Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Your card and check arrived. Thank you. I am forever putting the words “something good” with a happy face on it on the grocery shopping list. So, when Nancy read “something nice” on your card she accused me of putting you up to it. I pointed out there wasn’t a happy face next to the words. So, already, you made my day. Thank you, again.
Now that the word has dribbled out of the pestilence’s inner sanctum that they will probably send the revenooers (DEA) back for our state legal but not federal legal marijuana stores (and I presume customers) to make us Great Again (and not high), it is time to stock up on my foot cream before I have to buy it of unknown source and quality on the street like a criminal. So, if it worked for you, let me know and I’ll figure out a way to send you some (probably by a time traveler making a pivot your way).
I left a call in for the Central Committee of the Cowlitz County Democratic Party last week to find out if their meeting is open or by invite only. I keep forgetting that they are not actually in business and close when it isn’t the season for politics. So, I didn’t hear back. Nancy and I will just show up and see if we can get in, ask a few questions and determine if they are interested in thinking outside the box at all. We are one of seven counties in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District which starts on the coast and runs into the cascades and a bit further east. We are not the smallest county, but far from the biggest. However, if I make a decision to change my comfortable life for the next 21 months and then risk a 2-year sentence without possibility of parole I am going to have to get to know these people and figure out what the lay of the land is.
When I lived on Coe Road, I was about 15 miles from campus. I never thought about what the weather would be like on campus as it was always the same there as on Coe Road. Sure, one or two times it would rain one place or the other but not both. But sever times over a 20-year plus stretch is not a pattern. One of the first things I noticed back in 2007 when I moved to the foothills of the Cascades was that in a 9-mile drive between home and I-5 I could experience up to six micro climates which made the weather different (not always dramatically, but enough to notice). That point was brought home yesterday for the umpteenth time, in simply noticing the change in cloud formations and the solidness of the precipitation—liquid on I-5 and laced with sleet closer to home (and 400 feet of elevation difference). I do enjoy this.
Today’s Agent Amanda story segment is numbered out of sequence. Don’t let that confuse you. I have one other, out of sequence number in progress. The two segments fit u here. However, they could go in a bit earlier or a bit later. Unfortunately, I haven’t decided yet and favor a bit earlier. Pretend they are in the right sequence.
I trust this finds you warm, happy and healthy.
Warmest regards, Ed
017A Alice Gets Wheels
Fiction in 1791 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
Having $15,000 cash with some idea of what her 2-carat diamonds would fetch and needing a place to live with Jessica Ann where there would be few questions, Alice hailed a cab and asked the driver to take her to a place where she could buy a used recreational vehicle.
The driver responded, “Oh, you mean a motor home. I know just the place.”
Alice said, “Sounds good to me, let’s go.”
The driver, pulled the shift lever down, looked over his left shoulder for traffic, stepped on the gas pedal and continued his description. “It in the run-down part of the city, you know, on the other side of the river from City Hall. They filled parking lots full of RVs, boats, trailers and something they call fifth wheels. But I don’t know why they are called that as they have two or four wheels. Sometimes they have double wheels, but never five. Beat the dickens out of me why they call them that. They had to fence in the place in ‘caus of the night thieves. They put guard dogs in there at night. I hear tell a man threw steaks over the fence to distract the dogs.” The driver chuckled. “They caught him stuck on the fence with a dog trying to pull him down and eat him. I guess the steaks were just an appetizer for that dog. I knows they feed em in the morning, not before they guard.” The driver chuckled again. “Them dogs spend the night just waitin’ for some food to climb that fence. You from around here? No matter, it is daylight and the dogs are all penned up and well-fed. I guess they sleep most of the day. If I had that shift I would sleep most of the day. You can bet your bottom dollar on that. You goin’ on a trip? Me and the misses want to take a trip to the Grand Canyon. I don’t know if we’d be better off rentin’ a RV, flying and paying hotel bills and rentin’ a car there or what. My cousin says we should take the train. I told him that I had seen that movie with Steven Segal traveling west and I wasn’t going on no train with all them crazies and bad guys on board, no sir siree Bob. I went on a train once when I was a kid. It got old very fast. There’s nothing for a kid to do on a train except sit down and shut up or sit down and behave. Wanted me to read a book. What the hell I wanna read a book for? No, not the train. I can just hear the missus now a sayin’ sit down and read a book. No, I don’t drink so the club car is out ‘caus if I’m around it I will; and I shouldn’t. You know what I mean? I got my five-year pin. It took a long time to get that. I wouldn’t want to start all over again, besides, I like that stuff too much that I’d probably kill myself drinking on a train. That sure ain’t no way to die either drinking or reading a book, not on a damned train. No we won’t go by train, that’s a hell of a way to travel. Well here we are. It was good talking with ya. That’ll be $15 miss. You want me to wait?
Alice handed the man a $20 bill and said, pointing to the number on the side of his cab “I’ll call if I need a lift. Keep the change.”
The driver smiled, tipped his cap and said, “Thank you. Ask for Andy, that’s me, Andy. Was good talking with you.” He nodded again and drove off.
Alice took a deep breath and thought ‘I thought he would never shut up and he never did.” She turned and read the sign over the double wide gates ‘Center City RV Boat Sales: Cash or Trade for Anything of Value.’ 50 feet inside the gates was a small building with a huge sign over it that said ‘OPEN.’ To the right, to the left and behind the small yellow building, as far as she could see were motor homes, mobile homes, trailers, speed boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, fishing boats, house boat, sea planes, light weights and various kinds of mobile food stands. Walking very fast toward her from the yellow building was a middle aged, balding man wearing a plaid sport coat and red spats. When the man got to her he stuck out his hand and said, “Welcome to the lifestyle of your dream. My name is Hugh. What can I show you?”
Alice pointed to the sign and said, “You take anything of value?”
Hugh looked a bit perplexed and replied, “Well it has to be legal. But if it is legal, yes, we trade for anything. We have an appraiser on site, he has a license from the state. Don’t mess with the state so he’s on the up and up. What you got?”
“Let’s start with what I want,” replied Alice. “I want a motor home for me and my two boys. We want to travel to see relatives across country. We need the space. You know how small boys can get rambunctious? So, I need the space to separate them when they get into it. Know what I mean?”
Hugh swept his right arm and said, “I know exactly what you need, right this way.”
After crawling around, though, under and over seven RVs that looked like busses and poking into every nook and cranny and under every hood and in every outside compartment and after asking Hugh hundreds of detailed maintenance, upkeep, mileage, warranty and wear and tear questions Alice pointed to the first motor home Hugh had shown her and said, “OK, let’s haggle over that one.”
Once again, Hugh used his right hand and arm in a sweeping gesture and said, “Right you are. Let’s dicker in the office with a cool drink.” And he led her back the two blocks to the little yellow building.
The little yellow building was portioned into a font area furnished in recreational vehicle sofas, chairs and pull down tables; and, a back area, furnished in a typical office with three desks and a wall full of filing cabinets. Hugh motioned for Alice to pick a place to sit, and said, “Coffee, tea or a soft drink?”
Alice said, “No thank you. How much to have that motor home ready to go out the gates,” pointing to the front gates of ‘Center City RV Boat Sales: Cash or Trade for Anything of Value’ by closing today?”
“It is ready to go now,” replied Hugh. “5 minutes to top off the fuel and the paper work will take about an hour. It is listed at $54,999 with one year or 20,000 miles on the engine and drive train and all appliances warranty.”
Alice said, “Get your appraiser.” She pulled down the table next to her captain’s chair and put three 2-carat diamonds on the table.
Hugh stood up, opened the door to the office area and said, “Bob, your expertise is needed.” He actually beckoned to Bob with his right index finger.
Bob, a portly man in his fifties, rose to his full height of 5 foot 9 inches and waddled into the room. Hugh pointed to the diamonds on the table and Bob said, “Why didn’t ya say bring your loupe Bob?” He turned went back to his desk, pulled open a drawer and took out a loupe and flash light. Then he came back. He put on the loupe, picked up one of the diamonds, held it up and used the flash light, which tuned out to be one of those natural light ones and looked at the diamond intently. He returned the diamond to the table and picked up a second diamond and repeated the procedure. He said, “Identical, flawless pair.” He put the second diamond down and picked up the third. After a second, he swore, “I’ll be damned. Three flawless, and I’ll wager they weigh in at 2 carats, give or take each.” He put the third diamond down and said, “Give me a minute.” He went back into the office opened the same drawer and pulled out what looked to be a double disk album. However, it was a digital scale instead. He opened the box, put the scale on the table and turned it on. He then placed all three diamonds on the scale. “Yup, six carats.” I’d allow no more than 58,000 for the three.”
Alice looked at him and asked, “Is that an appraisal?”
Bob looked back at Alice squinting his eyes, “No, miss that is an offer. If you want an appraisal, I would have to charge you 10% of what they are worth and do some paper work. Do you want an appraisal? Say, these ain’t hot are they”
“You held them. They are not hot,” replied Alice.
“No, I mean they ain’t stolen property, are they?” Bob said.
“No, not stolen property,” replied Alice. “I don’t need a formal appraisal, thank you. I will accept your offer in exchange for the motor home Huge showed me and it need to be street ready with no extra cost and no follow-up visit required for anything and I need that in about an hour.”
Bob smiled, stuck out his hand and said, “Missy, you have a deal.” He turned to Hugh and said, “Make it happen in less than an hour, Hugh.” Bob then went back into the office and shut the door.
Alice said, “I need to make a phone call. Can I use your phone?”
Hugh pointed to a telephone on one of the pull down tables and said, “Help yourself. I will need your driver’s license and I can do the paper work.”
Alice handed Hugh her learner’s permit and picked up the phone.
“Hey, this ain’t legal for you to drive that off the lot lessen you have a licensed driver with you,” Hugh sputtered.
Alice pointed to the telephone. “That’s why I needed the phone to call for a friend with a license to come and leave with me.” She picked up the phone and dialed the taxi cab company number that was on the side of Andy’s cab. After a few seconds, “Hi, my name is Silvia Chu, I just rode with Andy to the ‘Center City RV Boat Sales about an hour ago, can you have him come back for me in say 40 minutes?” After a brief pause, she said, “Thank you,” and hung up the phone.