CHAPTER 11-HUNTING FOR A GHOST.
A week had passed since Eliana and Angelo had shown up at my door after their father’s death, and though things had gotten somewhat back to normal with the three added people to the house, things were continuing to be a little more difficult than expected. For instance, Shayla was continuing to get sicker and sicker, which I had originally chalked up to stress from the prior week’s events, but it was looking more likely that someone had possibly poisoned her. We had our family doctors check her at least three different times the past week, as well as Becky and Kristi, and every time they were still just as confused as the time before as to what could be plaguing her. I had noticed a small lump in the back of her arm, as if someone had injected her with something without her noticing while she was rushing through the airport to get the children to my house as quickly as possible. Though nothing was showing up in her toxicology report at the moment, I was convinced that someone had poisoned her with something.
As much as I hated to admit it, I believed that Shayla was dying in front of my eyes, and there was nothing that I could do to prevent it. I hated to think about how Eliana and Angelo were going to lose another family member, and at such a young age. They were losing everyone that had been closest to them. All four of the children seem to be adjusting well to their new circumstances, but I still worry about how the death of Shayla may affect Eliana and Angelo. The house was already crowded; we now had a full-time nurse living in the house with the rest of us to care for Shayla in her ever worsening illness. Although Becky had two more children to now care for that weren’t going to school full time, yet she never complained about the added responsibilities, which I was grateful for. I think she secretly liked having smaller children around as well, since she was never able to have any children of her own.
Though I love the fact that our family was always growing, and we were constantly getting closer with more people, I knew I would be happy when the new house was finished, so we had more room and everyone got their own space, seeing as how right now, we all seem to be falling over each other in such a small space, even though this house was far from small. I also had to call the contractor of the new house to have him build in a couple of extra rooms. Even though I was happy to have my family growing and to know that not only my children, but Jill’s children are safe as well; I could not work from home anymore because the house was always too crowded.
It was a Tuesday and I took the time then to go to my office at the WINTERS building. I’d only been in my office for about an hour when Logan came rushing in out of breath to tell me something that he had just found out.
He said, “Rain, I think I may know who your ghost is.”
I sat there and looked at Logan dumbfounded trying to figure out if he was playing a practical joke on me or if he was serious, because I wasn’t sure if even I could figure out who my mystery ghost was. I suppose I had stared at him for so long that he decided to just tell me what he had found instead of waiting for me to ask.
Logan said, “I believe your mystery man is the supposedly dead Navy seal that had betrayed his team and caused the death of over 125 soldiers twelve years ago. This supposedly deceased Navy seal is also the son of the former speaker of the house, who coincidentally, was also Naval Intelligence when he was enlisted. After he’d faked his death this man assumed a new identity and began working as a senator’s aid/bodyguard. He stays behind the curtains of everything that goes on in Washington D.C. so as he is never found out and has paid off all the necessary people to assume his identity and be around all the influential people that are corrupt in any form of business. He also tried applying for Homeland Security before he had faked his own death, and when he was rejected he blamed me for his not getting in since I was the hiring officer.”
Something about what Logan was saying about this guy getting his men killed twelve years ago started ringing in my ears like something familiar. I remembered hearing about this story in the news and this is what had started pushing me towards enlisting in the first place. Once I finished all my training in my program, I started digging into trying to find more answers about this case since I was a little confused as to what would’ve caused it. With the wheels in my head turning in all this new information coming to light I started wondering if the puzzle pieces were fitting together as simply as they seem to look as though they were fitting.
I think Logan may have seen some sort of recognition sparking in my eyes because he stopped talking and waited for me to say something. At that moment, I knew I needed to have every piece of information on that accident, or supposed accident, to try to piece together if this is the guy that I was looking for or not; if this man is my ghost, then I had to know what was driving him, and why.
I looked at Logan and asked,” What makes you think that this man is my ghost?”
Logan said,” Well, for starters, his disappearance and reappearance within his new identity fits perfectly with the timeline of when he started showing up and your team started chasing him. The government always knew that he had connections with a lot of the people that he should have and ties to a lot of different criminal activities and organizations, we just never knew how deep those ties ran. He has altered his appearance some, but not enough to the point where you can’t tell that this is the same man that was supposedly dead if you knew who you were looking for. Not to mention, the fact that this man has slowly been making his way through all the corrupt politicians and helping certain others to get into key jobs to help the balance of power shift in their favor. Almost every place that you or your team has been, this man has been spotted in around the same time. It has to be him, Rain; I just know it.”
I sat there thinking about what Logan had said for a few minutes before I answered him. After deciding that this was a lead that I needed to run down, I told Logan to get me everything that he knew about this man, his past, and everyone he’s come in contact with within the last 20 years. Logan must’ve been anticipating what I was going to say, though, because as soon as he had walked back into his office, he came back to mine with a large box full of information and files containing pictures and data on this man going all the way back to the 1980’s. At first I was a little stunned by Logan’s quickness and anticipation, then I reminded myself that not only is this man secretly Homeland Security, but he is also my husband and has been around me and my team for just over a year now. I’m sure he’s bound to have picked up a few things by now.
I smiled at Logan appreciative of everything that he’s been doing to help me solve this case, and with all of his patience he’s had with me throughout all of this when any other man would’ve surely walked out by now. I called my team and told them to meet me in the conference room at my office here so we could start going through everything to see what we could find.
It’d only taken about 20 minutes for my team to show up and get to my office for me to fill them in on what Logan had found out. Madison looked like she’d been thinking pretty hard on what I just told them when she’d looked at me and said, “You know, Rain, that makes sense going off of the timeline that Logan gave you. If he’s been spotted everywhere that either you have been or where we’ve been, then either he’s following us, or that’s one hell of a coincidence. Seeing as how I don’t believe in a coincidence like that, then obviously he’s following us. That, in turn, means that he is not as good as what he thinks, otherwise, we wouldn’t have proof that he’s been everywhere we’ve been, when we’ve been there. Or at least almost everywhere.”
We had the contents of the box spread across the entire table going through everything and making notes on the glass wall trying to see where the puzzle pieces fit into the picture that we had already formed. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for us to realize that the pieces were fitting more easily than what any of us would’ve guessed, proving that this man is the ghost that we were looking for. For something so simple, it amazed me how much I could miss with not putting this puzzle together myself long ago. After all, this was the reason that I joined the military to begin with.
We’d been working for almost 4 hours straight when Logan brought it to our attention that we had missed lunch, asking what it was that we’d wanted to be brought here for us. We all sat there looking at Logan for about 30 seconds before realizing that he still wasn’t used to us going without meals. When Logan started looking uncomfortable at all of our stares I gestured to my team to tell him what it was that they wanted for lunch or dinner depending on how you looked at it. Once he had gone to go order food, I reminded them that he wasn’t used to our schedules when we’re working. Most of us are so used to going days without meals when we’re working that we don’t realize we’ve missed a meal at all. I guess that was something I was also going to have to get out of the habit of, at the very least around Logan.
However, with the fact that we’re so close to catching this man now, food isn’t something that’s concerning me at the moment. Right now, all I want is to get my hands around this man’s throat and squeeze the life out of him. When I stopped to think about things I realized I shouldn’t have this much aggression towards this man, after all, he is the reason that I became the person that I am. However, he is also the reason that his men are dead and that was something I couldn’t forgive.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
It had been almost a month since we had found out who my ghost was, and in that time we learned everything about him; past, present, and some of his future plans as well. The more I learned of this man, the more it infuriated me. How is it that someone this simple could’ve slipped through my fingers for so long? The more we learned of him, the more I realized how simple he really is. This man is simple, sloppy and completely devoid of any original ideas. That being said, I really had to take a good, long, hard look at myself and wonder if it was just the simplicity of everything that caused me to overlook this man, or if I was really just slipping that much. The more I think about this man, the more it made me angrier knowing I could have caught this man a long time ago. I should’ve known that he was the one behind all of this. How could I have really missed something that simple? It was something that was right in front of me; something that was staring me in the face, daring me to figure it out the entire time.
I guess when it comes down to it, only an idiot can figure out another idiot. That’s not saying that Logan is an idiot, because he’s far from it. This man just thinks he’s so much smarter than everybody else. He hears what he wants to hear, and then gets mad and tries to twist things when he gets corrected. He has a vast knowledge of stupid worthless things and is amazing at googling everything just to try to prove a point about something that he had no idea about the truth, but assumed he was right. He craves notoriety and recognition, but in reality has done nothing to deserve it, unless killing the people that he was supposed to protect counts as deserving.
When I was going through this man’s file I noticed interviews taken with his family. The family’s declarations were astonishing in helping us to profile this man. They spoke of how he was always good-natured and meant well with everything, but in reality he was more of a pain in the ass than what they cared to admit. He thought his outspokenness was a good quality but it wasn’t very endearing since he was only outspoken about bad things that were, generally, wrong. He got mad if anybody proved him wrong about anything. He would twist what was said and try to use it to his own advantage, generally, in his attempts to split people up. He was married to a woman for a short period of time, but never really cared about her. He wanted a son from this woman, but when she was unable to give him one it came out with how little he actually cared about her. The reality of everything is that, though he had already had three daughters with this woman, he really could’ve cared less if they would’ve dropped dead. He wanted a son; neither his wife, nor his daughters mattered. He treated his wife like crap, always belittled her, wasted their money on useless shit, and didn’t pay their bills coincidently blaming his wife when they had to go live with his mother.
His mother was a good hard-working woman who works 16 sometimes 18 hours a day just to support her children and grandchildren. Her children never helped with any of the bills and when she had time off of work they always expected her to watch her grandchildren while they went out. She was divorced, and secretly dying of cancer, though she never told her children what was going on with her health. Before her son had faked his death he was 30 years old and living with his mother with his wife and three girls. His 34-year-old brother also occasionally lived with their mother with his wife and three children. Though both siblings made more money than what their mother made, they found that the best way to keep their money was to live with their mother and not pay for anything, this way they were able to buy more things that they didn’t need. This man had a younger sister as well. She is four years younger and married with four children, two of her own and two step children. To say that he didn’t like his brother-in-law was putting it mildly.
The more I read through his family’s declarations, the more I started realizing that this man was secretly in love with his sister, but didn’t want anyone to know it. I guess if I were in love with my sibling I wouldn’t want anybody to know that either. From what I could see, he and his brother absolutely hated his brother-in-law with a passion. They accused him of keeping their sister away from them, said he acted like a know it all, and that he was destroying their family. According to the sister’s statement, she had gotten tired of her brothers always trying to run her life so she chose to stay away from them. From what I could tell the sister’s choice not to include her brothers in her wedding caused a big rift in the relationship. When the guys found out that their new brother-in-law was the one that convinced their sister to keep them in the wedding, it pushed this man over the edge. He had finally snapped and decided to fake his own death rather than be around the sister that he was in love with and the family that he thought he was better than.
The more I read through everything, the more that I realized that this man wasn’t better than me, he was just more delusional, and psychotic people think in different ways than healthy people. I don’t know how anyone can fake their own death and put their family through that kind of torture, much less all the other families of the men and women whose lives he took.
With all of this new information, the only problem seems to be creating a useful profile out of all of the shit that we have, and putting a plan in motion that will help us catch this man before he can do any more damage. I think the bigger question should be whether or not we let his family know what he’s been up to and the fact that he’s still alive. I can’t imagine what kind of trauma that mother would feel if she were to find that out. I know it would destroy me if I thought I’d lost a child and come to find out that they were alive and never told me.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! HAVE FAITH IN YOUR ABILITIES! WITHOUT A HUMBLE BUT REASONABLE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR OWN POWERS YOU CANNOT BE SUCCESSFUL OR HAPPY-NORMAN VINCENT PEALE