Search is loosely based on a real incident. The incident remains, the story is greatly different.
Enjoy. And remember, it’s still a work in progress. These chapters are rough drafts. I’ve completed twenty-seven chapters so far and it seems I’ll complete the novel this time. We’ll see.
Read Search Chapter 6
Gio drove north on I-95, Jeri beside him and Stephanie filling out the Comet’s front seat by the passenger door. Jeri caught him staring at the Sheraton Inn off Maine Mall Road in South Portland.
“Never been this far into Maine before?”
“My grandfather brought me up here sometimes. To visit friends.”
“Most people coming to Maine on business never get further than Portland. They get as far as the Sheraton and have people meet them there.”
“Looks like a satellite, doesn’t it? Big cylinder, all black with silvery edges and lines, and antennae sticking out of it? Never saw a round building before. Except in pictures.”
Stephanie chuckled. “Yeah. Maine’s an education for everybody.”
Jeri pointed at the approaching four lane divide. “Take 295. It’s quicker.” She checked the speedometer. “About an hour.”
“You drive this road a lot?”
Stephanie pointed at the mall on the right. “Maine Mall’s the only real mall in the entire state. You want to go shopping, you shop there, and we know all the ways to get there.”
“Don’t tell me you two played hooky your senior year.”
Stephanie brushed one hand over the passenger side dashboard. “It was either that or Pin-the-Tail on the bucktoothed moron.” She checked her hand for dust. “I told my parents you’re coming up this weekend.”
The odometer clicked a mile.
“Do you think you can help? Jeri said you could help.”
“I said he might be able to help.”
Stephanie sat forward, her eyes on Gio. “Well can you? Jeri said you’re some kind of psychic.”
Jeri spun towards Gio. “I never said that. I swear I never said that.”
He patted her thigh. “I believe you, Sweetcheeks.”
Stephanie slumped back in her seat. “I-95’ll get you there, too. More buck-toothed morons that way.”
Gio eased up on the accelerator. He sat up and moved his head back and forth slowly, a cow lowing in a field. A moment later he smiled and sat back.
Stephanie watched him over Jeri’s shoulders. “What’s going on?”
Jeri scanned the highway. “There’s a police car up ahead somewhere.”
A half-mile further a state police cruiser hid behind some trees off the side of the highway. A Statey stood out from the trees, his hat pulled forward and down so the brim sheltered his eyes, which were further protected by dark-tinted wraparounds. He held with a radar gun in one hand and a mike in the other.
When the Statey was no longer visible in the rearview, Gio tromped the accelerator. “We can still make it in about an hour.”
Jeri looked at Stephanie out of the corner of her eye and smiled.
Gio pulled up to the Thompson’s garage. Stephanie got out and grabbed her pack from the backseat. “You want to come in? Say hi? Lend me some support?”
“No thanks. It’s Friday night. You know what that means.”
“Yeah, Friday Night Fights at the Weintraub’s. Thanks for the ride.”
“Friday Night Fights?”
“You’ll love it. My parents host open discussions at our house on Friday nights. Anything goes. It can get pretty intense but never hostile.”
“Good to know.”
“Sometimes Mom and Dad invite people over to take part.”
“A regular yeshiva.”
“Too Jewish. We discuss everything.”
The Wientraub’s two story saltbox stood at the top of a hill separated from the street by a long front lawn. Gio pulled in behind a Suzuki GT750 motorcycle parked by the garage. “Does everybody in Maine have huge front yards?”
Jeri opened her door and smiled at the motorcycle. “Hey, Steve’s home. Nobody told me Steve would be home.”
“You people name your motorcycles?
A large German Shepherd ran out of the backyard and charged the car, snarling, growling, and hackles raised.
Jeri yelled, “Jetta, no!”
Gio got out of his Comet. The sky shimmered. He sat on the ground. “Jetta? Is that your name? Come here, girl.”
The shimmer coalesced on the dog wrapped her in a twinkling rainbow.
Jetta slowed, stopped, and cocked her head right and left.
“It’s okay, Jetta. I won’t take your taco.”
Jetta’s tail lifted, she bounded to Gio, knocked him over and licked his face. He gently pushed her away and she came right back at him, a pup with its master. She mawed his left hand and he ruffled her fur and scratched her side with his right.
The rainbow faded, the shimmer stopped.
A stentorian male voice sounded from around the house. “Jetta! Here! Now!”
Jetta ignored the command. She rolled onto her back, offered Gio belly, and he gave it a good scratch. Her legs kicked like she was swimming; right, left, right, left as he scratched one side of her belly then the other, back and forth and side to side. “Ohh, who’s the dog? Who’s the dog? You are, Jetta! You are!”
“It’s us, Dad.”
Sam Weintraub stopped as he rounded the house. He raised a hand and slowly waved to his daughter. “What’s going on here?”
Gio stood and Jetta followed, his hand still in her mouth. “It’s okay. She’s not hurting me. She’s letting me know I’m part of her pack and accepts me as top dog.”
“That’s Gio, Dad.”
Gio waved his free hand. “Hi, Dad.”
Sam Weintraub looked from Gio to Jetta and back. “I’ve never seen Jetta behave like that. She’s a guard dog. How did you get her to behave like that?”
Gio looked at Jetta. She gently gnawed his hand. He’d seen wolves, coyotes, and wild dogs gently gnaw each other in play, to show submission. A memory, old. Primitive.
It just happened. I didn’t control it. I just knew to do it.
He petted Jetta with his free hand. “It’s how dogs play with each other.”
“Gio has a way, Dad.”
Gio reached into the backseat with his free hand and pulled out an overstuffed laundry bag. Half a bra flopped out the top.
“What are you doing with my daughter’s underwear in your laundry?”
“It’s my laundry, Dad.”
Sam looked in Gio’s backseat. “You didn’t bring your laundry?”
“I was suppose to bring my laundry?”
Sam cocked an eyebrow at Jeri. “Your last boyfriend brought his laundry.”
“My last boyfriend was an exchange student from Mexico.”
“You had boyfriends before me?”
Sam relieved Gio of Jeri’s laundry. “Oh, he’s going to fit right in, isn’t he?” He poked Jeri bra back into the bag. “You’ve done something to my dog. We’re going to talk about that. Understand?”
“Anything you say, Sir.”
“Sir? You’re a fast learner. I like that. You found yourself a good one this time, Daughter.”
The sun fell below the western mountains and the Weintraub’s outside lights came on. A breeze rustled trees behind the Weintraub’s home. The driveway flood above the garage doors caught Gio and Jetta in a spotlight.
Jeri came over and rubbed Jetta’s head. “How did you know Jetta’s favorite toy is a rawhide taco?”
“I said her favorite toy is a taco?”
“You told her you weren’t going to steal her taco. How did you know about that?”
Gio put his hand on his chest and tapped with his middle and index fingers. He looked down at Jetta for a moment then looked back at Jeri. “Are you sure I said that?”
Jeri put her hands on her hips and tilted her head slightly.
“Don’t give me that ‘Oh really?’ look.” Gio looked back at Jetta. His fingers tapped his chest. “I don’t know how I knew. It just seemed…right.”
Jetta turned her head towards the trees. She still held Gio’s hand in her mouth. She growled, low and quiet.
Gio followed her gaze. “It’s okay, Jetta. I know, and it’s okay.”
“You know what? Jesus Christ, Gio. You say you can’t do anything one minute and the next minute you’re communicating to my dog like you’re Tarzan the Dog Man.” Jeri shook her head as she went into the house.
Jetta followed Jeri inside, Gio’s hand still in her mouth. Every few steps she glanced over her shoulder and growled quietly.
SPO Tony Morelli held a pair of non-department night goggles to his eyes and scanned the Kennebec River from his tree stand high in an oak back from the river. The tallest tree on this side of the river for a mile in either direction, it provided clear viewing. He wore a pair of non-departmental headphones but only had his right ear covered. The headphone’s cable went to an equally non-departmental handheld multiband scanner. He periodically lifted it, tilted it, and turned it to make sure it worked. A Coast Guard buddy explained what wasn’t covered in Morelli’s ‘Nam SERE training, which wasn’t much.
Something shuffled far below at the water line and he adjusted the night goggles. A beautiful twelve-point buck and out of season. It looked up, flecked its ears forward to listen down river for a moment then walked away.
Morelli adjusted his goggles. A flotilla of drift boats. He focused. Looked like Rogue River dories. Powered, but small outboards. Probably just enough to keep them headed upstream. Twenty-five, thirty horse at the most. He counted twenty, all running in line, all moving slow.
The lead boat flicked a bluish light and caught something on the shoreline.
He missed it.
The last one broke off and headed for the shore. Morelli watched them land and scanned the tree line.
A white sheet. A bed sheet. He smiled. Nice. Doesn’t make any noise and can’t be seen unless you know where to look and when. Moon’s not up yet, make your drop, pull in the sheet, head home. Nice.
The blue light flicked again but this time Morelli caught it. A bed sheet with a “2” on it.
Smart. Black light. Nice.
A second boat broke off.
Morelli marvelled. Why go high tech when low tech did the job, was cheaper, and more reliable?
He had what he needed. Time to head back.
He tied his gear in a sack and lowered it to the ground via rope, attached another line to his harness, checked his spurs, and got halfway down when he heard voices.
He measured his breathing and held his position.
A man. Dressed as he was, black on black with camouflage face paint. He carried a high-caliber hunting rifle with a night scope, relaxed but ready to use. He stopped every few yards, lifted he scope to his eye, and scanned up and down, back and forth, back through the woods, down to the water line, right and left, but never into the trees.
Morelli thought back over his own training.
Either he’s really good or he’s never been taught three-dimensional warfare.
Morelli watched him walked down to the water then south along the bank.
When he could no longer hear the man’s footsteps, he finished his descent and jogged to his car.
Tom Askins stood outside Gio’s dorm room waiting for Gio’s roommate to show up. “Let me in.”
Askins pulled back, his eyes narrowed. He shook his head slightly, as if not hearing correctly. “What?”
“Why should I let you in?”
“This is Gio Chance’s room, isn’t it?”
Askins studied the other boy’s face. “Don’t I know you? Aren’t we in Early American Lit together?”
“Are you in league with the Devil?”
“I know Chance took off with that Jewish harlot of his.”
The other boy rolled his eyes.
“She’s a harlot, a Zonah, and he’s a keeper of harlots. Are you in league with him?”
The boy walked away. “Sorry, he’s a good roommate. And I don’t like your brand of Christianity. Don’t involve me in your crusades. Find another way to get what you want done.”
“Let me in this room!”
Gio lay in the guest room bed, eyes open, listening. He left the window open a crack to let fresh air in. A dog nose pushed the door ajar and poked into the room.
“Come on, girl. No need to ask.”
Jetta pushed the door open, jumped on the bed and curled up beside him.
He didn’t like the door open but Jetta pinned his legs under the covers so he couldn’t get up.
“How did I know about your taco, girl?”
Jetta thumped the covers with her tail.
“How do I know anything people claim I know?”
Jetta crawled up beside him and licked his face.
“Grandpa taught me to listen, pay attention. Is that it? I just pay more attention than most people? I pick up clues everybody else misses?”
Jetta’s nuzzled under his neck. He stroked her back. She closed her eyes and sighed.
“It just happens, Jetta. You know that, right?”
Little doggy woof in her sleep.
“Coincidence, nothing else.”
Jetta’s legs twitched. A quiet little growl and another twitch.
“Don’t suppose you’d like to get up and close the door, would you?”
Woof, woof, woof.
Gio stroked Jetta’s fur. “Get that rabbit, Jetta. Get the bunny.” He looked at the door. “Grandpa taught me how to do this. I remember him teaching me how to do this. How did he start it?”
He closed his eyes.
The door moved slowly.
It stopped when the bolt hit the strike plate.
The curtain fluttered. The window was ajar. A slight breeze moved through the room. He heard the bolt bounce back from the strike plate and the door opened slightly.
Gio snorted and rolled over. “Yeah, Jeri, right. I know things. Ha.”
The curtain stilled. The door closed.
Jetta chased something in her dreams.
(continue to Chapter 8)
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