Chapter 85

May 11th, 2012

Mandy

It'd been many weeks now, since I had the time to get up to The Cabin, and I really missed it. My Dear Mother's passing precluded any trips anywhere. I wanted to be with or near to her everyday, until she passed. And Dad & Becky needed me with them in York, over the past 3+ weeks, to care for her and help get her affairs in order.

So later, I packed my Gear, Equipment & Weapons – several changes of clothes in my old VietNam-service US Army Duffel Bag, Full-Auto Version, Class III AR-10® .308cal (7.62 x 51mm NATO), with the new 15½" Barska® 10-36x Zoom w/ 100mm Lens Sniper Scope, and

Green Mil-Dots and .308cal ammo in the new 20-round magazines, my new Remy® 11-87 Versa®-Max Tactical Semi-Automatic 12ga Shotgun with devastating Federal® 12ga .00 Buck (9 pellets) "FliteControl®" Shells, and EoTech® Red Dot Scope, my Beowulf® .50cal with a newly-fitted Trijicon® TA648-50 6x48 ACOG Scope, and 10 extra 11-round mags for the .50cal 335gr rounds, a Single Lens 8 x 20mm Spy Scope, my daily carry-piece, the Kimber® 1911 "Eclipse Target II" .45cal ACP, with a Premium 8-round Wilson Combat Magazine in the well, a Galco® PLE Paddle Holster, a special Galco® Paddle Dual 8-Round Mag Carrier for 2 extra Premium 8-round Wilson Combat Magazines, my invaluable Satchel Bag, full of "all kinds of survival necessities", Yellow Safety Raingear, my 12" LLBean® "Maine Insulated Hunting Boots", a multi-caliber Hoppe's® Premium Field Gun Cleaning Kit, a new 16" Bowie® Knife, the lightweight Barn Coat, my Deputy Sheriff Badge & ID and Deputy Sheriff Baseball Cap – all fitting perfectly in the Jeep's

spacious Cargo Bay and back seats – in the evening, and decided to leave mid-morning. I really needed some time to myself to think about many things.

I left York at 0930hrs (9:30am) and took I-83 North to the exit for Adam's Junction, nestled in the now Spring-green mountains of northern Pennsylvania. I soon hit the rural area just off of the interstate, and drove along the long and winding side road, heading east to "The Cabin", just a few miles south of Town. The snow was finally gone since I was last up here, 3 weeks ago. The stream behind The Cabin was running fast and full, from the snow melt's run-off. I pulled into my 1,000ft gravel drive, parked under the left-side carport, disarmed the building and went inside to see Jenny, who almost knocked me over when she jumped-up to lick my face. I watered & fed her first, turned-up the heat to 78°F, built a roaring fire, brought-in the perishable groceries and put them into the Kitchen 'Fridge & Pantry, and then carried-in and unpacked my Equipment, Weapons & Gear. I remembered to call Capt Clay at the AJ Police Station & Town Hall, left a message on his cellphone, letting him know that I'd be in town and available for some "Deputy Duty" on Saturday and Sunday, if needed. It was now 1145hrs (11:45am), time to feed Jenny and make some lunch for myself. Since I brought 3-lbs of fresh-picked asparagus along, I steamed it, pan-fried some cut-Italian/Garlic Bread croutons and had a Soft-Boiled Egg w/Green Asparagus, Crme Frache w/Herbs, and Butter-Fried Croutons, with several tall glasses of Ocean Spray® Diet Blueberry Juice. After doing the dishes, I plopped down in a comfy Living Room chair, leaned my head back, closed my eyes and rested. It was 1045hrs (10:45am).

It had been a while since I'd been in to see the AJPD Offices and to check my Office's desk for the usual "piles of paperwork" which Capt Clay always seemed to

dump on it. Most of them were "Cold Case Files" – cases needing solutions by requiring inordinate amounts of time and manpower – and other recent/past Incident Reports, just simply needing a "final resting place" in a filing cabinet. He was lousy at filing, and Ruth and their 3 Police Dispatchers – Mary Ellen, Ruth and Mary Ann – were not predisposed to doing his paperwork or filing, even though he is the Chief Sheriff. Considering what the new High-Speed Computer Room looked like – a snake's nest, IMO – it was almost a full-time job just figuring-out what worked, what didn't, why and what to do about it. They really needed to get an "IT guy" in here, to work full-time on that mess. What a frigging nightmare if when something, anything, went wrong.

I put on my Deputy Sheriff Badge on my belt, ID in my wallet's back pocket, Deputy's Baseball Cap, my daily carry-piece, the 2009 Kimber® 1911 "Eclipse Target II" .45cal ACP, with a Premium 8-Round Wilson Combat Magazine, in my comfy Galco® PLE™ Paddle Holster of my right hip, and a Galco® Paddle Dual 8-Round Mag Carrier on my left side, for 2 add'l Premium 8-Round Wilson Combat Magazines. It was a brisk 54°F, so I wore my Lined Barn Coat, checked the windows and doors, gave Jenny a final feeding, armed the building and left for Town. I parked in AJPD Space #7, at 1105hrs (11:05am), and went inside. Dispatcher Mary Ellen smiled and nodded me back to the Main Room Office area. Capt Clay was back in the AC'd Computer Room, down on his hands and knees, tracing a loose InterNet connection,

Wowzer!

which I saw as soon as I entered the room. I simply plugged it in, and the "connectivity problem" was solved. Clay was amazed. I got lucky on that one.

"Sometimes Clay, you just need to stand back and take a wide view of things", I said. He smiled and we went into Clay's Office to talk. He wanted to know what I was doing these days, now that my former Business was now "Under Sale Contract", and I had effectively "retired". I told him that I was "still decompressing" from the past 21+ years of owning/running the 20-acre GC&N Complex, and that If you've got nothing to do, find something to do. If it's not important, make it important. I also had other more important responsibilities to Mom & Dad, in case they needed me for anything at all. He again offered me a full-time job, when I was ready for it. I thanked him and noticed that a new clerical employee, "Mandy" – Amanda Ellen Barker – had just come into his office with coffee for us, and to ask if we needed any filing done. I was absolutely-stunned at her beauty. I was definitely "smitten", and Clay could see it, bigtime. After the untimely death of my fianceé, Gabrielle Louisa Montserrat, in December 2010, I'd pretty much kept to myself. I remembered back to when I first met her, and I hadn't had those feelings since her and our baby's death. But all of a sudden, I exploded inside. Clay was smiling ear-to-ear, and so I was, too. I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying anything untoward and dumb, so I just smiled. I could feel the laser beams from my eyes on her. My brow was sweating a little. Mandy was now blushing profusely, and I felt bad for her, since I caused it. Damn; I couldn't help myself.

After Mandy left, I excused myself to a smiling-like-an-idiot Clay, and went over to one of the Deputy's unoccupied desks in the Main Room, and logged-into the AJPD Personnel Dept Files, to look-up one Amanda Ellen Barker's records. I soon felt Clay lean on the back of the chair.

"You're not doing what I think you're doing, are you?"

I replied, "Yes, I'm probably doing just that. What is it you think I'm doing, anyway?"

"Technically, that's illegal for a Civilian to hack into Official Police Records and Files, you know."

I said, "Wait a minute; I thought I was a fully-deputized-authorized Deputy Sheriff? Besides, I don't know how to hack."

"Well, you are when you're working, but you aren't when you aren't, technically-speaking. You're still a part-time Volunteer Deputy Sheriff", said Clay. "In fact, my very best one."

"What about when I have to act officially as a Deputy, when I'm off-duty, and you guys aren't available?"

"Then you are when you do, but you aren't since you're not, right now. I'm not sure what I just said. Anyway, you're my guest in here. But you have my non-permission permission, to continue the search, er, previous activity, whatever that is. I wasn't here and we didn't have this conversation. Just don't print-out any documents; paper trails will get us both into trouble."

I smiled, "Okay, fair enough. Whatever you just said. What conversation, Bub?" Clay left for his Office and I continued.

I got what I wanted about Mandy. Now, I had to either memorize it or write it down. I Most people don't have trouble seeing what's and right and wrong; doing it is sometimes complicated, but knowing what's right usually isn't so hard. tore-off 3 yellow tablet sheets, so my writing wouldn't leave any traces on the rest of the tablet's pages, and copied what I needed, quickly. Then, I closed out her file, went into the C:/User/Recent_Files, erased the data/time entry and put the desk computer back to the "AJPD" screensaver. No trails to worry about, now.

I folded the papers into my Barn Coat pocket and went back into my Office, where I saw Mandy sitting on a footstool, busily-filing all those files and papers which I'd moved from my desk, to the available chairs, in smaller piles. It was 1155hrs (11:55am). She turned around, "Yes, I know all about you."

"You do? All about me what?" Now, I was the one blushing.

"About your whole life's history, in great detail. That's one of my jobs here; knowing about people, things and stuff", she said, matter-of-factly. And with a unbelieveable smile, which melted my heart.

"Oh, swell. Can we have a coffee sometime, and talk about it? You know, things and stuff?"

She immediately replied, "Oh yes, I'd like that very much. But the Captain wants you, now."

"How do you know that? He didn't say anything to me?" Just then the buzzer at my desk phone went-off, and it was Clay. I looked at Mandy in amazement. He said, "Can you come in here; I need your opinion and expertise on some things?"

I'd rather regret the things I've done, than the things I haven't done.

I said, "Sure, I'll be right in." I asked Mandy how she did that, and she just shrugged and went back to filing. I left for Clay's Office, next door, but not through the AJPD Conference Room shortcut. I knocked on the open doorframe and went in.

Clay said, "She's quite an amazing lady, isn't she? Her "intuition" can be a tad bit unnerving, too. She reminds me of that guy, Cpl "Radar" O'Reilly in the old 70s TV Series, M*A*S*H, who always knew (ESP) what was about to happen. I think you'll make a great couple. Once you get used to that "6th sense" of hers. But I'm sure you know that, by now."

"Oh yeah, I do now. What can I help you with?"

Capt Clay told me that there was another planned/TBD "Spec-Op" (special operation) with the Feds running it – no real details yet, but probably more targeted meth/coke labs in the mountains – and he wanted my opinion on terrain approaches in a very secluded and forested area, with limited access, called Wagner Valley, 15 miles north of Adam's Junction's northernmost Town Limits. Very, very "TOP SECRET/EYES ONLY". Since it was a Federal Op, there were no boundaries; they had jurisdiction

*everywhere*, and we'd be along for back-up support and prisoner transport. I would probably be tapped again for my long-range Sniper experience, as I had on this one weekend's Spec-Op, and numerous other occasions. I really tried to pay attention to Clay's briefing, but I was distracted by Mandy.

Clay said, "I can see you're elsewhere, right now. It's lunchtime; why don't you ask her out for a coffee or something?"

"I'm sorry, Clay; I'm just distracted. I did ask her, and she said she'd love to. It's been a long time since... well, you know what I mean."

He smiled. "What the hell are you waiting for? Get moving, big guy. Take as long as you want; she's still on-the-pay-clock as long as she's with you; that'd be 'official business', as far as I'm concerned. Move it!"

What a great guy. By now, it was 1230hrs (12:30pm) and I found Mandy in the lunchroom, by herself. "Hi, Mandy. How about some lunch and coffee at that new place just down the block, Emily's Family Restaurant?"

"I love to but I can't; I'm working and only have about 10 minutes left until I have to get back to filing all those... but you got the Captain to okay it, didn't you?"

"How'd you know? Yes, he okayed it. Let's go; I'm hungry and you can't live on just that celery and cola crap. Let's get some serious lunch." Truth be told, I wasn't all that hungry, but I was dying for a chance to spend some time with her. We got our coats and walked by Dispatcher Mary Ellen, who smiled and winked at us. Mandy blushed again; I think she was reading Mary Ellen's mind. I wish I could do that. Uh, no I don't. We walked around the corner to the restaurant, were seated and talked, and talked and talked about everything and then some. She somehow knew that I now knew all about her, but didn't say that she'd seen me on one of the

Office computers looking-up her file. We finally ordered the jumbo-lump crabcakes, had coffee and got an order of crabcakes-to-go, as a thank-you for Capt Clay's courtesy. I paid the bill and tip, and we walked slowly back to the AJPD & Town Hall, still talking about "things". Rain was coming; I could smell it and the sky was now heavily overcast. We got the same ear-to-ear smile and wink from Mary Ellen as we returned, at 1330hrs (1:30pm). This time, I felt my face getting warm. I thanked Mandy for having lunch with me and reached out to shake her hand, but she leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek, and left for her desk. Wow; just wow.

I checked-in with Clay, who was also smiling, thanked him and gave him the take-out order for his lunch. He mentioned the lipstick imprint of my cheek. I just grinned. I told him that I had some errands to do and "Cabin chores", and that I'd be in to work at 0745hrs 7:45am for the Saturday 0800-1700hrs (8am-5pm) shift. I let the Jeep warm-up for a few minutes, as the rain started, stopped for gas at Roy's Shell Gas/Service Station, and headed back to The Cabin at 1415hrs (2:15pm). Jenny was hungry so I gave her an entire can of her favorite Canned Iams® Food, refilled her 2 dry food bowls with Dry Iams®, and changed/refilled her water bowl. Actually, there weren't any "chores" to do, as

William-The-Caretaker had everything done and ready for me, as usual. I built a roaring fire, armed the building's armed the building's Honeywell® Lynx™ Plus® Security System, grabbed a long hot shower and some fresh clothes, poured a tall iced-glass of Ocean Spray® Diet Blueberry Juice, picked-up the still-unfinished copy of "Ameritopia", took-out the 3 pages of hand-written notes about Mandy and settled into the Comfy Living Room Couch, to read about Mandy until dinner. I nodded-off after less than a half-hour, at 1730hrs (5:30pm).

My old Nokia 6060 "Clamshell" cellphone was across the room, on a coffee table stacked with books I'm been reading, stored in one of my recently-purchased Glass Front, Oak Barrister's Bookcases, and its distinctive "24" CTU ring gently woke me up. I heard the pounding rain on the roof.

It was Terry, my Commercial Realtor in York, calling, and he needed to meet with me right away, about the sale of my GC&N Business, to another potential party. An "informal offer" had come in, and we needed to meet with my Corporate Attormey and Corporate CPA, to review the proposal, sort through it, since the #1 potential buyer had just "fallen through the cracks". But in any case, my immediate presence was required, if we were to speed-up the process on beginning the million-dollar sale. I told him that I was planning on spending the night here, and would leave by 0800hrs (8am) on Saturday, get home, unpack and take care of Murphy, and

then be in his downtown York Offices by 1000hrs (10am), for the meeting with him, my Attorney and CPA. It was now 1945hrs (7:45pm), and Jenny and I were both hungry. Time to eat and then get some sleep.

I fired-up the Char-Broil® Patio Grill to grill two 16oz Filet Mignons, some Sauteed Onions & Roasted Red Peppers, 2-lbs of Oven-Roasted Russet Potatoes, drizzled w/ EVOO & Kosher Sea Salt and 2-lbs of Roasted, Sea-Salted & Buttered Brussel Sprouts, grilled Garlic Bread and several tall, iced glasses of Ocean Spray® Diet Blueberry-Pomegranate Juice. Jenny got some Filet Mignon, too. Can't forget her! After dinner, I cleared the Kitchen Table, did the dishes and put them in the double-sink's rack to dry. I haven't used the new, built-in dishwasher in many months, it occurred to me. Heh; whatever. I called Capt Clay and told him that I had to leave early in the morning and wouldn't be able to work any shifts this weekend, for him. He understood and wished me luck with the Business' sale. I called Mandy's voicemail at the AJPD, and left a "thank you for lunch" message, and said that I'd like to see her again whenever I returned to Adam's Junction. I also called William-The-Caretaker to let him know to take-over care of The Cabin and Jenny, beginning at 1100hrs (11am), the next day. I decided to read for another couple of hours and get to bed by 2300hrs (11pm), so I could get up at 0600hrs (6am), get some breakfast and quick "Cabin chores" done, and leave by 0800hrs (8am). I armed the building, reset the front/rear spotlights and front porch light, re-stoked the fire with some split firewood, and read the 3 pages of my hastily-scribbled notes about Mandy; mmmmmmm, Mandy. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes, thinking about her.

Jenny was licking my dangling hand and woke me at 2315hrs (11:15pm). I let the fire die-down, and headed to bed. My 2009 Kimber® 1911 "Eclipse Target II" .45cal ACP, with a Premium 8-round Wilson Combat Magazine in the well, 3 extra 8-round

mags and my "ancient" 2006 Nokia 6060 "Clamshell" Cellphone were on the nightstand, next to the bed. Always. I leave the cellphone on overnight, after it's finished "trickle-charging" for 1-2hrs, since an emergency call might come-in from anyone, at any time, and I'd need to respond ASAP. I was asleep within 5 minutes. So was Jenny.

I was up at 0500hrs (5am), splashed some cold water in my face, grabbed a shower and fresh clothes, fed and watered Jenny, made Country Bacon, Grits, Sunny-Up Eggs, "Texas Toast" & Butter and coffee for breakfast, did the dishes and put them into the double-sink's rack to dry, had a "talk with Jenny", packed my Duffel Bag, gathered my Weapons, Equipment and Gear, packed the Jeep, armed the building and left. It was just getting light at 0645hrs (6:45am) here, the sun was peeking over the mountains and a fog was still sitting in the lower areas. I headed down the long sideroad to I-83 South and picked-up the interstate, which had light but already growing traffic, at this early hour. So much for my "vacation" to Adam's Junction and The Cabin, but I'd be back, next weekend, if possible.

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