Rocking the Jailhouse
By the time Casey made it to Berlin, ate a leisurely breakfast, and connected with his Interpol friend, Johann, it was nearly 10 AM. They met in a café right across from the jail. His friend had done an outstanding job talking to all parties involved. The thing was already settled.
"Here's what Schmidt owes them," Johann said as he dropped a large manila envelope on the table. "I've also got some instruments in the van."
Casey took a peek inside the envelope. It held Jeff and Lester's passports, but the rest of the space was packed tight with €500 notes. "You're kidding me."
Johann laughed. "Wish I was." He went on to explain all the deals he made. "They owe the BVG eighty euros for the original fare fraud and another three hundred as compensation for the assault."
Casey removed a €500 and laid it on the table. "Done. What else?"
"The city cops said they surrendered peacefully because they were practically freezing to death. They fed them minimum rations, as per your instructions."
"They're going to be in my custody when they leave and I insist they don't wear lederhosen, so two standard-issue coveralls, food, and the cell they occupied should come to about..."
Casey shook his head. "Oh no. I'm not going to let law enforcement be charitable when these idiots are loaded. A thousand, at least." He set two more €500 bills on the table.
"They also want a concert for the inmates."
"Fine by me. Make them sing until their vocal chords pop out. What else can you hit them with?"
"Upon release, they have 48 hours to leave the country and they're not welcome back."
"Good." Casey certainly didn't want to do this again. "What about lawyers?"
"Like hell." Casey put two more 500s on the table. "If they won't take it outright, then wine and dine them. What about you?"
"You know I can't."
The colonel counted out four 500s and set them in front of his friend. "Fine. You got a charity ball or a program for troubled youth? Donate it. I'd say it was fair payment for the hassle they caused everyone."
"These Jeffster guys sure are generous."
Casey growled. Generous, my ass. "That's all they need is to fancy themselves philanthropists. Donate it anonymously."
"If these guys are such scum, why'd you call in a favor and have me do all this for them?"
Another grunt and then the obligatory admission muttered through his teeth, "They saved my daughter's life."
"You've got a daughter? Hey, congrats."
"She's 24. I didn't know until just recently." He stowed the envelope in his inside jacket pocket and held out his hand. "Thanks for all this. I owe you one."
Johann laughed as they shook. "Are you kidding? After Lisbon? I'd say we're even." He gathered up the money from the table and stuffed it in his pocket.
Casey nodded. Even it is then. Johann took him out to the van and unloaded the instruments. Casey had half a mind to just grab two random cases and leave the rest for more donation, but he'd probably grab the wrong ones for this jail concert and the last thing he wanted was a hitch now. Johann helped him get all the cases into the jail. Jeff and Lester would have to carry the stuff or lose it from here on out.
Johann approached a guy sitting behind a bulletproof window, paid the 'fine' for the incarceration, told him the concert was a go, and introduced Casey. Casey flashed his NSA badge and ID. The jail guy tried speaking English, but Casey put him at ease with German. Casey wasn't fluent in near as many languages as Sarah, but German he could handle.
Johann took his leave. Casey nodded a farewell since they'd already said their goodbyes. The guard took Casey back to what appeared to be an interrogation room. "They've been in here nearly fourteen hours," the guy said in German. "They whine a lot, but we pretend not to understand anything except requests to use the bathroom."
"Good. They should be about ready to do anything to get out of here." Casey grinned. This was going to be fun. "Oh, and don't tell them who I really am. Undercover issues."
The guard nodded and unlocked the door. Two disheveled husks of human beings looked up from their chairs, looking very much like they'd been asleep. "John Casey?" Lester squeaked.
"Hm," he grunted. He assured the guard it was all right to leave him alone with them. They had a one way mirror, so they could watch if they cared to.
When the guard closed the door, Casey put on his 'mask' and started his performance, switching back to English. "Mr. Grimes sent me."
"Morgan got our text?" Jeff asked.
"You've gotta help us, man," Lester whined.
Casey raised his hand in a halting gesture. "Mr. Grimes is inclined to help you, but there will be obligations involved."
"Anything! What do we do?" Lester cried. Jeff nodded agreement.
"First, you will give a free concert to the inmates here as a gesture of goodwill to the German police who probably saved your sorry asses from frostbite by bringing you in from the cold."
They exchanged glances and nodded vigorously. Lester spoke for them: "Sure."
Casey suppressed the urge to grin. Man, it was fun to watch the weasels writhe. "Secondly, you've worn out your welcome in this country. After the concert, you will be remanded to my custody and you will pay for one first class and two coach plane tickets to get us all back to Los Angeles. I'll be on the same plane, but I'm not sitting next to you."
Jeff shook his head. "We don't have any money."
Casey turned slightly, opened his jacket and let them see the edge of the envelope. "Mr. Grimes leaned on Dieter Schmidt and forced him to cough up what he owed you. I will be holding it for now."
"Morgan's here too?" Jeff asked.
Casey glowered. "You think Mr. Grimes has time to come bail out a couple of morons like you?"
"So is that all? We can go?" Lester asked.
"No. There's more. You will both concede right now that this favor cancels any debt having to do with my daughter. Neither I nor Mr. Grimes will owe you any further and you will never, ever, mention it again. Oh, and I will still break all your bones if you ever speak to Alex."
Jeff and Lester nodded while Casey drew another breath.
"From now on, Big Mike will manage Jeffster and all your money."
"Wait a minute! No way!" Lester protested.
Casey turned to the door. "You have no passports and no one knows you're here. Good luck." He paused with his hand on the knob, but didn't turn around. "Oh, and no Internet connections. Their plugs are already pulled." He didn't want Lester thinking he could have this place wired like he had the prison back home wired.
"What he meant to say was..." Jeff began.
Casey turned and gave him a 'continue' look.
Jeff looked at his Indian buddy. "Lester, I don't want to sing for a living anymore."
"But it's our dream," Lester said.
"You were the one who said commercialism was 'bad'. Performing for money is like working for the man. You said we'd never do that."
Lester looked like he agreed, but he didn't say anything.
Casey cleared his throat. "If you are especially polite about it, and by polite, I mean grovel... I might be able to convince Mr. Grimes to hire you as Nerd Herders again. Maybe."
Jeff's eyes lit up. "Our old jobs? Really?"
"You'd have to actually do the work. Bartowski's not around to pick up your slack."
Jeff face went to instant pout. "No Chuck?"
Casey gave a non-committal grunt. They already knew about Carmichael Industries, so he took advantage of that. "Spy stuff. Busy."
Lester rolled his eyes. "You know we don't buy that 'private spy' story. We're not idiots."
Suuuure, you're not. They would have to figure out cover stories later. "Fine. But if you want your old jobs, you'll have to actually fix computers and electronics. Mr. Grimes and Mr. Tucker are running a business. You owe them and you will act accordingly. The Buy More got along without you all this time. It can get along again, if necessary. Can you get along?"
"Lester, there's a Subway in the Buy More now. We can have real food again." Jeff was already sold and just trying to get Lester on his side.
"We have money for an apartment too. You can get your ferret back."
"And your hair dryer will work again in Burbank."
Jeeze, didn't these idiots know about plug adapters? Casey kept a neutral face. They looked ready to break.
"We'll do it on one condition," Lester announced. He was doing that sly eye thing he probably thought was intimidating.
"After the jail concert, we don't sing unless we want to. Big Mike has to ask us. We do it for art, not money."
Casey shrugged. "As long as you're doing something to earn your keep, there shouldn't be a problem."
Jeff and Lester exchanged looks. "We're in."
In another twenty minutes, they were set up in the mess hall with their instruments and some crappy speakers. Lester did a halfway decent Elvis singing "Jailhouse Rock" and then Jeff sang "Folsom Prison Blues", likely because Lester's girly voice was too high to do Johnny Cash. They did several other songs Casey never heard of. Probably more newfangled crap like that time they sang in the hospital. But the prisoners seemed to appreciate it, so Casey stifled his disinterest and let them sing.
He would have made them keep going as long as there wasn't a riot, but after about eight songs, the guards thought they might be pushing their luck, so Casey gave Jeffster the cutthroat cue and amazingly, Jeff and Lester heeded it, took some bows, and exited the stage.
Huh. Maybe there was something to this scared straight thing after all.