No Good Deed
Copyright© 2019 by Lumpy
I stormed out of the offices and headed out to the sidewalk in front of our building. I’d had enough of this preacher, and I was ready to tackle him there on that sidewalk and beat the shit out of him. Which is why it’s a good thing that as I came out the front door of the offices I was body checked by Jawarski.
Planting her palms on my chest, she pushed me with each step, almost knocking me on my ass, back into the reception area.
“What the hell?”
“Get a grip. What do you think’s going to happen if you rush out there and do what I think you’re planning on doing?”
“Get a shit ton of satisfaction,” I said, starting to go around her, only to get another palm slapped into my sternum.
“And then you’ll go to jail. And after that, the Preacher’s going to get a big ass payday, when he sues the hell out of you. You’re supposed to be some kind of genius. Think this through!”
It pissed me off that she was right. As soon as I stopped my headlong charge, my brain had caught up, and I knew it was a bad idea before I made it to the lobby, but by that point, I had built up a head of steam. It was a good thing she was there to stop me and give me a second to think about what I was doing.
Which gave me another thought.
“What are you doing here?”
Last I’d seen of her she was working her final days on the force and figuring out how to start a security business with Levi and Carter.
“They’re at your house, too. Angel called and wanted me to get to you, to keep you from doing something stupid.”
“It’s a good thing you got here then, I guess.”
“Well, enjoy it, now. Pretty soon you’re going to be paying me a shit load of money to keep you from doing stupid shit. Of course, with you, I’ll be earning that money.”
I gave her a fake smile and started to walk past her again, only to get slapped in the chest a third time.
“I can do this all day,” she said.
“Fine, fine,” I said with a sigh and turned to Ted. “Can we call the meeting for the day? I’m going to head out of here before I end up doing something Jawarski here makes me regret.”
“Sure, Cas, we’ll see you later,” he said with a sympathetic pat on my shoulder.
Thankfully, the parking lot was on the other side of the building from where the preacher and his flock were protesting, so I could ignore him. Back at home, the protesters were all gone by the time I arrived.
“Jawarski said there were protesters here,” I said to Mom when I walked in the door, trailed by the ex-cop.
“They were. We called the police. There isn’t much public property here unless you stand in the street, which is also against the law. We were able to have the cops run them off. I take it they were at his office, too?”
She directed the last sentence at Jawarski.
“Yeah. He was charging out the door to go after them when I showed up and kept him from doing something stupid.”
“Thank you, Beth,” Mom said, giving her a hug.
“Just doing my job. Or at least getting a jump start on doing it.”
I begged off and headed upstairs to get my homework done, and call it an early night. Tami was pretty upset about the preacher popping up again, so the girls comforted her and gave me some space, which was all right by me.
My only real problem was I couldn’t figure out what to do about the man. Jawarski was right. What he really wanted was for me to over-react and do something stupid so he could come after me. So far, he hadn’t done anything outright illegal; at least, not that I could prove. The previous brides were, of course, illegal; but with the parents keeping quiet, there wasn’t much I could do.
Then, the Syndicate had shown they were ready to pounce on anything we did to get rid of us. After the CPS scare, the idea of doing something extralegal to deal with the preacher seemed like a bad idea. Everywhere I’d turned over the last year, I kept stumbling over people who worked for them. The last thing I needed to do was help them find a way to hurt us.
It was still a rough night, and neither Tami nor I got much sleep, something that didn’t go unnoticed by our friends.
“You two look like hell,” Rachel pointed out at lunch, as I slowly ate my food, not talking to the rest of the gang.
Tami hadn’t even gone that far. She skipped getting lunch altogether, and just put her head on the table.
“It was a shitty day,” I said grumpily.
“It was that preacher who was after Tami’s sister,” Vicki told them. “He showed up at our house and at Cas’s work, protesting with some awful signs.”
“They can do that?” Rachel’s boyfriend Jacob asked from down the table.
“Well, not around the house. It’s all private property there, except the street; but you can’t block the street, so the police ran them off. There’s nothing they could do about the people at Cas’s office.”
“That’s who those guys are. I go by there on the way to work, and I saw some people with signs and stuff gathering out front. I was going to ask what was going on.”
“Yeah,” I mumbled. “I talked to our lawyer. Apparently, as long as they don’t stop people from coming into our building, don’t attack anyone, and stay out of the street and on public property, there is nothing we can do.”
“That sucks,” Amanda said, patting my arm.
“I’m dreading going to work,” I said and then looked to make sure Tami was actually asleep. “She’s a wreck, though. I don’t think she slept all night. Every time that guy’s name comes up, it just destroys her a little bit more. I swear to God, I am going to lose it and go kick the shit out of him.”
“CAAAaaasss!,” Zoe said in a warning tone.
“I know, I know. I’ll keep away from him. Still, it pisses me off.”
I went back to eating and being grumpy, while everyone else commiserated, listing all the possibilities, and some fairly impossible, failings the preacher might have; along with a wish list of things that should happen to him.
I’m not going to lie, it felt good hearing them run the man down. It was nice to have friends at my back.
Or, at least most of them. Josh was surprisingly quiet, which also pissed me off.
I skipped going to work that afternoon. Ted understood but reminded me we had an important meeting the next afternoon which I couldn’t miss. I watched the girls practice, except for Tami. She begged off, claiming health issues. She spent the practice stretched out on the bleachers, asleep, with her head in my lap and her feet on Vicki’s lap.
When Zoe finished, we all headed home. The nap had done Tami some good, and she was looking halfway human again, but I was dragging and wanted to head straight upstairs and fall into bed.
That, however, turned out not to be an option. Walking in the door, we found Jawarski and Mom sitting in the living room, apparently waiting for us.
“Sit down, kids,” Mom said as we came into the room. “We have something we need to talk about.”
“Is everything ok?” I asked as I squeezed in between Zoe and Vicki.
“After the break-in, I told you something was going to have to change. I know Beth mentioned my request, and she has agreed. As of today, she will be responsible for personal security for you specifically Cas, but as well as the rest of us. I know you don’t want this and think you can take care of yourself, but I will not be changing my decision. You are still a child. A remarkable one, to be sure; but you have the feeling of invincibility that all young men have, and you have genuine enemies out there.”
“I get it. Pretty much everyone seems to think I need a bodyguard, but me. But can I ask a few questions?”
“Sure,” Mom said while Jawarski rolled her eyes.
“How are we doing this? I thought you were going to go in with Carter and Levi?”
“I am. We talked, and I made it clear that this was a priority. Jonathan set up a subsidiary, well the framework of it. The paperwork hasn’t gone through, but I can operate through that. You are paying up front for my services, and that will fund what I’m doing until you guys figure out how to pay for everything.”
“So I’m paying for a bodyguard I don’t want?”
“Cas!” Mom said, giving me her most stern look.
“Sorry. What about your job at the department. I thought you were going to put in notice?”
“I did. In their infinite wisdom, the department decided they didn’t want a short-term officer who wasn’t headed to retirement on the payroll. I think it’s more that I’ve ended up being peripherally involved in a lot of the screwed up things that have happened there over the last year, and because I started making inquiries about some of those I, or rather my connection to you, finally got noticed.”
“So they just fired you?”
“Allowed me to quit quietly, is more like it. I haven’t accrued any pension, but they offered to pay me for the rest of the time I would have worked and pay out my accrued vacation. I was at the point where I couldn’t stand walking into that building anymore, so I took the money and ran.”
“So how’s this going to work? I can’t imagine you following me to and from school.”
“For now, we’ll assume you’re safe at school. I’ll drive you to and from school, including stops at the office, and to any other appointments you have. I’m working with Carter to find a better security system for the house, and he’s going to have one of his guys sit on your house at night and on weekends when I need a break from listening to your yammering. Although if you have something notable on weekends, I’ll be on hand. I want you to inform me of anything notable that happens, security wise: someone weird following you, or hanging around the cars, or the house seeming like it’s been broken into or tampered with, or even if things just feel weird. Angela has already promised to keep me up to speed, but you need to do it, too. This goes for you girls, also.”
They were all nodding, which wasn’t surprising since they’d all been in agreement with the idea of me having a bodyguard for a while. I, however, remained unhappy.
“So, I’m going to have you with me everywhere I go?”
“Pretty much. Most of the time, I’ll just hang in the background, and stay out of your way. I’ll only make my presence known if I’m needed. The exception is, I am always the first through any door you walk through. Do you understand?”
I didn’t answer right away, and Mom spoke up, “This is non-negotiable, Cas. I love your goal of trying to make the world a better place, and everything you want to do. It makes my heart so happy, I can’t even explain it. But, if you don’t agree to this, it all comes to a stop right now. You quit your job, become a regular student, and spend every day till your eighteenth birthday on lock down when not in school. I’m not joking!”
“Fine,” I said.
“This doesn’t mean I’m going to carry your bags or open your doors or anything stupid like that,” Jawarski added.
“I had no doubt,” I said, refraining from frowning.
“There’s one other thing, and this affects everyone. You guys need to move.”
“Move?” I asked, looking at where we were sitting, not sure what she was talking about.
“Houses, genius. You need to move to a new house.”
“We just moved,” Zoe said. “Why do we need to move again?”
“Because this house is impossible to secure, and you can afford it. You’re in a neighborhood. You have houses on both sides and right behind you. There is no perimeter, and with all the people living around you, surveillance becomes next to impossible to stop. You have serious people with serious resources behind them. You need to live somewhere secure, preferably with a large wall and gate to control access.”
“Are you kidding me,” I said.
“I’m not. This is not the last time you’re going to get broken into. The house is just too vulnerable. Then think how much danger you put the families around you in. If they decided to stop beating around the bush and come at you hard, the collateral damage here is going to be huge. Also, there are too many of you living in this house. It’s ridiculous.”
She wasn’t wrong. The house seemed huge when we bought it last year, but then we added Judy, and Vicki and her mother. Now Judy and Tina shared a room, all the girls had moved into the master bedroom permanently so Tami could give up her room to them, and Zoe gave up her room to Vicki’s Mom. It was a problem I had noticed before. I just wasn’t thrilled with Jawarski being the one to point it out.
“Mom?” I said, throwing the question to her.
“We’ll have to think about that. We just finished moving in here. I really don’t want to have to pick up and move again.”
“Well, think fast,” Jawarski said. “Ideally, you’d build a place, preferably out towards that new property you bought. It would be away from populated areas, and you’d be able to build it to be secure. I’ve already started talking to Levi and Carter about what you’d need.”
“So we’d have to leave all our friends? What would we do about school?” I said in a rush.
When she talked about moving, it didn’t occur to me that she meant something so extreme.
“Honestly, those aren’t my problem. I’m sure you could all figure out something. I’m just telling you this isn’t some school bullies or even industrial espionage any more. These are dangerous criminals, with truly scary connections! They have managed to pull off stuff I wouldn’t have thought possible. If you want to keep your family safe, this is something you should do.”
“Beth, let’s table that for now, “ Mom said. “Let’s start with you getting this house secure, and providing security for Caspian. Then we’ll think about moving. It’s a big step.”
“Well, don’t think too long. Building is still your best bet, but that takes time, also. If it were me, I’d want you out of this house this year.”
With that, we broke up the family meeting. Between the shitty night over the preacher yesterday, and having to deal with Jawarski every single day for who knew how long, I continued to be in a pissy mood, and just went straight to bed. Tami joined me and was out almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. I wasn’t far behind her.
I was still pissed off the next morning. I was ignoring Jawarski as she dropped me off, in my own car, at the school. I got some confused looks from some of the people who knew me, and wondered why some random adult was driving my car. I skipped lunch altogether; telling the girls I had to catch up on some school work, and then hiding in the library until the next period.
To cap it all off, I had to go to work today, and that meant dealing with more protesters. I knew that Jawarski would try to stop me, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it without punching one of them.
Thankfully, I had a stop to make before the office, so I could put off dealing with the protesters for a few minutes more. I, however, wasn’t sure I wanted Jawarski with me for what I needed to do.
When she picked me up from school, I asked her to let me drive, because I had a stop to make. Pulling up to a beautiful house in the ‘good’ section of town, I parked and turned to my new shadow.
“I need you to wait here while I go in,” I said, trying to sound authoritative.
“Look, this isn’t going to be dangerous. I just need to go and talk to someone real quick. I’ll be in and out.”