It took Lurch contacting his supervisor and getting the head of the Bureau to contact the VA before we got an agreement to obtain the needed falsified records. As difficult as this was, finding the aged veterans, ones that fit all our requirements, was a true nightmare. After three weeks of painstakingly going over records, we had the names of four vets that would fit into our plan. We then verified their phone numbers, called each of them and scheduled them to meet with the team closest to their homes. When everything was completed we had 3 three vets that agreed to work with us and were ready to work. Now all they needed was a little training and a more thorough understanding of the plan.
We had two vets located on the East coast, living within driving distance from Atlanta. The other was in the Midwest close to St. Louis. Being a real pal Lurch immediately said he would go to St. Louis and work with the vet located there. I was going to bribe him but being a real pal he thought that Hammer and I should go to Atlanta. Now, this was just fantastic with us. Since we had only gone out to dinner a couple of times since getting back home from our last trip. We didn’t want to fuel any rumor mills that would surely have started if we were seen too frequently in each others company, off duty.
We had about two weeks of indoctrination to endure with our vet’s so we made the necessary reservations concerning rooms and transportation, set for ten days from today. We contacted the vets as soon as our reservations were confirmed. Our Vets had to clear all of their plans where they lived, so it was scheduled for them to arrive at the training site by a week from this coming Sunday but no earlier than that Friday. This gave us, Trish and I, five days to get in place, check out the accommodations and be completely set up.
During all this we had also moved Lurch into my house as there was no reason for him to live in a motel. We were working this case together and this would make everything easier. Not to mention I felt bad having my best friend from school staying someplace besides with me.
Trish and I gave Lurch a ride to Newark Airport on Sunday morning, wished him a safe trip, and started our drive down to the Peach State. We headed down I-95 with the top down and Trish’s head on my shoulder. I was one happy fellow and the ’56 seemed to drive itself as we cruised south on I-95. We drove at a nice peaceful pace, grabbing some take-out for lunch and again picnicking at a rest area. We drove to Raleigh the first day where I had arranged to have the best room, in the most expensive hotel, reserved. We rolled in at about 6:30P.M. and left the ’56 to a valet, who would also arrange to have the luggage delivered to our room, Trish was in awe at this treatment, but she hadn’t seen anything yet!
I took her arm and escorted her into the lobby where we were greeted by the concierge who had an orchid for Hammer and a flute of champagne for both of us to enjoy while we were being signed into the register. Trish was still showing her surprise by smiling and I guess she couldn’t think of what to say, as she was silent. When we were signed in we were poured another flute of champagne before the concierge informed us that our elevator was waiting to take us to our room.
We got into the elevator with our drinks and it started up on its own. Now Trish found her voice and started to ask questions so I backed her to a wall and gave her a long, slow, deep kiss. As the kiss ended I asked her to “just trust” and kissed her again, holding this kiss until the elevator stopped.
“Close your eyes and let me lead you,” I whispered as the doors opened and she did.
I led her to the middle of our suite, and said, “I love you Trish, open your eyes.”
I said a small prayer and waited. When Trish opened her eyes she saw a huge TV screen with me standing in a tux. The real me had backed up and I had a remote control in my hand. I pushed “play”. The ‘me’ on the screen behind me began to speak.
“Surprised? Just listen, please. I want you to be my wife and knew if I tried to ask you in person I would never get the words out. So… Patricia will you be my wife?”
Trish spun around and I was on a knee with a half-carat ring held out in my hands. We both looked at each other frozen for what must have been three minutes.
Finally Trish spoke “Big Boy. Put that ring on my finger and then kiss me before I faint.” So I did just that.
“Now we need to get changed and I want a shower before dinner “I said.
I took Trish in my arms, kissed her and asked her if she would like to join me in that shower. Without waiting for an answer I picked Hammer up and carried her to the bedroom tossing her onto the middle of the bed.
When she stopped bouncing and rocking on the water mattress Trish said “I need to let this sink in and make a couple of phone calls.” I knew she wanted to tell her girlfriends so I bent over and gave my girl a kiss then walked to the bathroom humming.