The 13th Power Chapter 2
When we last saw Jason Garrett he was on his way to a city in the midwest where an old flame landed. He wasn’t certain as to why. All he knew was that his old military buddy sent something to him that was important and used someone else’s address as a drop. What this is all about remained a mystery as Jason tries to get to the package before it turns an innocent person’s life upside down, and hopefully, without having to face the girl he was in love with a lifetime ago.
Jason rolled into Davenport and found his hotel. It had been a long drive, and he stretched as soon as he got out of the Suburban. Looking around at the changes since his last visit, he wondered why Cherie moved back to the midwest. The signs of depression in the area were prevalent. Jason questioned what brought her home and how Roger knew where to find her.
Cherie was the one that got away. It was causing the unusual sensation Jason felt. He was exceptionally nervous, considering it had been nearly 20 years since the two saw each other. How would he approach her? What would she say to him when she saw him?
Going into the hotel, he checked in and went to his room. Jason unpacked a change of clothes and then repacked his gear. He readied his rifles before sliding them into his duffel. Jason loaded two pistols and tucked one of them in his right boot before putting the other into a shoulder holster beneath his shirt. In his mind, he didn’t know what he needed other than to get the package. He knew the level of drama Roger was capable of finding and was going to be ready for whatever that entailed.
The address he found for Cherie Johnson was twenty miles up the road. She’d been living in a small town along the Mississippi. Jason looked over her social media accounts. She was divorced, had two kids, and under relationship, it listed “it’s complicated.”
Scrolling through recent pictures, she had social media but didn’t post often. Besides going to work and home, she didn’t have much of a life. It wasn’t the life he envisioned her having.
Jason drove through the area, heading from Davenport up the river toward LeClaire. Besides casinos, gas stations, restaurants, and marijuana dispensaries, there weren’t any of the businesses he remembered. The entire area had seemed like an economic ghost town, except for service jobs that were all lower paying.
After cruising up River Drive through Davenport and Bettendorf, Jason passed the interstate and arrived in LeClaire about thirty minutes into the drive. He found Main and Sixth Street, turned west onto Sixth, and started hunting for the 4400s. It took less than twenty minutes to find her house than he imagined it would, and he then circled the block to look for a good vantage point. Unfortunately, black Suburbans were known to stick out like sore thumbs.
As Jason drove down the street, checking out the house at 4401 Sixth Street, he noticed a house half a block away, on the opposite side, had a ‘For Rent’ sign in the front yard. Writing down the number before he sped off, he had an idea that would solve his problem. From there, Jason could watch the house without being noticed. He might even luck out and see the package delivered.
The following morning, Jason woke up in his hotel. He was still exhausted from yesterday, and his thoughts were on Roger. It had been 24 hours, and he hadn’t heard anything back from his old military buddy. Roger had gone dark before, but after calling him out of the blue and telling him about the package he sent, it didn’t make sense for the senior chief to go dark.
After getting out of bed, Jason ordered room service and got to work. He looked up everything he could find about the house on Sixth. Finding the owner’s information, he checked into the owner, a married couple that owned a few real estate properties in the area. They seemed normal enough, and there were no ties to Cherie.
A knock at the door alerted Jason. He picked up his Glock and went to check the peephole. Good, he thought. Roomservice was there, so he tucked the gun in his waistband and opened the door.
After breakfast, Jason called and talked to the woman renting the house. He was able to set up an appointment in an hour. It was a partially furnished home, he learned. Jason would need to order a new mattress, bedding, and a few towels. He could stay there long enough to intercept the package and figure out what Roger was into before moving on.
Jason met the owner, who was in her seventies. She was agreeable to getting someone into the house, even if only for thirty days.
“There isn’t going to be any funny business?” she asked Jason.
“No ma’am, no funny business,” he answered.
“What about parties? We don’t want any crazy parties or loud music. It is a nice neighborhood, and the people are all family types.”
“I’m only in town on business, and who wants to stay in a hotel for a month?” he said, selling himself to the older woman.
“You can afford one thousand?”
“I can,” he said.
Jason took the money out of his pocket and held it up. He saw the woman’s reaction and knew she would let him have the place. Now, he had someplace to watch the neighborhood from and could remain unnoticed.
“Alright, you’ve got my number if you have any questions,” said Barb, taking the money and handing him the keys.
After Barb drove away, Jason took two bags from his Suburban and went inside. There were already blinds on the front and side windows. He set up a tripod and mounted a camera system. Jason aimed it down the street at his old friends’ house, getting a good enough angle that he would be able to see everything that came and went with little interference. It wasn’t perfect, however.
He had two more cameras with 100-yard transmitters. Where to put them was easy. Jason had to devise a way to get one of them into position without being noticed. The other, he could mount in the back of the suburban and get a better angle on the street view.
One would have to do for now. The other two could wait until after dark, and nobody would be the wiser.
“Well,” he said to himself. “This is what living in a house in the city is like.”
He walked around the house again, considering supplies to pick up. There was a coffee maker and an ice machine on the refrigerator. He could hold up there and wait for the package when he wasn’t checking on Cherie’s recent background. He still hadn’t figured out why Roger knew she was there. What was their connection?
Jason made a list of things he needed as he planned on going into the city and looking up city records, sales records, local tax records, and anything else that would paint a clearer picture of a person’s current life. First, he’d stop downtown, then hit the hardware store, and then he would pick up some food, a new coffee mug, and supplies for the long-term stakeout he was about to begin. If he was going to be there, he might as well make himself comfortable.
Driving away from the house, Jason went in the opposite direction, knowing he had to keep the odds of premature exposure as low as possible. Jason needed to go unnoticed if he wanted to keep her out of whatever Roger had started.
The records he needed were at the courthouse. Parking on the street, Jason searched through the different I.D.s he kept for investigative work. Each had a masterful backstory that he could use to get himself in and out of anywhere. Jason was a great impersonator. For this job, he picked the role of Hank Anderson, a real estate developer.
After he made it through security, he went to records and scoped out the room. It was during lunch hour, and he had only one clerk to fool. Fooling low-paid records clerks was his specialty.
“Good afternoon,” he said.
Jason hesitated as he looked for a name tag or something identifying her status. On her desk, there was a nameplate that read, ‘Anna Williams,’ so he went with what he knew.
“Anna is it?” he asked.
Anna nodded, “How can I help you, sir?”
“Oh, dear, do I look that old? Call me Hank,” said Jason. He smiled widely, trying to maintain the appearance of being friendly, even interested.
“Alright,” she smiled back, “What can I do for you, Hank?”
“I need to get some records on a particular set of homes in LeClaire. We want to make offers on them if their owners might be interested, and I’m doing some background so that I have a better chance of delivering good news to my boss,” he told her. “Here’s the addresses. If I could view the deeds, sales records, taxes, and what not?”
Jason poured on the charm. Anna was cute but not his type. Since there wasn’t a wedding ring on her finger, Jason hoped his charms would help get him the records. He was usually right about such things, and today looked like it would be no different. Anna was going back to her computer as she smiled over her shoulder.
“I haven’t seen you around before today?” she inquired.
“I’ve only been in the area on one other visit, but this time I’m here to make some deals if it’s doable,” he smiled.
“How long will you be in town for?” she asked.
“Oh…,” Jason hesitated. “Maybe a few days, a week tops. Just long enough to do what I have to do and let my employer know if the proposed project here is a go or not. If the owners don’t want to sell, he won’t even proceed with the location.”
After hitting a final keystroke, she picked up the documents and handed them to Jason. Anna watched Jason tuck the papers into a folder. Realizing he was about to leave, she asked him what else she could do for him. She was being flirty, smiling as she waited for an answer.
“Nothing,” he replied. “Today, that is.”
“Well, if there is ever anything, just stop in or call and ask for me,” she told him. “I’d be happy to assist you again.”
“You’re an angel, love. A complete angel,” he said, giving her a wink as he turned and exited the office.
Jason got back to his Suburban and breathed a sigh of relief. Things went smoother than he’d hoped, but there was still the chance someone would catch on if they came back into the office. As he left, he was sure he saw the senior staff returning. It was a close call. Anna was sweet and easy on the eyes. Jason could stand and chat with a girl that cute all day, and it wouldn’t bother him. Yet, he was on task.
Looking through the records, young Anna was more thorough than he hoped. She pulled up tax records, receipts, account numbers, the deed, and the bill of sale. Everything was there.
Jason knew enough that between financials and any police or emergency service reports, he could see what his old flame had been up to since returning to the midwest. He just had to hack into the police database and learn if anything of interest happened to his old flame, turned soccer mom.
“Son of a bitch,” he sighed, looking at the account that paid the taxes on the property.
Jason knew there was something about Roger reaching out and using this as a drop point. He bought her the house. ‘Why?’ Jason asked in his head. Then, on the last page, he saw the answer to his question. Roger and his old girlfriend were married. Roger was the ex-husband.
“You bastard,” Jason said out loud. “If you’re not dead already, Roger. I’m going to kill you myself.”
He threw the papers on the passenger seat and sped away from the courthouse. With the connection figured out, Jason knew everything he needed to know. Nobody would expect the ex-wife’s house to be where a guy would send anything valuable.
To be continued…
About the author
I have always enjoyed writing and exploring new ideas, new beliefs, and the dreams that rattle around inside my head. I have enjoyed the current state of science, human progress, fantasy and existence and write about them when I can.