Ericka had grabbed the copy of the report from the table and stormed out of the room. Bob Hatfield and Jason Wolfe had seen the display before. Bob thought to himself, “she is so much like her father”. Edgar would storm out of the room at the drop of a hat if he wasn’t getting his way. He would mull around in the next room for five minutes or so and them come back into the room. Usually one of two things happened: He had a great new idea no one had thought about or, and more often then not, he knew everyone else was right and he would just nod his head in approval. Jason did jump, but the ringing of the cell phones had given him a start, as he liked to say. The fact that his and Bob’s had rung at the same time made it all the more unusual. They both stood and moved to opposite ends of the room, in about two minutes Bob had hung up his phone and sat back down at the table. It appeared, to show off her technical expertise, which no one doubted Nicollette had conference called both of them at the same time. Bob and Jason nodded to each other from opposite ends of the table with grins on their faces, Bob hung up while Jason kept talking.
It wasn’t a long conversation and when he returned his phone to his pocket Jason slip quietly into the large leather chair next to Bob. They both had this look on their face as if neither of them wanted to think about this situation one second longer. Yes, Peter Parker had gone to see Alex Sheridan, he left him an envelope, of who-knows-what, and he was on the plane back to Nashville. Nicollete had started the pre-flight chit-chat with him, as he had noticed the CME logo’s and he just wanted to give the boys a heads-up for her cover story. She passed very easily for an advertising executive and CME had so many she could almost say anything and she wouldn’t be too far from the truth in any way.
About the time Nicolette had gotten off the phone Ericka reappeared with the old report dangling from her one hand and a clump of tissue in the other. Jason and Bob had both know her long enough that they were seldom surprised but her perfect mascara did not look so perfect to either of them. Ericka slid the old report across the table at them moved to the large chair at the end, flopped down in it unceremoniously and proceeded to blow her nose.
To say it took all their restraint not to laugh out loud might be a bit of an exaggeration but neither Bob nor Jason could remember the last time they had heard that sound, or for that matter, see her, so….normal. As she snorted, sniffled, blew and wiped neither one of them said a word. They did all they could to act nonchalant as if it happened everyday; it didn’t. Finally after what seemed hours in some dimension, Ericka sat straight up in her chair, adjusted her hair, it didn’t need it, and took one last wipe at her eyes, they did. “All right you two” she said with a big grin “who was more surprised at this Jason you or Bob?” Jason just stared into space. He thought back all those years to that horrible night, it had been his door she had come knocking on at 3am in morning to find out where Alex had been sent to, or where he was going. She looked so helpless that night. He knew if Mr. Carsten found out he would be what ever the next adverb after furious was. He told Ericka that night. He helped her to his car and drove her to the airport, but he had nothing to do with having her every waking, and not so waking, moment monitored. Both Ericka and Jason swung to look at Jason Wolfe. He had been around then. And he had worked very, very closely with Mr. Carsten. Bob caught the breath as it tried to escape. There was no way. He couldn’t believe he had never considered what he was thinking. Before he could form another thought Jason spoke.
“The man’s name was Alanzo Durante, we met on a previous assignment, he said he could do the job, be discreet and blend in to the countryside” Jason let out a huge sigh, which was remarkable for him. but relieved a lot of tension in the air as well. Bob was only angry because Mr. Carsten hadn’t asked him and he was so in the dark about it he was speechless. Ericka reached across and flipped the pages of the report. It was very, very detailed. He had done his job almost perhaps too well. He had dates and times for everything from a walks on the beach to sweaty Saturday afternoon interludes. Jason didn’t know what else to say. “Your father knew you, so very well. When you went to Bob’s that night we knew where you were going. Your dad set the wheels in motion, as much to keep an eye on you as anything. He never read the report. He asked me when you got back if you were safe and looked ok. I told him you were a glow with life. He moved slowly to the bookcase and said then he knew you were ready to move on.” Jason stopped remembering that day as if it were yesterday. “I told him Alanzo would have his report ready that afternoon. He looked me in the eye and just said take care of it. I thought I had. As I knew there were only two copies and I had them both. Now, we have a third? Where did this come from? Jason almost slumped into the chair before he caught himself and sat up straight. Bob stood next to his chair almost afraid of what he had to say next “Jessica, Ericka’s step-mom had a copy”. You could have heard a pin drop, no, it was quieter than that. Ericka slumped her head on her crossed arms on the table, and Jason just stared. He knew his mouth was open, but he was so rarely stunned by information that this bombshell had left him speechless. Just as quickly Ericka reached out and put a hand on Jason Wolfe’s arm. His rage was so intense she could feel it without seeing his face.
Bob Hatfield knew his little bombshell would go over like a turd in the punch bowl so he countered quickly. “Somehow, I don’t know how, there was a copy of the report in Edgar’s papers. He had only had the report for less than a day and how she made a copy and never let anyone know, is beyond me.” You both know Jessica and I were, good friends. He tried not to grin when he said it, but Ericka and Jason had been privy to those rumors years ago. Bob continued “Several years ago after your dad passed she was cleaning out her things and came across this report. She called me and asked if I would come over. I did. I asked her what she was going to do with it. She loved you Ericka and would never do anything to hurt you. She was more afraid of what Alex might do that anything. She said, she would put it away for safe keeping. That was the last I saw of it till this week.
Bob and Jason both looked up as Ericka chuckled, took the report walked to the end of the table and stuck in in the shredder.