Spear Garden

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Chapter 34

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba

17:20 (22:20 GMT)

June 25th

The plane touched down on the single airstrip that ran east/west on the forty-five square mile base. As the plane taxied, the lightly colored buildings surrounded by razor wire came into view. They have held enemy combatants, suspected of terrorist activity against the United States, since the attack on the World Trade Towers.

The Gulfstream came to rest in front of a small, single hangar. Blake elected not to check in with his boss. He knew that Mike was probably getting heat from Veronica for his failure to return to D.C. and if Blake could check in with something substantial, it might to dissipate some of that heat.

Blake called in a favor from an old friend stationed on the base and had arranged to borrow a car that was more civilian. Looking cocky as ever, Doug was leaning against a yellow Ford Mustang Convertible.

Blake walked over and gave Doug a fist pump and a quick hug.

“Hey buddy, glad to see you. What the fuck kind of trouble are you starting up now? You look like shit.” asked Doug.

Blake smiled and diverted the question. “If you only knew. Looks like you want me to start more trouble with this bad boy. Yellow? Are you serious?”

“Well, you said you wanted something that made you look like a tourist.” He opened his arms wide. “Wallah! Nothing says big, dumb tourist like a yellow convertible.”

“Well, it’s not the most inconspicuous car in the world, but it certainly beats an ugly grey Crown Vic with government tags,” Blake said.

“See…I did you a favor.”

“Whose is it?”

“It’s a buddy of mine’s. He’s been deployed to Kuwait. Posh, easy assignment. Anyway, he’s gone for six months and he asked me to run it every now and then. So whataya here for?”

“You know I can’t discuss official business. Let’s just say I’m here to talk to someone and leave it at that.”

“Alright, alright, I get it. So you gonna be here long? Can I ask you that? Any time to have a drink or something?”

“Nothing that I rather do, but things can change. I just don’t know—we’ll have to see.”

“Okay. No problem. We’ll keep it as an open invitation. I know you’ve got to head out, so hopefully I’ll see you later—or in a few days, or whatever.”

“Yep. I’ll be in touch.”

Blake sat down. The seats were so hot; he could almost feel his skin burning. He cranked the A/C and drove until he was well off of the base property. An abandoned melon and pineapple roadside market made for a good place to pull over and examine his map. It was over eight hundred kilometers to Havana and he didn’t even have an idea if that was the right place to go or not. Another friend at Langley came to mind that might be of some help.

Greg Steffins worked for the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) at Langley. The DI’s function at Langley is to anticipate and assess any rapidly evolving international developments and what their impact may be, either positive or negative. They write the president’s daily briefs and World Intelligence Reviews.

Greg had access to clandestine files when they would be related to anything that the president might need to know and would be included in her brief. Greg and Blake became friends about seven years prior when they were on a mission together in Syria. Greg was an avid climber and was injured when he fell nearly seventy feet in a freak accident. It was a miracle that he survived at all, let alone be able to walk. Had it not been for Blake, who carried him out and got him to the hospital, he most certainly would have died. After the accident, Greg’s field days were over and he took a desk job at the agency rather than be out with “the normal folk.”

“Greg Steffins.”

“Greg, its Blake.”

Greg enthusiastically replied, “Hey Buddy, what’s up?”

“Sorry dude, this isn’t a social call. I need some information.”

“Ok, whadya need?”

“This has to do with the al Hamwi situation. General Vasquez had a daughter, Adriana. I need to know what happened to her and where I might be able to find her.”

Blake could hear Greg typing on his computer and he responded back. “Yeah, I included her in the last brief that—good God, she’s hot! How do you get all the hot chicks?

Blake enjoyed the playful attitude of his friend and if he had time, he’d play along, but now was neither the time nor the place, and his patience was growing thin. “Dude, just give me the damn information.”

“Okay, okay, don’t get your panties in a wad, I’m looking.”

While he waited, he reached into the car and grabbed the map and unfolded it on the hood of the car. He hoped that Greg would be able to give him her last known whereabouts, and that it was a lot closer than Havana.

“Okay, let’s see—it looks like she went to stay with a friend of hers that works for her charity. She’s legit dude. She had nothing to do with her father’s illegal trade.”

“You’re not telling me where she went,” Blake said.

Greg continued to type. “She’s in Sancti Spiritus. Staying with some guy named Javier Ramirez. I’ll send his address to your phone.”

“No. Just give it to me.” He reached into his shirt and pulled out a pen and small notebook.

Greg gave Blake the address. As he finished writing it down, he said, “Thanks. I owe you. Gotta run.”

It was still over five hundred kilometers to where he needed to go, but at least he didn’t have to drive all the way to Havana. Sancti Spiritus, which in Latin means “holy spirit”, is the capital city of the Sancti Spiritus province. Founded in 1514, it is one of the best preserved cities in the Caribbean from the time of the sugar trade. The Mustang’s exhaust spit out a deep growl as Blake tore off.

Half way there, Blake stopped and bought a map of the city. He had removed the battery from his phone earlier, so its navigation was worthless. It was well past nightfall when he arrived in the city. A streetlight with a vacant spot underneath was perfect. He unfolded the map and got his bearings.

Driving for another fifteen minutes, he found the address. The home’s entrance was in a narrow alley that was lined with multi-colored homes and businesses in green, white, light and dark blue. Across the alley from where she stayed was a small blue two story motel called “Casa Azul.”

Blake walked around the perimeter of the motel and glanced up. There were two rooms that would provide a perfect vantage point to Adriana’s residence. One of the two rooms that faced the alley also had a rooftop deck. Perfect.

The faint smell of spices and quite music warmed him as he stepped inside. He was greeted by an older woman behind the desk.

“I saw you had a room with a balcony,” he said in Spanish.

“I am learning English, Señor . Do you mind if I talk with you in English?”

Damn. Is my Spanish that bad? The smile he returned to her must have been confirmation of a yes. She continued.

“Balcony? Yes.”

“Is it available?”

The woman cocked her head a bit.

“Is it empty—vacio?”

“Ah, yes. It is ready for you.”

Blake paid for the room in advance and asked if there was anywhere that was still open to eat. The woman shook her head. She handed Blake a piece of paper that was supposed to be a menu. It had a list of food that she would cook for him. She motioned that she would bring it up to his room. Blake perused the menu and placed his order. He avoided any alcohol in the event that he needed to leave unexpectedly.

The room was fairly plain with hardwood floors. The walls were dingy white and the plaster had cracks that spread out like a major river and its tributaries. On the wall facing the alley were two windows and an easy chair sat with its back to the wall between the two windows. The entrance to the bathroom was to the left of the bed and the exit out to the patio was to the right.

He went to the bathroom and washed his hands and face. As he stopped the water, he heard a truck outside. Two squeaky doors opened and closed.

Dousing the lights, he rushed to the window and peeked down. It was Adriana and who he assumed was Javier. Blake felt that funny feeling, deep inside again. It was good to see her, even it was from afar.

They removed their gear out of the back of the truck and stacked it by the door. He listened to their conversation as best as he could, but all that he made out was that they were going somewhere tomorrow morning. He watched as they carried in the boxes and gear and then closed the door.

A knock startled him. He drew his pistol and swiftly moved over to the door. He positioned himself against the wall.

“Yes?”

“Señor Saye, dinner.”

Blake tucked his pistol in the back of his pants, opened the door and accepted the tray. He paid the woman much more than what she asked for.”

“Oh, gracias. Muchas gracias. You are special guest. Anything you want, I get for you.”

Blake thanked her and closed the door. The jerked chicken was moist and flavorful. It carried a bit more spice than what he was used to and wished for a moment that he’d ordered a beer. The plantains were sweet and cooked to perfection. After he finished his meal, he took the easy chair and turned it to face out the window to watch across the ally. He sat down and settled in for a long night. His thoughts drifted to Adriana.

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