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The Loops begin to Close

Lawson Brewer glanced at his radar unit and shifted down into third. His green XJ220 Jaguar responded by leaping forward on IH 37 between Corpus Christi and San Antonio. Power poles began flipping backwards as his the speedometer crept up past 162 kilometers per hour—nearly a hundred miles per hour, Lawson estimated. He shifted into fifth gear and let the engine loaf. He had a clear three miles before he’d have to slow down to avoid the speed trap ahead of him.

He had his windows down, enjoying the whip of the wind and the sound of the pavement underneath the racing tires. Country music from a CD filled in the cracks in the audio. His wild white hair ruffled in the turbulence; he narrowed his gray eyes to slits as he scanned for slow traffic in the lanes ahead of him.

He had just come from two wonderful days in Corpus Christi where he had wandered the seaweed strewn beaches and spent money at five-star restaurants like Waterstreet in the center of the city. He’d expressed delight at the botanical gardens even though the collection had yet to recover from a recent drought. He had especially taken pleasure in the aquarium which he decided was world class, comparing it with some he’d seen in Europe and on the West Coast.

Lawson had wanted to plan a long vacation to satisfy his urge to return to his roots as a research biologist. In his early days, he had made important advances in the understanding of butterfly migration. After a decision to make a change in his life, he had been the owner of several night clubs where many of the most popular musicians often played. He’d made a small fortune, but ultimately he grew tired of the game. Recently, he had sold all but one of his places. He retained a silent partnership in a pub named the Rat’s Rest on South Congress in Austin, Texas. It was from these connections that he retained a finger on the many pulses of Texas politics—Texas pollution, he sometimes called it.

The car phone bleeped and Napolean Forest’s code number appeared on the special console under the satellite radio controls. Lawson let the Jag settle down to seventy-five, muted the music, and closed the windows. The car now rolled forward in silence.

“Tequila Sour.” Lawson’s voice was decoded and activated the link.

“Yes? What is it, Napoleon.” he followed up.

“A little puzzle for you,” Forest said. “It’s about a woman in Walfer Falls. Interested?”

“Depends,” Lawson answered.

“You’re aware that we’ve become interested in the movements of Schumflatt and his Free Range Party?”

“I’d heard,” Lawson answered.

“Then, you’ll know that we track inquiries on a man named Cabot Fleece—not his real name, by the way—who is a front man for Schumflatt’s fund raising campaign.”

“A petty criminal, I hear,” Lawson returned.

“But potentially dangerous,” Napoleon added. “A woman named Florence Duvan ran an inquiry on a credit card yesterday. She was searching for information on Fleece. I don’t know what the connection is, but it could be dangerous for her. Also, it could be very interesting to learn what Fleece is doing up in Walfer Falls. We hear strange rumors coming out of that area, but we haven’t been able to pin anything down.”

Napoleon went on, “I remembered you used to know Shorty Johnson when he played for the Cowboys… one of your player-investors before he was cut. Thought maybe you might get in touch. Ask him what he knows. I’m told he’d welcome a paycheck.”

Lawson thought about it. “I think I can do that,” he said. “I can reach you in the usual way?”

“We still maintain an account at Umerca Trust. Ask for Cameron Compton. He’ll expect your call. Use the discretionary funds. He’ll release the cash to you.”

“Right,” Lawson returned. “Anything else? How’s Jaqi Le Mans doing these days?”

“Driving like a maniac, as usual,” Napoleon returned. “You keep up with Marshal Griller?”

“He stops in at the Rat’s Rest now and then. He still introduces himself as Mr. Green,” Lawson told Napoleon. “I guess he still works for some agency, though he doesn’t mind doing background check on employees when I ask him. Peggy’s radio show is getting popular. She keeps promising me a plug for the Rat’s Rest.”

“Get back to me as soon as possible on Florence Duvan, will you? I have a bad feeling about what’s going on in Walfer Falls.” Napoleon broke the connection and Lawson drove on in the silence.

After a few minutes, he activated the phone and had the system dial Shorty’s number in Walfer Falls. Even though he hadn’t used it recently, he still monitored Shorty’s movements in case he should make enough money to pay back the money he owed Lawson. After about six rings, Shorty picked up.

“Shorty? Lawson Brewer here.”

“Yeah, I know it’s been ages. No, I’m not calling about your loan.”

“I may have a little job for you if you’ve got the time.”

“You know a Florence Duvan?”

“You’re dating her? That’s convenient. There’s a couple of things I’d like to know.”

“No, I don’t want her to know anything about me. Keep it simple.”

 

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Readers are reminded that these posts are works of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people or places is either purely coincidental or for fictional purposes.

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