No Good Deed
Copyright© 2019 by Lumpy
By the next morning I’d shaken most my concern over Josh’s threat. He was going to do what he was going to do, and I still felt deep inside he was a good person. He just needed to get over this desire to find the easy path to what he wanted and jealousy over what other people had.
Megan stopped by with her van, bringing back memories of the previous year and the early days of my relationship with Zoe, which also helped bring me out of my funk. Even with her suburban, we were still packed pretty tightly, since our entire family, or rather extended family, plus Charlie and his crew, all piled in. Mom and Vicki’s mom played Paper, Rock, Scissors for who got to ride up front and who had to ride in the back with us. I was ninety percent sure they did that as a joke, but Mom did seem awfully happy when she won.
It took us almost two hours to get to the beach. The water was cold, as predicted, and other than sticking a toe in, we generally didn’t get wet. But the sun was out, and it was still comfortable enough to lie out on the beach, run around, and just goof off for a day. It was a weird glance into what a typical teenager’s life was like. I was actually a little jealous of the hypothetical ‘average’ teenager, although I wouldn’t give up what my life was for anything since that would have meant giving up my family. Still, we had a great time.
One significant benefit of a beach trip was seeing the girls in their Bikini’s. Considering how often I got to see them outside of their clothes, you would think that wouldn’t be a big deal, but there is something about having the good bits hidden just out of sight that makes everything seem sexier. Plus, Sandy didn’t look half bad either. Charlie was a lucky guy.
The day passed fast, and it was probably the most fun I’d had since our summer cruise. Or at least, parts of our summer cruise.
Mom allowed Vicki’s mother to ride up front. We kids had a blast on the way back, playing stupid car games and just enjoying each other’s presence. Which is why I had a massive mental whiplash when Megan called out from the front seat.
“What the hell?” she said, pulling to a hard stop in front of the house.
“Oh, no!” Vicki’s mom said with a gasp.
I leaned over and looked through the front window. From where I was sitting, I could see the front door swinging open, and parts of the door frame hanging loose as if the door had been kicked in.
“Mom, call Carter and Jawarski,” I said starting to push through to get out the side door of the suburban.
“You’re going in there over my dead body,” she said, grabbing my arm. “You will wait right here until help arrives.”
“I can handle myself.”
“I’m well aware of that, but being able to protect yourself is not the same as walking into a situation when you don’t need to. We’re safe here. We can drive away if we need to. There is no reason to rush into the house, now. We wait. Do you hear me?”
I slouched down in my seat and said, “Yes, ma’am.”
It wasn’t often she pulled the ‘mom card’ on me, but when she did, it was hard not to listen. So we sat and waited just staring at the broken-in front door. After about ten minutes Jawarski pulled up in her personal car, meaning it was probably her day off.
Hopping out, I went to her and said, “Finally. Let’s go check the house.”
“How about you sit your ass on the curb while I check out the house. How about that?”
Not waiting for an answer she turned and walked towards the house, with her hand on the butt of the gun she kept in a holster at her back, but not pulled out. Once again, I was forced to sit and wait while I would rather be doing something.
“House is clear,” she said coming back out of the house a few minutes later. “Trashed, but there isn’t anyone in here, and I didn’t see anything that looked dangerous.”
“Ohh, thank God,” Mom said, hugging Jawarski.
It was weird seeing her hug Mom back, considering the reaction I always got from her. Of course, I knew why that was, and that it wasn’t her fault, but it still felt out of place from my experiences with the woman.
“I’m going to call this in. You need to all wait outside until patrol cars get here and can make a report, just in case.”
“Great, more waiting,” I groused.
“Deal with it,” she snapped at me and headed to her car.
As she was calling it in, I saw Carter pulling up.
“Huh,” was all he said when he got out and looked at the broken door.
“Huh? That’s all you’ve got?” I asked, a little angry. “I thought we had a top notch security system put in, and yet no police? No call from the cops? What the hell, Carter?”
“Don’t get your pants in a twist, kid. Nothing, no matter how good, is foolproof. Once we take a look, we’ll be able to see what they did, and figure out a way to keep it from happening in the future. I’m assuming Beth has already called it in?”
“Yeah,” I said. “She told us to wait out here until they showed up and took a report.”
“Not a bad idea. After they do their thing, I’ll take a look at the security system, and try and figure out what happened.”
He slapped me on the back and headed over to talk to Jawarski, who was still sitting in her car. I sat on the curb and fumed. Sure, probably a little childish, but I hated having to wait on other people.
The girls just ignored my funk, which was probably for the best. They knew I’d get over it once we were allowed in the house and got everything straightened out, and given my track record during the situation with Emily earlier in the year, they probably assumed that if they tried to cheer me up, I’d end up being a jerk. Which was probably true.
Mom did come by and pat me on the shoulder once when switching from talking to Jawarski and Carter to going to speak with the girls; but otherwise, she avoided me, too.
After a little while, a patrol car pulled up, and a cop I didn’t recognize got out and talked to Jawarski. As they talked she got more and more animated, looking particularly annoyed near the end, throwing up her hands and yelling, “Fine, do what you want.”
Stomping over to me she folded her arms and said, “Are you going to sit here sulking, or are you ready to go in?”
“What happened,” I asked, hopping to my feet and ignoring her taunt.
“He said he wasn’t even going to bother checking out the house. That he’d file a report, and you guys could submit a record of any missing items at the police station ‘at your convenience, ‘ but otherwise there wasn’t anything he could do.”
“And that’s not what he’s supposed to do?”
“I mean, technically I guess, yeah. He could wait until you file and then keep it on record for a detective to investigate ‘at a future date,’ but its sloppy police work. He should walk the scene, talk to you guys, and file a report on his own. I guess it could be that he’s relatively new and only knows to go exactly by the book, but his training officer should have taught him better.”
“So we can go in?” I asked impatiently.
“That’s literally the only thing you heard me say, isn’t it?”
“No, I heard the rest. He’s doing a shitty job and hiding behind the regs. Got it. But honestly, besides you and one detective, I haven’t been overly wowed by the police department. In fact, they’ve kinda screwed me over a few times.”
Since she was one of the people who tried to screw me over, that was a bit of a cheap shot, especially considering it hadn’t really been her fault. But I was still annoyed, and felt like being an asshole.
“Whatever,” she said.
I went into the house with mom and the girls and was stunned. Trashed wasn’t even good enough to describe what had been done to our home. Everything that could be opened was. Everything that could be emptied was.
All the food had been dumped out of the fridge. Hell, there was even a big pool of water where they had poured all the ice from the ice maker onto the ground. As we wandered through the house, it was more of the same. Drawers emptied, pillows and chairs slashed open, and the stuffing pulled out, boxes and containers smashed. They even cut open the spines of every book they could find.
“Why would they do this?” Mom said almost in tears.
“Someone was looking for something,” Jawarski said.
She had been quiet once we entered the house, just following us around.
“You think? This looks like straight up vandalism to me,” Vicki said.
“I don’t think so. Nothing looks broken for the sake of being broken. Sure they smashed a lot of stuff, but it was all things that could, theoretically at least, be hiding something. Like, that vase is smashed, yes. But those little class figures you had on the mantle? Not even touched. And, they’re so noticeable and clearly fragile, I couldn’t imagine someone here for just vandalism to have ignored them.”
Looking at it from her point of view, I could see what she meant. If you paid attention, it became apparent the destruction was not random. What I couldn’t figure out was, what they were looking for?
It couldn’t be industrial espionage. We had all of our sensitive documents at the office kept in a secure safe. I guess they might not have known that. If this was the Syndicate, however, they should have known about it. We knew they were behind the attempted theft last year, and they were aware we put in a secure area for storing stuff.
Plus, they had torn apart Mom’s throw pillows. I couldn’t imagine they thought I was hiding bulky patent documents inside her throw pillows. Which left me perplexed, because nothing I could come up with made sense.
“I have no idea what they could be looking for.”
“Think on it. While you’re it, I’m going to look at the security system with Carter.”
I watched her back as she walked away, thinking. There had been something in my head the other night after the whole Levi thing, and now with this, I was more firm in my thoughts than ever before.
Checking the house phone and happy to see it at least still worked, I called Levi and asked him to come over to discuss something important. I paced around the house while I waited, although I did pitch in some, picking up the debris left over from our possessions.
The girls were distraught, but I pointed out that we had the money to replace all the stuff that had been broken, which mollified them a bit. It, however, would be some time before we actually got back to living like normal. The furniture in most of the rooms was slashed open and unusable. Since all the beds were destroyed, we decided that when we were done for the night, we would have to go to a hotel until we could replace the bedding.
Jonathan had come, getting information to file a claim with our homeowner’s insurance for the damage to the house and whatever inside was covered. Jonathan only stayed a few minutes before heading back to the office to get the paperwork he needed to file the claim. While seeing him out, I noticed Levi’s car out front and started wandering the house looking for him. Eventually, I found him out back, talking to Carter and Jawarski.
“Glad you made it,” I said, walking up to the trio.
The reception was a bit unnerving. From Levi, I got a big handshake and a smile. Carter, even though he had gone through the change thanks to Vicki’s instance of protecting me from my own morals, hadn’t particularly warmed up to me, although he wasn’t rude, either, going with a simple head nod. Jawarski pursed her lips and glared at me, although considering how much I’d been around her and what happened to Margaret the longer I was exposed, I guess this could be considered positive. Still, to get the gamut of receptions from one group was a little strange.
“I had a thought. Levi, I know you love your dojo and teaching, but have you ever considered returning to your old profession, or at least, your old profession adjacent?”
“I’ve thought about it. I do miss it sometimes. What do you mean by adjacent.”
“Well, I know Carter enjoys his work, but at this point, I think we are his only client.”
A nod from Carter confirmed this.
“Let me just throw this out for you guys to think about. Carter, so far you’ve focused mostly on finding people or providing personal security. And, if rumors are to be believed, Levi has some experience in the more military end of security, right? My thought was this. I’d like to start a security division and have you two run it.”
“I don’t know...” Levi started.
“Wait a minute, I’m not giving...” Carter said simultaneously.
I held up a hand, interrupting their protests, and said, “I just want you to think about it. Carter, right now your entire focus is on security or projects for the company and me. I know you don’t want to give up running your own business, but I’ve gotten to know you a little. I know you don’t like the business end of things. However, you’d have a lot more resources to work with.”
“And Levi, I’m not talking about military security, not really. I’m not proposing we open ourselves as a defense contractor. But we’re starting projects overseas, and some of the areas we are going to expand into are not safe. We will need a security apparatus in place to protect our employees and investment. And you know me, you know how I work. My goal is to make the world a better place. I don’t plan on doing that by burning down villages so I can put in an oil well. But I’m enough of a realist to know that there are bad people in this world.”
I took a breath and continued my pitch.
“I just want you two to think about it. I believe that it’s something we could use. I also think we could make money out of it if we tried, and that would help fund some of the more humanitarian projects we want to do.”
“If they do it, I want in,” Jawarski said.
“Really? But what about the police force?” I asked, surprised.
“I’m done with them, either way. There’s just too much corruption. It isn’t the place I thought I was working for. I was just telling Levi that the guy who he injured the other day has disappeared from the hospital. This is what, the fourth time that’s happened. No, I’m done.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I know the job meant a lot to you.”
She just shrugged and said, “It is what it is. Plus, it fits into something I was talking to Angela about. She had asked me how to go about getting some type of personal security for you. I was going to talk to her after I resigned and let her know I was available to do it, but if you start this thing, I could do the same thing as part of the organization, and it would let me have a support structure for protecting you instead of doing it on my own.”
Images of going everywhere followed by Jawarski popped into my head, followed by images of being regularly told I was an asshole by someone who hated me on a cellular level.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
“I don’t know, sounds like a decent idea to me,” Carter said.
“I could see it. She has training, understands law enforcement. It wouldn’t take much to teach the basics of principal protection,” Levi added.
“Just ... let’s slow down for a second. I think I’ve shown I’m perfectly able to protect myself.”
“You have, but it takes just one screw up to destroy everything you’re doing,” Jawarski pointed out. “Plus, they aren’t going to just keep sending one and two guys after you. Eventually, they will figure out they need overwhelming force. Then where’ll you be?”
“But you hate me!”
“True, but I also see the importance of keeping you alive and healthy. Think how much more effective I’ll be keeping my eyes off you and on potential dangers, than someone you’ve brainwashed.”
“Whatever,” she said, hand-waving my objection away. “Besides, this was originally your mom’s idea, and I think we both know she’d think I was an excellent choice.”
Sadly, I knew she was right.
“Fine, I’ll talk to Mom and we’ll see.”
“I also want part ownership of this security thing with Levi and Carter.”
“Fine,” I said, getting tired of losing battles. “You three talk over what you need. Sit down with Jonathan and get his input, and then let’s figure out a plan. What about the alarm?”
“The people who circumvented it were pros, no doubt about it. That’s the problem with electronic security. Nothing is one-hundred percent. Now that I’m hearing about Beth being personal security for you, I’m gonna say that’s the way to go.”
“Does anyone have doubts as to who’s behind this?”
All three shook their heads. I figured as much. There was really only one obvious answer for who was after us.