No Good Deed
Copyright© 2018 by Lumpy
Since I wouldn’t be involved in hiring Mrs. Polaski to continue Tina and Judy’s education - aside from the little side note about actually paying for it - they’d agreed to work out the details of how it would all work out, together. That actually was fine by me, since it gave me one less thing to have to worry about. I was feeling proud of coming up with the idea when I’d heard she was retiring, but I’d kept that to myself. Both Mom and the girls had a way of punching holes in my ego, whenever it seemed I might be getting too full of myself.
Still, I was happy with how things would work out. Aside from anything else, Mrs. Polaski had already started giving some excellent advice on what we should be doing to get tested out of the last two years of school, and for the best ways to set up homeschooling for Judy and Tina.
More good news came in the form of a call from the office when I got home. Miltech had come through with the contacts at NASA. Between Jonathan, Colonel Ron (who was still our point man on anything to do with Miltech), and Douglass (who still had a fair number of contacts at NASA, despite how he’d left employment there), we’d worked through all the initial phases of getting NASA to look at our battery and solar panel prototypes.
They’d worked out a demonstration on Wednesday for both, which was a big step for us. Apparently, NASA was in the process of working on a probe they wanted to send into Jupiter’s orbit. They weren’t happy with the power draw of some of their new instruments, and were very interested in seeing our battery. They were ok with their current solar panels, but Colonel Ron seemed to think that, if we pitched them as a combo only, they’d buy both.
I was a little annoyed that the test was scheduled for a Wednesday, since I’d be in school. Now that I knew someone was in the ear of the school board and had painted a target on me, I wanted to avoid missing more days and opening myself up to more problems. Jonathan, however, seemed to think it was for the best. For one, it was tough to get government contracts worked on over the weekend, since civil servants tended to frown on working on weekends. For another, he pointed out that government agencies tend to be less flexible with things that are outside the norm, like a contractor with a teenage CEO, for instance.
I suggested they probably did at least a minimal amount of research on us, and already knew this. He said knowing it, and putting it in front of their faces, were two different things.
So I was sidelined, at least for the actual meeting.
They were right, however. If it went through, it would mean a serious payday.
So, even though I was sidelined, I was in a pretty good mood that night and was spending some quality time with Emily, Zoe, and Vicki. Tami was delayed, and would join us later. She and Judy had to run to the courthouse after school with Mom, and sign some paperwork that would make the guardianship permanent. I didn’t realize there was a “permanent” guardianship, but apparently, that was a legal definition. I just thought she should be home any time, when I heard squealing from outside, and the distinct crack of a gunshot.
I was on my feet before I’d had a chance to consider what those sounds could actually mean, and was hurtling down the stairs and towards the door just as it opened. Judy, Mom, and Tami all piled through the door, slowing me down. I could see Jawarski in the doorway, her gun in her hand.
I dodged around the women, and started to make it to the door when Jawarski’s head turned ever so slightly, bringing me into her peripheral vision. She instantly changed her position, so she was entirely blocking the front door.
“Do not even think about coming out here,” she said, angrily.
“Just shut the door, have Angela call the cops, and stay inside until I say you can come out.”
Her tone was serious, and I knew this was not the time to test her. Since everyone I cared about was confirmed as safe, either inside the house or, in Jawarski’s case in the doorway, healthy, and armed, I decided it was best to listen to her.
Shutting the door, I turned to the women. Judy was freaking out, and I could see the collar of her shirt was torn. Other than that, she wasn’t any worse for wear.
“Jawarski said you should call the cops,” I said to Mom once I finished my quick once over of all three of them.
She’d had her hands on her knees and was shaking a bit, but nodded and headed towards the house phone.
“What happened?” I asked Tami as soon as she was on her way.
“I don’t know. We were coming inside, and Judy said she left her backpack in the car and turned to go back and get it. Jawarski said to wait, and started to turn to go back with her, but was a bunch of steps behind since Judy was in a good mood and ran off towards the car like she always does.”
She sat on the ground, putting her back against the wall, and I could see her legs were wobbly.
“A car came tearing up to the house, slamming its brakes on so hard smoke came off the tires. This guy, arms covered in tattoos, jumped out of the back seat and rushed at Judy, grabbing at her. She jumped back, and he only managed to grab part of her shirt. Jaworski yelled, and the guy let go, and he reached to his back and started to pull something out, and Jawarski fired her gun. I didn’t even see her draw it just ... Blam!, and the guy fell to the ground. The car squealed its tires again as it tore off down the street, leaving the guy with the tattoos laying in the yard. Then Jawarski yelled at us to get Judy inside. That’s when you showed up.”
“Is he... ?”
“Dead? Yes. I also got the plate on the car.”
“Good. I mean, not that he’s dead. I’m not sad about that, not really, considering what he was doing; but I’d rather we had someone we could ask questions.”
“Next time you stay out here and stop him, then,” Jawarski said annoyed.
“Hey,” I said, holding up my hands, “I’m not criticizing. You did what you had to do, and you did a good job. I just wish we had things we don’t. You got the license plate, so maybe that will lead us to the driver, at least.”
“I doubt it. Things like this, the car’s always hot.”
“Ok, I can see that. Well, I guess we’ll have to just find out who he is, and go from there. Although, we have a pretty good idea who he is.”
I could hear sirens, meaning the cops would be here any minute.
“Don’t jump to conclusions. You’ve pissed off a lot of people lately, some of them pretty dangerous. Although, I’ll grant you the Syndicate’s our best suspect.”
“Get everything you have on this. Find out who he is. We’ve already started taking steps to take these guys down, but they may have wised up and decided to branch out of going after just me. And hire a few more guys. I want everyone in our immediate circle protected at all times.”
“I have people on everyone, now. The only reason I did the shooting, is because I went with them earlier, since the guy who’s normally on your sister had something to do.”
“That’s good. I’m serious though, I want everything we have looking into this guy.”
Something caught her attention, and she looked down the street, where the first flashing lights could be seen.
“Go inside. You’ve had enough run-ins with the Department, I’d rather you sat this one out.”
That I could absolutely agree with.
“Yes, Ma’am,” I said, heading back into the house.
I didn’t get out of dealing with them entirely. They had everyone who was in the house come out and give statements. I hadn’t actually seen anything though, so I managed to skate out from having to do more than give my statement. Thankfully, the detective who showed up was friendly with Jawarski, and she was able to skip the whole going down to the station thing.
She had to agree to come down to the station later, to answer follow up questions once they’d done some poking around on who the guy was. He did tell her the plate she got was already in the system as stolen, so she’d been right about that.
I called Jonathan to let him know we had something happening. He admonished me to leave everything to Jawarski, which I’d already done, and said he was on his way. I laid out everything that had happened so far, and he said he’d go to the station with her when she went to answer the questions. He didn’t sound particularly worried, which was a good sign at least. The last thing I wanted was for Jawarski to get locked up, and have to her out of play while we figured out what this latest attack on us was about.
The rest of the night was spent calming Tina and Judy down. Tami was actually pretty Zen about it, at least at the moment. I knew she’d break down later when it was just us, and she was just keeping up a solid front for her sister. Judy, in particular, was pretty rattled by it. Both she and Tina had been kept from all our conflicts with the Syndicate, so far. While they knew there’d been some violence, they’d never seen it or been involved with it. This brought it all home for her, and she wasn’t handling it well.
As Jonathan had predicted, the trip to the police station was straightforward. Everyone agreed it was self-defense, plain and simple. The assistant district attorney who got assigned the case apparently made some noises about vigilantism, but Jawarski had enough friends on the force saying it was clearly self-defense, that he let it drop. After hearing Jonathan’s description of how determined the man had been, even before seeing any of the evidence, to find some kind of charge to hit her with (including pulling her concealed carry permit), I added him to my list of people possibly in the Syndicate’s pocket. I was nearly certain that, had Jawarski not had enough friends on the force, he would have found something to pin on her.
As it was, they declared the shooting self-defense. She also managed to snag a copy of the guy’s file after her interview. The guy was from Dallas, and his file was really long, with dozens of small crimes like purse snatching, drug dealing, and extortion. It had escalated in the last few years, and apparently, he was a person of interest in a killing the previous year, but they couldn’t pin down any direct connection between him and the victim.
Jawarski said, reading between the lines, it looked like the detective on that case though it might have been murder for hire, though they’d never been able to prove it. The thing that worried me was, this was out of character for everything the Syndicate had done before. Every other attempt had been made by someone local, someone they’d had their hooks into. This guy had been brought in from out of town.
It’d be different if he were a specialist, an expert brought in since their local resources hadn’t worked, yet. That didn’t make sense in this case, though. For one, the guy didn’t seem all that great at it. He’d gotten away with the one killing, true; but he’d been convicted a whole lot of times over the years, spending more time in prison than not. It also looked like the hit-man thing was a fairly recent gig for him, which made the ‘imported expert’ idea not a great fit.
Additionally, they didn’t send him after me. He was clearly sent for Judy, he’d gone right for her. He was incompetent, but not so much that he’d mistake me for her. It didn’t make sense that they’d switch from me to people I cared about, and took the trouble of importing talent to do it.
I was still certain that the Syndicate was behind it, but I also knew I was missing something.
And that bothered me.
Days slipped by and nothing happened. I’d pushed Carter and Jarwarski to put on more staff, specifically investigators instead of bodyguard types. They both said more people wouldn’t solve the problem. Even though their standing policy was to change anyone who came on board, to ensure the people in charge of protecting us weren’t somehow infiltrated by the Syndicate, they were quick to point out that this did not mean we told them what was going on. I was pretty sure they were incredibly vague on the ‘inoculation’ employees for the security company were getting and even more sure that they didn’t understand what they agreed to. That aside, Jawarski and Carter had a point. There was a wide difference between the way the change worked, and the inner workings of my nature and our long-term goals, and why those put us in conflict with the Syndicate.
Carter also said that everything that could be done to find the people behind Josh’s disappearance and the attempted abduction was being done. That I wasn’t sold on. Several weeks had passed since Josh’s disappearance, and we had nothing beyond the brief glimpse of legs, on a fuzzy video. I was worried that the same was happening on the attempt on Judy, and we’d get nowhere on that, and it was making me a pain in the ass to everyone.
I’d already gotten several lectures from the girls, but so far my anger was building at being at the Syndicate’s mercy, who I was surer every day was behind all this. I tried to push Jonathan to get something going on the investigation into them, but he said there wasn’t anything we could do to speed up the FBI. He’d insulated us from the investigation, and the more we pushed them, the more we’d include ourselves in the investigation, which was the last thing we wanted.
So I waited, and stewed.
Saturday morning after I got dressed, I went to find the girls. They’d been getting ready to head to the center. We’d planned on riding down together, with me getting dropped off at the new facilities. It was one of the few places Jawarski was ok with me being at, with only one of the security guys following me. The entire facility was secure, allowing her to go with the girls to the center. That was something I’d insisted on, on the off chance that the Syndicate tried with one of them.
They had their own guards by now; but I didn’t really trust anyone as much as I did Jawarski or Levi, and he had something else to do today.
“Are we ready to go?”
“We’re ready to go,” Zoe said, setting down her backpack and looking at me. “We’ve talked, and we’d prefer if you stayed here today.”