Chapter 4: Intro to Jake
The music ended. Women shuffled out of the club, and Jenny had to squirm through them to get in the door. She heard snatches of conversation as they passed.
“I need to change my underwear,” one said.
“I need to change my pants,” her friend answered.
“He was better last night.”
A bouncer took Jenny by the elbow, surprising her. “The show’s already over,” he said. Jenny moved her elbow down and parried his wrist away with her forearm. In the same motion she reached into her bag and pulled out her badge. “FBI. I need to see Jacob Mayberry immediately.”
“Is that right, missy?” He had holes where two of his front teeth used to jut out from his lower jaw. There was a space, then a tooth, then a space.
“I need to meet Mr. Mayberry,” she said. She tried not to stare at the gaps.
He grinned. “There are two tables in line before you. Two-drink minimum, twenty a drink.”
“You have to buy two drinks, one for him, one for you. Twenty bucks for each drink he drinks. You can buy him more drinks if you want more time with him, but once he’s done drinking, he moves on. You’re third on the list.”
Jenny studied the bouncer. “You go tell him a Special Agent from the FBI needs to talk to him,” she said.
“Lady, we’ve had cops, a federal marshal - we even had a woman from the ATF here. They all paid. You want to talk to him, you give me twenty and I put you on the list.”
“I’m with an antiterrorism task force.”
“That’s a new twist, but it ain’t twenty bones.” He held his hand out.
(Jenny was used to being messed with, even with the badge. She was beautiful and petite, with straight, straw colored hair she wore parted in the middle or tied into a pony tail. She had green eyes and large lashes, and fat lips that were deeply red without lipstick. She never wore makeup but always looked made up, and the overall effect was vulnerability. Most me were drawn to her, and many wanted to help her or protect her, whether she needed it or not. When a decent man saw Jenny Day, something in him yearned to be the helpful older brother, the sagacious mentor, or the knight in shining armor.
But what SAC Denton thought of as the Meg Ryan Effect worked both ways. Bullies like this bouncer thought they could get away with abusing her.)
She reached into her purse and pulled a twenty out of her wallet. He snatched it from her and walked over to the bar. He came back with a plastic disc the size of her hand with a black “3” stenciled upon it.
“Sit at any table around the stage, Super Agent. Leave that number in plain sight and he’ll get to you when he can.”
This was going too far. People respected cops unless they knew cops. They didn’t know cops unless they were cops, or prosecutors, or lawyers- or criminals.
“Got any warrants outstanding?” asked Jenny.
“Because if I have to wait twenty minutes to see this guy, I might as well walk to my car, radio in your name, and see if you have any warrants.”
“I don‘t give a shit.”
“I’m FBI. That means any warrants in the
“Maybe I could ask him to see you first.”
“Why don‘t you do that?”
“Get my money back, too.”
He nodded and walked over to a table. A shirtless man sat on a stool, drink in hand, talking to three women. Jenny was a gymnast in college, she was used to seeing and being around heavily ripped guys- but there were a couple of guys at every tournament whose bodies seemed designed to make women, to make HER, go nuts. The man at the table was one of them. She had a picture of Jacob Mayberry from his file but the picture had not done him justice.
Her bouncer was talking to him, but Jacob waved him away. The bouncer trotted back.
“He says he’ll be with you as soon as he’s done with this round, ma’am. It’s the best I could do.”
“Thanks,” Jenny said. One of the women took Jacob’s hand and drew something on the back of it with a pen. Jenny stared and was able to see it was a large black heart. Another woman took the hand and licked it, then rubbed the heart out with her thumbs. Jenny realized she was ogling Jake..
She went to the bar for a Diet Sprite. When she turned around Jake was right behind her.
“You wanted to see me?” he asked.
She flushed and looked at the floor, then up at him again. ‘Put your fucking clothes on,’ she thought. He wasn’t naked, he was wearing surfer shorts, but the effect was nakedness. He had the most beautiful skin she’d ever seen. Health, sex, exuded out of him. “Jenny Day,” she said, offering her right hand. “FBI.”
He left the hand there. “What do you want?”
She looked away and back at him again. He had the blackest eyes she’d ever seen. She could not tell the pupil from the iris.
“An hour of your time. It’s important.”
“It is important to you. Money’s important to me, and you’re as good as taking it out of my pocket.” He motioned to the room full of tables with women waiting for him.
Jenny looked at the room for a second but her eyes went back to him on their own. This was ridiculous. She could not keep her eyes off him for more than a few moments, but then she couldn't look at him for more than a few seconds before looking away in shame.
“Look, Mr. May-
“I don’t have any fucking warrants any fucking where. Fuck off.”
“Wait!” Jenny pulled an envelope out of her bag. “These are your parents, Mr. Mayberry. Your biological parents. Don’t you want to know who they are?” She held it out to him and pulled it away when he reached for it. Jacob’s adopted mother, who had raised him since he was an infant, had died less than a year ago. This was her trump card. “Are you going to sit down and talk to me, or what?”
He stared into her eyes more directly than anyone ever had. She looked away and looked back and he was still staring at her the same way. She tried to hold his gaze but there was something dangerous about him. She had crossed a line she didn’t know about. She felt he could attack her right now, and maybe kill her with his bare hands, before anyone could stop him. He wouldn’t care about the consequences. There was no future and no past in the black of those eyes.
“You’ve made a mistake,” he said. She nodded and quickly walked out of the club.
Chapter 5: Kestine Kills Rodney
Ahmad and Omar were students from
They handcuffed Rodney, clipped a twenty-foot length of chain to the left cuff, then slapped him awake. Professor Kestine had ordered them to make Rodney’s death quick and painless, but she was just a woman, and she would never know how Rodney had been killed. Kestine should have known better. They had been sent to assist her because they were without conscience, because they would not balk at mass murder.
A few miles outside of
They circled the spot where they’d dumped the chum for half an hour, then pulled Rodney back into the boat. He thought it was a reprieve, that they wanted to question him or to warn him, but Ahmad wordlessly cut inch-deep gashes from the big toes to the heels of each of Rodney’s feet and dumped him back into the water.
Ten minutes later there was a strike, quickly followed by another, and another, and another. Ahmad jerked the chain in and out while Omar gunned the engine to prolong the chase, wildly swinging the zodiac back and forth, until Rodney died. Ahmad pulled the handcuffs back into the boat and they high-fived and headed for shore.
Chapter 6: The Amphitheater
Jenny found him on the rim of
She slid closer and said “I want to start over. There are pictures of your parents in there.” Jenny was cold despite her heavy skirt, the same color as the envelope, and white button-down shirt. Jake chewed and watched the protest. He wore surf shorts and a white tank top, but didn’t appear cold. Jenny noticed the thick vein along the ridge of his bicep.
“There’s no catch,” she said. “Even if you just decide to ignore me all day, I still want you to know- this is my way of apologizing.” She decided that was all she was going to say. She’d just sit and freeze. She looked down at the war protest.
Minister Farazee was speaking to a crowd of about seventy. Jenny’s mind automatically catalogued the groups she could identify from their costumes or signs: Black Muslims, Arab League, Anarchists and Communists. The four groups represented about half the people there. She guessed the rest of the people were militant Greens, pacifists, and the curious or lost looking for a cause. She supposed there might be as many as three FBI agents in the crowd as well, keeping tabs, getting names, seeing which groups were talking to whom. She didn’t try to spot anyone. If an agent she knew was down there, she didn’t want to know about it. She couldn’t slip, and possibly break someone’s cover, if she didn’t know.
Minister Farazee seemed to be a numerologist:
“Now how many letters are in the name Bush? Four. And we all know the Mandarin, that is the Chinese, word for four is phat. And the Chinese word for death is also phat. And what happened to the Muslim Chinese, in their own country, after 9-11? The Chinese killed them! That is, put to phat, to four, to Bush. What’s 9 plus 11? Twenty. What’s twenty divided by 5000? Point zero zero zero four, which is phat, which is death, which is four, which is Bush, but a point zero zero zero Bush. In other words, a junior Bush. Four times removed from the Bush that was Hitler’s ally! George Bush Junior! Follow me now!”
Minister Frazee’s supporters were interjecting cheers between each of his sentences. The Anarchists, Communists, and Arab-Leaguers were just waiting their turn. Some looked puzzled.
“Are you a Mormon?” asked Jake.
“You dress like you’re Mormon.”
“Yes. What’s the difference?”
“I admire Mormons. I was never able to seduce a Mormon. Are you a virgin?”
“You’re a real jerk.” She couldn’t help saying it. She realized she was playing with the cross she wore under her shirt and made herself stop
“A jerk? Golly gee whillikers you‘re hurting my feelings. What’s it going to cost me? Don‘t tell me it‘s for free. That just means it costs more.”
At first Jenny thought he’d propositioned her. Then she realized he wanted to know who his mother was. She felt stupid and relieved, and disappointed, all at once.
She dug back for the line she’d come up with when she’d first thought to approach him.
“The whole US of A? I feel really special.”
“It’s because of who your mother is. There’s no obligation for opening that, but maybe you’ll listen to what I have to say. Then maybe you’ll want to help us.”
“Maybe you’ll suck my dick, too, but I doubt it.” He picked up the folder.
It was the casual delivery, so offhand, that wounded her. She turned so he couldn’t see her expression. Jenny’s belief in an omnipotent God who cared didn’t deal well with the existence of casual assholes like Jake. Evil existed to be overcome. It made sense. But the casual assholes weren’t evil- they were like a side-effect of free will. There was nothing noble about fighting them, nothing to fight, really, yet they caused pain.
She turned back. Jake was staring at a picture of his father. His father was 25 when the picture was taken, and the resemblance to Jake was startling and obvious. The background was a Mosque.
“Is my father a fucking Arab?” Jake asked.
“You didn’t know you’re Arab? You kind of look Arab. I mean your hair, your skin.”
“I knew I wasn’t white. I thought I was Native American. Jesus Christ.”
“Does it matter?”
“I’ve got this past in my head. I thought- I never thought I would know the truth so my dad and I made one up. Where is he?”
“I can’t tell you. I’m sorry.”
“Why does he look so young here? Couldn’t you get a more recent picture?”
“I can’t tell you why. I’m stretching the rules by showing you those pictures at all, Jake.” Jenny was consciously using Jake rather than Mr. Mayberry. And she intended to use it a lot. Saying his first name would create a sense of familiarity.
He took another picture from the file.
“Is she my biological mother?”
“Yes. That one is recent. It was taken two days ago.”
“She looks like a hippie. She’s younger than I thought she’d be.”
“She was nineteen when she had you.”
“Is that why she gave me up?”
“I have a lot of information about both of them, but I don’t know that. You could ask her yourself.”
“Except you won’t tell me her fucking name unless I help you, right?”
“You just have to get us legal access to her house. She just has to invite you and I into her house.”
“I can’t tell you. But I know why and it is important. And it isn’t something she’s done. We’re not trying to prosecute her for something. We’re trying to stop her from doing something terrible. I swear on my life that it is important, Jake. Look, I am a Mormon. I am a virgin, okay? And I swear to God that it is important.”
“You want me to introduce myself to her so you can spy on her?”
“We have to know what she’s doing. It might be nothing, but we have to be proactive, and this could be that one real threat. If it is nothing, I promise you your mother will never know you helped us. She’ll never know how you found her. In fact,it would be illegal for you to tell her.”
“That is one hell of a story.”
“It’s the truth.”
“I know you believe that. But that doesn’t mean anything. I’m not buying it.”
“I’m not selling anything, Jake.”
Jake laughed. “You’re just like I used to be. You’re earnest- I mean you practically drip sincerity. That’s the kind of person everybody cares about. And I believe you believe what you’re telling me. But the fact that they send someone like you to ask for something doesn’t mean they are like you. In fact it makes them worse still. You’re believing them doesn’t make them honest.”
Jenny opened her mouth to reply but could not find an argument. Nothing she said would matter because he had the inside information about the evil nature of “them” – whoever “they” supposedly were, and Jenny did not. At least Jake considered her naïve, one of “their” pawns, rather than evil, and one of “them” herself.
“That is-” she stopped herself, not wanting to be confrontational, but could not think of anything else to say. “Don’t take this the wrong way, okay? That’s an asshole argument, Jake. That’s for kooks and people who are, like, rotten inside.”
“Well, you can think I’m an asshole all you want,” said Jake. “I’d rather be an asshole than help the people you work for. You don’t know because you haven’t been where I’ve been, or done what I’ve done. Okay?”
“Okay.” She only said it because he had paused and wanted her to answer. But that answer wasn’t good enough for him.
“It isn’t fucking okay. I’ve walked in your shoes. You haven’t walked in mine. And you’re the one doing something wrong. You’re the one who’s messed up. You’re just too stupid-” he took a deep breath and calmed himself. Then he continued in a more normal tone. “You’re not stupid. You’re innocent because you’re too inexperienced. And you won’t know until it is too late. I’m sorry, but I won’t help you. I won’t. I want to meet my biological mother, but not so I can betray her. I mean that’s ridiculous.”
“I can make you an offer,” Jenny said. “We can get you a grant that pays full tuition, plus room and board.”
“I don’t need that. I probably take home double what you do.”
“Hear me out, Jake. I’m talking about four full years, plus grad school if you opt for that. You would have to maintain a C average. That‘s it. Do you like being a stripper?”
“No. But I can’t trust you people in the first place. How do I know you wouldn’t change your mind after I did what you wanted?”
“Get a lawyer and we’ll draw up a contract.”
“You’re the Federal government. You have all the guns. You don’t have to abide by a contract.”
“You think we’re going to ‘rub you out’ to save money?”
“’Oh please?’ You think that’s what those kids burning to death were saying? You think that’s what that mother thought when she got sniped for holding a baby to her chest? You know what I’ve fucking done for you people? Even if you offered me cash, a million dollars, I would say no. Because you could freeze it. You could claim I was a drug dealer and confiscate it without even taking me to trial. You can’t be trusted.”
“If you really believed that you would do anything I asked because you would be scared. If we’re so evil we’d ruin your life for not obeying us. You can’t have it both ways.”
“I can, though. Because I know you can’t make me do it. You can audit me, claim I’m a drug dealer and take all my money, throw me in prison, send me to
Jake stood and walked away.
An anarchist was talking about how