The Cardboard Box Part II Chapter 15
“Never Try to Out Con and Con”
Taking a walk on a fall evening in Amarillo, Texas was a good thought but not a safe idea for a young woman from the upper boundary waters of Wisconsin who had gotten herself in the middle of a drug war or drug gang. I really wasn’t sure what it was, I just knew it was bad. Pam Hawkinson had nearly gotten me killed more than once. It was beginning to look like her lover Jake the notsomuch Frenchman had conned her royally and was out to silence me. Add to that he was also the brother of Timothy Haines my attorney. But then I really didn’t need an attorney because I was not a drug dealer. The FBI was using me to find the drug dealers I thought. Add Tilton Boyer to this menagerie considering his office is where Pam Hawkinson would go after almost every one of her shifts ended at the motel restaurant. But why? How are those two connected I continued thinking to myself along with being encumbered by the rest of the Amarillo mystery. I wanted to go back to the hospital to see how Miles was doing but I didn’t dare step outside the confines of this house considering there was an unmarked car guarding it. And going out windows especially at night was never happening again. I lay down on the bed as thoughts continued circling within my mind similar to a ball of unraveling thick string. The more I tried figuring the mess out the more I felt like a fish in a net with no way out. I knew better than to think such thoughts. I had myself stuck in a cardboard box again even though it sure felt like a dang coffin or at least a jail cell. I had to start thinking outside the box if I were going to get out of this cesspool and back on the road. And then I recall the crying began. Crying for Duke and praying to God and his mother and all the Angels for Tom and Duke to be safe. That is the last I remember before feeling the warm sunrise come directly into my bedroom window touching and soothing my face. The rays seemed to be talking only to me out of the billions of people on the planet. I rose with a new sense of strength. Fixed my breakfast and while crunching corn flakes before they got soggy I made the life decision to go with Tilton Boyer to view the church I had in mind to buy for Tom. I would continue my previous plan for Tom, leaving Miles a note with the address of the real estate property Tilton and I would be viewing mid-day. I was trying to move forward as though everything were more normal than it really was.
The unmarked car that had staked out Miles house overnight had left. I figured it must have been a nighttime thing with the FBI. Apparently I was on my own during the day light hours or else someone would be losing their stripes. Wait that is only in the armed forces. O well, no skin off my back so I went bouncing out the door in my skin tight jeans to the ankle, my newest Ship n Shore blouse, white tennies with bobby socks. And of course my knife but this time tucked in the right bobby sock due to the stitches on the left and might I add getting tighter by the day. My Baby browning was under my arm. I had found one of Miles extra shoulder gun holders and used it. I felt like Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin, who shared his super powers. Yes at times my imagination definitely went wild as it was doing that morning. I bounded out the door like I didn’t have a care in the world. As I think back I believe the sun truly did speak to me that morning in a very powerful manner as I felt different somehow.
Tilton Boyer came alone driving a brand new fancy red corvette convertible. Holy Schmolley I remember thinking where did he get that kind of money selling real estate in a small town like Amarillo? But then it was none of my business.
He reached over the passenger seat and opened the door for me as he handed me a beautiful silk scarf for my hair. Humm I thought this sure was a different side of the Tilton I met at the office the other day. But then I was trying very hard not to allow my imagination to run off without my senses at the least close behind. And if there were a problem it was by far too late as we sped off toward the outskirts of town where the little church supposedly stood waiting for its new preacher, Tom Baird. I always got ahead of myself and this time was no different. But we didn’t stop at the edge of town, rather he floored the accelerator and we rolled out into the countryside full barrel. I turned to ask him where we were going but he couldn’t hear me with the car, wind, and the radio, all between Tilton and me. Then suddenly I freaked out thinking about all the times I was out in the middle of nowheresville with people and it never turned out well at all. I tapped Tilton’s shoulder to get his attention. He turned down the radio and waited. I asked where we were going considering I noticed we passed the area where I thought we were to turn off and view the church. He smiled and informed me we had to go to one of his clients other properties to retrieve the key to the church which at that point in time satisfied me.
We pulled off the main highway after what seemed like a thirty mile exodus onto a long gravel driveway. I couldn’t see the main property until we followed the drive up to what appeared to be a huge white plantation type home with large round pillars. Heck it almost looked similar to the Governor’s mansion in Austin yet way run down and unkept. It looked like something out of a movie set. Quite spookey actually. Paint chips peeling like a tree trying to shed its old bark for the new year but this house had no signs of beginning any new year. In fact it looked like it might have been used during a war. My psychic awareness came forth full bar. Tilton pulled out a garage door opener from the glove box like he had been here many times before. He hit the button and he pulled directly into the garage like he owned the place. We walked inside where all appeared to be an old but very normal and very royal. Marble floors, gold embossed frames around the doorways as well as intricate wood carvings surrounding each fireplace in every room we passed. There was a very eerie feeling surrounding me as I sensed Tilton and I were not alone. We continued meandering through the hallways me following like a lost child. At one point I asked where the heck are we going? He stopped, turned around, looked directly into my eyes and said, “We are meeting the owner of the church here.” In recollection I realized later the he way he spoke to me had made me feel like a child. I continued following the pied piper further up a winding staircase to the second floor where I couldn’t help but notice how many rooms there were with closed doors. And in the center of all these closed doors were barred rooms. I literally squealed with fear because I was staring at a prison. The entire second floor of this old erie mansion was a hidden prison. I was about to flip my wig and have one of my cows I had when mad or scared.
In response to my little squeal Tilton whirled around saying, “What the hell is the matter with you?”
“Tilton.” I said. “I sense we are wondering through a maze of hallways in an old war zone. I don’t like this I am turning around and will wait in the car.” Oddly, he told me to go on then!”
Turning back was worse than going forward because I lost my way. There were so many doors and halls I felt like I was in one of those cornfield mazes or mirror rooms at the fair where at every turn you are more lost than before. I was getting really scared. What was behind the doors? Dear God what if it were skeletons of people left to die here. I tried to open one of the doors but my hands shook beyond any sort of normalcy as I pushed as hard as I could. It only budged enough for me to see a stream of light through the crack. Those doors had not been opened for many years.
Not only was I lost in an eerie old mansion in a second floor jailhouse with locked doors all around, but I was out in the middle of nowheresville Texas. Add to that no one new where I was. I was halted in my every movement and thought as I heard voices. I needed to get out of there as fast as I could find a way. It was at that precise moment I heard Jake Haines voice. What was he doing there? Fear began to rush though every cell of my body. My rational mind concluded this could be the hide out for the Amarillo drug lords. And then I heard the distinct voice of Pamela Hawkinson. But where was Tilton in all this? I started running until I found the staircase and ran into the garage. My spirit was sensing they knew I was there. They had set me up and were going to kill me.
Then from one of the secret staircases that opened at the back corner of the garage stepped out Pam staring at me in bewilderment.
I said, “Why do you look so shocked Pam? You are all in cahoots with drugs, smuggling, kidnapping, and probably murder also. You are really something girl!?
She responded quickly grabbing my arm and pushing another wall button that opened yet another secret tunnel down and out of the building. She whispered for me to come on with her which of course I denied. She said she worked for Miles and was there to help me as she was the other night but I jumped out before she could explain.
“Liar, Liar, pants on fire!” I said as I wondered why I would use such a form of childish response in such a serious time.
She assured me she was working with the FBI and to follow her as it might be my only chance to get out of there alive. Doing a quick mental review of the situation I realized she might have a point therefore I followed her though a tunnel to a landing. We ended up in the woods on a hill where we could look down on the old mansion. There she began to tell me of her glorious affair with Jake. And how one evening after an amazing lovemaking session, you know the kind where it seemed extra intent was at hand? It was then he told her he needed to talk to her about something. She admitted she was not prepared for what came next. I stopped her asking what relevance this had with our immediate situation. She urged me to listen and I would find out. Jake told me he rents out his home in Paris to friends and famous people for parties and such and there had been some problems and he had to go back to take care of them. He hoped his little Cheri would understand. That is what he called her as he pretended to be a romantic frenchman. She continued telling me she did not show him any emotion whatsoever except to offer him a slight grin which being a con himself he caught the inference immediately and said, “What is it? No what is it?”
She responded it was nothing that she understood how these things can happen. Of course she told me she knew he was lying and had been for some time. Pam told me she had asked Jake when he would be leaving and he replied as soon as possible but that he would like one last outing with her. She agreed she told me because she wanted to follow his game to the end. Who knows she said, it might make a good book someday. She told me she never did know when to quit and was very sorry for causing me such undue stress since my arrival in Amarillo but that she was on payroll with the FBI and had no choice. I asked her if she and Jake ever had their last outing and why was he still here and in this awful crazy house of horrors? She told me this was to be their last outing today but she feared he may have caught onto her. I could see Pam had gotten in way too deep. She fell in love with a damn drug dealer and lost her objectivity and work ethics to boot. I asked her if Miles knew about this affair with Jake. She affirmed he did. That hit me like a boulder.
Was she that dumb? Yes she was, or was she simply a woman in love and now in trouble. What had happened from my point of viewing the situation was Pam wanted to win and to beat Jake at his own game at any cost. I tried to reason with her in what short time I had to repair the damage Jake had done to her but I couldn’t reach her. She seemed to believe she could out con a con. Something my Granddaddy taught me a long time ago not to even try. Pam told me she knew Jakes game and for me not to fret.
I said, “Okay I’ll bite. What’s his game Pam?”
She told me when they arrived at the old mansion by the way Julianna it is owned by Tim Haines, Jakes brother. She continued, when she arrived earlier she had found a piece of paper on the garage floor with a small round type metal item that looked like a battery but in reality it was an acid bomb. Jake didn’t realize he had dropped it and Pam found it. His plan was for her to take what was a fake love letter from him before he left. She figured he would tell her to wait until he reached the end of the long driveway before opening and reading it. Then when it was in her hand and he was out of sight he would remotely set it off and take her out because she knew too much.
I was personally shocked at her deduction of the upcoming events and was now not sure who was the bigger con, her or Jake. Not to mention the shock of learning who owned the building.
She then told me her plan was to reverse the entire scenario on Jake. I didn’t even ask how it was all so up surd and drama ridden. I simply followed her instructions back through the tunnels and hidden stairs to the secret garage opening where we heard voices. She told me to stay behind the door where I would be safe until she came to get me and if anything happened to her Duke and Tom where hidden on the third floor and how I could get there through a secret staircase behind the fake chimney in the kitchen. They were safe but not for long.
I thought I should faint from excitement and sheer fear. I said for her to wait, who is Tilton Boyer? She responded with ssshhh…. Gotta go. Then she added, “Did you know I grew up in this house and my parents were killed at the end of this driveway when they pulled out in front of a big rig going 70 mph. And she opened the door and exited the darkness. I heard Jake enter the garage asking her where the hell she had been. She answered him kindly saying she had taken a walk on the property while he finished his business and then I heard silence, a door slam, and an ignition turn over.
Jake hollered, “Hey, stop, that’s my car, stop Pam!”
That is when I realized exactly what was about to happen. I had dang goose bumps all over my body as I flung open the secret passageway door to the garage and screamed, “Pam, no!!”
Jake had jumped into the car with Pam in the driver’s seat. She barreled down the gravel driveway never braking, pulled out onto the highway into the path of an oncoming semi going 70 mph. The sound of metal was deafening. I was in shock as Tilton burst into the garage grabbing me and holding me as I screamed. Tilton cried saying Pam was his niece, how did this happen?
I explained all that transpired between Pam and Jake to Tilton who could not understand why Pam seemed to do this on purpose. I told them how he tricked her. How he had planned to kill her. How much she loved him and could not stand what he did to her. She felt she had lost again at life and had nothing else to lose. It was the ultimate control she exercised over him as he had almost done to her. I suspected there was just enough time for her to look into his eyes and soul and smile letting him know she won when in fact no one won.