Here follows ONLY a short Ironsides story. Check TPC for the full feature.
The Great Good Friday Delivery
A Tom Ironsides Story
(partly concerning Covington, GA…)
Atlanta, Georgia, Good Friday, April 19, 2019, 11:57 AM…
‘Is that your radar detector? Damn! You need one.’ Ariana felt a little car sick as her uncle punched all 840 horses, firing out of the exit ramp from the Downtown Connector, onto I-20, like a bullet from a rifle.
‘No. That one’s a multi-spectrum jammer. Supposed to confuse laser too. Diffuse it,’ he said, indicating to one switch in a row of custom toggles, below the touchscreen and beside the red START button. ‘That one is a smart scanner. Watches the Po-Po before they can watch us. THAT one is an EMP. Standard stuff.’
He rocketed into the HOV lane, headed East at triple-digit speeds, the SRT Demon purring throatily.
‘What are… cal…trops?’
‘For when the EMP doesn’t work.’
‘Is all that legal?’
‘As legal as these idiotic speed limits.’
‘Why the hurry? And, what were you doing back there?’
‘Just want to put a little distance… Yeah, you’re right. There’s no need to rush quite so fast. Not my business anymore really.’ He slowed … slightly.
‘And… What business was that, Uncle Tommy?’
‘Did you get everything you needed back at Emory … Emory Hospital?’
‘Yes. Again. Not me. It was for the med school roomies. I don’t like hospitals any more than you do. Was having a nice talk with that cute boy when you flew up like a bat out of hell. So… You were coming from where?’
‘I agree. Traffic’s not quite LA, but it vies with DC or New York.’
‘What were YOU DOING?!’
‘Dropped something off at the Federal Reserve.’
‘Something like a bomb?’ She laughed even as she considered that with this particular uncle, anything was possible.
‘Not yet. Oh, wow. Yeah, it’s time. Hey…’ He pulled out his phone and handed it to her while glancing in the rearview mirror. ‘Can you. This app. Press where it says fly, F-L-Y, and then let me know if it says okay or turns green or… I gotta watch that car. I hate roof racks on sedans. Ski racks. Looks like the damned cops from a distance.’
‘Okay…’ She tapped the “FLY” button and waited. ‘Alrighty. Turned green. Says… “drones launched?!” What the hell is this?!’
‘Swarm. Microdrones. For eavesdropping…’
‘You’re spying on the Federal Reserve?!’
‘No. Not me. Just doing a favor for some old friends.’
‘The CIA is… What’s going on?’
‘What does that weirdo have to do with the Fed… He’s dead, right?’
‘And burning, one would assume. You know about the island. There’s a few things the media has been a little less than forthcoming about. Things they probably don’t know either. And, there are a few things the Company would like to understand a little better.’
‘That’s! The CIA? In Atlanta? Is THAT legal?!’
‘As legal as that private central bank…’
She was aware that Tom had quickened the pace again, perhaps in an effort to evade the ski rack. Or, maybe he was just having fun. She pressed him on the special delivery: ‘How were they even open today? A holiday.’
‘Those Pharisees don’t observe Good Friday! Hell, I’m surprised our schools did. Good thing. Company wanted those little boogers deployed ASAP. I just got them last weekend. I hate robots, but gotta admit, they’re kind of cool. Hover around. Obey voice commands too.’
‘What do they do?’
‘Fly around covertly, looking and listening. The big ones plug into USBs or something. They’re looking for a link. Links.’
‘You’d rather not know. Besides, I was just doing a favor. Call Langley for details.’
‘Uh, no. I’d rather not know.’ She looked out the window as they blasted under the I-285 overpass. ‘You still get paid for doing those favors?’
‘For honor and country. Pay enough for his patriot,’ he said wryly. He noticed her cock an eyebrow. ‘Sometimes cash just shows up. Little here, little there. Like old times.’
‘How much is a little, here or there?’
‘…uhm… yub n. mo fan enbuf bor fa nub sopp….’
‘MUMBLE a little louder!’
‘Maybe enough to buy thousand-horsepower, mid-engine Stingray replacement for this slow heap? Definitely enough to buy my favorite niece an ice cream! Oh. And, could you turn that phone off – it’s not my usual, more of a burner – just put it in the duffle bag in the back? Really, I’ll buy you an ice cream…’
His perpetually amused (or flustered) favorite niece powered the phone down and reached back under the roll cage for his bag. ‘Uncle Tommy. What exactly is this black metal thing in here?’
‘In the bag?’
‘M4 with an M203 attached.’
‘Like an assault rifle.’
‘Assault. Yeah. That big tube is the grenade launcher.’
‘You say that like… Only you, only you.’
‘Hey. I mean, it was the Federal Reserve. You never know. Couple of handguns and a subby might not be enough.’
‘Never a dull moment. My family…’
‘While you’re back there. Uh. You know Lorna pretty well, right? Redhead. Irish. Insane. You think she’d fit back there if I was on top of…’
‘You are the most horrible … MAN! GAWD! You do owe me an ice cream.’
Tom reckoned he did owe her something. Lunchtime was upon them and he thought he’d spied just the place.
‘Amici!’ He exclaimed.
‘There’s always something going on at Amici… That’s what the billboard just said. Some kind of I-talian joint. Covington. Like the next exit. That, or one in Madison, wherever the hell that… Here we go!’
Tom shot across all lanes and down a tight, circular ramp into Covington. He was supposed to stop at the bottom. Instead, he cooly drifted onto the surface street, tires screeching, the Demon continuing to purr. Ariana thought she had a good idea of what “G” forces were. In short order, they found the restaurant on College Avenue. Tom parked in a little lot nearby.
‘Is it safe to leave all that firepower in there?’
‘Yeah. Nobody could bother ‘em. Whole thing is rigged to self-destruct if anyone tampers.’
‘Again. You say these things like it’s… Oh, well. Whatever. I’m hungry.’
‘Let’s see what they have!’
Inside, they were greeted by an attractive girl, maybe close to Ari’s age. Tom instantly took a liking to her.
‘So, yes! This is my NIECE. Not my, you know. I’m a lonely single man out for lunch. Like she’s really not even here. You get off anytime soon?’ They were seated in a booth near the bar; the hostess rolled her eyes upon departing.
‘Hey, Uncle Tommy! I wanna show you something on my phone.’ Ari said, scrolling for something. ‘Lorna. The waitress. I think I’ve got something to finally cure your case of the puppy lust… Here it is!’ She handed him the phone, a contact displayed:
CARMYN (U TOMMY GF): 828-555-1212
‘How did you get … that???’ He asked, still staring at the correct phone number.
‘You’d rather not know. Vicky and I work covertly too sometimes.’ She gave him a devilish grin. ‘Hate for your goddess actress girlfriend to ever find out about … you know. Gonna be a good wuttle wunkle now?’
‘She uh… She kind of knows. YES! Yes. Very good. Bring this girl an ice cream. AND a balloon!’ The waitress had just appeared.
‘Nah. I’m on a holiday today. And, I got me a designated driver,’ she said. ‘You guys have Long Island Iced Tea?’
Over lunch – “The Works” pizza, with liquor for her, water for him – she pried hard about Carmyn.
‘I know what she looks like. I wanna know what she’s like. Anything like, can I ask about this, like Aunt Elizabeth?’
‘Well. Yes, and no. There’ll never be another Lizzy. But, yeah, gotta admit, she’s on that level. I think.’
‘Does she act … famous? You know…’
‘No. No, very sweet. Down to Earth. Nothing pretentious. You’d never know except for all the fans out and about. Autographs and so forth. And, she puts up with me. Very warm hands…’
‘I want to meet her. Vicky can’t wait either! I think mom might even be interested.’ Ari was giddy as she grinned across the table. ‘When was your last date?’
‘Last week. Sunday at the Masters. Oh, the high school girls told me that CBS showed us standing by number eighteen. Tiger time. Standing and kissing.’
‘Rockstar! I’ll bet those girls wanted to… But, you were always popular. Awe. That’s sooo sweet!’
Tom was happy to have the conversation drift off of the morning’s illicit business. And, he valued Ariana’s opinions more than she knew. In turn, he pressed her about the boy from the pool party months earlier, the one from Emory, and more.
They were just getting ready to leave when a bearded man wearing shorts and a dress shirt walked by talking on the phone, headed for the bar. They’d noticed him earlier in the courtyard just outside the window, talking on the phone and smoking a cigarette. Now, he was ordering a lunch toddy.
‘Apple, frozen. Yeah, the Beam.’ He told the bartender in an upbeat but slightly gruff voice. He returned to his phone conversation, ‘So yeah, man. I think they’re gonna legalize it. Decriminalize it. Maybe five, ten years. Ten tops. I have this plan. Lemme talk, les’ talk biz-niss. Aaah, yeah!’
‘He seems happy,’ Tom said as he steadied a wobbly Ariana on the way out. ‘As do you.’
She half hiccupped a reply, ‘Oooow. Frozi Apple sounds good. Next time!’
It was more of a tipsy walk than a drunk walk, but she tipsy-walked him around the downtown square. She forced him into a series of shops, one of which he was delighted to find sold cigars. Outside of a real estate office, she opened a little paper box and pulled out a copy.
‘Got a dollar, Uncle Tommy? It’s The Piedmont Chronicles!’
‘Never heard of them,’ he said, fishing out a dollar bill.
On the ride home, a little slower than before, she tipsy-read the week’s news to him. There was another local restaurant featuring bands ‘n burgers. Someone once lost a gaggle of children at the beach. They were informed the solution to pollution was marijuana diffusion. There was more.
Tom glanced over. ‘Wait. Back up and read me what that one guy said about Steinberg. About the vampires and satanists in Congress. Sounds pretty informed.’
‘Yeah. About as crazy as literal reality.’
She fell asleep on the way home, owing to the length and depth of Long Island. After he dropped her off with the (be good for Carmyn, think about Carmyn) blonde roommates, he picked up the newspaper she’d left behind. Thanks to the “craziness” he was reminded of something. Maybe of someone. Suddenly something might have made sense about the Steinberg bombing. Could it be??? Maybe it wasn’t just the NCS that made special deliveries. Maybe it really was a Good Friday.