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©02 The Media Desk
It really wasn't my idea. I can prove it. I saved the message on my voice mail.
Keia had been with me now for... it seemed forever. I had trouble remembering my life before she moved in with me during the slave trader mission. Back then I was in a tiny apartment, I didn't have a life outside of work until I started working for the Bishop.
Then I didn't have a life of my own until Keia showed up and became my...
and yes... Lover.
She had grown on me. I was used to having her around. When she went to visit some relatives in New York for a weekend. I couldn't stand the farmhouse being as quiet and empty as it was. I left the TV in the sitting room on so it wouldn't be dead quiet.
She worried about me when I got hurt. Twice now when I probably should have been dead, she was the first face I remember seeing. At least hers was the first face I cared if I saw or not.
She brought that danged monkey home. She talked me into having a gym installed in the basement, and then she talked the Bishop into having somebody else pay for it. She was the reason I flew halfway around the world to get into a gunfight.
And Keia was the reason I was in the emotional pickle I was in.
One night, at the farmhouse, we had sat in the dark sipping very good wine and watching a movie. During a rather boring part, Keia looked at me and said something like the following.
"Huntie. You not fall in love with me are you?"
I thought about it. "I have a lot of feelings for you, and you are my best friend."
"Good. Cause I not fall in love with you."
I was a little shaken by that statement. I had never considered whether or not I was actually in love with her. I looked at her as more a co-worker under the Bishop and a housemate. Emotionally. I had no idea where we stood. Although I had to admit to myself later, life with her was a lot more pleasant than it would be without her.
The next week a rather curious on-line conversation with Bishop42 took place from my at work terminal.
Bishop42: Keia's Visa is up for renewal and I am not sure I can pull enough strings to keep her in the country.
theHunter: What would it take to keep her here?
Bishop42: That's just it. Evidently the slave trader ring has an in in the government of her country and is pushing to have all the girls they sent over here returned to them.
theHunter: Can we do anything about it?
Bishop42: If you mean through official channels through the State Department. Maybe. If you mean through unofficial channels through, unofficial channels. We are working on it. If you mean, 'we' as in you and me. Yes.
theHunter: What can I do? I'll do whatever it takes or costs to keep her here and away from those dogs that sold her in the first place.
Bishop42: You mean that?
theHunter: Yes Sir. I've saved back a sizeable piece of change through my excursions for you.
Bishop42: There is one thing. One way they could not protest and try to revoke, and it would be very legal.
theHunter: should i register her as a student?
Bishop42: She already is and they are working to revoke that status.
>>>theHunter is tapping on the bar impatiently.
Bishop42: I will come to the point.
>>>theHunter signals for the waitress for another drink.
Bishop42: Marry her.
Bishop42: Your monitor went blank or what? I said... Marry Her.
theHunter: Would she go for it?
Bishop42: She suggested it to me. Although I will point out we had pretty much exhausted all other options except moving her to Sweden.
theHunter: That would solve her problem. How about the rest of the girls.
Bishop42: Three of them are already in Sweden. Another is getting married this week. The others are underground. It seems the slavers have a grudge against Keia.
theHunter: Imagine that.
Bishop42: All it takes is the word from you I believe.
theHunter: How long do I have to think about it?
Bishop42: How long do you need?
theHunter: I'll do it. But I should tell Keia, I think.
Bishop42: You just did.
Keia: Hi Huntie. I marry you too.
>>>theHunter is glaring across the bar at Bishop42.
Bishop42: An organization I know is throwing a massive wedding party at a convention center near the ocean, you are invited Hunter.
>>>Keia is giggling in a fit of intense mirth.
Bishop42: It would seem everybody else uses actions. Maybe I should as well. I have a special one that was made for me some time ago.
Keia: I love to see it.
Bishop42: My Pleasure. I will leave you two to discuss the arrangements.
theHunter: Gee thanks.
>>>Mysteriously, like the fog that is his life, Bishop42 vanishes silently into the night.
[BISHOP42 HAS LEFT THE CHAT ROOM]
>>>theHunter is gagging uncontrollably.
Keia: I thought that nice.
theHunter: So are we really going to be married or are we doing this only for Uncle Sam?
Keia: The Bishop is you uncle?
theHunter: no no... I mean are we doing this just to keep you here?
Keia: You don't want to marry me?
It was a question that struck me like a power surge through my keyboard. Did I WANT to marry her, or was I just afraid of what would happen to her if she got sent back, or of my loosing her, or both, and so on. The analyst in me took over. Of the possible options, and maintaining the status quo was not an option, was getting married to Keia the best of the available choices?
theHunter: Yes. I want to marry you.
Keia: I want to marry you Huntie.
Keia: Yes Huntie.
theHunter: Will you marry me?
Keia: OH YES HUNTIE!!!!
We spent a long time on-line talking. Work piled up on my desk. Three games to run for bugs, a database that rejected the capital letter Q, turning it into a zero every time it was entered, and so on. Finally I had to leave, she went into a game and I logged off to work.
The work wasn't even work. I flew through it. A recognition string in the database, a command line in the game. I did things that weren't even my job. And did them joyfully.
Things were done quickly. By that afternoon I had a marriage license in hand. Signed by a district judge under some sort of special dispensation. Keia had a wedding dress that, or so rumor had it, made her look like an absolute knockout. And I got a phone call from the Ocean City convention center, the guy asked me if I really wanted three bands.
"Sure, why not?"
"OK, buddy. It's your checkbook." He answered.
Which got me to thinking. Another call.
"This is Burt the Bartender. Are you sure you signed for a three hour open bar?"
"Let me check on that, but I think that's what was ordered."
Which got me to worrying.
I logged on and left an emergency page for the Bishop.
"This is Centre."
"Yes sir. I was just wondering...."
He cut me off. "You've been getting all sorts of confirmation calls from everybody from the Governor of Maryland to Burt the Bartender."
"Well. I haven't talked to a Governor. But, yes sir."
"Say yes a lot. I have never heard of the Bishop getting so excited about anything in ages. This will be good for him."
"And when you call the bartender back. Tell him it's a four hour open bar, three after the ceremony, one hour before."
"Can I ask..."
"Who's paying for it? No you may not ask." He had a way of cutting you off. He let me hang in silence for a second. "All you are doing is tipping the guy what does the service. We got the rest of it. Centre Out."
I didn't get a chance to even say thanks.
Friday I was kidnapped and hauled to what could almost be called a Babylonian scale orgy of a bachelor party. I heard from a reliable source that the same was happening to Keia.
Have you ever been to a party attended by everybody from Secret Service agents to Mafia lieutenants? It wasn't pretty. I managed to slip out after a couple of hours and catch a ride home.
Keia wasn't there. I logged on and found out from the Bishop she was already in Ocean City in a penthouse suite being waited on hand and foot by the Bishop's sister who was a beautician of some reknown on Broadway.
For lack of anything better or worse to do I went outside and practiced night firing with a new scope fitted to a Thompson Center match pistol.
For some reason the best group I could muster at fifty yards was about six inches. Maybe my mind was really elsewhere.
Like in Ocean City.
I fell asleep in the chair in front of the TV. At about six AM I was woke up by Conga. He came in shouting and slamming. I jumped up and reached for the Thompson Center. Fortunately I managed to focus my eyes before I got to it. He was wearing cutoffs that showed his thick legs and a shirt a size too small. Behind him 2nd Grace carried a camera and took a picture every few seconds.
"Let's GO!" Conga ordered. "You know every operation that could be suspended was, to free everybody up for this do." He kept up a steady stream of talk.
"You can clean up over there. We've got you a room but we have to be going in a minute."
I looked at the clock. "It's only a couple of hours drive." The wedding wasn't until four in the afternoon, we had plenty of time.
"Who's driving?" Conga said. He looked at his watch. "Falcon sure is taking his time."
2nd Grace pointed up. In a minute we heard it. Allied Forces came in, "Nice bird, he conned somebody out of a prototype." He said referring to the helicopter landing in my back yard. "Car keys." He said holding his hand out to me.
I gave up. Allied Forces took off in my car for parts unknown. I followed Conga and my trainer out to the helicopter. It was completely unmarked, dark blue, and appeared to be armed.
Falcon smiled at me, said congratulations, and took off.
Conga enjoyed the ride from the co-pilots seat. He shouted and waved at cars on the Key Bridge as we flew under it. Then we buzzed the Chesapeake Bay bridges, twice, once under, once between them. The large man cheered as we did a loop for a Navy ship. 2nd Grace, in back with me, just held on and smiled.
I swore IF we landed in one piece, I'd kiss the ground and never fly again.
"Detour folks. Mutual aid call. Maryland State Police. Hot pursuit call on 50. Running toward DC."
I was going to say something about we'd never get there in time, but then the helicopter seemed to go into warp drive or something and we flew like a bullet due west. Conga took up the radio headset and talked to the police.
"There he is." Falcon said in a minute. I could see the car speeding through traffic, weaving and darting between cars and onto the shoulder. Actually pulling away from the police cruisers coming behind.
Falcon dropped the helicopter through the trees and swooped over the fleeing car. The suspect whipped his car around, down an embankment and roared off down a side road.
"Request permission to use deadly force to stop the car." Falcon said to Conga as he turned around like a crop duster and followed.
"Permission granted from State Police Lieutenant Lovitt." Conga tapped the radio console, "It's on the tape."
Falcon nodded. He was in flying over the car now. Matching the car move for move. "Target mass driver, look down laser sights." Falcon said to Conga.
"Targeting. Engine compartment right?"
"Affirmative." Falcon said as he wheeled the chopper over some power lines and turned.
"All units, suspect is now east bound on, aaa... a road heading back to the bay." Conga said into the radio. "We're still on him." He stared at the weapons screen intently.
The helicopter shuddered slightly.
Looking out the window I saw the car skid sideways and slide down an embankment. The helicopter made a neck-wrenching move and flew back towards it.
Conga was out the door before it was even close to the ground. He had one suspect in a wrestling hold, the other had his hands up.
In a minute the police were there.
In the back of the helicopter I asked if Falcon was one of us.
"I really don't know, but I don't think so. He's kinda like on loan from, elsewhere." 2nd Grace said.
And a few minutes after that, we were on our way, but first he saluted the police with a barrel roll over the road.
"I wonder what they were wanted for?" 2nd Grace asked as we roared out over the Bay.
"Being a lousy driver." Falcon smiled
If anybody had ordered Falcon to approach the resort with a low profile, he never heard it.
He did loops and rolls along the beach from one end to the other, then landed at the airport long enough to congratulate me again.
"Hey, you're the one with the bust today." I smiled back at him.
"Naahh. That's usual. See ya around. Maybe we can work together sometime, I hear you're quite the hunter." He grinned and gunned the helicopter to a deafening roar. Then he was gone. Making more barnstorming moves as he flew off to the south.
Conga waved as it disappeared over the trees. "I love flying with him." He smiled. Then he looked at me, taking my arm in his bear trap grip, "Let's go get you married."
I had forgotten that was why I had made the trip to begin with.
2nd Grace opened the door on a limo that had just pulled up. Rathskeller waved and shouted. He was already half lit and it wasn't even ten in the morning.
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