Private Investigations

Book Eleven

by Beth AKA Midge

ATF Universe

Chapter 7
Ezra continued to write notes on the small notepad he´d brought with him. He was trying to write out all the information he had on Harrison and on Samuel Gardner. In his head and on paper he was trying to build the connection between the two. He looked again at the growing crowd in the small Italian restaurant. Families sat together, young couples gazed into each other´s eyes, and friends enjoyed conversations of their past and their futures.

When he´d opened the door to his motel room he fully expected it to be an unwelcome guest. Instead he saw the faces of his friends and inside Ezra sighed in relief. He wasn´t alone. They were here once again to pull his sorry ass out of another bind and he loved them for it. He had told them everything he knew and it didn´t bother him a bit. He spilled his guts about Guarde needing him to find the killer of his son and he told them about Harrison´s involvement. This whole situation needed to end.

The waitress came by the table and refilled his coffee and smiled to him. He returned her smile with a smile of his own. He returned his gaze to the pad he´d been writing on then looked up in surprise when an older gentleman slid into the seat across from him. He stared into familiar brown eyes unwilling to back down. “Can I help you with something?” Ezra asked.

Timothy Daley folded his fingers together and rested his arms on the table. “Do you know who I am?” he asked. His voice was low and even, no hint of malice or uncertainty laced his words. It was just a simple question, but one that needed answered.

“Yes, I know who you are.”

Tim smiled and shook his head when the waitress carrying a pot of coffee started toward the table. “Perhaps we could go someplace quieter and talk.” It was an order, not an invitation. He stood up and paid Ezra´s tab then followed the Southerner out of the restaurant.

+ + + + + + +

A soft wind picked up and blew a couple of pieces of paper past Ezra´s feet. The sun was making its slow decent but the city was coming alive. The homeless tried to find a spot in vacant doorways while joggers went by listening to their headphones. 

The two walked in step for a short while before Ezra stopped and looked at the man that he, in many ways, distained. “What do you want?”

“I´ve been watching you for a long time.” Daley continued walking.

“Why?” Ezra asked watching as the form started walking away. “Why the fuck do you care!?” he yelled, causing the individuals on the street to move away.

Tim stopped and put his hands into his suit pants. “Because I owe it to your father!” he yelled back, while motioning for them to move off the street.

“Was that before or after you slept with my mother?” Ezra demanded an answer.

Tim motioned for Ezra to join him in the alleyway between the two buildings they had stopped in front of. “Your father was a good man…”

“And obviously you took advantage of that!” Ezra snapped walking farther into the alley. “What is it you want from me?”

“First of all I want you to get your head out of your ass then I want you to listen to what I have to say!” Tim snapped back. He wouldn´t tolerate this kind of behavior, not from Ezra not from anyone.

Ezra stopped and ran his hand roughly through his hair. He had too many things to think about without his or his father´s past entering into it. “I really don´t have time for this.” Ezra raised his eyebrows and started to walk away.

“I was there the night your father died,” Tim called after Ezra´s retreating form.

Ezra stopped unsure of how to respond. He looked up when a black sedan entered the alley and started moving toward him at a low speed. “What is going on?” He looked back toward Timothy and the sedan.

“He wasn´t killed in that car accident...”

Ezra sucked in a deep breath. He knew that, he knew his father wasn´t killed in a tragic car accident, he was the one who found him.

Daley continued…“I helped your mother move the body and we pushed the car down that ravine. Your mother was afraid that she wouldn´t get that social security check if it was discovered that your father had committed suicide.”

+ + + + + + +

“Buck!” Chris yelled into the back seat, “close in on his location.” His gut was telling him that things were going downhill fast and he wanted to get to Ezra before something was said or done that would cause him harm.

“Damn it Chris, I´m workin´ on it!” Buck yelled back.

+ + + + + + +

“Do you remember what happened that night?” Tim asked, needing an answer.

“Yes,” Ezra whispered. He braced his hands against his knees and took a couple deep breaths. He remembered. He remembered Tim and his mother taking him out to dinner after receiving all A´s on his first grade report card. He remembered his father, standing in the doorway, waving goodbye to him and his mother while Tim waited in the car. His father was smiling but it was evident that there was pain behind his eyes. Pain from what, a six-year-old Ezra didn´t know. He remembered coming home late and bursting into the house to show his father the picture he´d colored at the restaurant, proud because he´d stayed within the lines. He remembered running up the stairs to his father´s study pushing the heavy door open and finding his father hanging from the ceiling. He remembered staring at his father´s colorless face. He remembered everything.

“Your mother and I found you hiding under your father´s desk, you were in such a state of shock you quit talking… You didn´t say anything for almost two years.” Tim motioned for the driver of the sedan to step out and bring him something. “The CIA was interested in you but I quickly detoured them when I told them you couldn´t speak Russian.” Tim lit a cigarette. “Harry didn´t have the stomach for it and neither did your father. Some people can´t handle getting to know someone and then learn you had to kill them, it´s a rough business and I knew you wouldn´t be able to handle it…though I´m sure you would have tried.” Tim watched as his partner sat the small stack of files on the hood of the car. “Rafe, introduce yourself to Agent Standish.” Rafe stuck his hand out for Ezra to shake but the Southerner ignored him. Then the young agent moved back to the other side of the alley. “Rafe´s new to intelligence.” Tim walked toward the sedan and picked up the files then turned and faced Ezra.

“Is this what you wanted to share with me?” Ezra asked, confusion, anger, and pain echoed throughout his mind.

“What I have to share with you is in regards to Harrison, what I did share with you I only did to convince you that I´m telling the truth…do you believe me Agent?” Tim looked at Ezra expecting an answer.

The Southerner chuckled and looked disbelievingly at Daley. Tim pulled a weapon out of his belt and started to screw in a silencer. Ezra instinctively took a step back and prepared to trigger his derringer. Without warning Daley pointed the weapon at Rafe and fired.

Ezra triggered his derringer and pointed it at Daley. “Don´t move,” he ordered, taking another step back.

Tim chuckled and put his weapon away. “You didn´t answer my question Ezra…Do you believe me now?” He looked at Ezra in the eyes showing no remorse for the murder he just committed. In his eyes it had to be done for the greater good.

Ezra continued to point the weapon at the man standing before him. He didn´t respond just stared at the man who at one time had been his father´s partner.

“When you started your investigation into the Harrison case the CIA took special interest. At the time we were too preoccupied with the situation in the Middle East to do anything about it ourselves and we´d had high hopes about your small inquiry.” Tim picked up the files off the hood of the car. “We had hoped you could handle this on your own but obviously…” He raised his eyes and handed the first file to Ezra.

The Southerner hesitated for a moment unsure if he should take the file. Ever so slowly he lowered his weapon and took it.

“The man who murdered Samuel Gardner is in there as well as the men who paid him. And before you ask, yes, Agent White´s killer is one in the same. His name is Marcus Webber, he´s a CIA sharpshooter who gets hired for what we like to call ‘necessary kills´.” Tim leaned against the hood of the car his cigarette glowed every time he took a long breath off the end. “You need to understand something,” he paused and took a brief look around, “this isn´t a game. Drug and weapon sales have increased ten fold over the past fifteen years. Not only are there small time dealers but government personnel are getting their hands in it as well…The only reason you´re not dead yet is because your father and your father´s father had ‘influential´ friends.” He watched Ezra´s expression, which remained cold and unreadable. “Your friends,” Tim raised his eyebrows because he knew the man standing in front of him would know who he is talking about, “are more involved in this than you know. That bomb that went off in Chris Larabee´s driveway was intended for him, you can bet on it. Originally they wanted to take out Buck Wilmington as well because he was involved in the raid at the warehouse but for reasons I am not privileged to,” he shook his head and stood up. He looked at Ezra and decided to go on, “The work Patrick did was very…sensitive, and Harry Kessler nor myself ever knew what it was he was working on exactly. I also noticed how involved the bureau wanted to be in his life and your life, you see, you were the one thing in Patrick´s life that he wouldn´t risk.” Daley grabbed the last file off the hood of the car and handed it to Ezra. “Those are letters I intercepted from a Teresa Tanner who lived in Pampa Texas telling Harry Kessler of his son…Children are easily used as bargaining tools. As long as Harry didn´t know about the boy and Teresa believed she´d been abandoned…they were all safe.”

Ezra shook his head, “Why are you giving this to me?”

“Because you have to understand that if Harry finds out he has a son then he´ll be placing Vin in the same situation you´re in. He´ll never be able to go a day without looking over his shoulder…you know what that´s like. We´ve made a lot of enemies in this line of work and when you have the opportunity to protect the ones you care about…you do it…no questions asked.” Tim threw his cigarette to the ground and put the butt out with the tip of his shoe. “I have enough faith in your abilities as a federal agent to redirect Vin Tanner´s research into the whereabouts of his father.” 

Ezra understood what Daley was saying and he would do whatever he had to do in order to protect not only Vin but Chris as well. “Who is Harrison?” he asked, keeping the files grasped tightly in his hand.

“If you blow this case open, I think it would be best if you understood the repercussions. Neither your life nor the life of your friends will matter. Casey Wells nor her Aunt, Mary Travis or her son, Raine or the baby she´s now carrying, their lives are going to mean nothing. If you´re wise think about that and seriously think about how you want these people to be exposed. For the most part you´ll be on your own, but the CIA will be forever in your debt if you take care of this ‘internal´ problem.” He moved to the driver´s side door of the sedan and popped the trunk. “You have twenty minutes to get to a small diner eighteen blocks from here. The Cab House is on 20th and Capital. In the last booth to the right there´s an envelope taped under the table it will contain the evidence you need to bring charges against Harrison.” Daley moved across the front of the car and picked up Rafe´s body then placed it in the trunk.

“Why are you doing this?” Ezra asked, sticking the files into the back waistband of his pants then he covered them with his jacket.

“My debt to your father is paid Ezra, the rest is up to you.” He slammed the trunk shut then started to get inside the car. “I would suggest you get a move on, you only have seventeen minutes left.” With that said Tim got into the sedan and slowly backed out of the alley then disappeared onto the streets of Indianapolis.

Ezra took off at a run not wanting to find out what would happen to the file if he didn´t reach the destination in time. He ran past people in the streets who moved quickly to get out of his path.

+ + + + + + +

Chris was frantic and to top everything off they couldn´t get the van started. They had all heard what had been said and they understood that they needed to get to Ezra. Josiah continued to say prayers over the engine trying to get even a little something. Buck was threatening to commandeer a car but after Chris reminded him that their little investigation wasn´t exactly legal then that train of thought was quickly done away with. JD was ready to get on the road and run. Surely they couldn´t be that far from the restaurant Ezra was supposed to go to.

“Nobody says anything about what we just heard,” Chris demanded, looking hard at his men.

“What about Vin?” JD asked. Like the sharpshooter the kid wanted to know who his father was, but in a distant way he understood why it had to remain quiet.

“Everything stays quiet JD,” Chris replied. Harry had been his best friend for many years and he knew what it would do to him if he learned he had a grown son. It would tear him up but with a sense of relief it was good to know that Vin had a father like Harry. Perhaps they could get to know each other in another way.  

“Nobody will say a word,” Buck spoke up understanding Chris´ mindset.

“Good…now let´s find Ezra.”

+ + + + + + +

Ezra ran for all he was worth. He ignored the looks of question being directed to him from bystanders and he continued to run. The car came out of nowhere. Ezra flew into the windshield on his left side the gun that rested against his ribs dug painfully into his flesh. His shoulder popped painfully out of joint as he rolled slowly off the car landing on his right side.

The driver had slammed on their brakes but he hadn´t been fast enough as the man he hit crashed down on his windshield then almost immediately slid off the hood of his car. He jumped out in a state of panic looking wildly around for someone, anyone to help. “I killed him,” he said barely above a whisper, while tentatively walking around to the front of his car.

Ezra lay motionless for a moment trying to collect his thoughts. Pain radiated from his shoulder, to his ribs, to his hip. Slowly he moved his feet and started to get up. Bracing his left arm against his side someone grabbed him from behind telling him not to move.

“I´ll call an ambulance,” the driver yelled, relieved that the pedestrian was moving.

“No!” Ezra yelled back, while getting to his feet. He shrugged off the hands that helped hold him steady. Everyone stopped and looked at him in surprise. He didn´t have time for this. Ezra reached into his back pocket with his right hand and pulled out his wallet and handed the driver his card then took off at a slow jog. He had to get that file; at all costs he had to get that file.

“Oh man,” the driver sighed, “I hit an FBI agent.”

Ezra continued to jog. He tried to ignore the pain by keeping his mind on what lay ahead. The Cab House was as beautiful a vision as he ever saw. The restaurant was an old passenger train car that had been painted the color of a yellow taxi. It was small and stuck out like a sore thumb when compared to the elegantly engineered buildings it rested between. Ezra quickly entered and found for the most part it was empty. An older gentleman sat at the counter drinking coffee while reading the paper. Ezra could hear laughter coming from the cook area, obviously the waitress and the cook got along. He continued toward the last booth on the right and he slid into the comfortable red vinyl seat. He sighed when he felt the envelope taped to the underside of the table.

 Almost immediately the old man stood up and left.

The waitress stepped up to the table and sat a cup of hot coffee in front of her new costumer. Her uniform was standard, black slacks and a dark blue shirt. A small apron was strapped across her pouching belly. Her hair was short and gray. Her face was soft and kind with lines of intelligence and knowledge creeping around her eyes and lips.  For the first time in a long time she was seeing new faces. “You all right sweetie?” she asked softly. Immediately she pulled out of her pocket a napkin and handed it to the young man sitting in the booth when he looked up at her in question. “You´re bleedin´.” She pointed to her left temple.

Ezra touched his face and pulled his hand away exposing blood covered fingers. He sighed and took the napkin and placed it on the left side of his face. “I apologize,” he replied sadly.

“I´ve got a first aid kit in the back,” she touched his shoulder, “le´ me go get it.”

Ezra pulled the envelope from its place under the table and hesitantly opened it up. Black and white images, dates, and correspondence, via emails, letters, and recorded phone conversations, fell out of the manila file. He looked carefully at what he held in his hand. Ezra shook his head. Harrison wasn´t a man; Harrison was an organization of fourteen individuals ranging from state senators to high profile FBI agents. He closed the file when the waitress came over to his table carrying a small first aid kit.

“I ain´t never seen nobody so handsome lookin´ so tore up.” The waitress smiled and motioned for Ezra to step out of the booth and take a seat at the bar where she could have an easier reach to his wound.

Stiffly the Southerner complied. He stuck the files in the back waistband of his pants, needing to keep them close and away from view. “Really ma´am you don´t have to do this,” he relayed his concern.

“Cosette,” she smiled, “my name´s Cosette.” She placed the kit on the counter and opened it up. “My momma read Les Miserables every year of her life, so far as I can remember anyway.” She continued to dab the long gash along his temple. “I just never met my Marius,” she covered the cut in antibacterial ointment, “I did meet my Enjolras,” she stated in a matter of fact tone. “He was so eager to fight for what was right… He died in Vietnam.”

“I´m sorry.”

“Did you ever read the book Les Miz?” she asked out of curiosity.

“A long time ago,” Ezra replied, as Cosette covered his cut with a couple of butterfly bandages.

“I only read the abridged version, just couldn´t seem to get through Victor Hugo´s chapter on the underground sewers in Paris,” she laughed at herself, “boy that man could write more about nothin´ than nothin´ could about somethin´.” Cosette started replacing the items she´d used to care for the wound on Ezra´s temple.

“Thank you.” Ezra smiled.

“Can I call someone for you?” She looked hard at the young man sitting uncomfortably on the stool.

“A cab,” he responded gratefully.

Cosette tapped his right hand with her own and headed for the phone. Ezra slid stiffly out of his jacket disregarding the fact that his weapon was in full view. He removed his derringer and then its spring rig then quickly removed the shoulder holster being careful not to move his left arm. The waitress stepped out from behind the counter and gasped in surprise at the weapons lying on the counter.

Ezra looked up and smiled warmly. “I´m a federal agent,” he answered her unasked question.

Cosette sighed in relief. “The cab should be here shortly. Would you like a bag for your…?” she motioned with a tilt of her head to the weapons.

Ezra slid his Glock into the band of his pants then stuck his derringer into his pocket. “That won´t be necessary.” He smiled lightly, when he saw the garbage can by the door. The letters he had been given didn´t belong to him and they were intended for someone else. They´d been written out of love to a man who didn´t know he had a son. Ezra shook his head, it wasn´t his right and it wasn´t his business. He would protect Vin because he was a friend and because he knew Vin would do the same for him regardless of the circumstances. Ezra took out the letters and looked at the elegant handwriting on the outside. 

The sound of a cab honking grabbed Ezra and Cosette´s attention. “You better get yourself to a hospital,” Cosette said, helping the Southerner to his feet.

Ezra tipped his imaginary hat and quickly made his way out of the small restaurant he paused a moment at the dumpster and threw the letters inside. It had to be done, for all their sakes. Cosette watched him leave. As she gathered up the first aid kit and noticed the young man had left his jacket. By the time she made it to the door he was gone.

+ + + + + + +

A van screeched to a halt in front of The Cab House and four men jumped out. Like lions charging their prey they entered the train car scaring the waitress behind the counter. Josiah ran towards the bathroom while JD headed toward the booth Ezra was supposed to be at.

“Ma´am,” Chris said leaning over the counter. “We´re looking for a friend, brown hair, green eyes, about five foot ten.” He emphasized Ezra´s height by the position of his hand. He pulled out his ID and showed the woman who seemed to be too scared to say anything.

“He left in a cab a few minutes ago,” Cosette responded. She handed him the jacket Ezra had been wearing.

“Do you know where he went?” Buck asked, trying to ease the moment.

The waitress shook her head. “He was pretty banged up though.”

Buck smiled flashing his pearly whites. “Thank you ma´am,” he said, earning him a smile for his efforts.

The four turned and left. Leaving in their wake a questioning waitress, an empty restaurant, and the last known place Ezra was at. Chris threw the Southerner´s jacket into the van and slipped into the driver´s seat. He was ready to take a sledgehammer to the van if it didn´t start. Josiah slipped into the passenger seat feeling the tension from the team leader increase. JD and Buck piled into the back feeling utterly defeated. No longer did they have the ability to track their undercover agent.

Chris started the van and got back on the road. Disregarding the honks coming from annoyed drivers the team leader headed off toward the motel Ezra had been staying at hoping he would be there.


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