©06 Levite


Part Two
back to Part 1

      Mister Jones read the report with some amusement. "You spent the whole trip back keeping her amused?"
      Ron chuckled, "Well, given the choice..."
      Jones nodded. "Wise decision."
      They went over basic service plan for the RV since they were putting far more mileage on it than was usual for the model. Then they discussed the planned schedule for the next couple of missions.
      The next trip would be the longest one yet. They would be making two stops. One in Atlanta to pick up a single individual, then a trip to just outside of Chattanooga for a family. A total round trip of over two thousand miles. They were planning it would take a week, even driving most of the legs straight through.
      They were due to leave the following Monday so they had a few days off to rest and relax and pay the bills that had been piling up on their kitchen tables.

      The panel truck team made a run for some delicate equipment for a friend of Alsovar's who was driving himself and his fiancť down to the estate in a separate car.
      When Jones had asked about the nature of the equipment Mr. Alsovar went into some detail about Zero Point Energy and how if his friend's research succeeded Alsovar would be able to power his estate as well as several outlying interests at no charge.
      "Of course, Mister Jones, there is a slight chance that Doctor Jenkins might destroy our planet as well as a good piece of the solar system, but I deem that a minimal risk."
      One of the things that Jones had learned was that Alsovar did not exaggerate under most circumstance. He simply thanked the man for the information and left the comment about blowing up the Earth off the mission brief.
      But then after he hung up the phone he wondered yet again if maybe he had gotten the company in over their heads. Then he had to laugh out loud. If the client blew up the solar system, the last thing anybody in the company would have to worry about was the repercussions of it being on their watch.

      The panel truck crew gingerly unloaded the equipment into a concrete block building located in a rather lonely corner of the estate under the watchful eye of both the doctor and Mr. Alsovar. Then the doctor demonstrated some of the equipment for them and his host with obvious glee. Several of the machines did absolutely nothing. But a couple of them glowed and hummed with no obvious power source.
      "THAT! My friends, is the first evidence that ZPE can be used for commercial purposes.
      Buck looked at the first machine like it was some sort of carnival gag. "It's like a crystal radio."
      "No!" The doctor shrieked. "It is drawing its power from the ether of the universe."
      The two security guards nodded like they agreed.
      Alsovar rescued all of them. "When Doctor Jenkins demonstrates a working model for local applications I will have both of you as official observers to verify the apparatus is working as described with no outside power source."
      "We would be honored sir." Buck said.
      Bob nodded. "If he pulls it off, it'll change the world."
      "Yes." Jenkins said with a grin.

RV team
Ted Campbell OIC, Elizabeth Hoywell, Ron Green
Elmer Baldwin
One adult
Atlanta, GA to Somers Point, NJ

Peters Family
Two adults, two children
Chattanooga, TN to Somers Point, NJ

      We left at eight O'clock in the morning, trying to work the schedule so we'd miss the rush hour in all the cities from Wilmington to Richmond on our trip south. And it did work out fairly well. We caught the tail end of the morning rush in Wilmington and the very beginning of it in Richmond, but then it was clear sailing south.
      Even switching off drivers it was still right at the edge of our one day trip distance. When we arrived in the Atlanta area we were all exhausted and it was too late to even think about looking for the client's place. We pulled into a rest area and parked among the semi trucks and slept the rest of the night listening to idling diesel engines.
      In the morning we called the client for specific directions and drove to his apartment building with no problem at all even with the heavy morning traffic and our larger than usual vehicle.
      Elmer's case was unique in that the mission briefing did not specifically mention his 'condition' either by name or description. There was one cryptic line in a personal observation by Cecilia that he was 'most unusual'.
      The photographs in the package showed an average looking black man with no outstanding features. He was listed as six foot two inches, weighing about two hundred pounds, and being right handed. He was currently working as a local delivery truck driver for a bakery, a job he had held for over ten years. His interests included having been a high school wrestler who still followed the sport and he enjoyed mountain bike riding. All in all there seemed to be nothing unusual about the man.
      We got out of the RV in the apartment parking lot and looked around. Elizabeth pointed to the building to our right and we walked over to it. We buzzed Elmer's number and he answered almost immediately.
      "Howdy folks!" He called down to us as we climbed the stairs to the second floor. "How was the traffic this morning?"
      He was packed and ready and asked us about bread routes in Atlantic City. But all he was taking was a few clothes and some personal effects. Everything else was staying and he'd already turned in his company uniforms.
      "No Sir. I'm giving this stuff to a friend of mine. They just got a place and will put it to good use." He gestured widely to the furniture and an aging TV. "He picked up my car yesterday. His wife'll get it."
      We told him that was very nice of him and helped carry his things down.
      Once again a local's perspective on the area helped us immensely. After a brief stop for fuel and some supplies at a local convenience store we took a scenic route out of town and picked up the Interstate 75 just outside the beltway and headed for our next stop.

      I remember seeing the signs for Allatoona Lake go by when Elizabeth suddenly shrieked.
      "What?" Ron asked from the driver's seat. I turned around and looked at her.
      "Elmer's gone!"
      "Where'd he go?" I asked trying to turn around and getting tangled in my seat belt.
      "I don't know. We were talking about the lake and I looked out and when I turned back he was gone."
      "Pull over." I told Ron and got out of my seat. "Did he go to the bathroom or something?"
      Ron pulled onto the shoulder and put on the flashers.
      Elizabeth almost ran through the RV and checked the small water closet and the back bedroom, Elmer was not in the vehicle.
      And then he was. Right where he had been sitting.
      "Elmer?" I said looking at him with suspicion.
      I took a deep breath. "What happened?"
      "Oh. Sorry about that Mister Campbell." He smiled. "I was thinking about the lake."

      It turned out that Elmer's 'Special Condition' is that he's not always here. If he focuses his thoughts on something besides the here and now, he becomes invisible. Like when he and Elizabeth were talking about the lake. He allowed himself to pass into a pleasant memory of a day out fishing with some co-workers from the bakery. And in doing so, he became invisible to us.
      "So how do you work a regular job?" Ron asked him as we merged back into traffic.
      "That's easy Mister Ron. I just think about the route and how much product I have to unload at the next stop."
      "Oh. OK."
      We made it a point not to ask him any more questions that might lead to his leaving us again.

      As we got close to Chattanooga we began to watch for the exit we'd need to go to the Peter's house.
      I read through the briefing with Elmer as though he was a member of our team, which for all intents and purposes he was.
      "The Peter's are active psychics with strong empathic tendencies. Mr. Van Peters is known to be almost fully telepathic and Mrs. Rachel Peters has fairly developed telekinetic ability in addition to some telepathic sense. The children have a combination of these abilities. All of them can sense other's emotions and strong thoughts." I read.
      "Can I ask a question?" Elmer said.
      "Yes sir." I answered with a smile.
      "Why are they moving up to Jersey?"
      "That's right here." I turned the page. "Mrs. Peters has recently come under fire at work for knowing things she shouldn't know and otherwise using her abilities to further her career. Some others in the firm have taken exception to it and become suspicious and have begun baiting her with disinformation and false emotions."
      "That'd be hard to take." Ron said.
      "Really." Elizabeth added.
      I continued. "Fortunately Mr. Alsovar has a contact in a real estate firm in need of an office manager and he believes she would be perfect."
      "How about Mr. Peters?" Elizabeth asked.
      "He works part time at a casino near here as a psychic." I said with a grin.
      "Ohhh." They answered as they thought about it.
      "Ya'lls got casinos up there in 'Lantic City." Elmer said. "Good deal."
      "We got bakeries too. And I know one of them is always looking for route drivers."
      "That's what Mister Alsovar's niece said."

      One of the things that is always said in jest is that 'a real psychic would call you'. Well, just as we turned off the highway and stopped at a light my cel phone rang.
      It was Mr. Peter's.
      Not only did he know where we were, he knew the names of our team members and that we had skipped lunch to get up there in the best possible time.
      "We'll meet you at the Waffle House just after you turn left if that's ok."
      "That's fine." I said.
      "The light is changing. See you there. Just up the hill." Mr. Peters said.
      And no sooner than he had said it the light changed and Ron turned left. And as soon as we went under the highway there it was. Right up the hill.

      I had seen the pictures and knew that the family had a strong Mediterranean look to them, but what I didn't expect was that even the children had deep soulful eyes that seemed to look right through you.
      Mrs. Peters was charming and soft spoken. Mr. Peters seemed almost as aristocratic as Mr. Alsovar himself. But he was slightly less stuffy in his conversation and told us a few amusing tales about his work at the casino.
      After a good meal all around we followed them to their house just off the Lee Highway and parked in their driveway.
      This time we were there after the movers. The house was empty except for what they were taking and everything, even their car, was already on the way to New Jersey and should arrive ahead of us.
      The kids, ages seven and nine, thought the RV was the greatest thing ever and staked out their own personal turf in the seats on either side of the small table on the passenger side.
      We had one more passenger than the RV was designed for with seat belts, but Elmer assured us that wouldn't be a problem. "If we get stopped I'll make myself scarce." He grinned.
      Our plan was to push through to a rest area in Virginia and to catch some sleep there before going on. The children thought that spending the night in the camper was the next greatest thing ever and spent the next several miles talking about all the great things we could do that night.
      The rest of the lengthy drive was somewhat anti-climatic. Elmer stayed with us for the whole trip. The kids slept for a good piece of it. We all took turns driving and everything went smoothly. The group from Jersey marveled at the spectacular scenery through the mountains and took a lot of pictures. When we were faced with heavy traffic in the cities Elmer's experience as a professional became invaluable as did the Peter's ability to sense when somebody two cars ahead was about to slam on their brakes.
      All in all, it was a good trip.

      We pulled through the gate at the compound just as the sun was going down. Our pushing hard had cut a full day off the trip so some things were not ready yet. The Peter's furniture would be delivered in the morning, but Mr. Alsovar had rooms in the big house ready for just such an occasion.
      We dropped off our passengers and their luggage and drove to the office. All three of us were ready for a long weekend off.

End Atlanta and Chattanooga Narration

      Mr. Jones let the RV team sleep in the next day and they didn't do the de-briefing and review until Friday afternoon.
      "So he can really disappear?" Jones asked.
      "Yes sir. We were all looking pretty much that way when he just, well..." Ted was at a loss.
      "Rematerialized." Ron said.
      "Yeah. Right in front of us." Elizabeth finished.
      "And he drives a delivery truck."
      "Yes sir. But he said he can control it when he has to and it hasn't been a problem."
      Jones looked at the folder. "If you say so."

      In the meantime the panel truck team had made another run to move another of Alsovar's friend's collections. In this case it was listed as 'relics and artifacts of a sensitive nature'.
      They drove into New York City and parked the truck in the delivery court of an older office building and went up to an office. A very small man with a thick accent of indeterminate origin who had a habit of talking with his hands in somewhat exaggerated and nervous gestures.
      Buck had asked what was in the cases they were to move 'Oh so carefully' according to the man.
      "Oh. Many many things. Most unusual things." The old professor said. "Here, here. I show you one. Most incredible." He had opened one of the smaller crates and took out a small set of statues. They looked for all the world like Egyptian funerary ware. But the man insisted they had been found a hundred years ago in a cave along the Mississippi River in Illinois. Then he said that some of the material they had been found with had been reliably dated to over three thousand years old.
      Buck and Bob both agreed that they were most unusual.
      "One more thing." The little man had said. Then from another small crate he produced a small brass device of incredible intricacy. It looked for all the world like the insides of an oversized mechanical watch. "It's from a Greek tomb. Ancient Greece." He pointed to some faint letters engraved on part of it. "More than Two Thousand years ago it was made."
      Now the security men had a renewed respect for the collection they moved every case carefully. But even so the old man worried over each item.
      They remembered some of the labels mentioning Sumer or Phoenicia, others said Indus Valley and other places they had only heard of on TV trivia game shows. Some of the items were so delicate the old man refused to allow them to be packed in the truck so they gingerly loaded them into the back seat of his car and strapped them in with the seat belt.
      Once everything was packed they waited in the truck until the man emerged from the parking garage in his car, then they followed him at a snail's pace out of the city and back to Somers Point.
      At Alsovar's estate they had help carrying everything into a building that had been converted into half laboratory and half museum where the items could be displayed under glass and studied by whoever was doing research into those types of objects.
      Then the old man had to show a newly acquired prize. He opened the box and took out a small black lump.
      "It is the meteorite?" Alsovar asked.
      "Yes. It is. In Arabia it was found. Yes." The old man said nodding vigorously. "Here. Look here." He held a large magnifying glass over the object and focused a light onto it.
      Alsovar peered into the glass and focused his eyes for a minute. "Fascinating."
      "Look look." The Professor said to the others after Alsovar had had his fill.
      Buck reported that inside the black rock of the meteorite appeared to be nothing less than small fossilized shells. "But if it's from space." He said slowly.
      "Exactly." Alsovar said. "The implications are enormous."
      "Yes sir." Buck said softly.

      The two teams were in Mr. Jones' office at the same time a couple of days later. Both were getting ready for long runs out of town.
      "So why can't these people travel on their own?" Ron asked.
      "You heard about Sylvester." Buck said. "What would he do? Buy a bus ticket? Or two?"
      Jones nodded. "Some of them have seemed normal, whatever that is, but would have problems outside their normal routine. Imagine what would have happened if that lawyer woman had had a bad time going through airport security."
      Ron had to concede the point.
      Ted asked the next question. "So what's Alsovar doing bringing all of them to his estate? There's only been a couple of other vampires, most of them are... well. Like Sylvester."
      Jones shook his head. "I don't know. But every time I talk to him I get the impression he's cooking up some sort of grand plan for it all."
      Elizabeth chuckled. "Maybe he wants to run for the county board and this way he'll have a good voting block in place."
      Jones didn't laugh with the others. "You know. That might not be far from the truth."

RV team
Ted Campbell OIC, Elizabeth Hoywell, Ron Green
Morrison Family
Three adults: Charles and Heather, Vivian. Plus two children and one infant
full 'blackout' run
Kansas City, KS to Somers Point, NJ

      The trip to Kansas City was actually a pleasant ride cross country. We were in no hurry and took our time. Although we did all get tired of looking at Interstate 70 the fact that none of us had ever been through this part of the country made up for it to some degree. We spent a restful night actually camping in the RV in parks near the highway about halfway there and arrived in Missouri on schedule and drove across the state without incident then spent the next night right outside of KC. We waited out the morning rush hour between a diner and fuel stop to top off the tanks for the homeward bound trip. Once again as we topped off both tanks I was glad we had a company card to pay for it instead of having to take it out of our pockets.
      The Morrison's lived on the Kansas side of the dual city near the river in an aging section bordered by industrial plants and warehouses. We got off of 70 and wound north through factories and businesses on the Fairfax Trafficway until we reached the landmark from the file. Then I called the contact number and was treated to a voice mail message that mentioned the fact that the family was moving and didn't have a new number yet. I left a message as instructed and Elizabeth pulled into the parking lot to wait.
      In a couple of minutes my phone rang.
      "Sorry about the recording Mister Campbell. Are you at the school?"
      "Yes ma'am. Fairfax Elementary."
      "Wonderful. I'll send Charlie to get you."
      From the file, Charlie was their youngest son. The family's condition didn't develop until they reached puberty so the nine year old was able to both attend school and function outside with certain restrictions. But as they aged, they became more and more sensitive to bright light and high pitched sounds, and even certain smells. While they weren't actually zombies, but that seemed to be the only way to describe them so everybody knew what to expect.
      However, with herbal medication and careful planning, they were able to live a fairly normal life. The Morrison's had taken their knowledge of herbalism, the Internet and various delivery services and developed a good business as wholesalers of various remedies for everything from warts to anemia. By selling their stocks in large units they avoided dealing directly with most consumers thus ridding themselves of a need for their own headache formula. A printout of one of their pages offered a ten pound vacuum seal block of red bush tea leaves, which would yield something on the order of two thousand cups of regular strength tea. Even to Elizabeth, who liked herbal tea that was a bit much.

      In a few minutes a dark haired boy on a bicycle appeared across the playground waving at us. Elizabeth started the RV as he roared up to us and slid his back tire sideways to stop.
      "Hey ya!" He shouted up at me. "Can I ride in there with you?"
      "Sure." I said. Ron got out and carried his bicycle up into the camper and stowed it in the hall.
      Charlie's directions were more appropriate for a boy on a bike that could cross playgrounds, but we had the file as backup with its complete address and cross street so we had no trouble finding the house.
      "You can come in." Charlie said as Ron unloaded the bike.
      "Thank you." I answered him.
      But then he was gone again, riding away at full speed.
      "Let's go in." I said. I rang the doorbell then opened the back door a crack.
      The Campidto's house in Chicago had a hallway with multiple doors to keep out the brightest sunlight, and here again we were faced with another similar arrangement. Besides the outside door, there were two heavy curtains a sharp corner, and another set of curtains and doors. Instead of red lights the Morrison's used normal lighting, but instead of having a brightness that you could easily read by the lighting would more suit a fancy restaurant.
      "Hello." A man said from a computer workstation. "Welcome. Heather just went downstairs to check on the packing. Her sister has been a little slow with the baby. You know." He got up and moved across the room with a slightly stiff walk. His handshake was firm, but his hand was cold and dry. "Would you like some tea? We're testing a new batch of rejuvenation blend. And we have raw honey to sweeten it with."
      "Thank you. I think I could use it." I said. The others accepted as well.
      He went into the kitchen and we heard cups rattling.

      As our eyes became more accustomed to it we could make out well appointed artwork and other features you would expect in the home of a businessman.
      In a few minutes Mrs. Morrison came upstairs with a travel bag. "Good. You're here. We're almost ready to go. Last minute details you know." She smiled and shook hands all around.
      Like her husband her hand was cold, but not clammy. When I smiled at her I could tell that her eyes were clear and intelligent, but she seemed to be lacking something I just couldn't put my finger on.
      Then their daughter came downstairs talking on a cordless phone and acting like the rest of us weren't there. Heather introduced her as Melody but the girl barely looked our way.
      Charles came in with a tray loaded down with tea and fixings. "Now we'll have a real test of it." He smiled to his wife. "They just came in from three days on the road. We'll see how they feel after this."
      "OK." She smiled broadly. "Itís a brand new blend of all the best energy boosting herbs we had. The first blend was far too bitter to drink casually."
      "It still tastes like medicine at first." Charles said pouring boiling water in the cups.
      Heather laughed. "It is." She picked up a teabag. "Let it steep for a minute or so. Then put the honey in."
      "OK." Ron said taking a cup and holding the string so the teabag swirled gently in the center of the cup.
      The tea smelled good. And when they began putting honey in it the aroma made your mouth water. And then when we tasted it we all had about the same reaction.
      "And this is good for us?"
      "Very." Heather said.
      "It'll almost bring you back to life." Charles laughed. "Well. Almost." He chuckled some more.
      "Inside joke." Heather said. "It hasn't helped him all that much."
      Charles made a face and sipped the tea while Heather told us about what was in it.

      Vivian came up with the baby after while and everybody made over the infant like people do around new babies.
      I became a little concerned about traveling that far in the RV with a three month old baby, but the three women assured us that little Connie would be no trouble at all.
      "Constance is a very good baby." Charles laughed. "Now as for the other two." He made a face at their thirteen year old daughter who was still talking on the phone while chatting with somebody online.
      "She's still getting used to not being able to do some things and how it's not fair." Charles said with a close approximation of a teenager's emphasis on the last three words.
      The girl in question simply glared at him.

      We took some of their bags out to the camper and made sure the blackout curtains were in place and well sealed.
      The plan was to try to drive as much as possible at night, but the idea was to get them to New Jersey quickly. By alternating drivers and only stopping for essentials like fuel we should be able to do it in two days of pushing.
      Charlie came back and helped us stow their belongings where they could get to the various things they'd need for the trip. Just as we were going back in Melody came out wearing sunglasses a scarf and hat.
      "Can I see it?" She asked us.
      "Sure." Elizabeth said and took the girl on a tour of the RV.
      When Melody came back out Elizabeth paused near us and smiled. "She liked the video games and the junk food." She glanced at me and Ron. "But don't say a word."
      "Understood." I nodded.

      As the sun was setting we got ready to go.
      "I think itís the tea." Elizabeth said as we got everybody and everything secured in the RV. "But I feel like I could drive straight through."
      "Me too." I said. "And it is the tea." I looked back at Charles and Heather. "I think you've got a hit on your hands."
      Ron laughed and backed into the street. "I'll take a case of it." Then with a blaring of the camper's air horns he headed for the highway.
      "We'll have it delivered." Heather smiled. "You want the honey too right?" She asked him as he drove. Ron nodded enthusiastically.

      By midnight we were in Illinois and before the sun came up we'd put Indianapolis behind us and were working through Ohio and had only stopped once.
      With daylight in full bloom the three adults were now sequestered in the back with the doors and curtains drawn. Melody tried to avoid direct sunlight, but she was OK playing video games against her brother and constantly trying new combinations of chips and nuts looking for a new flavor to tell us about.
      Elizabeth was designated nursemaid for the baby and me and Ron spelled each other driving.
      After about three hours of sleep I took over and watched the Pennsylvania turnpike go by. Then as the sun was setting Charles came out of the back and tried to sound like a kid asking 'are we there yet?'
      "I didn't realize it was actually this far." Vivian said taking her daughter back.
      "Twelve hundred miles, give or take." I said. "We're lucky in that the Philly rush hour should be over when we get there."
      "Good." Charles said. "Traffic gives me the hives." We laughed, but he continued. "No I mean it. Heavy traffic will make us break out. The exhaust and all the other fumes."
      "Oh, in that case. I'll make sure we miss as much of it as we can."

      We swapped drivers twice more. Charles wanted to drive the RV for awhile. And the Atlantic City Expressway was as good a test track as any. Then when we got off it he pulled over and Ron took us the rest of the way to the estate.
      We had been on the road almost constantly for something on the order twenty hours for the drive back from Kansas. And it had been a full day longer than that since we had had a good sound sleep. After we dropped off the Morrisons we began to feel both the days and the miles. The debriefing was put off until we'd all had some sleep and a shower.

End KC narration.

      The dealer's mechanics couldn't believe the mileage on the RV. In less than a week the team had put several month's worth of normal use on the unit. But they were being paid to maintain and repair the unit, so they went to work maintaining and repairing the unit.
      Besides the normal routine of washing road grime and bugs off of it a rock had damaged the grill and there was a long scrape along one side where a board sticking out of the back of a pickup truck had rubbed it when the truck had backed out. The bathroom needed attention and the whole inside showed signs of intense use for several days.
      Mr. Jones evaluated and approved the repairs after checking with Mr. Alsovar. The client understood that a certain amount of that kind of thing was to be expected for what they were doing.
      "Have you heard from the other team?" Alsovar asked him.
      "Yes sir. They are on site and picking up the radio guy now. They should be here tomorrow."
      "Ahhh, yes. Anzalo." The man smiled and nodded. "The basement is ready for him."
      "Basement?" Jones asked.
      "Yes sir. You see, Anzalo needs to spend his nights in a shielded environment to protect him from radio broadcasts."
      Jones nodded. "I read that in the report, but I don't understand it."
      "Neither do I, but it is true nonetheless. He can, hear, for lack of a better word, all sorts of radio transmissions."
      "You mean like picking up country music on your fillings?"
      Alsovar chuckled. "And more. Except he doesn't have any metallic dental work or a steel plate in his head. But he can recite news broadcasts, cellular phone conversations, even commercials off the television. It is usually most disturbing to him at night unless he is near a tower, during the day the sun drowns out most of the other 'noise' but at night it can be most distracting for him when he's trying to rest. So I have constructed a special suite of rooms in the basement of the main house just for him."
      "That's why we had to install that grounded aluminum foil in the truck, and make sure to only travel in daylight." Jones said. "Very good."
      "Yes. Thank you."

      The RV team and the panel truck team met with the manager in the conference room down the hall from Jones' office the next day.
      "There's only a few more trips left on the immediate schedule." Jones said. "We're working with Mr. Alsovar now to schedule the various airport and train station arrivals."
      "Trains?" Buck asked.
      "Yes. Some of them are taking a train to Philly instead of driving or having us come and get them."
      "Good." Ted said.
      "And there is a small matter of a bonus." Jones announced with a smile. "Mr. Alsovar has given me a two hundred dollar cash bonus for my efforts." He smiled, "He told me to take my wife out to dinner." He picked up a stack of envelopes and chuckled. "That'd be a nice dinner... And he has left each of you a 'small token of his thanks', as he put it, for your outstanding efforts to make his friends comfortable." He handed the envelopes out.
      "Wow." Buck said as he counted the cash in his envelope.
      "It's two hundred dollars per trip." Elizabeth said as the amount registered.
      "Yes." Jones nodded. "And there are two more trips left. One will require both teams. And he said it would be somewhat more difficult than the others. Do you remember your straight jacket drills?"
      Ted noticed the change in Jones' voice. "Why don't I like the sound of that?"
      "Because you've heard of one of them before. One Miss Pretta Seimon."
      Ted frowned. "I think you mentioned her... but."
      "'Prone to random fits...'" Jones said.
      "In Virginia." Ted said with recognition.
      "She's your next assignment, except she is now living in West Virginia."
      Buck grinned at the RV team. "Sounds like fun, wish I could go with you. What's our mission?"
      Jones opened their folder and looked at the cover sheet. "Moving some high security and high value items. The 'researcher' and her family will follow you in their car."
      "Again?" Bob said with a slight frown of displeasure.
      "These items are a little different." Jones was grinning when he looked up. "One is a sentient plant."
      Bob froze.
      Ted laughed out loud. "Sounds like fun."

RV team
Ted Campbell OIC, Elizabeth Hoywell, Ron Green
Ms Pretta Seimon
One adult, one dog
Princeton, WV to Somers Point, NJ

      After considerable research on the destination we concluded that there was no good direct way to get to Princeton, West Virginia from New Jersey via interstate highway, but there was a fairly good US route that was more direct which promised to be rather scenic as well.
      Once again we tried to arrange the trip so we would arrive at the client's place about mid-morning so we drove all day Thursday and stopped for the night in the Blacksburg area in a small park.
      The next morning we followed the New River through the mountains and then headed toward Princeton.
      Elizabeth called the contact number as we neared the town.
      The profile said that Ms Seimon's caretakers would probably answer for her, and evidently that was who answered because Elizabeth kept saying 'sir' as she talked to them and confirmed the directions to the place off of what the directions said was Black Oak-Black Lick-Kale Road.
      I followed the directions from US 19 down the improbably named road past a couple of forks then the turn on a narrow track between mobile homes.
      "We're going to have to back out of here." I said as I nodded to the man waving at us from the front steps of an older off yellow house trailer. I swung the RV wide and pulled into the drive defined by a row of concrete blocks.
      Ron looked out the side windows. "You're probably right. And I wouldn't want to try to get back to Nineteen after dark."
      "Me either. Let's pick her up and go."
      And that's exactly how it went.

      Pretta's caretaker was her cousin Marva and her boyfriend Will and they were very happy to send her on her way.
      While we moved some of her things out to the RV Marva called somebody else in the family and told them that Pretta was leaving for 'that place in Jersey'.
      "Momma wants to talk to one of ya'll." Marva said holding out a handset on a twenty five foot cord.
      "You're in charge." Elizabeth said to me.
      "Yes ma'am." I said into the phone.
      The lady wanted to know about visitation and what sort of contact they would have with Pretta and things like that. All I knew about it was what had been in the briefing and the profile. According to that, Pretta would be able to come and go as she wished, with escort, and was allowed visitors as her condition permitted, and she also had full access to things like telephones and email. Then she told me something I hadn't known, that Mister Alsovar was making arrangements for Pretta to teach art classes.
      We had moved a considerable amount of artist supplies to the RV, but the profile had only mentioned her hobby in passing. But it did sound like something Alsovar would do.
      "Yes ma'am. He sees to all the details."
      Satisfied the lady asked to speak to Marva again.
      Then as we carried some more things to the RV I stopped and looked at one of the paintings.
      "Oh my." I said. Elizabeth echoed the statement.
      "Yeah, Petta paints nice." Will said as we admired the work.
      The unfinished painting was of the surrounding mountains. But it was done with such depth and detail it almost seemed to be a photograph. Right down to the row of telephone poles along the road, you could see the knotholes and grain in the wood.
      "How long did this take her?" Ron asked.
      "Couple'a days. She was workin' on that one last week. When she was ok."
      Then we had to move the young lady.

      She wasn't 'ok' today. She was a barely coherent mass of snarling anger and spitting rage. She was almost coiled up like a snake on an old couch in the back room of the trailer. Her eyes darted from person to person like a cornered animal.
      "A'leas' she's not kickin' an' bitin'." Will said.
      "Petta!" Marva said loudly. "These folks is gonna take you to live wit that doct'r in Jersey."
      Pretta looked at Ron and Elizabeth. She seemed to understand but only responded with mumbling nonsense and the occasional swear word.
      "He sent some medicine with us. Once we get her into the camper we'll give her some and see if it helps."
      "Oh yeah. Morrison's tea." Ron said. "I'd forgotten they'd sent that."
      "Tea?" Will asked.
      "Herbal medication. The Morrisons make some powerful stuff. We can all attest to that." Elizabeth said and me and Ron agreed immediately.
      "Maybe ya'll should give her some now." Marva said as Pretta shifted uneasily.

      The part of the profile that I wasn't supposed to reveal unless it was absolutely necessary was that Alsovar believed that the woman was possessed by at least two different demons or spirits who were struggling for supremacy in her.
      Now, looking at her face to face, I believed it. How he was going to control the 'wicked' side so the other side could teach art class was beyond me. I didn't think some tea was going to cure her.

      In a few minutes we convinced Pretta to try a sip of the tea from the 'doctor'.
      She slurped at the cup and then made a face. Then she slurped at it some more.
      But in about twenty minutes there was a marked difference in the woman. She was now sitting in the chair, and had actually asked a meaningful question about the trip. She wanted to know if we were going back through the Shenandoah Valley.
      "Yes ma'am. We can go that way, and you'll get a good view from the back of the camper. It has a really big window all the way across the back." Elizabeth said almost gently.
      "Oh that sounds wonderful." Marva said to her cousin.
      Pretta smiled. "Yes."
      "Boy that medical tea worked like nobody's business." Will said as we carried the last of Pretta's things out to the camper. "You gotta enough to keep her cool for the trip?"
      "I hope so." I said.
      Once Pretta was back to normal her little dog, Libby, sensed it was safe and took her place in the woman's lap. Libby was about half poodle and half some sort of small terrier, but seemed like a nice companion for her.
      About an hour later Will and I helped Ron back the camper out to the main road. Then we were off.

      Pretta, after her second cup of tea, was a different person. She talked about painting and how her family had had her in and out of 'homes' and hospitals, then they shuffled her between family members. But the only constant she had was her art. "But it's hard to move sculptures, so I mostly did paintings."
      We agreed.

      Pretta and Libby spent most of the trip in the front with us and when she saw a view she liked she took several pictures of it. "So I can paint them later. I don't think there are a lot of mountains in New Jersey."
      "Not like these." I said looking out at the Blue Ridge.

      By the schedule Alsovar gave us Pretta was supposed to get one cup of the 'red' tea every three or four hours. But she could have all the 'blue' tea she wanted.
      For the most part she was calm and pleasant. But we all learned to tell when that four hour window was getting close.
      We had debated about stopping for the night, but the chances that she would relapse and turn into something we might not be able to easily handle were too great. We switched off drivers and took the most direct route from the Valley across to New Jersey as we could.
      The tea supply was starting to get a little low when we pulled into the compound and Alsovar met Pretta with a huge smile and a gleam in his eye.
      We returned the RV to the garage and thanked the mechanics for their excellent attention to the brakes on the unit.
      At the office Ron said he had to get going because he was having dinner with Cecilia again. Neither me nor Elizabeth knew he had been out with her before. To which he replied that we hadn't asked and that they'd been 'going out' when we had some time off between trips for the last month or so.
      I mentioned I would ask Jones about fraternization but Ron told me that she wasn't the client, her uncle was. I said I would still check.
      He laughed and left with a salute and a wave.

End West Virginia Narration

Panel Truck Team
Buck Phillips OIC, Bob Jones- report writer
The Preston Project and Collection
Detroit, MI to Somers Point, NJ

Report re-written after the trip.
      According to the report we were given the client would be moving herself and her partner in their own vehicle and their personal items would be moved by Alsovar's contractor. We would only be transporting the 'sensitive items' from their laboratory. Including the plants that the file said were 'more responsive to their surroundings than normal plants'.
      Neither of us had any idea what we were walking into. The file said many items had been shipped, but the client wished to move the others under her direct supervision.
      Miss Gabriella Preston was an older lady with a very quiet manner who seemed every bit as aristocratic as Mr. Alsovar, but with less personal intensity. Her four companions were somewhat less aloof, but no less interesting. Three of them were young women the other was a man. All seemed to be educated to the point of being intellectual, but they were very respectful to us and grateful for the help in their move.
      Miss Preston's collection and equipment were even more unusual than the Professor's had been. But instead of being of ancient or mysterious origin hers were mostly much more recent, but no less odd.
      "It is a plant." The assistant named Sharice said. She was obviously Middle-Eastern in heritage, but spoke clear English with only a slight accent. "But it knows you are here." She reached out to the three foot tall flowering bush and held her hand near one of its flowers without touching it.
      After a few seconds the bush shuddered then the flower moved to rub itself against her hand like a house cat seeking attention. Then Sharice actually petted the blossom. When she did the whole bush seemed to relax and a couple of the other flowers opened more. Then a wave of a very sweet fragrance moved through the room.
      "See? They are from the upper reaches of the Amazon." She said. "Near the famous River of Doubt."
      "Oh." Buck said refusing to touch the plant. I did stroke a couple of its leaves gently and found it warm to the touch.
      Then we inspected other items.
      There was a family of large rats that Sharice said could read. Then we met a fish that was supposed to be over a hundred years old.
      As we examined more and more items we realized that this would be a most delicate move. Neither of us wanted to be responsible for killing one of those plants or having the fish expire because of something we did or didn't do.
      Not all of the things we were to move were alive. In fact, some were quite dead, but still so delicate or rare we were leery of handling them. One was an antique painting that appeared so three dimensional that I peeked behind the frame to make sure nothing funny was going on with it. On close examination you could tell it was in fact a painting on canvas, but to stand a few feet in front of it you'd think it was a modern hologram.
      Another was a collection of singing crystal. She handed us glasses from the set and told us to hold them normally. Other than being slightly heavy for tumblers there was nothing remarkable about them. Then she held one out and asked us to bring ours close to hers. As I moved my glass that way I felt it begin to vibrate. Buck reported the same thing. Then she had us put them all on a table next to each other. As soon as we let go of the glasses he heard a thin ringing sound from them.
      "If you pour liquid into them it changes the note." Sharice said. "They are made of crystal that was made with minerals from a meteorite that landed in Europe many years ago."

      The loading of the truck took a lot longer than it should have. Some of the objects could not be placed next to each other for various reasons. Including the fear that one of their plants would devour any rodents or even other plants within its reach. And since it was a vine, its reach could be considerable.
      Miss Preston supervised both the packing and the carrying and the loading. But she did so silently.
      Then Buck noticed that whenever he had a question for her one of the others would answer it, sometimes before it was even asked.
      "Yes Mr. Jones. We are telepathic with each other, and somewhat with others." Sharice said to us.
      "Convenient." I said to her.
      "Yes it is."

      We unloaded the personal items at one of the bungalow houses, then spent a long time unloading the collection to the same building we'd put the professor's stuff in. Several of the residents of the estate were there to assist and the unloading went quickly.
      Mr. Alsovar thanked us and saw us off. We returned to the office and debriefed then left for home.

End Detroit Narration

      Mr. Jones was in his office going over some of the personal expenses the teams had turned in for the last couple of runs when one of the staff tapped on his door and said that Mr. Alsovar was there to see him.
      "Show him in. Please." Jones said with some relief as he looked up from the spreadsheet.
      Jones stood and adjusted his tie.
      Alsovar had, in one stroke of his fountain pen, become the third largest account with the firm. To meet the demand Unified Protective and Security Services had both hired several new officers and called back a few that had been semi-retired to full time as well as pay many line officers a great deal of overtime until the new staff could be trained and brought up to speed.
      One of the main obstacles for several officers was the extensive 'client privacy and non-disclosure' form Alsovar's attorney insisted that everybody sign before they could come on the property or even monitor the remote alarms in the main office. It had been rewritten from the standard form the company used at Alsovar's personal request by his private lawyer.
      Ms. Sonya Juris Esq. had established herself on the local legal scene with a bang in just a few weeks. Not only was she Alsovar's attorney of record, several of her firms had interests in New Jersey and she had their cases handed to her. She moved into a storefront office in one of the casinos and had hired her own staff. But it was as Mr. Alsovar's representative that she made a big impact on the security firm.
      The local lawyer that had handled things for the security company for several years met with her once then called his own firm's main office to send down backup.
      For the next several months Alsovar's community worked to both blend in to their surroundings and maintain their separateness from the world at large.
      Several of them held outside jobs, including Elmer who delivered baked goods to several of the restaurants on the boardwalk and Vince who had gotten the position in the refuge and Mister Campidto who worked the late shift for the in house security force at a casino. Even Sylvester got a part time job at one of the funhouses on the beach just south of the estate and was working and paying taxes in the state now.
      Pretta was teaching a couple of art classes in the large general use building just inside the gate. The same building had other offices and display galleries in it as well. One of those was a Museum of Curiosities with many unusual and unique items on display. The curators of the museum divided their time between regaling visiting groups with stories and even songs about some of the objects and conducting serious research into newly uncovered treasures from near and far.
      One of the other aspects of life in the compound was some political activity by Cecilia and a few of the others.
      Cecilia had run for and was elected to the township board, and there was open talk among the local party of trying to convince her into eventually seeking a seat on the State Assembly. She and Ron became something of an item, but as to whether they were serious or not nobody could say.
      For his part, Mr. Alsovar ran his compound like the private and exclusive enclave it was. He entertained guests from the area as well as from overseas with good food and excellent company and 'held court' as the inside joke made it, in a huge room on the far end of the house where the music and old wine and imported cigars lasted far into the night.
      The security company took a great deal of pride in both the facility Mr. Alsovar had provided and what they had done with it. And rightly so. The estate had hosted dignitaries from the owner of the RV lot Mr. Alsovar had done business with all the way through some of the Alsovarís distant relatives who were titled royalty which involved various governmental security agencies. None of them had ever had any serious concerns about the arrangements inside the compound.
      As a result the company, with the blessing of the estateís owner, used the on site security office as a showplace for what could be done for other customers.
      The combined effect of everything was that Mr. Alsovar had now situated himself in a much more secure position than he had been. He was surrounded by people who had a serious investment in their mutual security on several levels. A side benefit was the regular income now being earned by those that lived on the property. While Alsovar had no need to explain where his financial resources came from beyond proving that he was the beneficiary of several family investments that had now matured, an actual real time cash flow through the estate made things easier on several fronts.

      The two crews had another dual briefing session. But this time it was to prepare both teams to go on the same mission.
      "You're going to move another enclave to the compound here." Mr. Jones said. "Right now they are living in an historic monastery on Lake Michigan." He smiled. "They're the caretakers. Once they move out the place will be turned over to the state and incorporated into a nearby park."
      The group of officers nodded.
      "So why do they need us to move them?"
      "That's where it gets interesting."

RV team
Ted Campbell OIC, Elizabeth Hoywell, Ron Green

Panel Truck Team
Buck Phillips OIC, Bob Jones

Move of multiple residents
near Warren Dunes, MI to Somers Point, NJ

Report by Ted Campbell, et al

      The company arranged for us to rent a truck in Michigan City, Indiana so we didn't have to drive two vehicles out there. So for the drive out, there were five of us in the RV. Which made switching drivers no problem at all. Plus in the RV we were able to swap off dozing in the back even though we all knew you were not supposed to. But over all our trips, we hadn't been stopped and to guarantee it we stayed with the flow of traffic and avoided tight situations in the huge vehicle.
      We got to Indiana in the middle of the night and pulled into a truck parking area on the highway to rest until morning. I snoozed in the reclining passenger seat to the drone of nearby idling diesels and wondered how I could ever go back to a regular shift after the adventures we had doing this.
      As the sun rose we went to breakfast and signed out the rental truck and headed north along the lake to find the monastery.

      The file had described the family and the others living on the grounds as 'unique and varied' and then there was on line at the end of the paragraph that mentioned that they may have well been the source for a now classic TV comedy about a family of monsters.
      We discussed which of the old shows they might be like and decided it was most likely a combination of several of the more popular ones.
      It turned out that Buck was an aficionado of the "Dark Shadows" series even though it had been originally aired twenty years before he was born. As we drove into the night across Pennsylvania and Ohio we compared the various shows and some of the clients we had worked with on our missions and worked out a premise for a new show based on us and Mr. Alsovar's estate.
      Now as we backtracked down Red Arrow Road to find the narrow track that eventually led us to the collection of small buildings that made up the monastery and chapel on the bluff of a dune just outside of the Warren Dunes state park.
      We stopped at the park office and got some better directions and drove to the oddly shaped brick house and parked behind an aging large bodied station wagon that was already packed for traveling.
      "Well. This is obviously it." Elizabeth said.
      I agreed. Then I volunteered her to come with me up to the front door to see if anybody was home.

      If Mr. Alsovar was a master at appearing eccentric and aristocratic then the man that met us at door was the one who had taught him how to do it.
      "Greetings." He said.
      "Good morning sir. We're from United Protective." I said.
      "From old Alsovar?" He asked and we nodded. "Wonderful, wonderful. Welcome to Saint Sarah-la-Kali Monastery and Home." He spread his arms dramatically and looked off toward the horizon.
      The gesture almost required the sound effect of a distant rumble of thunder.
      There was no thunder.
      "I'm Monsignor Barnabas du Franc." The man bowed slightly. "At your service."
      "Monsignor." I answered and bowed my head slightly as I used to do in school. "I'm Ted Campbell. This is Elizabeth Hoywell."
      "Delighted ma'am." du Franc said with another bow. "Please. Invite the rest of your team in and we shall welcome them properly." He nodded toward the RV, posed for another second, then he turned and went inside.
      I shrugged at Elizabeth then waved at Ron and the others to join us.
      The main room of the house was as wide as the building, which was only about ten feet, but very long. The layout was more of a small theater than living area, which seemed to suit Monsignor du Franc just fine.
      The man stood at the far end of the room as we all walked in and stood in a semi circle around and between some outdated and mismatched furniture.
      "Our retreat is dedicated to the patron of my people, Saint Sarah la Kali of the Rom who accompanied Joseph of Arimathea and others of the Holy Party to France." He began.
      As we listened to his speech several others of the group came in and stared at us as we stared at them and nobody actually listened to the speech.
      Over the course of our missions to transport Alsovar's people to New Jersey we had encountered everybody that appeared to be evolutionary throwbacks to those that defied classification beyond calling them people.
      Now we were faced with a group that ran that gamut and even ran beyond it.
      To the Monsignor's immediate left were three people dressed somewhat as monks. One of them looked like an illustration I had seen of someone who had just begun the transformation into a werewolf. The others seemed human.
      To his right a couple of adults stood with a child between them. They looked normal but as I smiled and nodded to them I heard a soft voice in my head say they were glad we had come to help them.
      After the Monsignor's talk he asked us if we had any questions about him or his group.
      "How many of you are there?" I asked as a very large woman stepped into the room to stand behind him sipping from a coffee mug.
      "Well, that's hard to say. There's usually four or five of us living here at any one time, and we are all moving. But the Gilmore's are coming too." The couple with the child nodded. "Irma hasn't decided yet, she was, oh, she's here."
      The large woman frowned at us. "I still haven't decided if I'm going or not. I like it here." She pointed at Elizabeth. "What's Ferenee's place like?"
      I noticed that both of her hands had six fully formed and working fingers each as she held her cup and listened to the answer.
      Elizabeth gave a fair description of the compound and its residents and some of the local features and attractions.
      "I ain't got no use for no ocean." Irma said. "I don't even go down to the lake." She looked at du Franc. "I'll decide tonight and let you know." Then she turned and walked out of the room.
      The Monsignor smiled gently. "She is quite set in her ways." He nodded and continued. "Chaco and Rico are coming with us." He indicated two of the people to his left.
      Chaco and Rico appeared to be identical twins, but they had an odd look to them otherwise. As I nodded to them with a smile they just stared at me.
      "Would you like to see the rest of the grounds before lunch?" du Franc asked us.
      "Yes sir. Thank you."

      The place didn't seem like it had been built as a monastery, but it was indeed old and had an interesting history behind it, including being a working port for the delivery of Canadian liquor on its way south during prohibition.
      "You can still see the pilings where the dock had been built out into the lake." Du Franc said from the top of the bluff. "They'd tie up at night and unload and haul it all up here before daylight." He indicated a line of rotting boards and some rusty rails leading to a boathouse. Just inside the door an old man in out of date coveralls was working on what appeared to be a large power winch, he glanced at us then went back to work. "Those are for the rail cars from a coal mine they installed here to bring the cases up."
      "Impressive." Ron said.
      He told us everything about the place except how he came to be in possession of it. And I didn't see the point in asking him.
      The people that had been staying there had been living in the house and various out buildings.
      Irma had taken up residence in a small building that looked to have been built for chickens.
      Chaco and Rico were quite proud of the fact that they lived in what had been the homemade lighthouse used to guide in the boats delivering the liquor.
      "We've even kept the light working." One of them said.
      "Lunch is ready." Irma said with something of a sneer. "Come eat."
      "Thank you ma'am." I said for my group after the Monsignor told her we'd be right in.
      She turned and looked directly at me like she was seeing me for the first time. "Oh. You're welcome."
      The layout of the meal was buffet style, but with an unusual configuration. There was meat on one side of the long narrow dining room, and vegetables on the other. But there were a similar selection of breads on both counters. To drink there was water, and from the taste of it it was untreated and directly from a well.
      Some of the residents went through the meat side, others went through the vegetables, it seemed that we, as the guests, were the nearly only ones going through both. During the meal a few assorted residents appeared and got some food then exited through the same door they'd come in without a word to anybody. One of them I'd remembered seeing on the tour by the old boat house, but he hadn't been around otherwise.
      I asked the Monsignor if any of them would be moving out with them.
      "Ah." He said with a twinkle in his eye. "Some will, some won't. But don't worry about them. They come and go as it suits them."

      Later we helped various ones that said they were leaving with us pack their things out to the truck or the RV or Mr. Gilmore's pickup truck.
      In the evening there was another meal set up just like the noon meal but with slightly different fare. Once again, only a couple of the residents went through both sides.
      We were invited to spend the night in the guestroom of the house, but every one of us said we'd just go ahead and stay in the RV.
      After dinner we had to answer some questions about Alsovar and his estate and listen as several of the group debated about moving to New Jersey or to an island they knew of in a bayou near Spring Lake. Several of them were discussed it then a few opted to try the island then if it didn't work out to move to Jersey.
      One by one they made up their mind. Irma was the last to say she was coming with us.

      Later we took our leave and spread out in the camper as best we could. Buck opted to sleep in the cab of the truck instead of listening to our competitive snoring contest like he had that morning at the rest stop.

      I slept in the passenger's seat again and spent a somewhat restless night. I kept getting the impression something was, the only word I can think of is- lurking... near the RV and the truck. But nobody bothered us that night and as the sun peeked through the trees I was awoken by the crowing of a rooster that I never actually saw our entire time there.
      There was another meal laid out as before. Those that were going were up and ready to leave as soon as we ate. The others said they'd move out later that day.
      Of the ones that came and went, two showed up for breakfast and did not speak to anybody while they got their food, then they went out again. Nobody else seemed to even notice them.
      Ron had walked in the door just as the last of them had gone out. As he sat down across from me I asked him where the woman that had gone out when he was coming in had gone.
      "What woman?" He asked me.
      "Short, maybe about sixty, was carrying a plate. She was wearing one of their monk robes."
      He shook his head. "I didn't see anybody like that."
      Mr. Gilmore was sitting nearby. "That was Miss Lucy. I don't think she's going with us."
      "Why not?" I asked.
      "Well, one good reason is... she's been dead for about twenty-five years."

      We had nine of the living members of the enclave that were moving spread between the RV and the truck. Mr. Gilmore was going to follow us in his truck which carried the overflow from the camper and the rental truck.
      We moved the vehicles to the edge of the property and watched as du Franc walked to the edge of the parking area between the house and the largest outbuilding. Then he raised his arms and spoke loudly.
      "We are going. I release you."
      Immediately several of those that I had seen coming to get food appeared along the sidewalk. One of them being Miss Lucy as named by Mr. Gilmore. They seemed to look at him with a mixture of respect and suspicion, then they faded from view.
      Ron looked at me and Elizabeth. "I saw it, I still don't believe it."
      "Would you rather Miss Lucy joined us for the move?" I asked him.
      "I'm not going to answer that either way."

      The drive from Michigan to New Jersey was one of the most nerve-wracking rides I have ever been involved with.
      The rental truck broke down twice, and the second time the rental company gave up and found us another, smaller, truck. When all the junk we had in the original wouldn't fit in the replacement they promised to find us another truck the same size.
      And they did.
      The next morning some guy we'd never seen or talked to before showed up with another truck. It was the same size as the smaller unit.
      We reshuffled the stuff and repacked both the smaller truck and the pickup and the RV and left the rental man standing by his replacement truck shaking his head.
      Then we hit a series of storms that tried to push all three vehicles off the side of the turnpike.
      Then the RV started running hot through the mountains.
      Then one of the ropes broke holding stuff on the pickup and we had to chase stuff around the highway for awhile.
      When we got pulled over at a scale while they verified the registration on the rental I wondered who had given us the evil eye.
      Monsignor du Franc didn't see it as a joke.
      He looked out at the officers doing the inspection and raised his hands with his palms out and fingers spread in front of him and muttered for awhile through half closed eyes.
      "I believe that should do it." He said. Then he turned to me. "It wasn't the evil eye. It was a following presence. Somebody didn't want us leaving."
      "What did you do?" Elizabeth asked.
      "I invited them to come with us."
      "Terrific. Another ghost in New Jersey."
      du Franc nodded slowly. "Essentially."

      We arrived at the estate in Somers Point without any further major incidents
      Irma glowered at Mr. Alsovar for a long minute. He remained aloof and unruffled. Then she snorted and said it was actually good to see him again and walked heavily toward the main house.
      The rest of us spent several hours unloading and sorting the stuff we had ferried halfway across the country.
      "Look." Elizabeth whispered and jerked her head toward the big building where the museum was.
      I glanced over and saw an old woman in a monk's robe and what appeared to be an old man in work clothes watching us.
      "Welcome to New Jersey Miss Lucy."

End Protection

[Note: All rights reserved, including the right to further publication. Distributed copies to proofreaders and editors remain property of the author. No infringement of copyright is intended. All events are fictitious, all historical persons (or non-persons), as well as various states, businesses, etc. did exist, NO DISRESPECT or disparagement to them is intended.
Email- dr_leftover{~at~}themediadesk{~dot~}com     Selah ]
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