Monthly Archives: October 2011

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 44 pt 1

Associates of the Enclave were trained to handle monotony.  Their hiding place was situated so they could see both the spot where Henry and his assistant were supposed to show up and the pool area.  It had been a few hours since watching the pool had been interesting and only one person had ventured down the path all day.  Associate 2 watched the pool and 3 watched the path.  They didn’t talk, as there wasn’t anything to say.

Through the binoculars 2 saw an older man walk down the steps to the pool area.  He looked around, seeming confused, and then headed straight to a table with a pitcher of drinks.  He poured a drink and looked like he might sit down, but instead stood awkwardly.  A moment later he suddenly headed towards the pool house, but after only a few steps turned back around set his drink on the table.  He thought for a moment and then knocked the drink over.  Now he strode with purpose into the pool house.

2 gave a tap on the shoulder to 3, and whispered, “Something strange is going on.”

3 changed positions so he could see the pool too, “Let me take a look”

They both started watching and immediately saw movement in the tiny building.  The shades were partially drawn and considerable movement could be seen inside.  It looked like one person had just thrown something at the other.  They were too far away to hear what was being said, but could hear the a general commotion.  Off to their left a woman was walking towards the forest and then at the exact same time 3 noticed someone looking out of a second story window.  A man with a wheel barrel was heading along the stone wall and they both needed to pop out of sight.

The man stopped and it sounded like he was just on the other side of the wall.  A woman’s voice could be heard, “I’m supposed to ask you to help me move the heavy vase in the pool house.”

He said, “I know, I thought the wheel barrel would help.”

She giggled, “I don’t think we really need to move the vase.”

They started to walk away together but 2 and 3 heard the man say, “Oh, you think this is part of the game?”

“Yes!  It is such fun.”

“Well, I’m bringing the wheel barrel anyway, just in case.”

2 and 3 poked their heads up and watched the two people head towards the pool.  The woman, obviously a maid, seemed to want to run.  When they were a few feet from the open door she hurried out ahead of the man and disappeared into the pool house.  A one beat pause and the calm of the afternoon was shattered by a piercing scream.  The maid came running out of the pool house, she bolted past the man with the wheel barrel, “He’s dead,” and continued up the stairs and into the house.  The man went inside and came back out nodding, as if impressed.

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 43

There had been three calls to the Major this morning.  Two were business related and one was from a woman who sometimes accompanied him to dinner.  He had expected to hear from his source within the police department.  Within minutes of the last two murders he was informed of the calls that had come into the station.  They had taken place in a timely fashion and he had expected the lieutenant to accomplish his current mission last night and went to bed prepared for the call.

Having slept through the night uninterrupted, he awoke in a foul mood.  The papers had reported both murders, but nobody was connecting the dots.  The evening news had not mentioned them at all.  The muted reaction started Doyle thinking.  He picked up the phone.

When the voice came on the other line he kept it short, “I need you to find out something for me.”

The man on the other end simply said, “Yes sir.”

“I’m interested in these recent murders of the cop and the waitress.  There doesn’t seem to be much news.  Is someone down there keeping a lid on things?  Is there a connection between the two?”

“I’m not working on either case. I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

The major then made a second call and said, “This is Major Doyle Worth III, please have my table ready.  I’ll be at least an hour.”  He hung up without waiting for a response.  It didn’t matter how the lieutenant was doing, he had prepared numerous contingency plans and felt it was best to make arrangements to set one of them in motion.  Though the lieutenant was most loyal, his grasp of reality had begun to wane, and as such, there were other people available who could step in to complete the mission.

The years of planning had allowed the major to create a network of associated who were more than capable of finding the sort of people he needed.  It was all done in such a way as to minimize any link back to him.  He would contact one of these people, they would meet with another, and this third person would make the arrangements.  This type of work was easy to sub contract out, but those hired would lack the element of artistry that someone like the lieutenant provided. Still, if one cannot accomplish the mission with infantry, then one must use tanks.

******

Mike had been awoken when Carol started to cook breakfast.  Buttons was on his neck and made a feeble plea for 10 more minutes.  After setting the cat on a pillow he had gotten up and apologized profusely for having fallen asleep.  Carol had been very nice about it and even insisted on him staying for some eggs, toast and coffee.

Much of the morning had been spent in the captain’s office getting yelled at for being late and not having any leads.  It was repeatedly pointed out that the 1st victim was one of their own.  Mike had listened to the tongue lashing respectfully, as he felt the criticism was well deserved.  It wasn’t the lack of leads that was bothering Mike, it was the horribly inappropriateness of showing up at Celine’s place at such a late hour, disturbing Carol, and then falling asleep.  Mike was a great cop, a better detective, and a guy who built a life around maintaining rules and order.  He hated being late for appointments and being late for work, well that was unthinkable.

At Mike’s core, he was honest.  He believed in truth and justice, in that order.  When the captain had asked why he had been late, he had said he over slept.  It was true, but he didn’t mention the circumstances.  It felt like a lie of omission.

Still, Carol had been really nice about it.  She had said how much she liked the time Henry, Celine, her and Mike had gone to that baseball game together.  She even made a comment about feeling safe having a cop on the couch.  Carol had made every effort to put his mind at ease, but had failed.  He left apologizing profusely, but with a full belly.  She was a really good cook.

After the captain had finished, he had returned to his desk and tried to keep busy.

Mike placed his fourth call to the Henry Wood Detective Agency and let it ring.  It was well after noon now and still nothing.  A man brought a box with folders of the crime scene photos from the diner shooting.  Mike thanked him and started in on the pile.  He hoped to find something that hadn’t been apparent when he was in the apartment.

The precinct was busier than normal. It was loud.  There were two women, who both were both under the impression that they were Mrs. Kowalski, were taking turns screaming at Mr. Kowalski, who seemed to be enjoying himself.  He kept saying, “Hey, baby, you know I love you,” but it was hard to tell if he was talking to either of them specifically.  A man was being arrested for selling apartments in a building he didn’t own.  Another man was trying to file a complaint against his brother for stealing his car or wife, Mike wasn’t sure and didn’t care.  He needed to get away and find Henry.  He got up and left a message with the desk sergeant that he would be at the diner, going back over the crime scene.  As he walked out of the building, he thought about dropping by Carol’s work, and thanking her again for the breakfast and maybe apologizing one more time.  Should he take her flowers?

Night off for Henry

Tonight I’m not adding a chapter.  Mostly, because I just feel like relaxing.  I had a great day at work and we got a lot done, which is always nice.  I came home and have been doing very little thinking about writing and all of a sudden it was 9:48.  Where did the time go?

It doesn’t matter as I won’t be getting it back.  I also will not be stressing about a night off from Henry, as I know he understands.  Heck, I left him at a massive estate surrounded by all the finer things in life.  He is happy and enjoying his weekend, why rush into ruining it for him?  That just seems wrong.  So I will let him play around a bit and get back to the next chapter tomorrow.

As I have mentioned several times before, Wednesday is my Friday, so I have that naturally ‘the weekend has started’ joy all about me.  I also have a blanket around me.  It seems that mother nature has sent a big batch of chilliness our way.  I could turn up the thermostat, but my blankie is just too warm and cozy.

On another note, I have gone two full weeks of eating healthy…every meal…lots of turkey sandwiches.  I feel great.  I’m considering a slight pizza transgression later this evening, because well…it’s Friday (in my world)…and why not?!  The last time I got in shape, I did so by NOT being a zealot about it.  Since I had previously eaten unhealthy meals about as frequently as cats nap, switching to a predominately healthy diet is the key.  Sometimes though, one just needs a bit of cheesy goodness to break up the long string of turkey, tomato and mustard sandwiches.  Today may be that day.  Or maybe tomorrow…who knows…but it will be soon.

So I am off to goof around.  I’ll tell you all more about Henry tomorrow.  Be good my friends.  And hug a cat, except Dad, as he is allergic.

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 42

Henry found Celine and Catherine by the pool.  The surprising part wasn’t that they were enjoying the summer sun; it was that he hadn’t noticed the pool the day before.  There was a whole section at the back southern corner with tables, a pool, a pool house, and various assorted carved shrubbery.  The sheer size of the house and the grounds was starting to make Henry’s down to earth head spin.

“Henry!” They both yelled.

“Ladies…enjoying this fine day?”

Celine sat up from reclining, “I haven’t relaxed by a pool in ages.”

Catherine smiled, “I like it out here, but it is nice having someone to talk with while I work on my tan.”

“That doesn’t sound scripted.”

Celine laughed, “We were just talking about all the good juicy gossip flying around.  We’re trying to guess who the murder is and he hasn’t even struck yet.”

“He?…you’ve eliminated the ladies from suspicion, it appears.”

“Sorry boss, I shouldn’t make assumptions.”

Henry poured himself a glass of lemonade.  “I have to admit that I’m enjoying myself and have been trying to guess who the victim might be,” Henry said taking a seat at the table.

Celine and Catherine got up and joined him.  Catherine leaned in, “You may not believe this, but I really didn’t know anything about Dwight’s plans for this weekend.  He has even written a mysterious back story for me too.”

“Oh?”

“Well, if you really must know.  I was married once before.  A man from Calcutta, very wealthy and handsome, swept me off my feet.  It was a whirlwind romance.  I was much too young, but there I was saying ‘I do’.”  She let out a heavy sigh and brought the back of her hand up to her temple, as it about to faint, “Sadly, just a few weeks later I was widowed, when he fell off the yacht on our way back from Bora Bora,” she said with slight shudder and continued, “we had just finished our honeymoon.”

Celine, “I think she might be a black widow!”

Catherine laughed, “I might be…I can’t wait to see if there is more on the next card.”

Henry asked, “So, even as we drink our lemonade, you are plotting to kill husband number two.”

Catherine seemed delighted by the prospect and it was obvious that both women were thoroughly enjoying the mystery weekend.  Rita appeared and asked how everyone was doing and then informed Henry he had a call.

Henry excused himself and followed Rita into the house.  They walked down the hall, past Atkins the chauffer and Harriet, who seemed to be having a heated discussion.  It didn’t look too heated though, as Harriet kept referring to her card.  She flashed Henry a smile as he walked past and then accused Atkins of meeting someone shady at the front gate.

When they reached the small table with the phone, Rita picked it up handed it to Henry.  Henry took the phone, “Hello, this is Henry…hello…anyone there?”

“That is strange; I said it would only take me a moment to get you.  Why would they hang up?”  She tapped the cradle a couple of times.  “Oh, the line is dead. I’m terribly sorry Mr. Wood; we have been having problems with the phones.”

Henry just shrugged it off and told her it was okay.  He walked back to the pool wondering if Rita was just playing her part.  If she was, then she would get the ‘Best Actress’ award, because she seemed genuinely upset that the call had been lost.

Henry paused and looked out over the back yard.   A glint of light had caught his eye.  It came from somewhere along the old stone wall, but he couldn’t see anything.  Henry remembered seeing a similar flash of light, before a sniper took out a guy who had just transferred over to his unit.  He couldn’t remember the soldier’s name and it bothered him.  He headed back down to the pool, but he found the girls were gone, and Edward and Judith Harriman were now sitting at the table.  They each had gold envelopes and were reading them intently.

“May I join you?”

Judith looked up, “Why certainly Henry dear, do sit down.  We just got our next golden cards.  This is such a pleasing distraction.  Are you enjoying yourself?”

“I would be lying to say otherwise.”

Another staff member rushed up to the table, “Mr. Wood, I’m glad I found you.  Here is your next card.”

“Thanks,” Henry said, noticing that there was only one remaining in the basket.  The young woman rushed away, as Edward set his card down and said, “Very interesting indeed.”

“I better give mine a look then.”

Henry opened the envelope and pulled out the card.  It took but a moment for him to read.  Judith and Edward watched him intently.  Henry put on his best poker face.  “If you’ll excuse me, I need to make a call.”

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 41

The lieutenant had three close calls trying to get back to his stash of gear.  It was very strange how everyone seemed to be wondering about having unusual conversations.  The comments and reactions were stiff.  He heard his mother’s voice saying, “Randolph, it isn’t polite to listen to the grown-ups talk.”

He shook his head and his mother’s voice faded.  The morning light had given way to a bright and sunny day, which made sneaking about a bad idea.  The lieutenant felt his hiding place was secure, but as he had nothing else to do, he worked on his nest.

Ever since he entered the woods the voices and flash backs had stayed away.  Finally, there was little else to do but close his eyes and wait. He let his mind travel to the spot where he held the seething rage.  Waxing nostalgic, he went back to the plan he had formed while lying in the hospital.  In this dream, he saw Henry, in his uniform, tied to a chair. It was day 5 in the chair and he was covered in his own sweat and urine.  The lieutenant imagined that Henry would have started begging for the beatings to stop on day 2 and for death on day 4.  He was snapped out of his fantasy by a local insect, who was taking an early lunch.

Suddenly he heard voices.  They were faint and he couldn’t be sure how far away, or if they were even real.  Still he held his breath and struggled to make out their words.

Associate 3, “I made it to the parameter to the north.  The guests and staff seem to be all over this place.”

Associate 2, “Were you spotted?”

“No sir.  I did have to take a circuitous route back.  Did you find a good spot for use to wait?”

“Yes, follow me.”

The voices trailed off and Lieutenant Vance Randolph relaxed.  They were real and it presented a whole new set of questions.  The most pressing was, who were they and to a lesser extent, were they sent by the major? Had the major lost faith in his abilities? He mulled these over in his head and was unsure of what to think.  He felt his balance slipping and shut his eyes tight.  The voices, sounds, and fear washed over him.  He began to crawl from his hiding spot, his sniper rifle slung over his back.

The going was slow.  He knew the wall was not far and felt that if he could just get to it, he would be able to get a grip on the present.  The trees were thick and he clawed his way under a bush.  His eyes were still shut.  It was fear that kept them closed.  If he opened them and saw himself surrounded by Germans, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself.  It was a strange sensation being on the edge between what he knew to be real and the horror of what wasn’t.

His hand felt the stone.  It was real, cool to the touch, and rough.  Eyes still closed, he ran his fingers over the wall base and imagined what it looked like.  He felt dirt, weeds, leaves and more other stones.  Pulling himself close to his hands he slowly opened his eyes and it looked exactly like he imagined.  The voices stopped and he was lucid again.  The lieutenant rolled over on his back and looked up through the thick of the trees.  The people who had been talking were gone.  His rifle was digging into his back, so he turned onto his side and pulled it off.  Randolph removed the scope and pulled himself to his knees.

Crouching behind the wall he peered over the edge.  His face, covered in grime, blended in with the forest and if anyone had been near, they likely wouldn’t have noticed him.  As it was, nobody was visible.  He scanned the grounds and from his vantage point couldn’t see any of the guests.  A quick check of his surroundings and the lieutenant was quite sure he was well hidden.  Now he would wait.  As soon as someone was close enough, he would take his shot, rush out and drop the manual and be gone.

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 40 pt 2

The next few hours were spent getting familiar with the rest of the grounds.  It was one thing to have plans, but quite another to actually see the area they would be working in.  The small lake was deemed too shallow to use as a final resting place for Mr. Wood and his secretary, so they developed a plan to easily remove the bodies.  The hope was they would be away before any of the guests missed them.

The problem, as they saw it, was going to be getting both of them away from the rest of the guests.  Mr. Palmeroy had assured them he would get them away from the house, but neither of them felt he was reliable.  If things were to go smoothly, they would need their own plan.  Both men were anxious to get the job complete and move on.  As was always the case, in such matter, after the Enclave staff was asked to eliminate someone, the associates involved would be given several months of leave anywhere in the world.  Associate 2 was planning on some time visiting friends in Greece, while 3 intended to head off to Iceland to see a woman he knew.

*****

Upon returning from his morning walk, Henry made an excuse and stole away to read his gold card.  He was thankful that it mostly just said be a detective and to express an interest in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  There was a short passage about asking to see Mr. Palmeroy’s collection of signed 1st editions between 3:00 and 4:00, but that was his only real task.

Celine had zipped in and out of the room while Henry was reading.  She said something unintelligible, bounced a bit, and then declared this the best weekend of her life.  It seems the trauma was a distant memory.  She was herself again and for that Henry was thankful.  He considered waiving his fee all together.  Then he realized that anyone who could afford 1st editions of Sherlock Holmes mysteries could pay.

Henry had made his way down to find breakfast and was sitting alone at the big table when Rita came and asked if he would like his eggs Benedict served on the patio.  It seemed like a brilliant suggestion so Henry followed her out and he found Mr. Palmeroy enjoying his own breakfast.

“Good morning sir,” Henry said without needing to fake his good cheer.

“Henry, I trust you slept well.”

“Let’s just say I am well on my way to chipper.”

Leaving, Rita said, “I’ll have your breakfast brought right out.”

Henry sat down and picked up the sports section. Mr. Palmeroy returned to his paper too.  The eggs arrived and Henry nibbled on the toast while checking the baseball scores.  Brooklyn had hosted the Chicago Cubs and won 7-0.  Pee Wee Reece had gone 1 – 4, scored two runs and had 3 RBIs.  Henry put down the paper, “Do you follow baseball Dwight?”

“I can’t say that I do.  I suppose I watch a World Series game, now and again, when someone invites me, but generally no.  Which team do you follow?”

“I’m one of those guys who bleeds Dodger blue.”

“Ah yes, Da Bums.  I did get to meet their short stop last year at some charity function.  What was his name?”

“Pee Wee Reece.”

“Yes, that is it.  A really nice young man, as I recall.”

Henry noticed that Mr. Palmeroy’s chit chat seemed like he was forcing it a bit. Henry chalked it up to the conversation being about baseball.  Guys like Dwight were used to being the smartest man in the room.  Henry decided to make it easy on his host and steer things away from sports.  “May I ask you something?”

Dwight put down his paper, “Certainly.”

“Why did you choose me to be your guest detective?”

He looked at Henry, took a sip of his juice, then gazed out over the manicured lawn, and said, “I couldn’t have just anyone.  You’ve had several notable successes this year.”

“Thank-you, but they were hardly front page news.”

“I believe the Tommy ‘The Knife’ story was indeed front page news.”

“I guess it was,” Henry admitted, “But you said several…how did you hear about the others.”

“I have many friends and I made a few calls asking about you, and they filled me in on the rest.”

It seemed like a reasonable answer, but Henry suspected he was hearing only partial truths.

Dwight sensed that he wasn’t selling it well enough, “If you must know, Daniel Kupton was a very dear friend of mine.  I never believed he would kill himself and my friends at City Hall told me that you had proved he was murdered. It may seem strange, but I felt a small measure of relief knowing he hadn’t done himself in.  We like to think our friends will reach out, if things ever get so bad.”

This last bit rang true and Henry decided it was a good enough answer.  If there was a hidden agenda, and he was sure there was, Henry would figure it out eventually.  Now, he would focus on his breakfast and worry about the rest later.

Too Tired to Snark

I sat at my computer in silence for a couple of hours.  There was a turkey sandwich eaten at some point, and my recollection is that it was tasty, but it is a fuzzy memory at best.  There is a point when I am quite sure that writing something for Henry Wood is out of the question.  That point was an hour ago and yet I continued to cling to the hope that my overwhelming desire to nap would pass.

I thought I could fight through it.  I am in the mood to write, but not in such a way as to continue with the story.  I know this is the case when I consider just killing all the human characters off and leaving only Buttons, who would gather up a band of cats and rule the world.  It wouldn’t be good for future Henry Wood books.

So I sit here defeated and sleepy.

Writing is such fun.  A few nights ago I created a chapter I really liked.  I like them all, but this one felt better than the others.  I got on a roll and the dialogue seemed to flow from my fingers like words from the mouth of someone who is verbose.  (see, I’m sleep, that was dreadful…oh…I did chuckle a little, but only at the level of awful)

Those nights are such a happy occurrence.  I was really craving a big dose of clever, but all I got was a helping of stare at my twitter stream.  I have no great wisdoms for anyone tonight.  I sit bereft of clever phrasing and too tired to snark.  These nights happen and it isn’t the end of the world (either the real one or the one’s I create).  I so I say good night to all.  Sleep well and come back tomorrow for another chapter of Henry Wood.

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 40 pt 1

“I think it is going to be cooler today,” Associate 3 said, driving with his arm out of the window.

Associate 2 was looking over the plans they had meticulously crafted the night before and didn’t answer.  They had packed the tools of their trade and were ready for a tidy plan execution and extraction.

“Damn, it’s still there,” Associate 3 said as he pulled up behind the car from the night before.

They had talked about the car and decided it was as Palmeroy had suggested…nothing.  Now they were forced to consider the possibility that there was something else going on.  “Stay in the car,” Associate 2 said, getting out and added, “Keep an eye on the road.”

2 put on a pair of thing white gloves and put his hand on the hood.  It was cool to the touch.  “It’s been here all night.”  The glove compartment was empty, not even a registration.  He pulled out his notepad and jotted the plate number down.  The ash tray had Lucky strike butts in it.  Associate 2 moved to the trunk and deftly picked the lock.  The trunk didn’t tell him anything, so he closed it and gave one more walk around.

He bent down and looked at the footprints next to the driver’s side door.  There were only two, but he could tell the person had been wearing boots.  They looked liked a standard military issue, but he couldn’t be sure.  What he was sure of, this car didn’t belong here, and the owner wasn’t some kid out for a joy ride with his girl.  It was too clean.  He got back in the car with 3.

“Well?”

“I don’t like it.”

“You think the enclave sent a backup?”

“Without telling us…no, and how would they know about Mr. Palmeroy’s plan.  He called us and we haven’t reported in since we spoke with the director.  He expects us to finish this on our own.”

“If it isn’t a backup then what in the Sam Hill is going on?”

Associate 2 didn’t answer, because he didn’t want to say what he was thinking.  They haven’t sent a backup…they’ve sent a cleanup team. He said, “Keep going, find another spot,” when 3 had arrived at the spot they’d parked the night before.

“I’ll circle around and see if we can find something on the other side of the estate.”  He drove for thirty more minutes before finding a suitable spot.  They didn’t need to talk and each man gathered up brush and branches to hide the car.  Associate 2 sensed that 3 had arrived at the same conclusion about the other car.  He hoped he was wrong.  If he wasn’t, his years of dedicated service to the Enclave, were coming to an end, and possibly his life as well.  It was a shattering thought.

Associate 3, sensing something needed to be said, “I don’t think the director would turn on us.  There are explanations we haven’t thought of, so I’m cautious, but not worried.”

“You keep talking like that and I may be reporting to you soon.  You make a good point.  Let’s do our job and let our training and wits win the day.”

They grabbed their gear and made for the wall they would scale to get onto the massive property.

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 39 pt 2

After the shower, Henry’s head felt clearer, though the hang-over lingered. Somewhere between lather and rinse, he realized that Edward’s morning walk was probably part of the game.  If he was right, maybe he could solve the Palmeroy puzzle and then politely make an excuse to leave.  It had been nearly a day since he thought about the real murders and this was too long.

Someone had laid out suitable clothes.  Henry dressed and headed out to find the recently murdered Edward.  At the edge of the patio Henry noticed, for the first time, that the estate continued off to the north too.  He had imagined he would find Edward on the path he explored from the day before, but now it was obvious that there was more territory to cover.  So the question was, check out the path again, or explore anew?  The morning was beautiful and Henry reasoned that if he was going off to find a pretend victim, he might as well enjoy the walk.  He headed to the north and when he got to the edge of the house notice another path into the woods and a more open area that led to a set of buildings, probably the stables.  Henry imagined there would be staff and such tending to the horses, and he preferred to be alone, so he chose the forest trail.

The horrible heat seemed to have broken in the night.  It was pleasant, nearly perfect, with the slightest breeze singing through the trees.  Henry heard a branch snap and froze.  He had but a brief glimpse of the buck, bounding away, but it made Henry smile.  This path was wider and well travelled.  It headed north for a bit then gently curved west and back north again.  It wasn’t long before he came to a small clearing with a gazebo.  Then Henry saw something which made his heart sink.

Edward was coming out of the other side of the clearing.  He was most definitely alive.  “Well, hello there, Mr. Wood, I didn’t expect to run into you on my morning sojourn.”

“A walk seemed like a good idea.  If I am being truthful, I thought you might be headed off to your demise.”

Edward laughed, “I did too.  Perhaps I still am?”

“I thought you ruled me out as the potential murder?”

“So you aren’t here to settle the score?”

“What score is that?”

They both sat down and Edward said, “You haven’t read your card yet, have you?”

Henry realized that he hadn’t.  “I probably should have.  Maybe I am the killer.  I might be mucking up the whole weekend for everyone.”

The conversation changed directions and they were laughing about the night before.

*****

The lieutenant couldn’t believe his good fortune.  Henry Wood was sitting there with the man he had been following.  The major would be pleased that he was able to get another kill in such close proximity to their nemesis.  He estimated the distance for the shot was too great.  He might accidentally miss and kill Henry, which would be strangely satisfying and disappointing.

The voice in his head started up, Lieutenant Randolph Vance, you need to focus. This mission has been planned by the greatest military mind we have, if you blow it, it will be a black mark that will haunt you forever. He shook his head and then saw the two men were leaving and heading to the far side of the clearing.

Their conversation was loud enough that the Lieutenant felt comfortable closing the gap between them.  He would get close enough to fire and then flee.  He imagined that Henry’s first instinct would be to try to save the man, so his escape would be easy.  He would need to make his way back to where the gear was stored, to not leave evidence.

The lieutenant rounded the curve in the path, took a position behind a tree and brought the gun up to fire.  His last thought echoed through his mind, don’t leave any evidence.  The shot was easy, but he couldn’t take it.  The piece of evidence he needed to leave, the manual, was back with his gear.  He thought for just a second and then the moment was gone.  He faded back into the forest and started to make his way back to his hiding spot.

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 39

The chatter at the dining table started out feeling somewhat forced. Celine had taken a seat next to Edward Harriman and was listening to him tell a tale of adventure in North Africa.  On occasion he slipped into a British accent and it was apparent, and sort of cute, that he was playing his role.

His wife walked in intently reading her card and then she stuffed it into her purse and grabbed a glass of juice. “Good morning Celine,” she said.

“Good morning Mrs. Harriman.”

“Please dear, call me Judith.  I hope he isn’t boring you with one of his stories.”

Edward gave a hearty laugh, “I suppose I am.”

“Oh no, I’m enjoying your delightful tales of Rommel…what did you call him?”

“The desert fox.”

Judith seemed momentarily confused, “North Africa?”

Edward, being true to his character, “She has heard me tell them so often, she is trying to forget the time I was a consultant for her Majesty’s Royal Air Force.”

Judith, a bright woman, quickly recovered by saying, “Oh those North Africa stories.  Yes, there was a time, during the war, when they did seek Edward’s council.  The stories seem to grow in size and grandeur with each telling.  I’m sure if you listen long enough, he’ll take credit for winning the whole damn war.”

Celine gave a pleasant laugh, not too girly, and said, “I can’t wait,” and smiled.

Edward started right back up as he wife wondered off, “Now, where was I.  Ah yes, I was in the command car, as we headed off to a briefing about his superior tank forces.  It was a dark time, during those days in Libya, and…”  Edward paused taking a sip of his coffee and presumably trying to come up with more story.

Celine took the chance to get into her own character.  She lowered her voice, “I noticed it last night, but didn’t get a chance to ask.  Have we met before?  You seem very familiar to me.  Were you maybe a friend of the family?” It was a very clever question, because the night before she had talked at length with him, about his family history.  Edward picked up on, ‘but didn’t get a chance to ask’, and correctly guessed that she was playing her part.

“Maybe, I thought you seemed familiar too.  What was your father’s name?”

Celine wasn’t nearly as well prepared with a back story.  Still, her answer sounded good and soon they were both in character, happily enjoying breakfast and the adventure Mr. Palmeroy had created.

*****

The lieutenant was still surveying the grounds and had made his way past the stables when he saw a lone man walking across the field.  From the man’s attire, it was obvious he was either the resident or one of the guests.  He waited until the man crossed the crest of the hill and then rushed along the tree line to close the gap between them.

He only had his pistol on him, but it would do.  When he reached the top of the hill he that he had closed the gap between them by about fifty yards, but was still a couple of hundred behind.  The man was walking without a care, though at a rather brisk pace.  The lieutenant looked rather menacing in his fatigues and knew that if he was spotted, it would send his prey into flight mode.  For the next few minutes he hugged the edge of the forest, prepared to disappear, should the man turn around.

The man did not turn around, but instead turned left and vanished into the woods.  This was perfect and the Lieutenant broke into a sprint, only slowing when he got near the start of the trail.  The path went in straight for only 10 feet or so and then curved to the right.  The lieutenant couldn’t be sure how much distance separated him from his next victim, so he remained cautious as he entered in after the man.