A Nice Place To Visit
by Angela B.
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. The ATF universe is the great idea of Mog
Note: This is just a little story about an injured Ezra dreaming of his days in Georgia. My muse wanted this story written and wouldn't let me alone until I did.
Note: *Laurie= pronounced Lar-E
*Funnel cakes-made from doughnut-like dough, poured into hot grease in a waffle type design and deep-fried. Upon removal they're then sprinkled with powdered sugar or other good toppings. Good Stuff!!
* Many thanks to Jera for beta reading and never losing her patience, even when I lost the parts she redid and then had to redo them again.
Oh his body hurt. He couldn't remember the last time he hurt this badly. In fact he was having a hard time remembering exactly why he was hurting. He had met up with Mr. Daemon for the appointed meet and the gentleman had unexpectedly brought an acquaintance. Ah yes now it was coming back. Mr. Daemon's acquaintance had turned out to be Mr. Doylan, the one and same Mr. Doylan that he had put away when he was working for the FBI back in Atlanta. Of course Mr. Doylan had seen it necessary to inform Mr. Daemon of his true identity.
So now here he was stuffed into a packing crate, freezing, waiting for whatever would be done to him at the whim of Mr. Miscreant. He tried desperately not to think of all the damage that they had done to his person. They had stripped most of his clothing from him before starting a game of Let's-Try-To Kick-Him-To-Death. He believed they had left two ribs unbroken and maybe one undamaged organ. Everything else was battered beyond belief, all thanks to an old enemy from his days in Georgia.
Georgia. Every once in awhile he really missed the state in which he was raised, right now he especially missed the warmth. Opposite to what most people believed, not everything brought about a bad memory when he thought of the beloved state. Though he figured the guys he worked with would think he only missed the operas, concerts, museums, and the high society galas. Georgia was more than that, it was the simplicity, the genteel way people responded to one another. It was the feeling and the southern atmosphere. Oh and the peach trees. That's another thing to love about the South. Every little town has a festival of some kind in or around June. When the smell of peaches replaces the smell of peach blossoms it's a sure sign of summer. Peach cobbler, homemade peach ice cream, peach pie, the list goes on and on. It was the simple things and the ordinary people that he had met while on the job that he found himself thinking about most often.
People like Laurie, who since her father's heart attack ran one of the more upscale hotels with a down home hospitality. They had met when her father had overheard a conspiracy to commit murder. He had been sent in to uncover who the intended victim was and become the hit man for the job. Laurie and he had hit it off from the beginning. Though noone, and certainly not Mr. Wilmington, would believe it but their relationship had been purely platonic. They had formed a unique bond. He would take her to the operas and any other engagements where he was required to attend with a date. In exchange for going with him he would take her out dancing. She liked those forsaken bars, but she didn't like having the cowboy wannabes clamoring over her. So, they had come to a mutual agreement, she kept the money hunting women off him and he kept the drunken miscreants off her and they both got to enjoy the evening of their choice. She had been one-of-a-kind, she was the closest thing to a friend he had. They still kept in touch every once in awhile. She always encouraged him to do more with the guys; she had realized from even that far away that these guys meant something to him. He missed her.
He could hear voices screaming his name. It pierced his heart like a well-played piece of music. Too bad he couldn't respond. He knew they would never find him in this box. This coffin, filled with itchy straw-like filling. It definitely wasn't cotton. The thought of cotton reminded him of Georgia and the cotton fields.
Georgia was known for its cotton fields, though there was not as many as there once was. Unfortunately that's not all it was known for. Two things that died slowly were hate and history. The South had had both. The situation and life were vastly different now than a hundred years ago but unfortunately memory didn't change as fast as life did. He knew that people still had the old image of the South in mind when they were informed he was from Georgia. Some people still automatically believed if you were born white and in the South you had to be an unintelligent racist redneck. Secretly, though, the redneck part didn't bother him, he knew some pretty smart and wealthy "rednecks". They, also, believed you belonged to one those white supremacist groups. The truth was far from it; in comparison to the population very few white people of the South joined those types of groups. He still had to fight that image, even today. It would be a very long time before those memories were washed away and then again they shouldn't be completely forgotten.
He could hear the lid of his coffin being lifted off, and then heard a loud call for God and Nathan, right now either one would be beneficial. He felt hands lifting him out of the crate as soft and gentle as angel wings. The soft murmurings of reassurance fought their way through his fog-filled brain. They laid him down on the cold warehouse floor and his body instantly reacted. The jerking and shivering his muscles took on were doing nothing good for his already aching body. The pain became unbearable; he couldn't remember a time when it hurt this violently. Yes he could, but he refused to think of that time. They rolled him onto his side and though they tried to accomplish the task with great care he still let out a soft cry. Rolling him back he noticed a jacket had been place underneath him. Then, some angel of mercy laid a warm object over his jerking body, probably another jacket, while hands tried to hold various parts of him from shaking so badly. There had only been one other time when he had hurt so badly. That time no hands could have made the pain stop.
He had been assigned to one those crazy groups. An Arian Nation fraction group had been making trouble in a small town in Central Georgia. He had gone undercover to find out where the main camp was located and what they had planned. These groups were forever causing problems for the townspeople, the local law enforcement and the state officials.
He had gotten in ok and was making progress until that fateful day. He had been sent into town with two teenage boys of the group. They were headed back to camp when they had seen two young girls walking together, one black and one white. Deeming this intolerable the driver had stopped the truck and the boys jumped out and verbally attacked both children, giving them the scare of their life before he could stop them. He had convinced them that hurting the white child would bring more problems to the camp and the elders wouldn't like the extra attention. He had been sick to his stomach using such logic but it worked. That was the way it was with undercover work, you played by the rules that someone else wrote. The boys then threw the other child, Michelle, onto the sidewalk and threatened her and her family. After arriving back at camp the boys managed to get the group riled up at the seemingly wrongful deed. A decision was quickly made to teach this family a lesson in learning their proper place. Knowing what was going to happen to the family that night he hit the "panic" button on his cell phone then waited for help. When it became apparent trouble was going to come before the backup he proceeded to do the most suicidal thing an agent could do. He stood up in the midst of those angry crazy people and identified himself as a Fed. Using the temporary shock of the groups' response against them he headed for the ravine nearby. He had made it to the edge before the mob had caught up to him. He had been beaten so close to death before the backup showed up they had had to do CPR on him. The family had been spared any trouble.
Michelle's family, after being informed by the FBI of the threat to them, had come to visit him in the hospital and after his release invited him to their home for dinner. He initially refused and when pressed for a reason by the father he explained he didn't deserve the kind gesture. If he had been doing his job correctly the girls would have never been attacked in the first place. The father, a lawyer and part-time preacher, had reassured him that without his heroic, if suicidal, action the situation could have turned out drastically worse for all of them. He had finally accepted the invitation and found a connection to the family, most specifically the child and her father. Out of a bad situation something good had come. The two men had many long talks and later the lawyer was one of the few people that knew the problems he was having with the FBI. The man had stood by him and gave him his support.
He became aware that he was in a hospital and had a coppery taste in his mouth. Blood. He tried spitting but his mouth and tongue wouldn't cooperate. He heard Nathan's voice telling him it was alright as the healer wiped the blood from his mouth. What he wouldn't give for a piece of chocolate to erase the taste. Fudge. Not any chocolate fudge but fudge from Helen, Georgia.
Helen was situated in North Georgia up in the mountains. It was a small town; you could stand in the middle of the street in the middle of town and see both ends. It had started dying out years ago and to prevent this the business owners had gathered together to discuss options on how to stimulate economic growth. One had suggested making it into a villa type town. They had called in an architect who drew up drawings on how it would look if they redid the buildings and made the town into an Alpine village. The townspeople had agreed and now Helen, Ga. looked and felt like a small villa. Of course it became a tourist town but he still enjoyed going up there. He liked the drive and the clean air. In the town were several T-shirt shops, places to buy funnel cakes, a music box store where you could find almost any kind of music box you wanted, and of course there was the Fudge Shop. Actually there two such stores but he had a favorite one. You could stand outside or go in and watch them make fudge by hand. Stirring the mixture in a large brass cauldron, then taking the mixture from the pot and pouring it onto a long slab of marble, where it would cool and be cut. In that store you had the choice of no less than fifteen different kinds of chocolate fudge.
Though the highway ran right through town you could go down to the end of the town and walk over a bridge or walk under it to cross to the other side. During the summer many a canoe or raft could be seen floating down the river that ran by the town.
On the outskirt of town was the Nora Mill Granary. It was a general store built around a still functioning, old water powered gristmill. On the back porch visitors could watch some of the water from the river being forced into a duct that powered the wheels inside the store that ground the corn, then the meal would be forced through a tube up across the ceiling and back down into a barrel where you sack your own meal. Or you could buy it already sacked. In fact you could buy a whole barrage of other products, including funnel cake mix, pancake mix; six kinds; corn meal; flour and a few other things. They, also, made their own syrup and molasses from scratch. Helen was the town to go to for the day.
He must have moaned because Chris was at his side in an instant asking if he was in pain. Oh yeah he was in pain but he was also thirsty. Chris was telling him something about surgery. He guessed that it would be his surgery. He didn't care he was just thirsty. Chris began running an ice chip over his dry chapped lips before letting it slip into his mouth. Good old reliable Chris, he'd knock your head off then take you to the hospital and stay with you while the doctors sewed it back on. Good old Chris was feeding him another ice chip. It sure wasn't Mrs. Opal's ice tea but he'd take it.
Mrs. Opal, now there was a woman who could take on the fearsome blond leader without blinking an eye. The woman was ninety-four and stilled lived by herself. He had met her and her now-deceased husband, Mr. Henry, a few years ago. As with most of the people he met, he was working undercover. The manager of a logging company had gotten greedy and was cutting more than his permit allowed. It hadn't become a federal case until a logger, who was going to turn over evidence, turned up dead. He had gone undercover as an accountant. Most of the local people thought he was just another high-and-mighty white-collar city boy. That had changed when the bust had gone down. Three of the men responsible for the logger's death had surrendered peacefully, one did not. Four agents started off that mountain chasing the killer, only he had made it the five miles down to the bottom. The two of them came to an abrupt stop in Mr. Henry and Mrs. Opal's yard. Mr. Henry had heard the commotion coming and retrieved his .22 rifle. So, there they were; he, with his.45; Mr. Henry with his.22 and the logger standing in the middle. That poor logger had almost wet himself; he wasn't sure who he wanted shooting at him, the agent or the elderly man with the sharp eyes that said he wouldn't miss if he shot. It had taken a little bit of fast-talking to convince Mr. Henry that he was a federal agent and for him to put down his rifle. That logger lay down with relief and all but handcuffed himself. They all had a good laugh at that scene. He had returned many times to the couple's home. He enjoyed their quiet companionship. They took him as he was. Didn't expect or try to change him. They were always glad to see him and Mrs. Opal was always thrilled to see him and fixed something good for him to take home to eat. She mothered him that way and for some reason, that he could never fathom, he let her. When Mr. Henry passed away he had gone to his funeral then taken Mrs. Opal back home and stayed for a couple of days. Mr. Henry had always laughed about him being the only agent that had made it down the mountain. Mr. Henry would say, "Now there's a dog that can hunt." Somehow, coming from the old man, it meant a great deal to him.
It had almost ripped his heart apart when he went to tell her he was leaving for Denver. Mrs. Opal, though, she made it ok. She said it was time he moved on. She never asked what had happened in Atlanta but knew something had happened to make him, as she put it, sadder than bloodhound on a winter night. He really liked that woman.
He was lying there in the dark thinking he really should stop putting himself in situations that required his body to take such punishment. He couldn't help but moan. Everything hurt so badly, he believed he could have cried if it didn't require extra breathing and the ability to eek tears out from under swollen eyelids. Josiah was there, asking him to open those same swollen eyes but that would take too much work, just thinking about it made his head ache. Besides, he liked lying there in the sand with his eyes closed, feeling the warm sun on the cold bones. Ahh Tybee Island.
Tybee Island was another resort town located on the coast, outside of Savannah. It was slightly less populated than St. Simon or Jekyll Island. He enjoyed this island. Walking along the shore and watch the ships in the far off distance. The Island was hit by a hurricane a few years back but was rebuilt. It has one of the last remaining lighthouses in Georgia. There are only five left and one of them is closed. He loved the seafood served there. There's nothing like a good Southern Boil for dinner. Corn-on-the-cob, chunks of Hillshire-type sausage and shrimp put in a pot of water with a little shrimp and crab boil liquid...oh yeah. It's better with a spinach salad and peach cobbler for supper. Yes, Tybee Island is good place to go to and rest. The just the idea of resting intrigued him, as it required so little energy.
Young JD has music playing in the background. Even though it's not too loud its still annoying. If only he could make the young agent understand that the music was interfering with his dreams. This is not the kind of music they play at the club. That music along with the proprietors and customers had been a sanctuary since he was old enough to remember.
It was a small tucked way place, where the musicians played mostly old tunes from the twenties to the forties. On the weekends it was all jazz and blues and it was good. He had found the place when he was six. Maude had left him with some rather unpleasant relatives. He had run away and found himself in an alley. The music had drawn him like the pied piper. The bouncer had found him hidden behind discarded boxes be the door and took him inside. Ms. Margaret was and still is the owner. She had taken him in that night, cleaned him up, given him something to eat and let him fall asleep in a safe place. He had snuck out the next morning and gone back to the relatives. This became a routine for the next couple of days. The bouncer had finally followed him back to the relatives and strongly suggested to them that they take their responsibilities more seriously. It was also suggested that they develop better parental skills. They had but it didn't stop him from going back every night to the club. The day Maude had shown up and taken away he felt as if he was being ripped away from his real family. He returned to the club when he moved back to Atlanta. Ms. Margaret and the staff had welcomed him back with open arms. It wasn't a home but it still felt good to be back where he was welcomed. Ms. Margaret had even persuaded him to play with the other musicians a few times.
He was awake and wishing he wasn't. Lord he hurt, but at least it was getting better. He was finally able to open his eyes slightly as requested by Buck. That man was like a dog with a bone when he wanted something to happen. The ladies man had hammered him until he finally struggled and got his eyes open. Albeit not for long he was still tired. The upside was he was going home in a couple of days. Actually he would be taken to Chris' ranch, which was just as good.
Home: He had lived in many types of residences but never in a home. He thought of the beautiful, grand sculptured antebellum houses. He had often walked the streets studying the magnificent mansions and wondered what it would be like to live in one. After joining the FBI he had been sent to Marietta on assignment. He had actually enjoyed life in the town. It held one hundred and fifty of these palaces. Some were set in town and some were still located on old plantations that were now part of the historical society. Home. He had learned in the last three years that this wasn't the type of abode one lived in but the people who surrounded you. He realized now that he had a home.
He sat on the front porch looking out across the land. Diablo laid at his feet. The dog had stayed with him since the moment he arrived at the ranch three days ago. It would be awhile before he was moving very fast but at least he was able to move. As he sat there enjoying the wide-open space he felt a presence and without having to look up he knew it was Vin. Joining him in the silence it occurred to him that a little trip back to Georgia might not be out of the question. He might even invite six co-workers along. He could take them around and show them the sights. They could visit the state capitol, whose dome was covered with sheets of gold. Forty-three ounces of gold had been bought from Dahlonega, Ga., the site of the first gold rush in the United States. The gold was then melted down and pounded into thin sheets of four millionths of an inch thick and applied to the sixteen ribs of the dome, the band around the top and the smaller dome under the statue on top. Inside the capitol were the education and museum centers. Then there was Olympic Park, Stone Mountain, Turner Field, and the underground mall. There was the Cyclorama Building, which is a three-dimensional panoramic painting of the Battle of Atlanta depicting a view of the battle and formed the background for lifelike models of soldiers arranged in a battle setting. And the numerous other attractions that Georgia had to offer. They could drive the thirty mile to Hamilton to see the Atlanta race track and perhaps they might just run over to Talladega, Ala and let a couple of NASCAR fans see the Talladega racetrack. The largest and fastest race track. And maybe, just maybe, they could meet some certain people along the way.
If you enjoyed this story, we're sure that Angela would love to hear from you.
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