Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton
The Colony, Pacific Palisades…Friday, June 24th, 2005…6:30pm
June gloom was in full swing today as dark ominous skies threatened rain all along the Southern California coastline. Jack O'Shea peeked out of the bay window in his living room at the gray clouds overhead and frowned. Probably wouldn't be much of a sunset tonight he thought. Maybe he'd just take a run on the beach and unwind. It had been a stressful week at work, plus he was anxious for Randy's message to appear in the newspaper as planned. Why the nimrod chose that San Diego rag, the Union Tribune, he had no idea?
Jack was an uber-snob when it came to just about everything, and the arrogant know-it-all was especially rude when it came to his perception of the mainstream media. The dwindling ranks of credible daily newspapers annoyed him. It was bad enough that print journalism was disappearing, forced to downsize and merge into cyberspace to compete for readers with Hollywood gossip mongers, Madison Avenue hucksters, self-improvement experts hell bent to sell you their brand of disinformation, not to mention the bazillion porn sites leading the pack when it came to the number of hits.
Actually, to be fair, Jack didn't think the San Diego paper was all that bad as newspapers went, but he was miffed that the new owners had the audacity to change their time honored moniker. From a banner rich in tradition built on the credibility of truly seasoned journalists, to a droll "ain't we hip" abomination that to his conservative eye disgraced the front page as well as the city it claimed as home turf. It was sorta like your great-grandma trading her cotton bloomers for a silk thong, nobody wants to see that, that's just so wrong! Anyway, he was pissed that he had to subscribe to the rag just to communicate with the team. In fact, just to save face he used an alias and had it delivered to a P.O. Box instead of is home. He didn't want the neighbors pegging him as a low-life!
Jack walked back to the dining room. He spun the dials to unlock his brief case resting on the large oval oak table and opened it. Inside, mixed among the techno-debris and files marked "confidential" and "secret" was Friday's edition of the Tribune. He sat down to see if today would be the day that Randy Patel's coded message surfaced. Quickly locating the classifieds he separated the section from the rest of the paper. Then, after flipping over the front page so he didn't have to look at the repulsive banner he flung the rest of the paper to the other side of the table. Jack scanned carefully, turning several pages before spotting the Sir Speedy Printers ad. It was on the bottom left of page 4 to the right of a list of local garage sales. Jack grinned at the notice.
"Come one, come all to the Peckerwood family's garage sale, EVERYTHING MUST GO! This Saturday, June 25th, 4321 Oak Street, San Diego, call 553-0100."
Jack appreciated Randy's left-handed swipe at his father and at the family's good name, secretly wishing that he'd thought of it himself. He smiled and wondered what these guys were going to say when they found out that he was the rat bastard's kid? So anyway, the team would meet tomorrow at the Studio Diner over on Ruffin Street, not far from Rady Children's Hospital where Jean-Luc Rojier would be presenting a tidy sum to their Foundation from the G.A.W.D. Foundation that he and that old codger Grover Gateway started. Jack wasn't much for sentiment, so the whole noble purpose of their piracy went unnoticed to him. That wasn't what he was in this for anyway. Watching Sanford Peck suffer was all he cared about, and after the Riviera heist he knew that they were striking pay-dirt, having personally witnessed one of his father's famous meltdowns at a family function earlier in the week. That was sweet, and it charged Jack up, and made him anxious for tomorrow's debriefing when he would find out what was next.
Alright, he'd had enough introspective thought for one day he reckoned and he got up to check what leftovers were in the fridge that he could heat up for supper. There was still half a carnitas burrito from Roman's joint in there from lunch the other day; that would be more than enough to get him through the night, at least until breakfast tomorrow morning. If memory served the Studio Diner served huge portions of comfort food so no use packing on the calories tonight, he'd fill his tank over there tomorrow. Jack pulled the Styrofoam container out and gave it the old sniff test. Hmmmmm, he thought aloud, maybe he'd just have a bowl of Cheerios instead. He tossed the leftover cholesterol bomb into the waste bin and shuffled off to his bedroom to change for his run. He was anxious for the next gig, it couldn't come soon enough for him.
Los Angeles International Airport…Friday, June 24th, 2005…8:00pm
Sanford and Killeen Peck sat comfortably in the main cabin of the Lear 40, their light jet that they used for short runs, 1200 miles or less. That would suffice for this trip to San Francisco where they were planning to attend a fund raiser for Grover Gateway's G.A.W.D. Foundation. Sanford frowned at his copy of the Wall Street Journal while the flight crew prepared to taxi onto the tarmac. He wasn't exactly looking forward to this little soirée, but Killeen Peck and that old bitty Alma Donnelly were thick as thieves on the charity circuit. Truth be told Sanford wasn't all that crazy about Gateway either, the old windbag!
This miserable Foundation of Grover's was willy-nilly handing out cash to the masses, forcing his hospitals to waste good money on hopeless cases. Sanford didn't understand why people couldn't just accept the inevitable and let the sick take a normal expeditious path to eternity. All these whiners buying more time, throwing good money after bad, right down the old rat hole, he didn't get it! Now Killeen wanted him to give some of that profit, the only saving grace in the whole soft-hearted debacle, back to Gateway's goddamn pity party! This little trip wasn't what had Sanford's goat, it wasn't important, he'd make a respectable donation and take a bow and a few pictures with the old coot and his new French sidekick, Jean-Luc Rojier, and then beat it on home to LA and take care of some more pressing business. Specifically, he had scheduled a briefing on Monday the 28th, to discuss the recent piracy of several vessels in his Mexican Riviera Fleet. Somebody was costing him more than he cared to admit and he needed to put an end to it before it affected stock values. If he didn't nip this in the bud he'd be the laughing stock of Wall Street. His ego would never permit that to happen, no matter what needed to done. There was only one way to deal with vermin, and that was to exterminate them. The law was slow and weak. He had much better tools at his disposal, and he had no qualms about using them. Yes, this might be a good task for Mr. Benjamin. He would make this go away with an efficiency that Sanford could rely on. Suddenly his train of thought was interrupted by a familiar dull tone.
"Dear, can you buzz the Captain and see what the delay is?" Killeen asked her husband without looking up from her magazine.
"Yes, of course," he replied, opting to get up to make the query face to face.
Sanford Peck unlatched his seatbelt and rose from the plush leather seat. He strolled up the narrow aisle toward the cockpit and knocked on the door. Inside the co-pilot turned in his chair to open it. He removed his sunglasses to address the boss-man.
"Yes sir?" he asked.
"Mrs. Peck is concerned about this delay. What can I tell her to keep the claws in gentlemen?" Sanford asked sarcastically.
"We're number two in line Mr. Peck. This low cloud cover is backing everyone up. Tell her we'll be airborne in 10 minutes max. We'll be on the deck in San Fran at 2200 hours sir," replied the Captain.
Sanford thanked them with a grunt and headed back to his seat. The sooner the better he thought, just wanting the day to be over. There would be a report waiting for him when they arrived to their townhome in Sausalito. He was looking forward to studying for Monday's meeting. Whoever was stealing from him was going to pay handsomely he promised himself as he settled back into his seat and held his wife's hand.
"Thank you honey," Killeen said without smiling or looking up.
"Of course my dear," he replied likewise, closing his eyes and shutting off his brain for the moment.