Raven’s Run 58

Senator Cabral’s secretary was Susyn Fletcher. She pronounced it Susan. We had been together for several days before I realized that it had such an affected spelling. She was a tiny dynamo – not more than five feet one, certainly under a hundred pounds, with shoulder length bleached blonde hair in constant disarray. She was smiling when I met her; her personality was like a freshly uncorked bottle of champagne. She looked and acted like a much deflated Dolly Parton, minus the countrified accent.

She stuck out her hand. It was almost lost in mine. She laughed and said, “Well, didn’t Raven pick herself a big one.”

“She didn’t exactly pick me. She fell into my clutches.”

“Poor girl!” You could see that she didn’t think it was such a terrible fate. Susyn Fletcher was good for the ego. “Where is she?”

“Gone. She left this morning. No forwarding address.”

“Oh.” Susyn’s liquid violet eyes went from fun to personal concern with the speed of light. No doubt, she was an invaluable asset to Senator Cabral. In ten seconds she had me feeling like a lifelong friend. She asked,”What happened.”

“We had a personality conflict.”

“I’m sorry for the two of you, but what rotten timing! I really need to find her and take her home. She is in danger here.”

Susyn grabbed my hand and said briskly, “Lets go. I want to get out of here.” Sudden decision and brisk movement were the signature of her character. “Let’s eat. Where is a good restaurant?”

So, for the second time in two days, I found myself sitting in a streetside cafe with a lively young woman. This could become addictive. Susyn filled me in on what had been happening in the States. Senator Cabral had gone straight to the regional head of the FBI, who was an old friend from the Senator’s FBI days. They had launched an investigation and five days later it turned up paydirt.

Susyn placed her fork neatly across the rim of her plate and asked, “Ian, did Raven tell you that she had hired a private investigator?”

“Yes. While we were at sea we discussed her background, trying to find some reason for that first attack. She said she had once hired a private eye to look into someone on her father’s staff, but he had not reported back to her.”

“Did she tell whom she had had investigated?”

“No. I asked her, but she wouldn’t tell me.”

Susyn nodded and gave a brief, sparkling smile. “Good girl. Raven and the Senator don’t always get along too well. You knew that?”

“Of course.”

“Yes. Well, even though they fight a lot, she still respects him and tries not to be a political burden. Part of that role is learning never to say anything bad about anyone, if you can avoid it. Everyone in government needs to learn that lesson. If you engage in too much office gossip, it will stand in the way of advancement.”

I put my hand on her arm to interrupt the breathless dialog, and said, “Susyn, you’re losing me.”

“Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself. Raven did not engage in needless gossip; she didn’t give you the name of the person she was investigating. It was Guadalupe Rodriquez, one of Senator Cabral’s secretaries.”

She was watching my face as she said the name. Beneath the friendliness and the mischief, she was watching for signs. Of what, I could not tell. I’m sure my expression didn’t change, because the name was completely new to me. Susyn went on without a break, “The private eye followed her for a week and found out she was meeting with a fellow known to work for a local contractor and investor named Adrian Brock. This Brock’s construction company is not his main source of income. He is also deeply into agriculture. He owns plantations which produce hundreds of tons of California’s most lucrative crop.”

That would be marijuana, of course. I said, “Raven would have told me that.”

“Yes,” Susyn agreed vigorously, “if she had known. But the P.I. actually sent the results of his investigation to Brock for a hefty cash settlement. Raven never knew.”

Susyn paused while the waiter brought coffee. The rain had relented and pedestrians were moving about again. Raven and I had sat like this, just yesterday, talking, laughing, and watching Paris stride proudly past. I dragged my thoughts back and concentrated on what Susyn was saying. more tomorrow


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