Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Demon Chronicles Retro Diary: Part VII

Retro Diary, Part VII


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



Chapters 25-29

Chapter 25

Kissie’s Concert is not a Recital

Marcia wandered into the concert hall with Daniel and her latest stepmother, Mommy Beth. Mommy Beth was so nervous that she would not let Marcia's arm go. The red headed idiot, Brendan O’Donnell tried to get in, but Daniel left them to cut the rogue FBI agent out of the action. After a heated call to Don Padre, he returned with a satisfied look on his face.
 "It is so good to have you here, girl,” Mommy Beth said. She liked Marcia, even though she was an odd child. “The kids were so worried that you would not be here to hear them."
Mommy Beth drew looks from the curious and judgmental crowd. She was an African Queen in a retro Balenciaga ball gown. Her lush hair was piled on her head in a fantastical arrangement. She was a dark skinned woman who would never be overweight and would never look her age.
"Those little rascals were not going to have their first concerts without me, but where is Daddy? And you look even more beautiful in this light! Daddy better not be missing in action tonight, or one of those horny Boston Brahmins might sweep you right out of here and take you off to Barts for some whoopee!"
"Will you stop it?” Mommy Beth snorted. “Your father is getting flowers for Kissie. He will be here." Marcia refused to acknowledge that plenty of hooded eyes were on her. Marcia made women jealous enough to hover close to their men.
"She refuses to accept that the men are actually looking at her! That dress, her figure, her green eyes."
“That's a relief. How are you, Mommy? How is Jason now that he is at the ‘surlymone’ stage. Is he smoking pot and hanging out with punks?"
She laughed at her own joke. The lobby was a jam of slow moving socialites, each one of them was compelled to stop and acknowledge each other. Marcia hated these crushes, especially when the hair flippers were at work.
“I will knock down the first woman who flips her lice ridden hair in my face!” Marcia muttered as she tried to clear a way past the packs of stalled, yakking women. Marcia and Mommy Beth dodged a woman who flipped her bleached blond hair right into the face of another bleached blond. That woman gave the hair flipper a sneaky little push in the back. Marcia stared until she realized that Mommy Beth was talking.
"...that boy is headed to boot camp, Marcia. You wouldn't believe what he and his little musician friends were caught doing. They were playing at O’Bannon’s private club! They played three shows before they were caught and thrown out. I found out from Joe Senior. He could hardly talk, he was laughing so hard. He took his wife to the Bahamas for a week and put that son of his in charge."
"No! They only did three gigs? I need to talk to that boy about black market music... "
"I'm just saying... I'm just glad it was O’Bannon’s place. So... did Daddy come up with one of his big, expensive solutions, like a million dollar recording studio?"
"Exactly! That studio has the kids so excited that they promised to stay out of trouble for the rest of their pitiful lives. I threatened to lock the place up if they ever get out of line. I can't go through this at my age."
"They actually took their little short selves into O’Bannon’s and were playing gigs. Now that tears me up. Didn't they need an adult with them...? " She stepped into their row first and left a space for Daddy. Mommy Beth would sit in her favorite front row, aisle seat.
 "Oh no! Don’t tell me that Leander Watson was the so-called adult."
"Please don’t do anything rash, Marcia, but yes, it was Leander and he should have known better." Mommy Beth huffed.
Leander Watson always had one scheme or another going on, always with entertainment in mind. He was forty years old but had a twelve-year-old maturity level. His master’s degrees in theater arts earned him a spot at the state college but Leander’s own work never earned him a ticket out of Boston. When he latched on to talented young people like Jason and Kissie, Marcia would shut his schemes down. The nightclub incident had slipped past her.
"That's dangerous, Mommy Beth. Leander will never stop trying to use kids like Kissee and Jason to help himself. There is nothing we can do to fix him, but I can put some security on the kids if you need it. All they need is to meet a charismatic drug dealer and they are done. Their lives are finished."
"Well, Marcia, we have the whole gang working on that studio every day. Leander is on a restraining order and I called in some favors to keep him at bay. When I am through with those kids, they will know everything about building and using a recording studio. After that, they can learn about producing and engineering."
Mommy Beth was Marcia's favorite out of Daddy's three wives, including her own monster of a birth mother. Jason and Kissie’s mother died of a fast moving pancreatic cancer when they were babies, leaving behind a brief and lovely memory.
"Then Daddy showed up at the house and dropped them off." Marcia silently narrated her own life as she waited for the curtain to go up. "He said I needed to take care of them and he left them with me for six years! Here I was, sixteen years old, and starting my second semester at Harvard. Suddenly, I was a mommy with two babies.  Six years later, Daddy married Mommy Beth, told me to get a life and snatched them back. Mrs. Lopez, my house sisters, our staff, Me... We did a good job and now I get to see them giving concerts, not recitals.
It all worked out despite Daddy's messed up ways of doing things. Now I must figure out how to have a life of my own. Except for my year in Europe, I only know about school, business writing software and lonely vacations. There is that beautiful Cornwall horse boy from my past all grown up and ready to come after me... but that is for crimes. I need a life. I really need a life."
"Marcia! Is this it?" Mommy Beth was breathless. Marcia snapped out of her painful self-review.
"Yes! The curtain is going up! Break a leg, little girl! Oh! She is so tiny and beautiful! Only ten years old." Marcia whispered as her eyes filled with tears.

Chapter 26

Franklin, Marissa and Giant Bowls of Cocaine

"Franklin! We have a big new class action case and my lover, Cleon Marvis is in jail. He wants you to defend him at his trial for thuggery, connivance and general ignorance." Marissa was laughing so hard, she could not even finish her joke.
"Girl, leave my office or I will take this here tarantula and..." Franklin was laughing, too. "You scared me girl. For a minute, I thought you and Cleon were lovers again."
"Never in his lifetime. That lifetime needs to be as short as possible. Seriously, we are going to be the lead firm in the rooftop retrofit case.”
“What’s going on with that?”
“After we did our rooftops, thirty additional homeowners requested permits to blow out their flat rooftops and build glass enclosures.”
“I remember now,” Franklin frowned as he summarized the case. “The whole thing started with one homeowner who got the permits and built a fabulous glassed in rooftop over a huge house. That same homeowner bought a neighboring property where the house burned down. The properties were combined into a dream estate right in the middle of San Francisco." 
Marissa snatched the giant rubber tarantula from Franklin's hand and played with it while she talked.
"Your new partner, Kevin, saw the first house and wanted to do the same to his place. He got his permits and built his glassed in roof on his industrial building. Now every wannabe in San Francisco wants the same thing for their residential properties. It could change the skyline so of course there is a backlash. We have people from both sides asking us to represent them."
"Yes. I thought this would happen. That's why my roof is almost finished."
Marissa laughed again, her white teeth contrasting with her deep brown skin and golden eyes. She and Franklin had the same golden eyes, a gift from their grandfather. Their older brother, Daniel, inherited their father's dark brown eyes. Their half-Samoan grandmother referred to her grandchildren as her "pretty little devils".
"Let’s take our side, Marissa. It is only right. If people want to change their flat rooftops, it is their right. Most of the rooftops are ugly to begin with. They are nothing but flat roofs covered with tar paper and junk. The glassed-ins are beautiful.”
“The glassed-ins are also job creators and they are green as hell, Franklin. The original property owner generates his or her own power. That house has a rain cache, water filtration system and indoor gardens. The owner..."
"Wait. Don't you have a name yet? We keep referring to "the owner".
"I can't find a person. Someone buried the property under so many trusts and legal entities that there is no human being to be found. I even hung out and observed the place. Rich people live there, but I can't tell you which one of them owns the place!"
"That happens more than you know, Marissa. Well, I still have to wrap up the Taylor County mess. Kevin's out of commission..."
"Oh, how is my sweetheart doing? I cried when I heard he was hurt. He ate so much food at my party that I just fell in love with his Downton Abbey self. You sure he isn't gay? I have some friends..."
"We almost lost him, Marissa." Franklin had to stop for a minute and collect himself. Saying the words released the horror of almost losing Kevin.
 "Actually, he was more impaled than shot. He's going to be on the injured list for a long time. Hey! Let's move on before I ruin my makeup."
"Fine, Little Brother. Fine. Let's see." Marissa collected her thoughts. "Kevin built a monster roof. His is about 8,000 square feet.”  
“I have the bronze color. Yours is charcoal. Those are beautiful colors. It is so beautiful in the morning and evening. It's making San Francisco look like Byzantium or something."
"We should play up the green angle. The increased residential space and the prettiness factor will help.”
 “Not many people can afford to take on such an expensive project. In the end, the new rooftops may not have that much of an impact." Franklin reached out, snatched the tarantula back and started to toss it into the air.
"Let’s commission a survey, Sis.” A public opinion survey and the other research would stall things until he could wrap up the mess in Taylor County.
“We need opinion and facts first. Let's bring in the city planners. The roofs offer living space, jobs, power production, water storage... all without building more skyscrapers and other view-blocking structures. Oh, and don't forget the tax revenue. More space equals higher appraised value and more property tax."
"Damn, Franklin. You know how to work it. Won't higher property taxes discourage people?"
"Of course! If we get that news out early, it will discourage an overload of this kind of thing." Franklin gave his best evil pirate grin.
"That leads to our next problem. We need to hire some people, Franklin. You and Kevin just had your first case with the FBI and you almost got whacked. We can’t ever plan your absences. You have the big ideas and the associates can work the details. What do you think?"
"I like it as long as we don't have those giant bowls of cocaine!"
"You never will forget that party, will you?"
"No, I will not forget that party at Berman-Levinson! That's when I realized that you and I could beat the coke-heads every time!"
"Where's that tarantula? Give it up, little Bro. I need to have that thing under my control." Marissa shuddered at the thought of a giant spider showing up in unexpected places.
Franklin left and drove over to the original rooftop retrofit property. He parked where he could get a good view of the driveway and gate and settled in for a while. After half an hour, a car approached, activated the gate, and entered the driveway. A woman got out of the car and opened the trunk. She grabbed her shopping bags and bustled into the house. Franklin gaped, shut down his surveillance operation and drove away immediately.
"That was Don Padre's ex-wife!" he yelled. "Don Padre’s ex! Mrs. Lopez! Oh hell! Kevin can't handle this yet, so I'll have to keep it to myself."

Chapter 27 
Kissie’s Naked Concert Audience

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Cassandra Mai Ling Landon" The master of ceremonies was an invisible, disembodied voice. The audience stared at the tiny girl who appeared. Kissie wanted to cry. Marcia told her to imagine an audience full of naked people, but she still wanted to cry.
"I can't cry because these people are old! Old people should never be naked! Oh no! Now I want to laugh at the idea of them naked! That was wrong of Marcia, but it does help with my stage fright! Hey, it really works! Is it over that fast? Did I get the glissandi right? Marcia will know. She knows if I did anything wrong."
"She was precious! She faked her way through the glissandi, but I won't ever let her know that. Oh, she is exquisite. I'm going to cry. Look at her, only ten years old and she is so calm and cool. No stage fright at all! I wonder if she even knows what naked people look like. We used to imagine them in their underwear, but that doesn't work anymore. Most of these people have sex tapes, so how's that going to work?" Marcia's thoughts were racing. "Is it over so soon? It just went by so fast. I hope Daniel got the video."
"Look at my girls. My three beautiful girls. There are no more perfect, wonderful, beautiful girls in the world and they are here with me tonight. Joy. Joy." Daddy was borderline autistic, but he was a brilliant man. If he could control his big ideas, he could have been a good man. He loved his loves and would always do the right thing by them.
"These kids are any mother's dream. One abandoned by death. The other abandoned by a monster. I have them all with me. These wonderful kids. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Lord." Mommy Beth tried to remember if she had packed some Visine in her clutch. "I must look like a pothead!"
"I can't believe this family.” Daniel thought. “I got the video for them to watch. Ms. Landon is stunning. Beautiful. Her stepmother is beautiful, too. Her father is so proud in his limited mind. That little sister, Kissee is phenomenal. Jason is next up tomorrow night. The only other person who can play like that girl is the mystery woman who plays 'Firestorm' with the Banshees. No one else can play that song."
He packed up the video camera and prepared to escort his charges from the concert hall. "Now let me get them out of here safely. They are going to Ms. Marcia's house. I like that big old house. They have the best beds and food. Joe and I can slip out for a drink later since Bernard has the rest of the night shift. I ought to give Jo Ann a call. She could come out with us."
"Kisseeeeee!" Marcia screamed as soon as they saw her. "You were supernatural. You can fly, Little Bee! Just fly!"
"Can I learn the fiddle now? The 'Firestorm' Fiddle?"
"You think you got the chops, Bee? Let's see about that in, say seven years!"
"What do you know about the 'Firestorm' Fiddle? A woman asked in a loud, piercing voice. She wore her jet black hair in a spiky, uncomfortable looking cut and had an overload of Kohl around her eyes. The blood red lips and the gothic getup did not help, either. She was too sharp and pointed for her to be anything but a reporter. What was she doing backstage? The rule was that Kissee did not do press and that rule was inviolate.
Daniel stepped in and body-blocked the woman. He signaled for security to take her outside. The woman said that she worked for Rolling Stone magazine, but no one cared. Daniel spoke into his Bluetooth and Marcia knew that he was giving instructions to keep the woman and the red headed creep from following them to the house. Who was that man?
"Weren’t you Kissie’s first teacher?" A supercilious male voice came from behind Marcia. She knew that relative position and she knew that voice.
"Yes I was. She was only three years old, you know? I was a brilliant teacher, too. The best ever!"
"So you play, do you?" The speaker was a tall, dark man in his forties. He had long, blue-black hair and a wicked gleam in his eye. This beauty would have fit into any gypsy encampment, his wild hair flying and his narrow hips working a passionate flamenco. Marcia could not contain herself any longer. She turned around and yelled,
"Doctor Van Myer!" She threw her arms around him and kissed him full on the lips. Dr. Van Myer was her violin teacher. He showed no mercy as he dragged her to the highest levels of her art. Then he took her to Appalachia to learn the fiddle. After Appalachia, they went to Nashville to learn the Deep South fiddle. Dr. Van Myer was so outraged that he took Marcia to Europe to learn the Gypsy fiddle.
“How can your father just use you like this for six years. Now he just takes the children away and tells you to move on?” He screamed. At the time, he was ready to Kill Marcia’s father. Now he was satisfied with glaring whenever he saw the oblivious, grinning man. He shook his head and turned his attention to her, weakened by her beautiful eyes.
"Marcia, I heard you say that Kissie was beyond anything you could say to her. Did you mean that?" Dr. Van Myer gave her a slightly regretful smile. A woman’s first lover is the only one who can give such a smile.
"Well, I’m just too emotional right now. I remember when you said that to me, and I was a lot older than she is. It means a lot to be able to pass those words to her."
"What will she do with all that talent?"
"She will be good, Gregori. She will live well if I have anything to say about it. Right now, she is just a brilliant little girl who owns the night. And her teacher should share the limelight.” Marcia took Dr. Van Myer’s arm and led him toward the exit. “She has the rest of her life ahead of her and we should be patient. Please tell me you are joining us tonight."
"I wouldn't miss it for anything. I miss you. I do not miss your godmother, however. How is Diana?"
"If you will ride with us, I will tell you what I know." She said, frowning slightly. Diana Martin and Gregori Van Myer were mortal enemies, but neither one would tell her why they held such hatred for each other.

Chapter 28

Kevin’s House is a Full House

"You must be kidding me! This is unbelievable! It's her? Who is that green eye woman? Who is she? Oh! Ow!" Kevin was in pain and his chest was hitching. His hospital room was packed. He had to demonstrate that he could walk before the doctors would discharge him and let Sir William take him home. Nurse Lee yanked the Bluetooth from his ear, causing a howl of outrage. Dr. Yap was poring over his charts.
William stood with his arms folded and shook his head. Franklin grinned. "I am so glad to see him well enough to cause all this trouble," he whispered.
Dr. Yap appealed to William, "Sir William... Franklin... we have our hands full with this one and he's not even off his belly yet. He will be even worse when he is able to sit up by himself.
William spoke to Kevin, “Come along. Let's see you walk, Little Mouse. That will take some energy out of you."
"Walk. Yes. Walk. I want that. Am I drugged well enough? Do I get Demerol, Quaaludes? Oxy? Weed?"
"Yes, no, no and no!" Dr.Yap laughed. Now listen carefully. Roll over onto your right side and use your right arm to push yourself up into a seated position. Can you do that, Kevin?"
"You, Kevin. You!"
William buried his face in his hands.
Kevin rolled over and pushed himself up until he was slouching, but upright. Nurse Lee raised the bed. "I am going to pay a mighty price for this, am I not?" Kevin whispered.
"Oh yes." Dr. Yap said. "But you will sleep after the worst of it. Now, Cleon Jones is here to help you out of the bed. He will support you on your right side, so put all your weight on him. He is with the 49ers football team and is the largest person I could find to do this. Cleon had your type of injury a year ago and he is fine. Right, Cleon?"
"Yes, Dr.Yap. I am a whole man again. If this recalcitrant one cooperates fully with you and follows all of your instructions, he will be just like me! Large, Black and lovely! Ha ha!"
"I am a Black man, Cleon." Kevin mumbled. "I am a Black man living in America."
"He is a Black man, Cleon! Born in Botswana! Grandson of a prince." Everyone participated in this chorus.
"REALLY? Are you pulling my leg?"
"NO!" everyone responded.
With his newfound respect for a brother, Cleon gently helped Kevin to stand, then walk from the bed to the door of his room. They walked down the hall and then back to his bed. Cleon carefully helped Kevin onto a gurney, then back onto his belly. Nurse Lee strapped him onto the gurney.
The group applauded. "Well done, Kevin!" Dr. Yap said.
"Thank you, everyone." Kevin sobbed. Dr. Yap injected enough Demerol to make him sleep through the move. He leaned over and whispered to him, "When you wake up, you will be in your own home, Kevin!"
"Let's move him out!" William bellowed. It was his operation now.
The caravan included a private ambulance, three cars ahead and four cars behind. Kevin was moved from UC Medical Center to his industrial building across town. His growing staff gathered at the front of his industrial building. The clowns came to attention and saluted the ambulance as it passed them, then turned into the underground garage.
Kevin slept as the crew rolled his gurney out of the ambulance and into the large industrial elevator that would take him to his penthouse apartment on the third and fourth floors. The team wheeled his gurney into his bedroom and placed it next to his tricked out, luxurious hospital bed.
“Now for the transfer... Let’s line everyone up and go through the procedure.” Dr. Yap said. “Then we must calibrate this equipment...”
More people arrived. Franklin and William, Inspector Marsh, Marissa, Georges, Don Padre and Mrs. Lopez flowed into the penthouse carrying food and gifts.
Kevin's second at Ap-Sec, Andrew, arrived carrying a huge floral arrangement in the shape of a giant horseshoe.
"A giant horseshoe, Andrew?" Marissa yelled. "Something tells me that this is an old joke between the two of you!"
"Yes it is, Marissa! I just hope he can laugh after that walk. If that was rough for us to watch, it must have been horrible for him."
Georges announced that the dining room was open. This was a prearranged hint that the non-working guests needed to let the working guests get Kevin settled into his bed. Kevin's first floor held several large living rooms and parlors, a giant dining room, his library, an atrium in the center of the floor, a large kitchen complex and eight bedroom suites, each with its own bathroom and sitting room. The top floor held even more bedrooms, gardens, living rooms and a smaller kitchen.
The doorbell toned and a new rush of people came in. William rushed to greet and grab his spectacular wife.
"Mariane, I am so glad to see you. You do not know how YOUR terrible cousin has worn me out."
"Oh, he is my cousin now, I see... William, what is this place? What do you mean MY cousin? Is he terrible? Has he done you wrong? Don't you love him anymore? I thought we were in the warehouse district, yet here we are in a palace! What has Kevin been up to in here?"
She gave William the deep look that only a long time love can give. "How are you holding up, dear? Where is our Little Mouse?"
"We just moved him in. He is sedated and in his bed. The doctors are in there now, fussing over him. We'll see him later when he wakes up. Come, let me show you our room."
Franklin was gazing at them when Marianne broke away from William and gave him a warm hug. He whispered to her, "You two married for love and I can't get over it. It shows every time you look at each other. Go and freshen up a few times, you two. We'll take care of Kevin."
"Is that giant horseshoe from Andrew?" Someone laughed as William dragged his wife away to "freshen up".
Mrs. Lopez bore down on Franklin. "Franklin, were you parked outside my house yesterday? I thought I saw you sitting in your car when I came home."
"Oh! I am busted! Yes ma'am, I was looking at your roof. Is that your house?"
"No, it belongs to my goddaughter. I have been her guardian since she was sixteen years old. She is a grown woman now, about your age. She's in Boston right now."
"Marissa and I need to talk to her! We will be representing some homeowners who want to do their roofs. I have mine. Marissa has one. Your house was the first and this house was the second one. Now some people are afraid that it will ruin the city skyline. If your goddaughter would like to talk to us, please give me a call. We will respect everyone's privacy, including our own!" He handed her his card.
"Of course I'll have Marcia call you."
"What? What?” Franklin said, “Is that Marcia Landon? Green eyes? Beautiful? Is she your goddaughter?"
"Yes, yes. That girl has more godmothers and godfathers than all the Mafioso princesses who ever lived... and we all adore her!"
"So she's in Boston for the kid’s recitals?" Don Padre asked his ex-wife. He had a special look in his eye when he looked at her. The look sent a wave of grief through Franklin as he was reminded of his own loss. He and his wife would never look at each other as an old couple.
"Those kids do not give recitals, Donal. They perform in concerts."
"Is that our Marcia Landon? Georges asked. I met her at hospital. Sir Kevin and I watched a video of her playing the violin when she was only fifteen years old herself! I have never heard anyone play 'Clare de Lune' without making a terrible sound from the high notes! They will be quite a pair, those two"
"We must absorb her into the collective! Andrew yelled, laughing.
"Kevin calls her his 'green eye woman'." Franklin intoned in a pompous British voice, causing such a disruption that a cranky doctor came out and said with a clipped British accent, "You are certainly a lively bunch! You have our patient chuckling and he's under a dose of Rohypnol!"
"Oh come on. That boy can laugh while under general anesthetic.” Don Padre said, “I know because I heard him do it a week ago. Come on, Doctor Benjamin. Let's go and eat food in his honor, and I'll tell you all about it."
The doctor laughed and joined them.
Don Padre pulled Franklin aside and said, “You must worry about your own ‘green eye’ woman... Honey Barton. Do not let her take you in, Franklin. There is more to her than we know and I warn you to be very, very careful when you take her back to Taylor City.

Chapter 29

Honey and Franklin Get a Big Surprise

Honey Barton was out of sorts. She could not adjust to the fog and noise of San Francisco. Fire engines sent siren echoes bouncing through the concrete canyons. The city gave out a steady roar of collective noise. True San Franciscans loved the sound as a reminder that they were at home. To Honey, a siren represented sickness, violence, pain and death. Valley fog meant dying on a long, empty stretch of a road to nowhere. Fog was a menace. Fog was even more evil in Europe where ancient ghosts and monsters roamed through fertile minds.
She appreciated Marshall Jenny and she was more than glad to help Franklin, but she had her classes and volunteer work.
“The hospital lawyers must be researching a thousand legal issues and precedents, what with so many patients and dead bodies. I have a lot to do before those agents snoop around any more. I have two dead cousins and they say one of them was a killer!”
Honey was used to controlling her spinning plates. She worried about her house, about school and about burying Larry. She worried about a host of other connections and embarrassing problems that could come up.
"Lord, those redneck family members will start holding car washes to raise money if I don't stop them. I need to help with the arrangements."
"He was young and single. Did he have a burial plan or burial insurance," Jenny asked.
"Yes! I made all of his family buy burial insurance... life and health insurance, too. Larry’s mother is a saint and she would never commit a car wash fraud like that. That won't stop Larry's cousins from holding a car wash and keeping the money! They will milk Larry's murder for all they can get out of it, if I am not there to stop them. I don’t know if his mom can handle his papers properly. His mother will get everything, I think, but she needs to put some away for her retirement and old age.
Larry got good pay for managing that man's property and he had other jobs around town. He was a hard working man who didn't take very well to college or a corporate job."
She broke down and cried for a few minutes. Her little shoulders shook so pitifully that Jenny wondered if she would ever calm down enough to think about the Federal Witness Protection Program.
Jenny did not like Honey Barton. “It’s not my job to like her, but I don’t know if this is the right time for me to be here. I should wait. There is no direct threat to her life. She is better off in temporary custody until they find Percival Windsor. After that, who else could be a threat to her?”
"Larry was so glad to have that job,” Honey continued to explain. He put everything he had into managing those properties. Did you see how well kept they were?"
"No I haven’t, Mrs. Barton. I am sure that Larry did good work and that the properties were in excellent condition, inside and out.”
Suddenly, Brendan O’Donnell used a key and barged into the room. Honey was glad that the hotel suite came with a living room with all those strangers coming and going. Brendan said,
“Mrs. Barton, I hope you realize that this is not over by a long shot. There are more bad people in Taylor County. We just started this case and it brings more questions for every answer we get. Jenny is here to help you with a relocation program that will keep you below the radar. Do you think you can get with the program or is it too soon? If not, Jenny has to move on to help people who can make up their...”
Agent O'Donnell was not even supposed to be in the room! He was assigned to a distant location in Utah. Jenny was already on the phone to Don Padre.
“Yes sir. Yes. He’s not here yet. He’s with you? How do I... Fine."
“Agent O’Donnell. You are not assigned to this case and I am ordering you to leave. Agent Moore? Escort him out of here.”
“You don’t have the authority,” Brendan snapped at her. He caught himself and lowered his voice. “Look. I am the last person you ever want to mess with. Do you know who I am?” this was pure Brendan. He never backed off, no matter how wrong he was.
“I know that I have to authority to shoot you right now if your overweight ass is not out that door in the next five seconds. Don’t let me find you anywhere near me or my client again, either.” Jenny was aiming at a spot between Brendan’s eyes.
Franklin entered the room just as Brendan was about to reply. He took Brendan in a choke hold and he and Agent Moore dragged him out of the room. It took Jenny’s supervisor and two more FBI agents to drag him out of the hotel .The group confiscated his badge, gun, backup gun and passport.
“Let’s see your ass try a stunt like that again.” Franklin growled as he threw an envelope at Brendan. “That’s from Don Padre. Have yourself a sick time in Utah and don’t let me see you in this city or anywhere else again!” He watched as Brendan was hauled into a waiting car and then headed to Honey’s hotel suite.
“I have good news, Honey,” He yelled. “Everything in Taylor city looks calm and no one has approached your house. Still, there are no guarantees that people aren't laying low and waiting for us to leave. Percival had connections to illegal weapons dealers and other big players. You cannot defend yourself against those people alone and you probably need to relocate. I don’t see another way out for you."
He stopped talking so Honey could calm down and absorb the truth. Then he said the rest.
"I have arranged for you to go into temporary witness protection. You would have to take a break from school.”
“No! I worked hard to get to my level and I only have a year left...”
“It’s no good, Honey. We are dealing with something very new here and we don't know who else might have had dealings with Percival Windsor."
"You mean the people who had their money stolen and the cars blown up? You're thinking they might be back to get revenge." Honey had just revealed that she had connections and knew how to get any information she wanted. Franklin frowned at this. Who told Honey anything about stolen money or exploding cars?   
He decided to keep her talking for a few minutes. She was more likely to slip up if she kept talking.
"Mrs. Barton,” he said, “We don't know... "
Honey started to talk again. "I thought you would say something like this and I'm ready to move on. Look. I’ve just have to go home. I need  to say goodbye to Larry and make sure his mom’s alright. I have to put my house in order if I can. I put everything I have into that house. Everyone I know is in Taylor County. I just can't leave it all behind in one day."
"That’s fine. Marshall Janet and I will take you around town while you put your affairs in order. We just need to keep you to out of the way while we put this thing to rest. Percival Windsor has...” he paused, noticing how her face changed when he mentioned Percival.
“Uhm... He could be after you next."
"I don’t know why,” She was speaking rapidly now. “I never knew Percival Windsor. Larry and he worked their arrangements out. Larry would not let me meet him...”
“She’s lying through her teeth,” Franklin thought.
“I’ll think about it after Larry is buried and I'm back in my house. I was supposed to graduate law school in the Spring! I'm not giving all that up and I'm not changing my name. I can't pass the bar without a full background check."
"I understand Mrs. Barton. Franklin called Don Padre and said, "She’s hiding something. If not Percival, then someone will come after her, I just know it. We are leaving now and I’ll try to finish up by tomorrow."
Back in Taylor County, Honey wanted to see Larry's mother first.
"Dealing with Larry’s brother was like dealing a bad, greedy child who always wanted to be the man of the house. If you did one thing with or for him, he started thinking of ways to get more out of you,"
She kept talking when she should have stopped.
"He had a terrible temper when he didn't get what he wanted, so most of the family avoided him."
"Did your cousin find Larry’s insurance documents and will?"
"Oh yes! His mother, Cousin Linda should get a million dollars from his insurance, plus whatever was in his bank accounts. She could use that money for her retirement, now that Henry isn’t alive to take it from her."
"How well did you know Henry?"
Honey ignored his question. "I love my family and don’t want to leave them on their own. I can’t let them do anything stupid!”
Honey and Franklin arrived at Linda Barton's house shortly before noon. The neighborhood was about fifteen years old and some of the houses were showing signs of wear and tear. Linda's house was very well kept, with a neat front lawn and fresh paint on the trim.
"Larry just did that paint job." Honey said as if she read Franklin’s mind. "He took care of her house while that brother of his wouldn't even take out the garbage. Henry tried to move himself in there, but Linda wouldn't let him. Henry had an apartment over by the university. He was a bartender at Xtcasy where the kids hang out.”
Franklin parked the car and checked the area before he allowed Honey and Jenny to exit. He noticed that two other FBI cars were parked at a distance. Honey walked up a sidewalk to a recessed front door and rang Linda's doorbell. She could hear a voice in the distance yelling
"Hold on! I'll be there in a minute! Is that you, Honey?"
"Yeah! It’s me." Honey yelled back.
"I'm here!" Linda opened the door and stopped cold, her face clouding up at the sight of the large, Black FBI agent who loomed behind Honey.
"Well... I guess you can all come on in. I was just making some cookies for the grandkids." She stepped aside and waited while they made their way toward the living room.
"No, no! You all come on into the kitchen. It will be more comfortable there and I have all of Larry's paperwork set up. We got him and Henry set up for some nice services today at that funeral home over on Figueroa. Then we'll have something over at the church hall. Oh, I'm gonna miss them, Honey! What am I gonna do without my boys?"
She broke down. Honey grabbed her and hugged her over to her kitchen table. She smelled some cookies baking, dropped Linda onto a bar stool and dashed over to the oven. She managed to save the cookies.
"These are perfect, Linda. You always did make good oatmeal raisin cookies."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I wanted  to go over these papers with you. Is this right?" It was not right. Honey made a couple of phone calls, checked a few forms and stuffed some envelopes. "You will get the money in a week or so, Linda. Larry’s burial plan came through, so you will be fine.”
"Yes. He left you something...” She reached into an envelope.
 “Here's the information and a key. We don't know how much it is because it's a safety deposit at the bank. I want to tell you, Honey. None of us had any problem with you and Larry being together. He loved you and you were good to him, so you don't have to hide it."
"Well thank you, Linda. Are you going to be alright now? I want you to take this check for Henry’s funeral. You use this for the funeral, now and you hire someone to help you with the house, OK?"
"Oh thank you, Honey! Don’t worry. I’ll be ok. I’m going to move on back home to Arkansas. We have cousins there."
"Well, I have to get on home now. I'll see you all at the funeral," Honey seemed to be in a hurry all of a sudden.
Half an hour later, Honey and Franklin rolled a suitcase into the bank. It was Honey’s idea to keep her suitcase with her at all times. While they were waiting for the banker to show them to Larry's safe deposit box, Franklin said,
"Linda seems like a nice enough woman, but she came into a lot of money, almost a million dollars. Will you help her if you stay here?"
"Yes. And Linda is a nice woman. She just has no concept of money. It comes from growing up dirt poor. It’s generational since the dust bowl. Right now, it's more sad than anything else. She just lost both her sons. One was an unholy terror an the other was the best chance she had.”
Franklin made a few calls while Honey was in the vault. When she came out, her rolling suitcase looked a lot heavier.
"Are you alright?" The agent asked.  
"Well, it was a big surprise in there. I guess there's no harm in telling you, but let's get to the house first." To her surprise, Franklin directed the entire caravan to one of Percival's office buildings near the University. “I want to check that suitcase, Honey. Did you know the other suitcase would be in that building?”
“No! I had no idea what could be in those properties. I just wanted to see if Larry left anything of his own behind. He used his own tools and equipment and they cost him a lot of money. I figured it would take forever to get his things back.”
After that, they drove in silence. Honey was in tears by the time they were cleared to pull into the building's driveway.
"It's alright, Mrs. Barton. Let my team go in and make sure everything is alright. After a few minutes, the team came out and gave the all clear. Franklin took the suitcase out of the car and escorted her into the simple looking little office building. The interior looked like it once housed an insurance or real estate firm. The air was stuffy and the rooms were slightly disheveled from the warrant searches, but the power was on and the place was clean.
"I don't understand what this is all about." Honey was getting distressed.
"The first warrant only covered the first suitcase you found, Mrs. Barton. This warrant is for all of Larry's possessions. Neither you nor Larry have any records of drug dealing or illegal activities, so you are going to be fine."
"Do you mean to look in this suitcase? Do I need an attorney?"
"I certainly do. A lawyer is your choice. I am looking for something that might be embedded with the money. Here's the warrant. He handed her the warrant. While she read the warrant, he  opened the suitcase and blinked several times. There must have been a hundred bricks of cash inside. He took the briefcase over to a large conference table and dumped the cash out onto the table. He pulled out his smart phone and videotaped the entire pile.
Honey still did not get the point. She was too focused on the money.
“Mrs. Barton, that money belonged to someone. That person may have installed tracking devices in that money. It’s your inheritance as long as you produce a copy of Larry’s will, report the income and pay the estate taxes. Do you understand?”
Franklin did not care whether Honey Barton understood. He pulled two pairs of latex gloves from his kit and handed a pair to Honey, signaling her to put them on.
Franklin forced her to hold her improbable future in her own hands. He wanted to keep her hands busy and her mind off her schemes. They worked for thirty minutes, breaking the bricks apart and finding several tracers. Franklin held one of them up for Marshall Jenny and Honey to see.
"Do you see this? " Jenny held up a thin black square that was about an inch long on each side. "This little device can broadcast for up to a mile in any direction. Someone could be following us right now. They know that it has left the bank and now is in this building. I’m going to check around outside.” She pulled her weapon and left to search the building.
Franklin videotaped as Honey packed all the money back into the rolling suitcase. He pulled a numbered metal seal out of his kit and crimped it to seal the suitcase.
“I think I want to leave here after I pack some things at the house,” she said quickly. Had she forgotten about the funeral?
Franklin kept his face bland, "We thought you might change your mind, Mrs. Barton. We can be out of here after the services. You will be fine." She sat on an old sofa and cried while Franklin went into a bathroom and wet some paper towels for her.
"Oh Agent Marsh, I don't know if I can do this. My life will never be the same without Larry in it. I'm so sorry. It just hit me hard..."
Franklin was not thinking about Honey Barton. He was thinking about fresh paper towels. "Paper towels, clean but empty office buildings and a well maintained, but defunct lumber yard? All taken care of by Larry..."
 He called for Jenny and dashed to the front of the building. He told Jenny and Honey to get her and her suitcase into the car.
A car passed by. It was a Mercedes with a single driver.
He went back into the building and called in his team. Then he went outside, locked the door, walked to his car and slipped into the driver’s seat.
“Let’s get out of here!” He yelled as he started the engine. He turned to look at Jenny and got a big surprise.
A well-dressed little man was sitting in the passenger seat. The man pointed a gun at Franklin and spoke in an odd accent. Was it Belgian? He said,
"You do the driving, Special Agent Marsh. Don’t try for your gun or I will blow your passenger’s heads off. Just get moving and make this easy for everyone."
Franklin stared at the man for a few seconds before he pulled out of the parking lot and turned left onto the two lane road.

To be continued...  

Part VIII will be available next Wednesday! 

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