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Hollowed Out

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F.B.I. agents don’t die every day.  But two had died in the last week.  Roberson wanted to know why.

“Tough to say, Rob.  So many terrorists around and other whackos.  This country breeds more sickos every year.  Just have a drink and forget it.”

Roberson gulped on a Black and Tan.  He didn’t even taste it.  Whatever would numb this feeling away.  The booming voice in his ear was Agent Butters.  Old guy from thirty years back.  Roberson had never liked him, but figured to show him respect when he had to.

“How can you ask me to forget it?”

Butters leaned in close.

“I’m not asking.”

“To hell with that.  I’m finding this bastard.”

Butters laughed into his whiskey.

“Doubtful, pal.  Besides you were thick as thieves with them.  You should have an idea by now or you aren’t going to have one.”

Roberson knew the old-timer was right.  Something should have come to him.  He’d started the same month as the first victim, Bundrage.  Roberson grew up in New York while Bundrage grew up in Los Angeles.  Good west coast boy.  Loved to comb the beaches with his four- wheeler and loved the open sea.  Roberson would rather sit in his yard and watch the streets.  New York had a lot of sights, sounds and smells to it.  Roberson inhaled them all whenever he could.  Bundrage told him he was crazy not to love the beach.  Roberson always meant to join him for some beach time.  He wouldn’t now.

On Monday night, someone had entered his house, but they didn’t break in.  It must have been somebody he knew, because Bundrage didn’t give any time to strangers.  The killer popped him twice in the throat with a .22 caliber Remington.  Bundrage hated Remington’s and now Roberson did, too.  A good man.  Thirty-one years old.  With a serious girl he had talked about marrying.  What a waste.

Butters tapped him on the back.

“Easy, pal.  Don’t let it drive you crazy.”

“How can I not, Butters?  Hell they were my friends.”

“We all know the risks.”

Roberson shifted away from Butters.  Old fart.  He always said crap like that like one of their guys going down was just part of it.  Roberson didn’t buy that.  Sure.  There were risks, but no agent should let it go so easily.  He shook his head.  No more weekends of partying with the boys.  It would just be sitting around with this wise ass until they put two more yahoos in.

Marcum was the second victim.  The killer caught him on his morning run.  Once again, ballistics indicated two shots from the same .22 Remington.  Marcum wasn’t shot while he was running.  The killer had been driving and stopped Marcum to ask him a question.  But Marcum was much like Bundrage and Roberson himself.  They didn’t respond to strangers.  Most agents didn’t.  So the killer must have caught the attention of each agent with something that would make them stop.  Roberson thought hard about what they could be.

The music was low inside Wally’s.  Usually was on a week night.  “Thirsty Thursday” would fill the place for about an hour and then they’d shut down early like they always did.  Wally didn’t like empty bars and wouldn’t allow his to get that way.  Roberson and his two dead colleagues would often show up to start their Friday nights before heading out to the city to see what they could get into.  That wouldn’t be happening tomorrow night.  Yesterday was Bundrage’s funeral and Marcum’s would be held on Saturday.  Of course, the obvious question was when this killer would strike Roberson himself.  He knew it would be soon.  The Bureau had their taps on his phone in place as usual and guards were near him as of an hour ago.  Two agents waited outside Wally’s for him.  But this guy wouldn’t be dumb enough to strike him outside the bar.  He was smart enough to get his friends’ attention and pop them just like that.  No such luck.

Three Black and Tan’s later, Roberson had finished up.  He didn’t bother saying good-bye to Butters.  The old fool had his eye on some used up tramp at the other end of the bar anyway.  He had been married for thirty years before his wife committed suicide.  They claimed it was accidental, but Roberson figured she couldn’t stand listening to the old fool anymore.  He headed out the door as the Thursday crowd began to thin out.

Ah, the street found his nose- knishes.  He sucked it in.  Felt like devouring the inside of a few.  The two guards sat in their black Lincoln by the curb.  He nodded to them.  Forgot the knishes.  Walked on.  He owned a car of his own, but preferred to walk most places.  This was New York after all.  Of course, his bureau was outside the city, but on the weekends, he had no long commute.  Just his two bedroom apartment on the six floor of the Regency apartments in Soho.  Since this was Thursday and he’d been given the week off due to his two fellow agents being killed, his weekend was just starting.

Still, what was holding this killer back?

He pops Bundrage on Monday night and then gets Marcum on Tuesday morning.  How Roberson hadn’t met his maker by Tuesday night was a mystery.    Not only was he still alive, but he had been approached by no strange characters or even normal ones.  Hell, the local bums hadn’t even bothered him like they normally do.  The three had been good friends and if the killer was targeting them, he must have known.  Only maybe it had more to do with something only Bundrage and Marcum knew about.  They normally told Roberson everything especially since they had all worked at the same bureau the last seven years.  But maybe they were hiding something.  Well maybe they HAD been hiding something.

Roberson made it to his apartment.  As was protocol, the agents neither of whom he had ever seen before, escorted him inside.  They made the slow ascent in the elevator to the sixth floor.  Then through the hallway with the green walls and ugly green carpet to match.  The rent wasn’t high here for a reason.  The tenants paid another price with an assault on their taste.  They reached his door.

The first agent tapped twice.  Drawing his 9 mm he entered with back-up from his partner.  Roberson had left his own weapon in the room since he went to a bar.  He stood outside looking like the slightly drunk man who’d just had his world shattered.  He knew his face looked like hell from the last few sleepless nights.  Hollowed out.  And he really didn’t care at this point.

“All clear.”

Roberson nodded to them and knew the drill.  He’d been assigned this duty himself once.  One agent would sit outside the door for six hours and the other would come up to relieve him after sitting outside in the car the same amount of time.  This really couldn’t stop a very determined person, but it was an effective deterrent.  After all, most crimes can’t be prevented.  Just cleaned up after.  This way the chances were cut down at least a little.  He nodded to the door agent and stepped inside.

 

 

*

Three years passed.  Four.  Four and a half.  The killer of agents Bundrage and Marcum remained uncaught.  Of course, he could have been in jail for some other offense or dead.  Roberson had cleared his mind of it as best he could.  New friends had come into his life, but they were civilians.  He hadn’t been close to an agent since.  And in other good news, Butters had retired.  Life was sweeter these days.

He’d just finished up another week of work.  Some bomb threat had been called in the day before, but turned out to be nothing.  He settled into his now unguarded apartment for a little time with his friend Tyler.  Tyler had come along a few years after the killings.  He worked at a coffee shop then.  Roberson went there often and they got to be friends.  As of late, Roberson had started to date Tyler’s cousin Marie.  She was gone for the weekend.  The boys were going to get some drinking and Call of Duty done.   Tyler took a swig of his Corona as Roberson settled in next to him.

“Did you hear something?”

Roberson looked at him.  Checked the bedrooms.  The front door.  He shook his head.  Tyler could be one paranoid kid sometimes.  He loved his company and he had one hot cousin Roberson knew he would soon have relations with.  He returned to the living room prepared to slap Tyler on the back of the head like usual.

The .22 slug caught him square in the throat.

Roberson reached in the drawer of his desk for his 9 mm but it was not there.  He fell to one knee as Tyler stood over him.

“You really like my cousin.  Huh?”

Roberson looked up at him.  He didn’t look like a madman.  He didn’t look like a gangster.  He looked like a kid who worked at a coffee shop.  With a hot cousin.

Roberson gurgled out “You?”

Tyler nodded.

“It was over five years ago.  I had a friend named Bill Porter.  He was a nice man.  Taught me all about electronics.  When he wasn’t taking care of his daughter.  You remember?  The daughter with multiple sclerosis?  No.  Don’t guess you’d remember her.”

Roberson struggled to hold himself up.

“I didn’t…”

“Didn’t what?  Didn’t think you’d pay?  You held that man in a cage for a week on suspicion for a bomb he didn’t make.  He lost his job.  Lost custody of his daughter.  And beyond all that, you and those other two ransacked his shop beyond belief.  And you smashed his machine.”

Roberson coughed up blood.

“Machine?”

“That’s right.  How does a massage machine resemble a bomb?  It was specifically designed for her, but in the raid, it was you who threw it against the wall.  I saw you through the window.  You smashed it.  Cut it off ‘at the neck’ as Bill put it.”

Roberson felt himself weakening.  He leaned against his wall.  Fished for his cell phone in his pocket, but it wasn’t there.  He eyed the TV tray.  The Call of Duty screen sat paused.

“So I cut your friends off at the neck.  They had something to lose.  Bundrage had a girl.  And Marcum had the same girl.  Bet you didn’t know that.  I know you guys are trained but it’s amazing how easy it can be to track you, find out all about you and of course, infiltrate you.  I admit it took me a little while but it has totally been worth it.”

“You mean for me…to lose…”

“My cousin of course.  But your case is special.  I had to provide you with something.  You were so dead inside.  I couldn’t find any reason for your existence.  So I tossed you a bone.”

Tyler tossed him the cell phone.

Moved closer toward him with the .22 Remington that had haunted his dreams so many times before aimed at his testicles.

“If you can talk, you can save yourself.  I’m out.  And as far as my cousin, she is not my cousin.  Her name is Sarah Porter and her father’s name was Bill.  She’s dealing with her MS.  In fact so well you couldn’t even tell.”

He rose up.

“Have a nice life, Agent Roberson.”

 

*

 

 

 

Agents Clyde Butters sat on the deck of his home.  His cell phone rang.

“Yello.”

A friend at the bureau informed him of the death of Agent Steve Roberson.  The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the neck with a Remington .22.  Roberson’s cell phone was found in his hand, but no call to 9-1-1 was ever made.

 

 

Bio: My name is Anthony David Mitchell. I am from Jackson, TN. I have been crime writing stories. I am curently writing crime stories. I will continue to write crime stories for a very long time. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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