tagRomanceThe Lady in Blue Ch. 16

The Lady in Blue Ch. 16


Chapter Sixteen: Fighting back.

Lisa's point of view

After we finished eating and putting the house back in order, we stepped out the back door. Hawk took one of my mom's light jackets to cover her shoulder holster.

"I think we need to stick together," Hawk said. "They know who we are and have shown no hesitation at trying to kill us - publicly. Now we have your boss after us, too, Lisa. We have two threads to pull on. Him and the mysterious bomber. Since we know him, I think we should start there. The guy that stole the bomb equipment will fall if we can flip the rest."

"But, Hawk, he's at work," I protested. "We'll never get to him right now and what about the disk?"

"I didn't see a computer around here, so we'll have to look at it when we can find one we can use. Is your boss married?" Hawk asked.

I shook my head. "He was, but his wife passed away a few years back. No kids. He's a fairly young guy for that position. He's in his forties."

"Then let's go make ourselves useful and dig up some dirt on him. He's not afraid to break the law to get us, so we'll have to break it to get him. We need to get into his house," Hawk said firmly.

I shook my head. "He lives in a secure community. So, we'd have to get past the front desk. Anything we find will be inadmissible in court, so how can that help us?"

"We'll figure out a way to do that later," Hawk said confidently. "First, we need a distraction. Let me look the place over and see what I can come up with. He's the only member of the conspiracy that we've identified, so let's take the fight to him." Then she grinned. "Yah know, information turned over to the authorities by an anonymous source is admissible, so we'll get it and turn it over to someone we can trust with no lead back to us."

I nodded reluctantly. "Okay, I suppose you're right. It's still so hard to believe. Like a bad dream, you know. In any case, since they're looking for you, we need to leave the bike here. The police may pick you out by it. We shouldn't take Ted's car either for the same reason. Mom's car is in the garage, so we'll switch Ted's for it."

"I thought you said she wrecked it," Ted said.

I nodded. "She did. I guess I should have said it's Dad's old car. It's a sweet ride. I give it a spin every once in a while just to make sure it keeps working. Come on."

Hawk scowled, but nodded. "Fine. I don't have my jacket anyway."

When I opened the garage, Ted whistled at the bright cherry red, vintage '68 Mustang. "Yeah, we'll be inconspicuous in that. It doesn't have dual-exhaust glass-packs does it?" he asked, almost drooling.

I smiled. "No, silly! Dad wanted it pristine and didn't go for the noise factor in his muscle car," I chided. "He always said this was his walk on the wild side. He told me to watch out for Mom, because all the guys would come sniffing around his baby and seduce Mom to get close to it. He was such a card."

Hawk laughed and nodded. "If I can't ride my hog, this will do."

After swapping the cars, and putting Hawk's bike into the garage, we drove back into Galveston and ducked off the main lanes as quickly as we could. Best to take as few chances as possible when avoiding the police. I drove to the building - a high-rise of secure condos. No external fire escapes here and no access to the first floor except the main entrance.

"He lives on the fifth floor, condo 502," I said. "That means getting past the front desk. The doorman will see us as soon as we come in and he's not in the habit of letting people in without the go ahead of the residents."

Hawk climbed out of the car, giving the building a good look. Then she smiled. "There's our ticket in. Come on."

Hawk jogged across the parking lot to a car that had just pulled up. A little old lady climbed out stiffly and was digging at the grocery bags in the back seat. "Ma'am, let us help you carry those in," Hawk said.

The woman peered suspiciously at Hawk. "I really shouldn't let strangers help me into my apartment."

I pulled out my District Attorney's ID and badge. "I'm an officer of the court, ma'am. Does that help?"

The old woman nodded and smiled. "Yes, it does. Ya'll are so sweet. You know, you have to be so careful these days, especially as you get on in years. It's good to see nice young people again."

"We're happy to help you, ma'am," Ted assured her. "Let us carry these up for you and then we can go visit our friends."

As a group, we carried the woman's groceries in. The uniformed guard at the desk chatted with her as she walked past. Her name was Mrs. Lanier. He didn't give us a second look.

Her condo was on the third floor. It was nice and neat. Very orderly, with pictures and flowers everywhere. We set her bags on the table and politely declined her offer of tea with thanks.

Hawk grinned smugly on the elevator ride up. "It's about time we had some luck swing our way. Remind me to send her some flowers."

The fifth floor looked exactly like the third, pale walls and light blue carpet. Hawk stopped at Zed's door and knocked. I about came out of my skin.

"What are you doing?" I hissed. "There could be someone in there!"

Hawk nodded. "Wouldn't you rather know if someone's home before you broke in?"

It's hard to argue with that logic. When no one answered, Hawk slid what looked like a small kit of screwdrivers from a hidden pouch on her shoulder holster. She opened the kit and I saw an assortment of oddly shaped hooks and picks. She knelt and inserted two into the lock.

"Lock picks? Where did you learn to pick locks?" Ted whispered. "Isn't that kind of an odd skill for a cop?"

"Oh," Hawk said airily, "someone owed me a favor and gave me some lessons. You never know when you might need to go through a locked door."

"Uh, huh," I muttered. "What if there's is an alarm inside?"

Hawk looked up from where she was working. "Then we have four minutes to search before we scram. I doubt there will be, though. This is a secure community."

Thirty seconds of work and the lock clicked. "Who's your Daddy?" Hawk exclaimed. She opened the door and there was no alarm. "Told you! Now, don't touch anything and leave things where they are. We don't want him knowing we were here."

"Wipe the doorknob down," I said, digging the last three pairs of gloves out from my purse, "and put these on."

"Ooooo!" Hawk squealed. "Now we're talking! We could have another career ahead of us!"

We all put on gloves and split up. Ted took the front room, I took the bedroom, and Hawk took the office.

This condo was decorated much more lavishly than Mrs. Lanier's. Zed had to have sunk some serious money into this place for such cushy digs. The living room furniture was a light cream leather over a deep-pile white carpet. Tasteful art decorated the walls and nooks. He was doing pretty well for himself.

The bedroom was done in dark blue. A neatly made king sized bed anchored the room. The closet was filled with expensive suits - a lot of them. Also, a fair amount of hunting gear and camouflage outfits.

The dresser had more clothes and no major revelations. The bookcase was a treasure trove, though. On top was a group picture of about a dozen men and one woman, all in camouflage gear with rifles. Automatic rifles. I looked closely and spotted Zed. I also spotted the man that had tried to kill us.

The bookshelf was stuffed with books. Catchy titles like Defrauding America, Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty, Liberty Under Siege, The Waco Whitewash, It Did Happen Here: Recollections of Political Repression in America, Microwave Harassment & Mind-Control Experimentation, Votescam: the Stealing of America, America's Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull & Bones, Conspirators' Hierarchy: The Committee of Three Hundred, Secret Team : The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country, The Militia in 20th Century America: A Symposium, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution and Citizens Militias, A Call for Revolution and The Citizen's Guide to Fighting Government. There were plenty more in that theme.

My stomach did a slow roll. Jesus, Zed was a separatist. How could I have missed it? Did he know Arthur? My blood ran cold. Was my brother part of this? Oh, shit!

I took the picture and went into the office. Hawk was sitting at the desk, rifling through the drawers, looking at papers.

"I found the link," I said. "They're members of a militia."

Hawk took the picture, pulled it close and stared at it. "Shit! I don't believe this! That's Jordan!" She looked up at my face, paling. "Just how fucking deep does this go? Why him? Hell, this guy is a county judge and this woman on the left is the Harris County Auditor. Shit! How the fuck do we unravel this? It's like a takeover from within!"

I wasn't sure I wanted to know, but I had to ask. "Hawk, is the bomber in this picture?"

Hawk looked closely and shook her head. "No. No one that young. These folks are all forty or over. Why?"

I sat on the edge of the desk with a sigh. "Because my idiot brother is into the same crap and I'm praying it wasn't him. I should have shown you his picture at Mom's house, but I didn't think about it."

Her eyes narrowed. "So, killing Calvin was the primary objective and you were just a bonus? That seems a little - I don't know - convenient."

"He'd be the perfect recruit for this," I muttered. "The bastard doesn't give a rat's ass for anyone but himself and his cause. Killing me would also give him the money he thinks my mother has. I wouldn't be at all surprised if she was next on his kill list. That could have been him with the gun at the vineyard, too."

"We need to find out who the old man is," Hawk said. "He's the leader. We don't have any proof of anything illegal with these people, yet, but we have some leads to go on. Help me look through the desk and let's get some dirt on them."

Ted came in after about ten more minutes. "Nothing out there that makes me suspicious. How're we doing in here?"

"The papers are just normal business crap. No computer, though there's a cable for one here. I'd bet there's a laptop around somewhere," Hawk said. "He may've cleaned up because we're close and he's worried. We can't get to the DA, but I bet we can turn up your brother, if he's part of this."

"Arthur? You think he's part of this?" Ted asked. "He called your cell phone, so that gives us a number for him," Ted said. "Why don't we make him come to us? We've been dancing to their tune. Let's get one of them to do a jig for us."

Hawk thought about that and slowly nodded. "That's not bad, but what's to keep him from bringing friends? Or just not coming?"

I rubbed my temples with my fingertips. "It would have to appeal to his greed," I said. "He won't want to share. I'll tell him that I'm tired of fighting and want to pay him off. I don't think he'd bring someone who might take money from him."

"Where would be a good place to catch him and what'll we do when we have him?" Ted asked.

Hawk shrugged. "Sweat the truth out of him. Get names and what they're doing, that kind of stuff. If he won't talk, or doesn't know, I'll just have to improvise, but I bet I can squeeze the juicy details he has from him. As for a place, why not your mother's, Lisa? It's a place he'll be familiar with and won't feel scared to come to."

I nodded. "That's fine, but we really should check out the disk first. It may save us all the headache."

Hawk stood up. "I know a place that's out of the way. The owner has a computer we can use." She sighed. "That, and I'd rather take my lumps now rather than later."

"What does that mean?" Ted asked.

"The Cat's Paw is a lesbian bar in the Montrose area," Hawk said. "I know the owner and she'll let me use her computer. The trick will be getting in and out without me getting into a fist fight with one of the regular's, if they've already heard the rumors. I don't think some of them will appreciate my diversity, if you know what I mean."

"You know what? Fuck them," I said, hugging her. "If they're so narrow-minded, I'll kick their ass. Let's get out of here. Take the picture or leave it?"

Hawk frowned. "I'd rather not let him know we were here, but we should take it. He may not notice it's missing for quite a bit."

We made one last walkthrough to be sure we left nothing out of place and left with Hawk locking the door behind us. The guard didn't even look up as we walked out.

Having made a clean getaway, we drove back into Houston to the Montrose area. It's the haven of the artistic types and the gay and lesbian community. A good number of buildings had murals and wall art. Very trendy, I'm sure. There was one wall in particular that caught my eye. The classic gay men's bar scene with all the fixings. Even a few woodies in the pants and one 'gentleman' in a leather vest and chaps clutching his.

The Cat's Paw looked like any other club on the outside. We parked and walked in. The sun was still over the yardarm, but there were already some regulars there. The place looked normal enough with small tables scattered all around the floor and bar almost in the middle. The jukebox was back by the restrooms. The music playing had a fast beat and I recognized it from the radio but did not know its name or the artist.

The bartender's blonde hair was cut short and spiky. A nice ear stud and some kind of tattoo on her left arm running under the sleeve of her tee shirt with the bar's logo completed her look. I expected only women, but there was one gay male couple, two hetero couples, and what I suspected were a scattering of cross-dressers.

The barkeep waved and smiled. "Hawk! A bit early for you, isn't it?"

Hawk walked up to the bar and smiled. "Charlie! I'm here on business. Mind if I use the computer for a few minutes? It's important."

She nodded and pointed back towards the bathrooms. "You know the way. Who're your friends?"

Hawk pulled Ted and me forward. "This is Ted and Lisa. Good people. Guys, this is Charlie."

Charlie smiled at us. "Pleasure. Welcome to the Kitty."

The office in back was cluttered and the desk was messy. I felt right at home. Charlie's wasn't quite as messy as mine, but it was close. The framed pictures on the wall were all of patrons having a good time.

Hawk parked herself in the chair and leaned forward with a creak of wood. The computer wasn't new, but it served its purpose. No need to have a high-end computer for basic accounting, I suppose. Hawk slid the disk in and began accessing the contents.

"Looks like bank records," Hawk muttered. "Monthly statements for some offshore accounts. Balances run to the millions. Big deposits, all in the last year. The accounts are numbered, so that's no help in getting names, but a forensic accountant can probably trace them back to the owners. This is really damning evidence. Enough to kill for." Hawk smiled. "It won't be quick, but this will probably unravel the plot and those involved. This is more important than the tape they took. You two really brought home the bacon."

Ted leaned over the desk. "Who can we trust giving it to?"

"Kruger," Hawk said without hesitation. "They don't come straighter than him. With the implication that asshole Jordan is involved, he'll make sure this gets done right. All we need to do is get the information into his hands. We'll make copies, of course, and then drop the other into the mail drop at his house. He'll have it in his hands when he gets in tonight."

Hawk typed up a brief note and printed it. Straight and to the point. Samson bombing. She then snagged a blank CD from the spindle and burned a copy, wiping it clean before putting it into a case. She made a color copy of the photo and slid it and the CD into a manila envelope. The originals, she put in the back of one of the drawers of the filing cabinet in another manila envelope she marked with her name.

"Lets go drop this off before we give Junior a call," Hawk said.

Ted held up his hand. "Why are we doing that, if your man can crack this?"

"Because," I said, "you never count on one line of investigation."

"And," Hawk added, "that scum is still after us. They won't take a vacation just because we have the bank statements under investigation. We'll see if we can roll your brother in front of witnesses. Every piece of the pie we can get our hands on will make the case stronger. Arthur may or may not have done the deed, either way I want the bastards behind it. That, and I can't just sit back and let someone else do my job."

"I'm not sure..." Ted started, before a woman in a faded leather jacket burst in. She had short black hair and her dark eyes were flashing with anger.

"You did not! Tell me that it's bullshit, Hawk!" she shouted.

Hawk closed her eyes and sighed. "Why does life have to be so hard?"

"Oh, my god! You did! What the fuck got into your head? You were happy, satisfied." The woman's eyes narrowed. "Is this him?"

"Kate, let it be," Hawk said wearily. "I'm still me, and it's not his fault I just wanted to see what all the screaming was about."

Kate rounded back to Hawk. "You're not the same. Before, you were real, now you're just a player. How could you betray us and take something disgusting like him into bed?" She gestured at Ted.

That riled me up. "Hold on, sister. That's my man and you better back off before this gets ugly."

"I can say whatever the fuck I want. You must not be much of a woman if you can't make up your mind between this pig and a breeder like Hawk," she sneered.

Hawk's eyes flashed. "You bitch," she said, shoving Kate back. "I don't give a rat's ass what your narrow mind thinks, but if you insult my friends I'll kick your fat ass. You better get going before I bust up your face so bad not even your dildo can stand you."

"Ladies," Charlie yelled as she rushed in and grabbed Kate by the collar before the snarling woman could charge Hawk. "I will not have this in my bar. If you want to fight, take it outside."

Kate fumed, but backed off. "This ain't over," she growled and pushed her way past Charlie.

Charlie shook her head and looked at Hawk. "What in the blue blazes was that all about? She came in, talked to Jean for a second and came right back here to fight. Did you hit on her woman?"

Hawk laughed a bit hollowly. "I might be forgiven for that. No, I can't believe you haven't heard yet. I had sex with a man and liked it."

Charlie gave Ted a calculating glance. "Really? Well, if you had a good time, I'm happy for you."

Hawk opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

Charlie shook her head and laughed. "You're such an innocent about some things. Look, Hawk, most people don't really care who you sleep with. Ever since you started coming here, you've been with the hardcore lesbians like Kate. As far as she and her little clique are concerned, you're a traitor."

Hawk nodded. "Most of the people I know will feel that way."

"Bullshit," Charlie said. "That's total bullshit. Most of us would be happy with anything that made you happy." She put a hand on Hawk's shoulder. "When Sharon left, we all felt your pain. But, Sweetie, the signs were there that you were growing apart."

Hawk yanked her shoulder back. "What the hell does that have to do with this," she growled, her voice a mixture of pain and confusion.

"Because, Dear, I see her sometimes. She's still my friend. Most of us don't reject her for wanting a man. I saw it coming. The hints, the drawing back from you. Being with a man doesn't make you a pariah any more than it did her."

"Dammit, Charlie, if you saw it happening why didn't you tell me?" Now there was fury in Hawk's voice.

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