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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: May 17, 2014      Views: 554
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Chapter 32 of the book The Bard of Bel Air
Plans to get Ruby inside are underway. The compound fills up
"All Roads Lead To the Forest" by michaelcahill

Treason, possible murder and definate intrigue surround a mentally ill homeless man that recites poetry. He has many other talents as well. When money is involved folks lose their heads.

Previously, Sandoval was rescued or re-kidnapped and whisked away. The Chief was being grilled before he could open his mouth. The team has settled in at Harpsters Angeles Forest propery and picked up Lucy's signal. The Winston Compound is nearby. A call from Lucy puts them in action. She has arranged for Ruby to be a translator at the compound. Instructions to make Ruby appear as plain as possible and get her to Lucy's apartment are followed and shortly thereafter everyone involved is on the road. Lucy stops by the Blackwell mansion and observes Junior ready to leave town. She also confers with Lincoln. We continue now as Sandoval is being grilled by his benefactors, if that is what they are.

Before Sandoval could utter a word, the questions began. The older man, dressed in generic military garb, did the asking. "What did you tell them?"
The Chief hadn't even cleared his head and certainly wasn't thinking clearly. He didn't feel rescued, if that is what had just happened. To be honest, he felt re-kidnapped. "I d-d-didn't… tell them… nuthin'"
"Look, I don't have time. What did you tell them? We are here to get you the hell away from these clowns and assess damages. Now, what did you tell them?"
"I swear, I did not tell them anything. I told them that I know nothing. Hey, I wasn't lying. I don't know a damn thing. I just provided some security and helped keep a lid on things. That's all I know and all I've ever known." Sandoval couldn't tell if he was worse off or better off. The men that had taken him from in front of the Bel Air Police Department were not better off. That was plain to see. Sandoval could see about six men scattering into the forested area right behind the building he had exited. There was an old troop transport truck waiting with the engine running. He sat in the middle flanked by the older man on his right and the young driver, who had yet to speak a word. The truck went about a mile and pulled off the road seemingly straight into the forest. A small contingent of men quickly covered the truck with camoflague as Sandoval and the two men exited.
Within a minute or two they returned to the road in a 2003 Prius and soon found their way onto the familiar 5 freeway north bound, destination unknown, at least to the Chief.
Lucy arrived at the Blackwell mansion and knocked on the door. A worried Lincoln answered and a look of relief lit up us face when he saw Lucy standing there. "Well, hello Lucy. I was worried about you. Junior didn't seem to know what had happened to you."
"Well, I guess the brothers don't have those communication lines open. I'm assisting his brother Winston with some family matters. Is he in?" Lucy looked quickly around assessing the atmosphere at the mansion. It seemed business as usual.
"I thought you had resigned when you didn't show up this morning. I hope you have a good excuse for not showing up this morning. You're not dead, so that is one good reason you can't use." Junior didn't add much of a jolly tone to his inquiry.
"I thought that Winston would have cleared things with you. That was my impression anyway. I'm assisting him with some business. He assured me that everything would be taken care of. My apologies. I'm surprised that he would leave you out of the picture. You are the head of the company." Lucy thought a little prodding might produce an angry, ill-advised remark.
"Oh, I see. I've been busy and haven't conferred with him yet. Well, fortunately my secretary is on maternity leave and can fill in with some light baby-sitting when needed. I'll get with Winston later. In the meantime, I will be out of town for a couple weeks. A singer in the Bahamas is creating a great deal of buzz and I want to go see for myself. Take care." Junior looked distraught. Lucy made note of that last remark. Nonesense aside about an island singing sensation, he had clearly made plans to leave the country. The bags by the door confirmed her suspicion. Lincoln made eye contact and nodded towards the bags. He was tipping her off. But, she already had taken a few steps ahead of him.
With Junior out of earshot, Lucy addressed Lincoln, "You okay? If you need to get out of here, then go for it. They don't seem to suspect anything, but you never know."
Lincoln sighed. "I think I am okay. I don't sense anything. Junior is more concerned about his own ass at the moment. His flight is in six hours, I saw the tickets on his desk."
"Okay, I'll be in touch. Just play like you know nothing and everything is status quo. Call if you need me."
Lucy headed towards her apartment hoping that Ruby had already arrived and would be ready to roll. Idiot brothers. One doesn't have a clue what the other is up to. Junior doesn't know a damn thing... Winston doesn't give a damn about Junior... our gain. Okay... Ruby.... be there.
Ruby answered the door. She looked nothing like the dive-esque queen she recalled from the other night. This Ruby transcended beauty. The good news was, she wouldn't be recognized dressed down and with no make-up. Lucy wouldn't have known who answered her door if she hadn't been expecting her.
"Is this plain enough?" Ruby laughed, "We'll see what four years of Mandarin at Grambling will do for us".
"They taught Mandarin at Grambling?" Lucy seemed overly surprised.
"Yeah, but not for the coloreds… they thought I was white!"
They both burst out laughing. Lucy said, "Y'all was serious bout them civil rights, huh?"
"Oh hells yes, missy Lucy. They's seriouser then a mutha. Of course, I don't associate with the poor coloreds; bless their hearts. It's good to be white!" Ruby offered a high-five and Lucy slapped it up high. They laughed halfway to Angeles Forest. Fortunately, no one recorded their conversation. 
"If Winston happens to recognize you or you suspect he does, play it straight forward. You know, hell yes, I'm Ruby Dancer; I'm here to get my share! Winston has a lot of people that are following his paranoid wishes. They tailed me all the way down here. I don't see them now, but who knows?"
Lucy and Ruby continued the journey with little conversation. The lack of dialogue stemmed from their own inner contemplation and not any kind of awkwardness between them. Some people meet and it seems like they have always known each other. Lucy and Ruby shared a bond like that. Ruby had a blindfold on now that they were getting closer to the compound. They both knew the play and prepared to put it in motion.
The car carrying Sandoval would arrive almost simultaneously. Doctor Khin, who know one had seen since Harpster's supposed murder, already sat in conference with Winston. He spoke with a coolness and Winston listened. Winston didn't like listening, but the Doctor's words carried a great deal of weight with him. The Doctor's extensive knowledge of chemical and biological weaponry was a necessity. It also presented a familiar face to the Chinese though Khin's knowledge of the language was limited. Dr. Khin had extensive ties to China and dealt more on a world level when it came to terrorism and weapons supply.
Winston realized the value of Dr. Khin, but did not trust him. Winston didn't trust anyone. Most people that used Benzedrine in the high doses provided by the good doctor could list paranoia as a side effect. Amphetamine addiction resembled schizophrenia to the point that a psychiatrist would be unable to tell the difference. It made for an uneasy liaison and certainly, a risk where business was concerned, but Khin needed control over Winston. Winston in his current state ran the show, but the show was in danger of going off the deep end. Khin didn't run the show, but for all intents and purposes, he ran Winston.
Sandoval was shocked to see Lucy when she pulled up with a blindfolded Ruby. It especially irked him that she appeared to be an insider while he gave every semblance of a prisoner in custody.
Lucy smiled her most contemptuous smile in greeting her former boss, "Look what the cat dragged in. Been a bad boy have we? Better watch your ass here, Chief. This isn't like the girl's camp you run in Bel Air. There are real men here… and real woman too." She stared into his eyes and laughed as he averted his towards the ground. "Don't be shy; I have bigger fish to fry."
Lucy turned and took Ruby into the compound. The Chief stood there seething. A moment later, they escorted him inside.
The Bard took all of this in from about a hundred yards away… and fifty some feet in the air kneeling on the crossed branches of a picture-postcard-like Douglas Fir tree. The Bard slipped down the tree and to the ground as nimbly as a panther. Tenaya waited below for his report.
"It had the shimmering quality of a dream. She emerged into the sunlight and the sun covered its eyes. So spectacular was her beauty that the earth itself sighed at the thought of her upon it." The Bard seemed on edge, but not dangerously so, just ready with all senses on alert.


The book continues with Ruby's New Job. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Everybody is in the area of Winstons Compound now. Heating up. The input is life saving, or story saving at least! Thank you so much. Maybe too many characters and angles. We'll see.


Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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