By Forrest Wayne Schultz
I. My Office
" I finally got all caught up on everything and my desk is cleared off and my office completely straightened up!" I had no sooner said this to myself than I got that strange feeling in the ring finger of my right hand. It had been a very long time since that had happened. As I prepared myself for some imminent danger I got a chill in my bones as I looked out the window and saw the bright sunshine being rapidly eclipsed by storm clouds as a fierce breeze began to blow and snowflakes began rapidly swirling around . I immediately logged on to the brand new super-scientific weather website and at that very moment a new message appeared there announcing the arrival of a blizzard.
I thought, "TGIF" and "TG that there is only one order which has to be shipped out today -- after that we will shut down and go home early". When I walked over to the plant, Frank, the Production Supervisor, told me he had just started the run for that order and it would only take an hour to complete and the truck had just pulled in to receive the shipment. I told him to load the product directly onto the truck and then quickly clean up the area and shut everything down and send everyone home. On my way back to my office I stopped in to the lab to see Harry and give him the same news. Fortunately his experiment would only take a half-hour to complete. I then went to my secretary, Lucy, and told her to make out all the weekly paychecks and to include a full day's pay for today in spite of the early closing and get them all ready immediately, which is easy to do on our new heavily computerized payroll system, and which will only take a few minutes for a plant as small as ours.
The only person left to tell about the early closing was my special projects director, Dora, who was now completing a very important report. I had told Lucy to be sure no one interrupted Dora for any reason, so I decided to follow my own order and not tell her until her report was finished. As I was about to return to my office I saw Lucy answer the phone and say to the caller, "I am sorry she is not available; may I take a message." Then she said, "Uh, let me put her supervisor on -- you may talk with him." Before handing me the phone, she looked downcast and whispered to me while holding her hand over the phone, "It is Dora's sister in California and she sounds very upset."
Indeed, her sister Ann was so distraught she could hardly speak. She informed me that her parents had just been brutally murdered, and that it was probably better that she was speaking to me, so I could tell Dora, because she did not think she could handle telling Dora, who would fall apart when she heard the grim news. Dora is one of the finest people I have ever met, she is an excellent worker and she devotes most of her free time to helping other people with their problems BUT she is very unwilling to receive help with her own problems. I told Ann that I would convey the horrible news to Dora and then I would insist that Dora leave work and go home -- after all, she did have to obey me because I am her supervisor!
I informed Lucy of the tragedy and asked her to be prepared to help Dora get ready to go home. I would drive her home in my car and get one of the men to take Dora's car to her house. A few minutes later Dora had completed her report and handed it to me.
Dora responded as expected to the tragic news -- she collapsed in shock into the arms of Lucy, who was sitting beside her on the couch. While Lucy was giving her a pill, calming her down, and preparing her to leave for home, I received another phone call from Ann, who had more horrible news -- the murderer had identified himself in a note left with the corpses AND he also stated in that note that he was now on his way here to murder Dora! Apparently he had become so arrogant that he thought he could now commit murders even after announcing his intended victims!
Ann also said that the FBI had become involved because the perp was a suspect in a number of unsolved horrific murders in various states. In fact Ann was calling me from a special FBI transport plane that was en route here with Ann guarded by several specially trained FBI agents. Her delay in calling me was due to the fact that she first needed to contact her brother in England before he left from there for his planned trip to the Continent so he could be guarded by a special detail from Scotland Yard, who would then transport him to the States under a guard which would then hand him over to an FBI guard after his arrival here. It took her a while to track him down but fortunately she got in touch with him just in time. After conveying this news to me, Ann handed the phone over to the FBI detail leader on the plane, who told me that the Atlanta FBI office has dispatched a team of agents to Dora's house, which is currently under surveillance (at the FBI's request) by the county Sheriff's department, which has reported no apparent attempts to enter Dora's house or property. This FBI detail will divide into two teams -- one to do the surveillance when the Sheriff's deputies leave and the other to come here to the plant to escort Dora and me to the house. The first FBI car in this team is due here momentarily and the other is several minutes behind. After obtaining the names of the agents, I thanked the FBI leader and hung up and then phoned the guard at our gate to inform him of these important upcoming arrivals.
I then got Lucy to provide me with Dora's key chain. The house key I gave to the agents in the first car, who would quickly go to Dora's house to unlock it and do a room by room check and also check for "bugs", etc. Dora's car key I gave to the agent who would drive it to her house, instead of my original plan to have one of our employees do so. By the time I had done this I received a call from the leader of the FBI escort team who was several minutes away. I asked Lucy to inform the gate guard and then I put on my overcoat and boots and went out to my car to warm it up and drive it to the front of the building. As Lucy was helping me to get (the zonked-out) Dora into the car, the FBI escort team arrived.
By now the blizzard was here in full force and I was grateful that I was behind the wheel of my "tough guy" car, which could be called an "Almost Hummer", which is sufficient to tell you that I did not need to fear the ever worsening driving conditions. The FBI agents, since they were in more-or-less conventional cars, were wisely driving at a slow velocity instead of the usual breakneck speed with sirens bellowing and lights flashing. As soon as we got onto the little traveled back road that goes to Dora's house, I got onto my cell phone and called the FBI plane, as I had promised I would, to give them my cell phone number and to get an update.
They had just received information that the murderer was en route here in his private plane. They knew the airport in California from which he departed and the airport where he intended to arrive here. They were also expecting momentarily a confirmation of his current position from a mountain-top airplane spotter near the border of the county, past which a direct route would take him. They would call me back as soon as word was received from the spotter, who had out his very best equipment specially looking for the murderer's plane. He had helped the FBI in the past and had received a special commendation for one of these assists.
As soon as I hung up I "heard" a "buzzing" from the Ring, to which I responded:
"Ahh, I guess you are getting ready for another execution party??!!".
After I had received this vintage Cyanoring exclamation I received a vintage Cyanoring News Special Report. These reports are just like watching the news on TV except you do not need a TV -- the whole thing (sight and sound) appears directly in front of you just as thought you were actually watching TV. (And there is absolutely nothing "woo woo" about it -- it seems totally usual!!) The reporter was talking about the daredevil murderer-pilot arrogantly flying into the fierce storm, boasting that no blizzard could stop him! The picture showed the plane being picked up by the whirling winds and smashed down into the "white-water" rapids of the frothing river below, which carried it and its executed occupant into the deep section of the river ahead where it disappeared beneath the angry waves in a vintage Cyanoring display -- the entombing of criminals in this deee-ee-eep river that borders our county.
I responded, as usual, with profuse thanks. About five minutes later, just as I was turning my car onto Dora's street, I received a call from the FBI man on the plane informing me that the mountain-top spotter had positively identified the murderer's plane and reported that it had crashed into the river. I was also told that another FBI team was being assembled to be sent out from Atlanta to locate the downed plane and murderer. The protection detail for Dora and Ann would remain in effect until it was clearly shown both that the murderer was dead and that there were no associates of his around. I thanked the FBI man and pulled into Dora's driveway. One of the female agents assigned to guard duty in the house came into the garage to assist me in getting Dora out of the car and up to her bedroom.
This woman is one of the finest people I have ever met -- Alicia Jones. She is a very good agent with excellent "people skills", who received a commendation for the very first interview she ever conducted as an FBI agent, which I reported on at some length in The Cyanoring, where I also tell how she captured her husband, the team leader of the op, Byron Jones. It was so good to see Alicia again. She was to remain in Dora's bedroom while another female agent was on duty outside the bedroom door.
By the time Alicia and I got Dora into bed and then had a little chat, the special vehicle carriers had arrived at the house with Hummer-type vehicles to replace the agents' conventional cars. They were sorely needed now that the blizzard was here in full force. As this switchover was occurring I received a call from the FBI plane traveling here, which was now landing at a special airport used by the fibbies. Fortunately this plane had special equipment to deal with blizzard conditions, so that the landing was not impossible, just outrageously difficult, which the gung-ho FBI guys regarded as par for the course for them!
The plan was that Ann and her protection detail would get into Hummer-type cars at this airport, drive to Dora's house, and then Ann and I would be escorted by them to the funeral home, which fortunately was only a few blocks away. The FBI guys didn't like this but relented because of the short distance and because the funeral home was easy to surveill. This was, technologically, a supermodern establishment but was very old-fashioned in personal service. They insisted on meeting Ann in person in spite of the weather -- emails and faxes were all right but no substitute for face-to-face meetings. And, speaking of personal stuff, Ann really wanted me to accompany her -- she had come to like and respect me after a recent lengthy conversation we had had about Dora and all kinds of other things. She just felt like she could not handle going there alone. And I was perfectly willing because I admire her and wanted to do everything I could to help her and Dora through the current grievous time.
II. The Funeral Home
I already knew the funeral home people and really liked them and how they tried to help people. In fact, Ginny, the daughter of the owners, was of help to me during a brief time when the owners needed to talk with Ann in private. I shared with her how upset I was that Dora did not want to accept help and that I didn't know what to do about it. She grabbed my hand, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "You must make Dora accept help!". I was so overwhelmed with this, that I promised her that I would do so, and I suddenly realized that I actually would be able to do so! Ginny released my hand and her gaze from my face just as Ann walked out the door to rejoin me.
I could immediately see that she also had just been rejuvenated -- Ginny's parents had done for her what Ginny had done for me. Our drive back to Dora's house was joyous rather than somber, as the drive to the funeral home had been. The same arrangement was established there for Ann as was for Dora: two female agents would be on duty at all times at the bedroom she would be using -- one inside the room and one at the door.
It appeared that, except for one matter, everything was under control. I intended to go to my own home as soon as I attended to that matter. Ginny was praying about it as was I during my walk up the stairs to Dora's bedroom where I was appalled to hear (all the way out in the hall) Dora yelling at Alicia! I went to the door and knocked, then walked in and asked Alicia to please step out into the hall. I then called Dora to account in no uncertain terms, which at first totally shocked her and then penetrated her defenses and convicted her spirit of her sin which caused her to cry out in sorrow and repentance. I then asked her, "What are you going to do now?". She was flabbergasted because she was expecting me to compliment her! She saw immediately, though, what she needed to do. She answered me, "Ask Alicia for forgiveness. Oh, and also ask Ann for her forgiveness for my bad attitudes to her."
I said, "RIGHT ANSWER !! OK, I am now going to bring Alicia back into your room and then I will go for Ann." Dora immediately began her plea for forgiveness from Alicia as I was leaving the room. When I went to see Ann, she was thoroughly astonished at what I told her about Dora. She profusely thanked me and then headed over to Dora's room.
III. The Rapids At The Time Of The Plane Crash
Three local young men were kayaking down the last stretch of the rapids when they suddenly heard a loud splash plus a lot of crashing directly behind them. When they looked back they were astonished at the sight of what looked like someone trying to kayak in an airplane! "Now I have seen everything -- an airplane kayaker!!", exclaimed Billy. "Yeah, man," said Lewis, "Far out!!".
What had happened was that just before he was knocked unconscious, while the plane was being carried toward the river by the winds of the blizzard, the murderous pilot turned on a system which enabled the plane to ride on top of the water on a special compressed air cushion underneath the plane. Under normal conditions this would have worked, but not in a whitewater rapids with its churning water and numerous rocks sticking up out of the water. For a while it actually looked like the plane was "kayaking" down the rapids but the rocks penetrated the fuselage and the resulting ingress of water and snow eventually killed the engine just as it completed the rapids after which it sank as the water continued to rush in.
As soon as they beached their kayaks, Chris rushed up the hill to get his cell phone out of Lewis's van to give to Billy to call his uncle, the airplane spotter up on the mountain. His uncle warned him to be very careful because the man was a murderer wanted by the FBI. They should not assume he was dead but should get out their guns, load them and carefully watch the river in case he came swimming out of the plane wreckage. They had been deer hunting earlier, so they quickly reloaded their 12 gauge shotguns and carefully watched the river. Billy promised his uncle they would wait there until the FBI arrived. Billy's uncle got on the phone and told the FBI that his nephew and friends had seen the man and had the river covered with shotguns awaiting the FBI's arrival.
The FBI agents were immensely thankful because they did not at all know this area -- they were city slickers from Hotlanta who regarded Coweta as Hicksville -- and the blizzard was getting worse. The van had a GPS locator, which the FBI agents used to find the way there. They arrived not long afterward and sent in divers to pull out the murderer who was both positively identified and pronounced positively dead!!
This report came into the FBI at Dora's place just as I was getting ready to leave. This was a real relief but there was still uncertainty as to whether there were any associates we had to worry about. The FBI was not so sure they wanted me to leave because they thought that maybe some associates of the murderer might come after me and they did not want to split up the team so they convinced me to stay at Dora's house, which was no problem because there was plenty of food and plenty of bedrooms and plenty of great women!
I will not go into the details by which the FBI wrapped up the case and delivered us from any further danger. Let me just conclude by saying that Dora and Ann have been wondrously reconciled and they worked together harmoniously in attending to the matters of the funeral and other matters pertaining to the deaths of their parents, that Ginny was very excited when I informed her of how Dora had responded to my boldness, and that my grandchildren are having loads of fun in the snow, which rarely ever accumulates to any extent around here. I told them to take advantage of it, as I had with my children, saying they would probably have to wait for at least seven years or so for another snowfall sufficient enough for sledding and snowball fights.
1. This is a sequel to The Cyanoring, but each is a "stand-alone" short story.
2. The three young male kayakers are actual people: my son Chris and his two friends Lewis and Billy. And Lewis does have a van (although it does not have a GPS locator.) They also do go deer hunting and have provided me and my wife with a great deal of venison! Chris, in fact, shot his first deer in our backyard right after he got his hunting license. Kayaking came later. It was my knowledge of kayaking gained from Chris that led me to put into the story the idea of a plane crashing into a rapids. So, I guess it is only fair that I give him some credit by means of inserting him and his friends into the story as characters.
3. The main point of the story is persons who are great at helping people with problems but who do not want any help with their own problems. I make no apologies for the solution I came up with in this story. You know, sometimes you just need to flat out tell people to stop it, and sometimes all the encouragement you need to do so is a sharp young woman holding your hand and telling you to get up the nerve to do it! Sometimes stuff like that really works! You should not think you need to spend years getting psychoanalyzed to figure out what to do! I am not saying it always will work but it often times may.
4. The setting of this and my earlier Cyanoring story is kind of a fictionalized Coweta County. It has the same kind of relationship with Atlanta but no exact geography, and the deeeeeep river is not the Chattahoochee or any other real river.
5. I do not plan any more Cyanoring stories, but in Coweta County, where I live, anything can happen! For instance, the incredible stuff in Murder In Coweta County really happened. And the famous 1932 robbery of the Bank of Grantville really happened and there are currently almost unbelievable achievements by Coweta's artists -- visual, performing, and literary. So, whenever anyone in Coweta talks about his plans, you must always remember this -- in Coweta anything can happen! Coweta is the place where fact is often stranger than fiction!
Grantville, Georgia May 30, 2008