By Karen Singer
Chapter 41 Part 1 of 3
“So what was that all about last night?” Jennifer asked Roger, even before she had set her lunch tray down on the table.
“If you ask me,” Stan said as he took the seat right next to her, “it’s another case of the government not knowing what the heck they’re doing!”
Roger shook his head. “According to Janice, they keep hounding her over something she never did in the first place.” Although Roger knew perfectly well now that Janice did have a hand in whatever robberies the FBI was currently interested in. He was also wishing the FBI could find a way to dig even deeper into what was going on in his house since he was currently totally incapable of pointing them, or anyone else, toward the truth.
“Well I have to tell you, it was more than a bit frightening for me to be questioned like that!” Jennifer stated.
“I’m sure it was,” Roger replied with a nod of his head. “I didn’t like it either.”
“Maybe you should consider getting rid of her,” Stan suggested. “You really don’t need a housekeeper anyway.”
Actually, getting rid of Janice would be nothing but a wonderful dream, but Roger no longer had that option. Protect Janice! “No,” he said after a moment, “I’m not going to give in to whatever warped things the government is looking into now. Besides, she claims up and down that she had nothing to do with the drug charge she was sent to prison for… and I think she deserves this second chance to get her life together again.”
“Admirable,” Stan replied, “but I still think you should get rid of her.”
Roger shook his head. “It’s not that simple… now that I’ve hired her. Besides, I like her cooking!”
“There is that,” Jennifer agreed.
But the subject of getting rid of Janice was one that Roger had thought of many, many times over the last few months. How much longer until she would finally leave on her own? No telling. And even when she did leave, he knew without a doubt that he would continue to change himself – as per Janice’s wishes… in every way possible. Ugh! Hopeless!
Janice had two file folders in front of her, one dealing with Jacobs and Forsyth, and the other one for the disaster relief company that the Wu’s had set up for her – “Islands of Hope.” She rather liked the name. Especially since it was based in Nassau. Of course the real hope for the company was the hope it offered for getting her stolen cash out of the country. And to do that, well, it was long past time for her to change the furniture in Roger’s house anyway… something more in line with the things and style that she liked. Of course, a large portion of Roger’s living room was about to be taken up with some very special but necessary equipment. But it was all in the name of… hope. Hope for her and her daughter! Of course grabbing Joseph Halifax’s little retirement nest-egg certainly wasn’t going to hurt at all either!
Thinking of Halifax though, reminded her that she needed to find out if Susan had a preference for a new name for the dog that Halifax was soon to become. She went to her purse and pulled out yet another of her burner phones. It didn’t help that she dared only buy one or two of the darn things at a time, but it was all in the name of security. She dialed the number she had memorized long ago. “Yes, I’d like to order three boxes of your fortune cookies, twelve boxes of egg rolls, seven bags of your noodles, and I’m afraid we had a little fire and I burned that gorgeous fan you sent me. If I can, I’d like to get another one to replace it.”
Ten minutes later, her burner phone rang back and she answered it. “Hello?”
“Hi Janice, you called?” Susan Wu’s voice came over the connection.
“Yes,” Janice replied. “I’m afraid I have just a silly little question for you today.”
“A silly question?”
“Yes, I’m afraid I need a name for your… new dog. If you have a preference that is. I need it to help cement Halifax’s new future. And since you indicated that you wanted him when I’m done with him, I thought I’d offer you the choice.”
Susan laughed openly. “It may be a silly question,” she said, “but it’s the most delightful question I’ve had to deal with in a very long time! Can I consider it a bit and then let you know?”
“I’m meeting with him tomorrow afternoon,” Janice explained. “Sorry for the short notice, but it would be helpful if you could let me know before then.”
“Don’t worry,” Susan replied happily, “I’ll think of something. Tell you what, this is a secure line anyway. Why don’t you hang on to that burner phone you’re using for a few more hours and I’ll call you later this afternoon or tonight.”
“That’s fine with me,” Janice replied.
“Thanks. You just brightened up my day considerably.”
It was all Janice could do to not even turn the phone off and tear it apart after Susan’s call. She had destroyed so many of the things now!
With that bit of business taken care of, she turned her attention to the folder concerning Jacobs and Forsyth… her two nemeses from the FBI. Yes, it was long past time to do something to fix that situation!
She wasn’t all that happy with what she read about Forsyth. He was a family man with two kids. But he wasn’t her main interest. She was far more interested in the information about Jacobs. And as she had long ago guessed, Jacobs wasn’t married!
FBI Agent Theodore (Ted) Jacobs. Divorced twelve years ago and never remarried. Janice figured he probably drove his ex-wife crazy! Why would any woman want to marry someone like him in the first place? But no matter, he didn’t have any kids or other close family that she needed to feel guilty about if she did anything to him… which she planned on. But her plans for Jacobs didn’t include her regular mind-bending brain wash. He was a government agent. His life and everything about it would be subject to very close scrutiny. And it was that scrutiny that she was mostly interested in.
There wasn’t much in the folder about his social life. The papers noted one girlfriend and included a bad picture of her, but the paperwork also indicated that it didn’t look like any kind of serious relationship between them and suggested instead that it might be nothing more than just a sometime mutual benefit type of situation – no pressure from either of them. Janice figured that Jacobs was married to his job now. She had known many other men who had been like that. Shortly after they got married, their wives and family no longer mattered so much and the job totally consumed them. And Jacobs wasn’t married, so the girlfriend was probably nothing more than a convenience. But would that bit of information do her any good? She’d just have to see.
One thing that surprised her about him, was that he had a house and didn’t just rent an apartment somewhere. Somehow she didn’t see him as the homeowner type, but evidently he was. She looked at a few pictures of the outside of his house and yard. It was a small house, tiny actually, and it looked somewhat old and a bit run down. Janice figured it was probably cheaper for him than an apartment. Plus there was always the bonus that it might gain in property value when it came time for him to move again.
As she studied the dull grey exterior of the house, she took careful note of the layout of everything she could see… which wasn’t as much as she would like. The house had a detached garage and what looked like a chain-link fence across three sides of the backyard. But she didn’t see any sign that the fence extended across the front or up to the house itself – which most likely meant that he didn’t have a dog that she would have to worry about. Not that she figured he would anyway. He seemed far too busy for the dog owner type. Basically, the house simply looked… insignificant.
As she studied the house further, she took careful note of the chimney on the roof. An older house like that with a chimney that big would most likely mean that it had a wood-burning fireplace inside. But would it do her any good? She’d have to consider that too.
She carefully read through the file notes on Jacob’s career… particularly on all the places he had transferred to. It seemed like he had followed her purposefully every time she herself had moved to somewhere new. Janice had no doubt that the abominable man probably had. He had done everything he could to stay on her tail – for far too many years.
Well, it was now time to put a stop to all that. She wasn’t happy that it was going to cost her as much money as she planned, but… well… Halifax’s little retirement account would much more than make up for that little problem.
“So where did it get us?” Forsyth asked.
Jacobs shook his head. “I’m not sure. But something there isn’t right!”
“Oh come on! We’ve both dealt with these transgender types before. And every last one of them has tried to hide what they’re doing for as long as they dare. Then it’s always a shock to everyone else when they finally come out of the closet. As far as I can see, it doesn’t help your case against Stokley one bit.”
Jacobs was frustrated. The problem was, he didn’t have any more to go on than he did before – despite everything they had learned last night. “It just doesn’t add up,” he finally exclaimed.
“What doesn’t add up? Everything we’ve found so far, adds up to a big fat zero!”
Jacobs shook his head. “Maybe,” he conceded. “But as far as I’m concerned, it just doesn’t add up!”
Forsyth shook his head and walked off. Jacobs wasn’t going to leave the matter alone, no matter what! He was obsessed with Stokley, and had been for as long as he had known him. As far as he was concerned, whether Janice Stokley was actually guilty or not, there wasn’t one little shred of proof that she ever had anything to do with those robberies – and the woman was living in a dump and working as a housekeeper as the proof! If she had actually stolen any of that money, he was sure that she would have shown some sign of it by now. But despite the rather odd facts that might possibly point toward Janice as having some kind of hand in the robberies, everything they had found so far, only pointed in the opposite direction!
Janice rolled her eyes and did her best to ignore the… singing… coming out of Roger / Candy’s room as she passed by in the hallway. Since a while after dinner, Roger had been once again practicing his female voice techniques, and evidently tonight it included… singing. Sort of. As far as Janice was concerned, it sounded awful! But as long as he was working on things, then she was satisfied. And from what she could hear, things could only get better. His voice certainly couldn’t get much worse!
As she got near the end of the hall, Roger’s… singing… was accompanied by another more musical sound that took her a moment to identify – her burner phone ringing. She hurried to the kitchen to grab it. “Hello?”
“Hi Janice,” Susan’s voice said.
“Hello Susan. Did you come up with a name?”
“That I did,” Susan replied. “You didn’t give me much time, but I think I’ve come up with something that I’ll be pleased with, no matter what.”
“And what name did you pick?”
“I’d like to call him Ben-Ben. It’s a Chinese name that means fool! And I think that’s going to work out perfectly for him.”
Janice smiled broadly. “Fool! Yes, I think that will work just fine. You said, Ben-ben? Did I pronounce that right?”
“You’ve got it. It’s not a difficult name like some others might be.”
“I appreciate that,” Janice replied. “Yes, I think Ben-ben will work out just fine for Mr. Halifax. And tomorrow is when I’m planning on beginning that little crusade with him.”
“I look forward to seeing the end result.”
Janice smiled. “I’ve been working hard on my plans for him. I think you’ll be very pleased. By the way, have you done anything yet with the Doctor?”
“Not yet, but I’m working on it. It will probably be the beginning of next week before I can finalize everything there. I’ll send you the information as soon as I’m done.”
“Very good,” Janice replied happily. “I look forward to getting that so I can move on with that too. Can I destroy this phone now?”
“It might be a good idea,” Susan replied. “I can always contact you the usual way if I need to. Just watch for my messenger on Monday or Tuesday… probably Tuesday.”
“I’ll be waiting,” Janice replied.
“Ben-ben,” she repeated to herself. The name meant nothing to her, but in Chinese it meant fool. Well, Halifax was about to become one big enormous fool for sure!”