“Well well, look where our trail has led us.”
“Mount Rushmore,” Agent Hanson blew out her breath. “Are you telling me that some terrorist cell has a hidden base stashed away in one of America’s greatest monuments?”
“Looks like it,” I shrugged.
“OK, that’s it then,” she said. “We now know where they are. I’m calling in reinforcements and then we’re getting out of here.”
“What? We’re just walking away?”
“Hey, I’m following orders, pal,” she growled back. “My orders are to keep you safe, remember? You think I want to miss the action?”
“We’ve gone this far,” I said. “Let’s just check it out. We can recon the area for when your reinforcements get here.”
“I don’t know,” she answered with a dash of skepticism. “If there are terrorists, they’ll likely be well armed and have guards posted.”
“I keep telling you I can take care of myself,” I replied. “I am an intergalactic gladiator, after all.”
“That means nothing to me,” she shook her head.
“OK, well I was in the Army,” I continued. “I had a green beret.”
“You’re saying you were a Green Beret?” she asked with even more skepticism.
“I didn’t say I was a Green Beret, I said I wore a green beret.”
“You wore a green beret?” she snorted. “To tea parties or something?”
“Funny.” I dropped a quarter into the binoculars and took a look at the monument. I didn’t see much but rock and the carved visages of four presidents. “Quite a sight.”
“You’re telling me,” a man sitting on the bench replied. “I love to come here and just read the paper under the protective gaze of George Washington.”
“You come here often?” I asked.
“Almost every day,” the man replied. “Like I said, I love to read the paper here. Something about the light being better and the air being fresher. God bless America.”
“I hear what you’re saying,” I answered affably. “You ever see anything funny going on up there?”
“Funny as in strange or funny as in ha ha?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “Maybe someone up there who shouldn’t be or an unusual truck or plane or something.”
“Come to think of it,” the man scratched the side of his head as he tried to recall. “I think there was something odd up there the other day. Couple hunters got caught by the park rangers. Funny thing was, the hunters didn’t have hunting rifles. They had military weapons.”
“Really?” I answered. “I can’t imagine why a hunter would be hunting in a national park with military weapons like that.”
“Probably just a couple of crazy kids,” the man said. “Probably all hopped up on the drugs or something.”
“Well, my partner and I have to get going,” I replied. “Thanks so much for your help.”
“Sure thing, sonny,” he smiled pleasantly. “You two take care now.”
“Are you just going alert everyone that we’re here while you’re at it?” Hanson whispered to me as we walked away. “Good thing you’re an intergalactic gladiator, undercover work doesn’t seem to be your forte.”
“What that old guy?” I replied in a whisper. “Look at him just sit there and read the paper. He’s harmless. Now let’s get up there on the mountain and check it out.”
Reluctantly, Agent Hanson agreed, so we made our way through the visitor center and out into the woods and ducked out of sight from the rest of the tourists. Meanwhile, the older gentleman clicked a hidden switch in his watch.
“You got two,” he said into the watch. “A man and a woman. The woman looks like a federal agent but I don’t know about the man. He looks like he’s all hopped up on the drugs or something. Roger. Roger. Out.”