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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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I spoke with Hal Cantor, the lawyer Carlos had recommended, on Thursday. I could tell from the way he talked on the phone that he was almost salivating over the thoughts of mixing it up with the FBI. I wondered why, but decided not to ask. I couldn't give him any information other than the matter they wanted to speak to me about was some sort of corruption. We decided to meet Monday at 9:30 at the coffee shop a block away from the FBI offices to discuss the approach we should take.
By Friday, Peter was feeling much better. He still had some residual throat pain, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been. He still used it as an excuse to get Hildy to give him ice cream almost anytime he asked. I was going to have to watch him. He was getting really good at manipulating Hildy and TJ.
Dr. Sam stopped by Friday morning on his way to the office to check on Peter and announced that his throat was looking just fine. He told me to keep giving him the antibiotics until the pills were gone and to use the throat spray only if the pain got too bad.
Peter and TJ had taken up residence in my bed at night, but I decided tonight would be the last. I had other plans for Saturday. I figured that with William here they would want him to spend the night in their room.
After a quick lunch on Saturday, the three boys and I got into the van and headed for the tennis center to pick up our three musketeers. I was looking forward to having them back home. It had been a long three weeks. We got there early. They were still having some sort of a ceremony when we arrived. It was over shortly and the teenagers poured out of the building.
"Dad!" the three of them yelled when they saw us and ran into a seven-way group hug.
"Look, we got a certificate," Chris said, holding out a rolled-up, parchment-looking paper. "It says we did good."
"Yeah, we all got one," Larry added.
"We got to go to the Schlitterbahn1 yesterday," Lenny said. "It was great. The water slides and everything, it was so neat."
"Not everybody got to go," Larry said. "Kenny had to stay here."
"Some of the parents didn't want their kids to go if they were not going to be there because some of them don't swim that well. You guys swim all the time so I authorize it for you. Who is this Kenny?" I asked.
"That's him over there," Chris said, pointing to a kid talking to a tall man. "The one with the white hair."
Kenny's hair was indeed white, not blond. In fact, Kenny's skin was white as well. If his eyes had been pink when he turned to wave to the boys, I would have thought he was an albino. Instead his eye color was almost black.
"Are you guys ready to go?" I asked.
"We got to get our stuff," Chris said. He and the twins took off for their rooms to get their clothes and rackets. The rest of us followed. It didn't take long to get all their stuff carried to the van. It looked like they had a lot more than when they first came.
On the way home, Peter had to tell them all about his operation. TJ filled in some of the details. The twins and Chris were concerned about their little brother. "How come you didn't tell us, dad?" Larry asked.
"Son, there was nothing you could do. I didn't want you to think that you had to come home to be with Peter and if you stayed at the camp, I wanted you to be able to concentrate on what they were teaching you. Peter's fine. His throat is still healing, so he has to take it easy for a few more days and then he will be back to normal."
"Can we have some of the guys we met over to our house?" Lenny asked.
"Sure, I'll need to talk to their parents, but how many do you want to invite?"
The three of them put their heads together and then Chris answered. "Ralph and Andy and Corey."
"We hung around them all the time," Larry said. "They were lots of fun."
"Didn't you guys meet any girls while you were there?" I asked, as I activated the gate and drove toward the house. There was complete silence from the three. "I take it from your silence that I might have touched on a subject you don't want to talk about in front of your brothers. Am I right?"
There was a pause and then Chris answered, "Sort of."
I was tempted to ask about their girlfriends at school, but decided it was better left unasked for the moment. I knew that Chris' friend had moved. When everybody started scrambling out of the van, I said, "Put the dirty clothes that are in your bags in the hampers in the laundry room and then join the rest of us in the family room."
The twins and Chris had to first find Hildy and give her hugs and tell her all about their experiences at the camp. That also led to everybody getting a snack. I might have expected that. Hildy was as glad to see the boys as they were to see her. When things settled down, I ushered everybody into the family room and asked them to take a seat.
"Okay, guys, we're going to have company tonight. Donald is bringing William and Lenore over for supper. They are going to spend the night," I said.
"Oh, boy," Peter said. "Can William stay in our room?"
"I figured you would want him to."
"Where's Lenore going to stay?" Joel asked.
"With my girls," Hildy answered from the kitchen. "Jeanie and Ginny will love having her spend the night."
"Hi, guys," Mike said, as he walked into the room. "It's good to see you again. Are you ready for me to beat you in tennis ... again?"
"In your dreams, college boy," Chris laughed. "Go get your racket and be prepared to eat those words. I might even spot you a game or two."
"Now that's a challenge I can't pass up," Mike responded. "I'll meet you on the court in ten minutes."
Joel and TJ decided to go swimming. Peter sat with me beside the tennis court to watch Chris take on Mike. I was interested in seeing if the tennis camp had taught them anything. Chris did spot Mike two games and then proceeded to beat him 6-2 in the first set. Mike was no slouch when it came to tennis, but Chris' speed around the court was amazing. He was always our fastest runner on the police league team and he hadn't slowed down any with age. It was possible he was even faster now. Without spotting Mike any games in the second set, Chris beat him at love.
"You must have cheated," Mike said, as he shook Chris' hand. "I know I'm not that bad."
"You didn't play bad ... for an old guy," Chris said, and took off running with Mike right behind him.
"I'll get you for that," Mike yelled, as Chris pulled away from him.
They soon came back with Mike's arm around Chris's shoulder. Both of them were laughing. While Mike and Chris were horsing around, the twins decided to get in a little practice serving. Lenny's left handed serve was going to be a weapon to be reckoned with if he kept improving.
"Impressive," Donald said, walking up behind me and giving me a one armed hug. "It looks like you have a couple of tennis pros in the making."
"You should have been here earlier and watched Chris," I said.
"Yeah," Mike chimed in. "He humiliated me. I didn't win a game against him and I've been playing tennis for close to ten years."
Chris blushed when he heard us talking, but I could tell he was pleased that he could excel at something.
I looked at my watch. It was a little after five. "The sun is over the yardarm. Let's go inside and I'll open a bottle of red wine before I start the grill."
"Sound like a winner," Donald replied.
"Mike, would you like a glass with us?" I asked.
"No thanks, I think I'll join TJ and Joel in the pool."
He had no more than gotten the words out of his mouth than he was surrounded by three young girls already attired in their swimsuits. "It looks like you're going to have company," Donald said.
In the confusion of the girls' arrival, Peter had gone back into the house and soon came back with William. They were both in their swim trunks. "Can I get in the water?" Peter asked.
"Okay, but don't overdo it." Looking over to Joel, I said, "Keep an eye on Peter until I get back out."
"Sure thing, dad."
Manfred was coming out of the house as we were about to enter. "Would you care to join us in a glass of wine?" I asked.
"Absolutely, I brought a couple of bottles that I found interesting in the Wine Shoppe the other day. I think they will go well with the steaks. Hildy's getting the steaks ready right now."
I looked at the bottles of wine that Manfred had brought. I was not familiar with the label. I read it aloud to Donald, "St. Supery Meritage Napa Valley Red Wine, 1998."
"I haven't heard of that one," Donald said. "Let's give it a taste."
I retrieved the corkscrew from the bar area and soon had the cork removed. I poured each of us a small amount in some red wine glasses. "To your health," I said, lifting my glass.
"Mmm, this is quite good," Donald said. "I'll have to remember this label."
"I agree," I said, and added more wine to each of our glasses. "I think it's time to start the grill. It'll take about 45 minutes for it to be ready to grill the steaks."
"We'll help," Manfred said, getting a nod from Donald.
Now some people are really anal about the way they prepare the fire in a grill. I'm not. The only thing I'm concerned about is that I get an even fire so that all parts of the grill are evenly heated. I never use a starter liquid of any kind. I think it taints the grill and tends to give whatever is grilled an off taste.
When the fire was going to our liking, we sat down in the loungers to watch the fun going on in the pool. Peter and William were in the shallow end of the pool batting a beach ball back and forth to each other. Another day or two and he should be back to normal.
As we sat there chatting, Hildy joined us and started to take the empty lounger. She was holding a glass of wine in one hand and a tray of carrot and celery sticks, pickle spears, chips and a couple containers of dips. Kid radar went off before she could place the tray on the picnic table and she was immediately surrounded by dripping-wet, starving kids. The adults didn't even try to get any of the snacks for fear of losing a finger or two.
The steaks were grilled to perfection. Joel and TJ helped Peter and William cut up their steaks, while Hildy and Manfred helped the girls. With all the side dishes that Hildy had fixed, nobody went away from the table hungry. That was doubly true when she brought out the carrot cake for dessert. I decided that I didn't need all those calories and settled for a cup of coffee.
After we all helped clear the dishes away and into the house, the kids retired to the family room to watch a Disney Special on TV. Mike ended up on the couch with Lenore on his lap and Ginny on his left and Jeanie on his right. That young man was going to be missed by those three when he went off to college.
"That young man is a miracle worker," Donald mused. "He has done more to bring Lenore out of her shell than all the therapists she's been to. He is one remarkable young man."
"We are definitely going to miss him," I said.
Just then the phone rang. I started to get up to answer it, but Joel said he would get it. That was all right with me. My stomach was so full from supper that I didn't want to move, if I didn't have to. Joel answered the kitchen phone, but then put it on hold and went into the library to take it. The noise of the TV probably made it difficult to hear and carry on a conversation.
A few minutes later, Joel came back and leaned down to whisper in my ear, "Can Jimmy go riding with us tomorrow?"
"Sure, why don't you tell him to come over in time for lunch and then he can go with us to the ranch," I said.
"Thanks, dad," Joel said, and ran back to the library. Twenty minutes later he returned to the family room.
'I hope he doesn't get hurt again,' I thought.
"Donald," Hildy said, "we are going to early church in the morning. Do you have any objections to us taking Lenore with us?"
"Not at all," he said. "She was really too young to go when her mother was alive. My schedule doesn't always permit me to take her and William."
It was after ten by the time all the boys had their showers taken and ready for bed. It was even later by the time they had settled down and quit talking.
Donald and I fixed breakfast Sunday morning. I discovered that he knew his way around the kitchen. We had it ready by the time we went to wake the boys. It didn't take nearly as long for the food to disappear as it did for us to make it.
"These pancakes are really good," Joel said. "They taste different."
"That's Donald's secret. He added some of the bacon drippings to the pancake batter," I told him.
"I'm glad you know the secret," Joel said. "Now you can make them this way all the time."
"Yeah," TJ added. "I like 'em."
Mike arrived home after church with Jimmy. He had taken his own car instead of riding with Hildy and Manfred and picked up his brother at their home. After Jimmy was greeted by everybody, he and Joel went outside to talk.
We had a quick lunch of sandwiches and then headed for the ranch to ride the horses. The three girls were undecided as to whether they wanted to ride the horses or stay here and play. They finally decided to go to the ranch, but were uncertain if they would ride. It took the van and Manfred's SUV to transport all of us. As it turned out when we got to the ranch, they decided that they wanted to play with Carrie Louise instead of riding.
The rest of us went riding. I did caution Peter not to gallop or race Lady. He frowned, but urged Lady into a quick trot. William and TJ rode with him on their horses.
Jimmy was no novice when it came to riding. He rode one of the quarter horses that Charlie brought over. He didn't shy away from the races that the boys engaged in. He and his mount won every race that didn't have another quarter horse in it. Their initial burst of speed and quick starts left the other horses behind.
It seemed as if all the boys had some sort of built-in clock that told them when it was time for a snack. I had just mentioned to Donald that we should probably get the coolers out of the van, when we heard the sounds of ten horses racing toward the fence.
"I know they could not have heard me," I laughed, shaking my head.
"ESP," Donald replied.
All the time they were having their snacks, William and Peter had their heads together and whispering. It was clearly apparent that they were plotting something. When they finished, Peter came over to me and climbed onto my lap and William did the same with his dad. Their scheme was about to be revealed.
"Dad..." Peter began.
"Yes," I said, barely containing my laughter. I looked over to Donald and he was having the same problem.
"Can William sleep over tonight?"
"Shouldn't you ask his dad if he can?"
"William said his dad didn't care," Peter said quietly. He looked up at me with his puppy dog eyes and I knew he was working his manipulative skills on me.
As I looked at Donald we both could not control our laughter any longer. We both nodded our agreement and I said, momentarily controlling my laughing, "Yes, William can spend the night."
"Oh, boy," he said, jumping off my lap. He grabbed William's hand and they took off for their horses.
Charlie decided not to ride with the boys after their snacks. "Where's Jessica?" I asked.
He frowned and said, "That darn project she's working on. She spends all the time she's home working on it. I'll be glad when it's finished next week."
Changing the subject, I asked, "How are all the crops doing?" I knew this would set him off and it did. For the next thirty minutes he regaled us with how each crop was doing and status of the pregnancies of the quarter horse mares. It was clear that he loved what he was doing.
Somehow Lenore found out that William was going to spend the night, but before she could make her case to her dad, he told her she could stay as well. That made three girls very happy.
When we got back home, I told Jimmy that he was welcome to stay and eat with us.
"Thanks, Mr. J., but I've got some studying to do. Maybe next time..."
"Jimmy!" Mike scolded.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to invite myself," Jimmy said, ducking his head.
"Nothing to be sorry about, you're welcome to come visit anytime. I know Joel would enjoy your visits," I said.
They got in Mike's car and drove off.
"Thanks, dad, Jimmy is so much fun to be with. We never run out of things to talk about. I wish he lived closer," Joel said wistfully.
"Well, maybe you could go visit him some evening when he's not working."
"That'd be nice. He said he's working the day shift. He gets off at five. If..."
"I know. If you had a car, you could go see him. I wasn't going to tell you this until later in the week, but I've been thinking about getting a new car. The BMW is four years old. How would you like to go with me shopping for a new car on Tuesday?" I could see the light bulb going off in his head.
"You mean I could use the BMW?"
"Yes, within reason. A couple times a week wouldn't be out of the question. Would that work?"
"Yeah," he said. I wasn't prepared for the bear hug I received at that point. "I'll be really careful, I promise."
"I know you will be."
It didn't take the boys as long to settle down once they were in bed tonight. The activities of the day had tired them out. Donald and I had a glass of wine in the sitting area of the master bedroom before we retired for the night. I was feeling very comfortable with this relationship.
Donald had to leave early the next morning for a meeting before William and Lenore were awake. He said he would have his driver pick them up and take them home later in the morning.
I left shortly after 8:30 to make the meeting with Hal Cantor. He arrived at the coffee shop shortly after I had ordered a cup of coffee. Hal was a short man, tending toward being overweight. He was also a bundle of energy.
"I've had the unfortunate happenstance of a meeting with Beekman," he said, as he sat down. "He's a pompous piece of ... crap."
"What do you recommend that we do?" I asked.
"First of all we let the jackass make the first move. We'll try to get him to lay out as much information as he is willing to divulge. That will give us a good idea what to do next and how to answer any questions that he might have. The jerk so loves to hear his own voice."
"How in the world does Agent Beekman keep his job? Everyone I talk to about him has the same opinion. Even the SAC gave me the impression he held little respect for the man. I would have thought they would have eased him out long ago."
"You would think so," Hal said. "I don't know that it's true, but I suspect it is, he supposedly has a close relative very high up in the FBI hierarchy."
"That would explain a lot," I said. "I suppose we had better make our way there. It wouldn't do to be late for a meeting with the infamous Agent Beekman."
We finished our coffee and walked to the FBI office. After identifying ourselves to the receptionist, signing in and getting visitor badges, we were escorted to a conference room on the second floor. When we entered the room, there was no one there. We were told to take a seat. It was still about two minutes before our ten o'clock appointment.
We waited for over 15 minutes and still neither Agent Beekman nor anyone else had shown up. I could tell that Hal was getting more agitated with every passing minute.
"If that so-and-so doesn't show up soon, we're leaving," Hal said.
He had no more than spoken those words when Agent Beekman entered the room. "Cantor, what are you doing here?"
"It's nice to see you again, also," Hal said. His words literally dripped with sarcasm.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Beekman muttered. Placing a large folder on the table in front of him, he opened it and withdrew several sheets of paper which he read for a couple of minutes.
My patience was wearing thin. "May I ask what it is that you think I might know that would be useful to you in your investigation?"
"I'll ask the questions," he said icily.
"Well then, ask them," I said, mimicking his tone of voice.
"What do you know about Rekab Automotive?"
"Nothing. I've never heard of it."
"If you've never heard of it, why have you been nominated to be a director of the corporation?"
"That has got to be a mistake. The only board that I sit on is ASEC, the charity that I founded. I'm Chairman of the Board of Directors."
"Is this your address?" He shoved a piece of paper across the table to me. It did, indeed, have my correct address listed.
"Yes, that's my address."
"Do you still deny that you know anything about Rekab?"
Hal spoke up, "Before my client answers anymore questions, you will have to provide him with more information about why he is here."
"He's here because I ordered him here," Beekman spat out.
"Wrong," Hal said. "He's here because your boss, Kevin Baldwin, persuaded him to come. Now you either give out with some information or we are walking out of here."
"You do and you'll both be arrested."
"Wrong again, Beekman. You have no grounds or even an accusation that you could use as an excuse to have either of us arrested. If you did convince some poor schmuck to arrest either one or both of us, I would take great pleasure in suing the pants off you for false arrest, official oppression and whatever else I could think of. Now cut the bullshit and tell us what is going on." I could tell that Hal was really beginning to enjoy this.
"Okay, this Rekab Automotive is suspected of laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. Mr. Johnson's name came up when he was nominated to the board. Rekab is a wholly owned subsidiary of DAB Holdings, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of DB Limited, Inc."
"So?" I said, not knowing how this could involve me. I knew nothing about this nomination to the board.
"It has taken us a lot of time and manpower to find out who owns DB Limited, Inc. since it's registered in the Cayman Islands. That information came into our hands two weeks ago and we've been tracking down leads since then. That's when your name surfaced for a second time."
"How can that be? I've never heard of those companies either," I said.
"Perhaps you know someone who owns stock in DB Limited."
"I guess that's always possible. I know a lot of people that own stock, but that doesn't mean that we discuss our stock portfolios when we meet."
"The sole owner of DB Limited, Inc. is Donald A. Baker. Do you know him?" Beekman asked, with a smirk on his face.
1Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort - Voted the best water park in the world 10 years in a row. New Braunfels was the home of the original Schlitterbahn.
To be continued.
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