Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Freedy Filkins, International Jewel Thief, 52.
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I bought a new Miata, red this time, and accompanied Freedy and Sheila back to Oregon.
They were riding Sam and Steve's Harleys, since the brothers were busy organizing the transfer of entire town to the Lorn Mountain. Freedy and Sheila barely had words or time for anyone but each other, so I was definitely a elderly third wheel.
But I felt I owed Freedy an unobtrusive escort. That much, at least. The Dark Lord was looking for him. I wasn't exactly sure why.
Freedy had somehow managed to fly beneath notice the entire trip. Very few people seemed to know his name, and those who did, weren't telling.
All Josiah Secore knew was that some international jewel thief had accompanied the Lorn Mountain miners back east and played a role in the events there. But search as he might the security cameras, he couldn't seem to find a good picture of the mystery thief.
I wondered about that. I wondered as well about the little flashdrive that Freedy carried with him everywhere and which he had passed off as a simple digital burglar's tool. I was going to keep an eye on Freedy, both to keep him safe and to see if he used the device again. Maybe he was going to be fine -- he was marrying an F.B.I. agent, after all -- but I wanted to be sure.
Meanwhile, I ignored the bag of jewels that Freedy also carried around. I'd been pretty sure that Horn would have escape money in his safe, and I didn't begrudge Freedy a bit of it. Most of it was going into the gold mine anyway.
We arrived at Filk's End just as the next mortgage payment was due. Freedy stopped by the bank and paid the mortgage and did some other business. Finally, we were standing at the door.
"Oh, it's very cute," Sheila said, as Freedy proudly opened the door. "I love it!" She went on in, where we continued to hear her exclaiming her love of Filk's End.
Freedy stayed at the door, as if uncertain whether to invite me inside.
"I'll be taking off, Freedy. It's been a pleasure doing business with you, and I'll be certain to pass on my recommendations the next time anyone is in need of a Master Thief."
The old Freedy would have pleaded for me to leave him alone. This Freedy grinned broadly.
"Oh, and one other little piece of advice...that flashdrive you've been trying so hard to downplay? Try not to use it anymore than you have to..."
Freedy's hand unconsciously moved toward his pocket and stopped. He shuddered a little. "Don't worry. I'll never use it again, unless I absolutely must."
"Bout time you got back!"
A loud voice came from behind me. Stuart Gander was walking up the path toward us, big and blustery and with a stupid look in his face.
"I'll be needing some money, Freedy. Thought you might have a job for me." He ignored me and got into Freedy's personal space.
Freedy didn't back up an inch. He looked up with a mild face. "What, you've used up all the jewels you stole from me already?"
Stu's face grew bright red, and his clenched his fists. "How dare you...."
"Hey, I don't care. It was my own fault. Nevertheless, I'm evicting you from your house as of the end of this month."
"You can't do that!"
"Indeed I can. I stopped by to make a mortgage payment today and while I was at it, decided to purchase the whole hill. You're out, Stu. I don't blame you for taking advantage of me, that was my own stupidity. But I don't trust you, and I can't have you around."
"Why you little..." Stu looked ready to strike Freedy.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Freedy said.
"Why?" Stu answered. "You think this old man will protect you?"
"Garland? Oh, he could if he wanted to. Though he has a bad habit of throwing me to the wolves. But no...I happen to have my own protection. Sweetie?"
Sheila came strolling out into the entryway. Stu looked as though Filk's End had just rolled down the hill and landed on him and his house. Nothing else could have surprised him more than to see the stunning blond come over and wrap her arm around little Freedy Filkins.
"This man is bothering me."
"Really." She pulled her badge out of front pocket and her pistol out of her back holster. "Here at your house? I believe if I shot him, it would be self-defense. A man's castle and all that. Right, Garland?"
"He certainly seems threatening to me!" I said.
Stu was already backing up, and running down the hill.
"Well, I'll be off, you two. See you at Lorn Mountain for the shareholder meeting next month!"
They waved at me until I drove out of sight.
No, I didn't need to worry about Freedy Filkins, International Jewel Thief.