Chapter 10: Old Friends?
“Damn it, where did I leave that list?” Jack softly exclaimed so a certain furry, little kid wouldn’t hear him.
Jack grunted to himself as he kneeled down to peer under the dining room table. Given his aging and sore bones having to kneel down wasn’t comfortable for him and led to more than a few pained grunts. Thankfully he didn’t have to kneel down too far as the table was quite high though he didn’t see what he was looking for, only dust what he needed to sweep up later. Much to his dismay, and being untold placed he looked for shopping list; he restrained himself from getting visibly angry as best he could.
“Come on, it has to be around here somewhere.” Jack muttered as quietly as he could.
Jack turned around only for an idiotic expression to form on his face the moment his gaze fell on the object he had been looking. Lying on the kitchen counter, near the front door, was the long, paper list nearly full of objects he needed. It had been lying in the middle of the room for all to see. In that moment he was glad Fara and Felicity were either outside or in some other part of the house so they didn’t have to see him look like an idiot.
“Seriously, it was right there the whole time?” Jack quietly cursed as he picked up the list and put it in his vest chest pocket.
Jack shrugged it off, deciding not to dwell on it since no one saw him look like an idiot and to head out. Given it was the typical time of day of the week for him to go to the store he was ready to go. Since he had two fluffy females to take care of his list was longer than usual so he wanted to get going as soon as possible. He didn’t like the thought of leaving Felicity and Fara alone for any length of time but if he wanted to keep them prepared than there wasn’t much of a choice.
“Where are you going?” Jack heard a semi-aggressive, feminine voice called out from behind him.
Jack smiled as he turned around him to see Fara leaning on her cane at the entrance to the kitchen. “To the store, I told you this morning that was the plan today.”
“Yeah, you did, but I did not think you meant this late.” Fara quickly replied as she straightened up.
Jack nodded as he took his truck keys out of his pocket. “This is usually when I go to the store to avoid the traffic.”
Fara tilted her head in confusion in a manner that Jack thought was adorable. “Traffic, what the heck is that?”
Jack was a bit taken back by Fara’s confusion till he remembered the Zordons culture was vastly different than his. “Hm, traffic is when an area is busy or packed with too many.” Jack thought for a moment on how to explain it to Fara in a manner she would understand. “It’s like, you enter the ship’s cafeteria and find so many people already there it’s difficult to get food, making you have to wait a while.”
“Huh, I think I understand, that is pretty common on some ships, especially at the academy.”
“Alright, well the traffic I’m talking about applies to the story and driving there. Right now is the best time to go because the stores are relatively empty this time of day and the week. During school and work days the stores are usually less occupied and the staff, at least at the store I go to, have just finished stocking the shelves.” Jack patted the pocket he slipped the list in. “So if I’m going to get everything I want I need to go now.”
“If you say so, it sounds weird to me, but then again most of your human culture is strange to me.” Fara shrugged as she walked into the kitchen. “Though do you really need to go? It is probably not the wisest idea to leave us alone.”
“I do since I don’t have the supplies to keep cooking for all of us. It’s not like I could have known two Zordons were going to crash and stay with me the last time I went to the store.” Jack sarcastically replied.
“Smartass.” Fara shook her head as she crossed her arms under her chest. “You do have a point and I do enjoy your cooking. So, as much as I do not like the idea of being here without someone uninjured to look after us we need to be supplied. So you should probably get moving.”
Jack looked at Fara with the best fake dumbfound expression he could put on and spoke in a moronic tone. “Aren’t you going to add something about being worried I’ll turn you in while I’m gone?”
A playful growl escaped Fara’s grip and she replied in a smartass manner. “Nah, you are too stupid to do that. Now get going before I let a certain hungry pup start ankle biting you.”
Jack straightened up knowing full well Fara meant that threat even though she said that in a sarcastic manner. Felicity’s teeth were quite sharp which would allow her to easy chew his legs apart if she wanted to. That was made even more worrisome to Jack knowing what the little fuzzball was like when she got hungry. Felicity would certainly obey Fara if she was hungry enough, telling him that he needed to move quickly.
Jack stood up fully and nodded to Fara. “Yes ma’am, I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
Fara nodded back at Jack took off and exit the house quickly. He walked as fast as he could to his truck that was parked near the house and practically jumped it. He couldn’t help but smirk as he turned on his truck at how easily Fara got him to obey her. Though they had only been living together for a short time she was controlling him as easily as a wife controls her husbands, except that she was using both sarcastic and meaningful threats instead of sex.
Jack shook his head while laughing as he pulled out of the driveway. Oh man, living without them is going to be boring.
Jack pushed the thought aside and drove the route he had driven so many times he could drive it blindfolded. Though it was nearly a twenty minute drive into town, through curvy and badly poured roads, to him it was a quick drive to relax. He had come to enjoy the drive and the pleasant scenery around him that gave him a great view of the surrounding hills and forest. It was a time Jack had used to calm down during a stressful time, he drove it quite a bit during the end of his and Mary’s marriage to relax after their many arguments. At that moment it served him quite well to take the drive slowly as living with Fara and Felicity had certainly been stressful at times but nothing unbearable yet. Still, it was a much needed moment of peace that he needed to think and let his mind wander.
Too bad for Jack that ended when he entered the small town, if it could even be called that and the city limits sign came into view. He crested the hill overlooking the small town to see it looking somewhat peaceful with the setting sun off in the distance. The view didn’t have the same impact it used to have when he was kid, the Iran/Palestinian War had dueled his sense of awe. It barely slowed him down as he drove into town to find the traffic surprisingly light even for that time of day. He barely slowly down with his goal in mind which happened when he got focused on completing a task.
Having to drive all the way through town due to the store being on the opposite side, due to the lack of traffic it didn’t take long. The store was the size of a small Wal-Mart with a larger parking lot. However, unlike usual the parking lot was surprisingly even emptier than it usually was when he came by. He could count the number of cars parked on just his fingers and toes.
Okay, this place is unusually empty for this time of day. Jack thought as he looked around for a parking spot near the door. There’s usually at least someone else here besides employees.
Jack thought about it for a moment as he pulled into the parking lot out of curiosity. It wasn’t till he had parked his truck that he realized it was football season, so the majority of the town was probably at the High School football game. High school football was the only thing the small town really cared an out, at least that’s how it always seemed to Jack who never understood why. To him it was a good sign as it meant there would be less people to bother him, which is how he preferred it.
Looks like I got good timing. Jack thought as he shut off his truck and buttoned up his coat. All the idiots are watching some kids slam into each other as if it was a religion.
Jack stepped out of his truck and headed inside quickly, pulling out his shopping list before he was in. Though many people had called him old-fashioned by having a shopping list on a piece of paper instead of a phone he didn’t care, to him it was just easier. He was just glad no one said a word to him as he entered other than the front door employee giving him a welcoming nod which he returned after grabbing a shopping cart. Immediately Jack made his way to grocery section of the store. Being a frequent customer Jack knew the story like the back of the hand, allowing him to find what he needed quickly. It only took him a couple minutes to get all the food he need before progression to the pet section for Hunter which had the basic home supplies he needed. Before he had even been in the store ten minutes Jack had everything he needed but there was still a feeling he required a few items before leaving the store for Felicity and Fara.
Huh, I probably should try to find something for Felicity and Fara, maybe that’ll ease some tension. Jack thought as he headed towards the electronic and toy section of the store. I think Felicity would like a nerf gun and Fara may enjoy a book.
Jack had seen Fara reading his western collection more than once, or really any book he kept though she seemed to prefer the western theme. It surprised me to see she was a reader, and a very quick one. She had read through one of the thickest western novels he had in a day. Though he had yet to question her about it Jack saw her interest in the books as an opportunity to get close to her or at least decrease the tension that still remained between them. For Felicity, he had a hunch that she would like nerf guns or something similar considering how often she pretended to be Ina battle with Hunter. Unfortunately, the last time he had visitation rights for Amanda a couple weeks ago she took the nerf guns when Mary took her. That left Jack with nothing to keep Felicity happy so hopefully getting her a few nerf guns would at least deplete her boundless energy.
In the back center of the story Jack saw the isle he was looking for, the entertainment, toy, and book section all positioned near each other. It was very convenient for him as it meant a quick and easy trip. Once he got what he wanted than it was time to leave and he was quite happy to do so, even though he hadn’t spoken to a single person other than nodding at a few employees. Given the books isle was closer he decided to visit there first and headed to the western theme books section. Almost immediately he saw a book with a picture of a cowboy riding a horse holding a lever action rifle, with coyotes and Indians in the background that resembled the book he own Fara seemed to enjoy reading.
Hm, I think Fara may like this.
Jack thought as he placed the book in his cart.
Suddenly, an all too familiar, masculine voice Jack hadn’t heard in a long time called out to him from behind. “Jack, Jack Grieves, is that you?”
Jack nearly froze on the spot upon hearing the familiar voice and turned around to see exactly who he thought it was and had to restrain himself from gasping. The large individual dressed in a military trench coat with an expensive but worn suit underneath stared warmly back at him. Though the man appeared to be surprised to see Jack he didn’t seem to be shocked. Jack on the other hand, while he remained calm on the outside, on the inside he was freaking out as his presence in the town, or really anywhere, was not good news for any alien nearby.
“Alex, what the hell are you doing here, in the middle of nowhere?” Jack blurted out.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Alex stepped forward extending his arms to Jack. “You know I am still a part of the PDF so you shouldn’t need to guess why I’m here. I had to come by the store because the facility we’re staying at has the worst tasting coffee I have ever tasted. You know I like my coffee sweet,”
“Yeah, I remember you complaining about that quite a bit.” Jack said, seeing the bag of coffee and sweetener in Alex’s left hand as he extended his hand to him and shook his hand to keep up the act. “Are you saying what I think you are?”
“Duh, there is no other reason I would be in such a backwood town.” Alex responded as the two old co-soldiers shook hands. “I had a feeling I would see you here eventually. I originally wanted to find you so we could get your help on the incident but I remember what you told the PDF high command the day you left.”
“Hm, yeah, I’m surprised they didn’t have my executed for that.” Jack laughed to keep up his calm front so Alex wouldn’t get suspicious. “But that was a while ago and I’d like to put that past behind me.”
Alex shrugged. “Not sure why you would want to do that, we have fun killing those alien invaders together.”
“Not all of them were invaders Alex.”
“Still going with that retort.” Alex replied, shaking his head. “Oh well, still it’s nice to see you again, though I can’t say you seem to be doing all that great. I heard what happened with Mary and I am sorry you have to go through that.”
“Thanks. I guess. It’s not something I’d like to dwell on.” Jack nodded back, Alex did have somewhat of a soft side to those he respected and he was one of them who earned it. “I must say, you are not the lead agent I expected the PDF to send for such a small time crash.”
“Huh, so you do know about the crash?” Alex responded with a confirming and unsurprised expression.
“Yeah, I was hunting on one of the many fields on my grandparents’ farm when I saw the ship come crashing from the sky.”
Jack’s mind raced as he tried to comprehend the situation and figure a way out of it without arousing Alex’s suspicion. Though he would prefer to not give anything away at all he knew that wasn’t possible with the lead agent being Alex Cross, one of the PDF’s top investigative operator and an individual who knew him quite well. Having served as partners for a couple years the two knew each other quite well, so Alex knew Jack’s habits and quirks. Knowing that Jack was a hunter it would’ve been a good guess that he would’ve been up and in the field when Fara and Felicity’s ship crashed; meaning he would almost certainly have seen it. In order to avoid suspicion Jack would have to confirm he witnessed the incident. Fara was certain to blow a fuse when she found out but he would have to word it right so she could understand he had to give Alex some information. Fortunately, Jack had no intention of giving Alex anything that he couldn’t find out from asking a random person. After being married to Mary he had become an expert at getting around revealing any useful information. By the time Jack was done he hoped Alex wouldn’t limos anything more than he already did.
“Huh, I was certain that if anyone had seen the crash it would’ve been you the moment I got the call and the location of the crash.” Alex casually responded. “Though that does leave as to why you didn’t call it in?”
“Really, you ask me that after remembering what I told the high command?” Jack sarcastically replied.
“Ah, that is true, though I find it hard to believe that was enough reason for you to keep your mouth shut and just ignore it.”
Jack shrugged. “What can I say, it wasn’t like I had a good view of the ship. I was so far away it looked like little more than just a dot.”
Alex tilted his head Ina suspicious expression. “Really, you couldn’t tell what race the ship belonged to? You, the guy that could determine alien race almost instantaneously when we were flying together?”
Jack hesitantly nodded. “Yeah, it was pretty quick, I only had a couple seconds at most before it disappeared from my view.” Jack patted the side of his cart. “Sorry but my stand wasn’t position in the best position to get a good view. I can’t really tell you much you probably don’t already know.” Jack fake sighed to make Alex he was genuinely sorry. “It’s already been a couple days so imagine you already have the crash site picked clean so you probably know more than I do.”
Alex chuckled. “You remember how quickly I like to work, especially when it comes to securing a crash site.” Alex gave Jack a slight smile. “Yeah, we had that secure within a few hours though the terrain did not make it easy to analyze.”
“Having lived in this area my entire life I am not surprised.” Jack quickly replied. “Though are you sure this is safe place to talk about PDF work? We are in the middle of a store.”
Alex simply smiled. “Given nearly all of these town hicks are at that stupid football game, and we’re the only ones here, besides the employees. I’d say we’re pretty secure. Besides, I know you don’t want anything to do with the organization anymore so I’ll spare you the details.”
“Thanks for that Alex, I’d prefer not to get dragged back into that life again.” Jack replied with a smile while cursing in his mind as that meant he wouldn’t be able it learn anything that could help Fara and Felicity’s safety. “I’m certain it will go well for you.”
“Of course, I have yet to fail to catch an alien and I have no intention of this being the first.” Alex confidently replied. “I just wish you could tell me more, it would be like old times.”
“I know but unfortunately I told you everything I know. In this case I’m just a casual civilian with no desire to get involved.”
“Hm, lucky you, at times I almost envy that.”
On the inside Jack let out a sigh of relief to see that Alex appeared to be satisfied with his response, depending on how someone looked at it. The large man seemed to be certain he was going to get everything he could from Jack but that clearly didn’t make him happy. Alex would definitely have liked to have known but Jack had seemingly convinced him that he said everything he knew, which was FAR from the truth. At least for the moment Jack had bought some time for Alex to investigate without being on a clear trail to Fara and Felicity. That was were Alex’s faith and respect in Jack had played a key role in him believing the lie; which Jack had no remorse in doing knowing what kind of monster Alex could be to any and all alien life, including refugees.
Jack stretched and let out a loud yawn. “Well, it’s been nice seeing you Alex but I need to get going, Hunter’s waiting for me at home, hopefully not tearing anything up.”
Alex looked down to see the dog treats and food in Jack’s cart, confirming his statement. “I see, then I won’t keep you any longer than I have to, I remember what a handful Hunter can be.”
“Yeah, thankfully he has calmed down quite a bit but is still a handful.”
“I bet he is.” Alex replied with a chuckle. “Well, take care man.”
“You too Alex. I know you’ll find whoever it is you’re looking for, you always do.”
With those words Jack turned and pushed the shopping cart away towards the next spot of the store he needed to go. Once he found a set of nerf guns he thought Felicity would lie he headed towards the register to leave. If he had ran into Alex again simply saying it was Amanda would no doubt work, allowing him to maneuver through the store casually. Though he wanted to be out of the store quickly, and away from Alex, he knew to avoid looking suspicious he had to carry out his normal routine. After the time they had served together Alex knew that when Jack made a list he finished it, never leaving anything unchecked. For him to just leave would make Alex suspicious so he had to finish shopping. At least there was only a few items left, once he got Fara and Felicity their gifts, which would be believable to Alex given the nature of both. From what he could see Alex had finished his shopping trip and didn’t appear to be suspicious but Jack wasn’t willing to take chances.
Well, I’d say that things have gotten both exciting and unnerving. Jack thought as he headed to a different part of the story. This means we’re gonna have to be more careful. Hopefully the Zordon rescue team arrives soon.