Frank and Marka head out to run errands. Clark stops them before they go to Marka’s car, telling them it might not be safe for them to use. Instead, he’s ordered another car for them, courtesy of the government.
The car arrived a short time later. The driver pulled up to the backdoor of the blue house. Shay was inside, riding shotgun. Frank and Marka got in back with their laundry.
“While we’re out, let’s buzz by your house,” Shay said.
“What did the guys find out?”
“We’ll talk about it when we get there.”
They drove in silence. Marka enjoyed the view as they headed into the country to Frank’s house. The day had turned chilly, the sky lowering with the promise of stormy weather. Frank couldn’t suppress a shiver when he saw the yellow crime scene tape around his house.
James met them at the end of the driveway. He took down the tape and allowed them through, putting it up behind them. He opened Frank’s door when the car stopped.
“Sorry, man. It’s still kind of a mess inside. Me and the guys straightened up some after forensics finished, but it’s gonna take a lot of doing.”
“My suits okay?”
James wrinkled his nose. “Kinda. Some of ’em.” He led the way to the door, opening a police security lock. He ushered them through, nodding to Marka as she walked inside.
It was chilly in the house and smelled damp. Frank checked the thermostat and saw that the system was turned off. Instead of turning it on, he assumed there was a reason for it and left it alone.
“Sorry it’s so cold in here, babe.”
“We did that as a precaution,” James said. “Sometimes incendiary devices are put on the heat system,” he explained to Marka. “We had Shay’s men go over it when they were here. They gave it the okay.”
“I’ll have it checked again before I turn it back on. If it’s been sitting here without anyone watching.”
“We’ve been watching,” Shay replied. “But it’s better to have the boys go over it again.”
Frank tried to ignore the devastation that had once been his cozy home. The walkways were clear, items piled on chairs and tables, getting the worst off the floor. His bedroom was almost as big a mess as his office. Shirts in an array of colors lay shredded in heaps. His ties were strewn about the floor and furniture, scattered, but intact. His suits…!
Still on hangers, the pockets had been ripped from the jackets, the sleeves dangling by threads. His pant pockets were turned out, the hems in the cuffs slit with a sharp knife. Nothing had escaped the destruction.
Frank stopped moving, eyes wide. He’d seen dismembered bodies, people shot to hell, scattered body parts—nothing hit him as hard as seeing his tattered wardrobe. His hands shook as he tried to get himself under control. He was terrified beyond belief by this vicious act. It was targeted, personal.
Marka held him close. “We’ll get new suits,” she whispered.
Frank nodded. He felt vulnerable, like he had a target on his back. The urge to cover the windows and hide was strong. Fighting it, he walked into the kitchen, holding Marka’s hand.
James thumped him on the back, pulling him into a man hug. Frank closed his eyes, holding his friend tightly. The fear that had encompassed him moments before, eased a little.
“We’ll get through this, brother. The Four Fucking Musketeers stand together.”
Frank chuckled, ruffling James’ hair. “Thanks.”
They drank their coffee in the living room. Marka could see that someone had cleaned up. Shay handed them each a cup of coffee. Frank accepted his wordlessly.
“So, about the guy in the ravine,” Marka began.
Shay glanced at James.
“He can hear anything you want to tell me. I’ve known him all my life,” Frank stated.
“You were right, Marka. He was a spook. Elizabeth Tynan, my confidential aid, confirmed it today.” Shay smirked, winking at her over his cup of coffee. “He wasn’t one of ours,” he added quickly. “We’re not entirely sure whose. . . .”
“By that, he means he’s not at liberty to say whose,” Frank translated. “He knows or has a good idea.”
“In any case,” Shay tread on Frank’s words. “We’re confident. . . .”
“He was looking for evidence about the day Clay died,” Marka finished.
“Dammit, can’t I complete a sentence?” Shay’s face got red. He was ready to kick up a real fuss. “Yes. That’s exactly what they were after.”
“Why would I keep anything like that on a home computer? That’s insane.”
“They don’t know you like I do.”
“Maybe they thought they could hack your Carbonite account from your home system,” James offered.
“They’d need someone really good just to get by my login passwords. Nothing can be accessed without them and I don’t write them down anywhere.”
“How do you remember all that?” Marka asked. “I can barely remember a phone number.”
“I’ve always had a good mind for numbers. I can remember them after seeing or hearing them once. Never needed paper to get a girl’s number, just had her whisper huskily in my ear.” He leaned over and kissed Marka, totally ignoring the others.
© Dellani Oakes