For the fourth time since they had finished dinner, Kian removed the chair wedged under the doorknob and walked out onto the porch. The last rays of the summer sun had long ago fallen below the horizon and now even the twilight had passed. Aidan watched as she switched on the porch light and looked toward Jimbo’s mess kit, tucked behind a nearby bush. She switched off the light and went back into the house. “Still there,” she said. “I’m worried. What if something happened to him?”
“He’s okay,” Aidan said with more confidence than he felt. If there were just three or four people to watch, Jimbo was up to the task. But now there was a fifth and Aidan suspected more were coming, many more if Power had told him the truth. Unless all those perps stuck together, they would be hard to track. Still, he told himself, he would know if Jimbo was in trouble. He always did.
Aidan was just settling back to the task of sorting Red’s papers when he felt his spine creep. “Kian, turn off those lights, someone’s coming.”
Aidan stared at the basement door for a minute. He drew his Sig Sauer with one hand and switched off the living room lamp with the other. The room was pitch black.
The basement door rattled. Someone was trying to get in. Aidan felt Kian jump. He motioned her back and away from the door.
The room was quiet and then the door rattled again, this time more forcefully. “Open this fuckin’ door will ya, Scotty? I’m hungry as hell and this cellar smells like your armpit.”
Aidan laughed, removed the chair, and let his buddy in. “The front door isn’t good enough for ya?”
“Nope, the cellar was closer.” Jimbo stepped in holding his mess kit. “Son-of-a-bitch! Doesn’t this place have electric lights?”
Kian switched on a lamp as Jimbo continued, “You know you really want to secure that stupid ass door down there. I coulda’ pried it open with a toothpick.” Jimbo strolled to the dining table, sat down, and opened his mess. “Have any salt in this place? Watching seven perps is stink-o work.”
“Seven,” both Kian and Aidan moaned.
“Yes, seven and more on the way from what they’re sayin’. Scotty-boy, we gotta talk.”
Kian turned on the old brass chandelier above the oak table. “Let me heat your dinner for you.”
“And spoil this great piece of meat. Hell no. But thanks for the offer.” He winked at her.
While Jimbo ate, Aidan told him about their day, about Power, and their suspicion he was ring leading this fiasco. “You know I never trusted that son-of-a-bitch,” was all Jimbo had to say.
When they told him about finding the wings, then losing them again, Jimbo grinned. He reached into a side pockets in his cargo pants and pulled out a box wrapped in a tattered red bandana. “This what you talkin’ about?”
Kian bolted upright. “How’d you get that?”
“Elementary, my dear lady. That Mary woman was waving it around and bragging she took it from you, so I figured it was important, and I’d better relieve her of it.” A wicked grin crossed over Jimbo’s face. “She buried it inside one of the chambers. You should see what I left in its place.”
“You didn’t,” Aidan said, a wide grin spreading across his face.
While the banter between the two men continued, Kian unwrapped the crumpled bandana, took the box, and opened it. Her eyes lit up, catching the sparkle of the chandelier above her. Two sets of wings, one gold and one silver. Kian reached out to gently touch Aidan’s hand as she showed him. He leaned in closer to her.
Jimbo scowled. Aidan could all but hear his buddy’s thoughts.
After Aidan could pull away, Kian stood and gave Jimbo a big kiss on the cheek. He blushed.
“I’m going to get the Ark.” Kian took the stairs two at a time.
After she disappeared, Jimbo leaned back in his chair. “What are you doing, Scotty? What’s been going on? And I don’t mean with the assignment.”
“Nothing. But man, I won’t lie to you, she makes my head swim. Sometimes I can barely think when I’m around her, she…”
“Goddamit, that’s what I am afraid of, buddy. Don’t be doing anything stupid. Not until this is over anyway.”
“Jimbo, you don’t need to tell me. Strict separation, I swear.”
“Rule number five. Distractions get you killed. I mean, it’s not like you to let anybody sneak up on you like that.” Jimbo cut off another piece of steak. “Distractions cost us both.”
“Jimbo, I wasn’t distracted. Not then, anyway.”
Jimbo gave him a loaded look, but Aidan ignored it.
“First, I didn’t take into account more than two perps. Second, I should have listened to Kian’s instincts. She’s like you. Her gut isn’t wrong. Only she discounted it and I let it slip.”
“Rule number four, listen to your gut,” Jimbo reminded him as he shoveled potato into his mouth.
“It’s the next thing that gets me. You know I’ve always felt it when someone was coming up on me.”
“Yeah, that creep up your spine thing.”
“Yes, well, this time it was like the perp wasn’t there. Man, I didn’t even feel a presence when that perp took the box. It was like the thief was a shell with no soul, no personality. Ghosts are more solid than that one was.”
“Those miscreants out there, they are into some pretty weird shit, I’ll tell you that. And that woman, Mary. Hell, she’s the spookiest of all.”
“Who’s spooky?” Kian asked as she bounded back down the stairs.
Jimbo jumped up and held her chair for her as he gave Aidan a warning look.
Kian looked from one to the other. “What’s up with you two?”
“Nothing.” Jimbo shrugged innocently before he sat back down and sliced himself yet another piece of potato smothered in sour cream. “We were just wondering how that person got that box from Scotty today. He’s one hell of a talent at knowing when someone is sneaking up on him.” Jimbo shoved the potato in his mouth and began to chew.
“But I felt something,” Kian interjected. “How come I felt something if Aidan didn’t?”
“You can sense danger,” Aidan said. “I sense people. There is a difference.”
“So nobody can sneak up on you, huh?” Kian grinned.
“Except Jimbo, he does it all the time,” Aidan replied.
“Only when I want to.”
“So, how do you do it, Jimbo? How do you sneak up on him? Maybe that will tell us how the perp did it.”
Jimbo put his fork down, apparently pondering her question. “I worked with an Apache sorcerer once. A medicine man. He taught me to kinda find that part of me that’s my core. It is deep inside. Then I let the edges melt away, if that makes any sense. So I become part of whatever is around. The land, a mountain, the air, even a stream works, although flowing water is tricky. It’s like I become one with the consciousness around me. That’s the best I can explain it.”
Kian, her curiosity peaking, asked, “How do you learn to do that?”
“Like most things, by just doing it. Experiencing it. It isn’t something I can teach you, you just gotta do it.”
Kian understood that. It was like traveling on what Uncle Jacob called the Second Road before she saw her ‘stories.’ She couldn’t explain it to someone. You just had to go out and do it.
“I think it came down from Her-ron-imo.” Jimbo trilled the “r.”
“Her-ron-imo? Who’s that?”
“You know him as Geronimo,” Aidan said. “That’s how he and his warriors were able to appear out of nowhere and go back to nowhere.”
“So are you saying that they became invisible?”
“Not really,” Jimbo replied. “I bet a camera would have picked them up. But they hid their essence, their core. So nobody sensed them; so nobody took notice of them. It’s hard to explain, Kian.” Jimbo leaned back in his chair. “Enough with the jabbering. When are we going to open this box?”
Photo attribution: By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) (ARC Identifier: 530880) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons