Having just moved in with her fiance, Kris, Marice isn’t too happy to be given an out of town job. She has been sent to Daytona Beach, Florida. There’s been a huge sting operation, and the local FBI is under scrutiny. The Marshals have been called in to oversee prisoner transfers.
Things get sticky when Marice and her team are ordered to transport the ringleader, China Finetti, from Daytona Beach to a federal prison in Kansas City. Someone sets a car bomb, injuring Marice and Butch—and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Everything seems to point to China Finetti pulling the strings from prison—if so, how do they prove it?
To Buy Room 203
Marice Houston is at it again! This time, she’s been sent with a team to Daytona Beach, Florida. There’s been a huge shake up in the Jacksonville FBI, and the Marshals have been given the job of cleaning up the mess. She and her friends are ordered to take China Finetti, the former head of the Jacksonville FBI, to a federal prison in Kansas City, Missouri. After depositing her there, Marice receives a strange phone call—buzzes, clicks and a steam whistle. Cruz, their sound technician is doing his best to decode it, when her partner, Butch, walks in.
The door popped open and Butch walked in, preparing to speak. Instead, his head turned to Cruz and started to bob. “Jingo,” he said—pertinent of nothing, I thought.
“Jin-what?” I asked.
“Jingo, by Carlos Santana. That’s the opening bongo solo, but I don’t think I ever heard it like that.”
“You know it. Just like that?” I was slightly incredulous.
“Yeah. I’m a drummer. I know my beats. I’m also a huge Santana fan, and it’s one of my favorite songs.”
“Okay, we’ve identified it,” I said, raising a shoulder and eyebrow in Cruz’s general direction. “Now, why? Is there something significant about the song, title, artist or beat?”
“No clue,” Cruz said, fiddling some more. He set the recording clicking and buzzing, adding Jingo in an overlay. It fit perfectly. “By damn.”
“Told ya. Do I know my beats, or what?”
“My man!” Cruz tapped his knuckles.
“But—the question remains—why? If it’s supposed to convey a message, it isn’t telling me anything.”
“You have to look beyond the music,” Cruz began.
“Really? You’re going to chance walking there?” I turned to Butch. “Does he have a death wish?”
“Oh, Jeesh, Houston! I’m not being philosophical, I’m being honest. Listen. There’s the Jingo beat. There’s a factory whistle.”
“But what do they mean?”
“No clue. I can’t solve all your problems for you.”
“In about ten seconds, you’re going to die,” I cautioned him. “And you won’t be able to stop me. And neither will Butch, guaranteed. So, quit pissing me off and spill.”
“I do think it’s sending a message, but I couldn’t tell you what. But if you listen, there is a pause before we very distinctly hear the whistle. That sort of whistle is rare. Some factories still use them, you might find them in small cities, a noon whistle, but it’s not noon….”
“Do they sound them at end of shift?” Butch asked.
“Yeah, I suppose.” Cruz checked his watch and the time stamp on the recording. “Not local time for end of shift, unless it’s some place that changes shift at four o’clock instead of three. Most places go seven to three, three to eleven and eleven to seven. But some factories go from eight until four, four to twelve and twelve to eight.”
“Do any of the local factories use a steam whistle at change of shift?” I asked him.
He was already sitting down to the keyboard. His face fell when he read the screen. “Aw shit.”
“There’s one near the prison where we just put China Finetti,” I stated without even looking.
“Yeah. Shit. Fuck.”
I couldn’t sum it up more succinctly if I tried. “We don’t have any evidence that it was she who called. If it originated at the prison, don’t they have some recording that tells you?”
“Yes, but don’t you think that bitch could find a way to circumvent that?” Butch asked. “We still don’t know why Jingo.”
Cruz was already asking for a translation of Jingo ba,” the major lyric in the song. It hasn’t got many, it’s mostly a rollicking tune with lots of drums and wailing guitar. Great to dance to, kinda short on words. That was no help. Next, he looked up Jingo by itself.
“According to every dictionary site Jingo means a mindless, gung ho patriot. It’s also a substitute for Jesus – as in By Jingo, I can’t believe this shit!“
“What’s she playing at?” Butch asked.
“Like you said, we have no proof it’s China. We can’t do more with it right now. Let’s all go home.”
“You just want to get back to your hot man,” Cruz said with a knowing smirk.
“Yes, I do. He’s hot in more ways than one, and keeps me happily stress free. So, unless you want me to go on a bitch rant, you’d better let me go get my daily dose of orgasms.”
Both men burst out laughing.
“Only you, Houston,” Butch said, shaking his head. “It’s good, huh?” he asked as we walked to the elevator.
“It’s better than good. Kind of like sex with you.” I nudged him, knocking him a little to the left.
“But he’s better?”
“Butch, I’m very fond of you, but we were never in love. Took me awhile, but I realized that I’ve been in love with him for nearly a decade.”
“Kinda slow on the uptake, Marice.”
“Yeah, well…. No one ever accused me of being bright.”
“I’m glad you’re happy. God knows you deserve it.”
“So do you, my friend. Seeing anyone?”
“Was about to, before we got sent on this crazy errand. Tina in the office down in Daytona. She’s pretty, friendly…. Hope to get to know her better.”
“She won’t be sorry,” I said as we stepped out of the elevator in the garage.
“Thank you. Too bad we never got anywhere else. But neither of us wanted that.”
“We’re good as friends.” I gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “And you’re one of the only people I trust in all of this.”
“Ditto.” We started toward our cars, which were parked near one another.
I had just hit the button on my alarm, still several yards away. Butch’s car was a little closer to the elevator than mine. He hit his alarm at almost the same time, but it didn’t beep, nor did his lights flash. Grabbing his arm, I yanked him down, covering my head with my arm, as I threw myself over him.
“Marice, what the f—!”
There was an audible click and sizzle followed by a deafening boom. The explosion of his car shook the foundation of the building. My car shimmied and shivered. Scrambling quickly, Butch and I ran for the nearby stairway as my car, too, exploded.
Security personnel gushed from the stairwell, nearly knocking us down. Guns drawn, they secured the perimeter of the garage. I vaguely heard sirens screeching, but the ringing in my ears was so loud, I could barely hear. Head of security, a man named Auckland, came up to me, asking questions. I tried to read his lips, but suddenly there were two of him. My knees let go and I felt dizzy.
“Grab her!” I heard Butch yell. “Marice! Talk to me.”
That was the last I heard as the world upended and went dark.
©2019 Dellani Oakes