Twin Beeches -- an Illinois Love Story
Author: paul schoaff

Chapter 35
Miller receives Guidance from Above

Miller receives Guidance from Above

Guidance from Above


“I don't care if you are 'sure' the Judge and this Hawkins guy are moving moonshine," shouted the Regional Director into Miller's ear bud, “you need evidence!   Proof!   Pictures!  Corroborative Testimony!   Receipts!  We always tell you young agents to 'follow the money!'   Where is the MONEY!”

“I'm sorry sir; you just don't see things from my perspective.  I think you would have to have been with me in that cell with the Hawkins kid.  He wanted to tell me so bad, but he just couldn't let himself do it.  I couldn't tell him who I represented, so I couldn't offer him any deals."

 His boss paused briefly, then, “Tell me again about that exchange you saw, Isbell.”

“Yes, Sir.   Acting on a tip from a truck driver, I took a position inside an old schoolhouse on the county line about three miles west of Woodland at 10 p.m. Last Saturday night.   At approximately 12:30 am I saw lights approaching on the road from the direction of  Mr.  Howard Hawkins' farm.  A vehicle stopped outside the school and a man stepped out of an old Chevrolet sedan.  He relieved himself, and then got back into his car.  I could see by the interior light of the car that it was, in fact, Mr. Hawkins.  

 “About 10 minutes went by, and I again saw lights approaching, as a car turned off the main road, US-24, and pulled up to the other car, in a way that the trunks of each vehicle were next to each other and the cars faced in opposite directions.

“It was very dark, and I wasn't completely familiar with the photographic equipment I had purchased for the occasion.  In fact, I was afraid I couldn't turn off the flash or set the time exposure.  The agent who was supposed to deliver the night vision equipment and camera to me who I trained with at Quantico, well, he never showed up.   I heard he got called back to a liquor store owner killing in Indianapolis.”

“Right, go on.”

“The second person, driving a newer, large dark colored, possibly General Motors, sedan, was briefly visible with light behind his head so that I was unable to get a positive identification.  It could have been Judge Knowles, but I wouldn’t be able to swear to it in court.  The two men talked briefly and opened their trunks, but I don't think anything was passed from one vehicle to another.  They only stayed a brief time, and then they each got back in their cars and left.  I knew who Hawkins was, so I quickly ran for my motorcycle I had hidden inside the vestibule of the school and followed the dark colored sedan with my lights off.  I caught up to him just as he turned into a side road and turned around.  The license plate number I got belongs to Judge Knowles of Rushville, and the face I saw as he turned his car around seemed to match the campaign pictures of him I saw in the paper.  He is running for reelection.”

“I believed I may have been spotted at that point -- he showed some surprise at seeing my cycle, but my visor hid my face, so there is no question he doesn't know who I am.  He rolled down his window and yelled at me!"

"What did he say, Isbell?"

"He seemed to yell something about water!  'Just Water', I think he said.  I wasn't getting closer, so he wouldn't recognize me, or be able to track me down later."

“What about a registration number on the cycle?”

“I had camouflaged it, used a little paint to turn an eight into a three and a four into a one.  Anyone who saw it at any distance would be unable to trace it.”

 “You went back to the schoolhouse on the way back to Woodland?”

“Yes, Sir.  But, to be frank about it, I thought the exchange had already taken place.  It was only later I thought they hadn't enough time for it.   I traveled by the school at a high rate of speed so that anyone behind it wouldn't suspect anything.  From the highway, you cannot see behind the school unless you are in a large truck or bus, then you catch a glimpse as you cross a little rise in the road about 100 yards from the curve where the schoolhouse is situated.  In a car, you just see the top of the school, the windows and up.  In a truck you can see the tops of cars behind the school, because of your angle looking slightly down from a higher vantage point.”

Then came the part of the conversation that always came, the part Isbell and all the other agents dreaded…the silent response.   For almost a minute everyone allowed utter silence on the line.  Isbell had been warned and had failed every time previous, blurting out more and more incoherent and inconsequential information after only 10 then 15 then 20 seconds.  But this time, he stopped himself by pinching his earlobe until the boss finally commenced again.

“Ok, ok, I get it.  Isbell, listen well.  You have one more week to present us with some solid reason to put a seizure team in there.   I'll have 3rd floor work even more on the Judge's background and financial.  I'll prepare papers for a wiretap auth. Req., but not until we have something more will I allow anyone to move ahead.  You don't arrest, or even question, Judges without exquisite proof.  It is up to you to show that illegal activities are taking place back in that Sugar Creek valley I'm looking at on Google Earth right now.” 

Even at the highest, government authorized resolution, nothing odd appeared to be there -- was that some discoloration of the vegetation down grade from the shack?   Could be my imagination, he thought.  'Just Water???'  Could these hicks be smart enough to pull that 'double switch' trick?  You were a 'Hick' once, yourself, remember?

“Miller, be careful, but scout out a way you can get to that shack without going on the road.  Don't get seen, and don't provoke any sort of contact.   Remember, Sugar Creek is navigable, so it is a public waterway – you have every right to be on it!  Use your night vision goggles to look for heat sources.  Look for anything, anything out of place.  No one can make shine without leaving some clues.  But don't be surprised if you don't find anything.  I think Hawkins might be a red herring.  Why would anyone live in a dump like that if they were moving any significant amount of squeeze?  Those hounds in the 'kennel' sure don't look like guard dogs, either."

The Regional Director, Woodrow Wilson ‘Woody’ Bader, sat back in his chair after the conference call and pondered.  This kind of surveillance seemed like a waste of time and money to him.  There was no money trail.  That kid would wind up being an embarrassment to us all before this is over…shit, he might even get hisself killed…….the next time Uncle Grover wants a favor, he’ll just have to call my kid brother, F.R.,  at the Trib.


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