The phone call from Harry had not come at a good time. For the first time in a very long time Sean had taken the chance to take a long hard look at his life and it wasn’t pretty. A failed marriage, a habitual drinking problem and precious little to show for more than twenty years of upholding good - Protecting and Serving. A long succession of superficial, short term attachments which had never come close to breaching his defences culminating in his latest emotional fuck up, Terry. If there was a scout badge for ‘emotional basket case’ Sean reckoned he would qualify easily. Christ, he wrote the book.
His had actually started out as quite a reasonable life. He had none of the normal excuses. Stable home, both parents, older sister, no crime. (so why had it all turned to shit?) The Police Academy had seemed a
like a good idea, Wisconsin was hardly the drugs capital of the world and yet he had gone out of his way to court trouble. From some views his life was positively peachy and yet he had contrived to take all that was good and turn it bad. (What a gift). Fay had been way beyond him, it was a nice safe way to play the mating game without the remotest possibility that he would have to let anybody in or find anybody who would want to come in. It was a perfect personal sabotage plan, guaranteed to make sure that he would never have that which he craved most. But she had consented to a night out with the fledgling beat bobby and she had given him a chance to show off his dress uniform like it meant something. Sean smirked as he thought about it now. She had shocked with the pictures she had conjured up involving his handcuffs and she had been as good as her word. He had seen a side of her that only he knew about and they had laughed like school kids through the whole thing. Even then, he was secretly waiting for the illusion to end and in the end it was his own insecurities which had fucked it up. Not another man, not another woman just Sean becoming more and more paranoid that such a great woman couldn’t possibly want to stay with him. So she didn’t. The trust which had always been unspoken was questioned, schedules scrutinised and suspects questioned. In truth, Sean had spent more energy on undermining his marriage than he had ever put into a case - he was that insecure. Or he had been. He had driven Fay away. Hell, he had done more than that. He had bought her the car, paid for the lessons and handed her the keys. He would give anything to have her back.
The house had gone, and most of the friends had sided with Fay and who could blame them? The move to the DEA had been borne out of a desperate need to move on, and the realisation that promotions were always going to go to somebody else all the time he stayed where he was. Harry had welcomed him into the department and, if truth be told they had formed a good team. There had been occasional lapses but they had worked well together despite what Sean saw as huge differences between them.
Sean sat back, took a long drag on the cigar and sipped smoothly from his glass - Perrier - for Chrissakes - Yeah right, huge differences! The only real difference was that Harry had everything Sean could have had and Sean envied him so bad it hurt.
Sean leaned back and took a long swig from the bottle. The liquid was positively anaemic. What he wouldn’t give for the rasp of a real drink. He had no idea what he would do now. The plan had only gone as far as getting all four of them out of the senate in one piece. There had been no contingencies for reunions, pleasant or otherwise. Harry’s call whilst unscheduled was not altogether unsurprising - they were mates after all. Harry’s tone however, immediately put Sean on edge - this wasn’t a ‘how about goin’ to the ballgame’ type of call. Sean listened intently as Harry laid out what he and Jean had managed to glean form the papers since their curiosity had been piqued by the death of the senator. In truth, the death of William Boyd II has hardly caused a great stir across the nation. Hell, it had hardly caused a stir in his own state. He had not been a young man. His political works had been enough to keep him comfortably off in the eyes of the electorate but they were never going to take him to the White House and whilst the ‘loss of a great natural statesman’ had brought all the usual plaudits from the great and the good, in truth the jockeying to be his successor had already begun and nobody seemed to care.
Harry laid out what they knew and Sean listened but what it really came down was simple. Had anything been done? Sean had never held out much hope for ‘Billy’ Boyd, he had far more faith in the Englishman , Parkinson; but he still needed to know whether he had to start all over again and if he had to, how much more dangerous would it be ? Jesus, why did everything have to be so complicated?
Sean and Harry finished their conversation with the usual pleasantries but both had their minds elsewhere. Sean was trying to work out the next move and who should make it, whilst Harry was somewhere altogether more sinister. Had Billy Boyd left this mortal coil of his own volition or had he been pushed? If he’d been pushed, why and by whom? He had to admit he couldn’t really cope with any more at present so he and Sean had agreed to talk the following day and both had gone back to their own thoughts, two thousand miles apart but in situation they had never been closer.
The flame flickered momentarily before it took hold. The orange, red and blue toyed easily with the cheap material fiercely seeking something more worthy of its attention. The papers on the wall began to yield almost as easily and then all was overtaken by the discovery of fresh prey, liberally doused in petrol which
teased the flames to the point of abstraction before turning the cabin into an intense inferno greedily feeding on its own substance.
The body would never be found - at least not recognisable as a body. Sure, somebody could probably work out that the cabin hadn’t been empty but the identity of the poor unfortunate would keep several dentists in public service cheques for a very long time. But then that was the point.
Slowly, but alas too fast; the adrenaline eased and the heat subsided. The outside of the cabin was still recognisable but only by someone who knew it real well whilst internally nothing remained that wasn’t at least lightly toasted.
In Washington, Sean and Harry’s absence had not gone unnoticed, the captain had covered their tracks, Gaynor had been taken into custody and the department had carried on as close to normal as it could. It was just more understaffed than usual.
Their absence had been relatively easy to hide, Sean had always been an outsider so a transfer following the arrest of Gaynor was seen as just rewards and a route back to somewhere close to the big time whilst Harry had simply taken early retirement, bought a boat and headed east, which if anything was rather too close to the truth. Still, who was to know?
Since the timely demise of ‘Billy’ Boyd, Donnegan had been busy. It wasn’t like he had a choice. Parkinson had made that clear enough. Up to now, he had turned up little on Sean and Terry but then as single people with few ties both were difficult to track. Donnegan already knew to his cost how Terry could disappear but both would keep and both were still vulnerable if only to each other. They would keep. Harry had been easier to track. Both Harry and Jean had extensive family ties and sooner or later someone had talked. He already knew where they had headed he just didn’t have a firm fix but with an organisation that made the NYPD look like the Boy Scouts it wouldn’t be long. He already had the beginnings of a plan and all the time the four of them were separated and in hiding ‘the pipeline’ could continue untroubled.. Donnegan had had the sense to have a contingency plan drawn up -‘the pipeline’ could be shut down relatively quickly and vehicles could always be transferred to other markets depending on which direction
‘the heat’ came from. Even now, he had allowed himself the luxury of marvelling at what a great idea ‘the pipeline’ had been. Michaels was none the wiser, the hole in the line had been filled by another, all the cops had was a small time thief and a delinquent manager who knew less than even he realised. Drugs and cars was nothing new and without Gaynor’s briefcase there was no case. The local cops hadn’t got it and with Boyd out of the picture and Mason believing Parkinson was one of the good guys things were still under control.
He had watched the cop’s house for two weeks. He knew the routine, he knew the timing and he knew the woman better than the cop did. He had seen her dress and undress. He had admired the smooth contours of her body and he would again. The house would burn easily it was just a case of working out who would be in it at the time. He would like all four but more people meant more problems. But more people meant more fun .The woman would be easy and he would take his time. Kids were good but unpredictable. The only real given was that the cop would die. Who would see it, who else would die were just details. Either way, the cop would die.
No matter where you are, who you are or how you live the normal routine of everyday life will be your undoing. Nobody knew Harry and Jean in Annapolis they were just another couple from the grey brigade heading south for the winter and taking a boat on the harbour. But they still needed food, the boat didn’t run itself and money is always money. Sean and Harry had spoken several times since the first call. Never at the same time, never from the same booth but one thing had remained constant. The papers had steadfastly refused to report the demise of the biggest drug smuggling operation in the northern hemisphere concentrating instead on the ‘Orioles’ run to The World Series and the possibility of a second term for Clinton, impeachment or no impeachment. Initially they had decided to continue to lay low. They already knew that the organisation was potentially vast and like the heads of the hydra it would need to be slain simultaneously. All Sean had been able to present at the senate house had been supposition, it would take time to build a case particularly when the full extent of the organisation was unknown and federal
staff would need to work with local agencies but could only do so once their involvement had been disproved
Sean had already had cause to question their rapid departure. He was not prepared for a long time in hiding and whilst Harry and Jean had merely moved up their plans and chosen their second location Sean had plans to return to some sort of normal existence given the choice. Nobody spoke of Terry.
They had chosen to accept the death of ‘Billy Boyd’ as unfortunate and in truth they had little choice. Inwardly Harry was convinced otherwise but to speak his views would only serve to upset Jean and besides what could they do? Returning to Washington would be suicide. Approaching a second politician whose credentials they were unsure of would only serve to attract attention and the organisation had had plenty of time to regroup and dig in. They had accepted that their best hope rested with Simon Parkinson and the intervention of the British. He wasn’t expecting the guys on Capitol Hill to like it but at least they would come in quick and clean. Till then they would just have to sit tight and Sean would have to find a way of supplementing the cash he had come away with.
Over the phone Harry had had a chance to reduce the levity of the situation this last point had prompted some interesting alternative careers for Sean who even as he hung up was contemplating the two last which had drawn belly laughs from them both and left Sean with tears of laughter running down his cheeks. Considering the situation they were in a career as a male model just seemed to conjure up all sorts of possibilities which given Sean’s alcoholic history and sadly neglected body was never likely to threaten any of the regulars.
For Harry the bonhomie was not entirely forced. He missed Sean and knew that the last thing Sean needed was to be cast adrift again in a new place with no contacts and a liquor store just round the corner. Montana might have been light years away geographically but they had liquor stores just like everywhere else. Sean needed people more than he knew and whilst Harry had assumed that Terry had just drifted back into the life of a loner and he and Jean had simply retired early, for Sean such dislocation was not the wisest move and Harry knew how hard Sean had found it to fit in at the DEA and how hard he had fallen after Terry.
The children ran carelessly across the road and dove in to the back of the station wagon. News was noisily exchanged over the chaos of reunion after a separation which had lasted less than a day but which appeared worthy of a prolonged confinement. Amidst a hail of questions, hugs and Twinkies, crucial information was exchanged in all directions and none of it was lost.
The scene was much like any other replayed a thousand times across Middle America
Donnegan had always believed in redundancy. Not the sort where people move on, the sort where you have two plans and not just the one. He had two plans now.
The Pipeline : (8)