I've never really cared much about what society says is legal. If it's profitable, I'm down. Don't get me wrong, I have rules and scruples. I'm just a completely dedicated capitalist. If people want it, I'll try to find it and sell it to them. I don't sell people. I don't kill people for money, I'm rarely violent unless someone else is and I don't steal from people that don't steal from me. I sell illegal things, all sorts of things. I'm not averse to selling people pharmaceuticals if they want to medicate themselves. I stay away from the stuff that makes people desperate and crazy. Crazy people are likely to become violent.
A little industrial espionage, pirated technology, moonshine, things like that. I've never felt like illegal meant anything except the government didn't like it, wanted you to pay them to own or sell it or had a monopoly on it. Intellectual property is a joke. How can you own an idea? That never bothered me.
These days, it's hard to stay off the radar. There are cameras everywhere and if you use your cell phone or send an e-mail, the tax man cometh. I was meeting my boy JaMarcus downtown where most of the cameras were broken. He had a truckload of flash memory for sale and I was definitely interested. He knew a guy that worked for a major manufacturer who knew how to make it and wanted to go into business. He had a no-compete clause in his contract and his former employer got the cops to shut him down. Since he couldn't sell it in stores, he was looking for a market. I knew the market.
I was a little early or he was a little late. I sat in my truck and listened to the new Foo Fighters album. I noticed a little yellow Mustang pull up behind me about a hundred yards. A woman got out and I saw her go around in back and open her trunk. She came back with a jack and I figured she had a flat. Being the gentleman I am, I got out and started walking back toward her car to see if she needed a hand.
A group of young men was walking down the sidewalk and they started making a few comments. I wasn't close enough to hear what they were saying but it was evident that she didn't like it and she went and got in her car. They gathered around it and one of them started beating on the hood. I figured they were just some young punks until one of them picked up a brick and broke her driver's window. He opened the door and tried to drag her out. She was putting up a pretty good fight, but it was escalating and I was close enough to hear them now.
"White girl going to bleed a lot if you don't stop fighting," the guy in the door said. "You know you want this, baby."
"Leave me alone," she screamed.
They noticed me standing there.
"What you looking at, white boy?" The one with the brick started walking toward me.
"I think I'm looking at a punk that's about to make a big mistake," I told him.
He stopped. "What you talking about, chump? I beat your punk ass. You better get on up out of here."
"I don't think the girl likes you," I told him. "I think you assholes should move on down the street.
"Bitch don't know what she likes. She like the big dick," he clutched his groin. He started toward me again and I eased my jacket open. He saw the .45 ACP in my holster and he stopped in his tracks.
"I ain't going to argue with that," he started backing away.
The one struggling with the girl wasn't paying attention so I pulled the .45 out, walked up and tapped him on the head. He collapsed and one of his buddies started feeling tough.
"You a pussy motherfucker. I don't think you use that piece," he said.
I used it and his shoe exploded. "Pick up your trash and move on," I told the rest of them. The .45 made a hell of a pop, and he was screaming like he was dying, but I doubted anyone would report it.
"You a crazy motherfucker. You shot Jamal foot. This motherfucker crazy."
They picked up their boys and beat feet, telling me what they were going to do when they came back all the while.
I pointed the gun at them again and they shut up. I walked up to the Mustang and she shut the door.
"I'm sorry, Miss. I won't hurt you. You want me to change that tire?"
She was crying and her shirt was torn. "Please," she said. "I'll pay you if you will. I shouldn't be here. I was dropping off my friend from work and my tire went flat. I was going to change it and then those bastards came along. Thanks for making them leave. I can't believe you shot that guy in the foot. Are you a policeman?"
I laughed. "No, you won't find many of Los Angeles' finest down here. You're right about you shouldn't be here. This is a bad neighborhood."
I walked over and put the gun in the trashcan in case popo showed up. I slid the jack under her car. I loosened the lug nuts and raised it up. She got out after a minute and opened the trunk again. I heard her moving around and she came up, rolling one of those little donut spares. I looked her over a little. She didn't look very old. She was a tiny little thing, not much over 5 feet but she manhandled that tire and she had put up quite a fight earlier.
"Thanks again for helping me," she said. "I'm going to pay you."
"No, you're not," I told her. "I have more money than you. Besides it wouldn't be right to take money for helping someone."
"How do you know you have more money than me?" she asked. "I have a job."
"Yeah, me too. What do you do?" I asked.
I got the tire off while we were talking and she rolled the spare in. "I work at Victoria's Secret at the mall."
"I've got eight hundred dollars in my pocket and maybe twice that in my wallet. How much you got?"
"Well, not that much. Aren't you afraid to carry around that much cash? No, I guess you aren't. You've got a gun."
"See, I can't let you pay me."
"I'm Thatcher Morgan," she told me.
"Hi, Thatcher Morgan; I like that name. I'm Riggins Sharp. I'd shake your hand but mine is all dirty."
"I'm sorry; I've got some Germ-x in the car."
"Wait till I get this in the trunk and I'll take it. This tire is ruined, Miss Morgan. You didn't get pulled over fast enough."
"Damn, just what I needed," she said.
I put it in and she leaned in looking for the hand stuff. I just stood there enjoying the view. She had a fantastic butt, encased in tight jeans. It was round and full and sort of apple shaped. She found the hand sanitizer and backed out. She caught me looking at her butt, but she just grinned.
She gave me a few squirts and I rubbed it around. She handed me a rag and I wiped them off.
"Miss Morgan, you shouldn't drive very far on that spare," I told her. "How far are you going?"
"25 miles," she told me.
"Well it should make it that far. You going to try to find a new tire tonight?"
"No, I don't think there's anything open."
"Well, you're wrong. There's a shop that's open late about three miles away. Which way are you going?"
"Santa Barbara," she said.
"That's more than 25 miles. How about I follow you over there to the tire shop, we get you a new tire and make sure you're ok?"
"I'd like that. Thanks, you're a really nice guy, Riggins."
"My folks raised me to help people if I could," I told her. "Drive me down to my truck and I'll follow you." I picked up my gun and got in.
The tire shop was open and they told her it would take an hour before they could get to her. We sat in the lobby for a few minutes and she noticed a Wendy's next door.
"Are you hungry," she asked.
"Starving, how about you?"
"I was planning to drive through somewhere on the way home. I haven't eaten since lunch. Will you let me buy you a burger?"
"I'd love for you to buy me a burger, Miss Morgan."
She giggled. "Stop calling me Miss Morgan. My name is Thatcher. You said you liked it."
"I do, but I didn't know we were friends. I only call my friends by their first names."
"Well, you saved me from maybe getting raped back there. You changed my tire and you're looking out for me like this. You seem like a pretty good friend to me. You're kind of old fashioned, aren't you?"
"I guess so. I was raised in the Deep South by a Pastor. He wanted me to learn to be polite and I guess it stuck."
We got our order and I slid into a booth. I was a little surprised when she scooted me over and sat by me. We were busy eating for a while and didn't talk much. When I finished my burger, I leaned back and ate fries. I looked her over and she was beautiful. She had a cute little face and the most amazing eyes I'd ever seen. They were violet, I swear, with the longest lashes I'd ever seen. The tear in her blouse gave me peaks at a little lacy blue bra under her shirt. She had dark blonde hair that she wore about halfway to her waist. She felt my eyes on her and she blushed a little.
"Too bad about your window," I told her. "At least it's not raining. If you don't mind me asking, how old are you, Thatcher? I don't mean to pry and you don't have to tell me."
"I know I look young," she laughed, "but I'm eighteen. I graduate from high school in two months. How old are you, Riggins?"
"I'm 24," I told her.
"Do you go to college? No, I don't guess you don't. You've got too much money for a college guy."
"Actually, I do," I told her. "I'm working on a PhD from Southern Cal. I don't go every day and I have lots of time to work."
"What kind of work do you do?"
"I'll be a psychologist when I'm through with school. Right now, I buy and sell things."
"What sorts of things?"
"All kinds. I buy abandoned storage units and sell the stuff. I sell computer parts, software and some illegal stuff; untaxed booze, weapons and cigarettes."
"Well, you're honest. I can't believe you told me that."
"I trust you," I told her. "You're not a policeman are you?"
She laughed. "No, I hear they don't come down here much. Are you a drug dealer, Riggins?"
"Sometimes," I said. "I sell weed sometimes. I buy prescription drugs and sell them on the black market. There are lots of people that need drugs but can't get them from doctors. I don't sell street drugs other than weed. I sell weed to three kids with cancer. Their doctor won't give them a prescription."
"Will you sell me some?"
"No, do you need some?"
"No, but I get high sometimes."
"Really? I didn't imagine you would. Me too. You want to smoke a joint?"
"Have you got one?"
"Yes, I carry just one. That way I can eat it if a cop stops me."
"Let's go outside and smoke it," she said.
We sat on the grass under a tree between the tire shop and Wendy's and lit up. "Ever had a shotgun?" I asked her.
"No, what's that?"
I turned the doobie around and blew it toward her. She opened her mouth and sucked it in. Our lips were inches apart and I wanted to kiss her, but I didn't.
"Do you think I could do that?"
"Better not; it's getting short. I don't want you to get burnt."
"Maybe some other time," she said.
Now that got me thinking. She seemed like she was telling me I was going to see her again. I was thrilled, but didn't want to take anything for granted.
"Would you take me to see a movie Friday?" she asked me.
It was like she knew what I was thinking. This little girl was amazing.
"I'd love to, Thatcher. Do you always ask guys out or is this the weed talking?"
"No, I've never asked a guy out before. I haven't been on a lot of dates. It isn't the weed talking though. I really like you, Riggins, and it seemed like if I didn't ask you, you weren't going to ask me."
"I probably wouldn't have. I kind of thought you were out of my league. Good enough to change a tire and buy me a burger, but from kind of a different side of the tracks."
"I guess you're right. Well, that didn't come out like I intended. I meant about the other side of the tracks. I mean, you're a smuggler, and I wouldn't ordinarily meet someone like you. I trust you though. You probably saved my life back there. My parents are really good people and they're very religious. My dad works for Ford and my mom is an RN. They wouldn't let me date until this year. They don't expose me to anything they think would be bad for me. I trust them and I don't usually push the limits. I don't hang with the bad boys. I think you're really good looking though and I thought you probably wouldn't ask a girl my age out."
"Well, I wouldn't ordinarily, but we're friends, right?"
"Yes, do you think my tire is done yet?"
She held my hand as we walked across the parking lot and the weed had made us giggly, her more than me. I offered to loan her some money to pay for the tire but she put it on a card.
We sat in my truck for a while and talked. After we came down some, I got her number, gave her mine and agreed to pick her up at six on Friday. I went around and opened her door and she jumped down. I walked her to her car and she stood on her tiptoes and kissed my cheek.
"Thanks, Riggins. I'll never forget what you did. Those guys were going to rape me at the least. They might have killed me. You're my hero."
I put her in and she drove away. It was all surreal. I called my boy. He was a little put out because I hadn't shown.
"Marc, I met a damsel in distress," I told him. "I can do business anytime. I want those jump drives. Deliver them to my warehouse tomorrow and I'll buy them if they work."
I got the drives for a fair price. I mostly keep black market stuff in storage units. It's pretty easy to rent them under assumed names. If the cops bust one open, no one knows who it belongs to. I called my people and sold most of them in the first two days. I drove up to Humboldt County and picked up 300 pounds of high-grade weed. That's really the only time when I have my ass hanging out; when I'm transporting stuff. I was careful. I seal the weed in plastic just before I transport it. It's important that it not be in there too long. Then I seal the plastic inside metal propane tanks holding dry ice. I carry lots of furniture and junk to look like I've been to a storage auction and Joe Trooper isn't usually willing to wade through all the junk when his dog hasn't alerted. I've been stopped carrying weed a dozen times, but I've never been busted. Crossing the border from Mexico is a different ball game. I won't do it.
Of course, non-drug contraband isn't a problem except for weapons. No one knows where you got it anyway. I just feed them the storage auction line and I'm on my way. I don't transport weapons. I have them delivered. I'll fill orders, but I'm going to drop them someplace in the city limits and the customer can pick them up. I own a store that I sell the storage stuff at and the right customers know that the good stuff isn't on the shelves. Oh, I do a thriving business selling legit stuff, but there's an elevator in my office behind a bookshelf that goes down to a basement. It's not in the building plans and I'm the only one that knows it's there. I sell weapons, military grade equipment, bootleg computer stuff and electronic spy type gadgets. I'm not a fence, so if you steal some jewelry, don't bring it to me. Like I said, I'm not a thief.
I've been writing my thesis and it's going pretty well. I'm doing a paper on physical education for kids with autism. I have a year to get it finished and it really isn't pressing on me. I worked on it some; made a deal for some of the new Glock 9MM's and sold a guy a system to spy on his wife at home. He thought she was cheating, but it turned out he was wrong.
Friday rolled around before I knew it. I called Thatcher and we were still on. She wanted to introduce "her hero" to her parents, but that scared me to death. I tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted. I've been around enough religious old people to last a lifetime. I thought the truck looked a little redneck so I drove my car. I've got a black and white 57 Chevy that I drive for fun. It's built to run a quarter in the 11's and the interior is tricked out too.
I dressed casual nice, and when I pulled up in Santa Barbara, I was as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of vacuum cleaners. I figured that if they didn't like me, I was done. It was all for nothing. Her parents were really nice. I think they were a little uneasy because of our age difference but Thatcher had told them what happened and they couldn't stop thanking me. She kept her arm around me the whole time and that helped too. I was robbing the cradle a little, but we met under unusual circumstances.
We made our getaway and Thatcher loved the Chevy. Her Mustang was one of the new GT's and I could tell she was cool about cars. She slid over and leaned against me with my arm around her. I love bench seats. I took her to eat at Outback and then we caught the new Hobbit movie. She was a big fan and I liked everything I found out about this girl. She told me all about school. She was near the top of her class, wanted to go to UCLA and she was a cheerleader. She played trombone in the band and she liked art and math.
I told her about my thesis, the store and what it was like to make a deal for an unregistered gun. She wanted to see the store so I took her over. She was impressed and wanted to buy a lamp I got out of a storage unit. It was a green stone mermaid that she fell in love with but when I told her how much it was she changed her mind. She used the restroom and I packed it up and put it in the car.
I took her down to the lower level and she was impressed. "Is all this stuff illegal?" she asked.
"No, you can own most of it; I just don't have a license to sell it." She handled the guns and I asked her if she wanted one.
"It might come in handy next time you have a flat and I'm not around," I told her.
"I don't know how to shoot and Mom and Dad would freak."
"I don't know, Thatcher. They seem pretty cool to me. I think they'd sleep better knowing you weren't going to be dragged out of your car and raped. I'll tell you what: You take this taser, talk to them about the gun and if they say ok I'll hook you up."
She was good with that. We sat on a sofa near the front window and watched the foot traffic and listened to music. I gave her a beer. She wasn't old enough and she didn't like it much, but she finished it. She slid over against me and put my arm around her. I hugged her up and she felt and smelled amazing.
"Are you going to kiss me?" she asked.
"I want to," I said. "Do you want me to?"
"I've been waiting all night. I'm glad you're a slow mover though; I'm sort of new at this."
You couldn't have told by the way her lips moved. They were full and puffy and soft; and they were the sweetest lips I ever tasted. She had braces and they kind of got in the way, but it was a very nice and very long kiss. She moved around to straddle me and kissed me some more. I could feel her breasts against my chest and it was very sexy. They were small, almost hard little cones, but definitely there and definitely female. When she sat up, I could see her nipples trying to poke through her thin shirt. She obviously didn't have on a bra; not that she needed one. I wanted to touch one, but I definitely didn't want to scare this little angel away.
"Will you go to the basketball game with me Tuesday?" she asked. "I'll make sure we do some cool stunts."
"I'd love to. Is it a home game?"
"Yeah, I'd love to show you off. Our colors are green and white. Will you wear something green?"
I would have agreed to go naked. She wasn't done with me. The thought made my heart pound and I wrapped her up in my arms and squeezed her to my chest just to get the memory of the way she felt. It was getting late and I didn't want to worry her parents so they wouldn't let her go out with me again. I took her home and her folks asked me to sit with them at the ball game on Tuesday. They attended every one she cheered at, it turned out, and it was obvious they thought she hung the moon. I did too, but some of that affection for her transferred to me and they were very nice to me.
I gave her the box with the lamp in it and left before she could open it. I had a great weekend, thinking about that Friday night. I got one of the team shirts on the internet. On Saturday, one of my boys called me and told me he had something. He said that they had been working on a government contract to develop some software and he had written the code. It was a program that could sort through social media, phone calls, texts, financial and health records, that sort of thing. It looked for certain words, numbers and key phrases. It was top-secret stuff the government didn't want people knowing about. He felt like we could get big money for it if we shopped it around.
I thought it sounded dangerous. This is the kind of thing I hate. It's bad enough that they can track you through your cell phone, internet connection and GPS. Having all this capability just means there isn't anything private anymore. There's no area of life where we can just say, "That isn't any of your business." Fifty dollars will get you most people's life history. This sounded like a horror story. I thought about just telling him to give the story to a paper but they thought of all that money made me greedy. The last thing I wanted was for a bunch of spooks to be prying around in my business, but how would they know I sold it?
I agreed to meet him Monday morning and we'd talk about it. His name is Wilbur Parsons and he's one of those guys that sit around typing on a black screen all the time. He was pasty white and I told him he needed to get some sun. I had met him four years ago when we were both sophomores at USC and you could tell he was going to invent artificial intelligence. He was a dedicated anarchist when I met him and he hated the idea of the government spying on people's private stuff.
He was paranoid, skulking around like he was being followed. I told him that he looked suspicious just doing that. If he wanted to escape attention, the thing to do was act normal, not sneak around. He had a copy of the software but it needed more horsepower to run than any computer I had. I had access to a mainframe at USC and we drove over and checked it out. It did everything he said it did. They called it Mako, after the shark, and it ate through data like one. I agreed that it was quite a piece of work and that I would put out some feelers. This was going to have to be on the very down low.
I went to Thatcher's house on Tuesday evening and they rode with me to the game. Her dad loved the Chevy too, but he was a Ford man from way back. She kissed me at the door in front of her parents. They didn't seem to mind. She had to get there early and she sat by me during the JV game. She looked amazing in that little cheer outfit and they did some routines that made me cringe. It looked like they might drop her twice but her mom told me they did stuff like that all the time. She was the smallest cheerleader and so she was the top of the pyramid, the one that got shot five feet into the air on some of their tricks and it looked terrifying. She was obviously very flexible and strong. The team didn't play that well, but the opponents didn't seem to have a clue. Their offense seemed to consist of passing the ball around until they turned it over. Thatcher's team won, but it was an ugly game. She came up and stood very close to me after the game and I sensed that she wanted me to put my arm around her. I was happy to oblige and she introduced me to several of her friends. I saw several of them whisper together after introductions and a couple said something to her I didn't catch.
"What was that about?" I asked her.
"Well, I don't know what the whispering was about but those two told me how hot you are."
"Please, spare my blushes."
"I think so too," she whispered. "They're all jelly."
I took them out for frozen custard afterward and we made an early night of it. She had school the next day and I had business to get done. I asked her out again for Friday but she had an away ballgame. She suggested Saturday and I was good with that.
Several years earlier I had got to know a Lithuanian kid that was going to USC. His dad was some kind of big deal with the government over there and I gave him a call. I told him what I had and offered to sell it if he knew anyone in the Government that might be interested. He promised to talk to his father and it was a waiting game. My boy Wilber was nervous about holding on to the software so I had him put it in a locker at the airport. They check them for drugs and explosives, but this was neither and it was safe. He felt a lot better and left me alone after that.
It was a usual week except for Saturday. Thatcher spent the day with me and I took her to an auction. She was fun to hang with and we had a blast. I bought two storage units and we had a good time poking around in them. She found a safe in one. We eventually found the key in a dresser drawer and it turned out to be full of jewelry. It was real and she squeaked with delight going through it. There was a platinum necklace with a big sapphire and several little diamonds in it. I made her stand up with her back to me and I lifted her hair and fastened it around her neck. I blew on the little wispy curls on the back of her neck and she shivered. I had to nibble on it then and she was ticklish. I turned her around so I could look at her and the necklace went perfectly with those eyes and that blonde hair.
"I'm giving you that," I told her.
"No, Riggins; it's too expensive. How much do you think it's worth?"
"It's worth whatever I say it is. If you were buying it at a jewelry store, probably 3500 dollars. I paid 950 for this locker. I've already made ten times that. Are you my girlfriend, Thatcher?"
She looked up at me and blushed. "I want to be."
"Ok then, I get to give you stuff. Those are the rules. Just kiss me and tell me you like it."
She practically jumped on me. "I love it, Riggins," she whispered against my lips. "What are we going to do with all this stuff?"
"We'll lock the doors, I'll call the guys that work for me and they'll come pack it up and take it back to the store. They'll go through it, price it and put it out on the shelves."
"Do you find a lot of jewelry?" she asked.
"Some. I buy some from people who come in and need cash too."
"Are you like a pawn shop?"
"I guess; I don't have a license, but people know I buy things. The government likes to make you get a license to do anything. They charge a lot for the license and they get to poke their nose into your business. The idea that someone might make a buck without them getting a cut gets their panties in a bunch. Do you know that you have to get a license to be a barber?"'
"I guess I never really thought about it. If you didn't and people got bad haircuts, how would you control that?"
"I wouldn't. People run around with bad haircuts all the time. There were a lot of them here today. If you get a bad one, don't go back. Why does that need a license?"
"I guess it's just the government getting their cut," she laughed. "You have a different way of looking at things, Riggins. I like it."
"I was taken away from my parents when I was twelve-years-old. They were farmers and very poor. My dad got a gig driving moonshine from Tennessee to Georgia. I was in the car when they were arrested. I never saw them again. That gives you a little different outlook."
"I'm sorry, Riggins. I didn't know. Did you love them a lot?"
"No way you could know. To tell you the truth, I was glad to get away. My dad was a mean son of a bitch. He beat my mother and me on a regular basis. Mom sampled too much of what they were smuggling. They put me in a foster home. The man was a Church of Christ preacher and his wife was a psychologist. They were very kind to me and tried to raise me right. There were no more beatings and they were teetotalers. They treated me like I was their kid. I try to follow most of what they taught me, but some of it is too hard for me. I was lucky that they took me in."
"That's quite a story, Riggins. That explains a lot about you that I've been wondering about."
"Well, you're a perfect gentleman; you have good manners, you like my parents and you're a smuggler."
I laughed. "I guess that does seem like an odd combination."
I took her to the pier in Santa Monica. I would have liked to take her to a club and dance with her, but she wasn't old enough. The way she looked, I knew they would card her. I knew a few places I could get her in, but I wouldn't take this beautiful kid there. She needed to stay innocent and I wasn't about to take her off the rails.
We sat on a bench, ate ice cream and talked for a while and I asked her if she would go to my place. She was a little hesitant. I assured her I didn't have any plans other than to talk, listen to some music and maybe dance a little.
"I'm sorry, Riggins," she told me. "It isn't that I don't trust you, but this is all new to me. It's a little bit scary. I need you to go very slow with me, ok?"
"I'm crawling," I told her. "No pressure, baby. You run the show and decide what you want to do. If it makes you uncomfortable, let's go to your place. We can hang out with your parents."
"No, it's ok. I know this must seem weird to you. The other girls you date probably can't wait to get you in bed."
"Thatcher, I'm not dating any other girls. I have, but not since I met you. I won't until you tell me we're done."
"Thanks, I won't either." She took my hand and pulled me up for a hug. "I can't wait to get you in bed either," she whispered. "It may take me a while though."
"Good," I said. "I'm in no hurry. I've never had a girlfriend like you before. Most women I meet are like most guys you meet. They aren't much interested in romance, just the bottom line. Not that I don't want to get to the bottom line with you, but the journey has been pretty amazing so far and I'm happy with that."
She held my hand all the way to my place. She was impressed. I have a four bedroom, brick house on a corner lot. I've picked up a lot of quality stuff from auctions over the last five years and I keep the place picked up. I have a girl in once a week to clean and she does a good job. I made nachos and we watched Peaky Blinders on Netflix. Some of the nudity made her blush, but it's a good show. I love the Nick Cave song they play in the credits. I put the album on after the show and we danced a couple of times.
Thatcher felt amazing in my arms. Her little blonde head came up to my chest and it felt like she belonged there. We made out a little and I took her home. I walked her to the door and she stood up on her tiptoes and kissed me.
"Thanks, Riggins, I had a great day. I have a home game again Tuesday and Thursday. Will you come?"
"I wouldn't miss it for the world. I don't like those guys holding you by the butt though. I don't get to do that."
She laughed and pulled my hands down there. It was incredible, resilient and firm and round. I pulled her up against me and she kissed me again.
"Bye, Riggins; I better go inside before dad comes out to check."
My boy from Lithuania called on Monday. He put me in touch with an actor that lived in Beverly Hills. He said the guy was a liaison with their spy agency and he was very interested. If we had what we said we did, he was willing to pay top dollar. He wanted to meet, but I wanted more cover than that. I told him I would set something up.
I really didn't want to meet with anyone on this. I couldn't figure out how to stay out of sight and still get the deal done. I talked to Wilbur and he was more nervous than I was. I know a lot about computers. I finally decided that I was going to have to spend some money if I wanted to stay out of some federal lock up. I went shopping and found a used AS 400 running Unix for sale. I bought it and rented a storage locker under an assumed name. I got the mainframe set up and Wilbur came and installed the software.
I bought a pre-paid phone at Wal-Mart and called the actor. He had an unpronounceable name so I called him Bill. I told him where to go and where he could pick up the card to get in to the storage unit. I walked him through the program over the phone and he took a bunch of screen shots. He told me to call him in a week and he should know something.
I went to Thatcher's ball game on Tuesday. They shot the lights out that game and won handily. Her parents left her with me and we went to eat with some of her friends. They asked me all sorts of questions; how old I was, where I got my car, what USC was like, how I met Thatcher and what I did.
I didn't lie about anything but I just stuck with the legit stuff. They were very impressed that I was going to be a psychologist. Thatcher sat very close to me and I think she was staking out her territory. I didn't mind being staked out at all. We gave one of her friends a ride home and she asked if I wanted to go up to a windmill farm by her house and talk.
We did talk, but she spent most of the time with her lips tight against mine. We got in the back seat and she lay with her head in my lap and her feet out the window. Her legs were bare down to those little cheer panties and they were spectacular in the moonlight. She seemed to be losing her shyness with me. She didn't mind me looking or even sliding my hand along one smooth golden thigh. I didn't push it. I figured if she wanted to do more she'd let me know.
"I wish I could be with you every day," she told me. "That's the trouble with dating someone you don't go to school with."
"I'd like that too, but it would be difficult. I guess I could take you to school and pick you up."
"No, I don't want you to do that. It would take too much of your time. You can't drive all the way out here twice a day. I'll see you twice this week if you come to the game Thursday. I have a band contest Saturday morning. We're marching in Encino. Are you doing anything Saturday?"
"Nothing I can't put off. Can I come?"
"I can't ride there with you. The band director makes us ride the bus. If you came, I could ride home with you. Mom would have to sign me out, but I know she would."
"I'll be there then," I said. "How late are you supposed to be out on a school night?"
She squeaked when she saw the time. I drove her home and apologized to her Dad for keeping her out so late. He was cool, but he made me feel guilty when he said it was ok, he just hoped Thatcher wouldn't be too tired at school Wednesday.
I apologized again and assured him it wouldn't happen again. "Mr. Morgan, I like Thatcher a lot. I want her to do well in school and it was irresponsible of me to keep her like that. I really didn't know what time you expected her back. She didn't tell me what time she was supposed to be home. If you let me know what time you expect her to be home I'll make sure she gets here. I'm not blaming her, I should have asked."
He laughed it off. "She really likes you a lot too, Riggins. It isn't a big deal. The curfew is for her, not me. We don't care what time she comes home. We trust her and we trust you. We know you aren't up to anything bad. We'll adjust it after school is out and you guys can hang out later. We really aren't worried about it. Relax, I'm not getting on you."
"I know, but I'm getting on myself. Thanks for being so cool, Mr. Morgan."
I got her home on time on Thursday. I really enjoyed going to her ball games. I love high school basketball. I was a two-guard in high school and college. I wasn't good enough to start at USC, but I was in the rotation. I could always shoot. I discovered that Thatcher was an amazing athlete. She could jump out of the gym, land in splits and do back flips down the length of the floor.
I discovered Saturday that she was a hell of a trombone player too. Trombone looks like a tough instrument to play. I play guitar, but I know where to put my fingers because of the frets. There aren't any on a trombone, just the slide. I never heard her hit a false note and she never messed up the formation either.
She had face paint on and her hair was done up in this fantastically complex braid. That little uniform was very sexy and she blew me away. I took her home with me and we changed at my house. We went to the beach for a while. It was cool so we didn't mess around in the water. The ocean isn't ever very warm until you get down toward San Diego anyway, and so we just walked down the beach and cuddled.
I took her out to eat in the evening and we went back to my place. We sat on the sofa and watched a movie. She asked me if I would go to church with her Sunday. I hadn't been in ages so I agreed. I took her home and promised to pick her up at nine.
Church was interesting. They had a very good pastor. He talked about pride and it humbled me. I took them all out to eat at a seafood place. We talked about the service and her mom asked me if I was a believer.
"Well, yes and no," I told her. "I'll try to explain. I do believe someone made this place. I can't imagine the circumstances that would form Los Angeles out of a diffuse cloud of hydrogen without someone designing it that way. God looks like the only answer to me. I believe he's good. He's been good to me. He put me in just the right place to get parents that loved me instead of getting drunk and beating me." I told them my story.
"He put me in the right place at the right time to help Thatcher when she was in trouble. I believe there was someone named Jesus that taught people how to live the good life. I try to live by his words. Some of them are too hard for me. I try, but I can't. My problem is, I can't for the life of me figure out why he'd be interested in someone like me, Mrs. Morgan."
"Please, you don't have to call me Mrs. Morgan," she said. "My name is Rachael. I understand what you're saying. I'm glad you feel the way you do. I know you have doubts, but so do I. Anyone that doesn't hasn't thought about it. None of us keep all the words. I don't, James doesn't and I know Thatcher doesn't. I think God is interested in us for the same reason we're interested in Thatcher. We love her. When you love someone, you're interested in them."
"Yeah, I understand, but Thatcher's loveable. She's lovely. What about the creeps that were dragging her out of her car? See, that's my problem. I'm better than them, but still not as loveable as Thatcher. I think God must be annoyed with me most of the time."
Her dad laughed. "Well, Thatcher seems to think you're loveable. Rachael and I love you because of what you did for her and what you're doing for her now. I've never seen her so happy."
"Dad," she objected. "I'm right here. You are very loveable though, Riggins." She snuggled up against me.