Michael Faust (A Lazarus Cane Novel) — Chapter One

Chapter One

 

He let his exhaustion engulf him as he shut off the engine and leaned back in his seat.  Flying from coast to coast was tiring enough without adding the hour drive from Savannah to Beaufort.  Hanson looked around the airport garage for Gates’ convertible.  Granted, he did not look very hard after his long flight, but he did look.

He thought he should at least check on it for her.  Leaving a convertible at an airport for several days invited trouble.

He was surprised to see it sitting in her driveway when he pulled up to the house.  Hanson knew from watching the news that Ally was in Atlanta, so it was possible that she had taken Gates  car to the airport, but if so, why not leave it at Ally’s?

Hanson thought he could fight through his exhaustion long enough to walk over and check on her place.  He really didn’t know if she planned on flying or driving down to see Dr. Wright – St. Augustine was only about a three-hour drive.

To his surprise, he saw a blue tint in the window as he approached the front door.  Hanson looked down at his watch – it was a little past eleven. Sighing, he knocked gently on the door.  He did not know what kind of hours Gates had been keeping for last few weeks. The aftermath of the Dawson-Tyson debacle had her running all over the place.  Hanson knew that he should have helped, but his heart was just not in it.

Gates appeared in the doorway.  Her soft smile greeted him like a long lost friend.  She was wearing long checkered pajama pants and a pink shirt with what looked like a sunflower in the center.  Her long brown hair was uncombed and pulled over one shoulder.

“I didn’t know you were coming back so soon,” she said, unlatching

the screen door.

“Jasmine is finally out of the hospital and into therapy,” he replied, not walking in the house.  “Everyone thought is was a good idea to separate us for a little while.”

Gates gestured for him to come in.  Hanson debated the issue for a moment.  He could probably fall asleep in seconds, until he actually reached his bed.  He would likely toss and turn for hours – he decided he could use a drink to speed the process up.

“You coming in, or do you need some rest?” Gates asked as if sensing his dilemma.

“You got bourbon?” he asked with a warm smile.

“For you… the best.”

Hanson shook his head as he walked into the living room.  Gates closed and locked the door behind him and made her way over to the kitchen.  Hanson plopped down on the sofa and stared absently up at the flat screen television mounted above her mantel.

Gates insisted on a good television – just as with the car.  Hanson’s house only sported a small nineteen-inch that sat on a stack of books in the corner.  He was not much into sports – unless hunting men counted as a sport.  And he had little use for much else.

“I have frozen Knob Creek, or regular Basil Hayden,” she called from the kitchen, as Hanson finally realized what he was watching.

“The Basil Hayden sounds great,” he answered, then quickly added- “neat!”

A sly grin slowly made its way across his face as she emerged carrying his bourbon in one hand, and an overly large wine glass in the other.  Hanson simply could not contain a small chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Gates asked with a confused look on her face.

“Am I on candid camera or something?”

“Why… What?”

“That’s an awfully fucking big wine glass you got there.”

“Ally gave it to me.”

“Of course, she did. And when did you start watching tabloid celebrity shows?” he asked, pointing toward the mantel.

“I was just…”

Hanson’s face was red as he waved a hand in front of her.  “I know… you were waiting for them to run a story about Ally.”

“And why is that so funny?”

“It’s not.  What’s funny is seeing you in love.”

Gates stood over him and held out his glass, “Do you want your fucking bourbon or not?”

“I don’t know.  Can you, perhaps, serve it in a pitcher so that I can shove my whole face in it?” he reached up and took it from her, finally regaining his composure. “Sorry, I guess being up for nearly forty-eight hours has made me a bit punchy.”

Gates calmly set her wine glass on the table and waited for Hanson to do the same.  Once she was certain the risk of spilling was minimal, she reached over and punched him on the arm as hard as she could.

“Asshole, I can’t believe I haven’t seen you in weeks and you want to give me shit about drinking wine.”

“I missed you too, Agent Gates,” he smirked while rubbing the sting from his arm.  “Aren’t you supposed to be in Florida?”

“Don’t even get me started.  Dr. Wright has rescheduled on me three times now.  What could a man that old possibly have on his schedule that is so pressing he can’t fit me in for a couple hours?”

“That is odd- he normally jumps at the chance to help us.  You want me to call him tomorrow?”

“No use. Besides, we have a conference tomorrow. Supposedly, they’re going to announce our new boss, but that’s another thing I have been hearing for weeks.”

“The oversight committee is probably having a hard time finding someone they trust.”

“It should be you.”

“Well, they haven’t asked.”

“Do they?”

“Do they what?”

“Do they really ask, or do they just appoint?”

Hanson leaned back with his bourbon against his chest, like someone cuddling up with a cup of hot chocolate, and pondered the question.  There were other high-ranking officials named during Hanson’s twenty-plus years, but never a new director. He was picked only a couple weeks after Brooks took the job.

Hanson was convinced that Cane had killed his boss, Agent Brooks, and then used him as an alibi by doing it at the same time that Hanson killed the man who had kidnapped his niece.  Since Hanson blamed that murder on Cane, Cane was off the hook for killing Brooks. Hanson was relieved that Cane had made Brooks’ death look natural.

“I honestly don’t know.  I guess with the secrecy of our jobs, they might just name someone.”

“Would you want it?”

“I think I’m just too tired right now to answer that question.  Cane has consumed so much of my life that I may not be able to change.  I enjoy the hunt, but I am starting to doubt whether or not Cane needs to be hunted.”

“What about Four?”

“We need to convince our new boss to shift the focus of our investigation.”

“That would be real easy to do if you were the boss.”

“Yeah, but then I wouldn’t be actively involved with the investigation.”

“True.”

“While we are on the subject, is there anything new on Four?”

“No- nothing.  After the police raided Jared Dawson’s house, and he slaughtered all of them, he just up and disappeared.  I am assuming that Four took on Tuwiski’s form. We entered Mike Tuwiski’s DNA and fingerprints into the database under an alias, so it will flag us.  I had to enter it as a ‘person of interest’ in the Cane investigation since we are not technically working on Four.”

“He’ll pop up soon.  You’ve been scanning the news for anything unusual, right?”

“This isn’t my first rodeo, Hanson; I can handle things while you are gone.”

“I know, but you know me; I have control issues,” Hanson said as he gave her a warm smile.  “What about the Mackey investigation?”

“We dug up the fifth victim yesterday. Still no leads on the rest.  I don’t know what Four is doing with the bodies.”

“Well, Four was living as Jared Dawson who worked at the morgue, so my guess is, he cremated them.  We need to look into murders or disappearances of anyone with access to a crematorium.  I’ll be willing to bet that Four has been doing this for quite sometime now.”  Hanson wanted to kick himself for not thinking of it sooner.

“Not a bad idea.  Mortuary workers are generally either very reclusive people or they work with a large family.  He would have to find one of the reclusive ones.”

“Have Simons run it down.”

“Simpson.”

“What?”

“His name is Simpson.”

“That’s what I said. “

“No, you said Simons.”

“Whatever.”

Gates rolled her eyes and happened to look up at the television just as they panned to a shot of Ally walking out of the Miller Industries building.  She was wearing more clothing than Gates was used to, and her large sunglasses covered most of her face.

This was the scene earlier today as twenty-three year old Allison Miller left her father’s empire for the last time as a major shareholder.  The final selling price is reported to be in the tens of billions.

            And what is the young billionaire planning to do with that money?  No one seems to know.  Unlike most heiresses, she has not shared the spotlight and rarely frequents the club scene.  The reason may be more scandalous than we ever expected; our sources have told us that Allison Miller is involved in a lesbian relationship with a much older woman.  Our sources also claim that the woman is an unidentified FBI agent!

“Oh, shit, that’s not good!” Gates whispered loudly as she sank her head into her hands.

“It’s going to be very hard to run a secretive organization if you have news crews following you.”

“I should’ve known this would happen.  What the fuck am I going to do?”

Hanson thought about it for a moment.  His brain was tired.  “Try not to worry about it tonight.  I’ll take care of it tomorrow.  These things are very fleeting.  As long as you and Ally are not out there flaunting it to the world, the reporters will get bored.  But regardless, we have someone in the agency who can deal with it.  I’ll call him tomorrow.”

“John, I am so sorry.”

“Try not to worry, Cynthia.  I will protect you and Ally.  Besides, I owe her one.”

“For what?”

“For… ahh… well, you know, the whole pool thing.”

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