt and his eyes piercing black. I’d seen that look before but that was a long time ago.
“So, my old friend what’s the reason for this meeting?”
“Well old friend you are being summoned.”
“Look, nothing personal but I don’t do that stuff anymore. I’m out and I plan to stay that way.”
“With all due respect, you need to hear me out on this.”
“Has God made an appearance or something?”
“Well then this must be April’s doing.”
Ron looked at me hard. “You haven’t heard. She was killed while on a mission.”
“She was assigned to a desk job. What happen?”
“She was working with the CIA, but I don’t know any of the details.” He took a gold colored metallic card out of his jacket pocket. “This is yours.” He held it out, but I didn’t take it.
“Do I have a choice?”
“You always have a choice.” Ron looked at me credulously. “You don’t think due to a career of service and dedication they would just let you go do you.”
“Well, I thought, maybe I just got lucky.”
Ron smiled for the first time. “We were Erikson’s boys. When he died all of us were put on the chopping block.”
“Someone saved me.”
“That’s right someone saved you and got you this comfortable retirement when you could have ended up in Federal Prison with Bubba. Plus, they held off until they needed you.” He held up the gold card again.
I went to take it but stopped. “Was it April?”
“Not powerful enough.”
“Who do you think?”
“Erikson is dead I saw his body. Who else could have pulled off something like this. Wait a minute. Only she’s supposed to be dead as well. Lost at sea.”
When I awoke the next morning, I was alone. Julie had gone but she left a note on the nightstand. NOT BAD FOR AN OLD MAN.
I staggered to the bathroom and saw my reflection in the mirror. The looking glass just won’t lie. Who was I kidding I was getting up there.
Julie didn’t leave a forwarding address. She didn’t want me in her life. Not even now after we were all but put out to pasture. I had to admit I was disappointed, but the truth was we were leading different lives. She was globetrotting, and I was just plain boring.
Julie and I were raised in the same Neighborhood a small middle-class town in New Jersey near Maguire Airforce Base. I was being raised by my Aunt. Julie was the one girl I adored. When she found out in 3rd grade We were both Air Force brats she stuck to me like glue. We were buddies and I was happy as a clam.
Upon entering junior high, things changed. Our different Race made things awkward, and the two of us were no longer friendly in public. The school thing was boring to me, so I learned to spend the time drinking. I found the local low life outcasts and I fit right in.
Much to my surprise when my gang decided to hook up with some girls Julie was among the group. She seemed totally different. Every time I’d see her she was kissing some guy. One night after getting a good buzz I went over to where she was sitting and announced I wanted in on the action. Surprisingly she approved. We met frequently at our secret spot; the lake in the woods, drinking beers and heavy petting from then on.
My spare old cell phone started making strange sounds and bouncing all over the place. I finally found it and grabbed it, more in an attempt to stop it than to answer any message. I flipped it open. KIRK TO ENTERPRISE Someone in the State Department was trying to get in touch with me.
I was leery of the whole thing. It was requesting me to return the call. What the heck did these jokers want? I pressed the dial key and a text message appeared on the small screen. It was code. This was not by any means normal procedure. It was extraordinary, even unique. It had to be someone who knew I would recognize the encryption but who could that be.
The characters read to report to FBI HQ in Portland Maine and I was to be Special advisor representing high level ups for the Hughes investigation. The issue was deserving but why assign me. My involvement in this situation was not going to go over well with most of the talking heads, especially Carmichael.
Someone high up had no other easier option than to force me to engage in the investigation. They were probably doing what they frequently do; covering their collective asses.
Another text came through. This time there was no code just a straight message. IMPORTANT—MEET AT FORT MCCLARY 4:00PM TOP PRIORTY — DICKTRACY
SUDDENLY I WAS SHOCKED BACK TO REALITY. SOMETHING WAS GOING DOWN. THE RED FLAG HAD BEEN RAISED. I WAS BEING DRAGGED DOWN INTO THIS LIKE QUICKSAND. WHAT HAD TOMMY GOT HIMSELF INTO? AND THE UNAVOIDABLE QUESTION WAS; HOW WAS JULIE INVOLVED IN ALL THIS?
Seems every time I complain about being bored something like this happens.
We arrived at the boat “Wow Daniel, you’re well equipped.”
“Thank you,” I said pushing out my chest.
“I mean the boat, smart ass.”
“You, like my boat?”
“It’s so not you. Since when did you develop taste?”
“I’m retired now.”
“Well it’s about time.” She set on a chair crossed her legs and leaned back on her elbows. “So, you own a restaurant?”
“Yes, The Black Lobster.”
“I’ve seen the commercial, they play it every hour on the local stations.”
“Yes, I seem to have become a bit of a Phenom around here.”
“So, you got anything to drink around here?”
“There should be a six pack in the fridge.” There were a few bottles other than that, the refrigerator was empty.
“You on a diet?” She mused seeing the inside. I grabbed the beers and popped the tops using the bottle opener on the side.
“This is a special occasion.”
“Do you really mean that.”
“Cheers,” We clanked the bottles and I guzzled my beer.
“Easy there, I don’t want you to end up in rehab.” Julie noticed a woman’s garment on the floor next to the chair. She picked it up revealing it to be a black tee shirt. Her face turned white as a ghost when she recognized it. “What the hell is this.” I stared in horror as she leaped up and presented the clothing for inspection. SMALL IS THE NEW BIG was printed on it. “This is my daughters.”
I tried to play dumb. “What?”
“It’s the tee I gave her on her last birthday, Was Anetta here in your bed?” She smacked my face, hard.
“I can explain,” She smacked me again. “She was here, but nothing happened.”
“She wanted to thank me for saving you guys back in France. She drank too much and threw up all over me.”
Julie knew I was telling the truth. She sat back on the chair. “She had a terrible crush on you. That’s why she wanted to meet me here. Thank you for not taking advantage of her. JERAMIAH TO THE RESCUE.”
“That’s a name I haven’t been called in a long, long time.”
“It’s your name isn’t it.”
“Not for a long, long time.”
“Don’t be calling me Juliette.”
“I kind of like that, Juliette Hastings.”
“Now you’ve gone too far,”
“Now it makes sense, Like mother, like daughter. You did do some serious barfing that night at the lake.”
Julie annoyed, got up and walked over to me. “That night at the lake? Do you mean THAT NIGHT AT THE LAKE?”
“Yes, THAT NIGHT AT THE LAKE,”
“I managed to get out the house to meet with you. Do you know how hard it was for me?”
“What’s this a revisionist view of things.”
“No Jerimiah Ferguson Walker Scott it’s not. I would have done anything for you back then. But you didn’t even try at all. All you did was drink. After a while I gave up and drank too. That’s why I ended up throwing up.”
I guess I choked. “Okay I choked,”
“Yeah, I chickened out, choked, like a bastard. I froze, got cold-feet, fumbled the ball, struck-out with the bases loaded,”
All this time I thought you rejected me, that you really didn’t like me at all. I was only 15.”
“We were both 15.”
“Big doofus. You didn’t even know you broke my heart.”
I swigged my beer again. “Normally I’m not that slow.”
“So, how do you feel about me now I’m old and fat?’
“Fat? You’re not fat.”
“Come on Daniel?”
“Besides don’t you know I’m a black man? I don’t like fat girls; I love ‘em.”
“Kiss me Daniel McAllister.” I gave her a quick kiss on the lips. “I said kiss me.” This time she wrapped her arms around me and we kissed passionately. She took my hand and led me to the bed. “I guess I should have done this that night at the lake.”
This time to my credit, I didn’t need a second invitation.
The Marginal Way, is an amazing place unlike anything else. This remarkable tribute to nature is a mile-long pathway that extends from its entrance at downtown Ogunquit’s Main Street Shore Road to its exit at Perkins cove, a small resort community bordering Ogunquit. A hilly paved walkway directly on the rocky coast. Brochures say this is Maine’s main rocky coast attraction, but in this case, it’s true.
A one mile stretch on a paved walking path of Amazing views along the rocky coast where waves crash, you can see surfers and paddle boarders and people on the beach in the distance. Beautiful homes along the path and places for great scenic pictures. And it’s all free.
It occurred to me that I rarely come here. In the artsy resort town of Ogunquit, Maine, it is easy to get caught up in all the quaint little shops, high-end restaurants and four-star hotels readily offered to the average tourist. So, easy, in fact, that most people tend to miss the best attraction Ogunquit offers, more than likely passing right by it.
The smell of the ocean was overpowering and filled me with the sense of not having a care in the world. As the path hugs the rocky edge of a small cliff, the surrounding scenes seem so tangible one may be tempted to reach out and touch them. I stopped to take in a small breeze going through the air, invigorating those who have spent the day at the beach.
There were Many benches for you to stop and watch the sea. I had walked a half mile right on the shore front when I arrive at bench 21, but it was empty. My watch said 4 in the afternoon. It was possible Julie had been and gone. From that bench, I had a front row view of the wonderful crashing waves on the rocky coastline.
Right there was a path taking you to the rocks below. You Can veer off path and go down to beach for a drip or walk on the rocks. From there you can walk out on the rocks or just find a quiet place to reflect. Very romantic.
Suddenly from just beyond my view someone stood up and shook their brunette hair in the wind. It was Julie.
“BE CAREFUL OF THE WAVES.” I yelled down to her. She just stared up at me with her mouth open. “Don’t venture too close to the edge near the water. Rogue waves can come UP and wash you in. You won’t be able to get out, it’s too rocky and this water is COLD. Just use common sense.”
“Oh, my god. What are you doing here?”
“I live here in Wells, the next town over.”
“But I don’t understand?”
“I love climbing down the rocks and exploring, truly breathtaking. Great place for a proposal, Or even a small wedding.”
“Daniel what are you doing here?”
“Breathtaking views as you walk along the coast even with throngs of people walking both ways, it remains peaceful, and mystifying.”
“How in the world did you find me?”
“Several places I can suggest along the way to stop and take beautiful pictures or to sit on a bench and just admire the beauty of the rocky coast line, but it looks like you found the very best one. It’s a must-see experience.”
“WOULD YOU PLEASE SHUT UP.”
I finally gave Julie a chance to speak but instead she just embraced me and hugged me tight and the only sounds that can be heard are the rhythmic lull of the tide, seagulls, and the occasional bell of a trolley in the distance. Yes, it was very romantic.
Ducking Lady Kay was harder than it looked. If she wants to find you she will. Though everyone at the restaurant were more interested in the events that happened the other night with my beautiful stranger, I was in no mood to share any details. All I wanted to do was get in and get out before Kay spotted me.
“You are one lucky dude.” Mo Jo Filter said as I ran by. “You get the babe and Lady Kay is called out of town. Man, you must be living right.”
I stopped in my tracks. “What was that?”
“Didn’t you check your voice mails.” Maria asked butting in.
“Voice mail?” I said. “I lost it in the Bay of Fundy.”
“Nice of you to tell somebody, oh yeah, I want a raise.”
“A raise? What?”
“That’s the only way I’m keeping quiet about your Model.”
“But nothing happened between us.” Even I didn’t believe the sound of that. “So where is Kay?”
“She’s on her way to London England. Her Father’s brother died, and he was very connected. Looks like she’ll be even more rich after this.”
Filter laughed, “Yeah man, you better keep her.”
Maria strolled up to me with her most salacious look “There was a call for you on the house Phone. From Carlos.” Her eye-brow rose, “Wasn’t that the guy with Anetta.”
“He’s her manager.”
“He sounds as good on the phone as he looks in person.” Maria said with a wink. “He single?” Filt was about to say something but thought better of it. “Shut up about my age.”
“Yeah man, I wasn’t gonna say it.”
Before things got even stranger I left the room for the back office. I wondered why Carlos would call me.
Carlos was so excited that I called him back. “Anetta’s schedule was suddenly changed and she has to fly to L.A. for a TV show appearance. Due to that she won’t be able to meet up with her mother Julie who is in Maine.” I started to get nervous. “She’s been unable to contact her to tell her of the change and her Mother will be at the AREA 21 section along the Marginal Way.” Now I was shaking all over. “HOLY SHIT, Anetta’s plan was to have her meet up with her while they were here and surprise her by bringing her to your Restaurant. So, Julie probably doesn’t even know that you own The Black Lobster. “
Anetta trusted me enough for me to meet with her mother. It had been 15 years since I last saw her, and all that emotional gobbledygook came rushing up. HOLY SHIT WAS RIGHT