(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Heart Of A Transformed Woman)






The next morning, Hal arrived at the funeral with an entourage fit for a king. Steve and Jake had requested time off to attend the funerals to pay respect to Miriam and Arturo. So, they left two of their newly trained employees at the hospital with Tanya. Steve and Jake's security service was off to a good start. They certainly came through for Hal and wasted no time in putting their men to work and placing them where Hal needed them the most. Jake had told him that they had no problem finding employees and mainly hired unemployed, struggling, or disabled veterans. They brought six men along with them who had already been working security and licensed to carry a firearm. Two of them rode with Hal and were assigned to be his personal body guards. Included in their party were Steve and Jake's business partners, including the wife of the deceased marine. She had her four children, her mother and the babysitter. It seemed that everyone touched by the money bequeathed to Hal from Miriam, wanted to pay their respect to the woman who had helped to change and improve their lives.


Tanya had warned Hal to be very careful to do an independent and thorough background check on all of the men to find out who they had worked for and also their associates and connections. Hal had hired a private investigating firm who were still investigating some of the applicants, waiting to be hired. She urged him to repeat the process yearly or whenever suspicions arose. She told him that it was always a practice of her father to have inside loyal men within every agency and business whom he could rely upon to report to him and look out for his best interests. She assured him that Derek Graves would be using the same tactics.


Hal's new bodyguards, Martin and Vince, instructed Hal to remain in the car until they and their buddies had checked out the church and the surrounding areas, so it was sometime before they came back and told him that all was clear. Hal got out of the limousine with Vince and Martin standing on each side, keeping a sharp eye on everything around them. Hal was impressed. He noticed that Steve, Jake and the other men were each assigned to one of the limousines in their party. Again, Hal was impressed.


Zenobia came with one of her assistant nurses. Darla was with a young woman she was trying out to be Hal's personal assistant. Hal didn't know her name yet and only heard Darla refer to her as "hurry up, girl." The young woman clearly looked frazzled, but, was doing her best to keep up with all that Darla was saying on her cellphone while she rummaged through Darla's briefcase and scanned her tablet to find files Darla expected her to produce at the snap of her fingers.


Hal noticed Mr. Wellington, Mr. Childress and two other men who must have been Mr. Gallegos and Mr. Stein, the other partners at the law firm, getting out of the limousine several cars behind Steve and Jake. They nodded politely, buttoned their suits and proceeded to the walkway where other businessmen had gathered.


Miriam belonged to the largest nondenominational church in town and the wealthiest. Hal had no doubt that her prearranged funeral service was as elaborate and lavish as the outer architectural structure and interior design of the mega-church to which she was a large contributor.


Hal watched the next four limousines unload, which contained Arturo's family and relatives from Venezuela: His wife and children; mother and father; sisters and brothers; and about a dozen aunts, uncles and cousins. Hal told them that since Arturo's funeral was that afternoon, they weren't expected to come to Miriam's funeral, but, Arturo's parents said that it would be disrespectful not to attend and represent Arturo at his boss's funeral, especially after all that had been done to get all of them there. There was a time when it would have been impossible to get all of them into the country at all under President Graves' administration, even as visitors with passports. Hal was thankful those days were over.


Darla had even thought to hire a translator to meet them at the airport and be with them throughout their stay. Hal assumed that the man herding them all together and giving them directions was the translator.


Arturo and his family were members of a Catholic church on the opposite side of town. Darla had arranged for the same police escort who brought them there to get them to the cathedral. The funeral home director had been somewhat confused and irritated by having to duplicate services for Arturo's family at both funerals, but, graciously complied when Hal paid more than the expected fees.


Things seemed to be moving smoothly along, until the other faction of the Graves Family arrived. Their caravan arrived, escorted by police and secret service.  They remained in their cars as was protocol and were immediately surrounded by the media. After, pushing back the crowd of journalists, one of the secret service agents approached the funeral director, apparently to give instructions. The director then went over to Darla and told her something. She threw up her arms, knocking the briefcase out of the new assistant's hands, sending the papers scattering and falling to the ground. The young woman immediately set to crawling on the ground to scrape up the documents. Hal could hear Darla saying in exasperation, "hurry up, girl!" He began to understand why Darla worked alone. Steve rushed to assist the young woman and find out from Darla the nature of the conversation with the funeral director and the agent.


"Ma'am is there a problem?"


"Is there a PROBLEM?! I should say so! I've got to get in there and check on the seating and make sure everyone is in place for the service and they're telling us that we can't go in until after Derek Graves and the rest of the Graves Family goes in. Our armed security will have to remain outside, because no weapons will be allowed."


"It's okay, ma'am. We were leaving two of our guys outside anyway. Jake and I will leave all of our weapons with them. We'll be communicating with each other throughout the service, so, our men are prepared to help you get everyone seated like you want them, once we get inside."


"Thank you, Steve. I don't know what I would do without you and Jake. Okay, Sharon..."


"Karen, ma'am."


"Uh, Karen, there has been a change of plans. Find me the seating chart for the church...hurry up, girl."




Published by Mishael T