The Real Thing
What LW saw were Greenbacks……..U.S. Dollars in various denominations spread everywhere in the bowels of the plane! Many of the bills were burned on their edges or just toast, caught in the swirl of the inferno and just disappeared as ashes. But some appeared to be as fresh looking like they had just been printed at the U. S. Mint.
LW had never actually ‘seen’ loads of real money in his life as a money manager for one of Wall Street’s prestige firms. Although he had dealt with millions of dollars on a daily basis it was all digital plusses and minuses on a computer screen, almost like monopoly, without the paper money.
He quickly scanned the remains and figured there weren’t just thousands of dollars, but hundreds of thousands of twenties, fifties, and hundreds packed away in these metal containers.
“Jeezsus!” was the only word that came to the lips of LW He kept repeating it over and over again, sounding like a born again Evangelist trying to bring the congregation to its feet.
“Oh My God!” He blurted out as he scanned the number of suitcase-like aluminum containers.
Some of the unopened ones had been ejected out of the cargo space by the plane breaking in half and landed more than 30 yards away onto his property. Most of the other containers were lying next to the black plastic bags, which contained the ash remains of the pilots. A contrast of images not lost on LW’s sensibilities
He counted at least ten cases that were unharmed in the crash. How much money they contained would wait until later, after he had a chance to think. Someone somewhere must know that this money didn’t make it to its destination. Could it be drug money, mafia ransom money, political payoff money or perhaps one of the biggest banks heists in history?
Whatever kind of money it was; LW knew someone would eventually, come looking for it. “Jeezsus Keyrist, what to do”? He muttered to himself.
The normally unflappable man formerly known as William Woodshire III was beginning to come unglued. The man who in his early life led a platoon in Iraq as a decorated Marine Captain, and someone more recently who dealt in the millions in a most stressful environment of high stakes gambling with other people’s money, was now on the edge of starting to come unraveled.
It has to be drug money he thought, no one hires a cargo plane to move currency like this if it was a legitimate business deal. That is what banks are for……high tech movement of money through the banking system and clearing houses. And then his suspicion was confirmed when he opened a few of the undamaged cases and found tightly wrapped plastic bags filled with white powder…….kilos of heroin
Drugs and money…….where was it coming from and where was it going? LW pondered.
“Okay, first things first. I have to do something with the ashes,” he thought to himself as his mind raced with conflicting ideas. “Graves, yes I’ll dig graves and hide them away somewhere not close to the cabin. Oh that is not a good idea, what happens if the Feds or local police come looking and I’ve gotten rid of the ashes? Won’t go over well with them,” he thought.
His mind was going back and forth with thoughts of the money, the bodies, the drug lords, the police, and the cargo plane and on and on.
And then there was the injured woman who was lying in his cabin’s guest room.
“What a fucking mess!” he shouted to no one as he looked once again at the remains of the pilots lying on the ground.
LW needed information about this plane and the place to find it was the Internet. Yes, he might be living in the wilderness, but he had a satellite connection, which kept him remotely connected to civilization.
He hurried inside and after checking on the woman in the guest room, he searched the internet for information on missing planes, plane crashes, and how to identify any plane that has been in a crash.
Then by chance, he found what he needed.
He went outside to check on the scraped and burned engines, which were still somewhat intact but the serial numbers were not legible. He then looked for the orange Emergency Transmitter Locater and a cockpit voice recorder which most planes carried so they could be found if disaster struck.
The ETL too was burned and it appeared as if its antennae were broken off in the crash, which meant that it couldn’t send signals and therefore no one would know where it crashed. There was no cockpit voice recorder found either.
The tail section was intact and had a series of numbers beginning with “N” so he copied these down and went back into the cabin.
On his way, he wondered whether the FAA would want to know why he was inquiring and, more importantly, how long would it take for them to determine ownership or if indeed the plane had been reported missing.
“So many questions and so little time” was his recurring thought. He had to try, so he prepared a message to the FAA and his inquiry was such that it might have appeared he was just checking out a plane before purchasing it.
He was hoping there were maintenance records on this plane. The owners would have to complete an FAA Form 337 if any major repairs were performed. Then LW thought more about it and decided not to send his message off to the FAA, and this was the beginning of a series of smart moves on his part.
“What about the ashes and totally burned body parts?” He said to himself.
He checked the New Mexico and Colorado burial laws on the Internet and found that if the ashes are not buried close to a water source, then the burial could be considered legal. So LW started digging and just like the Mordecai character in the High Plains Drifter movie, he dug and dug until he couldn’t dig any more and then he changed his mind. “What the hell am I doing”? He blurted out.
This thought kept running through his mind. Twenty-four hours earlier his main concern in life was keeping his essential supplies up to snuff. Now his entire plan to just chill out and adopt a new life style had come to a flaming end.
He left the bagged remains of the pilots and began moving the ten metal suitcases to the secured shelter hidden well below the cabin, which took most of the day. He knew they would be safe there no matter what happened next. The other containers, which had been damaged, were left in the plane’s cargo compartment. He didn’t try to open them.
LW thought that if anyone did come a knockin’; they would think that this was all the cargo on the plane. Or so he hoped.
He kept checking on the mysterious woman lying in his guest room, who seemed to be either still unconscious or sleeping. If she stayed that way much longer he thought he would have to get emergency medical help for her. An action he hoped to avoid.
After dinner and checking the Internet once again for any news of a missing plane he went to the porch and laid down on the chaise lounge, feeling physically and mentally exhausted. He was tossing and turning still thinking about what to do with the bodies, the woman, and the money, the plane, the money, and the God Damn drugs!
Finally he fell asleep and didn’t awaken until 9:15 the next morning when he heard a blood curdling scream from the guest room. Quickly he jumped up and ran to the room where he saw the woman sitting upright in the bed with fright written all over her face.
He tried to speak softly so as not to frighten her more but his heart was beating so fast that he exclaimed “Are you alright?”
The woman began to cry and put her hands up as to push him away, even though he was still at the door of the room.
“Por favor, ¡por favor no me lastimes más!” she said.
Having only a rudimentary understanding of Spanish, LW knew she was pleading by saying “please, please” but not the rest of her response.
Again he said “Are you alright? It’s ok I’m not going to hurt you,” as he began walking slowing to her bedside.
He held out his hand hoping she would understand he was only trying to help her, but she continued to plead with him as she covered her face with the blanket, “No me pegues. No me pegues.”
This movement covering her face he took to mean that she thought he was going to harm her.
“No Senorita, I won’t hurt you. I am here to help you.” He said softly as he approached the bed. “My name is Lone Wolf and I want to help you.”
He asked her name as she continued to cry, but now as she pulled the blanket away from her face, he noticed the numerous abrasions, which covered her neck, chin, and cheeks. The hat she was wearing must have been protection for her forehead and hair.
“Please Senorita, tell me your name?” he asked.
She didn’t respond, but just looked at him, still with a frightened look on her face.
LW left the room and minutes later brought back a glass of water and a dampened cloth and handed it to her.
She almost inhaled the water and placed the wash cloth across her eyes and forehead, leaving it there as she began to speak again in Spanish.
“Mi nombre es Lucíana.” She said and then added “¿Dónde estoy? ¿Por qué estoy aquí?”
He surmised that the questions were about where she was and how she got there.
In a combination of English and Spanish he tried to explain that she was the only survivor of a plane crash, which fell onto his property two nights before in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado.
He wasn’t sure if she understood him but she stopped crying and seemed to accept the fact that he wasn’t there to harm her, but to help her.
After thinking about how he was going to communicate with ‘Luciana’ he took his smart phone and opened the translation app and began dictating the situation they both found themselves in and how he wanted to help her.
He then played the translation to her in Spanish. She got the look of complete surprise on her face as she listened to the voice speaking in Spanish from his phone.
He then tried to find out the who, what, when, where, why, and how about the plane crash and the cargo the plane was carrying before it nosedived onto his property.
So he tried to find out if she spoke any English. “Se Hablas ingles?” She replied, “Si, a leetal.”
He began to rattle off his questions and through her broken English he found out
that the plane had originated in Mexico, stopping somewhere outside of Las Cruces
where something terrible happened. She told him the story from the time the plane
landed until it left the ground and started flying again toward its destination.