The First Mona Youngblood Story
Copyright© 2005, Rev. Cotton Mather
Welcome to the Church of The Reverend Cotton Mather. This story is the sole property of the author, and may not be copied or downloaded for the intent of profit. Permission is freely given for anyone to download or copy for their personal pleasure or use, as long as there is no intent to charge money or barter for the privilege of acquiring this material.
E-Mail all comments to RevCottonMather at hotmail dot com Don't be shy! I enjoy hearing from you.
Mona Youngblood had a good view of her apartment from her hidden vantage point. Which is, of course, the point of hiding for advantage. Or, in this particular case, hiding for safety, since there was an intruder standing not six meters away from her.
Having worked for several years on the fringes of society and the law, Mona had the foresight and the resources to extensively remodel this apartment. There was a very good wall safe behind an oil original in her bedroom. Inside the safe she kept a couple thousand U.S. dollars; the equivalent in British pounds, francs, lira, pesos, and euros; exact replicas of some of her better-known jewelry pieces; and cloth pouches with garnets and cubic zircona in them. The safe was vulnerable to a dedicated and knowledgeable thief, but would deter a garden-variety robber. She had it installed as a decoy, thinking of the contents as easily expendable and replaceable. Her reasoning was that anybody who found this safe would immediately set to work to open it, thereby giving up searching and possibly accidentally finding the real valuables, hidden away in an excellent safe that was buried in the floor of her pantry under a crate of potatoes. It would take a large explosion and heavy equipment to compromise that safe, something that residing on the seventeenth floor of her building helped to prevent.
There were a few other surprises in the apartment as well, not the least of which was the hidey-hole she was comfortably ensconced within. It was, in effect, a command center, a tiny room just big enough for a futon, a small stocked refrigerator, a secure telephone, and a monitor controlling the hidden cameras in the kitchen, the two bedrooms, the living room, and the entry hall.
She could also see her entire living room from the louvers and peepholes in the wall of her soundproofed enclosure if she wanted a more personal view that her cameras couldn't give her. She could keep close track of her would-be thief quite comfortably.
In addition, there was a false panel in the ceiling. A simple hotkey sequence on her computer would silently lower an aluminum staircase into her safe room. The staircase would lead to the apartment directly above her, which she also owned and used as a guest apartment. From that apartment she had provided for several options, including raising the ladder so that it became effectively hidden from below or, for an extreme situation, electrifying the ladder. The safe room in the eighteenth floor apartment was a near duplicate of the one below, including camera feeds. The situation she found herself in today, however, didn't cause her to feel like she would require her escape route.
Mona was not at all nervous or scared. If anything she was curious, wondering what this familiar man might be thinking, what he might be expecting to find. She smiled as she replayed the recent incidents that, now that she could reflect on them, had led them both to this particular moment.
It all started (she thought) at the party at the gallery owner's apartment on the eighth floor about a month before. It was rumored that Sir Elton was going to be there, so of course the apartment was crowded beyond its capacity. And, of course, Sir Elton never did show up. This disappointment for the gallery owner in no way affected Mona. She wandered around the apartment, admiring the wall hangings and paintings on display. Her practiced eye critiqued and valued the objets d'art, her mind automatically calculating the resale values, the costs to move each piece, and the list of potential buyers and brokers she knew by heart.
This apartment, however, was off-limits to her, seeing as it was in the same building as hers. She found herself casing it out anyway, more out of habit than anything else. It was good exercise for her, as it helped her keep her focus.
As she was studying a minor Dali piece, she was bumped.
"Ah, pardon me," a refined New England accent said.
Mona turned toward the voice. A tall, quite handsome man was fumbling with three drinks, trying desperately to keep from spilling them all across the carpet.
"Here, let me help you with that," said Mona laughingly as she reached to take one of the drinks from him. He gratefully released the drink into her custody, and smiled sheepishly.
"Thank you so much. It's not exactly the first impression I would have chosen, but..." He hesitated. "I'm Joshua Rush, by the way." He waited expectantly.
"Desdemona Youngblood. Everybody just calls me Mona, though," she replied. "Where are we going with these?" She indicated the drinks they were holding.
"Oh! That's right! Sorry about that," said Joshua with a start. "My friends are in the next room." He stepped aside, allowing Mona to walk first through the passageway. He pointed with one glass toward a couple looking out the window. "Over there," he said.
"Art, Peggy, I'd like you to meet Mona," Joshua said by way of introduction as they came up to his friends. "She was gracious enough to help me refrain from dropping these drinks all over the carpeting in the sitting room," he added.
Over the next hour or so, she learned that Art and Peggy Summers were married, they were both lawyers, and they were customers of Nathaniel Grant, the art dealer who was their evening's host. Art and Peggy had dragged a reluctant Joshua out to the party. "His girlfriend left him months ago, and he's practically become a hermit since," confided Peggy one time when Art and Joshua went off in search of a new bottle of wine. "He does something with computers, so he was able to work a lot from home, and I'm afraid all that solitude has been detrimental to his self-esteem."
Mona found herself moderately attracted to Joshua, but the last thing she wanted was an entanglement with someone on the rebound, so she kept a firm rein on her emotions. Joshua, on the other hand, was gazing at her with unabashed lust, undoubtedly fueled by the wine.
Mona was amused and a little flattered to be the object of such simple adoration. She found herself leading him on just a little: standing or sitting so he was seeing her better profile, holding her shoulders just a little straighter, hiking her dress up surreptitiously, just enough to accentuate her long legs, reaching out to lightly touch his hand or his knee when making a point.
You are a shameless flirt, Mona, she chastised herself several times during the evening. But old habits die hard.
The man standing on the other side of the wall was dressed in black. Turtleneck, soft cotton slacks, socks, and sneakers were all a uniform black. He certainly dresses the part, Mona reflected as she secretly observed him.
The man in black looked around the room, pivoting to take in what he could from his vantage point. Once he was satisfied he had seen what he needed to see, he walked to the door of the guest bedroom, careful not to touch anything yet.
He stood in the doorway for several moments, studying the room. Mona, watching now through the monitor, saw him nod to himself, as if confirming a suspicion. The man stepped over to the doorway to Mona's bedroom and paused for just a moment before stepping into the room.
Again the man stood in one spot, near the foot of the bed, and studied the walls, the floor, the ceiling, and the furniture, as if gauging their weight or their worth. He still refrained from touching anything, though he was tempted to go to the Deborah Budney painting of the carousel horse above the dresser. It looked very much like an original.
He refrained, however, testing himself against the temptation. He reluctantly looked away from the oil painting and checked the rest of the room. What he didn't see interested him nearly as much as what he did find.
Mona's father was Jim Traveler Youngblood, a Lakota Sioux from South Dakota who owned a string of package liquor stores in small towns around the reservations and the military installations. Her mother, the former Audrey Felicia Glendenning, held an engineering degree from M.I.T. in Propulsion Systems and a Ph. D. in Aeronautics, courtesy of the United States Air Force. It was a case of rocket science meets tribal sachem, a match destined to burn hot and flame out fast, a pairing to go down in history both among the Native American tribes around Rapid City and among the rocket jockeys at Ellsworth.
Before the flameout, there were two children produced by the union. Desdemona Loretta Youngblood, named for maternal ancestors by her mother, and her two-years-younger brother, Edward Sees Far Youngblood. Jim Traveler named his son Edward so others could call the boy by a name. Shortly after Edward's second birthday, his father and the tribal elders gathered together to give the boy another, secret name, and Jim Traveler gave his son the additional name of Sees Far to commemorate what he considered to be Edward's gift.
.... There is more of this story ...