tagSci-Fi & FantasyEbb Tide Ch. 01

Ebb Tide Ch. 01

byFinalStand©

Editing magic performed by KJ24 and Shyqash, plus contributions by the regular gang of brigands and neer-do-wells.

Ebb tide: The period between high water and the succeeding low water.

This tale is an espionage fantasy under assault by reality.

The 'hero' of this tale might be considered a Libertarian, though the label means nothing to him. He is not completely sane (by some people's definition of the term).


*****

[DISCLAIMER]

*This tale is an "exercise" with some themes that I am experimenting with in other stories. It is the start of a new, seven chapter, story line. It is posted for your entertainment; but please, do not post any "Do more" or "Oh no, don't stop story X" notes. Just skip this if you feel you might fall prey to such urges.*

Main Cast of Characters:

Vance (Vardan) 'V' Vardanyan - He has thick, black hair kept short. His skin is a dark-brownish olive complexion - Armenian-American. Medium brown eyes. Square jawed. Broad chested, with powerful arms, thick neck with more body-hair than the norm. A stocky frame (six foot tall, 240 lbs.). 33 years old.

Dabney Curtiss - She has long, wavy light-brown hair with blonde streaks and highlights. Her skin is fair and lightly tanned and feels silky to the touch. Golden-brown eyes. Heart-shaped face. 34DD sized breasts with pale, broad areolas and puffy nipples. Athletic body type, with robust buttocks, thighs and calves. 26 years old.

Georgianna 'G' Norquist - She is a natural honey/amber-blonde. Her skin tans easily and is currently darkly tanned and smooth. Oval-shaped face. Clear grey eyes. Her body is fit, tone and statuesque; a smidge on the slender side suggestively rendering her 32D-sized breasts looking bigger than they actually are. 39 years old.

{Las Vegas - September 8th, 2014}

On the north end of the Strip was the Stratosphere. As I was entering the casino around midnight, I noted a woman passing me - heading out - regarding me quizzically. She had long, wavy light-brown hair with blonde streaks and highlights - still damp. She was mildly tanned. I was willing to bet it was because she had fair skin. Otherwise, nice rack, athletic body and commendable lower chassis - butt, thighs and calves.

"Vance?" I heard from behind me. The woman I had seen exiting the building had called out to me. I turned and looked her over. She was a call girl - an escort - and by her high-quality light weight jewelry, perfect teeth and an absence of back alley tattoos, doing better than most.

"Vance, don't you remember me?" she smiled. I didn't have on a name tag and Vance is not what you call a randomly selected john. I turned fully to face her. Nothing.

"I'm afraid not," I gave her a cautious smile. She would have been more attractive to me if she wasn't advertising so much. She didn't look crestfallen which I found unusual.

"Dabney Curtiss," she informed me. Then it clicked.

"Dabney...little Dabney," I grinned. She was the baby sister of a girl I partied with in High School. Sammi, Dabney's sister, and I had not dated, but I hung out at her house a good deal. Hell, I had taught Dabney to shoot pool, ride a bike, swim and dive, plus we often partnered together in 'chicken fights' and water polo.

"I'm not so little anymore," she smirked. She posed for me provocatively then caught herself in the reality that to any natives of Las Vegas' underbelly she was clearly a whore. Her spontaneous joy was fading fast.

"Hey," I took three steps forward and hugged her. "You are right - not little anymore. Do you want to talk?"

I avoided the whole issue of how she was dressed and if she was the master of her own timetable.

"Sure, that'd be great," her smile returned. Doing what you needed to survive was also a fact of life we poor Las Vegans had grown up with. We made our way to Roxy's Diner, one of the food establishments inside the Stratosphere. "You seem to be doing well for yourself." I didn't mind her prodding.

"Eh," I shrugged. "I joined the Navy straight out of school, ended up being a corpsman - that's what they call medics in the Navy. Now, I've got a job lined up with MedicWest." That was a horrifically abbreviated history of the past few years.

"MedicWest?" Dabney asked.

"It is an ambulance service," I told her. Of course, she wasn't likely to know that.

"How in the hell did you end up being a doctor-type," she giggled. "You used to be such a bad-ass in school." I shrugged. "Does it pay well?" Hey, I wasn't insulted. We had been tight long ago.

"$33,000 starting," I answered. I could tell she wasn't overly impressed. "I'm not too much of a 'not-bad ass'," I added.

"No kidding," she reached across the table and squeezed my well-developed biceps. "I don't remember you being so...big." Another smile.

"The Navy stresses physical fitness," I lied somewhat. "I also spent some time with the Marines."

"I thought you said you were in the Navy?" she cocked her head to the side. It was odd to see such a 'womanly' move from a person I last knew as a kid.

"The Navy provides medical personnel for the US Marine Corps," I enlightened her. "What about you and Sammi?"

"Ugh...Mom and Dad finally split up ten years ago," she sighed. Her parents never fought in my presence. They never interacted at all, as far as I knew. It was a strange thing to watch.

"Sammi married Dwight Bell about... a year after you left," she continued. "They had two kids, divorced then were getting back together when Dwight ended up dead in a drug deal gone bad." I remembered Dwight. He was a year ahead of Sammi and me. He was big, black, crude, too eager to resort to violence and not all that bright.

He used to bully me until my junior year when I put his head through a car window. I was an angry, directionless troublemaker back then.

"She hooked up with this Samoan guy who I hated. I called him Shamu," she took a long pull on her soda straw. "He did 19 months for grand theft auto, violated his parole and left town afterwards. Last I heard he went down for some heavy time in Idaho.

Once she got him out of her system, she got her act together, took some online courses and now works at Well-Crest Construction Co. in Henderson," she looked me over. "Do you think you want to... you know...see her some time?"

"Sure," I agreed. "I'll give you my number. I've come off a rough stretch so I'm not looking for anything serious."

That made her happy. She had my number without having to ask for it. I could tell she was interested in something more than the ¼ pound juicy hamburger, milkshake and onion rings I was paying for. My issue was that Dabney was a hooker and that meant she already had a 'man' in her life. Speaking of which, her phone rang.

I knew that look. She was debating doing something she knew was wrong (not answering the phone) and deciding to do what she knew was wrong anyway. She sent the call to voice mail before forcing a smile back on her face and looking at me.

"How come we never hooked up, Vance?" she let her golden-brown eyes get all big and innocent.

"Dabney, you are seven years younger than me," I pointed out. "When I left, you were eleven."

"I always liked you," she batted her eyelashes. I was somewhat her protector since Sammi and I ran with a rough crowd, did drugs (I abstained for personal reasons) and got drunk (a lot) way too early in life.

Her parents had been as cold to their children as they were to one another so for three years I sort of fell into her male role model, which probably explained our current awkward situation.

"I knew," I assured her. "I didn't want to leave, Dabney, but if I had stayed, bad shit would have happened."

'Bad' as in my best friend, Eric Uno being gunned down over pointless idiocy - macho bravado, two pistols and no common sense. If I had stuck around, I'd have gone after the people who did it and ended up either in jail, or dead.

"That was messed up," she nodded.

Eric had died over nothing and he'd left nothing but two, perpetually poor, working-class parents behind, wondering why their only child was dead and wanting me, his best friend, to make sense of it all for them. I couldn't, so I ran away...into the loving embrace of the USN. "You came around to say good-bye..."

"Hey, you were the only one not asking me what was I going to do about 'it'," I replied. "I knew you'd be alone when I left - I felt I owed you. I asked Sammi to keep an eye out for you," I tacked on lamely.

"She did...she tried. At seventeen, I lied about my age so I could land a part-time job at a phone sex place and was working my way through CSN (College of Southern Nevada - the city's main community college) working on a Hospitality degree."

She was working herself up to something that had to be bad in more ways than one. She was unloading on me - that meant she didn't have any other trusting relationships to fall back on. From my point of view, the Dabney of my youth was gone. She'd been a rather small, scrawny kid when I left fifteen years ago and now she was beautiful if a bit tawdry. That was why I hadn't recognized her.

"I started partying hard and doing drugs," she studied me while pretending to look elsewhere. "We both know how that ended up. I did finally go to rehab and got clean...but I owed the wrong kind of people some money that a minimum wage job wasn't going to fix. Now I'm here, with you, sitting at Roxy's reminiscing about old times." Money problems meant gambling.

"And not answering their calls," I cautioned her. I didn't want trouble yet we'd once been close and I was the last person to be condemning her. "Cool." That made her happier. I wasn't ragging on her about getting hooked on drugs, getting in trouble, or ending up being a prostitute. So we talked on into the wee hours. Much of downtown Las Vegas never sleeps - a 24/7 money making enterprise.

{The Back Story}

My reason for being at the Stratosphere arrived about an hour later. Georgianna 'G' Norquist was another 'blast from the past' yet from a different world, or she had been. When I was sixteen, Eric's dad got Eric and me part-time jobs at a private sports facility. It was real menial, unskilled work with lousy pay and a snobbish clientele, but we had Friday and Saturday nights off plus could use the courts, pools and other amenities when there weren't members around.

Eric was running some errand late one night when some rich spoiled brats, drunk off their privileged asses came by the main indoor pool. They did the classic strip naked and chase each other around the pool that I had been attempting to clean. To them, my irritation was worth some mockery and little else. Well, they kept drinking, pool policies be damned so I called the night manager.

He took one look at the menagerie's leader, told me to do my job somewhere else and then departed. I was putting the equipment away when said rich moron woke up and decided to take a trip off the diving board. He busted his fool-head open in the attempt and flopped face first into the pool. I was half tempted to walk away. He wasn't trying to right himself.

I may have been a thug-in-training, but I wasn't sadistic, or brain damaged. Not only didn't I plan to let the dummy drown, I knew that he was a VIP and I was the LIP (least important person) on the scene. Letting him die would have been a poor life choice. I dialed 911 as I kicked off my shoes giving the operator the bare bones, put my phone down and dove in.

I had pseudo-CPR training courtesy of TV and movies. I did manage to flip him face-up and swim us over to the pool's edge in the proper manner. By dint of good instincts, some luck and a smidge of knowledge, I got his heart going and his lungs somewhat free of water. I saved his life. I would have gladly walked away except I had failed to inform the manager of what happened before I dove in and I couldn't leave the dying kid until the real EMT's arrived.

By that time, it was too late for me to get away from the publicity I didn't desire. Two police officers were on the scene along with the ambulance. The police called the kid's parents before the night manager could save his own career. The cameras showed the whole story, including my boss letting the rich boys both drink on the premises and hang around a large body of water while they did it.

Despite my heroics (and maybe because of my juvie record), the officers kept me around until the lawyers showed up. Maybe one reason I went into the medical field was that those two paramedics laid out in no uncertain terms that I'd saved the boy's life ~ so I was ruled out as an attempted murder suspect. After six hours of investigation by a surprising number of detectives, the surveillance tapes verified my version of events. They let me go.

When we showed up the next afternoon for work, Eric was sent off on our daily routine while I was called to the manager's office. The old night manager was...no longer associated with 'our' organization so I was talking to the 'weekend' supervisor. It was now his duty to keep the facilities running until a new night manager could be hired and trained.

Later I heard something 'nasty' happened to my old boss - a hit and run resulting in a ton of injuries and no health insurance and, oh yeah, the dummy's father sued his ass. That 'dad' was Lloyd Pharris, one of Las Vegas' most powerful lawyers and chief partner of the most prestigious legal firm in the American Southwest. I had saved his only son and oldest child. He was beneficent.

I also got to meet his new trophy wife, Georgianna, and his other child, a daughter named Wynn. The boy, Ford Parrish, was my age - 16, while Wynn was 14 and Georgianna was 22. Lloyd was 39 at the time. For whatever reason, he decided that I deserved a reward. I could become his personal house boy/pool cleaner. Since the pay was three times more than I was making and a third of the work, I took it.

The assignment was really an eye-opener to how the better half lived. It turned out that Ford was an okay guy when he wasn't trying to impress his prep school crowd. I wisely put up clearly defined sexual barriers with Wynn on my second day - I liked the job that much. Georgianna - 'G' - was okay, just way too sizzling hot to be hanging around in a micro-bikini, sunbathing while I was trying to work.

No, nothing happened. No pool boy fantasies for either of us. I did note that Lloyd liked to parade her around in...ah...highly flattering clothes. Ford and I became cautious friends. I was smart enough to know that becoming a sycophant for him and his friends would only end badly for me. I took their condescension and flirting in stride. I was surprisingly self-confident at that age.

I didn't want to fly down to Cancun to be some rich girl's plaything, not matter how sexy she looked. I was getting plenty of tail in my own neighborhood and my high school. I chose another way to get in trouble. I became Ford's spine. Lloyd was the coldest, smuggest, most manipulative Bastard of all Bastards. I didn't like him from the moment he offered me the job.

It was obvious to me that he was giving me a handout and I had better be damn happy with his largesse. After watching the Pharris household dysfunction for two weeks, I hated him. Georgianna was his property and she had best not forget it. He psychologically undermined his kids whenever the mood took him. I had hoped it would never be aimed my way. I was wrong to hope.

Lloyd liked to tear people down. He liked to do it in front of an audience to impress upon that everyone he was the man in charge. At the start, I was a servant; beneath his notice. Only when Ford and I began to hang together outside of my household duties did that change. It began when Ford, a buddy of his named Kristoff Declan (a good guy) and I went to a part of town those two shouldn't have been in.

Kristoff considered himself to be a playboy and would hit on every pretty girl he set his eyes on. Normally, it was flirtatious - he wasn't a man-slut. Our problem was that the girl he was talking up that night was with someone who took offense. He and three of his home-boys decided to teach him a lesson in the parking lot. Kristoff wasn't street-smart enough to know he should have taken their insults and run for the car.

No, they threatened Kristoff and he taunted them right back - it was fun and games to him. He wasn't used to people who resolved disputes with their fists. They jumped Kristoff, Ford ran for the car and I ran to help Kristoff. In our favor, Kristoff was in pretty great shape - he loved to play tennis and squash - and I was healthy for my age and a scrapper.

None of it was fancy. It was body blows, kneeing, low kicks and wrestling. It took a dozen scrapes and bruises for us to escape, but we did it with some of our dignity intact. Ford had taken his high performance auto and left us. Initially, Kristoff was furious with Ford. That faded as he came to rationalizing Ford's response.

Ford was chicken-shit because his father openly and vocally considered him to be a weakling and a cowardly failure without Ford ever getting a chance to prove otherwise. Ford was simply living down to his father's expectations. We walked off our pain for two hours before Kristoff called his mother to pick him up. She was an aeronautics engineer at the nearby Nellis Air Force Base.

I bumped into her a few years later on another air base, but we can't talk about it for the next 43 years, assuming those records ever got declassified. Once she picked us up, Kristoff told her the whole story. First she told him that she was happy to see him alive and not in the hospital. Then she told him what a fu-bbly fu-blup (her version of cursing without cursing) he was for not walking away from the fight.

She asked my opinion. I informed her I wasn't stepping into their family feud. She bitched out Ford in absentia...and ended up thanking me. She reminded Kristoff that his fight had not been my fight and I could have run off with Ford. Before Kristoff could reply, I informed Mrs. Minerva Declan that Kristoff wouldn't have left me either. At the time I didn't know if that was true, or not.

My words mediated the crisis. Kristoff shot me a grateful look. I suggested that they drop me off at the closest highway exit to my house. Mrs. Declan took me in anyway, so they got to see the rundown dump of an apartment complex I lived in. I could see the look in their eyes - they pitied me and my poverty. Mrs. Declan said they'd wait until I went inside.

I counter-offered and promised to wait on the sidewalk until I was sure they got back on the main road. Honestly, I didn't think a carjacking was in the offing, but I could tell it made them feel safer. Kristoff held off on talking to Ford until I came back to work at the Pharris household two days later. Initially, I wanted nothing to do with Kristoff's intervention.

Ford looked like he expected us to start kicking his ass over what had happened. With Kristoff in the lead, we three went over the events instead. He ran. Neither of us was happy with that, yet we jokingly said he'd done the smart thing. We did wish he'd circled back for us. Kristoff then regaled us with a vivid recounting of his dad ripping him a new asshole the next morning over the phone (his Dad was in the Philippines at the time).

Forward one month with Kristoff handling Ford in the mornings, me on the afternoons I worked and both of us on the occasional evening outing. It took some work and both of us acting 'bad' to coax Ford along. Despite what Kristoff thought, I was as influenced by TV as he was when it came to playing a 'tough guy'. I WAS a bad-ass in school; I didn't need to act like one.

So much of youthful free time revolved around shopping and malls. The lives of sixteen/seventeen year olds in Las Vegas were no different. Charli (Ford's GF) and her BFF Reagan talked Ford and Kristoff to go to some midnight sale. Reagan got in a tousle with another girl ~ it is too often women getting me in trouble. Blows were exchanged, Reagan won (she was sporty), had the girl tossed out (Reagan was a 'good girl') and they bought their stuff.

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