Sex, Oak and Rock ’n Roll
by Bill Kowaleski
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
The Anderssen sawmill was a dusty place, and with the doors closed to keep in the heat, Gerry’s blowers were going full blast, filtering the air, but keeping it from getting all that warm.
“Come into my office, Sean,” said Gerry. “We can hear each other in here. It’s been a while. So good to see you again!”
“Yeah, you too, Ger.” Sean sat across from Gerry at his desk, piled with papers and dominated by an oversized computer screen. “So Ger, I need to come right to the point, we can catch up later.”
“Sure. What’s the problem?”
“You know about poor Josiah Pedersen of course.”
“Sure, I do.” Gerry shifted uneasily in his swivel chair. He looked like an ordinary, mostly bald, average man in his mid-fifties, but Sean, Gustafson, and a few others knew his real identity. Not only was he a Sirian in disguise, he was the very first Sirian ever to come to Earth. He’d perfected the amazing disguises all the Sirians wore, and discovered the euphoric properties of oak resin. To the smugglers who had once operated in the Wisconsin north woods, he had been a godfather and a mentor.
When Sirian Drug Enforcement had shut down shipments from Earth, he’d escaped deportation to the prison planet by demonstrating that he ran a legitimate business. He’d told Sean that he loved living on Earth, and especially in the north woods, and wouldn’t do anything that might force him to return to Sirius Prime.
“So what do you know, Ger? Who killed him?”
“Look, Sean, I stay at arms’ length from that place. It’s gonna blow up in Wolf’s face one day, and soon. Yes, I sell them logs. And they process the logs into resin in that resort. I know that, SDE knows that. But as long as that stuff never gets to Sirius Prime, they’re good. So I don’t know who did it. Sorry I can’t help you.”
“Maybe you can, Ger. See, Wolf gave me two names. We need to interrogate those guys. Next time you deliver logs, all you’d have to do is disable the force field. Then we could raid the place and—”
“Whoa!” Gerry put up both arms as if he were warding off a punch. “They’re gonna know who disabled that field if it drops while I’m in there, don’t you think?”
“Not if I happen to be helping you make the delivery,” said Sean. “I’ll say I sweet-talked you into being your helper. You play the innocent victim.”
“Hmm, could work. Aren’t you worried about Wolf trying to get even with you, though?”
Sean leaned forward. “I’ll be back in Hawaii before he could do anything to me or Cindy. I don’t see him chasing me halfway around the world. He’s got a business to run.”
Sean leaned back and added, “But if Gustafson shuts down that resort, your nice little business selling logs to them would be through, wouldn’t it?”
Gerry smiled. “Follow me. I want to show you something.”
He led Sean next door to his house, a large Cape Cod attached to an awkward cube of an addition. They passed through his living room, thick with Green Bay Packer’s paraphernalia including a model of Lambeau Field and numerous signed player photos on the wall, and then to a small room with a dial-lock, a walk-in safe. The walls were thick, fireproof metal, and inside were stacks of identical, beige bags.
“I imagine you’ve got some of these,” said Gerry.
“Yeah,” said Sean. “But not this many. Same material for the bags though. No knife or scissors can cut it, you can’t even penetrate it with a high-speed rifle bullet. Bags only open when they identify my or Cindy’s DNA.”
“Exactly like mine. These hold sixty pounds each.”
“Yeah, mine too. I got about fifty of them left, but you’ve got to have at least, what, a hundred?” said Sean.
“Hundred and thirty two, and each one, at today’s gold prices, is worth right around a million dollars. So you see, Sean, I don’t need Wolf’s business. And I don’t like what happened to Josiah. I’d be happy to see that resort closed forever. So yes, you can help me make that next delivery. No problem.”
* * *
Wolf’s Place sat on a high hill above County Highway DK, at a sharp curve. Its height made an assault riskier, but the curve made it easier for the dozen State Patrol cars involved in the raid to hide. Cindy sat in Walsh and Gustafson’s Tahoe, watching as they coordinated. It was a balmy day by north woods standards, a few degrees above freezing and brilliantly sunny.
The Anderssen Sawmill log truck slowed to a stop at the foot of the long driveway that led to the resort. Gerry carefully maneuvered it so he could back in. Cindy could see Sean sitting in the passenger seat. She shivered, remembering what the aliens had done to poor Josiah, hoping nothing like that would happen today.
At the briefing before the raid, Sean had pulled out a blue stunner, as the Sirians called the slender weapon that had killed Josiah Pedersen. He passed it around so they could all take a good look. The officers’ orders were to consider any alien pointing one at them to be the use of deadly force, and to respond in kind.
“Where’d you get that thing?” she’d asked him after the briefing.
“My buddy that hid me on Sirius Prime gave it to me. Said I might need it when I emerged in Wolf’s Place, that there were some pretty dangerous folks in there.”
“That reminds me,” she’d said. “Why are you involving Gerry? Didn’t you say you were going to get some tool to disable the protection field?”
“No time for that once the clerk recognized me. I dropped it and ran. He was already calling SDE.”
Now she could take some solace from the fact that Sean had that slender tube attached to his waist. She watched as the truck pulled all the way up the steep driveway. A minute passed, then another, then Gustafson’s cell rang twice, with the third ring cut off. It was the signal to move.
Officers swarmed from the cars and charged up the hill. Gustafson shouted orders through a bullhorn he hung out the Tahoe’s window. In the resort, the curtains, always closed, pulled open on every window. But the police were already inside.
* * *
Gerry smiled and shook Wolf’s slender hand. “Fifteen logs today, right?”
Sean returned to the doorway. He’d asked to use the bathroom when they’d arrived. He stood directly behind Wolf and nodded to Gerry.
“Right,” said Wolf. He turned his head. “What was that? What’s going on?”
Sean wrapped his arms under Wolf’s armpits then behind his neck in a full-nelson. Gerry grabbed Wolf’s throat, shoved his face directly into Wolf’s and said, “Take us to Nefer and Ramses now!”
Wolf could see that police were swarming through the rooms of the resort. His bravado evaporated. He whimpered, chirping in Sirian, “How did all these police get in here? Why are you doing this?”
“Justice,” said Sean. “Now do as you’re told and you won’t get hurt.”
“They work in the basement,” said Wolf.
“Work?” asked Gerry.
They walked down a flight of narrow stairs into a musty, chilly, low-ceilinged space lit by bare, hanging light bulbs. Two Sirians stood at a table, their backs turned to the stairway, their arms moving rapidly. Sean pulled his blue stunner and said in Sirian, “Hands in the air!”
They both whirled, stared at Sean with their huge black eyes, then raised their arms.
Sean came closer, noticing that the long, wooden table was full of small, rectangular metal boxes, each about six inches by three inches. It was a kind of assembly line, with finished boxes on the right, open boxes in the middle, and small glass vials filled with a thick, brown liquid to the left. Four vials fit into each box.
Gerry had a firm grip on Wolf’s arm and dragged him closer. “I don’t believe it! You’re packaging resin concentrate. You can’t possibly use this much here for your guests. You must be...”
Wolf smiled. “Our guests like to take mementoes home with them.”
Four police officers appeared at the head of the stairs. They came down, then secured Ramses and Nefer on two folding chairs. It wasn’t easy since the Sirians’ skinny wrists made handcuffs ineffective. The officers ended up tying them with rope.
Sean heard the stairs creak under a heavy weight, turned and saw Gustafson slowly descending into the basement, his head bowed to clear the low ceiling in the stairwell.
“What we got here?” he said.
“These are the two that Wolf said killed Josiah,” said Sean. When he saw that the Sirians didn’t understand him he repeated it in their language.
As soon as he finished, both of the aliens broke into a sustained bout of loud chirping and whistling, waving their hands and bobbing their heads vigorously at the same time.
“What are they yappin’ about?” asked Gustafson.
“They vehemently deny that they ever hurt anyone,” said Sean. “They haven’t even left the resort. They say that they would be afraid to go out into the world of primitive and violent Earthlings, whose language they don’t even understand.”
A State Patrol officer shouted down from the top of the stairway, “Secured up here. Found only one of those stunner things.”
“Thanks,” Gustafson shouted back.
Sean translated, evoking an animated response from Nefer.
“He says that Wolf doesn’t allow weapons in the resort. That if anyone tries to bring weapons through the transporter they’re confiscated and sent back.”
Gustafson scratched his moustache, then turned to the officer at the top of the stairs. “Just where’d you find that thing, Pete?”
“In a drawer in the office.”
Gerry, still holding Wolf’s arm, looked into Wolf’s huge eyes and said, “Your blue stunner, Wolf?”
Wolf had learned English as part of his training as a drug smuggler for the Northerners. “Of course it’s mine. I need to keep the peace around here. But I’ve never left the resort. It’s too cold this time of year.”
Gustafson paced the six steps across the small basement room. He stopped, stared at the two tied-up aliens, turned his gaze to Wolf, then resumed his pacing. Twice more he traversed the room, then he stopped.
“OK, untie these two drug packagers. Gerry, Sean, you got a way of alerting your authorities about this smuggling they’re doing?”
“Sure,” said Gerry. “Leave it to me.”
Now it was Wolf’s turn to break into an extended bout of whistling and chirping. Gustafson sighed. “What’s that one all whipped up about?”
“I don’t want to repeat it all, it’s pretty vile,” said Gerry. “Basically he’s calling you the evil spawn of the blotched fern sloth, a particularly reviled animal on our planet.”
Gustafson chuckled and looked directly at Wolf. “I know you understand me, big eyes. Don’t like your little enterprise getting busted up, do you? Well, I could give a rat’s ass about your drug laws. There’s nothing illegal about oak resin here. So maybe Gerry and I could be a little more reasonable, sort of forget about what we saw here, if you’d help us find the killer of that nice young man.”
“You’re all just animals to us,” Wolf said, his voice thick with anger. “Animals in the way of something we want. The word is out now. SDE tries to stop the interplanetary trade, but there’s always a way. You’re not going to shut off the flow by stopping me. And besides,” he added, pausing a second. “You called him a nice young man, but he was so drunk he could hardly walk. How nice is that?”
“Really!” said Gustafson. “And how did you know that he was so drunk?”
“It’s... it’s... well, it’s common knowledge around here,” Wolf said. “I must have heard it at dinner or in the orgy room.”
Wolf’s delicate left arm shook as he spoke. Sean saw it and grabbed Gustafson’s shoulder, pulling him into the stairwell. He whispered into the Sheriff’s ear, “The shaking arm is a Sirian tell. We’re rarely aware that we’re doing it. He’s almost surely lying.”
Gustafson nodded, then directed his eyes back toward Wolf. “You know, I don’t care about your drugs. Oak is perfectly legal here. What I do care about is that you folks behave yourselves while you’re in my town. And I care about a young man with his whole life in front of him killed by one of your kind. I care about justice. So what’s it going to be? Time for a decision, tell us who killed Josiah, or we turn you in.”
* * *
Copyright © 2014 by Bill Kowaleski