The Surrogate Ch. 05

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Chapter Five – The Ranch

“When the Reverend’s great grandfather founded the Sons of Jehovah back in the thirties, the congregation deliberately sought isolation so they would be free to practice their religious beliefs without interference.”

“But the Reverend was also an astute businessman and knew that to keep his flock happy he would need to provide for them so the Sons of Jehovah would still need to engage with the outside world.”

“Redhaven Wyoming was the perfect place for them to settle. The Reverend already owned vast acreages on which he had a profitable ranch and was also bootlegging Canadian whiskey at the back end of the prohibition. He founded the town and he started up more businesses whilst at the same time establishing his religion and constituting the tenets which would bind the people to the church of the Sons of Jehovah and their town of Redhaven,” Peter explained.

“You’ve told me that part of the church’s history, that’s common knowledge,” Mila sipped coffee.

“Ok, early on the Reverend and his Apostles realised that the SOJ could evade taxes by misrepresenting the profits earned by their legitimate businesses and use loopholes that exempt churches from paying state and federal taxes.”

“The SOJ also decided to settle in Redhaven because Wyoming has the single most business friendly tax climate of all fifty states and it keeps getting better. Wyoming is almost a tax haven.”

“The congregation grew, the town prospered and people lived comfortably but by the time Reverend Ronald Hayes’ father was running the show he realised that there was more money to be made by investing in certain lucrative illegal businesses which the SOJ were ideally placed to do.”

“Look where we are Mila. We’re way out here in the mid-west and Redhaven is almost isolated but well situated for the activities the Reverend had in mind.”

“Without interference from the east coast or west coast crime syndicates and later the burgeoning cartels down south, the SOJ could get into the lucrative drug market. The ranch was a perfect cover.”

“As the agricultural science became better and technology improved, marijuana plantations producing tons of product were established on the ranch using hydroponic growing techniques and temperature controlled greenhouses. The problem for the SOJ has always been distribution. They have no interest in getting involved in the street level trade or running dealers. They just want to sell their product to organisations who have the financial resources to pay the asking price and the ability to take bulk shipments.”

“So it’s all about weed?” Mila was nonplussed.

Peter held up a finger.

“Think about what you’ve seen here Mila. A closed community bound by bizarre and eccentric religious beliefs, very few outsiders are allowed in and then only for fleeting visits. An almost inexhaustible supply of natural resources in an area that is effectively isolated.”

“But look closer. The road in and out of Redhaven is probably the best maintained highway in the state and there is a disproportionate amount of commercial traffic that mostly originates or terminates at the ranch.”

“Redhaven airport is a restricted general aviation airport with a runway capable of handling large aircraft but no commercial airlines operate from here, it is restricted to charter and private aircraft.”

“I get it. They grow large quantities of weed out at the ranch and use trucks and planes to distribute it,” Mila laid her hands flat on the table.

Peter nodded.

“The SOJ would never make enough money from their legitimate businesses to live the lifestyle they do.”

Mila paled.

“That doesn’t explain why we are here or should I say, why you are here?”

“When I put this deal to you I told you I was in trouble financially right?”

Mila nodded.

“Well I was in more than just financial trouble Mila.”

“I didn’t rise to the top of the corporate ladder by just being a savvy financial impresario and business entrepreneur. I know people, the right people.”

“What I do is find ways and means to bring these people together, even though most of them will never actually meet in person.”

“Sure, I can help you hide millions of dollars created by illicit means. I can close the holes through which certain government agencies would like to peek, but my main job is keeping the wheels greased so everyone gets along and everyone gets rich. I’m a special kind of broker if you like.”

“I know the right people in the right places, I know which wheels need greasing. I know the right business magnates, government stooges and more importantly the top guys in the cartels and organised crime and I have the innate ability to have them cooperate without ever having any legitimate association. I’m the spider in the middle of the web if you want an analogy.”

“My god Peter!” Mila was shocked.

“Don’t my god Peter me Mila! Where do you think the money comes from? You spend it like it like a drunken sailor on liberty and you watch that account of yours Betturkey in the Cayman Islands get bigger every month.”

“I deliberately kept you from the truth to protect you; at first because I didn’t trust you, but since we’ve been true partners I did it because I love you.”

“But what about the FBI and DEA agents at LAX?” Mila asked.

“I can only do so much, grease so many wheels. I have contacts in the highest levels of government, we control a number PACs and political committees and I have contacts across the spectrum of law enforcement but there are still elements we can’t control.”

“In those instances, the SOJ relies on intelligence from their insiders. Within minutes of you being apprehended in LA we knew about it and the SOJ dispatched Duke to fix the problem.”

“Is that what I am now Peter, a problem?” Mila almost wished she’d never asked to know the truth.

The conversation was interrupted when Sarah Jennings came through the back door. Today she wasn’t wearing her maid’s uniform instead she was wearing an expensive suit with a short skirt, long jacket, nylons and heels.

“Hi Sarah,” Peter and Mila sung in unison.

Sarah’s demeanour had changed. She was normally demure but today she seemed very assertive.

“Get dressed, both you. The Reverend is paying you a visit.”

“What the hell!” Peter interjected.

“Peter, I’d like you to remain down here while Mila and I go upstairs. I’ll help her dress and we can girl talk for a while. When we’ve finished it won’t take long for you to throw on a suit and tie will it?” Sarah smiled.

They were both astounded. They had never seen Sarah behave this way. She was confident and controlling and they both realised that something had changed.

Before Mila could respond Sarah was guiding her upstairs to her bedroom.

“I can dress myself Sarah. I don’t need your help,” Mila was petulant.

“You know I like to help you Mila. Sit down and do your makeup and I’ll pick you out something to wear,” Sarah smiled at Mila is if this was an everyday occurrence.

Sarah allowed her jacket to fall open so that Mila could see the small automatic pistol Sarah had clipped to the placket of her skirt. When Mila saw it, Sarah gave her a knowing look and just nodded.

Mila found it hard to concentrate, a thousand thoughts were running wild and she didn’t do the best job with her makeup. Sarah laid out a suit for Mila, Armani, similar to her own, and a white silk blouse, she also laid out sheer, taupe hold-up stockings and a red satin bra and panty set and pair of Jimmy Choo high heels. Wherever they were going, they were dressing corporate, even if the lingerie wasn’t.

Mila dressed and Sarah chatted to her as if it was just any other day, obviously her job was to keep Mila calm but also to make sure she didn’t do anything stupid.

“Come on, we can have a cup of coffee downstairs, the Reverend will be here in thirty minutes,” Sarah picked up Mila’s jacket and followed behind her.

While they were upstairs Peter had taken a phone call and he looked grave. He gave Mila a look that said ‘keep calm’ as he passed them on his way upstairs to dress.

“What’s going on Sarah?” Mila asked as Sarah busied herself making coffee.

Sarah didn’t answer until she had poured them both a cup. The coffee was fine but to Mila it tasted bitter and she had a hard time drinking it but she forced herself to remain calm.

“Recent events have changed the dynamic so to speak. There is no longer the need to keep up the charade Mila, you know all about us, well nearly all; and we know all about you.”

Mila paled. What did that mean?

“I can’t say much more, it’s the Reverend’s place to tell you what he and the Council of Apostles have in the making,” Sarah sipped her coffee as if it was any other weekday morning.

“What did you mean by you know all about me?”

Sarah just gave Mila a canny grin.

Peter came downstairs dressed in a suit. He always looked so confident, so commanding and assertive but now he looked like he was far from in control, and even more worrying, he looked scared.

A small convoy of three, six-passenger limousines pulled up in the driveway. The vehicles were black, with heavily tinted windows.

“Let’s go,” Sarah nodded at the front door.

Mila and Peter were caught off guard, expecting that whatever business was about to be transacted would be taking place in their home. Mila took Peter’s arm and went outside with him.

“Stay calm. I have no idea what this is about but it’s broad daylight in a busy town, I’m sure nothing sinister is going to happen, I guess we are going to conduct our visit with the Reverend at the Supreme Temple.

Peter could not have been further than the truth.

“You’re with me,” Sarah took Mila over to the second of the limousines where a besuited, powerfully built man stood holding open the rear door.

Peter was led to the last vehicle in line by another aid and he looked over at Mila before he got inside.

“Remember Betturkey Giriş what I said about staying calm. I love you,” Peter said before he climbed into the vehicle.

Mila climbed into the limousine which was cool and dark. She was surprised to see the Reverend Ronald Hayes sitting in the back of the car facing her as she took the rear seat. He made no attempt to conceal his brazen ogling as she and Sarah clambered inside, short skirts akimbo.

“Good morning Mrs Randal, good morning Sarah,” the Reverend smiled as he welcomed them both and Mila cringed when the Reverend gave Sarah a kiss that was far from pious.

Mila was about to say something when the Reverend held up a finger. He was a man used to being incontestably obeyed.

“I will do all the talking for now Mila. May I call you Mila?” it was a rhetorical question.

Mila sat in the back seat facing the Reverend and Sarah. The security screen between the passenger compartment and the driver was up.

“First off I want to assure you that all is well; so far that is. Peter is in the car behind us with Duke Russell who you have met,” The Reverend grinned.

“We know all about you Mila. I won’t use the name Miles because I know he no longer exists.”

Mila thought she was going to faint.

“That was a neat trick that you and Peter pulled. We knew his wife was going to leave him before we hired him and for that reason alone we were going to renege on the deal we had made with him. Then your sister saw the light or saw the money; it doesn’t matter which, we knew that they had reconciled. Or so we thought. We took our eye off the ball so to speak.”

“The preliminary visit they made to Redhaven before the contract was signed went well and all parties were content.”

“Of course we had no idea that Mila had run away with her yoga instructor when she returned to Los Angeles. Your sister is backpacking around Australia by the way in case you are interested. It seems that she has lost interest in the yoga instructor,” the Reverend chuckled.

“So you became the surrogate. Our little sleeper soon found out about the ruse.”

The Reverend had his hand on Sarah’s thigh and he patted it and smiled at her.

“Of course we also confirmed this by other means. We have access to your phones and monitor all of your online activity. It helps that we have the only Telecom in Redhaven but the bugs Sarah placed on your devices assisted us in monitoring you when you were outside of Redhaven.”

“Sarah honey, please give Mila a drink, she looks like she is about to faint and we haven’t even got to the good part of the conversation yet.”

Sarah opened a bottle of cool spring water and passed it to Mila who gulped at the contents.

“I want you to understand that at this stage my Apostles were deeply divided as to whether to keep you both in Redhaven or to have you disposed of. A car accident, a house fire, someone even mentioned a murder suicide, but common sense prevailed, with my guidance of course.”

“You have to understand that some of the Apostles still find you an abomination. But some, including myself, find you fascinating.”

“Then Sarah and I watched your marriage of convenience become a true bond. When you went to the Philippines to get those rather lovely breasts and Peter followed and you came back committed to each other and when you stopped your philandering with Steven Boutros and those appalling strangers in those awful Los Angeles dens of iniquity I was vindicated.”

“But you are such an inquisitive creature aren’t you?”

“Even with the wealth you have amassed you continued to question things that you had no right to question. To quote Gordon Gekko in one of my favourite movies, greed is good. Greed is a tool I use to good effect to keep my flock content. But even as an outsider living in the lap of luxury, with no need to question where the money came from, you couldn’t keep your beak out of my business and question my tenets.”

“Of course we listen to everything that is said in your house and we know that as of this morning you think you know everything. But you don’t. Why? Because even Peter doesn’t know everything. But you soon will.”

“As the rather crude saying goes, I’m going to lift my skirts. I’m going to show you everything and answer all your questions and by the day’s end both you and Peter are going to have to make a decision; a decision that will determine your future.”

“Now you can ask your questions,” the Reverend smirked.

“You hacked our phones and email?” Mila asked.

“Yes and we have GPS trackers in your cars. How do you think my boys knew you were coming when you drove out to the ranch?”

“Ok. A question for Sarah. Why does a bus loaded with spinsters go out to the ranch every Sunday?”

Sarah looked at Ronald and he nodded his consent.

“To work, silly. I told you I work six days a week.”

“We go out there to service the men working on the ranch.”


“Oh don’t be so naïve Mila, Betturkey Güncel Giriş you know what I mean.”

The Reverend interjected.

“Single women in our community are considered common property. You yourself have witnessed men taking their pleasure with them whenever they wanted,” Ronald once again patted Sarah’s knee.

“I told you that women who are not Paired by the age of twenty have to make a choice. They can leave the community or stay here abiding by the tenets.”

“You still don’t get it Mila. This lifestyle we live is generational and ingrained from birth, we grow up knowing what lies ahead for us and we each make a choice. You jokingly referred to us being like the Amish but in that respect we are. Men and women get to make a choice during our Pairing years whether to go or stay. As you can see, most stay.”

“But the bruises?” Mila asked astounded at the revelation.

“Some of the cowboys can be a bit rough but if they overstep the mark they are punished.”

“But you let men use your body whenever they want to? How can you do that?”

“I don’t let them; I permit them to. I have the right to say no,” Sarah replied.

“Really?” Mila sounded doubtful.

“Yes I do. And if the man wants to complain he can take the matter to the Council of the Apostles.”

“Have you ever said no?” Mila asked.

“I’ve never needed to,” Sarah smirked and stroked the Reverend’s hand which was still caressing her knee.

“The men on the ranch, the cowboys, are they part of your congregation?” Mila asked.

“Young men who elect to leave the congregation of the Sons of Jehovah are offered a onetime opportunity to work at the ranch. The job is very well paid and there are benefits,” the Reverend smirked at Sarah who returned his smile.

“But they are not part of my congregation and they may not reside in Redhaven. They fly in and fly out like contract workers, the difference being that forfeiture on their contract results in consequences that you probably wouldn’t care to know about.”

“The messy parts of our business are best left to people who are experts in that kind of thing. The cartels have a way of dealing with informers that is quite educational to those who work in dangerous occupations such as the growing and manufacturing of illegal substances on a large scale,” Ronald said with some finality.

“Ah here we are. The practical part of your education is about to begin; a little show and tell shall we say.”

They were approaching the gates to the ranch.

The guards saluted the Reverend and his small convoy and then closed the gates behind them.

“This is actually a working ranch that makes a decent profit from the cattle we raise,” The Reverend waved a hand at the expanse and herds of steers wandering on the range.

The road was dead straight and they were soon approaching the low set buildings that Mila had seen in the distance the first time she drove out to the ranch. As they got closer it became obvious that the buildings were far more substantial than they appeared to be from the gate.

“These buildings are the typical type of buildings you would expect to find on a working cattle ranch. They constitute buildings that house the agricultural equipment, maintenance sheds, cattle pens, feed houses, bunkhouses, a kitchen and a mess and other cattle rearing paraphernalia,” The Reverend nodded as the procession entered a large courtyard next to the building complex.

The car stopped and the chauffer got out and opened the door for them. Sarah and Mila once again found it difficult to maintain decorum alighting from the vehicle wearing short skirts but Ronald and the small assembly of men did not seem to mind one bit.

What followed was a show and tell tour of the ranch conducted from two four-seater golf carts. Mila and Peter were reunited and almost clung to each other in the back of the cart as they were taken on an excursion hosted by Reverend Hayes who drove, accompanied by two armed guards in the second cart. Sarah was escorted to the mess hall to wait. The building had a large sign out front and written in stylised writing were the words Chuck Wagon.

“There is a permanent staff of around twenty to thirty. Some work the legitimate side of the ranch and are really just cowboys and they are all boys who elected to leave the congregation of the Sons of Jehovah but want to work for the church for the good wages and benefits.”

“There are about the same number who work on the other side of the business, including a horticulturist, a couple of chemical engineers, and the men who do the growing and harvesting of the crop and other men who manufacture other products.”

“Meaning marijuana,” Mila interjected.

“I’ll continue,” the Reverend didn’t like to be interrupted and Peter squeezed Mila’s hand encouraging her to keep quiet.

“There are a few ancillary staff, cooks, mechanics, security and so on. They are all housed in the bunkhouses over there and are fed and take their recreation in the Chuck Wagon.”

They were shown massive grow houses where fields on marijuana looked lush and green. The Reverend explained how the plants were in various stages of maturity, how it was harvested and prepared for dispatch. There were two huge climate-controlled barns used to warehouse the marijuana before it was shipped.

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