Hard Cider—Part Three Lee's Revenge
See Part 1 for disclaimer.
It was an unusually warm day for late Spring in the DC area. Warm and muggy—but then DC was renowned for sticky miserable summers.
Lee Stetson was in charge of a small group of agents, in the main stakeout van. They were parked in a gully near a farm in a rural area several hours outside DC. Leatherneck was beside him, running the electronics. They had been sitting there for the better part of the morning, waiting for their quarry.
“Look out, Ace, here they come!” Leatherneck pointed to the car approaching on the country road.
The car was a black limo—it drove up and turned into the farm gate—if the mansion beyond could really be called a farmhouse. Still, the acreage also sported several barns, paddocks and thoroughbred horses. It was a working farm—of a rich and connected man who had been selling secret technology to the Russians.
“She'd better be doing her job.” Lee growled. He still hadn't forgiven or forgotten how Francine had gotten Amanda drunk on hard cider and done a job on her, thoroughly demoralizing his partner. And he had promised Francine he'd get his revenge.
“She's a pro. She'll do what needs to be done. Shame Amanda couldn't be in on the sting.”
“Yeah but she has a cub scout campout—so she needed an extra day off. And really she's done her part in this. All that's left is the final takedown.”
“And Francine is really great at takedowns.” Leatherneck grinned.
The Limo drove past the house and parked near the barns. A chauffeur got out and opened the door for a man and a woman—both well-dressed and getting very friendly. The man took Francine by the arm and waved toward the barns.
“Can we hear what they are saying?” Lee asked.
“Sure, I'll put it on the speakers.” Leatherneck twiddled a few knobs and the conversation became audible.
“All this is mine, baby. I have three horses racing on the prime circuits right now, and four mares in foal as well as two champion studs. There are several promising colts ready for training. Do you like to ride, honey?”
“Oh Geoffrey, I love anything you love! You are so very masculine!” Francine ran her hand over his arm and looked into his eyes. “What do you say, we go inside and get comfortable, hmmmm?” Her tone and expression indicated that she meant a lot more than just sitting on chairs and relaxing.
“Sure, sugar. I've just got to get a couple things out here. Why don't you make your way up to the house and I'll meet you there in a bit?” He patted Francine on the ass and pushed her gently toward the house.
She smiled and giggled and started slowly making her way up the slight hill.
Geoffrey and his chauffeur went into the barn. Immediately, Francine turned, pulled a small weapon out of her clutch purse and snuck back to the barn.
Francine paused and looked carefully into the barn—the sun was bright so it took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the relatively dark space.
Geoffrey and his man were nowhere to be seen. She spied an office in the back of the barn, and she quietly made her way over to it, keeping in the shadows, ducking in and out of the empty stalls. Though the barn was shaded, the heat and humidity were still pretty oppressive inside. Dust motes danced in the air, and the warm ripe smell of horses and their deposits were made stronger by the heat.
“Here it is.” Geoffrey made no effort to be quiet.
Francine managed to peer through a crack in the wall and saw Geoffrey kneeling as he pulled something out of a safe which was embedded in the hard dirt floor of the office. He rose and turned to his man. “Take this back to our contact—this is the end of it. And make sure you get the full payment. Stay to count it—I want to be sure they aren't shortchanging me. Then come back here.” He smirked, “I should be finished by the time you return with the dough.” Geoffrey handed his man a small package—about the size of a cigarette pack. “Be careful—it's heavy but those components are delicate.”
“Yes sir. I'll get right on it.”
Geoffrey turned and knelt to close the safe, and Francine ducked out of sight as the chauffeur passed her, then she snuck out after him. She was almost on the man, when she heard a shout.
“Hey—you're supposed to be up at the house, bitch!”
Francine tackled the chauffeur, and they grappled briefly. Francine's weapon went flying, but she got a good hold on the package, pushed the man down, and started to run. She was in heels, but she was an expert at all sorts of athletic activities in heels. She ran around the side of the barn, with Geoffrey in hot pursuit.
In the van Lee reacted. “All agents, converge on the suspects—apprehend and detain.” Lee shouted into the microphone.
Men appeared out of nowhere, having hidden in the area around the property. The chauffeur was immediately detained and cuffed, without resistance. Geoffrey was still chasing Francine who was making good time. He grabbed at her, they grappled briefly, and the package sailed out of her hand, right into a large, steaming pile of fresh horse manure. It sank quietly into the muck. Francine turned and grabbed her quarry, and managed to have him in an arm twist when the other agents arrived.
Lee arrived on the scene and took charge. “Get this guy into your car—don't let him talk to Geoffrey.” He motioned two agents to remove the chauffeur. Then Lee walked up to Francine, Geoffrey and the other agents.
“Bitch—let me go—you're breaking my arm!” He was squirming and twisting at Francine's hold.
“You're a long way from getting a broken arm—though I could oblige you if you insist?” She smiled cockily at Lee. “Well we got our man, Scarecrow. Always glad to oblige!” She was high with the thrill of victory.
“Yeah you got him, Francine.” Lee motioned and Geoffrey was taken away by two other agents. “So where is the package?” He looked at Francine expectantly.
“Oh—I guess it flew off ...” Francine looked in the direction the package flew, and saw the pile of manure.
“It went into the pile, Scarecrow. I distinctly saw it.” One of the other agents offered helpfully.
“Really,” Lee said dryly. “Without that evidence, we don't have a case. Someone needs to recover that package.”
The other agent held up his hands and backed off. Lee looked at Francine.
“You are the one who had it, and you let it go. I guess you need to recover the evidence.”
Francine gestured to her designer dress and shoes and said, “Well, I'm not dressed for it—let one of the guys do it.”
Lee looked at the other agent, and then back to Francine. “No, I don't think so. You lost it—you have to go get it.” He walked over and grabbed a pitchfork. “Here you are—make sure it's intact and not damaged. We'll watch.”
Francine looked at Lee and immediately became indignant. “What the hell? Why do I have to do your dirty work? I was the one who made this guy and did most of the work on this case.”
“And I'm the senior agent in charge of this operation. I'm telling you to go recover the evidence. Are you refusing a direct order from a superior?” Lee's mild tone belied his stern expression.
“Why are you picking on me?”
“Maybe because you picked on Amanda a few weeks back. Maybe it will do you good to know what it's like from the other side. And maybe I think you deserve it.” Lee was nose to nose with Francine and his temper was up. Revenge was a dish best served cold, and he had waited patiently for the ideal chance to exact his revenge for Francine's stunt with the hard cider. Providence had delivered her into his hands, and he was determined to make the most of the golden opportunity.
Francine mirrored his expression, and then realized she had no choice. She had thought since several weeks had passed that Scarecrow had been satisfied with her public apology in the bullpen and the weeks of snide agency gossip at her expense. Now she realized he had just been biding his time.
Her shoulders slumped in defeat, and she grabbed the pitchfork. She removed her shoes, and pulled off her hose. Then she waded in. The muck was warm and squishy and slippery. She had to step carefully to keep her balance. And her feet felt—things—in the muck also. It was very unpleasant. The smell was strong, and she wished for Vicks vap-O-rub under her nose to cut the stench. She tried breathing through her mouth, but the pungency of the waves of stench were so strong she thought she could taste it … and that was way worse. Her eyes were watering from the strong fumes. Eventually she found a stable stance and started pitching away at the manure, looking carefully for the package. Lee and the other agents, soon joined by Leatherneck, stood around and watched Francine's every move.
“She's got some good moves with that pitchfork, Ace. You'd think she was a natural at it.” Leatherneck commented in a genial tone.
“Yeah, she's doing better than I expected.” Lee replied, thoroughly enjoying his revenge.
After 20 sweaty, smelly, miserable minutes, Francine reached down, and came up with the package, dripping with muck. She held it high in her hand, and the assembled agents applauded her efforts.
“OK people,” Lee said, “let's get all this back to DC and start the interrogations.”
“I'll just take a detour past my apartment for a quick cleanup.” Francine said.
“I don't think so, Francine,” Lee replied. “You're the agent who dealt with the suspect, so you have to be there for the interrogation.”
“So let them cool their heels for a couple of hours.”
“Not this time, Francine. We need to get the information ASAP so we can corral the guys at the other end.”
“C'mon Francine, let's get a move on.” Leatherneck said. “You can drive the limo. The others will go with the suspects and Ace and I will take the van. Let's get moving!”
Francine gave the group a murderous look, and then washed off as best as she could with a hose from the barn. She was wet, but mostly clean, though her hair was damp and stringy and the designer dress was thoroughly ruined. She retrieved her shoes and hose, and got into the limo.
Lee, Leatherneck and the other agents chuckled among themselves watching Francine's improvised cleanup, and then made their way back to their vehicles for the drive to DC.
“What is that smell?!?!” Billy roared.
Lee, Leatherneck, Francine and the other agents made their way into the bullpen. The suspects had been put into separate holding cells, and the group had come up to report to Billy, and show Francine and her 'condition' off to the rest of the unit.
Billy surveyed a disheveled Francine. She had washed most all of the muck off, but she was still damp and a certain 'air' of barnyard still clung to her person. Her hair and clothes had dried somewhat on the drive back. But she still looked like a drowned rat.
“Well, well, look what the cat has dragged in.” Billy was enjoying this—he had said he would turn a blind eye to Lee's revenge, but this was too good not to savor. “Did you get the stolen components?”
“Yes,” Francine handed over the package. “Here it is.”
Billy recoiled and didn't take it. “Get that to the lab, they can make sure it's all there.”
Francine squared her shoulders, and said, “Yes sir.” Then she turned and went off, head high and back stiff, to give the package to the poor techs who would have to deal with it.
All eyes in the bullpen were on Francine. Everyone watched her leave, and as soon as the doors closed behind her, the talk began. Billy motioned Lee and Leatherneck into his office.
Once seated with the door closed Billy indulged himself in a good deep laugh.
“You certainly got your revenge, Lee,” the section chief sounded admiring.
“Yeah I did. And she deserved it.”
“You bet,” added Leatherneck. “What she did to Amanda was way over the top. And so was this. Our man here just took advantage of the circumstances.”
“I've been waiting for a good opportunity.” Lee grinned.
“I think this will end the whole episode. Too bad Amanda wasn't here to see it.” Billy added.
“That's OK,” added Leatherneck, “she will hear all about it from most everyone who was here today. Believe me, she's popular and everyone will be happy to tell her all about it.”
“Yeah, and it will certainly prolong the memories for everyone involved.” Lee sounded smug.
“Well I think Francine will think twice and then some before she decides to pick on Amanda again.” Leatherneck added.
“She's my partner, and partners watch each others' backs.” Lee sounded protective.
“Amen to that!” Billy said. How far Scarecrow had come, and he was glad to see it.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Several Year later--and I finally got around to writing this one. I had the germ of the idea from the first--it just took a while and a return of my muse to get it written down. Enjoy!