No Good Deed
Chapter 24

Copyright© 2019 by Lumpy

We got back to the house and I paced, while Jonathan made his calls. It took some time, since his contact was actually involved in the raid, and couldn’t respond right away.

Eventually, Jonathan’s phone rang, and it took every ounce of my willpower to keep from hovering over his shoulder while he talked. When he finally finished and turned around, I could immediately tell the news wasn’t good.

“They missed Richards.”

“What happened?”

“As best they can tell, he took off, late this morning. He must have gotten word of the raid.”

“He has someone in the FBI?” I asked, dropping all pretense of being cool and collected.

The one thing that had given me hope was that Richard’s organization was, for all intents and purposes, local, or at least regional. If he had his hooks into FBI agents, things would get a lot more problematic and the likelihood of him skating and coming after me in retribution, a lot higher.

“Not necessarily. There was a fair amount of work done ahead of this, and even though they tried to keep it quiet, that many Feds on the move would draw attention. I can think of a dozen ways he would have heard about the raid, today. Honestly, it suggests to me that he doesn’t have anyone on the inside. My friend said it looked like he left in a hurry. He left behind not only people he’d paid off, many of whom will happily testify against him for some sort of consideration, but also paperwork that confirmed a lot of what we gave to the Feds.”

He put his phone on the table and folded his arms, continuing. “If he had connections into the Feds, he would have heard about this sooner, and would have covered his tracks better. It seems clear he heard about it for the first time, today. Don’t worry Cas, they’ll catch him. They’ve frozen his bank accounts, tagged his cards and everything he owns. This is what these guys do.”

“Sure,” I said, and knew I didn’t sound convinced.

Jonathan just patted me on the shoulder and went to find Mom and explain it to her. I turned to Jawarski.

“If we hurt him as bad as it sounds like we did, he’s going to want revenge.”

“No shit. I’ve already called half of our people in and informed the other half they are on night duty. We suspended all non-closed contracts, or at least told the other parties we were going to have to wait a few days, when we heard it was happening today.”

“Really?”

“I’ve seen a few of these things before. I know Jonathan sounded confident that they’d roll everything up today, but that’s not ever how it works. I wanted as many of our people available as possible, just in case.”

“Thanks for that. I’m sorry this is going to affect your business, but I’m happy to hear you have people watching us.”

“Well, we’re going to charge you a crap load of money for all the overtime, so we should be ok.”

Ultimately, I owned the lion’s share of the security company, so I was essentially paying myself. That pay rate wasn’t the same as new customers, but I was willing to make that sacrifice, even if it meant I had to put additional money into the company while it found its legs.

“It’s worth it.”

“That’s not all I have for you. We’ve finished with all of the church’s followers except Emily’s parents, like you asked. As of now, that really hasn’t caused any changes, since the personality effects only really kick in, after suggestions from you, or if something ends up affecting you. If you’re out of the picture, and if they aren’t knowingly dealing with someone they know is connected to you; they never notice that portion of the change. I got the sense that the ultimate goal was to do more than just change them since all we’ve done so far is make the church have a whole bunch of much healthier members.”

“Yeah, that’s just step one. The next step is for me to talk to all of them, point out the error of their ways, and get them out from under that man’s control.”

“So, how do you want to do this?”

“I don’t want to go one by one, we just have too little time for that to be practical. Is there a way to get all the ones together and let me talk to them at once? It’ll also give us - and by us, I, of course, mean Alex - a chance to observe how it works on a mass scale, as opposed to one-on-one interactions.”

“Yeah, we can manage that.”

“Please keep in mind that, no matter what they’ve done to this point, we’re now responsible for them. I’ll make sure the ones who have crossed the line turn themselves into the authorities, but I don’t want any of your people taking things into their own hands. We need to treat them like they’re one of ours now that they’ve gone through the change.”

“That’ll be tough, some of these people have crossed really, really far over the line.”

“We’ll make sure they get what’s coming to them, but we’ll do it the right way.”

“Fine, I’ll talk to my people and set something up.”

We spent the next day all crammed into the house, waiting. Everyone was getting a little stir crazy, but I was insistent that I wasn’t going to put them into any more danger than I had to. Jawarski and a few of her people hovered just off school property, waiting for when they could come back and pick us up. Thankfully we did have the ending rounds of tests to finish, which at least took our minds off thinking about whatever Richards was up to.

By Saturday, everyone had started to let their guards down. The girls really wanted to go down to the center, and we were getting close to a second test with NASA, who’d sent a few observers to the plant to see what we’d found about the battery.

I discussed it with Mom, Jawarski, Levi, and Carter. Levi and Carter seemed to think it would be ok. They didn’t rule out the idea of something happening, but they were confident they could handle it. Mom was solidly against it. If it were up to her, we’d barricade the doors and not leave until Richards was caught.

Jawarski was on the fence. Given her preference, she’d prefer we didn’t leave, since that would be the opportune moment for Richards to hit us if that’s what he was planning. On the other hand, she pointed out that the manhunt could go on for a long time. Richards had resources and contacts still out there, and the most likely thing that had happened was that he’d gone to ground to wait it out. Even if he hadn’t, we had nothing, other than the attempt on Tina, that suggested he was going to come after us.

She pointed out that coming after us would put Richards more at risk, and increase the chances that he would be caught, since every public sighting was one more piece of information that the authorities would use to track him down. Jawarski thought that Richards was smart enough to realize that.

She also said that, at some point, we’d have to come out of hiding, and deal with all the other stuff going on. We had no idea what was actually happening, and we couldn’t just lock ourselves away forever.

She, however, made it clear that, if Richards found out we were behind the FBI raid, he would have a lot more incentive to come after us, and the math would all change.

While she made some good points, she didn’t actually help all that much. She wasn’t suggesting one course or the other, just pointing out the possibilities.

We were in our third day of discussions about what to do, when a new wrinkle came up. The reporter, whom we recognized from the courthouse, was pulling into our driveway.

“Shit,” I said, looking out at him. “Someone call Jonathan!”

I knew that wouldn’t be a huge help. He was already back at his office at the new facilities, and too far away to actually do anything for us.

“I could tell him to get lost,” Jawarski offered. “It’s private property.”

“That would be the sure fire way to tell him something was going on, and we had something to hide.”

“He’s going to figure that out the second he hears you speak,” she pointed out.

“No, he won’t,” Zoe said from behind me.

Both Jawarski and I turned to look at her.

“One of the things I did, besides making the call hard to trace, was that I scrambled your voice.”

“I hadn’t even thought of that,” I said. “Good work!”

“So what are you going to do?” Jawarski asked.

“I guess Mom and I are just going to talk to him. It’s probably best if you and everyone else made yourselves scarce.”

“I’m not sure that’s a great idea,” Jawarski said.

“Do you really think he’s a danger to us? If he were here for some kind of hit, we would have had to randomly call a reporter who just happened to be in Richards back pocket. If what you guys said was true, and Richards was surprised by the raid; then this guy couldn’t be in his pocket, since he knew enough to make it clear we were looking into him. Unless you think he works for Richards but just chose not to say anything, and that seems like a pretty far reach.”

The doorbell rang as she looked at me.

“I guess,” she finally said. “I’m going to be close enough I can listen in, though.”

“That’s fine. Just stay out of sight, and everyone keep quiet.”

I headed with Mom to the door as everyone else headed off.

“Can we help you?” Mom said as she answered the door.

“Hi. My name’s Dan Figeroa, and I’m with the Houston Chronicle. I wanted to ask you a few questions?”

“About?” Mom said, playing it cool.

I stayed just out of sight, behind the front door, figuring it was best to keep my options open.

“Are you Angela Bell?”

“Yes.”

I don’t know if he picked it up, but I knew her well enough to hear the hard edge to her tone. I could see how him knowing her name would be upsetting, but considering he knew which house to drive up to, it wasn’t that big of a surprise.

“You’re the legal guardian of Caspian Grey?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there has been a lot of commotion over the last few days. The town administration has been put under temporary federal jurisdiction, after many local leaders, judges and law enforcement officials were arrested on federal racketeering charges.”

Mom didn’t say anything one way or another, and maintained a pretty impressive poker face.

“Anyway,” he said after it was clear she wasn’t going to reply. “Caspian’s name has come up multiple times about some of the activity around the alleged criminal activity. I wanted to ask you, and hopefully him, a few questions about it.”

“I can tell you now, he has not been charged with anything.”

“No, ma’am, I know he wasn’t. But it seems like he’s a witness to some of the events. I have reports of multiple instances of shoot-outs with criminals and discouraged law enforcement officers.”

Mom just stared at him again, choosing to remain silent.

“Look, I get it. You’re trying to protect him, which is fine. You can choose to give no comment to my questions, but that will leave me with only what I’ve been able to dig up, and my own suppositions.”

“Just let him in,” I said, coming around the door frame.

“You must be Caspian.”

“I am. Come on in, and we’ll talk.”

We got seated at the kitchen table, and he set up a small recorder.

“Do you mind if I record this?”

“Yes. You can take notes, but no recording.”

He frowned, but put the tape recorder away.

“So, are you aware of what’s been happening in town?”

“Somewhat. My company’s lawyer has also been representing me in some personal matters ... some of which, like you said, had to do with the arrests. He told us about a raid that was happening, but only a little bit about who was arrested, or what they were charged with.”

“Can you tell me about how you got mixed up with this group?”

“First, I want to make it clear I’m not ‘mixed up’ with anyone. My company bought into a failing industrial park a little east of Houston. Members of this group apparently had their eyes on it, too. They tried to ... dissuade me from making the purchase. Thankfully, I was lucky, and they were not successful and were arrested.”

“By dissuade, you mean they threatened you?”

“Kind of. It wasn’t me precisely. There was an owner of a small factory who hadn’t agreed to sell to them. I was in talks with him to purchase his company and fold his factory into our own planned facilities. I happened to stop by to talk with him when they were trying to beat him into signing over to them instead. I stepped in and stopped them.”

“How, exactly, did you manage that?”

“I got lucky. I surprised them. The combination of that and some physical training allowed me to help out the business owner enough to get the upper hand.”

“Did they retaliate?”

“Yes. They managed to get someone in the child protective services to file an order against Mrs. Bell, and a judge to ram it through. When they came to serve the protective order, two policemen separated me from everyone else and took me to an abandoned warehouse, where they planned on beating me into signing over all the property to them. Thankfully, more legitimate officers showed up, and put a stop to them.”

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