I used to work for the F. B. I. , in the Portland office. It was my childhood dream to be the one who gets the bad guy. My fiftieth birthday was in just three months. I had a wife and three children, still do, and the same job I’d had since my graduation from Quantico. We were living just outside Portland. My oldest son, John jr. , was in his third year at Washington. The twins were high school seniors at this time and my pride and joy, daddy’s little girls. Carolyn and I had celebrated our twenty- fifth anniversary, that’s the silver one I think, the previous Thursday night.
That warm July morning, I dressed for work as I had every other. Black socks and slacks, a pin striped white dress shirt, and a black jacket. I slipped on my loafers but was lost in the search for my tie. Coffee stained and still unwashed, I found it laying on the laundry room floor. I swore to myself to let Carolyn know about that. I walked into John’s empty room, knowing he owned some ties. It was just as he had left it, I guess, because I’d never really gone in his room. I picked the red one he wore in his graduation pictures and slipped it over my head.
I stepped into the bathroom, combed back y whitening hair, and left for the office. The early morning sun shone in through the broken blinds that I noticed hadn’t been replaced as I asked. I looked over the pile of paperwork awaiting me. Why the hell do I gotta do all these damn reports? “Actually, you don’t, not today. ” I turned to see a man much like myself, but older and with his piece on. He was a little taller, but with the same sagging features and large belly of my body. I’ve come here to give you something new. With that, I was handed a thick manila folder. It felt like it contained a video cassette.
All you need is in there, including my card. This is top priority, Agent Caulsworth. You will report to me on the hour with your progress. The paperwork here will wait. The man turned and left. Outside, I heard a jet-copter quietly lift off. Funny I hadn’t heard it land. I poured out the contents of the folder, the federal statement, a case history, vid cassette, and a dossier. The card that fell to the floor read ‘Federal Marshall Wilson R. Franklin’. He was from the Boise office. “Must be real important for him to come all the way out here. ” Steve Menschke was my oldest friend at the office, and a fine agent.
I’d known him ince our days at Quantico. An hour’s flight out here, even in that thing. He went on while I began to read the dossier. At quarter till nine, I called a full meeting, all department heads. We seem to have ourselves a little situation here. I know you are all familiar with that case in the papers, the Dean Brown thing. This S. O. B. killed not only the Portland mayor, but two of his security, in case you are unfamiliar with all this. He used to work for the mayor’s office. The court sentenced him just two days ago, life without parole. I guess he didn’t like the decision, because Mr.
Brown escaped last night in transfer to the Oregon State Penitentiary. His whereabouts are presently unknown and I have been instructed to find him. As of now, the entire department will concentrate on this situation, all others suspended. This is the video, courtroom and escape. I shut off the lights and pressed play. A small thin man, caucasian and under 5’10”, entered the courtroom. He wore a wrinkled suit, dark blue with a white kerchief. His hair was slicked back, still wet and he was unshaven. He wore no expression, as if he were dead. The judge spoke slowly, pausing for breath as she read the sentence.
After the announcement, the defendant simply rose and extended his hands so he could be detained. Still the face of the small figure on the screen did not change. He was hand-cuffed and led away. The scene abruptly shifted to the penitentiary grounds. A line of orange clad men, heads low, lurched forward into the penn. Another group of like dressed men filed out, toward a waiting bus. In a flash, a man jumped from one line to the other and boarded the bus. Then the screen went blank. I played the end back in slow-motion, pointing him out. Steve flicked the lights on. He escaped unnoticed.
As you could tell, he was not chained at the ankles, allowing this move. One guard monitoring the cameras, he just wasn’t watching. The bus’ destination was Portland. It arrived on time, the prisoners released. This tape wasn’t found until after he was gone so the state is helpless. That puts the ball in our court. As always, we get the clean up job. Menschke, you will head one of three groups, as will Hendricks. I have the third, here. Be ready to move in an hour. As they assembled, I returned to my office and read the dossier again. Dean Brown had lived through hell. He had a psychiatric history full of problems.
His parents abused him sexually, but he didn’t admit it till he had grown and left. He overcame that, fixed his life. He had the standard wife and two kids, an accounting job, the whole schmeer. One day, they cross the street and a pickup streaks from a standstill at the light. Smashed right into them. Killed everyone but him and the son and sped away. Brown was submitted after the hospital, the boy went to the grandparents. He escaped the institution and committed the murders. Waited for trial five months, it took a week to convict him. Life was upside down in less than a year. Reading this, I felt for the guy.
Aside from the killings, he was clean. Never even a traffic violation, then this. It didn’t make sense, and I got an uneasy feeling in my gut. “Hey, John, I’m ready to move. I got two choppers lined up but no destination. Where to, boss? ” “Steve, I don’t know about this guy, there’s something not right here. I don’t know what he’s doing. I want you to read this. ” He took the papers, kicked back to read and I left the room. “Hendricks, is your party ready? You’re heading for Washington, Menschke will go south. There’s no way this guy is heading east. We’ve got him, its just a matter of time.
I’m giving you full jurisdiction, take what you need. Just make sure the border is tighter than your asshole this time. I still haven’t forgotten the last time I put you in command. I’m trusting you with this, don’t make me kill you. ” “Yeah, I got it Caulsworth. Just you back off too! ” I returned to my office, Steve still reading. “What do you think? ” “Both of you are nuts. Hendricks? Come on, you know he won’t find the guy.
Especially not this one. Brown is not dumb. He could do anything. He might be in a Portland hotel or on a fishing boat by now, there’s no way to know. He’s too smart to get back into his life, he’s a runner. Get on the horn to Thompson in California, he’ll give full assistance. Cut offs at the border and in the bay area.
Go with whatever you feel, you know you’ve got full j. d. , just find this guy for me. I’ve got ops here and I’ll let you know about anything that arises. I’ll also crunch some figures, give you any new leads. Now get going, I’m on an hourly check-in. Hell, I already gotta call him. I’ll buzz you. ” Steve was already out the door when I finished talking. I lifted the receiver and began to dial the number on the card. I heard the ring on the other end over the engines roaring outside. Steve and Hendricks were moving out.