Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole… Chapter 31 Continued
Chapter 31 – Continued
“And buon giorno to you.”
Laura picked up the tray and turned around to look for Davis. He had found them a table by the wall. The restaurant was already half filled and would soon be packed, just as Vivian had predicted.
“Here we go,” she said. “Oh, could we switch seats? I want to be able to look out of the window.”
“Sure, no problem,” said Davis. They traded places. Davis could see the side door that opened onto the small parking lot and Laura could scan the entire plaza.
As she poured a pink envelope of sweetener into her coffee, Laura’s eyes picked out the good guys and the wise guys.
“Vivian was right. This plaza is overloaded with cops and I see three guys that might be Dominic’s boys and two more over on that bench back by the train. He must have called in reinforcements. I don’t recognize them. Damn!”
The breakfast sandwiches were being served up as fast as the eager teenage crew could construct them. The restaurant, just steps from the Mexican border, was almost filled. Every train that pulled into the plaza sent even more hungry people into the jurisdiction of Mayor McCheese.
Davis was getting more and more worried about trying to cross the border like this. The police and Dominic’s thugs were actually socializing. It’s all just too dangerous, he thought. There had to be a better way.
This is never going to work, he said to himself. Laura is actually smiling. At what? What is there in this mess to smile about?
Laura’s smile grew. She let out a bit of a laugh and slapped the Formica tabletop.
“Davis, my dear, I just realized that we are but two small trees in a very large forest.”
“Look around and tell me what you see?”
He twisted around in his seat and quickly eyeballed the busy restaurant.
“I see a bunch of people eating,” he said, still mystified.
“True, but what about those people? Look again.”
“Uh…I don’t know. A lot of them are wearing red vests and they seem to know each other. Is that it? Is that important?”
“It sure is, Sweetie.” She was beginning to sound like Vivian, she thought.
Laura reached out and tapped the shoulder of a woman in a red vest seated at the next table. “Excuse me, ma’am?”
The woman turned around to see who was calling her. She was about sixty years old, and flashed Laura a wide smile.
Behind her glasses, her eyes twinkled. She would have made a good Mrs. Santa Claus in any department store Christmas display.
“Can I help you?” she said.
“Yes. I hope so. I’m sorry to bother you, but I notice that there are an awful lot of folks here wearing red vests. Are you together? A group of some sort?”
“Why, yes honey.” She grinned and stood up. Mrs. Claus was at least six-feet-four.
“We are all with the San Diego Skyscrapers, a social group for San Diegans of height.”
“Really?” said Laura.
“Yes. Women must be at least six feet tall and men, six-five. We’re on an outing to TJ for the day.”
“Fascinating. Oh, I’m sorry. How rude of me. My name is Laura and this is Davis.”
“Hi, nice to meet you,” said Davis, his eyes moving heavenward, more puzzled than ever.
The woman sat down and picked up her plastic fork.
“Laura, Davis, I’m Billie Jean Kruczek. Are you interested in our group?” She took a bite of her pancakes.
“Very, but not for me though,” said Laura. “I’m not tall enough, but my sister Beverly is six-foot-two. I’ve told you about her, Davis.” Laura nodded to Davis, and smiled at the grandmotherly woman. “Beverly is rather self-conscious about her height.”
“Oh, my. No need to be. We are proud to be tall,” said Billie Jean. She looked around the restaurant like a proud mother hen.
“I can see that. You know, I’d love to talk with you more about this, for Beverly,” said Laura.
“Well, I’m always happy to sing the praises of the Skyscrapers. Are you going over into Tijuana?” she asked.
“Yes, we are.”
“Great. It looks like we’re just about ready to head out. Why don’t you both walk over with me and I can fill you in and maybe, together, we can lure your sister to one of our events?” They all stood up to go. The woman in the red vest towered over both Laura and Davis.
“Thank you, Billie Jean. Beverly would be so happy.” Laura and Davis stayed close to their tall companion.
A tall, very tall, man in a red vest on the far side of the restaurant stood up to make an announcement.
“Skyscrapers? Are we all ready? Yes? Well then, let’s go, and stand tall!”
“Very tall, please,” muttered Laura under her breath.
About forty members of the San Diego Skyscrapers stood up as one, and headed for the door.
“Come on, folks,” said Billie Jean Kruczek. “Let me tell you all about our not-so-little club.”
Laura and Davis were lost inside the stand of tall San Diegans on holiday. Davis involuntarily hunched down, as if it were necessary. From three feet away, they were completely invisible. The FBI and the local Police paid no attention as the Skyscrapers passed in front of them. The two locals that were Dominic’s eyes at the border were sitting on a bench, dozing in the sun. Billie Jean and her new short friends all walked right past Manny, Moe, and Chad. Manny and Moe ignored the group while Chad just giggled like a five-year-old child and pointed at the people in the red vests. The trees were hidden in the forest.
“Dominic, the two local boys have been standing at the border for two days now and ain’t seen squat. She ain’t going to no Mexico.”
“Really? You think so?” said Dominic.
Peeto was stretched out on the sofa in the suite that he and Dominic were sharing. He was still heavily under the influence of the painkillers and feeling better than he had in months. Dominic was pacing back and forth, frustrated that he had to rely on locals to search for his wife. He knew that if he went to the border the FBI would be in his back pocket.
“She’s gone to Hawaii or someplace,” said Peeto, “Canada maybe.”
“The Feds think she’s goin’ to Mexico. The San Diego cops think she’s goin’ to Mexico, and I think she’s goin’ to Mexico. But, you think she’s goin’ to Toronto or someplace. So, that settles it. We’re all wasting our time. Maybe you should be in charge. You think you should be in charge? Tell me, Peeto, do you?”
“No, is right, you idiot. She’s here. I can smell her. I can smell the six hundred grand she stole from me. She’s here and I want my money back. Now, keep those guys watching that border. I want them to find her and bring her to me. Find her so I can put a bullet between those two thieving eyes of hers.”
Peeto had fallen asleep and missed Dominic’s last two sentences.
“Sir, I don’t think she’s coming. At least not through San Ysidro.”
“Maybe you’re right, Markosi,” said Paxton, “but Dominic still has his animals standing there like parking meters. If they spot her, she’s dead meat. So we had better maintain our presence there too.”
“Yes, sir, but maybe we should add a few agents at some of the other crossings further east, toward the desert, and also along the water at Imperial Beach. We know she’s got at least two friends helping her here. They might try to get creative.” Markosi was studying a map of the border area. He could see that the whole frontier was like a sieve. It would be easy to find another crossing point inland or even offshore. Hundreds of small boats crossed back and forth every day.
“You know what bothers me now, Markosi? It’s that shoot ’em up at the shopping mall yesterday. Who was the male with her? He was the one doing all the shooting. Was he with her or the other way around? Did she leave Dominic or was she coerced? Either way, she is now wanted in connection with two dead people.”
Paxton felt that the entire situation was spinning out of control. It made him feel helpless. He had almost lost one of his own the day before. Agent Richey was young and impulsive, but she had good instincts. She also had a family and he didn’t want to have to talk to them.