By Karen Singer
Chapter 39 Part 1 of 3
“Mr. Halifax, are you alright?” his secretary asked as she stood in the doorway to his office and stared at him. As far as she could tell, he was just sitting there behind his desk… staring off into space. He hadn’t seemed to be himself all morning.
“Excuse me?” Joseph Halifax replied as he tried to bring himself back to reality.
“You signed on the wrong line again. That’s twice this morning already! You’ve never done that before!”
Halifax shook his head… trying to clear it somewhat. But it wouldn’t clear more than the murky state it was already in. “Sorry,” he apologized. But the truth was, he didn’t really care that much.
Ten minutes later, he was still staring mindlessly off into space when his secretary returned with fresh papers for him to sign. This time, she stood there and pointed to the line where he was supposed to sign.
“How was your weekend?” she asked after he had finally signed in the right place.
“Disappointing,” he replied.
“She got sick. We had to cut the trip short.” That was his reply, but another part of him was very glad that he had gotten to go home early. His head went spinning again as he – again – remembered all the training she had put him through… again.
“Do you need me to book that cabin for you again next weekend?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Book a different one,” he said. “But only for Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning.”
She wasn’t really surprised by that request. In fact, the only part that did surprise her was that it was for only the one night. She stared at her boss for a moment more. “You really should consider taking the rest of the day off,” she told him. “Maybe you picked up whatever little bug your girlfriend had… because you’re definitely not yourself today!”
But Joseph Halifax’s mind wasn’t focusing on how he was feeling anymore. For some reason, he was thinking about dogs instead. Where could he find out more information about dogs?
FBI Agent Sid Forsyth stared at the stack of papers in his hand. He finished reading another page and slid the paper from his hand to the growing stack on his desk. His bored eyes quickly scanned down the next page where he didn’t see anything that jumped out at him at all… until he saw the name Janice Stokley appear several times. What the hell? What did she have to do with the case they were currently investigating? He quickly looked to the one place on the page that he hadn’t bothered to look at before – the name of the person the financial data was all about – Roger Brinkley! There wasn’t anyone named Roger Brinkley associated with the case they were currently working. But he knew perfectly well that there was a Roger Brinkley associated with Janice Stokley – that Ted Jacobs was still investigating.
So why were Roger Brinkley’s financial reports mixed up with the stuff for their current case? The answer to that was all too easy to deduce. Grabbing only the pages that dealt with Roger Brinkley, he went in search of his partner… who hadn’t bothered to tell him what he had done in the first place!
“Ted!” Sid said as he approached his partner’s desk. “What the hell is this?” He threw the papers down in front of his partner.
“Oh hey! They’re back!” he exclaimed as he grabbed the papers.
“What are they doing in the middle of the other stuff?” Sid asked.
“I needed a way to get Brinkley’s financials without authorization. So I mixed his name in with all the ones for this case.”
“You know how illegal that is!”
“Who cares! Hey, look at this. He’s writing checks to Stokley every week. Doesn’t look like he pays her much though.”
“I noticed that,” Sid admitted as he now leaned over to study the papers with his partner.
“Well, they’re shacking up together in bed, so I guess that might have something to do with it.”
“Huh!” Sid grunted. “Don’t jump to conclusions.”
“I’m not! I know they are.”
“Three bedrooms in that house… and only two are occupied. The third one is holding the cage for their dog. A big dog!”
“How do you know?”
Sid just shook his head. He should have known that his partner would have gone out to the house again and snooped around more. He did his best to put that information out of his head as he studied the data in front of him more closely. “I’m seeing a lot of stuff here, but none of it even suggests anything illegal going on,” he finally noted. “Hey, here’s something odd on the credit card page. This is one of those tourist cabin rentals. Why the hell would Brinkley rent a cabin? He lives right there!”
“Huh! That was is easy,” Ted replied. “He had a big tree fall on his house. Monster tree. From what I saw, he got lucky there wasn’t more damage!”
“Damn!” Sid swore. “I guess that one makes sense too then. Still, I don’t see anything that looks out of line to me at all.”
Jacobs shook his head. “I’m not seeing anything either. I see a couple of bigger checks… like this one from Whittaker… and another one from him too, and a few others in cash that could be payment’s he’s getting from some of those handyman jobs he says he working now.”
“None of which look out of line to me. But what I’m still seeing is someone who’s living pretty close to the vest. All his cards are carrying awfully high balances, and he certainly doesn’t have any money in the bank. But he is managing to just meet his bills – despite having two car payments now. So I guess he’s doing okay for himself.”
Jacobs hated to admit it, but he had to agree. He threw the papers down on his desk in disgust. “I was sure there was going to be something in there!” he declared.
“Not from what I saw,” Forsyth agreed. “So what are you going to do next?”
Jacobs shook his head. “I guess I’m down to checking on some of his friends. I got some names from some license tags the last time I was there. I guess it’s time to pay them a little visit. But quietly… if you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I know,” Forsyth replied. “But will they keep it quiet and not tell him?”
Jacobs shrugged. “Why knows. I guess it could work out for us either way.”
“If… they know anything!”
“Somebody’s got to know something!”
Susan Wu didn’t eat Italian food. She hadn’t been raised on it, and the heavy starches would only put pounds on her body that she worked so hard to keep lean and trim. But she had two men in the restaurant right then that she had sent in to order themselves dinner… and to keep an eye on Jacob Vesper. Chinese men… in an Italian restaurant. It sounded very out of place, but somehow, her families own string of Chinese restaurants often entertained many Italian people. Would anyone notice? Not that she cared. Those men were only there to make sure he didn’t leave by a back door and escape without her noticing.
As she sat in the back seat of her long black limousine, she wasn’t happy to see that the restaurant was as busy as it was. There were people coming and going frequently. No, she decided, the grab couldn’t be made safely here. They would have to follow the guy. Eventually they would find him somewhere – alone. “Tell them we can’t do it here!” she ordered, and listened as her driver spoke through his radio to alert all her men.
Thirty-five minutes later, the two men she had sent inside to eat, were coming back out through the door… which meant that Vesper was paying his bill and getting ready to leave. Her two men continued casually on toward their own car without hardly glancing at the large limo parked down the street.
Two minutes later, Susan got her first glimpse of Jacob Vesper – that wasn’t from a photograph. He looked as physically fit as her agents had said. But in his line of work, she supposed he had to be. Not that it would do him any good tonight.
Vesper’s car left the parking lot, and two vehicles containing her men followed. Her driver didn’t even start the limo until they were all well out of sight. Then he followed according to the instructions relayed over the radio. He pulled over to the side of the road, just barely in sight of the bar Vesper had stopped at. Susan waited patiently. There was no use getting antsy and jumping the gun. The time would come… one way or another. It would all happen – eventually. Patience was the only key.
It was after midnight when Vesper left the bar – with two women, one wrapped in each of his arms. He ushered them both into his car, one in the front seat and one in the back, and then he drove directly to a cheap hotel that wasn’t very far from the bar they had just left. He never noticed any of the cars that followed him… just as he never noticed the big black limousine that arrived five minutes after he checked into one of the rooms. Susan was only surprised that he didn’t take the women to his place. He had taken them to a cheap hotel instead.
An hour and a half later, the two women left the hotel – on foot… to walk back to the bar or to find a ride home on their own. Vesper had briefly poked his head out the door as they left, and all of them had been laughing. All of them also looked more than a bit drunk.
The lights were still on in the hotel room. Was he going to stay there for the night, or go home himself? Either way, it was now the middle of the night and he was alone. “Get him now,” she said softly to her driver. The message was immediately relayed.
A dark blue mini-van pulled up in front of the hotel room a few seconds later. Susan could no longer see the door to the room. She saw four of her men get out of the van… as another of her vehicles pulled up near it and more of her men got out. But she didn’t need to see what was going to happen. She had enough of an idea to know pretty well what was going on.
Vesper was just coming out of the bathroom when his hotel door was roughly kicked in. The move caught him so much by surprise that the big oriental men were already hurrying through the door before he had time to react. He ran one way, but one of them was already on top of him before he had a chance to get two feet. As he turned to fight his attacker, the second man was already there. Before he could realize that still more men were in the room, the wooden club that hit the top of his head had already rendered him unconscious… and uncaring.
Five minutes later, the blue mini-van pulled up next to the long black limousine. Two of Susan’s biggest men got out and transferred to the limo seat in front of her. And the now bound and gagged body of Jacob Vesper was lying on the floor of her limo between them.
The car was nearly to the interstate highway by the time that Vesper regained consciousness. Susan was sure that his head had to hurt terribly. But that little pain was about to become nothing next to what he would soon be “enjoying.” She only nodded to one of her men, but that’s all the signal he needed. He quickly bent down and slipped a wire garrote over Vesper’s head and began tightening it around his neck with the same club that he had hit him over the head with earlier. With his hands bound behind his back, Vesper had no way to fight against the choking wire.
“Good!” Susan said as soon as his eyes were bulging and his face had turned red. The man stopped tightening the wire… and left it just as it was. It wouldn’t kill Vesper, but he would have a very difficult time breathing. The wire would stay like that until they got him back to the mansion in North Carolina… many hours from now.
Roger was trying to teach, and he was doing okay, but more and more his mind was having trouble staying focused on what he was talking about. The end of the school year was coming closer and closer, he was now re-teaching much of what he had spent the entire year covering as he prepared the students for the final exams they would all have to face soon. But what about after the finals were over… and more specifically, what was going to happen to him when school finally let out for the summer – and his job as a teacher would be over?
Financially, he supposed he was doing okay so far with gathering the handyman jobs. In fact, at times he had too much work to do there. But would those jobs continue to come in? He had no way of knowing. But then, that was something that every contractor constantly worried about – himself included.
But that wasn’t the biggest issue he was worried about. What would happen to him… personally… once school let out? In truth, he had been dragging his feet as much as he felt his could towards Janice’s commandment that he turn himself into a woman. But he was sure that once school was out of the way, he would be forced to push things along far faster than he already was. As it was, he was now spending a little while every night practicing some voice training exercises he had found on the internet – with the hopeful intention that someday he would be able to at least sound a little more like a woman.
So despite the fact that he was dragging his feet, he was still moving forward with his unwanted quest. Like it… or not! He supposed that once school was out too, that he would be living his life in a bra. The only time he didn’t wear one now was while he was in school teaching… unless you counted when he went to sleep at night. But even there, he was now wearing a nightgown to sleep in. So in some way, unless he was in school, he was always wearing something feminine – besides the stupid frilly panties he wore all the time. But he had no doubt that once school was over, he would be spending much more time wearing women’s clothes. Perhaps, all the time.
That thought reminded him that he needed to pick up a few more pairs of women’s jeans that he could work in. A few more tops wouldn’t hurt either. Damn! He had just bought a bunch of stuff and already he needed more. He supposed that Janice would also probably want him to buy another new dress for church pretty soon as well. Could he put off that embarrassment for a little while… or was it better to just get it out of the way right now? Who knew?
The bell rang and class was over. Lunchtime. He just hoped that Stan and Jennifer wouldn’t hound him with any embarrassing questions again. He also hoped that Jennifer wasn’t wearing anything too “provocative” today. But at least that cold little problem was starting to bother him less and less… which he found strange since it had now been a rather long time since he’d had any kind of sexual relief. But then, he had a feeling that Janice had planned things that way all along.