Maries for Security — What has Jessica found? General Grill and Captain Curtis
Marine General Grill was prompt. As the head of the National Guard stationed in West Palm Beach, he responded when Florida’s Governor activated a special security detail. Four hours after the Governor departed the find; two drab green Sea Stallion helicopters flew low over Lake Okeechobee. Their throaty thumping sound reverberated off the lake and drew curious stares from the locals. Since the pyramid and dig site wasn’t large enough for them to land on, their pilots settled on the levy. Their arrival did a tremendous job of clearing the tourists and locals hanging around the top of the levy. Three airboats appeared to ferry the men out to the dig site just before the helicopters touched down for faster access instead of using the smaller, constructed, walk-way. General Grill boarded the first boat. Seven other men accompanied him between the two airboats. Another seven went about setting up their base camp on the levy.
Jessica stood atop the dig sight watching their approach, prepared to greet them. Dressed as she normally did, in khaki work clothes and the wind off the lake lifting the loose strands of Jessica’s long red hair around her face, she was unaware of the alluring and exotic picture she presented. She dismissed the Marines’ scrutiny without thought.
Dressed in a camouflage uniform and a dark green beret, General Grill stepped off first. She hid her amusement. He reminded her of pictures of General Patton.
“Ms. Carter.” The General addressed her, saluted, and took Jessica’s offered solid handshake in his own. Impressed, Jessica’s respect for him increased, many men acted afraid to return a firm grasp from a woman, not this General.
“Sir!” Jessica returned. Her reservist training threatened to take over.
“A pleasure, ma’am.” He scanned over her dig and the small security force of now four Okeechobee Sheriffs’ deputies present. “I have been briefed on your circumstances and have been instructed to secure the area. It seems you’ve found some intriguing artifacts.”
“Yes, General, from all indications, I think we have.” Jessica affirmed with pride in her voice.
“After we set up, I would appreciate a complete briefing.”
“My pleasure. First of all, what do you require to get started?” Jessica watched his people deploy themselves around the perimeter of her dig. Each Marine, armed with an assault rifle, relieved a sheriff’s deputy. One man stood behind the General, not at attention, but not at-ease either.
“Allow me to introduce Captain Pericles Curtis. You’ll be dealing with him on a daily basis.” Captain Curtis stood well over six-feet tall, heavily muscled, and fit. He didn’t smile. The Captain, a handsome young man with large brown eyes, sandy brown hair, and a deep tan from hours of training out-of-doors; what she knew of Marine training was that it was the harshest of conditions. When the General introduced him, he shook her hand and received her firm handshake in return.
“Ms. Carter, ma’am.” Captain Curtis addressed her in the most respectful manner she remembered anyone ever speaking to her, meeting her gaze without flinching.
“Nice to meet you, Captain.” Jessica saw something in his eyes that spoke of more than regular Marine.
“Thank you, Captain,” Grill dismissed him. Captain Curtis left to attend his duties.
“I see your people are very efficient, General, I would not have expected otherwise.” Though a Naval Reservist, she held considerable respect for Marines.
Grill smiled. “They are, and Captain Curtis has some knowledge of archaeology. One reason his team was selected.”
“That will be helpful.” Jessica’s curiosity was piqued once more at the speed the Marines were dispatched.
“Ms. Carter, we are here to be helpful. In no way do we want to run your operation. However, where security is concerned, you must understand I will have the final say. One item, ma’am, I will require you to dismiss your workers. If you need manual labor, we’ll employ some people, but they will have to pass a security clearance.”
“General, I am sure you have a full file on me. Therefore, you know my background. I will cooperate with you, of course. As far as the workers, we can manage without the few we’ve retained. Most of the physical labor is completed. Now, what can I tell you or show you that you don’t already know?”
Jessica gave him a brief tour, and he found the mural room the most interesting, as did Captain Curtis, who returned to accompany them. Afterward, the workers were paid their salaries and dismissed.
Jessica watched the Captain. He seemed at home within the structure, as if he belonged there. His eyes took in everything in the room without appearing to gaze around. She concluded Captain Curtis was an uncommonly observant man.
“Thank you, Ms. Carter, for the tour. I’ll keep in close touch. Should you need me otherwise, Captain Curtis has my number.” He nodded to Captain Curtis. One of his men ferried him back across the short distance, and he departed the same way he arrived.
Captain Curtis and his men stood guard while the other Marines completed setting up a small, but efficient, base camp. Jessica was sympathetic they had to sleep in the Okeechobee heat and humidity. Marines, known for their toughness and discipline, didn’t seem fazed by the conditions.
Staffed and secured by sundown, their small camp gave them quick access by airboat or the small wooden walk over to the dig and necessities by road from the levy. The Marines’ camp was constructed around her already set-up, air conditioned tent present since early in the find. In order to be closer to the dig due to the extended hours she sometimes worked, she often needed a cool break, but she slept at the small, rented apartment.
Unmindful of the hour, common when she was on a dig, she sat and examined the etching of a cartouche she was deciphering. Mosquitoes buzzed outside, but inside she sat on the floor of a plush, thick rug among the throw pillows of her spacious three-room tent. The room she sat in, Jessica kept as a comfortable lounging room, the other she could sleep in if needed, and the third room was a mess. This was where artifacts were kept, cataloged with numbers awaiting transport to a secure location.
Captain Pericles Curtis will be the first character interview – it will be post here first, tomorrow, then on my blog. Keep an eye out for it!
Author’s WEB SITE: http://www.sqpens.com for more excerpts