Chapter 23: Los Federales
Pushing off from town hall, Trevor noted the absent begging woman. Shaken from his tiff with Shannon, he did not want to return directly to the office. Staring at the crowd outside Crystal Nights, he decided to walk over and check it out.
The closer he got, it became apparent the shop overflowed. Thinking, these damned tie-dye hippies, I’ll slip in around back.
Walking to the end of the buildings, the vacant lot next to the burnt-out building at the end had been converted into an impromptu campground. Various tents and trailers haphazardly scattered about the lot, with no rhyme or reason. Trevor considered this was what Woodstock must have looked like. All we need is some music. Seeds of an idea sowed for later.
Working his way between the waking residents of the temporary camp, he reached the dirt track behind the buildings that passed for the alley in Marysfield. Peeking around the corner, he saw even more, tie-dye clad people, struggling to grab a glimpse over the fence into Crystal’s small back yard, “What the...” he said to himself. He viewed the top of a circus tent poking above the fence line. Judging from what he could see, the tent must fill the whole back yard.
Trying the gate next to Crystal’s, he gained access to the yard adjacent hers. His attempt to scramble over the fence was more like Huns attacking the Great Wall, but he ultimately rose above the top and was able to peek over the fence. He now understood it was a fly tent that completely covered the yard. Crystal, in the lotus position near the rear fence, faced a yard full of eager participants all sitting stock still in the lotus position. She held the crystal. Trevor, taking note of the egg-shaped crystal, had it always been egg shaped? There must’ve been a hundred-people crammed into the small area. A sea of tie-dye. Not moving in a normal yoga routine but, “Meditating” his thought coming aloud.
His words struck like a starter’s pistol, silently the group all stood simultaneously. Trevor half expected the pod-people to swarm over the fence tearing his flesh from his bones, and sucking his spinal fluid like some twisted juice box. Instead, they all snapped out of their trance and began to stand slowly. Speaking in hushed tones about how alive they were, or the great awakening in their minds, or other such drivels.
The crowd thinning, Trevor abandoned his attempt to gain access over the fence, and instead opted for the back gate. Luckily the crowd in the dirt alley started thinning as well. Allowing him to walk right up to the gate. Now moving, the sea of people became easier to navigate. Getting uncomfortably close to so many people, Trevor had strangers touching parts of his body that had not been touched in a long time. Afterward, he fought the urge for a smoke.
Approaching he called her name, “Crystal!”
She reached for him, the crowd parting for her, “Trevor, so grand of you to come. Look how many new friends I’ve found!”
He took a quick inventory of her new friends, they gave the impression of being normal, but were there so many people that wore tie-dye in Texas? What happened to the boots and hats, “Yes, I see,” was the only thing he could think of. “If you’re not too busy I wanted to talk to you...” his focus drawn by Barney coming up to stand beside Crystal. His three henchmen guarding them. All clad in the same linen pants and tie-dye shirts. Cult-like, all wearing the same clothes. They buy that crap in bulk?
“Barney?” Flabbergasted, as long as Trevor remembered, Barney had worn a suit. He tried, “Well, that’s a new style for you. Are you all right?”
“Oh, Trevor, I am brilliant. Something wonderful is happening. I am so lucky you brought me here,” Barney spoke, but his voice lost all the pain and angst Trevor had grown accustomed to hearing.
Trying to cope with all the changes going on at once, “Crystal, who is this and what have you done with my brother?” half joking, half serious.
“Trevor, this is all me. I spent last night talking with Crystal, and I realized I’ve been focusing on the wrong things all these years. I’ve tried to be your parents, instead of being your brother,” Barney explained.
Trevor’s head violently shook from side to side attempting to shake off what he just heard, “One night changed you like that?” dubious “Listen, I think I know how to raise some cash, and keep what I started here.”
“Oh, I know you will do the best you can. The film company is in your name. I can start over if I have to, I did it once I can do it again. I told Crystal all about Nigel, she helped me feel the bigger picture.”
“One bloody night?”
“What can I say, time stopped.”
Trevor thought, that bloody bastard Barney slept with Crystal. It came to him, so what if he did. Any feelings he had for Crystal were purely physical anyway. I am happy for them, “That’s great Barney, so you don’t care about money anymore?”
“Of course, I care, just not as much as I once did. Do you need help with the business?”
“No, I got this,” now a man with a mission. Trevor’s ideas were flowing fast. He was about to put Marysfield into the history books.
Crystal remained quiet, letting the brothers work things out. She added, “Trevor, I told you your path lies elsewhere.”
“Yeah, I think I understand that now,” thinking of Shannon right across the street.
The six stood in the back yard, the crowd continued to thin, people, leaving through the shop and back gate. Only a few stragglers remained.
The subdued call of, “Five-O,” a murmur carried through the shop. People that lingered now found a reason to depart posthaste. Trevor saw two average sized men walk out of the back door leading from Crystal’s shop.
One African American, one Caucasian. Both in cheap two pieced suits, dark gray and blue, mirrored sunglasses hiding their expressions. All they needed was FEDS tattooed on their foreheads.
Passing all the people in tie-dye shirts, one of the officers whispered, “They must be from Austin.”
Both flashed a badge while introducing themselves. The black guy first, “I am US Marshal Bass.” Then the white guy, “I am Marshal Cox of the Supreme Court of the United States Police.”
Trevor, couldn’t take anymore, “You have got to be fecking kidding me! You are the best Big Jim can do? Two bookends, with fake badges? A Marshal in fecking Texas. Do you not understand irony? You here to haul us in for cattle wrestling? Are your horses and posse out front? Is there even such a thing as the Supreme Court Police? Do you shout, Stop! In the name of love...” trying to sing a few bars.
Barney, having much more experience with many different levels of law enforcement, knew better. Trying to calm Trevor down, “They are real Trev.”
Marshal Cox added, “We know you two are the Swindell brothers, from London. Here to invest in property before the recent events.”
Marshal Bass added, “Currently, we are not here to speak with you two. You may go, we know who you are. As far as we can tell, we don’t need you, yet.”
Marshal Cox continued, “We do have a few questions for Miss Knight.”
Trevor interjected, “Crystal, you don’t need to tell them a thing.”
Crystal, held out a raised hand to Trevor, crystal egg in the free hand, “They can ask whatever they want. I’ve nothing to hide. You five head inside, I will be right with you.”
Barney nodded and began to lead Trevor into the shop, the three bodyguards in tow.
“Crystal, remember the Black Sites Sergei warned us about,” not going completely mental, but close.
“If you are fake, tell that little prick Jim his platform boots aren’t fooling anyone.”
Back in the crystal shop, incensed, Trevor went to the front and searched out the picture window. Parked right out front, angled so he had a clear full view of the plate, sat a black SUV with government license. It struck him that he had seen that same SUV parked across the street, for a few days now, “Shite.” He started heading towards the backyard thinking of Crystal held in a Black Site out of the country. Running into the two Marshals and Crystal who were heading back into the building, “Thank you again, Marshals, for all the hard work you do. Stop back by anytime.”
Marshals Bass and Cox, positively beamed, “Sure, thing Miss Knight. Thank you for helping us out clearing up these few questions.”
“You two tell your missus, if they ever come to visit here, I will give them free yoga,” Trevor watched the exchange, mouth gaping.
“Thank you, Crystal, we will be sure to tell them.”
“No, you will be thanking me if they come do it. You would not believe how flexible they will become with a little work,” all three giggled like school girls at her lame joke.
Crystal walked them to the front door, letting them out. In shock, Trevor stood watching the exchange unable to speak.
The two marshals, Crystal and Barney exchanged pleasantries, before the two feds left the building. Walking past Trevor, Crystal used her free hand to push his jaw closed. Before proceeding to put the crystal egg, back on the altar, “There all better.”
“What just happened?” Trevor, awe-struck.
“They wanted to know why the government couldn’t find a record of me. Their facial recognition software isn’t working on me, so they can’t tell who I am,” Crystal explained.
Waiting for more that wasn’t coming, prying, “And how did you explain that?”
“It is simple really. I told them the truth: I’m an illegal alien,” she answered flatly.
“And they bought that? They didn’t arrest you.”
“Trevor, you are much too serious at times. No silly, I am not an illegal. The answer is very simple really,” she goes about dusting, Barney moved to the back room. He could be heard rummaging around for something.
“Crystal, before my head explodes, could you please tell me how you are not in the back of that black SUV at this very moment?” he implored her.
“You’re no fun anymore...” sighing, she started the story, “My parents are modern gypsies. I’ve no record because I have never been in trouble. We moved around from town to town, all over the Western Hemisphere. Most of our group spoke many different languages. I charge no money for my services, I pay no taxes. They had no reason to arrest me because I’ve done nothing wrong. Once I explained the situation to them they were satisfied. They were more concerned about your erratic behavior, but I assured them you were mostly harmless.”
“Thank you,” Trevor accepted the answer. There must be no other rational explanation, “I think I have a way to keep the town alive. I am going to work on that.”
Barney came from out back with a lager, “I know you can do it, Bro!”
The absurdity of her answer sinking in. Barney’s comment was the last thing Trevor comprehended as he walked out the door. Dazed as connections had begun to be made.