Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret (3 page)

BOOK: Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret
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I closed my eyes and images of the ballroom rushed in again. I could see my dad standing behind the podium. I could see the look of fear and sadness as we locked eyes. What was he worried about? Why had my grandpa and my dad been so worried about me? Did they know someone was after us? Was I next? Did it end with the guy with the slicked-back hair?

The train to New Canaan pulled into the station. I got on and stared out the window for the better part of an hour, thinking about my mom and dad. I suddenly realized that, technically, I was an orphan. My grandpa was the only family I had left in this world. I couldn't stop crying as the train cut through the Connecticut countryside. Should I call my grandpa? What
would I say?
Hey, it's me, just checking in. I wanted to make sure you hadn't realized I'm an ungrateful liar.

My grandpa took me in after my mom died. I guess it sort of made sense to me. I hadn't lived with my dad in years. I actually had no memory of my parents together and had only seen my dad once or twice a year since the divorce. He was busy traveling and writing his books, but I had always hoped that we would spend some time together eventually. But at my mom's funeral, my dad came up to me and said he was working on his new book and he had a lot of research to do. He said his research would take him to a dangerous place. That it wasn't safe and he would need to go there alone.

But I had spent six years traveling with my mom and we had seen all kinds of dangerous places. My mom took a job as an accountant with a government contractor after she left my dad. Her job required us to travel a lot. Her company sent us from city to city and country to country. We'd usually stay in a city or country for a few weeks and then move on. My mom would enroll me in school at the closest military base. When we weren't close to a base, she would enroll me in a local school. I was always the new kid. New teachers, books, and faces. But the same questions. Same stares. Same crap. Just a different town or country. Sometimes a different language. Often a language that I didn't even speak.

I had learned to survive dangerous places. But my dad didn't listen. At my mom's funeral he said we would talk
about the “arrangement” after his book was finished. That's part of the reason I was so excited to see his book event in the paper this morning. The story said he had finished his new book and it was set to come out next week. I was hoping that maybe I could spend time with him now. But now that was never going to happen.

My phone vibrated. It was my grandpa calling. I clicked accept and held the phone to my ear.

“Hello,” I said.

“Furious? Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I'm fine,” I lied.

“Where are you?”

“I'm at Andy McMahon's.” I squeezed my open hand into a fist as I lied again. I hated lying to my grandpa. And picking Andy's house was a huge mistake. Andy lived right next door. It wouldn't be hard for my grandpa to figure out I was lying. He could practically look out the window and
see
that I was lying.

“I need you to come home,” he insisted.

I looked down at the clock on the phone. The train was still fifteen to twenty minutes from New Canaan.

“Can we just finish the game we're playing?” I asked.

There was a moment of silence and then I heard my grandpa sigh and I knew he had heard about my dad. He sounded defeated. He sounded exactly like he did after my mom was killed.

“Finish it quickly and then come straight home,” he said. “Okay?”

“Okay,” I said and clicked cancel on my phone.

I bit down hard on my lip to fight back the tears. Why hadn't I just told my grandpa the truth? Once you start lying, it just takes on a life of its own.

I stared at the clock on my phone thinking about my grandpa. He was a good guy. Quiet, for the most part. Very different from my dad. My dad had been larger than life. He was always putting on a show. But my mom was more like my grandpa—her dad. She never wanted to draw attention to herself. She tried to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible. In fact, my parents divorced just months after my dad's first book became a huge international bestseller. Just after the fame had started. She had only been a part of that for a few months, but she always said it was the worst period of her life.

My parents got divorced when I was six years old. And, oddly enough, I have no memories of anything before six. Not a single memory. I had seen many shrinks over the years, and many of them said six years old was psychologically the absolute worst age for a child to experience divorce. Something about the way the brain is forming at that age can cause a lifetime of difficulties. I'm no shrink, but I believed it. And they all found it fascinating that while I can't remember a thing before the age of six, I'm cursed with a photographic
memory of practically everything after six. After the divorce.

I could recount every single detail of all the time I'd spent with my dad
since
the divorce. Of course, there weren't really that many times to recall. Over the years, my mom and I only saw him on the rare occasion we all ended up in the same city or country at the same time. And that had happened about a dozen times in six years. And it never went well. Well, actually, it always started out great but never
ended
well.

My dad would show up and book a room at whatever hotel my mom and I were staying at that week, and he would try to be the big man. His visits usually centered around food. My dad loved good food. No matter where we were, he would always know how to find the best food. We could be in a small town in the middle of Prague, in the Czech Republic, and my dad would say, “Oh, there's the best little place just a few blocks from here. They've got a chef named Ronald and he makes an amazing grilled sea bass.” And, sure enough, the three of us would enter the restaurant and a chef named Ronald would hurry over to say hello to my dad. In the middle of Prague! That's what he did. He was always the big man putting on a big show. And, secretly, I loved it.

He was truly larger than life. But my mom said he hadn't always been that way. The Robert she fell in love with had been a kind, hardworking, and idealistic journalist. She'd tell me stories about their life in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My mom grew up in New Canaan but went away to college in
Minnesota. My dad had grown up in Saint Paul, and they met at the University of Minnesota. My dad was a journalism major and my mom was studying economics and Italian. After they graduated, my dad took a job as a reporter at the
Saint Paul Pioneer Press
. And he was good at it. My mom said he loved to fight for the underdogs. He even won a big award for a series of stories that exposed some crooked politicians.

My mom claimed my dad invented the Robert Jones persona to help sell books. But then it consumed him. He bought into his own creation, she said. But so did she, from time to time. By the second or third day of his visits, the two of them would be holding hands and laughing. By the end of the first week, they would look like a couple again. We would look like a family again. And then this thing from the past would creep in. They would start to fight about my dad's fame and the books. Ultimately, my dad would leave.

The train slowed as it pulled into the New Canaan station. It was the last stop on the line, and I was the last passenger. I got off and walked the four blocks to my grandpa's house.

There was a cop car idling in the driveway behind my grandpa's squad car.

CHAPTER FOUR

M
y grandpa had been the
chief of police in New Canaan for almost thirty years, so seeing a cop car in the driveway wasn't completely out of place. It didn't mean there was necessarily something wrong. Or that my grandpa had started a manhunt looking for his missing grandson. At least that's what I told myself as I walked through the back door.

My grandpa was sitting at the kitchen table with Lieutenant Miller.

“There you are, Furious. I told you just to finish the one game. I was starting to get worried,” my grandpa said as he stood up and walked toward me.

“Sorry it took so long,” I said.

He put his arm around me and gave me some sort of
half hug. We weren't a real touchy-feely family, and an arm around the shoulder was practically like a bear hug for us.

“Furious, you remember Lieutenant Miller, right?”

Of course I remembered Lieutenant Miller. This mind of mine wouldn't let me forget anything. Ever. And Lieutenant Miller was one of only a handful of cops in New Canaan. Miller had worked for my grandpa for almost twenty years.

“How are you, Lieutenant?” I asked.

Lieutenant Miller gave me a sympathetic smile. “I'm okay, Furious.”

“Come on and sit down.” My grandpa gestured toward the small kitchen table.

“What's going on?” I said without moving.

My grandpa let out another long sigh, and his eyes watered as he looked at me. “I'm so sorry, Furious. It's your dad. He's been shot.”

My grandpa went on talking, but I didn't hear anything after the word “shot.” My legs were weak and my eyes stung. Something about the words coming out of my grandpa's mouth made my dad's death more real than having seen it for myself. I started to cry, and my grandpa squeezed me harder.

Lieutenant Miller stood up and walked past us toward the back door.

“I'm going to let you two be alone, Bud. I'll stop back in the morning.”

I heard the back door slam shut, and I cried even harder.

“I'm so sorry, Furious. I'm so sorry. No one should have to go through what you've been through. What
we've
been—”

My grandpa's voice cracked and he stopped talking. I stood there with his arm around me for several minutes. Images of my dad's body on the stage flooded my stupid photo­graphic mind. And then there were the images of his face. The look of sadness and fear in his eyes when he saw me. Those were his last few feelings. He died disappointed in me. I hadn't seen my dad in seven months, and disappointment would forever be his last thought of me.

“You know I'm always here for you, right?” my grandpa said, hugging me even harder this time.

I nodded.

“We've just got each other now,” he added.

The back door opened suddenly, and both my grandpa and I jumped. It was Lieutenant Miller with a man in a dark-blue suit.

“Jesus, you startled me,” my grandpa said, wiping the tears from his face.

“Sorry, Bud,” Lieutenant Miller said. “Ah, this is Director Douglas with the CIA. He'd like to ask you a couple of questions.”

“Douglas?” my grandpa asked. “What in the world are you doing here?”

Lieutenant Miller looked confused. “You two know each other?”

“Oh yes, Lieutenant. Bud and I go way back,” Douglas said as he took a step into the kitchen. He looked at me and said, “I'm sorry for your loss, Furious.”

“Don't talk to him,” my grandpa said as he put his arm between me and Douglas. “Don't you dare talk to my grandson.”

Director Douglas wasn't a huge guy, but he looked solid. Tough. Still, I could tell he was afraid of my grandpa. And for good reason. I had never heard my grandpa raise his voice like he was now. There was pure hatred in it.

“You are not welcome here, Douglas. Now you just turn around and get out of here before I have you arrested!”

Douglas took a step backward.

“I get it, Bud. I understand how you feel, but you have to trust me on this. I need—”

“Trust you!” my grandpa roared. “That's a good one, Douglas. You're lucky I don't kill you right here.” My grandpa now pushed me to the side and stood directly between Douglas and myself.

“Now, Bud, I don't think that's a—” Lieutenant Miller started to say something, but my grandpa looked at him and he stopped midsentence.

“You probably had your hands in this, too, didn't you, Douglas. I'm going to look into Robert's murder, and so help me, if—”

Douglas seemed to have lost any fear or respect that was
holding him back. He took two quick steps toward us.

“Listen,” he said as he raised one finger in the air. “I understand you're grieving, Bud, and I am truly sorry for your loss. You know Terri's death was a huge loss for us, too. But I've got people who are still in real danger, and I need to get some answers.”

My grandpa took a step toward Douglas. They were standing nose to nose.

“Your loss?” my grandpa questioned. “It's your fault my daughter is dead.”

“What?” I asked. “What are you talking about?”

Douglas looked at me and then back at my grandpa. “Your grandpa is just upset, Furious. He's not making sense.”

Douglas took another look at me and stepped back toward the door.

“I'll be back in the morning, Bud. I need to know what Furious saw. I've got people in jeopardy out there.”

CHAPTER FIVE

T
he door slammed behind Douglas.

“What was that all about?” Lieutenant Miller asked.

My grandpa didn't answer him.

“Who do we have on duty tonight?” my grandpa asked.

“Reilly and I are on until ten o'clock, and then Benson and Moralesse have the night shift. Why?”

“I want someone out front twenty-four seven. No one comes up to this house without talking to you first, okay?”

“Okay,” Miller said. “But do you want to tell me what's going on, boss? Why did you just blame Terri's murder on the CIA? Do you really think they were involved?”

“I honestly don't know what to think. I just know that Robert's dead and we don't have any answers. Until I get
them, no one comes near Furious, you understand? No one.”

“Sure, Bud,” Miller replied.

“You call me on the radio before letting anyone near this house. And make sure it's Moralesse, not Benson, that relieves you at ten. I can't take chances with Benson. Not tonight. Not with something this important.”

BOOK: Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret
8.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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