Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret (18 page)

BOOK: Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret
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“We could discuss the cheeseburger and the UPS truck and whatever.”

“It was DHL, not UPS,” she said as she slid over. “And I don't think a cheeseburger has
cholesterol in it,” she said.

I sat down.

“What are you doing?” Amanda demanded.

“Just talking with Bailey, here,” I said.

“I see that. Bailey was there last night. She knows what you did.”

I motioned around the room. “I think everyone knows what I did.”

I glanced over at the football table. No one was eating. All their eyes were focused on me. I turned back toward Bailey.

“So, I don't know the first thing about cooking.”

“I do,” she said. “I'm Italian. My mom and I used to cook together all the time.”

“Cool. So I'll manage the project, and you and Susan can do all the work.”

“Manage the project?” Bailey mocked. “Yeah, right. I'll manage the project and you'll do all the cooking.”

“You do realize that the entire football team is staring at you right now, right?” Amanda interjected.

“I thought they were looking at you,” I said.

“Ah, I'm pretty sure they're looking at you,” Amanda said.

I looked at the players' table and back at Bailey. “I think she might be right. Well, I'm going to go and talk to the chef about getting this burger recipe,” I said as I stood up. I figured I was pushing my luck to stay much longer. “Who knows, maybe we'll luck out and the burgers will be tofu or something.”

“I doubt it,” Bailey said.

“One more thing, where and when are we going to cook this stuff?” I asked.

“We can do it at my house tomorrow after school,” Bailey replied. “If that's okay with you and Susan.”

“Works for me.”

I walked back to Mike's table.

“You must have a death wish,” Mike said. “You're not exactly popular with the football team or the cheerleaders, Fin.”

“I know I'm not winning any popularity contests at this school.”

“I don't know—Bailey looked like she was smiling the whole time,” Ben said. “I've got to give you credit, Fin, you don't seem to have an ounce of fear in you.”

“Or brains,” Mike added.

I had plenty of fear, just nothing left to lose.

“So what do you guys do for fun on Tuesday nights around here?” I asked.

“There's lots to do. Have you been up to Dubuque yet? They've got a bowling alley up there,” Scott said.

“Bowling, huh?”

“Yeah.” Scott was excited now. “Who doesn't love bowling?”

“Right,” I said. “How far is Dubuque?”

“Sixteen miles.”

“Well, that's, like, six minutes if Mike drives.”

“True. True,” Scott said.

“Count me in,” Mike said. “You never know what's going to happen when you're around, Finny.”

“Hey, I'm keeping a low profile. Nothing is going to happen tonight.”

“Sure,” Mike said.

“Why don't we all meet in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly at seven,” I said, figuring I could get dinner before we bowled.

Mike and I got up and headed to our Computer Animation class.

I sat and watched Mike work on his animation for almost an hour, and then Mike dropped me off at Betty's after school.

“See you at seven,” I said.


said good-bye to Mike
and was halfway up Betty's sidewalk when I noticed the living room curtain close quickly. Was someone watching me? Was it Betty? Or someone from school? Maybe the school had finally called Betty.

I opened the door slowly, not sure what to expect. I stepped inside and found Betty alone at the table in the middle of the living room.

“Finbar, there you are.”

“Hey, Betty.”

“Come. Come. Have a seat.” She motioned to the seat across the table from her.

I sat down.

“So, how is your day going?” she asked.

“Good. Thanks,” I said. I hoped she wasn't going to try and sell me some magic potions or healing services. I couldn't even afford potato chips at the Piggly Wiggly right now.

“Finbar.” Betty pulled out a clipboard full of paper from beneath the table. “I've been doing some work on your chart. And, well, I'm confused. Maybe I'm just getting too old.”

“No,” I said, having absolutely no idea what we were talking about.

“It was your colors that originally concerned me the other day, dear. You're dark. Awfully dark. And I know you didn't ask, but I went ahead and read your cards, which is extremely difficult to do without you there.” She squirmed in her chair. “And, obviously, at no charge to you. I was just concerned.”

“Okay.” I still had no idea what was going on. Betty had the same sympathetic look that the cop in New Canaan had when my grandpa told me my dad had died.

“I'm usually pretty good at reading the cards, but I've made mistakes, you see.”

“Yeah,” I said.

She pulled a tarot card out of her stack of paper and placed it on the table. It depicted a man with a rope around one foot. The man was hanging upside down. The man didn't appear to be in pain. He was just sort of hanging there. I guess I didn't find it as upsetting as Betty.

“The hanging man,” Betty whispered.

“Okay,” I said.

“Well, naturally I was concerned,” she said.

“What does it mean?”

“It can have lots of meanings. It all depends.”

“I'm getting the feeling none of them are good,” I said.

“Under certain circumstances it could signify a martyr. Or some sort of sacrifice. It could also signify a person stuck or suspended.”


“Maybe suspended between good and evil. Or between death and life.”

“Aren't we all?” I joked. Betty didn't laugh.

“But there is good news. Like I said, I have been wrong before. So I went to the books and checked some less orthodox methods of divination.”

Betty pulled out more paper from her clipboard and placed them on the table. “Based on your birthday and time, your charts look good. And I even looked into onomancy, and everything turns up roses, you see.”

“Onomancy?” I asked.

“Yes, I know it sounds farfetched,” she said, and then quickly added, “and I would never solely rely on the study of one's name, but it was a check and balance.”

“Study of my name. I see.”

“But Finbar, I'd like to ask a favor, just to appease this old lady. I would like to read your hands. It's really the only way to be certain.”

“A palm reading?” I asked. Would she be able to tell I was lying from my palm?

“Yes,” she said. “Free of charge, of course. I just need to know everything is all right. I need to know the card was—that I was wrong.”

“Sure.” I placed my right hand on the table. I felt bad tricking Betty. Clearly she knew something wasn't right. Maybe I'd tell her the truth after all of this was over so she didn't question her cosmic abilities.

“Both hands, dear.”

Betty spent the next hour examining my hands. And I could tell she didn't like what she saw. She just kept sighing and saying, “Oh, dear. Oh, dear.”

It was almost six o'clock when my phone started to ring. I pulled my right hand away from Betty.

“I'm sorry, I need to get that.” I stood up and stepped out onto the porch. It was Emma.

“I can't tell you how glad I am that you called,” I said as I walked up High Street, away from Betty and her prying eyes.


ey, Emma,” I said, suddenly
realizing I'd never called her back last night. “Sorry I didn't call you back last night. I was exhausted and fell asleep.”

“I was worried about you,” she said.

I smiled as I walked toward the bluff stairs. It was nice to have someone worrying about me.

“No worries,” I said. “I've just been playing undercover detective and couldn't talk when you called.”

“Can you tell me more about this big story? Did you find the proof you were looking for?” Emma asked.

I thought about Bailey and said, “Yeah, I think I've found the proof.”

“What's the story?”

“I believe the Chicago gang task force has been dumping all of their witness protection people into Galena.”


“Yeah. And someone—who knows, maybe the sheriff here—tipped off the Mafia, and they are here killing the witnesses.”

“That's crazy, Furious,” Emma said. “There is almost no violence in Galena.”

“Well, that's not really true: My mom was killed here. But now they're making the murders look like accidents.”

“Your mom? That's where your mom was killed? In Galena? How do you know?”

“My dad wrote all about it in his new book. Same names. Same murders. Everything. It's a long story, Emma. But you have to trust me. It's all true.”

“And you have proof of all this?”

“I think so. I'm still working on it. I'll call you tomorrow,” I said.


t was a little after
six. I had plenty of time to walk to the Pig and get something to eat before the guys got there. I took Main Street to the highway and headed north. It took me about twenty minutes to get to the Pig. Trish was working.

“Hey, Amos, whatcha up to?”

I grabbed a Coke and a Snickers and walked to her checkout lane.

“Hey, Trish. I'm just grabbing a little dinner before I go bowling with your brother.”

She glanced down at the Coke and Snickers.

“I don't know how you got so tall eating like this,” she said as she scanned the items. “Is your dad tall?”

“He was,” I said. “He's dead now.”

“Crap, Amos, I'm sorry. Was he a good guy?”

I thought about my dad profiting from my mom's secret. I thought about the divorce and how sad my mom had been for such a long period of time. And then I thought about this town and his new book. And how he died trying to do the right thing.

“More or less,” I answered.

“You're lucky,” she said. “My dad's dead too. But he wasn't a good guy. Three eighty.”

That was odd. Mike had made it sound like they moved to Galena after his parents had divorced. “When did he die?” I asked.

“A few months ago. Right before we moved to this butt-scab town.”

Trish handed me my change and said, “Thanks for shopping the Pig.”

I held up the Snickers and said, “I'm going to eat my dinner before your brother gets here.”

“Have fun. Try not to break any bones over in Dubuque.”

“I'll try.”

I walked outside and sat down on the curb. I took a few swigs of my Coke and wondered if Mike, Trish, and their mom were in the witness protection program too. It made sense. Maybe a mobster killed Trish's dad and her mom testified in court. Maybe the state moved them here so they would be safe.

I took the last swig of Coke as a car pulled directly in front of me. I squinted as the headlights shined into my face. I couldn't see inside, but the car looked too big to be Mike's. And I thought Ben said he had a truck. Maybe it was Scott. I stood up to throw away the Snickers wrapper and Coke can. I looked into the car. It wasn't Scott. Or Ben. It was an older man. It was Director Douglas of the CIA.


ouglas was staring at me.

I didn't move.

What should I do?

How did he find me?

He kept staring at me. Neither one of us moved.

I needed to go. Now.

There was no way I was going to let him take me.

Douglas was slowly removing his seat belt.

Which direction should I run?

Left. I should run left.
It would force Douglas to get out and have to run around the car.

I pushed off with my right foot. A half second later I was in a full sprint. I figured it would take Douglas a second to
get the seat belt completely off. Another second to get out of the car. Then maybe two or three seconds to get around the car and give chase. Given our age and size difference, a four- or five-second head start was all I needed.

But I was wrong.

Douglas didn't get out of the car. He took half a second to throw the car into reverse. Another second to back up. And a fraction of a second to shift into drive.

I could practically smell the rubber as he stepped on the gas. He was closing in fast. I ran faster, but there was no way I was going to outrun the car. I needed a new plan.

I looked back. Douglas was screaming something. He didn't appear to be slowing down. I ran up onto the sidewalk and stopped behind a brick pillar. The car's weight and momentum took Douglas twenty feet past me before he came to a complete stop. I took off running.
Where can I hide?
I heard a car door open. Douglas was now on foot.
Should I run out onto the highway? If someone saw Douglas chasing me, would they help me?
Douglas was with the CIA. He had a badge. There was no way anyone would stop him.

Maybe Trish could help. At least I could tell her that Douglas was crooked. Maybe she could tell someone. Maybe she could get me help.

I stepped in front of the Pig's automatic door. It was taking forever to open. I pushed the door and ran inside. Trish
was gone. No one was around. No employees. No customers. The store was empty.

“Trish!” I yelled.

Nothing. Where was she?

I started toward her register.


I ducked down and crawled under the conveyer belt. My heart was pounding in my ears. I thought I heard the automatic door open. I was dead. There was no way out of this. I tried to hold my breath, and my chest felt like it was going to explode. He had to hear me. I let out a deep breath as quietly as I could. I could now hear Douglas's dress shoes clicking on the polished linoleum. Which way was he walking?

BOOK: Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret
7.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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