Lights in the Night

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Chapter 19: The Men in Black... SUVs

Making it home so early, Trevor hit the hay before two in the morning. No late-night beatings from Grace. No drunken missteps with the two possibly gay cowboys, and no late-night dreams about being run over by semis. Finally, he discovered what a normal night might be like. A dream about his mother, or Sergei, didn’t even wake him up. If he did dream, he couldn’t remember it upon waking the next morning. He did, however, wake up about six.

Surviving on so little sleep for so long his body would need some time to reacquaint to the lack of abuse. When he first woke, it was dark, he made the decision to try to make it to bed before midnight tonight. Trying to change things up.

Well rested after the four hours’ sleep, Trevor resolved to try something completely different. He got up and got dressed, thinking, I’ll go for a jog.

He came down, in what he brought for workout clothing, his old Grateful Dead tee, khaki Bermuda shorts, and boat shoes. Making quite the fashion statement as he started off jogging down the street past the bank and Crystals; he never glanced at the black SUV parked diagonally across the street corner. The men inside had an unobstructed view of the front of his shop and the hotel.

His jogging lasted about three hundred yards. By that time, he’d lost his breath. The coughing fit almost convinced him to turn back and head for bed, but he persevered, even if at a walk. He continued to where he thought he woke up the morning after he arrived. The morning of lost hours. Turning, he headed back to town, taking in the countryside as he walked.

He missed the black SUV as he walked from the other direction. Again, past Crystal’s, past the bank and on up into the hotel. Waving to Grace as he took the steps two at a time.

That night he had no plans. A bite to eat at Junior’s and an early turn in. He woke up Cuff and Link singing in the shower again. Got a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito from Grace, and headed to the shop.

In the black SUV, two men sat and documented as Trevor went about his morning business. One in the driver’s seat, operated the camera, taking stills as Trevor went back and forth. The other scanned two files. One was substantial, the other empty. The dense one labeled Trevor Swindell. The other labeled Jane Doe. The driver asked from behind mirrored sunglasses, “Should we pull him in for questioning?”

The passenger replied bedecked with the same mirrored sunglasses, “For now we stakeout only. Try to find out more about this Jane Doe.”

The rest of the day passed uneventful, had it not been for the unobserved covert surveillance, the day would’ve been perfect. Considering no one in the offices of Swindell Productions paid any attention to the black SUV. Their prime target, Crystal, never stopped by. The day was perfect.

Ellie worked on the painting, with Billy filling in details when needed. Trevor witnessed right away the two had some bond, and extra information about that night, he would need to eventually ask them what they knew.

Cuff and Link came and went on different errands, making offers to buy properties when they could find owners willing to sell. Trevor held the fort down, marking off areas on the map. They made offers and verbal agreements to sell, that would need to be followed up with paper contracts of the cash offers.

After the delivery truck dropped the order, Billy and the two extra workers got down to putting the office furniture together. Trevor made a mental note as oddly two or three more VW vans drove by.

Around Noon; Trevor caught the front door opening, expecting Cuff or Link to come in with another deal, he was surprised when Shannon stood there holding a cooler. Greeted with, “Hi Shannon,” from Ellie behind a spray mask as she painted on the window.

Trevor closed his office door behind him, “Well hello there, nice to see you again,” he went to grab the ice chest from Shannon.

“I got a text asking me to bring some sandwiches, the kids are starving. Funny how I am still wanted when he is hungry,” taking the chest Trevor headed to the back.

“They should’ve said something; I forget to eat when I am working. Cuff and Link, remind me to eat all the time,” setting the cooler down in the front office area, on one of the four new desks.

“I think I brought enough for everyone, Ellie I brought some for you too, hope everyone likes ham. Oh, Trevor, I hope you don’t mind,” covering her mouth like she might have offended him.

“Not at all. Please let me pay you for your trouble; I don’t want you to be out on my account,” trying to put a hundred-dollar bill in her hand.

“That’s not needed,” she tried pushing it away.

“Please, I feel the scoundrel. Let me repay you somehow, please,”

Shannon shook her head.

“You have to eat... dinner, how about dinner? We can go to...” He danced to the largely painted window and pointed outside, “to Junior’s! You ever tried it? I love the food there,” the outlandish body movements got her to giggle.

“Yes, I’ve eaten there, it is the only place for quite some distance,” she nodded.

Excited, “Then that nod means yes! Can I meet you there at seven? I don’t have a carriage worthy enough to call on a lady,” he did a deep Edwardian bow, miming the hat movements, arms spread wide. Ellie giggled behind him. Billy walked in just in time to witness the genuflection.

“I’ll eat dinner with you if you stop this nonsense and stand up,” she crossed to him, forcing him to stand.

The two teens following Billy into the room started teasing Billy, about his mom having a date. Ellie just laughed and started getting cleaned up to eat.

“It’s not a date!” Shannon, emphatic for Billy’s sake. “Mister Swindell is just paying me back for your food. You piss me off, I will take my food home and he will not need to repay me, understand?” her glaring stopping the teasing at once.

Trevor quipped, “Yes Ma’am.”

Shannon grabbed his arm pulling him toward the door, “Help me with the sweet tea,” Ordering him out.

Outside, Shannon clarified the situation to Trevor, with a pointing finger. While Ellie watched through the mostly painted window, “Now look, this isn’t a date. It is dinner. I’ve had to...” Calming herself, “I have had to raise Billy by myself. I only have time for Billy. I have no time for nonsense like dating, understand, this is just dinner.”

Best thing Trevor did was nod in agreement, thinking the whole time. Damn, she is beautiful when she is angry.

She pushed the tea jug into Trevor’s chest, “You let those kids tease Billy and I will kick your ass,” funny thing is he believed her.

Trevor managed a weak, “Yes Ma’am,” as she got in the car.

Adding, “See you tonight.” Trevor would swear she growled pulling off a little too fast.

Standing there, he thought to himself, I GOT A DATE! heading into the shop.

He let the kids finish eating before he pulled Ellie aside, as she headed back to her painting, “I want to see you and Billy for a second after the others leave,” Ellie nodded understanding.

The others went back to work, Trevor went into his office and did a little happy dance, including his attempt at a Michael Jackson spin. Which propelled him into the desk.

Cuff and Link came in two hours later, to witness Trevor with his feet kicked up. Mind a million light years away, dreaming about the opportunities the evening might hold and humming to himself. They put the files on his desk, leaving him to his reverie.

His alarm went off at five o’clock. Getting up he went to inspect the day’s progress. The space resembling an office rather than a construction zone. Four desks with chairs, a couple of file cabinets and loads of office supplies made the place look, respectable.

“Cuff, Link, take care of those two,” pointing to Ellie’s friends.

The two giants stood questioning Trevor’s order. The two teens clueless.

“I mean pay them,” Clarifying the direction.

“Ellie, Bill, come here for a moment,” he pulled them to the half-completed painting on the window.

“Bill, do you mind if I call you Bill? You aren’t a little kid anymore.” Trevor asked.

Billy shook his head no, thinking, that was the first time anyone ever called him that.

Continuing, “I’ve watched the two of you working on this together. It’s your painting Ellie, but Bill’s been helping focus your work. If you both agree, I would like to keep you both working until it is finished. I’ll give you some time to think it over.”

The two teens glanced at one another and nodding in agreement, “We don’t need to talk about it. We accept your offer,” Billy answered for the both of them, speaking like the man he wanted to be.

“Outstanding. I will pay you for your first two days, so you’ve got some cash. Cuff, Link take... pay these two as well,” he pointed behind them walking to his office.

“I will see you two in the morning. I have to get ready for a...” Billy glared at him. Trevor turned to finish the sentence “...business meeting.”

Trevor thought, not sure that sounds better, but it made Billy happy.

“Cuff, Link, lock up. I am out of here,” He left humming the same song.

The black SUV sat in the same place. A discreet distance, to not draw attention. There was light foot traffic on the street, and a crowded VW van passed Eddington’s, on its way towards Crystals, it went unnoticed.

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