Episode 69: Picking Cotton

Levi sees a strange number calling.  He presses ignore and lets it go to voicemail. He checks it a minute later. Levi, it’s Lana calling to see what your availability is for working security for Senator Johns.

Levi walks into Saul’s office.  Lana called and left me a voicemail.  She wants to know my availability for working security for Senator Johns.  Go.  Saul commands.  Levi takes out his phone and calls her back.  This is Lana.  Lana, it’s Levi.  Hi. Thanks for returning my call.  No problem.  I’m available.  Good, I’m authorized to hire one more person besides Tim.  You’ll be working for my security firm, LRA.  What does that stand for?  You’re going to have to come down here to interview now, just because you asked that.  Levi chuckles.  My partner wants to meet you, Levi.  And you also need to fill out all the new hire paperwork before I put you to work picking cotton.  Levi laughs at her turn of phrase.  Alright. When and where do you want to meet up?  Wednesday night, here at Rolf’s. Alright.  See you then.  Bye.

Saul sees Levi grinning.  She’s going to put me to work picking cotton.

Saul calls Samantha.  Hi, uncle.  Sam, Levi is meeting with Lana Wednesday night.  I’d like you to see to his arrangements.  Of course.  Have him text me when he’s getting in.  Anything else, Uncle Saul?  That cotton isn’t going to pick itself.  WHAT?!? Saul chuckles and hangs up.

Levi’s phone rings ten seconds later.  Hello, Samantha.  Are you with my uncle?  Lana told me that she was going to put me to work picking cotton.  Oh.  Sam starts laughing.  Now tell me, do you want to stay at the Four Seasons or at a rock star’s mansion?  The Four Seasons.  Too bad.  You’re staying at my place.  Text me when your flight is going to get in.  Sam hangs up.

A day later…

Levi texts Sam that he’s arrived.  I saw your jet taxi.  I’m in the lounge.  Sam replies.  She gives him a wave and a quick smile when she sees him.  Levi looks at her outfit.  She’s wearing culottes.

They walk out to an idling black crew cab Dodge 4x4 EcoDiesel.  Levi notices the “Pure Michigan” license plate and a “Support Your Local Hooker” fishing decal in the rear window.  I sold the GTO, Sam tells Levi.  My roommate is letting me borrow her truck.  Levi doesn’t say anything and throws his duffel bag in the backseat, and gets in the cold truck.  Sam grabs a water out of the package on the rear seat floorboard and hands it to him. Thanks.

They pull into the mansion forty-five minutes later. You can have Jax’s room.  Follow me. Sam tells him as she unlocks the front door and lets herself in.  He follows her upstairs.  Make yourself at home.  The fridge is fully stocked.  There’s the pool.  The Wifi password is Predators2.  It’ll probably be a couple hours before my roommate Toni gets back from work.  If you want to go somewhere, call an Uber.


Thanks for the ride, Charlie.  Toni says as she hops out of his Honda Civic Sport Hatchback. Do I get the tour?  Charlie asks.  You just want to meet Samantha, Toni says smiling at him.  What’s wrong with that?  Alright, you asked for it.  She goes up to the door and rings the doorbell.  Sam answers it thirty seconds later.  Forgot your keys?  Charlie wants to say he met you.  There is no way someone that good looking is an FBI agent, Sam tells Toni.  Let me see some ID, mister.  He flashes his badge.  It looks real, she says, examining it.  But how do I know that you’re not a stripper?  Toni and Sam break out laughing at the shocked lock on his face.  You can come in, Charlie.  Sam says. Toni’s told me good things about you. He follows them through the large den into the kitchen.  What do we have to offer him?  Toni muses. A can of bubbly water? Sam gets a glass and puts some ice cubes in it, and Toni pours it and hands it to him. This is what we drink on set, Sam tells him.  Want to watch some TV with us?  Sure. Toni goes and sits on the couch and puts her feet up, and finds Friends on Netflix.  Sam puts Toni’s feet in her lap and starts rubbing them.  Toni moans.  You worked hard today, Sam tells her.  I did.  Toni says with her eyes closed.  You deserve this.  I do, Toni agrees.  See, Charlie. This is what I get to look forward to at the end of the day when Sam is home.  When are you heading out?  Bettina’s already on the road.  I’m going to fly into Indianapolis for the rally.  Sam’s filling in for Lana on Senator Johns’s campaign for a week, Toni tells Charlie.  How is she doing?  I read she’s not engaged to Jax anymore.  You could introduce me to her, he tells Toni.  Ah, no. Toni says.  Why not?  Charlie protests.  Jax is my bud.  Toni tells him.  You could at least give me her phone number.  Only if you promise to call her right now, in our presence, Sam says.  Sure.  Let me grab my phone from the car.  He comes back a minute later, and Sam shows him the number on her screen.  Speaker, she insists.  No way.

This is Lana.  Hi, Lana.  This is Charlie. I’m an FBI agent.  I work with your friend Toni.  How can I help you, Charlie?  Lana asks. I’d like to get together for coffee with you.  Any referrals from Peter and Toni automatically go to my partner, Rolf Asgaard. I have his schedule in front of me. He has an 11:30 opening tonight, if that is agreeable.   No, no. Charlie says quickly.  I’m asking you out on a date.  He hears Lana inhale in surprise.  I am so sorry, she says softly.  I completely misunderstood.  Toni gave you my number?  No, Samantha did.  There’s a long pause.  I’ve got a meeting later tonight, Lana says slowly, but I could meet you at the Dunkin Donuts over on Highland in an hour; I like their coffee.  Alright, I’ll see you there.  He disconnects and grins at Samantha and Toni.  She thought I was asking her out to coffee to discuss a case. She apologized and asked if you gave me her number, he tells Toni.  You just vouched for him to Lana, Toni tells her.  I did, didn’t I, Sam says frowning.  I’m going with you, Sam tells him.  No you’re not.  Charlie tells her, getting up from the couch.  I’ll see you at work tomorrow, Toni tells him.  See you, Toni.  Thanks, Samantha.


Mandatory staff meeting, the office intranet says the next morning.  Peter comes into the conference room munching on one of the Oatmeal Raisin cookies that Toni has brought in to the break room.  Toni, you’ve outdone yourself.  When do you rest?  She shrugs and grins.

I’ve been reading this book called the One Minute Manager.  And this premise is simple.  Praise your people when they do something right.  Single them out individually.  Charlie, well done.  Everyone looks at him, and he looks over at Toni, who looks down innocently at her legal pad. Moving on, we’ve got a report that there is a male stripper impersonating an FBI agent.  The agents look at each other in shock.  Charlie, I’d like you to take lead in tracking this miscreant down.  Charlie glares at Toni.  Now, where are we on the Lopez matter?

You told him. Charlie tells Toni after the meeting. Toni reaches into her desk and pulls out a pickle, and munches on it.  Peter knows everything about everyone, you just need to accept that. Toni says, and shooes him away.

At lunch, everyone gathers around Charlie as he tells the story of his sitdown with Lana.

It wasn’t what I expected.  We clicked, but she’s super religious…


Hi, Lana tells him as she sits down with her coffee.  He just stares at her.  Please tell me that you’re Charlie, the FBI agent, she says hurriedly.  Yes, I am.  They both laugh.  Good. Next question.  Please tell me that you’re armed.  Ankle holster.  She leans her cheekbone against her fist.  A K frame?  No, a Sig P365.  She wrinkles her nose.  You prefer revolvers?  He asks. They stay in battery.  Your pistol won’t work when you press it against the scumbag who is on top of you, throttling you.  But I thought you had a Glock for your shootout.  And I was glad to have the fifteen rounds, Lana replies.  Speaking of, Charlie, let’s say that the Chechens return while we’re drinking coffee together here.  And you and I just aren’t quick enough to get into action because we’ve been staring deeply into each other’s eyes, so we get triple tapped.  Do you believe that you’d go to heaven?

Yeah, I guess.  He says slowly.  Why? She asks him.  He gives her a weird look.  Why not?  I haven’t done anything seriously bad.  So God weighs your good deeds against your bad deeds, and the scale finally tilts toward the good, and you sigh in relief, and expect Him to say, enter my heaven. I guess, he says.  It’s not something I’ve really thought about.  I have, Lana says.  And it’s the basis for my worldview.  Charlie, even though Sam and Toni may like you for me, we are not going to date, based solely on your answer.  I just got out of a relationship with a wonderful man who didn’t share my religious beliefs when we started dating.  I’m not up for a repeat.

So what do you believe, Lana?  I’m a Christian.  He sips his coffee.  What does that mean to you?  It means that the Bible is the rule and measure of my conduct and that Jesus Christ is my Savior who died on a cross for my sins.  What are your sins?  Charlie asks, chuckling.  The usual laundry list.  But as a Christian, when I sin now, it’s only against the love of God, not the law of God.  She scowls.  That distinction probably isn’t helpful to you, is it?  He shakes his head no.  Well, if you’re curious, read the Gospel of Mark.  It’s my favorite because it’s all action, she says grinning.  The question Jesus asks his disciples, and also each reader, is “who do you say I am”? And I believe that it’s a pass/fail question, Charlie.  Get it wrong, and you go straight to hell when you die.  So you think I’m on my way to hell?  Charlie asks, his eyebrows raised.  Who cares what Lana Radley thinks, she responds.  Charlie, my faith is based on the Bible.  And the Bible says that the wrath of God is on unbelievers. And what makes the Bible special?  Charlie asks. It’s the divinely inspired Word of God, Lana replies.  How do you know that?  All sacred texts would claim the same, don’t they?  Yes, and that’s a good question.  My logic, I admit, is presuppositional.  What does that mean?  Believe it or go to hell.  He looks at her with his mouth open.  She shrugs. You asked.  You brought the subject up, he protests. It would have come up eventually, she says.  I’d rather get it out of the way now, before I start to fall in love with you.  I have a thing for strong men who protect others, she admits, grinning at him.  Now, what did you go to school for before you went to the Academy…


Toni gets in from work, and relays the story to Sam and Levi as she gets a footrub.  She’s brilliant, Toni says laughing.  He really likes her, but there is no way he’s calling her again.  So, did you read the Gospel of John Mark?  Toni quips.  Sam looks at Levi.  Lana is very, very smart.  Now I know why she humored me and met him for coffee.  She wanted to shake him up, just so the conversation would get replayed for you. Now she doesn’t have to have that talk with you, and you know exactly where she stands.  Ready to head back home?  I was given a job to do, Levi responds.  Passive voice, really?  Sam comments. Samantha, have you ever heard of an English word called “absorb”?  What’s your point?  She retorts.  Argue later. He’s going to make a good husband, Toni tells Sam.  Not for Lana, Sam says flatly. She’s going to be my sister.  About that, Levi says…