One Way to Stay Out of JailbyRC_of_Doom©
This is a story starring one of my other characters: Sean A.P. Ryan. He's appeared in other stories: "Boys of the Old Brigade," "The Pirate King," "God Hates ..... Superman?" and he made an cameo in "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
The question I wanted to ask was simple: How does a nutcase like this get people to work with him?
The (relatively) Recent Past. LA, California
"Weapons?" asked the bored LAPD desk sergeant.
Officer Shubitz smiled as he lifted a small crate and placed it on the counter. The desk sergeant blinked and straightened. This was about to get interesting. He looked through the crates and started to read out the inventory.
"Two tactical batons, diamond grip. Three .45-caliber handguns, one with sound suppressor. One—" At one object he pulled out, he hesitated. He couldn't tell what that thing in the evidence bag was. "Is this a pen, or a knife?
The prisoner shrugged. "A pen."
The sergeant looked at the prisoner, a shorter fellow,. He was, maybe, 5'6". "Why is it covered in blood?"
There was only the merest flicker of a smile. "Long story."
"Uh huh." The sergeant reached for the tactical batons, and paused, staring at the handle on one of them. "And what is this button on the baton here?"
The prisoner looked at the patrolman who held him. Officer Bussey unlocked the cuffs, and the prisoner made a show of slowly -- very, very slowly -- reaching for the baton.
The sergeant's brows rose at the exaggerated movements. Most guys brought through the station were so confident, they would think nothing of grabbing weapons. But then, the patrolmen watched this prisoner with undue caution. Usually, the officers were big and macho, and they ate Aryan Brotherhood steroid cases for lunch. Yet Bussey and Shubitz treated this one prisoner like unstable explosives, and he wasn't that impressive. He was short, compact; his raven-black hair was combed into a nice, neat business cut, and his attire was business casual.
The eyes were something else, though ... the color of lightning. Literally.
With two fingers, the prisoner dragged both batons toward him. Using only the thumb and forefinger of each hand, he touched the tactical batons pommel to pommel, and twisted them, interlocking them. "The one with the button has a CO2 cartridge for instant extension."
"Into what?" the sergeant asked.
The prisoner rolled his electric-blue eyes. "Into a quarterstaff, duh." He gave another hint of a smile. "Maybe a three-eighths staff."
"Uh huh." He looked over the spread of weapons, and said, "Any more?"
Officer Bussey laughed as he re-cuffed the prisoner. "Isn't that enough?"
The prisoner cleared his throat. "You forgot the stick with the two golf balls."
Officer Shubitz looked into the crate, and nodded. It was yet another bloody mess. "What was this for, anyway?"
"Yawara stick," the prisoner answered. "Also known as a kongo. Look it up."
The prisoner was led to the nearest holding cell. The cell was filled with the refuse typical for LA, and fairly crowded. The only seat was a spot on the center bench, next to another prisoner. Unlike the short Caucasian they were throwing in, the other prisoner was big, black, and uncuffed.
The prisoner stepped inside. "You're not going to unlock me?"
Shubitz smiled. "Do you need to be?"
He laughed. "Probably not. Thanks."
The prisoner sat down next to the black fellow, and ignored the other guests of the LAPD. He looked around, as though the cell was merely a waiting room with bars, and he wondered where the out-of-date magazines were.
The electric-blue eyes drifted, and locked onto the biggest biker in the room. The prisoner smiled at his bench mate, said, "Excuse me, I'll be right back," and wandered over to the biker.
The biker, Jay Ross, arrested for distribution of crystal meth, looked down at the shorter man through his dark sunglasses. He leaned against the prison bars and sneered. "What do you want?"
The cuffed prisoner smiled genially. "I would like you to stop being a bad biker stereotype, get a shave, lose the headband, and wear something not made of leather. But I'll settle for your sunglasses."
Ross growled, flexed his hands, and started to push away from the bars.
The shorter fellow started with a right roundhouse kick to the biker's knee. Ross's leg gave out and he twisted. The other man did not recoil the kick, but set it down just outside the biker's foot. Ross's face was in a perfect position for a left knee to his face, which bounced Ross's head off of the prison bars.
After the disturbance settled down, and the police heard the story of how the short, handcuffed prisoner dropped Ross, the cops looked at each other, rolled their eyes, and moved on.
The prisoner took the fallen sunglasses, broke off the arm, and again sat next to the large black gentleman.
"So," the bigger one began. "What, exactly, are we in for?"
"You, for being a good Samaritan." He paused as he worked the broken arm of the glasses into the cuff lock. "Me, for being very good at what I do."
"Random acts of destruction?" the other asked with a smile.
"Nah. None of them were random."
"Just who the hell are you?"
He paused a moment, then smiled, offering the other prisoner his (now) free hand. "Sean Ryan, of Sean A.P. Ryan & Associates."
His bench mate arched a brow. "You have associates?" he rumbled. "Where were they?"
Sean smiled. "You're here with me, aren't you?"
The other laughed. "Hey, man, I just heard automatic fire and thought that there might be people in trouble."
"Oh, there were."
The eyes went flat. "I didn't think the guys with assault rifles were the ones that needed help."
Sean gave him a smile. "Hey, you should talk, SpecOps boy. You weren't exactly frowning when you needed to beat one of them ... repeatedly, with a crowbar."
"He had just tried to castrate me, beating him felt good ... " The bigger man paused a moment, and lowered his voice. "And what do you mean, SpecOps?"
Sean sighed, leaning in, keeping his voice down. "You disarmed one of them, beat him with his own rifle, and dismantled said rifle so fast, I didn't even see it. You were doing things that impress me, and I know how to kill people twenty ways with a ballpoint. So, what were you? Snake Eater? Ranger? SEAL? Recon?"
He sighed, looked away, and sagged back, relaxing. "No one you heard of. Back end of nowhere."
Sean arched a brow. "Really? And you can do all that? Uh huh, right. So ... Delta."
There was a long silence, when Sean shrugged. "Right. Hush hush, won't tell a soul."
After a long moment, the larger fellow still did not look at Sean, but said, "Edward Murphy. Call me Eddie, and you die."
Sean didn't even smile, but nodded with great solemnity. "Understood."
"So," Edward said, "what were we doing at that building?"
Sean started unlocking the other handcuff with the broken arm of the sunglasses. He didn't even look down at his work, doing it all by feel. "A very bad man who worked there stalked one of my clients in his free time. I thought I could reason with the stalker's boss. When I saw that the stalker's fellow employees all carried Mac-10s and AK-47s, I knew that they were all Very Bad Men. And, I knew if the boss caught wind that one of his men was a stalker, and jeopardizing his operation, the boss wouldn't take it well, and execute the little bugger for me."
Edward frowned. "And in order to do that, you had to start blowing up his industrial-grade equipment?"
"Nah ... I started by taking out his men with a sound-suppressed handgun so I could get close enough to blow up his equipment. As a distraction."
The former Delta Force operator shook his head. "You thought blowing up all of that stuff was just a distraction?"
Sean grinned. "It caught your attention, didn't it?"
Edward studied Sean Ryan a moment. He had grown up listening to his neighbors talk of "crazy white people." The way Sean's eyes glowed with merriment made Edward want to go back to the old neighborhood, and redefine their stereotypes.
"So," Sean continued, "what made you leave They Who Must Not Be Named??"
"What makes you think I left them?" Edward countered.
Sean gave him a "are you kidding me?" glare. "You ran into a building filled with armed men, just because you thought someone needed help against 'men wielding assault rifles.' " Sean gave a deep sigh. "Somehow, I don't think guys like that are dishonorably discharged."
Edward shook his head. "The moment Washington even discussed postponing the war against the Taliban for Ramadan, I turned in my papers."
"That was a while ago," Sean noted.
He sighed. "I know. You'd be surprised how long someone can string out 'just one more mission.' But I was done."
Sean nodded. "Understood." He looked off through the bars, and slipped the handcuffs into a pocket. "Have you ever considered changing your name?"
"Every day. Why?"
"Brian Levine," Sean muttered. "I've always liked that name." He glanced in Edward's direction. "You could do worse."
"I don't look like a Levine," Edward rumbled.
Sean arched a brow. "You look like a Murphy?"
Edward laughed. "Sure, haven't you ever heard of Black Irish?"
"Har. Har." Sean's gaze was still past the bars of the holding cell.
Edward didn't know how to read this, or Sean's sudden silence. "So, what does Sean A.P. Ryan & Associates do? Aside from property damage?"
Sean chuckled. "Oh, property damage isn't in the job description, it's a fringe benefit." He glanced Edward's way. "Protection. Private security. Some people call me a mercenary. I think I prefer 'cleanser of the gene pool.' Don't you?"
"Depends on who's wielding the chlorine."
"That would be me."
Edward chuckled and shook his head. A moment later, he said, "So, where did you get the 'cleanser of the gene pool' line?"
"Deadpool. Marvel Comic book character."
"Why am I not surprised?"
Sean had gone back to staring out the bars again, and Edward followed his gaze. At the other end of the hall, there was a tall woman. And by tall, he meant tall. Edward's height neared two meters, but this woman may have had an inch or two on him. She wasn't as dark as he was; her appearance was more Mariah Carey / Halle Berry, if either one of them played basketball. Her hair was short, stopping at the nape of the neck, and she was dressed in a sharp black suit.
"Oh yeah," Sean said under his breath, "she's Secret Service."
Edward arched a brow. "How can you tell?"
Sean smiled and looked at him. "You really were distracted by the fireworks, weren't you?"
Edward was tempted to once again roll his eyes. "I tend to be focused on the people trying to kill me. Why?"
"You'll see." He stood and moved over to the bars, then tapped on them with the handcuffs. "Excuse me, I think she's here for me."
One of the other prisoners in holding snickered. "You wish, buddy."
The woman glanced his way, nodded, and strode over to holding. Officer Shubitz walked one step ahead of her. Sean smiled, waved, and tossed the cop his handcuffs. "Thanks, I needed the practice." He glanced to the tall woman and said, "Hi."
"Secret Service Agent Athena Marcowitz," she said stiffly, flashing her ID.
"Sean A.P. Ryan. Pleased to meet you. Shall we talk?"
Agent Marcowitz nodded, then looked to Shubitz. "I'd like him in interrogation."
Sean poked his thumb over his shoulder. "Him too."
Athena's eyes followed his gesture. "Why?"
"Because Mr. Levine will not want to stay in this little cage."
Shubitz blinked, looking from one prisoner to the other. "I thought his name was—"
"It is," Sean told him. "But I refuse to employ anyone with a name that could be easily broken down into 'Eddie Murphy.' So I will refer to him as Mr. Levine. He's my associate." He looked at the officer directly. "As of five minutes ago, he is an employee of the firm of Sean A.P. Ryan and Associates." He looked to Athena. "If he is tied up in red tape, someone will find themselves garroted, with the tape."
Edward blinked. He didn't know he had agreed to being a paid member of the "firm." But if this nutcase was willing to go to bat for him with the same dedication as wiping out a warehouse full of men with assault weapons, Edward was not about to complain. He rose from the bench and walked over to stand next to Sean.
Now that Edward was closer to the Secret Service Agent, he noticed she was sort of striking. Well-proportioned for her size, she was feminine, and she might have been good looking, if she only smiled.
Then again, Edward, have you ever seen a Secret Service Agent smile while on duty? he thought.
Athena's gaze shot to him like a knife to the gut. "What are you staring at?"
Edward started. He hadn't noticed that his gaze had lingered. He smiled, trying to cover. "I was trying to count and gauge all of your guns."
Athena's eyebrow elevated just a little. "And?"
"Ankle, bra, and shoulder. A .40, a .357, and a .22 in the ankle."
"And the knife under the shoulder holster," Sean added casually.
The officer looked at the three of them as though they were nuts; Athena and Edward focused that same look at Sean.
"Interview room now, I think," Athena told them.
Once Sean and Edward were seated, Athena laid out photos taken at the scene of the incident. "We finally saw the video tape," she told them. Looking at Sean, she said, "You really were a stuntman, weren't you?"
Sean sighed. "The cops have my union card."
Athena tapped the closed file with the transcript of Sean's statement. "I don't think anyone believed half of this stuff you told the officers on scene. It sounded like a John Woo film."
Sean nodded. "I was in one of those."
She looked at Edward, as if asking if Sean could be serious for a moment, then looked back to the shorter fellow. "Yes, but your story sounded insane for even one of you folks to try."
He grinned. "Thank you, I won awards for crazy stunts."
"I believe it." She slipped out another photo, this one of Sean without a shirt on. "By the way, medics examined you on scene, took photos. That giant scar on your body?"
"Burning Orc suit." He shrugged. "I spent some time in New Zealand."
"I told you I did a John Woo film."
Athena didn't even smile. She looked to Edward. "And what about you? What is your involvement in all this, that Mr. Ryan here would go to bat for you?"
Edward smiled and held up his hands. "Don't look at me, all I did was run towards the screaming."
"After all," Sean interjected, "that's the first law of super-heroics."
Both the Secret Service Agent and the former Delta operative looked at him like he had come from outer space. Sean glanced from one blank face to the to the other. "Masks? Rebekah Hendershot? LA superhero fiction? Ring any bells?" He, frowned, rolled his eyes and muttered, "No one reads anymore."
Athena's attention turned back to Sean -- which was the point of his odd comment. "Okay. Let's talk about your weaponry."
Sean leaned back, his face slipping into a neutral, blank slate. "What about it?"
Edward shifted in his chair. From the moment he had first laid eyes on Sean, he had noticed one thing: a constant expression of amusement. There was the glint in his eye, the constant, slight smile on his lips. Even he could tell that Agent Athena Marcowitz had just touched a nerve. And Edward didn't want to know which nerve endings were connected to Sean Ryan's large, shiny red button. From what he had witnessed thus far, it was probably connected to a nuclear launch code somewhere.
When Sean spoke next, his tone was casual, and his voice softer. "Whatever could you mean?"
Marcowitz pressed the advantage. "Your tactical batons are custom made. The connecting screw-in portion, the CO2 cartridge, and their locking mechanism."
Sean gave a slight grin, though it didn't reassure Edward. It was almost feral. "Someone's been playing with my toys."
Agent Marcowitz nodded. "It took me a minute or two to discover that you had to give the top of the baton a small twist to unlock it. All told, I haven't seen anything like your little toy, Mr. Ryan. And I don't think it would be very hard to track down the man who made it."
"There is a man in Hollywood," Sean said, his voice low, tight, and controlled, "named Mitchell Scholl. Talk to our local, friendly ATF agents, and you'll discover that there are two people parked in front of his house at all times. "
Edward cleared his throat. "What is he, an arms dealer?"
Sean looked at Edward, not even glancing in Athena Marcowitz's direction this time. "Mitchell Scholl has a very illustrious reputation, and a better-looking house, most of it just a very large 'toy' storage facility, for which Mitch is famous throughout Hollywood. There are suggestions he had once worked for the Israeli Jeptha—their equivalent of the army corps of engineers, or the British Q-branch—and there are some that say he'd been working in special effects since before Ray Harryhausen made first-rate claymation movie monsters to work with second-rate actors."
He looked back to the Secret Service Agent. "I like the old man. And if you even consider touching him, I'll be the least of your problems."
Agent Marcowitz didn't even blink. "Threatening me won't help, Mr. Ryan."
He gave a low chuckle. "Who said anything about a threat? When Hollywood went to glorified capguns instead of real guns with blanks, Mitch may have had all of the guns shipped to his personal collection. They're all live, and he makes some of his own rounds. That's why the local ATF is parked in front of his door every hour of every day. And, for the record, his son is the agent in charge of the local ATF office." He gave her a smile that clearly said, So there.
Edward leaned forward, hoping to be let out of this surreal discussion and back to something more normal—like a war zone in the midst of LA. "You said that you saw what Sean did. I didn't think that any crooks like that would leave a security tape lying around. What happened?"
"There was a record," Athena Marcowitz told him. "They wanted to have a record of their employees, in case someone started distributing the money on their own time. That way they could hunt down whoever stole from the company till, and hurt them." She looked to Sean. "The man nearest the burn button is now a lefty."
Sean thought a moment, and blinked. "Oh, was that what the button was for?"
Edward arched a brow. "What button?"
The Secret Service Agent answered. "They had a security tape. They also had it rigged to be burned in the event of a raid by the police."
Sean Ryan shrugged. "When I see someone reaching for a button instead of a gun, I assume the worst. I decided it would be better if he didn't have use of that hand."
She nodded, and tapped a particularly gruesome photo. "Yes, but ... was that done with a fire ax?"
"Hatchet," Sean corrected. "Thrown from a distance of forty feet."
She tapped another photo, with someone else's head crushed in. "And a yawara stick made with golf balls? Really? What, you read too many Modesty Blaise novels growing up?"
Sean frowned. "Of course. I couldn't exactly go by the movies, now could I? They sucked."
"Keep on track, Mr. Ryan," Agent Marcowitz warned. "I want you to walk me through some of this. You told the police that a client's stalker was part of the counterfeiting operation. You discovered his day job, and you decided to 'talk' with his boss, in an effort to see that the stalker was executed in some back alley somewhere."