Vicky got away from Fortek in one piece. Then she discovers a pack of Federal agents watching the place. They want to talk and Vicky can’t give them anything.
The suspension seemed far more capable as she bounced out toward the farm road. Vicky’s attitude more than made up any difference in the ride. He already had three wives, all of them gorgeous, and he was staring at her like Vicky was the most astonishing thing he’d ever seen. Was he trying to make a foursome? That would only make a difference if they had a girl’s day off to play golf. Well, Vicky did not golf.
Who did this Fortek think he was? Come to think of it, what did he think he was? Roger sent her out here to do work that he should have taken care of himself. She had to admit that the man was easy on the eye. It was like somebody designed him as the perfect mortal man. Not only that, he did miraculous things, and apparently considered what he did perfectly ordinary.
With those mixed thoughts chasing each other around her mind, she got to the farm road. Glancing left, there was a car. It did not have a Nebraska license plate on the front. It was close enough that she could see it was a Federal plate. It started toward her. Well, that was just dandy. She turned right and gunned it. The truck had more power than it ever had before and sprayed gravel as it fish-tailed. There was little doubt that at least some of the rocks found their way back to the vehicle paid for by taxpayers. Whatever subject the Fed had in mind for a chat, Vicky desired to talk about it less.
The car hung back a little. Maybe the driver got the message. On the other hand, the car never stopped. As Vicky approached an intersecting farm road, two large black SUVs pulled out from opposite sides, completely blocking the road. Two more closed the road behind her. Additional guys got behind the black vehicles with weapons pointed her direction. That just wasn’t friendly. There also wasn’t a whole lot she could do about it unless those lights from the Fortek place appeared to fly her out of here. It didn’t seem likely at the moment.
Now she tried to remember experts said to do when pulled over by law enforcement people. Vicky shut off the engine, rolled up the windows, and put both hands on her steering wheel. That was to show she wasn’t doing anything to threaten these guys. As far as she could tell, that would have been suicide.
Three of them approached warily, the one in front with a pistol drawn. The two slightly behind both carried shotguns. Mr. Handgun peered at her through the dust-covered side window.
“Please step out of your vehicle,” he said.
“Show me your identification,” Vicky replied. “I want to see identification from all of you.”
She wasn’t that surprised when they immediately produced badges, identifying them as Homeland Security. Vicky got out.
“Why were you at that farm?”
“Mr. Fortek opened an account at our bank. My boss heard there was a lot of Federal interest in our customer and sent me out to have a look. My excuse was to bring a couple of forms for him to sign.”
“What did you see?”
“I didn’t see much. The man is working on a field and a little on the place he’s staying. You guys have the equipment to see ten times as much as I did. Why are you asking me?”
“All of our equipment went down shortly after you arrived. It didn’t come up again until we saw you coming out.”
The men let her go after getting her name and other information. Their eyes told her that what they saw spooked them. In that, she considered they were on the same wavelength that she was. Beyond that, they had neither been on the property nor been up close and personal with Fortek. It was certain that none of them experienced Fortek gazing at them with lustful eyes.
As she drove toward Alma, Vicky called the bank. Roger was still there, which surprised her.
“Did you do it?” he wanted to know.
“Fortek signed the forms. He lives there or appears to. Also, I saw three people helping him. He’s managed to plant a field of amaranth and hopes to get a crop from it, even this late. The Feds stopped me just after I left. They asked a few questions and let me go. I expect they’ll be by in the not-too-distant future. I doubt there would be anything more to tell them than what they already know.”
“It sounds like you did a great job, as always. There’s no point in coming back to Alma this late. Why don’t you head home and we’ll see you in the morning.”
Once again, Vicky knew she got off far too easily. At the same time, she did not feel like arguing the point. At the same time, Vicky was aware of badly needing something to separate her from the experiences of the afternoon. At this point, Vicky decided she had a choice. The sensible way was to get some gelato, snacks, and beverages, and cocoon in front of the television. The alternative was to go to her favorite bar. As a choice, it was a no-show. She needed the human interaction.
She discovered that getting sloppy could not be any part of the evening. Vicky didn’t dare risk getting into a situation where her mouth started working without complete control of her mind. In spite of that resolution, she managed to consume a great deal. A large part of the consumption came from a lack of interaction. Everybody was friendly, but it was impossible to get into a real conversation with anyone. Fortek’s eyes seemed to follow her wherever she went and whatever she did. The creepy feeling from earlier in the day went on and on.
There was a bit of alcoholic anesthesia as the evening ended. At least the condition gave a period of unconsciousness. That was a great break while it lasted, but the alarm clock interrupted it far too soon. Vicky got ready for work, running on autopilot and trying to survive a perilously dry mouth and a nasty taste in spite of consuming whole milk and orange juice.
Twenty-five miles at highway speed doesn’t take that long. At the same time, she’d done it so many times that it was all automatic. That, unfortunately, left her with nothing but thoughts about yesterday. Why didn’t she tell anybody the whole story? The Feds were on their own and could make up any story that suited them. Roger, however, was another matter. He seemed ready to believe just about anything.
The critical part of that was that Roger might find just about anything believable. What she’d seen and experienced was a long way beyond anything she might expect anybody to buy. It appeared that Vicky was going to support Fortek even though the man had not asked for anything.
At this point, a closed mouth looked like her best strategy. After all, if she told anyone, she would either be crazy or a liar.