J O H N
“Mr Keller, ready to talk,” the feds asked as they hauled him back into the room with his lawyer. He had spent the night in jail. In fucking jail. She could be halfway across the country by now.
“My client is ready to cooperate for complete immunity,” Gordon replied, raising his eyebrows towards the agents. They both scoffed, rolled their eyes and looked towards John.
“It depends on what he tells us. We’ll give him immunity if he isn’t a suspect for the murder and if he can be useful in telling us who is responsible,” the fed, Bauer, explained. John agreed with a nod and a gesture of his hand for them to continue.
But he wanted it in writing. And so, they drew up a contract for John to sign once Gordon gave it the once over. He wasn’t a rat, but someone had already betrayed him and ratted him out. He was going to give those bikers what they fucking deserved. In the game, you kept your mouth shut, Those were the fucking rules. And the bikers broke that by pinning Edwards’ murder on him.
“Mr Keller, what is it that you do?”
“I find people. Clients hire me to find people,” John answered confidently.
“Like a PI,” Forstman suggested. “Except, you don’t have a license.”
“That’s why I’m not a PI. I’m like a PI,” John rebutted. “Is that really the issue at hand here? Because I would have immunity for that too.”
“Fine, you’re right. But we want to establish something. Did you know Derick Edwards?”
“He was someone I was hired to look for.”
“Hired by who?” Bauer questioned.
“Hell-raiser bikers in LA.”
“You see, Mr Keller, we have no idea how you found the guy and managed to get away with him. He was in protective custody. He was testifying against the Hell-raisers. And suddenly he’s gone without a trace. And then turns up dead. Which is why we want to know who’s responsible,” Forstman explained.
“Isn’t it obvious who’s responsible then? Edwards was testifying against the bikers, the bikers hired my client to find Edwards, who was completely unaware that he was in protective custody, and then killed Edwards once my client got Edwards back to them,” Gordon suggested in an obvious tone.
“Or it was part of your client’s job to kill Edwards when he found him, like we’ve been told.”
“Told by who? By the bikers? That looks very trustworthy to a jury,” Gordon said with a scoff, leaning back in his chair and locking his fingers behind his head.
“We didn’t say it was the bikers, but we’ve got the word of one criminal,” Bauer started, gesturing to John, “against the word of our witness who may or may not be a criminal. You’re as trustworthy as a used car salesman. For you to get off, obviously, we need evidence, not some story of how things went down. Give us something that proves it was them.”
“I didn’t even know he was dead. I don’t know what happens to them after I get them back. I didn’t even see him get killed.”
John didn’t know what information he could offer them about this. He didn’t even know anything. He never asked questions about what happened to his bounties and he didn’t want to know. He assumed a lot of them got killed by his clients, or there were some, like Alessandro, who just wanted the bounty back in their grasp.
“Then what use are you to us? We can charge you with murder right now and all the rest. You’ll be locked up for a long fucking time, Keller. If there really is nothing you can tell us, then-”
“Whoa, okay, slow down. My client can’t tell you anything about the murder but what he can do is go to them and get some evidence. He can wear a wire.” John looked at his lawyer like he had just grown two heads. That was really snaking someone out. Wearing a wire was a no-no in the game.
He hadn’t particularly been a criminal until he killed Stevens. And then he was in the game for life. And there was at least some honor in him left. To get him off these charges and to do his job for his longest standing client, he needed to rat these bikers out.
“Okay, if Mr Keller agrees. If we get something from it, the charges will be dropped.”
“Yes, I agree,” John said.
Getting into bed with the feds was risky business in any case. He would have a target on his back from someone. It could potentially hurt his reputation. But he had a responsibility to Alessandro. He always finished the job, first and foremost. And his job was to deliver Mari back home.
Wherever the fuck she was now.
Two weeks had passed since he got arrested and they were setting up for him to go into the lion’s den. He wasn’t sure about rolling over on them, but he needed to get back on Mari’s trail. And they had set him up in the first place.
He would walk in, furious, and demanding to speak with their leader, the man who had been his client. He would demand to know why they had given the police his name and he would tell them that they were trying to get to him. And then he would provoke them to confess. Simple.
Yet, it didn’t sit right with him. He didn’t betray people, even if they betrayed him. He was loyal to his clients, and this was about the job. He couldn’t go through with this. Could he? He would get thrown in jail for gun charges and pulling a gun on that officer. In the meantime, they could find plenty of other charges to pin on him. John wasn’t a cold-blooded murderer, but he wasn’t clean. He crossed the line plenty of times to get what he wanted. He didn’t have a PI license that legally allowed him to do some of the things he did, and he certainly wasn’t permitted to carry a gun.
He exited the van and entered the bikers bar, ignoring the stares he got as he charged like a raging bull, playing his part. Instead of demanding to see the leader, instead, he entered the back halls, pushing past plenty of people and into a restroom. He made sure to cut his wire and ditch them before climbing out the window and running.
Like he said, he wasn’t skilled at running, but he wasn’t about to be labelled a rat. He would do what Mari did: make an impulsive decision to escape. He took a leaf out of her playbook, and it did work for him.
He wasn’t going to make it too far on foot, but he had to put some distance between him and the feds before being able to hit the main streets. He flipped his hood up, covering his face, and directed himself to a friend’s place.
Being a bounty hunter for so long meant that he had allies everywhere. And he didn’t particularly have too many enemies everywhere, like some other criminals did.
When he arrived at the apartment, he knocked three times. The guy he knew was incredibly shady and would only answer to people he knew. Which was handy for John whilst he was in hiding.
“John?” a voice called out. Ben. His oldest friend.
John and Ben had met in kindergarten, young innocent children. Which meant their bond was stronger than anything else. Back then, they hadn’t done anything. They weren’t tinted by the burden of their crimes. By high school, Ben had moved away with his family, across the country, to California. They had met a couple of times since, and each time, no matter how long apart they saw each other last, it was a natural friendship between them.
“Hey, Ben, how you doing?” he asked with a smirk.
Ben hugged his oldest friend and greeted him inside with open arms, despite knowing that something had to be wrong for John to turn up unannounced. John wasn’t a touchy person, but he allowed his friend to do so.
They settled down on the couch with a couple of beers in hand and Ben narrowed his eyes at John accusingly.
“Why are you here, John? There has to be a reason. A new bounty?” Ben asked.
“Well, yes, I do have a new bounty. But that’s not why I’m here. I need a place to stay for a few nights, until I concoct a plan to get out of the state. The feds are after me,” he admitted.
“So, you’re bringing trouble to my doorstep.” John gulped at Ben’s serious expression, but once it turned into a simple scoff and a shake of the head, John let out his breath. “It’s fine. What do the feds want you for?”
“They have me on gun charges and some bikers claimed I killed one of their guys that was one of my bounties. That guy was also the state’s witness in multiple cases against those bikers. They wanted me to snake them out, wear a wire whilst talking to them. So, I ran.”
“Fuck. So, they want you for murder as well?”
“Maybe,” he replied curtly, leaning back in the cushioned seat.
“So, this new bounty you’re after, I know you always finish the job. How close are you to them?”
“I got her. Three times. And she escaped all three times,” John gritted out, although secretly admiring his little bounty. His mind often flickered to her, the way she just dove out of that car, the way she shot him, the way she kissed him. The way he kissed her back as revenge. It was forceful but passionate, fiery.
“She? You got a girl running circles around you?”
Yes, yes he did.