Excerpt from Chapter Thirteen

Circumstances by L. D. Bergsgaard

Excerpt from Chapter Thirteen:

All it took was a new battery, six wraps of grey duct tape around the
cracked distributor cap, and eight spark plugs to bring the Caprice station
wagon to life. Rusty had the old woody stored in a metal shed after
she had only 24331 miles on the odometer. Except for the squeaky
power steering belt, she purred like the cat that had made its home
under the hood. Listening to Charlie Pride sing on an ancient 8 track
player, I waited in the driver’s seat at the Rochester Airport parking lot.

Across the road I could see the smokestacks to the Mayo Clinic
incinerator. I recalled the last trip I’d made there. The lab had enough
drugs held in evidence to make even Pablo Delgado envious. The BCA
lab would hold it until the evidence vaults were full and then a few of
the agents, well armed and a little nervous, would transport it to the
Mayo incinerator. It was a fascinating place. Long conveyor belts
would carry body parts, blood samples, tissue samples collected from
patients who traveled from every point on the globe. Lord knows what
exotic diseases flowed into the fire. We’d stack the drugs on the belt
and watch them move to the top then tumble into the burner where the
technician would destroy them in a billion degree flame, well, maybe
not a billion, but damn hot anyway. Strangest thing happened one trip.
We were watching the burn sitting on some barrels that had been taken
off the conveyor and replace with the narcotics. I asked the technician
if it was okay to sit on the barrels, more concerned that they didn’t contain
some radioactive material that would fry my private parts.

Excerpt from Chapter Twelve

Circumstances by L. D. Bergsgaard

Excerpt from Chapter Twelve:

Rusty rocked and puffed on the briarwood pipe producing a pleasant
aroma mixed with the wood smoke pouring out of the chimney. He
gave me an approving nod when I showed him the fried chicken I’d
brought back from Church’s Chicken. Then he asked me why I was
here at his home. Who was I and why was I bringing him chicken. I
did my best to explain, but the expression in his eyes told me the story
wouldn’t likely linger in his head. It seemed not so much out of some
physiological affliction as an affliction of the heart. Perhaps he just
didn’t care to remember anymore. It was as if he’d struck a deal with
God to hang around on earth for some time, but he wasn’t going to put
much effort into it.

Excerpt from Chapter Eleven

Circumstances by L. D. Bergsgaard

Excerpt from Chapter Eleven:

The bleating of goats and the smell of bacon brought me to consciousness.
I wasn’t certain where I was. The room was unfamiliar,
decorated in 30’s style wall paper and even older style furniture. A
porcelain wash basin rested on an oak table and a thunder pot sat in the
corner. About a year’s worth of dust covered everything. I tumbled out
of the feather bed with the creaking springs. Birds sang morning songs
from the bare trees. Robins had returned to the North Country way
too early. They always did.

I followed the aroma of bacon down the narrow hallway to the
kitchen. Pa was tending the black cast-iron cook stove. I enjoyed the
scent of burning wood and brewing coffee as I entered the kitchen.
“Good morning, Pa.”

Without looking at me, he said, “You can call me Rusty. Don’t have
any recollection having ever met your mother.” His speech was seasoned
with the lilt of an Irish immigrant.

Excerpt from Chapter Ten

Circumstances by L. D. Bergsgaard

Excerpt from Chapter Ten:

Concourse A was crowded with travelers from every corner of the
world. Amid this mass of humanity, speaking dozens of different
tongues, Elizabeth strode intently, past the dozens of food vendors and
out of the secured area. I kept on her heels, all but running. That
woman had legs longer than a Parisian model. Frustrated, angry, and
ready to do violence, I stayed with her as she headed to the front doors.
She spotted them before I did. Two burly, somber characters greeted
her deferentially as she all but rushed into their arms.

“Ms. McAllister, your father sent us. His limo is waiting right out
this door.” The heavier man in the black Brooks Brothers suit offered
his arm to her. She clutched it as tightly as a survivor of the Titanic had
grasped the last life jacket.

Excerpt from Chapter Nine

Circumstances by L. D. Bergsgaard

Excerpt from Chapter Nine:

Seated in the generous first class recliner, I sipped on a scotch, a
double, no ice. My travel companion toyed with a Merlot. Her
thoughts seemed a thousand miles away. Was she dreaming of being
reunited with Pablo? With Guillermo? In Dallas we cleared U. S.
Customs without so much as a second look at our passports and were en
route to Minneapolis. We’d spoken little, although I’d thought a lot.
Should I report to the authorities? Should I delay that and learn what
plan Vega had? I was feeling cornered and every hour of walking on the
‘other side’ would make it more difficult to step back on the ‘right side’
of the street.

I’d spent the last thirty years as a police officer with the City of Minneapolis
and later as a special agent with the State Crime Bureau. I
must have faced every ethical dilemma but never had I been so close to
breaking the law. Not that I didn’t occasionally bend the rules, violate
a policy, or veer close to the fog lines of the law, but I’d never crossed
over and since taking my oath, never even considered the possibility.
I’m not talking about the times I ran a red light, sped, covered a partner’s
tracks, or maybe had a belly full of whisky and still drove my
unmarked squad into the sunset. I’m talking about being a crook, a bad
guy, I guess, I’m talking about having a black heart.

Excerpt from Chapter Eight

Circumstances by L. D. Bergsgaard

Excerpt from Chapter Eight:

The indifferent driver reclined in the Impala, chomping on an unlit
stogie and listening to reggae music punctuated with static on the AM
radio. I opened the rear door and stepped aside. Elizabeth McAllister,
wearing too brief a dress, slid onto the filthy cloth seat hardly trying to
keep the dress pulled down. The old sedan moved across the crunching
seashells before I had slid in the back and had both feet on the floor.
He drove even faster than the trip up the mountain, evidently aided by
the pull of gravity going down the steep slope. I had a million questions
for my traveling companion, but I couldn’t even talk what with the
jarring ride. I tried but bit my tongue, literally, in the process.

Excerpt from Chapter Seven

Circumstances by L. D. Bergsgaard

Excerpt from Chapter Seven:

A young man, maybe twenty, wearing a backwards ball cap and baggy
gangster pants pulled down below his butt crack robbed me of making
a decision to flee, hide, or fight. The aspiring thug saw the soldier
thundering towards us and turned to run. He bowled over the small
elderly woman who preceded me like the lead pin at the bowling alley.
She neatly fell upon me and I in turn onto the couple behind me. I felt
the pain of a soldier’s boot on my stomach as he and his comrades blew
over me and after the hoodlum. I heard a shout and the crack of small
arms fire, once and then a volley. The crowd screamed and surged forward.

It was all over by the time we’d untangled ourselves. I helped the
old, frail woman to her feet. It was all I could do to refrain from going
over to where the soldiers were now, joined by uniformed police who
stood in a circle. Instead, with sweat pouring from my brow, I forged
ahead congratulating myself on not running from the soldiers. That
clearly was a deadly choice. In the distance, police sirens screamed. I
moved rapidly with long strides away from the fray.

Excerpt from Chapter Six

Circumstances by L. D. Bergsgaard

Excerpt from Chapter Six:

I rocked gently in a rope hammock strung between two palm trees to
the sounds of the ocean waves crashing onto shore. Through the bug
net, I stared at the stars and wondered what to do next. Sleep came
slowly as did dreams, mostly of Jenny reaching her trembling hand
towards me. I stretched my arms for her and then fell back into the
rolling sea, again, and again.

“Mister, Mister, wake up.” It was a distant tiny voice. A character in
my dream? I could hear the speaker but in the fog of the dream,
couldn’t yet see a human figure.

When I realized the sound wasn’t part of the dream, I forced my eyes
open, and focused on the pleading call. It came from a kinky-haired
youngster wearing a Richard Petty #43 t-shirt down to his knees. The
boy pulled urgently on the hammock, damn near tipping me out.