A Long and Winding Road

Now, before I met the Tribal Sherriff with the funny name, I had to check in with the local FED.

(A little history here, to explain my attitude about the Feds.)

I failed to make Agent with the FBI. Yep, pooched it. A murderer killed someone on my watch and I got blamed. I was only a probationary Agent at the time too. Yeah, people die, people get killed by murderers who are being investigated all the time and the Agent responsible doesn’t get fired. It comes with the job. But I was a probie (with an attitude) and therefore a liability going forward.

Whatever.

Fortunately, I have a great relationship with my academy supervisor, Jack. He lined up this job for me. (must remain grateful, must remain grateful) And since he had access to personnel files, he forwarded me everything about the players in this ‘Fish Scandal.’

With a warning; the SAC (Special Agent in Charge) Gerald Hinch is an asshat.

You can tell a lot about an agent from their case reports.  I spent several hours poring over Gerald’s.  In Graduate School, I had been pretty good at profiling an individual from their writing.  I can spot distinctive character traits by selective word choice and the use of “I” or “ME.”  SAC Hinch was no different.  I knew I was in for his special brand of narcissism and was well prepared for him.

He had me meet him really early at a coffee shop in Poulsbo. (He works out of the Seattle field office.)

He was seated and apparently on the phone when I walked in.  He made me wait while he finished his chat.  It wasn’t an important call.  He was establishing dominance.

He hung up.  “Kwan? Please,” he motioned to a chair. “Sit down.  Make yourself comfortable.”  I parried, “that’s OK, I would rather stand.”  I now stood over him and he didn’t like it.  Score one for me.

He suddenly jumped up from his seat.  He grabbed his coat, badge, and firearm.  “Let’s go for a ride.”

Shit, I didn’t even get coffee.

I wasn’t entirely sure where Gerald was taking me.

I’m a terrible passenger.  Gerald was a daredevil driver.  He pushed his Lexus pretty hard in what appeared to be a rural area.  The “Entering Suquamish Tribal Reservation” sign went by in a blur.  I white knuckled the door arm rest but made sure he never noticed.  I had called Tribal Sheriff Johns ahead of time so he could meet us at the hatchery.  Needless to say, I was surprised when Gerald pulled into the Tribal Casino parking lot instead.

“Um, ok.  Why?” I gestured toward the Casino.

“Why, what?” Gerald asked as if he didn’t know.

“Shouldn’t we be going to the Hatchery?”

“What’s the rush?  I want to show you something first.  Loosen up.” He was enjoying this.

He looked at my shoes. “Are those standard issue?  How the heck do you run in those?”

What? He was judging my clothes?  What was wrong with my clothes?  .

“Not a fan of skirts?”

“What?  No.  Never.”  What was his issue?

Gerald seemed to know his way around the Casino property pretty well.  I was still unsure as to the reason for this visit.  Sheriff Johns was waiting for us at the hatchery.

“Mizz Kwan.”  I didn’t like the way he said Mizz. “This is the future of the Indian tribes in the Puget Sound.  It is a renewable resource with unlimited potential.  Fishing is a dying industry. ”

“Your point, Agent?”  Lynn stopped walking.

“The point is that the Salmon are a non-issue.  This is a pointless investigation.  It isn’t going to matter how or why those fish died, in the long run.”  Gerald stopped too.  He looked at me directly, I think for the first time.  “Don’t waste too much of the Bureau’s time on this.  Find a reasonable explanation and leave it at that.  That is my advice.”

“Well, that’s all well and good, but I didn’t ask for advice.  And I don’t work for the Bureau. Can we go to the Hatchery now, please?” I didn’t wait for an answer.  I turned on my heel and headed for what I hoped was the exit.

I flew out into the Porte-cochere only to realize Gerald wasn’t following.

“Prick!”

The cab driver knew where the Hatchery was, fortunately, because I certainly didn’t.  And, yes, I was mad.  Mostly at myself.  Then my phone rang.

“WHAT!”  It wasn’t Gerald.

My sister was barely understandable.  She was sobbing.

“Hil? What?  I can’t hear you honey.  Are you crying?  What’s wrong?” I felt my heart beating hard now.

“It’s Mom.  She wants to leave the hospice and come home.  She told me not to tell you.  But I couldn’t do that.  She’s going to kill me.  Where are you?” Hilary was sobbing but making sense.

“In Washington State.  What do you mean she wants to leave?  I don’t understand what you want me to do about it.”

I was pretty sure the taxi driver saw me roll my eyes.

Next – Ransom