This is a continuation of Oil Field. Please start there for a better idea of what’s going on.
Despite the conversation with Ted being over I was still turning it over in my head when I made it back to my office. The note on my keyboard told me that I needed to put that conversation behind me and get my head back to my normal job.
The note was something I had solved ten’s of times before, but the user never seemed to understand what it was I was showing them. They went to the bottom of the pile and I checked on my servers.
It had been an odd turn of events to go from military police officer to systems administrator, but it was one that I enjoyed immensely. It had taken me a good eighteen months after being hired to get the systems into a place where they just ran. There was the occasional hiccup, but those were a rarity. But the conversation with Ted had brought up some good memories and the itch had started.
Thirty minutes later with nothing more than the norm with the servers, I was out of my office to put out fires and to help the paginator of the paper, a little old man who was twenty years past retirement but stayed on.
“Good morning Dale,” I said loudly.
“Good morning to you Jack. This damn computer has done it again.”
“Okay. Let me jump in there and see what I can do.”
In less than thirty seconds I had solved the problem yet again and was on my way.
My next stop was the newsroom, where I had a meeting that I would have rather done without, but it wasn’t one I could get out of.
“Do you mind if I sit you in a booth? It’s all we have available right now,” The waitress said.
“Sure no problem.”
She led me to a booth that could have sat 6 people but I was just me. The way I liked it. More people made me nervous. It came from my years of service.
I knew what I wanted to eat so I didn’t bother with the menu she had placed in front of me and instead I watched people. Despite having been out of service for nearly a decade I still watched people for nervous ticks or something that just didn’t seem right.
“Sir, do you mind if I sit these three here with you since it’s such a big booth?”
I looked up to see the same waitress with three other people with her. Two guys and one girl.
“Sure,” I said without thinking.
One of the guys, dark hair and a business jacket, slid into the booth and the girl slid in next to him.
The other guy pulled a chair from another table and sat at the end of the booth.
“How you doing,” The dark hair guy asked.
“Fine,” I said.
They all had a funny smell to them, maybe alcohol, that raised my blood pressure a bit. Were they also former operatives?
“Can you recommend something,” The gal asked.
She was a dirty blonde. Pretty but not stunning.
“First time here,” I lied.
“You look familiar, do I know you?” The guy at the end of the booth said.
He had an angular face, obviously fit and a 5 o’clock shadow.
“I don’t think so. Have you lived in Davenport that long?” I asked.
“Oh no. We’re just passing through,” He replied.
That made me a bit nervous.
“What brings you here?” I asked.
“We work over on the island,” The dark haired one said.
They were referring to the Rock Island arsenal a military base where weapons were created and tested.
That information made me even more nervous and I began to plan my exit from the booth and out of the restaurant should something go wrong.
“Are you guys ready to order?” The waitress asked.
“Sure,” I said and placed my order.
The other three placed their orders and the waitress left us alone again.
“What do you do?” The girl asked.
Normally this was an easy question for me to answer, but my I was still thinking of how to out of this fire hazard of a sports bar.
“I’m a consultant for a larger company out of the Twin Cities,” I lied once again.
“Oh. How do you like that?” She asked.
“It pays the bills. I see new cities all the time,” I said. “What do you guys do over on the island?”
“Contract stuff. Can’t really say. You know what the island is used for?” The guy at the end of the booth said.
“Well a little bit. It’s military right?”
“Yeah. It’s used for weapons stuff. Development, testing…stuff like that,” Dark hair guy said.
“Oh so you guys do top secret stuff like that TV show Alias?” I joked.
They all got a good laugh out of that.
“Not really, but we can’t talk about it that much,” The gal said.
And then our lunch came and all talk ceased. Each of us ate at our own pace with an occasional peek at the others to see how they were enjoying their food. In all fifteen minutes had passed by the time we were all done, our checks were paid and we all slid out of the booth.
“Thanks for letting us sit with you,” They all told me as they left ahead of me.
“No problem. Was nice having company,” I lied once again.