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Awakenings Chapter 2: Realizations, Page 12

As they each left the restaurant later on, no one paid any attention to the plain white van parked in the street, or to the dark shadows on rooftops on both sides of the street.  Eric would not have thought to look for a GPS tracking device newly installed in the bumper of his Honda.

Ed stood at the kitchen counter in his apartment, slicing onions and tomatoes.  A bowl of olive oil and two lemons sat next to a broiler pan of ahi, ready to go into the broiler.  A bottle of red wine stood on one end of the counter with two wine glasses.  The doorbell rang.

Ed opened the door and smiled.  “Good evening Pauline, The ahi is ready to go into the broiler”.

A tall, thin, pale woman with thick blonde, tightly curled hair, wearing 4-inch high heels, and dressed in a dark blue business dress with matching coat stepped in with a grin.  “Whatever you’re cooking smells wonderful.  It has been a long day.  I’m famished.”

Taking Pauline’s coat, Ed led her over to a couch.  “I have opened a bottle of 2002 Slate Ridge Pinot Noir.  It is a fine example of the Pinot Noirs this region is capable of producing and will go well with our dinner.  May I pour you a glass?”

Pauline nodded earnestly while looking into the kitchen area with wide eyes at the spread of food on the counter.  After Ed brought her a glass, she said, “The Chinese gentleman and their Japanese translator, Shindo, have pushed my patience to the limit.  I hope that the Fairchild Group has made an ironclad deal with these guys.  Or maybe not.”

Ed sniffed his glass of wine before sipping. “Shindo is scary.  Have you taken a close look at his tattoos?  That, and the fact that he is missing some joints on his fingers makes me think that he is a member of the Yakuza.  Why would the Chinese need a Japanese translator for English?”

“You haven’t seen the half of it.  The other night when we were all getting into the spa, you could see that almost all of his body normally covered by clothing is covered with tattoos of dragons and other things.  It’s like tattoo clothing. He also keeps a small gun and a knife close to him at all times.  I hope you are wrong about him being Yakuza.”

“Some things about your company also bother me.  I called Jason several times, up in corporate, about where the must shipments are coming from.  The manifests that come with the tankers only go as far back as the Fresno railroad terminal.   He kept putting me off until he finally told me that it is all coming from east of Madera.  Funny thing is, you wouldn’t ship the must by rail from Madera to Fresno and then load it into tanker trucks.”  About that time the oven timer went off indicating that the ahi was ready.

Pauline continued the thread of the conversation as they munched on ahi tacos and saffron rice. “Yes, the Pinot goes really well with the ahi.  I would never have dreamed.  I don’t look too closely at what corporate does.  After all, I am only a worker bee. ‘My company’ is also ‘your company’.  The Fairchild Group owns Etoile Rouge.   Corporate is also your boss.”

“But who owns the Fairchild Group?  Certainly not the Chinese.”

Pauline stopped eating and tightened her lips a moment, looking directly at Ed. “I learned a long time ago not to ask too many questions.   That is how I got to be a vice president of marketing.  Ed, you are going to have to learn that there are sometimes lines that you just cannot cross.”

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