Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 123: Long Night.
I watched Scott until he was halfway up the stairs. I knew what I needed to do.
The security camera was off down here; I knew that from when I arrived. So anything I did right now had no witnesses and nobody could be implicated.
As much as I would love to wipe Richard’s memory with the drug, I couldn’t bring myself to be responsible for whatever happened to him. But I could make sure nobody I cared about was implicated in this mess.
I strode over to the table with the attaché case and picked up the stack of file folders. I left the folders pertaining to Professor Edwards and his formulas on the table. The folders labelled Christopher Boldt, Scott Wilson, Wade Matthews, Michael Taylor, Andrew Brooks, Donald Sullivan, Alan Jacoby, Nick Phillips, and Marty Jones were the ones I was worried about. The police and FBI would be arriving once Scott called in. So I couldn’t stash the files down here in the dungeon. Once I hit the office upstairs the cameras in there would capture if I carried anything upstairs.
Thankful I had worn my coat this entire time I hitched up my shirt and stuffed the files down the back of my pants, then fixed my shirt and coat over them. I just needed to make it to my car with them.
Richard’s breathing was sounding much more labored from the floor. I wasn’t going to be responsible for killing him, but I wasn’t going to lift a finger to help him either.
It occurred to me that there might be more copies of these files somewhere. Richard’s house would no doubt be searched, along with his phone and computer. Unfortunately, that was out of my hands.
I opened the files I had left on the table and used the camera in my phone to snap quick photos of the pages of Edwards’ research notes and formulas. I didn’t know what any of it meant at such a quick glance, but it couldn’t hurt to have the information for later.
The sound of multiple people running jarred me from my thoughts and I quickly closed the folder I was holding. I looked up and saw Scott followed by a handful of uniformed police officers, EMS workers, and two men in suits.
Scott jogged over to me. “You’re not going to believe this, but the police were upstairs. Somebody called 911.”
Thank you, I thought. “It had to be Wade! He was supposed to call at 9:30. We have to get to Kampas and find him.”
“I don’t think we can leave just yet. There will be statements to give and reports to file—”
My eyes grew wide. “You’re the fucking FBI, Scott. If you can’t use that to get us to Kampas, then I’m going without you.” I strode toward the stairs.
Even with the bustling of the steadily arriving crime scene people I knew Scott was following me to the stairs. I climbed them two at a time and reached the office ready for an argument.
“But you don’t understand!” a familiar voice was saying, “I’m his—”
I ran faster than I ever have in my life to the door, knocking the uniform out of my way as I did. I grabbed Wade and squeezed him as hard as I could.
“You’re all right?” I asked, tears spilling out of my eyes.
Wade hugged me back just as fiercely. “Craig tried to shoot me.”
I pushed him back and looked at his face. “Are you hurt?” I brushed locks of hair off his forehead.
He shook his head and grinned through his tears. “I outsmarted him.”
I pulled him to me and hugged him again, feeling him crush the file folders against my back. “Richard told me Craig killed you and then himself. I almost lost it.”
“Craig tried to get me to leave Kampas with him, but we fought over the gun and he got shot in the leg. It was an accident. Then he threatened to kill himself. But I got the gun away from him. They were taking him to the hospital when I left.”
Scott, who had been talking to the nearby police officers, stepped in. “Can I get in on this hugging?”
Wade grinned and embraced Scott.
“I understand you’re a hero in all of this.” Scott reached out and mussed Wade’s hair.
“I was so worried that 911 wouldn’t listen to me and send the police here.” Wade turned to look at me seriously. “I’m sorry I was late calling. Craig showed up and things went bad.”
Scott steered the two of us to the side of the office, so that we were standing in front of the bank of security monitors. “The police are apparently looking for you. You disappeared without giving a statement.”
I rounded on Scott. “Is that going to be a problem?”
Scott held up his hands. “No. And I don’t want to argue with you, Chris. But we’re all witnesses to crimes and we’re going to have a long night ahead of us.”
From where I was standing I could see men carrying Richard up the stairs on a stretcher.
Wade gasped. “Is that Richard?”
I nodded. “Bad news, too. He’ll probably live.”
Scott shushed me.
“I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I’m starving. I missed dinner. Somebody promised to pick up Chinese...”
Scott laughed. “It’s the adrenaline. I can get us something to eat.”
“No chance we can get out of here?”
Scott shook his head. “I’ll do what I can to speed the process.”
He walked over to an official looking woman in a pantsuit.
I focused my attention on Wade. “You sure you’re all right?”
“I was just so scared. Not even about Craig. When he told me you and Scott were here I was so afraid something bad had happened to you both.”
“But how did you get here?”
“I snuck out of Kampas and made Austin drive me here.” He gingerly felt the back of his head. “I kind of fainted and bumped my head after the stuff with Craig happened.”
“We will get you looked at. So you got here and just walked into the Club?”
“The police wouldn’t let me in the office. I tried to tell them that I was your son, but it didn’t matter.”
“You told them that?” Tears were coming to my eyes yet again. I pulled him into another hug.
Scott returned. “I ordered burgers and fries and shakes for all three of us.”
“Is there still an ambulance around? Wade hit his head at Kampas. I want him checked out.”
Wade protested. “I’m sure I’m fine.”
“Well, I’m not sure. And I will feel a lot better if you get it checked.”
“Ok,” he said, rolling his eyes.
To be continued in Part 124...
Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 124: Debriefing; Not The Good Kind.
Scott hadn’t been kidding when he said it would be a long night. By the time I pulled the car into the driveway at 1326 Greenhill Road, I was ready to crawl into bed and sleep for a week, not that that was an option.
Wade was taken by ambulance to the hospital and examined. He had a bump on his head, but it didn’t look like a concussion, so he was advised to take it easy for a few days and released.
I called Austin from the hospital waiting area to let him know where we were and he showed up looking tired and anxious to deliver Wade’s phone, which he said had been on the seat of his car.
We were each interviewed by federal agents about what we had witnessed that evening. I’ll admit I omitted a few details, but I mostly stuck to the events as they happened. I did have a much more casual relationship with the truth about some of the events of the past, but I was careful to be consistent and not say anything I thought Scott or Wade would contradict.
I only briefly saw Scott before I was driven to the Club to retrieve my car. I mentioned to him that he was going to have to speak to someone about me being allowed to visit Craig. It was no surprise he wasn’t a fan of that idea.
Wade had been released before me. I was told he was driven to his car at Kampas. That seemed likely since his car was already in its place in the driveway as I dragged myself out of my car.
I unlocked the door and let myself in, ready for a long hot shower and a longer nap. Thank God it was the weekend.
Wade’s voice called from the kitchen. “Chris?”
I trudged down the hall and saw him seated in sleep pants and a T-shirt at the table.
“I figured you’d be in bed,” I said.
“I was having a hard time falling asleep in the empty house,” he replied.
“You aren’t usually afraid to be alone here, Wade,” I said gently.
“Every time I close my eyes I see Craig crying holding the gun to his own head.”
“Do you think he’ll be ok?”
I shrugged. “I think if he wants it badly enough then I can probably help him overcome what Richard did to him.”
“He’s nothing like he used to be, Chris. I know I’m not his biggest fan, but nobody deserves what Richard did to him.”
I nodded absently. “I can’t help thinking we’re just lucky he didn’t do everything Richard wanted him to do.”
“We’ll figure it out after a nap and some caffeine. Come on upstairs. Let me take a quick shower and then I’ll sit with you until you fall asleep.”
I followed Wade out of the kitchen and up the stairs. So much for my long hot shower. I left him at his bedroom door and, inside my own bedroom, stripped out of the clothes I’d been wearing all night. I walked over to the bed, lifted up a corner of the mattress, and stashed the file folders I had swiped. I needed to read through them ASAP and then dispose of them.
I turned on the shower and let the hot water pound me. I still couldn’t believe this had all really been about Richard wanting me back in some sick, twisted way. There was a body count, and a lot of collateral damage, but Scott and Wade and I were all going to be all right.
A body count. Fuck me. How many guys had died in this ridiculous vendetta of Richard’s?
I turned off the water, dried off, rushed through my before bed routine, and pulled on sleep shorts, a T-shirt and a pair of socks.
When I got to Wade’s bedroom door he was sitting in bed typing on his phone.
“You doing ok now?” I asked.
“Austin has been texting me. I kind of owe him an apology for the way I acted last night I think.”
“You were almost shot. I bet he’ll forgive you.” I folded my arms. “Invite him over for family dinner tonight. 6 o’clock.”
“You’re going to cook?”
I shrugged. “Maybe. If not, we’ll go out. I’ll do my best to get Scott here for it. I think we need a little normal around here today.”
“Like we’d recognize it,” Wade said with a grin.
I jumped on the bed and grabbed him into a headlock. “Listen, you!”
Wade giggled. He typed something on his phone and waited.
“He says he’ll be here.”
“Good. Now tell him you need your sleep.”
Wade yawned while he was typing. “I really do,” he said. He set his phone on the bedside table. “Are we going to get in trouble for what happened last night?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so. I mean, I can contact a lawyer if I need to, but I have a feeling Scott is going to make sure it all works out.”
I sat with my back against the headboard and Wade settled next to me with his head on my shoulder.
“Were you two arguing last night?” Wade asked.
“What makes you say that?”
“You looked mad when we were in Leatherman’s office.”
“To quote you: I kind of owe him an apology for the way I acted last night I think.”
Wade turned and looked at me. “Why?”
“Well, I wanted him to drive me to Kampas to find you and he said we needed to talk to the police.”
Wade sat up straight. “That’s what Austin and I fought about!”
I laughed. “You know, I think maybe we’re rubbing off on each other.”
Once Wade had drifted off to sleep I quietly slipped out of his room and into my own. I checked my phone but had no messages, typed a text to Scott: FAMILY DINNER 6PM?, and climbed into bed.
The clock on my bedside table read 12:34 when the sound of water running in the shower woke me. I looked around the room and could see evidence Scott was home.
I got out of bed and walked to the bathroom door. “Scott?”
“Hey! I thought you were sleeping,” he said from the shower.
“I was. Did you just get home?”
“A little while ago. Let me finish up in here and then we can talk.”
I backed out of the bathroom and shut the door.
I was lying on the bed with my head propped on my hand when Scott opened the bathroom door. He had been up for at least 28 hours but he still looked better than I did after a short nap. He stood wearing just a pair of blue boxer briefs.
I stood up and stepped into his arms. “I think I owe you an apology. I wasn’t mad at you last night, you know. It was just a bad situation. I’m sorry if I was an ass.”
Scott smiled, his green eyes twinkling. “I appreciate the apology. But I think you get a pass on anything from last night. You came in there to rescue me, by yourself, with no backup—which was crazy—but I don’t know anyone else who would have risked so much for me.”
“I had backup. Wade was calling 911 for me if he hadn’t heard from me.”
Scott kissed me again, his lips lingering on mine. “How is Wade? I looked in his room on the way past and he was sound asleep.”
“Good. He had a hard time getting there. I think seeing Craig try to commit suicide is going to take some time to deal with.”
“Well, I have some news on that front. Craig bled a lot, but the bullet really only grazed him. Physically, he should be ok. And before you ask, we can go visit him tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” I said. “What about Richard?”
“Richard made it through surgery, but he hasn’t regained consciousness.”
“It’s wrong to hope he doesn’t...”
Scott nodded. “Who knows what he’ll even remember.”
“I was thinking about that. Your agency won’t let Professor Edwards’ formula get out, right?”
“I don’t think so. It’s evidence. Why? Are you worried the government would exploit a serum that causes memory loss?”
I didn’t reply. I was going to have to look closely at the photos I had taken when I got a chance.
Scott held me a little closer. “There is one odd thing.”
“One?” I asked.
“Yes. I was looking at some of the paperwork before I left this morning. The evidence included the Professor’s files. But there was no mention of any files about you or me or anybody else.”
“Oh?” I asked. “That is odd.”
Scott pursed his lips. “I know you have them.”
I hesitated. “Can I plead the fifth?”
“No, but I want to see what’s in them. If they aren’t the only copies, I need to be prepared for what information might come to light.”
“That’s why I took them!”
Scott nodded. “A team was at Richard’s residence this morning.”
“What about the Club?”
“What do you mean?”
“Today is Saturday. Can we open?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I’m not even sure who works there. But I’ll have to get the word out. I’ll post a sign on the door or something later.”
“Where are the files, Chris?”
I stepped out of his arms and lifted up the mattress and retrieved them. I sat on the edge of the bed. Scott sat next to me. I flipped through and handed him the file on himself.
While he opened it, I opened the one about me. I scanned the contents, and despite a few errors, was horrified to see how in detail it was. “Christ,” I said, “Richard had to have been keeping tabs on me for years.”
Scott held up the folder in his hand. “This is pretty complete, too. It looks like he just found out what my real occupation is.”
We swapped folders. There was nothing in Scott’s file that I didn’t already know. I was sure that wasn’t the case with mine.
Scott looked up. “You’ve been busy.”
“Is that going to be an issue?”
He shook his head. “We both have pasts.”
I started looking through the other files. They were much less detailed but had enough information to affect reputations. Wade’s file was the one that set off alarm bells. There was plenty there to connect him to Donald, though it omitted the information about Donald’s death, leaving it only at a disappearance.
Scott read each folder as I handed it to him. Once he had finished Wade’s, he tossed it on top of the stack on the bed and sighed. “Our only hope is that Richard didn’t keep digital copies of these files. They look like they were compiled over years.”
I gestured to the folders. “I need to shred them ASAP.”
“Not a bad idea. Why don’t you do that now, just in case.”
“Just in case?”
“I don’t think anyone will show up here with a search warrant. But it’d be better if there was nothing to find.”
“Should I call my lawyer?”
Scott shook his head. “I don’t think you need to.”
I gathered the folders and stood up.
“What’s this about a family dinner tonight?”
“Austin is joining us. We’re going to try to be normal for a night.”
Scott let out a bark of a laugh. “That’s just one of the things I love about you, Chris—your sense of humor.”
I stuck my tongue out at him as I headed out of the room to use the shredder in the den.