LJ has informed me that my post is too large, so once again, I'll have to break this chapter into two parts. Maybe this is the universe's way of telling me that I need to write shorter chapters more frequently!
My poor old cat's arthritic legs have recently taken a turn for the worse. When I pick him up, he sometimes cries in pain and hisses, even though I'm always very gentle with him. I took him to the vet a couple of months ago and they gave me some pills for his joints which I mixed in his food for a month after, but I didn't renew the prescription because we noticed absolutely no difference in his stiffness. It's just been in the last week or two that he suddenly seems dramatically worse. I'm definitely going to call the Cat Clinic first thing Tuesday. I don't like to see my darling cat in pain! I just want him to be comfortable.
Happy New Year to all my readers! I hope 2012 is a great year for all of us.
FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June), chapter 18
Pairing: Dee and Ryo
Timeline: Justice is the sequel to my big story FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May), which is set after Volume 7 of FAKE
Summary: Dee and Ryo are hunting the dangerous and corrupt Lieutenant Abernathy, but he'll take them down first, if he can.
Rating: This chapter is worksafe. There's not even that much foul language.
Disclaimer: FAKE, featuring Dee, Ryo, Bikky, Carol, The Chief, Drake, Ted, JJ, Diana, and Berkely was created by Sanami Matoh. I make no claim on FAKE or Ms. Matoh or any of her characters. I just write fanfiction about them because I love the FAKE world so much.
Author's Notes: If you like this story, please let me know.
Thank you to the_ladyfeather, and tripple_p for beta-reading this chapter for me. I wasn't feeling that confident about this chapter when I sent it off to you, but now that I've applied your suggestions, I feel it's a lot better.
So far in Justice: Ryo and Dee have been trying to track down Rick Romero (street name: Ja Romeo), who is a pimp/rap musician. They previously chased him out of a club in the East Village, but didn't catch him. They know that he has strong connections to Lt. Abernathy and that the two of them are working with a street gang, the Dyre Street Devils. Recently they learned from Ramona, manager of the band Rockit Fire and Ted's current 'girl', that Ja Romeo has been staying with friends in Harlem.
The team was able to get a warrant for the address in Harlem, but when the police raided the apartment, they realized that Ja Romeo had managed to escape. Meanwhile, Bikky is upset because he is due to go to the horse ranch tomorrow, but he still hasn't got the laptop back from the guy in the wheelchair, nor has he told Ryo about that whole incident with Abernathy's men at the subway station.
Justice, chapter 18: The Yoke of a Tyrant
Detective Tina Greenspan lay flat on her back on the filthy linoleum floor with a monster of a dog snapping its jaws just inches from her face. She held her service pistol clamped in both hands, squeezing the trigger over and over, but nothing was happening. Why wouldn't it fire? Was it jammed? Oh Lord, those teeth!
A shadow darkened the doorway of the kitchen, and a female voice said, "Uh, Sweetie, it might help if you took the safety off..."
Tina glanced up and saw to her consternation that the voice belonged to that blonde FBI agent who was after Berkeley. How embarrassing. What the hell was she doing here? Could Berkeley possibly be here too? "Oh," Tina said, thumbing the safety. "I guess you're right." She thrust the gun angrily at the dog once more. Almost as if it understood, the creature backed away from her, its hackles raised.
"Hey, hey, hey," said the woman hastily. "Detective Greenspan, this dog is chained up. She's not interfering with you, or any of the other officers. She could have bitten you easily while you were having your er, trigger trouble, but she didn't."
"Bitch still might," grumbled Detective Greenspan sliding herself back out of the animal's reach. It looked like some sort of pit bull, or maybe a rottweiler. She wasn't really up on her dog breeds. Her left hand touched a patch of slimy wetness on the floor, no doubt what she had slipped in. Ugh. It was shredded newspaper saturated with dog pee. Her jeans felt wet, too. That made her angry enough to want to pull the trigger all over again. Noticing a slight movement in her peripheral vision, she flinched and pointed her pistol in that direction.
"What, you wanna shoot him too?" The blonde indicated a trembling puppy hunkered down in a nest of filthy rags over by the wall. "This is just a mom protecting her baby. Neither of them is any threat to us."
Tina lowered her gun and sniffed. "I guess not."
Just then, the FBI agent was shouldered aside by Officer Banks, who rushed in with his weapon drawn, shouting "Tina! Are you okay?" He checked at the sight of bared canine teeth. "Holy shit!" A moment later the mother dog lay yelping weakly on the cracking linoleum floor, blood flowing out of a wound in her side.
"You incompetent dumbass!" snapped the FBI agent. "That dog was already restrained, and no one was in any danger! What the hell did you have to shoot her for?"
Officer Banks was obviously disconcerted to have a gorgeous woman shouting at him. Because this woman was gorgeous, Tina had to admit. She hoped that blonde wasn't Berkeley's type.
"Sorry, ma'am, but I thought it was standard procedure on a raid-- shoot the dogs. Guy at my precinct got his arm ripped up good last year by a German Shepherd. Wouldn't have happened if someone'd shot it straight off." He shrugged, and looked apologetically from the dog to the FBI agent.
"Don't any of you dog-killing cops have pets at home?" she demanded.
Not in apartments in the city, Detective Greenspan thought, wishing they could just get off this subject. It had been pretty embarrassing for her to slip in dog pee, almost get bitten by a vicious dog, and then not be able to protect herself because she was too rattled to remember to take the safety off her weapon. She preferred to think that her gun had... jammed. It sounded better. Or that she chose not to shoot the dog because it was a helpless animal. Yes, she liked that one even more. Except Blondie here would probably tell everyone what really happened. Even if she didn't tell everyone, she would definitely tell Berkeley. Detective Greenspan sighed, and looked down at the bleeding, whimpering dog. She had been so frightened of this creature a few minutes ago; now she just felt sorry for it. But she felt more sorry for herself. This had been a rotten morning so far.
Suddenly the kitchen was full of other cops, concerned because they had heard a shot, asking her if she was okay, which was somewhat gratifying. Sadly, none of the newcomers was Berkeley.
When Ryo and Dee emerged from the front door of the building in Harlem, they walked out into total bedlam. As the Chief had said, the street was blocked off, and police vehicles were parked haphazardly all over the place. Even if Sol DeLuca had succeeded in manhandling his hostage out of the apartment and down the stairs, he never would have gotten away. There were two ambulances double parked at the curb as well. Ryo was looking from left to right, wondering where Dee intended to go for coffee, when he realized that Dee was no longer standing next to him. He saw his partner over at one of the ambulances, talking to that young guy with the ponytail who had gotten hurt when the bullets started flying. What was his name-- Brad? Brad seemed to be making a fuss about getting into the ambulance because he apparently didn't like hospitals. Dee had naturally pounced on that topic like a dog on a chew toy, and was practically ordering Brad to go get a doctor's report so he could score paid time off.
Irritated by the way Dee was exerting himself to make the obviously gay and obviously interested Brad laugh, Ryo walked away. Concern for the two women who had been hurt by Sol DeLuca made him slow his steps and peer into the second ambulance. Daisy was lying down with a blanket covering her, and appeared to be either asleep or sedated. To Ryo's surprise, the other woman was not only conscious, but sitting up and talking to the paramedics. She had a large, blood-soaked bandage on her neck. Her small, sharp eyes swept over Ryo, who was still in his bulletproof vest, with his badge hanging around his neck on a string.
"Hey officer," she said. "Wanna take my statement?"
"Uh, sure," he replied, glancing nervously at the paramedics. "Are you sure you feel up to it? You lost a lot of blood today."
"Ain't the first time I've been shot," she said. "Did a tour in Iraq. Got a chunk blown outta my leg three days before my unit was due to ship back home. It's my shitty luck that bullets always seem to come looking for me." She grinned at Ryo, and he couldn't help grinning back. Taking out his notebook, he asked her name and contact information.
"Bernadette Lansing," she said. "Daisy here's my baby sister."
Ryo looked from one woman to the other, thinking that they looked nothing alike. Bernadette was a tall, athletic, light-skinned African American, whereas Daisy was blonde, plump, and had very pale skin.
Seeming to read his mind, Bernadette added, "Same mom, different dads. But she's all I've got left for family. I wasn't going to let that drug-dealing son of a bitch use her as a human shield to take bullets for him." She reached behind her and patted Daisy's leg affectionately. "He woulda gotten her killed without a second thought. I thought Rick Romero was the shithead I had to worry about. This guy Lenny totally came out of left field."
"Tell me what you know about Rick Romero," Ryo said quickly, because he could see that the paramedics had finished doing whatever they needed to do for Daisy, and were impatient to get going.
Bernadette told him about how Rick had been working on adding Daisy, who was only sixteen, to his stable. "Guess he needs another whore to pay for his bling!" she spat. "He's got one already that he lives off of, but he's lucky if what her ass brings in even covers basics like rent and food."
She then proceeded to give Ryo all kinds of useful background information about Rick, including the home address of the prostitute he usually lived with. Ryo excitedly jotted it down, thinking what a stroke of luck! He would be willing to bet that Rick had gone straight there. It wasn't that far from here, and having narrowly missed being caught up in a police raid, he would need a quiet place to hang for a while.
He thanked Bernadette and told her he'd be in touch, then turned around to go and collect Dee. They needed to move right now. With a bit of luck, they might even catch Rick at home. However, Dee was no longer at the second ambulance, even though it appeared that he had succeeded in talking Brad into cooperating, since he was sitting there morosely while a paramedic helped him out of his vest. Ryo had just started to ask Brad if he knew where Dee had gotten to, when a familiar voice rose loudly above the general cacophony.
"What, NOW? No fucking way. It's my day off! I volunteered to do this raid for no friggin' pay, but I ain't spending one minute of my free time with IA. I'm back on the clock tomorrow at three p.m. and not one minute before. You two can make an appointment if you want."
Ryo saw Dee standing next to a pair of suits with the stamp of Internal Affairs all over them. One was tall and heavily overweight, the other was shorter and built. Both wore that arrogant expression that Ryo believed that all IA detectives were taught on day one of their training. Ryo kind of admired Dee for standing up to them, even though he knew they made his partner as nervous as they did him. Ryo would never forget the grilling he had received from IA a few years ago after he foolishly built a bomb and blew up the house of a notorious gang leader where Bikky and Dee were being held hostage. He had come within a hairsbreadth of not only losing his job, but being brought up on charges as well. The Chief had gone to bat for him, and he had spent the next six months on probation. He really never wanted to be grilled by an IA agent again, even if it was someone else they were investigating. However, in spite of his misgivings, he walked over to see if his partner needed any support. When he reached the small group, he saw that the Chief had taken Dee aside and was remonstrating with him in a low voice. The shorter of the two IA agents looked up from his phone and frowned at Ryo.
"Get lost buddy. This doesn't concern you."
"Yes it does. This is my partner and I need him to accompany me on a call."
"I thought he said it was his day off." The IA agent looked Ryo up and down and sneered as if finding him lacking.
Dee looked over and said, 'It IS my fucking day off!"
"Are you Detective Randy MacLean?" asked the other agent, the tall, overweight one.
"Um, yes." Ryo hoped he didn't look or sound as nervous as he felt.
"I'm Detective Ramie." He turned his head. "Lieutenant! We're gonna need this guy too."
"Wait a sec, Chief," said Ryo hastily. "I just got a hot lead on the subject of this raid, the one who got away." He was making an effort not to say Rick's name because he didn't trust anyone from Internal Affairs at the moment. For all he knew, these two guys might be friends of Abernathy's.
"Can't you check it out later, Randy?" Ryo noticed that the Chief was looking less confident than usual, too. Any time Internal Affairs came sniffing around, everyone was on edge.
"Chief, I would if I could, but I believe the guy has gone straight to his girlfriend's place. I've got to check it out."
"You're not gonna get far without a warrant, Randy. You're better off waiting."
"Chief, there are no grounds for one at the new location unless I can discover something there. And even in a worst case scenario, I think I've got a shot at getting some information out of his girlfriend. She might even let me in."
"Chief," said Dee, "if he's got an address, this is one hell of a lucky break. We can give our statements to IA tomorrow."
"Look, Lieutenant," the short, muscular IA guy said nastily. "We are not investigating a minor misdemeanor, here. We're attempting to get to the bottom of an alleged murder. We've been trying to catch up to your boys for a day and a half. If we don't start seeing a little more cooperation, Bell and Cooper could walk. And all the help we didn't get from your department will go down in the report."
"In triplicate," Detective Ramie added.
The Chief swore, and hurled his cigar stub to the ground. "Okay, this is what we're gonna do. Dee, you go downtown with these guys and give 'em your statement. Then swing by the two-seven after, and I'll note it on your time card. You'll receive a full day's pay, including the raid, okay?"
"Goddamnit, just zip it and do what I say!"
"What about him?" Detective Ramie indicated Ryo.
"He's gotta follow up on his lead. I'm sorry, boys. We need a line on this guy who escaped today. I'm with Detective MacLean on this one."
Both agents frowned and Detective Ramie wrote in his notebook.
"I can meet you later tonight," Ryo said. "After I have dinner with my son."
The shorter IA agent recoiled and sneered. "We're off the clock later. It's not convenient."
"Since when is police work 'convenient'?" demanded Dee sullenly. Everyone ignored him.
"We would prefer to interview you right after Laytner," said Detective Ramie, "in case there are any discrepancies in your statements."
"Oh right," sneered Dee. "'Cause in IA investigations, everyone's guilty, including the witnesses."
Detective Ramie eyed Dee coldly. "You're no angel, Laytner. I've read your file. It's six inches thick."
"Oh, only six inches?" echoed Dee, but then he dropped his eyes and busied himself with lighting a cigarette. Ryo was relieved to see that he seemed to be backing off a little.
"I already emailed you my statement," Ryo reminded the IA men. "Did you not read it?"
"Yeah, but it was full of holes," said the shorter one.
"We still have questions," said Detective Ramie, his eyes boring into Ryo's.
"Like why the hell you guys were doing an independent investigation of an IA Lieutenant." The short, built one directed this at the Chief, who promptly broke out into a sweat.
"Well, we'll have to catch up with each other later," said Ryo hastily. "I've got to get going before the trail goes cold."
"Take Eliza with you," the Chief advised him.
Ryo nodded and made his escape with one last sympathetic look back over his shoulder at Dee and the Chief.
About twenty minutes later, Ryo stood outside an apartment door in Northeast Harlem, listening. He was hoping to get some sense of what was going on in there before he knocked and had to introduce himself. He could hear a man and a woman talking inside, but he couldn't make out the words. This was not surprising, because the building he was in was not in what you would call a quiet part of town. There was a baby wailing from behind one of the other apartment doors down the hall, and someone not too far away was listening to Rhianna on a really cruddy set of stereo speakers. Ryo hesitated, one hand poised to knock. Maybe it had been a bad idea to come here alone. He had made an effort to find Eliza, but someone had told him she had gone back to the twenty-seventh. Everyone else had been busy, and in the end, not wanting to lose any more time, he had just hopped into a taxi and got himself delivered here.
Ryo stopped trying to listen at the door and knocked on it sharply instead. He heard a brief, low-voiced conferral between the man and woman inside, then the sound of a chair scraping back, followed by the slap of slippers on linoleum as someone came toward the door.
"Who is it?" The female voice sounded cautious. This must be Shantaya, if Bernadette had gotten her name right.
"Is that you, Shantaya?" Ryo replied with a question, waiting for her to finish scoping him out through the spyhole. "I'm Randy." He hoped she might assume he was a customer, and at least open the door.
Sure enough, the door opened slowly, and stopped at a width of about a foot and a half. "Somethin' I can help you with, sir?" Shantaya asked with cautious politeness. At the sight of her face, a flicker of recognition stirred within Ryo. He had seen this woman before, but where? It was something to do with Bikky; that was all he could come up with. Might as well play that card and get a little conversation going before he had to reveal he was a law enforcement officer.
"Hello, there," he said. "Perhaps you remember me? I'm Bikky's dad."
Her eyes widened slightly and Ryo sensed that she recognized him, too, but she pretended that she didn't.
"I'm sorry, but I meet a lotta dads. Can we maybe do this later, babycakes? I'm kinda busy right now..."
Ryo could sense his chances of getting inside the apartment dwindling, but he had to try. Besides, he had managed to place her now. "Shantaya, we met at Eddie's funeral a few weeks ago."
"I don't know what you're talking' bout, I never went to no funeral," she said quickly, the facade of courtesy falling away from her. Ryo understood in that moment that the man who was with her was almost certainly Rick, and that she hadn't told him about the funeral. He was maybe even standing right behind her, listening to every word.
"Perhaps I'm mistaken then," Ryo said smoothly. "I must be thinking of someone else. Anyway, I was wondering if I could come in for a couple of minutes? I have a few questions I need to ask you."
"You a cop, right?"
"Then, I'm sorry, but unless you got a warrant, I ain't gonna be invitin' you in."
"I'm actually looking for a Mr. Rick Romero," Ryo said. "Is he here?"
"But he lives here?"
"He moved out a couple months ago."
Ryo handed her one of his cards. "If you see him, please give him this and ask him to call me. I really need to talk to him. Tell him, 'Everyone who works closely with Lieutenant Abernathy is going to end up getting put away for a very long time.' Will you give him that message?"
Ryo thanked her and left, because there was nothing else he could do. She was right-- without a warrant, she didn't have to admit him. He considered that Rick must be practically having a heart attack round about now. First, he had managed to escape just minutes before a Narcotics team charged into the place he was staying, and now another cop had followed him home. If Rick stayed true to form, he would want to leave this place as soon as possible, but if he disappeared again, there was no telling where he might go.
Ryo exited the building for two or three minutes, and then went back in again, walking as softly as possible, intending to listen at the door for clues, and hoping the pair would be a little louder this time. This time he heard the sound of female sobbing and a male speaking urgently in a low, angry voice. It sounded like they were further back in their apartment, possibly behind a bedroom door. There was a slamming noise, followed by a high-pitched cry and the sound of a piece of furniture crashing over. Then there was more female crying and more male scolding. Ryo winced as he realized that Shantaya was getting a beating and it was probably due to his visit.
"What are you doing, Mister?" a small, high voice said.
Ryo turned his head and saw a little girl of about six looking at him from the doorway of the apartment next door. She was wearing bunny slippers and a rather dirty green dress.
"Hi honey," he said. "I was thinking I might knock on their door, and visit them, but it sounds like they're fighting in there."
"Sometimes they do that," she said seriously. "He always wins. My mom says he's a fucking asshole no-good pimp."
After six years of being a police officer in New York City, Ryo had seen and heard a lot of things that no longer shocked him, but somehow, hearing profane language come out of the mouths of angelic-looking children always made his hair stand on end. He gazed at her, wondering if he should ask her how often she heard her two neighbors fighting, when a woman's voice called out to her and demanded to know who she was talking to. He waited, hoping the mother would come to the door so he could reassure her and then ask her some questions about Rick and Shantaya, but the little girl abruptly disappeared as if yanked back inside, and the door closed with a click. He knocked on it several times, but the woman and child on the other side of the door remained silent and still. He made a note of the apartment number so he could come back here later with Dee or one of the other people from the CI team. It wouldn't hurt to canvass the neighbors for information about Ja Romeo.
For the second time, Ryo left. Outside the apartment building, he lingered for about half an hour hoping that his quarry would come walking out through the front door, but in keeping with the way his luck had been going that day, it didn't happen. Eventually Ryo had to face the fact that even though he knew exactly where Ja Romeo was, there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. It was too bad he couldn't just kick the door down and drag the guy down to the station in handcuffs, but that kind of thing only happened in the movies. It would have been highly illegal, so of course his hands were tied. Even if he had grounds for a warrant, and he knew he didn't, Rick would be long gone by the time he had obtained approval.
Ryo sighed and reminded himself that despite his frustration, it was still his day off, and, what's more, his son would be coming home from school in a few hours. He figured he had better go and buy some groceries so that he and Bikky could eat a decent final dinner together before Bikky went off to stay at the Devon ranch for his own safety. He would be gone an indeterminate period of time, which Ryo felt sad about, but he didn't know what else he could do. They would be leaving early the next day. He would have to make sure that he and Bikky both went to bed early tonight. And Dee, too, since he had volunteered to drive them.
Wes wondered if he would regret not killing Sherry. He had certainly thought about it, but ultimately had decided not to. It was a line he just wasn't ready to cross. Besides, if he whacked her, he'd have to do the same to her kid brother, and that was something he knew for sure he couldn't do. The kid was only eleven or twelve, and even though he was already shaping up to be trouble on legs, Wes kind of liked him.
Yesterday when Sherry had finally broken down and admitted she had given one of the Doritos delivery bags to a couple of cops, he had gotten the rest of the story out of her with surprising ease. Usually once people took that crucial first step, they figured 'what the hell' and caved on everything else. That was one way in which Wes was different from most other people. He knew how to keep his mouth shut and give away as little as possible at every stage of the game.
When he had shown Sherry the pictures of Lieutenant Abernathy and the detectives from the 7th precinct, Fielding and Clayton, she identified Fielding as being one of the cops who had shaken her down. Wes had already figured out by then that Sherry's encounter with the cops had to have happened in the street, because if they'd come to her apartment, they would have taken all the bags instead of just one. However, he couldn't assume that they didn't now know where she lived. Despite the fact that her ID didn't reflect her actual address, they could easily have followed her. Or beaten it out of her.
She told him what had happened. On the morning of the day that cop's kid Bikky MacLean got nabbed with a bag of Lady-H Doritos right within plain sight of Wes in Chinatown, Sherry had been stopped by two cops in a sedan, both of them plainclothes. She was hauled into the car, and taken to a windowless office in the back of a building in an industrial park somewhere in Brooklyn. Sherry didn't know what kind of office. All she could say was that it wasn't the police station. There they dumped out her bag and found the Doritos, as well as her personal stash of dope.
They cuffed her to a chair and went through her wallet, where they found pictures of Cody. Detective Fielding slapped her and pulled her hair. He threatened her with a worse beating than simple slapping, but not with jail, interestingly enough. When she wasn't immediately cooperative, the threats became much cruder and more graphic. It had been the things they told her would happen to Cody that finally broke her.
Wes asked for a breakdown on who did and said what. Apparently, Fielding had done most of the talking and the physical stuff, and he had been the one to threaten to sell Cody's little-boy ass to the highest bidder at some underground bathhouse. Wes shook his head in disgust. This guy was a total piece of shit.
Sherry had tried to appeal to the female cop to help her, but naturally that hadn't worked a damn. Women cops were just as bad as men, sometimes even worse. Wes personally thought Sherry should have known better, but maybe she figured it was worth a try. The upshot of it was that the female cop looked uncomfortable at times and didn't seem to like her partner at all, but she hadn't tried to stop him. Then at the end, she had been the one to confiscate both the Doritos and Sherry's own dope. The bitch had even taken Sherry's cigarettes, as well as all the cash from her wallet, which added up to forty-five measy bucks. The NYPD pay scale must be every bit as shitty as Wes had heard.
Ultimately, Wes could not be sure what Sherry had told them and what she hadn't. There was no way to know for certain.
It had been convenient for him to store his delivery-ready stash at her place until now. Less risk for him, and he never had to worry that Sherry would lose control and dip into the supply. She was one of those functional addicts who couldn't shake the habit, but took just enough to pass for normal most of the time. She had a job at the Dollar Mart and a kid brother for whom she was the sole source of support. She had a pretty good deal going on with her work on the side as Wes' mule. He reflected bitterly that he had been an idiot to trust her as much as he had. He had assumed that her fear of him and her concern for Cody were enough to keep her under his thumb. Unfortunately, someone had come along who scared her more.
It was now clear to him that from here on in, Sherry would be useless to him in his business. She had been made, and so had his method of delivery. He realized that he was lucky that the cops in question had been dirty this time, and not clean. There were pros and cons to dealing with dirty versus clean cops. The clean cops always went by the book, so if you were clever and careful, you could often get off on a technicality. The dirty ones, on the other hand, preferred to avoid the whole time-consuming business of arrest, booking, paperwork and court appearances. They were only after drugs or money on the spot, and could be bought off if necessary. But once a crooked cop got a bead on you, you had to pay the bastard whenever he showed up, which could be as often as once a week. Wes had found it necessary to shift his selling locations several times over the years because of that kind of shit.
If the cops that had come after Sherry had been of the by-the-book type, they would have arrested her right then and there, and/or promised her leniency in exchange for ratting him out. Wes knew that if Sherry was thrown in jail, there would be no one to look after her kid brother, so she would pretty much have to give up his whole operation to avoid that, despite her strong words earlier that she had never sold anyone out.
Yesterday, when Sherry sat in her living room waiting for the Vicodin to kick in, Wes had watched her thoughtfully. Every so often, she glanced nervously at him, as if wondering what he was going to do.
She had become a liability. Wes could see that she realized it at the same time he did. For a moment, she looked frightened, but then she hid it as best she could.
"Better take the rest of the bags away, baby." She took a long shaky drag of her cigarette. "'Fore them police come looking for the rest."
"And for you, too, Sher. You can't stay here."
"I know." Her head nodded, and she looked around at the cracked walls and threadbare carpeting. "I just need a couple days, honey. I ain't got a place to take Cody..." She shot him a nervous glance before stubbing out her smoke.
"That's two days too long, darling. Pack some things and go get Cody outta school. I'm moving you both to a safe place for a while."
The look on her face veered from hope to abject terror and back again.
"Oh for Christ's sake, Sher. I may be an evil, hard-hearted sumbitch, but I never yet killed anyone. I sure as hell ain't gonna start with you. You thinking I'm gonna tip you off the Brooklyn Bridge or something?"
Her eyes filled with tears. "Baby, I'm scared. I been so scared since it happened. I din't know what to do. Still don't. Pl-please help me."
"Well, I know what to do," said Wes, "and that's get you the hell out of town and out of the reach of those cops." He stood up. "Come on, get moving. You could be away as long as a month, so pack what you need to."
That had been yesterday. Today, Sherry and Cody had been installed in a one bedroom apartment in Jersey, with no phone and no Internet, but a flat-screen TV and all the movies and games a kid could want. He had personally impressed on Cody the necessity of not calling or otherwise contacting any of his friends from school. He hoped it had sunk in.
His next step was to go talk to Crazy Bo. That kid was hiding something. He was sure of it.
end of Part one. Please go to Part two.