1 Goddess and Felidae
Tiger Black, an African businessman, brought the magazine with him and sat down in the small café. He peered around the magazine and looked across the street. His eyes rolled when he recognized Santan Chesin’s former flunky, Stew Avery, who was sitting in a green shirt at the coffee shop. His hair was short and slicked down with some type of hair cream which made the hair look shiny.
Tiger shook his head in disgust and sniffed the air. There was the smell of pine or wood. The green shirt of the tourist across the street intermingled with the sun. The light against shade created a camouflage fabric. The forest-type smell from the hair cream intermingled with the coffee house smell and the arborvitae. Tiger knew that his senses were heightened as well as his eyesight. He remembered that Santan had called his subcontractor creep a weasel. But then Santan called most people a weasel. He believed that there sat a shiny weasel in plain view across the street. The camouflage didn’t work for Tiger, nor the man’s beard.
Why are you in Fort Payne, Alabama? This is not your normal tourist attraction. There must be secrets or strange happenings involved. Let me think about the underground vibrations. “Aah, yes. I remember that you screwed Santan on a deal involving a fake diamond necklace and there was something about a diving venture. There is a woman with you that looks familiar. Of course, she was once a guard for a woman in Miami.”
Thoughts of Miami and the woman he knew appeared to him, adding fuel to Tiger’s ire. Yet, the man’s face was quickly calmed. There was no time for self-absorption on this project. His business reasoning kicked into play.
“Are you stalking the same person that I am?”
The businessman took a bite out of his whole-wheat sandwich before speaking to himself and the air. “Yes, I’m correct. You figured out that she is the person who stole my gold antiquities. You somehow know auction houses and how things work. Interesting job for a weasel, but priceless and rare is the name of my game. Money is your draw. I do think it was very clever of you to find her. But finding her won’t matter. You will remain only a creep, con artist, and slimy weasel with no moxie once the dust settles.”
Tiger Black continued holding the magazine so that he didn’t have to see the obnoxious couple. He pretended to read an article when the café waitress refilled his cup. She took away his sandwich plate and was glad the man stopped talking to himself. The bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with cheddar cheese was amazingly good and thick for a small-town cafe. He noted with relief that the lunch crowd was dispersing. They wouldn’t remember him. However, he wasn’t too sure about the waitress. Then he saw her heavy soled, beige shoes. He knew that she wouldn’t be a problem. There wasn’t any excitement in her life. The reason for this was that the waitress wouldn’t and couldn’t afford to get involved. Beige meant safety.
Tiger concluded that the man and woman at the coffee house were here to steal from his target. He poured cream into the coffee and stirred. He used to drink the stuff thick and black. The cream now soothed the acid in his stomach. He threw an antacid pill in his mouth just in case. He hated the pills because they reminded him of a judge he once knew in Dakar. He frowned, threw the pills in his mouth, and crunched. Pretty soon the pills did their job. Slowly drinking a sip of the refilled coffee, he almost felt human.
Suppressing another laugh of disgust at the two people in the coffee shop, he said, “I will beat a weasel and his female guard every time. The two golden objects are mine to hold and obsess over. The permanent damage to the holder is all arranged and will happen shortly. She will be but a memory.”
All three knew the Fort Payne young married woman’s schedule. She did the once a week beauty shop, a check on her business coffee shop, and finally, walked into her bank. They knew she wore a gold chain around her neck always. The bank keys were probably there.
Every one of the con artists gathered knew that her husband, Scott Barrow, and his magnificent horse estate was a veritable fortress with high-tech security to protect his prized polo horses and their lucrative stud juice. If illegal trapping was going to take place, it would be outside those gates. Scott failed to protect his wife. She was left wide open. The tiger man laughed even more. He loved failure, especially loss this massive. Scott Barrow wasn’t very smart. Tiger Black was the king who would reign today.
“My business is more longstanding. Also, I’m extremely experienced at tracking her. The scales will slide in my favor. You, slimy weasel, and your girlfriend are like minor, tiny gnats swarming toward the light. Dare to interfere and more than squashed disaster will follow you. Go hide, weasel. In the meantime, I can wait for an important phone call.”
Tiger Black smiled evilly. To the patrons, he looked nice, rich, and comfortable sipping his milked-down coffee. He was another average tourist in town having a leisurely lunch. If anyone looked closely, they would see his eyes contained smoldering vengeance. The inner orbs were turning to empty black holes. The gold objects were only part of the justice he would take away from the young woman.
The Alabama countryside spread before her on a beautiful blue-sky day as she drove out the tall impressive wrought iron black gates which were etched with SB in huge imprinted gold letters. These gates were the release into the normal world from their exquisite paradise. The gates represented richness and extraordinary people inside. Only correct society was allowed entrance.
Mrs. Barrow stepped on the gas of her red sports car. She loved her car, because it was in her name only. It would take her only twenty minutes to reach town. Suddenly, there was a large and dirty tow truck blocking the private gravel road. The license plate was obscured. She slowed down. The huge beast was an ugly dark black-green. She hated green except in plants. The color made her skin look olive.
Impatient, Mrs. Barrow honked and received no response. The no response irritated her. She didn’t have time to mess with workers today. There didn’t appear to be anyone in the truck. She stepped out of her car and walked over to the tow truck. Opening the door, she was surprised the truck was truly empty and, of course, even more dirtier inside. The keys were missing from the ignition. There was a minor crack in the windshield. This scenario was unusual. The private road wasn’t heavily traveled this time of day and no one from the estate called a tow truck. She would have been informed, or at least her husband would have told her.
“Who could these people be and where are they?”
She checked the ditch and thought she could drive around the stupid truck. It was an unwise decision to drive her stunning red car today and not the heavier, high-wheeled, black vehicle that was her husband’s. Mrs. Barrow thought about calling Scott for help and decided to make her own way out of this situation. She would have to clean the dirt and grass off the muffler, but it would be all right. Her husband had special hoses in the horse barn for washing the animals. If the tall grass and swaying top stickers scratched the paint on her red, sweet sports car, then it would mean a day at the body shop. She could handle herself and her car.
The young woman listened and didn’t hear or see anyone. She quickly made her decision. Walking back to her vehicle, she saw an ominous apparition. It was almost as if the vile thing appeared from nowhere or dropped out of the sky. Or perhaps the creature arose from the earth? It was standing on the earth. The apparition looked like a man, but not a normal man. It was a jungle man in full war paint, feathers, loin cloth, and adornment holding a spear. He looked out of place in the Alabama open countryside.
“Were there movie people in town with a film crew?”
Her life was busy, but surely someone would have told her, especially if the film crew were close to the Barrow property line. She couldn’t believe she was seeing correctly and blinked in confusion. Not sure why he was in this spot in time, Mrs. Barrow thought perhaps the man was lost. She raised her hand to say hello in a hand message.
The jungle man bared his teeth. She figured the hand message wasn’t working.
“Where was their property line?” She should order the man off if he was trespassing. He had to be trespassing.
Mrs. Barrow remembered a distant conversation about a jungle man. The man’s name was simply, Midge, except he was the opposite from his name. There was no simple anything to the vision he represented. Instead of being a small man, he towered over six feet nine inches. He was an anthropologist’s worst nightmare from some lost indigenous tribe. An African man she lived with a while ago told her about this type of creature. The jungle man was a hired killer and sometimes was a cannibal when he chose. He was not part of anyone’s future film.
“Who hired you, devil man?”
The young woman wasn’t sure if that part was true, the cannibal part, but no sane person would wait to find out. It was not a good time to be sociable. His spear contained bones from his kills.
“Why did he have his spear now?”
Then she understood. Full comprehension hit her in the stomach. The jungle man was here because of her. He was hired to do a job. She was the one in danger. Her revolver and cell phone were in the large designer leather purse inside the red sports car along with her car keys.
“Were the car keys still in the ignition?” Mrs. Barrow kicked off her expensive high heels and reached for her knife. The tiger name tattoo showed on the tops of her feet where her shoe strap had been.
She turned to her sports car. There was another woman who looked exactly like her, standing a short distance from her rigid, frightened body. The woman carried a large gun. The gun was aimed at Mrs. Barrow. It was an old waylay trick and she unwillingly stepped into their sinister devil trap. There were two assassins. Her sports car was fiberglass and wouldn’t stop a bullet. The young woman screamed and panicked because the other woman frightened her more than the jungle man.
“Felidae! Where are you?”
This scene was more than someone’s cruel trick.
There was no help anywhere. She knew that she needed time for her tiger to find her. Her Felidae was the only one she thought about as she pulled all her energies for the next task. The young woman turned to run to the nearby trees. Run were the only thoughts in her brain. She sprinted, her agile body leaping across the ditch. The trees would cover her while she made her way to her pool house. Scott was somewhere on their property. Once she reached the pool house, there was no way the odd jungle man and his bold assassin woman could get inside. Mrs. Barrow was scared, but knew that she could call her husband for help from their private phone. His security people would race to her rescue. The timing was a matter of seconds.
Just a few more steps and she would be to the shadow edge of the trees. Three to five seconds were all that she needed. She miscalculated the distance and a sound came screaming toward her. It was a sound she hadn’t heard before. The young woman slowed in her stride. She saw orange fur in the weeds.
The calcified, clapping bone spear hit her in the back. The bones swung and stopped their evil dance motion. The pain from the sharp spear caused white light with fire to roll past her brain. Warned that the man was fierce, she thought of her tiger. Her tiger was fierce.
“Feli, Feli...” Her speech slurred and stopped. The young woman was delirious with pain, but smiled. She blew a soft and lasting fragile kiss to her beloved tiger before blacking out. The young woman gave up. There arrived for her blissful, immediate unconsciousness. The goddess-like woman collapsed into the dense weedy ditch with arms outstretched as if she were reaching for something. The protective trees were close, but not quite close enough. The heavy weed growth on the edge of the field cushioned her fall. There would be no way to contact her husband, Scott.
The strangely-dressed man approached where she lay. He was satisfied that the young woman was no longer moving. He nodded to his female partner on the road to make the phone call. The female partner pocketed the expensive heels on the road. They would look stunning on her feet and they were free for the taking. There was no need to waste good designer shoes. The evil woman with the gun touched the fur on the shoe. The fur and leather were real. Inside the shoe was a message, “Save the tiger from extinction.”
The female partner cruelly laughed. “Who cares about extinct?”
“Mrs. Barrow, trust me, you won’t be needing these heels anymore.” The female partner threw the shoes into her large bag along with the gun.
The jungle man dragged the body.
A tiger paced in its cage.