We are finally landing the helicopter at Port Lyautey which is a U.S. Naval Air Station base outside of Casa Blanca. There is a bus that I can take from the Navy base that will take me into Casa Blanca. I am not sure if I will be able to get all the way to the airport, but it is worth a shot to ask the petty officer if he is willing to help a brother out. He agrees and says that we will be leaving shortly. The military is extremely efficient. No one is just going to take time out to take me by myself into Casa Blanca. All travels outside of the base has to be approved. We are only free with our rights inside the military base and the grounds of the U.S. Consulate. I have not had a chance to even contact the Consulate to let them know that I am returning back to the U.S. before the date that my work visa states. The Petty Officer lets me know that the bus going to Casa Blanca will leave in about 45 minutes. I have enough time to make a few phone calls and grab a bite to eat. At least on the Navy base, I know the food is safe and has been inspected properly.
My first call is back to my house. The phone is just ringing. No one is picking up. This makes me nervous. It is starting to get late in the states. I am about 10 or 12 hours ahead of their time. It is around 9:00 a. m. here in Morocco. Where in the hell is Julianna? I’m upset. I hang up the phone and others are starting to look at me as if they should be on alert. I wave to let them know I am friendly and most importantly, that I am an American. I am not in military uniform. They don’t know if I am a U.S. civilian or if I am a Moroccan national. I don’t need those extra problems. As a precaution, I decide to pull out my U.S. passport, so that others around me can see that I am just a government contractor trying to travel back home. I turn my attention back to the phone and I call the biggest safety net that I have. I call Waterford. My father answers the phone on the third ring. He sounds relieved to hear my voice. I am relieved to hear someone familiar and someone that I trust.
“Daddy, I am in Morocco. I am trying to get home to Virginia as soon as I can. I don’t know just yet how I will get home or how long it will take me. I have to see what happens when I get to the airport in Casa Blanca.” I am talking a mile a minute. Daddy can sense my uneasiness and he finally cuts me off. “Joseph, calm down son. You know we got your back. Your momma left here this morning. She called me when she got to Virginia Beach. She is already there. She took a cab to your house and the door was locked. She says that she is staying at a Hilton near Pembroke. Do you know where Pembroke is?” Pembroke is literally five minutes away from the house. “Listen, don’t you worry about anything. Your momma just didn’t have a key to get into the house. She does have the phone number for your housekeeper. She has been trying to get in touch with her. Trust your momma, she gone get this situation straightened out. You just get here as safe and as fast as you can. You need any money?” This question actually makes me smile a bit. My Dad worked his ass off and he is now retired. I make about 4 times more than what he did at the time that he retired. I don’t need any money, but the fact that he wants to make sure that I am ok is heartfelt. I love this man. I am sure that something happening with my kids and my wife is worrying him too.
“Daddy, I have some money put away in my sock. I should be good on money. I just need to make sure that my family is ok. If nothing else, I want Momma to get my girls. I will have to find out what happened to Julianna when I get there.” He tells me to watch myself and we hang up the phone. I already know that we have the best soldier on the front line to represent me in Virginia. My Momma plays no games. She is one that you don’t want to dance with on the wrong song. I know that she will take care of my family and make sure that everyone is ok. I just wish that I could be there right now myself. This is not to my advantage.
I have to make one more phone call. I call into a hotline that is primarily designated for employees of Sperry that are working internationally. An operator comes onto the phone and I am directed to another person in another department. I tell them my employee ID information and they start to ask a series of security questions to validate my ID. I am working covert. If something were to happen to me, there would be several layers of government involved to put a resolution into place. I am praying that nothing has happened to Julianna. I have always been somewhat anti-social when people asked me what I did for a living. I would usually tell people that I was an auto mechanic. I guess the cleanliness of my hands and the upscale neighborhood didn’t align with that story. So I told people that I was an Engineer and I worked on power grids. So far, no one questioned that. I guess the only thing they really questioned was why I was gone for such long periods of time.
I finally get through the series of security questions and I am told that I am on a secure line and I can speak freely. I tell the guy on the other line, who has not even given his name, about my situation and that I need to get back to the states as soon as possible. At this point, I hear typing in the background as I am talking. I am now asked a series of additional questions about my family. Where my kids go to school? Where my wife works? What grocery stores do we frequent? I have to let them know just about everything about us. There is a possibility that Julianna could have been kidnapped due to my position. You would be amazed at how people will demand a ransom or a missile launcher code. I am told that I will be able to go to the airport in Casa Blanca. From there I will catch a flight that will fly me from Casa Blanca to Paris. From Paris, I will fly to London. From London, I will fly to New York. I have the option to take a train from New York to Newport News, Virginia or I can wait on another flight which will depart eight hours later that will fly into Norfolk from New York. I write as much as I can down. In my peripheral, I see the Petty Officer waving to me that it is time to leave. I thank the guy on the phone and I am running with my bags to the bus. As the bus pulls off, I try to mentally prepare myself for this 3 day journey back home. I have a layover in every city. I just hope that Momma or Julianna is back home by the time I make it to Paris. This will be the next time I will be able to use a phone.
Pocket finally finishes up his conversation with Pipe. He gets back in the El Dorado. As sweet as I can muster I ask him, “Baby, run me by the house so that I can get a couple of things. I just need to feed the kids and get some money and then we can head back out.” I believe that me announcing that we could go and get some money was my ticket to getting a ride back home. I will have to figure out what to do once I got there. It was now dark outside. I feel bad. I am actually ashamed of myself. I can’t believe that I forgot about the kids. Joseph would kill me if he knew what was going on. He loved those kids with everything he had. He was a great father. He was even a better husband. What the fuck am I doing? I run my fingers through my messy bun. I still have blood on the side of my face from when Pocket slapped me. I decide to get a Virginia slim cigarette out and I light it up. The smoke from my nostrils starts to calm me down.
We finally pull into my driveway. There are no lights on inside the house. I fiddle through my purse looking for the keys to the house. I finally get them. Pocket decides to yell and it makes me more nervous than what I already am. “Look! Don’t take too fucking long, I got shit to do and we gone need that money you trying to go in there and get. I don’t give a shit about them damn kids. They bet not be doing a whole bunch of hollering and crying. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit!” I finally get the keys in the door and I turn the lights on in the foyer. The house is an absolute mess. The smell is making me nauseous. I cover my mouth and my nose and I am still trying to remember who all was here during the party. I go into the girls’ room and the door to the closet is open. They are not there. I start to run through the house and I can’t find the girls anywhere.
“Pocket!!! The kids!!! The kids are gone!!!” All he does is chuckle….