An Unexpected Meeting
For someone who had carried an attack in broad daylight, he was certainly more faint-hearted than Alec expected. It was understandable to a certain extent. After all, there were two strange men in his living room in the middle of the night. One of them stood right in front of him with a cold gaze in his eyes. The other one stood behind him with a knife pressed to the side of his neck. Any sudden movement could cause that abhorrent object to sink into his skin and slice through his artery.
The man’s living room was dark. The only source of light was the window which did little to illuminate their surroundings. Alec preferred it this way. It would certainly make the task of interrogating this man a lot easier.
The man’s eyes grew in terror as he watched Alec slip on his leather gloves before he took a seat in front of him.
“Let’s talk,” Alec announced calmly.
“About what?” Asked the man timidly.
“You know why we’re here, so let’s not waste any time.”
“I have nothing to say to you.” The man tried to move, but Marlon forced him to sit and pressed the knife deeper into his neck. A drop of blood trickled down his neck. Alec raised his hand to signal to Marlon to take it easy without braking eye contact with the man.
“Your daughters are sleeping in the next room. You don’t want them to wake up to this scene now, do you?”
“You sick son of…”
Alec immediately interrupted, “The sooner we get this done, the better the outcome is going to be for everyone involved. Your call.”
The man went silent as he tried to go through his options. He stared at Alec with eyes that sought compassion. However, he was met with nothing but a cold empty gaze that chilled him to the bone. He thought of pleading for his life from the executioner that stood behind him. It was doubtful, though, that the man with the knife would cooperate because he was clearly not the person in charge. This forced the middle-aged man to seek Alec again.
“I don’t know anything.”
Alec continued to stare silently at him.
“Please, my daughters…they’re…” the man pleaded again.
“You should’ve thought about them before you carried an attack in the middle of the day,” Alec responded unaffectedly.
The look of despair on the man’s face never faded as he thought once more of a way out. However, the moment he remembered where he had seen Alec before, he became enraged. He tried to get up, but Marlon kept him from doing so. He not only forced the middle-aged man down, but also slammed his head against the table.
“I recognize you now,” the man muttered in frustration at being held down. “You’re the bastard who got Jason disarmed.”
“Interesting choice of words considering what you two did.”
“I don’t regret what I did.”
“You should. I’ve had Cook under surveillance for God knows how long. I was this close to getting to finally know who’s been pulling the strings behind the scenes. Then you two come along and flush all my efforts down the drain.”
“If you knew about Cook, why didn’t you try to do something about him? Do you realize the damage this guy had done over the years?”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you,” Alec responded calmly. “I’m here for one thing and one thing only. What did Josh know that caused them to silence him this way?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the man answered in frustration. His head was still pinned to the table.
“I’m aware of the little side project you’ve been running with your younger brother. You two have made a habit of blackmailing people for financial gain. Josh must have dug something that infuriated someone. Seeing how he worked for Elizabeth Tucker before his demise, something tells me that she was in on it and she was murdered for the same reason. What did Josh find out and whom was he trying to blackmail before he died?”
Alec waited for an answer, but the man said nothing.
“Anyone left to take care of your daughters after you’re gone, Smith?” Alec asked coldly as he leaned closer to the middle-aged man. However, the only response he got was the audible violent breaths the man took to keep both his rage and panic in check.
This forced Alec to look at Marlon and give the order. “Get it done.”
Marlon immediately pinned Robert to the table with his knee and tied his hands. He then tied a noose right in front of the middle-aged man to get him to see what was going to happen. Robert realized that they were going to kill him and make it look like suicide, just like what happened to his brother. At first, he shut his eyes and prepared himself for the inevitable, but when he felt the noose getting slipped around his neck, panic over his wellbeing as well as that of his daughters’ overwhelmed him. He immediately broke down and spoke.
“Everything is in an external hard drive that Josh left with me. He gave it to me hours before he was arrested.”
“What do you mean everything?” Asked Alec unenthusiastically.
“I don’t know,” the man’s voice quivered. “Josh was the one who did all the hacking. I warned him about it. I told him he needed to stop. He told me he did. I didn’t know he was still digging for people’s secrets and using them for blackmail.”
“Where is this external hard drive?” Alec inquired.
“In my store downstairs. I can show you where I hid it.”
Alec looked at Marlon and nodded in the direction of the door to give him the silent command that he should move the man downstairs. Marlon took the noose from around Robert’s neck, but kept the man’s hands tied. He then lifted him up and had him walk in front of him.
Robert led the two men to a small room in the back of his store where he kept an old-fashioned computer in addition to some cleaning supplies. He asked for his hands to be untied so he could get them what they wanted. Marlon complied after checking with Alec who simply nodded. Robert kneeled on the floor and began working on removing the nails from a loose plank under which he hid the hard drive. Alec and Marlon watched him work in silence, but then Alec’s phone started vibrating.
Alec exited the small room and into the store to take the phone call. He barely managed to respond when he heard a loud ruckus in the back room. Fully alarmed now, he immediately stashed the phone in his pocket and took his gun out before he took careful slow steps in the direction of the back room. He didn’t have to go very far. A masked stranger emerged holding Marlon at knifepoint.
Alec smiled coldly when he saw the stranger, “Well well.”
“I figured I’d find you here,” responded the masked man rather cheerfully.
“Is that so?”
“Indeed. I salute you for getting Rob to talk. You certainly made my job easier.”
“Something tells me you have what I came here for.” Alec kept the same cold smile.
“Hand it over,” he demanded.
“Read the situation. You’re not in control here. I am,” explained the masked man simply.
“What makes you think that?”
“I’m the one holding your underling at knifepoint.”
“You think I care?”
“I do actually.”
“Go ahead,” said Alec encouragingly. “Try me. See what happens.”
“You can drop the act.”
“Wanna test that theory of yours?”
“As a matter of fact, I do,” the masked man answered jovially. “See I’ve been following you for quite some time. I know you. I know how you like to work. I know your underlings have this blind faith in you, and I know you’re just as loyal to them. It’s quite admirable really. The only problem with that motto of yours is that you could easily lose power in situations like these.”
Alec kept the gun pointed at the stranger, but it was not long before he realized that his tactics were not working. His gaze became serious as he finally gave in.
“What do you want?”
“Let’s start by lowering that weapon,” the stranger demanded.
Marlon shook his head slowly, but Alec already made up his mind. He slowly got down and placed the weapon on the floor.
“Now kick it over.”
Alec did as instructed and looked at the stranger coldly as he considered his next step carefully.
The masked man picked the gun up and stared at Alec for a moment. Without warning he slammed the butt of the gun against Marlon’s head, causing him to fall unconscious to the floor. Then he made sure that the cable ties around Marlon’s hands were secure enough.
When he was done with the task, the stranger pointed the gun at Alec and announced, “You and I are gonna talk. I have a couple of questions in mind for you.”
“About what?” Asked Alec calmly.
“That lawyer you’ve been pretending to help. What do you intend to do with her?”
“Pretending?” Alec smiled menacingly. “I could ask you the same thing.”
“What do you mean?”
Alec examined the masked man from head to toe one more time. He did not really need a confirmation. He already knew whom he was talking to.
“You’re the informant who had been in contact with her for years, aren’t you?”
“You’re quite perceptive.”
“Why her? Why do you insist on sending those emails to her?” Asked Alec.
“I’m the one who’s supposed to ask questions here, not you.”
“I don’t care to reveal my reasons to you either.”
The two men stared at each other challengingly for a minute. Both of them carefully considered how to get the other to talk without revealing too much about themselves. It was not long before a loud crashing sound drew the attention of both men towards the back of the store. Alec was quicker to thinking on his feet. He immediately seized the opportunity and tried to disarm the masked man. The masked man resisted, but Alec overpowered him. He not only knocked the weapon out of his hand, but also twisted the man’s arm and pinned him on the store’s counter.
For one brief instant, it seemed that Alec finally succeeded in subduing the stranger. The man remained in his grip, unable to move a muscle.
“It seems I got the upper hand now.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that if I were you,” the masked man chuckled.
In one quick sudden maneuver, the stranger managed to free himself and shove Alec away before he ran towards the back exit. Alec followed him. However, the moment he stepped into the back alley, the man had disappeared without a trace. He scanned every direction the alley could have possibly led to, but there was no hint to where he might have gone. Alec immediately snatched the phone out of his pocket and made a phone call to his contacts who were stationed nearby. He told them to search the area, and then he marched back into the store.
He went towards Marlon first and checked on him. The dark-haired man was breathing normally which was a good sign. He groaned when Alec turned him over and struggled to open his eyes.
“Marlon, are you okay?”
“Yeah,” answered Marlon with difficulty.
Alec helped him sit. Then he took a small knife out of his coat pocket, flipped it open, and cut the cable ties around Marlon’s hands. Marlon tried to stand, but Alec discouraged him.
“Stay still for a bit. I’m gonna go check on Robert.”
“I’m sorry,” said Marlon.
“Don’t be. Neither of us saw this coming.”
Alec walked towards the back room and found Robert by the room’s entrance. He was trying to stand with great difficulty after he had taken a fall earlier which might have been the reason for the loud crashing sound he heard a moment ago. Alec checked on him next and noticed another head injury. His hands were also tied the same way Marlon’s were. The masked man must have been responsible for that as well. Alec sat down in front of him and tried to untie him.
“Hear me out,” Alec instructed as he cut through the cable ties. “The people responsible for your brother’s death won’t leave you alone. It’s only a matter of time before they come after you desperate for clues. Take your daughters and leave the city. Don’t use your credit cards or they will track you down. Eventually, they’ll give up on you, but you’re gonna have to be extra careful the first couple of months.”
The man said nothing. He held his head and shut his eyes in agony.
“Do you understand me?” Asked Alec quite emphatically.
“Good. The sooner you get this done, the better.”
Alec’s phone began buzzing then. He stood straight and answered the phone call.
“We couldn’t find him,” his contact informed him apologetically.
“That’s fine,” said Alec. “He’ll reveal himself soon. He won’t be able to stay away for long.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Let’s say he’s just as invested as I am.”
“Is Marlon okay?” asked the contact on the other end of the line.
“He’s fine. He might have a concussion, though.”
“Do we need to take him to a hospital?”
“We should. Bring the car over. I’ll be right out.”