By smell alone the Reek’s Rest more than lived up to its name. Tendrils of rotting odors had Sten and Alex retching half a klick before they even reached the bar, which sported a battered sign with a picture of a snarling black reek with a white streak down its back.
And when they walked in the smell was so overpowering they were almost knocked out of their boots. It was as if someone had done a bad of job of burying a reek the size of a mastodon, whose corpse gave off every imaginable odor of caustic fluids and secretions as it rotted slowly away.
Unfortunately, since they were posing as old port hands accustomed to the foulest of odors, they had to act like Reek’s Rest was a veritable homebar away from homebar.
They fired up a couple of ‘bacs, sucking deeply on the nicotine to settle their suddenly nervous stomachs as they strode ever so casually to the bar where a blonde behemoth of a woman held forth.
She looked them over as they approached, pasting a well-practiced lascivious smile on her big pink face.
In a booming voice she intoned: “Big Byrtha’s the name, and boozin’s my game, so belly up to the bar, boys, belly up.”
The crowded room was so dimly lit that Sten doubted anyone had noticed the exchange, much less heard it over the noisy patrons. Even so, he kept watch, letting Alex handle the big woman.
Kilgour turned on the charm. Laughing, he said, “I love those auld vids too, me bonnie lass. Next, yoo’ll be sayin, ‘What’s yer pleasure, wee jimmies?’ An, “Are those pistols in yer pockets, lads, ur are ye jist glad tae see me?’”
Big Byrtha guffawed. Looking Alex up and down, and liking what she saw, she said, “From yer manner of talk, if yer don’t mind me sayin’, yer must be a kilt wearin’ man.”
“Guilty as twice boiled haggis yer are, lass,” he said. He whacked his big chest. “Ah’m Scots through and through.”
“So, where’s yer kilt, big man?” Big Byrtha asked.
“It shrunk in th’ wash,” Kilgour said. “Ah was in danger ay showin’ off me nethers.”
Big Byrtha liked that. Laughing heartily, she slammed a meaty fist on the bar. Then she grabbed a bottle and poured two shots.
“From the cut a yer jibs,” she said, “I’m figger’n yer both Stregg men,” she said.
“That we be,” Kilgour said, throwing back a shot.
Sten followed suit and Big Byrtha poured two more. “From the looks of yer,” she said, “If I were in the guessin’ business, yer new to Chinen.”
“An’ yoo’d be guessin’ correctly, mah braw beauty,” Alex said.
“Then, here’s another guess,” Big Byrtha continued. “Yer have the look of working stiffs, but the manner of businessmen. If my guess is on the money, which are yer?”
Alex waggled a hand back and forth. “A wee ay baith, lass,” he said. “Jist like our visit tae yer braw establishment. We’re haur fur a bit ay pleasure, but hopin’ fur a bit ay business. If thaur is any tae be had.”
She grinned at this, saying, “Were yer mebbe thinkin’ Big Byrtha might be of help in yer business?”
“Indeed we were,” Alex said.
Big Byrtha glanced around the bar, as if assuring privacy, then motioned for Alex to come closer.
“Then have a whisper in my shell like, Mr. Kilt Man,” she said.
Kilgour leaned in until his head was nearly touching Big Byrtha’s. “We bin chin waggin’ with this wee scrote name ay Snilch,” he said. “He tauld us ye might be able tae help wi’ a wee problem that’s bin devilin’ us.”
At the mention of the name, Big Byrtha frowned and drew away. Started polishing the bar with a dirty rag. “Snilch,” she said, in tones that made the name sound lower than reek droppings. “I never have doings with that little snitch. Just lookin’ at him makes me bum break out in boils.”
“Now, now, lass,” Kilgour soothed. “We sussed ‘at he was a bad a body right off. But it was information we were after. The vital sort. An’ when yoo’re efter information, ye cannae always be too choosy ay yer company.”
Big Byrtha sniffed. “And I’m supposin’ Snilch said I might be in possession of the sort of information yer after,” she said.
Sten noted her tone was easier now. The Kilgour charm was doing its job.
“‘At he did,” Alex said.
“So what sort of information are yer after, Mr. Kilt Man?” she asked.
“Th’ kind ‘at makes a handsome profit fur baith ay us,” Alex said. He tapped his chest. “Money fur th’ likes ay us.” And he gave Big Byrtha his most winning smile. “An’ a bundle a credits fur yer as well, mah wee lass.”
At this, Big Byrtha plunked another shot glass and poured herself a Stregg, then two more for Alex and Sten. She downed her drink then put a hand on one ample hip.
“I’m all ears,” she said. Then, laughing, she added, “And all boobs and hips and belly and butt, boys.” As she spoke, she ran her hands down her body, demonstrating.
Alex gave each part an admiring look, shook his head in awe, then proceeded to spin the tale he and Sten had worked out.
Mostly they told the truth – well, the truth according to Snilch. It seems that a certain Captain Gregor of the Flame was well known in black market circles for selling ship’s stores and supplies. He used falsified bills of lading, broken containers, spoiled food, faulty equipment and any semi-reasonable excuse he could phony up to skirt regulations. A few times, it was said, he’d even sold certain weapons on the black market – a firing squad offense if there ever was one.
Snilch claimed it was also well known that Big Byrtha served as a middlewoman in many lucrative black market transactions and was reputed to be a “square shooter” when it came to underworld business.
“So yer think I’ve got somthin’ goin’ on with Gregor now, do yer?” Big Byrtha asked.
Sten thought it interesting that she didn’t deny any of Snilch’s claims.
“And so he did, lass,” Alex. “Mind ye, he didnae speak easily. Even after crossin’ his palms wi’ silver, we had te thump him a bit aboot th’ head an’ shoulders.”
Big Byrtha laughed. “Wish I’d been there to glimmer it,” she said. “I have a notion to wring his neck meself every now and then.”
She gave Alex a smoldering look. “You’re not thinkin’ of smackin’ poor little Byrtha about, are yer my darlin’ Mr. Kilt Man?”
Alex looked aghast. “Never!” he proclaimed. Then he grinned. “Weel, mebbe a bit if a wee kinky mince is tae yer likin’.”
“Wait’ll I see what’s under the kilt, sweetie,” Byrtha replied with a low laugh.
Kilgour gave her a wink and said. “Ah can only hiner an’ pray, lass. Only hiner and pray.”
Then he grew serious. “So, lass, it comes tae this. Snilch says there is a Gregor deal afoot an’ yoo’re handlin’ it. But this isn’t an ordinary Gregor deal. This time we’re talkin’ about a coople ay hundred kilos ay Imperium X. Swatched right off th’ Flame, Snilch says. If thae’s the case, a bonnie profit could be made for th’ three of us.”
Big Byrtha just stared at him.
“Do ya’ ken what Ah’m gettin’ at lass?” Alex prodded.
“Yer want to hijack Gregor’s goods,” Big Byrtha said. “And yer want me to help yer. Fer a price, that is.”
“Exactly, lass,” Kilgour said. “Smart as new paint, ye are, lass. Smart as new paint.”
Big Byrtha motioned to one of her assistants to take over her post. She nodded toward a door next to the bar.
“Let’s go into my office and talk business, Mr. Kilt Man,” she said.
As they followed her big waggling behind into the office, Sten had a sudden vision of a fish swallowing a baited hook.
NEXT: OUTNUMBERED AND OUTGUNNED
THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions.
Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.
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A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.
LUCKY IN CYPRUS:
A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, And Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA
LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher.
He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.
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Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
- "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
- "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus.
- "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke, Bookloons.com
NEW: THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF
THE HATE PARALLAX
THE HATE PARALLAX: What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)
THE SPYMASTER'S DAUGHTER:
A novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan
After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm ravaged night.
BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization.
TALES OF THE BLUE MEANIE
NOW AN AUDIOBOOK!
Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is "The Blue Meanie," a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.