88Gary Cooper retired D C police detective. aka Gary Edwards
Rosemarie Whitaker County prosecutor
Janet Stevens, Gary’s partner, aka Jennifer Edwards.
Earnest witness. Aka Eddie Edwards
The DA.’s Man
The tent/cabin weathered the first full year fine. It even made it through the second summer with only minor repairs needed. It was my second October in the mountains and I had adapted well to the solitude. Somewhere along the way I discovered that I didn’t need recognition any longer. There was something satisfying in being anonymous.
I had a few friends at the county’s library and the community center for seniors. I could use the county’s WIFI at either locations. I downloaded information I wanted to use as research. I had collected quite a mass of information which I studied at home. Even without a working cell phone, I managed to stay in touch with what was happening through my downloads from the county WIFI.
I also used the recreation center’s homeless center for showers. I didn’t eat any meals there or sleep there during the winter as some other seniors did. I did use their shower facilities. Since I brought my own soap and towel, no one complained. The county also supplied my drinking water for a fee and I used a system of tanks and fish tank pumps to move it around the cabin. In other words I had a semi off the grid lifestyle.
My power came from a wind turbine and a solar array which fed 12 volts into a storage battery bank. That bank of batteries in turn charged my laptop and power tools. It was a good system, if you could handle life with an outdoor composting toilet in January. I could but it was difficult at times.
It was during that October that I had a new visitor. I had a sheriff’s deputy visit me now and then. She said it was to gossip, but I think it was to make sure I was still alive. The new visitor was a middle aged lady within five years of my age. Those five years could have been in either direction, since she was wearing a business suit. She also displayed a fancy hair style and color. Her makeup was impeccable as well.
She stopped her car a few yards from my house. “Hello there are you Gary Cooper?”
“That’s me. What can I do for you?” I asked.
“I was told you were the brains behind solving the Paula Duncan murder,” she suggested.
“I hate to say this, but flattery won’t help. So again what can I do for you?” I did say it with a smile.
“I would like you to consult with my office. We have never had an investigator. Allot of us felt we have needed one for years. You might be our way to prove it to the county commissioners.” She said. “Can I come in and talk about it.”
“You can come in, but the talk will be a waste of your time,” I suggested.
“Why do you say that?” she asked.
“I have to make plans for the winter.” It was true I had planned to do more hunting that winter. To that end I had built a smoker for my meat. Well I had converted my old wood stove to the heat and smoke source for the preserving of meat and fish. I built it into a brick wall just large enough to surround it and keep the wood and tent canvas away from the dangerous heat. I had checked out the distances needed to be safe online, then added 50% more for super safety. I had used it once already to smoke a stringer full of pan fish. It was a lot of work for not much fish, but I considered it a learning experience.
I knew I might be able to put away some meat for a stew using the smoker. I could probably smoke a small deer or wild hog in the smoker, nothing else made much sense. The wood would be hard to find and certainly to expensive if I had to purchase it.
My winter plan was to shoot a dear and/or a wild hog to smoke, before the weather made freezing it naturally possible. It was a short term goal, but I didn’t want to work for the DA. That all went through my mind in less than a minute.
“Like the saying goes what if I made you an offer you can’t refuse?” she asked.
“I’m not sure there is such a think,” I answered.
“I’m thinking a paralegal suited to help with the investigations. Someone to do all the leg work like your former associate Janet. There would be access to all the same communications networks Janet used for your work with the sheriff. We could get the county to bill my office for your water use. Access to a private hunting preserve rated as one of the best in the state. The owner is a friend of mine. Since you use your truck for county business You can also fill your truck with gas at the county station and use the county fuel card. Last but not least you will be invited to all the county functions we host for our employees.”
“You almost had me before the last one. I hate those organized events. It is tempting, but I’m going to pass on the deal,” I replied.
“It’s a shame Janet Stevens won’t be hired without you on board,” the DA said without showing any emotion. “I guess it’s back to working vice for her. I wonder if you can say no to her.”
“She’s a nice kid, but nothing more to me,” I said.
“Then what do you want?” she asked.
“Confidential informant with blanket immunity for actions taken to further my investigations. I do not show up on any personnel file or roster. You can save all your other enticements. I will never show up in your office and never testify in court. You can send Janet with any messages or drive here yourself. I don’t want your phone. All electronics can be traced,” I said.
“Immunity for anything up to murder for that you will have to answer,” she demanded.
“Can’t do that. If some sleaze points a gun at me, he will have to die. There is no other option,” I stated.
“You will answer for any innocents you kill accidentally,” she reiterated.
“There are no innocents, but put it in writing and it’s a deal,” I said.
She left quickly as if she had made a deal with the devil. She probably thought she had. Hell I thought that in making a deal with a lawyer, I was the one who had made the deal with the devil. I had no intentions of becoming a confidential informant. I only intended to make investigations the most effective way possible. It might cause me to bend a law now and then.
As she drove away, I looked more closely at her card. She had introduced herself as Rosemary Whitaker, but her card read R. A. Whitaker. The second line read simply District Attorney. The line under it was a phone number. On the rear was a hand written phone number. I assumed it was for emergencies only.
After her visit I returned to puttering around the cabin. There just wasn’t enough to keep me busy. I had been looking for something to do. The DA might have just the thing I needed.
I went inside the cabin to retrieve the .30 caliber carbine. I had bought it at a gun show in Charlotte the weekend before. I read about it on line, so I drove almost a hundred miles to buy it. The dealer assured me all the carbines were from a storage facility which the government had recently closed. They all needed cleaning and oiling, but he guaranteed they would fire perfectly.
The Korean era .30 cal carbine had been replaced by the M16 assault rifle. So overnight there were millions of obsolete semiautomatic rifles on the surplus market. That began fifty years ago but like any other government surplus item they didn’t all hit the market all at the same time. When their storage space was needed for something else, they were declared surplus. The government wanted the most it could get for them, so they tried to sell them in lots to gun dealers instead of scrap metal buyers. Such was the case with my $350 rifle. I could have bought a modern rifle for about the same money. However I wanted it for house protection as well as for hunting.
I bought the rifle, two ten round magazines, and 300 rounds of ammo in ten round quick load stripper clips. It was never meant as a sniper rifle, so it had a peep sight which was accurate enough to kill a man. I expected I could put a couple of rounds in a black bear, or a wild hog so I didn’t change the sights. That and the hefty price a gunsmith would charge for adding a telescopic sight aided in my decision.
I was much more familiar with the M16, so I had pulled up and then downloaded the directions for field stripping the carbine. I sat in the shade while I did the work on it. I was careful not to mislay any of the pieces. When I was finished it was a relief that it still worked. I even fired off a few rounds into a large tree, just to be sure.
I loaded one ten round stripper clip into two different magazines. I didn’t want to put a strain on the magazine springs. I didn’t need to be looking an angry bear or wild hog in the face with a jammed gun in my hands.
After the carbine was put away, I found a can of beanie wienies for dinner. I missed meat in the summer. In the winter frozen or cold stored meat was possible, but without refrigeration it was not possible. Smoked meat would last longer into the summer, so I was very interested in pursuing that option.
The DA’s agreement would keep me off the hunting out of season arrest list. I planned to hunt for food not trophies.
I hoped my days of reliance on Beanie Weenies would end soon, not to mention those instant pasta meals. I did have to admit a rabbit, cleaned, and cooked in a pressure cooker over a gas fire ring, was a great addition to a mac and cheese dinner.
.... There is more of this story ...