The Ed Waller Stories: Book One - Algeria Here I Come

Chapter Twenty-Two: The Business at Hand

Our cabin became like Grand Central Station. The first to arrive were Scott and Angela Summers. Allie looked at them, "What should we call you?"

Scott frowned, "I guess you could call us by our names. I assume you can say Scott and Angela. Just make sure you call us in time for dinner. We understand that dessert is served every night in your cabin, so you need to make sure you invite us."

Allie must have decided he liked this Scott person, "Whatever you say Uncle Scott. Aunt Angela, why is the Homeland Security Agency involved? Brahim and I aren't United States' citizens."

Angela pinched Allie cheek, "You sure are a cute one. You're also very astute. The reason I'm involved is to make sure that your Dad is safe. Since you and Brahim are going to be living with him, it is our responsibility to protect you, as well."

Khalid and Amir chose that moment to reenter our cabin unannounced. Allie shook his head no, "I'm sorry, I can't buy into that idea. The United States government and the Algerian government wouldn't be so involved, just to protect the three of us."

Allie continued, "It's Dad, Brahim and me who are being shot at. I think it's time for people to level with us so we don't get any more innocent bystanders hurt."

Khalid sat down beside Allie, "Allie, you're wrong. We are concerned for your safety as well as Brahim's and Mr. Waller's. What I have to say to you can not go out of this cabin. You three have stopped a major source of money that was going into the pockets or a major terrorist organization. We have every reason to believe that the organization is being aided by a government who does not like the United States. We are trying to find out which government it might be."

Amir sat on the other side of Allie, "Our President is determined that nothing should happen to any of the three of you, as I guess President Obama is, or Mr. and Mrs. Summers wouldn't be here. I know that you are concerned about the safety of Jim and John, Dr. Roberts and Mr. DePauw as well as Miss Jocelyn and Miss Kate. We're sure that what happened to Dr. Roberts was an accident, partly caused by his own actions."

Allie started to say something but was interrupted by the arrival of Jim and John. John was gushing, "Granddad gave us money to pay for lunch."

Dr. Roberts and Uncle Tom came in the patio door as the ship was docking. Jocelyn and Kate arrived so we were all assembled when the speaker system came on. "Will the Alli Safi party please assemble in the atrium, next to the entrance to the dining room? Officer Pietro is waiting there for you."

Allie looked at everyone with a devilish grin, "I guess that tells us who the most important person here is."

Scott laughed, "Angie and I will have to think about that, while you're gone today. We'll see you when you get back."

We met Pietro at the appointed place and exited the ship then we were ushered to an awaiting bus. Allie sat next to Pietro and was asking him all sorts of questions. Pietro took the microphone, "We're going to go pick up my family, and then we will begin our tour."

We went to a nice house and two handsome young boys about the same age as Allie and the twins were sitting on the fence watching for us. When they saw the bus, they came running toward where the bus had to park. The two boys hugged their Dad, and Pietro introduced them to us. "These are our sons, Mikhail and Dmitri." A very beautiful woman walked toward us and Pietro hugged her, "This is my lovely wife, Natasha."

Allie took care of the introductions for us and as we reentered the bus, you would have thought that Mikki and Dimmi had known Allie and the twins forever. Pietro's sons spoke very good English. Pietro took the microphone, "Tasha has arranged for her parents to fix us a true Estonian meal for you. It will be much safer than if we were to eat in the square where the other passengers from the ship will be spending their time."

Allie spoke for all of us, "That sounds great, Mr. Pietro."

We drove into the countryside and it was as if we were being transported back in time to the middle ages. Brahim leaned over and whispered, "This is sure different than what we saw in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki. We pulled up and parked at a gray stone house with a beautifully manicured yard. It had a stone fence wall running around the property.

Allie looked at me, "Dad, I wish we had a camera."

An older couple came to greet us and Mikki and Dimmi translated for us. "These are our Grandparents, Ivan and Katrina Rostropovich. They welcome you to their humble abode."

Allie went an hugged the couple and he introduced the rest of us leaving out any reference Khalid and Amir's rank. Dimmi and Mikki were translating for their grandparents what Allie was saying.

We had a delightful meal and I was sure that we wouldn't be hungry again the rest of the day.

As we were getting ready to depart, I whispered to Pietro, "Pietro, can we offer Mr. and Mrs. Rostropovich some money?"

Pietro shook his head, "Please don't, sir. They would be offended if you tried to give them money. They are very much enjoying everyone's company. They will be the envy of the neighborhood because they have had some people from the United States and other countries dining in their home. We need to be going if we're going to see any of the sights of Tallinn."

As we boarded the bus, we all hugged and thanked the Rostropovichs for their hospitality. They were smiling as we were pulling away. Allie got out of his seat and went to talk to Pietro, "Mr. Pietro, is it okay if we just go back to your house. Dimmi and Mikki said they play soccer with their friends in the field next to the house. I really don't want to do anything else, today. Just meeting Miss Natasha's parents and enjoying a wonderful meal and meeting your family are the only memories I need of Tallinn for this trip."

The bus driver parked near Pietro's house and the five boys went to the soccer field that was across the road. They were soon joined by five other young boys and they had a full blown soccer match going. Allie was dazzling the other nine boys with his ball handling skills. He could pass like a pro, and to watch as he headed a ball where he wanted it to go was a phenomenal sight. He even scored a goal by heading the ball into the goal.

Khalid and Amir were sitting next to Kate, Bra, JoJo and me. Khalid leaned over, "Ed, me thinks that you are going to have your hands full with your young son. We need to find something that he doesn't excel in. Just watching him move is fun. He looks as if he were gliding across a dance floor."

Dr. Roberts looked at Khalid, "You're just jealous. Allie is a work of art and I don't think anyone can deny it."

The game was interrupted by Pietro and Natasha returning with some refreshments. Pietro whistled and the boys came running.

The boys were sitting in a circle on the ground, and you would have thought they had been friends forever as they sat and talked.

Pietro had a call on his cell phone, "Okay, people, we need to go back to The Paradise. We will be taking a circuitous route to get there."

We climbed on the awaiting bus and watched as Pietro said goodbye to his family. 'Gees, it's got be difficult being away from your family so much of the time.'

Pietro was talking to the driver in Finnish, telling him where he wanted him to take us. Pietro turned to me, as we were driving along and whispered, "Mr. Waller, could you please give our driver a couple of dollars? He has been very patient and usually each of the passengers on his bus would give him a dollar or two."

I pulled out my wallet and took out two twenty dollar bills and tried to hand it to Pietro. Pietro shook his head no, "Please, sir, you need to give it to him. If I gave it to him, he would probably be offended."

We stopped at a marina and Pietro directed us to where a life boat from The Paradise was waiting for us. As we climbed out of the bus, I handed the driver the $40.00 and he put it in his pocket. When Allie climbed out, he hugged the gentleman, "Thanks for being so kind to us, today."

The driver smiled and spoke in English, "Allie, it was a pleasure to drive you and your friends around. Two of the boys that you whipped the bottoms off of in your soccer match were my sons. Pietro, I'll see you when you get home, in two weeks."

Once we were aboard the life boat, we started toward the pier where The Paradise was docked. Pietro explained, "We are going to be entering the ship on the side away from the dock. Security and the Summers have determined that there was probably going to be a problem if we went to the entrance on the pier."

The ship's horn was announcing the that the ship was getting ready to depart. The life boat pulled along side an open door on The Paradise and two crew members helped us get on board. We were just walking into the area where we needed to check in, when there were two young men who were frantically running to get on board.

One of the men yelled, "We can't leave yet. The Waller/Safi party hasn't returned from their tour."

Khalid and Amir motioned for us to stay out of sight. They confronted the two gentlemen, "Why should we care about three insignificant people when we have a schedule to meet?"

They immobilized the two gentlemen and Khalid looked at the security people. "Please tell the Captain that we have two suspects here that need to be incarcerated."

We could feel the ship pulling away from the dock, and Captain Brower appeared with Mr. and Mrs. Summers. The Captain looked at the two detained persons, and the Summers, "It appears that you hit the mark on these two young men. They will be placed under armed guard confinement until we reach Gdansk. That way you will be able to question them, thoroughly, and they will not be able to communicate with whomever they are working for, or with. I guess we'll be sailing with two less crewmembers, for a while."

The Chief Security Office disappeared with the gentlemen.

Captain Brower was thinking out loud, "I'd like to have a meeting in the conference room in the bridge area, as soon as possible."

Allie frowned, "Do I need to be there?"

There was chorus of yeses.

Allie put his hands on his hips in disgust, "Who else is going to need to be there?"

Captain Brower turned to Khalid who answered, "For starters, Brahim and Mr. Waller need to be there. The Summers will also need to be there, as well as the Chief Security Officer, Mr. Del Rio, Amir and me."

Jim interrupted, "Good, that means John and I can swim for awhile. We'll see you at dinner time."

Allie looked at the two guys, "Traitors."

Khalid stopped anyone from leaving the area. "Please don't say anything to anyone about what has happened here. I think we should try to not let anyone else know about the two gentlemen who are being detained. Captain, please talk to the security people who have been involved in all this, and inform them of the importance of keeping this under wraps."

The Captain patted Allie on the back, "Why don't you go to the bathroom, and then grab something to drink. We'll all meet on the bridge in 30 minutes."

Allie grabbed my hand, "Come on, you heard the Captain. Let's go."

We took the service elevator to the to the tenth floor. Kate and JoJo started toward their cabin. Kate turned, "We're going to the spa to get a massage. We'll see you at dinner."

Tom winked at us, "Darryl and I are going to catch a little nap before dinner. I'm still fighting jet lag."

Khalid and Amir went into the cabin with us, but they soon disappeared through the opening in the veranda wall. Amir explained, "We're going to check our computer for any new messages. We'll meet you on the bridge."

Allie disappeared into his suite and I heard him start his shower and then he started to sing in his beautiful lilting voice. I hugged Brahim, "I guess we don't have time for you to fill one of those thingies so you can provide the sperm whales with another sample to add to their collection."

Brahim kissed me, "We shouldn't feed the whales in the afternoon. Someone might see how full the thingy was with those little squiggly things and think it was a water balloon. We wouldn't want to embarrass anybody would we?"

When Allie reappeared, he looked refreshed. He grinned, "I was a little dirty from rolling around on the ground. Dad, can we buy me one of those things that you wear when you play sports so you penis and testicles don't get hurt or show so much. I don't want people laughing when they see my little thing flopping around."

I laughed, "Allie, I assume that you're talking about an athletic supporter, or jock strap."

"Yep, but I want to get one that I can put a plastic cup in to protect my valuables. There were a couple of times today when I got kicked there and it really hurt."

I nodded, "I guess we should all get one if we're going to play soccer with you, after watching the way you tackled people today."

Allie started to laugh, "Dad, I don't think they make them big enough to fit you and Bra. Come on. We need to go."

We were the last ones to arrive at the bridge. We were admitted by Pietro. Allie hugged him, "Thanks, for giving us a really good day, Daddy Pietro, Dimmi and Mikki are really neat. Can I get their address, so I can send them a letter?"

Pietro hugged Allie, "I am sure they would like that a lot. You can also send them emails. I'll slide the information under your cabin door or have Albert or Daniel give it to you. I'll talk to you later."

We walked into the conference room where President Michaels, Captain Brower, Khalid and Amir, Scott and Angela Summers and Officer Del Rio were already seated at the table.

President Michaels started, "Thank you all for coming. Our cruise company has a great deal of interest in what is happening here. Not only could we be jeopardizing our passengers' safety if we don't stop these attacks on Mr. Waller and the two Mister Safis, but we risk tarnishing the company's reputation. My first inclination was to have Mr. Waller, Brahim and Allie disembark and sent back to the United States at the next port, which is Gdansk."

Allie looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. Khalid and Amir hadn't met President Michaels until they arrived at the meeting. Khalid started, "President Michaels, everyone thought they would be safer here on the cruise ship than they would be if they were to have flown home initially. I agree that it might be the best for the other passengers, but I'm sure that if the rumors ever started to circulate that the cruise company was more concerned with the company's reputation than the passengers' safety, your reputation would be very severely tarnished."

Mr. Michaels stood, "General Khalid, get off your high horse. If you had been listening to what I said, you would have realized that I said my first inclination was to have Allie and his family depart the ship at Gdansk. That's not what I want at all. We need to make sure that not only are they safe, but also that the other passengers are not harmed. Now let's get on with the business at hand."

Allie had tears in his eyes, "So what is the business at hand?"

Editor's Notes:

Poor Allie, I think things are getting to be too much for him. He is a very warm hearted young man, and he already loves Ed very much. He doesn't want any harm to come to him because he is already thinking of him as a father.

I think Darryl and Tom are happy that they are together now. I am eagerly waiting for the next chapter.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher