Colton Banyon Mysteries 4-7

 

To Be Published 5/15/16 

Chapter One

Colton Banyon sat at his desk in his manly home office at the front of his sprawling ranch house in suburban Chicago. It was midmorning. This was his fun time. He could check his portfolio, catch up on his New York sports teams, and surf the net. Today he was planning a vacation to someplace warm. Despite the warming sun that filtered through the large front window of his office, the temperature outside was a cold nineteen degrees. It was a drawback for living in Chicago in April.

His desk faced the double doors to his office, and he noticed that one door was slowly opening. Suddenly a small, but very shapely bare leg filled the space. Banyon took off his reading glasses and sat back for the show.

The Asian woman who owned the leg was fifteen years his junior and was in tremendous physical shape. She had remarkable genes. She could easily pass for twenty-five. She also loved to flirt with Banyon. Loni Chen had become his lover and partner in solving mysteries when, as an agent for the FBI, she had helped him fight off a group of white supremacists. They had started as friends and had put together a small detective agency a few years ago. Things had changed. She was the president, and he was the financial backer. Their record for solving mysteries was very good.

Long jet-black hair soon followed the leg into the room. Banyon could now see a single dark, almond-shaped eye peering at him. “Are you busy?” she asked in a soft singsong voice.

“I’m always busy,” he playfully responded, knowing that it would not stop her.

“Too busy to look at me in my new bathing suit?”

“Give me a minute to respond to this important junk mail,” he answered, also knowing it wouldn’t stop her for one second.

The door flew open, and she stood with her hands on her small hips. “What do you think?” she seductively inquired.

Her bathing suit, like its owner, was small and sexy. Banyon immediately felt a stirring, but he knew she wanted him to play the game. “I have more cloth in a pair of my socks,” he quipped.

“Does that mean that you like it or not?”

Hearing the disappointment in her voice, he quickly asked, “Does it cover the tattoo?” She had impulsively gotten the tattoo during an investigation of a white supremacist group that used a tattoo pallor as their headquarters. While it was the symbol of her name in Chinese, it was where the tattoo was located that revealed her truly impulsive nature.

“You just want to look at my ass,” she giggled.

“And what man wouldn’t?”

She ran to the front of the desk and spun around like a top with her arms straight out. Banyon could see the butterfly shape clearly on her right cheek. The string bikini didn’t invade the smooth round surface. Banyon just smiled.

But Loni turned toward him with a frown on her face. She put both of her hands on the desk and leaned forward. She was inches away from him. “You can’t just smile. You have to say it,” she demanded.

“You look stunning,” he announced immediately.

“Good of you to notice,” she replied a little sarcastically.

“Now come and sit on my lap so I can show you options for our vacation,” Banyon said in a leering voice.

Loni sprinted around the desk and quickly slid her five-one lithe frame on his lap. Banyon, a man of above-average height and weight easily supported her. He pointed at the computer screen.

“The Caribbean, Hawaii, or someplace far away,” he offered.

“You pick, but I want excitement, adventure, romance, and maybe a little gambling,” she muttered.

Sensing that he was being manipulated Banyon responded, “Las Vegas it is.”

“You really want to go there, too,” she said as she looked up at him from his lap.

“And you know me too well,” he retorted as he hit a tab on the screen and the list of Vegas hotels popped up.

“Hey, you’ve already been searching for a hotel in Las Vegas,” she exclaimed as she pointed at the screen.

“I just wanted to hear you beg,” he replied knowingly.

Their banter was broken when Banyon glanced out the window and noticed an official-looking car enter his circular driveway and park by the front door. The tall man who exited the car and ambled to the front door sent a shiver down his spine.

Since Loni was busy studying the screen and not turned toward the window, she had not noticed the car. When the doorbell rang, she sprang up and headed toward the front door before Banyon could protest. He didn’t want to see the man.

She flung open the door without checking the peephole and now stood in shivering shock. The man was in shock too as he didn’t expect a scantily bikini-clad woman to open the door in the middle of winter.

“Agent Greg Gamble,” Loni managed to utter. “You’re one of the last people I ever wanted to see on Earth,” she said with anger. She blocked the doorway and was clearly not welcoming him into the house.

Loni was in the process of slamming the door when she heard Banyon bellow, “It’s okay, let him in.”

The large FBI agent slipped past Loni as she stared at him with utter contempt and proceeded into the front office of the house. He stood in front of the seated Banyon and offered his hand. Banyon didn’t move.

“What do you want, Agent Gamble?” Banyon asked in a frosty voice.

“You used to call me Greg ole buddy,” he replied in his southern drawl.

“That was before we got to know you better.”

“It was all official government business. I had no choice. I am governed by the same laws you are, pal.”

“Why are you back here? Did you forget to confiscate some of my books? Maybe you forgot some recipes or pictures of my children? You already have my computer, all my records, and the cure for alcoholism that Loni and I found.”

Agent Gamble had been to the Banyon house several times. They had actually been friends and had been involved in several adventures together. The last one revolved around a copy of Mein Kampf that had been found in the jungles of the Philippines. Banyon and Loni had solved the mystery, found the rightful owner of the book, and had discovered an ancient cure for alcoholism secreted in the book. Suddenly Agent Gamble had shown up at their home spouting the Patriot Act and everything connected to the case was confiscated. Banyon realized that the event was political, but Gamble had been the point man.

Without being invited, the big man eased into one of the chairs in front of the desk. Even sitting down, he was still taller than Loni, who stood with a concerned look next to him. She suddenly became aware that she was almost naked and excused herself from the room. Agent Gamble opened his coat and brought out an old battered book. He placed it on the desk in front of Banyon.

“I need your help,” he announced as he looked Banyon straight in the eye.

“It’s not our policy to help people who’ve betrayed us in the past,” Banyon returned with a mile-long stare.

“I think you and Loni know more about the Mien Kampf caper than you’ve let on,” replied Agent Gamble.

“I’m not telling you anything about anything,” Banyon said.

“That would be very unfortunate,” Agent Gamble replied.

“Is that a threat?”

“Of course not, but the FBI is sure you have more information that you have not shared,” Agent Gamble smoothly replied.

“And that’s based on what, some politician’s intuition?” Banyon was becoming more sarcastic with each barb.

“No, sir. It’s based on the online searches that Loni’s been doing,” Agent Gamble replied. “Yes, Homeland Security has hacked into all your computers. The material you guys have been pulling down from the internet is interesting. It tells me you’ve withheld some information about our friend Hal Jones, the sleeper Nazi. According to the crime report, both of you were in his house for some time before it burned to the ground. We believe you found something that was not confiscated. I must see it.”

“How could you possibly know that the materials we’ve been looking at are connected to Hal Jones?” a concerned Banyon asked.

“Because we know about it, too,” the FBI agent responded.

Chapter Two

Banyon felt that the room had suddenly become hotter. His heartbeat suddenly quickened. Agent Gamble was right. They did hold back a snuffbox that held the key to the mystery and also an old photo they found in the Jones bedroom. Since the house had burned to the ground, they figured that no one knew about the photo. It was extremely damaging evidence that there was a long-term Nazi conspiracy in America. The men pictured in the photo and their children were now high ranking U.S. government officials or prominent business people.

“This is still a free country, and we can look at anything we want, Agent Gamble,” Banyon forcefully replied.

“Colt,” Agent Gamble spoke with his hands raised in surrender. “Please listen. The Patriot Act is one of their devices. As you know, it allows the government, especially Homeland Security, to take away any of your rights at will. You’re a historian. This has happened before—in Germany. As you always say, ‘history will repeat itself.’”

“Are you here to arrest us?”

“As I said,” a conciliatory Agent Gamble answered. “Your government needs your help.” It was more of a plea than anything else.

“How could…”, but before Banyon could ask how, Loni came into the room wearing a terrycloth robe and threw a picture on the desk. It was the picture she had grabbed at the old house. The picture was of several men and was taken at Harvard University in the 1930s. She had written names under all of the men. It was damaging evidence.

Agent Gamble looked at the picture without touching it and reached into his jacket. Banyon thought that he was going for a badge to arrest them, but instead he produced another copy of the picture and dropped it on the desk.

“Where did you get that?” Loni exclaimed as she pointed at the picture.

“We are required by law to do background checks on all Homeland Security personal,” replied Agent Gamble. “This picture was found in the archives at Harvard University while we were doing a routine background check on one of their executives. We know who most of these people are.” He pointed to the man on the far right in the photo. “Is this man Hal Jones?”

Banyon had seen many pictures in Jones’s house before it burned down. The man on the right was definitely Jones. “That is Hal Jones,” he offered.

Agent Gamble took a deep breath then spoke. “His real name was Klaus Gerut. His father Earnest Gerut and brother George Gerut were high-ranking Nazis. You may not know this, but the son of George Gerut, John Gerut, is now head of a fast-deploy strike force that can be sent anywhere on short notice and has the life and death powers of martial law. He now works for Homeland Security. His good friend and mentor is the director of Homeland Security and is also one of the men in the picture.” Agent Gamble stabbed the picture with his finger. “He is also the man who pushed through the Patriot Act.” Agent Gamble pointed to the man on the left.

“Yes, we know. It sounds like a repeat of the rise of a guy named Hitler in Germany. History is repeating itself.”

“It would seem so,” Agent Gamble replied sadly. “We must stop it.”

Loni suddenly spoke. “What about Dr. Thorne?” She was a redheaded woman who claimed to work for a museum and employed Banyon and Loni to help find the book. Agent Gamble had confirmed that the FBI had used her before. But when she finally collected it from the Japanese, using diplomatic cover, she and the book disappeared, only to resurface as an aid to Homeland Security.

“Yes, she liked you Loni,” Gamble joked. His entire body heaved as he chuckled.

“It was more like terrorized me,” she said angrily. “She couldn’t keep her hands off me. Or Maya”

“She was forced on the FBI by Homeland Security. She has been involved in other cases with the same results,” Agent Gamble explained.

Banyon was quiet, but suddenly asked a question. “Why did you say we must stop it?” inquired Banyon. “You’re part of the system.”

“Under our charter, we are separate. We are required to assist Homeland Security, but we’re not part of it. My director and a few of us are very concerned. Homeland Security steps in whenever they want and takes over our cases. They recruit from all the agencies and recruit only the most conservative, aggressive agents. They never pass information back to anyone. They’ve even made people disappear. Sound familiar?”

“My God,” Banyon muttered.

“You know,” Agent Gamble warned. “You and Loni are on the ‘to watch’ list as possible subversives. They’ve bugged your new computers, your office, and your home.”

“What?”

“But don’t you worry. The FBI has debugged your home.” He used his hands in a soothing gesture.

“But…” it was as far as Banyon got before Loni exploded.

“Those bastards! We’re loyal Americans. I want to get my guns and start shooting them. Let’s get them all. We need to stop this insanity.”

“Loni, the Homeland Security program is not bad. It is much needed. But there are a few bad people in the system. They need to go. That’s why I need your help.”

Banyon interrupted. “What about the president? Can’t he do something about this?”

“Well, ole buddy, he’s on the ‘to watch’ list too.”

“But Greg,” a suddenly friendlier Banyon said. “What can Loni and I do?”

“Read the book I’ve put on your desk. I’m aware of your special talents. Then call me to set up another meeting.” He got up and ambled out the door.

 

 

                               



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