April 17, 2015

Further Adventures of Missionary Max: I've Got Your Number

Chapter 10 of the second Missionary Max book. You can read the previous chapter here, and buy the first book here.

Francesca placed her satellite phone on the table next to her and smiled triumphantly at Ray and Cascavel.

“We aren’t going to have to worry about Emídio being around for the next few days. We still need to be careful, but at least I won’t have to make any appearances at public functions or at the mansion. Now, let’s get back to comparing notes.”

Ray and Cascavel were seated at the wooden bar separating the kitchen from the living area of the cabana, situated in the dream-like lagoon. Besides his obvious talents as a bodyguard, Inácio, it turned out, was no slouch as a chef. He made them a delicious lunch consisting of fish (Ray wasn’t sure what kind, and was too busy eating to ask), shrimp and crab--all from right there in the lagoon. To drink there was a heavenly concoction made of papaya.

“Let me see if I get this,” he responded, between mouthfuls. “Santana sent his goon-squad to my place to kidnap us?”

“I doubt they would have gone through the trouble,” Francesca corrected. “They would have probably just shot you on sight.”

Ray swallowed. “And you know this because...”

“Because I overheard them at a little soirée he held on the his yacht a week ago. The occasion was the arrival of the “goon-squad” as you call it. Its real name is the Lightning Force, and man-for-man, it is probably the most highly trained, most effective military force in the world.”

“Wait...what? I’m ex-military, and know a good deal about armies from around the world. How come I’ve never heard of these guys.”

“One of the things that makes them so effective is that very few people even know they exist. I had been married to Emídio several years before I knew they were anything more than his personal bodyguard. But they are much, much more than that, they are spread all over the world, and they are not to be trifled with.”

She took a sip of papaya juice and continued. “Up until recently the only ones stationed on Cabrito were part of a special unit charged with guarding my husband. They wear a shield with a lightning bolt behind it, and I was fairly used to seeing them. I think James told me once he and Max’s mother had a run-in with Conchita...she’s in charge of that group. But now he has brought in a special group--a company, I think he called it--and they are officially in charge of the security of Cabrito. Even the Cabritan army answers to them.

"We had a little party to welcome the commanders of the group. They are led by a German named Friedrich Krugel. I remember a few of the lieutenants that were there that evening: a Frenchman named LaRue, another German named Stromm, and an Argentine (Ray thought he detected a scornful curl of her lip as she said this word) named Sanchez. I’m expected to show up at these things as ‘eye candy’. After years of practice, I can play the part of the shallow supermodel very well, and they never suspect I have a brain.” Here she smiled, if ever so slightly.

“While Emídio was off consulting with one of the commanders and the ever-present Conchita (there was that lip curl again), I overheard Larue speaking to Stromm in French about their mission. Because of my career in international fashion, I am fluent in several languages, a fact people tend to forget. I heard enough to realize that you, your daughter, and Max were in danger. From that point on I watched for signs of movement. Although to tell the truth, Inácio and Itamar finding you when they did was just plain lucky.”

“If Max were here, he would say there was no such thing as luck,” Cascavel piped up, his mouth still full of shrimp. “It was....” Suddenly conscious of whose presence he was in, he quickly chewed and swallowed. “It was God,” he continued. Ray shot him a dirty look, partly for talking with his mouth full in front of the glamorous hostess, partly for inserting God into the discussion.

“We better hope there is some kind of divine intervention,” said Francesca, “because as it stands, the devil is calling the shots .”

Ray’s eyebrows went up. “And by the devil you mean...”

“Emídio Santana, of course.”

“How’d ya ever get saddled with a creep like that?” Ray wanted to know.

Francesca took another long sip on the papaya juice. “I met him during Rio Fashion Week in Brazil about ten years ago. He was tired of his first wife--an English duchess or something--and I was dazzled by his obvious wealth and power. After we married he brought me here, and I quickly realized I was nothing more than a trophy wife. He basically ignores me, and I’ve lost count of the affairs he has had over the years.

“The only good thing to come of this for me has been the island of Cabrito. I hate Emídio but I love this island.”

“From what I can tell, the islanders are pretty fond of you as well.” Ray noted.

Francesca smiled. “They are what keeps me here. I want to help them as much as I can--and I figure that means working behind the scenes to undo some of the damage that Emídio and his father are doing.”

“But we haven’t seen George Santana around here in ages.” observed Cascavel.

“He has come and gone a few times since I have lived here, but it’s always very low-profile.”

“Nobody needs to convince me that Santana is the devil impersonated,” Ray said, “but what did you mean when you said he was calling the shots?”

“I mean that everything that is happening is on purpose and part of a big plan. I’ve heard Emídio refer to it often in conversations with his father and others.. The details are sketchy, but whatever it is, it is going to be big. Much bigger than Cabrito.”

“How does our little adventure at the airport fit in to the overall picture?” Cascavel asked.

“Like I said, the details have escaped me. However, you will be interested to know that shortly after that mishap at the airport, George Santana showed up and gave Emídio a tongue-lashing for not keeping on top of things here on the island. We were on the Lua Negra, and I could hear arguing from my personal suite midships.”

Ray sat back and stroked his scraggly beard. “So based on what we know, George and Emídio are planning something big, but the success of their plan depends on the security of Cabrito. Max and Ilana’s romp through the jungle threw a serious monkey-wrench into the system. So now they are tying up loose knots here. A coup, so to speak.”

“Of sorts, although I doubt they’ll get rid of presidente Ferraz just yet. I get the impression that he has been a very useful idiot over the years.”

“Been there, done that,” commented Ray, bitterly.

Cascavel put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Senhor Raimundo, we have all taken our turn dancing to the devil’s tune. It’s time to put all that behind us. Missionary Max says that God...”

“Ok, enough with the church service,” Ray interrupted, irritation plainly evident in his voice. “We need to think about where we go from here.”

“Well, based on what you have told me and what I have observed, you, your daughter, and Max are in serious trouble. We are going to need as many allies as we can get. The next step would seem to be to get in touch with Mr. Rockwell. I imagine he has already gotten in touch with his superiors at SPGI, and they are probably working on something.”

“But we don’t even know where he is.”

Francesca held up her satelite phone. “I happen to have a number.”

To be continued...

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Up, Up and Away, Brazailian Style

Cool video of the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aerea Brasileira), set to the strains of the Brazilian National Anthem.

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Special Thanksgiving Service

Recently, one of our church families sold their house. In the increasingly buyer's market, this was no easy feat. As is custom among our believers here, they invited the church family over for a special thanksgiving service to mark the occasion.

We were greeted by this welcoming sign, made by the family's 7-year-old son.

I brought a brief devotional.

The head of the household, expressing his thankfulness to God for His blessings.

One of the family members brought special music.

...followed by an impromptu jam session.

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April 13, 2015

Brazilian Musical Interlude: Robson Miguel

Brazilian guitarist Robson Miguel plays The Battle Hymn of the Republic life you've never heard it before.

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April 10, 2015

Game of Capitais Nordestinas

Ok, before we go any further, this is NOT, by any means, an endorsement of the Game of Thrones TV show. In fact, from anything I have ever heard--DON'T WATCH IT.

However, chances are good you have seen the opening sequence (nothing offensive). And even if you have not, you might still appreciate the artistry that went into this re-creation of said sequence, featuring the capital cities of Brazil's northeast.

The representation of São Luís (the first city shown) is fantastic.

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