Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued
“She has really gone to ground.”
“Well, she has to come up for air sometime, and when she does we’ll grab her. They always do and we always do.”
Special Agent Paxton sat behind his desk in New York. He toyed with his pen as he looked at the ever-growing file on Beverly Deltino.
Agent Thomas Markosi was sitting at another desk, going through the daily field reports, hoping for something that they might be able to use, some little gem of information. There were no gems today.
Reports from offices around the country all said much the same thing: Nobody has seen her. Nobody has heard anything. Not even a whisper. The lady was gone.
Markosi looked down at her photo, but it was Paxton who spoke to her.
“Beverly, where in the hell are you? We get more tips on sightings of Elvis.”
Lawrence Paxton was again, for one of the countless times in his career, feeling frustrated and helpless in the pursuit of his quarry. After weeks of looking, he had not been able to find Beverly Deltino. His team had peeked under every rock and found nothing. None of the countless snitches and other sources knew anything. They had heard nothing, not so much as a mumble, about where she might be, alive or dead. Nothing believable anyway. Nobody gave much credence to the rumor that she had really run off into the Jersey Pines with Bruce Springsteen.
There was plenty of talk about her in the New York area. Wiretaps already in place picked up a mountain of speculation about Beverly Deltino. Her disappearance was making a lot of people very nervous. After all, if a wife would run out on her husband, what else might she do? She might also turn on him. She might just decide to talk. She hadn’t taken the oath of Omerta.
Try as you might, there is no way of keeping secrets from wives. One way or another they eventually become privy to enough knowledge to have any husband strapped to a gurney with a deadly drip in his arm.
If Beverly Deltino talked, with all the dirt she had heard over decades on the inside, some very important heads could roll. Whole families could fall. It could trigger a civil war inside the Thing.
The wiretaps also heard the latest jokes about Dominic Deltino and about the speculation that Beverly had walked out with all of his money. Dominic’s position was becoming untenable. Accounts were being double-checked.
“There have been some bits and pieces, Markosi. Like her car being found in Boston.”
“Or what was left of it,” said Markosi.
“I think the car is a red herring. Both she and Dominic would know better than to let something that obvious be found. The car was put there for somebody to find. But, still…”
“True,” said the junior agent. “Wasting both time and manpower.”
“I liked her bit of buying two airline tickets to different parts of the continent. More confusion. I doubt if she really planned to use either of them,” offered Paxton.
“Another red herring?”
Paxton put his feet up on the corner of his desk and stared out the window.
“Markosi, if you were going to run away, disappear, how would you do it? Where would you go?” His eyes idly focused on a helicopter skimming above the tops of midtown Manhattan.
“Well…I’d wait for a time when I could get a head start.” Markosi stapled the latest daily reports together and slipped them into the file folder on his desk. “I’d try to be as far away as possible before anybody even knew I was gone.”
“Where would you go? Someplace familiar or someplace new?” Paxton brushed some crumbs from his necktie. “Both options have pluses and minuses, don’t you think?”
“New,” offered Markosi confidently. “Whoever would be hunting for me would first go after me in all my usual places, and if, as it seems in Beverly Deltino’s case, I have a lot of cash on me–well, so much the better. That would help me become invisible, what with no paper trail for the bloodhounds to glom on to.”
“Right” said Paxton. “So, I think we can eliminate the New York area, Florida and Canada. She has family there.”
“You don’t think she might try to have her family protect her from Dominic?”
“No, I doubt it. Most of these people are very old country in many ways. They firmly believe that wives don’t talk and that they don’t leave their husbands. I think her family would just ship her back home to Dominic,” said Paxton.
“Even if he’s beating the crap out of her every Saturday night?”
“Even if. Of course, her father, Giani Montini, might take her in, but there would be no way to keep that a secret for very long. We would have heard by now.”
Markosi got up from his desk and walked over to the window. He could see the city stretching out in front of him. Millions of people were out there, some of them not very pleasant.
“So, where is she, boss? Assuming, of course, that she is still alive,” he said, turning to face Paxton. “She might be dead. Dominic might have iced her and the DEA agent both and made up this whole ‘she left me’ story. He could have arranged all these little clues for us. It makes him look foolish, but it keeps her father from coming after him.”
“Well, he might have done the agent, but I don’t think he’d be stupid enough to kill his wife, no matter how much he wanted to,” said Paxton. “Her father would have him cut into a million bite-size pieces, crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle.” He paused to take a sip of coffee as his mind refocused on his prey. He continued his speculation. “So, she’s not in New York, Florida or Canada. That just leaves ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the planet left for her to hide in.”
“That’s the least of your problems, boys,” said a voice with a soft Texas accent.
Both men turned toward the door. Standing just inside the office was Special Agent Kerry Richey, a nine-year veteran with several citations for meritorious service. A little premature gray at her widow’s peak made her look older than her thirty-seven years. She really didn’t mind that. It got her some presumptive respect from the boys on the job. The more mature agents in the office knew that she’d earned every strand of it.
“Y’know,” said Richey, “or maybe you don’t know, Markosi, but finding a woman on the run is always harder. One trip to a beauty salon or even the corner drugstore and she can become an entirely new person. This picture we have might be totally useless.” She stepped into the office and joined the two men, gazing out the window at the city below.
“Look at her description here: five feet seven inches. Is that in heels or barefoot?” She was holding a copy of the physical data sheet that Paxton had handed out weeks earlier during the initial briefing.
“Hair: dark blonde. What does that even mean? It’s useless anyway. I could go buy fifty different shades of hair coloring within three blocks of this office. If this gal is as smart as you say, any and all physical descriptions are pretty much worthless. It’s behavior that’s going to catch her.”
She balled up the sheet of paper and dropped it into Paxton’s wastebasket.
“You’re right, of course,” said Paxton. “I’m thinking that we may have to put out a story to the Press. I really don’t want to do that. I hate to get the media involved in these things. They’ll turn it into a soap opera.”
“Yes,” added Agent Richey, “but it may get her to bolt from her cover and run. Once she’s on the move we can find her. She can’t help but leave some sort of a trail. People will see her. She has to stop somewhere to eat and sleep. She’s not the kind to go roughing it in the woods. She’s not Ted Kaczynski.”
“True again,” said her senior agent, “but won’t that also help Dominic? If he gets to her first, he’ll pop her right on the street.” Agent Markosi was trying to follow this fast developing scenario.
“I want her alive and standing trial for the murder of Agent Frontieri. Or as a witness against her husband for that murder,” said Paxton as he got up from his desk. He retrieved the ball of paper from the wastebasket and tossed it back to Agent Richey. “But until you have something better, use this.
“Okay, then, Markosi, Richey – let’s put together a press release, along with this picture and see what happens.”