Part 28 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)
Through half closed eyes I saw the door swing open behind the vengeful cop and a pair of black shoes come into view. Unaware of this he pulled back his fist even as he continued his tirade, "You know what else, newspaperman? Bringing you two in just might get me a promotion."
The butt of a pistol slammed into the back of his head. He slumped face first onto the floor next to me and didn't move.
"It's scum like you that gives even the dirty cops a bad name!" Sergeant Brock O'Day's voiced boomed over the fallen officer. He kicked the man's revolver across the room. He bent over and touched his finger against the carotid in the man's neck and announced with a sense of disappointment, "He'll live, but he's going to have one hell of a headache when he comes to."
"You sure have a flair for the dramatic," I uttered. He helped me into a sitting position. I shifted to my right so that I could see past him and called out to the other victim of the unconscious officer's brutality, "Susan! Are you okay?"
"I will be," she moaned. "Get me out of these handcuffs so I can put some clothes on!"
Brock grabbed the key ring from the officer's belt and moved in her direction. Trying to keep his eyes averted from her nude body, he picked up her pants and blouse and placed them over her. He unlocked the cuffs and walked back to the other side of the room. He knelt by the subdued cop and proceeded to handcuff his hands behind his back.
"Promotion? Ha!" he said followed by a string of four letter words. "If you're not kicked off the force, you'll be lucky if you're not issuing parking citations!"
By that time Susan was dressed and I had joined her across the room. "I know he's getting what he deserves," I said to O'Day, "but you're cuffing a fellow officer?"
His mouth stretched into a broad grin as he replied, "He doesn't know what hit him or by whom. He won't find out unless either of you or both want to file charges against him."
I shook my head, "Not with the Boston Police force looking to arrest me on murder charges!"
Susan walked over to the prone figure and said, "We didn't see anything, Sergeant. And you didn't see this." She swung her leg back and brought it forward with all the strength she could muster into the cop's ribcage. Satisfaction showed on her face and looking down upon him she growled, "Take that you filthy pig!"
"Good show, miss!" O'Day proclaimed. He looked over at me and said, "I just had a brilliant idea. Ben, would you care to help me carry out the garbage?"
I chuckled and replied, "I think I know where you're going with this. I like it."
After rolling him onto his back, the sergeant slipped his hands under the man's arms and I picked up his feet. Susan must have realized what we were up to because she had covered her mouth in attempt to stifle a fit of laughter. She followed us down the back stairs and held the back door open as we carried the cop onto to the landing. We began swinging his body back and forth in order to pitch him over the railing and into the waiting trash dumpster.
Susan called out, "Wait. Don't you think we should gag him first?" She didn't wait for our answer but commenced to stretch her torn thong over his head. She giggled as she strategically positioned the crotch over his mouth and pulled it tight. She stepped back and watched as he went sailing into the dumpster.
"You know," said Brock, "I hope I'm down at the precinct when he tries to explain how he ended up in that same dumpster again and cuffed with his own hardware."
Susan was having trouble to control her giggling, "What about explaining the gag - a woman's thong?"
Once we were back in Jimmy's apartment he stood by the door and addressed me, "What's up, anyway? It was your dime."
"Lately I've developed this interest in Lepidopterology and I thought maybe you could help me out with it," I said to him.
"Lepidop ... what?" he muttered.
"Butterflies, Brock," I responded. There was a confused look on his face so I dug a little deeper, "Small brightly colored butterflies."
If he sensed at all where I was going he didn't let on but was still wearing a mask of confusion. "What in the hell is all this babbling ... about butterflies?"
"It seems that there has been a sudden appearance of a certain rare species in these parts. They tend to hide in warm and dark places. They are not native to New England, and I've learned that they are indigenous to only a certain area of Southeast Asia, Vietnam in particular." The puzzled look on his face appeared genuine enough and since I'd already inserted the knife I saw that I was going to have to twist the handle. "Apparently those little winged insects were revered as fertility symbols by the native peoples. They even tattooed their women on a certain private part of their anatomy with likenesses of them."
His face paled and his jaw lowered. "How in the hell did you find out about that?" he asked. His head bobbed with revelation, "I should have known something was up when Old Gravedigger showed up in town."
"Old Gravedigger?" I queried.
"General Julius Albright Graves," he answered. "He was in command of the Special Forces Unit Jimmy and I were assigned to when we were first shipped over there. We'd barely had time to even work up a sweat from the heat and humidity of the jungles when the general hand-picked us and ten other men for a highly classified mission he called Operation Penetration."
"A quaint double entendre if ever there was one," I noted.
He ignored my quip and continued, "We never knew the exact nature of our mission. Each of us had specific jobs to do and we seldom knew what jobs were given the others. Individually we were all given direct orders not discuss those jobs with anyone, not even with the other men in our unit. That was left to a second team, a group of civilians, one of whom who seemed to be in charge of the whole shebang.
General Graves, like most high ranking officers, was not exactly thrilled to be taking orders from a civilian. It didn't help that the man he was to take orders from was British either. I once overheard them in a heated exchange and Graves told King that if he took care of the research side of things and he took care of all things military, they'd get along just fine."
"King? And he was from England?" I asked.
"Yeah, that's right. Winthrop Bishop King, Esquire, a snooty stuck on himself Limey," he replied. He moved over to a desk in the corner of the room. "Jimmy had a picture of him somewhere. Ah, here it is."
He handed the framed photograph to me. It was a snapshot of four men standing next to a jeep. I recognized General Graves, Jimmy and Brock. The fourth must have been Winthrop Bishop King. I froze as I studied the man's image. "It can't be ..." I uttered.
Brock scratched his head, a querulous look on his features, "You recognize him? How could you? King would have to be well into his eighties by now, and that's if he's even still alive."
"If I didn't know this photograph was over forty years old, I'd swear that this man is Bishop King, the owner of the Globe newspaper."
"What? Give me that!" he snapped and grabbed the object from my hand. He positioned the photo closer to a lamp on the desk. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" he exclaimed. He looked up and said further, "I've seen pictures of the owner of your newspaper in the social pages, Ben, but I never made the connection. I mean, I haven't looked at this picture in several years and it was way back in the sixties when I last saw this man. I'd forgotten what he even looked like."
"It's possible he had a son," Susan offered.
"Yes it is possible, Susan. More likely than not, he did," I responded to her observation. "Not much is known about the owner and chairman of the paper. You might say that he's a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of an enigma. He is British, he is very rich and he's a very private person." I looked at O'Day and added, "Brock, if he is indeed the son of the man in this picture, then it appears that he too has an affinity for butterflies."
"Bloody hell!" he vocalized. "I thought I'd put that mess in Vietnam behind me for good. For ten years I had nightmares about our last week over there!" He grew quiet and he stared at Susan for a few minutes before turning to me. "You've actually seen the butterfly tattoos, haven't you?"
My silence and Susan's attempt to hide the blush on her face was an unspoken affirmation to his question. Trying to draw the attention away from her I stated, "What do they signify, Brock?" I cleared my throat, "I made up that crap about fertility symbols so I could broach the subject."
"Ben, my best guess would be that the tattoos were some sort of tag, almost like a brand that ranchers put on their cattle." He heard Susan gasp at the thought and directed his next words to her, "Miss ... Susan, I'm sorry you have to hear this, but once I did hear the general refer to those Vietnamese women as USDA, Grade A."
She shook her head and cried, "What kind of monsters were you? I thought our troops were over there to keep Communism out of South Vietnam." Her hands were in fists at her waist and she was glaring in disgust at him. "Didn't you ever ask yourself, 'Just who is the enemy?'"
Probably because he felt some pangs of guilt, he turned away and uttered, "It might be too much to ask of you, but I think Jimmy and I should be given a little slack."
"Brock, I'm not going to play the pacifist and argue the virtues of moral obligations versus taking direct orders, but I fail to see why you feel you should be given any slack," I declared. "What did the other soldiers do that you and Jimmy didn't?"
He was looking at his hands as if inspecting them for cleanliness but finding them soiled instead, "Jimmy and I had neither a part in it, nor did we witness those women being executed."
(To be continued in part 29 on Friday, 3/6/09, with "To Sir With Lust".)