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Chapter 024

Taken Chapter 024

Copyright 2014 - 2017 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia


Flashback – Masha, Tanya, Gladys and others – Finishing lunch


Lunch was over, I graciously thanked everyone for the meeting and then asked Tanya, "Will you please take me home?"


Tanya agreed, "Once Gladys takes me to my car at the studio, I will."


Gladys replied, "Don't worry Masha, we will get you home soon. First I want to ask Melanie when the designs will be finished so we can look at the plans."


Melanie provided the answer, "Give me about three days. I will generate five or ten different ideas and we can choose from the best or even combine several of them."


Gladys asked, "I assume the meeting would be best held at your office."


Melanie said, "Of course, because we can project the designs on the screen and do a real 3D walk through."


I questioned, "What is a real 3D walk through?"


Melanie explained, "You will see the actual design on the computer screen and we can move through the room just as if you're walking through it."


I replied, "That's amazing, I never knew you could do that on computers."


Tanya asked, "Masha, do you have a computer?"


I replied, "No, since I never saw a need for one."


Tanya replied, "I figured as much when I saw your mobile phone, it's a dinosaur."


I pulled out my phone and almost everyone laughed at it. To diminish my embarrassment I complained, "Hey, I don't make many calls on it and it serves that purpose well."


Tanya asked, "Masha, did you know you can use your mobile phone for things other than making phone calls?"


I confessed, "I did not know that. What other things can you use a mobile phone for?"


Tanya explained, "For one thing you could use it to video chat with your husband Jack."


Melanie interjected, "You can also do that with a computer. I know they have that set up overseas for all the military."


Gladys ordered, "Tanya, I want you to take Masha to a computer store and a phone store and get her set up with a new computer and a new phone."


I start to complain but Gladys declares, "…And make sure I get the bill for it!"


Melanie added some comfort, "Don't worry Masha, I will come over and give you lessons on the computer - that is if I can take some of your free classes."


I was taken aback at how fast things were moving!


Gladys took us back to the studio, we walked around back and I was shocked at who waited for us.


Flashback – Jack, Ben and John – Midnight requisition return


After Banzai's excellent driving and missing the IED hole we finally had a lucky break. There was a Marine HumVee in front of us headed in the same direction.


Banzai floored it and said, "Jack get on the radio and tell them we're friendlies."


I asked Banzai, "You mean the fucking radio we don't have?"


Banzai glanced at the dash and swore…


"Son of a bitch, how did we ever get a semi without a radio?" We needed some way to convince the Marines in the HumVee to not open fire on us. I announced, "Okay, does anyone have any idea how we can tell the HumVee we're friendlies?"


John replied, "There's an American flag back here, it's sort of dirty but it might work."


The HumVee had noticed us and I watched as the turret gun spun our way. I yelled, "Give Jack the flag. Jack put that across most of the windshield."


John handed the flag to Jack, Jack did as he was told and we watched as the Humvee slowed to a stop. I pulled up behind them, hopped out of the cab and said, "Thanks for not blowing our asses away."


The Marine said, "You should have called us on your radio. Coming up on a convoy like that is a good way to get killed."


I explained, "Sorry, we must have the only semi in the Corps without a radio in it."


John came out of the cab, the other Marines noticed him and asked, "Don't tell me you guys did another midnight requisition run."


John smiled and said, "We sure did and we really hit pay dirt this time."


They laughed like hell as John told them about all the food. I cautioned John, "With as many rounds as the refrigerated trailer took, there will probably be some bullets in the food."


The other Marines suggested, "We can pull the HumVee over and patch the holes with duct tape."


I wondered, "What about the convoy?"


They replied, "We now escort the convoys with two trailing HumVees because the fucking Taliban have been using those damn Toyota pickups to chase us."


John excitedly said, "Yeah they chased us with one of those but then they suddenly stopped. We figured there was a problem ahead and we almost got blown up by an IED. Banzai did an amazing job dodging the hole in the road."


The Marines stood a little straighter and one of them said, "So, you're the famous Banzai Ben."


Jack crowed, "That's right, he's my sniper."


I gave Jack a more than friendly punch in the arm and replied, "And Jack is my spotter, when he's not too busy."


The Marine asked, "Busy doing what?"


I laughed and lied, "Well, when you get as old as Jack is you need more sleep."


They began to laugh then John ruined it all by saying, "When Jack was training me he didn't sleep that much."


That got the other Marines going so they teased the hell out of Jack, "We sure as hell didn't know you could cook." The other one said, "Hell, I heard he even burned an MRE."


I laughed and added, "Hell, he probably just made a Meal Refusing to Exit taste better."


Jack put the kibosh on the teasing and ordered, "Okay you two, let's get the holes patched in the trailer and catch up to the convoy."


I hindsight, it was a good idea that he did...


Flashback – Jennifer – Helping Daniela cook


The first thing Daniela did was clean some potatoes, then put them in a pot of water to boil and added a couple of eggs. I asked, "What are the potatoes and eggs for."


Daniela explained those are papas amarillas. I forgot to tell you that the sauce is poured over the rice and the papas amarillas. I will garnish each plate with the eggs.


Next she took four slices of white bread, put them in a bowl and poured some evaporated milk over the bread. Next she put the chicken in a pot and poured something over it, I asked, "What did you pour over the chicken?"


She explained, "It is chicken stock that I saved in the refrigerator." She brings the chicken and the stock to boil and said, "We cook it until it is just cooked."


While she's waiting for the chicken and stock to cook, she begins to take the stems and the seeds out of the peppers. Daniela asked me, "Señorita Jennifer would you please chop these pimientos amarillos into very small squares."


I commented, "Daniela, we have a food processor that can do this much better than I can." I show her the device and she said, "I do not understand this máquina."


I explained, "This machine will chop the peppers better and faster than I could ever do it by hand."


I put the peppers into the machine and Daniela asked, "Can we add a little aceite vegetal while we process it?"


I took the vegetable oil, put a small amount in the food processor and turned it on; it made a pleasant looking yellow paste.


Daniela took two cloves of garlic and peeled them. Then she took a large onion, chopped it finely with her newly sharpened knife, added the pepper paste to a skillet and began to cook it.


Daniela remarked, "We cook this just until the onions are soft and golden." It didn't take long then Daniela set it aside to cool.


Daniela asked, "Can we use the food processor for the bread, parmesan cheese, nueces and the onion mixture."


I replied, "We sure can. I cleaned the food processor, put everything in it and blended it until it was smooth. Daniela put the onion mixture back into a pan, added half of the chicken sauce which she had saved and began to slowly cook it.


She asked me, "Señorita Jennifer, would you please pull the chicken off the bones in very small pieces."


I didn't like this idea so I replied, "Daniela can you do that? I will stir the mixture in the pan."


Daniela finally figured it out and said, "Señorita Jennifer, I see you do not like to touch the chicken."


I confessed, "Daniela, mother always bought chicken breasts so I am not used to a whole chicken."


Daniela didn't complain, I watched as she easily tore pieces of the chicken off the bones with the knife and her hands. The bigger pieces she put on the cutting board and sliced into smaller chunks.


We added the chicken to the sauce mixture and slowly stirred until it thickened. She looked at the clock and complained, "Dios mío! I have not done the rice yet and I need to clean up and get ready for Jed."


I saved the day when I offered, "Daniela, I will put the rice in the rice cooker and make it. Just tell me how much you need."


She said, "Señorita Jennifer, we need about two cups of rice."


I measured the rice and the water, put it in the rice cooker and turned it on. Daniela headed to the bathroom to make sure she looked presentable as I waited for Jed.


He arrived a few minutes before six. I opened the door and he looked surprised and tried to hide the flowers behind his back (with very little success). Jed blushed and asked, "Where's Daniela?"


I replied, "We've been cooking all afternoon so she is in the bathroom at this moment making herself beautiful."


She came out of the bathroom and I noticed she had changed out of the running shoes I had given her. This disappointed so much I vociferously complained, "Daniela where are your running shoes?"


She said, "Señorita Jennifer, I am not comfortable wearing them in front of Jed."


Jed entered into the discussion, "Daniela, you have running shoes? Why haven't I seen them before?"


I explained, "Jed, we went for a walk earlier where she wore them and said how much better they made her feet feel. She was supposed to wear them tonight too."


Then I threatened, "Daniela what did I tell you I would say to Jed if you took them off."


Daniela looked frantic as she begged, "Please Señorita Jennifer, do not tell Jed."


Jed asked, "Tell me what?"


I laughed and said, "I threatened to tell you that Daniela wants zapatos verdes."


Jed took control. First he handed the flowers to Daniela (how he had kept her from seeing them for so long I don't know) then he said, "Daniela I bought these for you. However if you are too embarrassed to come for a walk with me, then I will take them and leave."


Daniela backpedaled, "Please Jed do not leave. I have a wonderful dinner for us and I want to walk with you later, I will even wear the second hand shoes."


With the situation settled, we finally sat down to a great dinner.


Flashback – Mira and Ira – continuing


We approached the area of Kostia's former location and found the decimated men. However, Kostia was not evident.


Ira complained, "Mira, we need to leave as our present activity is dangerous."


I replied, "My sister you possess false pretenses if you assume any danger resides in this local. Your assumptions are the same solidity as flatulence from your alimentary canal."


Just then Kostia appeared with another group of men and announced, "I knew if I waited long enough you two would come back. Take them men!"


The men charged us and we fought ferociously. However, the men were too numerous and ultimately overcame our efforts.


Flashback – Todd – On the mission


There is hell and then there are places that I feel are actually worse than hell (having been close to going to hell many times myself I consider myself and adequate judge). And this was one of the worst places I had ever seen! As I walked down the streets, people tried to sell me everything. The worst was when a boy of about ten years old came up to me and said, "Gringo, you want sex with my virgin mother?"


I shook my head no but he continued, "Ah, perhaps sex with my virgin sister, she is only ten years old."


It made me so sick that I decided to head into a local cantina and try a beer.