Zeus and Io - Books 1 and 2
Copyright 2012,2013 by Harry Carton
Swell. Now I wasn't even needed for my skills underwater. She could do that, too.
"Io, can you block input from me for a while. Zeus will let you know when I'm back 'online, '" said Martinez.
"Yes, Master Chief," said Io. "You are now offline."
"What?" Arti asked. "What's going on?"
"The Master Chief wants to be offline for a while."
Artemis turned toward me. "What's wrong? It's about his daughter, isn't it? Martinez: don't run away from your friends."
"I don't know anything about it," I said.
"Listen, asshole," he said in my head. "You're heading into that pit of 'poor me' and 'I can't do anything' again. So she can swim. Big fuckin' deal. I thought this was a team? Hell, you couldn't swim as well as most of the guys on the SEAL team. So what? Now if you want to have a one-man pity-party, then just don't over-do it. You can go ahead and wallow, like a fuckin' greenie team member, or you can act like an officer. That's always an option. You know, a team LEADER. Someone who is proud of what the TEAM can accomplish."
You don't have to holler at me, I thought to him.
I was pouting, and I knew it. He was right, although that didn't make me feel a lot better. I could be an officer, even if I didn't feel like one at the moment.
"Arti, you did an exceptional job in recovering that rifle from the lake," I said to her. "I know swimming isn't your forte, but you did real well."
"Hmmf," she replied. "It's practically my 'pianissimo', to tell the truth. I barely knew what the hell I was doing ... But thanks."
"See? Isn't that better?" said the wise man in my head.
"Io, I think you can turn the Master Chief on again," I said to our abiological friend.
"Thanks, Io. And Arti, it wasn't anything major. Just something I had to straighten out," said Martinez.
"More like someONE he had to straighten out," I muttered under my breath.
Arti must have heard, since she gave me a sharp look. "You have another flashback, Zeus?" she asked.
"More like a flashback to a set of feelings," I replied. "It's gone now, mostly ... Listen, when we get back we're meeting with the Navajo big-wigs, right?"
"I've never seen you in anything that wasn't shorts or jeans. You have anything like a suit? Even a set of 'casual business attire?'"
"Uh ... no. You think we should dress up?" she asked.
"Well, if we don't, isn't that kind of like assuming they're savages or something? I'm not saying like ... formal. But something nice, you know? We'll take the day, tomorrow, to go shopping. Maybe we'll have dinner at Epcot or something. They have a bunch of nice restaurants, and ... a fireworks show. You like fireworks, little girl? It's like the circus, only more so."
That earned me a punch on the arm. "Me? Shopping? You are gonna take me shopping? For clothes? ... I know what fireworks is, dummy. Who doesn't like to go 'ahh' and 'ooh' at fireworks?"
"Well, I might pick up something, too. I don't have anything to wear to a 'meet-the-President' event. But I don't think we should over do it, this is in the southwest, where clean boots and a string tie is 'dressing up.'"
When we got back to the campgrounds, she spent the rest of the evening planning what to wear to shop for things to wear, and where to go. Io helped, thus cementing her female credentials forever, in my mind.
In the end, we went with Io's recommendation for a 'nice' clothing shop, and it even catered to men as well as women. It was on the Disney property, but that didn't matter. Cost? Hah! I laugh at such trifles – now. Io said she'd reviewed their inventory and this one had the best designers! How could she differentiate between women's designers?
Mine is not to reason why, mine's just to pay the bills. With money that Arti and Io earned, true, but it was the thought that counts.
On the way over to the store, Io gave us the low down on what she'd learned about Martinez' daughter.
"She is still named Maria Elena Martinez – no change there," Io said. "But she was adopted by her step-father, Dr. Richard Prescott. He is a pediatrician, and was Maria's doctor until he married Consuela. That was one year and three months after the death of your body, Master Chief." I thought that was a nice way of saying it. "They were married in San Filipe, Mexico. That is..."
"Yeah," Martinez interrupted. "That is the near the home of Consuela's parents. They have a hardscrabble farm and raise goats, about ten miles south of there. It's in Baja California ... nice place. That's where we were married, too."
"Yes," Io continued. "That is why it took me so long to find a record of the marriage. Actually I did not find the marriage license. I found a record in the California files that reflected that a marriage took place in Mexico. It is undoubtedly filed with the church in San Filipe.
"Judging from her social media pages, Maria spends some time there every summer. Her vacation ranges from two weeks to over a month."
"It's a nice spot for a kid. Close to the bay-side beaches. You could walk to the beach," said Martinez. "Probably there wouldn't be much need for adult supervision. I can see the attraction – away from the nastiness of an American city. Everybody trusts everybody in San Filipe. On the other hand, there wouldn't be adult supervision, if somebody wanted to snatch her."
"Any money in the family? I know that Consuela isn't wealthy, but her new husband is a doctor," I asked.
"I doubt it," said Io. "He works for an HMO that mostly services Armed Forces families. That does not sound too lucrative to me. I checked his IRS returns for the most recent year. I think we can rule out ransom for money."
"Not necessarily," said Arti. "You can check his tax returns, and you know he is salaried and works for an HMO. A potential kidnapper wouldn't necessarily look past the 'he is a rich American doctor.' It won't be a professional kidnapping, but it could be some gang in LA or Mexico or somewhere. Professionals, I think, would check his financial status."
"The name 'Martinez' has come up in several emails, but they seem to be associated with an outfielder for the Minnesota Twins baseball team. There is some activity surrounding him, regarding a trade," said Io.
We got to 'Mickey's and Minnie's Boutique' and Arti went to see about some business suits. It was a high end place. I wandered about. I picked out a serviceable navy sports coat in about two minutes, and I was done. Over in the women's section, things were proceeding apace, I guess.
Arti had finally decided on a charcoal gray suit, with pants and a skirt, a pale pink silk blouse and some shoes that weren't sneakers and had a medium heel.
"All done?" I asked.
"What do you think?" She did a slow turn, showing me all the sides of the charcoal outfit.
"It's your size. Let's take it," I said.
I could see her scowl.
I reached over to the rack where I'd stashed some stuff. "But you should wear this, right now. We're going to a nice place for dinner." With that I handed her a turquoise print dress, cut a little low in the front, that would fall several inches above her knee.
She was struck dumb – almost.
"You picked this out? For me?"
"Arti, I think I would look silly in that dress. Besides it's not my size. Um ... I don't know what to do about the shoes," I said, looking down at her high-top sneakers.
"Quite all right, sir," said the ever-helpful saleslady. "We have just the thing."
She hustled the still shocked Artemis back to the dressing room, and I went over to get another sports coat – this time in brown. I was a male of the species, and as such I only believed in the eight basic colors: blue, brown, red, green, yellow, purple, black and white. I did acknowledge that women had to know about turquoise, cerise, cerulean, rose, fuchsia, pink, plum and on and on to infinity and beyond. My personal favorite for a silly color was 'sky blue pink.'
While I was waiting, I picked out a pair of loafers – black – and then mentally re-wrote all of War and Peace. I'm sure Tolstoy wouldn't mind. I was working on a translation into Urdu when Arti was finished.
"Wow!" I said. "Artemis, is that really you? You mean we found the girlie side?" She looked fantastic.
"It's pretty. How'd you know my size?"