Chapter 11

Wanderer Chapter 11

 

Present – Jens – Truth Network - Washington DC

 

Yeah, it was great beating the shit out of Mira and giving Jack a few love taps. Now there was no doubt in anyone's mind about who is the alpha female… shit, the alpha person in this group! As I help a humbled Maria up, Jack walks up and asks, "Jens, Liz has two twins working for her, are they named Mira and Ira?"

 

I answer, "Yeah Jack that's their names. Why?"

 

He gets a very serious look on his face and declares, "Jens, we might have another huge fucking issue!"

 

I just begin asking him what the hell he's talking about when I hear someone clap, and in a sarcastic as hell voice mock me, "Well that was a first class exhibition of the release of pent up anger and aggression. Tell me do you feel better now?"

 

I look at the door through my sweaty bangs and vaguely see a woman (damn she looks familiar); however I immediately dislike the hell out of her mouthy attitude and sass, "Hell, yes I feel much better now. But I'd feel even better teaching you some respect and manners."

 

She responds, "That's the problem with violence, it never really fixes anything. In fact some people get addicted to the endorphin release they get from the violent acts. I would say that you're moderately addicted to that release." She glances at Jack then Maria and continues with her monolog, "Now he's come to grips with life and doesn't have many issues. However she is even worse off than you are. Yes you beat her in a not so fair fight, but she's pissed as hell about it and is trying to figure some way to get even."

 

Shit, it's Liz's fucking shrink! I'd forgotten about her but I answer with a taunt, "Where the hell did you get your psych degree - from the back of a box of Fruit Loops?"

 

She responds immediately with, "No but I do believe you need to have another bowl or perhaps two, because you're a few Fruit Loops short of a full bowl."

 

Jack and even Maria almost bust a gut laughing. No one insults me and gets away with it! I am s-o-o-o pissed and add, "Oh yeah! Well shrinks are about as useful as a wooden frying pan."

 

She snaps right back, "Well if I had one now, I would paddle your smart ass with it. It's a shame you have a million dollar body running on a two dollar engine."

 

I fight back, "Oh yeah! Well if stupid was a talent you'd be considered gifted!" All of a sudden this banter back and forth between us seems so familiar to me: Damn she reminds me of…  I wipe my bangs out of my eyes - no it can't be!

 

She responds, "Ensjay on'tday youay uckingfay ecognizeray emay?"

 

"Jens don't you fucking recognize me?"

 

I scream, " Eganmay! Iyay aven'thay eensay youay oreverfay!" We both run towards each other and give each other huge hugs!

 

"Megan! I haven't seen you forever!"

 

I look at the BFF1 from my childhood who I'd lost track of many military moves ago: Yes it's Megan and she looks really good. I ask, "Meg, you're Liz's fucking shrink?"

 

1 Best Friend Forever

 

She replies, "Fuck no, I'm Liz's lover!" She laughs when my mouth drops open. Then the taunts return, "Jens you're still too gullible. Of course I'm Liz's fucking shrink, but I prefer the name 'Psychology Goddess and Miracle Worker'! And from the look of things you can really use both of those right now!"

 

I start to sob and barely get out, "Meg, my life is FUBAR2! Just when I find Ben…"

 

2 Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition

 

She shushes me and says, "Jens, I know all about everything and I should have come here sooner. But I'm here now so let's get to work. Who are the two victims you just got done beating the hell out of."

 

I smile at her and say, "Jack is Ben's old spotter and Maria Gonzalez is my girl Friday."

 

Megan says, "I thought I recognized Jack, pleased to meet both of you - Jens and I go way back. I'm here now and I'm going to fix everything. Now Jack, you were just going to tell us about a new and 'huge fucking issue'? That needs to wait until later."

 

She looks at me and scolds, "Jens, I can tell you haven't eaten or slept enough lately. So we're getting you some food and some sleep. While you're sleeping I need to have a talk with Jack and Maria."

 

I'm so damn happy to see Megan again, I cry half the time as we head to my office and Meg hugs the hell out of me. She takes one look at my office and says, "This place looks like shit and won't do at all. Jack and Maria, we need a very quiet place away from this office for Jens to rest. Move your asses and find her something now."

 

They both take off and Megan asks, "Jens is there food in the fridge?"

 

I respond, "Yeah, there are some TV dinners and other crap."

 

She berates me, "Jens, you can't live on that bullshit food, but it will have to do for tonight. From now on we're having catered meals brought in every night and we're making a daily sit down dinner part of our mission plan to find your Ben."

 

I worry about the answer when I question, "Meg, do you really think we will ever find my Ben?"

 

She grins at me and promises, "Jens, hell yes we're going to find your Ben because we are never going to give up until we do. But first we need to change your whole approach to finding him. I hate to tell you this, but you have really fucked this one up! However, you don't need to worry because I've fixed much bigger problems than this."

 

She gave me my lovely TV dinner and for a change it really tasted good. Damn it was s-o-o-o-o good to see Megan again and I hope, that with her help, we will find Ben!

 

Present – Maria – Truth Network - Washington DC

 

I had hoped that my princess boss was going to beat the hell out of that mouthy BSB3 but then she ends up being a good friend of my boss' from childhood! Damn, gramps was right when he told me about my princess boss having a hell of a lot of friends - they are crawling out of the woodwork like bedbugs in a sleazy hotel. I wonder if he was right about everything else.

 

3 Business Suit Bitch

 

Gramps and I walk into the room next to the place my boss calls an office and he asks, "I think this office will work fine for Jens to sleep in. What do you think?"

 

I decide I'd better start 'doing my job' otherwise I might have a bunch of my princess boss's bedbugs trying to kick my ass like gramps mentioned earlier so I answer, "Gramps, I think this office is too close and she will be distracted by any noise. Let's look at the next office."

 

He gives me a dirty look and comments, "Listen, if you can't call me by my name, Jack, then I'm going to call you fucking Speedy, which I know you don't like. But I'm glad to see you're finally thinking about Jens and you're right about this office being too close."

 

I decide I sort of like the old fart and I'm a little horny, so when we get into the next office, I start with the flirt, "So are you as good a lover as you are a fighter?"

 

He laughs, "Shit, there was a time I'd have shown you the answer to that question all night long." He holds up his right hand and I see a ring, and he continues, "I'm a happily married man, and besides, my wife is Russian and she'd gut us both will a dull knife if I even kissed you."

 

I commented, "Hey the ring is on the wrong hand – you can’t be serious."

 

He grins, "Not if you're Orthodox it isn't. Let's go get a cot and bring it in here for Jens."

 

I decide I really like gramp… I mean Jack, and I have no idea what 'orthodox' is. Most men would have fucked me even if they were married. Shit, I think most of the men I fuck are married but it just makes things easier for me since there are no attachments! Plus, married men are always so grateful to get some sex, because most of them don't get anything except fucking nagging at home!!!

 

If men only knew the simple truth: Wedding cake is the ultimate sex drive killer for their bride. Fuck! I bet most of them never even get good head after they give their fiancées an engagement ring. Shit! Men are so fucking dense sometimes!!!

 

Present – Megan – Truth Network - Washington DC

 

I have wanted forever to come and help Jens, because she was a huge mess! But the fucking psychiatric review board wouldn't let me accept her as a patient! They said, "You have a conflict of interest." Damn swinging dicks thought they ruled the whole fucking world. I showed them when I told them to 'fuck themselves and shove my license up their anal-retentive asses.' Then I made a few not so discrete calls to their wives. Hell no, the things I said weren't true. But the bastards wanted to fuck around with me so let them deal with some shit at home! No one plays psychological bullshit with me and gets away with it.

 

Jens was more important than my license or even my practice and the minute I saw her in the gym, I cursed myself for not coming sooner. I had really let her down and this was going to change. First I dealt with the obvious physical issues of not eating and lack of sleep. She looked like hell warmed over - big black bags under her eyes and skinny as a fence post.

 

I heat a TV dinner and demand, "Jens, eat all of this! I would make you another one, but I'm not so sure that much food wouldn't make you sick. How long has it been since you ate?"

 

She obviously lies in her response, "Meg, it's really good to see you and I think I ate something yesterday."

 

I glare at her and declare, "Jens, you never have been able to lie to me, so stop trying and tell me the truth."

 

She very guiltily replies, "Three days Meg."

 

I know she doesn't need to be scolded, but she needs to be motivated so I explain, "Jens that won't do. When we find Ben, he's not going to want to marry a stick girl. Your chest wasn't that big to begin with, so if you lose much more weight you won't even need a bra."

 

She giggles (which is a good sign) and answers, "Meg, remember when we used to draw stick figures of our weddings?"

 

I did and that was why I said what I did. I answer, "Yeah Jens, I remember those days well."

 

Jens says, "That seems like so many lifetimes ago and now everything's such a big mess."

 

I need to keep her from negative comments so I counsel, "Jens, it's not as big a mess as you think it is. You're too close to it and you can only see the mess and I bet you see no way out of it. Am I right?"

 

She nods her head and I continue, "Well, I'm here now and I promise you, we will find Ben and I will see you two married. Jens, you tried using force on Ben and that never works with a strong willed man like him. So we're going to declare a psychological war on him."

 

The chat has been good since she's eaten all her food and didn't even notice. I hand her a 'Tiger's Milk4' bar and order, "Here, eat this too."

 

4 An energy bar.

 

She grins at me and comments, "Meg, you remembered after all these years how much I l-o-v-e Tiger's Milk bars."

 

I smile at her, "Of course I remember, just like you remember everything." I was going to say more, but Maria comes in the room and says, "We have another room, two offices down for Jens to sleep in."

 

I order, "Okay Maria, let's take a cot down for Jens. Jens you go and brush your teeth."

 

Jens says, "I want to shower too."

 

I countermand, "Jens that will wake you up. Just go wash your face and brush your teeth."

 

I know she will listen to me - she always did and that hasn't changed. Maria and I take a cot into the room. I look at her and Jack and declare, "Listen you two, I'm going to sit here with Jens until she falls asleep, then the three of us need to have a very serious discussion! Meet me in that piece of crap office!"

 

Jens comes in and I stroke her head while she drifts off to sleep. Now to find those two fucking bastards that have let me best friend down - heads are going to roll!

 

Present – Jack – Truth Network - Washington DC

 

Maria and I head back to the 'office,' take a couple chairs and I ask, "Maria, please make us a couple TV dinners while I go over this video from the bus station. I don't want to waste any time."

 

For once she doesn't give me any shit as she replies, "Sure Jack, I'd be happy to do that."

 

I'm intently watching the video and don't even hear the microwave ding or see Maria put the food in front of me, until she touches me on the shoulder and announces, "Jack your food's ready."

 

I think about telling her she's going to make some man a hell-of-a-wife with the way she can microwave, but I sure as shit don't want to get her upset again. She's a damn good fighter. So I simply respond, "Thanks Maria that was very nice of you."

 

She asks, "What are you looking at Jack?"

 

I reply, "This is the surveillance video from the bus station closest to 'the shop.'"

 

Maria asks, "I thought Jens ran that through her facial recognition program and it came up with nada."

 

I laugh, "Yes you're right Maria, but I'm not looking at the faces. I'm looking at one of the two features you cannot easily change with a disguise. Do you know what those features are?"

She shrugs her shoulders so I answer, "The distance between the eyes and the shape of the ears - those are the two hardest features to change. We already know Banzai didn't look up and probably wore a hat, otherwise Jens' facial recognition program would have nailed him."

 

She impresses the hell out of me when she says, "So you're looking for guys with hats on, and then looking at the shape of the ears. But are you trying to tell me you remember the exact shape of his ears after all these years? What are you, some sort of fucking spy?"

 

I laugh and reply, "Maria, you're much closer to the truth than you would be comfortable with. Unfortunately I can't tell you or I would have to kill you."

 

She gets ready to answer when a very upset Jens' friend (oh yeah, Megan) walks into the room and I wonder if my ass is going to get kicked for the third time tonight!

 

Present – Megan (Meg) – Truth Network - Washington DC

 

I walk in the room and demand, "Both of you two over at the table right now!"

 

Jack responds right away while Maria takes her own sweet time. Once she sets down, I look her in the face and start the confrontation, "Maria, do you like your job here?"

 

She lackadaisically answers, "Yeah it's the best job…"

 

I interrupt her lie with the truth, "You mean the only 'real' job you've had since Iraq and you're getting way over paid! Yeah, I had a PI do a background check on you."

 

Good! She starts getting fired up and now to put her in her place. I continue, "Just so you know, I'm not like Jens, you lay one finger on me and you're going to jail for it. I don't put up with violence against me from anyone. Plus one word from me and you're out on the street again. Do we have an understanding?"

 

I watch her facial expressions as the jail part catches her interest. She replies, "Yes Megan I understand."

 

I look at both of them and recite: "Okay you two, I've known Jennifer Donaldson since we were both young girls so I know a hell of a lot more about her than either of you. I know she's been in love with Ben Blaine for as long as I can remember." I look at Jack and continue, "Jack, I know when she gave him the pencil he still carries everywhere. We entered your house together and left Ben the 'Navy Cross' drawing. We also know about all the women Anna kept trying to set him up with."

 

I glance at Maria and say, "And I know all about how Jens used your name in a failed attempt to seduce Ben. I think it's funny as hell you ended up as her aide." I glance back at Jack, "And I know how her bastard father assigned you and Ben to the spooks after that terrible night and I even know most of your missions."

 

Jack's mouth falls open and he exclaims, "Shit! That was you two that broke into my house. And you can't know about those missions, because they 'never happened'."

 

I grin at them and reply, "Jack, you forget, she's one of the best computer hackers in the world. If there was ever any mention of one of your missions on any computer, she found it. Besides, it's not like it's hard to figure out what you guys did, all she had to do was trace where you guys went and then check for the bodies left behind. Because, dead men do indeed tell tales and you two left too many tales."

 

I was waiting for it and Maria says, "So why are you telling all of us this bullshit?"

 

I smile, "I wanted to establish my credentials and to illustrate to you the reason I am here." I glare at Maria and pronounce, "Unlike you Maria, I am not here for the money. In fact coming here has cost me my practice and my medical license because the stupid board felt it was a 'conflict of interest' for me to take her as a patient. By the way, neither of you are to tell Jens about this fact." I look Jack deep in the eyes, "And unlike you Jack, I am not here to assuage my guilt. The guilt you wrongly feel for letting Jens down on the failed rescue mission for Ben."

 

I take a deep breath, and say, "I am here to help Jens, the best friend I've ever had. Both of you need to get your heads out of your asses and make it your priority to help Jens too! If you can't do that then get the hell out of here right now."

 

Maria voices her opinion (I knew she would be the first), "Megan, Jack already cussed me out about the piss-poor job I was doing. I've been thinking about it ever since and he was right. I took this job thinking it would be some fast cash and I could teach my princess boss a few things about life. I never thought I'd actually end up liking her as much as I do."

 

I stop her before she openly says something that's detrimental, "Maria, you don't need to say your embarrassed about the bad job you did. Just start doing the best job you can starting right now."

 

It is Jacks' turn as he asks, "Megan, how the hell do I not feel guilty about the failure?"

 

I smile and answer, "That's for you and me to figure out together. Just so you know, you're getting a hell of a deal because most my clients pay over five-hundred for an hour of my time."

 

Maria asks, "Megan how can we help Jens the most?"

 

I smile at them and respond, "You two might not like this, but for right now and until Jens is mentally stable again, I'm taking over as the boss of this team. You two are to do anything and everything you can think of to help Jens. Maria, you need to make sure she takes care of her basic needs like eating and sleeping and bathing. In fact tomorrow when she wakes up you and she are going to a salon and getting a makeover. Then you are going to do something about this terrible 'office.' This place is like a dungeon! It's an office so it needs some girly stuff in here."

 

Maria complains, "Megan, I'm not sure how to do this crap!"

 

I laugh, "Well then I guess you'll need to motivate Jens to teach you how to do some of it. You also need to call her friend Liz because she knows all about stuff like this."

 

I continue, "And Jack, you and I need to sit down and have a long talk about Ben. I agree he has PTSD, but I want to know more about why it's so bad. And finally, all information you find regarding Ben needs to come to me first. We have to filter what Jens hears until she's healed."

 

Maria interrupts, "Shit, I forgot! I have Ben's medical records from Walter Reed."

 

That surprises the hell out of me since they don't let those out of the hospital. I look at her and raise an eyebrow, "Oh really, how were you able to get those?"

 

She grins and answers, "I was very resourceful."

 

Jack says, "Shit I almost forgot too and this is important as hell."

 

I ask, "Is this what you were going to tell her in the gym?"

 

He says, "Hell yes! Liz has a set of twin female body guards named Mira and Ira. I'll know better when I see them, but I'm almost totally sure that Mira knows and was (and possibly still is) in love with Ben."

 

I look at Jack in disbelief and say, "Jack, we need to know all about this right now!"

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

I'm not sure what Ira did when she was gone, but the minute she came back into the room, Mira was in a huge hurry to leave. And with Sam being dead in the other room, it was a good idea. I was confused when we headed out the back door, instead of the usual front entrance. And I’m even more confused when we jump into a panel van. I finally ask, "Mira or Ira what the he…" I looked at Alexi and change what I am going to say, "What the heck is going on?"

 

Ira laughs, "Ms. Morgan, Alexi is not fluent in English so you are safe verbalizing some swear words around him." She comes over and gives me a huge hug; Mira follows and Alexi tags along. "We disremembered in all the excitement to thank you for reuniting us with Alexi. We are clandestinely departing the Embassy in hopes that those in the government who are observing us will become discombobulated."

 

I question, "Does this mean we are going to get Ben's adopted sisters and the gold?"

 

Mira replies, "Once we are perfectly certain we are no longer being observed we will retrieve the girls and the gold. However, that is only half of the equation."

 

Ira adds, "Yes we will still have to discover a way to extricate them from our country."

 

Mira finishes, "Plus we will then need to find a place where your jet can retrieve us."

 

I look at the three of them and exclaim, "Mira and Ira this is about the worst half-baked plan I've ever heard of."

 

Ira says, "Ms. Morgan, our plan does not require culinary arts."

 

I laugh, "No Ira, it doesn't, what I mean is you two really don't have a plan on this at all and are just trying to figure something out. Now I've been thinking about this, and here's my plan." I know that Mira and Ira are going to hate my plan before I even reveal it to them.

 

Present – Ira and Mira – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

After Ms. Morgan describes her plan, I look at Mira and ask, "Mira, is she completely crazy?"

 

Mira gives me a serious look and answers, "Ira, her plan has moderate merit and with minor modifications to secure her safety, the plan is viable."

 

As I wonder if my sister has also been infected with Ms. Morgan's insanity, I accuse, "Mira, are you also mentally challenged right now?"

 

Mira giggles, we have a deep discussion about her minor modifications, I crimson and realize I have been the slightly mentally challenged one. I tell Ms. Morgan, "Ms. Morgan, Mira and I have discussed your plan and we will allow it with a few minor modifications."

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

When I tell Mira and Ira my plan, they have a heated discussion - it's the closest I've ever seen to them having a fight with each other and it makes me wonder what the hell is going on with the two of them.

 

Finally they come to a consensus and Ira tells me, "Ms. Morgan, Mira and I have discussed your plan and we will allow it with a few minor modifications."

 

What the fuck! They will allow it! I start to get pissed at them for that comment but decide I'll listen to the 'minor modifications' first, "Okay Ira, tell me what we need to change."

 

After hearing the twins' changes, I decide it's now an even better plan. I answer, "Okay, you two, I agree with the changes." I pull out my mobile phone and make the call.

 

Present – Zarika and Yasmeen – Tajikistan

 

Zarika

We are prisoners! I think the man with no tongue and who could not speak was very upset at us after our last fight. He separated 'Yasmeen the annoying' and me. He then put a leg chain on her to the far wall of the cell and one on my leg on the wall away from her. We could no longer reach each other. But it was worse than ever because now 'Yasmeen the annoying' throws insults at me all day long. Finally I get tired of it so throw something back at her!

 

Yasmeen

As usual, this was all Zarika's fault. If she would accept her lowly place as my slave and footstool then things would be perfect. But no! She thinks she is good enough for Ben! Ha! She is nothing but a durack6!  Now the terrible man with no tongue who can not speak has us chained up to opposite sides of our cell. But at least she can not beat me when I tease her which I do all day long. I yell a new insult, "Zarika the zit faced!"

 

6 Fool in Russian, rhymes with barack.

 

Then she does a terrible thing: She, she she, picks up the pot she uses for the toilet and throws it at me. It is very full and gets all over me. She yells, "Now you are 'Yasmeen the stinky' and smell like poop!"

 

I start to cry because Zarika is so very mean to me. The man with no tongue and who can not speak comes in because of all the noise and is more upset than ever. He holds his nose and makes motions like I should clean and change my clothes. I make motions to tell him that Zarika did it. He scolds her very much, hands Zarika a note and leaves, I ask, "What does the note say?"

 

Zarika

The note is very good news! The best news I could ever have! And unfortunately I have to share it with 'Yasmeen the stinky.' But not before I make her pay. I yell back, "Read it yourself." Then crumpled the note, throw it at her and began to get ready!

 

Yasmeen

Zarika, threw the note at me, I opened it and complain, "Hey I can't read this, it's in Tajik!"

 

She laughs and very nastily replies, "That is too bad for you because it is a very good note."

 

I watch her carefully and notice she is getting ready – it looks like to leave – so I tease, "I bet it says that the man with no tongue who can not speak is finally moving you to a dungeon where you belong!"

 

She replies, "You are wrong again 'Yasmeen the stinky'."

 

I think for a minute then tease, "Oh yeah, I bet you can't even read it!"

 

She laughs and answers, " You are wrong again 'Yasmeen the stinky'."

 

Zarika delights in torturing me. I keep asking her for an hour what the note says, and she keeps insulting me. Oh! I hate it when she gets this way! If I could reach her I would beat her on the head with a stick!

 

Zarika

This is very fun! I just wish I could keep it up for days. 'Yasmeen the stinky' hates it when I have information she doesn't. I wish I could keep from her what the note says, but the nice ladies order me to tell Yasmeen. And after trying to fight many times with them, I know it is not good to disobey one of their orders.

 

I look at the clock on the wall and know I must unfortunately tell 'Yasmeen the stinky' what the note says. It will be very fun to watch her scramble when I do, because she will not have much time.

 

Yasmeen the stinky yells, "Zarika, you had better tell me what the note says!"

 

I tease, "Yasmeen the stinky! I will tell you if you promise me you will act like a good little second wife!"

 

Yasmeen

Zarika is forcing me to promise her I will be a good second wife before she tells me what the note says! She is so stupid. She still does not realize I have no problem lying to a suka7 like her. I lie, "I am sorry Zarika. I promise you I will be a good second wife if you tell me what the note says."

 

7 Bitch

 

Zarika

'Yasmeen the stinky' is going to be very surprised. She also thinks I do not understand she is lying to me about being a 'good second wife.' But I know she is like the back leg of a dog!

 

I smile at her and say, "'Yasmeen the stinky' second wife, the note says many very good things: First it says the Liz lady will be here in twenty minutes to take us to America to meet my Ben. Next it says we need to be cleaned up and totally packed, and finally the nice ladies order us to stop fighting otherwise the Liz lady might not take us with her." Then I add a little lie of my own, "I almost forgot, it also says you need to act like an obedient second wife."

 

She answers with surprise, "Zarika, the Liz lady will be here when?"

 

I smile, "In less than twenty minutes now! You had better hurry second wife!" It is very fun to watch her start rushing to get ready, since she does not know which to do first: To pack, to finish cleaning up, or to try to make herself pretty. I sit on my cot and watch, and it is like watching a circus.

 

Present – Liz – Tajikistan, picking up the girls

 

We take the panel van to the jet where Mira, Ira, Alexi and I make a big production of getting on the jet. We know the jet is being watched and we want to make sure they know we are on board. The instant we are away from prying eyes, we jump into action. I order the pilot to file a flight plan back to America and get the plane serviced.

 

He complains, "But it's already been serviced."

 

I answer, "Mira and Ira think the food they brought on board was tainted. So I want all the food they furnished taken away. We will use the emergency rations until we get back to the States."

 

He knows better than to argue and responds, "No problem. I will request the service immediately. It will probably take them about an hour to get here though."

 

I continue, "As soon as they are gone, I want you to take off." Then I head back and start getting ready.

 

Finally the service vehicle arrives at the back door.

 

Present – Ira – Tajikistan, picking up the girls

 

Ms. Morgan did formulate a very good plan to extract the girls and gold from Tajikistan. The only problem was she left herself without enough protection, so we modified her plan.

 

First I phone Victor (he is the man the girl's referred to as 'the man with no tongue who can not speak') who is taking care of the girls and dictate a message to deliver to the girls. It is imperative they are ready to leave as soon as Ms. Morgan arrives, and it is even more imperative they do not contend with each other. If they do Ms. Morgan is wise enough to ascertain our plans. But the girls are more motivated to reach America and Ben than they are to kill each other. Once they reach America, they will have a common foe to fight.

 

Ms. Morgan orders the jet serviced again. When the service vehicle comes to the back door, I am waiting. As the serviceman comes onto the jet, I temporarily disable him, strip him of his stinky clothing and get into them myself.

 

I walk over to Mira and Alexi and say, "Mira, take good care of our new-found brother, I will see both of you very soon."

 

Mira answers, "Take care my sister, I love you and will miss you!"

 

Alexi adds, "Even though we just met, I also will miss you!"

 

We share a wonderfully long hug, I kiss them both on their cheeks and Ms. Morgan, Bernie and I proceed into the service vehicle and close the jet door.

 

As I climb down into the cab of the vehicle, the driver looks strangely at me so I pull a pistol on him and order, "Do not do anything unwise. Just drive away like you normally would." He proceeds away from the jet and I continue, "Take us to where we can observe the departure of the jet."

 

We wait and watch for the jet to safely depart. I think of how this time I am envious of my sister Mira. I wish I was the maternal one and was tasked with taking care of Alexi instead of retrieving the infantile girls. They both annoy me to an extreme amount and I constantly fight the urge to give them serious instruction with my practice katana. Even though we are twins, we still have minuscule divergences. Mira is the nurturer and has for many years desired to raise babies – I think that desire impregnated her when she spent those unfortunate two weeks with Ben Blaine at the school. And while Mira is a most excellent warrior, I am the consummate warrior between the two of us because I do not contain the frailty of compassion which she does.

 

I watch as the jet rolls out to the runway and wish my sister good luck!

 

Now I must safely stow Ms. Morgan and Bernie while I perform one super-secret mission which I have not even shared with Mira! Then I will have to deal with the infantile girls!

 

Present – Mira – Tajikistan, leaving on a jet plane

 

I am only slightly sad this time as I leave my sister because it is my joyful duty to attend to the needs of our new brother Alexi – after all I am the maternal one. I daydream how, if the young L.Cpl. Blaine and I had trained, our own boy might have been just a few years younger than Alexi. But I still have my hopes to produce his baby!

 

I still find it hard to believe we have had a brother all these many years and the Beast, the most odious Beast kept him from us. We both owe Ms. Morgan an extreme debt of gratitude for finding him for us.

 

The jet finally leaves the ground so I can relax. I giggle slightly thinking about how sneaky Ms. Morgan was. Alexi asks, "What is so funny my sister?"

 

I smile at him. He is such a brave boy and reminds both of us of Papa and I answer, "Alexi, I was just laughing about how Ms. Morgan presented you to us. She was very sneaky." Yes he is very brave, just like Papa. Most boys his age would have been terrified with all he had endured. But he was strong and curious and very intelligent. He had already ascertained he was not the birth child of his parents and had dreamed his whole short life of how he would be reunited with his family.

 

Alexi responds, "Yes it was surprisingly sneaky, but I was able to persuade Ambassador Clark to tell me what was happening. Still when I saw you and Ira were my sisters, at first I was a little afraid."

 

I hug him tightly and say, "Alexi, we are family. There is one thing Ira and I do the best, and that is take care of family."

 

He questions, "And Ms. Morgan is also my family?"

 

I stroke his hair and respond, "Yes my curious brother! Ira and I and now also you have her as our adopted sister. However we do not always tell her everything and you need to learn to do the same."

 

Alexi leans his head against my shoulder and states, "My sister, I already miss Ira and Ms. Morgan. When will we see them again?"

 

I reply, "It will be very soon and they will also have two additional girls with them. The girls are adopted sisters of a very good friend of mine."

 

He snuggles with me and says, "So then we could call this an adoption flight?"

 

I smile at his comment - yes this could be called an adoption flight. I could snuggle with him forever, but there is one item I need to attend to first. I explain to Alexi, "My brother, I must leave you to give the pilots some important instructions and will return posthaste."

 

He responds, "Mira, I do not want to be alone, might I come along?"

 

I stand up, put out my hand and say, "Come Alexi, but please do not interfere with what I tell the pilot."

 

We walk up to the flight deck, I knock on the door, the co-pilot comes to the door and asks, "Is there something you all need?"

 

I respond, "Yes, we need to perform an unscheduled stop."

 

He gives me a look and says, "Liz Morgan will need to approve this."

 

I grin and inform him, "She is not on the plane right now."

 

He glances into the passenger cabin for verification and asks, "It's just the two of you, where did everyone else go?"

 

I respond, "She will tell you when she meets us. I also need access to the flight deck."

 

He yells back over his shoulder and asks the captain, "Hey Henry, Liz and Ira aren't on board and Mira and her brother want to come onto the flight deck, is that okay with you?"

 

I don't hear him, but the co-pilot lets us in and I explain, "Gentlemen, Ms. Morgan, my sister Ira and Bernie are performing a clandestine mission and we are to pick them up at an 'abandoned' air field between Novosibirsk and Barnaul Russia. But we also need to make sure we are not followed."

 

The captain says, "Damn! Good thing I'm used to this sort of stuff from Liz. Just let me know where we need to go." I inform him of the coordinates, he punches them up on his flight computer and responds, "Are you sure you want us to land there, it's been decommissioned for years."

 

I assure him, "The runways are still viable however there are no services."

 

He adds, "Won't we need clearance to land in Russia?"

 

I respond, "If the co-pilot would be so kind as to let me temporarily take his seat…" He moves out of the way, I sit down and instruct everyone, "What you are going to see me do - you are never to repeat to anyone. Do you all understand?"

 

They all, even darling Alexi respond affirmatively. I reach over, punch some buttons on the flight transponder and place it in test mode, then I command, "Captain, if you be so kind as to turn the plane one hundred degrees to the right and stay on this course for the next thirty minutes."

 

He complains, "I'll do it, but do you know which country this is taking us over? If there are any problems, you're taking the blame."

 

I smile and answer, "Captain, there will not be any issues."

 

Thirty minutes later, I punch some commands into the flight transponder then reactivate the computer and say, "Captain, you may now safely take us to the previous coordinates."

 

He look at the computer and laughs, "Yeah, no one is going to bother us now. But just to make sure, I'll give you a call if we have anyone hail us on the radio."

 

I reply, "Yes, please do that. Thank you, Alexi and I are going back to our seats."

 

I can tell Alexi has many questions, but he patiently waits until we are seated before he inquires, "Sister Mira, would you tell me what you just did on that box?"

 

I smile at him and reply, "Certainly Alexi, that box is called a flight transponder and it tells the air traffic controllers which plane is which. I turned it off and we changed the direction we flew and then I changed the identity of this jet."

 

He quickly asks, "So my sister, what is the new identity of our jet?"

 

I giggle at his curiosity and reply, "We are now flying as Mikhail Prokhorov who is..."

 

He interrupts, "I know him. He's a very rich and important man."

 

I add, "But did you know your sister and I filed a false flight plan for his jet which corresponds with the route we are taking."

 

He smiles and answers, "Ms. Morgan may be sneaky, but my twin sisters are even sneakier."

 

I hug him close and say, "Yes Alexi, we had to learn how to be very sneaky." I stroke his hair, he drifts off to sleep and so do I. I also have wonderful dreams of having Ben's babies - if things work out right…

 

Present – Thom – Rogue mission - Washington DC

 

On the way to my first meeting, I decide to stop by a store to pick up a laptop computer, and I'm sure as hell happy I did. Because I strike gold with my first contact since he has high speed internet. I ask him to leave the room, access the TSIFFTS InfoBase on the new laptop and download everything I need for my current and final mission.

 

I thank my 'friend' and head off with the information to create my lone wolf mission plan. Damn! I miss the hell out of the guys and wonder what the hell, and how the hell they're doing! I even miss Hammer!

 

Present – Erast (Ben) – On the road – Fredrick MD

 

I enumerate, to Stacey, the list of items we must perform:

"One – We find a hideout and get you off the street.

 Two – We do something about your appearance.

 Three – We create a new identity for you.

 And Four – We teach you how to become your new identity."

 

As we walk down the street, she inquires with an excellent Russian accent, "Erast, there's a nice hotel where we can stay."

 

I stutter, "St, St, Stacey, that hotel will never do because you are presently too noticeable."

 

She replies, "Yes, I guess you're right. So where are we going?"

 

I respond, "We will take bus number eleven to a less desirable part of town, where we will find accommodations." And I add, "You need to come up with a new name for yourself."

 

Present – Stacey (Anastasia) – On the road – Fredrick MD

 

I am still amazed at the transformation of Ben Blaine into Erast Petrovich Fandorin and surreptitiously glance at him as we walk. He asks me to come up with a new name for my new identity and I quickly reply, "Erast, I think I would like to be Anastasia Liza Fandorin. It's the only fitting name for me!"

 

Erast replies, "Th, th, that is a very good name because it fits within the gambit of my name."

 

We continue to walk and I continue my glances. He finally stops, looks at me and stutters, "Anastasia, is something wrong? You keep glancing at me when you think I am not looking. Please tell me, with our last names matching, you are not considering a romance with me."

 

I blush and berate him, "Erast, romance is the furthest thing from my mind! I chose the same last name so we can travel as brother and sister. I keep glancing at you because you've really become Erast Petrovich Fandorin."

 

He smiles at me, "Yes Anastasia, that is my name and who I am. We will teach you how to become your name. Your first lesson is, when you speak English, is to be very careful with using contractions and you also sometimes drop your Russian accent."

 

I blush because he is right and again I'm – I mean I am very lucky to have been on the same bus with him.

 

Present – Erast (Ben) – On the road

 

I worry when Anastasia keeps glancing at me that she is considering a romantic interlude, which carries zero interest for me. Because Ben Blaine has become Erast Petrovich Fandorin and Ms. Donaldson has transformed (in my mind) to Elizaveta von Evert-Kolokoltseva, my first wife whose life ended tragically, I am still very heartbroken from my loss and it will take many years until my life is healed enough to allow love back in.

 

So I confront her and it pleases me when Anastasia informs me she has zero romantic interest in me, but she makes several mistakes with her character. She will need to become better with her portrayal, otherwise we will be apprehended. So I correct those mistakes and we continue our dialog while we walk.

 

I ask, "Tell me Nastya, about our family life together in Mother Russia?"

 

She responds, much more precise this time, "Erast, you know better than to refer to me by my familiar name! I prefer that everyone call me Anastasia."

 

I smile because she is learning the application of her character, "Yes, Anastasia, you still have not told me about or life together as brother and sister in Russia."

 

Present – Stacey (Anastasia) – On the road – Fredrick MD

 

Erast calls me by the familiar name Nastya, which is uncouth sounding. It may have been fine while I was a young girl, but not for a young lady so I correct him. Then he wants to know about our childhood together in Russia. I hesitate with my answer and he scolds, "Anastasia, when a question similar to this is asked, you must be immediately ready to answer."

 

I decide two can play this game so I respond, "Yes Erast, you are correct. So tell me about our childhood together in Russia."

 

I am shocked when he immediately weaves an enchanting tale of our life together, full of fun, childhood love and tragedy. I am so mesmerized by the story, I have not been paying attention to our environment. Erast shocks me when he laughs and comments, "Anastasia, make sure you clean your shoe, before you enter our flat."

 

I look down and realize I have just stepped in dog poo and angrily respond, "Erast, it's just like you to let me do something like this."

 

He laughs and teaches, "Next time when someone is telling you something interesting, do not become so focused you lose sight of your surroundings. Now tell me, do you remember any of the turns we took to arrive here?"

 

I look around and suddenly realize we are in a very seedy part of town. I shudder, again thankful I am with Erast, look down and pronounce, "Erast, I am sorry, I was not paying attention."

 

He raises my head and says, "Lizadacheck, do not fret. I remember them all! Come we are at our home for the next few days."

 

I look at the front of the hotel where we are standing and visibly shudder because it does not look like a place I am going to enjoy. Erast notices and stutters, "Lizadacheck, do not be concerned with this hotel. Remember 'Всяк глядит, да не всяк видит!' Just follow me and stay in character."

 

          Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it!

 

We walk inside and Erast is right: From the outside this place looks like a dump, but on the inside, it is very quaint, neat and clean. I inquire, "Эраст, как Вы знали эту гостиницу, был настолько хорош внутр?"

 

Erast, how did you know this hotel was so nice inside?

 

He laughs, "Анастасия, которая проста. Я смотрел в окне. Shall we take a room?"

 

          "Anastasia, that is simple. I looked in the window."

 

I scold myself because I not only do not remember walking here, I also don't remember seeing him look in the window. Erast is very correct: I need to pay greater attention to my surroundings.

 

I kibitz on his conversation with the hotel desk clerk, "Excuse me Sir, my sister and I require a room with two beds for several days."

 

The desk clerk looks at us and apologizes, "Sorry son, but all we have are rooms with single queen beds."

 

Erast responds, "Do you have any folding beds which we might use?"

 

The clerk shakes his head and responds, "No sorry we don't." I can tell Erast is thinking of leaving, but it is getting late, I am hungry and I do not relish the thought of walking around this time of night.

 

I step up and say with my 'Russian' accent, "Erast that is fine since one of us can sleep in the chair or on the floor."

 

He smiles and tells the clerk, "Then we will take your room. However should a room become available with two beds we would like an opportunity to change rooms."

 

The clerk says, "Sign the register and it will be fifty dollars a night, paid in advance." Erast pays him and the clerk continues, "I hate to tell you, but the elevator's broken so you need to take the stairs. I also notice it looks like you've been roughed up some - you'd better be careful because this area of town isn't the friendliest to foreigners."

 

Erast humbly responds, "Thank you kind sir. Is there a store close by where we can purchase some essentials and also a quick food restaurant?"

 

The clerk laughs, "Son, I think you mean a fast food restaurant. There is one two blocks down on the left. And across from it is a Greenwalls store." Then he admonishes, "Just remember, there's no cooking allowed in the rooms."

 

Erast thanks the clerk and we head up the stairs to our room.

 

When we get to our room, Erast behaves in a most peculiar way! He opens the door to our room, quickly shuttles both of us inside and commands, "Анастасия, пожалуйста стойте прямо здесь, не перемещайте и ничего не касайтесь."

 

"Anastasia, please stand right here, do not move and do not touch anything."

 

I inquire, "Эраст, что Вы делаете?

 

"Erast, what are you doing?"

 

He responds, "Лизадачэкк, не говорите, я проверяю комнату на ошибки

 

"Lizadacheck, do not speak, I am checking the room for bugs."

 

I shudder, wondering what sort of hotel Erast has chosen for us, and worry about getting bedbug bites. But he is not looking at the bed, he is looking at the furniture and the walls, especially the wall vent across from the bed. He turns and grins at me, then pulls a chair over the vent. He then takes a multitool off his belt, removes the vent and points to a camera hiding inside, finally I understand – it is electronic bugs he's looking for and I feel much better.

 

He disables the camera and says, "Теперь проверять ванную."

 

"Now to check the bathroom."

 

I patiently wait for him to finish, then he returns and announces, "Anastasia I am finished. Most of these inexpensive hotels have secret surveillance in the rooms and I did not want videos of us showing up in the internet. Now it is time for your job."

 

I inquire, "Erast, what is my job?"

 

He sets down his backpack, opens it up, pulls out a flashlight and says, "I am going shopping for us and you need to use this special flashlight to scan the room. It will show you if there are any bedbugs or residual bodily fluids left on the bedcovers. If you do find either one, then we will ask the desk clerk for a new room. What would you like for dinner?"

 

At the mere mention of food, my stomach grows. I blush and say, "Erast, I would like a big hamgerbur8, fries and a chocolate milk shake."

 

8 Hamgerbur – typical way for Russians to pronounce hamburger.

 

He grins and I know he understood why I said hamburger the way I did. He simply replies, "I will see you later my sister." Then he opens up his backpack, pulls out what looks like a miniature double barrel shotgun, hands it to me and asks, "Have you ever fired a handgun?"

 

I open the breech, confirm it is loaded and reply, "Yes I can shoot well. But I have never seen a handgun like this."

 

Erast responds, "Lizadacheck, this is a twelve gauge derringer, you will not have to be very accurate if you fire it. You will however need to hold it very tight or it will damage your hand. If anyone comes to the door besides me, do not let them into the room. If you must use this derringer, take all your belongings and exit the room to the fire escape. Call a cab and I will meet you at the same museum in the morning. Now I must go and purchase some items. Are there any necessities you need for this evening?"

 

I smile and respond, "Just my brother coming back safely and quickly to our room."

 

He smiles, leaves and locks the door behind him. I think to myself how happy I am right now and what a wonderful adventure I am having: Grandmamma would have loved for me to tell her all about this one.

 

Present – Ben (Paulo) – On the road – Fredrick MD

 

I close our hotel room door, pull my hat down lower over my head and let Erast's personality slip away from me. The desk clerk was right: a Russian man at night in this neighborhood would attract more attention than Ben Blaine right now. But I am now Paulo Roberto Fernandez because being closer to a Latino in this neighborhood is more beneficial for my disguise. I practice my limp as I head down the stairs and out into the night.

 

Present – Stacey (Anastasia) – On the road – Fredrick MD

 

I take the flashlight Erast gave me, turn off the lights in the room and check the heck out of everything. The last thing I want is to be bitten again by bedbugs. That happened once in a supposed 'fine' hotel Grandmamma and I stayed at. I remember waking up in the morning and having a bunch of red dots on me, I ran into Grandmamma's room because I thought I had measles. She took one look at me, checked herself and found the bites on her and then she taught me how to punish a hotel for things like this.

 

I don't find any traces of bedbugs or nasty, dirty sheets, so I turn on the TV sit on the bed and wait for Erast to get back with the food.

 

I guess I fell asleep, because the next thing I know, someone I don't recognize is opening the door! I dive to the far side of the bed, bring up the derringer and yell, "If you come any closer! I will shoot you!"

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