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Not Fade Away: 7. The Snare
In this chapter, Rivers Enterprises comes under attack by A Modern Day Force of Evil -- The IRS.
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Two weeks later, Chicago was having its first snowfall. Intent on yet another background -- this time a barren valley between two spurs of a mountain -- Posey had worked straight through lunch, and now she stared out as snowflakes whirled around the windows and obscured the view of the lake. At the beginning of a weekend, most of the other artists had finished their work and already left, so Posey had the Art Department almost to herself. Even Gary had gotten a phone call and taken off up the stairs, looking concerned. She decided to go down to the commissary for a bite to eat. She punched the elevator button but when the doors opened she was confronted by strange men in suits, wielding carts filled with boxes of files. One of them flashed her a badge and with a look of annoyance said, "Take the next one."
Obediently she waited until the elevator showed up again and stepped inside. Instead of going downward, she felt the elevator rising toward the top floors. The car stopped at fifty, and Glenn and Aaron Rivers stepped on. Both were weighed down with stacks of papers and both looked preoccupied.
"They couldn't have picked a worse time for this," Glenn was saying, "what with Sid and Morrie already back east, and most of the staff gone for the holidays."
"I think they knew exactly when it would cause us the most trouble," Aaron replied. "Sid and Morrie need to get copies of the warrants and subpoenas as soon as possible, and I don't trust the computers and phone lines here. I'm sure they have everything bugged."
"Damned IRS. Damned FBI," Glenn muttered. "You don't think they mean to follow up with an arrest warrant for you, do you?"
"I wouldn't put it past them. Tax evasion worked to bring down Capone when nothing else would. It won't stick, of course, but that won't stop them from trying to take me into custody. We'll send all of this from Lake Forest; I know the lines from there are secure."
"That's going to take forever."
"Not if everyone pitches in with the fax machines. Where's Leif?"
"The agents wanted to take all the hard drives. Leif and Gary are scrambling to get their precious game onto backup disks before it can get 'accidentally' wiped. He's almost done. He'll be along right after us."
"We need more hands." Rivers seemed to notice Posey for the first time. "Ms. Walker," he said with a sly smile, "how would you like to see where I live? A few hours work, and I'll throw in some dinner and more of that Margaux."
"Whatever you need. I'm happy to help."
"Ms. Walker, can you type?"
She smiled. Six years of transcribing insurance forms might not have been a complete waste after all. "Like the wind, Mr. Rivers."
"Even better. I have some laptops in the car. We can get a jump on transcribing these.
Between the three of us, we'll have some of these papers ready to transmit by file by the time we get up to my house in Lake Forest. We'll save even more time on the faxing."
They took the elevator to the basement, where Hal was waiting beside Rivers' car. He took three laptops from the trunk.
"You're sure these are safe? No bugs?"
Hal nodded. "I vouch for the car. No one's been near it. The compound too. They won't get in there. This building after today's raid . . .?" He shrugged.
"Good. Have Rudy and Orville do a sweep before we do anything sensitive here again." Rivers held the door of the limo open and ushered Posey into the back. She took the jump seat while the two men sat together on the back seat.
Rivers handed her a laptop and a stack of papers. "We'll send the originals to my lawyers by courier, but if they know what's in them ahead of time, they'll have some idea what the authorities think I might be up to this time. They can stop them in their tracks."
"Are you sure?"
"Quite sure, Ms. Walker, because innocence and good lawyers are a winning combination. It just takes a little time to prove."
Rivers slid the glass privacy panel shut, turning on a light to illuminate the rear compartment. "Let's get to work."
Posey barely noticed as the car moved through the city streets and sped northward along Lakeshore Drive to the Edens Expressway and I-94. From time to time she looked up to see Glenn's fingers flying over his keyboard. Aaron, too, was hunched over, his brow furrowed with concentration as he typed.
Posey had one search warrant completed by the time the car left the toll way and moved onto the wooded back roads of the northern suburbs. It was now nearing twilight, and the snow was coming down harder. Trying to read and type in a moving vehicle wasn't the easiest thing in the world, and she was glad she had never been prone to motion sickness.
The car fishtailed a little as it rounded a curve, and Posey realized that these were the same weather conditions as on the night her parents' car had skidded across the center line to be hit head on by a Peterbilt. And at the same time, she remembered that in her eagerness to begin typing she had neglected to belt herself in. She began to feel for her seatbelt, which unfortunately was caught around the frame of the jump seat. As she struggled with it, Glenn made as if to undo his own shoulder belt.
"No," Aaron said, unfastening his own. "I'll help her."
He freed her belt and clipped it around her. He was returning to his own seat and reaching for his belt when the car swerved, skidded off the road and came to a sudden stop in the ditch. Aaron flew forward and his head smashed into the glass of the partition. Out of the corner of her eye, Posey saw something large and brown run past the side window and into the trees at the other side of the road.
"It was a deer; a blasted deer!" said Hal from the front.
Aaron lay in a heap on the floor of the rear compartment, blood welling from a gash in his forehead. He stirred himself weakly. "Ir im? Man carnen?" he said.
Glenn was out of his seatbelt in a flash and kneeling at Rivers' side. "Avo 'osto, Thran. Im si."
Posey stared in shock. That was not Welsh they were speaking. She knew it. What was more, Rivers' hair had been tossed away from the side of his head, and she could see his ear - his pointed ear.
The side door was yanked open and Hal's face appeared. "Are you all right?"
Glenn shook his head wordlessly. His face was a mask of concern. "He's badly hurt."
At that moment, Aaron let out a groan and struggled to his feet. He pushed past Glenn and Hal and left the car, making it only a few paces before he doubled over and began to vomit. Glenn ran after him and did his best to support the helplessly convulsing body.
"We need to get the bleeding stopped," said Glenn. "Here, hold my coat," he told Posey, who had left the car and come to his side. She could see Hal speaking urgently into a cell phone.
Glenn removed his sport jacket and then his shirt. He tore his shirt into pieces and wrapped them tightly around Aaron's forehead. Posey stared, as Glenn stood naked to the waist in the cold wind without seeming to notice. His bare chest seemed to glow in the twilight, and he was one of the most beautiful sights she had ever seen. And as the wind whipped his hair away from his head, she could see that he too had delicately pointed ears. Not human. These people were not human.
"Oh, no!" she heard Hal hiss, as there came a flash of headlights and a car pulled to a stop down the road. Out stepped Duncan and Fitzhugh. "Gadad han!"
"Don't be silly; they couldn't have planned a deer." said Glenn. "But if they use this excuse to get Aaron into an ambulance we'll never see him again," She saw Glenn and Hal exchange a panicked look.
"We can't let that happen," Hal muttered, and his hand moved toward the gun on his hip.
"No! Wait!" said Posey desperately. "There has to be another way!"
Thanking the fate that had led her to wear a button down shirt that day, she unzipped her jacket and gave her shirt a hard yank, popping off the top three buttons. She dashed off toward Duncan and Fitzhugh screaming, "Oh my God; oh my God, there's blood everywhere!" Mariposa Walker had no bra; Mariposa Walker needed no bra, and, whatever she might lack in the way of endowments, she was sure the two agents were getting quite an eyeful as she ran toward them.
Her shirt gaped and so did Agent Fitzhugh, who was a man, after all. Duncan seemed to be a little harder to distract. He was still focused on the wrecked car and the three figures beyond. She threw herself into his arms, trying to do her best impression of feminine hysteria. "So much blood! Ooh, I think I'm going to be sick!"
For good measure, she managed to get her legs entangled in Duncan's, and the two of them went down, knocking Fitzhugh over in the process. As the three of them floundered on the icy roadside, she heard the noise of an engine and saw a grey sports car pull up.
She saw Leif and Glenn hustling Aaron into the passenger seat, and the grey car pulled away in a flash of taillights and spraying snow. The two agents struggled free of her and ran to their own sedan, taking off in hot pursuit. "So much for chivalry, assholes," she thought as she lay in the snow. One of the knees of her jeans was ripped, and her elbow felt bruised.
Glenn, wearing just his sport coat over his bare chest, reached her side and helped her to her feet. Hal soon joined them.
"They'll never catch Leif," he said with a smirk. "He'll lose them easily. I've called Orville, and he'll be here to pick us up and get us to the airport. Change of plans -- we're all of us heading east tonight."
She looked at them glowing in the snow, hair blowing away from pointed ears. Aliens. They had to be. "Well, I'll just be going now," she said carefully.
"You're cold and you're hurt, Posey. You need to stay with us," Glenn said.
"Oh, no, I'll be just fine on my own," she said with studied nonchalance. "I'll just walk to a phone and get myself a cab. It's no problem at all!"
She saw the two of them exchange another look. Hal sighed and pulled his gun. "I'm afraid we must insist," he said, pointing it at her heart.
* * *
She sat shivering, refusing to look Glenn in the eye as Orville's car drove up to the private hangar. She was taken onto a Learjet and strapped into a window seat, with Glenn sitting beside her on the aisle. Hal moved to the cockpit -- it was plain he would be piloting the craft. Glenn spoke soothingly to her, trying to get her to respond, but she was having none of it.
Soon the plane was in the air and they were out over Lake Michigan, leaving the lights of the city behind. Linda appeared from the rear of the plane, looking tired and concerned. She sat down in front of them and swiveled her seat to face Glenn.
"How is he?" Glenn asked.
"No skull fracture, as I'd feared, but he's badly concussed. I've stitched the cut, but the rest will have to wait until we get home. Leif and Felice are in the back with him, keeping him awake and talking. I don't envy them the task. He's going to have the mother of all headaches for at least a week."
"Headaches and Aaron are nothing new, nor is bad temper," Glenn said.
"We had a very narrow escape just now. If they had gotten their hands on him, I don't like to think what they would have done. Did you secure the car?"
Glenn nodded. "Bleach. Everywhere. Aaron is going to have to replace the upholstery in the back seat -- assuming the car isn't totaled."
"We owe Mariposa a debt of gratitude," Linda said.
Posey just looked at her miserably, remembering Duncan's tales of young women workers at Rivers Enterprises who had disappeared. She could see the tip of an ear poking through Linda's hair, now that she knew where to look. And with increasing horror, she recalled seeing Linda pocket her drinking glass all those months before. Her heart began to beat wildly. "You took my DNA! Why did you do that?"
"Please, Mariposa. You're safe," Glenn said helplessly.
"Why did you do that? Where are you taking me?" she said, breathing hard and beginning to feel faint.
"Oh, no!" Linda said. "This was too soon for her."
Linda reached out and took her face between her two hands. Posey felt herself drowning in the woman's eyes. She could not break the gaze. "Mariposa . . . sleep!"
And she slept.
* * * * * * *
Author's Notes: Translations:
"Ir im? Man carnen?": "Where am I? What happened?"
"Avo 'osto, Thran. Im si.":"Don't be afraid, Thran. I'm here."
"Gadad han!": "It's a trap!"
To be continued . . .
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