“So, what’s this shit about your wife?” Valpatine asks.
“What? You don’t know?” you ask. “I thought you’re always monitoring the police scanners and FBI radios in case they come looking for you.”
“Well, yeah, of course I do. But I haven’t heard anything about you all day, not until you called me.”
“Really? I thought the cops would have had every boy in town looking for me.”
“Nah, man. I haven’t heard nothing.”
“Huh. That’s interesting.”
“Why? What hell has gone down today, man?”
“Well, I woke up this morning and Mary Jo Lisa Forrest was gone. Then my cousin, Joseph Indiriar tried to kill me, but ended up killing himself with some suicide pill…”
“Yeah. Then the cops came to my house, probably because one of my neighbors called and told them I had driven my car into my house.”
“What? You what?”
You sigh. “It’s a long story. But I’ve been evading police all day.”
“That’s strange. I haven’t heard anything remotely like what you’re talkin’.” He pulls up the gravel driveway and stops at the side of a lonely sad looking house.
You think on that for a second as you and Valpatine get out of the car. “It must be the people who called me earlier,” you say.
“What people?” Valpatine grips his house key and unlocks the door.
“After I fled, like almost right after, I get this call. There’s this crazy sounding old man on the phone and he tells me that ‘they’ took my wife because I failed.” You scoff as you and Valpatine walk inside of his house. “I don’t even know what the hell that means.”
“You failed? Failed at what?”
“Damned if I know. Trust me, if I did know, I would do whatever I had to do make it right if it meant I could see my wife again.”
“Damn, man. I ain’t heard nothing that effed up in my life.”
You both walk to the back of the kitchen where a door has been perfectly camouflaged to look like it is part of the wall. Valpatine pulls the door aside and reveals a flight of steps. You go down first as always so that Valpatine can close and lock the door behind you.
“You know,” you say as you flick a light switch to show the basement mad computer scientist lab for all its glory. “If there were ever a fire in this place, you would not make it out alive.”
Valpatine scoffs at you. “Yeah, right. If there were ever a fire in a place and I survived, I would be going to jail for the rest of my unnatural life for what I’ve got down here. In fact, if there is ever a fire, I hope me and this place are the first to go.”
Yeah, actually, knowing Valpatine, if there were a fire in his house, he would be the arsonist.
“Alright,” he says, sitting down at his desk in one of his spinning office chairs. “The first thing we got to do, is run a trace on that call you received.”
“Wait a minute. The first thing we gotta do is get me a new identity so that I can go look for my wife without the cops sniffing me too hard.”
He holds his hands up. “Hey, hey. Ease up there, tiger. It’s obvious that whoever is after you hasn’t yet gotten the police involved. That’s actually a bad thing because it means they got something far worse in mind. It’s kinda like when you find out they ain’t gonna shoot you for information. You best be worried because they will make you wish you were shot. So we find out who these bastards are and where they are calling you from, then we go from there. In the words of the great immortal Rage Against the Machine, know your enemy.”
That makes sense…you think. Honestly, you didn’t really have a lot of an idea about this bastard was talking about, but it didn’t matter since Valpatine wasn’t doing anything out what ever order he had tasks set up in. That was just his way. There was one thing that you figured you should mention now since you were on the topic of phone calls. “Yeah, um, it’s going to be a little difficult to trace that call.”
“I broke my phone.”
He gives you a stare that conveys no emotion whatsoever.
“You broke your phone?”
“And you think that’s enough to stop me?”
“Boy, don’t you ever insult me that way again.”
You stare at Valpatine as he spins around in his chair to face his flat screen monitor and keyboard. Yeah. You forgot who you were dealing with. As Valpatine begins to let the magic flow from his ten digits you let the sound of rhythmical tapping take your mind off your horrible and horribly confusing day. You sit down at one of the gamer’s chairs that Valpatine has in his basement (because where ever Val is, there is a game console of some kind) and try to relax. But it’s hard. All you can think about is your wife and the times you shared together.
You remember the time she surprised you with dinner in the park for your anniversary. She took special care to make all of your favorites, rare steak with A-1, mashed potatoes seasoned with sage and fresh garlic, buttered green beans and snow peas. Damn that was a good night. An awesome night, in fact. And you felt like an ass because you two had been fighting earlier that day and you really didn’t deserve for her to be so kind to you. But she was. And you, like the ass that you were, had completely forgotten that it was your anniversary. You were so busy being fuming that it had slipped your mind.
But everything turned out to be great and you did make up for the next day by taking her on an impromptu hot air balloon ride. She was terrified at first, but after a while, she calmed down and really enjoyed being up there with you. She later told you that that experience helped her get over her fear of heights.
Then there was the night you two enjoyed an evening of watching p…
Valpatine’s flat voice jolts you from your moment of nostalgia. “Yeah.”
“Uhm, that call, it was made from inside your house.”
You jump out of your seat and walk over to the monitor and look over Valpatines shoulder. “What?”
“Yeah. I checked and rechecked. That call came from inside your house.”
“But, that’s impossible. No one was in there except for the police and Joseph’s dead body.”
“Yeah, well, it has been my experience, that nothing is impossible.”
“So, if the call came from my house and there was no one in there but cops and Joseph…”
“Then that means that at least one person working for the police is also working for the people who are after you.”