April 10, 2024 – On the cruise in Asia and more of the “Bad Seed.”

March 10, 2024

We met the captain and the leaders of the crew tonight. We had a nice dinner and have retired to our room. It’s a good sized room for a ship. It has a television, sliding door and a veranda. The bathroom is as small as you might expect, but everything is very clean and tidy.

We will sail all night. Tomorrow we leave the ship to see the Sleeping Buddha in Java.

The sky is dark grey and seems ominous, but the sea is calm at the moment.

The rain will be with us for some time, it seems.

My wife has packed rain gear, of course. She takes very good care of me.

__________ ______________ ____________ ________

“The Bad Seed”

Jay left his wife, sitting, hypnotized by the news. He had many things to organize to make his plan a success.

Obviously the Corvette wasn’t a great car to use for surveillance purposes. It stood out like his wife did in a group of women. She was exceptional in several ways. There would have to be a different car for this to work.

Jay went on to his computer and found a company that rented “well used’ vehicles that would not be noticed. It wasn’t far from where he thought he might change cars when he needed to. He wrote the number down and then picked up the phone.

He then called his brother Seth at work. Seth managed a supermarket in a large shopping center downtown. Jay thought that with his brother’s help he could set up a simple plan for changing cars as needed.

He dialed his brother’s number and waited until the phone was picked up. A woman answered the phone.

“Dante’s Market, how may I help you?”

“This is Jay, is this Tania?”

“Yes Jay it’s Tania, how may I help you? How are you sweet heart, long time no see. I need to talk with my brother Seth, is he around?”

“Sure, he’s just on another line. I’ll send you over to his phone and he’ll talk to you as soon as he is finished. Where have you been keeping yourself?”

“Just trying to stay out of trouble and playing a little golf with the other old guys in my circle.”

“That doesn’t sound like the Jay I used to know. Just a minute.”

Music came on the line as Jay waited. It was a new and slower version of some 80’s rock song. Jay was trying to remember the original version when his brother came on the phone.

“Hey Jay, how are you doing?”

“I need your help with something important.”

“I don’t have any more spare money to play cards with you guys. My wife is still pissed off at me, thanks to you and your cop buddies the other night.”

“Sorry about that Seth, but I need a different kind of favor.”

“Like what Jay? What kind of trouble are you going to get me in this time?”

“No trouble connected with this favor Seth. I just need to be able to walk through your store a few times at night to my car parked out back.”

“What have you done Jay? Are you in trouble with Julie? I’m not going to help you cheat on your wife Jay.”

“No no Seth, we’re fine. I’m almost on my best behavior as always. I’m helping the police with something and I might need to come through your store at odd hours. That’s all. It might not even come to that but I want to be able to, just in case. I might need to use the back door.”

“Well, I don’t want to have any trouble in the store. I like having a job and I still have a mortgage to pay off.”

“It’s not going to be a problem Seth. Just give me the combo to the back door and I’ll leave you alone.”

“Oh man, I can’t do that. That’s top secret stuff your asking for. Only the managers know that code of each store and if it gets out then there will be major consequences for me.”

“Seth, I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. I’m working with the police and this will help settle the case with Billy. It’s on the down low as well, so Julie can’t find out.”

“Hell Jay. I can’t be keeping secrets like this from your wife. What are you up to?”

“Just a little reconnaissance work. It’ll help with Billy’s case as well. You know how he’s in trouble again.”

“Why didn’t you say so. He’s gotten a raw deal form sis and he needs all the help he can get.”

“Can I count on you then? Just let your managers know that I may be coming through. I think I might know a few of them.”

“Yes Jay, they’ve played poker with you and your cop buddies a few times as I have. They will remember your face, no doubt.”

“Thanks brother, I owe you another one and I won’t forget.”

“I’ll remind you when I need a favor from you, you can bet on that.”

“Great Seth, I have to go and take care of a few things right now. Thanks so much, I really appreciate your help with this. How’s the wife and kids?”

“They’re fine. You need to come over and see them. They’re getting bigger by the minute.”

“I will Seth, just as soon as this is all over.”

Seth gave Jay the combo to the back door and hung up the phone. He put up a notice in the office that said Jay would possibly be coming through the store on official business now and then at, perhaps, odd hours. Most everyone had seen him in the store one time or another.

Jay hung up on his brother and called the car rental place he had found on the internet. The phone was answered quickly by a woman. Jay could see her in his minds eye as he talked to her. He thought she sounded about forty. She had a husky voice from smoking cigarettes and a slight southern accent.

“Yes, hello ma’am. This is Jay Kirby. I need to rent a cheap, dependable car. Mine is in the shop for a few days.”

He tried to copy her accent just a little. He thought it might help with what he needed. Jay would do whatever was necessary to make his plan work.

The woman who answered the phone asked Jay a few questions about paying for the car and his insurance company and driving history. Then they settled down to business.

“We have a good selection. Are you going far or staying around the area?”

Jay thought for a moment and then answered.

“What is your name ma’am?” “This is Susan Gardner.”

“Great Susan, I need a car that won’t let me down.” Jay used her first name to create a quick rapport. That had been part of his police training.

“I have a few work related stops that must be made without problems. I deliver blood and can’t be sidelined by a disabled vehicle.”

“Oh, I see. We have a nice old Chevy Nova that is in very good shape mechanically but looks a little rough. It’s gold with a tan interior. It’s a four door so putting things in and taking them out will be easy.”

“Great, I carry a cooler sometimes when I work so that would be helpful. How much is it?” Jay thought that if he didn’t ask that question, the woman would become suspicious. He didn’t care what it cost.

“It’s thirty dollars a day but if you take it for a week we can work out a slight discount.”

“Oh, that’s perfect. I think a week will be perfect. That’s about how long my car will be in the shop. I’ll come by tomorrow morning to sign the papers. Are you still at the address in your ad?”

“Yes we are Mr. Kirby. We’ll see you tomorrow then, what time will you stop by?”

“What time do you open?”

“Nine am sharp.”

“I’ll be there before you. Thanks a lot.

Jay hung up the phone and smiled. He had everything he needed now at his finger tips.

He just needed to get the cooler down from the rafters in the garage and put it in his car. He would wake early and then drive his car over to his brother’s market and park in back where the employees parked. He’d call an Uber from there and get a ride to the car rental place just a few blocks away.

Nearly everything was now in place.

The morning came after a night of little sleep for Jay. He had been running his plan through his mind all night. He had put the cooler in his car.

All he needed to do was drive down to his brother’s store, park out back and get a ride to the rental place. He called the driver who was going to pick him up half way to the store. The young man arrived five minutes after Jay had parked the car. Jay was waiting in the rear of the shopping center as he had told the driver. He found jay with little effort.

He was a stout young man with steely grey eyes and a rough look about him. He thought he might be helpful in this venture and gave him a good looking over as they drove to the car rental agency.

“What’s your name son?”

“David Bleeker, sir.”

How many hours do you work each day at this?” “Around four or five. It depends. Saturdays are busy with the drinkers and all.”

“You been in the military?” “Yes, I was a marine. Did one tour of Iraq and that was enough for me. Caught a little injury and had to be released.”

Jay thought about that for a moment and then asked, “What kind of injury?”

“Oh, just a bullet in the leg. I’m fine now, but slows me down a bit. I have a slight limp and some numbness.”

“Oh. Is that why your driving this private taxi service?”

“More or less. I don’t like to be around many people. They make me nervous sometimes.”

Jay thought about the war and all he had heard about roadside bombs and suicide bombers. “No wonder this guy likes being alone and in control of his environment.

“I see. Yeah, I get it. Times are tough now around here. Would you like to make a little cash on the side?”

“Only if it’s legal and on the level. I don’t need any more trouble.”

Jay thought about that last statement and put the facts together and then asked a question.

“How long were you in the brig?” “Hey mister, I don’t think that’s any of your business?”

“I’m looking for a guy who might be willing to go a little beyond the usual and stay calm if things get interesting. You sound like you might fit the bill.”

“You might have found him, but I don’t want to end up in the clink again. I did three months.”

“I am doing a little work for my family and with the understanding of the cops. I’m a retired officer.”

Jay reached into his wallet and pulled out his police I.D. card. Jay leaned forward and held his wallet up so the driver could see. It showed the date of his retirement and his police I.D. photo.

“I’m free lancing at the moment, so to speak.”

“On, I see. Well I don’t mind helping the cops if I can.”

“It’s like voting or paying your taxes son, it’s the right thing to do.”

“What will I have to do?”

“It depends, can you use a hand gun?”

“Yes, I’m good at that. The Marines trained me for combat and I really enjoyed that. But I don’t need a gun. I can handle myself without one.”

Jay sat quietly and thought about what he had just heard.

“Well, hopefully it won’t come to that but I can’t promise you anything. I’ll keep your number on hand and I’ll call you a day or two ahead if I need you. What’s your name again?”

“Does it matter?” “No, but I’ll have to call you something.”

“You can just call me David. If I need to have a weapon will you give me one or do I have to supply that myself?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. At the moment, all I need is a part time driver and perhaps someone to watch my back.”

Jay knew that they would come across plenty of weapons as this adventure unfolded. That wouldn’t be a problem.

They drove down the long avenue until the little car rental office appeared in front of them and David aimed the car pulled into the parking lot.

“Alright David, you can go. I’ll call you if and when I need you. I’ll give you plenty of notice up front.”

“I’m looking forward to it Jay. Things are a little quiet around here at the moment.”

Jay ran that statement through his head and thought that things were about to change, and soon. He walked into the office and filled out the rental papers and gave them his I.D. and a credit card.

Susan looked just like he had imagined she would. She had a sweet face and average build. She looked to be around thirty-five. She had nice nails and he could tell she took pride in how she looked. She didn’t wear a wedding ring. Perhaps she was still looking for Mr. Right. He liked her and hoped she might find him.

Jay walked out to the car as Susan followed him. Her skirt was just above the knees. She wore beige high heeled shoes with a shinny finish.

“What do you think of the car Mr. Kirby?”

If it runs well, it will be perfect. He slid into the seat and put the key in the ignition. It started as soon as he turned it. He listened closely to the rhythm of the engine.

“It sounds perfect. Nice and smooth as advertised. Thanks again Susan. I’ll see you in a week.”

Jay drove the car out of the lot and in the opposite direction from the market where his car was parked. Susan watched him drive off with some apprehension.

Something about his story didn’t ring true. She also thought that she had seen him around town before. She thought that he might have been a police officer that she had had some contact with in the distant past.

Jay headed out toward his home and the open desert.

When he left the edge of town he pushed the accelerator down and waited to see what happened. He didn’t have to wait long. The car downshifted and picked up speed quickly. Jay drove the car around for a half an hour and then parked out near his sister’s development. He saw nothing unusual. He turned the the key for the second time and the car started right up. He checked the temperature and the oil pressure gauges. They were both fine.

Jay drove back to town and parked a half block away from his target. He watched Oscar’s for twenty minutes. Nothing seemed to be going on out of the ordinary until he saw two black Cadillac SUVs pull up in front of the place. They stayed for half an hour or so and then left. It was still early in the day and that seemed odd to Jay.

He started the car again and merged into traffic. There was very few cars about. It was still a little warm. He slowly passed Oscar’s place to see what was happening. The parking lot was nearly empty. It was too early for the drunks and druggies to be up yet.

He scanned the parking lot once more as he passed it and saw where it was pitted and uneven as he followed the two black Cadillacs down the road.

There was a low fence of cable running through roughly cut four inch diameter pipes all around the lot except at the two entry points. One was located on the street and the other opened up on the alley. The fence was painted yellow. A large man stood in the parking lot at the corner of the building near the alley.

Jay drove behind the two vehicles until he turned to the left and entered the large shopping center and pulled into the back. They continued straight on to who knows where. Jay traveled about thirty yards into the lot and pulled in next to his Corvette. It was as he had left it, gleaming in the now setting sun.

Jay walked around the rental car and checked the tires. They were nearly new. Susan was a straight shooter, no doubt. He liked her now more than when he first met her.

He got into his car and drove home with a smile on his face while working on his simple plan.

He had to get home for dinner with Julie. they were playing golf in the morning, as usual.

“Simple plans are the best,” Jay thought as he drove to meet his wife at home.

It smelled of cactus blooms and sage brush as he drove with his window down just a little. The son over his right shoulder was almost at the top of the mountains in the west behind his house as it was beginning to set.

As he passed the his sister’s complex, he saw a black Escalade go through the gate.