Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Waiting For The Next Explosion-Part One




The fishing village of Palma Sola is hardly more than a cluster of ramshackle houses surrounding a small church, general store, and the pier where around twenty equally rickety boats go out and attempt to earn a living on an increasingly overfished Gulf of Mexico. So when a black Chevrolet Suburban with heavily tinted windows showed up one morning cruising around like a shark scouting for the weakest in a school of fish the locals wisely started quickly disappearing. In this part of rural Mexico, having such a grandiose and enigmatic vehicle suddenly appear out of nowhere there was a very low probability that the occupants would be benign.

I personally did not notice anything until the little medical clinic I run emptied out completely. Not wanting to look a gifted horse in the mouth, I took advantage of the respite by grabbing a beer and going out to sit on the old picnic table under the awning connected to my building and look out at the ocean. When I finally saw the Suburban, I knew this was going to be bad because in my own experience such vehicles are almost always used by people with way too much authority or at least have the idea that they carry some form of significant clout.

To the best of my knowledge little Palma Sola, located seventy-sight miles north of Veracruz, had escaped the drug-inspired violence that plagued many other places in Mexico. However, experience has taught that there is always some conniving opportunist looking for the next quiet haven to screw up. Beside the disturbing chance the Suburban was some drug lord scouting out new territory, my biggest fear and paradoxically my greatest hope was that the SUV contained some asinine yanqui looking for a place to build yet another massive resort along the Mexican coastline. I honestly did not know what was worse for these people. The only choices seemed to be persistent poverty with the only available opportunity the drug business in the big cities or menial service industry jobs that amounted to a form of corporate serfdom catering to spoiled Americans.

Right when I was about to do like the locals and slip back inside the clinic to disappear the Suburban passed by again but instead of driving on it stopped, backed up the thirty feet it took to turn and pulled up to my building.

“Ah shit.” I whispered wishing I had not given up the habit of carrying my Sig Sauer nine-millimeter pistol. It’s just that when you find a quiet and peaceful place to escape an insane world constantly carrying such a weapon is the same as keeping the serpent from the Garden of Eden as a pet. In stressful moments, it is easy for the best of us to succumb to temptation and use such a possession, for the overabundance of fools these days it is usually overwhelming. The trouble with my high-minded philosophy was that armed fools are not just a danger to themselves but have a tendency to jeopardize the rest of us who  want nothing more than to live in peace. Then there are those that are just old-fashioned evil and if I had known the person stepping out of that Suburban would be within the range of my pistol I would had shot her on sight.

“Well Dr. Gregory Mansion,” she said in that deceptively angelic voice, “it took quite the effort and expense to find you. And I must say that when I first met you with your expensive suits and oh so carefully manicured appearance I never in this world would have thought you would end up in some Mexican rat hole looking like a Jimmy Buffett reject treating patients that could only pay in chickens.”

“Hello Amanda,” I said as pleasant as I could. “I’d like to say it’s great to see you again but my mother taught me that lying was a sin.” That made her smile and chuckle in such a way that given our history sent a chill down my spine because I could easily imagine Joseph Mengele responding in a similar fashion.

***

Amanda Grey and I met twenty-six years before in Atlanta, Georgia and while it did not seem possible but she was even more beautiful standing in front of my clinic than the day I first saw her in the Centennial Hotel lobby. We were part of a group of fifty or sixty composed of many different fields of expertise, all young and supremely confident that we could conquer the world on our terms alone.  

Naturally, we were all fresh out of our respective schools and excited about receiving a personal invitation to attend a recruitment briefing from a CIA spokesperson. Thankfully, egos did not take up actual space because if it had the auditorium could not have held us all. My ego was especially inflated because I had just finished eight years of neurosurgery residency and it would not have been an understatement to say I believed I walked on water.

When you put a bunch of prima donnas in such close quarters, they naturally begin to scope each other out in an attempt to establish a social hierarchy. In a subtle way, it was all quite ruthless with a number of the possible recruits walking out before the event even started. In hindsight, I guess it was inevitable that Amanda and I would come together in some fashion given our respective natures.

I spotted her across the lobby and like a scene from some ridiculous romance novel, our eyes locked. The first thing I noticed about Amanda was her athletic body and long blonde hair, even with an overstated view of my own importance all I could think of was that she had to be a goddess. We both quickly dumped the person we were talking with and met in the middle of the room. I quickly found out that along with her glorious body she held a PhD from Cornell in applied physics. Needless to say the attraction was overwhelming and had the entire group not been called into the auditorium ten minutes later we would have probably gone back to one of our motel rooms and skipped the presentation.

After we were all seated, a nondescript bureaucrat came out to explain the details of the CIA’s recruitment including security clearances and training. The old man that came out after that to give the actual recruitment speech clearly looked like a classic spook in a John le Carre spy novel. Both Amanda and I signed on immediately and six months into our training, this enigmatic person returned to make us another offer that this time would challenge our view of reality.

During our initial training, this person would often be seen observing the students in the various classes. The general idea was that he was some evaluator and after a few weeks, we all ignored his presence for the most part.  This changed one morning when both Amanda and myself we were told to report to our supervisor’s office and found this mysterious person sitting behind the desk.

He introduced himself simply as Dr. Jamison and quickly went on to explain that he ran an offshoot of the CIA called Department 10 and that it took care of special problems far outside the usual realm of intelligence gathering duties. Dr. Jamison went on to explain those duties revolved around investigating phenomenon that pushed the boundaries of known science and technology and that he wanted us to join his team.

“You’re talking about a real-life version of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits?” I said chuckling, which brought a stern look of reproach from Dr. Jamison and one of embarrassment from Amanda.

“Yes son,” Dr. Jamison said, “certain incidents in the past have bore a similarity to a few episodes from those shows. However, our solutions have never come as easily or cleanly, in fact some of the conclusions we arrived at were the furthest thing from being perfect but at least the world goes on thankfully.” I started to ask what he meant by that last statement but decided against it and let him go on to describe what would entail if we joined. The primary requirement that sold me on joining his Department 10 was that both Amanda and I would have to earn PhD’s in other fields. For her it would be in theoretical engineering and advanced genetics for me.             

As the discussion continued, what did surprise me was how much Amanda seemed to like Dr. Jamison, almost to the point she was gushing like a teenager. She and I had been lovers almost since we first met back in Atlanta and despite her outward displays of affection to me, I was at least smart enough to realize it was mostly physical. To everyone else she came off seeming extraordinarily cold and calculating, in hindsight it was a warning I should have heeded. But in that office I had to chalk up her change in behavior from Dr. Jamison’s Sean Connery looks and obvious intelligence.

***

Amanda slammed the door of the SUV shut and walked over to the picnic table where I was sitting. With her standing inches away from me, I barely noticed the two nicely suited and heavily armed thugs that jumped out of the vehicle. “Greg,” she said coyly as she took the can of beer out of my hand, “I need to bring you back in from the proverbial cold. We’ve had something develop and we need your expertise desperately.”

“What? You must have found your missing soul and want it reattached to the hollow husk of the person you became.” I said getting sick to my stomach “Because that is the only way I would come back.” Given how well I use to know Amanda I could tell the laughter that followed was genuine, which truthfully scared me to the bone.

For what seemed like an eternity, she stood there drinking my beer and looking me over, much as a scientist examines a bacterium under a microscope. I knew Amanda was pushing close to fifty and yet she did not look a day over thirty, although when I looked in her eyes I could tell the years since we parted ways had taken a toll. In any other person I would have felt some sympathy, especially given her occupation, but I knew full well whatever Hell she had had gone through she helped make.  

“You know sugar,” she said, “I really would like to chat and catch up maybe even between some clean sheets like when we were younger but time is precious. Thomas, zap the man we need to move.”

Maybe it was all the years I spent playing the expatriate doctor and semi-drunk American trying to earn some redemption treating the poor and unfortunate but I had barely moved by the time one of Amanda’s goons pulled out a funny looking tazer. I had about half a second to ponder its appearance when a lightning bolt shot out and hit me in the chest. I fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes only to have Thomas shoot me again, after that things went very black.

Author's note: Finally had some significant computer time along with the urge to write some fiction. This went long and I should finish it at least by Monday. 

9 comments:

Pixel Peeper said...

Very curious to find out how it all turns out. This story sucked me in right from the start!

Cloudia said...

No wonder you are so busy! Wow



ALOHA from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Good start! I'm glad you were able to get in some computer time.

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: I had a completely new idea for the ending last night. I hope it works.

Cloudia: Thanks! Having to share the laptop with my wife and daughter. Quickly found out its best if I just give up the computer when they say they need it.

Susan: This was suppose to be a rather short story, it just grew.

Akelamalu said...

The real Mulder and Skully?

Great that you got the computer and can write again. Can't wait for the next instalment Beach. :)

Randal Graves said...

I just hope Mr. Greg doesn't end up hawking overpriced tequila in Cabo. *That* would be hell.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Well, if you DON'T finish it by Monday, you'll have me (and quite possibly all of the above) to answer to!

Have a good weekend - as long as it involves pounding out the rest of the story ...

Life As I Know It Now said...

You are getting better at this BB. You ought to be writing a book of short stories.

Beach Bum said...

Akelamalu: A little late and not quite to my liking I have part two posted.

Randal: I sort of pictured the famous but sadly fictional Dr. House as the hero here. And yes, I can easily see the good doctor selling second rate tequila. The funny thing is that sounds absolutely cool!

Red Nomad: Thanks! The weekend was sort of busy despite the "shiny" new laptop.

Life As I Know It: That sounds awesome and I would if I could, its just that all the usual suburban crap gets in the way.