Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Demon Chronicles Retro Diary: Part VI

Retro Diary, Part VI

 

 This is a serial mystery thriller. Look for a new installment every Wednesday! Enjoy.   









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Chapters 21-24



 


Chapter 21

Franklin is not Finished With Taylor County





As he stepped onto the tarmac at Taylor County’s small airport, Franklin wondered about the green eyed woman who was at the International Institute. He had just signed up as a volunteer security director and was on the way out of the huge center when he saw her.
“What if I end up with a green eye sister of my own? Hell, that woman will be my green eye woman if she ever comes back to that institute. What a beauty, as pretty as that blond woman Kevin was going on about at the hospital.”
It just happened that a pretty green eyed blond woman worked as a nurse at UC Medical Center and she had been hanging around Kevin’s room. That woman worked hard to draw men’s eyes in her direction, especially when they were doctors or they were wealthy. The real green eye woman was oblivious to gawking men, but now she had two of them mooning over her. Franklin mistakenly thought that Kevin was referring to the blond.
“Maybe she is... nahh. It can’t be both of us checking out the same woman. Darn. That means Kevin got her first.”
  A black SUV was waiting for him at the Taylor County Airport. The driver was a reserve agent who once worked with Franklin on a complicated computer hacking case. The reserve agent/driver was a prolific hacker before Franklin arrested him and sent him to jail. Franklin knew a few things about hacking addicts and decided to bring in addiction specialists to help the kid toward a state of remission. The program worked and, like many former drug addicts who went on to good careers and lives, the young man was doing fine.
"So what do we have, Mike?" Franklin huffed. Valley allergies always made him short of breath.
"Sir, we followed Mrs. Barton as she drove to properties all over this area. She retrieved a rolling suitcase from one of the properties and took it to her home. She hasn't left her house since, but she has been on the phone a lot. She spoke with relatives and was concerned about two of her male cousins. One is dead and the other is missing. She hasn't had any visitors and we have the place locked down tight. If she has weapons in the house, they probably  belonged to her cousin."
"We'll leave her alone for a while, as long as she doesn’t try to leave. I want to go directly to the Sheriff's parent's ranch over on Figueroa Road. He’s waiting for us, so we will pick him up take a look at that thousand acre ranch. Something happened out there on Friday night and I am sure that it relates to the explosions on I-5."
"Yes sir."
The November rains were a long way off and the drive was long and dusty. The SUV eventually rolled through a substantial pair of entry gates and down a long, tree lined driveway. Finally, a rambling ranch house rolled into view.
“That house has to be 6,000 square feet large.” Mike said.
“I’d say 8,000. We can only see the frontage.”
Mike whistled softly.
Franklin said, "For all the complaining, ranching is a highly profitable venture. I haven't been to a large ranch that didn't have a fabulous home at the center of it. Oh, this is Great! He's standing outside so we can pick him up without upsetting the parents. They have to be in their seventies and they don't need this excitement."
The Sheriff sauntered over to the SUV and joined Franklin in the passenger section.
"First of all, call me Jason, Special Agent Marsh! Good to see you again. I knew you'd be ready to get right out onto the acreage as soon as possible, so I was ready."
"Thanks, Sheriff. Call me Franklin. This is Reserve Agent Mike Fountain. He got coffee and donuts for us, so we can move on now. I have a very strong feeling that something went down on an isolated, but accessible area of your ranch. This ranch connects to roads on all four sides and two of those roads are direct routes to I-5. I imagine you get real estate people all the time.”
"You got that, Franklin. We get twenty to thirty real estate inquiries a month. The developers want to build an entire city here. My parents and I have decided on a plan that will keep at least five hundred acres in the family. We will lease 200 acres to the university and we will sell the 300 acres that lie next to the freeway. Then we will create an income trust and split proceeds between my sisters, my brother and I. This old homestead lies in the back five hundred acres so we'll be well buffered from any crazy development that goes on around us."
"My Dad and I love to visit rural properties and observe how land usage changes. You know my law practice is mostly with the State Assembly, and California land use is the nation’s last frontier of development. Our generation has a real responsibility to do it right because any more mistakes will haunt people for a thousand years."
"When are you going to buy a spread, Franklin?"
"I have one! It's called my house in San Francisco!" Franklin laughed.
"That's must be an impressive spread, Franklin. A studio apartment in San Francisco is worth fifty acres of land around here. The university is still very small, but it will grow. That is driving land values up for fifty miles around.”
“The problem is with mixed use. Planners do their best to cram everything into the first large plot of land that comes up for sale. Housing development is the worst because a nice suburban development gets run down and turns into a war zone within ten years."
"It's speculators, Franklin. They buy up properties, install problem renters and drive a development down. I've seen it happen here when speculators wanted to empty out a neighborhood. They refurbish the houses and sell everything again as gentrified housing."
"Whoa, Mike... Jason! Now here's something I want to check. Can you pull over, son?" The Sheriff pointed out a large, open space that was filled with dried grasses.
"Good call, Franklin! This field attracts a lot of people who come out here for various reasons. Can you see the tire tracks where they just leave the road and drive out into the middle of the  field? See that tall structure over there? I built that and the Fire Marshall uses it on red flag days. The DEA puts people in there, but they don't use it often. They don't want the word to go out. Here we are."
He got out of the car and looked closely at the ground. "Yeah. Someone was here on Friday night. See these fresh tire tracks? I bet these are from the cars that blew up on I-5.” He pulled out his cell phone and prepared to make a call, “I'll get someone to take some impressions."
“What's this?" Franklin asked. He noticed a group of small disturbances in the grass. "You know, these parallel lines mean that someone was running toy remote controlled cars out here! In the dirt, yes! They look like miniature versions of the big tire tracks.”
Mike kneeled down and yelled, “Yes!” He held up a round object that looked like a black donut. “Here's a little tire and here's part of a front bumper. There are little car parts all over the place. I know these cars. They are put to a lot of uses that people never think about."
"Good job, Mike! Now what's up on that hill? I see scavenger birds circling. Do we walk?"
"There's a road that goes up there." The Sheriff was suddenly muted and unhappy. The three men finished searching the open field, returned to the SUV and got in.
 "Mike, head up this road until you see the first gravel road. Turn right on that road and it will take us up that hill." The Sheriff stopped talking, lost in his thoughts.
"How could I miss this kind of action on our own property? How could Percival Windsor hold a big meet, blow up the leadership of a huge drug gang and murder someone right under my nose?"
Franklin seemed to be reading the Sheriff's thoughts. “Don’t beat yourself up, Sheriff. You know that these things happen, no matter how much effort you put into security. Besides, you had a heck of a night going on.”
  Mike was driving slightly off road up the hill to prevent damaging any tire track evidence. It was a risky maneuver because he also wanted to avoid starting any grass fires with the SUV's super hot muffler. Again, Franklin said,
"Don't beat yourself up, Sheriff. Don't do it. People get dead bodies, squatters and pot farms in their own basements in San Francisco and they don’t even know it." He got out of the car and said,
"Mike, keep an eye out for anything and everything. I want to know if a cat pees in this direction."
He walked with the Sheriff before speaking again. "I didn't want to say anything in front of him, but I caught some squatters moving into my own basement. I would have come home to a big surprise if I hadn't set up security cameras and a system that alerts me through my smart phone!"
"You can do that?" The Sheriff perked up.
"Oh heck yes. Looking at this hill... yes... you can put in a system that will do your thousand acres from this one hill. Man! You could have super zoom, HDTV, low light and sound if you want it."
"But how much does that cost?" The Sheriff gave away his cash shy financial position by asking with a lot of apprehension in his voice.
"Probably nothing for you. We have grants and other support for those systems, but the most important thing is that...” He stopped talking and sniffed the air. “Oh yeah... you got a dead human up here...” He walked directly into the brush and said,
“Anyway, you and yours cannot say anything about the setup or the bad guys will find and disable it. The installers are classified people. I'll look into it and have someone contact you, OK?"
"Yeah! Thanks. But now I have to deal with... there it is! See that dead body over there? Damn!"
The Sheriff tied a scarf over his mouth and nose and approached the body. "It's Larry Barton. That’s Honey Barton’s lover and cousin. We all knew about that. They're third cousins and no one cared, but those two were ashamed of their relationship. It’s just sad. Larry was a good kid."
 "The birds did a job on his face and eyes, but I recognize the tattooing on his neck. He got Hepatitis from that tattoo job. We had to arrest the tattoo artist because she was working illegally out of her home."
"Oh boy, Jason. I am so sorry. If you call the coroner and his folks, I'll call my people. I just need to look for bullet casings and any evidence that ties this murder to Percival Windsor.”
To himself, he said, “And then I need to notify Honey Barton. She has the money that Percival took in that gun deal that went wrong. She will probably get a reward for turning in the funds. I like her. She's a great kid, but she’s just off kilter from the rest of the world. She's going to law school at the university and she works for the hospital legal department. I hear she's helped a lot of poor folk of all creeds and races. If she can get a break, she might turn into a great lady."
"Yes! Here's something. This is a casing from the same type of bullet that almost blew up my partner! How does that body look?"
"It’s bad, Franklin! He’s all blown up from the inside out! Percival shot him three or four times. Oh my God in heaven. Your partner is lucky to be alive!"





 



Chapter 22

Franklin Collects the Honey Barton




Franklin positioned his team in textbook fashion before he took the bullhorn and ordered Honey Barton to step outside with her hands up. She complied right away, but she looked scared to death.
"Don't do anything stupid, gentlemen! I fully intend to cooperate!" She yelled.
"It's all right! Honey Barton! Stand still and you will be fine!" Franklin yelled. "Agent Mary Barnes will give you  the same search you get at the airport or your gynecologist's office. Then, we sit out here and have a chat. How's that?"
"Except for the unofficial GYN exam, I am just fine... uhm... who are you?"
"Special Agent Franklin Marsh, Ma'am. With me is US Marshall Jenny Davis. She will be working on your temporary relocation and she wants to talk to you.”
When the search was over, Franklin signaled for the others to enter the home with extreme caution. Honey Barton yelled,




 "There’s a suitcase in my living room... it's that gray Baggalini Rolling Tote. It may be booby trapped!" She turned to Franklin and said "May I see the warrant?" Franklin handed over the warrant. She examined it blandly, trying to look sophisticated. Her eye movements gave her away. Honey Barton had never seen a federal warrant in her lifetime.
Franklin grinned. "Look. You don't even know what to look for. Let me help you," He pointed out the seven key points that she should always look for.
"Look for these first. They give you the best hope of challenging the warrant if you find something wrong."
"Why are you helping me?" She asked, confused and wary. The FBI agent was the most beautiful Black man she had ever seen. He looked like a more brown version of that Heathen King from "Game of Thrones"... the one who got killed before the dragon babies were hatched. He had golden brown eyes like cat's eyes marbles. Too bad the FBI made him cut his hair short.
"Your Sheriff gave you a good reference, Mrs. Barton. You and your cousins were caught up in some bad business, working with Percival Windsor. Now, sit down. I have some bad news. I regret to inform you that your cousin, Larry Barton's body has been found. You are listed as his next of kin, instead of his mom."
She nodded and her eyes filled with tears, but she seemed prepared for the news. "Why would Percival Windsor kill him? Why?" She already knew who killed Larry. She knew that it was not Percival, but Henry who did the killing.
"You tell me, Honey.” Franklin squinted a little. There was something off about Honey. She was clearly hiding something.
“We think he was killed on Friday night. We are examining the evidence and will know if Percival Windsor killed him, but we don't have any answers at this time. If you know anything, now is the time to speak up. I will not be able to help you later. Now why do you think Percival killed him and how did you know to go and check all of Percival's properties this morning?"
He paused to gauge her reaction. She said nothing.
"By the way, Mrs. Barton. Now would be a good time for me to arrest you."
Honey put up a brief fight but Franklin was three times her size. He subdued her quickly, dragged her handcuffed body into the SUV and locked her in with Mike, who did not like any of it. It took Franklin’s team a few minutes to clear the suitcase and hand it over. Franklin and the suitcase joined Marshall Jenny Davis and his captive. He loudly instructed Mike to take them to the Taylor County Airport where they boarded his FBI jet and returned, with Honey Barton to San Francisco.
Honey Barton was safe and on her way to San Francisco. The Taylor county Sheriff was miserable with his own problems at his parent's property. Larry Barton's blasted remains were transported to the Coroner's facility. Mike was escorted to his apartment in Tucson where he went straight to work designing a surveillance system for the Sheriff's hilltop.
Billy Mantoin stayed in his library and sulked. According to reports, the government had millions of dollars that Percival Windsor was supposed to be liquidating for him. His best lawyer was dead. His trusted agent, the Police Chief was captured. Percival Windsor was alive and missing. He picked up his phone and called his lover, Diana Martin.
“Come with me to Paris, my love. I am in misery.”








Chapter 23

Diana Martin was a Classic Southern Belle





Diana Martin was a classic southern belle. She was a blond haired, blue eyed princess who ruled over her loved ones while she served under her men. She could bat her eyes, stamp her feet, put on legendary tantrums or pretend that a fist to the head did not hurt her at all.
She was godmother to Sir Kevin Ap-Rhys and Marcia Landon. She had rescued both of them from horrible situations when they were children and that was when she decided that Kevin and Marcia would be lovers. They would marry and breed. Her godchildren would blend their singular and exclusive worlds into a wonderland of bliss, and they would do so at her command. She would move mountains to bring these two together. As stubbornly incompetent at being lovers as they were, Diana knew that she would have to move something.
Kevin was the grandson of an African prince on his mother’s side and a British Diplomat on his father’s side. He was problematic because  his peach colored skin, gray eyes and honey blond knaps and curls made it difficult for him to realize his dream of being a black man living in America.
"I am a black man living in America!" He would announce, indignant and in a perfectly posh upper crust British accent tinged with the sounds of Cornwall. He and Marcia would look like an interracial couple and that would cause them no end of grief.
“On top of everything, those children are just odd!” Diana would complain. “They are socially self sufficient, very smart, incredibly wealthy and young. They surround themselves with people who love them and respect their private natures. They rarely go out and make  spectacles of themselves. They are not likely to start after they became lovers and that drives me crazy!”
Diana was used to controlling the lives of two kinds of people: Those she truly loved and the many she truly needed. Her mind was focused on makeup brand names as she applied a generous coating of Mac Eye Kohl, then coated her lips with Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss. The titles were important because she was a product endorser for Revlon. She broke the rules with the Mac makeup, but did not believe that anyone would notice.
She lived two lives, one as an incomprehensibly brutal monster, the other as a loving surrogate mother to two young people who were once so traumatized it was a miracle that they were alive. She never ceased to wonder how they grew into adulthood without addictions, psychosis or psychopathic tendencies. Diana Martin was proud to have influenced and controlled two such rare and exquisite, yet horribly damaged creatures as Kevin and Marcia.
Her plans went sour when she was rudely blocked from seeing Kevin at the hospital and she could not locate Marcia.
“That girl has been avoiding me!” she fumed.
 The children's great protector, Don Padre was behind Kevin’s blockage and he would never negotiate with her. The kids did not even know that she and Don Padre even knew each other. Diana knew him well as the one man in the world who could start fear in her heart. It took formidable power to intimidate a woman who could create havoc all over the world and walk away without any worries.
 It would take several more years for her mistakes to destroy her, but in 2008, Diana was at the height of her celebrity, her beauty and her power over people. She was not yet beginning to fray around her edges. She maintained her patience and controlled her temper when she needed to. She was not yet dismissive with her underlings. Her godchildren, friends and family adored her. She got what she wanted from people and she lived for the good times at all times.
"I even murdered my husband and got away with it!" She prepared a package of treats for Kevin and ordered her secretary to find Marcia. Diana was very scattered when she traveled, picking at one thing for another without any logic. It drove her secretary crazy. Her full set of Louis Vuitton was scattered throughout her bedroom and closet, each piece in a different stage of packing
.
"It was easy for me poison Danny’s private jet pilot. Danny and everyone aboard died when his private jet crashed in the mountains. That poison was calculated to kill the pilot at exactly the right time! Poor Danny, he truly believed that he could beat me, divorce me, leave me bankrupt and stay alive." She laughed at the memory.
The case was closed when the pilot's blood showed traces of an unidentifiable drug. He had substantial amounts of the same drug tucked away in his luggage, which killed the investigation. Danny Martin’s pilot was a drug user and dealer, and this is how they all died.
"Now I am the merry widow and my true love, Billy Mantoin, has invited me to Paris. I will not stay for long because Kevin will need me. He has a terrible recovery ahead of him, my poor, sweet angel. That police chief worked for Billy, but he shot my boy. I want him to die for his crimes, but I must wait until I can arrange for a very special reception after I help him escape from custody."
 If Diana Martin was in control over the others in her life, Billy Mantoin was her own controlling force. She loved him beyond reason and would do anything that he demanded of her. Billy was distressed about something and she was being blocked from seeing her godson, so she commanded her driver to take her to Billy’s private jet at SFO.





 


Chapter 24

Kevin’s Bad Day and William’s Trip to Wonderland




Kevin was not doing well, which was to be expected when a young man is impaled, his upper back and left arm is useless and he is forced to lie on his belly at all times. A week had gone by. Dr. Yap changed his painkiller to Demerol, which  put him into two states of being: awake and aware or asleep and unaware. The Demerol also allowed more pain to seep through between scheduled doses. To compound his problems, Kevin entered the next stage of his recovery: fear and despondency over his pitiful, helpless state of dependency on others. He despised the utter humiliation of being laid out where anyone could intrude into his room, order him around and handle any part of him.
"Something has to give here, Doctor Yap!" Kevin wailed. "A loud nurse came in here and yelled at me to do things right. I don't even know who she is! Another one came in and jabbed a needle into my back. It still hurts! I don't know who she is!"
"I assure you. Those nurses will never come near you again, Sir Kevin," Dr. Yap murmured, distracted by Kevin's charts. "The second nurse injects Heparin into your surgical site to prevent blood clots from forming and working their way into your heart or lungs. I will find out who does that on the mid shifts. Those people are the worst. They get away with that because there is no one to supervise them." He pulled out his smart phone and yelled into it for several minutes.
"Do you like nurse Lee and nurse Chang?" He demanded.
"Yes. I like nurse Lee. I never knew nurse Chang." Kevin muttered.
That is good. Nurse Chang comes in and does things that you would not enjoy if you were awake. They are the best private nurses and I hand picked them. Now... ” Dr. Yap sat in a guest chair and looked at Kevin. “Are you ready for some news? You are going home tomorrow."
"Can you do that? The yelling nurse said I would be here for a month."
"Yes I can do that. The sooner we get you out of here, the better off you will be. The yelling and poking nurses will not bother you in your home. Your cousin made sure that your rooms are ready. Your green eye girlfriend chose your bedding and paint colors,"
"I don't have a green eye girlfriend, Dr. Yap. What woman..."
"Your green eye girl and your godmother did the decorating."
"Now why would she be with my godmother? Is her social work always this intrusive?"
"First of all, young Kevin. She does not discriminate based on wealth. You needed help and she helped. Second thing, you and the green eye woman share the same godmother. Didn't you know that? Mrs. Martin tried to visit you but was turned away for not being on the list. Very unfortunate, but the guards can't afford to take any risks. Your godmother is now in Paris and she sends her love."
"We share my godmother? Diana is her godmother, too? This is unbeliebable. This is just unbeliebable.” Kevin’s speech was improved, but he still had trouble with some words. “Diana in Paris. Where is who? Marcia Landon, you say?"
"Marcia Landon is in Boston with Daniel. Her little brother and sister have concerts. Jason and Kissie."
"You mean recitals, don't you?"
"No. Those children give concerts. Kissie plays violin and is a soloist with the youth symphony. Ms. Landon was her first teacher. Jason is a voiceover artist and he sings."
"She's mine. I want her..."
"Ahhh... Demerol kicking in, is it?" Dr. Yap smiled broadly as he completely misread Kevin's last statement. Kevin meant that he fully intended to find out if Marcia Landon was involved with stealth net and the Western Enterprise Institute hacking theft. Currently, he was oblivious and would sleep for three hours.
Sir William Ap-Rhys was in Kevin’s massive penthouse. He was amazed at how the workings of a home improved when women took charge. Diana lit such a fire under the contractor and decorator that William and Georges only had to be present. Workers flowed through Kevin's cavernous penthouse apartment and transformed his minimalist rooms into a wonderland of paint, premium finishes, a custom airbrushed hospital bed and more. Sir William told Don Padre,
"Diana even brought a lifetime supply of cotton clothing for a month's long stay in bed." Just when William decided that enough had been done, and he was ready to settle down with a cup of tea, a delivery service barged in, hauling a full grand piano with them.
"Where does this monster go?" He was bewildered.
"It goes in the atrium, sir." The piano dealer stated with a pride and crispness that could not be denied. The piano was a Bösendorfer.
"Mr. Ap-Rhys wants the Bösendorfer right over there. Then I will tune it, and if you play, you will have a wonderful time with this one, sir! The sound is incredible."
The piano dealer commanded his movers and barked at them until the monstrous piano was perfectly positioned. Then he spent an hour fine tuning and keying the beast. When he was finished, he played a mini concert of Bach and Mozart while William relaxed and sipped tea.
The next items to arrive were sections of an eight foot long Mahogany conference room table. "It goes in the library, Sir," yelled the cabinet maker who designed the table. He spoke with the same tone of crispness and pride that the piano dealer used.
"This table is in sections. Each section seats four. Then it all comes together to make a single table. Allow me to set it up so you can see the full effect. It is beautiful."
The cabinet maker barked out orders to his crew as the table sections flowed into Kevin's library. The walls were already lined with substantial bookcases and the room was furnished with clubby, gentleman's furniture. William noticed that, like his own library, it was a variation on their grandfather's library. It pleased William to know that his grandfather had such a profound influence on both of his grandsons.
"What now?" He asked himself when the door tone sounded for the seventh time that morning. This was when William finally understood what was going on.
"Diana Martin straightened out all of the people who were slacking off and getting away with it.” Georges explained. “Sir Kevin was in over his head and had been too busy to keep after them.”
“There is something about Diana Martin. I know her from somewhere. Dr. Yap said that Don Padre ordered her off the hospital visits list for some reason and I must find out why. I will call him and ask how he knows her."
He pulled out his radiophone and called Don Padre, who answered right away. "Hello, Donal! William here! Yes. I was curious about two women. Marcia Landon and Diana Martin."
"Ah! The children! I heard that Marcia and Kevin have finally met each other. Marcia was doing her social work at the hospital, but Diana Martin was doing social work on her! Those kids have never met, yet they have known each other and they share the same godmother, that awful Diana Martin! Is that strange enough for you, William?"
"Diana Martin is awful? I was not aware...I recognize that name, but I cannot place her and I thought that you could help trigger my memory."
"She is the widow of Danny Martin, the football star. He was killed in a plane crash. Some think he was murdered. She is also Billy Mantoin's mistress, a secret that is not so secret in Europe. Diana and Billy were lovers since Kevin and Marcia were babies. However, most Americans are unaware of their relationship. These days, she is a busy television celebrity in her own right. When she is not in Paris or jet setting around, she is meddling in her god children's lives. Has she decorated Kevin's home yet?"
"You would not believe the volume of furniture I see coming in here, Don Padre! His penthouse is amazing and I think he will be happy to see it finished. It is clear to me he was in over his head because I would have been in the same position!
But wait... You say Diana Martin and Billy Mantoin are lovers? They spend a lot of time in Paris, with a group of others don't they?"
"Yes. They run with a crowd of billionaires and such. They have all been together for decades. Is anything clearing up for you?"
"Yes!” William felt a chill that went through his scalp and down his spine. He need a few seconds to collect himself before he could speak again.
“Yes. I know that crowd. A few of them are older brothers and sisters of my Oxford chums. I knew that Diana’s name was familiar! She is a beautiful blond in the southern American style is she not?"
"Oh yes. She is a real southern belle and a holy terror when she doesn't get her way. She truly loves the kids, so I leave her alone. I advise you to do the same."
"Is that why she was not on the visiting list for Kevin? I heard that she was quite upset."
"I didn't want her near Kevin as she tends to be demanding and loud. He was in bad shape before the surgery because he refused to accept painkillers. He had gone into physical distress and the surgery had to be delayed. I don't ever want to see him go through a thing like that again and will have to get some orders written to override him. At any rate, he needs two more weeks to get back to his usual, overly independent self. Diana can see him when he can defend himself a little better. Kevin and Marcia adore Diana, so do not worry. That woman will be fine."
"How do you know Ms. Landon? Did you know that she and Kevin saw each other in some cultural exchange videos when they were only fifteen years old? They remembered each other all these years and she had kept copies of  the videos. My God what brilliant children they were. I imagine that they have carried torches for each other all these years. She came to visit him at the hospital and gave him copies of both videos!”
“No wonder Kevin kept talking about his green eye woman!" Don Padre never knew about the video exchange program. After her Aunt Mae and Diana, he knew the most about Marcia’s past.
“Well, there’s something more, Don Padre. Kevin is after Marcia Landon for some FBI computer hacking matter. I do not think the girl is in any trouble, but that will not stop Kevin.”
“Kevin does travels down strange pathways when he investigates, but he has a legendary record. I never knew that she saw Kevin before! I am one of her godfathers and I have known her since she was a child. It's a long and terrible story, but I have kept an eye on her since she was ten years old. I will tell you this: If I hear of any more connections surrounding those two...  no three young people...”
“Three? Who is the third?”
“I am old friends with Franklin Marsh's father, since he was a nosy little boy who tried to listen in on our conversations. He is now a lawyer, a reserve FBI agent and a part time Inspector with the San Francisco Police Department. Brilliant lawyer. I am starting to wonder if there is something supernatural going on!" Don Padre laughed heartily.
"It is amazing. They do not know that we are old friends, do they? Do you remember when we worked together on that stolen antiquities case in Florence? We were the same age as they are now and we had our own meddlesome elders!"
"Oh yes! And it’s Percival Windsor again!"
"Do you suppose we should keep this to ourselves and allow things to develop on their own?"
"I like that idea, William, yes. Kevin does not know whether he wants to send my little girl to jail or make love to her! He believes that she is his very own Irene Adler!"
"Oh no!” William laughed. No way would Don Padre harbor a criminal even if it was his own godchild. “Is she? His Irene Adler, that is?"
"No! She was volunteering at a crooked private foundation. After she stopped working there, someone hacked into the foundation’s computers, stole over 20 million dollars and released information about the criminal activities there. Marcia has a degree in computer science from Harvard, but she studies sociology at Berkeley. Kevin thinks that she is a criminal computer genius. She is a computer genius, but not a criminal."
"But why not? $20 million is quite a temptation."
"Marcia is already worth two or three hundred million, William! She was worth $50 million before she was sixteen years old. Her father taught her to write and sell software and that is partially how she made the rest. She has several business ventures that make money out of thin air!"
"My God. Does Kevin know that?"
"No he does not. Her records are sealed up to age twenty one.”
“Wait, wait. She is a Harvard...”
“She was only twenty when she graduated from Harvard. She sold her first software when she was twenty one. That is where Kevin’s knowledge begins. I have concluded that, in many ways, they are both over our heads. They have gotten beyond us just as we got beyond our elders!
 I do know that she would never commit a crime because she is deathly afraid of becoming a public figure or going to prison. She has fiercely protected her privacy and her legal standing ever since."
"Kevin is the same way. He does not talk about his time in Botswana, and I have never been able to get past his barriers."
"Well, I say we must let them work this out on their own. They are old enough and they are both excellent people. I will step in if Diana causes any trouble or if anything gets out of control."
"I agree. Let them live their lives. And I will keep an eye out for Billy Mantoin and Diana in Paris if you will do the same in Atherton. He and Percival are... were old comrades. They were both clients of the dead lawyer. I believe that Percival was in Taylor County to liquidate illegal funds for Billy. Billy must have promised get him out of the United States in exchange, but Franklin and Kevin got in his way. I must also warn you, Donal, that whomever has that money is not safe."
"We have some of it, but not all of it, William. A young law student, Honey Barton, told us that her cousin worked for Percival Windsor. The young man managed several properties that Percival owned in Taylor County. He must have somehow skimmed some money for himself and hidden it away. Franklin brought her and that money here.
Another thing. Percival killed her other cousin, Henry Barton. Franklin closed out that part of the case, which leaves the Police Chief. We  have him in hospital custody but I cannot make sense of him.” Don Padre filled Sir William in on the details, then asked, “Do you have any Ideas?"
"Yes," William sighed. "He had drugs in his system. It sounds like a combination hypnotherapy and drug situation. Those are quite effective programs. But there is something wrong with that story. The drugs alone would never work."
"He claims he cannot remember leaving his home, driving to the lumberyard or shooting Kevin. He met Kevin and Franklin earlier that day, so the drugs supposedly came later. The last thing he remembered was being with his wife and children, watching television and receiving a phone call. He claims to have awakened in the hospital with no idea how he got there."
"Does the lab have a breakdown?" William was getting intense, as if he was about to resolve a problem.
"Yes. We sent blood samples to Il Pastore, the drug expert. He will find out what was in the Chief's system. The Chief said he was at the football game. Then he went for drinks at the same bar, the Blue Lagoon. This was where Percival gassed everyone and kidnapped Barbara Bain later the same night”
“So Percival was at the same bar earlier. He drugged the Chief at the bar and sent a signal through the Chiefs home phone.”
"Yes. There was a shift change. The day bartender saw Percival chatting up the Chief and some of his officers at their regular table. Those were the early drinkers. Barbara Bain's group arrived much later, at 9 or 10 PM on Friday night. By then, the day staff and customers had left."
"It makes sense now. He slipped a drug into the chief's drink early in the evening. Later that night, he sent a telephone signal that compelled the chief to go to the lumber yard to track down and shoot one person. The target must have been Percival Windsor, not Kevin!”
“That’s right! Kevin and Franklin are too new to be targets.”
“Did he stop at Kevin or did he intend to shoot more people?" William was glad to have someone at his level to talk with. Older men had extensive bodies of knowledge while younger men had energy, instinct and open minds.
Don Padre kept this to himself: "Yes he did, but he passed out before he could do more. I almost lost Kevin because I forgot what it is to be young, arrogant and reckless. I should have stopped him before he had to learn such a hard lesson. I will exert more discipline on those two from now on."
To William he said, "The Chief headed for Percival's SUV, but Kevin was already there. Kevin took care of Percival. The chief was aiming at the rooftop snipers when Franklin and the Sheriff tackled and disarmed him."
William was beginning to understand what happened. “I see. The drug was administered in the bar. The instructions came over the phone while the chief was at home watching television with his family! Did the wife or children talk about any unusual interruptions, sounds or..."
"Yes! Franklin said that a phone call came. When the wife answered, she heard nothing, but the children complained of high pitched sounds..."
"That's it, Donal. That's it! We lose our ability to hear certain high pitched sounds in our 30s. Children can hear them quite clearly. They will even set their ring tones to a high pitched sound. My oldest son was sent up for texting whilst in class! He was using that kind of ring tone. The teacher did not know that texting was going on until she heard the students giggling."
"There is much more going on here, William. The Chief claims to have no memory of anything after the phone call, yet he was given the drug hours before."
"Then he is lying. He never was drugged and he remembers everything after the phone call."
“We will look for a connection. We will not stop until we find it. He will stay in jail until he gives up the information.”
"It bothers me that Diana Martin has so much influence over Kevin and your goddaughter, Ms. Landon."
"Do not worry, William. I will run interference with young Sherlock and Irene. Franklin will too, but I shudder to think what would happen if those three got together. The world will not be safe. All three of them have their trauma and all three of them are forces to be reckoned with!" He gave a hearty laugh.
"At this stage, as long as Kevin gave up on being a rodeo star, I am happy. I am just happy that he is alive, Donal."
"Well, I promise to put him under a strict program with the FBI. Franklin, too. They do not know me well enough yet, but they will. I will be in town on Thursday and I shall have much more information then, especially about that police Chief."
"Very good. We will have more time to visit... Oh Lord, what is coming in here now? It looks like an entire garden! I will see you Thursday, Donal!" William ended the call and stared at the mass of full sized plants and flowers that were coming into the house. That was not the big surprise. The plants were followed by three sofas the size of battleships, and several easy chairs the size of tanks.
"Where are these giant items going to fit, Georges?" He wailed softly.
"The aerie, sir. It is one floor up."
"There is another floor to this place? This floor is... I... I must see this place." Georges showed William a staircase he had never seen before. After staring for a few seconds, he climbed slowly up to the next floor.
The staircase led William to a world that he never knew could exist.


To be continued....

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