Monster Behind The Masks

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Chapter 14

Julie


My head continued to throb a week after I fainted. A week after I’d smashed into my rocky driveway. A week after my beloved Feisty was murdered by a federal agent.

The local cops won’t do anything. They’d sooner toss me into a looney bin for insisting the FBI or CIA silenced my bird permanently. Despite a DNA test confirming the words Respect Authority were written in Feisty’s blood.

I decided a third call into the station wouldn’t hurt. I grabbed my cell and dialed, hands trembling. The police answered on the first ring:

“Dispatch.”

My vocal chords seemed to fold while holding my breath. I cleared my throat, consumed by the urge to ask for a specific officer, one whom I trusted. If Anna’s prediction of his dismal was incorrect that is. It didn’t hurt to ask.

“Hello, may I speak with Sergeant Coral please.” Am I really doing this?

“Can I tell him who’s calling?” The dispatch lady inquired with a clipped tone.

My heart raced; I wasn’t about to give my name. What would I say? Oh, it’s the crazy lady that’s been calling about the FBI murdering my bird. I went on a whim:

“It’s Anna Beauvais.” I lied.

The woman spoke with clarity and a hint of monotony, no doubt from years of saying the following phrase, “Just a moment please.”

He picked up promptly. “Sergeant Coral.” His voice was a calming balm to my wracked nerves.

“Sergeant Coral!” I replied with an unexpected shrillness to my tone.

Silence filled the line until the realization struck. “Anna?”

“This is…I’m a good friend of Anna’s.”

He prodded. “Okay…and your name?”

“Julie Taylor.”

“Oh, yes. The woman that claims the FBI killed her parakeet.”

My breath was shaking as I took a heavy inhale before continuing. “Sergeant Coral, you of all people have seen we have a weird dead bird thing going on in Sausalito. Oddly, they seem connected—”

“I’m not on that case anymore, for the same reason I won’t talk about this.”

“Oh, so they did open a case?”

“No…no case. Not even a report was written. We don’t have enough evidence to implicate a federal agent—”

“Please Sergeant Coral, my beloved Feisty mysteriously disappeared with the words respect authority written in his own blood. An Agent Flock with a Glock busted into my apartment threatening my brother, me, and my bird the night before that. And you think we don’t have enough evidence?”

A brief lull stayed the conversation, until, “Your brother was a fugitive, on trial as a terror suspect.”

I palmed my forehead. “Not you too! My brother is entirely innocent. He was taking pictures of the subway for his job!” The reality of how saturated our nation is in this bull-shit for billionaires was sinking in.

“I’m sorry Ms. Taylor, but I must go now.” And with that, the dial tone hummed in my ear.

Something Anna had mentioned rumbled in the back of my mind: I think Jason was fired or taken off the case because he said too much—about Ava’s dad, the rogue CIA agent that murdered both Johnny and the prison guard.

In my gut, I suspected that Sergeant Coral wasn’t merely worried about losing his job, but also losing his life.

Later, while hunched down tracing a fingertip over the bloodstain on the cobblestones, a jasmine-colored car pulled into my driveway, the sun bouncing off its hood. Anna and Caryssa casually stepped out, a subtle breeze sweeping through their hair. They were both dressed in jeans and casual-chic tops.

I straightened, stretching my lower back, relieving aches. Anna approached wielding a vase of colorful flowers. “For your rooftop garden,” she explained. She threw her arms around me, “I’m so sorry about Feisty.”

“Wow, these flowers will be beautiful up there, thanks! I feel better already.” A tear slid down my cheek as I admired the mix of sunflowers, dahlias, scarlet penstemon and lush foliage plants.

Caryssa commented, “A Hummingbird paradise.” Her eyes moved to the smudge of blood I had tapped with my finger as if willing my bird back to life. “Holy crap is that—”

“Feisty’s blood? Indeed, proven with a DNA match.” I didn’t want to stand near the spot Feisty’s blood was used to inscribe an authoritarian threat. “Let’s go inside, Anna I want to hear how you think this relates to the doves.”

Knowing how my friends adore their afternoon tea, I had a pot of water heated and an assortment of tea bags ready and waiting. But Anna insisted, “We’ve had enough tea at my place—how about some wine?” She asked with one eyebrow raised, reaching for her hairline, while the other stayed put.

“Sounds good to me, it’s 6 pm on a Friday!” added Caryssa, justifying our transition from brewed tea to a sophisticated alcoholic beverage.

“Sure, I have a bottle of Merlot I can open. It will pair well with the beef stew I cooked.” I dialed the crockpot to warm, watching the juices bubble ever so lightly.

“Mmmm…so that’s what I smell cooking? Yummy!” exclaimed Anna, hunger in her eyes.

“It’s been slow-cooking all day. Do you guys want to eat some now? Are you hungry?” I asked.

“Not yet thanks,” answered Caryssa, presenting her palm. “We’ve been munching on Anna’s scones, paired with her lovely homemade French-style Tea for Two. Maybe in half an hour?”

We wandered the three feet from Julie’s tiny kitchenette to her living room, which was essentially in the same room, and rested our rumps on her couch.

“Okay Anna, spill your detective work.” I insisted.

Anna sat straighter. “If it gets too intense, say so Jules. You just lost your soul mate—I know how much you loved that bird.”

“You lost both your daughters, your security guard, your fine art was stolen and destroyed which caused you to close your business. Come on Anna, just talk to me!” Her skirting around the issue teased my frustration. Maybe it will be difficult to hear, but it could also help me find Feisty, dead or alive. I’d like to give him a decent burial.

“So,” Anna started. “Ava Ramirez’s dad, Diego—the CIA dude who murdered both my security guard Johnny and the prison guard at the facility his daughter was locked up at, is tied into dark money from criminal elites. He’s buddies with the Lock family, billionaires behind the rise of our radical political system.

“Isn’t that a surprise—not!” laughed Caryssa.

“What’s ‘dark money,’ I asked. “Although I can make a good guess.”

“It’s big money in politics with the financial source unknown,” Anna responded. “The Lock family and others hide behind masks of philanthropy—but they’re shady nonprofit fronts faking support for the social good.”

“Bloodthirsty swamp monsters.” Piped in Caryssa. “Pimps and whores for wars.”

“I heard one of the Locks’ defective oil pipelines exploded, killing two teenagers,” I mentioned.

They nodded, with a look of human kindness twinkling in their eyes.

Anna continued, “There’s a secret network conducting surveillance in competitive intelligence. They gather information on community citizens working towards peace, renewed infrastructure, healthcare for all, clean air and water, LGBT rights and other truly positive areas of human rights.”

“So…so…my brother was seeking funds to update the scruffy subway system of New York City to protect citizens from train crashes and was mysteriously pulled aside as a terrorist suspect.” My nerves had been stirred up. “Do you think the incentive came from someone high up on the chain—”

“Yes, if not directly then indirectly from the likes of this bloated apparatus: A strangling network disguised as social activist for the security of America.” Anna took a sip of wine. “Your brother is a key executive for transit projects and wanted at least $30 billion for New York City. The Lock family is hostile to anyone that reduces our dependency on oil.”

“Oh my God…my sweet brother was seen as a direct threat to dark money.” My stomach rumbled while bile crept to my throat.

I shook my head as Caryssa inquired, “Are you still floating on a fantasy freedom cloud, Jules? You must see by now there’s a dark force driving our nation to oblivion.”

“I’ve hopped off the freedom cloud, Caryss. Or I was pushed off when my innocent brother was brought in as a terrorist. Then the freedom facade was squashed for good after my bird was killed for speaking the truth. But Anna, how do you know all this?”

“I’ve researched this stuff since seeing what my father went through.” Anna hesitated, then added, “You know what’s the most powerful weapon in the world?”

I debated the answer as Caryssa chimed in, “The truth.”

“Yup,” answered Anna. “And the moment anyone tries to expose the truth, the shady elite fan the flames with their fat checkbooks. Jules, I know all this from experience. My dad was used as a pawn when I was a kid, I connected the dots. And so are you now. I can see it in your eyes.”

“Either with their fat checkbooks, or their greasy Glocks to silence any person or creature attempting to unmask our homegrown oligarchs.” Caryssa uttered as she glanced out the window at the calming palm trees swaying lightly and picturesque bay.

My eyes followed hers; I was reminded of what inspired me to rent this tiny, expensive studio apartment. The amazing views of Sausalito Bay, Marinship Park, and the Bay Model Visitor Center. Anchored ships, part of Angel Island and other beautiful sights were all within reach of our glances.

Anna remarked, “the oligarchs of our nation do nothing but operate a bunch of controls behind a curtain.”

I took a deep breath in and out, then sipped my wine. “Well, my beloved Feisty was a creature that repeated what people say. And he ripped open the curtain to reveal the sham of intelligence ‘wizards’.

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed Caryssa. “And you be like ’Toto come back! when you told Feisty to not say another word.”

“Ha -ha, my Feisty was the loyal watchdog like Toto…”

Caryssa didn’t seem to sense my discomfort and continued to let the words roll from her wagging tongue, “Then the wicked witch of the west came to your apartment and killed Feisty to symbolize going against the ‘wizards’ of the world.”

Anna stood, scooped up the wine bottle and replenished each of our glasses. Glug-glug-glugs brought a temporary lull to our conversation as the wine filled our glasses. “The political fringe ideology of ‘keeping America safe from threats’ is a fear tactic. It’s only about a ‘threat’ to the keepers of global power. A push back on anything that threatens this dark money.”

“A threat to big oil, big war, big money in politics.” Caryssa declared, with a look of purpose tightening her face. “All in the name of stopping sensationalized and even fabricated atrocities abroad.”

Okay, I get it. I wanted to tell the girls I understand the metaphors to the political governing so-called elite and Feisty. But I was still not clear on the connection to the doves. I asked, “So what does all this analogy have to do with the doves?”

Anna came to the rescue, “Ava Ramirez’s dad is high up in the CIA, and he’s a Lock family puppet.”

“Just like the current pick for Director of that rat nest agency,” Caryssa replied. “Nothing surprises me anymore, knowing the CIA blew JFK’s brains out.”

“Let Anna finish please,” I advised, with an outheld hand and gentle tone.

Anna’s eyes fell from me to Caryssa. “Yes, the CIA is backed by oil and gas billionaires—a dark force driving our nation to its forever wars. Ava suffered a lifetime of abuse from her dad, both physically and emotionally. She loved her pet doves, loved what they stood for: peace and love.”

“I think I know where this is going,” I blurted out.

“Let Anna finish please,” Caryssa retorted, words razor sharp.

What the fuck is up with Caryssa? Okay, she’s been trying to change the world since her kid was born. I remember her saying she is frightened America has been at war since before her child was in her womb. I splayed my hands, palms up towards Anna. “Go ahead.”

Anna nodded, smiling at both of us as if to soothe the unsettled waters. “So, Ava killed her doves as an act of rebellion against her dad. She explained to me that her father killed her inner peace, killed her family love—her mom. The symbolic message with bloody tears below the dove’s eyes and on its breast were meant to resemble her dad’s hawkish ways.”

Caryssa placed a hand on my shoulder, “So sorry Jules, this must be hard for you.”

I considered Caryssa eyes and deep compassion flickered within. Love. An emotionally charged love—a ’what-the-hell-is-this-nations’-elites-doing-to-my-kid love. But it was there. It made me glad I never had kids.

“I get it…Ava killed her doves to symbolize killing peace—an anti-war message. I remember you saying Anna, ‘If you kill the dove, you kill peace.’ But the FBI or CIA, maybe together, killing my parakeet certainly was not as a message for peace.”

“No.” Anna responded, heavy on her word. “Just the opposite. It was a message of pro-violence for profit. To silence those revealing the shadowy spies controlling the world from behind the curtain.”

“God almighty,” sighed Caryssa. “I try not to think about my former boss as Diego Ramirez’s brother. He was the best boss I ever had!”

I relaxed into the moment. The bitter irony of letting go of my dad’s Liberty Ship Legacy for fear of betrayal was at odds with my spirit wasting away with holding on too tightly to the conspiracy theory that it was ever about freedom.

“If you kill the dove you kill love,” I added to the mysterious equation. So, if you kill a political-talking parakeet, you kill—”

“World peace,” Anna replied. “Remember, peace isn’t profitable and threatens dark money.”

I had an aha moment, and blurted out, “It’s a way for the war wizards to say, ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’”


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