Chapter 031

Together Chapter 031

Copyright 2014 - 2015 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia


Present – Liz and Bernie – At Leadville airport


We approach a taxi at the airport but unlike the taxis we are used to riding in, this taxi doesn't have a meter so I ask, "How much to take us to a drugstore in Leadville?"


The driver thinks for a moment and says, "Well, since the airport is so close to town, I figure three dollars should cover it."


I answer, "Great, after that could you take us to the cabin that just burned up?"


He thinks a bit more and answers, "You mean the old Blaine place?"


I nod my head and he continues, "That would be another ten dollars because it's a ways out of town."


Bernie motions to our luggage and says, "Let's go."


The driver loads the luggage into the trunk, Bernie and I slide into the back seat and the taxi heads toward town.


The taxi driver takes us to the drugstore and I decide to ask, "We will only be a few minutes, would it be possible for you to wait for us."


The driver surprises us with his answer, "Yeah, I will wait for ten minutes if I can charge you an extra three dollars."


I look at Bernie, he smiles at me and then he says to the driver, "Great, we will be out in ten minutes or less."


We walk into the drugstore, the pharmacist looks up from behind his counter, smiles and says, "Howdy folks, is there anything I can help you with?"


I answer, "We were wondering where you keep your home pregnancy tests."


The pharmacist amazes me with his actions and his answer. He comes around from behind the counter and says, "Well, if the test is positive let me be one of the first to congratulate you. Follow me and I will show you where they are."


He takes us to an aisle that's half full of home pregnancy tests and then he amazingly offers, "If you don't mind I could make some recommendations."


I look at the selection and answer, "That would be great because there are so many different tests here that it's overwhelming."


He takes one off the shelves and says, "This test is the most accurate, however it takes a bit longer than the others to generate the results. In addition, there are two tests in the box in case you mess up the first one."


I answer, "This one will be fine." We walk to the cash register, pay for the test and the pharmacist asks, "Now, do you understand how to use this test?"


I smile and answer, "I just pee on a stick and wait, right?"


He adds a bit more information, "Yes, but don't forget to use the enclosed wipes to clean first to make sure the result is accurate."


We head toward the door and the pharmacist says, "If you have any problems, feel free to come on back."


We get outside and Bernie remarks, "Now that's what I call customer service."


I laugh and remark, "It's a far cry from what passes for service on the East Coast."


We get back into the taxi, the driver takes off toward the cabin and asks, "Did you both find what you were looking for?"


I answer, "Yes we did, thank you for asking."


Bernie and I hold hands and enjoy the drive to the cabin. The joy turns to sadness when we finally arrive and see how it's once again totally destroyed.


I suddenly come up with an idea and I decide to see how far this customer service goes so I ask the driver, "I don't suppose you could wait for us…"


The driver interrupts, "… I can't wait for you here at this cabin, but what I will do is give you my cell phone number so you can call me when you're ready to leave. It will only take me about thirty or forty minutes to get back here to pick you up."


I inquire, "What would you charge us for coming back to the cabin?"


He thinks for a few moments and answers, "I figure ten dollars to come back out here and then another ten dollars to take you back to town is fair."


I snap up that offer in a New York minute and say, "When you come back we'd like for you to take us to a realtor's office."


He smiles and offers, "I know just the person to take you to see - she's great. And let me say, this is a great place to live even though the winters can be a little harsh."


He hands us a business card with his phone number on it, takes our luggage out of the trunk, sets it on the ground and waves as he leaves.


I punch Bernie in the arm and say, "Look who's over there."


Present – Samantha – at the cabin


I'm doing my report on the cabin as a taxi drives up and Liz and Bernie exit the back seat. Liz sees me so I motion to the cameramen to stop the video. They stop the video, then I see Stacy head toward Bernie and Liz. It makes me happy that she's going to handle it so I motion for the cameramen to continue…


Present – Stacy – at the cabin


I've been thinking and have come up with a couple of plans. A taxi drives up and I watch as Liz and Bernie exit the back seat. I head toward them, smile and say, "I wondered when you two were going to arrive. It's a travesty what the girls did this to the cabin and I have my people out looking for them as we speak."


Liz agrees, "It's more than a travesty it's pure evil - especially after all Ben and Jens did for them."


I ask, "So, are you two moving into the tunnels?"


Liz holds Bernie's hand and Bernie says, "No, we're just here to settle some things then we're going to stay in the hotel for the night and start looking for a house."


This is surprising news for me as from what I understood Liz and Jens were practically joined at the hip. I add my opinion, "Leadville is a great little town - the people here are very helpful and friendly."


Liz concurs, "Yes, the level of customer service they provide is…"


She seems to be searching for the correct word so I assist, "… exceptional? Yes, it reminds me of the days I spent growing up with my Grandmamma when I was a little girl."


Liz agrees, "Yes exceptional is the perfect word. It's like we went back in time to the fifties or sixties."


I'm done with the small talk and bring them back to the thinking about the cabin, "I sure hope that Ben and Jennifer's (I can barely make myself say her name) wedding survives the loss of the cabin."


Liz gives me a puzzled look and asks, "Stacy I don't understand your statement, why shouldn't it survive?"


I smile again (yes my face is getting tired from all the smiles) and reply, "Well Jennifer (there's that name again) has always seemed to me to have some serious mental problems."


Liz smiles and answers, "I wouldn't worry about that. Jens' mental problems were all resolved when she married Ben."


I inject some doubt, "Liz, your support of Jennifer (UGH) is admirable, but I think you're too close to her to really look at things objectively. After my rape, I had extensive counseling and therefore it's easy for me to notice Jennifer's problems."


I can tell my words have struck a possible chord when Liz creates a diversion and asks, "Damn, I wonder who hired Samantha?"


I smile and answer, "Liz your friendship and love for Jennifer have clouded your judgement. If it had been anyone else's bodies other than Jennifer's mother, you would have ordered Samantha to immediately do the story. And once you fired her, I had no choice but to hire her."


Shock masks Liz's face when she questions, "Stacy, what do you know about running a television station?"


I truthfully answer, "Liz, I have no idea either how to run or what to do with a television station. But I'm sure I will eventually figure it out if I hire the right people. It is a shame however that you lost your ace reporter Samantha."


I can see Liz thinking then she asks, "Stacy, can you give Bernie and me a few minutes to talk."


I smile point toward the van and say, "Sure Liz, I will be right over there if you need me." I turn, and smile as I walk to the van…


Present – Liz and Bernie – at the cabin


Stacy is different than I thought she would be and has given me beaucoup things to think about. I'm sure that some of it is bullshit, but some of it is probably the truth. I look at Bernie and say, "Bernie, I'm going to ask you something difficult to answer and I want you to promise to tell me the truth."


Bernie complains, "Damn Liz, you're going to put me between a rock and a hard place."


I don't have the time to care because I need Bernie's honest evaluation of something so I just blurt it out, "Bernie, do you feel it was a mistake for me to fire Samantha?"


Bernie waffles, "Well Liz, it's sort of like…"


I interrupt, "…Bernie, I can tell by your inability to answer what your real answer is. Now what do you think about Stacy hiring Samantha."


Bernie has no problem voicing his opinion when he emphatically states, "Liz, I have to think of you and also think of the Truth Network. I have to honestly say that it's not good for the network that we lost Samantha, and it's even worse that Stacy hired her. She has enough money that she could damage the Truth Network's ratings."


I suggest, "Perhaps we could hire Samantha back from Stacy?"


Bernie chuckles and says, "Liz, those two are as close as you and Jens so I don't think there's any way that Stacy would let us hire Samantha back. And if she did, you need to realize that you would have no control over Samantha."


I postulate, "I don't know, it seems to me from the way she was talking that Stacy was giving us an opening to possibly rehire Samantha. And you're right, I wouldn't have any control over Samantha but I do feel bad about quashing the story about Evelyn. Hell, Samantha did exactly what I would have done when I was younger."


Bernie chuckles and agrees, "Yeah I can remember those days and how much trouble you got us into."


I laugh and counter, "Bernie, I remember you stirred up the hornet's nest several times yourself."


He laughs with me and says, "Liz, take a good look at Samantha. When did the two of us get so damn old?"


I counter, "Speak for yourself old man! Let's head over to Stacy and see if we can negotiate with her."


Bernie wisely cautions, "Liz, let's just make sure we don't give Stacy the whole farm."


I tease, "Bernie, I thought we were getting a house? Now you want a farm?"


Bernie chuckles as we walk hand in hand toward Stacy…


Present – Stacy and Samantha – at the cabin


I was concerned that Liz might not come over to talk to me, especially since she and Bernie seemed to talk forever. I smile internally when they begin to walk toward the van hoping the seeds I planted were going to take root.


Liz walks up, looks at me and doesn't beat around the bush when she asks, "Stacy, what would it cost for us to hire Samantha back from you?"


Good this plan has seemed to work so I reply, "Liz, I think that's a subject that's better discussed with all four of us together." I motion to Samantha, she stops her report, comes over, looks at Liz grins and says to me, "You called me boss?"


I smile at Samantha and mention, "Samantha, I think that Liz is having some misgivings about firing you."


Liz shakes her head and adds, "Yes, that's correct. I was premature in firing you. We should have talked about it more."


Samantha plays hardball when she says…


I am a little confused since I thought I was going to work for Stacy and now Liz want's me back with the Truth Network. I am looking forward to working for Stacy, but I did love working for the Truth Network. I look at Liz and answer, "Liz, you didn't fire me. If you remember I quit after you bitched at me about my story on the bodies found at Ben and Jennifer's wedding."


Stacy catches my eye and I can tell from the look on her face she doesn't like my response. Liz replies, "Samantha, I think we are both at fault: Me for trying to protect Jens and you for doing the story and then sneaking it onto the air."


I think that Stacy is running one of her plans, so I decide to tone it down some and reply, "Liz, I’m sorry that I snuck it onto the air, but sooner or later someone was going to tell the story so I figured it might as well be me."


Liz says, "Well I took care of Jens finding out about the story on her honeymoon, so no damage is done there."


Stacy voice catches slightly as she asks, "Liz, how did you take care of that."


Liz chuckles and answers, "Oh, I forgot to tell all of you. They went to dinner one night and someone told them about the cabin. Jens called me and wanted to know what happened so I gave her the details. I called Jens back after I found out about your story on Evelyn and told Ben about the story. From what I understand Jens is practically holding him hostage in the honeymoon suite, doing what she called ‘someeeething’."


I notice a few tears in the corner of Stacy's eyes and know she's really hurting. I want to go and comfort her so I cut to the chase, "Liz, I will come back to the Truth Network as long as you never ever pull a stunt on me like you did on the story about the bodies."


Liz smiles and says, "Samantha, welcome back to the Truth Network. Now, we're going into the tunnels so I can deal with some other problems."


I move to Stacy's side and hold her as she begins to cry…


Present – Jack, Masha and the children – On the C 130


I remember hearing about how my Jack's back was injured on the flight to Ramadi, how the terrible Captain M covered it up so he wouldn't get in trouble for it and how Ben once again helped Jack by coming up with medicine for his back. However the medicine presented some problems of its own.


With Ivan holding Veronika and singing to her, both she and Ivan have settled down. Now I need to take care of my Jack. I kneel beside him on the floor, begin to massage his lower back, feel a massive number of knots in the muscles and realize no simple massage can cure his problem.


I tell Jack, "Honey, my massage isn't going to fix this so I'm going to get you a pain pill and a muscle relaxer from my purse."


Jack countermands my thoughts, "Masha, there's no way in hell I'm taking any pills for this fucking back! Help me back into my seat, give me a few shots of bourbon and I will be fine until we get to the tunnels where I can get in the hot tub."


I carefully help Jack rise and return to his seat - he grimaces in pain the entire time. Once he's in the seat, I check Veronika's diaper bag and say, "Jack we don't have any bourbon, all we have is a bottle of vodka I was using on Veronika's gums because she is teething."


Jack says, "Vodka, bourbon - it doesn't matter. Just give me the bottle."


I remove the bottle from Veronika's diaper bag, unscrew the lid and hand it to Jack. He tips it back and drinks an incredible volume of vodka. I want to caution him however I know that vodka is less dangerous than the pills he would take. He shocks me even more when he tips the bottle back again and takes an equally large drink.


The pilot announces, "Please fasten your seatbelts as we will be landing at Leadville in about ten minutes."


I get up, take Veronika out of Ivan's hands and make sure his seatbelt is fastened. Then I put her in her car seat. I also check to make sure Jack's seatbelt is fastened, take the bottle out of his hand and say, "Jack, we need to put this away for right now." The almost full bottle is now only half full and Jack is beginning to feel the effects of such a large dose of vodka.


I hope I can find some assistance for us because I will be unable take Jack and two children to the cabin by myself…


Present – Thom and Inga – time to fish or cut bait


Inga has been 'missing in action' and I've been fuming over what to do about her ultimatum. The pilot announces, "Please fasten your seatbelts as we will be landing at Leadville in about ten minutes."


I see Inga walking back toward my seat and sigh. This isn't going to be easy. She takes the seat beside me and asks, "Well Thom, what is your decision?"


I look at her and reply, "Inga, if you know me you well know that I will never bow my knee to an ultimatum. It was great working with you, I will always miss you and I hope you're happy in your new position with TSIFFTS."


She shocks me when she begins to laugh and loudly yells, "I told all of you! Now it's time to pay up!"


It seems like ninety percent of the people on the plane come by and start handing money to Inga. I glare at her and demand, "What the hell is going on?"


Inga doesn't answer because she's too busy laughing. One of the guys stops after he hands Inga a big wad of money and says, "Thom, we were all fucking played by Inga."


I'm confused so I answer, "What the hell are you talking about?"


He complains, "Thom, thanks a fucking lot! I lost a month's worth of pay. Inga bet damn near everyone on the flight that if she gave you an ultimatum to either start a relationship with her or she would leave, that you would let her leave."


I look at Inga, she has that twinkle in her eyes, finally stops laughing and says, "Gotcha Thom!"


I frown at her and ask, "So does this mean you're not changing teams?"


Inga begins to laugh again. She can barely answer but squeaks out, "Don't be silly, who would give you grief if I left?"


I should be pissed off and give her shit, but I'm just happy she stayed on my team. I would have missed her…


Present – Glen and Hammer – in Leadville trying to find Evelyn's body


I determined that the bodies weren't at Stacy's building because she didn't care about us searching it. Once again Hammer was a pain in the ass when he asked her for a drink. Because of that and the threat that I accidentally made, Stacy called her lawyer who promptly handed the Sheriff his ass and that was it for searching her building.


We're back at the Sheriff's office licking our wounds when I ask the Sheriff, "Dae ye hae a recordin' ay th' report Samantha did oan mah wife's body."


He answers, "Hell, you probably won't need one since it's been on almost non-stop since they started to show it."


He turns on the television, switches to the Truth Network and we see Samantha reporting on the fire at the cabin. I look at the Sheriff and ask, "I thot ye said the’ ‘ould continue t’ show it."


He frowns and answers, "Shit it was like they were looping it, I wonder why they stopped."


I think for a few moments and ask, "Waur thaur onie identifyin' backgroond images 'at coods help us figure it whaur th' report was recorded?"


He shakes his head and shoots down my last hope, "No Sir! We watched it many times, the background was just a white sheet."


Hammer yawns and says, "Glen, Ah hink aam gonnae heed uot an' fin' somethin' tae dae."


I glare at Hammer and exclaim, "Hammer dornt try tae caa 'at bullshit a rose. Ah ken whit ye want tae dae, ye want ot fin' th' closest bar an' gie blooter'd again."


Hammer glares at me and answers, "An' whit th' heel if Ah want tae dae 'at? Ah need a bevvy an' yoo're nae mah mammy sae ye cannae gonnae-no me."


I don't have time to deal with Hammer's alcohol addiction right now. I lean close to the Sheriff, warn him about what's going to happen in this town if Hammer starts drinking and suggest something.


The Sheriff smiles and says, "You know that's a great idea."


Hammer says, "What's a stoatin feckin' idea?"


The Sheriff stand up and says, "Hammer, you're being arrested."


Hammer swears, "What's th' feckin' charge - Ah huvnae dain anythin'?"


The Sheriff announces, "Vagrancy." He walks over to take Hammer by the arm, Hammer makes the mistake of trying to hit the Sheriff, but the Sheriff is faster. The Sheriff pulls out his Taser and shocks the hell out of Hammer. Hammer slumps unconscious to the floor the Sheriff looks at me and asks, "Since this was your idea, how about some help getting him into the cell."


We each take an end of Hammer, haul him into the cell, the Sheriff steps out of the cell, slams that door and I exclaim, "Whit th' heel ur ye daein'?"


The Sheriff laughs and answers, "If Hammer is a vagrant then so are you. Besides I can't have the two of you running amuck in my county and messing up my investigation into the location of the bodies."


I swear, "Aam nae a feckin' vagrant, mah dochter li'es in th' cabin 'at was burnt up."


He laughs and asks, "So should I call her and interrupt her honeymoon to verify your story?"


Hell the bastard has me up the creek without a paddle, I reply, "Nae, gonnie nae bortha mah wee Jennifer oan 'er honeymoon."


He gives me some hope when he says, "By the way, Ben and I were best friends in high school so I'm motivated as hell to find your wife's body."


I answer, "Godspeed tae ye sheriff."


He leaves, I kick Hammer off the cot and to the floor, lay on the cot and decide to take a nap…


Present – Safia, Ira and Mira – on the hunt


Mira wants to ask the local businesses if they've seen Alexi's whore and Yasmeen so I suggest, "Mira, perhaps it would be better if I ask the proprietors for information instead of you or Ira."


Mira demands, "Safia, why would you inquiring with the proprietors be superior to the identical action taken be either of us?"


I am concerned that Mira is so volatile right now that she would threaten the proprietors, but I'm sure the hell not going to tell her that so I use another fact, "Mira, you and Ira use a unique way of speaking which the proprietors might not understand."


Ira supports my statement…


My sister Mira is very hormonally irrational and explosive. Thank God Safia recognizes this and offers to inquire regarding the location of the terrible teenagers. I agree with Safia, "Mira, Safia is correct, if we allow her to interrogate the proprietors, it will save a large interval of precious time."


Thank God Mira still recognizes some reason and answers, "Yes Ira, using Safia might facilitate finding the terrible teenagers in a judicious manner. However, if she does not perform this task properly, I will assume the mantle of such responsibility."


We enter the first commerce of establishment Safia walks up to the proprietor, beams at the female and verbalizes an excellent falsehood, "Excuse me ma'am, we were separated from two of our friends and hoped that you could tell us if you saw them. They were younger than us, and both carried backpacks."


The proprietor smiles at Safia and replies, "Gracious young lady, you have such good manners. Yes I did see two younger women with backpacks; they got out of the back of Fred's pickup truck and walked down the street in that direction." She indicates the direction by pointing with one of her digits.


Safia poses another excellent inquiry, "Did you by any chance see where they went?"


The proprietor shakes her head and replies, "Sorry miss, but I only saw them through the window and didn't bother to go out on the street and watch them."


She pauses, seems to contemplate for a short period of time, snaps her digits and vocalizes, "You know, I bet if you asked Sally at the beauty shop which is right down the street, she could tell you where they went because she's the town gossip and would have watched the two new girls."


Safia smiles and closes the inquiry, "Thank you ma'am, you have been very helpful."


We begin to leave and the proprietor says, "I hope you find your friends."


Mira angrily replies, "We most certainly will find them and they will most certainly regret it."


We rush down the street, find the commerce of beauty, Safia looks at us and cautions, "Perhaps the two of you should wait on the bench?"


I question, "What purpose would that serve?"


Safia states, "One of us, dressed the way we are, would not create as large a spectacle as all three of us."


Mira says…


I look at Safia and state, "Safia, while your queries with the primary proprietor were excellent, I would like to facilitate the queries with Sally before the terrible teenagers vacate this village."


Safia frowns at me and disagrees, "Mira, if you confront Sally it will be a mistake."


I scoff, "Safia, it will not be and I will prove it to you."


I rush into the commerce of beauty noting there are five women ensconced within. I swing my rifle toward the five and order, "Which corporeal self is Sally?"


Safia says, "My friend won't hurt you she just wants to know which one of you is Sally."


I clarify Safia's false assumption, "No I will not hurt you. However, if this Sally does not reveal herself I will begin to terminate everyone else."


A woman ensconced in a very ugly pink laboratory coat raises her hand, stands up and says, "I'm Sally, what in the hell do you mean coming into my business waving your gun at everyone. You should be ashamed of yourself."


I glare at her and reply, "I feel no shame for my actions as they are justified by the critical nature of our mission. You will provide me with information on the final location of the two younger girls carrying packs on their backs that translocated across the anterior of your commerce of establishment."


Safia says, "My friend would like to know if you saw two younger girls who looked like us walk by earlier and if you did, do you know where they went."


The woman named Sally swore, "Hell, kill all of us if you want, we're not telling you anything!"


The other females stood up in defiance, "That's right, we're not telling you anything… You can take the rifle and shove it up your ass… I'm calling the Sheriff…"


Safia takes my arm and says, "Mira, if we don't leave now and the Sheriff comes, we will never be able to find them."


In anger I fire a stream of projectiles into the commerce's ceiling. The females vocalize loudly like young females and we depart the commerce of beauty without obtaining any information…


Present – Alexi – leaving the tunnels under the cabin


I receive a call from Zarika and she informs me that she's pregnant with my child. Safia's threat echoes in my ear, 'Alexi, if she is pregnant I will kill both of you' so I know I have to do something. I talk Zarika into telling me where she is and as I begin to leave the tunnels meet Liz and Bernie entering the tunnels.


Liz questions, "Hello Alexi, where are your sisters? I would like to speak with them."


I answer, "Hello Bernie and Liz, they left hours ago. They are looking for Yasmeen and Zarika to exact a revenge for them destroying the cabin and all our accoutrements."


Liz frowns and says, "Alexi, if you see them before I do, tell them they are fired as my bodyguards."


I lie as I leave, "I will make sure to tell then that." There's no way in hades I will deliver this message to my irate, irascible, insane sisters, I place the value on my life greater than that.


I arrive at the building where Zarika said she was hiding, open the door, walk inside and I can't believe what happens…


Present – Yasmeen and Zarika – on the run


Alexi foolishly walks into the abandoned building we found and yelled, "Zarika, where are you?"


I walk around the corner, point my rifle at him and order, "Zarika, search him to make sure he didn't bring any weapons."


Zarika approaches him but doesn't listen to me. She clubs him over his head with the butt of her rifle. He falls unconscious to the ground and she begins to kick him.


I yell, "Zarika, stop! You will kill him."


Zarika laughs and says, "The bastard deserves worse than this."


I continue my orders, "Zarika, open the big car doors while I drive his car inside the building."


She opens the door as I drive his car inside. Now we just need to wait for the people I called and of course the twins and Safia…