Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chapter 4 - The Conundrum

Dent has a conundrum. The big guy in first class has a gun. For sure he’s an easy. The little guy in economy has two cauliflower ears. In Dent’s mind, people with guns aren’t very functional, people with cauliflower ears are. So the guy in in economy is the priority. However, Dent figured if they were going to make a move, the smartest place for them to do that would be halfway between Hawaii and Japan.  There’s no place to land and turning around the plane would be futile. The pilots could only continue. So Dent decided it was time to nap for a few hours. There’s no telling how long it would be before he slept again.
*****************

The man was thinking back almost a decade. He saw the slender dark-haired woman in the New Jersey wine bar. It was 2:00am on a rainy Sunday morning when she left. He thought it was strange that she was leaving, alone, walking down a dark street, so he altruistically followed. Less than a block away two large man grabbed the woman and dragged her to the alley. He sprinted after them and yelled. The two men turned and both had rather large knives. Instinctively, the man drew his 10mm and with two shots, dropped the two men. The woman was unharmed. That’s when the blow to the side of his head dropped him.

Unconscious, so unknown to the man, the dark-haired woman calmly reached in her purse and pulled out her burner flip-phone and pressed the one number speed dial. The called was answered without a greeting. The woman said,  “I think he’s a recruit.”

The voice on the other end said, “Our EMTs are on the way. ETA is less than 5 minutes. Go by JG and pick up The Doc, then to MS.”

She dropped the phone and smashed it with her heel, then kicked it into the street drain as the approaching red and blue flashing lights reflected off the buildings.   

The ambulance pulled to the New Jersey General emergency department entry and a man, The Doc, in a white coat with a full syringe jumped in the back. The ambulance sped away while The Doc injected the victim, the recruit.  The Doc quickly took fingerprints, a DNA swab and a small blood sample.

The woman pulled another burner phone, this one a smart phone, and sent the ePrints via email. She then called the same number programmed to the speed dial. It was the same no greeting answer.  She said, “ETA to MS is sixty minutes.”

The other end replied, “I’m about to board the bird now and will land in forty-five. Be there then. Go in hot.”
The phone dinged with an incoming email. The prints had a positive match. The woman gave the signal to the driver to go in hot. With that the red and blues were turned back on, the siren wailed as they accelerated up I-95, sometimes using the shoulder when it was available.

The Doc, experienced at riding steadily in his mobile lab, confirmed the blood type. So far everything matched. The third confirmation, DNA, would take a little longer.

“How long for part three?” the woman asked.
“About an hour.”
“The Commissioner will want it in forty-five.”
 “Roger that.” Was the reply as The Doc continued and worked more quickly.

Again she smashed the phone, this time dropping it into the vehicles biohazard incinerator.

They arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital’s emergency entrance. Just in time for The Doc to say, “ID 3 confirmed.”
The lanes had been cleared for them. A woman in a white coat, two nurses and four really big guys in scrubs were waiting. The second white coat asked, “How much did you give him?”
“Four mls.” said The Doc.
A nod was the only reply. She then reached in lab coat and pulled out another syringe and quickly injected 2mls in The Man’s IV.
“Up to the PH. No one but the commissioner or me allowed in the room until further orders.” Barked the Second White Coat.

She then turned to the dark-haired woman and said, “Saffron, the Commish wants you in the penthouse, too.”
“What did you give him?” asked Saffron.
“That info is above your pay grade.”
“I’m above your pay grade.” She informed.
“It has to do with blocking his memory. It’s experimental. We’ll see how it works. That’s all I know.”
*************

“Do you know what day it is?” Ask the Second White Coat with the Commish anxiously watching from the corner.
“No. I think I’ve been knocked out.” Said the man.
“Right. You were mugged and found in an alley. Your wallet and ID were stolen. Can you tell us your name?”
After a long pause the man’s left eye welled up with a tear and he said, “No.”
White Coat said, “Maybe if you had something to eat it would jar your memory. What’s your favorite food and I’ll have it sent up?”
Another long pause, “I don’t know.”
“Okay, I’ll send up something I’d like. In the meantime, my boss will be here to talk with you. If you think of anything you need, just ask him.”
The second white coat left the room with a slight nod to The Commish.

“How are you feeling?” ask the Commish
“Are you a doctor, too?”
“No. The doctors work for me. How are you feeling?”
“I feel like I got hit in the head with a bat.”
“Okay, I’ll make sure you get something strong for the pain. We found a gun registered to you with two bullets missing from the magazine. We found two cartridges that match the gun. We also found two dead guys. Each with one bullet. You might be in deep shit. Do you feel like answering a few questions? Off the record, of course.”
“I guess.” Was The Man’s reply.
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I remember following a woman. I thought she might be walking in a dangerous direction.”
“What did she look like?”
 “Maybe she had long dark hair, kinda skinny. It was dark outside, I think. That’s about all.”
After a long pause in the conversation, the Commish said, “We ran the prints from the gun registered to you. They matched yours. Your prints were also on the shell casings. It’s a matter of time before this information is released to the police.”

No response from the man.
“The vics were unarmed. You might be up for two counts of murder 2nd.“

The man still didn’t respond.
“I can help get you out of this, but you’d need to work for me.”
“Am I a doctor?” ask the man.
“No. But I need people with varied skills. I’ll be in touch. You heal up, that’s your focus.” With that, the Commish started to walk to the door.
“Wait, will you tell me my name?”
After a long pause the Commish said, “Brudenhoeffer, Dent Brudenhoeffer.


As the Commish walked out to the hall he looked at Saffron and said, “You have one more to handle. Cut and dye your hair before you introduce yourself. And eat a sandwich.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Yeah, It's me, Dent Brudenhoeffer, bedside blogging the CBS GOP debate

So here we go with the last 30 minutes, behind the scenes you didn't get to see. But I have the inside scoop of the cool stuff. Read on for the deets...
We're all wearing black stuff so that's cool.

I'm wearing a blue tie, appealing to the "others". That's the way I roll.

Pink for me because of the celebration of breast cancer month...oh, wait, that was October.


And I'm cool with wearing a blue tie, because I want to appeal too. But check it out, MoFos...Pin-effin-stripes. Yeah, baby, I kick ass.


I'm golden, so don't ask any questions.

And I don't need a stinking tie, I'm hot. I think I spotted Dent Brudenhoeffer sneaking around. I want' to jump that boy's bones. Eff the presidency, I just would be lucky to spend a night in a lonely hotel room with him.

That's my report.

Signing off,
Dent Brudenhoeffer

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dent Brudenhoeffer, Master of His Own Destiny

Dent Brudenhoeffer, Undercover Agent Extraordinaire

Chapter 1 - Product Placement


The final kick of the eight mile run left his heart savagely pounding under the tanned, bare chest. The sinewy legs were only clad by a pair of salt-caked Saucony running short that silently told the story of the previous night’s Hornitos tequila and table dances at The Lodge. He had to clear his head and running always worked like that.

Now that the cob webs were gone he remembered he had a task at hand. It was time to go back under, deep under. It was a time to be reborn as a thief among thieves. He only needed the final details.

Almost as if it could read his mind the Verizon smart phone’s mechanical monotone rattled “droid”. The anonymous text message simply said…Bali.

B-A-L-I. He immediately knew his task. He knew the organization he needed to infiltrate, the method he would use, place he would stay, and potential contacts he would use. And he knew which kaki lima he would eat at that first night and successive nights. But more importantly those four letters caused an unnoticeable, yet disturbing rush of anxiety to travel down Dent’s usually fearless spine.

Dent feared no person, no situation, and no challenge. He had lived through plenty and should have perished at least a half a dozen times. But he did have fears, he feared his own vices. And the Island of the Gods had both of them….a beautiful woman, Asil, he met during his last, mostly unpleasant, assignment there, and …Opium.

So he ran again. He ran to forget…not Opium, which was long past but always remembered. He ran to forget Asil. Asil the food cart girl he fell in love with at first sight. She operated her kaki lima in the central district, that’s where they met. A picture of her sweaty pink tank top clinging to her damp olive skin is still branded in Dent’s brain. Her scent could only be that of a goddess. And her food…flavored with passion, seasoned with love and spiced with the hotness that could only be crafted by a double agent. The spiciness was her “tell” of dishonesty. But Dent didn’t care.

Dent broke THE rule, the one single rule all those undercover know too well. Don’t get emotionally involved. But he did. And Asil played him like a ’69 Les Paul through her twin Marshalls stacks. Her distorted rhythm laid the foundation to let him feel in control. Then she flipped and her sustained lead captured him, kept him on edge for what seemed like weeks before culminating in a Balinese prison. And that’s where Dent developed his taste for Opium. But he never lost his taste for Asil.

Early the next morning he awoke to the memories of Asil and Opium and the slight, yet cool dampness in his palms, so Dent did what Dent always did when he didn’t have time to run. He washed the memories away with a bottle of Corona. And then another. When all six were empty he packed his Coach backpack for Bali. Yes, just one Coach backpack for the extended stay. He needed little to blend in. And his needs didn’t include fancy-smancy undercover gadgets or guns. He preferred to outsmart the enemy. He was a Mental Assassin.

+++++++++++++++++++++

Consciousness came quickly, in a parking lot at LAX. How did he get there? Dent’s last recollection was a daydream of Asil. What had happened? As he sat up in the car’s backseat the searing pain piercing his rib cage meant bruised ribs, maybe a few were broken. And dull ache deep in his lower back could only indicate traumatized kidneys. And finally to the lower right of his stomach the stabbing pain could mean a ruptured appendix, or that pesky chronic, bowel obstruction that he religiously drank Metamucil to avoid.

But he had no marks, bruises or blood. A quick check…passport, wallet, Droid X all were accounted for. Just as Dent thought, it wasn't a robbery, this was a professional warning. But from whom?

The clock on his Droid told him his flight was boarding. Damning the pain, he grabbed his bag and sprinted through the Hertz Rent a Car lot and into the Tom Bradley International Terminal. $10 and a charming wink got him past the cute TSA screener and directly to the China Airlines gate. Dent was the last to board.

He slowly stretched out in the 1st class cabin, promptly popped two Valiums and the flight attendant brought a tumbler of Whipped Vodka with a splash of Dr. Pepper. He first sipped, and then he guzzled. The vodka and Valium tangoed in his head. For a moment he forgot the pain and grinned with a warm, euphoric buzz.

Just as he was drifting away for the 23 hour flight, reality hit him like a demolition ball to the solar plexus. He was left in the terminal parking lot because someone knew his plans. Someone wanted him to catch the flight. It could only be Asil and her evil ways, still haunting him.

Dent Brudenhoeffer, Undercover Agent Extraordinaire

Chapter 2 - Women Dent Loves


In the cold, dark windowless cell, she lay stretched on the board, bound at the wrist and ankles with her feet slightly elevated. Her lean, slightly muscular body was only partially clothed. She was surrounded by men in mismatched surplus military garb, many distracted by her beauty, and all armed with pistols and knives. Her blindfold was a greasy mechanics rag and the thick wool cloth covering her nose and mouth was even nastier and reeked of human waste. The water would soon wash away the acrid stench. She welcomed that, she hadn’t had water in three days and she loved water. She had a unique relationship with water.

The torturers were perplexed. How could such a, seemingly, weak and fragile woman not break under the 72 straight hours of interrogation. The crusted remains of blood that had trickled from the left side of her nose and corner of her mouth told the story of a right-handed interrogator who lost his control to her steel will. The interrogator was immediately ordered shot to death by the commander. Leaving physical damage was strictly forbidden. Knowing that only solidified Asil’s willpower.

The previous 72 hours had prepared her for the torture threat of last resort. Even though Asil thought actual waterboarding was more than likely off-limits, she prepared by summoning her Kundalini Shakti, a meditative state that lowered her metabolism and bodily functions to imperceptible levels but still allowing her to be aware of her surroundings. The interrogator, Chief Riki’s, questions continued and rapidly increased in pace and volume, until he was screaming from lack of control. It was then she felt the first chill of the water, saturating the wool cloth draped across her face. Suddenly the oxygen was gone, but the gasp reflex waterboarding depended upon was non-existent in Asil’s state. She knew it wouldn’t be long before the pain from the previous 72 hours of torture would be gone. And she would quickly follow, it would then be over and Asil would win...her secrets would be locked away. But it took longer than she wanted, was more painful than she expected and her last fading memory was grasping for the smooth, yet strong hands that had rescued her twice before…Dent’s hands.

“Warung” was the whispered, unemotional order given in Balinese to stop. Immediately the room fell silent and everyone snapped to attention. Everyone except Asil, she lay motionless and lifeless. Giving the order while entering the cell, was Commander Popi-Arat. Popi-Arat had earned the troop’s undying loyalty and respect with generous rewards for those who followed orders. The few not following orders were victims of a quick and usually humiliating public death, often dealt by Popi-Arat’s hand.

Popi-Arat eyed the limp body and removed the wool cloth and blindfold, then locked eyes with Chief Riki while blindly feeling for Asil’s non-existent pulse. The interrogator couldn’t help but notice the single tear escape Popi-Arat's eye and the quivering whisper, “Asil.”

Commander Popi-Arat ordered the chief interrogator, the one responsible for Asil’s torture, to take the lifeless body along the two kilometer overgrown forest trail to the disposal pit. Popi-Arat, alone and unarmed, closely followed the interrogator.

Only Popi-Arat returned, with Riki’s holster and unfired sidearm slung across her shoulder, a bloody knife in her right hand, and in her left hand was his genitalia.

++++++++++++++++

Even though the Balinese revered their women as goddess-like, it was rare when one, like Popi-Arat, ascended the ranks to such a powerful position. She, a petite female of exquisite beauty, who’s unwavering fairness, gentile spirit, and most importantly her immediate and addictive sexual appeal to both genders earned her a nickname she proudly wore… Opium.

It would have been easier to find him with Asil alive; he had the bad habit of always eating at her kaki lima. And that was one of the few mistakes he ever made. But that egomaniac, Riki, had to lose control and kill Asil, forcing Opium to make an example of him. And that she did by passing the body part, a trademark of hers, to each of the men who witnessed the torture and murder. Several of the men were noticeably distraught, one openly wretched, but all were solidified in their loyalty to Opium and her task.

Luckily, Opium had a contingency plan. She was a detailed planner and left no element to chance. She was a savant at setting traps and that’s what she was doing…setting a trap for the American, the Brit, the Westerner or whatever he was…the runner.

Chapter 3 - Surprise Visitors

The aches from the beating had started to distract Dent. But he couldn’t keep from noticing the two men who boarded the China Airline flight at the last minute, without carry-on bags. Strange for a 23-hour flight to a foreign country, Dent thought.


The two men boarded together, but seated separately, one in coach the other in 1st class. Dent didn't miss the nod of acknowledgement from one to the other, nor did he miss the slight bulge on the left side of one man’s jacket or the prolific growth of turf tumbling from his chest and the one-button-too-many unbuttoned on his shirt. A right-handed Air Marshall, Dent could have easily surmised. But something wasn’t right. He was too young and didn’t look very smart. And these days everyone from dopers to drag queens was armed for World War III. But how did he get the gun on the plane? That was the question bouncing around Dent’s brain. And right then and there, he knew, these two were scumbags he needed to keep his eyes on. Well connected, they were, for sure, that was Dent’s bet.


Dent reclined in seat next to the window. He always sat with his back to the wall or in a window seat. It was something he learned from watching old western movies and it had worked out pretty good for him so far. No one sat in the aisle seat beside him, that was a good thing. Firstly, because if Harry Chest decided to get brave, Dent didn’t want an innocent person in the line of fire. Long ago Dent realized it was difficult, if not impossible, to unshoot an innocent person. Secondly, and most importantly, Dent had given up on his once polished social skills. He liked to blame it on his half-heartedly chosen career, but the reality was he had lost too much and he never wanted to get attached to anyone or anything again. That was the price paid for being a double or triple secret agent (he’d lost count)…and making the “big bucks”. Yeah, the “big bucks”, he silently chuckled to himself while mumbling, "The effin' big bucks."


Then he shook his damn head in self-disgust.


Dent needed another drink so he ordered a Bloody Maria, specifying Sauza Hornitos tequila. “And make it a triple, hold the Zing-Zang mixer” he said as he swallowed a handful of Vicodin. He didn’t know how many, he had stopped counting. And the tequila welcomingly washed the final dry pill down his parched throat.

Knowing he had twenty hours of flight ahead, he let the medicinal fog overtake his thoughts while plugging the headphones into his iPod. The song playing, ironically, was Guns-n-Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More Mercy Magic

Hot Springs is truly a magical place. History (or the Visitor and Convention folks) would lead you to believe it’s the magical spring water. I disagree. It’s the people. And I’ve worked with some amazing ones. Might I introduce some of those who have marked my life?


Radio Man – He cracks me up. The minute he offered his first words I thought he should be on the radio. Turns out he was. Other than me he has the best sense of humor ever.


Keith and “Keith” – I can only give these two guys a manly silence and slight nod. You know, like real men do. Chest bumps to ya.


C-Note – no one has ever so gently and politely yanked my chain. I don’t think he can be thanked enough for all he's done the past few months. “Above and beyond” is an understatement.


Bonnie and Chris – I don’t have a nickname for either of them because they're so real. They saw through me immediately and made many suggestions and recommendations…they knew what I needed, and how to make me fall in love with Hot Springs. The world is better because they populate it.

Big Boss - as I’ve mentioned before I’ve been blessed with great bosses in the past, but she's raised the bar. She’s not going to be with this project after this shift and she’s already being missed. Good luck, Linda, in your new position and I look forward to our paths crossing sometime in the future. BTW...sorry for my several "House-like" moments. Thanks for handling them so professionally.


Pam-Pam – A structure is only as solid as the foundation and you've been perfect. Thanks for letting me vent so many times. I want to hug you so bad it hurts, but not as much as a trip to HR would. And good luck in Memphis, maybe I’ll see you there. If not you’ll always be in my heart.


Ms. Awesome - I’ve spent the past few weeks leaving tears on the mountain trails while thinking how much I’ll miss you. Thanks for the wisdom. You’re absolutely awesome; never believe anyone who tells you differently.


Like it or not, I’m attached to each one of you and to Hot Springs. I owe all of you and the others on the team a huge thanks for fueling my life! There are some things that matter, some that don’t and all of you do matter in my life.


And a special thanks to the Sisters for giving me this opportunity!


I’ll leave all of you with this little ditty…


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mercy Magic

My time in Ardmore is winding down and, frankly, I'm looking forward to new challenges and a new environment, but I'd be amiss to not appreciate the awesomeness I've been privileged to be a part of here.

I've worked lots of places in my fifty years and mostly with some wonderful colleagues and supervisors. In retrospect, I can't think of any really bad work experiences I've had.

But this group in Ardmore...man, they're something special.

Magic.

Please indulge me and let me introduce them...

Leader of the pack is the Skipper, Harvey. He's a guy that dots the "i"s and crosses the "t"s. He knows a lot. A whole lot. He's taught me more than he will ever know. And he's a biker - extra kudos to Harvey for that. He knows more than any of us, yet is the epitome of humbleness.

Wayne, who I think of as Thurston, is someone I strive to be like. He didn't need to be here, yet he joined the group under an uncommonly difficult situation. He was a late addition, he played catch-up. His work ethic and adaptability are amazing. So is his ability to save Brent's a**.

Deb or Ginger, and I use that nickname in it's most admiring form, has been a savior. She's taken on roles none of us could have played. She faced audiences that would have cowered the strongest of us. She performed with determination, perseverance, professionalism and heart. A true artist, she is.

Lori can only be Mary Ann. She's to the point, organized, dependable and anything else one would want in a sister, mother, daughter or best friend. Quick story...Lori was once in a confrontation situation with an overly demanding student. During a "cooling-down" break another stake-holder mentioned to Lori "watch out, that woman just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq". Lori's reply was, "I've raised three kids, let her bring it on." That moment in time will forever let me remember Lori.

And finally, my co-host in crime, DeWayne "dynamite" Knight, who I think of as the Professor, has taught me so much about teaching. If it wouldn't make me a middle child, I'd want him for a younger brother.

Me? I'm just happy to be Gilligan in this three month tour.

Thanks to all of you who have made this past experience a remarkable time in my life...and curse you for setting the bar so high for the future!