Episode II: Part VI - The Case of the Menacing Notes
Matt walked around the front of the syndicate's top minion, bending down and initiating a fireman’s carry, lifting and draping the unconscious perp over his shoulder and walking in the direction of the sofa. “Grab that chair, Delia, or whatever it is, and pull it way from the sofa.” She quickly moved the nostalgic shaker toward the center of the basement, Matt lowering Booth in a sitting position in the antique chair. Draped around her belt in the small of her back, Delia removed a pair of handcuffs, pulled Booth’s hands behind him and cuffed his wrists around the chair’s beefy back post.
Matt picked-up the nylon rope used earlier to bind him in the back of Booth's car. There was enough remaining to secure Booth’s ankles to the legs of his new seat. “That should keep him out of our hair while I deal with those Corporate crooks upstairs,” Matt decided, glancing angrily at the door atop the stairway.
Delia found another rag on the floor, tearing off an amount sufficient to keep the Cabal’s primary enforcer quiet should he regain consciousness. “There, that should do it,” she grunted quietly, tying the gag’s final knot around the back of Booth’s head. She took a step back, then felt the vibration of her cell phone. Removing the iPhone from her back pocket, she tapped in the privacy code. It was a text from Detective Blanchard.
"What is it, Delia?” Matt asked, noticing the phone’s illumination.
“It’s Blanchard,” Delia replied, looking directly at Matt. "A swat team is on the way, along with a half dozen DEA agents.”
Matt smiled. “Let’s see if we can it easier for them." He handed Booth’s gun to Delia. “Keep an eye on these two while I mosey on upstairs; they’re probably still in the conference room -- that should make it easy to get the drop on them.”
Delia nodded. “Be careful, Matt.”
Holding his revolver, Matt walked slowly up the staircase until he reached the door; he grabbed and turned the doorknob, pushing it just enough until he could see into the hallway. So far, so good, he thought. Matt stepped into the passageway leading to other rooms, walking quietly toward the sound of a male’s voice diffracting through the door at the end of the long corridor.
“Everything is ready,” he heard the unidentified male announce to the attendees. “Veritas, Plexus, and Theta Pharmaceuticals will be ramping up their production quotas within the week. My senior partners and I want to assure you, our clients, that our team of dedicated associates are especially adept at corporate, administrative, regulatory, and marketing law. They have all the necessary connections, all the correct middlemen, government and corporate officials in their pockets. In the event of any roadblocks, our people are fully prepared to employ their legal knowledge and experience to include inadequacies and ambiguities in the law, if needed; in other words, and if necessary, they can circumvent the entire regulatory system.” He paused for a moment before adding, “in essence, ladies and gentleman, we’re ready to meet the exponential demand of our growing customer base."
Sounds like all the major players are present; this could be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Blanchard and her people should be here any moment. Matt placed his hand on the doorknob and turned it slowly. In a split second, he pushed the door open and bolted through the opening.
“Nobody move,” he shouted, holding his snub nose revolver in an upright position.
Startling the attendees, they all turned their heads in Matt’s direction. Several appeared frightened as kids at a halloween horror show. In an instant their expressions confirmed the meeting was over, like the angry boss deciding the meeting was a waste of time and sending everyone back to their cubicles; no one would be leaving tonight with a smile on their face.
“Where the hell did you come from?” the main speaker asked, caught off guard by Matt’s sudden appearance. He moved away from the mahogany podium, pushing the flexible microphone aside before turning and walking aggressively toward Matt.
Using his free hand, Matt delivered a thunderous left hook to the right side of the dumbfounded speaker’s face, driving him backwards past the podium and onto the floor. He literally slid into the corner on his end of the room.
“I’m Matt Duggan -- remember? We met earlier by the garage — now pick your crooked ass off the floor and have a seat at the conference table,” Matt barked, leaning against the podium and displaying a satisfying smirk. “We’ll be joined by some special guests shortly.”
“Nice job, Matt,” Detective Blanchard said, offering her congratulations. "I’ll have to admit it was a pleasant surprise to see you waiting at the door, inviting us inside. We normally have to break it down with a ramming bar,” she chuckled, standing next to Matt and Delia in the dining area just outside the conference room.”
“You can add Booth and Becca to the list,” Matt stated. "Delia walked them both upstairs from the basement just before you arrived; they’re in the conference room as well. She kept watchful eye over the entire family while I observed you and your people roll up on us,” Matt credited, smiling at his assistant.
Blanchard acknowledged with a grin. “They’re all under arrest. The swat team has secured the home, including the grounds outside. The butlers were attempting to flee and taken into custody. The State Attorney and Federal Prosecutor’s office completed a preliminary investigation of the law firm, uncovering evidence of a link with the pharmaceutical companies; production quota discrepancies were noted as well. That was the smoking gun we needed to obtain the appropriate warrants. The DEA and FBI will now begin their interrogations and investigation, along with anything else we find."
“Well, if they’re as smart as they all think they are, they’ll shut up and lawyer up. You’ll probably be here as long as it takes to complete your search of the premise before carting them all off to the 'big house' for booking. And before I forget, I would advise you seize the entire …."
Blanchard interrupted. “Yes, I know -- the video conference system. We’re on it. That will be dismantled and brought back to the appropriate forensics lab for investigation and reconstruction.”
The lead DEA agent walked up to Blanchard. “Just thought you’d like to know, the senior partners for the law firm of Colby, Miller and Wright -- they're all present," he said with a smirk.”
Matt and Blanchard exchanged glances.
“Oh, as well as the CEO’s, CFO’s and COO’s of all three pharmaceutical companies,” the DEA agent added, exchanging his smirk for a wide grin. Turning to Matt, “that guy you clobbered — he’s the original founder of the firm, the head honcho — Mr. Miller himself.”
“Still, something puzzles me,” Blanchard chimed in. "What’s Becca’s role in all of this? She came to you originally playing the victim, only to find out she’s as involved and up to her neck as the rest of her colleagues. Did you get anything out of her?”
Matt looked at Delia. “Did she say anything while you were downstairs with her and Booth?”
Delia shook her head. “No, she remained gagged until the swat team took her into custody.”
Matt locked eyes with Blanchard. “Mind if I talk with Becca ….. alone?
“Knock yourself out. Nobody’s going anywhere for a while.”
Matt walked over to Becca, still sitting at the far end of the conference room. Her chair was pushed up against the table, her head bent forward, staring downward at the table top. She was reticent, not wanting to engage with anyone.
“Becca,” Matt called out to her softly. She raised her head slightly, craning her neck in Matt’s direction. “Come with me, please. I’d like to talk to you.”
Matt carefully helped Becca out of her chair, guiding her by the elbow. Blanchard directed a DEA agent to remove her handcuffs. Matt walked Becca out of the conference hall and into an adjoining room. Several small folding chairs were leaning against a wall. Matt grabbed two, unfolded both, and placed them on the floor facing each other.
“Please have a seat,” Matt politely asked. Becca quietly complied, sitting in one of the chairs.
“I know you want me to talk,” Becca began, “but you won’t believe anything I say, so why bother,” she sobbed, tears streaming down her face.
“Try me,” Matt responded.
Becca hesitated. “I feel absolutely horrible, so terribly ashamed. I can’t even look you in the face,” she cried, turning away from Matt.
Matt placed his hand on Becca’s chin, gently turning her face back toward his. “Becca, you were my client ..... not once, but twice, and as far as I’m concerned, a friend as well. Talk to me.”
Sobbing, she cried out, “they were going to kill you, Matt. The senior partners were fearful you would succeed in uncovering enough evidence that it would lead to their arrests and shut down of the firm. With you and your investigation out of the way, they believed they could litigate or defend their way around state and federal authorities. I learned about this after Booth abducted me out of your office. They told me I’d get a ‘pass’ if I cooperated, my first task that of luring you into a position to be abducted. They figured you’d come after me, and it worked. I agreed to it, but it was only a ploy — just to get you here, then take advantage of their trust to somehow allow you to get the information regarding the meeting and location to the authorities. It was their intention to dispose of you after the meeting.”
“You knew this meeting was scheduled?” Matt asked.
“Yes, but only after I agreed to play ball and assure them of my sincerity.”
“You were very convincing down in the basement. I really believed you were going to blow my brains out.”
“I had to be convincing — they had to know I was believable; they were watching me even when I didn’t think they were,” Becca confessed, continuing to cry. "I was only seconds away from untying you and revealing it was all just a ruse; that’s when Delia tagged me with the taser.”
Matt sighed, pursed his lips, then stood up. He helped Becca to her feet. She leaned into Matt, hugging him tightly. "I’m so sorry, she weeped.” He stepped back and removed his pocket square, handing it to his client. “What’s going to happen to me? she asked.
Matt placed his hands on her shoulders. “The first thing you need to do is go back into the conference room and cooperate with Blanchard and the DEA. I’ll talk with Blanchard later and make her aware of our conversation. Hire competent legal counsel if you wish, but from here on your dealings with everyone involved is to be nothing less than open and transparent — understood?”
“Understood,” Becca replied, nodding her head in agreement.
Matt grinned. “It’s nice to see a smile on that beautiful face again.”
“I don’t see any reason for you two to hang around,” Blanchard informed Matt and Delia outside the conference room. “We’ll take into consideration the conversation you had with Becca. You two call it a night. We’ll be in touch. We have a lot to sort out.”
“No argument here,” Matt replied, gazing at Blanchard and then Delia. “We have a bit of sorting out to do as well.” Delia glanced back at Blanchard, rendering a shrug of her shoulders.
Walking back to Delia’s car, Matt and his assistant remained quiet. Delia pressed the open trunk button on her key fob; she reached inside, grabbing her purse. She walked to the driver’s side of her car, then stood.
“You plan on opening the door?” Matt asked impatiently.
Delia sighed. “We need to talk, Matt. I know when something’s bothering you; you’re not one to hold back. What is it?”
Matt strolled around the front of the car to the drivers side. He leaned with his back against the rear door, then folded his arms. After a short pause, he provided a brief summary of his conversation with Becca.
“Do you believe her?” Delia asked.
“I don’t know,” Matt replied, “and that’s what bothers me. I didn’t share that doubt with Blanchard when I spoke with her later. And I'm reminded I almost lost my license the first time I took on Becca as a client."
“Is that the ‘sorting out’ you were referring to?” Delia inquisitively asked.
Matt unfolded his arms and moved away from the car. He turned and looked at Delia, then smiled. “Hey, remember when I asked you how you knew I was in the basement, and you said you’d tell me later?”
Delia paused. “Yes," she replied, realizing he was avoiding the question.
“Well, let’s have it. How did you know?”
Delia rendered a mischievous smile. “Reach into the left outside pocket of your jacket.”
“Do what?” Matt asked.
“Go on, reach into the left pocket of your jacket,” she repeated.
Matt reached inside. He felt a small, buttony object. He looked up at Delia as he wrapped his hand around a small circular item and removed it. Opening his hand, he immediately recognized it was a coin sized GPS tracker pad.
Matt looked at the tracking device for only a moment, then directly at Delia. “I oughta fire you,” he yelled out, unable to maintain an angry face for more than a few seconds. He knew she had saved his life -- again.
Delia turned and looked at Matt, another impish smirk on her face.
"And wipe that silly grin off your face -- you look like the Cheshire cat. When did you ...."
“Can we talk about it over an early breakfast?” Delia interrupted, walking up to Matt and threading her hand around his arm, pulling him away from the car.
Matt chuckled. “You’re driving.”