Sam scouted out a coffee place nearby the cop station where he knew the two cops worked. He sat outside in his car waiting to see any undercover cop cars or guys in uniform but he didn’t see any. Sam gave up looking by 1 o’clock in the afternoon and decided he had to call Mr. Serrasi. He knew before he called Mr. Serrasi he needed to stop by the garage and talk to the guys to see if anyone had stopped by. He also realized he needed their help.
Sam walked into the car garage and walked past most of the guys into the main office. An older guy in his 40’s with thinning red hair sat behind the desk with his glasses on reading a piece of paper. Sam sat down at the chair opposite of him. The man’s name was Neal Lindstrom but everybody around there called him “Old Red.” He was the boss and owner of the garage. Sam had gotten to know Neal pretty well. Neal was really close friends with Andy. Neal took off his glasses and looked at Sam.
“Red I need to tell you something and you’re not going to like it.”
“Okay go ahead son.”
“I wish I didn’t have to tell you this but then again it’s going to be a weight lifted off my shoulder.” Sam paused for a moment and took a deep breath. “My name isn’t Marcus. My real name is Sam Thomas.” Sam gave Neal a moment to take in the information and get his emotions out but he didn’t seem to have any. When Neal didn’t say anything Sam asked “You’re okay with that? That I lied to you about my name and you don’t have anything to say?” Neal smiled.
“Sam I’ve known your name isn’t Marcus for a while now. After Andy got sick we had talks about what he was going to do and how he wanted his funeral and will and everything to be taken care off. We’d known each other for years and years and when I told him I wanted to stop working like a con man and take a chance at running a legit business he didn’t pressure me to stay. He let me go and when I didn’t have enough money to get this shop off the ground he invested money in me. He said this place would be great and he wouldn’t cause me any trouble.”
“Yeah until I came around and use your storage as a hideout for stuff and use it for a few illegal car transactions.”
“I didn’t have a problem with that. You’re a smart kid.”
“I promise I won’t bring you anymore trouble.”
“I know you won’t.”
“Actually that’s a lie. I need your help.”
“What kind of help?”
“The place I was staying got broken into by two new cops. I don’t really know what for but I need to find out why they did it. I need to know if a storms coming my way and what ammunition I need to bring. I have an idea though but I need your help and maybe a couple of your friends.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“It’s risky but here goes. I have this cop friend, if you can call him a friend, who I made a deal with that helped him gain a promotion. His last name is Serrasi. I need to contact him away from the police station and away from any crowded place where he can bring backup. I need you to cover me in case things go bad and he has the place scouted and they try to arrest me. I don’t know how bad it is for me but it’s better to know than to be picked up one day and not have a clue what I’m facing. I think it’ll be better this way. I don’t want him to trace any phone calls or emails.”
“So what do you need me to do?”
“I know you’re good with guns. All I need is protection if things go wrong. At worst I just need you to scare him and make sure I can get away.” Sam reached into his pocket and unfolded a piece of paper. “This is where we are going to meet and if you flip it over this is the places I want you to be. Do you think you can help me?”
“Yeah I can help you.”
“Thanks Neal. You have no idea how much I appreciate this.” Sam said with a smile as he stood up from his chair.
“I’ll stop by later tonight a little after closing to give you the details.” Sam headed for the office door.
“Sam. I don’t know all the things you’re into and frankly I don’t really need to know. All I can tell you is that Andy loved you like his own son and before he passed away he came here and he told me all about your life. That’s how I know your name is Sam. And I’m going to help you out like I know Andy would. I just hope that after this is all said and done that you know that you can trust me and come to me when you have problems. I promised Andy I’d be here for you.”
“Well if we can pull this off I think I’ll be leaving the con man life just like you. Who knows maybe I’ll write a book instead of articles.”
Sam drove to a payphone and made the call to Mr. Serrasi. Sam kept it short and sweet and said that he needed to meet with Mr. Serrasi in a park outside of town and that it was important and couldn’t wait. He told him what to bring. With a little convincing Mr. Serrasi agreed to meet with him and said he’d call back to set up the time. Later in the day Sam stopped by the garage again to see how soon Neal could get the people he needed to help him out. Neal told him two days. Sam took a long route back to the hotel in case anybody happened to be following him. He didn’t notice anyone and went back to the hotel to pay for two more days in the hotel.
It was a Monday when the day finally arrived. The meeting was set up in the evening and Sam waited at the picnic table where he told Mr. Serrasi to meet him at. Sam had waited about a half hour before Mr. Serrasi had showed up. Mr. Serrasi was driving his own personal car and there was no site of anyone following him but Sam knew better. He knew he was likely walking into a trap. Mr. Serrasi walked over in his suit holding a few folders and sat down across from Sam at the picnic table.
“How’s it going Marcus?”
“You tell me. You know why we’re here.”
“Okay I guess we will just get straight into it. This bookstore incident you had mentioned was looked into by officers Thurman and Sheckler. The report of what happened is in this folder. Now I can’t let you look at it unless you got something for me.”
“I don’t need to look at it. Just tell me what happened.”
“Well Thurman and Sheckler were watching this location above the bookstore because they had received a tip that somebody was squatting up there.”
“Who gave the tip?”
“I’m not really sure. I don’t have the file memorized. Anyways they had watched this place for a few days when
finally a dark headed white male came by one evening and opened the door. They followed him in and tried to catch the guy but by the time they got into the place the person was gone. Or at least that’s what they thought. He was hiding somewhere in the building and ending up attacking my two officers and handcuffing them at gun point.”
“Not very good police work huh?”
“Yeah they were reassigned and have new partners now.”
“That sucks that it was all over a squatting case.” Sam started to feel relieved.
“Yeah but that’s not all that happened.”
“Oh yeah what else?”
“They were knocked out and when they woke up they were handcuffed. I’m not sure how they managed to escape but when they did they continued to look around the place for clues but the guy was gone.”
“Sucks to be those guys.”
“They found a name though.” Mr. Serrasi said. Sam now felt concerned. “There was a name in one of the books on his shelf. Somebody had written an inscription to the guy. It must have been a gift or something.” Sam knew exactly what he was talking about. Andy had written him something in a book he had bought for his birthday. He got the feeling in his gut that something was about to go horribly wrong. He scratched behind his ear and started reexamining Mr. Serrasi again for weapons or listening devices.
“Oh yeah did it say anything good?”
“It doesn’t matter. It gave us a name. Sam Thomas.” Mr. Serrasi paused to look Sam in the eyes. Sam remained calm and was keeping his poker face with Mr. Serrasi. “So I looked into his record: good student, until he got expelled from school and then for the next few years he has a little work history and then he basically dropped off the earth. We haven’t gained access to his accounts yet because we don’t have it narrowed down yet. Do you happen to know anything about this guy?”
“Never heard of him.”
“Yeah I thought you’d say that. But see I remembered our last deal. Nate Thomas. He happens to have a brother a few years older than him named Sam Thomas. Now Marcus why would you help out his younger brother if you had never heard of him?” Mr. Serrasi paused and looked at Sam. Sam didn’t say anything. “I got a theory. You are Sam Thomas aren’t you Marcus?” Mr. Serrasi reached into his pocket with a pair of handcuffs and slid them on the table. “I like you Sam. You’re creative and all but I just can’t have want-to-be criminals beating up my officers. I need to take you in for questioning.” Mr. Serrasi paused and waited for Sam to say something. Those few seconds felt like years to Sam. He was waiting letting all the information sink in and waiting for Mr. Serrasi’s next big move. He knew that he had an earpiece in his ear when he saw him looking away. Sam knew that meant he wasn’t alone.
“Isn’t that leading the witness? It’s innocent until proven guilty and you’re badgering me about beating up officers? Last time I checked I helped you get that promotion and now you’re trying to arrest me? Is that really what our police service is all about now? I think I have a better idea.” Sam grabbed the handcuffs and tossed them to the side. “I know you’re not out here alone. Your earpiece gave you away. That file you can’t show me isn’t even a real file. I’ve seen police files and those are way too small to be an actual police file. It’s nothing but a fake. You can’t have real documents outside the office especially when you have other officers watching. How many you have? 4? The four cops that stand to look bad in this squatter’s case? Tell me that.” Sam said. Mr. Serrasi’s facial expressions changed from confident to uncomfortable.
“I have five officers out there any myself.”
“I’m not lying to you Marcus, or Sam, or whatever you want to be called. They are only here for my protection. I have a deal to offer you.”
“I don’t want to arrest you and send you to jail. You’re far more valuable out here. I want to make you my own criminal investigator. I want your help sending the bad guys away. No jail time. You’ll have to wear a tracking device and you’ll even have a small budget of money and we’ll set you up in a place to keep your persona in tack.”
“You want me to be a hired snitch?”
“No trial. No jail or arrest record.”
“You’re failing to understand something. You’re assuming I’m guilty of criminal acts.”
“You are. It’s only a matter of time before we find enough evidence. You will then go to jail and if you’re as clever as you think you are I’m sure there are more things out there to find and we will discover them while you’re locked up in jail. Your best course of action is to take this deal. You keep your freedom and you’ll be doing good to help people. Us working together would be a great team. You’ve got natural talent as a police officer. Sky’s the limit for you. Spend a few years doing this for us and you’ll be completely free.”
“Don’t tell me sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon. That’s something you ‘good guys’ fail to realize. Things are not always black and white. Things are 90% of the time grey. And thinking like that is why you struggle to put away criminals.”
“Last chance Sam. Take the deal or you’re going to be arrested and tried for battery, assault, attempted murder, and other things that we’ll find and you’ll be in jail for the rest of your life.”
“No thanks.” Mr. Serrasi stood up and swirled one of his fingers around in a circle. Five cops came out of hiding and started creeping out towards Sam with guns. Sam stood up as well and looked around. He put his arms out to the side.
“I’m unarmed.” Sam said loud enough that they could hear him. Mr. Serrasi walked back towards Sam and looked at him.
“Don’t do this Sam. I’ll give you a night in jail to think about it. After that the deal’s off.” Mr. Serrasi said agitated as he was standing next to Sam. Sam whistled. The cops had him surrounded within ten feet but the whistle had the officers feeling uncomfortable. A red dot showed up on Mr. Serrasi’s chest but he didn’t notice it at first.
“I wouldn’t move if I was you Mr. Serrasi.” Sam said. He looked down and noticed the dot on his chest. Sam whistled again and red dots showed up on the other five officers instead of Mr. Serrasi. “Slowly put down your guns and slide them over towards me.” The officers followed directions. Sam picked up a gun and walked between two of the officers. “Now use your handcuffs and handcuff yourself with the person next to you.” The officers looked at Mr. Serrasi.
“Just do as he says.” The officers followed orders and had themselves handcuffed in a circle with Mr. Serrasi in the middle of them. Sam slowly started walking away with the red dots still on each officer’s chest. “I hope you know what you’re doing Sam! The offer is still good until tomorrow! Don’t throw your life away doing this!” Mr. Serrasi yelled at Sam as he walked away.