Most people hate the rain, but when you grow up in one of the rainiest places on the planet you have a different perspective. From the Cropp River in New Zealand Oliver Greene emerged as a collector of bumper shoots. When he met Carina, his Sous Chef wife she was the one who suggested the ingenuous design.
Carina’s best friend Zoey asked about the idea one night as they walked into her restaurant.
“I call it a win-win. I made him see it was better than having them all sit idly by. Plus I have a new closet!”
“Why would anyone submit to that?” Zoey whispered to her mom, careful to not utter the words loud enough that her father could hear. She’d never had the courage to ask him herself.
“I don’t understand it honey,” her mom said brushing a strand of her from her teen’s eyes. “What I do know is that this place,” she said gesturing to the small replica of the special academy her husband attended, “made your father who he is today.”
Around the corner their words were loud enough to generate a foreboding smile from a husband and father. Soon, very soon.
Custis Rappaport was the oldest man alive in 1957 when the Russian spacecraft named Sputnik became the first satellite delivery vehicle to successfully place a foreign man-made object in the stratosphere. In his days he’d seen the war that threatened to kill his country and the first automobile. But now the march of technology had broken one of his favorite sights, the night sky.
“Damn smarties have done it now!” Custis roared, bursting into the town hall. Mayor Jack Pike was used to the weekly admonitions from his most stalwart constituent.
“You have two choices,” the well dressed man said, adjusting his top hat as he stiffly checked his watch, “and thirty-one seconds to tell me which.”
Mike stared at the mirror reflecting the building he saw his beloved Kimberly disappear into. He didn’t know how, but knew he couldn’t lose her again. But the logic screamed this was only a dream. He could allow the seconds from this “mad hatter” to expire and wake up or . . .
“Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen . . .”, came the insistent deadline.
Mike squeezed the freshly bought engagement ring into his closed hand.
Charli began to doubt her herself and her research as waiter after waiter emerged from the kitchen, but none were the hunk she saw serving at her best friend’s wedding. She knew they made a connection. He touched her hand, for Pete’s sake. Sure, it was to help her up after she stumbled because she was staring at him, but it counted.
“Excuse me,” she said holding her palm up to stop a waiter. “Is there a waiter with you about six foot-four, curly hair?”
“You mean Johnny. No, he went chasing after some chick he met at a wedding!”
Six chairs encircled Sally’s garden table. One for mother, one for father, one for Louie who would certainly have his uniform neatly pressed just as it was before she shipped off to war. The fourth reserved for the fellow who waited for Louie to leave, of course Louie couldn’t know that. Then two more for the Bridge club ladies. It would be a splendid party.
“How long are you going to let her monopolize the table?” Orderely Hal asked.
The name alone was designed to ward off all-comers. The Black Hand Trail was a harrowing passage between two small villages in the remote part of the country. The only groups that braved the trip were members of the Gamboya and Xollee tribes.
Thirteen miles into the twenty-three mile trail the narrowest part barely allowed a single person. Legend said once two young men met at his choke point. Both tribes were too proud to acquiesce to the other. The young ones held out a hand to stop the other. In the frigid air frostbite soon won out.
Silently the two men slipped through the water fronting the location confirmed to be the destination of their target. They had two lines of instruction: One for rendition and the other for removal. Which it would be was still a moving target. The diplomats were toiling endless hours on the former, but the team favored the cleaner option. Dragging on overweight oligarch across three borders would be no picnic.
Through night vision binoculars they peered at the crowd gathered at a gala in their target’s honor. No question about it, either way would be so messy.