Flower Girl: A Burton Family Mystery

FLOWER GIRL

A Burton Family Mystery

"What happens when a government scientist with top secret clearance teams up with a rogue CIA agent, who happens to be her father?"

 

By

 David Marshall Hunt 

Although this work mentions well-known people, events, organizations, and locations, it is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to establishments or actual persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Cover illustration and design by Heidi Pitre. 

@2015 DMHUNT

ISBN 13: 978-1499517132

ISBN 10: 1499517130

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015901264

Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, SC

No part of this manuscript may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the author.

Made in USA

 

 

 

Visit the author's website:
davidmarshallhunt.com

Facebook:
facebook.com/davidmarshallhunt

Twitter:
twitter.com/drdmhunt

Check out my author page at this easy to remember  url!
amazon.com/author/dhunt

 

 

Novels by David Marshall Hunt

 

"The Star Stone, The Chair, & The Dog" Book1: Secrets of the Star Stone Society

 

"The Pilgrimage" Book2: Secrets of the Star Stone Society

Acknowledgements

The editing and rewrites of this novel have greatly benefitted from the professional editing of Elizabeth Duvert, PhD for which I am deeply grateful.

Heidi Pitre's cover design and artwork for this novel is exceptional.

Jeremy Thompson's help with everything digital has been unequivocal.

I am also deeply appreciative of the support and sharing of a terrific group of authors, my colleagues from Launch lab 2014* and our wonderful pilots, Lynne Griffin and Katrin Schumann at Grubb Street, Boston.

The encouragement I receive daily from Barbara-Ann, my wife of over 40 years is immeasurable. My thanks to family, friends, and readers for their continuing support.

Our Akitas, Dylan and Clair, continue to provide security and companionship.

 
*Launch Lab 2014:

Dr. Alice Locicero; Stephanie Rowe; Lori Reisenbichler

Stephanie Kegan; Robin McLean; Ellen Herrick

Mark Day; Ann Sussman; Lenore Myka; Nadine Kenney

 

PART I: A FAMILY MATERIALIZES

"To start a family business you first need a family."

[Professor Marshall Hunt, circa 1999] 

 
Chapter 1: A Haunting Dream & A Visit from the CIA

A Haunting Dream: Cheju-do Island

At the age of four a doctor and one of the nurses, both clad in white, walked into the dormitory at the orphanage where I was housed along with three other girls ages 4 to 11. The place is called Park's Clinic and Home for Girls and it is located on Cheju-do Island a scenic, volcano dotted island and popular wedding and honeymoon location off the southern coast of South Korea. Dr. Evel Park Senior owns these facilities and another clinic in Seoul and his oldest son Dr. Evel Park, Junior assists in running them. The nurse, a matronly lady, checked each of us while Dr. Park supervised. She said, "Carrie Lee has a slight fever, I'll check back on her later today." Dr. Park nodded and the nurse made some notes to the clip boards at the end of our beds. I was feeling curious about what a slight temperature meant. The nurse said, "No need to worry child, it's not malaria."

Now, that got me even more curious and I could tell by Dr. Park's scolding finger wag and the nurse's holding her hand over her mouth, that she had said something she should not have. She apologized more to Dr. Park than to me, saying, "I'm so sorry doctor, it just slipped out."

Dr. Park replied, "Your mother was critically ill with malaria and pregnant with you when your father drove her to our clinic in Seoul. Your father tragically died in a traffic accident that day and we were not able to save your mother; however, we were able to save you."

I had heard other girls talk in secrecy of their parents, making me curious; however, this was the first thing I was told of my parents fate.

It was later that very year that I began to be haunted by a dream.

A man in black treads slowly up a steep trail on the side of a volcano on Cheju-do Island. The trail tracks like a knife wound through the lush green grasses that grow so high they nearly block his view until he reaches the cliff side and looks out over the shimmering blue-green waters of the Korean Straits, the Sea of Japan bordering to the east, and the Yellow sea to the west.

A pair of gnarled trees bend in silent testimony to years of strong winds. Between the trees, the man stops and brushes away sand and twigs from around two granite stones standing side by side. The man kneels and places flowers next to the two stones. Tears flowing, he whispers something that is lost in the wind.

In my dreams, from that year until I was twelve, I saw the man in black repeat this ritual on every second of June. I recorded these in my diary which I kept in a mixture of Korean, my first language and Arabic which I began learning at age four.

 

Carrie Lee

My name is Carrie Lee; more correctly, it used to be Carrie Lee, now I am Shannon Lee Burton. Make that Dr. Burton. My closest friend and research colleague, Angie loves to bat her eyelashes and say our looks are our ticket out of here. We are both twenty-six years old and stay fit running in the Berkeley Hills which shows in her healthy bronze tan and my slightly sunburned look. We could pass for sisters in our Property of Golden Bear Athletic Department t-shirts and grey running shorts; however, that's where the physical similarity ends. I have short cropped flaming reddish-brown hair, hers is long and usually blonde, in a pony tail when we are running, and I have grey eyes and hers are emerald green.

She says we are both way too good looking to be research scientists buried in the subterranean labs of a top-secret contractor for the federal government. I feign modesty whenever she says this, but who am I to challenge the 2012 Conrad Beecham Scientist of the Year award winner, Dr. Angie Pearce.

Angie and I have been best friends since the man in black rescued me, then dropped me off at the Bush School for Girls, a boarding school in Seattle, when I was twelve. Then he all but disappeared from my life for five years until I graduated and he helped me move to River View, Illinois, to attend university. Later I migrated to UC-Berkeley.

The only person other than Angie that I have ever discussed what happened to me as a child with is Professor Dr. Matte Morgan. When I was a clinical psychology graduate student at River View University Dr. Matte was my favorite teacher and I trusted her enough to open up to her about my misgivings as regards the man in black. Dr. Matte is a clinical psychologist in huge demand for cases of sexual abuse and an award winning professor, my faculty advisor years ago, not to mention a long-legged blonde with cool blue-green eyes. I think she's sweet on Professor Craft.

Professor Josiah Craft holds the prestigious R. V. Curfew Chair in International Business History at River View University and is an avid distance runner. His steel grey eyes, short-cropped grey hair, and full beard disguise his age. And, he has a cabin at Skeleton Lake in the Muskoka Lakes region of Ontario Province, Canada where he spends most of his summers.

Since I moved to Berkeley it isn't possible to meet face-to-face, so 
Dr. Matte and I sometimes use Skype for our virtual counseling sessions.
 

A distorted face with a large nose glanced at me, peering out over her reading glasses like she was trying to find me in the little box on the laptop screen, as her  soothing deep voice said, "Let's pick up where we left off last session. Why don't you tell me about what happened that day when you were rescued from the orphanage in Korea?"

"Okay," I said. "When I was  four. I was told by the doctors at the orphanage on Cheju-do Island  that I was born at their Seoul Clinic; nevertheless, I was told nothing about my parents other than that my mother died of malaria and my father died in a traffic accident. My only family was the staff and the other girls at the orphanage, and they rotated out when they turned 12.

"Three days after my twelfth birthday as Carrie Lee, I awoke as I always did to the sound of gongs ringing from a nearby temple. The dormitory I lived in was located in a compound at the western base of a volcanic mountain. The compound also had a hospital and clinic run by Dr. Evel Park and his oldest son. From age three to twelve, I lived and trained at the Parks' Home for Girls on Cheju-do Island. I learned Korean, Mandarin, and Arabic. I became adept at some martial arts, including stick fighting which was taught at a nearby school where Dr. Park's youngest son, Sincere, who was three years older than me, also practiced. They also taught me etiquette and Muslim culture. The island was well known as a place for weddings and honeymoons, and on several occasions I served as a flower girl.

"That morning, nine other girls between the ages of three and twelve awoke and stirred around me in the dormitory. We were scheduled to serve as flower girls at a local wedding. Hot water went to the early birds, so we raced to the showers at the end of the hallway. I adjusted the warm water and lathered my body.

"Suddenly, all I could see was plywood splintering around me, plasterboard and cinder blocks smashing and giving way to a cloud of plaster powder. A large truck crashed through the west wall of the dormitory, nearly crushing one of the girls next to me in the showers. Its headlights illuminated the room in a yellow dust.

"I was so shocked that I had no time to react. A man dressed in black with a stocking over his face came through the dust and grabbed my left arm and slung me over his shoulder, carrying me out into the cold morning dawn like a sack of grain and tossing me in the passenger's seat of the truck. He then backed the vehicle out of the hole in the wall and onto the road. The truck's wheels, spinning on the ice and rainwater that covered the road, finally gained traction. Soon we were moving rapidly away from the clinic compound towards the waters of the Korean Straits and the Sea of Japan.

"The man-in-black wrapped a warm blanket about me, and it was only then that I noticed that I was naked, shivering and still wet and soapy. I had won the race to the showers. In a few minutes, we reached a sandy beach, where the man-in-black drove the truck into the back of a strange boat-like craft. I was never to hear the morning gongs nor see what had been the only home and family I had ever known on Cheju-do again.

"The next morning, the man-in-black spoke to me in Arabic. He told me he was Reddy Burton, my father, and he gave me a gift, a green glass fishing-buoy with several ounces of seawater captured inside it for ballast. These buoys could be seen all along the inner coast of the island where fishermen spread their nets.

"The seawater and glass buoy are a gift to remind you of this beautiful place," he said to me in Arabic. To this day, that green glass buoy is one of my fondest visual memories of the tranquil beauty that was Cheju-do Island, my home. The buoy is hanging on my back porch.

"I was not to see much of the man-in-black, if indeed he was my father, for the next five years. Looking back on that moment now, I do believe his speaking to me in Arabic contributed greatly to my not being afraid at the time."

Dr. Matte took all this in without interrupting me, then she asked, "Where did you go for the next five years?"

"As the leaves began to take on their fall hues, in the late summer of 1998, Reddy dumped me at a foster home in Idaho. They were nice folks, but I ran away after a night of sleeping on the top bunk of one of six bunk beds with eleven other children in a 15x15 foot room. Hell, I had better accommodations on the island where I at least had my own closet, even if I had to compete for morning showers. Reddy tracked me down at Lake Pond Oreille the next day, and we drove to Seattle in silence. Then he enrolled me in the Bush School for Girls and disappeared.

"At first, I thought that no one else at the school spoke anything except English. Since I spoke only broken English, I preferred to be silent and mysterious.

"I stubbornly told everyone that I was called Carrie Lee and I did not readily accept the claim that the man-in-black was my father, surname Burton. It was a name change that did not come about easily. My second day I thought about running away again.

"However, then I met Angie who also spoke Arabic and  Mandarin. She taught me English and together we made up a special secret coded language of our own that we used to combat the incessant teasing of the other girls at the school. I told you about that and that I take to languages with ease."

 "Refresh my memory."

"Angie and I were the only orphans at the Bush's girls' school. Okay, so technically I wasn't an orphan. Until the man-in-black busted me out, I had been told I was an orphan, so I still felt like one. No one visited us on holidays or picked us up for a family weekend. I remember many a weekend when the two of us were the only girls in the dormitory. Also, before and after classes as we walked up and down the hallways and between buildings to go to gym class or to the dining hall where we all sat on benches, ten to a table, the other girls taunted us incessantly. ‘You don't have a father! You don't have a father!' To combat their incessant teasing, we developed a secret language drawing on the Arabic and Mandarin we knew."

"I already know about your years at River View; however, tell me about your Berkeley experience and when and if Reddy was around," Dr. Matte said.

"A dozen years later, Reddy made an appearance at my graduation from UC-Berkeley with a PhD in nano-technology and linguistics. As my graduation gift, he offered to make the down payment on a home in the Berkeley Hills overlooking the campus of the University of California. However, there was a catch to his offer. He wanted to build a workshop in my basement. Angie and I now share that house in the Berkeley Hills behind the UC- Berkeley campus with Reddy below. It probably has the best security and communication setup in the world which Reddy set up after the CIA visit.

"Whoa, slow down Carrie Lee, tell me about this CIA visit," Dr. Matte said, adding, "And thanks for finally getting around to why you really called me."

A Visit From The CIA: Berkeley

Today, a man and a woman, wearing dark blue suits and white shirts, stood leaning against our front door waiting for Angie and me to return home. My first thought was that they were missionaries, but the man snuffed out a cigarette on the sole of his shoe. Then he carefully crumbled the remaining tobacco, scattering it onto the grass while rolling the paper into a tiny ball with his thumb and forefinger and putting it into his jacket pocket. I'd seen Reddy doing the same thing. He called it "policing" the cigarette.

Angie doffed her baseball cap, untied her ponytail, and revealed her new do, shaking out a full head of long raven black hair that literally glistened. She liked to flirt and she had the tools.

"Hi, folks, can we help you?" she asked the man. I estimated him to be just over six feet tall. He had the ramrod straight posture of a military man, likely a Marine, short cropped brown hair, and a very compelling smile. Angie was on full alert.

"We're here to interview a Dr. Shannon Lee Burton. From the description we have, that would be you," the shapely but stern looking woman said to me. She had just glanced at the photo on her smart-phone, then showed it to me, stared at me and I nodded.

"Yes, I'm Dr. Burton. Who are you?"

"I'm Special Agent Effie Newhouse of the CIA and this is Agent Clemson Rapier. May we go inside?" she asked, flashing her credentials and returning them to her hip pocket next to a partially visible holster.

"Sure, why not? We've just had our morning espressos, but I can brew some Kenya AA, French press if you'd like?"

I wasn't too startled by the arrival of two government visitors. I've been tracked by the government ever since I entered university back in River View, Illinois, where I showed an exceptional skill for learning languages. I just told you about Angie's and my secret language at Bush Girls School; however, I may have forgotten to tell you that until after Reddy rescued me, I did not know English. Now I speak Spanish and Russian, in addition to my not so native English and the Korean and Mandarin of my childhood and the Arabic I was taught to become a proper child bride. Right now, I'm working on Japanese and enhancing my encryption skills.

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