Chapter Eighteen

STEVE

What Jaime did the day the NSB came to see her was nothing short of amazing. Oscar had said they might arrest her and try charging her with suspicion of treason and even though that wouldn't have stuck, it would've been pretty ugly. I wanted to charge into that room and tell them just what I thought of them and their tactics (maybe with my fists blazing), but Jaime didn't need my help – or anyone else's. As Parr and Hansen were leaving, I even heard her call after them that maybe they might like to sign up for her course themselves – that she was sure she could teach them a thing or two! I gave them a death stare as they walked past us and down the hall, but no further words were necessary. Jaime had said it all.

When Rudy released her from rehab about two weeks later, her notebook was full, she'd started a second one – and she wanted to head right back down to the house in Peru to get started! But there were planning sessions to attend (where Oscar actually got to sit and listen because Jaime had everything pretty much mapped it all out her way), and she did want to see Mom and Dad before leaving again. What usually takes three to six months, though, from the initial idea to the start of the actual first class, took just over five weeks.

Oscar and I flew back to South America with her to wish her well. Jaime gave several hours of instruction a few miles down the river (couldn't have them too close to civilization), then we had a congratulatory champagne toast back at the house after her first three victims (I mean students) had been unceremoniously banished into the rainforest. Jaime insisted that giving the class machetes would be making things way too easy for them. They were issued pocketknives and a small box of matches (according to Jaime, that was all they really needed) and told she'd find them again in the morning.

"Shouldn't they have canteens or...something?" I wondered out loud.

Jaime laughed. "They're well-hydrated. If they're smart, they'll clear a spot, start a campfire and boil some water. If not, well, there's always tomorrow. They'll last the night just fine."

"You're taking canteens in the morning?"

"Nope. But if they haven't done it on their own, I'll help them find drinking water. I gave them the basic knowledge already – they just have to use it. They can pick fruit, too, if they choose the right kinds."

"Damn," I said, laughing with her, "you're tough!"

"And we're lucky to have you here," Oscar told her, raising his glass for another toast.

"You gentlemen are welcome to sign up for the next session, you know. I'll be happy to take you both on."

"Well, Babe..." Oscar began, clearing his throat, "I don't really work in the field any longer, but maybe Steve could benefit from -"

"Steve could benefit from an easy chair and a glass or two of beer after a rough mission," I said quickly. "I'll come down to visit, but I'd rather sleep under a roof than under a tree full of bats and monkeys."

"You got it," Jaime promised. "And you'd better visit – both of you! Of course, I'll be flying back every now and then. I don't think Rudy'll let me slide on another 10,000 mile check-up."

"At least now we know where to find you," I added.

"Yup – in my little house at the end of the road, where the monkeys and red macaws play...."

Jaime was so happy that she was about to burst into song. We had to toast to that!

END