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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: May 16, 2014      Views: 572
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Chapter 31 of the book The Bard of Bel Air
Lucy's call sets things in motion. Ruby is about recruited.
"The Team Makes Preparations" by michaelcahill

A murder that isn't. Treason. A mentally ill homeless man that knows more than anyone realizes. A rogue team stands between America's secrets and a traitor's desire for cash.

Previously, Lucy handled everything perfectly at the Winston compound. She was tested the moment she walked in the door. She was confronted by one of the mercenaries and his little ploy to embarass her backfired. He landed on top of his cohort in a heap as Lucy smiled and went about her business. Soon thereafter Lucy found herself alone being questioned pointedly by Winston. She came clean about her job on the police force and that turned out to be the smart move. She managed to get an inroad for Ruby to join as a translater. The timing would be critical. Lucy is being tailed by Winston's operatives. She makes a discreet call to Tenaya to give them a heads up and get things rolling for Ruby. We pick up as Winston is about to meet with the Chinese.

Winston rose from his comfortable chair behind his desk and bowed. "Welcome. I trust you had a pleasant trip."
The man in the lavender suit responded, "We are concerned with the news. We don't wish to be in the spotlight. We don't want to be a part of any American sideshow."
"I assure you that whatever happens in Bel Air it has no effect on our business here. If anything, it draws any attention away. That's their circus. It won't affect us." Winston answered.
Winston showed a barely perceptible irritation. Lucy made note of it. They're the ones with the real power. Winston's subservient to them.
The same man in the lavender suit spoke. "Our scientists have verified the effectiveness of the sample. We are interested in acquiring all that you can supply."
"Have you discussed the price with your superiors?"
"The price is acceptable."
The man in the lavender suit began conferring with his partner, a small man who said very little. One of the remarks produced some laughter which the little one quickly stifled and frowned upon. The woman put her hand to her mouth and attempted unsuccessfully to cover a smile. He stood up, shook hands with Winston, gave Lucy a leering glance, and headed towards the door.
Once they were gone, Lucy seized the opportunity. "I don't know very much Chinese, but they have something up their sleeves. I'm surprised you didn't knock that arrogant punk out! You should have a translator in here on the sly. No telling what they are saying. I know just the girl."
"We're on the same page there, Lucy. I didn't like that little tete a tete at all. They'll have a hard time laughing when I blow their heads off. Bring her in. I'm trusting you to follow procedures with her. I don't want people I don't approve of personally knowing where we are. Trust no one. Money does strange things to people, so does fear. I got plenty of both." Winston had a lot of arrogance, but he had smarts too. Lucy's Toyota already had a transponder installed. That happened the second she walked in the door. Winston liked to know exactly where his people were at all times.
A woman named Jennifer showed Lucy to her quarters. This would be home away from home. It reminded her of county jail. There were bunks lined along the wall and most of them looked occupied. "You'll be next to me. We have a window, one of the few in the compound. Jennifer Lansing, call me Jen". She extended her hand in greeting.
Lucy put her bag on the bunk and exchanged a handshake.
Harpster's property in the Angeles Forest had nothing in common with the quaint cabin in the woods that Tenaya had in her mind. It did qualify as a log cabin as the construction consisted of logs, but beyond that, there proved to be no similarity. Opulence rivaling the Blackwell mansion dazzled the eye in all directions. Winston's compound could be reached on foot from the cabin's location. Winston knew that, no one in Harpster's party did.
The Bard looked down from the tree he had climbed. He had to be at least thirty feet up. No one noticed him climbing it. Tenaya burst out laughing when she heard strange bird noises and looked up. The Bard started singing "Rockin' Robin". That put Tenaya to her knees in laughter. He spoke out in an ominous voice:

"I climb the precipice
seeking the eagle's oubliette
if not flight
                then a view
an eagle does not feel risk in flight
or perched on high

I sense danger with
                every step
                                as I push forward
                    the eagle underestimates
my cleverness
my compulsion
my dominion
my dreams
                       an eagle lives a dream
                                but it has none"

Harpster smiled as the words filtered down and out into the forest. As if on cue, an eagle flew overhead in an endless graceful glide. He preferred the company of artists. They understood him, even crazy ones if that is what one would call the Bard. Harpster never did.
The Bard reached the ground in seconds. "The eagle has landed. That's one small step for man, one giant leap of faith. I think I know a secret. The enemy waits nearby with sharpened fangs and pollywog tails. Let the frog giggin' begin… "
Q pointed in a northeast direction. "The signal is over there and it is not far… fairly strong too... no scrambling."
The Bard started doing push-ups and singing "Doo Wah Diddy".
Tenaya joined him and didn't sound half-bad. "They are in trouble ladies and germs", she said.
Harpster looked on in amusement. Diamond and Ruby jumped in as well. They didn't hold back. Harpster shook his head wishing he had recording equipment. It had to be the best version he'd ever heard. He had a perfect video to go along with it too.
In the middle of the break before the storm, Tenaya felt the vibrations of her phone in her front pocket. She waved her arms and made the ssshhhh sound. She mouthed, "Lucy".
"It's me. There's a tail on me. I'm in, but not exactly trusted apparently. You need to get Ruby back to my apartment. We have need for a translator in Mandarin. Have her tone the whole beauty thing way down. Winston doesn't need to see that it's Ruby. Just get real plain, real quick. Go now. I'm stopping at the mansion first. That will give you some time. I need to know what these Chinese are planning. I have a feeling that they are up to something." Lucy spoke and didn't move her head or use her usual hand gestures. Someone following her wouldn't be aware that she had a telephone conversation going on.
"Okay. If it's a go, she'll be there. Plain… got it. Take care." Tenaya went from frivolous fun to deadly serious business just like that. It was time to get down to business.
Tenaya already had everyone's attention. She spoke, "Lucy is in, but Winston is not showing her trust yet. She's being tailed which is going to restrict her movements. She plans to stop by the mansion to buy us some time." She turned to Ruby. "She wants you to translate. She says to tone down the beauty several notches. Look as plain as possible, no makeup, no nothing. She's going to pick you up at her apartment. So, we need to hit the road right now."
Ruby didn't hesitate, "Let's do it".
Diamond wasn't in the big hurry that her daughter seemed to be. "Oh, hell no. There has to be a little conversation about this. This jump-how high routine isn't something we respond to. This is dangerous as hell. Her life is at stake. Harpster, for Christ's sake, this is your daughter. You waited thirty-five years for this. You're seriously going to allow this?"
Harpster smiled. "She is all grown up, Di. She makes her own decisions. I know that you already know that. She's her momma's girl."
Diamond just threw her arms up. She walked over to Ruby and gave her a big hug. "You do what you've gotta do. Everyone here has your back. Be careful. Hear me? Careful."
Five minutes later Q had her in his car on the way to Lucy's apartment. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. She could see that whimsical look that Harpster often had on his face. It is a trait that very few people have. The total lack of fear. It was as though this was all a fantasy and she was going to enjoy the ride. He said, "Having fun yet?"
Despite the gravity of the situation, Ruby managed a little laugh. "It's all part of growin' up. May as well have fun. Besides, that crazy fool has got my back, Jack! I'm a big fan of crazy."
They both laughed. Q said, "The Bard is quite a guy. Harpster has more faith in him than he does even in me. There is a lot of truth in what he says. I just hope that he can hold it together. Mental illness is no joke. I've seen him off the deep end too. I mean way off the deep end. But, my gut tells me that we are all on the right side."
Chief Sandoval felt and looked defeated. He didn't even know if these were official agents or simply hired kidnappers. Two massive explosions threw him back in his chair and to the ground. He heard gunfire outside and inside as well. Through the smoke strode two men that he didn't recognize. One of them bent over and lifted him to his feet. The man looked at Sandoval and said, "Let's go".


The book continues with All Roads Lead To the Forest. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Rolling along. Keep the suggestions coming along with advice and criticism. I listen intently. Thank you so much.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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