Chapter 66

When Jim and Hank were the first to return from their assignment of searching for the Chosen, Cash was in a frenzy. Besides having too much coffee to drink, he had been impatient to tell them his news. He was standing by the door when they opened it and they almost collided. Immediately they saw his excitement.

“What’s going on,” Jim caught his breath.

“We picked the right house. Finally a break. It looks like the church is working again, just like we thought. Have you seen any of them on the street?”

“That’s great, did you see Trish?” Jim seemed revived by the news.

“I think so but it was too far away to make certain. Where’s Pete?”

Hank settled onto a sleeping bag and leaned over to examine the contents of the cooler. “We just passed him. I guess he’s parking the car. I’m hungry.”

“The cooler is empty. I had to throw some of the food out. No more ice.” Cash smiled, the first they had seen coming from his poker face. “I’ll wait and tell you all at the same time.” He looked nervous He kept walking around the room and looking out of the small window.

Pete came in, shaking his head. “I fell asleep when I watched the front of the service station for two hours.  Sorry, hope I didn’t miss them.” He reached in the cooler for a sandwich. “Damn the ice must have melted.” He put the lid back and sank down beside Hank who only nodded. “I’m hungry.”

“That was my line,” Hank complained.

Cash could hardly contain himself.  “Didn’t you tell me that the head of this outfit was short, dark haired man who looked almost Oriental?”
Jim poured some coffee “Yeah.”

“Well, about an hour ago he drove off in a new Cadillac. I suspect everyone left the place to work the crowds, and he called his henchman to pick him up. Quite a classy ride for someone who claims poverty. I want to know what he’s up to and where he goes in that Caddy.” He reached into his pocket and drew out a roll of film. “Hank, I want you to take this to a camera shop to have it developed. Put a rush on it even if it costs more. If I was lucky enough to get the plate, I may have some help to identify the owner.”

“I’m hungry and the cooler’s warm.” Hank said again.

“I saw a deli on the way here from the apartment, but I want to see when the snake returns to his rock. Pete and Jim, while Hank takes care of the film, I want you to get us some ice and decent, hot food, and a bunch of sandwiches for the next two days. This one is on me.” He handed them some bills and waved Jim down when he protested. ” I’ll keep watch. This may be a dilapidated building but it‘s a good cover and it brought us luck so far.”

Soon after they left Cash picked up the binoculars again. He realized the late afternoon sun would soon be gone and with the daylight this hiding place would have to go dark for the long night and they had to be ready.

Trish was not in the first group to return to the farmhouse. He recorded the time in his log book. There was very little he left to memory. Memory had its way of rising to the occasion, and then changing with time. He was about to stand up for a stretch when the small dark man appeared from the corner mom and pop grocery store carrying a large paper bag. There was no sign of the Caddy. He made a note. The man didn’t look like he had walked far. It was a hilly area and he wasn’t out of breath. Cash figured he had been dropped off so the others wouldn’t see him in a shiny new car.

In a few minutes the truck pulled up.  He saw what looked like Trish. When she saw the man waiting for their return at the door she hurried toward him. He saw her face light up at the sight of him. He kicked the rotted baseboard under the window and cursed to himself. That’s how it is. He had seen that look of adoration on young women who were the personal slaves to men like the dark one. Gutter trash he was. Find the good in all men he had once heard in a sermon. There were men who had no good in themselves. They used people for their own purposes. They got rich on the misery and heartaches of others.