Missing in Sannabal
Chapter 1

Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa,

Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1 - The Deacon's niece goes missing in a mexican resort.<br><i>Pure action adventure no sex at all. Please if you looking for a sexually oriented story pass this by. You won't enjoy it at all.</i>

"Deacon?" the voice on the phone asked.

"Been expecting you to call," I replied

"Yeah, I don't trust these guys any more."

"You never could, but that's just me talking."

"Seems you are right as usual. So the ticket will be at the airport, if that's okay."

"Gonna' need two."

"Done," the voice replied without even asking. The voice didn't even bother with a goodbye. We both knew that I would be seeing him in a matter of hours. I would be on the next plane. The tickets at the counter, and the reservations, would be for that flight. That's just what families do. It's how my family had lived for as long as I could remember. Probably longer than I could remember.

I killed half an hour looking out the picture window of the camping trailer at the lake. I watched a couple of deer on the other side of the lake drinking at the edge. Then I dialed the number from the yellow pages.

From the United Airlines reservation desk I found the time of the next flight that connected to Mexico City. I didn't much like making the next call but I didn't think that I had any choice. I didn't call him often but then hell he still owed me one. "Mike this is Deacon. I need a favor."

"Deacon, I don't kill people you know that." His voice had only a half jesting tone.

"That ain't the favor. I need you to do what you do."

"That being the case you got it. This is gonna make us even?" The question was in his tone. I liked that he wanted to close the books, even more than the fact that he remembered he owed me.

"Yeah, this will do it. You got a passport?" I asked it as a second thought.

"Sure everybody has got one of those don't they."

"Most everyone I 'spect. There is a plane ticket for us at the United desk at the airport. Fight leaves at 6 A.M."

"Where we going and what do I need to take along?" He asked it for information not as a complaint.

"Bout the only thing I can think of is brush clothes."

"Then you were serious?"

"I was. My niece is missing in Sannadad."

"That resort in Mexico? Okay Deacon, I'll be on the plane."

"Good Mike, I appreciate it."

"Do you speak Spanish?" I was caught off guard by that one. The significance of the question flooded my mind.

"No, do you?" I asked.

"Nope, Deacon we are going to need an interpreter. I think one from here not down there."

"I agree." The connection broke without either of us saying goodbye. I began pacing and racking my brain as I went. I had no idea who to call. It struck me that I should know someone who spoke Spanish. I just couldn't for the life of me come up with anyone. I finally had to call my cousin in Chapel Hill. He was the only one I knew who might could come up with a Spanish speaking person. Hell, he was a professor at one of the largest and best know universities in the world. Okay they were known best for their basketball team but still.

"Jeff, it's Deacon. I need a favor."

"You haven't spoken to me in two years and out of the blue you need a favor. What, you need to hide from some pissed off husband?"

"Don't you ever watch the news. Shelley is missing in Sannadad."

"You mean that is Tim's Shelly?"

"Yes that's what I mean."

"What the hell can I do?" He wasn't making a 'what can I do' cop out, he was asking.

"I need someone who speaks really good Spanish to come with me to Sannadad. I don't want a local or a cop to do the interpreting." I paused while he thought. "And Jeff, they need a strong stomach."

"Yeah, when do you need them?"

"The plane leaves at 6 A.M."

"Not much time," he said.

"Shelley might not have much time."

"Well I might have to drive your interpreter to the airport myself, but you will have one waiting."

"Thanks Jeff, I owe you."

"Now that's a novel thought. As if I need you to owe me one to get one." He paused then added. "When this is over come see me and tell me all about it."

"Thanks Jeff, I'll have Tim's wife bake you a cake."

"Hell, I bet Eddie makes better cakes. That's why I'm gay. It was the only way I could get him to cook for me."

"Wake his ass up and get him to help you find someone. Thanks Jeff." He didn't answer because the phone was dead before I could finish.

I packed what little I could. Most of what I wanted to pack would never make it onto the plane. First I packed the harmless looking surveillance gear, then I packed clothes and a large bar of Irish Spring soap. It is my preference to use in making a sap aka blackjack. When inside a sock, and swung nice and hard, it will crush a skull like an egg. It smells good to. I searched around for my high topped work boots from Wal-Mart. I wore them more for the boot laces than the protection. I was pretty sure I would need at least the brush protection, but the laces might also come in handy. A nice strong piece of rawhide with a dinner fork tied to each end makes a more than satisfactory garrote. Of if I were my Uncle Deacon, the forks would be enough to do the job. Yes I'm young Deacon, Uncle Deacon is retired, but he is still Uncle Deacon. Tim would most likely have rather had him. but Uncle Deacon was living in seclusion somewhere out west.

The time passed slowly but it did pass. I was the first one at the airport as it should have been. Mike was a shock. The last time I saw him he had jet black hair and wore it just above shoulder length. That morning he looked just plain old. His hair was several inches below his shoulder and it was mixed with a lot of gray. I wouldn't have recognized him, if he hadn't been the only American Indian in the place at 5 A.M.

"Deacon, you are a lot younger than I remember."

"And you are older," I replied.

"Too many dead," he admitted.

"Yes far too many." I paused a few seconds then said, "We might as well check in."

At the desk I explained who I was and that there were tickets waiting for us. Since the attack on New York, everything was suspect. I was glad to see that the world had caught up to my family. Mike and I endured the searches and the questions with fairly good humor. The guards over looked about a dozen weapons but they did look for the ones which they were trained to look for.

"Don't see your interpreter," Mike commented.

"Me either, we might have to rely on a local."

"Bad business," Mike suggested.

"I agree." I nodded to Mike when I saw Jeff rush through the doors. He had a skinny kid in tow. At first I thought it was a boy, but then I decided it was a teenaged girl. When the two of them got closer, I realized she was at least in her mid twenties maybe a bit more. she was small and frail looking.

"Mike, would you get her started please." I turned my attention to Jeff. "What the hell are you doing. She isn't going to have to do much but she might have to walk a mile or two."

"Deacon, shut the fuck up." Now only a family member would dare to do that. "She is from a small town in San Salvador. She fought with the rebels and is as tough as a rawhide chew. She works with Eddie at the hospital. When I told him, he called her and she agreed. You are going to have to pay her enough to get her father into the country. I didn't figure with Tim money would be a problem."

"I doubt that it will be. Okay but Jeff, if she sells me out and I live, you won't."

"Wouldn't have it any other way amigo."

"It's a good thing when family understands each other."

"Ain't it just," he said grinning. "Too bad you don't have time for breakfast."

"Next time." I shook his hand.

The woman's name was unpronounceable by me. I just couldn't get my anglo tongue around it. Since it started with a syllable that sounded like Meg, that became her name. She sure as hell didn't look like a Meg but that was alright.

The woman had two small suitcases, which was one more than either Mike or I had. We went through yet another question and answer interview, not to mention the search. They finally allowed us to board the plane that took us to the plane for Mexico City.

In the Mexico City airport Mike spotted a man carrying a sign with my name. We walked to him in a ragged line. "I'm Burke," I said as we approached.

"Mr. Burke, I have a cab outside to take you to the general aviation terminal." In the states general aviation was private planes and corporate jets. Since the man with the sign was American, I assumed that might meant the same thing to him.

"Got a chopper there to take you to the resort." He said that after we were safely inside his cab.

"You work for the Sannadad Resort?"

"Leased to them at the moment. I fly all the vips down."

"So my little band of cut throats are considered VIPs."

"Mr Burke, we all remember what happened on Aruba. We would just as soon there not be a repeat here,"

"Good, then you have found my niece?"

"Not yet, at least not that I know of. I do know there is a search going on now."

I looked over to see Mike shake his head. I knew he was expecting the place to be trampled to nothing. I was expecting it to. Mike was most likely a futile gesture but one we needed to make anyway. "So how long in the chopper?"

"Less than an hour, but not a lot less."

He was on the mark since it took us 48 minutes by my watch. After the first five minutes we flew over mostly jungle with a few small villages carved out here in and there. We left the mainland, then took a hard right turn. We ran parallel to the narrow beach for a few minutes before the resort came into view.

The resort was on what was almost an island but not quite. The three miles long and one and a half mile wide strip of earth would have been and island had it not been for the land bridge back to the mainland. The land bridge was a strip of volcanic rock a hundred yards wide and five time that long. It alone put the resort on a peninsula instead of an island.

Tim was waiting for the chopper. I spotted him by his stone gray hair. It had been that way since he was twenty five. Unfortunately he had grown into it. At forty he was still too gray for his age, but on him I was told it looked sexy. I expected that when mine turned gray I would just look old.

I took my one bag from the pilot and walked toward my bother. "I hate to see you like this Tim, but it is good to see you." It was true that we didn't see much of each other even though we lived in the same town. We traveled in totally different circles.

"Do you remember Mike?" I asked it turning to my companion.

"Yeah, Mike how are you."

"Sorry for your troubles," I was about as much as we were going to get from him. I introduced Meg and she did about the same. She hadn't said a dozen words since we left home that morning.

"Tim, we need to sleep. We have been in the air all day. How about you and I meet for a few minutes, then we can begin tomorrow morning fresh."

"Okay." I could tell he was disappointed. It was late afternoon. My party was all dead on their feet.

"Space is hard to come by here but I found you a cabana inside the resort. At least you won't have to deal with the tourists."

"It will do fine for now. We may decide to move to a more quiet place later. For now a cabana in the resort is fine." Mike gave me a stare that reminded me what he had said. He didn't sign on for a killing. He shouldn't worry if it came to that, I would be the one doing it.

The little jeep made up like a whore's ride drove us to the cabana. It was a two bedroom affair but that was enough since there was a sofa in the living room. I didn't mind the sofa at all. It was plenty long enough for my 5'11" body. I began by looking for a blanket to cover myself.

"Deacon you can have your pick of the bedrooms." It was the Central America woman who said it.

"Oh that's okay I don't mind sleeping on the sofa. It is as big as my bed at home."

"No Deacon, you don't understand." It was Mike who nodded toward Meg that finally made me understand.

"Ah okay, then give me the one with the largest bed. You won't need much space." I grinned at Meg. She looked away but smiled. Mike didn't say a word, he just walked into one of the bedrooms. That left me alone in the other one. Those two had somehow made a connection while we flew half way across America. I hadn't seen either of them speak more than a dozen words. Somehow they got what needed to be said, said.

I hadn't even unpacked when Tim showed up at the door. He carried a bottle of Jack Daniels black and a large bag of ice. I hadn't even looked about our place so I had no idea if I had ice of my own.

"How about Mike and the girl?" he asked pouring me a drink.

"They are pretty worn out, I think they have already fallen asleep." Just then the air was cut with a load groan. It was definitely Meg and she wasn't in pain. Tim looked at me, but he couldn't smile. "Alright Tim what do the locals think happened?"

"Shelly was in the casino with a group of kids around ten. They all moved to the disco next door."

"By next door do you mean in the hotel or in another building?"

"The disco is in the next hotel. They seemed to have straggled over. Shelly never made it over." He paused and I waited, but didn't go on.

"Surely somebody saw something?"

She had been talking to a guy who also never made it to the disco. Everyone thought she left for the beach with him."

"Did she?"

"Deacon, I have no idea what she did. I would like to think she was smart enough not to go walking on the beach after midnight with an almost total stranger, but I can't be sure."

"So what does that boy say?"

"He says he left the dinner club then went straight home. He says he never saw her after she left for the disco."

"And do we believe him?"

"Deacon, I don't know." Tim had never called me Deacon with such sincerity. Before there had always been a bit of scorn or at least levity when he did. He mostly called me Charlie which is my name by the way. That night he called me Deacon and it slipped off his tongue easily.

"So Shelley went to the ladies room according to this kid. It's been almost a week Tim, has the kid gone home yet."

"He lives here. His dad is the manager of the Holly Ridge at lands end."

"How far is it to this Holly Ridge?"

"About a quarter mile up the beach. Nothing is very far here."

"I didn't see a marina when we flew in?"

"No marina, each hotel has a few boats for para sailing and the like, but no real marina."

"Did the cops check all the boats on the island?"

"Not that I know of. They are working on the supposition that she left on her on."

"Why the hell would she do that?"

"They are thinking she went into the village for drugs."

"Was she taking drugs?" I asked it without making a judgement about it.

"No way, the cops here are just nuts. There are two village constables and some soldiers who keep order. There are private security people for the resort. This place is a world all its own. Nobody wants to make noise here. We feel like we need them to keep looking or we would be raising hell."

"Its been four days, no make that five its after midnight, it's time to raise hell Tim. I want you and Mitch on the nightly news every night. This has to make the resort hurt, or they are going to try to shove it off on the locals. We need the Mexican police in here full force, not some people with an interest in keeping this quiet."

"That's what I thought, but they kept telling us they were doing all they could."

"Well that doesn't seem to have been much."

"The Mexican police don't seem all that interested in getting involved. This place seems to be its own little country. The security people here have the power of arrest. They enforce whatever Mexican laws they choose."

"Tim, I hope to hell you didn't know that before you sent Shelly here."

"I didn't send her. A bunch of kids from her school came down. We had no idea what was going on, but neither do any of the other several thousand tourists who come here every year."

"Are you on good terms with the chief of security for the resort?"

"Pretty good, I've been holding my tongue but it is bloody from the biting."

"I want to see him first thing in the morning."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Tim, if you can't do it let me know, and I'll work something else out. I also want to talk to all the kids who were with her. If they have gone get me on a conference call to them one at a time. I'm sure Mitchie wouldn't mind working that out. She has to be going nuts."

He left around nine, I was passed out at by nine thirty. The sounds coming from the second bedroom didn't keep me awake. I'm not sure what they did for Mike and Meg.

The next morning I awoke first. The coffee was on when the two lovers came into the kitchen/living room.

"Morning you two, coffees on the counter over there." I pointed to the kitchen cabinet.

Meg went to stand on the patio with her coffee before Mike asked, "Are you okay with the sleeping arrangements?"

"I am, if you are. If they get to be complicated, let me know. I can always sleep on the beach." I smiled at him. Just to let him know the he and Meg would be sleeping in sand before me.

"Yeah," he said rising. He took his coffee and joined Meg. The two of them were obviously trying to prove my high school science teacher wrong. They were trying hard to occupy the same space at the same time. I answered the phone while they continued to watch the ocean.

"Yes," I said into the plastic headset without a wire.

"Deacon, the resort security man will meet you in an hour."

"Good, thanks Tim. You gonna come by to drive me."


"He does speak english?"

"Actually he doesn't, at least not very well."

"Okay, I think we will try to make his life a little easier, for today anyway."

Once the phone connection was cut I said, "Meg, I'm going to need you to go along to the security people's office." She nodded her acceptance.

"You need me to?" Mike asked. I sure as hell hoped that Meg wasn't going to be a distraction for him.

"No Mike, why don't you find something to amuse yourself."

"Think I'll take a walk around the island."

"Good Idea, I expect that I'll have a better idea where to walk when I get back." Mike just nodded.

The resort wasn't just a single hotel but a complex of them. Each ran independently of the others but all were members of the Sannabal resort community. The community had its on water and sewer system. It would be the envy of Mexico City, if it had conformed to any rules. Sannabal had only to keep its nose clean and the rest of Mexico ignored it. Probably because it paid huge taxes. It most likely paid even more in bribes. It was my plan to shake Sannabal to its foundation before lunch.

Meg and I rode in the back of the Jeep/Surrey while Tim rode in the front with the driver. She whispered to me. "We haven't spoken often Mr. Burke but Mike has told me a great deal about you. He also told me that this might become unpleasant. I do not want you to worry about me. In my home there is much unpleasantness. Both Jeff and Mike tell me that if you are involved, we will be on God's side in this."

"I'm not sure about God's side, but you are on the right side of this."

"The right side is always God's side Deacon."

"Then Meg, you should pray for the ones on the other side."

"I think I will leave that to those who are a bit more forgiving." Meg never smiled while she spoke. She had the hollow look of one who had seen the face of evil and lived. I hoped that when she saw it again, she could remember it was God's side she was on.

The Sannabal security office was in a building in a small shopping plaza across from an American style hotel. The plaza boasted what at home would be a fast food cafe.

"Tim, make the introductions then leave."

"What? I'm not going anywhere."

"If this guy gets pissed and I can't reason with him, I don't want him to hold it against you."

"I guess that makes sense, but I don't like it." Tim honestly didn't look happy about being kept in the dark yet again.

The slightly less that middle aged man was introduced to me as Colonel Estavan. After we all said out greetings Tim left quietly. Estavan was shocked. It was most likely going to get worse for him.

"Colonel if you don't mind we will speak in Spanish. I have an interpreter here." I nodded to Meg. "I don't want you to accidentally chose a wrong word. She is the best there is." I had no idea if it were true or not, but she was the girl who brung me so I was gonna dance with her.

The colonel just nodded. I don't think he was too impressed with me. It is true that I wore work pants and a white cotton shirt open at the neck. It was most likely that the tee shirt I wore had a small hole at the knit neckline. All those thing made me seem a bumpkin, which I probably am.

I spoke to him in english. "Could you tell me the status of the investigation. I want to especially know the official theory of what happened to Shelly."

Meg rattled off a burst of Spanish then waited. The colonel spoke slowly at first. His words built up steam and he got more confident as he went along.

"The colonel says he can not give you the details of the investigation. Doing so would compromise any potential prosecution by the Mexican government. As for what they think happened to your niece, he isn't at liberty to say."

"Ask him exactly what he is at liberty to say?" I kept my voice calm because I knew it was going to turn ugly soon. Meg rattled off more Spanish and the Colonel answered in Spanish. He seemed almost cocky.

"He says you have most likely heard it all before. Four nights ago Shelly and her friends were headed to a club outside her hotel. She stopped at the ladies room and no one has seen her since."

I spoke directly to him and Meg translated both ways. "Do you have surveillance cameras in the parking lot of the Hotel where she was staying?"

"Of Course," he answered smiling.

"Did you review the tapes from that night?" His face clouded over.

"That is part of the on going investigation." He looked nervous. If he had checked, he didn't like being questioned.

"Do they have cameras on the beach side?"

"Yes," he answered carefully.

"Where are they mounted on the hotel or on the beach shooting back at the hotel."

"I'm sorry you are getting into the details of the investigation now."

I turned my attention to Meg. I spoke in English but slowly enough for him to follow, even if he were a complete idiot, which he wasn't "I want you to ask him if he knows what the impact of the coverage of the Holloway girl's investigation did to the Aruban tourist business. If he does know, I want you to ask him what he thinks the Mexican Government will think of that kind of loss here. Then I want you to tell him that a Fox News producer owes me a favor. Then I want you to tell him I have no problem sinking this resort in red ink and/or the whole damn Mexican economy for that matter." I switched my gaze to the Colonel. Tell him I said this is family and I take that real personal." I sat quietly while she relayed the message to Estaban in Spanish. He used the time to calm down. He didn't like being threatened. I almost hoped he would come over the desk. It might prove interesting.

Instead after a few words aimed at Meg, he sat back with a more serious look than he had before.

"The colonel said to do what you had to do." She had a hint of a smile. She wanted to see what I would do.

I took the cell phone from my pocket. I dialed the number from a Fox News card I carried in my wallet. "Samuel this is Deacon. Yeah I know I was supposed to come to New York, but what the hell do you have there that I would want." I listened to him try to convince me to come for a drunken visit.

"Samuel have you heard about that girl going missing in Sannabal. Good, its my niece and they don't seem to want to do anything about it. As a matter of fact, they have their own private police force here and they are stone walling me. How about you send someone down. I think this about to get interesting."

"No not interesting like the middle east... well you never know come to think of it... I'll be expecting them." I turned my attention to the colonel who was a different shade of red. I still waited for him to come over the desk, and it was looking more likely all the time.

"Now Meg, you tell that son of a bitch, I just did what I had to do. When the reporters get here, my story is going to depend a lot of what I hear from him." She delivered the translation with a smile. He started to speak but I stood and turned my back on him.

"Come on Meg, tell him I don't want to hear from him again until he is ready to tell me what is happening. If he doesn't want to talk, I will do this the hard way." I was out of the office when Meg came running after me.

"My God he is angry. I expected him to try to kill you."

"Well honey the day is young," I laughed as we found Tim waiting with the Surrey driver. They had found a bit of shade.

"Tim, see if you can find another bungalow. A fox news crew will be in tonight or tomorrow."

"So we are going to go on the offense. I expect Mitch will be upset. She didn't want me to call you. She hoped this would all get settled without a melt down."

"It still might."

"Sure." Tim didn't look all that hopeful.

"Who does the driver work for?"

"I hired him," Tim said.

"Meg, ask him who says he can work on the resort. If there is a license or something that allows it."

It only took a couple of minutes but there were three different exchanges. I feel like she either explained what I meant or did a little convincing. "He has a license from the Mexican Government to carry passengers but the resort has a list of approved drivers."

"Ask him if he has been told to report our movements to either."

That conversation took a bit longer. Her eyes flashed as she spoke. He said that he is to report to the security office every evening."

"That is why we aren't being followed." I said it to myself.

"So what are we going to do for a driver?"

"Oh we are going to use this one, but we aren't going to talk in the car and we aren't going to invite him to dinner. We are also not going to pay him." He spoke enough english to understand that much.

"If he doesn't want to drive us free, I will see to it that the colonel knows that he told us he is a snitch." Meg looked at me curiously. "Informer." She nodded before explaining it to the driver. "Don't feel bad for him Meg He is getting paid by the resort, you can count on it." She nodded.

"So, what do we do next?" It was Tim who asked.

"Tim, you need to understand, you are to stay above what I do. I don't want you involved in any of it. Just do what I ask, when I ask, and I will try to keep your involvement to a minimum from now on."

"But she's my daughter," he replied exasperated.

"Stop the Jeep," I demanded. When the driver pulled over, I walked away. Tim followed but Meg knew enough to give us room.

"Listen Tim, I called Fox News. There is a crew coming in tonight or tomorrow. The resort is going to be pissed and they are going to want to stop any information flow that they can. I need for you to stay above it, so you can talk to the news people with righteous indignation. You aren't a good enough actor to do that if you are part of the behind the scenes effort."

"Okay, but you are going to keep at this."

"Tim, I haven't even started yet." I smiled to reassure him. I hoped that it would work because I wasn't all that confident. I put my arm around his shoulder on the way back to the car. It it wasn't the first time that I ever did that, but it was the first that I could remember. We weren't a touchie feelie bunch. But no one should make the mistake of thinking we weren't close. Trouble bonded us together like the two parts of epoxy cement.

Tim, dropped Meg and I at the bungalow, then he drove off in the jeep. I had his hotel name and the room number. I could reach him when I needed. Mike was waiting on the patio. He wore a swimsuit and nothing else.

"You on vacation?" I asked it not unpleasantly.

"Till you can tell me what to do next I am yes."

"What's this soil like." I had not a single doubt that he knew all there was to know.

"Sandy down about two feet, then it is a hardpan. Not sure what kind of stone but I expect the whole place is on a rock of some kind." I nodded.

"Where did you get tools to dig with?" Meg asked admiringly.

"Breakfast," He replied pointing to the covered tray on the table. Meg wandered over to lift the cover. The plate was empty and the silverware was badly scratched.

"You dug down two feet with a knife and fork?"

"Don't forget the cereal spoon," he added. Mike wore a large smile for her. Then he turned to me. "Now what?"

"Now we go to the hotel where Shelly disappeared." Meg and I had lunch in the coffee shop of the hotel, while Mike looked around the outside. Outside was his area of expertise. If I had one at all, it would be convincing people that they wanted to tell me the truth.

"Hi," I said to the waitress as she brought me a second fresh squeezed orange soda. "Did you know that poor girl who disappeared?"

"Who are you?" she asked.

"Deacon Burke, I'm her uncle."

"I'm sorry I don't know anything." She looked frightened. Meg spoke to her in Spanish while I ignored them. The waitress left shaking hard.

"So what did you tell her?"

"I told her that you would pay for information."

"Did that help?"

"No she is afraid she will lose her job. The resort has ordered everyone to refuse to discuss anything with you."

"They want to play hardball." I laughed.

"I assume that you expected this?"

"Or something like it. Let's go find Mike."

Mike was easy to find. He was sitting on the deck by the pool. He was drinking something in a tall chilled glass.

"So what do we know?"

"If she left in a car from the front of the hotel, she is on video tape somewhere. There are cameras everywhere."

"How about the rear?"

"Ah now that is a different story. The only cameras are on the building pointed out at the ocean. It leaves a dead sport up against the building. If you wanted to stay out of the camera view, it could be done."

"Could it be done by accident. I mean if she just walked away, would she show up on film?"

"The dead spot is only about five feet from the base of the building. I could be done by carefully staying that close. It isn't something a person who didn't know, or care about the camera, would do."

"Okay so if the good Colonel did check the tapes, then she left or was taken out by staying close to the building. So lets go back and see if there is anything along the walls."

"Already done it Deacon," Mike admitted.

"So obviously you didn't find anything?"

"Since I didn't tell you up front, it is indeed obvious that I didn't find anything. But Deacon it gets interesting."

"How so?"

"She could have gotten to the edge of the building without being seen by the cameras, but she couldn't have gotten away from it. There are cameras on the corners, and also in the front parking lot that look down the side of the building."

"Then the answer is in those tapes, or she never left the building." During the conversation Meg had remained quiet. If the colonel hasn't seen the tapes, maybe he doesn't have them yet."

"Now there is a woman using her head. Let's go find and steal them." I smiled at the idea. The hotel security office was located in the lobby but less conspicuous than the desk. Meg and I went inside while Mike stayed outside in the lobby reading the morning papers.

"Hello," I said to the girl behind the low counter. She was in the security guard uniform so I assumed that she was a clerk or something of the sort. I was just as happy when I found her English not very good.

"Would you prefer Spanish, I have an interpreter." Meg smiled at the woman who looking at her with disdain. I wasn't sure why but I made a note to ask. While Meg listened then asked listened again then interpreted the words I took a good look at the office. Digital monitors were everywhere but the one large one switched between all the cameras. The woman behind the desk was the guard who monitored the cameras. At least she was on that shift." I was running all types of break-in schemes in my head when I saw the box by the door. It was filled with video tapes, there must have been twenty of more.

"Meg and I wrapped it up, then left."

"What was the hurry," Meg asked.

"I need to think and quickly. That box of tapes by the door are the ones in question. They are either going to the colonel or to the shredder. I have to find someway to get them and do it now."

Mike had been listening quietly. "Then you have to get away without being seen on the tapes they are making now."

"You're right of course. You two need to take a hike. If two days pass and you don't hear from me use your return tickets. Meg you tell Tim what he owes you if I don't get back. He will pay it."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to steal those damn tapes. Then I'm going to try not to get caught for a couple of hours." I stood to walk to the registration desk.

"Hi, could you give me directions to the American consulate?" I listened carefully while the girl confused me even more than I was already. I must have looked pretty lost because I heard a voice from behind me.

"The best thing to do is get a driver and ask him to take you to Cordivon. The closest one is there."

"Thanks Meg, but you need to get the hell away from me."

"I think I need to get a car and have it ready when you come out with the tapes."

"Actually," It was Mikes voice that cut in. He had decided to join the party. "I think what we really need is the security company's car. You get the tapes in here and bring them out. Just get into the security car. I'll have the guard out of the way." he suggested. I just nodded.

For a hastily laid plan it worked perfectly. It probably wouldn't have if we had tried to fine tune it. It also helped that the security company was run by a real jerk. The security guard walked through the main lobby, then into the small office to the side. He came out of the office a couple of minutes later carrying the box of tapes. His hands were busy so I just stuck a butter knife in his back and forced him into the rear seat of the car. Mike was in the driver's seat. The colonel hadn't even bothered to send more than a single man. Mike drove away toward the land bridge. I began to talk to the security guard.

Since he hadn't been armed, all I could do was slap him around. I didn't have a weapon to threaten him with. He tried once to resist but I broke a finger on his right hand. He suddenly began to run off at the mouth like a tourist who ate in the open air market. Meg translated. We all learned a lot more about the resort than we wanted to know.

Somewhere in his prattling he mentioned that he had been directed to pick up the tapes and deliver them to the main office. He had no idea what was in store for them there. He didn't even know what was supposed to be on the tapes. I couldn't be sure but I would have bet the courier's life that Shelly was on them.

Through trail and error Mike make it to Cordivon just as the sun set over the towns largest building. He wound through the side streets till he found the consulate.

"Hello there," I said to the Marine guard. "I need to see whoever is in charge."

"Sir, you must give me your name and state you business."

"Deacon Burke, I just committed a crime and wish to turn myself in."

"In that case Mr. Burke, please wait here." He stood watch over me while he also made a call.

I repeated the same thing to the American who came out to speak to me. I explained it all to him as a matter of fact.

"Actually Burke, I am familiar with the situation. Your brother called about his daughter and the Mexican government just called about your criminal activities. Have a seat and I'll make a call or two."

"Mr... you didn't give me your name," I suggested.

"No, I didn't did I?"

"Well then Mr Smith, I have a news crew from Fox headed here now. If you can stall off the arrest, I would like to give them a heads up about the tapes. Just to make sure they don't go missing."

"I see. You don't trust the Mexican justice system."

"Of course I do. I just don't trust the security force at the resort. One of the manager's son may me mixed up in my niece's disappearance."

"Then you might indeed have reason to mistrust the security force. Suppose we take a look at the tapes before we call anyone. You did let the driver go?"

"Yes and only slightly the worse for wear."

"I don't think I want to hear about that."

"Let's put it this way, there were no video cameras where it happened, so my version is that it was an accident."

According to the date and time stamps we watched all the tapes for the night in question. Shelly didn't show up on any of them. It looked as though something was really wrong at the resort. Shelly was not anywhere to be found and the tapes did not show her leaving the hotel. It also did not show anyone taking anything out. I wouldn't have expected anyone to be checking out after midnight.

"That tells us nothing," the consulate officer said.

"Actually it does. If she had decided to just walk away, she would have been on the tapes. Someone who knew about those cameras did something to her. My guess is that more than one person knows what happened to her. Conspiracies don't hold up well, so my guess is with a little shaking of the tree something will fall out."

"Alas you can't shake the tree from prison." He looked over to the ringing phone. "And unless I miss my guess that is the Mexican Police."

"I would expect that you are correct. Invite them up if you like today is as good a day as any other."

"Possibly true, but let's give them the tape with our apology. Explain that you were trying to rescue them from possible harm. Then we will just have to see."

"Shouldn't I be in jail while they sort it out?"

"Probably, but then I'll just hold you under arrest until they decide what they want to do. I will of course have to make you available for questioning."

"And the others?"

"I expect the local police will understand that you were the ringleader and forced them to go along."

"At the point of a butter knife," I agreed.

Mike was about to speak but Meg gave him a terrible look. Mike backed down as most men would under such a withering glare from a woman.

The man with no name arranged an interview for me with Fox news when they arrived. Things were popping and they knew how to make it sound even more conspiratorial, if that were possible.

Even the second string reporter managed to get it right. He asked most of the right questions before I stopped the interview to prompt him on some others. When we finished, I had stated flatly that the Mexican police should be in charge.

"There is a definite conflict of interest," I said to the camera in my best nice guy voice. I also admitted on TV that I had rescued the tapes from what I believed would have been a firey grave. I also stated that it was my opinion that there needed to be a thorough review of the tapes. The ones which I had turned over and those from the next day as well. It was my belief that things were not what they seemed.

The interview ended with me feeling pretty good about it. Mike came to me before we turned in. "Did the consulate guy make copies of those tapes?"

"I'm sure he did. He looks like a pretty thorough guy."


"One of those strings of initials for sure. Why do you want to know about the tapes."

"Because she could have gotten out without being seen or someone could have taken her out after all."

"How so Mike, we looked at those tapes and nobody left at all after midnight except that group of kids."

"I think we were looking the wrong way."

"We looked at the beach cameras too Mike. There just wasn't anything."

"Deacon, those camera have automatic lighting."


"Several minutes after midnight a car pulled up and parked near that end camera. The one that sweeps the parking lot and the side of the building. The camera dimmed for a couple of minutes. The car was parked there with the light on for more than a couple of minutes."

"Yeah, then it just drove away."

"What if he had been called to come down, because somebody knew it would kill the camera's view of the rear."

"Then he would be a minor accomplice and most likely damn glad to cooperate."

"I would think so."

"Let's let them think how smart they are, and how stupid we are for a while longer. I expect the reporters will be all over them in just about an hour or two. Once Fox hits the air with it there will be a mad scramble for information. I expect we will all be sprung around noon tomorrow."

"From you mouth to God's ear," Meg suggested. "Even a velvet lined cage is still a cage."

"I think you two can leave at anytime."

"I think I will wait till they officially drop the charges and give you the key to the city." It was Mike who made the observation.

"So Mike, any chance we can do anything with the track after so long."

"You most likely can't but I might. We will see the first chance I get."

The staff at the consulate must have been used to hiding out tourists. At least they had a sort of dormitory room ready for us on a moment's notice. The three of us slept on tiny cots. They reminded me of my previous days as a guest of Uncle Sugar. Hard metal cots with stuffed cotton rag mattresses.

Breakfast was a kind of frozen TV dinner. The waffles were soggy and the sausage reheated one too many times. I was almost ready for a Mexican jail. Mike and Meg weren't any happier than me.

I managed to pace the building and grounds at least twenty times before the word came. The word was, Deacon who? In other words nothing had transpired except the Mexican cops had taken over the investigation. They had reason to believe for the first time that some crime had been committed. I felt that the Fox cameras convinced them of that.

There was a car and driver to take us back to the resort. Thankfully it arrived before lunch. We had some kind of local food from a Mexican buffet at one of the hotels inside the resort. It wasn't the hotel where Shelley had stayed, nor was it the one she was supposed to be headed for when she disappeared.

"So Deacon, you want to take the walk with me?"

"You bet I do. How about you Meg can you amuse yourself for a few hours?"

"I think I will buy a swim suit and lie by the pool." She smiled at Mike. It said something I could only guess at.

An hour later we were standing inside the rear door of the Hotel where Shelley had disappeared. "He didn't use this door. He knows the place and knows the lighting patterns. This door would be too hard to stay out of the light. He took her out the door from the hallway." Mike was talking to himself so I didn't answer. We walked out the rear lobby door, turned left then walked twenty-five or so feet to the smaller hallway door.

"You had her move along in the shadow. Did she think it was a game or did you have a weapon and frighten her into submission?" He stopped his muse and turned to me quickly. "Deacon we need to come back here tonight with some luminal. We should check the hotel walls for blood spots. He may have hit her a few times to get her to be docile."

I nodded as a chill ran down my spine. Mike was running a thousand things through his head as he inched toward the corner of the building. "How did you know someone would be coming in the parking lot at exactly that time. Because they always do or because you called them." Mike turned to me again... "Cell phone records for the manager's son." I just nodded.

"Get her into that small stand of trees and the cameras are useless. Then you can do whatever you want. Take your time with her." I followed him across the ten feel open area to the small stand of trees. Mike walked the patch of woods one foot at a time. He looked at everything as he went. He also mumbled to himself.

He led me away from a small stand of grass. We were about to emerge into the rear parking lot of a small shopping center. Actually a strip mall back in the states. At the edge Mike turned to look back. "Been a lot of people through there."

"Yeah pretty much picked over."

"Yeah but they was searching in the daylight and they aren't trackers."

"You see something they missed?"

"A man walking through there can see pretty much everything from the path we walked. Not much need to step off it. The kind of searchers they had wouldn't have most likely. They were also walking."

"Okay, so what do you see?"

"Look back over it hard and tell me what you see. Don't even think about the path."

I looked and kept on looking until is seemed to go out of focus. Then it hit me. "The grass in that one spot is a slightly different color."

"You step on a bit of grass and you might kill a couple of stalks but most of those around it hides the damage. But you lay down and role around on it and you crush a lot of stalks. Too many and too close to recover quickly. I have no proof but I am sure someone rolled around on that grass.""

We went back and searched it as carefully as we could. We didn't find anything. "Get a metal detector and come back here."

We walked the small patch of ground again. "So Mike tell me this. If he took the trouble to make sure the camera didn't see him, then she is dead?"

"Almost certainly," he replied. I had known it and my brother did to. It was just a matter of something to hang my hat on.

"Did he do it here?"

"I don't know yet." He did some more looking around. "If he did it here, it wasn't violent. At least not bloody."

"He could have strangled her or blunt trauma." I suggested.

"Or forced her to go somewhere else. He might not have killed her yet. He could be holding her for other things first."

I didn't speak and it was most likely a good thing.

"Most likely Deacon a car picked him up or he had one waiting. The next piece of property is a hotel with video cameras."

"Let's see if the Mexican police will pick up those tapes before they get lost. Our bad guy might have figured no one would check them." I thought for a moment then asked, "Mike if he had a car here, then he was hunting someone."

"Or hunting anyone."

"Have the Mexican police grab every car the kid had access to. There might be something in the seat or the trunk."

"We might also need to take a look at missing persons in this area? Crap, it could be worse. It might have been a tourist some serial killer who takes his vacation to kill." I thought a couple of minutes then added. "Let's not swamp them with theories. The car makes it a local."

Mike just nodded his agreement. Through Meg, I spoke with Lt. Aliente that evening. He agreed to the luminal test of the outside of the building without so much as batting an eye.

"It is our intention to assist you as well as to run our own investigation. If we cross paths then, our investigation must take precedence."

"Let's worry about the cross purposes when they come up." I did have to explain about the car and the camera theory to get the cell phone dump.

"Why not do this. We can get the records of every cell phone call made at that time from the resorts tower."

"That is an excellent idea. I should have thought of it." The truth was I didn't know that much about cell phones or police work for that matter. Mike knew a hell-of-a-lot more than I did. "There is one more thing along those lines. The person could have made a call from the hotel before he grabbed Shelley. Can we get a download from their switchboard to?

"Of course. I also think I need to check that tape to see if there is a registration number on the automobile in question."

"That would probably be a good idea." I hadn't mentioned it because Mike and I couldn't see one in the tape.

Meg and I joined Mike at the hotel for lunch. We were about fifteen minutes into American style burgers when Colonel Estavan showed up at the table.

"We need to talk," he demanded.

"Fuck off," I replied. "You don't need that interpreted do you?"

"I am still in charge of security here."

"If you want to continue in that capacity, I would get the fuck out of my face. If your boss wants to talk to me, tell him to contact me himself. Now you get out of my sight." I turned my back on him. I would never had done that except Mike was looking at him. Mike might not kill him but he would have no problem warning me.

"He has gone," Meg said a moment later.

"I expect the manager of this dump saw what Fox did to Aruba's tourist industry."

"Well I think it was more than just Fox." Mike said it as he pointed to a group at a corner table. "Seems like it's vacation time for another cable news network."

"These guys are quick, if nothing else." I smiled.

"Meg told me that Estavan thought you were bluffing about calling in the press."

"No he just thought I had no power so he didn't need to cooperate. I just happened to have a friend at Fox."

"Well you have to admit Deacon, you don't look like a man with a trunk full of IOUs."

"Enough about me. Mike the time line bothers me. Shelley went to the bathroom at midnight or there about. That car pulled up closer to 1 A.M."

"Yeah I know, where was she for almost an hour."

I was trying to decide how to fill in the gap when a very attractive blonde approached the table. She was followed by a man with a mini cam. I spoke first. "If you want to talk to me, send the cameraman back to his table till we work out the details. Otherwise you can see what I have to say on Fox News."

"Same for all of us," Mike commented.

"Okay," I'm Silvia Williams from CNN. I would like to ask you a few questions."

"First of all I want you to introduce us all. I'm Shelley Burke's Uncle nothing else. That," I said pointing to Mike. "Is Mike Eagle a private investigator from back home. I brought him with me to help in the investigation. The lady over there is our interpreter, and a damn fine one if I say so myself."

"Okay, I can handle that."

"Now if you try to ambush me, I will not only stop the interview I will cut you off at the knees."

"Just straight up questions I promise."

"Bring your camera out onto the rear porch and we will do the interview."

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