Jen and I waited about ten minutes before her patience ran out. “Come on Max we are going to shake things up a bit.” With that she stood. I followed as she walked calmly out of the door of the interrogation room.
“Where the hell do you think you are going?” a patrol officer asked.
“Sonny, if you want to keep that shiny new badge, you will shut up and listen. My client is not under arrest and obviously the detective is through questioning her, so we are going to dinner. Now get the fuck out of my way,” Jennifer snarled at him.
Once we were out side I said, “Shit Jen, I always wanted to do that. Just get up and walk out of an interrogation. I am gonna have to remember that.” I laughed so hard I almost peed.
Of course, Dawson came running from the bulding before we reached Jen’s car. “Hold on we aren’t finished,” he said.
“Sure we are, if you really had something important to ask, you wouldn’t have left us to stew. Now get out of my way,” Jennifer said reaching for the handle of her car door.
“The FBI wants to talk to you,” Dawson said to me.
“Well, I’m going to walk over to the bank parking lot. Then I am going to get into the van, which is parked there. Then my friends and I are going to the Barbecue pit,” I said.
“Where is that?” he asked.
“It’s Max’s name for Kaplan’s,” Jen informed him as I walked away. “Damn Dawson, get up to speed, if you want to run with the big dogs.” I heard her laugh and it was not at all ladylike.
“Did you get it,” I asked Earl when I was inside Lucas’s van.
“Oh yeah, so Short Eyes Smiley is dead?” he asked with a strange pleasure in his voice.
“Killed with is pants down, how appropriate is that?” I asked but nobody answered.
“So Lucas drive to the Pit and I’ll buy dinner for everyone,” I suggested.
“Who is everyone?” he asked.
“I’m not sure just yet, but they should start rolling in soon.” I smiled at the the thought. Life was good when then adrenalin pumped.
I had the double barbecue plate, with the iced tea that was so sweet it hurt my teeth. “Damn this is good stuff,” Earl said as he crammed a hush puppy into his mouth.
“Food always tastes better after something big happens,” I suggested.
“So who wants to talk to you now,” Lucas asked.
“Some people to help us stay alive I hope. Lucas how do you feel about your boring life now that you have made it onto an international gang’s hit list?” I asked with a laugh.
“The old life doesn’t look so bad from here,” he said almost seriously.
“How about you Earl, they might not know about you yet, but they will soon enough I imagine. So do you want to leave before you make it onto their dead pool list?”
“Do I look like Willy to you?” he asked with a grin.
“No you look like the guy I had to pull our of a bar fight,” I said.
“Damn right, we make a good team,” he said.
“So, me saving your ass makes us a team,” I said with a laugh.
“Hey, what are friends for?” he asked.
“Hello guys,” the slightly more than a teenage girl said.
“Hello, and yes I would like some more tea,” I said handing her my glass.
“Very funny Ms Stone, I am special agent Morris with the FBI,” she said.
“I have two questions for you Ms. Morris. First of all; if all the FBI people are called Special Agent, can any of them them be really special. Two; Since Special Agents never go anywhere alone, not even to the bathroom, where is the rest of your pack?” I asked.
“Come on in guys, we have been busted,” she said into her sleeve.
“You might as well drag up a booth and have dinner,” I said.
“Sure, why not but we do need to talk.” She said.
“Not without my lawyer, we don’t.” I smiled pretty.
“You seem to know a lot about the legal system, so you should know that once you invoke your right to counsel, nothing you say to me without her present is admissible in court. We just want to know who, where, and what to look at.” she said.
“And I want another glass of iced tea. So either go get me one, or sit down and have dinner with us. The waitress will not come back, until you do.” I was still forcing the smile. I was pretty sure that the best thing to do with the FBI was to ignore them, if possible, and stall them if not.
There were six dinners on my bill and it still was under fifty dollars. I had to admit that it was a good deal. I paid the bill, then walked into the parking lot, where I was ambushed in a non lethal way.
“Okay we need to talk,” Special agent Morris said. Her two partners were men and older, so I was a little surprised to see her doing the talking.
“Do we really, why is that?” I asked.
“You called the office in DC and gave one of our agents a tip. That tip seems to have been a good one. Now we want to follow up on it.”
“Well, I’m not sure what you can do. Riverview Development Company is in the wind, and Smiley is in the morgue. Seems that whatever info I had is useless now.” I said it continuing to smile.
“That may be true, but these were Tong and they are targeting you for death. That puts you in great danger,” she said.
“Not to mention a great piece of meat for the trap. If I’m going to be bait Morris, I am going to build the trap. You probably need to take your pack here and go on back to the office. I take people who try to kill me personal. I also figure stopping them is my responsibility.” I said.
“Even if we can do it better. Cooperate and we will put you into witness protection.” she suggested.
“I’ll take my chances in a war with the tong. If everyone I can testify about is neutralized, then they have no more business with me.” I felt like that made for perfect logic.
“If you are talking about murder, I will personally see you in prison,” she said.
“I have all this on tape, and I’m almost positive, even without reviewing the tape, that I did not mention murder. So for no reason at all you just threatened me. That wasn’t nice at all.” I said it as I opened the van’s passenger side front door.
She looked furious standing with her two other, not so special, agents as we drove away. “If the Harvard Grad Chink is really in the wind, I think we have a little time. But we have to move on it now. The apartments aren’t safe, that is for sure. Between the two of you I’m sure you can secure anyplace gadget wise,” I said. “So we need a place to use as a base of operations.”
We sat around my apartment racking our brains. Well Earl didn’t. He didn’t know anything about the area. We talked about everything from cabins in the woods to closed furniture plants.
“You know Maxine the obvious place is my office,” Lucas said to me. “It has brick and concrete black walls that are almost a foot thick. The ceiling joists are steel and the deck over that is also steel. The tar and gravel are just there to keep the rain out,” That building was built as a service station in the fifties. It was meant to withstand a lot of stress in case the pumps went up.” Lucas suggested.
“I know it was built back in the days of real construction materials. But do you think Ed will sell it to me?” I asked.
“I think that is the only reason he hasn’t already retired. He wants you to ask for him to sell, so he has an excuse to get out of the business.” Lucas said.
“What about his bail business?” I asked.
“I have been writing most of it. Yeah it’s with Ed’s name and finances, but I have been doing the actually writing for him. He doesn’t like to drive at night any more.” Lucas suggested.
I refilled my coffee cup and began walking in circles around the apartment thinking. I knew Lucas and Earl could wire it up for cameras, but that big ass parking lot scared the crap out of me. I knew how to secure it, but I doubted that the city of Aster would approve of blast walls and concrete check points.
“Dial Ed’s number and hand me the phone,” I said to Lucas.
“Ed,” I said when he answered. “It’s me Maxine and I’m in deep shit, as usual. I need you to help me out again. This time I need a place to hole up. Would you sell me your office building. I know it’s a terrible inconvenience, but I really have nowhere else to turn.” I said lying only a little bit.
“Maxine, I hardly ever go in there anymore. The place is yours for tax value whatever that is,” he said.
“Done, I’ll have Jen do the papers tomorrow. In the meantime I’ll try to keep it from getting blown up.”
“Hell don’t worry about that, I have great insurance.” he said.
I was just about to draw up a defense plan when Earl said, “We got company, lots of it.”
I looked at the monitor and saw two black SUVs pull up. They were stopped about a millisecond when men began to pour out. They wore black utilities, black flack jackets, and Starwars helmets. “Not to worry Earl that’s the fucking calvary.” I said laughing.
I popped the gates at the same time the older man pushed the button. He came in with two younger men. All of them were armed to the teeth. I greeted them at the door with the riot length Winchester 12 gauge pump shotgun with hammer. I bought it surplus from the federal prison system. They swore it had been used on the rock, but I doubted it. Still it made a great story.
“You are backlit Stone, you know better,” the older man said.
“And you would be?” I asked. Everybody had their weapons lowered, but it was still just a moment from world war 3.
“Admiral Thompson retired,” he said smiling. “And you have to be that skinny bitch with hardly any hair Martin calls Max.”
“So you took over Swamp Thing after their fall from grace?” I asked.
“Temporary setback I assure you. Is this your HQ?’ he asked.
“For tonight, then we are going to set up a more secure one. I have been rather too busy to do anything until now.” I said.
“So I heard. I also heard you told the FBI to stick their WitPro up their ass. It seems you know as long as these assholes are alive, you are in danger.” the Admiral said.
“Yeah, but I didn’t plan to start a war,” I replied looking around at the ten armed men.
“I have a few more enemies than you do Max. They are for me as well as you. I want to see your plan, then I can see where we can help. I don’t care for foreign governments operating on our soil. Don’t kid yourself, nobody does anything in China that the government doesn’t know about.” he informed me.
“I don’t give a rats ass who they are. I want to eliminate the ones to whom I am a threat. I figure that way I can remove the threat to me and Lucas.” I said.
“That makes perfect sense. It is the only thing that will save you. Get them all and get them first, then there is no advantage to eliminating you and your friend.” the Admiral said nodding. “So lets make a plan, then I will be leaving.” he said.
“About Martin?” I asked.
“He can’t get back for this one. I am sorry Max, he speaks very highly of you. You might have saved his life. I know you saved his career. Before you and he worked together, he was so involved in the, now of it all, that he had lost sight of the end game. You reminded him of that and it saved his career at least.”
“I’m glad, because there is no doubt he saved my life,” I said remembering the red mist.