No Good Deed
Copyright© 2019 by Lumpy
A week passed that was, thankfully uneventful, aside from the girls and I studying, and everyone else beginning the packing process. I wasn’t sure why we were starting this early, considering the house wasn’t even finished yet. Of course, when I voiced my confusion, Mom looked at me with amusement like I was a small child asking where the people on the TV went when it wasn’t on.
We were in the midst of this, when Jawarski told me she and Carter needed a few minutes. I’d had them on a lot of things lately, from dealing with the preacher’s followers to the Syndicate, so I wasn’t sure which crisis area was in trouble, but I was sure one of them were. The only time these two pulled me aside collectively was when something was on fire somewhere.
“What’s up?” I asked as we all sat at the kitchen table.
“We’ve gotten some new info about Josh,” Jawarski said.
“You found him?”
“No,” Carter said, unusually quietly for him. “We had some help from the people at MilTech and were able to pull a street cam that was further away. It’s grainy as hell, and we couldn’t make out faces or license plates, but we could see the side of the vehicle that the boots were next to in the gas station video. You can see Josh getting into the vehicle after talking to the two men. There weren’t any weapons we could see, and there didn’t seem to be an argument or threats. It was just a quiet conversation, and then he got in.”
Jawarski picked up from Carter saying, “We can make out the type of dress and haircuts of the men, and it screams military. Their dress is civilian, but we’re pretty sure their boots are current issue combat boots. We’re now more certain that whoever he went with, is either current or recently discharged military. It’s now pretty clear he went with them willingly.”
“That just doesn’t make any sense. He just up and left Amanda and his parents without saying a word? Josh was always selfish, but that seems too far even for him. I just don’t buy it!”
“I get that,” Carter said. “It’s however really clear on the tape. He got in the van, willingly. You can’t see when they first start talking so we don’t know if he drove there to meet them, or if he just ran into them, but we’re certain he knew them already.”
“Everything points to one conclusion,” Jawarski added. “He didn’t get grabbed. He left with those people of his own free will.”
“I’m just having a lot of trouble wrapping my brain around that. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Doesn’t keep it from being true,” she pointed out.
“Yeah,” I said with a sigh, “You’re right. I just don’t like it, and I’m not sure how we’re going to break this to Amanda. She’s going to freak the hell out.”
“That’s up to you. For now, we’re going to shut this down on our end. There doesn’t seem to be much we can do anymore, and we need the manpower on looking into the other stuff you asked for.”
“Yeah, fine,” I said absently. “Thanks for everything guys.”
“We have more,” Jawarski said.
I looked up and saw Jawarski nervously give the side eye to Carter. That alone set off an alarm in the back of my head, since I couldn’t remember Jawarski ever getting nervous.
“After your stupid meeting with Richards, we went back and looked over both the attempt to grab Judy, and the attempt on Tina. Your suspicion was right.”
“In what way?”
“The guy who I shot, the one that tried to grab Tina, was one-hundred percent one of Richards people. He’s connected to one of the men you shot at the Dojo, and we have connections between him and multiple businesses we’ve linked to Richards.”
“Ok, that’s not a surprise.”
“No, but the other attempt, the one on Judy; is, or maybe it isn’t, but it’s not what we thought. The guy who went after her had no connection to anyone or anything at all associated with Richards. He’s a straight up criminal, and looks like he was hired just because he was willing to grab a little girl.”
“What does that mean then? Maybe Richards went outside to keep things deniable.”
“Even if that wasn’t ridiculous on its face, considering all the people Richards sent who were directly connected to him, there’s more. I have a friend who managed to get us a look at the guy’s bank accounts. There was a payment. What’s surprising is, it wasn’t cash. They wrote the guy a f•©king check, with his name on it. It was complete amateur hour.”
“Who wrote the check.”
“One of the preacher’s flock.”
I sat and stared at her. She was right, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. The guy had made multiple attempts at getting her back after we messed up her ‘destiny’ as his next child bride. He wasn’t the kind of guy to give up after one failure, or five, so it made sense. The more I thought about it, the more I seethed. I’d warned him, more times then I should, that I’d tear his world down if he messed with my people. Of course, I’d already made plans for doing that, but this put things in a new light.
“We’re done screwing around with him. I want every resource we can take from him, pulled, now. Every member of his flock not currently changed, whatever list we had to still work through, I want them out of his reach. Change them all, now. I don’t want a single follower giving him money, giving him support, or giving him their children. I also want to all the information we have on him sent to the state cops and feds; anonymously, of course. I want his ‘church’ gone, and his ass in jail.”
“What about Emily’s family?”
“We still don’t change them. I want their support base and friends all gone, and I don’t want these people connected to us even a little bit.”
They looked at each other, and I slapped the table.
“I’m serious. This needs to be done, now.”
Jawarski gave a shrug, and they both headed off. I still needed to talk to the girls about Amanda, and I needed to calm down first. I sat, staring at my hands, trying to control my breathing, but it was tough.
Eventually, I calmed down enough to talk to the girls. Emily didn’t really know Amanda well but was supportive of however I decided to handle it. The other three, who were very close to Amanda, unanimously agreed that I needed to talk to her and explain it. They said that, if they were in her place, they’d want to know.
I let them call her and ask her to come over. A part of me wished they’d just tell her what happened and save me from having to do it. Unfortunately, they were extremely vague when she asked them what was going on.
Five minutes later she was sitting on the couch opposite me, glaring. I knew that Amanda was angry at me, that some part of her blamed me for what happened. Considering what I was about to tell her, I was pretty sure she wouldn’t feel any different after I explained what Jawarski and Carter had found. Hell, I knew everything she didn’t know, and Josh’s leaving was a mystery to me too. I couldn’t blame her since I partially blamed myself for his taking off too.
I realized I’d been staring at her, mouth half open, as I thought through what to say, or at least wishing someone else had told her. I opened my mouth the rest of the way to just jump into it when she cut me off.
“What? I’m here, and they wouldn’t say what you want, so spit it out.” she was definitely still blaming me, and was still angry.
“We do have new info on Josh. We found a new video showing more of what happened. Not enough to be able to track him down, but enough to know he went with whoever it was willingly.”
“He would only have left ‘cause you were such a dick,” she spat at me.
“Maybe; but, either way, he left on his own. It was his choice, and if that’s the one he made, then I made the right choice by not giving him what he wanted.”
“Would have been so bad?” she asked, her voice changing from outright anger to almost pleading.
“Yes. My first priority is protecting all the people I love. Imagine what would happen if people found out what was really going on. Josh’s problems didn’t start with me, Amanda. The cheating, the steroids, now him leaving in the middle of the night. You have to accept that Josh has not been making good decisions! I won’t put the fate of my family in the hands of someone who’s making bad decisions.”
“He already knew everything though, and he never said anything.”
“He got close several times. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have ever changed you guys; but it needed to happen on my schedule, and Josh couldn’t deal with that.”
She didn’t respond, just staring over my shoulder. Tami sat next to her, holding her hand, but not saying anything.
“Why wouldn’t he have said anything to me about leaving? How could he just ... go?”
“I don’t know. Even with everything he’s done, I was certain that what he felt for you would be enough to make him do the right thing.”
“Maybe he didn’t really love me,” she said, looking at Tami.
“Don’t think that way. He loved you. It was obvious. He just has problems he has to work through. Maybe he left because whatever in him that made him do all this stuff was getting worse, and maybe he realized it. He’d leave without telling you, if he thought it was to protect you.”
I wouldn’t have put my money on that. Several times he’d lashed out at Amanda when he couldn’t get what he wanted. It seemed clear to me that, deep down, Josh was incredibly selfish, and only really thought about himself and getting what he wanted. Nothing else would fit with his behavior. I, however, would never say that to Amanda, who was really hurting.
“But how do we know when he’s better? Will he come back for me?”
“I’m sure if he thinks he’s gotten over this, he will, sweetie,” Tami said.
She looked up at me and nodded her head for me to take off. Amanda was falling apart, and starting to cling to Tami in desperation. It was clear she’d be breaking down completely any minute. My heart felt for Amanda, but I was glad I didn’t have to be there for that. Not because I wouldn’t have wanted to comfort her, but because I’d already seen how she could switch from sadness to anger and back on a dime. It wasn’t hard to see that, when she did, I’d be back to being the target of her rage.
She couldn’t go after Josh, who ultimately made the decision to leave, so she’d go after me as the next best target. I don’t she actually blamed me for all of Josh’s problems, but he certainly had; and that was enough for her to transfer her anger from him, to me.
I made myself scarce as Tami, and the rest of the girls tried to sooth Amanda’s anguish overhearing Josh hadn’t been taken by someone else, or nothing nefarious had happened, but instead, he’d made the decision to leave and not tell her.
Of all the shitty things Josh had done during his self-destructive spiral over the last years; to me, this was the worst. He hadn’t just hurt himself, but someone he was supposed to really care about. This was a new low, even for him.
I was up in my room cooling my heels, when the phone rang. Wanting to give the girls as much time as possible to help Amanda, I reached and answered it quickly, so that they wouldn’t.
“Caspian?” Jonathan said after I answered.
He sounded excited and distracted, almost breathless, which was unusual for him.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
My mind was still partially on the girls downstairs, which kept me from jumping to the most likely answer to that.