May 10, 2024 – Chapter Twenty Three of “The Bad Seed.”

“Hey Susan, have you got David convinced to come and live with you yet?” “I think he’s on the verge the verge of saying yes. He can see the advantages of it, I’m sure of that. He is just a little worried about having me under foot I suppose.”

“Yes, I understand that. Living alone does have it’s advantages.” “Well, I’m sick of it to tell you the truth. I need a little noise around this house. It’s like living in a morgue in there sometimes. David would surely liven it up some.” “Yes, I can see that. He needs a little of the woman’s touch to make him feel grounded and loved, also. He hasn’t had much of that in his life as far as I can tell.”

“What was life like back in the day when you were in the military, Susan?” “Well at the time it was pretty unusual for a woman to go into the service. I was one of the first to get into some of the schools that I attended.” “What were those like?”

“Well, first of all the men weren’t very happy to see me. Most wanted me to drop out. Some just hit on me all of the time and tried to make life miserable. A few were gentlemen and stood behind me. It was a strange time and kind of an experiment back then.

My husband told me it would be difficult, but I under estimated how hard it was going to be. He really helped me get through it. We were in at the same time in the beginning, but then we had our boy and things changed. I don’t regret a moment of it though.”

“What did you actually do back then?” “Well, several things that were just routine. Office work at first and then as time passed I got my clearances and more interesting things came my way. There were a few other young women coming in at that time and we all did our part for the cause.”

“That’s a little vague Susan. How about a few war stories while we wait for Cheeto to arrive at Oscar’s?” I’m being vague on purpose. Some of the things I did are still secret and others are on going. I don’t want to cause any problems for those that came after me.” “Oh, I see. I hadn’t given that much thought,” Jay lied.

“Where is David at now by the way Susan?” “He knew we didn’t need him until later so he is doing a few Uber runs. He says it keeps him from, “stewing in his own juices.” He has a lot of baggage he needs to work out or just forget. Time will take care of it, I think. I’m sure you get that as well. The three of us have all l lot in common, I think. Why else would we have all fallen in together so quickly and easily on this plan and put our futures on the line? I know being a cop isn’t too far removed from the military. You do dangerous tasks and see some awful things along the way. The uniform is just a little different, and the local. At least in the military we know where the battle field is most of the time. You cops never know where the trouble will come from or when.”

“It can seem like that at times Susan, but a lot is about your attitude. You can’t let the lowlifes that you deal with get you down. You have to remember that most people are good. We just don’t see them up close very often. I was pretty good at keeping a level head and remembering that the world isn’t as bad as my work made it seem. Are you going to tell me what you were up to or not?”

The door to the office slid open and a large woman appeared in the office. She smelled like flowers. “I need to rent a car for my son. He’s coming into town for a week or so.” “Well, let’s got out side and take a look at some of the cars available. “Sorry Jay, duty calls. A girl has to eat you know, and I am on my own at the moment.”

“What’s your name ma’am? “Cynthia Hollis. I live over off of Royal Oak. My son will be in town on leave and I can’t lend him my car as I need it for work everyday.”

The two women walked away from Jay talking to each other like old friends. Jay watched them walk by the cars and then stop in front of a car and talk about it and then move to the next one. They covered the whole lot. Some of the cars looked almost new while others were a little older and rough around the edges, like his Nova.

Jay was surprised that Susan didn’t open up to him about her past. “It must be very interesting,” he thought.

Two hours had passed as they had been bantering back and forth. It was eleven AM now. Jay looked over at Oscar’s across the street to see what was going on and saw David coming into the lot. Cheeto’s truck still hadn’t arrived but it was still early.

David walked across the parking lot slowly while looking at the two women standing at the cars. he climbed the four wide steps and came into the office. He was wearing Levi’s and a short sleeved shirt. His black hair was a mass of cowlicks going in several directions. He was running his hand through it to try and make it more presentable. You could see he had been wearing a hat of some kind. His brown eyes searched the room until they fell on Jay.

“I see Susan’s busy. What are we going to do for lunch, I’m staving?” “Lest’s give her a few minutes. I think she will be finished with this transaction soon and then we can ask her if she is going to go with us or if she wants us to bring something back for her.”

“What’s the plan for today Jay? I wanted to get here before you started without me.” “We’ll talk about it at lunch.” “Let’s go to that place we ate the other day where Susan barged in on us.”

“Sure David, if that’s where you want to go. Are you going to move in with Susan or not David? She is looking for someone to make her life a little more meaningful. Taking care of you might be just the ticket for the both of you.” “I’ve been thinking the same thing Jay. I don’t like being alone all of the time either. It might make a nice change after all this time alone.”

“What do you have to lose David. She seems like a nice woman and she’s probably a great cook.” “I could use some good home cooking Jay. I have been eating out of a can too often since my girlfriend left. It’s worse that “K” rations sometimes. Although I did like the baked beans we used to get in the desert in Afghanistan. I’ve been testing all the different brands from the super markets here in town but haven’t found any that taste the same.” “That sounds like fun way to spend your nights David,” Jay said as he watched Susan coming back to the office with a smile on her face.

“I think she closed the deal David. Why not tell her that you’ll move in with her after she finishes the paper work. She’s getting restless abut your decision. I think it would make her day.”

Jay felt a little bad about trying to talk David into making the decision about living with Susan. It was David’s choice after all. But Jay knew it was the best for the both of them. Jay had tried to use his police interrogation tactics to get David to do what Jay wanted. He felt bad about that, but just for a few moments.

Then he realized that Susan had done the same thing to him. She had put him off the topic with ease and a little misdirection. That woman coming into the store at that critical moment was also a factor in him getting sidetracked.

“Are we going to meet with Cheeto tonight Jay?” “Well David, one of us is. I think I’ll find out why they call him Cheeto, tonight. Then will move on to more important things,” Jay said as he continued watching the traffic go by the front of Oscar’s.

Jay had nearly forty thousand dollars sitting in his car and he wanted to make a drug deal that would make things just a little harder for Sam.

Susan finished her paper work and handed the keys to the woman sitting at the desk across from her after she had received a check.

“You’re boy can come down here anytime to get the car. As you can see, there isn’t a fence or gate to deal with.” “Thank you Susan, you’ve made this easier than I had anticipated. See you soon.”

Susan looked over at David and Jay and smiled. “My morning’s work has been successful, so far.” “What do you want to do for lunch Susan?” David asked. “Well, depending on what you two are up to, we might eat at my house. If I’m going to do your makeup, one of you can eat while the other is getting his face done.” “That sounds fine Susan,” Jay said while still looking out across the boulevard. Cheeto was still nowhere to be seen.

Why don’t we ride in my car boys, there’s plenty of room. “Sure, why not,” was David’s quick reply. The three of them walked out of the office. David and Jay went to her car while Susan locked the sliding glass do that was the front door to her office. It gave her a clear view of everything going on out in front.

David climbed into the back seat as Jay took up his position in the front passenger seat. The car was very tidy and smelled of something like jasmine, or so David thought. The windows were perfectly clean.

“I could live back here Susan. This back seat and legroom back her is crazy.” “Yes, it is very suitable for some of my older friends when we go out for a meal. But you wouldn’t have to if you moved into my place.” She looked at David from her mirror as she drove.

They were soon parked in her driveway. The neighborhood looked nicer than David had remembered. He thought about that as they entered the house.

“I have some left overs from last night. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes with string beans. What do you boys think about that?”

Jay looked at David and shrugged his shoulders in a motion that said, “see what I mean.” “Just sit out at the table by the pool David. Jay will help me in here, won’t you Jay?” “Yes, mother,” was his reply. Susan looked at him with a serious look after he spoke. “I’m not old enough to be your mother Jay, maybe a very slightly older sister, perhaps.” Susan was only a year older than Jay.

“She shoved the left overs onto the micro wave and pushed the button for eight minutes and gathered three glasses together and handed them to Jay. Take these over to the counter while the food is cooking. By the time you fill them with water, the food will be done. Jay did as he was asked. Then he walked out to the large yard where David was sitting and looking at the pool. “Don’t let this chance slip away David. Susan might get someone else in here if you don’t take the room.” Jay heard the bell of the micro wave go off and walked back to the kitchen.

Susan loaded the plates up with the food and Jay carried two of them over to the counter. “Well boys, let’s g back into the “makeup room” and dig in while I work on one of you. Who’s first? I’m hungry.”

In an hour the two men were hardly recognizable.

“You know Jay, you could use any of the other cars out there in the lot if you like. I think I can trust you to bring it back.” “I’m starting to like that Nova, Susan, it’s a little like you, “more there than meets the eye.” “I need to make a pone call, excuse me.”

Jay stood up and looked in the mirror. He was starting to feel like the man he saw staring back at him. He was a different man than Jay Kirby. “This man was capable of nearly anything,” or so Jay thought.

Jay pulled out his cell hone and called the chief to check in. That was part of the promise that he had made him so that he might work just outside the boundary of the law on this project. He dialed the number and then paced in the yard around the pool. Leaves danced around his feet riding the slight wind from the west that swirled around them.

“Hello chief, it’s Jay. “How are things going Jay?” “Were exactly where we need to be. What’s up on your end?” “The ballistics should be back in a few days as well as the finger prints. We know Sam’s were on the gun but we found another set and are running them now.” “On, that’s interesting. I think we know who’s those might be.” “Yes, but we need to make sure.” “Hey chief, can you do one more thing for me?”

“Sure Jay, I’m already in so deep that one more thing won’t make much difference either way if we get caught.” “Will you run a check on Susan Gardner. She runs a car rental agency here in town and we have dealt with her and her ex husband a few years back. There must be a file on them somewhere?” She has a city business license for her car rental firm as well.” “What am I looking for?” “Oh, just more about her military record and that of her husband. They were both in for several years.” “Sure jay, I think I can find out something on her?” “Why?” “Oh, a friend of mine is maybe going to move in with her and I want to make sure he will be safe there. I want to know as much about her as possible.” “Sure thing Jay.” “Thanks chief. How’s the wife?” The same as yours Jay, she watches over me like a mother hen. She doesn’t think I can function without her helping me at every turn.” “Yes chief, I get that.”

The two men talked for another twenty minutes until the chief was called away on other business. They firmed up their plans for the night and Jay felt sure that all was going to go well. They just needed Cheeto to do his part and cooperate. Jay remembered that greed is a an easy vice to work with in humans.

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