Mikey goes home
Frank looked up from where he sat in a comfortable chair, apparently unmoved by the outburst.
“Well? Would it?” Gerard repeated as he noticed Ray sprawled on the sofa.
“What?” Frank asked, fairly certain he understood the problem.
“This is my place. Mine! And you two come and go here like you have a key!”
“I do have a key,” Frank smirked, knowing it would only irritate Gerard more.
Gerard frowned; part angry, part perplexed. Frank nodded towards Mikey as he explained.
“I got a copy made of the one you gave to Mikey. Easier than breaking in… well, marginally.”
Gerard’s shoulders sagged as he realised how simple the reason was. Nevertheless, he didn’t want Frank entering his apartment as if he owned it. Mikey had a key because he was his brother. Not even his last girlfriend had been given a key and he was certain that he didn’t want Frank owning a copy. Stretching out his hand, the expression on Gerard’s face made it clear, without even saying a word, that he wanted the key. With a smirk, Frank reached into his pocket and drew out a small silver coloured key and placed it in Gerard’s outstretched palm.
“Thank you,” Gerard nodded.
“It’s not a problem,” Frank grinned. “I still have the mold.”
“You think you’re funny?” Gerard frowned.
Frank shrugged and leaned back into the chair. “Either that, or you’re a little too serious.”
“Frank,” Bob interrupted. “What about Brooke?”
Frank frowned and rose from the chair. Tapping his fingers together, he glanced at Gerard and Mikey.
“Are you sure you still want to do this?” he asked with a tinge of hope in his voice.
Mikey glanced at Gerard, who looked about ready to quit then and there.
“First of all,” he began in a serious tone. “You two have got to get on, or at least try to. If we do this, I’ll be gone for up to three months…”
“Three months!” Frank gasped. “Why? Where?”
“I have to hand my notice in, we both do. Gee lives here, but I don’t. I’m going to have to go back to Chicago and they may make me work my notice. Granted, they probably won’t, especially if they think there’s a conflict of interests, but, they might.”
“Three months?” Frank repeated bleakly.
“Frank, do you think you could just…” Ray began.
“Who’s this Brooke guy?” Mikey asked, cutting Ray off before he said anything that may make Gerard suspicious of his friendship with Frank.
At the moment, that was all it was, and it may never be anything more. But that was something he wanted to work out for himself, in his own time. It seemed to him that both Ray and Bob were much less discreet on that topic and three months away could be potentially trying on that score.
“Brooke is… was a client. Sometimes he found buyers for me when we had stuff to fence; you know, artwork, jewellery, that sort of thing.”
“A middle man?” Mikey clarified.
“Yeah, he took a cut of the value of the item. We get paid, he gets paid and the buyer gets the goods. Everyone’s happy,” Frank explained.
“Until you don’t get the goods?”
“It’s happened before, not often, granted. But sometimes it’s not possible to get things. I’m good, but I’m not infallible.” Frank shrugged, unhappy to admit what he saw as failure.”
“And what’s the reaction when you can’t get whatever they bought? You give the money back?”
Frank shook his head. “Cash on delivery. We don’t get it, we don’t get paid, there’s nothing to give back.”
“But they’re angry?” Mikey pressed.
“If they are, they keep it quiet. They don’t want anyone to know they were buying stolen goods any more than we advertise that we’re stealing them.”
“But this time it’s different?”
“Apparently,” Frank replied distractedly. Glancing down, he frowned, suddenly finding himself at a loss to explain what was happening.
“Who was the buyer?”
“I don’t know,” Frank shrugged. “Brooke never told me. But this one was different; it was really big. There were so many different aspects to this robbery. I mean, you two for one, we’ve never brought anyone else in before. We’ve never kidnapped anyone before. And, I didn’t know the buyer this time. Basically, this one was doomed to fail, I don’t know what I was thinking!”
“It’s not all bad,” Gerard added, sensing Frank’s agitation and Mikey’s efforts to calm him. “Everyone got out, mostly unhurt and no arrests.”
Frank glanced at Gerard’s leg before turning a scowl towards Bob.
“You didn’t take him to the hospital?” he snapped.
“You told me to bring them here,” Bob countered defensively.
“I thought they’d have treated him at the station!”
“Seriously?” Bob asked with sarcasm in his voice.
With a deep sigh, Frank nodded. “Yeah, sorry, you’re right. Can you take him now?”
“No!” Gerard insisted. “I’m fine, I don’t need to go anywhere.”
Frank nodded in the direction of the door as Bob took a firm hold of Gerard’s arm.
“Hey!” Gerard protested, but to no avail as he was pulled towards the door.
“Frank!” Mikey snapped. “He’s got a right to hear this!”
“He needs to have that looked at,” Frank turned to Mikey with a pleading glance that begged him to let Bob take Gerard to the hospital.
Torn between looking after his brother’s injury and asking him to stay to hear Frank’s explanation of how the situation would pan out, Mikey merely turned with a shrug.
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
Gerard glanced down at the wound. It still hurt, there was no doubt about that and now some sort of clear fluid was seeping through the bandage. It certainly didn’t look good. Glancing briefly at Bob, but pulling out of his grip, Gerard nodded.
“I should get it looked at,” he admitted with a sigh. “Catch me up later?”
“Sure,” Mikey nodded.
Watching as Gerard headed out, Mikey noticed that his limp had worsened and was cross with himself for not having insisted that he go to the hospital immediately. As the door closed, Mikey turned back to look at Frank.
“This Brooke guy, he’s trouble isn’t he?”
“No, no,” Frank shook his head. “I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“Just tell him, Frank!” Ray snapped. “You can’t wrap him in cotton wool. He’s got to know what we’re up against.”
“That sounds ominous,” Mikey frowned at the words.
Frank glared at Ray; he was furious. It was pretty obvious that Mikey and Gerard had grown uncertain about the business venture Mikey had suggested; Brooke had seen to that. Appearing and threatening them was bad enough, but Ray’s admittance that he was dangerous was potentially the final straw. Mikey was talking about going back to Chicago for three months while he worked his notice. What if he changed his mind? What if he never saw him again?
It was as if Ray was reading his mind.
“Frank,” he began gently. “You can’t risk their lives because you don’t want to scare them.”
Frank nodded and rubbed his forehead. Pulling out a chair at the table, he indicated that Ray and Mikey should join him.
“Okay, Brooke was a contact of an old friend…”
“Frank,” Ray sighed.
“Do you want to do this?”
“I will if you won’t do it properly.”
Frank stared down at the table, acquainting himself with the pattern of the grain in the wood.
“Well?” Ray prompted.
“Brooke is the brother of an ex-boyfriend. But that’s not remotely relevant,” he added with an angry stare aimed at Ray. “His brother, Adam and I were an item for a couple of years before we split up.”
“Why?” Mikey asked gently.
“He moved away.” Feeling Ray’s eyes boring into him, he continued. “He cheated on me and I kicked him out.”
“So, Brooke’s got no axe to grind with you?” Mikey asked with some relief.
“No, like I said, it wasn’t relevant. We worked together occasionally but now and then, I heard about clients ripping him off and they ended up dead.”
“He thinks you’ve ripped him off?”
“I don’t think so. I think his client thinks he’s been ripped off.”
“But you said that they needed anonymity, that they never say anything.”
“Yeah, normally. I don’t know who this guy is that he was selling to, but from what Bob tells me, Brooke’s scared.”
“What will he do?” Mikey asked with concern.
“He’ll save his own ass however he can.”
“He’ll send them after us?”
Frank nodded. “He’s already found you and Gerard. Neither of you can be alone now. That’s why I don’t want you to go to Chicago.”
“I have to! Frank we’ve been through this, I can’t just disappear, neither of us can.”
“It’s too dangerous.”
“What are you going to do? Keep me locked in your cellar again?” Mikey asked raising his eyebrows.
“Would that be so bad?” Frank muttered to himself.
“Frank?” Mikey prompted. “I have to do this, you know I do, you agreed.”
As the pair talked, Ray withdrew from the room to answer a call on his cell phone.
“Bob?” Ray answered. “How is he?”
“They’re keeping him in, it’s infected. Nothing too bad, but they want to keep an eye on it.”
“I think Frank wants you to stay with him. He reckons Brooke’s going to try to get to one of us and the Ways are the easiest targets.”
“Makes sense, he’s already tried once. Okay, I’ll stay. Does that mean you get to look after Boy Wonder?”
Ray laughed at the name. “Yeah, guess so. I’ll let them know. See you later.”
Opening the door to the living room, Ray was surprised to find only Frank.
“Everything okay?” he asked hopefully.
“Yeah,” Frank nodded. “He’s packing. He convinced me, again. But, Ray…”
Ray nodded. “I’ll watch him like a hawk, don’t worry.”
“What about Gerard?”
“They’re keeping him in, Bob’s staying with him.”
“Oh great!” Frank rolled his eyes. “Now Mikey’ll want to stay. I just got used to the idea that…”
“Calm down! It’s nothing serious, there’s no reason why he needs to stay and the quicker he goes, the quicker he comes back. He knows that, he’s not a fool.”
Frank nodded; Ray was right. Mikey was definitely no fool.
Mikey walked briskly with the air of a man who knew exactly where he was headed. It was fair to say that he knew the airport well; frequent trips to see his brother had brought him to Chicago’s Midway Airport on numerous occasions. This occasion was somewhat different, however, this time, he knew he was being followed. Turning sharply, Mikey glared at the man who had tailed him almost from the time he had disembarked; he may even have been on the plane with him, it was hard to say. Taking a steadying pace back, the young lawyer set his balance as, rather than turning away, embarrassed to be caught out, the man came towards him at speed.
Mikey’s heart raced. Letting go of the case he was pulling, he began to raise his arms defensively only to have them snatched back behind him by two more men, who had gone previously unseen.
Mikey struggled in the sudden and unexpected grip of the two men holding his arms. Pulling furiously, he yanked his right arm out if the man’s grasp and immediately swung his elbow back, connecting sharply with the man’s neck. As he reeled backwards, Mikey stepped into the space formerly occupied by him to give a better view of the second man and the one who had followed him. Setting his balance, Mikey prepared himself to fight only to pull up sharp as .38 calibre pistol was levelled at his head.
Mikey’s mind raced. Here he was, standing in the middle of Midway Airport on a busy Wednesday afternoon being attacked and a gun pointed at him and no one was doing a damn thing to stop it. Where was airport security? Where were the police? The second of his questions was shortly to be answered.
“On the floor!” the man with the gun yelled. “On the floor! Now!”
With no choice but to comply, Mikey lowered himself slowly to his knees, keeping his hands raised to roughly waist height.
“Lie flat, face down.”
Doing as ordered, Mikey lay still as his hands were pulled behind him and handcuffed; above all, he remained bewildered and angry that this was happening. Why wasn’t anyone helping him?
“Michael James Way,” the man with the gun finally addressed him. “You’re under arrest.”
Mikey gasped in surprise to discover that these men were police. That at least explained why no one had come to his aid, but little more.
“What for?” Mikey demanded angrily as he was pulled to his feet.
“Well,” the man tucked his gun back into its holster and lit a cigarette. “We’ll start with assaulting a police officer and see where we go from there, shall we?”
Mikey turned to see an angry, red-faced man, gently massaging the point on his neck that Mikey had struck with his elbow.
“That’s not assault!” Mikey replied with the confidence of someone who knew his rights. “He didn’t identify himself, none of you did. That was self defence.”
“I distinctly heard him,” the man sneered. “He even showed you his badge.”
“That’s right,” the second man agreed with a condescending chuckle. “You resisted arrest.”
“Bull!” Mikey snapped. “There are dozens of witnesses to the contrary here.”
“Yeah?” the police officer drew on his cigarette. “What a shame we don’t have time to get their statements.”
At the nod of his head, the first man led the way, with Mikey shoved from behind and forced to follow. The walk to the airport security offices seemed never ending and Mikey’s humiliation grew as he was forced to walk through the bustling crowds handcuffed and escorted by three plain-clothes police or guards.
“What am I being charged with?” Mikey demanded as they walked.
“I have a right to know,” he insisted.
The lead man turned suddenly and unexpectedly. Mikey pulled up sharply just inches from him then dropped to his knees gasping for breath as the blow to his abdomen drove all the air from his lungs. Dragged once more to his feet, Mikey staggered forward, half bent over as he was once again pushed along.
Finally stepping out of public view, Mikey was led quickly, too quickly following the blow to his abdomen, down a maze of corridors. His arms were seized once more as the group stopped outside an unmarked door. Opening it, the first man stepped inside the small sparsely furnished room. Mikey pulled his lips into a thin line and his eyes narrowed as a man he recognised rose from a chair near the table and stared at him with a satisfied smirk plastered on his face.
“I might have known,” Mikey snapped; a deep angry scowl aimed at the man standing opposite him.