Rural Falcon Ridge
June 9, Saturday
Jim Hudson glanced at Liz as she set the phone on the table between their matching loungers. She was a good woman and he loved her dearly, but her knack for inflating the simplest thing into a crisis was downright nerve-wracking. How'd she ever survive when he was TDY fighting sundry wars on the other side of the globe?
"That was Sara Reynolds," she declared. "Someone's trying to kill her. First the accident that killed her husband, and now an eighteen-wheeler ran her off the road outside Lakewood."
His eyes shifted back to the weekly Dow averages parading below CNN's talking heads. "Oh? That was her?"
"She wouldn't admit it, but I'm sure it was. That car we saw on the news looked exactly like hers."
"You're good, Liz. All I saw was a ball of flames. You should work for the police department, maybe even the FBI."
She folded her arms. "I don't care what you say, she was involved somehow. I could tell."
"If so, I'd say she's pretty unlucky."
"I don't think that's it, Jim. I was with her when she remembered where she and her husband were, right before the other wreck. They were cross-country skiing, somewhere northwest of here. They came across some strange looking industrial site and took pictures. She couldn't remember what it was, assuming at one time she knew. I'll bet it's some sort of secret government thing."
His attention remained fixed on the TV, checking how Tesla, SAIC, and Halliburton had done. Hopefully better than the week before.
"Jim, listen to me. Something funny's going on. I just know it."
If what she said was true, it was a volatile situation. A new site in that area? Such things didn't spring up overnight. Surely he would have heard. He was retired, not dead. One of his old friends would have tipped him off to something so close to home.
That was how he knew about some of the goings-on in Nevada. They were under an uncomfortable amount of scrutiny the past few years from UFO buffs and were downsizing. They turned some operations over to the Army at Dugway and Fort Hood, others were already at Wright-Patt. In reality, there were secret facilities all over the country. Most had plenty of expansion room.
Why would they build a new one? They already had Cheyenne Mountain and various other outposts in the Rockies. Why not simply add additional space to existing ones?
"So what do you think? Why would they want to kill Sara and her husband? Jim? Hey!" She got up and stood between him and the television. "Colonel Hudson! Did you hear me?"
He shifted up his eyes without moving his head. "Yes, dear. Every word."
Which was true, though he was still processing what she'd said. "It does sound rather odd. But eighteen-wheelers cause wrecks all the time. These roads are treacherous. Maybe she's just someone who attracts catastrophes. I knew people like that in the service, of all ranks. You stayed away from them, as far as possible. Catch my meaning, Liz?"
Mouth agape, she dropped back into her chair. At least no sound was coming out. When they lived in Colorado Springs she had more friends to jabber to besides him. Since he'd retired, which was undoubtedly a mistake, she'd latched onto him like a tick. It was nothing short of a miracle that those sticky-sweet chick flicks on the Hallmark Channel hadn't given him diabetes. There were days when he wished another big conflict would come along so he'd get called back up.
So far, this was one of them.
Her reaction, though delayed, was more forceful than expected. "How can you say such a thing? That poor woman! My God, Jim, she just lost her husband. Now it looks like someone's trying to kill her. And you think I should abandon her? How could you?"
He exhaled. "Listen. If what you suspect is true, what do you think you can you do about it, Liz? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And in my experience, there's a good chance some of that ill-fortune will splash on you. We came up here to get away from that sort of drama. It's not your problem. Leave it alone. Don't get involved."
Her eyes flashed with defiance, exceeding any he'd witnessed in over three decades of marriage. When his red-headed mate got this stirred up his best tactic was to retreat. He froze in place when she got back up and stood before him again, wagging an accusatory finger in his face.
"No. You listen to me, James Hudson. When you were overseas, especially in a warzone, who do you think took care of me? Who do you think took care of the women whose husbands came home in pieces, in a box, or not at all?
"We took care of each other! I'm not going to abandon that sweet thing to whoever or whatever is trying to hurt her. I have no idea what I can do, but she's going to know I'm her friend and she can count on me. And if you don't like it, you can kiss my big, white ass."
With that, she turned on her heel and sashayed into the kitchen.
The Keurig snapped, wheezed, and hissed.
He groaned. The last thing that woman needed was more caffeine.
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