Saturday, July 19, 2008

Independence Days

So it's four a.m. and I can't sleep and I have been very, very bad about maintaining this project. And, amazingly enough, some people have noticed! Who would have thunk it. I have missed the Independence Day some 18 countries, including Canada, the US, France, Mongolia, Iraq, South Korea, Argentina and Rwanda. Betcha didn't know Iraq even had an Independence Day, didja? I wonder what they use it for? Is it a holiday and do they blow up extra stuff

Let's see; what's new?

The Tour de France is brand new and scrubbed clean. No drugs, no steroids, HGH or other performance enhancing doobies of any kind. Or, at least, none that has managed to trigger positives on the tests. I am all for Taking Back The Tour. Also, Washington DC's Mall which has been treated for decades as a third-rate county fairground.; More on that at a later date.

The US economy, to put it in politically correct terms, is in the shitter. Lots of hand-wringing but the fact is we've been borrowing against the future for a long time and it's caught up with us. The dollar has fallen 40% as compared to the Euro since our current prez came in. The Saudis recently told Dubya to go screw himself when he asked for a price relief on oil. Things are breaking down--our infrastructure has reached critical mass. Bridges, roads, dams, power grids, schools, health care and law enforcement are stretched to the breaking point, and breaking. More and more people are having to choose between food and light. Homes and cars are being reposessed at record rate. About the only piece of good news is that GM will soon shut down the production of Hummers as microbe-sized SMART cars are becoming so popular there's a six-months waiting list. Cool, hunh?

And on the strictly personal side, a madman who thinks I slept with his estranged wife has threatened to kill me. That's a first.

Enough nonsense. Here's installment 33 of Wasted Miracles.

Chapter 8
We seem to have a small problem,” said the captain’s mistress to
the captain.
Captain Roderick Stuart looked up. As always, he was charmed by the sight of her. She was deeply tanned but the sun had not ravaged her skin . He knew from having watched her do it that she adhered to a nightly discipline of applying three different moisturizers, skin scrubs and a thick coat of mud she claimed came from the Dead Sea were the scrolls had been discovered. Her hair was thick and auburn, tied back at the nape of her neck with a bow. Captain Stuart smiled, pulled her down so she was sitting on his lap. “And what would that be?”
“A couple of hookers.”
“Again?” It seemed lately that every single cruise was beset by them and Captain Stuart remembered earlier days when this was not so.
“I already called the home office,” said his mistress. “They did some checking and just got back to me.” She waved a sheet of fax paper in front of him. “I wouldn’t have bothered you with it but you are, after all, the captain.”
It pleased him to hear this. At home, he wasn’t much of anything, as his wife liked to remind him. At sea, he was God.
He dislodged her gently from his lap, stood. “So what do we have?”
His mistress handed him the fax, took the chair he had just vacated.
“Jennifer Jamieson and Clare Drake. Two school teachers, ostensibly from the Middleburg Middle School in Virginia. According to the form, the cruise was awarded to them by grateful parents. Very hoity-toity place, attended by children of the horse country set. The problem is when the home office called the school, the school had never heard of these two. “
Captain Stuart said, “Hm.” The home office, he knew, retained the services of private investigators throughout the world and was on quite friendly terms with Interpol as well as the police forces of numerous nations. It was the price of being a successful line that catered to the wealthy. The home office had long ago learned that where the wealthy went, so did predators of all kinds. It sought to protect its clients and did not shrink from using its web of informants to avoid the slightest whiff of scandal.
“They’re in cabin 5-18,” said the mistress. “They’ve been quite discreet, actually. But they apparently aroused the suspicion of Mrs. Worthington, of the Ontario Worthingtons, who saw her husband conversing with both of them and then caught him cashing in a handful of traveler’s checks. The poor man was not up to his wife’s onslaught and confessed. It seems these ladies do not come cheap. Mr. Worthington had more than $2,000. That is apparently their fee for an afternoon’s pleasure.”
“Two thousand for both?”
The captain’s mistress gave him a sidelong glance. “Yes, for both. Do I detect a note of interest?”
Captain Stuart made a great show of denying any such thing. “No, no. I was just wondering. That’s quite a lot of money. What could they possibly have to offer for such a sum?”
The captain’s mistress ran her hands around his waist and down, cupped him gently through his trousers. “Well,” she said, “I can’t be sure. But if you offer me $2,000 for an afternoon’s work, I’m sure I could invent an interesting thing or two.”

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